Category Archives: Mac OS

Proper Handling of Trial App Versions In The App Store Is A Mutual Responsibility, Shared By The Store and The Developer

9to5Mac MarsEdit developer lists 8 problems with Apple’s approach to free trials of iOS apps

I certainly see some of the these points as valid – and apparantly licensing is always difficult – and I see this because I get to deal with really ridiculous licensing architectures like, iLOK. O M G! I’m compelled to use AVID’s ProTools, (as opposed to Apple’s Logic X), because Apple refuses to fix a fatal timecode flaw in that product, which would otherwise be a ProTools killer. But, I digress.

Digidesigns’ ProTools, even before they were scooped up by AVID, has always chosen the absolutely, most complicated licensing schemes they can get their hands on, and that alone kills what would otherwise be a perfectly adequate tool for audio professionals. (It’s like being kidnapped by outlaw bad guys and then being forced to dance around the campfire while they shoot at my feet.) I respect the right of all authors, whatever it is that’s being authored, to protect their work and to make sure there is proper compensation for all instances of it’s existence in the wild, but, what it all comes down to is, we, the end-users that actually shell out the $, are the ones that suffer. I think this article kind of gets to that point.

The word confusing pops up several times and that’s something that can turn users away. In the context of where the App Store is now, I see an interesting system where a developer will release a “lite” version and a “full”, or, “Pro” version. Sometimes the move from lite to Pro or Full can be made by an “In-App” purchase, or, the two installs are completely separate. For me this has generally worked very well, to the point that I really miss it when there’s a $10-$50 app that I think will be a useful tool, but, there’s no way to try it before I commit to it. Something else I miss on the App Store is the simple ability to download a trial version of an application that has a built-in time out feature. This allows me, the all important end-user, to try the app before I commit to it, and, gets me off of my butt to make a committment by the end of the trial period. All that being said, I’m glad there’s an attempt being made to provide trial versions.

To both the App Store and the Developers: Don’t make it confusing; don’t make it frustrating; don’t make it complicated; and, remember where the actual money comes from. We the end-users are watching. (This could be a good thing – make it so.)

A “Pro” Post to My “Pro” Blog for Professionals

It’s kind of interesting to analyze the effect of the label, “Pro”, when I’m on the consumer side versus the professional side. As a consumer the term, “Pro”, makes me feel a bit more comfortable with how much I’m about to spend, and as a professional user, it makes me raise my eyebrows in unapologetic suspicion. (If it’s really a professional product, aimed at professionals, why does it need to be said with an obviously manipulating title like “Pro”?)

I’m going to try the car analogy, again: In terms of basic performance, I can turn a VW bug into a Porsche 911, (that used to be possible), but if I do that, in the end, I still have a VW Bug, but a lot faster one. And, up to a point, being faster counts, but it’s still a Bug. If I really want the complete, carefully balanced, actual Porsche experience, I must buy a Porsche 911.

And this my friends is yet another attempt to explain my near contempt for the the whole of the iMac product line. Apple takes their iVW, a very cool machine in its own right, puts a screaming fast engine in it, slaps the “Pro” moniker on it and once again evades having to actually make another, real, professional desktop computer. To a consumer the speed of this thing, alone, makes the initial experience surreal – in a good way, to a professional, the speed is thrilling for somewhere between one hour and a week, or so. After that, I start asking real-world questions like: how come I have to tear the screen off of the front in order to do a basic thing like upgrade or change RAM? Or, swap CPUs to upgrade or downgrade the number of cores I’m using? [Yes, I might want to do that because the fewer the cores, the faster each core goes – see?) Or, why can’t I add high-end video cards to the existing system – Oh wait, I can! But, oh wait, I want to add six video cards to my system so that I can scale how my professional software applications use them – like Windows users can – And, yay! Look mom, six video cards, but, what a freaking mess on my physical desktop. Sure wish I could just put those things inside of my computer. And, my OS is still optimized for only one kind of video card language? (I’m speaking here of CL vs. GL.) Yes I can use both, but only one is actually native to the OS. WTF! I really do not want to get stuck with Windows, again, but, I will. Well, I think you get the point.

And, where is Linux in all of this marketing obfuscation [BS]? Linux foundations have the potential to build highly customized machines on a wonderful plethora of UIs on very powerful hardware architectures … Why is it that all I can hear from the Linux side is crickets chirping? (There actually are a few open source products, but a very few, and to-date, nothing that can well replace software products from Avid, Apple and Adobe, maybe with the exception of Black Magic and their Linux-ready Fusion product.) Please get on the ball and save those of us who: 1) Actually do care about what we use, but; 2) Are beyond weary of having to argue for anything and everything that isn’t 1000% Microsoft; 3) Are sick and tired of having to slog through the cesspool of hardware and software that recklessly slaps the, “Pro” label on everything – to the point that even consumers, by now, are completely desensitized to it. If any Linux developers want to take a serious stab at creating a truly professional environment for high-end media production workflows, please feel free to give me a call, because I guarantee you, there is a huge market place of deluded, tired and disenfranchised media producers who, still have a passion for the work, want to know and trust that the hardware and software they’re using IS professional, and, who are beyond weary of the two-choice reality they [we, I] work in. I’m serious.

