California Streaming

I’ve been brooding and trying to re-adjust to returning to work, so today’s Apple event was an interesting distraction. Some quick thoughts in no particular order:

  • Not updating the base iPad to have USB-C seems backwards. “Parts bin” iPad indeed.
  • I very much like the A15-toting 6th Gen iPad Mini (what it having USB-C and all), but can’t really justify getting one to replace my 5th Gen (I found it weird that they only mentioned the A15 when talking about the iPhone, but hey, that’s product placement for you).
  • The loss of the headphone jack on the Mini is reason enough not to upgrade, to be honest. Cue an n-gate-style “Apple continues the fight against its own users” rant.
  • With the addition of the wide-angle front camera and Center Stage to the standard iPad and the Mini, last year’s Air is pretty much dead for me. If I ever decide to get a bigger screen, it’ll have to be the Pro.
  • Some of the videos were (at least partially) shot in Lisbon, which is pretty much insane as we still don’t have an official Apple store (or Continental Portuguese as a speech option for Siri).
  • The phones are… OK, I guess. I’m not really interested in upgrading until (maybe) next year.
  • Nobody got the new Watch design right. Which is a good thing, because I think it’s great. Again, not interested in upgrading, but nice to see.

Seeing the Sherlocking of FlickType streamed live to the world, however, was a major downer (I was one of the Watch beta testers, and loved it). Apple really ought to be better than this, and I expect a fair amount of fallout over the next few days.

So… when are we getting new Mac chipsets? That’s what I want to see, I need a new Mac desktop (preferably a new mini) that will last me for the next half decade.

Toasty Mood

It’s 28oC indoors, tomorrow’s my last day of summer vacation, and, unsurprisingly, I’m about as keen on returning to work on Monday as stepping on burning coals. In fact, I might actually prefer the novelty of the coals.

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The Wall

This is an extremely accurate depiction of the current state of affairs.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

This is going to be another non-Apple post, but for a good reason: As I wrote about , my lovely, svelte and ultralight died an accidental and ignominious death and I was left without a working “to the metal” machine for low level hacking, i.e. building and flashing and firmware images, messing about with network stuff, fiddling with , etc.

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Bitwig Studio on Linux

Today I learned that Bitwig Studio has an 8-track license, which I happened to get a hold of (there are occasional offerings and bundles it comes with, and I stumbled upon one of those).

The layout is pretty easy to understand, and it works quite well

Since Stimming uses it, I was more than a bit curious to check it out, and given I have been , I decided to install the flatpak for version 3 and try it out on my new Linux laptop.

That worked OK (with ALSA audio, by the way), but since the flatpak was quite old I upgraded to version 4.0.1 (via .deb packages) and spent a few hours playing around.

This is by no means a review, just a few notes and quick impressions:

  • Touchscreen controls just worked (I will be trying this out on the Mac later, but thought it amusing that I quite like the interaction model on Linux).
  • The UX is very smooth. I’m a Logic guy and have dabbled in Ableton, and it was easier to find my way around this than Ableton. Only niggle is that UI element control sizes are on the small side by default.
  • I really like the effect stacking UX (which to me is one of Logic‘s current weak points, and the only thing that made me curious about Ableton). Zero trouble getting the hang of it, or the mixer, or any audio post-processing options I could reach.
  • 8 tracks is an OK limitation for doodling, but I really wish I could use some of the built-in instruments from the 16-track and full versions.

This last bit was what stuck with me. I can browse through and audition what seems like most of the baseline built-in instruments and that makes for a great demo (and might be a good upsell strategy), but it is incredibly frustrating not to be able to use them in my tracks, especially given Apple’s current pace of near-monthly add-on releases1 for .

All in all, this is worth a second look, and I will try it on my Mac after Summer break and see what I can do with some of my usual VSTs.

But it could be so much nicer if dabbling with the built-in synths was a real possiblitly. Feels like a missed opportunity to win people over.


  1. Plus, of course, the sheer amount of stuff you can get indirectly by buying MainStage if you don’t have Logic (which I do). But on iOS alone, things are insane. My iPad is chock full of instrument packs of all kinds these days… ↩︎

A Wider View

Given , I decided to accelerate the transition to a new “desktop” setup before Summer break was over. And, to cut a long story short, this is probably the first time I’ve been without a “normal” desktop Mac in over fifteen years, but it seems to be worth it.

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Elementary, Take Six

I’m spending a few days off, which in this new pandemic world essentially means puttering about the house and executing tactical raids to the countryside and beach to pillage fresh air and maim local takeaway cuisine, so one of the first things I did was to turn off every single Windows machine in the house and (almost) completely forget about work.

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Fusion Meltdown

Sometimes computers are just too much of a hassle.

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Catch-Up

As will recount, I have been dealing with some hardware issues that have taken up most of my free time, but various other things have happened in the meantime that also contributed to a few densely packed weeks.

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25 Years Of Video Calls

Roughly 25 years ago, I spent a little while at INESC and its little coterie of incubated companies (what we’d term “startups” these days) doing all manner of things I think are worth recounting.

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500 Days Later

It’s been since my last update on the pandemic saga and my dataset has just crossed 500 rows, so I thought it was time to look at my dashboard, pick out some highlights and recount what has been going on since.

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