hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Tag: Apple (Page 1 of 6)

Forget ARM: Just send in Mac clones

Apple’s rumored plan to move away from Intel processors in its Macs did not light up the comments section on LinkedIn like I thought it might.

That’s because the Mac has already lost so much relevance.

Sure, they’re still pretty to look at. But, for what you get, they’re what they’ve always been–overpriced and underpowered.

Moving to inhouse manufactured ARM chips doesn’t change any of that.

Perception of Apple’s hardware lineup of Macs will remain what it is whether or not they stay with Intel.

It’s easy to assume control is largely the reason behind any eventual shift in processor for its iconic desktop computers.

But, I still yawn at the prospect.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’d really love for Apple to make the Mac matter again.

I just don’t think they have it in them to get there.

Plus, who knows what the future will hold for desktop computers in general.

Apple can try to shape what that market looks like beginning in 2020 or whenever they’re supposed to get the new Macs featuring ARM chips into the fold.

But, as technology is moving so fast, I doubt the Mac will be able to make a comeback any more than newspapers will by that time.

Back in the day the Mac was known for revolutionizing the desktop publishing world. Creative types flocked to use them. Newspapers across the country turned their composition departments into Mac-outfitted meccas of computing. Aldus PageMaker, Quark Xpress et al were the software packages that ran first and foremost on the Mac.

These programs were always better on Mac until Windows PCs caught and passed Macs while they floundered on underpowered PowerPC chips by IBM and Motorola.

Sure, we Apple fanboys would tout the Mac’s ease of use and also the leap of faith belief that a 500 MHz PowerPC processor was the equivalent of a 1 GHz Pentium 4 by Intel.

We were living a lie that became harder to live with once Adobe made PC versions of its software that blew by their Mac counterparts stuck in the slow lane.

Send in the clones

Before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, there was a brief experiment with cloning undertaken by the Cupertino giant.

Names like Power Computing, Umax and Motorola Starmax all featured Mac clones during the period Apple was licensing its operating system. That was a period of Mac and Mac clone popularity and resurgence desperately needed at a time Apple was mired in a serious fiscal funk.

I never got my hands on a Mac clone during that time. And once Jobs returned, he effectively killed the clone–leading Apple back to a renaissance of sorts featuring fruit-colored, egg-shaped iMacs that remained driven by underpowered PowerPC chips.

Matters weren’t helped by Apple’s propensity to equip its Macs with the bare essential amount of RAM to run its less-than-nimble OS X.

PowerPC take two or Hackintosh death by clone?

All of the rumored talk of Apple abandoning Intel to begin producing its own chips for insertion into future Macs has me thinking they’re missing the mark again.

People love macOS more than they love the Mac itself. Just Google “hackintosh” if you don’t think so.

People don’t want a Mac. They just want the Mac’s operating system to be able to run legally on PC hardware driven by Intel processors.

Sure, occasionally, and in the course of Apple history, a company or two has decided to make its version of a Hackintosh. They initially experienced a run of success. The promise of cheap, facsimile Macs makes people crazed. And, unfortunately they don’t come to their senses until Apple’s legal department makes them.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Apple using its own chips is going to create large buzz around Macs again.

Desktop computers are becoming more and more irrelevant (except to people like me who won’t ever use a tablet other than when they’re on the road). There will always be a place in the heart for desktop Macs and PCs for types like me.

I suppose it has something to do with what I learned on back in the day.

It also has to do with the familiarity of the operating system itself. Windows has remained Windows over the years. And the macOS, while it’s changed more dramatically than Windows ever has, is still familiar.

That is what I want. But Apple never really cared about what I desired.

I never saved the funds for a new Mac other than in 1995, when I plunked down $2,000 (well, $1,995 at Best Buy) for the crippled CPU that was the Mac Performa 5215CD. This was a really bad computer and anything but a “performer.” But, it helped incite my strange love and fascination for optimizing hardware and software to their greatest capacities.

So, Apple now wants me to give it a couple of years while it performs processor transplant surgery on its Mac line. I hope the Mac is venerable enough to survive this change.

While change is never easy, Apple risks losing sight of the forest for the trees.

I don’t want or need overpriced Macs with underpowered Apple processors.

To the contrary, what I and countless others would love to be able to do is not build a hackintosh, but to be able to buy a PC desktop that runs the macOS legally.

I know macOS is pretty bloated these days. But still. It’s the OS, damn it, and not the processor or box.

Let the OS be the crown jewel it once was. License it. People would pay a little more to buy generic, ugly boxes running macOS. It’d work.

And everyone–including Apple itself, would end up realizing value in the process.

The breaking point for good enough?

When did good enough become good enough?

I believe settling for less than really good software should not be commonplace. Nor a sign of the times.

But it is.

I also believe this is one area artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be of assistance.