One last stab at the genericized “Pro” moniker: If all software and hardware developers provided a class of products that had the fully spelled out word, “Professional” on it, would that somehow produce a greater sense of responsibility to think beyond basic marketing strategy. Hmmm …

In the meantime, I’m getting ready to install new Windows machines for our Adobe Premiere”Pro”/After Effects post production peeps [formally Mac-based], and iMac”Pro”s for our Final Cut “Pro” X/Motion users. And the jury is still out for our “Pro” Tools and Logic “Pro” X camps. They’re all unified in not wanting to go back to Windows, but they’re not convinced they want to get stuck with the iVW either, because, by now, they’re all fully aware of the BS factor in the “Pro” moniker and how difficult it has become escaping from it. I’ll let you know how it goes. (Nix folks, call me, really.)

It’s Not A Bug, It’s An Oopsy

I appreciate 9to5 NOT calling this App Store preferences goof, a “bug”, it’s pure mistake, oversight, a big oopsy. And, it comes at a very unfortunate time for Apple, and, gets added to the sudden heap of Shiite the entire computing industry finds itself in as we try to get the new year started. I’m perfectly fine with corps being in the game to make money, it can be a pure, clean and straightforward motivation … but, let’s not forget that, to continue to succeed you will have to continue to put out the best that your capable of. Unfortunately I think Apple has gone where many of us feared it would go if/when it ever began to really compete with MS. Now, it makes lots of money [GOOD! YES! YAY!], but it’s getting too close to becoming what many nay-sayers used to accuse it of being – all glitz and no guts. I’ve been using Macs and other Apple product since 1985, (and a lot of it, personally and corporately), and I find myself having to back away from being at the level of Apple advocacy I once was perfectly justified being at. (And please give me a break with Steve vs. Tim … it really isn’t so if you’ve been following along, all along.) And the biggest specter of all? If not Apple then what …? Windows … … …? Sorry, but all I can think of here is bad words, so I’ll sign off for now.

How Good Is This Machine, Really?

I’m a fanboy, but I’m also pretty hard on Apple Inc when it comes to their “Pro” products, and up to now I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the direction they’ve gone. I still maintane that, if Apple is serious about supporting professional media production, they would get back to delivering more traditionally open hardware platforms and forget about looking cool.

They really should deliver iMac Pro in a multi-slotted box with the most up-to-date busses and the ability to natively handle both GL and CL graphics languages. Saying all of that, I still cling to Randi Altman’s review of the newly released machine, and as always, I want to believe.

For our workflows that 10GBe port along with the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports are what we’ll be paying for if it’s decided to continue to go with the Mac platform. For us it will come down to being willing to pay $$$$ for those updated and built-in items, and get a free iMac with them. Thanks very much for the perspective. There have been rumors that rendering h.264 files is significantly faster than previous iMac or MacPro hardware versions, but so far, I’m not able to find any reliable numbers.

Here’s a link to Randi’s initial thoughts on the new iMacPro: Altman’s iMacPro review

FCPX Logic X Mac Posted Tech Blog

Who “Dislikes” Windows More Than Mac Users?

There are others who dislike Windows more than dedicated Macintosh users. As a long-time, old-fart Mac user, I used to think I was the biggest Windows-hater in the world – And then I started following Unix/Linux [nix] admins. Yikes! I almost pity MSWindows … Almost, but, not. And amidst all of this disliking, let’s not forget that Microsoft is an excellent application developer. I just think their OS needs to go away. Cheers!

Logic X and macOS 10.13 – A Winning Weekend of Production

Logic X/APFS/macOS High Sierra

It was a winning weekend of tracking audio for approximately fifteen hours of live television broadcasting and internet streaming. A few of the programs were only half a dozen tracks, but most of the programs were talking-head panels or full blown music programs requiring 15-20 audio tracks. Beginning this week all of the audio, including dialogue, will be sweetened, fixed and where necessary, re-recorded, with the final output laid back to fully post-produced video. I have done this sort of thing for years, but what made it a bit of a nail-biter this year was that I decided to upgrade to macOS 10.13, alias, High Sierra. Hopefully it does not need to be said, but in case it does – yes – I was runnning a fully redundant tracking system on a completely different workstation. In the end, Logic X and High Sierra came through with flying colors.

