The Northern Spy: Sweet Sorrow
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Sweet Sorrow

Parting can be tough when you've had a faithful machine for so many years. But the old model 180 was getting long in tooth and was no longer reliable. True, some of the problems were mere cosmetic scuffs, but others ranged from annoyances that had to be worked around to serious impairment of functionality.

So, when the Spy's local dealer announced an introductory (and deeply discounted) sale on a brand new (to the frozen north; they'd already been selling in the land to our south) model X380, he decided to put the suction hose on his bank account and make it "out with the old, in with the new".

On short acquaintance, the new machine is wicked fast. The combination of wider bandwidth and some 22% more horsepower appears on first blush to increase throughput by nearly fifty percent, which has always got to be an important goal of so major a technology upgrade. Moreover, operating speed adjustments are automatic; the manufacturer no longer makes the old manual adjustment type, and it was this aspect that caused so much grief over the years.

Facing a second replacement of what was now an $1850 component on a machine that wouldn't be worth half that much if sold, and the additional inconvenience of a compromised output module became too much for the Spy to swallow, so his faithful old machine is now a parts mine.

The LCD dashboard is perhaps a little small, but adequately informative for the job, particularly as it keeps and displays a non-resettable record of hours used so routine maintenance can be performed in a timely manner. There is also an indicator for CPU load, so performance can be matched to demand appropriately.

In this kind of processing, it is important that the CPU is kept level with the power supply, which can be a tedious adjustment, and was left entirely to the ingenuity of the operator on older models, but the X380 comes complete with a gauge and leveling tool to simplify the task.

Construction seems robust. The machine shares the basic chassis with four less expensive models in the X300 line (X330, X350, X354, X370) and three big brothers that all seemed overkill (and with a much heftier price tag) for the Spy's needs (X384, X390, and X394).

These are large units, and one may be inclined to wonder if they would easily tip over, but the slightly greater height is offset by heavier components at the bottom, and if anything the new unit is more stable than the old.

Is all entirely hunky-dory? Not quite. The Spy does have a quibble. The output peripheral, which is a type of pressed plastic, is sloppily moulded and the protective door does not fit properly. Moreover the overall construction of said sub-unit is of minimal quality. Yes, the Spy finds it necessary for his work and paid the extra money, but the manufacturer is selling that unit for five or six times what it would have cost to make. Even the main machine is pricey, but the Spy prefers to buy quality and make it last--his old one was not on its last legs until twenty-four years old, a veritable eternity for any piece of technology.

Family was over to his house for an Easter Monday meal, so the Spy took Gregory (2 years old, talks in complete sentences) into the garage to see the brand new toy.

"What colour is it, Gregory?"

"It's John Deere green."

That's Gregory's favourite colour, by the way. Oh, and you did note the date on this column, yet it's all true. On first use, the Spy's new John Deere tractor seems a fine machine, and the forty-eight inch deck ought to result in greatly reduced mowing times, though he suspects that pricey power blower with its ill-fitting parts will have its issues over time. OTOH, the wide tires provide greatly improved traction on wet grass, and the automatic transmission, though a sealed unit, cannot help but be a vast improvement on the old 180's problematic manual transmission (already replaced once). The trailer hitch is also improved and shouldn't wear as the old one did. Removing the bagging unit is about the same level of difficulty, provided you don't also need to remove the power blower, which requires several additional steps.

One more item: The same salesman's signature (ask for George) was on the 1992 invoice for the original machine. Prairie Coast equipment and its successors have been reliable suppliers of this kind of equipment (smaller and larger too) for a long time.

Apple's Encryption Flap Revisited

So, the U.S. government has backed off from trying to force Apple to build it a version of the OS that would have allowed it to crack into any iPhone, ostensibly because they found another way in. Good. Of course, the issue here was never the FBI's ability to get into that particular phone. They probably consulted the local hacker, like as not a 10-year-old down the street from one of the agents.

