Preparing for Lion

I am getting ready for Mac OS X 10.7, which should be available tomorrow for $30. But how should one prepare for it. First off, back up your entire computer to an external drive. Easy with Time Machine. But since this is the first major OS release with out media, what next? How do you go about doing the coveted clean install? Well, this is the time consuming part.
First off, I am going to go get my 10.6 factory restore discs for my machine. After I know I have them, I need to de-authorize every damn program I own (Adobe, iTunes, etc.) Then, the hard part…Clean install on a fresh hard drive. But wait, there is more. My install discs are 10.6.2, and App store isn’t there. Crap. I’ll have to do a 10.6.8 combo update. So after all that, I’ll re-authorize the computer, and download 10.7 from the App store. Now I know with the preview release there was a way to make a bootable DVD or USB stick, but I’m not ready to do that yet.
Well anyway, after all this time, it’s time to put everything back into the home folder. Re-install all my apps, and pray that the good ones work in Lion, and hope that Intuit has really screwed me over by writing crappy code with QuickBooks. Which brings me to my next task. That’s buying a new external HD and putting 10.6.8 on it to run the shit that I need that wont work in 10.7.
I’m sure there are other ways of doing this, but I like my convoluted way. Also I am doing this on the weekend so I am not up until 4 am Thursday futzing around with this.

iPhone 4, My First Hands on Impression

So far so good. I received my iPhone a day early, so thank you FedEx and Apple. After un-boxing and setting the unit up, I played around with it for a while. Here are my first impressions:
It seems denser, and more robust that the old 3G. But I will not be testing the robustness in fears of shattering either glass plate.
The buttons have much better feed back. They are not mushy.
The screen is very sharp. My photos from my Aperture library re-rendered and look like a print, and the text looks like it was printed out on paper. I do have the yellow dots, but I don’t focus on them since they are in the corners, and don’t really hamper performance yet.
The voice quality is just fine with the few calls i’ve made and received on it. I do get wandering signal strength, but I’ve not had a call dropped yet, nor not received a call.
The Camera is very nice, and takes some decent pictures. Much better than my old 3G, not as good as a pocket Canon. Plus, there is no digital zoom, so it can’t replace that.
The flash is bright as HELL. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE FLASH. Do not use the flash to take self pics, you will be seeing spots.
Compared to the 3G, it is quick fast, compared to the 3G on iOS4, it is blazing fast.
The compass doesn’t work well in a car (tested as a passenger).
Voice command works pretty good.
I had a FaceTime chat with my pal in Washington. Works as advertised. Pretty good picture, especially when using the regular camera and not the forward facing camera. Also, it linked up with no problems when behind my company’s firewall.
I am waiting for a case to protect the unit, but until then, it kinda fits in my old iSkin Revo case for my old 3G. Generally works, not like a glove, and the camera is somewhat obscured.
More to come with a full review. Probably next week after I have some more time to play with it.

Hands on the iPad I won’t buy

I picked up an iPad at Best Buy. I just picked it up, played around with it and then put it down.
Did you know that glass, aluminum, and LED backlighting is a lot heavier and bulkier than plastic and an e-ink display? The iPad is not a Kindle killer. It is a nice e-reader, but man this thing is heavy. They should have a chair there for you try it out as like Jobs demoed. I think a bed would be too much.
The screen is beautiful, and if the Wifi was fast at Best Buy, I’m pretty sure I could have watched all of Lego “Trinity Help” video on you tube. What I did watch looked fantastic. And Netflix would probably be very nice too. But, it’s streamed media, so why bother watching it on the iPad, when you can watch it on your TV?
The keyboard is weird, and if I had more time, I am pretty sure I could get used to it. But as I am using a full size keyboard on my MacBook, I don’t think I will like it that much. Originally, I though that the iPad would be my couch surfing replacement, but I don’t think that is going to happen. A used MacBook air would be a better choice for me, a really really cheap one.
Also, when I am in Europe, and want to get a book, I can buy it, where ever I am. The iPod Touch will is also a lot easier to carry around to hook up to free WiFi.
Enough of my rant. We’ll see what iPad 2.0 brings us.

