OS X Mavericks behaving badly (like a maverick!)

OS X Mavericks is a Stupid Name

OS X Mavericks is a Stupid Name (Photo credit: swanksalot)

Since I bought my new Mac Pro (old version – 2009 4.1) I have had a mixed experience. Soon after its arrival I upgraded to Os X Mavericks and right away started having various problems, mainly with iWork apps not starting up, or at least taking 3 or more minutes to start up. Very frustrating. After a support call to Apple, and after deleting start-up apps things improved a little. An update to Mavericks via Software Update also seemed to help. However, I had other issues with misbehaving my Magic Mouse and frequent Finder crashes. Although things have improved further after an upgrade to a brand-new SSD things aren’t entirely going smoothly as I would like.

Ironically, I have Parallels installed and am running the latest evaluation version of Windows 8.1 (the free version – at least for 30 days). I have to say that although the interface leaves me stone cold unimpressed, I am running WoT very effectively with no issues to speak of. Shame that my Mac apps don’t run as smoothly at times!

So, for now I am somewhat dissatisfied with Mavericks and hope Apple get on top of the issues. I am not alone in having problems and the issue over Google Drive is another example of how things can go so easily wrong with an update to the OS. Maybe next time I will a little bit longer before diving in and updating to the latest version.


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.

Logic Pro 9 update released

Logic Pro 9Apple has announced an update to its Logic Pro 9 music production software.

The latest update improves overall stability and addresses a number of minor issues, including the following:

The update is recommended for all users of Logic Pro 9.
Issues addressed with 9.1.3 include:

Issues addressed with 9.1.2 include:

  • Improved compatibility with 6 and 12-core Mac Pro systems
  • Support for iOS control surface apps that utilize the OSC protocol
  • REX files now supported in 64-bit mode
  • Improved compatibility with select Audio Unit plug-ins

The update is recommended for all users of Logic Pro 9.
For detailed information on this update, please visit this website: Logic Pro Release Notes

Logic Express 9.1.4 update

Logic Express 9Apple has released an update to Logic Express 9, its music production software. The update addresses a number of issues:

The update is recommended for all users of Logic Express 9.

Issues addressed with 9.1.3 include:

Issues addressed with 9.1.2 include:

  • Improved compatibility with 6 and 12-core Mac Pro systems
  • Support for iOS control surface apps that utilize the OSC protocol
  • REX files now supported in 64-bit mode
  • Improved compatibility with select Audio Unit plug-ins

The update is recommended for all users of Logic Express 9.

 For detailed information on this update, please visit this website: Logic Express Release Notes

Future developments from Apple….

Log of AMD

Image via Wikipedia

I am one of those folk who like to occasionally speculate about the future and what it might bring. Of course, as regards Apple products this is not something that gets just my brain cells stimulated. It’s almost an industry in itself and the rumour mill is pretty busy at the moment as regards the release date and specification of the upcoming iPad 2.

Well, all this talk of the iPad 2 has made me look into the metaphorical ‘crystal ball’ and wonder what might be coming in the year or so ahead from Apple.

Others may think about the iPhone 5 but my mind turns to the Mac. After all, it was what started the whole Apple thing off in the very beginning. How far we have come too. Back in 1992, I was working with a Mac Classic and a Laserwriter mono laser producing publicity for a charity I worked for. We later acquired some Mac LC II versions. When we got a Quadra 700 we thought we were so cutting edge!

It’s easy now to take for granted the amount of processing power we now have so readily available and it’s somewhat sobering to realise how much we managed to achieve with the little we had in those early days. We have indeed come a long way. So, bearing this in mind and the venerable Moore’s Law, what can we expect to see as regards the Mac in the year or so ahead?

Well, despite it’s current hiccups, Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPU will probably find it’s way into the next update to the Mac platform. However, if the problems with the new CPU architecture prove to be more serious this may offer an opening for AMD to get a foot in the door. Apple showed with it’s switch from Motorola to Intel that it is prepared to jump ship if it feels there is a danger it’s going to lose ground in a significant way. However, until we see what AMD’s Fusion platform is really ‘made of’ it’s probably safe to say that the next generation of the Mac platform will be based upon the Intel architecture.

If so, we can certainly expect to see performance make a significant leap. When we think of the Mac Pro, we could see Apple regain some of the high ground as regards the desktop. Currently, Intel and to a lesser extent, AMD have definitely got the edge in terms of powerful desktops, if only because they offer a better price to performance ratio than the Mac Pro. It would be great to see Apple bring out some powerful multi-CPU Mac Pro desktops soon and even better if they were more competitive on the price side of things.

What about Apple monitors? Currently Apple sells it’s 27-inch LED Cinema Display. Will we see any additional models or an upgrade even to the 27-inch? Unlikely some would say. Personally, I think we will see an upgrade to the current model at the very least and possibly a larger model joining it, perhaps a 32-inch version. Certainly, I can see such a model being popular with graphic professionals, who are the ones most likely to be able to justify the price of such a monitor. When you consider that the likes of Samsung and LG are selling large computer monitors up to and beyond 32-inch so there is no reason why Apple couldn’t manage this too, if it so desired.

So, apart from the iPad 2, iPhone 5, new Macs and possibly additions to its Cinema Display range, what else can we expect to see from Apple? My guess is that we will see further developments in the multi-touch arena and this may even include touch-screens on the iMac range as Apple moves it’s desktop OS closer to iOS as found on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. However, I see this as coming in late 2012 or even 2013.

As for the software side, other than the OS, will we see developments in the applications Apple sells? There was a time when Apple seemed to be innovating on a regular basis with the likes of Shake, Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio. Recently, it seems almost like Apple has lost interest in the software side of it’s business, with some parts of its portfolio seemingly neglected. Apart from iPhoto and Aperture, its almost like not much is happening in that arena. Could we see something new from Apple in the near future on the applications side of things… I truly hope so but have my doubts, at least in the short-term. Maybe once the iPad 2, iPhone 5 and Lion are out of the doors Apple may have the inclination to surprise us all like the old days.

Now that they seem to have fallen out with Adobe over Flash in particular, could we see Apple enter the professional DTP market and compete with Adobe and Quark? After all, it is rich enough to almost not care what the likes of Adobe think and its got no reason to fear Microsoft or Quark for that matter either. That would be my suggestion for the least expected announcement from Apple in 2012. You heard it here first!

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Apple’s Server Strategy Turmoil

A small Xserve cluster with an Xserve RAID.
Image via Wikipedia

Seems Apple is to discontinue its Xserve as of 31 January 2011. Here’s what they have to say on their site:

“Xserve will no longer be available after 31st January, but we’ll continue to fully support it. To learn more, view the PDF”

This is of some concern to those for who rack mounted servers are an integral part of their business.

So, what is Apple proposing as an alternative to the Xserve? Well, in fact it’s proposing two alternatives; Mac Pro with Snow Leopard Server or Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server. Problem is, the Mac Pro is lacking the XServe‘s redundant power supplies, and also, it cannot support the Lights-Out Management features of the rackmount server. The Mac mini is likewise, not enterprise ready and so it doesn’t look like Apple is serious about the enterprise server market. In particular Xsan users feel hard done by as they  depend upon the Xserver to be able to operate their storage-area networks for high performance video editing or scientific computing.

Apple has said it will honour existing warranties and the 12 month ones on any Xserve purchased before the end of 31 January 2011. It will continue to support the offer the current shipping 160GB, 1TB, and 2TB Apple Drive Modules for Xserve3 through the end of 2011 or while supplies last. Apple says it will continue to support Xserve customers with service parts for warranty and out-of- warranty service.

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