Category: Macintosh

Tims selling the iPadPro

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“Thrilled to spend some time with the incredibly talented , whose exquisite new collection was created with iPad Pro.”

So Tim’s talking up the iPadPro.

In the wake of poor iPad sales, and the lacklustre sales of the iPadPro in particular, Tim Cook is talking up the iPadPro on Twitter, showing everyone that there is someone who’s using it and nothing else to create their, well, creations.

Apple certainly isn’t giving up on their mantra that the Mac is the past, and the iPad is the future.

Except he’s not actually saying that is he?

He’s saying that the iPad isn’t the future – it’s the now.

You can ditch all those old doorstop PC’s and iMac’s, and MacMini’s with your silly mice, hardware keyboards and ‘pointers’, and do all that on an iPad.

Except you can’t – not yet.

I can’t give up the Mac and I bet you can’t either.

Pro apps, access to file systems and other storage media, larger screens etc, these are all things that are lost on Tim.

I’m not saying that at some point a rich multi-touch OS on a huge screen isn’t part of our future, I know it’s coming.

But to neglect the computer system that you’re trying to replace (the Mac), whilst your replacement has serious shortcomings is arrogant, shortsighted and plainly a bad business decision.

We need a ‘cross-over’ period where the Mac and iPad coexist, until the iPad is the computer system we all want it to be.

We can’t simply put our Mac’s on eBay and turn to the iPad. At least not yet.

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Apple, take my (employers) money!


I’m currently the design studio manager of a small Mac-based in-house design studio, which is part of a much larger, PC-based company. 

Every 3 years I refresh the Macs as the AppleCare run’s out. 

Last refresh I moved all users to 27″ iMacs, leaving behind a collection of cheesgrater MacPros of various denominations.

Apart from the odd screen quality issue it was the right decision. 
Speed, small footprint, a lot less cables to worry about, identical installs and less dust, all make managing those Macs a lot easier than it used to be. 

I’m not sorry that the cheesgraters were discontinued, as the iMacs are perfect for what we need. 

However there is one left, a venerable cheese grater MacPro RAID, that handles all the file serving, backup etc.

I can’t replace that, because, well, Apple hasn’t got anything to sell me that would replace it. 

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a big SSD with thunderbolt and hooking that to the network, but it’s a bit of a kludge. 

So the money stays in my pocket. 

And so the iMacs. 

AppleCare runs out next year, so I’ve looked at what’s on offer. 

And, well, there’s nothing to replace them with. Current iMacs are not that much different from what we’ve got. 

So the money stays in my pocket. 

Upwards of £20k, and Apple just doesn’t want it. 

Next year, let’s see who does. 

Chuq’s advice for Apple…

A long time Apple commentator and ex-Apple employee, gives his view.

I listened to Chuq on the Appletalk podcast and his point about Apple, “cutting the ends off the bell curve” is a really good point.

The marketing & finance people have taken over at Apple and they are drowning in data.

They’ve looked at the data and like all marketing people, want to be spending their money on things that are likely to return on the investment.

They’ve looked at the usual market sectors, and because nobody in marketing actually does any serious heavy lifting, they don’t understand those that do.

There’s a current illness in marketing where any market they can’t measure, they just don’t see, and marketing is full of people who can only truly understand people like them.

They look the all that data from sales, social, email, web and the only data that is shown by that are trendy millennials sat in coffee shops.

They respond to social, email, branding etc., so the data marketing collects is full of them.

The real pros who rely on Apple’s kit to make a living are too busy working to ‘respond to branding cues’, they just buy Apple every few years, because it works.

Problem is with all that data, it seems like servicing these pros is a waste of money.

The data doesn’t show the mindshare and influence that pros give Apple.

Marketing doesn’t care about that because you can’t measure it, and in their view, they don’t want pro’s evangelising and advertising Apple – that’s marketings’ job.

Problem is with all that data, it only tells what people have done, not what they will do.

Problem is relying on data, you lose your gut instinct – that ‘Steve Job’s’ effect where Apple entered markets because they wanted to create a great product, not simply did what the marketing’s data was telling them to do.

