That’s a huge number of folders
1 June 2023 | 11:22 pm

I use a Mac for the technical sales side of my work, for the uninteresting reason that I need Microsoft Office. The internal SSD was starting to get full, so I ran GrandPerspective to surface where the space all went.

Screenshot showing the detection of 229,759 folders

Wait… that’s almost a quarter of a million folders! On a MacBook Air with a stingy SSD? That’s more virtual folders than I’d suspect all but the largest physical archives in the world would have.

It’s at this stage I would lean back in my chair, fall over, pick myself up, then regale you all with tales of my childhood DOS days. I’d mention that I tried maintaining a clean directory structure, but would also limit the number of nested directories to a few dozen, given it’d be tedious to traverse anything complicated on a command line. I’d contrast this to my modern FreeBSD desktop and laptops having orders of magnitude fewer folders than this Mac despite having full KDE Plasma desktops, or my classic NetBSD systems sporting Fluxbox. Then finally, I’d attempt to make a point about the state of modern computing, and the never-ending spiral of complexity, and whether even the metaphor of a folder is even meaningful anymore.

There are a bunch of reasons why, but it only reinforces my feeling of merely being a guest on macOS. In 2023, I could still tell you where almost everything is on a FreeBSD or NetBSD system (and even Linux, despite their best efforts of late). On a Mac? I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of anything outside my home directory, /usr/local, and /opt.

By Ruben Schade in Sydney, 2023-06-02.

Using M2 Wi-Fi card slots for other things
1 June 2023 | 10:34 pm

The first thing I plug into any desktop, even before power, is wired Ethernet. It’s always fun (cough) routing around furniture in a new apartment, and figuring out how you’ll get there from here, where there is your router box, and here is yours and your partners’ desk. I heard you liked large rugs that definitely don’t have a suspicious, cable-shaped bulge running down one side.

Modern motherboards tend to include Wi-Fi modules that expose antenna sockets on their backplanes. I only learned recently you could unplug these modules, exposing a standard M.2 slot with A+E keys on their edge connectors!

Delock: The M.2 interface

Why is this awesome? For rational people, it isn’t. But for masochistic Mini-ITX builders such as myself, our boards are limited to a single PCI-express slot. Gaining an additional M.2 slot opens up a rare extra possibility for internal expansion that, for once, doesn’t involve using dodgy internal USB connections.

So the next question is, if you don’t need Wi-Fi, what can you use the slot for? According to the Delock website, A+E maxes out at two PCIe lanes, which limits its utility for NVMe SSDs. But this is ample for a bunch of peripherals.

Checking eBay, the most common expansion is an additional Ethernet port, which might be useful if you have a budget board. 2.5G Ethernet modules are even available, which is presumably the highest bandwidth version you can get on the limited lanes available. Though I wonder why so few of them come with PCI slot brackets.

Photo showing a 2.5G Ethernet jack connected to an m.2 A+E connector.

There are adaptors for mSATA storage, SD cards, microSD cards, SIM cards, and Magic cards… if you stored images of them on SD cards. There are also USB adaptors, though Mini-ITX boards tend to come with plenty of these already because the PCIe lanes aren’t allocated to many things.

Which lead me to wonder something awful: could I expose the PCIe lanes for general purpose expansion cards? Not to get all Malcolm Gladwell on you, but turns out, you can! This was the first one I found:

Photo showing a 16x PCIe slot connected to a USB header on the m.2 slot.

Upon closer inspection, this passes PCIe over USB. I could do this with regular USB ports. I suspect this was designed for miners, and not the good kind who build things with blocks.

Refining my search to “Wi-Fi to PCIe riser” lead to a few variations on this cable:

Photo showing an M.2 adaptor connected with a ribbon cable to a PCIe 16x slot.

It’s comical to me that these have PCIe 16x connectors, given that A+E keyed M.2 slots are missing 14 lanes. But either way, we have a PCIe slot that we could use for what we wanted.

I’m thinking of using it for a proper sound card, because internal motherboard audio is always dreadful. My Fractal Ridge has a spare PCI slot, so I’m thinking this terrible contraption could work! Maybe.

By Ruben Schade in Sydney, 2023-06-02.

Dutch milk bread and spreads
1 June 2023 | 4:34 am

Clara and I are going through a bit of a Dutch obsession at the moment, from art, infrastructure, language, history, and food. This has only been reinforced from watching channels like Not Just Bikes, and from conversing with the few lovely Dutch readers among you who’ve found my ramblings and have reached out to say hallo. It’s a shame that my last name is just as unfortunate in Dutch as it is in German, though arguably it’s just as fitting.

Schhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiphol Airport!

So when we saw a local Sydney bakery started selling fresh Dutch milk brood loaves, we made like Mondrian and squared some away in our reusable shopping bag. I have no idea if Mondrian liked bread, or if he even liked milk bread, I just couldn’t help but alliterate pointlessly. Also, get it, squared away? Because he painted… shaddup.

A photo of a fresh-baked loaf of Dutch milk bread, with its steep height and crusty... crust.

I’m not sure what specifically makes this style of bread Dutch, though I do remember buying it back in the day from a Dutch bakery and cafe in Singapore growing up. Proofing, if you will. Wouter would probably consider Belgian bread better; they do make the world’s best chocolate and beer after all.

Wouter: Brain Baking!

In my experience, Dutch milk bread is crustier than equivalent loaves from French or Japanese bakeries, but the inside retains that impossibly-soft texture. That contrast surfaces even more with a very light toasting, and either Vegemite or De Ruijter Chocoladehagel. While their colour may appear superficially similar upon application, you’d best not get them confused.

Like alcohol, Clara and I limit our intake of processed carbohydrates where possible, so when we do eat carbs, we want it to be special. And wow, this bread sure is. I’d happy eat this whole loaf, right now, with nothing even on it. Would I regret it later? Almost certainly. Would I let it stop me? Almost certainly. But can a man dream? Maybe on a small urban canal he could, with a loaf of bread, a stroopwafel perched on his coffee cup, and a wry smile. A rye smile?

Lekker! 🍞

By Ruben Schade in Sydney, 2023-06-01.

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