New Mac Pro (the old one!)


Mac Pro unboxing photos, batch 1 #technopr0n

In case you are confused, I have recently purchased a Mac Pro, but its not the new one (its not out yet so how cool would that be!). No, its a Mac Pro 4.1 (aka the early 2009 Quad Core 2.66 GHz one). It came with just 3GB of RAM, 640GB HD and the rather old NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 graphics card. I managed to get a great deal on it from Albion Computers. Once it arrived I wasted little time in installing an old PC graphics card – the Radeon 4870. I had to first order 2 power cables on eBay (came the very next day – great job there 7systems!) before I could install it. Once it was installed and the external monitor was connected I fired it up and waited anxiously to see if it worked…. and it did! No need to install drivers or flash the card before-hand (it being a PC card and therefore not a specific Apple model).

As the RAM is a measly 3GB I decided to upgrade the RAM and after some research and online price comparisons I discovered it was cheaper to buy 16GB from the US than here in the UK. I also managed to get a deal on the latest version of Parallels and still save money, even after I pay the VAT once it arrives in UK at Customs. How mad is that! My only mistake was not to carefully check shipping times as I choose to ship via the USPS. I later discovered that this means my RAM etc may take up to 45 days to arrive! That’s the worst-case scenario according to the MacSales representative I had an online chat with to query why my order had yet to arrive. So far its been 10 days and counting. I’ll let you know when it arrives.

So, until it arrives I have been keeping myself busy trying out a few old PC hard drives in the 3 free drive bays. Two of them worked ok and I have formatted them as NTFS in readiness for installing Windows once my copy of Parallels arrives. I have also been busy plugging in old Mac ext drives to access my back catalogue of files created on earlier models of Macs (5 at least!). I am very happy to be back on a Mac (having donated my last MacBook Pro to my daughter for her college studies) and very glad (to say the least) not to have to work constantly on the HP laptop I use in my day job. All that time wasted with security updates, scans and trouble-shooting Windows issues.  I know I said I am installing Parallels (as soon as it arrives that is) but I will be g;ad to be using Windows on a Mac to be honest – it makes more sense than using a Windows laptop – believe me I know form experience!

Once I have the RAM installed and Windows (courtesy of Parallels) installed I will get to grips with Creative Cloud on the Mac. Having run it for a year on a PC laptop I am looking forward to getting back to the Mac way of doing things, I can tell you. I am also looking forward to Phase 2 of my grand plan – to install an SSD RAID to run Maverick from!

Life without a Mac


Apple iMacLife without a Mac – not something I anticipated any time in the past. However, when my daughter started sixth form I decided to donate my lovely MacBook Pro to her as my previous donation was now on its last legs. So, I got a new one for myself to replace it – well actually, no. I decided that as my iPhone 4S works really well as a substitute for carrying around a somewhat bulky laptop that instead this time I would get another iMac.

Dilemma – new iMacs were in the wings so I didn’t want to buy one and then find myself frustrated that Apple had just brought out a new line. So, here I am having spend the last couple of months using a PC laptop for my day job and my iPhone as a replacement for my Mac laptop.

So, how has it been? Well, surprisingly (to me certainly) I have not really missed my MacBook Pro as much as I thought I would. I am writing this post on a PC laptop, which though its nowhere as pleasant to use it does suffice for most tasks and certainly copes with writing documents for work, emails and blog posts etc. Of course, browsing the web these days is pretty much the same what OS you use.

I am using Windows 7 and its an improvement on XP but only just. I doubt I will upgrade the PC to Windows 8 anytime soon though. iOS 6 works great on my iPhone and I can do much of what I need to do day to day on it when out and about.The rest of the time I use the PC laptop. In fact, the only time I use my (daughter’s) MacBook Pro is to open documents that I haven’t copied to my Dropbox folder or the odd program that does something none of my PC ones can do.

I guess all this goes to prove how close the two operating environments are these days and that’s a good thing. Both can provide what is needed for most tasks you would need to do in everyday situations. However, I am hooked on the Apple way fo doing things and I love the reliability and sheer design perfection of Macs so I can’t wait to get a shiny new 27-inch iMac. All I need to do is find a way of financing it!