Good enough seems so lacking, not to mention indifferent, mediocre.

pexels-photo-102127.jpegSoftware is not paint.

“How’s the ceiling look, Bob?”

“Great! Shall we call it done?”

“Sure, why not. Looks good enough to me.”

Understanding nothing is perfect does not prevent our striving for perfection.

Artists try to make the perfect creation–whether it’s a guitarist figuring out the best solo for a song or a sculptor molding clay until its form takes on a life of its own–history dictates man perform to the highest levels possible.

Complexity is a buzz word. It’s used to explain away everything from why cancer is still not cured to how come Apple releases operating systems not yet ready for prime time. I get that it’s not the original Macintosh and current day iMac operating systems require gazillions of lines of code just to open a file (without rendering another application you’d like to use alongside it completely paralyzed).

Consider the possibility that now the human race is at a breaking point with respect to quality control in all fields technical.

Have we reached the point of diminishing returns for software engineers regarding coding? Have humans taken it as far as reasonably can be expected? I would suggest that we now have.

Must consumers and businesses alike accept the fact that new versions of software are always buggy?

Wait.

You say they and we, have already been the beta testers for the Microsofts and Googles of the world. And all we have to show for it are increased invasions of privacy and breaches of our identities.

The tired cliché “the genie is out of the bottle” does nothing to help solve the problem.

We already have enough words that describe our inability to troubleshoot bugs effectively.

Maybe my expectations are too great.

Why should I expect the MLB.TV app to work on my Samsung Smart TV just as well as it does on a Roku Express hooked up to the same TV? Seems the Smart TV app for MLB.TV was less smart than a streaming device at bringing me my baseball for this season.

As someone who understands a fool and his money are soon parted, I always recommend value-oriented solutions; if at first you don’t succeed, try something less expensive to see if that might work.

pexels-photo-239898.jpegIf complexity is at the root of this quandary, then possibly good enough can actually be a positive characterization for software and hardware integration–provided simplicity, or a return to it, is the goal.

I could have gotten a new edition Roku that featured voice activated commands, but I don’t like talking out loud unless it’s either to myself or another person.

Features I don’t want tack on needless layers of complexity. It’s just more stuff that can go wrong. Why would I want that?

I’ve worked for corporations that roll out new, proprietary versions of their business applications at the least opportune time. Visualize an accounting firm releasing new bookkeeping software in the middle of tax season because it’s a “necessary upgrade that addresses critical flaws.”

Sometimes it was just the spell check program that needed fixing.

But, sometimes an update seemingly as simple as that would create issues in the printing component functions of the system.

One step forward, two steps back.

Fix one thing. Break two others in the process.

Still, we humans have good intentions. It’s the vicious, unmanageable cycle with respect to quality outcomes, that is holding us back.

Without possessing the ability to return to simplicity and things that just work, perhaps it’s time to concede we’ve taken our abilities in certain areas just about as far as they can go.

Send in the relief pitcher, HAL.

Is Chromebook the perfect agile writing tool?

I work on Windows machines more than anything.
While Windows 10 is relatively fast on older PCs, over time, and as with all versions of Windows, it becomes less fast more rapidly–especially on machines starved of resources.
With macOS, Apple plays the bloatware game of tacking more layers of resource-draining complexity onto its OS with each ensuing release. This ensures Apple’s goal of eliminating certain Macs from qualifying for their latest OS by virtue of these older Macs not having enough horsepower to make the final OS cut. Or, even if they do, they’re hard-pressed to perform fluidly or efficiently with Apple’s latest and greatest OS.
I don’t hate either Apple’s or Microsoft’s systems, though; both are great operating systems and I’m a fan of each depending on the task at hand.
My problem with both of them, however, is that I don’t want both Microsoft and Apple’s shared philosophy of planned obsolescence to influence my work station choices.
Because it doesn’t have to.
And there isn’t reason to play by these rules.
Accordingly I’ve decided to try something outside their product range to see if it might be something I can learn to love.
Enter the Chromebook
Chromebooks have been out awhile and I’ve not made the leap until recently due to (unfounded?) concerns over stripped down offerings.
You get the basics of everything the Chrome Browser and Google docs and gmail can bring.
It all sounds pretty simple.
And it hearkens back to days of simpler operating systems that offered quick booting times and enough simple applications to get the job done.
My own personal experiment with the Chromebook will involve whether or not I can adopt it as my principal writing machine when I’m on the road.
I’ve been using an original Microsoft Surface RT for years until recently. Its compromises with respect to current web demands required I use a Windows 10 laptop that is serviceable but takes forever to both boot or wake from sleep.
The Chromebook was advertised as booting in 7 seconds.

I don’t think it even takes that long. At the least it doesn’t feel like it does.