First Impression of Aperture 3

I’ve been using Aperture for a few years now, and I just upgraded to Aperture 3. Luckily, I have 64 bit capable iMac so I can take advantage when I RAM this thing up. Right off the back, the program processes photos better, it is smarter and my already great looking photos look greater. However, since it is a .0 version, it’s buggy, and it’s crashed a few times already.
But they have added some nice features, ripped from iPhoto ’09 (finally), Places and Faces. Too bad I have to go back and re tag the important people and places where I’ve taken the photos. Luckily, when I go out in to the great outdoors, I take my GPS and tag where my cool photos are shot.
More to come when I have more time to play with all the new features, and find the hidden ones.

My new iMac is big

27" iMac
27" iMac

After many years of waiting and pining for a new Mac Pro tower, Apple announced a faster 3.33 GHz quad core to their line up.  Unfortunately, they didn’t reduce the price of the entry level 2.66 GHz rig, and that is the reason that I jumped away from the Mac Pro and opted for the 27″ iMac released earlier in the month.  But I didn’t settle for the 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo, nor did I go for the 2.66 GHz Core i5.  Nope, I went all in for the 2.8GHz Quad Core Intel Core i7 rig.  As far as I could tell, it was worth the $200 upgrade from the Core i5, and well worth the upgrade from the Core 2 Duo.  And finally, I’ve had the rig for a month.

To put it bluntly, this rig is a beast.  It’s big, it’s bold, it’s fast, and it’s hot.

When the initial order was placed, the shipping time as 7- 10 days.  Luckily it shipped in 5 days.  And even though there were reports about screens being damage during shipping, or the jaundice screen epidemic, I just hoped that my machine was affected.  After watching my computer ship from China, arrive in Anchorage, then go round trip to and from Memphis, the 42 pound box was at my front door.  After lugging it out, I had to somehow make space for this monster on my desk.  Not only was I using this iMac, I also had to make the space for the 24″ secondary screen, and my speakers.

After unpacking, cleaning up the cables, and hooking everything up, it was time to fire this machine up.  The first impression after heavy: this thing is bright.  There is a lot of light coming from behind this 27″ screen.  It is also extremely crisp.  Looking to my right at my old screen saddens me, because when it was set up on my old G5 tower, I thought it looked great.  Compared to the new iMac, it may as well be monochrome (that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it’s still a good screen).

Thankfully, I had an evening planned, so I started the migration from my old 2.0 GHz Dual Core Power Mac G5.  As a rule of thumb, I never use the migration assistant in OSX.  And since I am not only migrating machines, and also migrating from PowerPC to Intel, I would further avoid this.  Well, after target disk mode was established, the FireWire 800 cable connected, the transfer begun, and I did something productive for a few hours instead of watching gigabytes copy.

After the transfer, after the reinstallation, it’s time to get to the unit.  Is it as fast as I had hoped?  Well, its pretty darn fast.  For all intensive purposes, you really can’t tell how fast it is.  Ripping CDs (legally owned) is throttled by the cd drive.  Most tasks are were instantaneous that I couldn’t gage the quickness.  But right away, when using Adobe Photoshop, I knew there was some power behind the screen.  Everything was notably smoother.  Brush action, navigation, smooth as silk.  I was used to a jerkiness on my old machine, and kinda gave up.  But now it’s just plain nice.  Aperture loads my RAW files very fast and exportation is very quick too.  When I upgrade to Adobe CS5 this year and then double the RAM to 8GB, then perhaps I will see some more speed.

After playing around with the new iMac, I noticed something.  This thing is hot.  Literally.  Since the entire back is one piece of CNCed aluminium, I am sure it also works as one big honking heat sync.  And it certanly does.  There is a vent at the top, and naturally, that is where the unit is the hotest.  the lower third of back is noticably cooler, so grabbing it by the lower sides is cool to the hands.

Now back to the glass screen.  It certainly helps with the contrast of the display, and yes, it is more reflective than my other non glass screens.  But since I don’t have a window behind me, nor a lot of direct like shinning in, there is not a reflectance problem.  If I stare at the screen looking for a reflection, I’ll find it.  But when working on the machine in general, it is not bothersome.

The built in iSIght works nice, but it has a limited focus.  I can no longer use it to scan the bar codes of my movies, cds, etc with Delicious Library, which is a bummer.  Otherwise it’s a plain ole camera.  The 802.11n works great with my AirPort Extreme, and the bluetooth works well with the included mini keyboard and Magic Mouse.  I will however replace the wireless keyboard with a wired one because I want the numeric keypad.  As of right now, the wireless keyboard is a gimmick.

