Skip to main content

Computer Printers: 50 Shades of No Way

9 min read

Printer Error Screen

In the last 15 years I have done my best to have a paperless work flow. It was easy for a video professional. Those times I did need something printed, I would send my files to a local copy shop. Without a home printer, I wasn't buying ink cartridges, fixing paper jams, or wondering why my computer couldn't see the printer. Recently, my partner has been working on her Masters and many of the courses provide articles as the teaching materials, rather than textbooks. Screens are not great for reading. We spend so much time in front of screens, I can understand why my spouse prefers paper. I love my e-ink reader, a very old Kindle, but it is a special kind of hell trying to read a PDF on one of those. So, we decided to get a printer. Now, I feel absolutely filthy.

1980s Hacker Mom

The dream of the future was alive in my youth thanks to my Commodore 64 computer. Buying joysticks, a tape drive, a floppy drive, and a printer for the home was the start of something exciting. We got an Okidata Okimate color printer that was surprisingly inexpensive! That is, compared to the typical black & white printers at the time, which were more focused on small businesses, not hobbyists. Like the printers of today, the Okimate had cyan, magenta, and yellow to print in color. However, all three colors were stitched together on one ribbon in a single cartridge. Perhaps 5 inches of cyan, followed by 5 of magenta, 5 of yellow and repeat. If the Okimate was sitting on magenta, but needed to make green, it would fast forward to yellow and then print cyan over that. Need more green? Skip magenta again. It was wasteful, there's whole parts of the ribbon that had never been used. Get to the end of the cartridge? Sorry, buy a new one.

Okidata Okimate 20 Printer

Not so fast! As you can imagine printing took a long time back then, so what else are you going to do, but watch? Mom noticed the color skipping behavior of the printer. When a cartridge reached its end, my mother grabbed a number two pencil and rewound the ribbon, much like us old people had to do if a cassette tape malfunctioned. She placed it back in the printer and we tried to print something new. It worked! Occasionally, the printer would attempt to use a color that was previously used the first time around and that would make some colorful glitches.(Maybe this is my first introduction to something I now enjoy, glitch art) Yet, this hack was worth it to a teenager who's most important prints were silly posters for the student council election. This is before the days of spell-check. I remember that poster on which I misspelled intelligent. Ugh.

Offset and Get the Fix

That brief trip down memory lane illustrates how printer manufacturers make money. In the early 2000s printers were dirt cheap. Buy an HP printer for $50! Better yet, buy an Apple computer and we'll throw in a printer for free. The companies do not make money on the hardware. They make money by selling you their proprietary ink cartridges. I remember those $50 printers having replacement ink starting at $30 apiece. Buy 12 of those in a year and you've just purchased 7 printers. Have a color printer? Now you're buying 4 different ink refills.

As consumers took notice of this pusher/drug user model, we started to fight back. Making a mess with syringes people began filling the previously used cartridge with ink. Whole businesses sprung from this and created a 3rd party market. We could get aftermarket ink on the cheap! As technology progressed those disruptive companies manufactured cartridges that looked exactly like the original equipment.

Of course, tech progressed at the printer manufacturers as well. Inexpensive chips could be added to print cartridges in much the same way car keys were chipped. Not an OEM cartridge? Sorry, you cannot print today. To further increase profit printers came with more bells and whistles. All-in-one printer scanners and 'wireless' printers were made to justify a higher price upfront. Ever have success with a wireless printer? Finding them on your network is harder than finding a giant squid in the ocean. No problem touch screens to the rescue. Easily configure your printer on the network, for an added cost of a touch screen.

Tanks for Nothing

In recent years, a few companies like Epson and Canon have taken a note from consumers and created eco or mega tank printers. They do not take cartridges, but have reservoirs for the ink. I was impressed by this innovation because I want to be less wasteful. This looked pretty interesting and excited me. However, I am very cynical. What's the catch? Well, the main benefit for the companies is getting your money upfront. Rather than giving you the typical smaller than normal ink cartridge in the box when you buy the printer, they give the tank printers a 2 year supply. Instead of paying $120 for that all-in-one printer, you pay $400 because you're getting 2 years of ink.

