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Monthly Archives: October 2013

OS X Mavericks Impression Addendum: Time Machine

On my previous post, I mentioned how Time Machine in my new installation of Mavericks is reset to start over. After spending a lot of time cleaning up my Time Machine drive to make room for another full backup, I turned Time Machine on, and surprisingly, it re-detected the old backups and thus did not require as much space as originally thought.

Note how it knows again when the oldest backup is, back from Lion. Phew. I wished this was indicated from the get go though so I didn’t have to spend so much time doing clean up. Oh well, all is good now. πŸ™‚

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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in apple, impression

 

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Upgraded to Mavericks

An Apple event has come and gone. In the aftermath, we have a free OS X upgrade. Guess what my main machine is running… OS X Lion. πŸ˜€

Why did I not upgrade to Mountain Lion? Well, first and foremost, I was lazy. I mean I upgraded my laptop to Mountain Lion, but my iMac is my main machine, and I don’t really want to mess with it unless I have to. Besides, Lion was fine. From using my laptop with Mountain Lion, I don’t see much difference when going back to Lion on my iMac.

Mavericks gives me several incentive to upgrade. First, is tabs in Finders. OS X has this spring-loaded folders that makes it pretty easy to copy files form a drive/folder to a different one. However, if you have a pretty deep folder structure that you want to go to, it’s pretty tedious. Windows 7 has Aero snap, where you can quickly snap two Windows side by side just by dragging each window to the opposite side of the desktop. It makes copying files easy as I can easily set a source folder in one Explorer window, set the destination on another Explorer window, and just use Aero snap to put them side by side.

In OS X, there’s no Aero snap. Unless you opted for 3rd party apps, there’s no way to quickly re-arrange windows. In the olden days, I used the expose feature a lot, which is useful in this scenario. I usually open two Finder windows, one showing the source and one showing the destination, and use expose to copy files between them easily. Well, things have changed. Apple made Expose to cluster windows from the same app together. This actually makes things more difficult in my usage scenario as I cannot pick the destination window quickly from the pile of windows. Mission Control doesn’t improve this, and makes the experience more jarring as now everything moves back, including the different desktops. Copying files becomes a chore (yeah, first world problem). Oh, another annoying thing is that if you have a Finder window open, clicking the Finder icon on the dock only put that window in focus. To open a new window, you have to go to the menu bar and select New Finder Window. In contrast on Windows 7, I can put a shortcut of Explorer on the task bar and clicking that will automatically open up a new window. Yeah yeah, I’m sure there’s a better way, like memorizing keyboard shortcuts, but I just find things more tedious on OS X.

Enter Mavericks with Finders tab. Instead of opening a new window, now I can simply open one tab for the source, open a new tab for the destination, and I can copy files between those tabs by drag-n-dropping the files to the tabs. It makes things more convenient. Plus with Finder being able to go full screen in Mavericks, I no longer have to wrestle with OS X’s windows resizing, especially in columns view.Β One tiny thing like this can make using an OS a night and day difference, at least for me.

Mavericks have a bunch of other goodies, mainly power efficiency, which is useful if you have Mac laptops. Another point of interest is its better RAM management and memory compression, which should be helpful when I run Lightroom or Final Cut Pro X.

So, I decided to jump on the Mavericks bandwagon, setting loose my old cat to brave the new wave.

Installing Mavericks is just like Lion or Mountain Lion, a simple download from the Mac App Store (MAS). There is a big catch though. In the past, after downloading the OS upgrade, you can drill down into the application package to extract the dmg file of the actual OS installation, and make a USB disk/DVD out of it easily to get a full OS X installation disk. It is very useful for doing clean installs. Not the case anymore with Mavericks. You can still see the installESD.dmg file inside the Mavericks installation package, but inside it is just a bunch of .pkg files. Luckily, there are utilities showing up almost right away to help you create a Mavericks installation disk. Ars Technica has a great tidbit about this and a how to, even a manual way to do it.

