Capacities up to 48TB and speeds up to 1527MB/s

Concussion aka Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI): Experience Report and Advice, Ongoing

First of all “mild” and “traumatic” are a curious combination. I would not say what I have experienced is mild. But what is meant is that most concussions are mild compared to massive injury that cripples people in debilitating ways.

I am still recovering from a moderately severe concussion.

As my first significan test of computer usage, I have added a new section on concussion: how it happened, initial (lack of) diagnosis, a chronological log of how I felt, how I dealt with it, ideas on nutrition and information, and so on. It is a very complex subject for which modern medicine has few solid answers, if any.

Accordingly, I hope this might help others dealing with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) both in actionable ideas and in giving hope.

The concept of neuroplasticity is key— the brain can be trained. The worst thing you can do is to accept anyone’s claims that you are stuck with your condition. That includes doctors, many of whom are not only poorly informed about concussion (even neurologists!), but are hassled and harried by today’s medical system. My own internist tells me that there are zero (0) concussion gurus in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is a major population center!

Apple’s Tim Cook Weighs in on Facebook

CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, weighed in from China with this nugget. China is by far the global leader in Orwellian surveillance systems:

The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life—from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.

This is rich, that is, with Tim Cook having just thrown Chinese users under the bus. Does anyone but MPG see the alarming disconnect between actions and PR statements?

To stick to moral philosophical principles while under duress is beyond the reach of all but a few. But at least respectable wisdom is found in not lecturing others when the courage to stick to those princiciples collapses at the first serious challenge.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2017 iMac/ MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

Concussion

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Nothing to say for a while, except that MPG has long advised against Facebook and its ilk.

Facebook and similar are massive and incredibly sophisticated surveillence tools by design.

Recent events were inevitable and are trivial. That is, if the implications are properly understood of the massive threat these services pose, e.g., paving a superhighway to a totalitarian Orwellian state the likes of which could only be envied by past States, with China leading the race.

I am recovering from a severe concussion, but the foregoing was my view nearly a decade ago, and it remains unchanged.

 

 

 

 

One more Finder File Copy Bug: Is it Even Safe to Count on the macOS Finder to Copy Files?

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

It is this sort of thing, along with zero size files and folders that make the macOS Finder so scary to use these days: are the files copied, or not? Can the Finder even be relied upon (ever!) to copy files without data loss? See also:

Files long since copied still show copying in progress
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Privacy: When Your Computer is Repaired, Does the Facility Scan your Private Information too? BestBuy’s GeekSquad Gets Paid to Scan and Report to the FBI

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Law enforcement enlisting companies are one solid structural beam in establishing a brutal police state, so I find the following very disturbing:

Geek Squad's Relationship with FBI Is Cozier Than We Thought

After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years. The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants.

EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year to learn more about how the FBI uses Geek Squad employees to flag illegal material when people pay Best Buy to repair their computers. The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.

The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility.

For those unfamiliar with the constitution of the United States:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It’s hard to imagine how warrants having been issued to search every computer coming info for repair—there is no probably cause to actively search a computer’s data. This is a chilling abuse of corporate and government power.

MPG advises readers to boycott GeekSquad and BestBuy.

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See also:

Big banks want to weaken encryption protocol for convenience.

China’s “social obedience” platform a harbinger of our collective future

Apple To Store iCloud Private Keys In China

Don H writes:

This is another reason why I’m reluctant to buy another iMac (or other machine without easily-reomved storage). Not only does a buried/glued-in drive thwart easy troubleshooting, it also means you can’t remove it if you need to have the machine repaired. If the power supply dies you can’t even access it through Target Disk Mode as a last resort.

I *really* hope that Apple releases a user-servicable (even if minimally) Mac Pro which allows the storage to be removed somehow. Assuming it’s not a terrible design I’d get one to use daily and then watch the refurb deals to stock up on spares over time if necessary. We really are losing control of our own computing resources and private data now.

(This is also a reason I don’t rely to much on my iPhone for anything. Not only can it be lost or stolen, it locks you away from your own data in significant ways by design. To me it is just a disposable, albeit expensive, appliance, and not a personal data repository.)

