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by Tom Nelson

Weekly Mac news roundup for the week of August 22, 2014.

HealthKit

Image courtesy of Apple

HealthKit initiative, iWork and iMovie updates, iPhone 6 display issues causing manufacturing holdups, and Yosemite Beta and Developer Preview updates.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Following on the heels of the sixth release of OS X Yosemite Developer Preview, Apple has updated the public beta version of Yosemite to Beta 2.

YosemitePublicBeta2Update

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

You can update to the newest public version of Yosemite using the Software Update item, located under the Apple menu. Alternatively, you can launch the Mac App Store by clicking the App Store icon in your Dock. Once the store opens, select the Updates icon at the top of the store.

OS X Yosemite Beta 2 requires that iTunes 12 also be installed. If you haven’t yet upgraded your copy of the Yosemite beta to include iTunes 12, be sure to select both items for the update.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Earlier in the week, I finally got around to downloading the beta version of Xcode 6 from the Apple Developer web site. Xcode, Apple’s IDE (Integrated Development Environment) contains everything needed to develop apps for the Mac or iOS devices. You can actually use Xcode for many different development projects, but for Mac users, creating Mac and iOS apps are the biggies.

Xcode6Beta

Image courtesy of Apple

Xcode, as always, is free. You do need an Apple ID, which most Mac and iOS users already have, but you don’t need to be a paying member of the Apple Developer community. Anyone with an Apple ID can download and use the Xcode IDE.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Installing OS X Yosemite hasn’t changed a great deal since OS X Lion changed the delivery of the OS from optical disks to electronic downloads, using the Mac App Store.

YosemiteTerminalFlash

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The big advantage to downloading OS X is of course immediate gratification (and not having to pay shipping charges). But the downside is that the installer you download is deleted as soon as you make use of it by installing OS X Yosemite, or for that matter, any downloadable version of OS X.

With the installer gone, you lose the opportunity to install the OS on more than one Mac without having to go through the download process again. You also lose out on having an installer that you can use to perform clean installs that completely overwrite your startup drive, or having an emergency bootable installer that includes a few useful utilities that can bail you out of an emergency.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Apple has offered a Safe Boot option ever since Jaguar (OS X 10.2.x). Safe Boot allows your Mac to start up with the minimal number of system extensions, preferences, and fonts it needs to run.

safeboot_process_indicator

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Safe Boot can get your Mac running again when you’re having problems caused by corrupt applications or data, software installation issues, or damaged fonts or preference files. In all cases, the problem you may experience is either a Mac that fails to completely boot and freezes at some point along the way to the desktop, or a Mac that boots successfully, but then freezes or crashes when you undertake specific tasks or use specific applications.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Mac minis are back in stock this week at the Apple refurb store. Available in both the standard desktop and the server configurations, Mac minis are always one of the most popular Macs in the store, so they tend to go quickly.

Aside from the Mac minis, the only other store news is the lack of Mac Pros and a shortage of the less expensive iPad Airs. While we usually see Mac stock waxing and waning, the iPad shelves tend to be consistently full, so it’s unusual to see the 16 GB and 32 GB sizes missing from stock.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Deals of the Week

Our deal for this week is a 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina Display, available at a hefty 32 percent off the original retail price. That’s a nice markdown for a MacBook Pro that is barely one generation old.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

popCalendar from Magnesium-App provides an easy-to-access calendar that lives in your Mac’s menu bar. With just a single click, you can view an entire year at a glance, a month at a glance, or the upcoming day’s events, all without having to launch a full-scale calendar app to take over your desktop. You can also access and change popCalendar’s settings from the menu bar.

popCalendar

Image courtesy of Magnesium-App

Pros

  • Clean, simple interface.
  • Provides quick access to your Calendar, no matter what app you’re using.
  • You can add new events directly in popCalendar.
  • You can control which calendars are included in popCalender’s display.

Cons

  • No day or week view.
  • While you can create new calendar events, you can’t delete existing events.
  • No way to launch Calendar from within popCalendar.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Weekly Mac news roundup for the week of August 15, 2014.

lisaVPEnviroment

Lisa Jackson, Apple VP of Environmental Initiatives. Image courtesy of Apple.

Early 2011 MacBook Pros may display graphics problems from faulty AMD GPUs. Also this week, Apple executives find themselves being doused in ice water in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Phil Schiller, Apple’s head marketing dude, joined in the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge has turned into a viral phenom as celebrities, groups, and just ordinary folks have taken to dousing themselves with buckets of ice water, making a donation to the ALS fund, and then challenging others to participate.

PhilSchillerALSChallenge

Image courtesy of Phil Schiller

Phil had a set of images taken as he poured a bucket of ice water over his head while standing on the beach. By the way, the beach looks like it may be just south of San Gregorio State Beach in California (update: a little birdie whispered in my ear that the beach was at Half Moon Bay). You may notice that Phil is wearing a Boston College t-shirt, which happens to be his alma mater.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

There have been ongoing discussions in various Mac forums about early 2011 models of 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros with AMD GPUs starting to experience strange visual problems, usually resulting in a series of black bars seen across the display, or the display taking on an unusual tint. In some cases, the MacBook Pros became prone to crashing as well.

13MacbookPro2011-500x273

Image courtesy of Apple

Some owners report that selecting the built-in Intel HD Graphics 3000 as the only graphics source to use corrects the problem, but with slower graphics capabilities.

According to AppleInsider, Apple isn’t currently offering any type of replacement or repair program, although it’s asking all of its service partners to collect information on the severity of the issue.

Although it appears that the AMD graphics chips may be the root cause of the problem, the repair usually involves replacing the main logic board, which has the graphics chip soldered in place. While this fixes the issue at the owner’s cost, the new logic board may have the same AMD graphics chip that is exhibiting early failures that led to the problem in the first place.

Read more on About: Macs.

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