Page 2 – The Tech News Debris for the Week of August 1st

More on the ‘Macintosh Problem.’

A few weeks ago I delved into the tardiness of Apple’s new Macs. “A Deeper Look at Apple’s ‘Macintosh Problem’.” Apple’s neglect of the Macintosh product line isn’t just something I noticed. It’s all over the Mac web. Here’s another very good assessment of the problem at The Verge. First Click: Apple should stop selling four-year-old computers.” It doesn’t have my hopeful tone, but it’s also pleasantly thorough and blunt. It’s a good read.

Retina iMacs

Image credit: Apple

Apple is experiencing a double whammy here. When Macs were the best computer money could buy and were refreshed on a regular basis, it was easy to both visualize and construct a personal upgrade path. But with all the Macs getting long of tooth and expensive, the value proposition no longer works so well. As one reader wrote us: “In all honesty I see the Apple products as being a bit dated and drastically overpriced.”

Another potential problem is that if Apple were to drop certain Macs from the lineup, many customers who need to upgrade could find themselves forced into an alternative Mac with configurations and prices that don’t meet their needs fully. That would be frustrating.

Perhaps, as a result of Apple’s neglect, some Apple customers are seeking their own way out. See: “Is it worth it to build a Hackintosh?

Once again, I must take the approach that when we see Apple’s new Macs this fall, all will be forgiven. (Here’s a glimmer.) However, if we’re not all surprised and delighted, expect plenty of fur to fly. I’ll be on the forefront of the fur tossing.


Apple’s growth in revenue has slowed a bit. But its spending on R&D is still strong. In fact, the rate of R&D spending growth remains positive, according to this chart by Business Insider. That’s as it should be. Apple has to plan for future products even if one of the periodic global slowdowns happens. This article from May explains. “Apple R&D Reveals a Pivot Is Coming.” It’s exciting to think about what Apple may be up to because we know they focus their research of products that can be successfully brought to market.

This past week I wrote about a critical analysis of Apple Pay published at While there have been reader claims that the author I cited was biased against Apple, the original analysis both agreed with what I had previously read and am currently experiencing with Apple Pay in my neck of the woods.

However, there’s a broad spectrum of user experiences and approaches to analyzing Apple Pay. While this article by Joanna Stern at the WSJ seems mildly orthogonal to my original discourse, it’s also valuable additional reading. See: “Chip Card Nightmares? Help Is on the Way.

For those who may suspect that the declining sales of the iPad means eventual doom, I highly recommend this analysis by Neil Cybart. “The iPad’s Dark Days Are Over.

I’ve written before about the “Ultra HD Premium” certification created by the UHD Alliance. If you’re in the market for a new 4K/UHD TV, and you’re not quite sure what that sticker on the box means, I recommend this non-technical, readable summary. “Ultra HD Premium explained: everything you need to know.

Finally, how are you feeling about iOS apps these days? Apple’s payments to developers suggest that the market is healthy. “Tim Cook Tweets: Record July for App Store; Developers Have Earned $50 Billion.” And yet, it’s remarkably hard to break into the market place for new developers. With two million apps, the road to true creativity and excellence is a tough one. And there’s absolutely no room for poor to mediocre apps. Michael Gartenberg expounds on this. “It’s the end of the app as we know it — and I feel fine.” So does Walt Mossberg: “I just deleted half my iPhone apps — you should too.” He writes: “We’ve reached peak app.”

My own feeling is that AI agents will eventually replace most apps. Perhaps all those out of work developers will turn to blogging.

Oh, wait.


Teaser image via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.

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daemon That’s the funny thing. I was all in with the post-PC idea. I even expected my 2012 MacBook Pro to be my last Mac. I said so publicly. The trouble is it just hasn’t happened. I would love to be able to replace The Beast with a 12 inch iPad Pro. Except I just can’t do what I want as effectively. The hardware is good. iOS and the touch interface just aren’t up to my needs. I can write on my iPad, but editing is still much faster and easier on \The Beast. I can record videos on my… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: A couple of thoughts, one about AI and the other about the iPad. Regarding AIs displacing human authors, Mark Twain’s often misquoted line may well have been a prescient response on behalf of human authors past, present and future when he quipped, “The report of my death was an exaggeration”. For human creative authorship, it remains so. AIs will never displace human creative authorship. There are two compelling reasons why. The first is simply the sheer unstoppable power of diversity. This is a woefully misunderstood and under-appreciated intrinsic feature of humanity, but it is what gives us our strength,… Read more »


Oh – I see a different config allows for a 256 flash drive – which will be the same capacity as the phone (reportedly) or an iPad. Those 2 capacities (desktop v mobile) should never get near each other.


re Mac Problem: I’m in agreement with geoduck – except for $2k, I want a full TB 😉 @jhorvatic – no, they are outdated. Period. I have a 2008 macbook which I added RAM and a SSD and it works faster than the 2014 MBP we purchased used for our office. It has nothing to do with whether or not I can touch the screen, the facts are that these things are too old for the price. I want to get a mini to host our LAN, but again, it’s 2 years old and I’d have to spend a minimum… Read more »


