Apple Disappointment – Photos

Being a long time Apple fan, I have often sung their praises. Products that work, fit in with my natural workflow, and in general delight. That said, a recent experience has tarnished the gleam.

About 6 years ago, I realized that the built in photo management tool, iPhoto, was completely unsuitable for the task. I had graduated to a decent DSLR, and started shooting in RAW format. iPhoto did read the files, but the size of the files, and the huge quantity of files brought it to its knees. It really was painful.

I jumped to Aperture, a "Pro" application that had a decent workflow. It was that or the Adobe product, Lightroom.

Aperture worked well for a long time, but about Mavericks timeframe, it was reworked to add in the photostream, and the quality of the experience was diminished. I had made the decision to bolt to Lightroom, knowing the end was in sight.

Recently, Apple deprecated iPhoto, replacing it with "photos" that more closely works like the photos application on the iPhone. Meh, but whatever. However, the path was to migrate from iPhoto or Aperture to Photos, a one way migration.

It went OK for my aperture library, but the wonkiness was helping a friend migrate her iPhoto library.

She had a well aged (but quite serviceable) MacBook Pro. It was bought in 2009, and works. She had about 38Gigs of photos from her digital camera, in iPhoto. the '09 version that came with the computer.

A hard disk failure, and the genius bar upgraded her to 10.10.3 when they replaced it. iPhoto is not supported so she must go to Photos.

But it hung up at 24% in migrating. She brought it to me, and I tried all my magic.

  • Used an external drive and a clean copy of the iphoto library – no dice
  • repaired the library with my wife's computer – still running the same version of iPhoto (the advice from the support forums). No dice.
  • Disk warrior – rebuilt and optimized the directory structure – no dice
  • Repaired permissions – No dice.

After about 10 hours of fiddling, nothing would get past the 24% hump. I had to admit defeat, and advise her to make a Genius bar appointment.

Yesterday, I heard that after 4 hours, the genius bar tech was importing a year at a time. Painfully slow.

From reading the forums on apple.com, it is clear this is not an uncommon problem.

My suspicions: Apple didn't test enough variants of iPhoto, assuming that people upgraded as it was available (a faulty assumption), that minor glitches in iPhotos databases can fatally halt the migration.

There really needs to be a built in database check/rebuild that eases the migration.

In the mean time? I am moving all my photos to Lightroom. At least Adobe just uses flat file system folders for storage, so future migrations will be simple tasks.

House Journal – Failed Project

House Journal – Failed Projects

Yesterday started innocuously enough, a trip to Lowes to get a few items we needed, and to pick up an under-sink water filter. There was a filter when we moved in, an old GE unit, that was so old, that filters were no longer made, and old enough that I couldn’t find cross referenced replacements. Perfect time to upgrade to a reverse osmosis system.

A little more challenging to install than a simple cartridge filtration system, a reverse osmosis system will have a solvent stream (drinking water), and a solute stream (the stuff you remove) that will need to be handled (disposed of). This requires a connection to the drain, and therein lies the cause of my failure yesterday.

As I mentioned, there was a filtration system that was so old, filters were not readily available. It was probably installed when the last owners remodeled their kitchen, 20 years ago. So it is safe to assume that the sink and the plumbing is 20+ years old.

Step 1 in the installation was to insert the waste drain in the sink drain. Unfortunately, the P-trap holding nut was corroded solid. So, after removing the old filtration system, I was stymied at step one.

Foiled by a plumbing challenge.

Many years ago, I would have made multiple trips to Lowes, bought tools, cursed, banged my knuckles, and finally gotten it done. But in my old age (almost 50), I have learned that it is far better to pay the man (a plumber or handyman) and avoid the frustration.

Things I used to do myself but now just pay for:

  • Plumbing – except for minor things, it is far cheaper (in time and money) to just pay a pro.
  • Electrical work – I will still replace a socket, or a switch, but anything that requires conduit, romex, or cutting a hole in drywall? Pay the man.

I will still do most appliance repair though.

House Journal – New TV

I have been MIA lately, the move, unpacking, and some insane deadlines at work have meant that I had no time to write, but I will begin to rectify that.

With the move, the trusty Pioneer Plasma screen was showing its age. When we bought it in 2006, the LCD panels at the time sucked big tool. Side by side, there was no comparison, the plasma kicked their ass all over the playground.

It was a 42″ unit, and a solid performer, but it was input constrained, and while the picture quality was superb, it was a bit of a power hog.

With our new house, we knew we wanted something a bit larger (but not too large, as our viewing room was modest) with smart TV capability, and more HDMI inputs.

I looked long and hard at the 4K screens, but at the size we were interested in, 55″ it just wasn’t compelling. No real content (some netflix, and some DirecTV) and to get something with a good refresh rate, you need to drop about $2K.

