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Personal Computing

And the baby’s name is “Fruit Machine”

This post describes the work flow I used to prepare the Fruit Machine for production.

I also describe my first impressions of it as a photo editor and video editor.

Your editor has been reading entirely too many submarine adventures based on the patrol reports and memoirs of World War II submarine commanders. The British called their torpedo fire control computer the “Fruit Machine”. The term is heavily used in WWII submarine adventure novels such as those written by John Wingate.

Given Apple’s new colors, I broke with the hall of fame greyhound theme to name the new machine Fruit Machine. Yes that’s her hostname.

After posting this article I made a second search on “Fruit Machine” and came across some LGBTQ slang usage I was unaware of. My apologies to my LGBTQ friends and readers.

Revisions

  1. 2021-06-07 Revise the intro to apologize for a second, more recent usage of the term “Fruit Machine” previously unknown to the author.

References

  1. https://www.apple.com/imac-24/specs/ — Apple configuration information and pricing
  2. David Pogue, Mac Unlocked, Everything you need to know to get cracking with MacOS Big Sur, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, New York, London, et al, 2020.
  3. https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gaming/resources/upgrade-gaming-accessories-thunderbolt-4.html
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolt_(interface)#Thunderbolt_4
  5. https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217665688-Backup-a-New-Computer
  6. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204350 Moving data to a new Mac.
  7. https://fleetsubmarine.com/tdc.html mentions The Fruit Machine

Unboxing

Apple packaging gets increasingly clever from product to product. Fruit Machine arrived in a pretty point of sale cardboard box designed to efficiently secure the machine, its attachments, a keyboard, mouse, and track pad for international shipping by freight. Each purchaser can individually configure chassis, memory, storage, and add a mouse, keyboard, and track pad as needed. Apple bar codes the package, matches it up with the order, puts on a shipping label, and passes the package off to UPS for delivery.

The outer box has only one edge with tamper evident tape to cut. Once the tape is cut, the cut edge is pulled away from the box to disengage the locking tabs. Once unlocked, the box hinges open to reveal the inner box which is similarly closed into a locked configuration. The inner package has point of sale graphics and a handle to aide in schlepping the machine out to the car.

The inner box shock protection is cardboard boxes. Inside all this is the machine tray. The iMac lifts off fully assembled to reveal bento boxes holding the power supply, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, etc. And a USB-C cable with a Lightning connector on the far end.

Assembly

Assembly is minimal. Just cable up the power supply and connect the Mag-Safe connector to the back of the beast. If yours has wired Ethernet, it connects to the external power supply. That’s it. Oh, did I mention all the surface protection to be removed. There is a lot of it. Although minimally sticky, some care is needed. Most things are enclosed in a non-woven sleeve or envelope that needs to be removed.

Getting Her Gorm Together

Your iMac will arrive pretty much gormless, a British bit of slang indicating that someone hasn’t got their stuff together. On power up, your iMac will spend about 6 hours getting its gorm together. During this period, it pulls the current version of MacOS, installs it and transfers files from either a Time Machine backup or the incumbent Mac. Both run Migration Assistant. The two assistants together decide what to bring over from the incumbent.

Apple suggests that using Thunderbolt for file transfer will be faster than using Ethernet. Connect the Thunderbolt cable mentioned below for this transfer.

After the Restart

After restart the fun begins. Apple has automated the tedious bits but has left a good bit to be discovered and completed by hand. Reference 2, Appendix A describes a MacOS Big Sur installation and all the forks in the road and options.

Preliminaries

Here are a number of small tasks you can do while waiting for your machine to arrive. Most can be done during the OS install and initial file transfer.

  • Review your Time Machine storage to verify that a new host can be accommodated. Expand you Time Machine storage if both machines are to remain active. If a share will be used, review the user names and passwords that will be used to mount the share. Confirm that they were recorded and retained.
  • Review licensed software to confirm that it can be carried over to the new machine. Confirm that you have recorded and retained your license keys. Purchase new licenses as needed.
  • Evaluate the need for a dock or hub and order one. The new iMac does not have a SD card reader and has no USB A connectors.
  • Order one Thunderbolt 4/USB C cable at least a meter long. Thunderbolt permits faster file transfer than does Gigabit Ethernet. Have it ready for use. Here, I suggest ordering Apple or Anker cables. Be careful that the cable has the Thunderbolt trademark as active line driver-receivers are molded into the plugs.
  • Identify the Apple IDs to be used with the new machine. The five media shops will need to de-authorize the incumbent host before the machine is shut down for the final time.
  • Identify purchased licensed software to be added to the new machine. If in use on the incumbent, it will need to de-authorize the keys to be carried over to the legacy machine.
  • Identify any off-site services needing new application passwords. You will fetch and enter these as each service is used for the first time. Third party Calendar and Mail apps are the most common services needing app-passwords.
  • Review your off-site backup service procedures for bringing up a new computer. We use Backblaze which requires starting a new trial, parking the old archive, and inheiriting its license.

First Login

After the first login, a lot must be done.

  • Sort out Apple ID and Google ID and get them working
  • Add or sign in to E-mail accounts for the first time and collect any mail that arrived during the installation.
  • Update your calendar.
  • Review all the configuration items David Pogue mentions in Reference 2 Chapter 2 Sixteen Settings to Change Right-Now.
  • Review the Fourteen Mac Annoyances that David mentions in Chapter 15.
  • Try each work flow essential application to be sure that it runs. Download Rosetta if asked to do so. Apple does not include it in the base installation but the application loader will check the program header to verify Intel or Apple machine architecture. If the image translator is needed, the loader will request it at that point.
  • The loader may also ask for shared libraries that are needed. Follow the instructions to fetch those.
  • De-authorize ane reauthorize applications as needed.
  • Log in to the Apple media shops and confirm that the machine is an authorized client of the shop.
  • Configure your off-site backup service
  • Configure and start Time Machine local backup service.

