Why is the 2019 Mac Pro so expensive? It’s because it offers special hardware that certain kinds of pro users need. But not the prosumer or power hungry user. See: “Opinion: The Mac Pro isn’t overpriced, it offers something nothing else does.”
Which raises the question. Is there room in Apple’s lineup for a Mac that’s plain all out fast, nothing held back, for just the power user who has the money to spend on a really fast, but general purpose system? How well would such a Mac sell? Given the enthusiasm for the 2019 Mac Pro’s elegance and focused power, maybe pretty well.
But the 2019 Mac Pro had to come first to set the stage.
What would this new Mac look like? The current Mac mini platform is too small. The thermodynamics wouldn’t work. Perhaps a Mac Pro mini?
Stripped of the exotic hardware for video pros, but using the current Mac Pro case and fans, there’s plenty of design freedom for a really fast but affordable headless Mac. For, say, US$3,000 entry point. I think that’s a real opportunity for Apple.
The Week’s News Debris
• The Holy Grail of 5G is to pull high-speed internet right out of the air and dispense with wired, co-axial cable broadband. Is that realistic? At ars technica , Rob Pegoraro sizes up the possibilities. “Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband?”
When it comes to the possibility of home broadband competition, we want to believe. And in the case of 5G mobile broadband, wireless carriers want us to believe, too. But whether or not technological and commercial realities will reward that faith remains unclear. As with 5G smartphones, the basic challenge here sits at the intersection of the electromagnetic spectrum and telecom infrastructure economics.
• One sign that secure coding is enormously complex is that one promising fix introduces new vulnerabilities. That isn’t always so, but it can happen. And that kind of event exposes the kind of holistic testing that secure coding demands. Case in point: “…Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protection actually gets tracking protection.”
While ITP has been somewhat effective, making Safari users more opaque and less valuable in the behavioral ad targeting ecosystem than cookie-laden Chrome users, it still has gaps. Recently, Google security researchers found a way to use ITP for the very thing it was created to stop and passed their findings on to Apple, to the potential detriment of their [Google’s] future ad revenue.
It take a village to arrive at really secure code.
• There are some significant changes in macOS 10.5.2. Enough to look at the list in some detail. The Eclectic Light Company has a nice rundown. “What has changed in Catalina 10.15.2?”
In a companion article, it’s noted that XProtect version 2109 is for Catalina 10.15.2 only. Notable:
So far, there is no sign of this update being delivered to earlier versions of macOS, which is unusual. This wasn’t bundled with the Security Updates for Mojave or High Sierra, nor has it yet been pushed as a standalone security update for those systems.
Something to keep an eye on.
• Quartz surfaces an uncomfortable notion. Capitalism is based on growth. But we appear to be reaching the limits of our finite planet. How can the two be reconciled? This article explores the conflict. “Can Apple keep growing without extracting anything more from the earth?”
Apple already has steered billions of dollars into environmental efforts. But technology constraints, cost constraints, and the imperative to shore up its high standing with investors, mean the dream—of good old luxury consumerism but without the environmental consequences—is incredibly far from being a reality, especially bearing in mind that techniques for recycling some of the materials Apple uses haven’t yet been invented.
It’s easy to, offhandedly, completely exempt Apple from our environmental concerns, so this one is good food for thought.
• Finally, a question: “Why are so many AI systems named after Muppets?”
One of the biggest trends in AI recently has been the creation of machine learning models that can generate the written word with unprecedented fluidity. These programs are game-changers, potentially supercharging computers’ ability to parse and produce language.
But something that’s gone largely unnoticed is a secondary trend — a shadow to the first — and that is: a surprising number of these tools are named after Muppets.
This article at The Verge explains why. Not mentioned. The need to make these creations feel less threatening. Maybe.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed 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 holiday weeks.