In the past, whenever I upgraded OS X (from Tiger to Leopard to Snow Leopard), I always do a clean install and do a restore from Time Machine afterwards (which is another reason I have been delaying upgrading my iMac from Lion). This time, I’m going to put the faith on Apple’s programmers for a smooth upgrade from the App store.

The overall process is very easy. Once you download Mavericks from the App store, it shows an installation screen, asks you to accept the license agreement and select your main drive, and then it will reboot your Mac and does it thing. Probably after about half an hour to 45 minutes, it should be done. A plain non-linen log-in screen greeted me, and voila. Mavericks is installed. Upon logging in, I noticed the new 2D dock, where it is in lighter gray. I don’t actually like this as it makes certain icons harder to see. I prefer the old darker dock that provided more contrast.

Well, things didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted it to be. First thing I noticed, my external Firewire drobo is no longer listed in Finder. I panicked, as this is not only my Time Machine drive, it also contains many of my media files. I ran Disk Utility, and it still listed the drobo in there. It’s just that for some reason, Finder is not showing them. Apps that access it directly could still see it too, as Drobo dashboard could see it. Just not me via Finder. So all hope was not lost. Going to drobo support proved unhelpful as they just started their knowledge base page for Mavericks without any info in it other than links to the latest firmwares (which I already had).

I tried a simple reboot, no go. Worse, even Drobo dashboard started acting up, saying something is not loaded properly. Uh oh. Also, Disk Utility now said something is wrong with the Time Machine partition. Double uh oh. It seems like when booting Mavericks, it does not load everything right away, so when you log in to the desktop right away after a reboot, things can get weird. I rebooted my iMac, let it sit on the log-in screen for a moment (just like Windows), logged in, and everything seemed fine. The drobo was still invincible in Finder, but at least there were no weird errors.

So, what’s the solution? I turned off my iMac, turned off my drobo, turned it back on, turned my iMac on, still no go. *sigh. I turned off everything again, unplugged the drobo, booted my iMac without the drobo, and then hot-plugged the Firewire cable. Voila, Finder was showing my drobo. Huge relief! Right now, apparently this is the only solution as this issue popped back up again, and I had to unplug and replug the drobo back to bring it back from invincibility. Hopefully a more permanent solution would be provided by drobo.

Okay, problem one solved. Oh wait, there’s more! Take a look at this.

Yes, Time Machine had reset itself back to zero. All those hundreds of gigabytes of backups I have accumulated over the previous years are just sitting there ignored. This creates another problem, as now I have to make sure my Time Machine partition has enough space for the new backup from Mavericks (with the way drobo works, the OS can show that it has more free space that what is actually available on the drobo itself). Boo! 😦 So I have been busy cleaning up things. Oh and of course, this initial backup will be huge and take a looooong time.

Well, at least there’s an upside. Apple announced that iWork will be free, but with a new purchase of a new Mac. Well, I didn’t really care as I don’t use iWork, and I’m sure I’m not qualified anyway. Checking the MAS showed that iWork would still cost me $20 each.

However, when I logged in to the MAS from my Macbook Air, I was treated with a confirmation to get all the iWork apps for free. Sweet! Funny thing was, my Macbook Air was not even running Mavericks, it was still on Mountain Lion. I don’t know how, but my Macbook Air was the Haswell one, refurbished. Apple posted an information on their site that those that purchased Macs from October 1st can get iWork for free. I purchased my Macbook Air I think in September. Maybe Apple had some leeway in giving these apps for free. Or maybe all 2013 models are eligible. Nonetheless, it’s icing on the cake. πŸ™‚

Using Mavericks on a desktop is, well, not much different than previous versions of OS X. Sure, skeumorphism is gone, but base functionalities of things are still practically the same, which is great. Oh, the new Maps app? It requires wifi (obviously, for triangulation) to find my location. But I don’t want to use wifi on my iMac. I have gigabit ethernet for a reason. I guess I have to enter my location manually. First world problem, again. πŸ˜€

Activity Monitor has new more detailed graphs, more likely to show off Mavericks memory management and power saving features. Game Center is still covered with skeumorphism, unlike the iOS7 version. Notifications are now displayed automatically on your Mac’s lock screen. This is no good. You have to go into Settings and disable this on per app basis. Annoying. Keychain syncing is back as iCloud keychain. You have to set up a couple verification steps to use it. A phone number is optional, but can be a good 2-step verification via SMS. Note that I tried my Google Voice number, it did not work. It failed to receive any SMS from iCloud.