You make the odd insanely great mistake, but that’s what made Apple great.

I do sincerely believe that Apple is changing from a company that used to service professionals creatives, into a company that simply wants to be a dumbed down, lowest common denominator, lifestyle company.

We’ll see what this year brings, from what I can see it’s just minor updates to the iMac.

Next year we are promised more – new processors and a big jump ahead in terms of performance.

After that, 2019, we’ll all know what company Apple wants to become, because by then, they will certainly be there.

Whether the pro market is with them remains to be seen – I not that hopeful.

$39.8 Billion…

Via MacDailyNews via Businessweek:

Way back in 1997, Apple was very nearly history.

I remember back then that I seriously thought of getting out of the graphic design business for good, I could not face a career having to use, what was then, Windows 95/NT.

I decided to hold on and hope for the best, but even I never thought that Apple could go this far.

If there’s one thing that defines Apple, since 1997, since Steve Jobs came back, it is that everything they do, and I mean everything they do, MAKES THEM MONEY.

A sh*tload of money.

Profit margins on their hardware that others can only dream of (around 40% for the Mac).

Software – since Steve Jobs returned, Apple makes the best software in their target markets (please Apple, take on Adobe!)

Content – the iTunes store makes profit on music, movies and apps.

Apple Stores – have the best profit per square foot of any retailer.

Next we have the tablet, and with the rumours of more content deals and that huge data centre built for some as yet unannounced reason, we can expect that to rake in even more cash.

But as the MacDailyNews/Businessweek articles states, what is it for?

Apple have spent a little here and there, acquiring one or two businesses that make strategic sense.

But there’s a lot of money left and it’s looking very unlikely that Apple are going to give that money to their shareholders (with a dividend), or it’s users (by reducing that profit margin).

So what’s it for?

Take a look at the graph at the top of the page – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

The many ages of a switcher…

Tell me you problems

When I’m bored (I mean really bored), I spend a few 1/4 hours surfing the Apple discussion boards, and nestled in amongst the questions, bugs, answers and advice I come across postings from recent switchers to the fairer platform.

What’s odd is that these postings have very similar topics and all seem to be categorised around repeating experiences.

1) The brand sparkling new switcher. This person has really only just got their Mac that weekend and they’re still breathless from the experience. They love it (of course), but want to know the following:

a) what applications there are to function the same as Wordperfect and Paint,

b) why the menubar is always at the top and why can’t it be moved,

c) how to turn off mouse-acceleration,

d) where can they get Anti-virus/malware programs.

2) The settling down switcher. This person has had their Mac for a few weeks and has learned to live the Mac-way, rather than trying to customize their Mac into a Windoze clone. The questions however continue.

a) Why can’t they change the size of the fonts in the menus,

b) Can .exe files run on a Mac,

c) Can they delete the Apple applications they don’t want,

d) They really need an Anti-virus/malware program, where can they get it from.

3) The Mac-tinkerer. This person has grown comfortable with their Mac and has successfully transfered all their pirated music/pron photos etc over. Now down to business:

a) I want to be able to delete anything on my Mac, how do I become an Administrator so I can do this?

b) I want to edit my swap file but I don’t see any way to do this, how?

c) I want to edit the registry, where is it located?

d) Are you really sure I don’t need anti-virus/malware?

e) I’ve been using my Mac for a few weeks now and need to defragment my drive, what programs are available?

4) My Mac has slowed down I must have a virus, yes a virus PLEASE HELP! Because every problem they have ever had with Windows was down to a virus/malware/spyware/keystroke logger, they are convinced that as soon as the beachball occurs, they must have a virus. Helpful Mac-users point out:

a) You don’t have a virus

b) Really no you don’t

c) Post exactly what your symptoms are and we can find out what the slowdown is caused by

d) No, really you don’t have a virus

e) Ah, the reason why your computer has slowed down is because you’ve put 180gb of pirated movies/music on your Mac and there’s only 1gb of space left.


5) OMG! My Mac’s not working PLEASE HELP! This person has decided that even though they are happy with their Mac, they want to make it better, and has accidentally deleted:

1) The Finder

2) The Terminal

3) The Library folder

4) All of the above

and of course they don’t have a back-up. They curse the day they ever bought a Mac and complain profusely that this never happened on Windows.

I know that’s there’s a bit of exaggeration here (only a bit mind), but every one of the above true observations, is centered around this concept:

To a Windows user, the fun in using a computer comes from keeping it running, installing and updating Antivirus, editing key files to squeeze out 1.7% extra speed, configuring arcane files, messing around under the hood.

Not actually using the computer to learn or create something. Sure they probably do some of that along the way, but first and foremost a computer needs careful nurturing before you can do any of that silly creative nonsense.

If you could define a Mac, it would be that it arrives, out-of-the-box, ready for you to use, ready to have some fun.

Apple’s tablet plans…

Tablets

I remember a comment I read once concerning a question put to Steve Jobs along the lines of, “If you could release the Mac today, would you do anything differently?”

His answer was along the lines of, “I wouldn’t let anyone write software for it.”

I think his reasoning behind this statement, is the perennial problem that plagues computers: the fact that they are computers.

Anybody with minimal training can come along a write any software they like and release it into the wild. Users can then install it onto their computer and off they go.

This central premise lies at the heart of what a computer is – it runs software, both good and bad.

Coming back to Steve’s comment, even he couldn’t create a time machine and actually do this, but he could (and I think he’s trying and succeeding) to certainly do the next best thing.

Namely, anyone who wants to write software, must have that software approved – by Apple.

This is the current model of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Whether you agree that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, any software that runs on these devices is controlled by Apple. They could even delete it remotely if they wanted to.

Now think of the upcoming tablet.

The current consensus is 7″-10″, that probably runs a variant of the TouchOS, and iWork is installed by default – this means that this is a serious content creation device, not a passive device that you listen to music and watch movies on.

But that means it also runs the AppStore. Which means that the software distribution model is the same – any software is controlled by Apple.

Now speculate – 5 years from now, we will have bigger tablets that run some seriously meaty software (I’m thinking Adobe apps here), and we will still have the same software distribution model.

A device that will, sooner or later replace the mouse-driven desktop, with all application development controlled by Apple.

Software that’s even more reliable than what we have now, with no viruses, spyware or malware, and even if they could be written, there would be no way for those things to even get onto your tablet.

What Steve Jobs is attempting to do with the iPhone, iPod Touch and by extension the range of tablets that they will sooner or later have, is redefine an industry.

Computers and everything that they have ever meant, will be consigned to the history books – and good riddance to them.

Forward delete is an oxymoron…

Mac Forward Delete

Mac 101: Forward delete on a Mac laptop

Posted using ShareThis

As part of my job, I come across dozens of Windows users every day. They have used Windows all their life and have little or know knowledge of the Mac.

These are, to coin a few phrases, the other 95%, the drones, the job security for hundred’s and thousands of IT Managers up and down the USofA.

Occasionally this ‘majority’ have to sit down and use a Mac for a period of time and it’s here where their ‘muscle memory’ of using the upside-down and back-to-front version of the Mac (i.e. Windows), comes into the realm of the way it was done first, and done correctly – the Mac.

One way in which this surfaces is the forward-delete key. This was first brought to my attention when a bemused PC user, typing a document, said, “where’s the delete key on this keyboard?’

My first reaction was that they couldn’t be blamed for not knowing. There’s nowhere on a mac keyboard that says ‘delete’. It’s the key with the left facing arrow, as a Mac user, I just know this through years of use.

However the PC-user, upon testing this said, “No, that’s the backspace key.”

“No it isn’t”, I remarked, “the backspace key on a Mac is the left arrow key, along with the up, down and right keys”.

Not understanding what ‘backspace’ meant, I then learned about ‘forward-delete’ from this PC-user. It’s always been on a Mac keyboard, but I’ve never used it, because it doesn’t make any sense to me. And neither does ‘backspace’.

To me, the word ‘backspace’ does not mean a destructive action. Backspace means, ‘to move back a space’, i.e. the left arrow key.

