Lately, whenever a discussion of the Mac’s future comes up, there are two common themes. Apple remains enthusiastic about mobility and MacBooks/Pros. Likely the iMac as well. But concerns about the desktops, specifically the headless Mac Pro and Mac mini, have gone from dire to hopeless. Particle Debris page 2 points to two very good articles that explore the situation with the Mac line in general and also the Mac Pro’s fate in particular.
Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]
Michael Gartenberg is currently the analyst in residence for iMore.com. Before that, he spent three years as Apple’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. In his second appearance on Background Mode, we caught up on the latest news and things we couldn’t get to last summer. Michael told me about the nuances of being an Apple marketing manager and Apple’s different marketing groups. He explained how one just has to already know what to do as an Apple employee. Then he discussed his fondness for the iPhone SE and delved into its sales numbers and merits. Finally, we moved on Apple’s October 2016 “Hello Again” event, explored the new MacBook Pro, computer touch philosophy and the Microsoft Surface Studio impact. Michael tells a joke.
Our artificial intelligence agents can either be embedded in our computers and/or mobile devices. Or they can reside in a cute little colorful cylinder that sits on a table. Which is better? Which is the future? Which should you invest in? Maybe Siri knows.
When we think about flying cars, an idea that goes back more than 50 years, we often think of awkward technical concepts. Where does one stow the wings when driving? How does the designer efficient.y handle the propulsion for both roads and air? Airbus has come up with an ingenious solution, brilliant in fact. The autonomous drone comes and lifts the passenger module away. Digital Trends has the story and the demo video. It’s still just a concept, and a real product is 7 to 10 years away, according to Airbus. And then there’s the issue of FAA regulations even if it’s autonomous in all modes. Could be very cool. And no more sitting idle in rush hour traffic.
Hewlett-Packard’s new Z2 Mini is a next generation PC. With an option for a fast Xeon CPU, strong M620 graphics than can drive four 4K displays, 32 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD on the M.2 bus and room for an additional internal hard disk, it’s a small, beautiful, powerhouse that’s aimed at creative professionals. And it won’t make your credit card melt. John Martellaro offers his perspectives in this occasionally geeky and unconventional review.
These days, it’s easy to collect a lot of data in the course of a research project. And, often, that big data collection is hard to interpret and glean new insights from by data analysis alone. That’s where scientific visualization comes in. Here’s a site that celebrates those images which are frequently just plain beautiful as well. From the website: “The Wellcome Image Awards are Wellcome’s most eye-catching celebration of science, medicine and life. Now in their 20th year, the Awards recognise the creators of informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science.” Check it out.
Soon after the first iPhone was launched, it was fairly easy to see that it would, by its design, eventually subsume the iPod. We watched it coming and expected iPod sales to wither. But in the case of the iPad and the Mac, the progression isn’t so clear. In these uncertain times, Apple could do a lot, with marketing and product rollouts, to provide warmer fuzzies about the roadmap (without spilling any secrets). Page one of Particle Debris set up the discussion, and page two cataloged some cases about how Apple’s lack of messaging, via product design, is creating customer angst.
Jason Snell is one of the best known Apple technical journalists. He’s the Editor-in-Chief of the Apple focused website Six Colors, and he told me the intriguing story about how that name came to be. Previously he was Senior VP and editorial director at IDG, publishers of Macworld, PCWorld, and TechHive. Jason always knew he wanted to be a journalist, and he told me the story about, as a kid, standing on his back porch in a rainstorm and pretending to do a live TV weather report. In 1991, he created InterText, one of the first online fiction magazines. Today, Jason writes and podcasts about everything Apple. In our show, Jason shared his thoughts about many of the most timely and pressing topics related to Apple today: the Mac and iPad futures and the Apple TV.
Like the rest of the tech industry, Apple is a company that is in constant change. Sometimes the change is celebrated, and sometimes the change is uncomfortable. In other words, Apple always has its eye on the ball. It just may not be the same ball we’re accustomed to watching.
