I know, I know, I cannot seem to find any time to reasonably blog about my life as developer. Nevertheless here are a few tidbits of late.
Mac Mini Time Machine replaces Time Capsule
For a long time I had an older generation Apple Time Capsule (1TB) for my backups, but it became more or less useless to me when a full backup of just one of my machines takes 75% of the capacity. A year ago, I had migrated all my WiFi to a Ubiquity setup with 3 Hotspots positioned throughout the house and one on the roof for some outdoor coverage. That had made the WiFi coming out of Time Capsule obsolete.
Then I bought a new Mac Mini (2018) which Apple finally refreshed after a very long time. I kept the Time Capsule and used a USB-connected 4 TB external HDD as backup destination. But that didn’t work so well, that I didn’t even enable backups when I moved to a newer iMac and my girlfriend got my previous one.
So yesterday, I finally decided to remove the Time Capsule from my network and instead plug the external HDD into the Mac Mini. Naturally, the USB 3 is much faster than USB 1 on the Time Capsule. And of course having Gigabit-Ethernet connecting them, increases throughput by another order of magnitude.
In order to see the backup drive on other machines you need to share the volume/folder as a time machine destination.
I kept getting an error about permissions, even though I had given the user read and write permissions in the sharing dialog. But then I remembered, since this was a previously used drive, I also needed to adjust the file system permissions. The administrators’ group also needed to be able to read/write.
I had disabled my iMac’s wired ethernet connection to test something and because of this the first backup was still going on the next morning. But as soon as I re-enabled the cable connection, the backup speed increased dramatically. Which makes sense, the WiFi Connection is reported as 54 Mbit/s, whereas the Ethernet can do 1 Gbit/s – a factor of 18x faster.
That is, theoretic maximum throughput. So what was the actual transfer speed?
With the free Blackmagic Disk Speed Test I measured the writing from MacMini to the external HDD at 75 MB/s, that would be 600 Mbit/s. When I ran the same speed test from my iMac via network, I got a writing speed of around 100 MB/s, which is very odd: why would it write faster oder the network than when directly connected?!
I didn’t test the speed of the USB connection of the Time Capsule, but I found that somebody had gotten 44 MB/s for the internal drive and and 11 MB/s for an external USB drive. Connecting the external USB 3 HDD to the Mac mini as opposed to the Time Capsule increased my backup speed about 7x. No wonder that backups would be so painfully slow with this USB bottleneck.
Those old Radars
After many years of campaigning against the infamous Radar Web, Apple introduced Feedback Assistant for Developers (in June 2019) a new web app and also native Mac app. This app apparently is now preinstalled in macOS 10.14 or higher.
It basically works somewhat similar to the previous Radar web app, but feels fresher and more friendly. During the beta phase of iOS 13 I filed a few bug reports and was pleased to see that there seems to be much more responsiveness in the new system. It feels more like a dialog with Apple now, as opposed to the prior Radar black hole. One – probably automated – kind of response would be to check the problem again with a newly released updated version of Xcode.
Mixed into your inbox you’ll also find a couple of Announcements pertaining to release notes or a new beta program. Then there’s a Sent Folder which contains copies of all Radars I filed for the past 11 years.
For a while it was not possible to download attachments we had uploaded. So if I had meticulously crafted an app to reproduce an issue, I had no way to download it. Apple fixed that at the end of August 2019 for the web version. I’m still unable to download anything via the Mac app.
But the thing that delighted me yesterday was receiving this – again automated – response to one of my oldest open Radars, one from July 2012. The original Radar had been closed as duplicate of another one, but the copy of it in Feedback Assistant was still showing as open. As are most other imported bug reports. I have a response that it has been closed as duplicate, but the status is still Open. Possibly we’ll see Apple close these bit by bit the same way.
At first I thought that this might be a new text snipped, but then I looked back and found the earliest copy of this text in a response from Apple, dated May 5, 2015.
Thank you for filing this bug report.
This is an older report and much has changed since it was filed. We are closing it. If this is still an issue for you, or if you have questions regarding the resolution of this issue, please update your bug report with them.
Please be sure to regularly check new Apple releases for any updates that might affect this issue. Again, thank you for taking the time to submit bugs. We sincerely appreciate your input.
I hope that Apple will now take a more active role in communicating with developers about issues in their software. Apple could have started with a fresh slate, but they chose to import more than a decade worth of old Radars. Now they have to start closing those Feedbacks, or how are we now colloquially referring to those issues we raise?
Always-On Apple Watch
The third new thing is that for a while I had been tracking my sleep with Sleep++ to see how accurate this is. For this purpose I had a series 3 ceramic Watch that I would wear at night and then during the day I would switch to my series 4. The one major announcement which made me jump up to find my wallet, was the announcement of the Always-On functionality on series 5.
It came as quite a surprise to me, because I had resigned to the situation that we would never have the battery capacity in those small devices to power a screen for an entire day. Being able to adjust the refresh rate of the display – amongst other tricks – allows the watch to finally do what a watch should do: to tell time!
The first versions of watchOS 6 and iOS 13 had some issues where the battery would drain too quickly. But I am happy to report that battery endurance seems normal now, at least for my current rhythm alternating watches between day and night. 3 hours sitting at the iMac, typing, and I am at 93%.
A built-in compass (series 5 only) and the noise meter are two additional new features that managed to delight me. It is really true that being able to glance at your watch without having to move your wrist gives the watch an entirely different feel.