On the desktop, I think that’s about it. I have not noticed major application issues so far. Lightroom still runs fine, so I’m good. πŸ™‚

On my Macbook Air, there are other things I noticed. The power button behavior has changed in Mavericks. Previously, pressing the power button will trigger a prompt asking what you want to do, ie. shut down, restart, etc. Now, it just makes the laptop sleeps. To trigger the same dialog, you have to press and hold the power button a little bit. I don’t see any way to change this behavior. In Windows, you can customize what Windows should do when you press the power button or close the lid of the laptop. The new iTunes seems unstable. Crashing quite a bit, requiring a force quit.

Well, that’s about it for now. Overall, Mavericks is a welcomed update. One, it’s free. Second, even the new iLife updates require it. Third, the power savings and memory management will be appreciated, especially if you have a Mac laptop. If you have a Firewire drobo, take note of the issues. iCloud integration will be useful to those that rely on it.Β I am quite pleased that Apple can still squeeze things out of OS X, considering how mature it is at this point. There are annoying things here and there, but it’s Apple, so the glossy rainbow usually makes up for them. πŸ˜€

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in apple, impression

 

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Apple Special Event October 2013 Impression

Well, that was quick. Apple live streamed their keynote, and the stream is already available. As an armchair critic, time for yet more 2 cents from me. πŸ˜€

The keynote started with a very deep video that is basically Apple explaining to those bloggers that are shouting that they are no longer innovative because they don’t have huge phones with swimming fish as a wallpaper like Android. Typical Apple, the video is highly produced. It’s simple, yet enjoyable to watch.

As usual, the keynote started with Tim Cook with the stats. 9 million iPhones sold since the 5s/5c launch. Damn, and I thought we are in recession. Tim Cook showed a video, a very highly produced one, showing the launch day with people lining up and getting excited. Plenty of Asians in the video, kinda hinting Apple is serious in targeting China as their market. This is one of the reasons watching Apple keynote a lot more enjoyable than any other companies’. They just produced their stuff extremely well, unlike the other companies that seem to stuck in the 90s style of rigidity. I mean seriously, try watch Samsung or even Microsoft’s presentation for the Surface 2. And they wonder why Apple is garnering the brand awareness and mindset of the public. Genius marketing.

Oh, in the video, there’s a dude buying five of the 5c cases. Scalper alert!

“Biggest and fastest software upgrade in history… ever.” Yeah, Cook was talking about iOS7. Sounds great, but can you fix the battery drain and cut back on the animations please? They are getting old after two days. Tim Cook stated how great it is that consumers can experience the latest features. Yes, tell that to iPhone 4 owners.

A mention of iTunes radio with a plug for Justin Timberlake. Meh. Wake me up when all Avex’ catalog are in. Apps. Yes, we heard this before. Mac, with mentions of OS X, iLife, and iWork. Tim Cook seemed to be stumbling, hope he’s okay.

“The competitors are confused. They are making PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.” LOL. Yes Microsoft, that’s you.

Craig was next with OS X Mavericks. Echo… Somebody is going to get some spanking later.

We heard many of these before in WWDC. Craig is claiming you can get an hour more battery life on the Haswell Macbook Air. That’s quite a feat if it’s true. Variable graphics memory allocation. Tags, which is not new as older OS X already has it, it was just called label. Why tags? I think this is Apple’s way of eliminating the file system from the user. I can see this being expanded on future versions of OS X, and the files and folders that we are used to getting more and more hidden.

