bookmark_borderA is for “ailanthus,” Z is for “zoom”

RIP Driveway Ailanthus ~2005 – 2019

Here’s a word from Zoom, letting us know that they are taking things “extremely seriously…”

Overall, this is a good message. Zoom appears to be taking the right steps to fix both their existing problems and the mistakes they have made in developing/marketing their product.

Nobody could have forseen the huge increase in volume that Zoom has had to deal with in the last few weeks. They found themselves in the coveted position of “easiest option that currently sucks the least” for a service a lot of people have suddenly needed. That’s as good as it gets.

Performance and support issues are understandable in explosive growth situations like this, and honestly, Zoom has done a much better job at both than I would have given them credit for. They must be paddling like mad, struggling with the best and most daunting problem a tech company can have.

So kudos–and all the patience you can muster–go to them for that.

It’s important to keep in mind however, that the majority of the security and privacy issues that they are now rushing to correct were baked into the product BEFORE this increase in volume, and that increase in volume in no way caused those issues.

They did not underthink the use of the FB SDK, nor fudge the definition of “end-to-end,” nor include the spooky attention tracker, nor release a buggy, insecure Mac OS version because they suddenly had millions more users. In fact, those things were exposed in part because they suddenly had millions of users, and their product came under much more scrutiny as a result.

Zoom built something that had some serious problems, millions of people used it anyway, and the suckage was exposed. Now they are trying to make it right.

I really hope they do. I really hope Zoom ends up with a secure, solid, kick-ass product that does what is supposed to and maintains the ease of access, usability, and low cost of use that attracted people to it in the first place.

But keep in mind that most people did not choose the best possible solution when they chose Zoom–they chose the easy option that sucked least. Most people continued to use it while it was doing things they didn’t want it to do, because it was too much work to change to something else.

If Zoom ends up a solid, kick-ass secure product that does what it is supposed to do and respects privacy and leaves a lemony-fresh scent, it won’t be because people chose that product.

It will be because people are willing to use a worse product.

bookmark_borderCan you remove the default screen savers in Mac OS?

Spoiler: Don’t.

This applies to Mac OS 10.15.3

By default, Mac OS comes with the execrable “Album Artwork” screen saver. When activated, this thing tiles any album artwork that it finds in your Apple Music (formerly iTunes) folder across your screen. That’s fine, but if you happen to click on your mouse while it is running, it starts Apple Music and tries to play something from whatever album you clicked on.

I usually click the mouse to deactivate my screen saver, and I don’t want to open Music all the time, so this behavior completely sucks. You can not disable this behavior in the screen saver settings, which also completely sucks.

Because I’m an exciting devil-may-care kinda fellow who lives on the edge, I like to set my Mac to use a random screen saver. But I don’t want the Album Artwork screen saver to run, and Apple doesn’t let you choose which of the default screen savers are randomly used. You either use one screen saver, or all of them. This also completely sucks.

All that suckage lead me to the question “Can you remove a default screen saver from your Mac?”

The shortest absolute answer is “Yeah, but it’s not simple.”

The shortest workable answer for most people is “Nah.”

The best answer is “If you want to use a screen saver, use Xscreensaver.”

The actual answer is “You can, but I decided not to, and you probably will too.”

Everything from here on pertains to bad decisions. Your life will be better and simpler if you just leave this page now and go learn how to make cheese.

But if you are determined, here is what you need to know in order to make a bad decision about the default screen savers on your Mac.

I warn you now that I am not going to explain how to do each step. Knowing what you are doing is the cost of entry here.

If you don’t understand what you are reading, I STRONGLY suggest you stop doing it and either go learn more or give up entirely.*:

The default screen savers are located in /System/Library/Screen Savers.

Doing things in Terminal

  • CD /System/Library/Screen Savers
    You will need to tab-complete or escape the space in “Screen Savers.”
  • ls or ls -la to see all the screen savers. Yep, they are directories.
  • You can then nuke the directory of the screen saver you hate.

I recommend you copy it somewhere else first, in case your plan to delete a system file doesn’t work out as smoothly as you’d planned. Because you planned this, right?

Doing things in Finder

  • Open Finder, hit CMD+shift+g and type in the location of the screen saver folders.

The directory will show up as empty. That’s because it contains system files, which are hidden by default.

  • Hit CMD+shift+. and you can see the hidden files.
  • You can then nuke the directory of the screen saver you hate.

I recommend you copy it somewhere else first, in case your plan to delete a system file doesn’t work out as smoothly as you’d planned. Because you planned this, right?

If you are now asking yourself “Why can’t I just right click and move the directory to the trash?” then you have more research to do. I do hope that dissuades you from continuing.

*This is some pretty solid general life advice