Maccast 01.11.2014 - Show #473
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Mac Pro details emerging
V Still hard to come by
V There are apparently "floor model" in Apple's retail stores
* Retail store are reportedly not getting units to sell in store until March or April
* Directing customers online to order
* Can have your online order shipped to an Apple Store for pick-up
* Shipping estimates are for February in the US.
V They are screaming fast
* Also supposedly very quiet.
V Highly upgradeable
* OWC and iFixit tear downs
* Case slides off with a press of a button.
* RAM access is easy and replaceable.
V One screw to remove the SSD.
* SSD is on a connector on one of the FirePro cards
V CPU is upgradeable
* Not officially (and will likely be warranty voiding)
* LGA 2011 (Socket R) CPU socket
V OWC has already attached and benchmarked three Intel Xeons
* 6-core Intel® Xeon® E5-1660 V2 3.70GHz (USD ~$1,300.00)
* 8-core Intel® Xeon® E5-2667 V2 3.30GHz (USD ~$2,700.00 to $3,000.00)
* 10-core Intel® Xeon® E5-2690 V2 3.00GHz (USD ~2,200.00)
* Multi-core Geekbench score on the 10-core upgraded system came close to the 12 core version from Apple.
V Some cool tech and design
* The antenna system is gold plated and sits with the airport card inside the top of the cooling fan assembly.
* The Airport card looks like it's also easily replaceable.
* The port assembly (on the back of the power supply) is all contained in a single unit.
* Uses 68 percent less power than the previous Mac Pro. Uses 82 percent less packaging.
V Mac Pro can be mounted on it's side
* Interesting for server applications
* Do note to make sure it doesn't roll and to not mount them with the fan intake of one pointing at the fan outtake of another.
V The Year of Post PC?
* Tim Cook said it was coming and it looks like 2013-2014 is the cross over
* We've been seeing declining desktop and notebook sales for a while, but it looks more grim than ever.
V A report from the NPD Group took a look at US tablet and notebook channel sales for 2013
* And things looked pretty rosy for most devices, desktops, and tablets, except for Apple's desktops and notebooks.
* 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets were sold through U.S. commercial channels, a 25.4 percent increase over 2012 according to NPD
* Desktops were up 8.5 percent, notebooks 28.9 percent, and tablets 49 percent.'
* But the report also said that Apple's notebooks and desktops channel sales combined fell by 7 percent.
* The headline though came what they saw was huge growth for Android tablets and Google, combined selling 1.76 million up from just 400,000 last year.
* They said Chromebooks accounted for 21 percent of all notebook sales.
V Breaking things down by percentage of share
* Desktops 27.8%, down from 32.3%
* Windows Notebooks 34.1%, down from 42.9%
* Apple Notebooks 1.8%, down from 2.6%
* Chromebooks 9.6%, up from 0.2%
* iPads 15.8%, down from 17.1%, but still 59% of the volume in the tablet market.
* Android Tablets 8.7%, up from 4.2%
* Windows Tablets 2.2%, up from 0.8%
V But all did not smell right to our friend Ken Ray and he did the digging that others didn't
* The gist is you need to know the details behind the numbers
V Specifically the words, "Commercial Channel Sales"
* Commercial = sold to business
* Channel = sold through 3rd parties, i.e. not Apple direct sales.
* They also don't count made to order machines.
* So in seeing a trend in business buying the rise in Chrome books is still interesting, but in trying to compare Apple's share vs. others, it's really saying nothing.
* Apple has it's own direct to business sales and those machines and devices aren't counted din NPDs numbers. To be fair other PC and tablet manufactures also sell direct, but for Apple it's a much larger part of their business.
* The lesson is the same one we always talk about, never take any one of these blog posts on these analysts numbers on faith, do the digging and take the time to know and understand what your looking at (if you care about this crap).
V Despite any "share" numbers Apple still sells a lot of Macs
* Gartner said Apple's 4th quarter Macs sales are up 28.5 percent year over year in the US
* They also report that PCs saw a 7.5 percent sales drop for the same period.
V It's 2014, time for iPhone 6 rumors
V A rumor on the Chinese social network Weibo claims unnamed Foxconn executives said Apple would make a "one-time" exception and launch two different iPhone screen sizes with the iPhone 6. A 4.7 and 5.7 model.
* Sketchy source but does mirror reports from the Wall Street Journal, Apples is testing iPhone designs with screens up to 6 inches, and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple making a phone with a 4.5 to 5 inch display.