Even Craig seemed to be stumbling, rushed. The presentation does not feel as tight as when Jobs was running the show.

Demo on Mavericks feature, showing integration between notification, mail, calendar, maps, etc.

Windows 8 pro for $199. Yep, jab #2 at Microsoft. Mavericks? Free! Even for those running Snow Leopard! Well, not completely unexpected. Many people have said this when Apple dropped its upgrade price to $20. Apple get their money from selling hardware. Still, a nice touch. I can see OS X updates will be just seamless in the future. Since it is free, it will be just an ongoing software updates. People do not have to worry anymore about what OS version they are running.

For me, I am sticking on Lion a bit longer (yeah, I have not even upgraded to Mountain Lion). It is always wise to wait for the first of second point update before upgrading an OS.

Phil was up next. Great reviews on Macbook Air. New retina Macbook Pro. That old Macbook Pro? Yeah, they are step children now that Apple doesn’t even upgrade it to Haswell. New Retina Macbook Pro is lighter and thinner. Gee, what’s new. πŸ˜€ Better battery life thanks to Haswell. Oh, and a keynote tip from Apple. See how Phill talked about the increased battery life, then showed a Macbook Pro with a screenshot from Batman movie, and then from behind, showed two more Macs and stated how you can watch the entire trilogy in one charge. Great presentation indeed!

Of course, everything is upgraded. PCI-e SSD, 802.11ac, Thunderbolt 2, Mavericks. Base 13″ model starts at $1299, pretty much set to replace the old Macbook Pro. Oh, best yet, shipping today! Again, this is why Apple is so successful. Many other Windows laptop OEMs have not even shipped their Haswell laptops that they announced earlier this year. The 15″ model is getting Iris Pro, with higher priced option for nVidia GPU, GT 750M. Interestingly enough, the 15″ model has less battery life than the 13″ model (8 hours vs 9 hours). 15″ starts at $1999 with Iris Pro, and shipping today too.

Mac Pro. In short, $2999, shipping in December. Yeah, not cheap. Nice, but too rich for my blood. Typical Apple, to entice you to spend that much money, they make a documentary on the making of the Mac Pro in the assembly line. Unlike Jony Ives’ documentary, the background is black. πŸ˜€ Can’t wait for the parodies people will make.

Next up was Eddie, with iLife, new versions for iOS and Mac. Finally, matching icons on the iOS version to match iOS7 style. Β Eddie simply blazed through the apps without much demo other than Garage Band. I’m curious on the new iMovie and iPhoto, but alas, no demo. In-app purchase for Garage Band! Yeah, Apple made these apps for free, and they went into the IAP game. I just hope they don’t do that for iMovie effects.

New iWork. More syncing with iCloud and web version, plus collaboration! Take that Google Docs. Fun demo. Seems better rehearsed than Craig’s Mavericks demo. Free. Office 365 for $99 per year. Jab #3 at Microsoft. I guess it’s better to poke fun at Microsoft than Google.

They are all available today, but I cannot install them!! 😦 Why? They require Mavericks! No fun for me and my Lion. Oh, and no free iWork for me too. Have to buy new Macs. 😦

Tim Cook returned with stats for iPads. Yet more jabs at Microsoft in the most indirect manner. Yet another highly produced video showing iPad in a variety of usages, with Asians and Chinese in them. πŸ˜€ I wonder how they record the movie of the guy with a tent hanging on a mountain at the end though.

Phil with new iPads, finally! As expected, the new big iPad follows the iPad mini’s design with thinner bezel. The name becomes iPad Air. iPad Air? Doesn’t sound right. But I guess it’s better than what it could’ve been, ie. “The Newer iPad with retina display.” Even thinner than the previous iPad. What’s amazing is the weight, 1 pound. It runs the A7 SoC. Wait, no A7X? Yeah, I guess Apple sees the A7 is fast enough to push the retina iPad on its own. No TouchID though. No 802.11ac either. Same prices as the iPad 4, November 1, with a new breakthrough in LTE. Just one single SKU for LTE support for all carriers in the world, including all four US carriers. That’s amazing.