MPG: Apple is tone deaf to such needs and wears “looks good in pictures and reviews” blinders these days, a sort of idiot-savant corporation.

Jonathan L writes:

Photoshop won’t allow you to scan or take high res photos of us currency: https://hyperallergic.com/195922/what-happens-when-you-try-to-photoshop-money/

Of course, the US won’t release to adobe exactly how they recognize the anti-counterfitting measures, so this means that Adobe has allowed them to put in code that Adobe hasn’t been able to review. Who know what else the code is doing.

MPG: unaudited code is a very bad idea, not just for privacy reasons, but security weaknesses.

Lots of Shootouts: 2017 iMac Pro 18-core vs 2017 iMac 5K

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Read my detailed review of the 2017 iMac Pro.

I’ve now added an extensive battery of tests sure to intrigue still photographers.

The 2017 iMac Pro 18-core 128GB Vega 64 is a very nice machine for some uses. But the 2017 iMac Pro 18 core is also a power pig, and not a good choice for a mobile photographic workstation in my Sprinter van, even if I had $14K to spend.

Photoshop RAW to JPEG batch processing speed: Sony A7R III
2017 iMac Pro18 core vs 2017 iMac 5K
Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2017 iMac/ MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

iMac Pro 18-core Rocks Delivers Unprecedented Performance Gains for Adobe Lightroom, Trouncing the 2017 iMac 5K

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

I ran a thorough battery of tests, but I am preparing for a trip and cannot present them all now, but they will appear over the next week or so. Suffice it to say that the 18 core iMac Pro resets the game in a number of areas. See my Mac wishlist and this is the iMac Pro tested here.

...

Adobe claimed some major progress in using CPU cores in early 2018, and the results confirm it: the 4-core 4.2 GHz 2017 iMac 5K takes about 2.9 times longer to export and about 2.5X longer to import. Awesome!

Only rarely in the past 15 years has such a huge performance gain/gap been realized; typically a new machine might be 25% faster and that was doing well. Lightroom users importing and exporting lots of files are going to love the 18 core iMac Pro.

Import without moving 552 high resolution raw files with 1:1 previews plus export to very high quality full-res JPEG.

Results below with macOS 10.13.3 including the Apple Supplementary Update. See the results from more systems with macOS 10.12.2 the review page.

2017 iMac Pro 18 core v 2017 iMac 5K: Lightroom import 552 raw files and generate 1:1 previews, then export as max-quality JPEG
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Require Special Restoration Procedures when Semi-Bricking Itself

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

See also What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Go into Infinite Reinstall Loop and What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Destroy Its Boot Volume Rendering Itself Unbootable.

Those behaviors are bad enough that I deemed the iMac Pro unsuitable for professional use. That’s because the first and primary requirement for professional use is reliability, and its corollary: the ability to quickly and easily recover from unlovely events. The iMac Pro as yet violates those requirements.

Here’s the latest fiasco, which MPG has not experienced, but which is common enough for Apple to document a complex recovery process. Can you imagine me in my Sprinter photography adventure van 300 miles from an Apple Store having to deal with this at 20K/sec internet? I’d be forced to drive home 500 miles. I would be a fool to reply upon an iMac Pro that cannot even boot from an external drive without special configuration, and cannot boot at all from devices that any other Mac can.

Apple Configurator: Restore iMac Pro

In certain circumstances, such as a power failure during a macOS upgrade, an iMac Pro may become unresponsive and must be restored. The requirements for doing an iMac Pro restore are:

[complex restoration procedure which presumes Apple Configurator and high speed internet]

....

As stated before, the iMac Pro is in truth a science fair project released at least 6 months too early. MPG recommends against the iMac Pro at this point in time and will not recommend it until and unless these outrageous issues are put to rest.

In the meantime, the 2017 iMac 5K is the machine of choice. Groups with dedicated IT professionals and spare iMac Pros in case of problems might feel differently and that is OK. But as the sole machine one depends on, the risks of downtime are unacceptable at this juncture. Right now, I cannot even bring macOS up to date on the loaner 18 core iMac Pro.

