Re-Surfacing

No, this isn’t a Surface joke. In fact, that computer is alive and well, and has been an excellent counterpoint to my iMac over the past couple of weeks, during which I was working throughout the clock on a customer engagement. Looking back, it was a lot of fun, but two weeks of sleeping less than 6 hours a day tend to drain the wits out of you, so I’m still recovering.

The arrival of my new iMac was stupendously timely, since my workload snapped to infinity only a few days after I had cleaned up my desk. So having 9K worth of pixels to draft documents, work on code and flesh out Azure configurations to deploy was super-handy.

However, I am never going to run Windows natively on this iMac, and have zero reason to do so when I have a Surface, a much more powerful Linux/KVM box in my closet and just about anything Windows-y I need on Azure, so I spent all that time working inside Remote Desktop.

(Any regular reader will know that I’ve effectively spent years fine tuning Remote Desktop clients of just about every description, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.)

Stupid Remote Desktop Tricks

Although the official Microsoft client for macOS works fine, it does not support SSH tunnelling (which I rely upon for most of my Azure scenarios), so I use Jump Desktop instead. I still have a bug open with Jump regarding the Portuguese keyboard layout on a Mac (the § and < keys are sending out the same keycodes, but otherwise it works beautifully over the LAN, and handles multi-screen HiDPI over gigabit Etherhet fast enough for any glitches not to matter.

The trick for a fully productive experience, however, is to understand the right settings to use.

Case in point: I spend hours in Skype for Business conference calls, and even though I can map audio playback to the Mac just fine (and even watch live video on it in sync), I can’t map audio input properly (if at all), so I prop open my Surface on my desk and remote to it with the “leave audio on remote computer” setting on – and it works so well that I don’t think twice about it.

What did take some thinking was dealing with CPU throttling. Since I wasn’t using Windows 10 locally, after a while power management kicked in and my Remote Desktop session would become ever so slightly slower–not much, but enough to break my stride, as it were.

So far the only workaround that has stuck is to set up a power management scheme where the Surface is set to 4 hours of idle time before entering power saving mode, which is kind of daft but good enough for the moment (I intend to figure out how to at least turn off the display without triggering the rest of the power saving features).

Backlog

Since the past two weekends were pretty much wiped out and I still spent most of this one catching up on sleep and doing some quick triage of personal (paper) mail, I’ve yet to catch up on real life (let alone writing), but I’ve got three sets of topics that I’d like to cover in the near future.

  • Resuming my home automation narrative
  • Miscellaneous container nerdery that I’ve been engaging in
  • All the machine learning stuff I’ve left by the roadside these past six months or so

Also, I got a Samsung S8 as an office phone, and am considering writing about why I refuse to use any shape or form of Samsung products ever since Vodafone 360 (which is long dead and gone). Although I was planning to wait until a full decade had passed…

If I can scrape off the vitriol associated with that long-standing grudge and the utter dislike for what Samsung has let ferment atop the standard Android OS over the years, I might even write a review of the thing.

As a 4G mobile hotspot, obviously.