New life for an old dog?


Apple introduces the Mac Pro 12 Core DesktopI have two Macs – a Macbook Pro and a Mac Pro (2009 4-core). My laptop is reasonably new (MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014) but my Mac Pro is  getting a bit tired, to say the least. I did update the graphics card with an AMD Radeon 4000 series pc card and boosted the RAM to 16GB. I also installed additional drives inc a SSD. However, I do see too much of the spinning beach ball these days. That may be to me running Windows 8.1 under Parallels but even when just running OS X alone I still see the beach ball spin far too often.

The question is, is it time to retire the old dog? Shall I invest in a shiny new iMac 27″ all-singing, all-dancing Skylake super computer? Thoughts anyone and if you know of a cost-effective to squeeze more life out of the old dog do let me know.

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Windows 10 on my Power Mac?


Well, as I run Windows on my old 2009 Power Mac (using Parallels) I decided to take advantage of the free upgrade to version 10. However, not on my Power Mac but first a trial run on my old PC laptop. So far I much prefer version 10 of Windows to version 8. Not sure yet if I prefer it over version 7 though.

I will keep you posted on how it goes. If and when I feel it’s bug free etc I will update Parallels to latest version and install it on my Power Mac. Looking forward to updating to latest OS X too but unsure of which to do first – Mac OS X upgrade or Windows 10? Any thoughts?

Silver surfers turning to Tablets


iPad 3 revealedIt seems that tablets are proving ever more popular with the older generation. In the UK it seems that there has been a sharp increase in Internet use by the over-65s and that many are doing so with the help of a tablet. According to  the new Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report from communications regulator Ofcom, the use of tablets for Internet access use by 65-74s has trebled tripled in 2013, compared to use by those aged 35-64, which  has doubled. The report also shows that there has been a nine percentage point increase in those aged 65+ ever going online (42% vs. 33% in 2012).

Other interesting facts are that:

  • 62% of UK adults now use a smartphone, (54% in 2012);
  • Adults in UK aged 65-74 are almost twice as likely to use a smartphone now compared to 2012 (20% vs. 12%)
  • There has been growth in take-up and use by older people, across a range of devices.

You can read the report in full at Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report  and also find out much more info on a whole range of media, technology and internet related topics at the Ofcom site.

Waiting patiently for news of Mac Pro refresh!


English: Side view of a Power Mac G5 (left) an...

English: Side view of a Power Mac G5 (left) and an Mac Pro (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Its been a long time since we had a refresh to the Mac Pro range of workstations (leaving aside the minor tweak in 2012). many professionals working with video or 3d graphics have already deserted Apple and bought into workstations from the likes of HP and Scan. Who can blame them.
As it did with Xserve and some of its high-end applications, Apple seems to have treated the professional with a fair degree of disdain. If it wasn’t for Tim Cook saying that a new Mac Pro was in the wings I doubt anyone would be waiting with bated breath fro an announcement at the forthcoming WWDC.
So, will we see a new Mac Pro, made in the USA and if so, what form will it take? Will it be a full tower or some sort of mini-towers as some have been speculating. Here, for its worth, are my hopes (as I hope to be the proud owner of one at some point in the near future).

  1. Multi-core (x4, x8, x12)
  2. Upgradeable graphics
  3. Multiple Thunderbolt ports (at least two) and USB 3
  4. Multi-drive slots so that RAID can be internal on a high-speed bus

Other than that it doesn’t really matter what it looks like or what else it comes with. It needs to be fast and its needs to be upgradeable, otherwise what is the point? Price-wise it would be good if the cheapest model came in below the most expensive iMac so that buyers would have the option of a powerful Mac with a built-in screen or choose to use their own existing ones or just to have the option of specifying something more suited to their needs. This is especially relevant for video-editors and the like.
Will we actually see this announced at the WWDC? if not then there had better be something said about when we will see a refresh or all hell will be let loose, that I can guarantee.

CES 2013 – the implications for Apple


Samsung Introduces World’s First Curved OLED T...

Samsung Introduces World’s First Curved OLED TV at CES 2013 (Photo credit: samsungtomorrow)

 

CES 2013 has generated a lot of press, as always and as usual Apple has not been there, at least officially. However, there have been rumours that Apple has its spies at the giant technology show and if they didn’t, quite frankly they’d be incompetent!