 

iPad a hit with silver surfers!

iPad 2 FaceTime

iPad 2 FaceTimeOver the years I have helped several individuals that fall into the so-called ‘silver surfers’ generation get to grips with computers. Most simply want to keep in touch with distant relatives or pursue a hobby online. Generally speaking, most have found it difficult to get to grips with the keyboard and mouse. Usually this is due to physical reasons such as arthritis or just simply finding it difficult to grasp the principles behind using a mouse and keyboard together to navigate around their chosen operating system.

Although I am something a Mac aficionado, my own sense is that both Macs and PCs are equally difficult to get along with because of their reliance on the keyboard and mouse combination.

So, it was interesting the other day to have a conversation with someone about their mother, who falls into the ‘silver surfer’ demographic. For ages she had been trying to get to grips with a computer but had failed to conquer the keyboard and mouse hurdle. Well, one day, her family decided to treat her to an iPad, as a gift and as a direct replacement for her computer. Imagine their surprise and delight to find that after a few days she is in happily spending lots of time on the iPad, doing all the things she tried to do on her computer but had found so difficult. It has literally transformed her life. As she lives alone, the iPad has become her means of keeping in touch via email, being able to browse the internet at leisure and she is spending more and more time on it.

So, maybe Apple should come up with some discount scheme for folk over 60 years of age? I am sure there is an opportunity here for Apple to grab even more market share whilst at the same time transforming the lives of our senior citizens. Anyone listening….

Google Chrome Canary for Mac available


If you are a fan of Google’s Chrome Browser than you will be interested in Google latest incarnation for the Mac – Chrome Canary. It is now available from Google’s Chrome Canary download site.

Google Chrome Canary

Canary is a developer version of Google Chrome, not unlike Chromium. However, Canary comes with some extras. Windows users have had the option to download Canary, essentially an experimental build of the Chrome browser, for some time now. Now, at least, Mac users get the same access to these developer versions and the great thing about them is they don’t overwrite your existing installation of Chrome.

To get Chrome Canary for Mac, head to the download page or check out some of the other more stable releases on the Chromium Early Access Release Channels page.

2GB Free Online Storage


SpiderOak

Image via Wikipedia

Fancy 2GB of free online storage? The check out SpiderOak, which offers free 2GB online storage that’s compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. There are several other providers of free online storage but it’s always handy to have additional options, and especially when it’s for free!

Features include:

  • Access all your data in one de-duplicated location
  • Configurable multi-platform synchronization
  • Preserve all historical versions & deleted files
  • Share folders instantly in web ShareRooms w / RSS
  • Retrieve files from any internet-connected device
  • Comprehensive ‘zero-knowledge’ data encryption
  • 2 GBs Free / $10 per 100 GBs / Unlimited devices

SpiderOak promotes itself as offering something different form the normal run of the mill solutions, namely that it combines a suite of services into one tool and that it’s the first service to provide a zero-knowledge privacy policy. They claim to never store or know a user’s password or the plain-text encryption keys. this means that employees of SpiderOak can never access your data.

These two features are certainly attractive ones and watching the tutorial videos, the interface certainly looks neat and easy ti understand. I have signed up for the free 2GB account so I’ll let you know how I get on and how it compares to the likes of DropBox, my current favourite.

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Microsoft admit iPad eating into netbook market


Behold the iPad in All Its Glory
Image via Wikipedia

Microsoft‘s own Gavriella Schuster, general manager for Windows product management has admitted in an interview that the iPad is impacting netbook sales.

Netbooks are a huge market for Microsoft with over 90% of them shipping with Windows, so any loss of sales to the iPad is sure to hit profits for the company.

This is a big deal for them and it is yet another indication that the iPad is re-shaping the market, just as the iPod did in the portable music player arena and the iPhone has done in the smartphone market. Truth is that no company, not Nokia, Sony Ericsson nor Microsoft can afford to ignore what Apple is doing. Why else would there be a veritable flood of new tablet devices coming to market and a decline in netbook sales?

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Skype 5.0 Beta for Mac now available


Skype 5 Beta for Mac now availableThis version of Skype now incorporates everything into a single window, enhancing usability. It also integrates your address book to make searching for contacts easier than before. Another feature is the new call control bar, so you can manage calls etc whilst working on other stuff, such as browsing the web. The control bar sits on top of other windows, a bit like the minimised iTunes control bar.

You can also now hold a group video call with family, friends or colleagues. For the group video call everyone on the call needs Skype 5.0 Beta for Mac or Windows for group video to work.

You can download the new version from http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/get-skype/on-your-computer/macosx/beta/

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