Consider that Apple still issues two different supplementary updates: supplementary update for the iMac Pro (only), and supplementary update for all other Macs. Then see What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Go into Infinite Reinstall Loop. Obviously, the iMac Pro cake is half baked. The iMac Pro brings unwanted and unneeded “features” that are in fact bugs for my usage, but Apple thinks this is Really Cool. Someone tell Apple that a pro machine is not an iPhone X. This poor judgment only becomes worse with haphazard software development and testing.

Don H writes:

Boy, those steps for recovering the iMac Pro look like any number of factors could defeat the process. This is the money quote:

"Note: You won’t see any screen activity from the iMac Pro.”

So if the screen goes blank and stays that way for 5, 10, 20 minutes are you just supposed to wait it out? What a terrible way to conduct something that is already user-hostile.

So the long-term questions are:
1) What if all future Macs adopt this brittle procedure?
2) What if the user population simply accepts this as normal at some point?

It’s a crappy situation all around. If the Macintosh platform becomes untenable, what are the alternatives? (Part of the reason I stay current on the state of computers is to be able to recognize when it’s time to stockpile older models and use them for the rest of my life. I refuse to switch to ‘computing as a service' [also spying platform], which is the direction things seem to be heading.)

MPG: my thoughts run along similar lines.

Dennis K writes:

[unprintable]. I just read through Apple's "instructions" on restoring the iMac Pro. I'm surprised that they don't recommend doing it only during certain phases of the moon or specify the need to first split open the belly of a virgin goat and read the entrails. And I'm very much in line with Don H's comment: "... recognize when it’s time to stockpile older models and use them for the rest of my life." My primary machine is still a 2012 vintage Mac Pro - the last of the big towers. Yeah, it's not as fast as the newer stuff but, with a bunch of upgrades from OWC - memory, SSD's - it does what I need to do.

Last year we saw the beginning of the end for Sears, a company that, IMO, was the "original" Amazon 50+ years ago - you could buy ANYTHING from them at the store or from the catalog. As much as I hate to say it, I believe we're now witnessing the end of Apple. Sure they're still making money selling phones but I really wonder how much longer that can last, if the people on the phone side of the business have the same competency level as the staff doing the computer stuff. But HEY, at least the stuff LOOKS GOOD!?

MPG: Apple is like a huge train of taconite pellets—so much inertia that it will take a long time to slow down. Well, maybe a guano train heaped over with shiny stuff. The pros and serious users long responsible for Apple’s success are finding new offerings a bitter pill, including me.

Dan M writes:

Thank you for the information you’ve been providing on the state of Apple’s computer.

I bought my first macbook pro 17” in 2009, and my second in 2011. I’m saving up for a refurbished 2015 macbook pro retina 15” which I think will be my last mac laptop unless the hardware improves significantly, and I don’t consider the 2016/2017 models improved by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, your warnings on osx 10.13 have been useful. Only one person I told didn’t listen to me and he ended up borrowing my 10.12 installer after his laptop was left literally unusable.

What are the alternatives for the future? Some linux distribution? As much as I love running linux for servers, it’s an exercise in frustration as a desktop environment. Windows 10 or some later variation? It’s bad, but not windows vista/8.x levels of bad and there is always Cygwin I can install.

It’s a real shame Steve Jobs died before his time. I think that were he still alive, we wouldn’t be seeing this rapid slide into pure stupidity.

MPG: hang on for dear life? The Titanic did sink, it just took a while for people to catch on. To a certain extent, think of computers like toasters: buy 'em and update only what is absolutely necessary.

Capacities up to 48TB and speeds up to 1527MB/s

Caution: AT&T “Unlimited” and Other Plans Become Unusable When Throttled

See also: How to not Waste/Lose a Huge Chunk of Cellular Data for Personal Hotspot : Disable Background Downloading.

Last autumn, I went over my data plan allocation. AT&T abruptly throttled it to about 16 kilobytes per second (128 kbps), and there it stayed until I forked over more money for a new more costly plan

A big part of the over-usage was the awful Apple auto-download feature, which chewed up nearly 5GB of data over my personal hotspot downloading the latest manure pile that is XCode.