 

My bet is that there are several things that caught the eyes of their spies and here are my top three:

 

1. Curved TV  – both Samsung and LG showed off what each of them claimed was a world’s first, a TV with a curved screen. However, there was  mixed reception of this idea as, if you think about it for a moment, there is only one sweet spot to be sitting when you are watching anything on a curved screen. Everyone else will have a less than ideal viewpoint. So, why will Apple be interested in this development, you might well ask? Well, it’s a perfect example of what to avoid, namely trying to be too clever by half. Someone (well an awful lot of folk really) must have thought it was worth investing an awful lot of money in research and development to get these prototypes to CES. Trouble is a bit of basic science would have shown that it was a bad idea. So Apple needs to remember that when they get around to (if ever) releasing their own Smart TV, they are better off sticking to what they know best (great design, solid build and fantastic GUI) rather than come up with something that is so far out there that its just a bad idea and will never catch on.

 

2. Panasonic 56” OLED TVnow here is a TV that has a future! Panasonic make great TVs and their OLED TV is a real beauty by all accounts (sadly I can’t afford to actually go to Las Vegas for a holiday even, never mind a jolly to CES). If Apple do indeed intend on releasing a Smart TV then my money is on it being an OLED version and maybe, just maybe, they will get Panasonic to build the screens for them. Certainly, if they want my advice they will avoid altogether LG’s and Samsung’s crazy curved screen idea and go with Panansonic on this one.

 

3. Sony Xperia Z – Now Apple make great smartphones and I am sure the next iteration (iPhone 5S or iPhone 6) will be an object of desire and full of great features and of fantastic build quality. However, they need to be constantly looking over their shoulders at the opposition and rather than Samsung, my advice is keep a close eye on Sony. The Xperia Z is a great-looking smartphone and by all accounts it  has a great chance of helping Sony to compete with Samsung and therefore with Apple. It is water resistant and can survive submerged for up to half an hour. Its also dustproof and also has a screen that’s beautiful and a 13 megapixel fast-capture camera.

 

You may be wondering why I didn’t highlight 4K TVs – well I believe that as there doesn’t exist the programming yet to provide material to watch on these gorgeous screens that it will be another 2 or 3 years before these become mainstream. Think of 3D and how that has basically flopped and you will begin to see that it takes more than great technology to make a success of this sort of stuff.

 

So, event though Apple didn’t exhibit I am guessing that some of the stuff that was revealed at CES 2013 will inform what we see coming from Apple in the next 12 – 18 months.

 

 

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!

 

Will we ever see an end to the Patent Wars?


Tim Berners-Lee at a Podcast Interview

The news that Apple and HTC have agreed to end their patent war and settle is good news for the industry (but maybe not for lawyers!). However, Samsung have said that they are not prepared to come to a similar arrangement. Now we have seen how bitter the relationship has become between Samsung and Apple in recent years and the court battles are still raging in various courts around the world. Now, to me and to many others, this all seems a great pity. Here we have two great companies known for innovation and creativity who both manage to produce some of the most desirable products known in history. However, they are spending hundreds of millions on lawyers dragging each other through the courts. That’s good money that could be better spend on research and product development.

What makes the whole thing between Apple and Samsung even more bizarre is that Samsung supplies plenty of key components in Apple’s products and presumably they must work closely on developing these products. Seems something like a crazy situation if you ask me. Why they can’t agree to cross-licence each others technologies and get on with creating something excellent and useful instead of paying lawyers is beyond me.

According to one source, the cost of these patent wars in the past two tears is $20 billion! According to the New York Times this just in the smartphone industry (mainly between Apple, Samsung and HTC). Apparently Apple and Google are now spending more on litigation over patents and in buying up companies to bolster their position in these patent wars than they are on Research & Development. Crazy!

Now I am not against patents per se but this situation can only hamper future developments and innovations. Cast your mind back to when these companies started out – if someone had slapped a huge patent infringement case on them then they may never have grown from a small start-up in a garage into great companies.  I am talking about Apple, Microsoft and HP here. All of them started off small and grew because of their founders’ innovation and creativity. All that patent wars have done is stifle innovation and creativity, make lawyers rich and one could argue that the problems the likes of  HP, IBM, Dell and Nokia have had in recent years is down to this very issue.

So what’s the solution? Maybe its time to think the unthinkable and abolish patents – yes abolish the lot of them and replace the whole caboodle with a different system. After all, if we look at open source we can see immediately that the lack of patents here has not stifled creativity and innovation, rather the very opposite. Open source produces progress much quicker and leads to greater creativity. Yes it is largely software but there is a lesson to be learned here. Think of the world wide web. Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented it and gave it away, to the world and so we owe him a great debt. he could have patented it and where would be then? Not here for sure.

If you think this is a stupid idea then check out this article. It may change your mind.