As everything I personally do becomes slower and more deliberate over time, my need for speed when it comes to my writing assignments, has never been greater.


http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/attendees-inspect-the-google-chromebook-pixel-laptop-during-news-photo/168808548

In addition to quick booting and wake-from-sleep times (and let’s face it, ideas drop into my head and only stay there for a few moments before moving on), I wanted the speed of Google Chrome and its ability to handle the modern web and its quagmire of ads, video and noise with speed and alacrity.
In addition to speed, I also need the ability to write comfortably for the stretches of time that I am writing. The Chromebook I’m writing this on, the Samsung Chromebook 3 XE500C13-K01US with 2GB RAM, 16GB SSD and an 11.6″ screen is feeling like a contender.
Its keyboard was advertised as “ergonomic.”
Truth be told, it’s ergonomic compared to what I was using with the Surface RT. Also, the Win 10 laptop I’ve used faithfully for 7 years has a decent keyboard that I’ve grown fond of. The Chromebook’s keyboard feels a little stiff, but I’m thinking it is because it’s freshly refurbished.
No matter. I like the speed. I like the keyboard (more and more) and I like the overall value–it’s a refurbished product that is immaculate and feels brand new and not cheap.
Oh, did I mention I’ve had it uncharged for a week and the battery indicator is showing 53% remaining.
It’s simple.
It works.
It’s fast to boot, wake from sleep and navigate online.
It contains what I need to get the job done.
And it’s simple.
I know I’ve repeated myself regarding the characterization of the Chromebook as “simple.”
At this stage of the game, simple, quick and easy to use are pretty big selling points to me.
We’ll see how it goes as we near the 90-day warranty.
I’m optimistic. And not cautiously so.

The phenomenon of old tech guilty pleasures

[Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in Computerworld on July 22, 2016]
Most everyone has a go to throwback piece of technology they occasionally deploy. Many of us are slightly embarrassed about it, though, and refrain from sharing with anyone the less than modern gear we still love to work regularly with or break out on a hobbyist basis.
Donald Trump is supposedly scoring big with nostalgia voters — those graybeards who yearn for a return to yesterday. I, for one, do not want to revisit the past, except, of course, when it comes to technology.
If elected president, Trump is doomed to fail if he believes he can return manufacturing jobs to this country that have long since been off-shored. He should just let that one go.
Those of us who still employ older hardware and software to do their jobs, however, do so because it works and it’s fun — something missing from the thought process, generally-speaking, when consumers consider purchasing new computers these days.
“Which of these on the shelf here, sir, are going to provide something I’ll still be using to get stuff done 15 years from now?”
“Well, man, that would probably be nothing here.”
And there you have it.
Today’s hardware and software get the job done now for sure. The computing power available today dwarfs anything that existed in the recent past. But most, if not much of today’s powerful hardware will eventually become a distant memory for end users due to its lack of staying power, or what I like to call computing “soul.”

Soul, like love, is something you know you have once it arrives. And metal and plastic typically do not have soul. But, soul occasionally manifests magically upon the collective assembly of metal, plastic and lines of code that run atop them.
Windows in various flavors of 7, 8 and 10 is what I use most. However, I also utilize a heavily upgraded with after market parts, circa 1999, Apple Power Mac G4.
That’s right.
This machine was purchased used for a song. It helped repair (pun intended) my impression of Apple computers after buying an Un-Performa 5215CD Power Mac that was, in my humble opinion, one of the worst computers Apple ever produced. And everything awful that the Performa was, the Power Mac G4 — a.k.a. “Sawtooth” — was that much the opposite.

sawtooth g4Photo by Bob Skelley
The Sawtooth G4 as old tech guilty pleasure

The Power Mac G4 featured the PowerPC G4 chip. Today, anyone interested in owning a piece of Apple history (from when Apple still had the “Computer” after its name) and wanting to increase their original Power Mac’s computing capabilities, can buy refurbished after market processors and video cards online.
Apple isn’t showing much love to today’s Mac lineup regarding how overdue for a refresh many of the models are, including the Mac Pro. Back in the days of the G4, a different time, of course, Macs were Apple’s go to products. Now, not so much. But, I still like my Sawtooth G4, and even now used it composing this piece.
Sure, I could use one of my Windows machines to write with. Or even a newer iMac. But, I’m using Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac on the Power Mac G4 featuring the last update of this Word variant: 12.3.6. Why? Like anything else, it just feels right and better than anything else. Still.
I remember when I worked as a commercial and financial typesetter for many years. I always enjoyed computers, but a Mac at its price seemed perpetually out of reach. Macs retained their value but were more costly than similarly aged computers on the pages of eBay. But, it was the heavily-touted-by-Apple Power Mac line that finally became affordable to the masses with the advent of eBay and the used Mac reseller market.
The Sawtooth is 17 years old. I’m risking ridicule (again) by revealing embarrassment, or lack thereof, for writing about and with it.
The Sawtooth features (gasp) Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard. But the best kept secret about Power Macs running Leopard is they have three modern browsers available that are regularly updated by their developers. Roccat Browser for Mac is amazingly enough being developed for PowerPC and Intel processors, requiring Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later.
But wait, there’s more…
A 17-year-old Power Mac running either Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard can also use TenFourFox. This is a PowerPC-only modern browser regularly updated by developer Cameron Kaiser who obviously enjoys a labor of love.
There are TenFourFox optimized builds for the G3, G4 and G5 PowerPC processors as well. From the TenFourFox website: “More than ever, Power Macs are the computers people love to keep, for all kinds of reasons. They’re more “Mac” than today’s Macs.” Can’t say I disagree.
And finally, on the browsing front, there’s Leopard WebKit for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which is a current build of WebKit. Leopard WebKit versions run on both PowerPC and Intel-powered chips. I particularly like Leopard WebKit on a Wi-Fi connection on the Sawtooth via a USB Wi-Fi adapter; on wired connections, all of these browsers perform quite capably.
So, there you have it — the Frankenmac Sawtooth that is my unashamed old tech guilty pleasure.
What’s yours?

