Stephen Newey

Updated 2023-11-13 with features, prompted by Neil's helpful response Desktop Linux: the software I'm currently using

With my new laptop coming in a few days, I'm finally thinking through the implications of moving away from macOS whilst still having an iPhone. These are some questions I need to answer:

  • How will I listen to music?
    • Currently streaming with Apple Music, blended by the Music app with my local music collection
  • How will I manage photos?
    • Currently in Photos, synced with iCloud, mostly originating from my phone, with a collection of old stuff originally synced from the Mac
  • How will I do quick annotations on screenshots, markup PDFs, resize/crop/export images without
  • What Passkeys do I need to migrate out of iCloud (or the Mac specifically)?
  • What other credentials are in my Mac/iCloud keychain that aren't in 1Password for some reason?
  • Safari has been my primary browser and macOS, and will likely continue to be on iOS
    • I tend to throw stuff at Reading List to pick up later, which I won't have access to on my new computer, so what to do instead?
  • Should I keep an old Mac around, running?
    • Logged into iCloud, it could provide another authentication factor for iDevices, which assume you've got some other Apple device nearby to do authentication
    • There are bridges for iMessage that could let me continue to read/reply to iMessage and SMS from my phone
    • I have an old MacBook Pro with a non-functioning screen that's too expensive to fix that could do the job
  • I subscribe to Microsoft 365, mainly for cheap cloud storage (effectively 6Tb for around ~£45 per year when bought on semi-frequent offer), but do use Excel for a few tasks. Should I...
    • Migrate away to something else?
    • Use the web version?
    • Try Wine/Crossover/Windows VM?
  • I almost entirely interact with Mastodon through Ivory, on my phone and with the macOS app. I really like that it stays in sync across both with my read position. Am I just going to use the iOS app now, or is there some other solution?

I guess I'll find my answers in the coming weeks.

#macos #linux

That whole writing more thing went well, didn't it? 😅

Let's try a little brain dump of the nerdy things I've assigned myself to do:

  • Replace macOS with NixOS as my primary computing experience.
    • Being a cloud infrastructure engineer, I love me some declarative configuration.
    • Apple annoyed me with the offer of a £700 fix for the most expensive computer I ever purchased that was just out of warranty and had display issues.
    • The £700 was to replace a display that's screwed because the connecting cable has been damaged by their hinge design. There is a company in London that offer a £300 repair. Still quite ouchy.
    • It's an Intel Mac, how long are they even likely to support it anyway?
    • It was already passed on to Sean, replaced for me by a 14” M1 Pro.
    • Framework seems kinda great, so I'm eagerly awaiting my Ryzen-based Framework 13. At which point Sean can have the 14” and become untethered from a desk again.
    • I'll miss the screen of the MacBook, but I think even more I'll miss the speakers.
  • Capture my (non-phone) computing world into a Git repo.
    • Nix allows me to describe my systems and my user environments in code!
    • On that whole phone thing, wouldn't it be nice if there were some genuinely open-source phone ecosystem without Google that could actually run the apps I've come to depend on (banking, etc)?
    • I've sadly accepted my iPhone 12 mini will eventually be replaced with another iPhone.
  • Adopt a more keyboard-centric computing life, with a tiling window manager.
    • Endless configuration tweaking awaits.
  • Have a go at (neo)vim being my primary editor again, or otherwise invest properly in VSCod(e|ium).
    • I might as well go all in, eh?
    • Failing at this and continuing to use GoLand and PyCharm wouldn't be terrible.
  • Migrate my Hetzner dedicated server running this site, and my Masto instance to something else (self-host, Hetzner cloud).
    • It's way over-specced for my current use (but 50€ for 128GB RAM, 2x1Tb SSD and 8-core i9-9900K is amazing value).
    • I use microk8s on it as a single node instance, which is pretty inflexible, storage being a large part of sense of unease with that.
    • I made the mistake of choosing LVM and let LXD create a thin-pool consuming 100% of the remaining storage.
    • It ran out of metadata space, and you can't grow it into the unused data space, so I had to de-RAID1 the SSDs to make things work so that's a bit of a mess now.
    • Said mess returns errors when trying to do operations like take snapshots for backups, or even delete old snapshots, a reboot might fix it, or it might leave me with a complex failed boot to resolve.
    • Hetzner Cloud seems to be pretty darn cheap, and I can create a proper Kubernetes environment with separate control plane and real storage volumes and come in at similar or lower price than the dedicated server, albeit with less overall resources and with non-dedicated CPU.
    • I experimented briefly with Talos Linux on it yesterday, and it went pretty smoothly.
    • I can Terraform it (or OpenTF eventually, right?)
    • Or maybe I can just host it all at home on a single box?
  • Migrate my home server from Ubuntu with LXD to NixOS with something.
    • It's an 8th gen NUC in a fanless Asaka case.
    • It's my router and adds IPv6 to my home Internet with AAISP's L2TP service, because Virgin Media can't even, but I'm definitely taking their 1Gb/100Mb service over my next best option of 40Mb/10Mb DSL.
    • It's running an LXD-launched VM for Home Assistant, and LXD containers for Plex, some *aars, etc.
    • It's also built on the same LVM thin pool scheme as the Hetzner box, so is ultimately doomed.
    • I'm clearly going to NixOS it, and microvms looks super interesting.

I can't help think of Amelie's father and his toolbox.

#nixos #linux #cloud

I want to improve my writing, so I need to do more of it.

Improving means that I can communicate effectively, efficiently and engagingly. It means you can understand me, that I'm not wasting your time, and that I can hold your attention long enough to impart what I wanted you to know.

Part of my job as a software engineer is to express ideas in a way that is understandable by machines. More importantly, those ideas can be understood by other engineers who work with me now and in the future, whether I'm present or not. That is what good code means to me.

When I write for a machine I'm able to get feedback near instantly. Frequently that feedback is unambiguous. I was either successful in communicating my intent, or I was not. Code reviews help ensure I'm successfully communicating with other engineers too.

Much of my work is useful to people who shouldn't need to understand the details of it’s construction to find it helpful. I should be able to describe it in a way that respects their time and attention. Documentation matters.

Career progression requires I am able to communicate ideas in a way that places them in a wider context to demonstrate their value. I distill the ideas of multiple people and in doing so am representing them as well as myself.

I need to write to justify advancements, to mediate conflict, to convince others to invest their resources, to give candid feedback kindly, to explain failure, and to celebrate success.

I need to be able to do all of that in a timely manner that leaves room for all the other things to be done. Improving also means writing more quickly when that's necessary.

Success will be hard to measure here. Improvement needs feedback as well as practice. That's why I'm writing this publicly.

The most uncomfortable part is convincing myself that this is good enough, when I know that it could be better. If the only outcome is that getting easier, then this will be worthwhile.