Tagged: Mac & OS X

Uplet offers multi-account Instagram uploads from your Mac

Uplet 1.3 update
I reviewed Uplet early last year when version 1.0 was released and found it to be quite nice.

In short, Uplet allows you to upload your images to Instagram directly from your Mac. To my knowledge, this is the only Mac-based app that works with Instagram.

Eltima recently released Uplet 1.3 and addressed one of the concerns mentioned in my review. They’ve added the ability to upload videos to Instagram from your Mac! Drag. Drop. Done.

Along with video uploads, the latest version also adds the ability to work with multiple accounts. This is fantastic for Mac users who might manage multiple Instagram accounts for clients, etc. A single click beats logging-out and logging-back-in all day.

Priced at $20 it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth it if you upload a lot of images, work as a social media manager, or just plain hate pulling your phone out when you’re already sitting in front of your Mac.

Mac Websites Walk of Shame. Shame. Shame.

Ads-Trackers
I’ve been experiencing issues when I visit certain websites lately. Specifically, a few Mac-based sites like MacRumors, iMore, 9to5Mac and a few others. The problem is the sites load incredibly slow or fail to load completely—requiring me to reload the page two or more times. I’m running macOS Sierra and using Safari.

I switched to the Safari Technology Preview browser, and that helped a little bit, but not much. Pages still weren’t loading completely.

With all the discussion about privacy, tracking and ads on websites lately, which I mostly ignore because I know it’s out of my control for the most part, I found myself installing an ad blocker for the first time in a long time.

Ad BlockerRather than going with the most popular AdBlockers out there, I went with Ad Blocker from the Mac App Store. It’s a Safari Extension and a stand-alone app. One of the features of the app is a Website Inspector that runs a test to show you how long a page takes to load, the page size (in MB), number of Requests the site sends, number of ads, number of trackers and number of Social Media buttons & doodads it loads.

After installing Ad Blocker, I went to a variety of Mac-related websites I normally visit to compare it with my pre-ad blocker results.

My results were astonishing.

Without going into detail on each site, I’ve compiled a bunch of screenshots of the results below. Some sites are worse than others, but I think the results speak for themselves.

It’s also important to note that some of these sites load perfectly fine and appear in this list simply for context. Also, sites that subscribe to ad networks for their income often have no choice in the ads that appear and would love it if the Javascript-heavy, privacy-infringing, ad-tracking bloatware didn’t appear on their site… they just have no choice.

Ad trackers - macrumors

Ad trackers - cultofmac

Ad trackers - appleinsider

Ad trackers - bgr

Ad trackers - imore

Ad trackers - 9to5mac

Ad trackers - appleworld-today

Ad trackers - arstechnica-apple

Ad trackers - loop

Ad trackers - macdailynews

Ad trackers - macobserver

Ad trackers - macstories

Ad trackers - macsurfer

Ad trackers - osxdaily

Ad trackers - tidbits

As you can see, MacRumors was a major offender of ads and tracking, as was AppleInsider, BGR and iMore. The worst of them all, by far, was CultofMac with a whopping 349 ads and 43 trackers. Now keep in mind that what the software considers an ad or a tracker may not in fact be an offensive ad or tracker. If the site is a WordPress site, it has a tracker, and many sites offer aside items that show a list of popular articles on the site, etc., which typically show up as ads. But by-and-large, anything that shows up in the inspector’s results is something other than the content you went to the site to view.

For context, I ran the inspector on a few other sites. Apple’s homepage has no ads, no trackers, no social annoyances, and loads extremely fast. CNN and ESPN, two sites that are typically considered obnoxious by most users, are relatively tame in comparison to the Mac-related sites I tested (see results below).

Ad trackers - Apple

Ad trackers - CNN

Ad trackers - ESPN

The end result for me was that all the sites I was having issues with loaded significantly faster, and loaded completely the first time when running the Ad Blocker extension.

Sites like Daring Fireball (the clear winner and model website, in my opinion), Macintouch and SixColors manage to run their site profitably (I presume) without killing the end-user’s browsing experience (see results below). All three of those pages load virtually instantly and are a pleasure to read, with or without an ad blocker—which is why I whitelisted them in Ad Blocker.

Ad trackers - Daring Fireball

Ad trackers - Macintouch

Ad trackers - Six Colors

I want all of these sites to make money, it’s what keeps them offering up great content for free. But when it comes at the expense of the user experience, it’s self-defeating. If I don’t block the ads to make the site tolerable, I’m just not going to visit the site at all.

OS replacement for macOS and Windows

Elementary OS
Elementary is an open source OS based on Linux that runs on macOS and Windows, and costs as little or as much as you want. It looks VERY much like a colorful and playful version of macOS.

Elementary ships with all the basic apps, such as: browser, email, photos, calendar, text editor, terminal, music player and more. They also have an open source App Store.

