Israel

I’ve been to Israel a couple of times, each time enjoying the country in different ways. In the last 75 years of Israel’s history, it has managed to build itself literally from the ground up – from a desert into a modern country. This achievement is quite commendable and hard to imagine, especially when some countries with much longer histories and larger resources haven’t managed as well.

On the other hand, over the last 75 years, its neighbors have prioritized violence, murder, and terror. Can you imagine living your entire life thinking only of killing your neighbor? They say “freedom fighters,” but the last election in Gaza was 18 years ago – is that freedom? 75 years of the same – hatred, violence, terror. Kids are taught to hate, teens to kill, and adults to support a system that leads nowhere. Yet, judging by the news, some people around the world think it’s a good idea.

I guess people on the streets want to see what they want to see, so let me tell you what I saw. The last time in Jerusalem, I was carelessly walking through the old market. There were a bunch of shops where Arabs were hustling. I was standing outside one shop, looking down the street. My eyes met the eyes of a kid who was standing outside yet another shop. He looked at me directly and made a throat-cutting gesture with his finger.

Paul Graham all essays in ePub, PDF and more

I decided to read through all the essays Paul Graham has written. The only issue is the format of the essays, which is web-based. I figured it will take me a while, and I prefer to read in ePub format since it is neatly laid out on my phone and remembers where I left off. Fortunately, I found a GitHub project where you can get Paul’s up-to-date essays in different formats and even find the code for a DIY solution.

Искусство оскорблять

Давно я не писал на русском языке, впрочем и не планировал писать, но из-за несложной череды событий я приобрел книгу Александра Невзорова – Искусство оскорблять.

Забавно читать его книгу и сравнивать его структуру речи и мыслей с видеозаписями на его YouTube-канале – он говорит, как пишет, и пишет, как говорит.

Я должен снять перед Александром шляпу и сказать: иронию критики тяжело пропустить, так как сам автор по сути является писателем и в какой-то степени влияет на культуру, при этом не лестно отзываясь о культуре, писателях и другом не научном сброде. Глебыч очень чётко и своевременно всегда отмечает, что он не учёный.

Крайне интересен и забавен его подход, в особенности с «доказательством» и использованием аналогий. Подход элегантен, забавен и местами щекочет мозг, но местами напрягает – «заход из далека» может занимать метры и километры, а в случаях с Глебычем и сотни километров.

На всем протяжении книги можно заметить тренд, и он не столько образовательный (хотя тут как посмотреть), сколько больше раскачиваемый – рассмотреть фундамент и отбойным молотком «проверить на прочность». По итогу автор конечно больше ломает, чем строит, хотя возможно в этом и смысл – если фундамент гнилой, то надо его вскрывать и перестраивать заново.

Книга приносит удовольствие, как изложением, так и содержанием, но подозреваю, что не всем она придётся по вкусу. Думаю, что нужно иметь хоть какой-то уровень свободы мысли и/или не принимать себя и реальность слишком серьезно, в прочем, как и себя самого.

Будучи студентом много лет назад, были курсы, которые весьма больно массажировали мозги, доставляя дискомфорт и местами боль. Бой был тяжелым и кропотливым, однако, “взяв высоту”, чувствовал себя победителем знаний человеческих. С этой книгой ощущения аналогичны, хотя и не такие интенсивные. Возможно, это именно то, чего автор и добивался.

In a nutshell:
+: Легко и приятно читать
+: Интересные темы для рассмотрения
+: Написано элегантно и красиво, чувствуется врожденный писатель
+: Примеры, анализ и обсуждения
-/+: Доказательство по аналогии не самый убеждающий подход
=: Книга забавная и дает возможность подумать и переоценить многие вещи. Отчасти она развивает разные домыслы и исторический флаф. Я думаю, что книга полезна, периодически нужно проверять фундамент на прочность.

Title: Искусство оскорблять
Author: Александр Невзоров
Cover:

From MacBook Pro 2012 to 2023

After 8 years of working on the MacBook Pro 2012 model, it was time to switch to something more modern. There were a few reasons for switching to a new MacBook Pro, but the main one was the lack of power. The Intel i5 with 2 cores wasn’t cutting it anymore. Despite being on an outdated macOS, newer software and updates were becoming more demanding, while other software became absolute with no prospects for updates.

I consider myself lucky because I managed to avoid some of the worst ideas that Apple introduced in their laptops over the past few years, such as the butterfly keyboard, Touch Bar, and the lack of ports in the pro lineup. However, it seems that MacBook Pros have become more expensive. Additionally, it’s no longer possible to buy a modest laptop and upgrade the RAM and storage later when component prices drop. I purchased the base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2023 with 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage. Based on my calculations, this laptop should serve me well for next 10 years, or so I hope, based on my previous experience. Nevertheless, it still feels a little strange to make the jump from the MacBook Pro 2012 to the MacBook Pro 2023.