That was a few months ago. This month, my kids used too much and I ran out of data on a trip yesterday, which rendered anything but very simple email unusable—16 KB/sec renders many web sites unusable too—I was basically hosed.

AT&T won’t sell more than 20GB/month, which is barely adequate for my travel needs. And (beware!) AT&T has a dirty trick : if you switch to the “Unlimited” plan, read the fine print: the so-called Unlimited plan will start throttling after using only 10GB, rendering it slower than the 20GB plan for the 2nd 10 GB. It is unclear how slow the throttling becomes on the Unlimited plan after the first 10GB—but given the track record over the years of being lied to repeatedly, I cannot take the risk.

Another dirty trick, easy to mis-read and almost certainly intentional: The plans are quoted in GB (gigabytes). The throttling is quoted in kilobits. If the plan is in gigabytes, then the throttling speed should be in kilobytes (16KB), not kilobits (128Kb). Most users will see "128" and assume it is in the same units as the data plan (I did).

The AT&T representative repeatedly tried to upsell me on the Unlimited plan, ignored my complaint, and repeatedly lied about data rates while trying to upsell. Shortly thereafter, he admitted that he had no idea what a kilobit versus a kilobyte was. All told, he wasted an entire hour of my time and in the end nothing was fixed. He said he’d issue a $25 credit; this was not done (yet one more lie).

Later that day, I upgraded from the 16GB plan to the 20GB plan. AT&T then backdated that to Feb 4, and continued throttling data to 16 KB/sec.

Fortunately my trip was a short one, because data is still throttled to 16 KB/sec for several more days.

Bottom line: every AT&T interaction I’ve had over several years has entailed what seem to me to be intentionally misleading offerings and statements. From what I can tell, AT&T trains its personnel to do so as a matter of course.

AT&T throttling of 128 kilobits per second = 16 kilobytes per second = unusable.

What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Go into Infinite Reinstall Loop

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Update March 1 2018: I was away for 2 days. Upon my return, the iMac Pro had forgotten all about the Supplementary Update (no longer showing in App Store updates) for about 5 hours. Then it mysteriously reappeared. This flaky behavior is just flat amazing—the work of Apple geniuses.

As it stands, I will have to test the iMac Pro against the 2017 iMac 5K without the Supplementary Update. Since the tech note on the update claims only a fix to a CoreText bug, the huge download makes one wonder if there are other things buried in it that Apple does not want to mention at this time.

Update March 5, 2018: Paul M’s suggestion solves the issue: make sure the Start-up Security Utility is set to Full Security.

...

In What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Destroy Its Boot Volume Rendering Itself Unbootable, I wrote about the bugs in Apple Disk Utility and how it can destroy the boot volume. And, joy, the iMac Pro requires its own special procedure for resetting the SMC.

But it gets worse—much worse.

Today I installed the macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update.

  • Upon reboot the system demanded that macOS be reinstalled (“this version of macOS has to be reinstalled”).
  • After reinstalling macOS, then it wanted to install macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update.
  • After installing the supplemental update, it demanded that macOS be reinstalled.
  • = infinite reinstall/update/reinstall/update/reinstall/update/.../ad-nauseum

Maybe this is iMac Pro specific—the new wonderful secure enclave manure anti-feature. The App Store updates window shows that the macOS 10.13.3 Supplemental Update has now been installed 3 times (and counting), as shown below.

See reader comments further below—I’m not the only one who has experienced this issue.

Clean slate does not fix it

Booting into recovery mode, I erased the boot volume with Disk Utility for a totally clean-slate reinstall. Upon reinstall, the same infinite loop results. So I basically have an about $11200 paperweight on my desk, at least until Apple issues macOS HighSierra 10.13.4 and that might not fix it.

What’s up with Apple quality control?

I’m tired of Apple science fair projects coupled with incompetent or non-existent testing. What is wrong over at Apple that the most valuable company in the world cannot fund basic quality assurance? Clearly it is leadership because Apple does not lack for technical talent. Thus it is fair to say that poor professionalism and teenager-grade judgment are at work. But that said, a CEO on the ball would not tolerate this level of failure. Were it me, the leader responsible would be out of a job.

