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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“Hey Siri, give us a hint.”


“Hey Siri, give us a hint.” So Apple has decided to tease us all again with a hint about the announcements to come on September 9 at 10 a.m. PDT.

Apple Event Sept 9th 2015

Speculation, as always, has been rife about exactly what is to come. Most commentators agree that it will be a new iPhone though no-one can agree if it’s effectively an iPhone 7 or an iPhone 6s. However, the reference to Siri may mean that Siri is going to get an update (none to soon either for some of us). Microsoft’s Cortana is impressive and Apple needs to pull something special out of the bag if it’s to regain its crown.

Other mooted announcements will an option to have the new iPhone in Rose Gold, along with Force Touch, brought over from the new MacBook. There are rumours too of an improved camera. Another expected announcement is an update to the Apple TV, which is also in need of an update. However, no-one really expects an actual Apple Television. Finally, the next big thing that is a possibility is an iPad Pro, with a larger screen, somewhere around 12″.

However, we don’t have long to wait and I for one will be watching the Keynote live.

Mavericks issue solved


A while back I posted I was having issues with Mavericks. I am happy to say that these are now resolved. The solution that finally resolved the remaining issues left unresolved by updates to Mavericks was to remove two hard drives from my Mac Pro. I had hoped that the two hard drives in question, which were somewhat long in the tooth would be suitable for using with Parallels for the Windows side of things. Alas, it was not to be. For whatever reason they were causing problems with the Mac side of things and had to go. Since I took them out things have vastly improved. Maybe it was because they were formatted as NTFS as I wanted to use them as backup for data on the Windows side of things. Maybe it was an issue with Paragon’s NTFS for Mac. Who really knows? Certainly, as the actual need for them was minimal I decided it was simpler to remove them. Now my Mac boots up in 10 seconds and all apps run without trouble (most of the time)!

So I guess the moral of this story is, if you are going to add extra drives to the bays of your Mac Pro (pre-2013 version that is) it’s probably best to install brand-new ones. In the meantime, I wish all my readers a very Happy New Year!

Parallels Desktop for Mac

Parallels Desktop for Mac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

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.

 

 

Cup of tea anyone? Would you like chips with that madam?


In case you think I have just lost my marbles and gone stark raving mad, let me explain. Back in the 1950’s there was a British catering company called J Lyons and Co, who not only ran a chain of tea shops, but sold biscuits and started a chain of fast food restaurants known as ‘Wimpeys’. Now, before you go away wondering what on earth I am going on about, let me tell you that this company kick-started the whole Business IT industry. That’s right, they were ahead of the rest of the world in creating a business computer that was the first one in the world. Called LEO, this computer was introduced to the world 60 years ago.

You can read all about this sadly neglected innovation on the Telegraph’s website. There is also a video below: