New Mac mini

Today I wasn’t expecting to get a lot of work done due to my brain still feeling like it’s been through a juicer, and also because my new Mac mini arrived today. So I got to go through the drudgery of reinstalling everything while also seeing the news of the world exploding around me! Hooray!

Anyway, just some random setup notes.

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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

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Caution regarding file synchronization and macOS

Last night a couple of my projects got messed up by a bad interaction between Nextcloud and the macOS auto-save mechanism. In particular, I was working on a couple of projects that were stored in Nextcloud, and due to the way that they both work, macOS kept on seeing Nextcloud as having changed the files, so it would save out a backup copy, and then Nextcloud would see macOS as having changed the files, so it would issue a sync. At one point things got out of sync and led to a bunch of conflicts, which then in turn resulted in things getting into a very weird state where many of the files were just plain not syncing, and others were replaced with older versions.

I think to complicate matters, one of the projects may have also been open on my machine at home, judging by how the Logic project file had been spammed/overwritten with backup versions that reflected the project state before I left home, so while all my recordings were still present, they weren’t on my timeline at all. Nope, I just managed (after a lot of finagling) to get my VPN back home working, and Logic wasn’t open at all. This was purely a problem with sync between my laptop and the server, with no remote meddling taking place.

Fortunately they were just rough recordings that I was planning on replacing anyway, but if I’d lost some actual work I’d have been rather upset.

Presumably this would happen with any filesystem-based sync mechanism (such as Dropbox or Google Drive). So, if you’re going to work on bundle-style projects from apps which use macOS version management (such as Logic, Final Cut Pro, and probably a bunch of others), it’s best to move or copy them outside of your sync folder when you work on them, and only move/copy them back in when you want the saved version to actually synchronize to your other computers.

Audio Hijack is good, actually

I’d bought pretty heavily into the iTunes ecosystem primarily because it gave me a good listening experience, but also because it had good interoperability with Apple’s AirPlay devices. But ever since upgrading to Catalina, AirPlay has refused to work for completely inscrutable reasons. I’d kind of given up on whole-home music streaming (and was thinking of getting a small FM transmitter and an analog tuner, like I did back in grad school) but then I remembered that I had a generic Bluetooth receiver that I’d bought for use in my previous car.

So, after a little bit of setup and verifying that my desktop could actually communicate to it from across my home, I was going to do the obvious thing and just set up a multi-audio output device to pipe Music.app through.

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Corel Update Helper focus stealing

For the last few months, every now and then my foreground window will “blip” out of focus momentarily. This is slightly annoying whenever it happens, since that means that whatever I was doing gets disrupted. If I’m drawing a line, the line gets hecked up. If I’m typing text, letters get dropped. If I’m recording in Logic, my audio drops out for a couple seconds. You know, annoying.

I was searching high and low for what it might be, and in doing so I noticed that Karabiner-Elements (which I use to remap some of the keys on my non-remappable keyboards) has a window focus log (from the Karabiner menu choose Event Viewer then Frontmost application), which is intended to make it easier to tell the bundle name for per-app layout overrides.

Well, this is handy!

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