Previously, despite all iPads with cellular are unlocked, LTE support is carrier/region specific. You can buy a Verizon LTE iPad 4, for example, and although you can use it on AT&T, you will only get 3G/HSDPA speed. Seems like that’s over now with the iPad Air. It’s quite an amazing feat that we are at this point of universal LTE support this quick. Remember how long it took to even have phones with penta-band HSDPA? Yeah, that Nokia WinRT tablet with carrier branding? Good luck with that. The only downside left is the mess that is the iPhone 5s/5c, with every region having their own SKU with LTE that only works with the carriers in those region.

And, the iPad 2 lives! Yes, still at $399. More like the iPad for suckers, especially when you see the new iPad mini having the same price. I mean really, the iPad 2 was great, but it was released in 2011, running the old A5 SoC that doesn’t even get many of iOS7’s new features. You are better off buying a refurbished iPad 4 or the new iPad mini.

Of course, another documentary starring Jony Ives.

Ah yes, the new iPad mini. It finally received retina display thanks to the A7. And Apple didn’t stop there, they used that as an excuse to increase the price. The new iPad mini now starts at $399, shipping November (but no specific dates). Yeah, you still want to buy that iPad 2? πŸ˜€ Space gray is the new word for black. The old iPad mini hangs around at $299 for the 16GB wifi. I guess that’s Apple’s answer to the new Nexus 7.

Seriously, the iPad 2 and old iPad mini are for suckers, considering they are running a two generation behind SoC.

Tim Cook returned to wrap up the show.

So, how was my prediction? I got pretty close, although I got the order wrong. I thought Apple was going to do a 12″ retina Macbook to sneak in between the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro, but looks like Apple managed to push the price of the retina Macbook Pro down, making the old legacy Macbook Pro a step child. Mavericks is free, which is unexpected but not surprising. New iLife and iWork. New iPads as expected, with a price jump on the retina mini, and the old ones linger around for suckers.

Of course, no Apple TV, and no smartwatch. Cue in the tech bloggers bitching on how Apple lacks innovation, ignoring the feat of engineering that brings 1 SKU to support all LTE around the world. As for me, I have been waiting for a retina mini since the original iPad mini was announced, so I’m getting that one. Bye bye Nexus 7, it’s nice knowing ya.

What’s on your shopping list?

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Apple October 2013 Event Prediction

Another month, another Apple event, and another 2 cents from me.

Since the iPhone 5c/5s are out already, the checklist is getting shorter. Kinda obvious that this time, it will be new iPads.

First, redesign of the big iPad into a slimmer model, using the iPad mini’s design language. I think this is pretty much a given considering the leaks. The question is the inside. Will it have the fingerprint sensor that Apple debuted with the iPhone 5s? I think so as I think it will be running off a souped up A7 processor, probably dubbed A7X. Ever since the iPad 3, Apple always pushed their SoCs on the big iPad to take advantage of the bigger room and battery. Everything else will be familiar though, same price points as current iPad 4 with same capacities. I mean I don’t see why Apple would change anything as they are selling these by the boatload at these prices. I wonder how the LTE versions would fare though, considering the mess it is with the iPhone 5c/5s, with their multiple region specific SKUs that pretty much “lock” the LTE support only for that region.

Second, the mini. Last year’s mini was a disappointment due to the lack of retina display. Also, it’s running the old A5 SoC, the one on the iPad 2. I think Apple would finally put retina on the mini this time. The challenge of putting a retina display on the iPad mini is two-folds. One is the smaller battery powering the much higher resolution, while keeping the “legendary” 10-hour battery life. Second is performance/head dissipation, as the retina display requires more GPU power to drive. Apple learned that lesson with the iPad 3, where even the A5X was not good enough to drive the retina display. I think this time though, even the plain A7 would be able to do it. Apple has been pushing the GPU capabilities of their SoCs a lot, and I think now they can finally pair retina display with the mini. Also, I think Touch ID is going to be present, because why not (the A7 supports it). Same price points and capacities.