Now, let’s address the obvious. The new MacBook Pro 2023 is faster, lighter, better, and overall more impressive, especially in audible area. However, it feels like I haven’t really changed laptops. The keyboard is slightly different, and the trackpad is bigger, but somehow it feels very similar to the old MacBook Pro. The finger position is the same, the controls are similar enough, and the feedback is familiar. It’s different, yet somehow the same, and I really like that. Speaking of the keyboard, the functional keys are bigger, and I think it’s a good idea. At the very least, I enjoy having larger keys. One noticeable improvement that I can’t ignore is the built-in speakers. The speakers are loud, really loud, to the point where it’s uncomfortable for me. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yeah, the built-in speakers are too loud for me. Maybe I’m getting older and/or used to listening to quiet music on my Sony XM4 headphones. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t change the fact that the new MacBook Pro’s built-in speakers are very good and definitely a lot louder than those of my old MacBook Pro.

Software migration from macOS Mojave to macOS Ventura went surprisingly well. A few apps stopped working due to the unsupported OS, which I expected. You can only drag along old apps for so long before giving up, wrapping them in Docker or something similar and continuing to use them. Well, I haven’t gone that far, but I’m really considering the option. The new macOS doesn’t allow user data to be located in the root, and I’m guilty of doing so. Nonetheless, the data can be moved. However, I did encounter some challenges with the transition from iTunes to the new Music app. Previously, iTunes managed all my media, including audiobooks. Unfortunately, the “improved” Music app no longer takes care of audiobooks. After the migration, my audiobooks were conveniently forgotten, and I had to manually clean up and move them to the “Books” app. Another issue arose with the “Contacts” app. After the migration, it doubled its size and duplicated all contact cards. The management of contacts and cards has been rather poor for years, and it seems Apple is aware of the problem. As a result, the “Contacts” app now includes options like “Look for duplicates” and “Merge Selected Cards,” which saved my sanity. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of manually cleaning up duplicates and merging contacts before, and let me tell you, it’s no fun. One of my favorite features of the new macOS is “background sounds,” found under Accessibility -> Audio settings. This feature allows you to set up background noise while you work, which is awesome. I often play a quiet melody to help me focus, and now macOS provides the convenience.

The new MacBook Pro can support two external displays, which is awesome. Although I’m not sure when I’ll take advantage of this feature, as a single 34-inch display is sufficient for my needs. Interestingly, my old MacBook Pro was also able to handle a 34-inch display, so there doesn’t seem to be a significant advantage in this regard. However, the new MacBook Pro converts GarageBand files to MP3 about 3-4 times faster, even though the bouncing speed hasn’t changed significantly. It’s worth noting that I run my MacBook Pro in low power mode all the time. I prioritized low heat and low power consumption. Even in low power mode, the hardware is quite impressive. Everything is snappy, quick, and doesn’t seem to encounter any issues so far. I understand that over time, as hardware ages and software becomes more demanding, the laptop will start to slow down. I’ve been down this road many times before, but for now, I’m impressed.

Overall, I’m impressed with the laptop and very happy that Apple has returned to delivering proper pro-line hardware with power, ports, a simple keyboard, and no gimmicks. Everything feels very familiar, although there are some differences here and there. But overall, it feels like I haven’t really changed much; macOS has gained a few features and started working very fast. I don’t think I could ask for much more than that.

Mac mini server 2011 – the last upgrade

Running a home server is kind of a hobby with some benefits. I’ve been doing it for almost two decades, starting out with a Windows machine put together from old parts. Then I upgraded, upgraded some more, and at some point, I ended up with a Mac mini G4 (ah, good times) and finally a Mac mini server 2011, which I purchased around 2014-2015.

I ended up with Apple equipment because it was a good compromise between money, my needs, and my skills. At the time, I was pretty fed up with Windows and wanted to use Linux but fell short on skills. Besides, back in the day, Apple was quite serious about server equipment and server OS – they had separate CDs with server OS – yep, CDs! Unfortunately, that didn’t last, and nearly a decade later, Apple started losing interest in it. After another decade, Apple no longer had server OS or interest in servers.

I’ve been running the Mac mini on OS X 10.13 “High Sierra” for the past six years, past all the releases that no longer support “old” hardware, and I guess quite insecurely. Luckily, I don’t expose my server to the outside world. One of the biggest reliefs was Docker, which allowed me to expand the capability of “High Sierra” and prolong its service. Anyone who has ever used OS X knows it’s really easy to use features and services – smooth sailing. But the moment you want something that doesn’t come with OS X, get ready for some pain and uphill battles – for example, built-in Apache with a PHP module. Fortunately, Docker sidesteps all of that.

Unfortunately, this year, good times came to an end – Docker received a breaking update, and old Docker could no longer find/download new Docker images. Considering Apple releases a new OS every single year, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to support Docker development for a 5-year-old “High Sierra.” So, the time for a tough decision came.

