making big sur’s display better behaved

When both of my MacBook Pros updated to Big Sur, a set of defaults landed on my machines that made increased the desktop contrast making everything too dark and contrasty for me to work with effectively and efficiently. The ability to fix that wasn’t in the usual System Preferences locations of General, Desktop & Screen Saver, or Dock & Menu Bar. The controls were in Accessibility:

I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to set it this way, but it makes a dark mode desktop look like crap. When I updated my 2019 MBP to Big Sur, I had a number of issues including the lousy dark desktop. It took me forever to figure out how to change this, and it kept me from updating my older mid-2015 MBP. This is what it looks like with everything unchecked and set back to zero:

It might not look like much, but he really big differences are in the Dock and top menu bar backgrounds, which become transparent and pick up wallpaper colors. Semi-transparent panels in windows look semi-transparent, not black. Like I noted above, I have no idea why it was set to these values on my two MBPs, and I also tremendously dislike how the controls are in a non-intuitive location. These should be in Display; even the subsection in Accessibility is called Display!

dealing with buggy software: visual studio code rendering issue

Ubuntu 20.04.2 running as a full desktop VM within Parallels on macOS 11.2.2

I have for some time now been running multiple versions of Linux as VMs on my 2019 MacBook Pro via Parallels. Up to this point everything has run smoothly. Until recently, that is, with Visual Studio Code. For whatever reason, something was altered within VSCode that causes it to completely render the display either as you see it above, or if I resize the window, as a red-only window with the white, in which the black is replaced with red. I at least traced to the release where the problem did not occur to 1.52.1, the November 2020 release. Every release since then has exhibited this problem.

Normally I’d take this as something of a challenge and try to find and fix the issue, but before I decided to dive in and look into it I fired up a RHEL 8.3 VM. I had VSCode installed on it and I needed to do some rather quick code work inside VSCode. I have all my VMs sharing common data using a folder on the Mac so it’s rather easy to keep data and source code easily synced. Unfortunately the same problem reared its ugly head on the RHEL VM.

I believe that there is something unique about the current release of VSCode that causes it to improperly render when running within a Parallels Linux VM.

In the mean time I’ve dropped back to VSCode 1.52.1 and blocked it from being updated. I’ve also built and installed Emacs 28, just like I did on the Nvidia Xavier under Ubuntu 18.04. If this problem remains unsolved in VSCode then it looks like I’ll stick with Emacs.