Sawtooth G4

Tower of power, Apple-branded display promise Mac resurgence

There isn’t anything flashy about computer towers.
And their lack of style made it easy for Apple to abandon them.
But do we really prefer Apple produces more iMacs and unconventionally shaped Mac Pros? What if instead they decide to return to their most durable, albeit boring desktop hardware design?
Returning to the tower designs of yesteryear could potentially be a big win for Apple not to mention its customers. iMac and Mac Pro hardware designs feature stylish good looks over the ability to easily upgrade.
Apple’s tight, sleek iMac suffers from poor thermal distribution. Consequently, incredible amounts of heat amass inside. Over time, the accumulation of heat contributes to rapid aging.
Towers offer no similar compromise regarding the ravages of high temperatures. They are built to more efficiently distribute and filter heat from their cavernous cases.
The desktop towers’ interiors that Apple once made were easily accessed. Apple has hinted at a return to a more modular design.
It can’t come soon enough for this old Apple fanboy.

Today, Apple makes the complete opposite of modular design computers. And every desktop they produce is vulnerable to premature hardware failure because of aforementioned interior airflow deficiencies.

Why Apple should do it

Apple wants us to buy Macs more frequently. While it is only my opinion, I believe we’ve been conditioned accordingly and sales of Macs remain up. How else to explain it? That being said, I also feel our standards and expectations are considerably lower when it comes to what to expect from Apple and its line of Macs moving forward. We’re just not excited at the prospect anymore.
One way to gain younger customers and to reinvigorate older ones is for Apple to create and produce computers featuring the ability (of its buyers) to perform basic upgrades. This could be their new “prosumer” line of Apple towers.
Think of the joy consumers and professionals alike could know at:

  1. Easily upgrading the memory and hard disk in their machine; or
  2. Being able to order and install a replacement GPU from Apple; and
  3. Being able to order and install a logic board or CPU replacement (or perhaps unlock an Apple-authorized CPU overclock, as needs for more processing power arise).

Number three may be pushing it, but at least you get the picture. A return to a tower design of some kind would not be the equivalent of Apple conceding it no longer can design innovatively; to the contrary it would be an admission that it is better late than never to recognize past triumphs in design by creating modernized versions.
Additionally, the price tag for an Apple machine can be high, to put it kindly. For the amount of hard earned cash its customers fork over, they should be able to expect a reasonable level of modular capability in their machines. And towers offer unrivaled access to innards via drop down, swing open, as well as side panel sliding doors.

Why Apple won’t do it

Apple would stand to lose money on new machine purchases with a return to a tower-like design. They’re a publicly-owned company. They have stakeholders and the like to consider and appease.
Releasing a machine that consumers would hold on to longer is not in the best interests of a computer maker that relies on machine planned obsolescence in three to five years’ time.
Apple typically does not want its customers to mess with hardware it sells them. Whether it’s an iPhone or an iMac, Apple would prefer you bring it to them or an Apple authorized reseller when something goes wrong.
If consumers are working on their own Macs’ interiors, this is against the grain of the “hands off by its customers” repair/upgrade approach Apple traditionally takes.
By returning to the tower, though, Apple would also (in theory) look to re-enter the display business. Again, with the talk of a more modular Mac pro being bandied about, comes the parallel chatter of an Apple branded display that would accompany it.
Apple left the tower business.
It also left the monitor business.
It doesn’t make any sense to return to something they discarded, right?
The old Apple would have done the opposite of what appears logical.
Here’s hoping the new Apple can demonstrate regard for its consumers by bringing excitement back to the Mac—even if it doesn’t seem to make business sense.

Apple vs. Microsoft III: The quest for electronic medical record supremacy?

