Category Archives: Personal Computing

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.)

Is This The Year of Linux?

In a recent Twitter post Christine Hall [@BrideOfLinux] made the comment that, Is this going to be the year of Linux?, is getting to be a tired old question. My response was: From an end-user POV, an even more tired question/argument is: Mac vs. Windows. The world really needs Linux to come out of geekdom and into the mainstream. Now, we’re just minions of MS or Apple. SAVE US!! https://twitter.com/BrideOfLinux/status/954081071733313542

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.

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!

A searing commentary on iOS app development with a reference to what’s really possible.

This is pretty much a copy-and-paste of an app store product review for Word Press. As it was being composed I realized I was actually witnessing a lesson for app developers. I’m not a developer, but a user of apps, many of them, for both work and pleasure, and on occastion an app is conceptualized, created and engineered in such a way that it reminds me that much of the software we use is rushed, under-whelming and mostly a waste of our collective, valuable time. What started as a searing review of Word Press’s latest iOS app iteration unwittlingly became high praise for an app called, “Blogpad Pro”. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to become much more demanding about the quality of the applications you use, be they for work or pleasure, free or paid.

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It’s so much less frustrating to open an app where you can tell that they have really tried to develop something that is aesthetically pleasing, and functional, even though initial releases may fall a bit short on aesthetics, while still delivering more than expected in terms of fundamental reliability and intuition for the end-user. On the other hand, apps like the one being reviewed [WP] just continue to frustrate as lots of thought is given to aesthetics but clearly functionality and intuitiveness get a lower priority. The principle being described might go something like this: The better an app looks, the better it better deliver.

I’ve had this app [WP] on my iPad mini for some time and look at it every so often to see if these fundamental principles have engaged with the developers yet … As of this morning, still no. I can’t even get to square one with this app as I open help windows, or plug-in information windows, and then can’t clearly see how to get back to the main app short of quitting it by swiping-up and relaunching. The built-in browser offers absolutely no visible button for getting back to the “My Sites” area … Oh it’s there, in the upper left hand corner, it’s just programmed in such a way that it can’t be seen, so hopefully the user is savvy enough to poke around a bit and figure it out. And WP wants me to actually use my valuable time posting with this? Nope, not happening.

The best Word Press app for iOS continues to be a relatively old app called, “Blogpad Pro”. I started using this app way back with iOS 8.x and it was so well engineered that it continues to trounce the likes of Word Press’s own, along with most anything else out there. The downside is that, there have been no updates to this app for years, (which is also very impressive when considering all things that have come along for Word Press in the interim), and repeated attempts to contact the developer are met with the proverbial sounds of crickets.

It’s really too bad they did not make enough to continue looking after one of the best engineered apps ever. It remains the perfect blend of a full set of useful and functional features, aesthetics and ongoing reliability, and incredibly, continues to work well with iOS11 (with NO updates)! Every app developer on the planet should find these dear people and pay them A LOT of money to really understand how to develop a good quality application – for any and all purposes.

I want to be able to use Word Press’s” own app because it also incorporates site management tools into its app – sort of, but, until WP stops trying to wow-me and starts developing a fundamentally solid, pleasing and reliable software application, I’m compelled to continue to turn my nose up at it. Best of luck.

@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

A More Wordy Twitter

I’ve been a subscriber and tweeter for about four years now on several different accounts and have gradually learned how to use it to ever more advantage. I don’t have time, or desire, to read every newsy thing that crosses my path and Twitter really helps me get points of light from specific areas of interest, that help me to quickly narrow down what I do want to wade into. I think increasing the word-count, based on the criteria given, is probably a good idea – let’s see how it goes. But, having some restrictions on per-post word counts has really helped me become less wordy … uh … See what I mean?! This would’ve normally been a much longer post, but, thanks to Twitter … and etc.

Apple TV Not Finished

Apple TV Not “Finished”

 

http://9to5mac.com/2015/10/29/siri-apple-music-apple-tv/

 

Today’s entry is a partial response to a comment on a recent 9to5Mac blog post. The commenter was reacting to the the fact that, the Apple TV, the latest one, is being delivered without Siri being able to search music, and the poster categorized Apple as being a joke because of this. I think the poster is on to something, but it’s a little bigger than maybe he realizes.

I don’t think that Apple’s presenting an unfinished product makes them a joke, exactly, I think it makes them a symbol of the need for some general reforms that are needed throughout the computer software and hardware industries. (Especially software.) You see, the problem is that, we’ve all acclimated to receiving, using and re-buying, products that aren’t finished. Additionally, we buy products that in some way(s) or another become foundational to our daily existence, and there is little legal or ethical culpability from the companies that develop and sell us these products. Anything that can be construed to be a “computer” running “software”, inevitably comes with a warning that basically says, we [the company] are not responsible for anything that goes wrong in your life’s journey as a result of using our unfinished product. These were really the first independently funded, kickstarter-like campaigns.