Take a look at some screenshots below (click the image to imbiggify them).
Elementary OS - Browser
Elementary OS - Music
Elementary OS - Calendar
Elementary OS - File Manager

Elementary OS claims to be safe, secure, stable and collects no personal info. Nor does it display any ads. Their income is solely based on what users choose to pay. Interesting. For as little as a $1, I could see buying a copy to run on an older Mac that I’m not using anymore.

The best way to add the ports you need to the new MacBook Pro

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

OWC is accepting pre-orders for their Thunderbolt 3 Dock, due to ship in February, starting at $280 (depends on the length of the Thunderbolt cable you want included). The Dock is obviously in response to Apple’s latest MacBook Pro announcement I wrote about yesterday.

In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned some would have to spend upwards of $200 for dongles to gain the ports they found necessary. The OWC Dock is a bit more than that, but also gives you significantly more options than straight dongles from Apple.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
As you can see in the image above, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock includes plenty of ports. 5 USB 3 ports, Firewire 800, Ethernet, Display Port, audio-in and SD Card slot are included, along with two Thunderbolt ports capable of driving 4K displays. And the device is powered, so it can charge your iPhone.

OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in Space Gray or Silver, and cable length varies between .5 meter 40Gb/s transfer speed and 2 meter 20Gb/s.

When it comes to the Mac, Apple is making it reeeeeaaally hard to be a fanboy

MacBook Pro 2016

Apple recently released new MacBook Pro models with great hype. As someone who is in the market for a new Mac in the next year, I watched the keynote with a pretty good amount of excitement and anticipation.

At the conclusion of Apple’s keynote presentation, I found myself staring at the screen with a dazed and confused look on my face.

For years I’ve had a MacBook Pro for taking work on the road. I do light design and image retouching on it, as well as email, web browsing and writing. At the home office I use a top of the line iMac with 32GB of RAM, Core i7 processor and upgraded video card for the heavy lifting in Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my impending upgrade the last year or so, and decided that I could probably live with just one fully upgraded MBPro and buy an Apple Thunderbolt Display to use when I’m at home. This would save a lot of hassle with file syncing and twice the time spent upgrading and maintaining two computers.

But then Apple Event happened last week and I feel like I’m stuck in a place I don’t want to be. I absolutely love the macOS, but I’m left wondering how Apple and the rest of the world ended up so far apart on their definition of a Pro user.

The new MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar looks cool at first glance, and I can totally see how the average consumer might find it too cool to pass up. The problem for me (and by me, I mean most pros) is that anything found in the Touch Bar can be found in the menus—and probably has a keyboard shortcut associated with it. If it does, I probably know it and use it regularly. So I look at that fancy colorful Touch Bar, shrug my shoulder and… pfffft!

But that’s just one feature, right? Then I look under the hood and find more pfffft! than I think I can chew. A limit of 16GB of RAM. How do they call a Mac a “Pro” computer when you limit it to 16GB of RAM? The reason, according to Apple’s Phil Shiller, is that they wanted to keep the power-consumption down to preserve batterly life.

It’s a PRO computer. Most pro users sit at a desk most of the day, with the MBPro plugged in. Don’t even get me started on the comparatively low-end video card Apple chose to include. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not a pro-level video card. Period.

MacBook Pro 2016 ports
The ports… that’s a big issue. Look, I get that technology moves forward. I never complained when Apple chose to switch to Lightning ports on the iPhone. But that’s mostly because I don’t have to plug anything into my iPhone other than the charger. My Mac is another thing completely. Not only do I plug my USB-A iPhone into it, but my USB-A microphone, USB-A DSLR camera cable, USB-A Bluetooth headphones (for charging) and multiple USB-A storage drives. With the new MBPro, some users will spend up to $200 on dongles to connect existing devices to the new MBPro. That’s just crazy.

LG Ultrafine DisplayApple no longer makes stand-alone displays, opting instead to work with LG to produce a fully compatible 5K display that has an iSight camera, plenty of ports and gorgeous image quality. The price is better than Apple’s former offering, too. So there’s really no problem there, other than the problem of perception.

But the big white elephant in the room is that rumor sites claim that Apple will be updating the MacBook Pro next year with faster processors, RAM upgradeable to 32GB, better video cards, battery-efficient OLED screens and more. Of course, some of those rumors don’t match up with reality. So who knows what to believe.

I’m not sure what to make of the current MacBook Pro, or the rumors that Apple is already working on the device pro users wanted. I get that Intel is to blame for the low-power processors and the effect it has on Apple to provide more RAM and video cards, but then why even release the laptop upgrade? Why not just wait a few more months and release the better device when it’s ready?

It makes me wonder what the next iMac or Mac Pro will be, or even IF they will be. What I know for sure is that my plan to go with a single Mac, the MacBook Pro, are on hold until next year… and even then I may have to alter those plans depending on what Apple does.

I used to be a pure Apple fanboy, but that description is no longer valid—at least not in the year 2016.