Okay, the working poor at Epson have to pay for their mandatory Disney+ subscription to forget about life. Plus, regular yacht maintenance is not cheap for the CEOs of the printer giants. Either pay for the ink with the purchase of the tank printer, or buy cartridges over the lifetime of another printer? The super tank printer seems slightly better for the environment, so how about I purchase...ERROR 5b00

The next best thing to selling you ink on a regular basis is planned obsolescence. While researching Epson EcoTank and Canon Megatank printers, I found lots of complaints about similar errors. Canons spit out the error above which means that the waste ink absorber pad is full. Inkjet printers can clog easily, so this pad is there to soak up things after a print or during a cleaning. So by maintaining the printer, you are killing it. You cannot replace the pad. You cannot print with the error. Epson has a similar design and gives you a less cryptic message, 'end of life.' Consumers who have called in for service have been told that the repair plus shipping is likely going to cost more than buying a new one. Epson's own site says the following.

Most consumers who are out of warranty elect to replace the printer because replacement of ink pads may not be a good investment for lower-cost printers. In most cases, when this message occurs, the printer's other components also may be near the end of usable life."

What about just making a serviceable ink pad? Again Epson, "Implementing this type of a design would result in more expensive printers. Most users would not benefit from such higher costs because their printers will never reach the Parts End of Life message.

Paper Jam

Today, after researching what printer to purchase, I feel exploited and weary. Epson is completely correct in its assumption people will buy new printers if they receive the planned obsolescence error. Bringing this issue to our governments would likely result in zero interest from politicians. We, the people, do not have the time and energy to fight lobbyists and lawyers. A lawmaker is more likely to send you a new $120 printer, then take your concerns and investigate.

We live in a disposable society. There are no vacuum or television repair businesses. Washers, dryers, and even bicycles make their way to landfills because the cost of repair is far more than replacement. Warranties are lip service more than anything else. When you complete the phone maze to finally get a human, they explain to you that buried in the fine print is a clause that says, "Not today, Sunshine." Instead of manufacturers backing a product with pride, retailers and other companies fill the warranty gap with "extended warranties." Much like the manufacturers, they have their own fine print. Thus, we are left with making another purchase to avoid the headache. The path of least resistance always wins.

There Is No Margin

One last note to add to my research. If we go back to the beginning, printer manufactures create these devices to make a profit. One of the ways companies have found to sustain profits is through subscription. So, HP has created a program where the printer tells HP it is running low and they automatically send you new ink in the mail. They have several monthly payment plans and you can quit to let the useless device collect dust at any time. Sound familiar? This is how Xerox works. The price of their copy machines is beyond affordable for even large businesses. Instead, most lease the machines and pay for the toner and maintenance. As an aside, movie theaters are now stuck in this model thanks to the rise of digital projectors. We live in the age of Subscribe or Die, I guess.

So what could I buy to solve the issue of printing many documents at home in an economical and environmentally friendly way? As I said above, I was weary from the research. I gave up on finding something that would be a useful and worthwhile investment for our future endeavors. Instead, I opted for something that could handle infrequent printing. No clogs in a laser printer. I will bow to my new master, Brother, and be thankful every time I am able to easily find the required toner cartridge. Perhaps I should take bets on how many prints it will be able to make before it reaches the manufactured "end of life" count coded into the machine?


The iLung 4

3 min read

a backpack that looks like an iMac

Digging into my unpublished blogs and stories, I found this. I painted an image today and decided to publish this bit of satire. Enjoy.

Found were these notes from the Apple Keynote of the year 2100-

Breathing is intuitive. When we set out to make the iLung 1, we knew it also needed to be intuitive. More importantly, it had to be hassle-free. This is literally a life or death situation. Other oxygen supplies on the market were safe and functional, but clunky, confusing, and austere.

We engineered the iLung for comfort, ease, and of course, air. Today, we bring you the iLung 4. While our patented nose-pods still remain the most comfortable on the market, we are happy to introduce the new Breez connector!

The last thing you want to do is fumble around with the tube connection that supplies your oxygen. At the same time it must be secure when it is connected. Apple brings you the Breez connector. The Gust connector is no more. The Breez has been completely redesigned.

The iLung 4 is still made of a single piece of aluminum to make sure there are no leaks, but we've managed to increase the volume of oxygen it can carry by 35% while still making the unit smaller!

Of course, any sort of new designs are tested to ensure the highest level of safety. When you're carrying around flamible gas out in the tremendous temperatures that ravish the planet now, you want to feel secure. We wanted to do something special for you. We hoped to send the iLung 4 to the planet Mercury. If it could survive at those temperatures, the iLung 4 would survive here for at least another two decades. Ah, but that was the issue. In the amount of time that it would take for our product to get to Mercury, well we will have likely released 4 more updates to the live-saving device. It's no use showing you the iLung 4's durability if we're already giving you the iLung 8. (Pause for laughter) Instead, we put the iLung 4 on a robot and sent it to the super volcano that was once Wyoming. What you're about to see is the video of that super heated trip.

What you're looking at is 2 camera angles, on the left is infared to show us any combustion, since the traditional video camera is so distorted from the heat at the site. Those flashes are some of the robot's hydrallic hoses melting, but as you can see the iLung 4 is doing great! (Pause for applause) Now here the cameras give in to the heat, but sensors showed that the iLung 4 was still intact when we left! Of course, we don't recommend anyone take a vacation to the former Yellowstone park with your new iLung!

Never Enough and Getting Unstuck with Taryn Arnold

4 min read

a drawn pie graph with 8 sections about one's life

Questioning self-worth is a vibrant message in our culture today. Marketing tells us we have to go to this school, buy this phone, own that house, eat those foods, and wear trend styles or we aren't enough. So, it is easy to see how I could think that I'm not enough. I'm not putting blame on advertising, but simply illustrating one of the many reasons why it feels so natural to think I'm a terrible son, brother, friend, husband, and podcaster.

I met Taryn Arnold via Patreon Hangouts at a time when the site was just starting and Paul and I were exploring Patreon as an idea for our podcast. Pursuing those deep-seated feelings of not being enough, I was trying to drive our podcast into "bigger," and "better" things. I was after outside validation because I wasn't giving myself any. The problem with reaching for the sky was the fear of rejection. After all, I don't think highly of myself or what I do, so why would any "big" guest consider doing a podcast I was involved in? The definition of "big, bigger," and "better" in this paragraph is just about anyone and anything that I saw as above me. That is, everything.

Going after new guests was terrifying for me. There was the expectation that I had to do it to feel successful and get that outside validation from listeners and the fear of rejection. I was quite taken aback when Taryn agreed to be on our podcast. (We recorded for 2 hours and made Taryn Down Apple and Ceremonial Ace of Base which was a ton of fun.) As we discussed Patreon Taryn went to our page and became our first patron ever.

Today, I can see the whole thing as a positive experience, but at the time I assumed it was a fluke, or I got lucky. That never enough feeling was a part of my core beliefs about myself. To be honest, it's still there and I spend a great deal of time trying to correct it. My mental health is why I took a break from doing the podcast. I wanted to find myself in a space where I could enjoy doing the show for myself again. I didn't want to pursue download numbers, 'top podcast lists," and "big" guests.

Speaking of podcasts, Taryn has started on mental health. Stuck with Taryn Arnold is about getting unstuck in life. It's a personal journey for Taryn that she's sharing with listeners. The second episode is about finding those areas in life where we're struggling. My squiggly wheel above is an exercise I did with Taryn as I listened.

I'm very happy to join Taryn on this adventure. This has also put her on my growing list of potential guests for my new podcast on mental health. I've been working on this for a while as I try to fight off those familiar demons of not enough, download numbers, etc. "Fight" is the wrong word. I'm trying to recognize where those feelings come from and show compassion for myself. Anyway, I hope create a new documentary style show that will be part therapy for me and hopefully helpful for others. I've been talking about this project for over a year. In that time I have the beginnings of a forum created for a community, a network provider lined up for the show, and a swank new logo created by the talented artist of Be This.

I'm going to be putting the finishing touches on the forum in the coming weeks and offer some invites to friends before I launch the podcast. At the same time, I'll continue making Morning Mantras. Please stay tuned, my friends. Also, please check out Stuck with Taryn Arnold.

Finding Shame in the Simple Act of Fixing a Laptop

5 min read

An image of 2 identical Macbook laptops

I took this picture wondering how this even happened. How did I end up with identical 8 year old laptops? Like many things in my life recently, the answer is somewhat complex and related to mental health.

First, I offered to adopt the second laptop because it was not functioning. I wanted the challenge of seeing if I could breath life back into the device. When you work at a retail store, your first job is sales not repair. So, when the original owner was told "We cannot promise that a fresh install will work, but you'll lose everything,"  I was somewhat alarmed. These things are not cheap, Mr. Apple Store "genius." Why not try? I wasn't part of this original conversation, so I have no idea if the "genius" offered to backup the data before the fresh install (which is completely possible on Macs with their Target Disk Mode). Yet, this is a 7+ year old device. I've added a new battery, more memory, and a solid-state drive to my personal laptop that is 6+ months older, and I am frequently frustrated by its sluggishness. Thus, I can understand why one would choose to buy a new laptop instead of fixing this one. Of course, it's a matter of cost which brings me to the more complex answer to "how did I end up with a second 8 year old laptop?"

One of my deepest wounds is about my worth. I place a tremendous amount of value on productivity, salary, and how others see me. It's impossible to love and approve of one's self when you are constantly comparing yourself to those around you. There's always someone smarter, braver, bigger, stronger, faster, etc. I can never measure up. I used to make this joke at the expense of my mother's parents, "If I was President, my grandparents would say, 'It's not a very well paying job. You can do better.'" When my mother was in a deep depression, she couldn't get out of bed. For me, it's always been unemployment. How can I ever live up to the expectations I've made for myself? Impossible.

Even now, as I write this, the self critic in me feels that I've been unemployed more in my life than employed. Thoughts that I'm a loser for typing this to the world are loud and frankly hurtful. The reality of those emotions flooding in had me step away from writing this post, briefly.

Being unemployed for long periods of time, and my childhood have created some unfortunate financial habits. As such, I jumped at the possibility of being gifted 7+ year old laptop. My mother helped me realize that we rarely invested money, or saved for vacations while I was growing up because of my dad's health. Dealing with all the complications of Myasthenia Gravis didn't leave us with a lot of money. Nor was there the security of believing that it was a possibility to take a trip to Hawaii in the following year. And so, we didn't look to the future. This infected me with the "I could walk out the door and get hit by a bus" virus. This bug makes me and others see money differently.

My self critic enjoys not being financially stable or employed because it gives him life and meaning. When I see a shiny new phone, laptop, or something else I cannot afford, it is fuel for shame. Therefore, in shame I jumped at the opportunity to get an identical laptop because I don't deserve a new one. I can't afford a new one, because I am not earning enough, because I'll never earn enough.

It's getting easier to see these damaging thought patterns in my life. However, it often happens after the fact, when I can take a step back and see what transpired. Then, my demon returns to tell me, "So much for getting better. You screwed up again." At this point, compassion is useful. A compassionate friend reading this may note that it's great that I can finally recognize the pattern. That's a first step. That same friend might also feel like giving me a hug. This is a role I can take, accepting myself as I am now and giving myself compassion. It's something I have been successful at, but it is not easy. I hope in time this will become a new pattern.

In the meantime, what am I doing with this second laptop, really? Do I donate it somewhere? Perhaps, I offer it back to its original owner, or sell it and give the money to her? There's silly projects I can do with another computer, but I'd rather have a little Raspberry Pi that consumes less energy. I realize this dilemma is one of privilege, but I'm grateful to have another chance at recognizing my self-worth issue.

Much <3

Enjoy taking your "I voted" selfies this year. In 2020, Apple will have removed the camera from the iPhone X.3.

Tools to Ease the Switch from Mac to PC

8 min read


Previously, I covered some of my journey making the switch from Mac to PC this year and now here's some of the utilities and applications that made me more at home in Windows 10.


Seriously, what the ever-loving f**k, Microsoft? Why am I installing a 3rd party utility to have my computer check my spelling as I type in the year 2016? This functionality works across every app and window in Apple's OS X. Not to mention, every single smartphone on the planet. I just don't get it.