‘Delete’ means to delete something you have just done. i.e. You type a word, it is wrong, and you, going backwards using the delete key, delete that word. Where does the term, ‘forward’ make any sense in this?

You don’t place your insertion point at the beginning of the word and then when you press the delete key, expect it to move forward along the word, deleting it.

That’s counter-intuitive isn’t it?

I suppose this all comes down to what you’re used to, but ‘forward-delete’ to me doesn’t make any sense to me as a concept.

However as the ‘majority’ use it, I must be wrong, right?

iTunes Extra (& LP) answered, but keep it to yourself…

itunesextra

The ever-excellent Roughly Drafted goes into great detail here, about how iTunes Extra & LP work.

From what I can tell, the whole iTunes Extra experience is done inside iTunes 9, using Javascript, CSS & HTML. The media file, is actually a bundle, a mini website if you will, all under a framework called “TuneKit”.

So that’s my question answered, however Roughly Drafted also goes on to postulate that the real benefactor for this approach is Apple TV, or whatever it’s successor is to be called.

The real kicker though is the fact that all this is done using open standards – no proprietary Flash or Silverlight required.

It would be really nice if certain people, who have lambasted Apple in the past for their horrible, closed proprietary systems, to maybe just admit, just for once, that Apple just might have the user’s interests at heart.

And of course, as RD points out, their own hardware sales. Once Apple’s users have enough iTunes LP & Extra content on their Mac/PC, Apple will release Apple TV 3.0 and all that content now plays on that device, effectively replacing DVD players in one fell swoop.

As always, there’s far more info in Roughly Drafted’s article, it’s highly recommended, but sometimes I wish RD would keep these plans to himself – we don’t want the enemy knowing all our plans do we?

Safari 4 beta

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Apple surprised everyone recently by announcing Safari 4.0. It’s released as a beta, put don’t let that put you off, it’s every bit as stable as the previous version.

Opinion is divided on some of the new features, with some people hating the fact that the tabs have moved to the top (as Chrome), the ‘Top Sites’ feature not being particularly useful, and the intrusion of ‘Cover Flow’ into bookmark & history browsing.

Other people love these features, but I think it’s a mixed bag. The feature that wowed me first was the ‘Top Sites’ feature, however this enthusiasm has faded as I realised I cannot seem to find it useful. Time will tell.

The feature that I hated at first was the ‘Cover Flow’ intrusion. I don’t like Cover Flow, I don’t use it in the OS, or iTunes, however it seemed to make more sense in Safari, because it’s better than what it replaces, and I’m warming to it.

The traditional way, by earching your history by looking at hundreds of similar named bits of text, is not user-friendly at all, however quickly skimming through thumbnails of those pages is much more intuitive.

Thurrott is having a bad time in finding anything to like in Safari 4 beta. This isn’t surprising, but he seems to blow lukewarm to cold on Apple, depending on whether he needs to up his site visits. I’m purposefully not linking to his article.

Everyone seems not to mention the speed. The stats seem incredible, and although they seem to be true and not exaggerated, (they have been independently tested and confirmed), the average surfer won’t see much difference.

The question for me remains, is why are Apple introducing more (albeit useful) eye-candy into Safari? It’s a browser, and shouldn’t it be lean, fast & mean?

It comes down to pushing the hardware. I do most of my personal surfing on a little iBook G4 and it’s beginning to show the strain. Apple need to keep selling their hardware, so they keep pushing the specs, to make you upgrade.

I’ve held off, because, like most I can’t afford to upgrade my hardware every time Apple releases new Mac’s.

I put it off for as long as possible, and I’m planning to purchase a MacBook when Snow Leopard is released.

It seems that Apple are heading towards Snow Leopard as the pinnacle of what they can achieve, after they threw away OS9 all those years ago.

Snow Leopard seems to be everything that Steve Jobs has been aiming for – a lean, mean OS, with no legacy code. A good foundation to build upon.

I predict that after Snow Leopard has been released, together with the hardware that’s designed to take full advantage of it, Steve Jobs will announce his retirement, with the knowledge that his job is done.