* Two different sizes seems unlikely to me unless the iPhone 6c and iPhone 6s are different sizes?
V Korea's ET News says the new phone will be just 6mm thick calling it an "iPhone Air".
* The piece also claims that the price of the iPhone 5s will go down $100 in May.
* Rumor of a curved display.
V Pegatron might get up to half the iPhone 6 production orders (source: Taiwan's Liberty Times)
* Some think the split in production is another indicator that there will be two models possibly in different sizes
V One thing you can be sure the iPhone 6 won't have is a retina scanner
* Something Samsung is reportedly looking into for it's Galaxy S5 model
* Just what I want to do, stick my phone camera up to my eye to unlock it.
V Next iPhone camera still 8MP
* The camera upgrades in the next iPhone might be, once again, in areas outside the number of pixels in the sensor
* Rumors that the “iPhone 6” will retain the existing 8-megapixel camera sensor used by the last two generations of iPhone
* Improvements could happen in the glass, image processing, and software
V Apple does have a patent application for improving the autofocus (AF) and adding optical image stabilization (OIS) to future iPhone cameras.
* Mention clicking lens, focus ring, again.
V Apple also reportedly acquired SnappyCam
* A one man crew App company that makes the SnappyCam app
* The app lets you take take full-resolution images at 20 to 30 frames per second (it's no longer available)
* The assumption is that the acquisition was to get the feature rolled into iOS and to get the talents of the developer on Apple's iOS team.
V "Pro" iPad for Fall?
* Trusting the supply chains sources, the ones Tim Cook himself warned analysts not to rely too much on, Evercore analyst Patrick Wang said his sources say there is a 12-inch iPad on the way this Fall
* Based on a quad-core A8 processor
* he expects it to be a "hybrid" device (I take that to mean something with a detachable keyboard) targeting the Enterprise
* He sees storage size and lack of an enterprise "Office" suit as a potential challenge.
V iStore sales ups and downs
V Digital Music sales declined for the first time since Apple launched iTunes in 2003
* According to Nielsen SoundScan, sales of digital tracks fell from 1.34 billion units in 2012 to 1.26 billion in 2013, a drop of 5.7%
* Album sales say a much small decline, just 0.1 percent.
* Surprised that the industry says the decline in sales is due to the rise in streaming services like Rdio and Spotify?
* Music execs seem to indicate that the streaming deals they cut will offset the loses in digital track sales.
V According to the Wall Street Journal the Digital Entertainment Group reports that digital movie sales are up 47% from 2012
* Subscription streaming was up around 32%
* On demand rentals up 6%
* Kisok rentals, physical disc sales, store rentals, and disc subscription rentals were all down.
V App Store had a record-breaking year, with customers spending over $10 billion on apps and subscriptions in 2013.
* $1 Billion of that ten billion was spent in December this year alone.
V The total revenue paid to developer is now at $15 billion
* January last year Apple had paid developers $7 billion
V iOS 7 beta 3 out to devs
* The update has a number of bug fixes and updates along with some significant UI changes.
* The phone dialer is particularly dramatic with the call and end call buttons becoming circular
* Slide to shut off and cancel buttons are now also circular
* Icons for the green "communications" Apple apps are lightly darkened, not as bright.
* The keyboard characters are slightly bolder, the background darker, and the shift and delete keys icons are white on a dark grey
* Music player shuffle and repeat buttons are darker red (a more defiance button border).
V In case your chopping at the bit for the update you might want to cool your jets or join the developer program.
* BGR's source seem to be telling them the beta still has lost of testing and bugs to squash. They don't expect 7.1 to reach consumers until sometime in March
* The adoption rate on iOS 7 has been astounding according to Apple's own numbers
* They say iOS 7 is stealing away share from 1% of iOS 6 devices a week now.
* They looked at data from the App Store over a 7-day period and say that iOS 7 devices account for 78%, up from 74% at the beginning of December.
* Just for comparison Cult of Mac mentions that only 1.1 percent of Android devices are currently running the latest version of their operating system, KitKat.
V Producing the rumored iWatch is hard
* Seems to make sense that making something that doesn't exist is tricky.
* There are at least a couple sources, including Digitimes, reporting that production issues are delaying Apple's "smartwatch"
V Issues with the finish
* Reportedly shut down "advanced prototyping" of the watch with an unspecified manufacturer in late 2013
* Quanta is reportedly Apple’s iWatch manufacturing partner.
V Loss of a key player on the project, Bryan James, Apple iPod software director, to Nest.