I see the following areas for a new iMac. – latest i7 chip: not much of a change and doesn’t need a new model. Intel is having problems cranking up their chips and I don’t see that changing – latest graphics chip: always good, but also doesn’t need a new model – fingerprint scanner: good, but really only needs a new keyboard or device – updated ports: needs a new model! I’d like to see the thunderbolt and USB ports replaced by six USB-C ports that support both thunderbolt and USB. The sticking point is how expensive this will be,… Read more »

Outdated my butt. People think its outdated because you can’t put your fingerprints all over your screen with that touch crap. The Macs have trackpads that can do that so your screen doesn’t need to be full of dirty hand and fingerprints. I have a 5k iMac that will match any crappy PC out there. I don’t need add-ons because everything is already built in. I have an OS that doesn’t get viruses just because I use the internet. I can however run Windows and Mac OS at the same time without a hitch. Try running Mac OS on your… Read more »


Face it, desktop Macs, as useful as they are, are a commodity that’s as common as anything these days. The need to refresh your home system isn’t that great. Nothing is taxing them like the advances of the 90s. I had my first Mac 12 years, my second one 8 years (BTW, it still works), and my third one would be 8 had it not been stolen last year, so my fourth one is 18 months old. And will last another six to seven years. Even Apple’s EOL scheme can’t stop it from actually running. We just don’t have the… Read more »


Meh… Apple’s been putting out dated hardware for decades.

Honestly I always thought you guys were ecstatic that Apple was post-PC….


RE: Mac Problem I’ve mentioned before that I’m more concerned about the Mac than I have been in many years. They just don’t seem to care about it any more. Even more distressing was a quote from Eddy Cue I ran across this morning: Apple now does public beta testing of its most significant software projects, something that Jobs never liked to do. In 2014, the company asked users to test run its Yosemite upgrade to OS X. Last year, it introduced beta testing of iOS, which is the company’s most important operating system. * iOS is Apple’s most important… Read more »


@geoduck. About AI comedy. It could be so bad that it’s actually funny. Machines can probably write news reports. Not news articles but boring accounts of who, what, when, where, but not why. They can also probably write corporate financial reports. But works of fiction and non-fiction that are sophisticated enough to advance the art? I think that’s as big a pipe dream as atomic powered rocket ships. You know, the ones that spewed a trail of radioactive exhaust in their wake. This notion that creativity can be achieved by gathering more and more data and then programming a machine… Read more »


One more thing


There is no way any AI ever will be able to write comedy.


Sorry about the double post. Server error.


What a depressing thought. But the more I think of it, the more I don’t see it happening. OK for news, yes it’s totally possible. The facts, in a formulaic style should be easy for an AI to do. But not creative writing. Not good fiction. As Paul said above AI written music is look alike-sound alike trash. It takes a person to write something really creative. Sure, drivel like the latest superhero-of-the-month film could be done by an AI. Hell, in the latest Bourne film Matt Damon only has 277 words. A couple of dozen lines. Yes an… Read more »

Paul Goodwin

The sad thing is AI algorithms are already in use in the pop music business replacing human songwriters. The music is so bad it fits right in. That’s what music industry execs want these days: zero risk sound-like-everything-else stuff with almost no creativity. It apparently didn’t take a whole lot of AI development to equal what those execs thought would be a good song. The truly creative stuff is still being written, but the songwriters that produce anything other than the same thing that sold already are getting lost. If they want to keep their income, they have to write… Read more »


Ok, news is a bit formulaic, I can see how maybe an AI could spit out a story on the Rio 100 meter dash final, or Congress blocking Obama’s Suprime Court nominatopm, but fiction. Not the Hollywood canned, superhero-of-the-month kind, but real creative stories. I just don’t think so. I’m working on a script that combines Alzheimer’s, philosophy, a low end hustler, and redemption, in a dialogue driven Twilight Zone style. Maybe, just maybe, an AI could string the dialogue. But it could not come up with the idea. It could not make the connection that I had last week… Read more »


No, alas, that isn’t how creativity works. The assumption is that creativity is restricted to previously ingested information, but no, human beings are capable of spontaneous insight. Algorithms will always literally, at least at root, be ristricted to pre-existing information, and even if a uniquely ‘AI vernacular’ emerged, we would be capable of understanding it because we provided all of the input, in one way or another. I wouldn’t worry too much about this one. 😉 This is something many engineers fail to grasp: the highest heights of technological accomplishment are always a coalescence of human ingenuity and technological efficiency.… Read more »

Lee Dronick

“Perhaps all those out of work developers will turn to blogging.”

Or become baristas

Lee Dronick

“Eventually, AI Agents Will Put Even Authors Out of Work”

God I hope not


Will AI’s write fiction so intricate and deep that only other AI’s can understand it? If so, will there be a new category on the NYTimes bestseller lists?