iMac and iPad refresh

Well the keynote has come and gone – I was expecting a ‘Retina display’ on the iMac for the masses but found that it is very much a niche product that I’m sure enthusiasts will find useful but for me when I put my rational purchasing decision hat on found that I’m actually better off getting a high end standard 27inch iMac, then doing a custom build with a 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, up the GPU to a 780M then swap the wireless keyboard to a full wired one and go for the touchpad rather than having a mouse. When it comes to the laptop – I’ll go for the MacBook Air, 512GB SSD, 8GB memory, up the CPU and thus have something with minimal moving parts that’ll last years to come.

Yosemite and updates to the iWorks suite was announced and released today – checking through the comments section it appears that Apple is releasing it in ‘waves’ rather than releasing it to ‘one and all’ only to result in all hell breaking loose. I’m hoping that by the time I wake up today at 7pm (before heading off to work) it will be ready for download for me along with the updates for iWorks. I’ll upload a video review of Yosemite in around a week or two time when I’ve had more experience with it – looking forward to the integration with iPhone 6 Plus once I finally get one in two months.

Another day, four days to go

I’ve just realised, looking at the date for today here in NZ, by the time I get back tonight on Thursday I’ll have to stay up until 9am (got work at 10pm on Friday) which means I’ll be able to stay up for the keynote (yay!) maybe some investment in popcorn might be in order. I’m looking forward to two things coming out – MacBook Air refresh with maybe a Retina display and an iMac 27Inch with a Retina display – both of those would be great to hear and given that it’ll be three months before I jump onboard and purchase it I will have plenty of time to put some money aside for it but I’m going to get an iPhone 6 Plus, move to Vodafone and get an Airport Extreme base station before I make that big move. I’m all excited that by the end of November I’ll be debt free and able to move on with my life in a better direction – more money left over each week knowing I’m not servicing a massive burden of debt and feeling a whole lot better for it.

My boss wanted to know whether I was interested in moving to Porirua because he wants someone there who has strong analytical skills when it comes to understanding sales and stock data but to be completely honest I certain do not want to be travelling out from Avalon to Porirua each day – it is an hour there and hour back – something I don’t want to make a habit of especially given that I most likely won’t receive a pay rise or anything to compensate me for the extra travel. In the end I’m happy over at Johnsonville so I’ll stay there for the long term – or until the dream job comes along and I can cash up that 2-3 months worth of holidays I’ve been saving up lol.

Scooter is going well and I’ll be looking at taking it in for a service at the end of November but before then I’ll have to get my rego sorted out so if I have some spare cash I’ll probably get the yearly one but if things are tight next pay day I’d sooner buy some time (say three months) then once my debt is paid off I’ll buy up a yearly rego for my scooter. Funny enough though my back tire has a puncher leak but because I put some of that foamy stuff in the tyre itself the leak was plugged up and things are going well – I’ll wait till November and when they do the servicing I’ll get them to go for gold and replace the back tyre at the same time so I can hit two birds with one stone. A nice new back tyre and I’ll tell the guys at the shop to do a top to bottom servicing where I’ll drop it off on Monday and then pick it up on Tuesday. I’ve been using the Castrol Activ 2T which has been pretty good so far and the engine seems to be purring a long nicely. I used to go into Wellington to grab the oil from the store I bought the scooter from but the Castrol is good enough for what I need and it is a good brand as well with a good reputation.

Just having a look through Vimeo – US$59.95 for a subscription and I’ll probably upgrade my WordPress subscription to ‘Wordpress Premium’ which works out to be US$79.95 per year. Both of those will be great upgrades but I’ll keep with my iCloud service – the keychain, bookmark and other synchronisation facilities I’ve become so dependent upon I really can’t give them up. I need those niceties. I’ve just checked out the cost of the iCloud storage options – the US$4.99 per month looks tempting. Maybe when I get the flat rate internet I’ll find many creative ways of filling up that iCloud Drive – back up my music collection? given that Vodafone is upgrading their HFC network to 200Mps it leaves a lot of possibilities to take advantage of.