* In February last year Bloomberg claimed that Apple had at least a 100 person team working on the project
* We have also had indications that they have been aggressively hiring engineers and designers since then.
* Also many recent acquisitions by Apple would have applications in the "wearables" space.
V Display and battery issues are also cited as major hurdles in the project.
* Apple supposedly targeting a four or five day battery life between charges with just a 100mAh battery
* Rumor that the iWatch would have an OLED display.
* Even Samsung's CEO told Walt Mossberg's new outfit, Re/code, that smartwatches are hard.
V Halo in effect
* Roughly, two thirds of Windows PC owners now own an Apple product
* This is according to a Morgan Stanley Research estimate
* The report indicates that Apple's products have been rapidly adopted by Windows customers. In 2010, just 30% seemed to own an Apple product compared with 70% in this latest study.
* Unfortunately the pice doesn't break down which products or devices, but one might assume it's an iPod, iPhone, or iPad with a Mac or two sprinkled in for the Sliders.
V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V Using Reading List
* I have to admit that I am somewhat baffled by Apple's Reading List
* I often use it and forget I did.
* I prefer Pocket, or even Instapaper.
* Still it's a neat feature and built into Safari on your Mac and iOS devices.
V Adding an article (iOS)
* Tap the 'Share' icon
* Tap 'Add to reading List' (Steve Jobs glasses icon)
V Accessing an articles (iOS)
* Tap the 'Bookmarks' icon in the toolbar
* Tap on the Reading List tab (Steve Jobs glasses icon)
V Adding an article (Mac)
* On the toolbar click the Share icon > Add to Reading List or under Bookmarks > Add to Reading List (Command+Shift+D).
V Accessing an articles (Mac)
* Click the 'Bookmark" icon in the Bookmarks bar or under Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks
* In the Bookmarks sidebar click the Reading List Tab to view the items
* If you are using iCloud reading list will sync your items between all your devices.
* Reading List items are made available for reading offline
V Use 'Reader' feature in Safari to get a clean article only view of the content
* On the Mac click the blue 'Reader' button in the URL bar or under View > Reader (Command+Shift+R)
* On iOS 7, click the icon that looks like three lines to the left of the URL bar.
V Once you've read an item it will be automatically archived.
V On Mac Safari i don;t see any indicators to let you know what's read or not.
* If you right click you'll see a 'Mark as Unread' option
* You can clear items by hovering over them and clicking the close (X) icon.
V On iOS the read articles will disappear from the Reading List view
* Tap the 'Show all' option at the bottom to see archived items
* Swipe to the left across an item to access the 'Delete' option.
V Thunderbolt GPU upgrades
* Adrian is a Mac user and a gamer, as such the one limit that most Mac models are up against is a non-upgradeable GPU.
* There are now external Thunderbolt chassis that will add PCIe expansion slots to Macs, but can they be used to give an aging Mac system better gaming performance.
V There are now on the market expansion chassis like the Sonnets Echo Express line.
* The Echo Express Pro for example offers 2 16x full length PCIe slots and can fit a single double width card.
* Here's the thing, Sonnets doesn't position these as an option for expanding discrete graphics.
* It doesn't mean it's not possible, but there are some significant differences to doing this over Thunderbolt vs. natively plugging a PCIe card into your board.
V For one there is the number of channels supported over Thunderbolt
* A Thunderbolt controller consists of two bidirectional data channels, with each channel containing an input and an output lane.
* Thunderbolt chips on each end of a cable take in both DisplayPort 1.1a and a four-lane PCIe 2.0 bus.
* Each channel is independent, and can either carry DisplayPort or PCIe, but not both.
* Each direction in each channel has a theoretical maximum throughput of 10Gbps--the same as two PCIe 2.0 lanes. So if you use both channels, i.e. no display, then you would have the equivalent of four PCIe 2.0 lanes (i.e. a 4x card slot).
V But it your Mac only has a single Thunderbolt port you'll need to devote one channel to Display Port, so you're at 2x. That's still 10G/bps bi-directional per channel (theoretical max).
* We've seen benchmark in the 800-950 MB/s range so you can get pretty close to Thunderbolt's theoretical maximums.
* So you can see that if you plug a 16x PCIe expansion card into a slot in a chassis and connect over Thunderbolt you're at best getting 4x PCIe performance to the motherboard.
* Thunderbolt 2.0 will basically put 4 PCIe lanes on a single channel, so you would have double the performance with Thunderbolt 2.0.
V Does it matter?
