Tagged: Mac & OS X

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.

Get your OS X 10.11.4 Combo & Delta updaters here

El Capitan Update

If you’re ready to update to the latest El Capitan release, but hate amount of time it takes to download via the Mac App Store—and the fact that you don’t have an installer left behind to use on other Macs—then what you want are one of these two installers from Apple.

Combo Update: Updates any version of El Capitan, including the recent betas. I find this the most useful DMG to keep around.
Delta Update: Will only update El Capitan version 10.11.3 or the recent 10.11.4 betas. This will be the quickest download (though not by much).

Apple Watch screensaver for OS X

Apple Watch screensaver

If you like having new screensaver on your Mac, grab this Apple Watch screensaver from Rasmus Nielsen. With 5 different watch faces and 15 color combinations to choose from, it’s Retina-ready, free and looks beautiful. You can download it here.

Weather in the Mac’s menubar: Welcome back, old friend

Years ago I used to have an app that showed the weather in my designated cities in the menubar. It wasn’t overloaded with features, it was free, and it worked great. Then it stopped working, and users gave up waiting for updates.

Years went by without a peep from the developer, until…

Meteorologist
Meteorologist has finally been updated to work with Yosemite and El Capitan. Completely re-written in Swift, the new version looks the same, but works much better.

I like that I can get a snapshot of the weather where I live, where I work, and a number of other cities with a click of an icon in the menubar—without all the data-sucking maps and doc-dads of other weather apps. If you’re looking for a weather app, I encourage you to give it a try.

The Apple Mac App Store sucks: Reason #237

Mac App Store fail

It seems like every time I have to update an Apple application on my Mac (not an OS update) using the Mac App Store, I experience obnoxiously slow download speeds, and a plethora of update issues. The screenshot above shows off what happens almost every time I update iMove (it happens with Pages & Numbers as well, though not Keynote).

The fact that I’ve already endured a painfully slow download of a 2GB+ update to iMovie 10.1.1, and am able to launch the app and use it doesn’t seem to bother the App Store app. It continues to tell me that I have an iMovie update. It continues to try to download the 2GB+ iMovie update. It continues to suck donkey balls.

I’ve tried all manner of fixes, but the Mac App Store app just insists on sucking donkey balls.

What doesn’t fix it:
• Restart Mac App Store app
• Log out/in from App Store Account
• Log out/in from iCloud
• Log out/in from Mac
• Restart Mac
• Deleting all .plist files with the word ‘store’ in them

What does fix it:
• Re-downloading the giant and slow-downloading ‘update’ of iMovie

So to summarize… the Mac App Store sucks donkey balls. Phil Schiller (recently placed in charge of the Mac App Store at Apple) has his work cut out for him.

Can you really replace Mac OS X’s Finder?

Commander OneWhen I decided to take a look at Commander One, I did so with the expectation that I was going to be looking at something that was equal to or better than apps I was already familiar with and/or used on a regular basis—such as XtraFinder, Path Finder, Transmit, etc.. After looking at the feature list of Commander One, I immediately wondered if it could possibly deliver on the promises it made.

Commander One is what you would call a Finder Enhancement app. It simply recreates Finder windows and adds a multitude of tweaks and features to them. This is nothing new; XtraFinder does this to some extent, and and Path Finder have done these things for years. But Commander One promises to offer Path Finder-level features, plus a built-in FTP manager, at an affordable price through the Mac App Store—where you have the luxury of installing it on five Macs at a time. (more…)