Going well, going well indeedy

Everything is going great so far with the latest Public Beta of OS X Yosemite having been released before the weekend (Public Beta 6) which was a 55MB download which seemed to touch all the frameworks place the kernel and a few extensions – the final touches on OS X Yosemite before the rumoured announcement on 16 October for its public final availability. During this time I was hoping to be able to avoid having to use Flash but in the end I found that for all the benefits of HTML5 video it wasn’t able to elegantly handle a dodgy connection – especially given that a server is located on the other side of the world and I’m down here in NZ where it isn’t possible to get a consistent streaming connection where as with Flash 15.0.0.189 (which is Yosemite compatible) I’ve been able to watch my favourite television shows without stuttering etc.

Debt paying is going great with the goal of getting it all paid off by the end of November – once all sorted out I’ll be looking at moving back to ASB Bank (including my Kiwisaver) then purchase an iPhone 6 Plus once it has been made available – I’ll pass along my HTC One M8 to my brother as either a Christmas present or a late one to replace his Samsung Galaxy S3. In the long run I’m looking at replacing my iMac and MacBook Pro with hopefully a Retina MacBook Pro and Retina iMac along with moving over to Vodafone once their 200mbps cable network comes online. Then some time down the track I’ll look at purchasing a 150cc scooter to replace my 50cc one which I’ll use in conjunction with getting a learners motorcycle licence which will provide me with greater mobility in the long term especially when it comes to travelling long distances at a reasonable speed (anything above 60kmph and I’d be a happy chap).

Looking forward to moving back to my iPhone but I’ve already moved back to iCloud then once I move back to an iPhone plus I’m going to delete my Gmail account then jump to using Vimeo for my video hosting of which I’ll do the occasional video but it won’t be on a weekly basis because to dedicate an amount of time to making videos takes quite a chunk out of the day especially when one considers getting the material ready, practicing, re-doing the video when there are mistakes etc. which all take time. Vimeo does some good video hosting and it avoids the trolls plus the videos keep their original quality a lot better than when I upload to YouTube. Hopefully once I get flat rate internet with unlimited downloads then it’ll become a greater possibility of being able to do move videos and other bandwidth heavy stuff for my blog in the future.

Anyway, got a closing shift tomorrow then back to the usual store for three days then back on Sunday to do an end of week at another store – feeling a bit like a ball in a pin ball machine being bounced around between different stores. Oh well, each pay packet gets me closer to paying off my debt and being debt free by the time Christmas rolls around – about to splurge on some presents without any guilt associated with spending up without accumulating any debt.

Another week, another step closer to victory against my war against debt

Another week has come and gone with my pay coming through tomorrow and I’ll be on track to pay off the last bit of debt which will tidy things up before Christmas rolls along this year. With this move towards financial bliss I’ve been looking into the future – although I love my HTC One M8 I’m going to end up giving it to my brother has a present and then purchase an iPhone 6 Plus when it becomes more readily available. I’ve continued to use iCloud because the problems I was experiencing had nothing to do with iCloud but actually with the mobile provider I am with – constant data connection issues being something that has plagued Spark (previously Telecom NZ) for years and only made worse by the fact that they’ve got a frankenstein of a system which is a mixture of Huawei, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent where it is a miracle that these systems actually talk to each other let alone function in some reasonable way. Where as Vodafone can easily manage their network based on having it all supplied from the same vendor there is Spark trying to keep what they have going – maybe they would have been better off choosing Huawei and replacing their Alcatel-Lucent 3G setup with a pure Huawei SingleRAN 3G and 4G equipment and use Ericsson software for all the ‘behind the scenes’ heavy lifting required thus avoiding what they have today.

December rolls around and I’ll be outside of the Sky and Spark contract which will make it easier to move providers – I’ll need to keep an eye on what is on offer so that I can take advantage of any possible deals but the one thing I am not going for is pay television again. Right now I’m paying around $60 per month for something that I might watch 12-15 hours worth each week and mainly as a radio playing in the background whilst I’m on the internet in much the same way that you leave the radio on for the dog so that it feels as though there are humans are around. It is a whole lot better value for me to throw Sky out the door and go for a flat rate internet option and grab the $69 mobile plan from Vodafone (Red+ Essentials) on an open plan then combine it with a Vodafone cable option 100Mbps it is looking like a good option. Regarding the iPhone 6 Plus, I’ll buy it direct from Apple on the 12 months interest free offer through GEM Visa that avoids the lock ins with carriers. I’ve got a spare sim card here from Vodafone and tried it with my HTC One M8 – very good signal, fast and reliable connection – a great experience all around.