* It likely depends on where you're starting and even then probably very little from what I have read.
* If you are running a Macbook Air with Intel HD 3000 graphics, then heck yeah.
V Tom's hardware did some testing with AMD Radeon HD 6970 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 cards plugged into the Sonnets expansion chassis.
* The compared the thunderbolt connected vs. native performance
* The Thunderbolt benchmarks came in about 10-20% lower than the natively connected cards.
* But compared to the native performance of the Macbook Airs integrated graphics there was a 13x increase. Basically being able to run games like Battlefield 3 and Warcraft at high levels with frame rates of 40-50 fps vs. the 4-8 of the native GPU.
* They did note that the limited Thunderbolt bandwidth somewhat levels the playing filed between high end and mid-range GPU cards, so spending more on a higher end card might not yield as great a benefit when adding it in an expansion chassis vs. natively.
* You you have a MacPro with the dual Fire Pro cards it might not be as great a boost, at least for now. Year down the road, who knows.
* The other thing you'll need to sort out is compatibility, drivers, etc. Even if you get the chassis and card making it all work with your favorite games may still be some work.
V Apple TV tips and tricks from Reddit
* There is a big thread on Readdit where folks are sharing Apple TV tips and tricks
V Here are some of my favorite ones:
* Holding down the menu button will get you back to the main menu faster than clicking menu 100 times.
* Holding up during playback shows info about the video.
* Holding select during playback gives you options for Chapters, Subtitles, Audio, and Speakers.
* In Netflix, and maybe other apps, pressing play (instead of select) when on an item in the in the summary episode-list will play it directly.
V Press and hold the select button on the main screen to be able to move channels around
* Also in Settings > General > Restrictions you can hide channels
* Don;t have to turn on restrictions, just scroll down, select the channel and press select to toggle it from 'Show' to 'Hide'
* A few recommendations for iFlicks to clean up iTunes metadata. Will also re-transcode if needed. I've never personally used it.
* Press and hold play/pause on the main screen to put your Apple TV to sleep immediately
V Settings > Remote > Pair Remote
* Prevents the remote from working with other Macs that have IR ports
* Alternatively you could disable the IT Port on the Mac. System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Click 'Advanced…' and check the 'Disable remote control infrared receiver'.
V Using Apple's Wi-Fi Diagnostics
* This was a really cool video tip from Steve Sande over at TUAW.
* Hold down the Option Key and click the Wireless icon in your menu bar.
* At the bottom of the drop-down select 'Open Wireless Diagnostics…'
* Enter your admin username and password.
V Once you've done that a wizard will pop up
* You can run through that to just check your network
* After it finished you'll get some options. Monitor my Wi-fi or Continue to Summary
* The Summary will generate a massive Gzip with all kinds of wireless logs and connection data.
V When you get the "Wizard" ignore that and go under the Window menu and choose 'Utilities'
* There are a bunch of tabs here, look like for data collection and logging mostly.
* The Wi-Fi Scan tab gets interesting. You can click "Scan Now" to see data on wi-fi networks near you and get data on them. The one your on will appear in bold.
* The 'Performance' tab has a couple active graphs showing Signal to Noise ratio and signal strength for the network you're connected to.
* The Info tab has all kinds of data about the wi-fi you're connected to including which band you're on (2.4 or 5GHz) and recommended channels in the band. These you could use to manually tweak your Airport settings.
V App Store updates after I update
* Larry wrote with a question I get asked about a lot.
* I've updated my Apps in the Mac App stores Updates tab, but the next time I go in it says I have updates for the apps I just updated.
* Sometimes if you wait a few days the updates just go away on their own. What gives?
* There can be other issues, but the most common is that you are a victim of following my advice on backups.
* If you use an attached drive, Time Machine or a cloned drive, then you may have copies of your Apps on those drives.
* The Mac App Store uses the Spotlight index to know about the apps you have installed and to notify you on which ones need updating.
* So you update the Apps in your Apps folder, but the ones on your clone aren't updated until your next backup runs.
V For the fix you have two options
V Exclude the Applications folder on your back-up volume from Spotlight indexing
* This is actually a good idea because it also reduces the chance of seeing duplicate Apps in the "Open with…" menu.
* Go to System Preferences > Spotlight
* Click on the 'Privacy' tab
* Click the "+" button and select the folder or drive to exclude it from the index.
V The other option would be to not include your Applications folder in your backup
* this is really only viable if you have copies of all your apps someplace else and want to re-install all your apps when and if you need to re-build your system.
V Closing
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