NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

NASA safely landed a new robotic rover on Mars on Thursday, beginning its most ambitious effort in decades to directly study whether there was ever life on the now barren red planet.

While the agency has completed other missions to Mars, the $2.7 billion robotic explorer, named Perseverance, carries scientific tools that will bring advanced capabilities to the search for life beyond Earth. The rover, about the size of a car, can use its sophisticated cameras, lasers that can analyze the chemical makeup of Martian rocks and ground-penetrating radar to identify the chemical signatures of fossilized microbial life that may have thrived on Mars when it was a planet full of flowing water.

What a great day for science. Missions like this lift my spirits.

NASA did a great job not just with the mission but with engaging with and including everyone at home. NASA Pre-landing Simulation is a cool visualization to play with, and they also have some great resources for kids. My daughter and I made paper helicopters from their Landing Toolkit website while we watched the stream on Youtube.

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StuffIt is the de-facto standard for file archiving and compression on Mac OS before OS X. Most old Macintosh software is preserved in StuffIt format, but a format change in StuffIt 5 makes archives created in this version unreadable in older versions of StuffIt. Since StuffIt 3.5 is the last version that works on System 6, many archives cannot be opened on compact Macs running System 6.

ReStuff is a SaaS that automatically converts StuffIt version 4 & 5 archives to a format readable in StuffIt 3.

This tool solves a big problem I’ve run in to getting software for my vintage gear.

Joshua Stein also has a C Programming on System 6 video series where he’s trying to make an IMAP client for System 6.

Audion 4.0

Once upon a time, we made one of the earliest MP3 players for the Mac, Audion. We’ve come to appreciate that Audion captured a special moment in time, and we’ve been trying to preserve its history. Back in March, we revealed that we were working on converting Audion faces to a more modern format so they could be preserved.

Today, we’d like to give you the chance to experience these faces yourself on any Mac running 10.12 or later.

Now, this isn’t a full-fledged return of Audion. It can play music files and streams, but it doesn’t have playlists, and we’re not offering support for it. Its primary purpose is to view faces in the converted format. In addition, we’re releasing the source code to document how these faces work and an archive of converted faces.

I love seeing the Audion icon bounce to life on my dock again.

Little Things That Made Amiga Great

In a time when home PCs were single tasking DOS boxes with 8 character file names and Ataris and Macs were single tasking GUI boxes, hampering any hacker with their glaring lack of a CLI, the Amiga was a champion of both worlds: It combined the CLI and GUI, leveraging both their strengths. But there was more to it than that, something that’s hard to convey in so many words.

Working from home at 25MHz: You could do worse than a Quadra 700 (even in 2020)

Despite these shortcomings, the Quadra 700 reinforced some of the same conclusions from my timing roadtesting a refurbished Macintosh IIsi some time ago. The gap between an ‘040 powered Mac and modern PCs doesn’t feel nearly as wide as it should. This computer was released almost 30 years ago. On paper, it should be inconceivable that this can at all fit into a modern workflow. Present-day computers are gigascale monstrosities that should smoke something as old and plucky as the Quadra. And yet, they just… don’t.

Computers today weld supercomputer levels of power by the standards of the Quadra 700, but they don’t seem any faster in terms of responsiveness for the end user doing normal tasks like typing in a word processor.

Dan Luu measured response latency in some vintage modern hardware and the results are surprising.

HTML Over The Wire

Hotwire is an alternative approach to building modern web applications without using much JavaScript by sending HTML instead of JSON over the wire. This makes for fast first-load pages, keeps template rendering on the server, and allows for a simpler, more productive development experience in any programming language, without sacrificing any of the speed or responsiveness associated with a traditional single-page application.

It seems like it will be the Ruby on Rails answer to Phoenix LiveView.

Your Move iPad

Power and performance aren’t the bottleneck for iPad, and haven’t been for some time. So if raw power isn’t enough, and new display tech isn’t enough, where does the iPad go from here? Will it be abandoned once more, lagging behind the Mac in terms of innovation, or will Apple continue to debut its latest tech in this form factor? Is it headed toward functional parity with the Mac or will it always be hamstrung by Apple’s strict App Store policies and seemingly inconsistent investment in iPadOS?

I enjoy using my iPad Pro but not as a professional. The developer profession has never been a target market for the iPad, and Apple’s own development environment doesn’t even run on it. Well, I guess there’s Swift Playgrounds.

I think the tablet is a great form factor, but my ideal tablet future is either a Mac tablet or an iPad running macOS. And with Apple Silicon now powering Macs, what’s the difference between those two futures?