Years ago, I know that typing classes focused on speed and doing all the corrections at the end. However, that's just not how I work. I'm trying to switch this mindset now. Especially since Windows 10 supplies very little help. It makes sense that you continue to finish your thought, rather than backspacing, correcting an error and losing your flow. Yet, I still think highlighting incorrect words as you type is far superior than right-clicking and running a spellcheck application. You could still type your entire document and then go back to make corrections to the underscored words within the document, versus the extra steps involved in those clunky spellcheck windows in applications. For one, you can ignore the highlights that you know are correct, like brand names & products instead of having to punch the "ignore" button a dozen times.

I researched a few solutions and so far I have settled on tinySpell. This utility isn't perfect, the idea is that it uses one of those yellow tool tip things to highlight misspelled words, rather than the trusty underscore. I imagine this is a way for it to function in every application? Either way, I am somewhat happier with this installed. Unfortunately, the tool tip only appears after you type the word briefly. So, correct it now or you'll forget about it by the time you get to the end of this sentence.


I'm sure many of you prefer icons to descriptive lists, but I've never favored that. As much as I love being able to preview images and files with a click of a key in OS X, I didn't really set out to find a way to do this in Windows 10. I easily accepted defeat and tried to get used to using the file exporer setting which displays a preview of docs or images in a pane. This function pretty much halves the size of the file explorer window, truncating the details pane, but what are you going to do?

Then, I saw that a previous podcast guest, Alan Henry posted an article about Seer. Same as on a Mac, press the space bar on a selected file and get a preview. Boom. Color me happy.

Free Commander XE

When I was a windows user in a previous lifetime, I used Windows Commander (now called Total Commander) because I really liked having a dual-pane file manager. This allows me to move things quickly with only one file explorer window open. Total Commander and so many other dual-pane file managers also do FTP and have built in zip compression/decompression. This makes them excellent solutions as a file explorer and FTP application.

On the Mac, I used Forklift which did everything I needed it too. I even used it to rename thousands of images with a click of a button for a work gig. Currently in Windows 10, I'm trying Free Commander XE. Back when I was using Total Commander, it was a free beta. Now, it's $42 and the last time it has been updated was in 2015. So, I decided to try something different. Free Commander is missing FTP, but most of my HTML is still on the Mac. There is a beta of Free Commander with FTP and I can donate to get it after I finish testing this free version.


Did you see that menu on Windows 10? And, that's after I did some edits and tweaks. (I should probably remove Internet Explorer's cousin Edge, because I don't use it.) Honestly, I rarely use the menu at all thanks to the Task Bar and Launchy. With a keyboard shortcut, you can launch anything you want. I'm loving this free thing! I've mapped the keyboard shortcut to my middle mouse button and that's how I open everything. Forget that terrible, nasty menu. The keyboard shortcut is ALT + Space and you get a nice clean blank asking for you to type a few characters in the document, file, bookmark or application you want to start.


Outlook? Yeah, no. On the Mac, I was using the great Airmail for my email needs. I'm part of the 1%. We're not rich, we just don't use Gmail. For Windows 10, I found something very comparable called Mailbird. The app is free with ads, or it seems to be heavily discounted all the time. The pro version removes the ads and gives a few more functions that don't appeal to me at this time. Of course, I've only been using it for a few months and I am tempted to buy the lifetime pro option to support the app. I feel like so few developers let you upgrade infinitely, these days. "Sorry, your license was for version 1, not version 2. Please cough up the $50 again. That's what is really tempting me, aside from supporting them.


When it comes to chat and messaging, I have friends spread out through many services. Apple's iMessage worked, for the most part. I use Slack for our podcast (you can join it by becoming a patron). I also have a separate app for IRC which we use to chat with folks during the live podcasts. On Windows 10, I decided to play it safe with an application that's been around for ages, Pidgin. I can chat with the old connections on Instant Messenger, and with my employers and wife who trust Google Hangouts. Obviously, using a 3rd party app for Hangouts means no video, but we don't have a webcam for the desktop.

