Don't tell me a Mac is expensive

I own a mid-2011 21" iMac and have done so since November 2011. In that time I have used it almost every day, some days for many hours at a time, and I have restarted it twice outside of OS updates. It is always on and it is always working.

There was a blip with RAM usage which turned out to be the quite awful LogMeIn software which was close to impossible to remove, but now it is gone I am back to using my Mac without any problems every day. That surely is a problem for Apple.

Or is it?

I paid £1,000 for my iMac and could reasonably expect to be using it in 2017 which gives me roughly 6 years of use. That is £166 per year. To be fair I have added 8GB of RAM, a Microsoft mouse and the Apple extended keyboard, but asides from those, that is it.

A friend of mine recently stopped using his MacBook because it had become too slow even for his children to use to browse the internet. He has been more than impressed with the longevity and decided to buy a new MacBook which he intends to get as much use out of.

Oh sorry, my mistake, it was an 'iBook' that he has just replaced. It was used every day for 8 years and despite him not being a power user, that kind of longevity is wonderful. The only purchase during that time was a new battery half way through, and that was it.

My daughter uses an iPhone 3GS every day and it is working fine, my wife's iPhone 4 is working well and she uses it a lot. I am also sure that if I wasn't so obsessed with having the latest iPhone, my 6 would last for a good few years as well.

My point is that there is a lot of criticism levelled at Apple for the cost of new products, but for 95% of people these products represent long term investments which they can use for many years. When I compare the iMac to my recent Windows laptop experience, where HP takes little income on the product and has to fill it with crapware to make a measly profit, the difference is stark. That laptop will likely be unusable in 2 years time and the iMac will almost certainly continue to run as it does today.

This longevity means that I will replace my iMac with a new iMac one day and I will replace my iPhone with a new iPhone, and so on. In the long run I am saving money, doing productive things and Apple is also reaping the rewards. Apple isn't perfect, no company is, but my word the products are built incredibly well.

The new iTunes: first impressions

Initial gripes - Home videos are now separate, but also have a different layout that lags excessively when browsing it.  Home video “List view” is not like the old list view or movie list view.  When you add a home video which is a TV program, you used to select it, tick TV program, and fill in the details (show, series number, etc).  Now you have to set TV program, accept, go to TV programs, reselect it, and then fill in details as the fields don’t exist until TV program type is set.
 
Not liking the way it’s all going with Apple at the moment, it seems to be a lot of style for the sake of style, and not much consideration to ergonomics and ease of use. 
Abstractly, the changes make sense (why show TV program fields unnecessarily), but they’re not thinking of existing user impact.  It’s like them suddenly shipping macs with a Dvorak keyboard rather than qwerty.
 
Maybe it’s just me, I’m not convinced by Yosemite either.  Reminds me more of Windows now. Peter.

I rarely disagree with Peter.

Kindle Voyage review

On the whole, Amazon accomplished its goal: it built a better platypus. This is the best E Ink e-reader I’ve used, and it’s unquestionably the best that Amazon has ever made. The thing is, it’s only marginally better than the fantastic Paperwhite in several ways, and significantly better in none. Amazon is also asking a lot of money for the Voyage — it starts at $199, while a 3G model without special offers runs $289. Not since the final days of the doomed Kindle DX has an Amazon e-reader brushed up against the $300 mark... More at The Verge.

It looks stunning, but the Paperwhite is also brilliant so I for one won't be upgrading. The Kindle e-readers are so good, however, that I am still tempted.

A 98 year old and the internet

The internet, so often hailed as a place for the young and endlessly distracted, actually turns out to be a pretty good place for older people. For one, there’s access to unlimited information (which pairs well with ample free time). And then there’s the ability to keep up with the outside world as it gets harder to go out and see it, and the chance to keep exercising one’s brain. But most importantly, it allows one to connect: in my grandfather’s case, with schoolkids in Germany and old friends in Mexico and the eighth-grader from down the block whom he pays for computer lessons every few weeks. And of course, his six grandchildren, at least half of whom work in thoroughly internet-era careers. How many nearly 98-year-olds do you know who are aware of the mobile advertising industry? More at BuzzFeedNews.

Nice article.

An amazing slide

Isn’t it an amazing slide?
There are 50,000 ways to represent Apple products. But, there is perhaps only one incredible way to do it. It is above.
I love the stark simplicity of the slide.
I love the shapes, circle to an almost triangle.
I love the evolution theme (though more like almost reverse evolution with the oldest on the right and the newest on the right).
The Mechanical Engineer in me loves the fact that if you draw a line along the angle of the iMac display, it will intersect almost perfect the bottom of the base... More at Linked In.

I agree with Avinash. That slide is amazing and it highlights the products on display perfectly. It shows just how incredibly well designed most of the Apple products are and why so many can't wait to get their hands on the latest and greatest.

It can be hard to understand why a piece of technology feels so good at times, but that slide offers a clue.

