Tag: Apple

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Last Millennium Computing

Every day is a surprise when walking San Diego alleys. Perhaps you remember the art gallery, big face clockfamily roomrustic mirror, rusty typewriter, Seventies stove, snowboarding boots, Victorian-style sofa, or Vitamaster Slendercycle, among many odd items left for scavengers. But today’s sighting flushed up memories. I owned one of these.

Apple released the PowerMac G3 (Blue and White) in 1999, which makes it oh-so last Century. Among the innovations: The side opened out, revealing the innards and opportunity to make modest upgrades (hey, emphasis modest because proprietary is the company’s calling card). In the Featured Image, and companion, the blue circle above the Apple logo is the release latch.

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16.2-inch MacBook Pro is a Tank

From writing-technology past—yesterday’s post about the discarded L.C. Smith typewriter—we go to the present-future: The 16.2-inch MacBook Pro that replaces my 23-month-old 16-inch MBP. Apple announced the new laptop, and its 14.2-inch sibling, on Oct. 18, 2021 and started taking orders for October 26 availability. I considered a customized configuration for the smaller model but couldn’t decide based on the information available—particularly considering my current computer’s beefy specs: 2.3GHz Core i9 processor; 32GB RAM; 8GB AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics; 1TB SSD. As my indecisiveness increased, so did the ship times for any new MacBook Pro. As they slipped into late November and early December, I abandoned the idea.

But I clung to interest in the new models because of the M1 chip, for which my experience already was quite positive from using 11-inch iPad Pro and buying my wife the newer 13.3-inch MBP. Apple offered generous trade-in for my late-2019 MacBook Pro, while supply chain constraints, rising prices, and burgeoning inflation made case for upgrading earlier than previously planned and future-proofing my investment. So I decided, after long consideration: On the 26th, if local Apple Store stocked the larger laptop, I would make the purchase. If not, I would keep the 16-incher for another year.

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Beats Me Why the Price Increased

Around the same day that I ordered iPhone 13 Proone for my wife and another for me—my sister called and the audio quality was crystal clear. For months she struggled to find a satisfactory Bluetooth headset, with little luck. She tried a different approach: Look on Apple Store, from which she bought Beats Flex for $49.99. Sis spends lots of time on the phone, computer, and video chats; she does software support for a non-profit. Outgoing audio quality matters. People need to hear her clearly.

I had already planned to buy something. While I carry my smartphones bareback, calling no longer would be device to ear starting with the 13 Pro. I can’t imagine that holding a 5G radio to my head is healthy behavior. My sister and I typically walk and talk during her hour lunch break; that’s too long 5G proximity to my brain. If the Beats Flex worked so well for her, surely they could for me. So on Sept. 22, 2021, I ordered a set from Apple Store and picked them up the next day from the Fashion Valley location.

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His and Hers

Not so long ago, I swapped smartphones every few months. Various models and underlying platforms from different manufacturers demanded testing and review. But the pace of innovation has slowed, the overall market reached the “good enough” threshold, and I don’t write about tech on a daily basis. Hence, my wife and I have each carried iPhone XS since June 2019. That is until today, when we migrated to the 13 Pro.

The Featured Image is, appropriately, the last photo I will ever shoot with the XS. The 1TB Silver on the left is mine; the 512GB Sierra Blue on the right is Annie’s. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/122 sec, 26mm; 1:02 p.m. PDT.

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I Don’t Miss Apple Watch

This evening, I turned on Apple Watch Series 5 for the purpose of making the Featured Image—captured using Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 800, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:22 p.m. PDT. I hadn’t touched the gadget since putting it in a drawer after taking it off for the last time, on May 31, 2021. The next day, I returned to wearing a mechanical watch—mainly the Luminox Automatic Sport Timer 0921.

I thought that perhaps I might miss the thing, but three months later not the least. Putting aside Apple Watch is a liberating experience. The device constantly distracts, which disrupts short-term memory. Still relevant enough, 11 years later, my missive “Internet Attention Deficit Disorder” is worth a look, on the topic of distraction. Even better, consider book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Just my luck: I bought a digital edition in June 2010; the book was revised last year; and a free update isn’t available.

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The Last Days of Apple Watch

Today I put aside the Apple Watch Series 5 (cellular) purchased in September 2019. I long considered taking such action but hesitated, knowing that if (or when) wearing stopped there would be an unrecoverable break in the activity tracked and logged in the Fitness app. Criminally egotistical as it may be, I relished the consistent achievement of my exercise, calorie, and movement goals. That’s the problem: the smartwatch provided little other meaningful benefits, and I long ago adopted a daily routine that needed no tracking to maintain.