At this point, Tim Cook bears this responsibility directly—too many years and too many problems—from now on I deem him the root cause since the buck stops with the CEO. The years and years of bugs and most lately severe security flaws now tarnish him directly. The Apple board is just as complicit and should now be seen as irresponsible in their fiduciary duty in allowing this state of affairs to continue, because no company lasts forever, and this onslaught of failures will be punished by the market sooner or later.That Apple is making truckloads of money is no excuse to become blind to severe failings that over time accumulate and damage a company’s reputation—which is the top asset it has.

MPG’s advice

MPG now advises that all professional users seriously question the iMac Pro as a tool—too many problems, too many opportunities for things that take you down, a very costly anti-investment. I am so glad that I decided to stick with the 2017 iMac 5K, which outperforms the fastest iMac Pro on the key tasks I do.

No wonder there are already $500 discounts on the iMac Pro (all but unprecedented for an Apple Mac only a few months old).

2017 iMac Pro with macOS 10.13.3: infinite reinstall loop; macOS 10.13.3 and Supplemental Update demanded for reinstall a 4th time in 2 hours

Joe C writes:

Spot-on post. I had the exact same problem with my iMac pro. Senior tech support rep I talked to could not help and suggested I start over in the phone queue to maybe get another rep who could. Lovely. That bad boy was sent back dead.

Now using iMac with 2TB drive and Thunderbay works great. Also got the Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini and Micron SSD’s to use to make clone of boot drive.

MPG: isn’t this a little scary... not just a bug but a bug that even a senior Apple tech support representative cannot solve?

Paul M writes:

I was experiencing the problem you described in your post.

My iMac Pro is the 10 core version, but I had exactly the same problem. After four attempts to install the 10.3.3 Supplemental Update, I had a “light bulb” moment. I had previously used the Start-up Security Utility in the iMac Pro to change the Secure Boot option from Full Security to Medium Security. I changed that option back to Full Security. I ran the 10.3.3 Supplemental Update and the installation proceeded without any problems. Perhaps this may help with the Infinite Reinstall Loop you and others are experiencing.

MPG: Hallelujah! That solves the issue. The Supplementary Update now installs and works.

SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Get 4TB of SSD for about $776, Install in $90 Dual-Bay External — Super Convenient Capacious Storage

See OWC external SSD wish list and other wish lists.

Get two of the special deal Micron 2TB SSDs and install into the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual enclosure (USB 3.1 gen 2 via USB-C as well as compatibility via USB-A, both cables supplied). WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.

A 2TB SSD or two are useful in many other scenarios also! For example, older laptops with SATA drives, any PC or Mac with SATA bays.

I just ordered some—I will RAID-0 stripe them; the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual enclosure supports hardware RAID-0, RAID-1, SPAN or JBOD in the enclosure.

Any 2.5" drive like this SSD can also be housed in things like the OWC Thunderbay 4 or the single-drive OWC Elite Pro Mini or the OWC Drive Dock. See all OWC external enclosures.

Update: these SSDs do NOT work in the OWC Thunderbay 4 (ditto for OWC’s own 2TB SSD).

For my purposes, I want bus powered operation in a compact form factor for portability, even if I don’t get full performance, hence the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual enclosure.

These will be perfect for taking along a couple of years work on a very compact external SSD in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van—I do not want to deal with bulky and heavy hard drives in the van. For that matter, they will be terrific at home used for many purposes, including a silent 4TB backup drive (2 X 2TB = 4TB).

I’m not yet certain, but the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual enclosure bus powers two SSDs off many Macs, including the iMac 5K and iMac Pro (tested tonight with dual 480GB, works great, so I’m assuming the Microns will bus power just fine).

Portable, rugged, and bus-powered

Apple Needs to Rethink Activity Monitor for High Core Count Machines

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Maxed-out 2017 iMac Pro is here.

Maxed-out 18-core 2017 iMac Pro

Below: this screen shot takes the entire vertical space of the iMac Pro screen. Apple really needs to rethink CPU History when there are 36 virtual cores. Perhaps a 2-column display, since there is ample screen width for history in two columns.