However it will be sad when SJ retires. To most new Mac users he has significant, but not irreplaceable influence.

When he does go, I’m sure that Apple will carry on, and be better off in the long run, but the Apple that I have grown up with (since System 6) – my Apple – will never be the same again.

Safari is all part of this, and it’s apparent that Apple are slowly putting the pieces together to make the Mac best tech-experience, bar none.

MobileMe isn’t particularly mobile, at least for me…

mobileme

This is a difficult post to write.

More often than not, the content of this blog is pro-Apple. I make no apologies for this, and although I do critcise Apple from time to time, I also cut them some slack.

Recently I purchased MobileMe. Now, despite a hiccup in purchasing, which wasn’t Apple’s fault, but the resellers, things went smoothly.

At first, things went smoothly. I have an iBook running Leopard, an iPod Touch and a G5 Tower running Tiger, all syncing to the cloud.

This worked fine for a little while. I kept getting a lot of contact an calendar updates on the G5, which was a bit suspicious, but things worked OK.

That was until last week.

The G5 at work was syncing OK, no problems, the iBook & Touch worked flawlessly. Just to check a configuration, I clicked the .Mac Preference Pane on the G5 (it’s running Tiger remember).

It wouldn’t open. It beachballed and then gave me a ‘Could not open .Mac because of an error.”

I’m a seasoned troubleshooter, so I logged into another account – same result. OK, that points to a system-wide pref file that’s corrupted.

So I moved all the .plist files I could find and restarted.

Oh dear. This time the G5 stalled at the desktop. It couldn’t load the .Mac menubar item. So I did a bit of system-voodoo and removed that menubar item so it wouldn’t have to load.

Restarted.

The system now started ok (sans the menu bar item), but upon launching System Preferences, the .Mac Preference Pane wasn’t there.

Ouch. Never seen that before. At this point I thought about cache corruption. The preference pane was in the system (I checked) but it wasn’t loading.

So I cleaned the local caches and restarted. Now my Keyboard & Mouse Preference Pane is in Chinese. I kid you not.

Anyway, this G5 is a production machine, so I left it there, so I could do some more research.

This research has given me a few pointers, which I will try soon. There’s a couple of files I haven’t trashed yet, so we’ll try that.

If that doesn’t work, then I’ll clean all caches, including system.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll try reinstalling the combo updater.

If that doesn’t work, it’s a install of a new system.

How is it possible that enabling a product on your system can cause so many problems? I have over 20 years Mac experience and I’m grasping for solutions.

How is it possible that a product can simply stop working for no reason?

And, let’s not forget, this is an additional service I’VE PAID FOR.

Which is why this article is difficult to write. 

MOBILEME IS NOT READY – AT ALL.


It works for lots of people, but not all. I certainly could not run a business on this. Even the little web-design service I do in my spare time.

I don’t expect this from Apple, I really don’t. 

Are we seeing here the limits to what Apple can do reliably? Are we seeing the edges of their competence? Were all those Windows users right in saying that Apple just doesn’t do certain things as good as Microsoft?

Now that Steve’s away, I hope that Tim asks some serious question of MobileMe. It’s damaging the brand severely and they need the courage to fix it properly, or pull it off the market, trash it and partner with Google, rebrand their offerings and give us a service that we can all be proud of.

Will I be renewing in a years time? At this moment, I’d say no.

Microsoft’s retail stab in the dark…

microsoft-retail-store

Upon thinking about Microsoft entry into the retail space, a few thoughts occur.

Microsoft have a really deep seated envy of everything that Apple does. Now, they’ve always had this from the very first meeting about Windows 1.0, and in the past they could get away with it.

After all, despite all Apple’s efforts, they were not a mainstream company. Microsoft and their partners dominated and no-one outside Apple’s niche had ever heard of them.

All the great unwashed saw was ever greater ‘innovation’ coming from Redmond. They did not know that this innovation was a photocopied, me-too agenda based upon what Apple did.

This approach works fine, as long as Apple remains a niche.