The current state of healthcare delivery, and specifically electronic medical records (EMR), is reminiscent of the state of office productivity software in the business world during the ’90s.
During the late ’80s and into the ’90s, WordPerfect, Microsoft Word and a host of lesser word processors battled for supremacy in the business world. Each had their pros and cons, but the global economy would really explode in the late ’90s once one of these titans became the industry standard.

Apple had conceded the desktop operating system wars to Microsoft well in advance of the battle for word processing champion. By the time the best OS Microsoft has ever produced (prior to Windows 10) — Windows XP — was released, Apple was well into its process of reinventing itself as a consumer oriented, and not an enterprise-focused, company.
We know what’s transpired since Microsoft out marketed both Apple (for desktop computer OS supremacy) and the makers of WordPerfect as the word processing gold standard.
Apple went on to claim smartphone dominance — and Microsoft similarly handled rival Novell and Corel versions of WordPerfect to become office productivity suite king.
Apple beat out the late-to-the-table Windows Phones and holds on to the top spot today over Android-based versions.
So, to date:

  1. Microsoft becomes king of the desktop computer operating system and achieves recognition as business world, word processing and office productivity suite software standard bearer.
  2. Apple becomes king of the smartphone before Microsoft even becomes a player.

Number 1 actually encompasses two things, but they happened around the same time and were interrelated by virtue of the fact that Word, Excel and PowerPoint run on both Windows and Macs — the unquestioned business world, office suite standard for both computing platforms.

Number 2 is just a statement of clear cut dominance by Apple in the smartphone vertical segment.
What the world is waiting for now is a good old-fashioned heavyweight rubber match between Apple and Microsoft; well, it might not be waiting for it, but in the name of healthcare, it should be hoping for it.
Some would say this is not likely as neither is a company that competes so much as complements one another at this time.
Microsoft recently closed on its acquisition of LinkedIn. (I’m still waiting to see how that one turns out. LinkedIn has received somewhat of a facelift and makeover. It also doesn’t let me post the same material twice anymore on the social network for professionals going places, but I digress.)

The 800 lb. gorilla in the room is EMR

Healthcare delivery is set to simultaneously explode and implode. Baby boomers will stress an already overtaxed system ill-equipped to keep up accurately with present, modern-day demands.
What nobody is talking about is how difficult it will be to make advances in healthcare delivery with the overwhelming number of EMR choices available to private practices, medical groups and hospitals. This is because variation, whether in EMRs or office productivity suite choices, is surely the enemy of quality.
There are literally dozens of EMR choices and they are all being utilized to some degree. There are no clear cut favorites, either, regarding which, if any EMR, will win out as a standard in the end.
And the end of multiple EMR choices cannot come soon enough. In fact, an Obamacare replacement will be hindered by the lack of an EMR standard.
We’ll only get so far with the status quo.
Enter Microsoft and Apple wearing Everlast boxing gloves, just like the good old days, or not.
Healthcare is a multi-billion dollar industry and all too plentiful EMR choices are thwarting efforts at cost containment, redundancy elimination and advancements for real progress in medical procedure, pharmaceutical and surgical development, not to mention actual delivery of high-quality patient healthcare.
One argument against Apple ever competing in this space is they no longer serve the enterprise except in ancillary or augmentative capacities. An argument against Microsoft throwing their hat in this ring is that creating an EMR standard — and all it entails — is just too complex and costly a venture to enter into at this late stage of the game.
The final piece of this heavyweight tilt may just be the unexpected. That is, the fight for EMR supremacy between Apple and Microsoft might never come to pass because they end up actually partnering to achieve a mutually beneficial solution in the EMR space.

How can this be?

Apple already promotes Apple Watch heavily as a fitness device. Accordingly, it feeds data into systems which mine, filter and regurgitate this info to consumers and healthcare practitioners in a variety of ways — all in the name of promoting healthy and active lifestyles.
Could Apple continue to play the consumer card it is known for and Microsoft be relied upon to do the heavy lifting on developing an EMR standard of its own?
I think there is room for the possibility of both. For Microsoft to succeed in its part, however, it’d have to incorporate advanced OCR, handwriting analysis and dictation capabilities into its product.
Finally, EMRs would have to network easily and effectively with hospital-based equivalents and the very data-feeding consumers that Apple would serve in this scenario.
It could happen. It should happen. I dare it to happen.