16th October there is going to be a small presentation and the rumour has it that it will be an event for the launch of a refreshed iPad line up as well as the possibility of an iMac refresh – rumour has it that Apple have chosen AMD to be the GPU supplier and that they’re going to bring Retina display to the iMac line up. How much credence to I give such a rumour? it’s a 50/50 split but given out persistent the rumours have been regarding an Retina iMac being launched I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a refresh in time for Christmas to take advantage of those sales. I’m watching out and next year after getting and paying off the iPhone I’ll start the refresh where I’ll probably go for an iMac first with 256GB SSD given that the bulk of the storage I need will sit in my Drobo device which has 10TB of storage hooked up to my Thunderbolt port. Throw 16GB into the machine, up the GPU with a BTO option along with a faster CPU and it’ll give many years of service without having to worry about a rotating storage device going bad. The big question next is do I go for a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air given that I really don’t need the heavy lifting but at the same time if I get something a little more grunty from the outset then I’ll be covered for a good few years before I have to worry about replacing it in the future. Right now the limit of the MacBook Air is 8GB where as at least in the case of the MacBook Pro I can max it out at 16GB which will be more than enough for at least close to a decade given that even 8GB RAM 3 years after it became the standard is still more than adequate for the vast, vast majority of end users. Oh well, off to sleep to start off another week of fun and excitement at work.

Windows 10, Microsoft, Apple, OS X Yosemite: Different directions

On 30 September Microsoft conducted what they call a ‘media briefing’ ( link ) where the focus was giving the press and business customers which was akin to the ‘Back to Mac’ media briefing Apple gave to the media before releasing Mavericks – a reminder to the world that yes the organisation is still focused on the traditional markets and that there is an on going to focus to fix the past mistakes of being distracted on ‘other things’ which has given mixed messages to the customer base.

The media event focused on a certain amount of back peddling, a realisation that ramming a single user interface down the collective throat hasn’t won them favours especially when you consider that their enterprise has the capacity via the subscription to keep with the status quo where as the consumer, unless they’re savvy enough to ask for it, just tolerates the existence of Windows 8 because they have no other choice. So the net result is you’ve got 75% of Windows 8 consumers where as the 25% I’d hazard to guess being small businesses buying off the shelf from the local Warehouse Stationery.

The first demonstration was the return of the start menu or more specifically a start menu that was context aware an adapted accordingly – if you’re in tablet mode then the Start Screen but when in desktop mode it opened up as a start menu. Something that should have been the situation from day one but better late than never – maybe enough enterprise customers telling Microsoft that re-enventing the wheel and disrupting a tried and tested work flow isn’t going to win one favours in the real world.

They then talked about how they were fine tuning the interface, the introduction for example of windowed ‘Modern UI’ which looked great but once again in the usual Microsoft fashion they take a good idea and fail to take it to it’s logical conclusion. The mail application actually looks pretty damn good and I could imagine that if they moved all their middleware over such as Skype along with all the applications which make up ‘Live Essentials’ then have a single set of applications that work both on the tablet and desktop. Where things are let down is the lack of drive to move Windows (the UI) and it’s bundled applications (Internet Explorer, Notepad, Wordpad, Calculator etc) along with the configuration tools to a unified experience sitting on top of WinRT meaning that the win32 API would eventually become a compatibility layer rather than something that Windows was dependent upon. Settings for example should replace the control panel so then there is a single hub where all settings are made regardless of whether it is in desktop or tablet mode. Same can be said for the various other items such as networking, printers, scanners etc.