Should I buy another Apple hardware or simply move to Linux and see how far I can get with Ubuntu LTS (Long-Term Support)? I wasn’t keen on buying a new Mac mini – the upfront cost of $1200 is something to consider carefully. The used option is a bit tricky since the Mac mini 2018 is already out of OS X support and, at the same time, can’t be upgraded – on the chip storage. So, I can buy a used pre-2018 Mac mini – which is out of support and hope that Docker will be working fine for a while. Gambling is not my strong suit. Besides, the long-term goal is to move to Linux and different hardware (perhaps Raspberry PI) – so user-friendly Ubuntu it is.

Before installing Ubuntu, I had one last gift to give my already old Mac mini server – SSD drives all around (main and secondary drive). The main drive in the mini was so old that the paper sticker started disintegrating into dust in my hand – an impressive 12 years of service, considering it started giving some trouble recently. The Ubuntu installation was straightforward, and the OS runs fast, blazing fast. I guess 4 cores i7 and 16 gigs of RAM is still a pretty decent setup.

Overall migration went ok, I managed to hit lots of troubles with data transfer, but it was my own mistake – I didn’t prepare, and in my deep ignorance, I thought that Linux and OS X file systems know how to talk to each other properly. Then naturally, I hit issues with permissions and some other small stuff. Once file permissions got straightened out, the only big hiccup was Samba service – which as I learned 6 hours later, does NOT advertise its presence on the local network, like OS X does – silly but yeah. Everything else was more or less ok, thanks to a friend of mine, who knows his way around Linux. I managed to complete the entire migration from start to end in 3 days. Not a bad result, considering I spent nearly one day on data transfer and another day fighting for nothing with Samba service – well, you live you learn.

I’m very excited about Ubuntu; after nearly 2 decades, I’m finally on Linux for my home server. I can definitely say that Ubuntu has progressed a long way. I don’t recall it being this well-refined out of the box before. I’m sure I’ll have to learn some more about Linux and go down to the command line and edit configs with Nano, but hey, in some cases, it is easier than OS X. For example, crontab is so easy I had to ask a friend a couple of times to make sure that I didn’t need to do anything else (OS X requires more work to achieve the same). Backups on Ubuntu are pretty good as well, especially I got impressed by Timeshift. It needs a little bit of configuration out of the box, but it looks a lot more powerful than Time Machine – I mean you make a snapshot, then mess with the OS as much as you want, and then you can rollback everything, including OS updates and configurations – wonderful.

Anyways, the last upgrade to my Mac mini server 2011 is complete, and now I’m wondering how far will it make it. Will it last another couple of years or all the way to its 20th birthday and perhaps beyond? Time will tell.

Bialetti – buy with option to return

Recently, I purchased a Bialetti moka pot and was somewhat disappointed. However, I was pretty determined to have a nice Bialetti moka pot, so I ordered another one – a 9-cup size. I really wanted to see if I was unlucky with the first one and hoping the second one would not have any blemishes, and the pressure release valve would not be too close to the handle.

Well, I received the second pot:

Okay, so the bottom piece is very nicely done, and the top piece doesn’t have any blemishes this time around. Now the safety release valve is about 90 degrees away from the handle once you close the pot tightly. I guess it would be good to have the valve at 180 degrees away, but it doesn’t look like Bialetti is measuring or trying to keep the valve at any particular location.

My impression of Bialetti didn’t improve much based on two samples. I figured the Bialetti moka pot could use some quality improvements! Objectively, the pot does not worth the money, and Bialetti sells based on marketing and legacy, meaning you are largely paying for marketing and not Italian-made quality.

My advice: if you just want a moka pot, don’t waste your money. Buy some other brand at a competitive price. If you are like me, who wants some part of the legacy, buy Bialetti in-person so you can inspect the pot before you purchase it, or purchase online but make sure you can actually return the item if you get a crappy one.

Bialetti – Italian Quality

I recently discovered the Moka pot and liked it so much that I decided to purchase a real Italian-made Bialetti Moka pot. After a couple of hours of research, I discovered that Bialetti only makes two Moka pots in Italy, the 6 and 9 cup ones. No problem, I wanted the 9 cup pot to share coffee with friends and family. I purchased the pot off Amazon and received it after several days.

I was very happy to see that the Bialetti Moka pot was indeed made in Italy, as I had paid a premium of $67 Canadian. The bottom part of the pot is very nicely casted and machined, and I’m very happy with it. However, that’s where the good news ends. The top part of the pot is less than ideal, with some blemishes, and the safety valve is located uncomfortably close to the handle. In case of an issue when the safety valve opens to release hot steam, I’ll have to grab it by the handle and hope the steam will not burn my hand, which is not ideal at all.

Now, I could buy a Moka pot for $20 at any mall, but I wanted to get the original premium pot from Italy and got a somewhat dubious product. Honestly, it’s a bit disappointing. I mean, Bialetti has been making Moka pots for decades. Is it so much to ask to have a quality product at par with the premium price?