36 virtual cores on 2017 iMac Pro
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Destroy Its Boot Volume Rendering Itself Unbootable

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Apple thinks its new security features are nifty.

MPG thinks that Disk Utility has bug after bug after bug. Including a bug that not only destroyed the boot volume (“Macintosh HD”) but destroyed the recovery partition.

In progress is a system restore over the internet via network recovery (hours-long process). Never in decades of using Macs have I totally hosed a machine this badly. Once hosed, it’s not even possible to boot externally—because that is turned off by default. What exactly does this not-a-bug-its-a-feature do for users?

Does Apple test anything these days? macOS Manure.

There is no way in heaven that I’m going to commit to an iMac Pro for my work given what I just experienced. I want a useful tool, not a science fair project.

MPG’s advice for any professional is to skip the iMac Pro unless its performance is a must-have for specialized work (the iMac Pro is inferior for my key tasks versus the 2017 iMac 5K). And backup frequently. The new secure enclave brings all sorts of new headaches and problems.

Update: the install is now hung in an infinite loop": “iTunes updated successfully”—Clicking Continue just presents the same “iTunes updated successfully” dialog—10 times or 100 times or 1000 times—forever. That’s after a previous infinite loop asking whether to install iTunes (no choice, in effect). Apple Core Rot in macOS Manure. I literally had to pull the power plug. It’s unbelievable that Apple ships this untested garbage to users. After pulling the power plug, rebooting forced me through the same setup process, but luckily iTunes was now current, thus bypassing the infinite loop bug. All of this following yet another bug claiming that 80GB of user-account data would not fit on a 220GB boot volume.

...

Backup, peripherals, etc

Budget for peripherals as well.

Backup

Everyone should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).

The Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones (use the drives individually in most cases, not RAID).

Primary storage

Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (Thunderbolt 3 version).

Note: the Thunderbay 4 is a terrific solution (I have 5 of them) but a Thunderbolt 3 version should be out soon. Hard drives go into the Thunderbay 4 or an external enclosure.

Port expansion

To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.

See also OWC Offers Dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI Adapter for Thunderbolt 3 Macs or PCs.

Peripherals

Apple Throws Chinese Users Under the Bus

Back in Apple and Privacy: are there Bedrock Principles Based on Inviolable Philosophical/Moral Principles, or Rather, Concretized Pragmatic State of the Moment “whatever works” Policies?, I commented on the dubious self-servering and now clearly hypocritical pseudo-philosophical claims of Apple about privacy.

While I gave Apple some benefit of the doubt, the implications are now confirmed: Apple has thrown Chinese users under the bus by agreeing to store encryption keys for iCloud in China. Does anyone but a naif think the Chinese government won’t demand those keys sooner or later, and probably sooner?

I’d like Apple to formally state: “Before we turn over encryption keys to the Chinese government, we will give users 72 hours notice of that action and destroy all data (and backups) of any user that requests it”. That would show some shred of respect for the respect-for-user-privacy that Apple just loves to tout when it is convenient and makes for good PR. But Apple has made no such statement.

From Apple to Start Putting Sensitive Encryption Keys in China in the Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):

Apple says it is moving the keys to China as part of its effort to comply with a Chinese law on data storage enacted last year. Apple said it will store the keys in a secure location, retain control over them and hasn’t created any backdoors to access customer data. A spokesman in a statement added that Apple advocated against the new laws, but chose to comply because it “felt that discontinuing the [iCloud] service would result in a bad user experience and less data security and privacy for our Chinese customers.”

Apple’s move reflects the tough choice that has faced all foreign companies that want to continue offering cloud services in China since the new law. Other companies also have complied, including Microsoft Corp. for its Azure and Office 365 services, which are operated by 21Vianet Group , Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., which has cloud operating agreements with Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. and Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co.

The rationalization about user privacy is stunning: note the reference to feelings ('felt') but not to facts or to moral-philosophical principles, as well as the ugly precedent it sets.

What the statement above really means is:

We at Apple support privacy for our users as extremely important. Unless and until it impacts our bottom line.