Much browsing at Bestbuy, looking at the Samsung, LG and Sony panels in our range, and they were all good, and apart from the Sony, comparably priced. However, the Bestbuy sales droid pointed me at the Panasonc Bravia 55″. On clearance, and a size exclusive to Bestbuy, the screen was sweet. 240hz refresh rate, excellent colors, and a compelling price, I was sold.

Hanging it on the wall was a breeze, and our electricians made passthroughs for the cables, so it is almost clutter free.

Quality of the display is impressive. Bluray movies “pop”. I tossed in The Matrix, and Casino Royale, and the quality is superb.

I haven’t explored much of the apps yet, but the Netflix app, built in (and a netflix button on the remote to boot) makes it super easy to watch streaming videos. Way better than the old way, firing up the Xbox, and using the app there. That takes about a minute and a half until you can begin watching. Now, about 20 seconds, and you are streaming.

Our Tivo hooked right up, and covers our DVR/live TV needs.

HD resolution, on the 55″, at the viewing distances we have is plenty good. I am not regretting the choice of not going to the 4K resolution. This thing is awesome.

And being a LED backlit display, this unit uses less than 1/4 the juice that the Plasma screen did.

We did donate the plasma screen, and it has a new home at one of our movers, I am sure it will continue to be a great screen, but we aren’t pining for it.

Bravo to my Neighbors at the Hotel

The joys of travel. Hotel rooms, uncomfortable beds, pillows that are too much or too little support, ice machine runs that you hear, and doors slamming in the halls.

However, Hotels are often the site of passionate lovemaking. I am used to hearing the hookers in Asian hotels with their clients. But those are strictly business deals. Bang, and they are done/gone.

Last night though, my neighbors were at it for over 3 hours. Stamina that I wish I ever had. And she was a screamer.

Starting at about 9:00 PM, the familiar rhythmic bed creaking, followed my grunting, and moaning, culminating in a fevered pitch, and screaming.

4 more times until 1:00 AM.

Bravo. Thank you for reminding me why I hate traveling and hotels, even supposedly nice ones.

Pizza Primero

Now I'm hungry
Now I’m hungry

One of my specialties is hand made pizza. I first came in contact with making pizza when I got a job at Chuck E. Cheese in the early 1980’s. Apart from the access to wicked cool video games, I got to learn how to build a pie.

Of course, Chuck E Cheese isn’t known for their pizza, but it was a start. Crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, in a very hot (550 – 600F) oven and 7-8 minutes later you have a bubbling gooey top, yet crisp crust.

My next exposure was at Florentines. There I was a bit more than just an assembly line like Chuck E Cheese. There, a single person was dedicated to making pizza per shift, and I learned about other toppings than the standard.

The tools are simple. A peel, pizza pans, a stone an oven that gets hot.

The Process

Dough balls ready to rise
Dough balls ready to rise

The foundation of a good pie is the crust. There are literally thousands of recipes on the art of making pizza. The one we used at Florentines was good, but it was a bit impractical for home use, as it started with a 50# sack of flour.

The recipe I use is a very basic one:

3 Cups All purpose flour
2 teaspoons fast rise yeast (I use the Fleishmann’s in the small jar)
2 teaspoons salt (I use kosher salt, but it really isn’t important)
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, with the standard blade, put the dry ingredients in. Start the processor, add the oil (I will admit that I don’t measure it, just a couple of glugs).

Then slowly pour in 1 cup cold water. You really want to trickle it in, so do be patient.

If the dough ball doesn’t form, add more water, one tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.

When you are done, you will have a nicely formed dough ball. Remove it from the food processor, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for a couple minutes. Split into two equally sized pieces, and then place in a container and cover with a towel to let it rise.

After the dough is made, I begin to cook the ingredients. Today, I am making a pepperoni and sausage pie. Since I don’t have a very high BTU oven, that can get to 600F, I precook my sausage to ensure that it is properly cooked.

pizza-799% of the time, when I need shredded cheese, I use my trusty box grater. Not for pizza though. This is the one time I get out the grater blade for the food processor and let it rip. About 15 seconds for a full package of partially skim mozzarella.

Sauces – If I am making a margarita pizza, I will make a very simple sauce – canned tomatoes, olive oil, and some sea salt in a food processor. But for all others, I get lazy. Classico Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce is really good. Or I will make a white sauce pizza, again using a premade alfredo to start. Yes, I can (and have) made both, but for the small amount needed for a pie, it isn’t worth the effort.

The end result.

Tonight’s pies were the aforementioned pepperoni and sausage, and another staple of mine, a basil cream sauce with mozzarella and fresh tomato slices.

Delicious.