The Magic Mouse, however, is fantastic.  I love the scroll and gesture surface.  But I really don’t find myself using any gestures.  It feel unnatural.  But the scroll surface is great.  I works a lot like the touch surface of an iPhone or iPod Touch.

My biggest gripe is the slot loading SuperDrive.  I hate slot loaders because no matter how careful you are, you will scratch the surface when inserting or ejecting media.  That is why i dug up my old FireWire cd burner.  It is also a lot more convenient to get to, and it wont scratch your media, unless you are an idiot.  I may swap the cd burner for a DVD burner as well.

With the FireWire 800 bus, i have my two external drives attached, one for Time Machine, and the other my emergency boot, and general what ever BS drive.  And this brings me to my final caveat of the unit: no eSATA.  I can only assume eSATA can bring people back to the days of SCSI, where the technology is not hot plug-able.  And since this is a consumer device, it kind of makes sense.  However, throw humanity a bone, and let the advanced users use a fast bus architecture.

True, this iMac isn’t expandable beyond the USB and FireWire ports, but I never added any cards into my old tower.  True, I won’t be able to take advantage of USB 3.0, but when I cross that bridge, I will probably have to get a new computer when such connectivity is a necessity.  Which brings me to the next point. When I do have to upgrade, provided my next machine has a DisplayPort built in, I can use this iMac as a screen.  As I have seen demonstrated, all I need is a DisplayPort cable, and the computer will switch the screen from onboard to external monitor.  Bonus for me two computers and one screen (well, two screens, I must have an extended desktop).

The only thing I’ve not tested is the speakers.  Since I have my external pair, I really don’t care.

My Take on Apple’s New iPad

After reading up, watching the videos, and trying to stay away from other posts, here is what I think about the new iPad.

First off, I don’t like the name. I understand it, it is simple, but it is too close to iPod. iSlate sounds better, iTablet sounds worse. I was hoping that they would resurrect iBook. But that could also be confusing. But I really can’t think of a better moniker.

I think this unit could replace my couch surfing laptop. But I would have to try it out, and see how it fits on my lap with out a keyboard and hinged screen in the upright position. I am worried I wont like typing on it since I like using a keyboard.

After reading up, watching the videos, and trying to stay away from other posts, here is what I think about the new iPad.

First off, I don’t like the name.  I understand it, it is simple, but it is too close to iPod.  iSlate sounds better, iTablet sounds worse.  I was hoping that they would resurrect iBook.  But that could also be confusing.  But I really can’t think of a better moniker.

I think this unit could replace my couch surfing laptop.  But I would have to try it out, and see how it fits on my lap with out a keyboard and hinged screen in the upright position.  I am worried I wont like typing on it since I like using a keyboard.

This unit also may replace my laptop when traveling.  A lot of times, it is nice to go on vacation and be somewhat severed from the digital world.  This could be enough.  I can get online when I want (provided available Wi-Fi), not have to lug around my laptop bag, and make me enjoy my time abroad.  Plus, it’s cheaper than a laptop, and if locked well, I can remote erase it and not have my info out there.  With my iTunes library and all the Digital Copy movies I am amassing, this would be much better that a portable DVD player or iPhone/Touch.  Thank goodness there’s HandBrake too.

This will not replace my Kindle.  My wife and I love our Kindles.  Sure it looks like a nice ebook reader, but the backlight could be irritating to a sleeping spouse, and you only get 10 hours between charges.  I can go weeks with my Kindle.  Also the kindle is much lighter, and more bookish.  I love how e-ink works, and it works well where books work well.

iWorks is a key app for the iPad.  Since it can work on Microsoft Office formats, you can do your editing and quick changes.  But I don’t see it as a replacement for laptop authoring.  I would buy Pages and perhaps Numbers for $10 each, not so sure about Keynote.  I would defiantly have to try it out.

Games?  I really could care less.

3G?  The fact that it is contract free and you can pick from $14.99 or $30 a month is great.  It almost makes it worth spending the additional $130 for the hardware.  But I have an iPhone and if necessary, I’d probably use that instead.  In most cases, I will have my iPhone nearby when I’d be using my iPad.

The dock as a charging station/picture frame is pretty cool, and you’d have the best looking digital frame when you’re not using the iPad.

The price seems to be right, and 16 gigs is a lot, especially if you have the rest of your music on your more portable iPods.  So for $500, I may just jump at it.  But I will probably be more likely to wait for rev 2 like I did with my iPhone, Kindle, and most of my other electronics.  I used to be an early adopter, but I’ve become more patient with time.