HomePods, Two Is Going To Be Better Than One

I was wondering how long it would take for someone(s) to wake up regarding the ongoing need for multiple physical speakers. I’m no audio guru, but I have raised a family and put money into an IRA for 30+ years working in and with audio. Make no mistake, what has been done with one speaker is nothing short of great, but for home use you’re almost always going to want at least two units to provide a true listening immersion. Virtual surround sound is amazing, but still doesn’t provide the real-world experience that actual speakers, properly located, are going to provide. Using some rocket-science math, one speaker will indeed do a wonderful job creating a stereo-like experience, but again, still will not equate to the same experience as with two speakers. I’ll bet that the HomePod is going to have very good basic sound reproduction, and, will do a stunning job creating a stereo-like and/or virtual surround-like listening experience – but – to get the full benefit of the product in a, sit-down-and-listen-from-one-specific-area-(repeatedly), experience, as with a home entertainment scenario, you’re definitely going to want two. Now, with two HomePods, and if $$ is as much of an issue for you as it is for many people [read that as, me], then I’m kind of excited to split the difference and experience how well two HomePods might create a surround sound-like experience for those of us on tighter budgets. Deeper reading on Apple’s website leads me to believe that the HomePod is developed to be used as a matched stereo pair as well as a stand-alone system, unlike most of the portable wireless speakers out there. What would be really amazing is to see the HomePods enabled to receive 5.1 or 7.1, and be able to coordinate that many real speakers, wirelessly. For now I look forward to hearing what these little gems will do.

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.

Where’s the iPad MINI PRO? Tsuro by @Thunderbox_ent has just released a major update to one of its games and an all-time favorite of mine, Tsuro. It is a rare game, and in this case a board game, that is the perfect zen between intellectual engagement and zoning-out.

Where’s the iPad MINI PRO?

Tsuro by @Thunderbox_ent has just released a major update to one of its games and it’s an all-time favorite of mine, Tsuro. It is a rare game, and in this case a board game, that is the perfect zen between intellectual engagement and zoning-out. When I come home and play a computer game – which is not often – I don’t like to be left staring at the wall with no registrable EEG when I’m finished playing it, I like to have some brain function left. Tsuro fllls that occasional and important niche for me.

Thunderbox’s significant upgrade to the game, in its basic format, plays just fine on both of my iOS devices. In this update Thunderbox has included access to @Apple AR technology, but alas, while the new features work just fine on my iPhone 8, the AR on my expensive 256GB, iPad Mini 4 is a no-go. Sans AR, the basic, non-AR game-play on my iPad Mini is just fine, but I want the same AR experience on my Mini without having to buy the smaller of the two current versions of the iPad Pro.

I’m very disappointed, as is more and more often the case with my Apple experiences. The fact that Apple continues to try and force my hand into buying exactly what they want me to buy rather than meeting my needs as they exist in the real world, is a growing frustration. I’m fairly certain that “my needs” are not so unique that they are completely isolated from the needs of a significant number of on-going Apple users. I have strong evidence of this because just about the time I think I’ve thought of a unique product recommendation or feature request, almost always I find that many others have beat me to the proverbial punch. This is even more poignant with regard to their professional products, hardware and software, but that’s for another post.

Suffice it to say that, if/when/ever, Apple decides to cough up an iPad Mini Pro, I will mortgage the farm to get it, but I will not be forced/coerced into buying a full-size iPad Pro under any circumstances. It’s almost like Apple realizes they’ve got us, and not unlike the phone company and cellular service providers in general, they believe they can get away with anything. Maybe they can, time will certainly tell, but there is a breaking point with me and those with similar experiences and expectations. I have invested a lot in Apple tech, up to and including, staking my professional reputation on its hardware and software technologies, over and over again, over the years. After the badly down-played XSAN fiasco I have backed way down from insisting on Apple products for professional application. On the consumer side of things I have also become much less vocal for pro-Apple evangelism. And for the record, I do not believe it has anything much to do with who’s at the helm. Even with Steve driving the company, it was headed in the same directions. But again, this is for another post.

Lack of AR on my recently purchased iPad Mini 4, and lack of talk of a Mini Pro, (which is why I bought the iPad Mini 4), leaves me wondering how much longer I can continue to invest in Apple, as a consumer and as a market investor. I guess one voice is, one voice – but, there is that voice, for whatever it’s worth.

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

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.

Thanks For The Reviews iMore!

http://www.imore.com/iphone-6s-review

Got my 6S last week [upgrading from 5S] after doing a lot of reading, mostly from iMore. For me performance is everything with all computing devices, big or small, desktop or hand-held, and it became clear to me that the 6S(+) hardware was going to offer everything that is possible with the technology this year – and I am not dissapointed. This thing is fast and the 3D touch is absolutely a game changer for human interface with machines, and, almost all of the developers of the utility apps that I use and need are moving quickly to take advantage of the power and interface upgrades of the new hardware and iOS. This time I decided to get my phone from the Apple Store and I’m trying the new-every-two method. I’m a Verizon customer, (out of contract – yay!), and at the Apple sales person’s recommendation I called Verizon, and, long story short, they knocked $20/month off of my phone bill, per month – which offsets the $40/month iPhone payment by 50%. Wow! Who woulda thunk. Okay, enough fun, gotta get back to work. Thanks, iMore, for the 6S reviews!

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.

5S to 6S – To Be Or Not To Be … To Be!

Just want to share a little anecdote for those considering an upgrade to one of the current iPhones. I was in St. Louis this last Sunday on some other business and decided to stop by the Apple store and look at a new phone – long story short, I upgraded from 5S to 6S last, and after some wrangling, finally got everything up and going – and, it turns out to be a very important upgrade for me, especially from a performance standpoint

I do want to elaborate on the, “wrangling”, a bit: I was using Beta 9.1/2 on my 5S and the new 6S I brought home was running 9.0. So, I was, initially, not able to restore my 5S backup to the 6S because iTunes would not allow me to restore an image from a later iOS – it took me a little while to figure out what to do, (I admit I can be a bit slow sometimes), but, I finally decided I was okay with installing Beta 9.1 on the new phone, went back to my Apple beta program email and followed the instructions to get the new 6S upgraded to iOS 9.1 beta. Now I’m able to smoothly restore my 5S backup to my 6S. In the meantime there have been a few apps that don’t want to run at all or have acted irraticaly – simply deleting and reinstalling them has fixed these problems.

My wish is that Apple would take us beta testers into account when we want to upgrade our hardware. In retrospect it makes sense that Apple would provide safeguards for its users, but, I wish they would spell it out, up front, don’t just hit me with a screen that says I can’t restore because the new device has an older iOS version – be aware that I’m using a beta of the iOS that is beyond the current stable release and spell out this fact for me, then give me on-screen instructions on what to do. Would’ve saved me a couple of hours of frustration. Even so, the final outcome is, in a word – AWESOME!

If you’re a performance oriented user and you’re upgrading from 5S or a previous version of the hardware, I would suggest that, looking over the latest iPhone iterations is definitely worth your time.