The Midnight Brew

Good conversations at the best virtual diner on the Internet.

The Midnight Brew is a podcast hosted by Cailean Babcock out of Osaka, Japan, at the best virtual diner on the internet. Episodes feature interviews with inspiring individuals from around the world, as well as discussions about creativity, art, movies, current events and culture. Released every other Friday at midnight Japan Standard Time.

He Stole My Title

From Daring Fireball, "The Mac Pro Lives":

Let’s not beat around the bush. I have great news to share:

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.

I also have not-so-great news:

These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays “will not ship this year”. (I hope that means “next year”, but all Apple said was “not this year”.) In the meantime, Apple is today releasing meager speed-bump updates to the existing Mac Pros. The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 D700 GPUs. Nothing else is changing, including the ports. No USB-C, no Thunderbolt 3 (and so no support for the LG UltraFine 5K display).

But more good news, too:

Apple has “great” new iMacs in the pipeline, slated for release “this year”, including configurations specifically targeted at large segments of the pro market.

First of all, I just want to say: totally called it. Craig Federighi admitted that with the redesign of the Mac Pro back in 2012, they'd basically designed themselves in a corner (at the very least thermally). Apple has always walked a fine line in prioritizing design over functionality, and with the latest iteration of the Mac Pro, they crossed it. This isn't the first time in the history of the company that they've done so, nor will it be their last. The important takeaway here is that they still appreciate the importance of the Mac Pro user base and they're listening. Can't wait until 2018.


How to Shop in Osaka: the Art of the Discount

Osaka is famous for the phrase, "負けてください!" (makete kudasai!), a phrase used in haggling to mean, "Give me a discount!" This works best on big-ticket items like TVs and such, where the best you might hope for is for them to waive the tax.

Another way is when a Japanese business has decided to create an online site where the price advertised is cheaper than offered at their brick-and-mortar counterpart. Case in point: today I was able to get ¥1,200 (about $10) knocked off of a replacement hard drive at the popular electronics store, Joshin (basically the Best Buy of Japan) because I was able to show them the relevant entry on my iPhone. At the very least, it saved me the hassle of waiting a couple of days for Amazon to deliver for the same price.

Four Drives in Two Months

There is nothing more nerve-racking than having a hard drive die. Multiply that by four and your stress levels tend to rise. All things come to an end, however, and it's important to be prepared. That's why I have backups.

Now that everything's in the cloud, there's little reason for the average joe to worry about it, and that's a good thing. In my case, however, where I have multiple terabytes of data to maintain, a more robust solution is necessary. Here's the recipe for success that I've come up with.

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The Long and Confusing History of Psylocke of the X-Men

While re-reading some Marvel Wiki articles relative to some of the 80s-era X-men comics backstory that sets up or inspires portions of the recently released film, Logan, I cam across this website published originally circa 1997 (holy cow, that's 20 whole years ago!) that details this history of Psylocke - one of the not-as-well-known members of the X-men.  

It's a fascinating read just to see all of the convoluted twists and turns the character took through X-book history (and this covers only her history up through the 1990s).  

I can't think of any character who's story arc takes her from being the British kid-sister of one of the UK's most powerful heroes (on Marvel Earth 616 that is) to being a telepathic British secret agent, to being blind, to being a cyborg, to being a member of the X-men to becoming a Japanese ninja assassin for The Mandarin and then a core member of the iconic 90s X-men team roster (and that's right before things get really confusing for dead readers and true believers).  

The 6 Worst Apple Products of All Time

This is an old article that I stumbled upon this morning: The Six Worst Apple Products of All Time

Six is such a strange number to pick for a listicle like this.  I will say that a couple of these aren't necessarily terrible products, rather that their arrival to market had poor timing (the IIvi, IIvx) or that they were very expensive products with a very small niche they were designed for (The TAM).  

I will say that this list is remiss in not including the Powerbook 5300.  I owned one of those things.  It was overpriced, underperformed, had all kinds of build quality issues as well as was notorious for its infernal battery issues

Nevertheless, it was the only Powerbook that was responsible for annihilating an alien invasion fleet.  


"Class 120" - Keeping College Students Honest

Michael Van Casteren, a sophomore at Lynn University, isn't likely to cut many classes. That's because if he does, his parents will find out — right away. Casteren has agreed to install an app on his phone that will ping his parents by text or email if he isn't in class when he is scheduled to be.

"Just more motivation to go to class," Van Casteren said of the Class120 app. "You know that your parents are watching."

What a horrible idea. How does this teach people to be self-sufficient adults who measure their success on their results, and not their ability to punch a clock with the efficiency of a well-programmed automaton?