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Archive for October, 2014

by Tom Nelson

Benchmarks recently submitted to Geekbench show that the just-introduced 2014 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display can outperform the entry-level 2013 Mac Pro, both in single-core performance and multi-core performance, provided it’s properly customized.

In order to configure the new iMac as the top performer, the standard 3.5 GHz Quad-Core i5 processor must be replaced with the 4.0 GHz Quad-Core i7, available in the custom BTO (build to order) options. The processor upgrade adds $250 to the iMac’s price, but creates one of the fastest Macs available, exceeded only by Mac Pros with more than four cores.

But before you ditch your 2013 Mac Pro, remember that Geekbench is only measuring processor performance and isn’t factoring in graphics performance. The Mac Pro, with its dual graphics engines, puts a different spin on the picture, so to speak. Additionally, the Mac Pro is currently available in 4-core, 6-core, 8-core, and 12-core configurations. Applications that are heavily threaded will run better on a Mac with more available cores.

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by Tom Nelson

With the release of OS X Yosemite, Apple updated its Safari web browser to version 8. Safari 8 has a lot of new features, with the best, perhaps, being what is under the hood: an updated rendering system with a brand-new JavaScript engine. Together, they propel Safari into a world-class browser, at least when it comes to speed, performance, and standards support.

URLMissing1

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

But Apple also made major changes to Safari when it comes to what’s on top of the hood; specifically, the user interface got a major makeover that goes beyond the Yosemite effect, the flattening and dulling down of the buttons and graphics. Safari also received the full iOS treatment, with tweaks to the interface to make it appear and perform in a way that’s similar to the iOS version of Safari.

With the user interface changes comes a bit of a struggle for some long-time Safari users. So, I’ve put together eight tips to help you get started with Safari 8.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

We went to the Apple refurb store expecting to see some price drops after the mid-week Apple event that revealed new Macs and iPads. We were pleased to see both the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 with nice price cuts that make these previous-generation (as of 10/16/2014) iPads very attractive.

As for Macs, there are no Mac minis in the refurb store this week, so I’ll just have to keep an eye out for their next appearance and see if the prices drop as I expect them to.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Deals of the Week

This week finds a 2012 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a 500 GB hard drive as one of our deals of the week. If you need more storage capability in a portable, this may be the MacBook Pro for you.

Our two remaining deals this week are both for 2012 27-inch iMacs. The two offerings differ in the graphics system and processor speed. Both, however, will prove to be very good choices if you’re looking for a desktop Mac with a built-in large display. And you get to choose whether to save a bit of cash or go all-out for a bit more performance.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Amadeus Pro from HairerSoft is an easy-to-use and powerful multi-track audio recorder and editor that supports numerous file formats and batch processing, For those of you who are recording from vintage vinyl or other sources with noise, clicks, and pops, Amadeus Pro has a Repair Centre that can clean up the unwanted audible noise that characterizes the old medium.

AmadeusPro

Image courtesy of Hairer Soft

Pros

  • Easily convert vinyl, tape, or other analog sources to digital.
  • Split live recordings into multiple tracks.
  • Number of audio tracks limited only by the processing performance of your Mac.
  • Real-time audio effects per track and section.
  • Support for many audio file formats.
  • Sample rates from 6,000 Hz to 128,000 Hz.
  • Can export directly to your iTunes library.
  • Wide range of effects, audio units, and VST plugins.
  • Batch processing can convert files as well as apply effects.
  • Repair Centre removes noise, pops, clicks, and hum.
  • Large selection of audio analysis tools.

Cons

  • Can’t record the audio output of applications, only devices that appear in the Mac’s Sound Preferences.
  • Marker auto generation may incorrectly add markers. Manual markers work fine.

Back in my misspent youth, I earned my living recording various types of live events, from bands and concerts, to musicals, a few symphonies, plus a few events, like free afternoon concerts in the park, that I’d rather forget. All of it required lugging around a great deal of equipment, much of which could now be easily replaced with a good Mac and Amadeus Pro.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple recently (October 16, 2014) updated the long-neglected Mac mini, giving it faster processors, updated graphics capabilities, updated connectivity, and new configuration options. We’ve been waiting over two years for Apple to give a bit of attention to the smallest desktop Mac, and Apple finally obliged us.

2014MacMini

Image courtesy of Apple

Was It Worth the Wait?

Before I answer that, I want to point out this is a preview and not a review. I don’t have a new 2014 Mac mini sitting in front of me yet; when I do, I’ll update this preview and turn it into a full-fledged review. Until then, this preview may provide you with answers to questions you may have about the new 2014 Mac mini.