The Samsung Gear S network plan

Whether you’re surprised that the Samsung Gear S, a standalone smart watch, would require a separate line of service depends on what you thought Samsung was promising. Trusted sources close to the matter have revealed to Phandroid that the Samsung Gear S will have a special plan on Sprint, and likely any other carrier it heads to once it launches.
As such, you’ll need a plan to tie it to and you have one of two options for achieving that:
    a special $10 per month “connected device” plan that gives you 1,000 minutes, 1,000 messages and 100MB of data
    a $10 add-on to a Family Share Pack plan that shares data, minutes and messages with all other devices
More at Phandroid.

It should not be surprising at all, but the realisation that another contract is required for a wearable may hit some hard. That alone would put me off even if it does make perfect sense.

Don't need a tablet

It’s difficult to say anything bad about this tablet because it’s been nothing but awesome at everything NVIDIA suggests it’s made to do. But outside of entertainment, I can’t imagine a reason why a tablet would be necessary in my life.
I have a smartphone - right now I’m using a Moto X from Verizon. I have a notebook, and I have a TV. I also have a desktop PC that I use when I play AAA games. Where does a tablet fit in? More at Slash Gear.

I am like the writer of the above article, a tablet does not fit in between my desktop and phone and likely never will. I know many people who own tablets and the vast majority never take them outside of the house, but I recognise that some do. I sort of get why people would want to use a tablet at home in place of a PC for most tasks, but still wonder how many are left largely unused.

John's OS X 10.10 Yosemite review

When the book is finally closed on the product line known as OS X, last year’s release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks may end up getting short shrift. Sure, it brought tangible energy saving benefits to Mac laptop owners, but such gains are quickly taken for granted; internal changes and new frameworks are not as memorable to customers as they may be to developers and technophiles. And while Mavericks included many new user-visible features, and even new bundled applications, the cumulative effect was that of a pleasant upgrade, not a blockbuster.
But for all its timidity and awkwardness, Mavericks marked a turning point for OS X—and in more than just naming scheme. It was the first OS X release from the newly unified, post-Forstall Apple. If iOS 7 was the explosive release of Jony Ive’s pent-up software design ethos, then Mavericks was the embodiment of Craig Federighi’s patient engineering discipline. Or maybe Mavericks was just a victim of time constraints and priorities. Either way, in last year’s OS X release, Apple tore down the old. This year, finally, Apple is ready with the new... More at ars technica.

You don't need me to tell you that John's reviews are always wonderful. No one does it like him

iCloud Drive doesn't work either

Upgraded to Yosemite last night and turned on iCloud Drive. Last night my iPad finished Upgrading, but my iPhone is still Upgrading hours later.  Tried a reboot to see if that solved it, but it’s still Upgrading.  Checked Pages on the iPhone and iPad, and all my documents are gone as of now.  On the iMac there’ll all there.  One site said to disconnect from iCloud and reconnect to get the documents back on devices.  That also strips out contacts, photos, and everything else I have in icon though.  I’m afraid to do it.

Tom just sent me the above iMessage and I have exactly the same problem with upgrading to iCloud Drive. I am starting to sound like a broken record, but iCloud is a complete joke.

Stupid!

I was in Carphone Warehouse today picking up a phone case and had to wait behind a lady who was buying a new iPhone 6. This being Carphone Warehouse, there wasn't enough staff and so the wait took some time.

I watched as she tried to restore her backup via iCloud, which didn't seem to be working properly because it is iCloud, and then in astonishment as the sales assistant asked if it was OK if he wiped her old iPhone which she had part exchanged.

"Yeah fine. Thanks"

She had left all of her data on there, given him the passcode and he just left it in the box on the counter. That is crazy and highlights just how ignorant some people are of security and the potential for their personal data to be used for bad reasons.

I have no reason to believe that the sales assistant would do anything wrong, but if by chance he did it would be completely her fault.

To Siri, With Love

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his B.F.F. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:
Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”
Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”
Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”
Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”
Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”
Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”
Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”
Siri: “See you later!”
More at NYT.

What a lovely story.

A £15,000 mobile bill

A teacher says he is facing financial ruin after Vodafone insisted he pay a £15,000 bill run up after thieves stole his mobile phone in Barcelona.
Osian Rhys Edwards, 29, from Barmouth, Gwynedd, says he called the company immediately to cancel his phone.
But weeks later he was shocked to receive the huge bill, which had been racked up in just a few hours calling premium rate lines.
Vodafone said Mr Edwards had not called them for four days after the theft... More at the BBC.

It would be easy to view Vodafone as being inflexible and too harsh in this situation. When I read the whole article, however, some questions came to light-

Surely he can prove that he called Vodafone whether it was by mobile or a landline and that a conversation took place.

Actually there were two other questions, but they didn't make sense so have been removed. 

 

The devil and the deep blue sea

When the iPhone was limited to a single carrier per market, they also had that control over the networks. They could (and did) dictate how much the monthly tariff cost. How many minutes, texts, and MB an iPhone user would have. They even prevented the phone being sold to PAYG customers.
 
You may have thought you were on O2, but you were really on an Apple MVNO.
 