Ubuntu Mate, Windows 10 and macOS Sierra: A marriage of 3 OSs

I gave myself a little gift recently and revisited Ubuntu Mate by virtue of a transplanted hard disk.
In my case, Mate was a gift that was giving and giving until it wasn’t.
When the eMachines T6528 went belly up due to leaky logic board capacitors, I parted this tank of a tower out, half-heartedly vowing to get back to this low-footprint Linux distribution as soon as I could.
Fast forward several months and with some precious free time on my hands, I was finally able to make good on the promise.
When I removed the hard drives inside the eMachines PC I placed the larger one in a spare Rosewill external USB enclosure I had lying around. I tried to boot from the PC I had hooked it up to at the time with limited success; the Mate desktop came up but with only 1025 x 768 resolution. It pretty much looked not ready for primetime and so I took out a cease and desist order regarding any further investigation.
Windows 10 is the OS that drives all my main production machines. When I’m blogging, I still like the familiarity of the old Power Mac G4 running  Mac OS X Leopard that sleeps until I wake it. But, while it still does everything it always has, Windows 10 pretty much can’t be beat for an all-around operating system that’ll handle anything you throw at it.

Mac user loyalties tested

I have customers with Macs running OS X El Capitan and not macOS Sierra. Every upgrade of a Mac operating system requires more RAM. The last iMac I serviced was a late 2009 model, whose 1 TB Seagate hard disk had failed. I installed a 6 TB Western Digital replacement.
I recommended more memory in case the customer was interested in eventually upgrading to Sierra. While hard disk replacement in a late 2009 model iMac is moderately difficult, memory upgrades are easy. I maxed out the machine from 8 GB to 16.

But, last time I checked, Apple has hardly any new Macs on which to run its latest OS. And even the most loyal of Mac users are currently scratching their heads at Apple’s indifference towards Macs. I think the words, “the thrill is gone,” pretty much sums up what Apple leadership and even many Mac loyalists think about Macs, the memory-guzzling macOS Sierra and the dearth of new Macs available to fill the void.

Are your anti-virus definitions current?

While Macs have seemed to peak in terms of relevance, the thing that bothers me most about the rise-to-prominence Windows 10, is what has always bugged me about Microsoft’s OS: It requires malware and virus protection.
Any security software running, no matter how lightweight, steals performance. I do give Microsoft a lot of credit with how well a job it does with Windows 10 on older PCs. But, the fact a user needs to go to extra lengths to secure their machine running Windows has always been a turn off. The Mac by comparison shines with less concerns over security and malware, and more with Cupertino’s inability to bring new Macs to market.

Which brings us back to Ubuntu Mate. Why do geeks periodically return to the Linux fold in some shape, form or manner when Apple and Microsoft are around?

Linux an acquired taste?

The reason is because Microsoft and Apple are still around. Linux is a draw for a lot of reasons. Its market share is minuscule compared to its commercial brethren, but there is a simplicity and simultaneous complexity to it that those who dabble therein will never cease to enjoy.
Another reason that Linux is always worth a try is because many of us have older PCs around. And we just want to run a modern OS without any of the baggage Microsoft and Apple brings.
In my case the install of Ubuntu Mate was perfectly fine except for the display resolution issue. I understand it is not attractive for a novice to have to do some tinkering in order to fix things.
But, it’s the payoff of troubleshooting efficiently that also is appealing to Linux users. There is a sense of control that comes with running a Linux variant that Apple and Microsoft can never touch with their operating systems.
No significant malware concerns, no old machines left behind and no planned obsolescence with respect to security updates. Linux on the desktop is an underdog, probably always will be, but I personally am a fan of this underappreciated OS.
After writing a display resolution script, saving it to my home folder and setting it to run at start up, I’ve got a perfectly functioning, secure, modern OS, featuring up-to-date browsers and a Microsoft-compatible office productivity suite. Heck, it even runs MS Office via Wine. And it’s all working beautifully via the simplicity of an external hard disk enclosure cabled to the PC’s USB 2.0 port (the PC also features Windows 10 on its internal hard disk).
Blissful, peaceful OS co-existence.

Siri and Cortana on the desktop: Features or bugs to be squashed?

The words “personal digital assistant” bring to mind visions of Stepford Wives speaking in monotone unison, beckoning with waggling index fingers, to come hither and ask them anything.
And for Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, their siren’s song, while tempting, should be limited to mobile devices and avoided at all costs on the desktop.
Everyone looks like a schmuck talking into their tablet or phone. You look equally challenged talking into your desktop computer. It doesn’t mean you should do it.
Before the latest rash of Windows 10 updates from Microsoft, Cortana was effectively banished from all of my Win 10 computers including laptops with built-in microphones. After the latest updates, Cortana came back, begging, “Ask me anything.”
I don’t direct many verbal questions to my desktops, except when I’m displeased with some aspect of their performance. And whenever I need to know something, Google is always there (unless the power goes out).
Siri is not foisted upon us at default installation. If you want to enable it later, you can. That’s how personal digital assistants on the desktop should be: Don’t call me, I’ll call you. I’ll take it one step further and suggest personal digital assistants should be obscene and not heard.
I thought I broke up with Cortana. But after the latest Microsoft Win 10 updates, and much like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Cortana came roaring back to open up one more can of crazy on me.
Ask me anything

