Almost everyone who uses any Apple mobile device at least knows about Touch ID and/or Face ID, and likely uses them. If you have a laptop Mac, that is the same, as they come with Touch ID embedded in their power buttons. But that really isn’t the end of Apple’s biometric authentication story. For those with an Apple Watch and Mac, you also have what I’ve started calling Watch ID (though Apple hasn’t yet realized this is a good name for it). Yes, in some ways this is less true biometric authentication, as the Watch is merely kept unlocked by sensing a heartbeat, not necessarily your heartbeat. But, if you set a lengthy passcode on the Watch, and use your phone to unlock it each time you put it on, it kinda does become a convenient biometric sensor for authentication.
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Well, it is the final day of 2020. What many have termed a year from hell. People have memed this year up the wazoo. One of my favorites is something along the lines of God asking an angel to prep disasters for the 2020s, and got misheard as saying 2020. Another is a time traveler asking if the disaster has happened yet, and us replying that they don’t have the first idea how little that narrows things down. I mean, less than 24 hours ago another disaster happened here in the Twin Cities. My point is, this has been quite a year. Hence, the question titling this post, are we done yet? With this decade, I mean. A decade compressed into a year.
One of the larger, yet perhaps lesser generally known, advances in the Apple Silicon Macs is their Unified Memory Architecture. In short, where previous models had separate pools of memory for the CPU, the GPU, and other components (think 16 GB of main memory, with 1 GB of video memory, sort of thing), these new Macs have one pool. This means they don’t need to spend the overhead of copying data between pools when each other needs them. The performance gains are quite real with this, and as a user of an M1 Mac, I do think this is a big part (alongside the insanely speedy flash storage where swap files end up) of why the 16 GB memory cap is not equal to what 16 GB of memory meant on Intel Macs in any way. Grant you, the Apple SoC versus Intel CPU also help speed things up, but memory being a different beast is not an insignificant part of the performance picture.
I’m on the bleeding edge of the transition of Apple’s Macs off Intel and on to their own custom SoC. I’ll be updating a log of my hands-on experience with this. Read it for advice and experience as you see fit.
Over the last few months our house has slowly been getting on the Apple Home bandwagon. This started when we replaced our front door lock, then expanded with smart light switches in my room for my birthday. Ever since that early dive, I’ve been thinking about how else to leverage Apple’s Homekit in our daily life. The aweasome idea I had a month or more back was the one other realm of (fairly dumb) digital tech we have in various ways at home, devices controlled by infrared (IR) remote controls. Could these be made into Homekit accessories, and hence also erradicate their few annoynances of both reaching for a single remote and pointing it in just the right angle to work? The answer was yes, and now that I have gotten this going, I figured I’d document how I set this up for anyone else interested.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with everyone’s lives. But of that, those who are embarking on the next stage of their lives by way of especially high school, but also college, graduation may be getting hit the hardest this time of year. I’m thinking especially of my cousin Anna Wagner, who is graduating from high school today, but also her older brother, Jonas Wagner, who just graduated from college, and the entire Class of 2020 at Avalon, my own high school alma mater, who graduate on Thursday. This is advice to you all as you pass this milestone and a tribute to your hard work, as well as that of everyone in the global Class of 2020 this year.
During this extended time of stay-at-home orders across the country and world we all need things to keep us busy and take our minds off the situation. Work, though for much of us from home, is certainly one thing. TV is as well, streaming or otherwise. But we also need games and other fun things to do. I recently became aware of the website Jigsaw Planet, which is a massive collection of online jigsaw puzzles you can do. If you get an account, you can even provode your own to this community. So, with that in mind, I have begun uploading one cat-themed puzzle featuring the cats in my house a day. I hope these can help take your mind off the insanity of the situation we find ourselves in, and give you a quick escape.
So… I’ve been stuck at home recovering from surgery since January 16th, 2 months now. Across the world, but certainly as per CDC guidelines here in the United States, I’m sure many of you are now looking down the tunnel of similar isolation as you protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19. I thought, since I have a bit of a leg up on this (although, it does mean in a few weeks this staying at home will flip from being related to surgery recovery to being related to COVID-19), that I should share some advice:
On January 11th I attended the annual Stirring the Fire retreat with the CSJs. As part of this retreat we were given some time to reflect on the following question: What person, place or aspect of your story continues to influence and propel you forward along the journey? What follows is the reflection I began drafting that morning . . .
On January 14th I’ll be having surgery on my right foot to reshape it into a better position with both bone fusing and tendon lengthening. I’ll be in the hospital for at least a few days following the surgery, and then have 8-12 weeks not bearing weight on my right foot following that. I will not leave the house except for follow up appointments during the stage of recovery where I’m not allowed to bear weight on my right foot. If you want to see updates regarding this procedure and my recovery you’ll be able to find them at the Alex’s Foot Surgery website. I will not post more about the process of my healing here. Feel free to reach out with comments here, on the other website, or in private channels with any questions or comments you have.
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