The real issue was the desire to read any iPhone anytime, with or without a Court order, the terrorist line a convenient front for requiring manufacturers to provide ready-made back doors for the convenience of law enforcement officers. No doubt they expected public sentiment to be on their side, as it usually is when the terrorist flag is waved, and were caught by surprise when it went the other away. Caught with fingers in the cookie jar is more like. Apple was right to refuse.

Of course the FBI announcing success via another way merely points out that no data (and particularly not email) is truly private. If you want data security, write it out on a piece of paper (with a hard surface directly underneath) and lock it up rather than make an electronic record. Or better yet, memorize it and then eat the paper. Anything else can be cracked. But, are you RUT?

More Adventures in Peripheral Land

Despite last month's caveats about MacSales and its CDW brands, the Spy sprang for one of their portable enclosures, the two-bay Cine-RAID that can take a pair of two-and-a-half inch drives, or in his case an SSD and a platter drive. The Spy plans to make this his main backup unit, as it is only a little large for a pocket, but if he partitions both, then creates fusion volumes by matching up partitions, he can get ultra-fast large-capacity portable backup. So far, he's just installed the two drives (positive points for dead easy) and formatted them. Partitioning and use yet to come.

But this too generates a quibble. The USB-3 cable is A-B, but with the older mini connector often used on cameras rather than the bifurcated one usually found on newer drive enclosures--despite that there is plenty of room on the back panel for a larger connector. Of course the enclosure came with a cable, but the Spy needs a couple more--one for home, one for the briefcase, and these cannot be purchased locally, even from stores with hundreds of cable variations. Of course, a USB-2 cable, even with the correct connectors, is detected as such and provides only USB-2 performance, presumably because it lacks the extra conductors in the cable. Bummer. Whatever happened to standardization?

Still, this looks like a solid unit. He's tricked it out with a 1T 7200RPM platter and a 480G SSD. It ought to be a screamer, but he'll let you know. Until then, he has no mow to say.

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB. com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost. net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe's fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon's Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher's Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization--Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

Sites for Modula-2 resources
Modula-2 FAQ and ISO-based introductory text:
R10 Repository and source code:
URLs for resources mentioned in this column
OWC (Other World Computing):
Prairie Coast Equipment (John Deere Dealer in Langley BC):


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more
Smultron 10.0.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful...
Smultron 10 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. You can use Smultron 10 to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece... Read more
Capto 1.2.5 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
ScreenFlow 7.1.1 - Create screen recordi...
ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your... Read more
Xcode 9.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
TotalFinder 1.10.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Features... Read more
Adobe Flash Player - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more

Dune! guide - how to toe the line and ge...
Publisher Voodoo is at it again with an all new high score chaser -- Dune! In this fast-paced arcade game, you have to propel yourself along sand dunes, gaining enough momentum to jump above the line to score points, while making sure you have... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Your favorite part of the week as officially arrived. It's time to take a look at the best deals in games. Things are admittedly a bit sparse, but there are a few diamonds in the rough to see you through if you're... | Read more »
Be the last person standing in Legacy of...
Yoozoo Games’ popular action MMO Legacy of Discord is getting a huge new update to celebrate its first anniversary. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of an exciting survival mode titled Last Guardian. This new survival mode will pit you... | Read more »
Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »
Cottage Garden (Games)
Cottage Garden 1.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.11 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via

13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more

Jobs Board

Fraud Analyst, *Apple* Advertising Platform...
Job Summary Apple Ad Platforms has an opportunity to redefine advertising on mobile devices. Apple reaches hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
Job Summary This role is responsible for helping to strengthen Apple 's information security posture through the identification and curation of security event data. Read more
Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple In...
…develop a team of diverse partner employees focusing on excellence to deliver the Apple story. Even when you're not present, you will maintain a consistent influence Read more
watchOS Frameworks Engineering Manager, *App...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! Apple is looking for an exceptional software engineering leader to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.