I realized that the wrist computer had come to give me a little dopamine kick—or something like it—that obsessed Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok users get from checking their posts for comments, likes, and other reactions. A glance would reveal my pulse, which typically is in the low fifties when I’m not active; that made me feel good. Then there was Pavlovian-like preoccupation with starting (and ending) activities like walking in the Fitness app. What’s the outside air temperature? Twist the wrist. Who sent that text message? Twist again. “What are my active calories?” Twist and tap.

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Say Hello to My iPad Pro M1

The month ends with a new tablet—11-inch iPad Pro M1, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage, WiFi + cellular—purchased yesterday online, picked up today at Apple Store. I chose the silver variant simply because it was in stock. My wife inherits the previous generation model—same screen size, storage, and wireless—that I acquired nearly 14 months ago. That one replaces her 9.7-inch iPad Pro (256GB WiFi) released in 2016 and bought in November of that year.

Given my concerns about the economy, inflation, and supply chain problems, the Wilcox household is upgrading computing hardware a little sooner than would be typical; Apple’s new M1 chip makes the timing marginally good for future-proofing.

For Annie’s birthday, last week I replaced her 2018 model MacBook Air with the 2021-release 13.3-inch MacBook Pro M1 (16GB RAM, 1TB SSD). The laptop is more powerful than she needs, but we could share in a pinch and I expect the loaded config to retain higher resale value should we want, or need, to sell before the next expected upgrade—when the AppleCare+ warranty expires in three years.

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Where Will Apple Store Go Next?

I should write a long missive about Apple Store’s 20th anniversary. But my essay from five years ago today serves up the core information. Please read that one for my reflection on the grand opening and what then CEO Steve Jobs meant the retail operation to be and what it actually became.

More significant than being a singular event, Apple Store’s opening represented one of four risks taken in 2001 by the fruit-logo company during a devastating recession. While competitors massively pulled back, such as Gateway shuttering stores, Apple made investments that culminated in release of the first iPhone six years later. Besides retail: iTunes (January); Mac OS X (March); iPod (October). From them evolved the logistics and manufacturing infrastructure, research and development, sales, services, and software that culminated in the smartphone that transformed Apple from a struggling PC company into a tech titan.

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A Remembrance for Mac OS X’s Big Birthday

Where did the years go? Today marks the 20th anniversary for the release of Mac OS X. In March 2001, as a staff writer for CNET News, I lambasted Apple for shipping the operating system without support for existing hardware—CD-R and DVD drives, mainly. Unfortunately, with my byline stripped from stories and broken links caused by content-management system updates, I can’t find the original article. I came up empty on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, too. But I’ve got reader emails, and my responses, from the days before on-site commenting.

But before we go there: OS X’s big birthday is the second of four that are profoundly important to Apple this year. We start with iTunes, which the company released in January 2001. Third is opening of the first Apple Store in May, followed by the original “Classic” iPod in October. In Feb. 3, 2011 analysis “Apple’s Gang of Four“, I explain why all are together foundational for the company’s later success—particularly with launch of iPhone on June 29, 2007.

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Damn, Discontinued

Four days ago, Apple unceremoniously terminated the full-size HomePod. The life-support plug is pulled, the product is flat-lined, and the lower-cost mini model is the replacement. We bought our first HomePod, white, in February 2018. The Featured Image is from Google Pixel 2 XL, captured on June 23 of that year. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 246, 1/40 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 3:37 p.m. PDT.

During an argument, my daughter’s then-boyfriend plopped her HomePod into a pot of water soaking in the kitchen sink. I know, I know. She inherited ours, and this one is the AppleCare-warranty replacement. However, the other one mysteriously stopped working, and I gave her the parent’s unit (isn’t there some Woke prohibition against using Mom and Dad). We later bought two more HomePods, in grey, and regret the day. We don’t subscribe to Apple Music, and Siri seriously needs to spend more time in Artificial Intelligence school—although she’s not as remedial three years later.

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Everything You Need to Know About Facebook in One Popup

On Feb. 23, 2021, a news story from BBC Online about an explosion following the collision of a freight train and 18-wheeler riveted my attention. An early version of the report offered video footage embedded from Facebook (additional media is available in the linked version that you can click). I tapped the play icon on my tablet, which got the video going but also an overlaying message requesting permission for the social network “to use cookies and website data while browsing BBC.com”. Hell no, FB CEO Mark Zuckberg’s zombie-bots aren’t allowed to track my activity. Give blanket permission for all the Beeb? Eh, no.

Dirty bird! Pressing “Don’t Allow” stopped the video playing. Not once, but every time—and I confirmed the behavior on my laptop browser today. If you think the Internet is free, I got some swamp land in Florida to sell you right now. I don’t own it and you wouldn’t want it, but if you’re gullible enough to think social networks and other content-rich sites give you something free without taking something more, let’s you and I make a swamp deal. You are tracked, your browsing behavior is catalogued, and advertisements are targeted based on your online activities. That’s the Facebook Way.