Well, ok, “Why did you come back, then, Cortana?”
Silence.
Oops, wait. No microphone and my speakers are off.
She can’t hear me. And I can’t hear her. I suppose if you have a personal digital assistant on your desktop, it’s not as bad if all they can do in terms of nagging irritants is to display words like, “Ask me anything.”
Personal digital assistants on desktop computers are the latest evidence of the challenges PC makers face in trying to stall diving sales of this fading hardware segment.
The marketing studies and research that persuaded Apple and Microsoft these features are good ideas will eventually go the way of the latest political polls that have Clinton leading one day, and the next, Trump winning by a landslide.
Marketing studies, like political polls, are just good fun on slow news days. So are surveys that are pushed out by email every time we make a purchase or call for customer service or tech support.
How was your experience today?
“If you can answer a few questions or write a review, it’ll help out our other customers.”
While the first survey solicitation you ever received might have been fun, each one that came afterwards wasn’t — the same as how it’ll be with questions you may ask Siri or Cortana on your desktop.
Personal digital assistants on desktop computers could signify that talking to ourselves is not so bad. Well, we’re actually not technically talking to ourselves; we’re talking to Siri and Cortana, so perhaps I should take that back.
What I’m not taking back is the further isolation, loneliness and deterioration of social skills that will result from using Siri, Cortana and the like on desktops for those of us fortunate enough to have use of our hands for keyboarding. And that’s not something I need to ask Siri or Cortana about, either.

OS X rebranding further marginalizes Mac

I’ve always loved the Mac.
Let me put that right out there. But Apple’s recent announcement that OS X has gone bye-bye in favor of “macOS” will do nothing for the Mac except accelerate its downward spiral as a fringe hardware product.
Even though operating systems are now free of charge across the board — Linux, OS X/macOS and Windows (for the time being), the “Big Three” share the complexity of numbering suffixes when it comes to their OS names.
These systems are mature. The addition of numbers to denote specific releases and updates is not only appropriate, but helps users better understand what OS they’re using.

No dumbing down required

There are too many different kinds of Macs and subsets of Macs available for purchase. Apple seeks a return to simplicity regarding all of its choices. macOS is part of their simplification strategy moving forward. On the surface it would appear to make sense. If we look beyond that, however, we might see how this strategy could muddy the waters for both would be and current Mac users.
OS X has been around since 2001. Everyone who has ever considered, or has, a Mac, recognizes OS X as the Mac’s operating system. I understand that Apple has watchOS, tvOS and iOS in place for their Apple Watch, Apple TV and iPhone, respectively. Attaching “OS” to the end of a product’s name (as an operating system naming convention), is anything but representative of a company serious about simplification.

A disorderly jumble

The Mac is not a gadget like the Apple Watch, Apple TV and iPhone. It is the product that put Apple on the map in the first place. Changing the name of an already entrenched operating system (with a rich history of innovation) is consistent with Apple distancing itself from the Mac altogether.
Apple has operating system names for all of its products and that’s disconcerting. Their habit of throwing “OS” at the end of the name of gadgets they manufacture is not even practiced consistently. If it was, in addition to macOS, watchOS and tvOS, you’d still have iPhone OS, but instead, Apple saw fit to change the name of iPhone OS to iOS upon the introduction of the iPad. iOS is also the name of the OS for the iPod Touch. Perhaps Apple should drop the “i” from iMac as to avoid questions from Mac newbies as to why the iMac doesn’t run iOS (instead of OSX, I mean, macOS). But iOS is only for Apple mobile devices that just so happen to begin with ‘i”, iThink.

Everyone talks about innovation being what Apple is lacking these days. They’re in search of the next killer product. I understand they have a car (iCar?) in development, but this won’t require consumers to know something like “carOS” — or will it?
What about wearables and their OS naming possibilities? You already have watchOS for Apple Watch. Could “necklaceOS” be far off? What about “earringOS?” “sockOS” anyone?

The Mac deserves better

This is all anything but simple and completely juvenile wrapped up in one. Accordingly, I would suggest that an individual “whateverOS” name for every product Apple has is more simpleton chic than elegant simplicity.
It is embarrassing for the Mac to be lumped in with this lot. It deserves more respect than that.
OS X is no more confusing than Windows 10. Redmond hasn’t changed the name of its flagship operating system to microsoftOS. It’s Windows 10 and I think it’s no coincidence it is the numerical equivalent of OS X. Microsoft was due to attach the number 9 to its Windows operating system, but wisely bypassed this increment.
Ten connotes perfection. Bo Derek wasn’t a 9. Neither is the Mac. But macOS is an appropriate name for an operating system on a once iconic personal computer Apple would prefer fades away.