The 2014 Mac mini comes in the same familiar package: a small, square slab measuring 7.7 inches on a side and 1.4 inches tall. These dimensions haven’t changed; the outside of the Mac mini doesn’t look any different than the previous generation. But just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge the new Mac mini by its outward appearance.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

At its October 16, 2014 media event, Apple let us in on new and updated products, including the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, a new 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display, and updates to the Mac mini (it’s about time).

imacretinaprice

Image courtesy of Apple

Apple started the event with a quick overview of how well the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 are performing since they were announced a month ago. With iOS 8 already commanding 48 percent of the iOS install base, and iPhone 6 sales reaching levels Apple has never seen before, it’s safe to say that Apple was very pleased with their performance.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple has included a Migration Assistant application in OS X since the very early days of the OS. Originally, the app’s main task was to move user data from an existing Mac to a new one. Over time, the Migration Assistant took on new tasks and added new features. It’s now one of the easiest ways to migrate data between Macs, from a PC to a Mac, or even just from your old startup drive, as long as the drive can be mounted somewhere on your network.

MigrationAssistantChooseSource

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Migration Assistant hasn’t changed much since the OS X Mavericks version, but it has added the ability to copy a user account to a destination Mac even when the user account is already present on the destination Mac. This happens when you follow through the OS X setup utility and create an initial admin account. Most of us create the admin account on the new Mac with the same user name and password we used on our previous Mac.

There are other capabilities and subtleties built into the Migration Assistant; that’s why we’re going to take a look at how to use the OS X Yosemite Migration Assistant to move data between your Macs.

OS X Yosemite Migration Assistant

Migration Assistant hasn’t changed much since the OS X Mavericks version, but it has added the ability to copy a user account to a destination Mac even when the user account is already present on the destination Mac. This happens when you follow through the OS X setup utility and create an initial admin account. Most of us create the admin account on the new Mac with the same user name and password we used on our previous Mac.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

IDG, the parent company of Macworld and the Macworld/iWorld Expo, announced that there will be no 2015 expo, and that the expo and conference are taking a hiatus.

Macworld-Expo-Floor2006

Image courtesy of Sstevenson

“We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015. Our MacIT event, the world’s premiere event for deploying Apple in the enterprise, will continue next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.”

Macworld Expo and Conference began in San Francisco in 1985, and quickly became the premier Apple and Mac trade show event. Apple used the Macworld show as a platform to announce many of its signature products over the years, including iMacs, iPods, and iPhones. The Apple keynote address was always the big-ticket item, with media and fans doing their best to be in the crowd when a new product was launched.

Read more on About: Macs.

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Waiting for a New Apple TV

by Tom Nelson

So, what’s happening with the Apple TV? A product that was once fodder for constant rumors seems to have slowly been forgotten.

AppleTV2012

Image courtesy of Apple

We bought our first Apple TV in 2012, when the current model became available. It was actually a happy coincidence. We were using an older Blu-Ray player that had the added ability to connect to the Internet and stream from various sources, including Netflix and Hulu, as one of the primary sources of content in our media center. Combining the Blu-Ray player’s streaming ability with what our local cable company offered gave us pretty decent access to TV shows, movies, and other streaming content.

That ground to a halt one day when the Blu-Ray player simply stopped being able to connect to the Internet. To this day, I have no idea what broke. The player still works with Blu-Ray and DVDs; it just can’t connect to the Internet.

We decided to look for a new streaming box. There were plenty of choices available, including the recently released2012 Apple TV, which supported 1080p streaming. Since we’re big Apple users, we decided to take the plunge and plunk down our cash for the Apple TV. It helped that a local store had them on sale for $79.00 that weekend.

Since then, we’ve been very happy with our Apple TV, and we easily watch more streaming content than live over-the-air/cable shows. But while we like our Apple TV, we can’t help but wonder what Apple is going to do with its little TV set-top box – and when.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The refurb store had a few surprises for us this week. First up, 2014 versions of both the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs are in stock. In the past, we’ve only seen a 2014 model poke its head up here and there; now there’s a large selection of these most recent models of the MacBook Air.

The other surprise in the store was a 12-core version of the 2013 Mac Pro that had been configured to save a bit of cash. Normally, the 12-core models that show up tend to be outfitted to the hilt, keeping the refurb price up. But this 12-core Mac Pro has the mid-level D500 graphics cards, and only the base RAM and SSD configuration. As a result, it’s a pretty good deal, and you could easily upgrade the RAM and the SSD. Upgrades for the SSD should start appearing sometime in 2015.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Deals of the Week

Our deals of the week include an older 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a 500 GB hard drive. If you need more storage capability in a portable, this may be the MacBook Pro for you.

Our other deal is the above-mentioned 2013 12-core Mac Pro. If you have apps that can take advantage of all of those cores, this may be a pretty good deal, one that will let you get a bit more processing performance out of your workflow.

Read more on About: Macs.

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