I have always preferred to use Apple’s Logic X for this sort of thing, in fact, for audio tracking and post production, Logic X has pretty much negated the need for ProTools. Make no mistake, ProTools is a fine product and unarguably an industry standard, but it turns out that Logic X does just about everything ProTools can do and does it less expensively and is much more elegant to maintain and keep upgraded. All of the plug-ins I need are available in both ProTools and Logic X and in environments where audio and video are going to remain locked from recording through post, Logic really is a much more elegant tool. It’s a bit odd how Apple has clearly marketed their professional audio product to home musicians and electronic music composers, but the truth is, it makes the cost and, honestly, hassle of installing and maintaining ProTools pretty much unecessary.

As for the the OS update: Personally I look more for what’s going on under the hood of Apple’s upgrades and updates, for both hardware and software, and this year Apple’s new file system, APFS, represents what I think is going to be one of the most important core upgrades in quite some time. (And in case this needs to be said, I would not leap to upgade workstation to OS 10.13 in mission-critical scenarios. Give it time and for sure, wait until the ProApps system libraries are updated, which some think will be sooner than later.)

As for Logic X, I do continue to have some oddities with getting logic to function properly with incoming timecode from an external source, or the timecode stamps on incoming Video with audio. What’s weird is that these issues seem to be related to the relative time of day, so Logic will lock to TC just fine up to a certain time of day and after that I have problems getting it to lock properly, and these issues are 100% repeatable. I’ve already done some tech calls to Apple and they are assuring me that they can get the issue resolved – let’s see what happens. I’m thinking one reason issues like this slip through the cracks is that there’s not enough industrial/pro use going on at the level ProTools has, so little but important things get by.

That’s all for now, just wanted to give a report on taking the plunge in a critical production scenario with macOS 10.13 and Logic X. Please leave comments in any form – praise, reprisals, objections, rebuttal and funny faces – below.

@Apple APFS – Early Reports

macOS’ APFS File-System Performing Much Better Than The Dated HFS+

I was hoping this would be the case and I think we’re off to a great start regarding the net effects of the new APFS from Apple. In my opinion this will be one of the most important updates to macOS in many years. It’s totally under the hood, but there’s where most important upgrades really count. Having said that, let me offer the following points for some perspective:
 
1) I would take your sweet time doing this upgrade precisely because it is an entirely new file system at the core hardware level. As pointed out to me yesterday, you cannot go backwards once you do the upgrade on a specific drive, and if you want to be able to go back to macOS 10.12.x after you upgrade, you must first jump through some pretty fiery hoops in preparation for that maneuver. However, once you get to a point where you’ve watched the rest of the industry and observed how it goes for others, and find the right time for your upgrade, it’s going to be good.
 
2) I have already installed this on my early 2011 Mac Mini and all is well so far. Also, I have installed this upgrade on the StudioD Audio Mac Pro, and, so far so good. I will be using Logic X for 48 channel audio multi-tracking for the next three days, writing to an external, hardware, RAID 5 storage unit, so I think I’ll be putting the MacPro installation to the test.
 
Since the upgrade requires a complete reformatting of the boot drive it takes quite a bit longer than a more standard upgrade does, so keep that in mind when you upgrade. I would also highly recommend that, before you begin your upgrade, you do a Disk Repair on the boot drive using Apple’s Disk Tools. I’ll keep you posted, in the meantime the link below will add enlightenment.


https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=macOS-APFS-HFS-Benchmarks

How Deep Does Your Browser Go?

 
I have long been suspicious that web browsers go deep when installed on any OS, and I beleive that the article at the head of this post is only the tip of the iceberg. It makes me wonder how we can be so cavalier about installing web browsers. Many users have multiple installations of various web browsers installed and it’s not unusual for a single user to use different web browsers to get things done. I draw the analogy that, using web browsers to get everything done is a lot like using a public restroom, where, we also eat, wash our clothes, have afternoon tea with friends, scrawl bank account passwords on the walls and stalls, and etc. I know that web browsers are not the only illegitimate way into a pc, but I have to wonder, of all of the break-ins that happen, how many are accomplished and/or initiated through launching of a web browser. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t get a pop-up of somekind that is just downright creepy – and that’s with all blocking and saftey switches fully engaged.
 
My suspicion is also why I am absolutlely not on-board with the notion of web apps. I know for a fact that web apps can save a company money, and can provide freedom from an OS App store distribution system, but I don’t think it’s worh it. I’ve been burned a few times on the web, most notably when I was more heavily into being an eBay reseller, and, before there weren’t many/any non-webb apps dedicated to buying and selling with a more closed front end. In the name of more discloser, let me say that, in retrospect, the hack [theft of login info] could have easily been avoided if had just kept mental track of how many times the convincing-looking eBay login page kept poping up. I was very busy preparing purchases and just figured that I had been logged off because of a prolonged period of inactivity, and was therefore being prompted to re-login. Thankfully the outcome of that, while bad enough, was not the end of my financial world, but it could’ve been. As it was, the hacker(s) got enough info from me that they used my account to spam thousands of other eBay users and for a few days I got many angry emails from fellow eBayers. EBay doesn’t get high marks from me for the help that they proferd after the fact, but they did help enough that I was able to make ammends to my brothers and sisters in eBay land in a fairly short time. All of that from having to use a web interface to get the job done. Yes, it could’ve happened using a non-web app, but it would have been much less likely.
 
