You should wait to install MacOS Catalina

 

There is a lot of really great stuff in Apple’s new macOS release, Catalina (macOS 10.15).

But there is also a lot changed that can cause problems.

I strongly recommend you wait until the first major update (likely macOS 10.15.1) before upgrading to macOS Catalina.

If you do decide to upgrade to Catalina, be sure to take all the usual extra precautions, especially to make a full image backup of your main boot drive. Right now, my recommendation is Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) which has a new version available that works with Catalina. (SuperDuper, my other long-time favorite, has not yet (as of this writing on October 8th, 2019) released a version that works with Catalina.) 

The makers of CCC have written a great blog post, which also explains a bit about what is changed in Catalina that makes it complicated to support and why having a fully bootable backup is essential for safety. (tl;dr – it’s the only way to go BACK to Mojave.)

https://bombich.com/blog/2019/10/07/cloning-catalina-carbon-copy-cloner

I always recommend maintaining a fully bootable backup that’s updated on a regular basis, but before this Catalina upgrade, it really is absolutely essential. 

 

For a full review of macOS Catalina, check out MacStories: 

https://www.macstories.net/news/macos-catalina-the-macstories-review/

Advice on Computer and Software Upgrades

Keeping your computer software up-to-date is important for security, and also gets you the latest great features. Computer hardware is better than ever, which also means that a computer stays useful longer than ever and is more reliable because of better chassis, connectors and electronics, and fewer moving parts.

Software

Whether you are using macOS (previously Mac OS X), Windows, or Linux, keeping your computer up-to-date gives you the latest security updates and helps keep your computer reliable and fast. We can quibble over preferences and the track records of software vendors, but keeping your software updated is always the best choice.

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Email Apps

I’ve been using email for over 35 years (no typo) and I’m still surprised by the clever new ideas I see in the best email apps. Email apps can add an email to a reading list, or turn it into an item in your to-do list, or add an event to your calendar. Many have features for smart sorting of your email and to “snooze” an email for later. Many are beautiful and thoughtfully designed with gestures for touch-screen devices.

But what’s best for me is not necessarily what’s best for you. Below I run through some basics about email and make some recommendations for good apps to try.

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Fight to Make Your Product Great

In the mid-80’s I took my second tech job, at a company called Silicon Graphics, Inc.

SGI, before it officially contracted its name to “SGI”, was a fantastic place to grow and learn. It was intense and focused, and my modest technical know-how in Unix, TCP/IP Networking, and Computer Hardware matched well as the company grew its Unix workstation business and more customers connected computers to Internet Protocol networks. I was soon a main contact point for the most intractable problems from customers, and the Customer Support representative to new product introductions.

The focus and intensity made for arguments, some that probably would seem to outsiders as knock-down, drag-out fights.  But a friend from those days put it well when he said, “We fight with each other, but we fight to make a great product.”

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IIW, an Open Space Conference

IIW uses the Open Space Technology process for self-organizing the conference. The importance of all of this is often unclear to the newcomer, but people come around, as they come to understand that there rules generate a conference that works much like the hallways and bars in traditional conferences. The whole thing becomes a great swirling stew of fascinating interlocking conversations, and real work comes out of it.

This starts with four principles:

1. Whoever comes are the right people. These people came to this session because they wanted to be here. The mix of opinions, ideas, and questions that result are exactly what we are hoping for.

2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. These sessions are generative. What happens is not always what you thought might happen, but that’s ok! Let go of your expectations and enjoy the flow of ideas.

3. Whenever it starts is the right time. Start on time, even if you are expecting more people. Someone may join mid-way through, and that’s ok.

4. Whenever it’s over it’s over. We give over the space to the next sessions on time. If you are still in the middle of a great conversation, move somewhere, or schedule a follow-up. If the conversation is over, or the part that interests you is done, then you may leave.

Plus, the important Law of Two Feet:

You have both Mobility and Responsibility! Move around if you like. if a conversation isn’t interesting, just move. It’s common that there is several interesting sessions at the same time slot — move around, sample and enjoy.

Book of Proceedings:

Every IIW generates a Book of Proceedings, containing the notes from every session. it’s important that someone at each session takes notes. There is a simple, standard format for the notes, to include the sessions number, location, convener, title and note-taker.

See also: IIW Wiki  and IIW Session Notes Format

IIW XXI Begins

Internet Identity Workshop is my favorite conference. The topics covered, which span across Identity, Privacy, Community, and Security and more, continue to be relevant even after more than a decade. The “Open Spaces” format generates lively discussions across a range of topics, all created on the spot by the participants. 

It’s also a conference full of friends who I’ve come to know over the years. I’ve already had a couple quick “catch-up” conversations and looking forward to more. 

 

Thinking about product design

I had an interesting discussion this weekend about computers and devices and Internet of Things. I’m still sorting out how exactly to articulate this, and then this morning this great example from Marco Arment came to my news feed:

From Redesigning Overcast’s Apple Watch app – Marco.org:

It’s unwise and futile to try to shove iPhone interfaces and paradigms into the Apple Watch. Instead, design for what the Watch really is.

All these devices are testing the creativity and interaction concepts of designers and developers. Whether it’s the Apple Watch, some new “Internet of Things” device, or even something as straightforward, but polarizing, as the new Apple MacBook, Thinking about what the thing is for, and understanding the subtle ways that people will use the new thing — that’s where the magic happens.

Read Marco’s post about his app. The specific are interesting, and the more general lessons essential.