Apple should deliver 'Sphonatch' as greatest-selling, most amazing thing ever

English: Bharata Asks for Rama's Footwear

English: Bharata Asks for Rama’s Footwear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I think Apple missed the boat with the Apple Watch, iWatch or whatever it’s called. Hey, Apple fans, seriously, I know it’s called Apple Watch, but I find it ironic that a company who debuted the demise of the watch with the release of the iPhone many moons ago, is now touting the formerly obsolete technology as no longer so. In fact, they want Apple Watch to be known as a smart watch, implying traditional watches are dumb.
The only thing that’s dumb in this case is Apple’s unwillingness to truly innovate. Recycling the traditional timepiece into a modern day computer is not such a brilliant idea. We are to believe that watches are again fashionable and cool because Apple mandates them to be.
Dick Tracy was the original smart watch user. The Apple Watch is neither original nor smart. I would suggest Dick Tracy would not line up for the Apple Watch once available. In fact, he’d much prefer a Shoe Phone like Don Adams as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, had in the popular 60s sitcom, Get Smart.
I only say this half-jokingly. The jokingly part is that Dick Tracy was a comic book character, so he’s not a real person; he starred in funny books. He used his smart phone, I mean, swatch, err, watch, to communicate and do all manner of things (I can’t remember a lot of them to tell you the truth).
Fast forward to modern times and Dick Tracy could be considered part of the inspiration for the Apple Watch. I so far resist the temptation to leave out the “the” in front of Apple Watch as “Apple Watch” without the “the” in front of it seems presumptuous—Apple Watch, the watch formerly known as “The” Apple Watch.
The serious part of Apple Watch (I know, I dropped the “the,” but it’s a new paragraph), is that a smaller computer attached to our wrists might be just the thing some of us need. But I can’t stop thinking that a Shoe Phone doubling as a time piece and computer with lots of other apps, is a much better form factor.
The smart shoe phone watch or whatever you’d like to call it (sphonatch, anyone?) would have the one killer feature that Apple Watch will not have: built in foot massage. Subsequent versions could have reflexology, too, but I digress.
This image shows a series of footwear impressi...

This image shows a series of footwear impressions / shoeprints recovered from a crime scene. (From Top to bottom) 1- Footwear impressions found at a crime scene. 2- Test footwear impressions made a suspect’s footwear. 3- Photo of the outsoles of footwear recovered from a suspect. 4- Photo of the suspect’s footwear. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Think about it. Watch bands cut off your circulation eventually. They aren’t the most comfortable things to have wrapped around your wrist, especially if you suffer from carpal tunnel. But in fairness to some of the advantages of the Apple Watch feature set, it was reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the tracking ability (via Bluetooth signals) of this computer/time piece as users walk around.
This is going to be great for joggers who decide to leave for a run without telling their significant others. This is pretty nice technology. But now I’m thinking the sphonatch could have similar tracking features, too, and in the better overall form factor as mentioned above that includes built-in foot massage.
The sphonatch would be able to massage the feet of its runner but I envision in a version 1.0 of the device that it’d only be able to work on one foot at a time. In order to get the full massage effect you’d have to buy a left and right sphonatch. But let’s say you had rolled an ankle recently, you’d only need the support and comfort of one sphonatch on the bad ankle.
Shoes are much more of a fashionista’s go to accessory, too. If marketing departments in mobile technology companies around the world were to truly give it some thought, they would see that sphonatches could be the new Crocs, only better—with the computer, watch, phone and everything else built in—kind of like an iMac for feet.
In the summertime you could have the comfort of sphonatch sandals, too. Sure, it might look a little weird to see someone holding a sandal up to their ear as they speak, but that kind of weird isn’t necessarily a show stopper. If everyone is holding a sphonatch sandal to their ears in the summer time as they sit on park benches, who is the stupid-looking one here? The ones who don’t buy the sphonatches, that’s who.
The display of the sphonatch could be on the shoe top, too. It definitely won’t be gorilla glass, but it’ll be some kind of bendy, see-through fabric that resists stains from almost-empty cups of Coca-Cola that are thrown down at patrons’ feet while they attend major sporting events. This material would be the Teflon of footwear—resisting all manner of stain, resin, ink and soot.
Thongs

Thongs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Could the sphonatch make devices like the iPhone obsolete one day like the original iPhone relegated the traditional watch to the chronometer scrap heap? It would only be a fitting twist of fate that timepieces make a complete comeback by way of our feet.
It’s not too late to scrap Apple Watch, Apple. Everyone has a flop every so often. I know you can afford one (a flop) and your market research says it won’t be. But do you really want to take the chance? Plus, think about offering a Sphonatch Flip-Flop model if you must have a flop. Can you say brilliant?
People will line up to buy sphonatches. Take me up on this. People will buy smart watch footwear they can use as mobile devices over anything worn around their wrists.
Trust me. And call me. I can help. Really.

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