This after Apple gave the FBI the finger as to cell phone encryption (Apple in 2016 fought a U.S. government demand to help unlock the iPhone of the gunman in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack). So Apple blocks the FBI, but thinks it is just fine to comply with a repressive government with zero respect for human rights in a way that compromises millions of users. The sanctimonious irony should not be lost on anyone, anywhere. George Orwell just rolled over in his grave.

One has to wonder about the convoluted rationalizations Tim Cook must go through to avoid implosive cognitive dissonance. That is, assuming he actually does respect user privacy morally-philosophically as a conviction, versus just a nice talking point. As I see it, it is either cowardice through and through, or it’s all been a nice “fair weather” show.

Will Apple be complying with government demands in any two-bit totalitarian dictatorship as well? Where is Apple’s formal policy on such matters—why not spell it out? Still, it’s hardly necessary—the precedent has been set so the policy is clear enough.

Does Tim Cook now have any credibility on any issue involving individual rights? You can’t pick and choose which rights apply or do not apply; one either has a deep conviction that individual rights matter (the founding principle of this country), or it’s all for show. Contrary to the absurd rationalization quoted above, this is not a complex issue: supporting a repressive state where individual rights don’t matter makes Apple complicit, with Apple sanctioning a totalitarian state. No amount of honey-coated press releases change that core fact.

To quote Tim Cook:

I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that.

How is Apple leading now?

See also

From Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears in Reuters, emphasis added:

Now, according to Apple, for the first time the company will store the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts in China itself. That means Chinese authorities will no longer have to use the U.S. courts to seek information on iCloud users and can instead use their own legal system to ask Apple to hand over iCloud data for Chinese users, legal experts said.

Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates. Jing Zhao, a human rights activist and Apple shareholder, said he could envisage worse human rights issues arising from Apple handing over iCloud data than occurred in the Yahoo case.

MPG: Apple seems to be on the brink of being complicit in violating human rights. There can be no justifiable moral basis for anyone or any company to participate in supporting a totalitarian state which does not recognize individual rights.

What exactly does Apple intend to do now to rationalize its new policy, which sets a grotesque precedent which could ultimately allow governments to kill and imprison and torture people? Apple must have had some compelling business reasons ($$$) to comply. Morals and integrity are oxymorons when money can change them. All the years of Apple posturing about respecting privacy, respecting people, loving the planet = a zero.

Kurt FH writes “he blinked”:

You’ve commented on this “unfortunate” issue, but not strong enough in my view.

Does anyone doubt, that other countries selling a significant volume of Apple products will soon follow? In short: iCloud will soon join the “unwashed unprotected data” stored and accessible by virtually anyone in some kind of power anywhere.

Now, I think Apple has to explain what happens to iCloud users of other countries - US, UK, Germany, Denmark etc. - when they use their iPhones inside China? Will data be transferred “untainted” and “encrypted” to home country iCloud or will it have to use the Chinese iCloud site(s) as proxies for further progress past the big firewall. In effect, this - ahem - “proxy” could decode any traffic, make a copy and reencode the traffic before transferring to somewhere abroad. The Chinese counterpart to NSA (FISA and whatnot) will probably not have to inform anyone (and prevent Apple to “blabber”) about this “man-in-the-middle” in the former “middle kingdom”. Or?

Especially will it be interesting, if Apple has to explain and defend, that american citizens must accept “iCloud data access by the chinese government” while traveling in china, but not allow the same to take effect in the US (or is it already implemented as a “silent understanding” also including repatriation of huge funds to US ciontrolled shores ;-)

I’m just asking…

I know, that Android is not secure. And I probably have to realize, that iOS etc. is just as insecure in real life from now on. It will be interesting, if this will also affect the falling sales in smartphones in "western countries”, where we can easily foresee, that at least “Five Eyes”, BND (Germany), FSB (Russia) and their “friends” from India and down to any tin-pot country in the world with a semblance of a phone system.

MPG: with China building a truly Orwellian state monitoring infrastructure where (literally) soon just about everyone’s location in real time can be known, Apple is adding a key piece to the infrastructure. It’s chilling and one wonders how Tim Cook can sleep at night.

SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

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