Computer

Keychron Keyboard

With lockdown continuing in the UK, and working from home, I decided to look once more at the mechanical keyboard market. I had been using the Logitech K350 on Windows without any issues, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to use this nicely on the Mac - I’d often get drop outs or lag, where what I was typing wasn’t picked up, or was lost completely 1. In the mean time, I’d been using a Windows Dell keyboard - a cheap and cheerful keyboard that did the job, and I actually wasn’t getting RSI by using it!

Performance per Watt

I wanted to compare the performance per watt of the new M1 Mac mini against that of my Ryzen 1600X powered gaming PC. To throw some additional items in there, I also measured my Ryzen 4300U little Windows office PC as well and my Raspberry Pi 4. The speed of the new M1 Mac has shown that Apple’s move to Apple Silicon has been a good move for them. Benchmarks show that it’s faster than some of the Intel and AMD machines.

RAID 0 QNAP

I’d posted about my QNAP TR-002 previously and how I was using it as direct attached storage for my Mac. Recently, I moved it to the PC to use it as storage for gaming, as I’d switched my Mac external storage to a Samsung T7 external drive. For the gaming rig, I added a second 3TB drive to the TR-002 and used reformatted to NTFS. RAID 0 should give me some additional speeds over the storage I was currently using.

FDS on the M1 Mac

So whenever I get a new machine, I always run an FDS benchmark on it - purely for fun and comparative purposes. I’ll often run it, even on a machine that isn’t likely to run FDS in a normal situations, such as the M1T Mini PC and Raspberry Pi. So with the M1 Mac Mini, there was no reason not to run the benchmarks as well. However, as the M1 Mac is based on an ARM based chip, I wasn’t expecting it to perform that well - after all, it would be running on the Mac using Rosetta 2, as FDS is compiled for x86 processors1.

Synology Issues

I ran in to some issues with my Synology over the Christmas period, involving BTRFS and RAID. I had been running the NAS with an 8TB hard drive for main storage and a 3TB drive aimed at backups. However, I’d noticed a lot of a files deleted a few weeks ago which made me uneasy and then recently I found a corrupt image file on my gaming rig. I wasn’t sure if this was the fault of the desktop, or the Synology, but when I investigated the Synology, I found that the BTRFS file system I was using to help protect against bit rot wasn’t actually protecting me at all.

QNAP TR 002 DAS

With the recent purchase of the Mac Mini, I needed to have an external drive - partly for Time Machine backups and partly as I only went 256GB internal drive. I’d got a couple of 2.5” hard drive caddies lying around, but also a 3.5” drive that wasn’t being used. Teamed up with the reduced number of ports on the M1 Mac Mini, I decided that I’d purchase a Direct Attached Storage (DAS) device for the Mac.

M1 Mac Mini

After the issues I’ve had previously with the Mac, I wasn’t sure I was going to get another Mac. But I did. I watched the M1 release keynote after it had finished and was impressed with what I saw. If it was true. However, after hanging around the Mac Power Users forum, I’d seen some interesting Mac apps that I fancied giving a go - things like Hook. I also wanted to continue using Photos, as I hadn’t really found an alternative on Windows that really matched it.

Insync

My current job sees me using Onedrive as the primary storage location for files, and since the initial lockdown in the UK, we moved to using Microsoft Teams and storing data in Teams instead, rather than our on site servers and mapped hard drives. This took some getting used to but suited me, as it meant that I could use my Mac Mini at home to access the files and work, rather than a work machine, which was good, as I had forgone the standard laptops that everyone else used so I could have an iPad for carrying out my risk assessments on, but this obviously isn’t as good for general office tasks1!

Motion and Live Photos

Apple’s Live Photos and Android equivalent, Motion Photos, initially seemed a bit like a gimmick when they were announced. However, there are a number of times now where the Live Photos on the iPhone has been of good use - mainly to capture amusing antics before or after the photo occurred! With playing with Android, I was surprised that this didn’t appear to have the same. However, after some googling, I discovered it does, and it’s called Motion Photos.

Benchmarking ARM

There has been much talk on how well ARM processors have moved on and how they can potentially now compete with x86-64 chips. Even though Microsoft have launched the Surface Pro X, which uses an ARM chip and Apple are moving the Mac’s to ARM processors, I hadn’t really considered just how far they’d come. I’ve had a Raspberry Pi and various versions since they were released and have been able to adequately use the Pi3+ for minimal desktop use and I’ve had the iPad Pro for work for a number of years as well, which has performed quite well, but I’ve never really put two and two together on how well they compared to the X86 chips I have.