Black Friday Deals and a Discount Code


You might have guessed (after all it’s in the title of the blog!) that I love all things Mac. You might also know, if you have been here before, that I am a photographer. Well, we photographers are mostly digital rather than film shooters, even though film (or analogue as some call it) is having something of a revival.

Be that as it may, digital means (not obligatory) that we need a way of enhancing our shots or at the very least convert them from RAW, unless we shoot only Jpegs. Now, over time there have been photo editors (software that is) that have come and gone. Even Apple killed off the much-loved Aperture (shame on you Apple). However, Adobe has been around almost from the very beginning of the digital revolution, with Adobe Photoshop it’s premier product, joined more recently by Lightroom. With Adobe moving it’s product line to the cloud in the shape of Adobe Creative Cloud and the subscription model, others have entered the market to provide alternatives that don’t require a monthly subscription. One of those companies is Macphun, soon to become Skylum (more on that in a minute).

Macphun have released a whole suite of apps to provide editing tools for photographers. These include Creative Kit, Tonality, Noiseless, Intensify, Snapheal and FX Studio. Their leading products are Luminar and Aurora HDR, both now updated as Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2018. Right now, if you click on any of the links above you will be taken to Macphun’s Black Friday Offer pages. You can also get a further $10 off by using this discount code (includes upgrades): NEWBELTANE.

Here are some screenshots from Luminar 2018 and the bonuses available:

Here are some ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots from Luminar 2018:

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Here is a brief description of Luminar 2018 Black Friday Offer.

About Luminar:

Luminar 2018 offers everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing, including new filters powered by artificial intelligence, major speed improvements, a dedicated RAW develop module and a forthcoming in 2018; digital asset management platform.

Users will also benefit from the new intelligent Sun Rays filterLUT support, and real-time noise removal. With workspaces that match different styles of editing, Luminar adapts to deliver a complete experience that avoids clutter and complexity.

Luminar 2018 has been re-built from the ground up for dramatic performance boosts. Existing filters deliver richer colors and depth in less time. A brand new streamlined user interface speeds up working with presets, filters, and masks. With full support of pro options like layers, masks, and blending modes, complex repairs and photo composites can be easily accomplished.

Offer Availability:

The Luminar 2018 Black Friday offer will be available from November 21-29

Pricing:

  • Current users of Luminar may upgrade at a Black Friday price of $49 ($39 with coupon code)
  • New users can purchase Luminar 2018 for $69 ($59 with your coupon code NEWBELTANE)
  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.

Bonuses:

  • The Ultra-Wide Landscape ebook by Ian Plant
  • A Special pack of LUTs for use in Luminar 2018
  • 2 Full Luminar preset packs from Contrastly
  • Aerial Photo & Video training by Matt Granger

NOTE: The video training was changed from “Light & Shadows by Matt Granger” to “Aerial Photo & Video training by Matt Granger”.

Click here and don’t forget to use the Discount Code (NEWBELTANE) for an extra $10 off Luminar 2018. Expires soon so hurry!

Here are some before and after shots from Aurora HDR 2018:

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Here are some details on the Aurora HDR 2018 Black Friday Offer.

About Aurora HDR:

Aurora HDR is not just a tool for merging bracketed images, it also provides numerous tools and countless options to create perfect HDR photos for every taste – from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction and powerful luminosity masking controls.

Offer Availability:

The Aurora HDR 2018 Black Friday offer will be available from November 22-29

Pricing:

  • Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade at a Black Friday price of $49 ($39 with  coupon code NEWBELTANE)
  • New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 for $89 ($79 with your coupon code)
  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.

Bonuses:

  • Trey Ratcliff Deep Dive video
  • Realistic HDR preset pack (40 presets) by PresetPro
  • Powerful Imagery Ebook by Mitchell Kanashkevich & Photzy

Click here and don’t forget to use the Discount Code (NEWBELTANE) for an extra $10 off Aurora HDR 2018. Expires soon so hurry!

Oh, almost forgot! Macphun is changing it’s name to Skylum now that it also creates software for Windows as well as Mac.

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How would you like your shiny new iPhone to last days before needing a recharge?

iPhones

I am guessing you would like that idea very much! Well, two developments may mean that our wish might come true sooner than we realise. At the University of Texas scientists have discovered a way to not only double the power of lithium-ion batteries but also reduce their size and the costs of manufacturing them.

Now if that wasn’t enough, there is even more good news as far as power consumption by devices such as our iPhones and iPads is concerned. By refining the software that runs on our devices, scientists are able to reduce the power consumption, holding out the promise that even though smartphones are getting smarter, their power requirements would reduce.