My two personal favorite browsers are Firefox and Safar – in that order; but in the real world I will have nothing to do with Firefox, because, of all the browsers I’m convinced that it goes the very deepest into the OS. In years past, and in more recent years, major performance improvements have been yielded by completely removing Firefox from an OS – I have even won a couple of low yield bets, that, removing Firefox from a given desktop system would immedately improve performance to a greater or lesser degree, but to a measurable degree in any case – and I won both times.
 
I have finally come to the point where I only use a browser when there’s no other way, and furthermore, when a company or individual provides a product or service that forces me to use a web browser or a web app, I move on to other vendors and service providers. And, that includes the likes of mint.com and intuit.com, based on the way they used to provide their various online services only a few years ago. I think that they now provide mobile and/or dedicated desktop apps for their products and services, ultimately furthering my point. Comeing back to the realm of media production, there are a couple of companies offering some very promising video sharing and production collaboration services – guess what their interfaces are? But, if they do well, I beleive that, in the long run, they will end up developing dedicated, non-web, apps.

@JCalMN New Apple Music Commercials, and no … No more subscriptions for me.

No subscriptions for me. Looks good though, and I think Apple’s approach, implied in the new commercials, will go a long way to getting new artists discovered. … I’m simply not going to do yet another $10/month subscription … to anything, and I’m beginning to clean out the few that I have. The day I completely lose access to Apple media content because I’m forced to have a subscription … well, it’s going to be a sad day indeed.

Allowing Comments and Reviews While Beta Testing

As I get ready to start a new week there’s something I remain troubled by. Early last week I began to notice on certain support web sites, which will remain nameless, rather severe reactions from developers toward some of its users who are using beta versions of the upcoming iOS or Mac OS, who merely attempted to notify fellow users that the beta versions of these OSes render the developer’s application unuseable. In several of these cases I noted that the user attempting to post the notice made it perfectly clear that the notification was not a review or a criticism, only a notification to those who may be contemplating trying the beta versions of Apple’s OS(es). The barely polite chastisment by the development company’s moderator, of the enlightened user, was surprising to me and it has continued to trouble me off and on throughout the last week.

Apple itself has disabled their Review function on their app stores if the store senses you’re using a beta version of the OS. (I don’t remember if this was the case during the OS 8 beta.) In short, I get it. Prior to last week I found myself endlessly frustrated with individuals who were running beta versions of one or more of Apple’s OSes and proceeded to give soaring criticisms of how bad the OS was, or the app, or both. I’m reminded of the scene from the first Jurassic Park movie where the nefarious genetic engineer comes face to face with a smallish dinasour, and while holding a stick in his hand says something like, “… see the stick … it’s a stick, stupid.” Well, if my admittedly rough analogy holds any water at all, then I’ll leave you to make the final connection. If I were a software developer this kind of thing would be frustrating, at least.

So heres the “but”: I wanted to give the current public beta of iOS 9 a go, but, there are one or two iOS apps that are fairly important to my daily life and I didn’t feel I could afford to lose their functionality, so I went looking for information that might tell me if these apps were going to break if I installed the beta iOS. Ultimately, the virtual censorship that is going on by Apple and by app developers disallowed anyone from openly sharing that information. I find this disappointing, even irkesome. I totally get that no one in their right mind should judge an OS or an app in its beta phases – that’s easy, but I believe there needs to be some appropriate culpability by the developers toward users of their products. I’m not referring to a developer just sayng their product won’t work under the beta OS, whether or not they’ve actually tried it, just to cover their hides, I’m talking about developers at least opening their app with each beta iteration and posting the results for all to see, so that users can gauge for themselves how much of a risk they’re willing to take.

Personally, I like being able to take part in public betas, but, it has become hard to assess reasonable risk, because from where I sit, app developers are unwilling to cooperate with users who wish to do so. I don’t believe it would cost developers anything in time and effort to use their support pages to post a simple set of results along with the obligitory and inevitable reminder that, users always use their products at the user’s own risk, and all the more so if you’re using a public beta of the OS.

Rather than censorship maybe there needs to be some basic public education about what a beta version of any software really is, combined with examples of what reasonable expectiations might be. There also needs to be voluntary and full disclosure by developers as to whether or not their product is going to be unuseable with a public beta version of an OS. This whole concept can still be really good, but there’s clearly a communication gap between app developers, Apple and end users.