My Mac Pro Wish List

Apple did something actually courageous last month when they invited five journalists to their headquarters in Cupertino and revealed the company's future plans regarding the long neglected Mac Pro. To any long-time Apple watcher, this was dramatically out of character of the company to reveal any future plans regarding a specific product and to openly discuss how a current product failed to meet customer needs. While they were a slightly coy in their apology, any apology at all is a huge admission on their part.

Much has already been written about this and by better writers than I, so I'll leave you to go read all about it. However, I am one of the professionals that so many bloggers and podcasters have been talking about who use and a Mac Pro. I own a 6-core version of the 'trashcan' Mac Pro I bought when Apple released it in late-2013, but didn't receive mine until late-March of 2014 despite having ordered it on New Years eve in 2013. Yes, they took that long to ship out to customers.

In my opinion, the current Mac Pro design is irresponsible. "Whoah, wait just a minute Joel, those are harsh words"! you may be saying. Yes, they are. Let me explain.

Iressponsible

I want to say it again: the trashcan design was irresponsible. That may seem like an odd word to use to criticize the product with but the design pushed the responsibility of expanability onto the user and out of the hands of Apple's design team. Rather than make tough choices of how large to make the case to accomodate storage drives, or expansion cards, or the many options a 'cheese grater' Mac Pro offered its users, Apple's designers essentially said, "Trying to solve this problem is too hard. We want to make a symmetrical, beautiful design that looke nice sitting on a lightly stained maple table in one of our many stores around the world. Lets just take the easy way out and make a pretty, compact shape and lazily stick a bunch of ports on the back and push the responsibility of delivering a working, useful professional workstation back onto the customer."

What is the result of this design decision?

This photo:

Pardon the dust.

In the photo above, my Mac Pro is connected to the following:

  • Ethernet -> Wall Outlet (Internet & my home network [gigabit])
  • USB -> Lightning -> iPhone
  • USB -> Lightning -> iPad
  • USB -> KVM Switch
  • USB -> External Storage Drive 1
  • Thunderbolt -> Thunderbolt Dock (for more Thunderbolt & USB ports)
  • Thunderbolt -> Displayport Monitor
  • Thunderbolt -> External Storage Drive 2
  • Thunderbolt -> External Storage Drive 3
  • Thunderbolt -> KVM Switch
  • Thunderbolt -> (my only open port)
  • HDMI -> unused
  • 3.5mm Line In -> spare audio cable for old headphones I sometimes use.

So yes, while the 2013 Mac Pro was a beautiful visual design, in practice, the design falls flat on its face...hard. I would wager that almost no customers who bought one of these machines, don't also have a similar cable situation going on behind it.

Now, I can see how the old cheese grater design might have also had a few cables coming out of the back of the case....but the case design was meant to sit under a desk where those cables could be made to be out of sight. The 2013 Mac Pro design was meant to be put on your desk, as if on display. And while this may work great on a lightly stained maple table in an Apple Store, this ends up being horrible in customers' homes.

So What Do I Want Instead?

  • A big, rectangular, aluminum case

Just give me something I can put under my desk, and allows you to refresh every 6-12 months with new processors, graphics cards, RAM, and SSDs on your store. Something that I can have cables coming out of, under my desk, tucked away out of sight.

  • Minimum of four INTERNAL SSD slots

Hell, you can even go crazy and give me six. I wont complain. If I can buy SSDs off Amazon and plug them in via PCI-E or even SATA - I'm fine with that. The alternative is losing half my desk space to external storage enclosures and cables going everywhere - which is what I have now and I hate it.

  • An NVIDIA modern, gaming graphics card.

And I don't even want to play games on it. Gaming cards are what drives the industry. They're the best cards. New versions of them are released constantly. Just give us an internal PCI-E accelerated slot, like modern cards require and whatever the latest 1080 card NVIDIA is making right now. And 12 months from now, we can swap it out for a new card if we need be. If you're too slow to update your Mac Pro lineup, you wont hear us complaining constantly because we solved the issue ourselves freeing you up to continue squeezing every ounce of functionality and practicality out of the rest of your product line sacrificed on the altar of thiness in Jony Ive's white world.

Clinton Campaign Chairman's Email Breached Via Phishing Attack Which Used Bitly Link and Fake Google Login Page

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchieral, writing for Motherboard:

On March 19 of this year, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta received an alarming email that appeared to come from Google.

The email, however, didn’t come from the internet giant. It was actually an attempt to hack into his personal account. In fact, the message came from a group of hackers that security researchers, as well as the US government, believe are spies working for the Russian government. At the time, however, Podesta didn’t know any of this, and he clicked on the malicious link contained in the email, giving hackers access to his account.

In short, John Podesta received a Bit.ly link to his Gmail address. He clicked the link, which took him to a fake Google login page, and he entered his login & password.

Eric Geller, writing for Politico:

According to the cybersecurity firm SecureWorks, the fake Google domain in that link — first reported Thursday by Motherboard — matches one the hacker group “Fancy Bear” has employed in a wide-ranging spear-phishing campaign that has also targeted major U.S. political institutions, Clinton campaign figures and other top officials.