As much as I’d like to say, based on the very limited presentation, that Microsoft is getting itself back on course I can’t help but feel as though that this is back pedal rather than a course correction. As much as I would like to see Microsoft take a bold step to fix up the the inconsistencies but given their misstep with Vista then Windows 8 but then again this seems to be a pattern with Microsoft. It’ll be interesting to see how things are going when it comes to the OEM’s who are quickly embracing ChromeOS given that we’re now seeing not only NaCL (native applications in the browser) but also the ability to run Android applications on ChromeOS which might end up resulting in consumers opting for a platform which is backed by Google and high profile hardware vendors. Combine that with the move towards BYOD this might possibly be Microsoft’s undoing just as Blackberry found out the hard way with BYOD devices coming in to the workplace in the form of iPhone and Android handsets.

Long term is this the vision of Microsoft? if they bring Microsoft Office to Android and iOS along with OS X then focus on the delivery of services online and a focus on that with the operating system being treated as a means to an end then in the future are we going to eventually see Microsoft delivering the dominant hardware player in the Windows consumer market competing along side former OEM’s who are now banking on ChromeOS and Android? that Microsoft will eventually become the IBM of the software and hardware world where they become the heavy lifting entity behind it all rather than being a brand that is at the forefront of consumers minds when purchasing goods and services. Where Windows was the product associated with Microsoft the future will be Microsoft Office and its services will be associated with Microsoft along with tablets, smart phones etc. but what is really holding back things is the procrastination when it comes to fixing up their operating system – 30 years of code hoarding has resulting in a behemoth of an operating system where as both Apple and Google are blessed having the former start with a clean slate and Google not having to deal with legacy issues and a framework flexible enough to be adaptable to almost any scenario one could imagine. Where as Apple and Google can respond quickly you have Microsoft unable to because they didn’t make the compatibility breaking changes 15 years ago and now they’re so far down the road that the opportunity is too far gone – too many businesses have too much tide up in the status quo and the lack of any drive to offer something better will keep entrenching in the status quo for longer.

As for me for what it is worth – it has pretty much re-enforced my position to remain with the Mac platform.  The reality is that Windows 10 wouldn’t have changed anything but it would have been nice to at least see something that was remotely tempting by addressing long standing issues but as so long as they make the micro-steps I’m for ever going to remember my Windows experience with bad memories – webcam applications not being able to capture video without losing frames left, right and centre, the general shitty UI inconsistencies that make using Windows a jarring experience and the recent versions of Windows merely re-enforcing the problem the combine it with the wall to wall poorly written applications, an operating system that can break just by looking the wrong way etc. no thank you – having worked a 50 hour week or a long day at work the last thing I want to have to do is give my computer some TLC just so I can sit back and chill out watching the latest episode of Ray Donovan or The Blacklist.

From iCloud to Google, iPhone 5S to HTC One M8

Been a busy couple of days as I’ve gradually moved over to my Gmail account and changed the email addresses for the various services and billing to point to my Gmail address as well. Along with the move to Gmail there has been a move to also embracing Chrome which, I have to say, with the bundled adblocker I’m able to surf the web without having to deal with the onslaught of crap that usually gets directed my way. There are however a few sites were I manually allow advertisements to be shown because they not only create good content but the advertisements they use aren’t distracting and as such I’m quite happy with the funds generated from such advertisements going towards the running cost of said website. I’ve also embraced Chrome which has enabled me to keep the bookmark and password synchronisation – the memory usage and speed will improve once Chrome 64bit hits Mac on November this year ( link ) energy efficiency, memory efficiency and CPU efficiency should improve over all which should make the experience a lot smoother. As for the Gmail account – I’m using Airmail for my email client – looking forward to the 2.0 update which I’ve been trying out with the latest beta builds that have been made available – very much a pleasant experience so far.

The phone is going great so far particularly around the audio quality – being able to drive large ‘can’ head phones that my iPhone 5S at times I would put up to full volume and find that it still wasn’t very loud. I’ve also thrown in a 64GB microsd card and then pointed the HTC Sync Manager to the microsd card for music sync where as I’m leaving the internal memory for applications. So far so good. Oh and interesting enough when setting up my phone there is a website registration portion – Outlook.com is offered as a service to be setup if one is interested, I hope that is Microsoft realising that if they’re going to enter the service business it requires catering for everyone – not just those who use your operating system platform.