This hand-washing was started with the advent of software development and was a way to ensure that the industry could self-perpetuate by radically reducing the possibility that a single large incident, or a bunch of smaller ones, could create a scenario that would shut down further development. Said a little more succinctly, all users agree to become perpetual beta testers and nothing has changed since the software development paradigm was begun. (Initially I think most were aware of what was going on and were willing to go along because many realized the potential impact for good of software development over the long haul.)

If this isn’t enough, we technically don’t own the software we use, we just have a license to use it for or own purposes in the context of what the software was created to try and do for the end user. As a consumer, professional and personal, I want to buy computing products that are completed – finished. I’ve seen this happen a couple of times and it feels weird because there’s no communication from the developer when development is completed, and no big news splashes on TV or in the blogosphere. It feels like I’m missing something I’m owed, but alas, the product is complete, even if there is something more that can be done there really is no purpose served, and in the end, it doesn’t feel weird because it is, it feels weird because I’ve been conditioned into this merry-go-round of upgrading.

We consumers have enabled a system that allows developers and manufacturers to compete with each other at our expense and with virtually no culpability. Change is long overdue and by now I don’t believe that the industry would really suffer much at all by the occasional and inevitable law suite. It might also lead to more time between new releases [as opposed to never-ending upgrades], but again, our universal dependence on computing technology, by now, will ensure the continuation of hardware and software advancements, and perhaps, at a slightly less insane and sometimes, expensive, pace.

 

Actually, it’s not a joke, it’s a rather serious matter and Apple is only following business-as-usual practices that it, along with many other, big and small developers, created at the advent of the computer/software industry, to help ensure that personal computing would continue to develop and become ever-more entwined in the fabric of our lives. That part has obviously worked very well, but maybe, just maybe, it’s time we started advocating for some foundational reforms in the way computing technology is delivered to us. After all, we pay for it.

I Mostly Embrace Apple’s Thing …

Where @asymco, in writing about greatness, achieves it.

I’m pretty much with the sentiment here, have been since 1985 (no, not 1984). However, there’s one place Apple did cave – (apologies for my less eloquent verbage), a BIG phone. And, not just that they did big, but that they left small behind. One of the very few areas that Samsung got Apple to bend. I really do not believe that Apple would have stopped making a “small” phone if the pressure hadn’t been on from iPhone users who were getting slowly, but steadily, envious of the big phones. Even I finally buckled and traded my 5S in for a 6S, not becuase I wanted big, but I needed the power and functionality. Praise be to your Diety of choice it doesn’t feel as big as it seemed it would, but, it’s definitely bigger, and again, the thing that’s irkesome and disappointing is not that they did BIG, but that they abondon small. In almost every other way I have embraced the Apple mind-set for mobile computing and the long forgotten standard of shear quality that used to be a part of the fabric of American manufacturing, and that Apple, almost single handedly, carries on. Dear Apple, size matters, BIGGER is not always better, and I still love you.

Apple Ancient Gold

 This tweet reminds me that, about eight years ago I finally decided to sell several old Macs I had been hanging on to just because I couldn’t bring myself to let them go. I sold a MacPlus, an SE30 with an upgraded video board and a Color Classic. Remember that one? The sales went through eBay and I figured if I cleared $10 or $15 after expenses I’d be able to live with that. Long story short I reaped the following returns per machine, (headsup, nowhere near as dramatic as the Apple I).

Macplus: $1900.00

SE30: $1500.00

ColorClassic: $2000.00

Just FYI, each machine was fully functional and sold with its original boxes.

Well, that went so well that ten months later I decided to gather up all of my softeware and see if I could make a couple of bucks on that. It’s software right, old software, albeit with original manuals, floppy discs, etc. Still, it was software and I figured I’d be lucky if I broke even. I ended up with a couple of 40lb. boxes worth of software and related material and prepared my eBay add. It was a seven day run and for the first three days nada, zippo, notta thing – which is what I figured was going to happen, but again, I just couldn’t bring myself to simply throw it in the trash. Day four – a bite … Day five – another bite. As often happens with eBay bidding processes nothing else happened until the wee hours of the morning of Day seven and then all hell – uh – heaven, broke lose. During the last three hours bidding often would go $20 and $30 dollars at a single jump right up until the closing bell went off. The winning bid went to a lady from Martha’s Vineyard who apparently ran a vintage computer museum with lots of Macintosh memorabilia. My net profit on those two boxes of ancient software was $500.00!

So, between the hardware and software sales I easily made more than I origianlly paid for any single item. No, it wasn’t 1/2 a million or a million, but it still made my year, and reminded me that I have rarely been sorry that I’ve purchased any Apple product, even to this day. Apple is a good long-term investment whether you do it through direct purchases, or Wall Street investing.