What else other than iPads? The retina Macbook Pros have not been updated to Haswell yet, which is not too surprising considering the number of Windows laptops with Haswell on the market are still very few. The iMac just got its silent refresh. I have a feeling the retina Macbook Pro update to Haswell might be silent too, unless Apple want to brag about the battery life and iris pro GPU. But other than that, there is not much to say about Haswell. Performance is not a huge jump compared to Ivy bridge, so the marketing point to spin is mainly the power savings.

Will the regular Macbook Pro get a refresh? I don’t know, and I doubt it. I think Apple wants to replace the regular Macbook Pro with the retina Macbook Pro real bad. The regular Macbook Pro didn’t even get a display upgrade last year. They are serve well thanks to their optical drive, and they are great as a stop gap between the Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro price points. If Apple can push the price of the retina Macbook Pro down, I think we will see the regular Macbook Pro abandoned/discontinued (or it won’t get any updates and will be just faded out silently). There is a rumor about a 12″ retina Macbook rumor, which I think Apple might do if they cannot push the retina Macbook Pro prices down to replace the regular Macbook Pros. It will bring back the old Macbook lineup as the stop gap between the Air and the Pro, now with retina! And with intel’s iris pro GPU, I don’t think we have to worry too much about intel’s GPU performance anymore. If this is true, then I can see them taking over the previous Macbook Pro price points, keeping the retina Macbook Pro as the higher end for better margins. Apple still want you to buy the Macbook Air if you want something cheaper.

Another mac that has not received the Haswell treatment is the mac mini. I think it will get a silent upgrade. The mini is not too exciting to be presented on keynotes, and since Haswell’s main advantage is power saving, it’s not that big of a deal on a desktop. The mini has received plenty of silent refreshes so it’s not too surprising.

Of course, when we talk about Macs, the question linger about the new Mac Pro. Apple said it’s coming this Fall. Well, it’s Fall already, yet nothing much else coming out from Cupertino. It would clash to do a big presentation for this with the iPads on the spotlight. Maybe a separate smaller event.

Then comes OS X Mavericks. I think it would be time to release Mavericks if Apple would also release the new retina Macs. It just gives you a nice flow in the keynote. And same story, $20 for all Macs. Rumor is that Apple might give it for free. Not outside the realm of possibility as $20 is already very inexpensive when you compare it to the price of a single Windows license.Β 

Apple TV? I don’t think we will see much of it. I mean the end point for that device is to playback 1080p content properly, and the current Apple TV already achieves that. Updating it won’t give much to talk about unless you are doing 4k, and I doubt we are there yet.

iPods? Nope. We already see a color refresh, so I doubt we will see any new ones until next year.

So let’s see how the keynote would go. First, Tim Cook will start with how great the iPhone sales is, and how great their retail business is. Next is the new iPads, and boom, retina iPad mini. Then it’s Mavericks release info and demo, followed by the refresh retina Macbook Pros. And one more thing, 12″ retina Macbook. Sounds good, right? πŸ˜€

Smart watch? Meh. Seriously, the rumors about Apple making a smart watch circulating a lot on tech blogs are because that is a rumor started by the tech blogs themselves, so they are basically using their own rumor as news, and keep regurgitating it. It is just a flame bait they will use later when Apple does not do one (simply because there is no reason why Apple would), to criticize Apple being not “innovative” anymore, and that Apple is “disappointing” for not fulfilling the rumors. Seriously, you have a phone that is smarter than ever. Why would you want a half-baked “smart” watch that can’t do much? Let a watch be a simple watch. I personally have stopped using a watch ever since I have a cellphone.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow, 10am PST.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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