There's a new kid in the game called, Franz, but the site was down when I recently looked at it. From the screen cap at the site I've linked, it connects you to WhatsApp, Grape, Messenger, HipChat, Skype, Telegram, Hangouts and Slack. It's an interesting combination for developers, but I don't use any of those services regularly. So I might test the Windows beta eventually, but for now, Pidgin.


A recent OS X app find was the amazing Byword for writing. My co-host on the podcast, Paul, got me into Markdown which is just a way to format your plain text easily. I love it. Byword supported Markdown and is what I used (and continue to use on the laptop) to write for work, my personal sites and the show notes for the podcasts.

I poked a few different apps, but I really liked the look of Writemonkey because it was similar to Byword. Both apps convert my plain text Markdown to HTML so I can drop them on blog sites, fully formated with links. Kids, never write your posts, articles, blogs or whatever in the editors on the web pages themselves. Trust me. It only has to fail once for you to lose everything.


This is where I need some help. Recent updates to Baikal have made it more complicated for me to continue using it. They had a package you could FTP to your site and it would just work, but have since discontinued that. Therefore, I would have to get a VPS & install the new Baikal with no guarantee that my current calendar data would survive. I'm not opposed to doing this work, but I've already got OwnCloud running for my files and it has a calendar. Thus, I moved everything to it.

The problem is, Windows 10's calendar app doesn't allow you to use an OwnCloud calendar. I haven't found many calendars at all for Windows. It would seem people are stuck using Outlook or Google. There's some workarounds and hacks to get the Windows 10 calendar to work, but they haven't been all that successful for me. My current setup is using Chromium (boo Google) to make a web app that connects to my Owncloud calendar at the click of an icon. Personally, I don't want a browser window open all the time with my calendar in it, so I would love to find a calendar application.

Function Over Form

You may have cringed at that Free Explorer screencap, or if you looked at that tinySpell web site. Hey Windows developers, 1998 called and they want their look back. I guess I should have posted a screen capture of Mailbird, which looks more like the Windows 10 style of app & settings window I showed in the last post. The truth is that things are not as pretty on the PC as they are on the Mac. Then again, if Apple spent as much time with the components inside the machine as they did with the outside, I wouldn't be switching at all. Windows 10 looks decent enough and I can customize those things I don't like. The 3rd party apps, well I can't change how they look on either a Mac or a PC. I've chosen function over form.

Woe is PC? Not Quite.

8 min read


A few months ago, I talked my wife into a "family" computer upgrade. My 2010 Macbook is easily outclassed by modern, resource hungry applications and her laptop is a single purpose machine that she only uses when it's necessary to connect to her employer's ancient network or Mixbook. Thus, the solution was a desktop we could share. (See, a "family" machine.) So can you move from Mac to Windows? Should you? Here's my story as I moved down a new path.


The Road to Windows

We experimented with a tablet for my wife, but that quickly turned out to be a no go. Partly, for the lack of full applications for professionals and partly because of my incessant tinkering with the OS. We then purchased her a Chromebook and I fear that she loves it more than me, at times. As I once eluded computing is really in the cloud these days, so the OS you use is less of an issue. Her work is heavily invested in the scary, big data giant so the Chromebook is a perfect fit. There's just a few times a year she has to log into some antiquated systems from home and needs her crumbling 8 year old laptop.

As for me, I'm not a huge fan of the Google. I've left Gmail and recently moved my files from someone else's control (Dropbox) to an installation of OwnCloud that only I can access. Furthermore, I still need some serious hardware as I continue to work in digital media. I haven't been doing motion graphics and video editing as much as I did in the past, but I'd still like a machine that could handle it. After all, those is are my money-making skills. For now, until I'm discovered as a dance prodigy.

Apple has been trying to get rid of me for a while now, so I have decided to give them what they want. In 2011, Apple released Final Cut Pro X the successor to their popular editing suite of tools. They took a beating and many people in the business left Apple for good. Reading the trade magazines, I saw the writing on the wall and had my employer order Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe products work on Macs and PC, so this is not a disruptive change. Of course as I experimented with a new workflow, I continued to read about what other production studios were learning. Studios were building custom editing rigs for half the cost of Mac Pros, which Apple is notoriously bad at updating. They were finding that these PCs rendered video much faster.