Recently, Blancco published a report on the performance and health of iPhones and Android smartphones. A key finding was that iPhones are less reliable than Android devices. It created quite a stir, and the report intrigued John, so he asked for a copy of the report and looked into the findings. Here’s what he found.
NASA’s Apollo 11 space capsule “Columbia” took astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to lunar orbit and safely back home in July 1969. The fiftieth anniversary of that trip is coming up soon, so the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is going to put the 13,600 pound capsule on display in four major U.S. cities starting late this year and continuing into 2019. This article at NPR has the story, the cities and the dates. (Image credit: Smithsonian.)
We’ve known for some time now that Apple has an interest in Augmented Reality (AR). What is it, and why does the iPhone need it? Is AR just another gadget to keep us in an upgrade frame of mind? Or is it fundamental to the evolution of the device we call an iPhone? It’s all so very logical, as John explains.
Ron Johnson was the Apple VP of retail sales, and sales were booming. Then, in 2011, he took the offer to be the CEO of J.C. Penney. He tried to bring the modern concepts he learned at Apple to JCP, but “people there were entrenched and resist[ed] him.” He was let go in 2013. Now, J.C. Penney is going to close 140 stores. Did Mr. Johnson push JCP too hard, too fast? Can the company ever commit the resources it needs to go toe-to-toe with modern online retailers? Will JCP survive? It’s all in Particle Debris page 2.
David Katzmaier is a CNET Senior Editor and TV reviewer, something he’s been doing for most of his career. He started at a small review website in New York and, later, a friend went to CNET and brought David on board where he’s been since about 2000. David is an expert on TV technology, and so we delved into the Retina effect, generic High Dynamic Range (HDR), Dolby Vision, 10-bit color, TV brightness levels, color gamuts, Hybrid Log Gamma, edge lighting (with light guides) vs. local dimming, the pros and cons of OLED vs. LCD, H.265 compression, 120 Hz refresh sample and hold, 4K streaming standards and the best time of year to buy a new TV. Phew! If you’re into UHD/TV tech, you’ll love this grand tour of today’s state-of the-art.
Siri started out with a female voice exclusively, but now it can be changed to male. Alexa uses only a female voice. Cortana’s voice, for now, is strictly female. Why is that? Is it sexism? Is it for better intelligibility? John looks into the matter.
Recently, John Martellaro took a philosophical tour of the idea that Apple might well want to discontinue some products that we’ve become fond of. The pros and cons. One reader asked what the pros would be to sending the Mac Pro into extinction. John tries to answer that question.
It seems that there is just as much fuss about Apple products that seem to be on the verge of extinction as there is about exciting new products. John looks at the economics and psychology of Apple dropping beloved products like certain Macs, Airport base stations, displays and other devices that we’ve come to depend on. Are we on the verge of a new age of Apple?
There are exciting new technologies coming with 4K/UHD TVs. But the basic problems persist in the connection, operation and content selection amongst all the different kinds of sources and boxes. The TV industry and parochial interests, even Apple’s, haven’t made things better. It’s going to require an independent company, deep thinking and brillant engineering to solve the problem. Caavo may be it.
When returning to the U.S. from travel, border agents may select you for various reasons for a more detailed questioning. Your smartphone may be requested. You may be asked to unlock it for agents to inspect. What are your rights in this case? Two interesting articles at The New York Times and ars technica go into considerable legal detail about what might happen if you refuse to cooperate. The links and more are on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.
Jordan Hubbard, the co-founder of FreeBSD, spent a dozen years at Apple bringing coherence to the UNIX core of Mac OS X. Apple calls it macOS today, but in the early years, there were lots of rough spots integrating the partly FreeBSD core into a viable consumer Mac OS X. Jordan was also instrumental in modernizing Mac OS X with features like MacPorts, Launchd, Grand Central Dispatch and application sandboxing. Today, his work complete at Apple, Jordan is an open source developer. We talked about the early development of Mac OS X derived from NeXT and even the earliest BSD origins. Along the way, we also chatted about Jordan’s childhood memories as an 8-year old being an electronics geek with Radio Shack as his Mecca. If you love macOS, don’t miss this insightful historical tour.