Do I need a Dock or a Hub?

Loosely, a hub is an external device that allows several devices to share a single host interface, usually a USB interface.

A dock is an external device that provides several types of devices that are in short supply on the host. MacBook docks are the archetypal example. Docks were formerly big, ugly, expensive things that caused trouble. Todays docks take advantage of Thurnderbolt’s ability to tunnel PCI bus protocol between a host and an external device. The dock device is built from standard PCI, USB, and Thunderbolt bus parts and I/O device controllers allowing it to be very compact, typically paperback book size.

My Choice?

As I/O is evolving, a large number of PCI controllers providing application-specific connections is no longer needed. Large numbers of USB ports are no longer needed. Ethernet, Thunderbolt, and a modest amount of USB can provide most of today’s I/O needs.

I have an Anker USB 3.2 hub and a CalDigit Thunderbolt Dock here. The Anker hub is a legacy device used primarily with USB storage.

I opted for the Thunderbolt Dock because it provided audio in and out, an SD card interface, and an accessible USB slot for use with 2FA keys. The back side has a second Ethernet port, additional USB-A USB 3.2 ports, and a Thunderbolt out port for continuing the Thunderbolt channel in the manner of IEEE 1394 FireWire.

Thunderbolt and USB are Converging

USB 4 can now carry Thunderbolt 3 protocol data units. However USB and Thunderbolt remain distinct in the physical layer and the data link layer. I believe Thunderbolt is full duplex, a good bit faster than USB, and has lower latency than USB. Thunderbolt, to achieve specified performance, requires active cables. With the proper transceiver chips in the plugs, either twisted pair or optical cable may be used. But with USB 4, USB becomes an inexpensive way to provide point to point services similar to those of Thunderbolt 3.

Review Host Connections

Trey, Fruit Machine’s ancestor, has the following things connected.

  • Printer using Common Unix Printing Subsystem and Ethernet
  • Printer’s scanner connected by USB when printing.
  • Ethernet
  • Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and trackpad
  • Its internal display
  • USB and Thunderbolt storage comes and goes.

Thunderbolt Can Be Chained

Thunderbolt 3 and 4 devices can be daisy chained. For example, storage, an audio interface, and a video interface may all share the same port.

Ethernet Printing

Many devices have Ethernet interfaces, most commonly printers, storage, and audio interfaces. The Ethernet printing protocols go way back with the current ones designed by Apple (Common Unix Printing Subsystem) and freely licensed to manufacturers and competitors. CUPS is open source.

Ethernet Audio over IP

The Audio Engineering Society has developed AES-67 to consolidate several industry-initiated audio interface audio over IP transport protocol efforts. AES-67 includes Dante, Ravenna, and a couple of others. These protocols find use carrying audio between a stage box and a mixing console. They scale to hundreds of inputs and outputs. Merging Technologies systems can scale to record a full orchestra and find wide use in film score recording. FocusRight’s Red series is also recording oriented but Allen and Heath and Presonus (and every major live sound shop) now have high quality AES-67 capable interfaces. You will need a good Gigabit switch. Any Dante or Ravenna protocol stage box can serve as an audio interface for today’s digital audio workstations.

Audio over Bare Ethernet

There are also several audio over Ethernet protocols. A mixing console uses these protocols to talk to a chain of stage boxes point to point. These are implemented at the Layer 2 level so are switchable but not routable. Most stage boxes and consoles using audio over Ethernet protocols also accept I/O cards that provide one or more AES-67 variants.

Plan some USB A for Charging Things

Apple Mouse and Keyboard use Lightening to charge. Each M1 iMac comes with a USB-C/Lightening cable for this purpose. But there are cameras and other gadgets needing USB-A for charging or data. I have an Anker USB-A USB 3.2 hub that I use to charge the wireless cameras, mices, and track pads. It has an external supply so it is not sucking host power or reliant on host operating mode (sleep or off).

Configure Your Backup Services

Here at Dismal Manor, we use two backup services, Backblaze personal and Apple Time Machine. Each will need to be configured.

Time Machine

Time Machine spools to a TrueNAS Core small home and office server. TrueNAS provides specific short cut configuration of sharing for use with Time Machine. First create a data set then create its SMB share and enable the Time Machine option. It is recommended to use Time Machine save set encryption.

Backblaze

Backblaze is a bit tricky so read the instruction found in the references.

  1. If the migration assistant brougt Backblaze over, run the Backblaze uninstaller.
  2. Visit Backblaze and start a new 30 day trial.
  3. Configure the trial to back up the new host.
  4. Allow things to chug.
  5. If you’re keeping the old machine, you can continue to back it up and purchase a second license for the added machine. If retiring the incumbent, you can transfer its license and payment status to the new machine.

Performance Impressions

I spent most of Wednesday sorting the machine software-wise and configuration-wise.

New Keyboard

The new Apple Magic Keyboard is very similar to the incumbent version. The cosmetic differences include a tinted key deck, rounded keys, and a different off-white color for the key caps. A touch sensor replaces the eject key not needed now that most installations no longer have removable media devices. The Touch ID makes login and wake from sleep quick and works nicely with iCloud login and Apple ID authentication.

Photos and Luminar AI

Fruit Machine is fast! I’ve not done much with it but have edited several photos in Luminar AI Intel build as emulated by Rosetta. Luminar AI on Apple M1 Silicon feels like Photos on Trey, my Intel i7. Maybe faster. The display responds smoothly to the adjustment of any effects fader. The edited photo renders in five seconds or less. File I/O feels faster than with Trey. I expect I will find it much faster running native applications.