That has (mostly) changed now. You can get an iPhone and put it on any network, at any price point, with any services and wrest control from Apple. And they hate losing control.
 
The micro-SIM was their first move. Use a SIM which cannot be swapped with any other phone. Make it hard enough to get a normal SIM into an iPhone that most people won't bother. Yes, there are SIM cutters and caddies - this is an imperfect solution they foisted on to the marketplace. One which is backfiring as other manufacturers start using the micro-SIM... More here.

The article above is well worth reading because it touches on something that many of us have expected to happen for some time. Personally, I would not trust Apple to have my best interests at heart as an MVNO, but to be fair I do not trust any mobile operator either. What we do have at this time, however, is some level of clarity when dealing with just one operator. Some level…

Pocket Casts hits the web

Pocket Casts is, in my opinion, the best mobile podcast player available and I have tried many. Shifty Jelly has now taken things further and will let you play all of your podcasts on a desktop at play.pocketcasts.com for a reasonable one-off fee. It may not appeal to everyone, but if you spend a lot of time at your desktop or laptop and want better sound quality, it could be worth at least giving the 14 day trial a go. I suspect I will be signing up for this one.

iPad Air 2, iMac retina, Mac Mini and...

Much of today's Apple keynote was expected; a new iPad Air, updated Mac Mini, new iMac and the releases of Yosemite and iOS 8.1.

I was talking to Neil over iMessage while it was transmitting and the words "All a bit predictable today" were typed. This is indeed a true assessment of what occurred, but I don't mind that if the problems with iCloud etc are fixed, but I am not optimistic if I am honest.

Anyway, let's look at the new stuff-

iMac with Retina 5K display

The catchily named iMac with Retina 5K display is a stunning achievement. 14.7 million pixels will no doubt look amazing, but £1,999 is a big premium over the... Hold on, actually it isn't. The 27" 3.4GHz iMac is £1,599 and has a standard hard drive whereas the Retina has a Fusion drive. The later is also better specced with a 3.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 and AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics.

Despite my reservations that the Retina screen will only offer a definite advantage to those who need such accuracy, it is sensibly priced.

Neil, however, made a very good point about the potential market- "I could really only see it being useful for professional video / photo editing and I would have thought most of those would be using a Mac Pro." That is true, but maybe they will buy the new iMac just for the screen which is arguably still competitive with other displays of this size.

iPad Air 2

Touch ID was absolutely needed and the 6.1mm depth is insane, but I can't quite work out why so much effort has gone into the camera, and why so much keynote time was dedicated to that feature. We have all seen people using their iPads to take photos, those crazy people, and it seems that Apple is seeing a market there. The iPad 2 Air is an obvious upgrade, as is the iPad mini 3 which was almost breezed over during the keynote.

The realisation that Apple is now selling the iPad mini 3, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, iPad Air and iPad mini was a bit of a shocker. I get the logic of selling a tablet (original iPad mini) for only £199, but mine is very slow these days and does not provide a positive experience- why would Apple want to do that? Also, selling 5 different models speaks of trying to cover all price points and it feels more than a little Samsung to me. It's confusing at best and the fact that all of these models still start with a measly 16GB is disappointing.

Tom Reestman on Twitter summed it up nicely- "If the iPhone 6+ wasn’t already going to cannibalise iPad mini sales,  Apple gave no reason for it not to today."

Mac mini

The new Mac minis were also almost glossed over during the keynote, but the £399 price point for the entry model is tempting. Problem is that it is not really designed for those who will sit in front of a screen and feels more like a server type device to me. As you creep up to the 2.8GHz Mac mini which retails for £799, the iMac suddenly feels more sensible. It was nice to see the Mac mini updated, but it would have been good to see much more.

Apple TV

Nope

And there we have it. I found the entire keynote to be somewhat predictable and there was not a lot here to get the media or general public too excited. These things, however, should be transitional and I am perfectly happy with a slower pace if improvements in the software appear at the same time.

To be fair to Apple, this event was not hyped and any disappointment is likely the fault of those who feel that way rather than because Apple did not innovate. That 5K display is an incredible leap forward, as is the iMac sat behind it, and the iPad Air 2 will likely feel amazing in the hand. It was a good keynote without sensational new products, and that is probably a good thing.

The free speech party

Your tweet could win the fame lottery, and everyone on the Internet who thinks you are wrong could tell you about it. Or one of the "verified" could call you out to be the tribute for your community and fight in their Hunger Games.
Say something about feminism or race, or sea lions and you'd find yourself inundated by the same trite responses from multitudes. Complain about it, and they turn nasty, abusing you, calling in their friends to join in. Your phone becomes useless under the weight of notifications; you can't see your friends support amongst the flood.
Twitter has become the hate speech wing of the free speech party... More here.

I am struggling with the presumption that Twitter is to blame for the morons who are ruining the service for some. It appears that some believe that any service that allows people to speak their minds is somehow doing it wrong. There is no excuse for the behaviour of trolls and they deserve 100% of the blame.