What is to keep me with Apple then? The hardware is all about smaller and thinner with Macs. My previous machine was an iMac that I cut holes into to prolong its life because thin took priority in the engineering over functional. Macbook Airs have mobile chips in them and while efficient, they still aren't going to render video as well as a 16-core, custom built PC with a decent GPU. Like my melting iMac, their Mac Pros are created for style and virtually un-upgradable.

Yet, I love OS X. Part of the charm of Apple over Windows is that they control both the hardware and the software. There's no driver issues or incompatibility issues between the OS and hardware. This makes using OS X so much less problematic. I plug in my wife's scanner and instantly start scanning. She plugs it in to her Windows laptop and and has to download drivers, restart and then install software. This is an OS I have been using for over 10 years. I am comfortable with it despite the fact that it may not be as customizable as Windows.

So can this old dog learn new tricks?


Making the Move

I can do this. I mean, Windows has been stealing from Apple's OS X for years. Of course, Apple is no better, they've been looting ideas from linux for ages. Changing over from my comfort zone to Windows 10 has been fairly easy. I've used Windows machines at different jobs and at home prior to the early 2000s. Plus, as I said above, my wife has a Windows laptop so I've had to stay somewhat fluent.

I think that is the most troubling issue, the fact that Windows 10 is such a departure from the ancient Windows systems I know. Microsoft has dumbed down the interface considerably. However, many of the panels I'm used to, like Device Manager are still available if you dig below the easy to access options.

The Start Menu is a horrific mess. Animated live tiles fluttering around and a mass of information that you're not seeking when you push the Windows icon (formerly the start button). Thankfully, this part of windows can all but be ignored thanks to the Mac OS X-like dock at the bottom of the screen. Thus, you can add your most used applications to that Task Bar for ease of use. I've added another utility to launch programs quickly, as well. I'll put another post together with the applications I've found to replace my favorite Mac apps.


I love the Task View which mimics OS X's Mission Control feature. It shows all the open windows. The ability switch applications with this built-in utility mapped to thumb button on my mouse works just like it did on my Mac.

Windows' File Explorer is comparable to Finder. It's a bit clunky, but the tabs that allow me to manipulate files are somewhat useful. I mean, show hidden files with the check of a box, handy. I was never really sold on Finder and preferred Forklift on the Mac. It's a carry over from my early PC days using Total Commander, a dual pane file explorer.


What I'm Missing

Here's the section of my rambling opinions that will really convince Apple users not to switch, right? Well, the things I really miss are the things that OS X couldn't do for me already. I've always been a 3rd party app kind of guy. I've never used iPhoto or whatever that weird Apple word processor is. I didn't use Mail and I despise iTunes more than Godzilla hates buildings.

The thing that really hurts is not having a decent calendar. I lived with iCal for a while because it happily connected to my Baikal server which is where my calendar was stored for use across devices. Windows 10 won't let me use my own calendar. Searching for a suitable app has yet to bear fruit. It would seem that Google has really disrupted this area of development. I can find other cloud calendars, but it is nice to have an app on your desktop instead of having a browser window eating memory as it sits there everyday.

Quick Look on a Mac, just pushing the space bar when you have a file selected and seeing the image, video or hearing the audio is amazing and completely unavailable in Windows 10. Luckily, I found a 3rd party solution that I'll share in the next post.

The other real difficulty? Why the hell doesn't Windows have a universal "spell as you type" that just works no matter what window you're in? OS X does this and makes me look smart. It can be annoying as it autocorrects like a smartphone, but at least it highlights it in purple to tell you the words it has changed. Windows leaves it up to developers to add their own spellcheck in their apps? Seriously? I spent a day looking for solutions and settled on something for now.

