Flood and Mac updates

Flood update: Today I checked on my stuff in storage and was happy to find that there is apparently no damage inside any of my instrument cases; they just got a little bit of dirt on the outside. Yay!

Mac update: Even after having done all the stuff to make it stable, it continues to be unstable. Ugh. So I decided to just go ahead and buy an M1 Mac mini (512GB storage, 16GB RAM), monitor, external NVMe m.2 enclosure, and a 2TB drive for it. I won’t have the new computer until January 15. Normally I wouldn’t be so eager to do a first-gen new-architecture Mac but the reviews of it have been great and meanwhile this 2017 iMac has always given me a lot of trouble with stability and reliability and mysterious problems; Big Sur made it worse, but it was never a particularly great computer to begin with.1

This also lets me greatly simplify my work setup since now I can go back to just having a monitor and keyboard connected directly to my Linux machine (via hardware switching) instead of having to deal with a Rube Goldbergian mess of HDMI capture devices via Quicktime Player.2 Heck, maybe I can start to just use my actual work-provided laptop while I’m at it, since this monitor has a whole three inputs3

It’s a little annoying that there’s no way to get the full 3.8GB/sec bandwidth to the NVMe over Thunderbolt (it’s limited to 10Gb/sec, or around 1.25GB/sec), but it’s still faster than a SATA and I mean it’s not like I was going to be saturating even SATA with what I do. I never had any complaints about the relatively-glacial Fusion Drive in this iMac, anyway. And maybe some future Mac will add an m.2 expansion slot.4

It’ll be a while before all of my software is natively supported on the M1 (and a big chunk of my music software is “well, it’ll work, maybe”) but the folks I know who have taken the plunge say that Logic does a lot to help with the architecture bridging (by using a plugin host that works transparently) and apparently most of the Native Instruments stuff works well enough (except MASSIVE which I don’t use anyway), and I mean right now I’m not doing much with music to begin with.

The limited number of ports is going to be annoying though. Most likely my connection schema will be:

Also it wasn’t until I was trying to figure this stuff out that I learned that my stupidly big USB 2 hub is only USB 2, and both my backup drive and my SATA media drive have been limited to 480Mbps all this time without me realizing it. Whoops. I guess there’s an easy way to make it a lot faster, then!

Anyway. I figure that this makes my setup nice and modular and if the next version of the Mac mini is better it won’t be nearly as annoying to swap it out.

I do wish it had options for more than 16GB of RAM, though. Right now my computer isn’t even doing all that much and it’s using 17GB of “app memory,” somehow. But I suspect that a lot of that is stale pages anyway.

Also I wonder if sshfs works on ARM yet. Probably not. But with this new setup it won’t matter since I’ll just be working directly from Linux instead of doing this whole Mac-as-editor-frontend thing anymore anyway.

  1. And yes this machine’s had a complete wipe and reinstall a few times now. I haven’t gone so far as to do that with Big Sur but… I shouldn’t have to? My MacBook Pro hasn’t had any problems. 

    Before Big Sur the main problem was that all sorts of weird networking/connectivity/etc. stuff would happen, and it seemed like settings would get corrupted in odd ways. After Big Sur, it has all that, plus it kernel panics every other day or so, usually right in the middle of a meeting, and the kernel panic is always in the smb kernel extension, which is downright weird.

    Plus, Firefox and Sublime Text crash constantly. I thought it might be a RAM problem but I’ve completely swapped out the RAM multiple times and run multiple memtest86 passes each time. Makes no sense.

  2. When doing GUI stuff with my NUC I mostly use xrdp, but work’s security policy for Cisco AnyConnect doesn’t allow “remote sessions” (meaning logins via xrdp, VNC, or ssh) to initiate a VPN connection, so every now and then I need to run a GUI directly on the HDMI port. The easiest way to do this when your monitor is an iMac? Use an HDMI capture device and Quicktime Player in “new movie recording” mode. It’s horrible and annoying. 

  3. Although my USB sharing switch only has two host-end connections, so I’d need to find a 3-way switch. Or, y'know, a proper KVM, but let’s not get conventional here. 

    (And anyway, HDMI-compatible KVMs are still ridiculously expensive. Having separate video and USB switching is a small price to pay to not have to pay around $700 for something that’s one button more convenient!)

  4. Hey, a girl can dream. 

  5. which turns out to only be USB 2 anyway, despite having a USB-C connector on it 


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