FINALLY: macOS Sierra offers Folders On Top to Finder’s list view

macOS Sierra Folders on Top
I can’t say definitively this wasn’t in El Capitan (because I have no machines running it anymore), but I noticed that in macOS Sierra, we finally have a Keep Folders on Top in List View option built-in to the system. You can find the feature in the Finder Preferences (When on the desktop, hit Command + ,)

No more SIMBL app hacks required!

Is Apple’s design style going down hill?

Mac icon evolution
Ultimately, only you can answer that. Apple has chosen a direction with the Mac’s GUI that is quite a departure from even the recent past. Lots of people love it, and lots of people don’t like it at all. I find myself somewhere in the middle.

When I look at the icons above individually, I like all the new ones. But collectively, when compared to the old ones, they don’t work as well. First off, Apple has chosen to go decidedly whiter with their icons. In a crowded Dock, they all sort of blend together. None of them are easily recognizable at a quick glance. Second, some of them make no sense. Take the new Photos app icon—what in the heck do a bunch of color blobs represent? The old iPhoto icon was clear in what it represented.

But it doesn’t stop with icons. The entire GUI has gotten lighter, more “blended in,” and sometimes confusing. Overall, I still love the Mac’s interface. Lately though, I’m finding more and more “little things” that really bug me.

Nicholas Windsor Howard has a great two-part article about the subject (complete with plenty of screenshots) that’s worth the read. Part one can be found here, and part-two here. Take a look and see if you agree with his opinions.

How to speed-up Time Machine backups

Time Machine
Time Machine, Apple’s built-in file backup and recovery tool, is awesome… eventually. I say that because it’s sloooooowww. You can quickly speed-up Time Machine’s backup process by typing the following in the Terminal:
sudo sysctl debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0

Type in your password and hit return and you’re good-to-go.

Unfortunately, this trick won’t hold through a restart. To do that, you can follow Mac Kung Fu‘s advice on how to permanently speed-up Time Machine.

Uplet brings Instagram uploads to the Mac

UpsetI have a love/hate relationship with social media services and apps. There’s something about every one of them that I dislike. In the case of Instagram, the limitation of only being able to upload images via the smartphone app has always driven me crazy. Why Instagram doesn’t at least offer a web upload option is beyond me. I was at the point where I found myself using Instagram less and less when the folks at Eltima offered me the opportunity to try Uplet—their new app that allows you to upload images to Instagram right from your Mac.

Uplet helps you share multiple photos with one click, while keeping their resolution and quality. There are multiple advantages to using Uplet on your Mac vs. the official Instagram app on your smartphone. For starters, I find it much easier to find the pictures I want to upload using OS X’s Photos app than the iPhone counterpart. Second, I can type photo captions much faster on my Mac’s keyboard than I can even on my iPhone 6s Plus. And finally, while the Instagram app on my phone can only upload one photo at a time, Uplet allows you to upload as many images as you wish, all with one click (see warning at the end of this article).

Pros:

Using Uplet is simple. You drag one or more images into the main window (or click the + button and add them via a standard dialog box. Once the image(s) display in the window, you click the Add Caption icon.

Upset app
The window switches to edit mode where you type in your photo caption, clicking on the navigation arrows to move between images. It’s also where you can crop your images before uploading. You do this simply by dragging the image around to move it left, right, up or down. Clicking the double arrows in the lower left corner reduces the image to fit in the window, or enlarging it.

Uplet Instagram uploader
When you’re finished cropping and adding captions you click the Share All button and you’re done. The images upload and post to Instagram fairly quickly, depending on the size and resolution of your images.

Cons:

There’s only one thing about Uplet that I don’t like, it’s the way cropping works. It’s extremely limiting. If you have a tall image, Uplet sets the full width of the image leaving your only option to move the image up or down to crop. If your image is wide, Uplet sets the full height and you can only slide it side to side. You can’t zoom in to crop a specific area of an image the way you can in the Instagram app (or any other image editor).

Unfortunately, Uplet doesn’t currently support uploading of videos, nor can you apply native Instagram filters to your images. But Eltima states that they are working on adding both to the app. Disappointing to be sure, but this is a 1.0 release.

Warning:

Uplet is not sanctioned by Instagram, which doesn’t allow bulk uploading, let alone directly from your Mac. Uplet doesn’t use the official Instagram API. There’s a lengthy explanation and warning on the Eltima site to explain how Upset works and what you can do to avoid being banned by Instagram.

The gist of it is this: Instagram allows you to upload only 100 photos in a 24-hour period. Don’t push your luck. Only upload unique photos, and make sure your captions aren’t strictly a copy/paste—each one should be unique as well. Also, you should only use the app on one Mac, and not while you’re also using it on your phone.

It all sounds scary, but when you think about, it’s all common sense.

Final thoughts:

If you want to upload a lot of existing photos from your Mac to Instagram, Uplet is a bargain at only $4.99.

I’ve been using Uplet for a few weeks with no issues, and found it a pleasure to use. I’m looking forward to future versions with filters added on.