Archive for December 30, 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

20 Macs for 2020: #1 – iMac G3

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

But Mac OS X wouldn’t ship for another two years, and it would be a painful years-long transition away from the classic Mac OS. In the meantime Apple needed to start making money again, needed that infusion of cash that would allow Jobs to turn over the Mac product line and let Mac OS X come to fruition. Sure, what it really needed was stability, but a hit wouldn’t hurt.

And a hit is exactly what Apple got.


People who didn’t live through it might not believe it, but the iMac took the product-design world by storm. Over the next few years, there would be very few consumer electronic products that had not offered a special, iMac-inspired translucent plastic edition. It started with USB accessories for the iMac, as printer and floppy-disk vendors quickly placed orders for translucent colored plastic pieces to replace their opaque beige ones. But it just kept going and going. Telephones. Toys. And my personal favorite, the George Foreman iGrill.


The iMac wasn’t made to impress the Mac’s installed base. Hard-core Mac users criticized the lack of a floppy drive and familiar ports, but also the 233MHz PowerPC G3 processor, which was slower than other G3s. But it was $1299—it was aggressively priced for a general consumer audience.

My recollection is that the processor was considered very fast compared with the Power Mac 5400 and Performas of the day. But I/O via USB 1 was really slow.

Gazelle Ending Used Device Trade-ins

Will Shanklin:

Gazelle is ending its entire device trade-in and buy-back program, with the closure effective February 1, 2021.

Founded in 2006, Gazelle had been one of the most popular online services for trading in used iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices. The company announced the move today and hasn’t yet stated why it is backing out of the trade-in market.

Over the years, I’ve traded in most of my old iOS devices using Gazelle. I always thought it worked smoothly and had fair prices until I tried to trade in my iPhone XR this fall. After receiving the phone, Gazelle decided to offer $76 less than promised, on account of “more than the acceptable amount of scratches,” which I think is bogus. It had only a couple of very minor ones. I’ve still not received the device back yet, but while waiting I looked for other companies that accept trade-ins and found:


Update (2021-01-01): Tim Hardwick:

In future, Gazelle intends to focus on its in-store ecoATM kiosks, which offer instant cash for devices, although they don’t usually offer as much in return as customers would get through traditional trade-in programs.


These guys have turned into crooks. They claimed my pristine ipad I had sent in had a blemished display and offered just a few bucks. I refused. When I got it back after refusing, it wasn’t a display blemish, it had been what looked to be hammered on with the display totally destroyed with shattered glass in the bag. Payback for not taking the reduced value I guess.

Update (2021-04-07): Juli Clover:

As of April 5, Gazelle is once again accepting online trade-ins for smartphones and tablets. In an email to customers that was also shared with The Verge, Gazelle said that trade-ins were reinstated after feedback from consumers.

Multiple Active Rust Teams

Niko Matsakis:

As of Jan 4th, I’m starting at Amazon as the tech lead of their new Rust team. Working at Mozilla has been a great experience, but I’m pretty excited about this change. It’s a chance to help shape what I hope to be an exciting new phase for Rust, where we grow from a project with a single primary sponsor (Mozilla) to an industry standard, supported by a wide array of companies.


The goal for Rust has always been to create a language that will be used and supported by companies throughout the industry. With the imminent launch of the Rust Foundation as well as the formation of new Rust teams at Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, we are seeing that dream come to fruition. I’m very excited about this. This is a goal I’ve been working towards for years, and it was a particular focus of mine for 2020.


Update (2021-03-14): Shane Miller and Niko Matsakis (via Hacker News):

Since the start of the year, the AWS Rust team has been drafting our charter and tenets. Charters and tenets are the framework AWS teams use to define our scope and priorities. The charter tells you what the team does, and the tenets tell you how the team will do it. Since one of our team tenets is to operate openly and transparently, we want to share our charter and tenets with you; we want you to know what we’re about.

Bait-and-Switch Amazon Reviews

Timothy B. Lee:

So I went to, searched for “children’s drone,” and sorted by “average customer review,” figuring the best-reviewed drones were likely to be high quality. They weren’t.


When I sorted the reviews by date, I saw that the most recent reviewers actually had bought a drone and they were overwhelmingly not giving it five stars. “Bought this for my Grandson,” a customer wrote on December 26. “He played with it for 2 hours before it broke and is no longer working.” He gave the drone one star.

But the older reviews were for honey. Apparently, the manufacturer had tricked Amazon into displaying thousands of reviews for an unrelated product below its drone, helping the drone to unfairly rise to the top of Amazon’s search results.


Mojave Security Update Removes Support for Automatic Snapshots

Mr. Macintosh:

A quick follow up on macOS Automatic Update Snapshots.

The feature was introduced in High Sierra and removed in Catalina 10.15.3.

Mojave still creates automatic snapshots before the security update is installed.

This was such a great feature. Why is Apple making these admin tasks harder?


No More Big Sur Internet Recovery

Mr. Macintosh (tweet):

Starting in early December, macOS Big Sur Internet Recovery was replaced by Catalina as the newest version available.


Why did Apple make this change? I didn’t report on this earlier because I figured it was a server side issue. Apple would probably fix it pretty quickly. The problem is it’s been almost a month now. Could this be a permanent change or is Big Sur Internet Recovery still having issues?

That’s the situation for Intel Macs. Apple Silicon Macs don’t support Internet Recovery at all, nor can they boot from many common external USB drives.

Jason Snell:

Macs running on Apple silicon are pretty great. But whenever there’s a major hardware transition, many wise people point out that it’s safer to wait rather than rushing in, because there are always growing pains.


Update (2021-01-01): Howard Oakley:

Although not disastrous, the effect of this on Big Sur users is serious. I already have several apps which require Big Sur, of which two rely on System Extensions which are incompatible with Catalina. For a Big Sur user to be forcibly downgraded to 10.15.7 means that they’ll then have to go through all the process of upgrading again, and probably have to re-install System Extensions and much else afresh before they work. If you’re running Time Machine backups to APFS, you’ll be unable to make any more backups – or even to access existing backups – until you’ve restored Big Sur, which may well then perform a full backup. Just what you didn’t want as you’re trying to recover lost time.

My greatest concern though is how we only get to learn this through word of tweet from third-parties like Mr Macintosh and sysadmin chat. When I looked at Apple’s System Status page, and that for Developers, there’s no mention of Remote Recovery services.

There are other critical macOS services which are also missing from those pages, whose outage has devastating effects on large numbers of Mac users.

Hector Martin:

PSA: if you try to partition an M1 mac with Disk Utility, it works, but it breaks recovery mode.

Presumably the bootloader hardcodes that recovery is partition #3... instead of using GPT partition type codes as it should.

Deleting the partition fixes it...