It’s all to do with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and search-based software engineering that helps find redundant code. This could offer up to 70% reduction in cpu power requirements, which together with advances in lithium-ion battery technology from University of Texas and elsewhere could mean that in the next 3-5 years we would only need to charge our devices maybe once a or twice a week. Together with the possibility of cheaper, lighter and smaller batteries this could make our digital lives a whole lot easier. It could also impact other areas such electric vehicles having greater range due to decreased weight and longer lasting batteries, or in making medical devices such as portable defibrillators or fridges smaller, lighter and longer lasting too. That would be a huge step forward when dealing with disasters or medical emergencies in areas where there is reduced or non-existent power available.

Check out these two articles on TechXplore website:

Never mind the iPhone X, battery life could soon take a great leap forward

Engineers develop new material for better lithium-ion batteries

What is happening at Apple?

Apple's new iPhone 4S

As I die-hard fan of Apple I often find myself wondering about what Apple is up to, don’t you? Take the latest iPhones for instance. The iPhone X is their most expensive ever and it’s sooo expensive to repair. That shiny new OLED screen, for example, will cost you $279 to get fixed! The screen on their shiny new iPhone 8 Plus screen costs the same to repair as the one on the iPhone 7 Plus at $179. It doesn’t stop there either. Other repairs will cost you $549 which is breathtaking!

If you are not a US citizen then the current rate of exchange gives Apple the excuse to charge us Brits for example £286 to repair the iPhone X screen. The current rate of exchange means $279 + £212.52, which means us Brits are paying an extra £73.48! There is no way Apple can justify this. Its a similar situation with it’s other charges. This is particular galling in light of the billions of unpaid tax that Apple gets away with by using offshore banks to ‘launder its money’. Yes, you heard right, I said ‘launder its money’. Now normally the term ‘money laundering’ (which I didn’t use – take note any Apple lawyers reading this) is used to refer to criminals cleaning their ill-gotten gains through the use of complicit banks or supposedly legitimate businesses.

So, let’s be clear here folks, I am not accusing Apple of ‘money laundering’. I am saying however that its business practices as far as paying it’s fair shares of taxes in countries where it operates is as bad as those of criminals who do commit money-laundering. I say that because when a company doesn’t pay it’s fair share of taxes and instead uses all sorts of financials shenanigans to avoid doing so, it is not that dissimilar to my mind to the way a criminal organisations carries out it’s financial dealings.

It pains me to say that I have lost faith in Apple (and Amazon & Google as well) and no longer see them as some sort of benevolent organisation dedicated to bringing tech into the world that makes life better and does so without harming the environment or the communities it impacts. Unfortunately, all of us as consumers face a dilemma when it comes to the likes of Apple. Amazon and Google. We have become dependent on the tech they provide us with or use to provide their services to us. It’s difficult to see how we can extricate ourselves from this without significantly changing our lifestyles.

During Steve Job’s reign at Apple there was a feeling that the company was different from all the rest (Dell, IBM, HP and Compaq etc), that it’s ethos was altogether different. Now Apple is worth $752bn and has sales of $217.48bn a year. According to the IMF, it is, in fact, larger than the annual gross domestic products of every country on earth, bar 19 of them (based on GDP in US dollars, according to International Monetary Fund data for 2014). The truth is, companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are so big and so powerful that we can no longer think of them as benevolent companies who only seek to do good. Remember Google’s motto: “Don’t be evil“? Well, I am not sure anymore that any of these companies don’t do evil, in the sense that if you are not manifestly ‘doing good’ then you must be, even if only by omission, doing the opposite to some extent. Do you recall the quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It was Edmund Burke who said that. He was an Irish statesman born in Dublin, as well as an author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who, after moving to London, served as a member of parliament for many years in the House of Commons with the Whig Party. [Wikipedia].

So, coming back to my original question:”what is happening at Apple?”, I don’t really know but they say that you can know a tree by it’s fruit and for me, I can only see bad apples are starting to make up more of the crop from their particular tree. It’s not just about money (well it is, mostly) but also about how materialism, consumerism, capitalis – whatever ‘ism’ you choose -are impacting our lives, fuelling our desires for more expensive tech. Examples would be the scheme where you can get a new iPhone every year. This is consuming so many resources and I would doubt that all the energy and resources spent on fuelling this are recovered through recycling. So, whatever the degree to which the iPhones over 1 year old are recycled there will still be a net cost to the environment. At the rate Apple is growing this must be unsustainable and frankly someone needs to hold Apple to account. I know that I won’t be jumping on that particular bandwagon. I am keeping my iPhone 6 Plus for at least another year and then I will make sure it gets recycled. Who knows, I may continue to use long after Apple brings out the iPhone XI or whatever they will name it.

Oh, in case you are wondering, I am writing this on my Mid 2014 MacBook Pro. I also have a Mac Pro made in 2009, which I regularly use. It has a graphics card that is almost as old. Believe it or not, I even have a G3 in the shed that last time I dusted it off still worked and ran OS 8!

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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.

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.