“The Google-spoofing domain in the Motherboard article is one we observed used by Fancy Bear,” SecureWorks researcher Tom Finney told POLITICO in an email.

Security researchers have long tied Fancy Bear to Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Motherboard’s story included a redacted screenshot of the malicious Bitly link’s analytics page that showed the link redirecting to Fancy Bear’s fake Google domain. POLITICO independently reviewed the bit.ly link’s analytics page and confirmed with SecureWorks that the domains matched.

Fancy Bear customized spear-phishing links for each target, encoding their email addresses within them.

In June, SecureWorks first described Fancy Bear’s months-long campaign, which it said targeted staffers at the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

The same month, security firm CrowdStrike also pointed the finger at Fancy Bear for the DNC hack.

Security firms ThreatConnect and Fidelis subsequently linked Fancy Bear to the DCCC intrusion, as well.

Over time, Fancy Bear has relied on one IP address to host several fake Google domains, including the one used to target Podesta and another to go after Clinton staffer William Rinehart. Finney confirmed that SecureWorks had found another Bitly link made for Rinehart.

Ice Station Housman, Episode 15 - "The After-Matthew"

The podcast I host with Jimmy Marks and Becky Elliot just published our 15th episode today, "The After-Matthew" in which we discuss the recent Hurricane Matthew and its impact. I realized today that I never actually posted on my website way back in December of 2015 when we launched the show, so I thought now is as good a time as ever to mention it.

I'd love if you check out the show and let me know what you think. Becky and Jimmy are great co-hosts and I really enjoy talking weather with them every two weeks*.

*At least that's our recording schedule goal, but we don't always hit it.

If you listen to podcasts the proper way, and need an RSS feed URL to subscribe to, use this: http://icestationhousman.libsyn.com/rss

If you prefer to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that too.

The Star Wars Generation

My entire life I've heard various people at various times describe people who were born in the year I was born (1982) as either Generation X or as Millenials. When readiting the definition of either generational group, neither felt quite right to me.

When I saw this on Reddit a few weeks ago, it really struck a chord with me as being the first time a generational description just felt right.

Credit to Reddit user "Zurlap" who posted this which I'm assuming is his original work:

We're "Star Wars Generation". Born between 1977 and 1983, neither the cynical GenX nor the narcissist Millennials, we're a unique generation that grew up learning all the old-world skills like writing letters and mailing cheques, but never had a chance to actually use those skills in the real world as the internet exploded while we were in high school and college. Out of the generations, we're the most comfortable with technology because we grew up along side the archaic forms and learned how they actually worked. We used DOS and played with DIP switches on our motherboards and found IRQ ports for our soundcards. GenX doesn't know what the hell a sound card is, and Millennials grew up with plug&play. We remember life before cell phones, movies before CGI, music before autotune. We went to school before it became a paranoid prison after Columbine, and the change shocked us as we experienced in happening before our very eyes.

We got jobs during that quiet period of prosperity between the dot com bust and the housing crash, and consider ourselves lucky that we're not stuck like Millennials are. Millennials hate us because we sucked up the good jobs right before the economy crashed for good. We remember Han being the only one who shot. We're the ones who look back at the 90's fondly and wish things could go back to being so simple. 9/11 was the barrier between our adolescence and adulthood. We don't understand why the world turned so ridiculous just as we crossed that threshold, and are lost in uncertainty, because we remember something better, but never got to experience it.

We're the last generation that are proud to own our cars, and will take a while to accept self-driving cars. We're the last ones living the suburban home ownership dream, and the last generation that moved out of our parents houses when we were still in school and could afford it. We use our smartphones all the time and love them to death, but it still creeps us out when we see little kids using them; we think "Kids shouldn't have cellphones in school!". We will never understand the point of watching a video on youtube of someone playing a video game; we'd rather play it ourselves. We're the last ones who will join social clubs organized outside of Facebook. We're the last generation that can get away with saying "Oh I don't have Facebook, I don't need it". Jurassic Park gave us nightmares but we still went to see it in the theatres 10 times because it was literally the most awesome thing to ever happen to us as kids. We pretend we were into grunge music before it exploded, but we weren't. It was already dying when we discovered it. We wish we could have seen Nirvana in concert, and will probably tell our grandkids that we did. Good music stopped being made when The Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden broke up and Nickelback exploded on the scene. We played our parents LP collections. We recorded our favorite songs off the radio. We owned the first discmen. MP3 players represent the pinnacle of evolution in music technology, and we don't like streaming. We like being able to pick what songs we listen to next instead of having a computer do it for us.

The transition from VHS to DVD literally changed our lives, but couldn't care less about Bluray. To us, the transition from DVD to BR just isn't anywhere near as groundbreaking as it was from VHS to DVD. Michael Bay ruined action movies forever. We don't know what the hell a pokeyman is, and don't care.

Princess Leia Organa will forever define the epitome of sexy to us, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo the greatest of heroes. The Ewoks aren't that bad. Wickett? We love the little guy. Darth Vader and Boba Fett are BAD. ASS. We are the Star Wars generation.