Can you really say that Apple Inc. is at this current moment ‘a niche player’?

Group together everything that Apple does, the Mac, iPod, iPhone etc, and their approaching 10% market share (and even greater mind-share), I think not.

Why does this make a difference? Well, Microsoft can keep up the pretense of being an ‘innovator’ as long as no-one (or at least the majority) knows that Apple exists.

This is all the more difficult, and one very good reason this is getting harder, is because of those pesky Apple Retail Stores.

People used to listen to their ‘geeky friend’ on what computer to purchase, which was usually, if not always Windows.

That’s not the case now, they see an Apple Store, go in, and more often than not, purchase. I don’t know what their footfall conversion rate is (the % of customer who enter a store and either do or do not purchase something), but according to Apple 50% of those purchases are to Windows users.

So what is Microsoft to do? Well there’s only one thing to do, fight fire with fire.

But Microsoft has a problem, and it’s a problem that cannot be got around. The PC model is proprietary OS on open hardware. Apple’s model is open OS (sort, parts of etc), on proprietary hardware.

Now I don’t care what people say, Apple’s model gives us more reliable computers, Microsoft’s model gives problems – lot of them, with more chances to go wrong.

Apple’s model is naturally fits the retail environment. People enter Apple Stores for an experience. Yes, they take their computers in to be fixed, and Apple manages that quite well, as their model keeps those fixes down to an acceptable level.

Microsoft? Their model invites problems, how the hell are they going to manage all those PC users with viruses, spam, malware and faulty hardware because their ‘geeky friend’ made their computer?

This should be interesting to watch…

Initial thoughts on the Microsoft retort…

In thinking about what my views are on Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign, I’ve a few points that will hopefully give some structure to my thoughts over the next few posts:

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Firstly, why bother?

Apple has (at best) 5-7% worldwide market share. Microsoft and the PC brigade account for just about everything else. At the very, very best, if Apple continue with the proprietary hardware and (sort of) open OS model, they can hope for 10% tops, and I’m being optimistic.

Are Microsoft that desperate for total domination that they can’t stand a competitor to have a tenth of their market share? What difference will it make to there day to day business & profitability? Absolutely none.

So why? The only reason I can see is that this is not business – it’s personal.

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Secondly, why did they change direction completely after 2 ads?

I work in advertising, I’ve been present and had decision making input when agencies pitch for work. I can say that if the usual rules apply (and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t here), what we are seeing is ‘pitch 2’. 

When pitching it’s usual that three ideas are presented. The first idea is what the agency wants, the second is what the customer wants and the third is a combination of the first two. The agencies pitch will push for their choice, and it will be the one that has had the most work put into it.

The Seinfeld ads were the agencies choice, the ‘I’m a PC’ ads are what Microsoft wanted. The 3rd pitch we will never likely see (unless Microsoft pull the ads again!)

The Seinfeld ads are typical high-brow, high-concept crap that agencies love because it’ll get them mentioned in Creative Review and maybe win an award, whilst having f**k-all use for the customer.

The ‘I’m a PC’ ads are the one created grudgingly by the agency in case they couldn’t convince them to go with their choice.

The 3rd set of ads are never meant to be chosen, because the agency can use them to agree with the customer that it is something they don’t want, this makes it easier to convince the customer that they need to agree again with the agency and go with their choice.

The brief from Microsoft will be along these lines:

“See those Apple ads? They piss us off. They’re taking the piss out of us every single frickin’ time! That PC guy? That Bill Gates that is! They’re telling lies! – none of this crap is true! Well maybe some of it is, but we want revenge! We want you to create ads that answer those ads and blow them out of the water!”

And so they agency create 3 concepts, one for them, one for the client and another they can throw away. They did well to convince Microsoft of the Seinfeld ads – they deserve an award for just that!

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Thirdly, what the hell are the Seinfeld ads all about?

Their seems little point now in explaining because a) they’re cancelled, and b) the agency probably doesn’t have any clear idea either, but I will attempt a breakdown.

But not yet – I need to watch them just a few more times… Lucky me…