Task Viewthe Task View

The Path Ahead

Just getting used to pressing CTRL + C, Z, V instead of the Apple COMMAND + C, Z, V has been trying, but that's on me. It's not the fault of Windows. I've been using Windows since February and not regretting it. As a professional, you use the tools you have to in order to complete the project to your client's specifications. Therefore, most of you wouldn't have a single problem making the switch. If you're deeply embedded in Apple's ecosystem with iCloud, iMessage and iEgo, I'm sure it will be a challenge, but not impossible. Again, their ecosystem is built for their devices so it is more likely to function better than alternatives that are created for all devices and OSes. However, Apple's system is far from perfect. Since they've gained a slightly higher market share targeting consumers, there seems to be a new story every week on social media about bugs or issues with Apple devices.

If you're frustrated in the Apple space, give switching a chance. Like me, try switching while you still have a Mac lying around. This way if you have some problems, you can still get work done while you iron them out. Next week, I'll publish that list of apps that I'm using to replace the things I missed from OS X.

The iPhone 8s Apple will remove the phone. It's an internet device. iPhone X will be a VR headset, you don't interact with real people anymore.

Airflow and Damn Simple Streaming to My TV

4 min read

Can I watch this on my TV instead of my laptop? Drags file to the open Airflow window and it starts playing on the television instantly. Yes. It appears that I can.

Airflow is amazingly simple and I absolutely love that. The beta application is on Mac and Windows. It works in cooperation with Chromecast or Apple TV.


Most “over the air” streaming innovation is focused on our mobile devices so I find it refreshing to see something for our computers. My phone battery and I thank the developer. He can be found on Reddit discussing the app in r/appltv or r/Chromecast.

Biases & Plex

Coming from a production background, I prefer wires. Producing a stage show of any kind involves many wires. Trusting a wireless mic or casting a laptop screen in front of an audience is an unnecessary risk to us old dogs.

The mic audio isn’t working? Change the cable or the mic. Wireless issues involve invisible frequency and power issues. How do you fix the invisible? Wires and hardware connections are so much better to work with. This is why I typically attach my laptop to our TV via an HDMI cable. Old habits die hard.


Another solution for streaming from your computer is Plex. It’s always seemed like overkill to me. Though, I honestly prefer streaming things rather than having a drive full of media. Plex’s intense interface and setup makes me feel like I have to have a library of films and shows to justify it.

The Annoying Chromecast

The truly astonishing thing about Airflow is that it works flawlessly with the Chromecast. We’ve had terrible luck with the device in our home and it’s a common story around the web when it comes to casting from computers. Google’s tab casting built into the Chrome browser is wholly unreliable. When it comes to applications on Android phones the casting experiences are hit or miss. Google’s own Songza and now, Play Music both randomly stop playing our tunes.

Airflow is actually streaming files from my computer and not casting something streaming off the internet. Part of me wonders if that’s why it works so much better than the other things we’ve tried on the Chromecast. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Chromecast is worth it’s price. Furthermore, many younger people seem to be more into Youtube channels than Netflix and the Youtube mobile app is probably the most reliable app next to the beta Airflow.

Chromecast Wires

I said I liked wires.

Internet TV Is Not Here Yet

15 years ago, the idea of internet and television being married together was full of customization dreams. “What if you could choose the camera angle on your sports ball game? We’ll have access to statistics, actor bios and information galore!” Instead, cable drags it feet because ad dollars make their world go around and nobody clicks online banner ads.

Thus, we’re in this strange, in between period where people are cutting the cable and using Hulu, Netflix and Youtube to consume content because those companies somewhat understand how to make money online. However, those services can’t fill all our needs and people are still searching out content on torrents and using less than legal methods to get the programming they want. Why? People always choose the easiest method to do something. Dear content distributors, just follow this popular advice: “Shut up and take my money.”

Enough Ranting

If Netflix or streaming other services in general is your main goal I would steer clear of the Chromecast and look at the Roku family of devices. 6 or 7 years ago, I had one of the first gen boxes and loved it, but eventually it became too slow. Yes, these days televisions are building many of those features into the hardware. The issue becomes the manufacturers are the gatekeepers. Yes, you can have Netflix but not Amazon. Exclusive deals never favor consumers.

Personally, I think I might get an Intel NUC or Raspberry Pi to stream things on the TV in the near future. That is, until content distributors can get their act together. If you’ve got $35–40 sitting around, grab a Chromecast and check out Airflow because it’s really easy to send files to the television without some other service or device acting as a proxy.