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Whiskey Lately


 
Visual history of Apple designs

A neat slideshow of decades of Apple designs. It starts out with the wood-encased Apple kit and goes through various computers and devices. One of my favorites, the eMate, is missing, I’ve had a version of almost each of these products, especially from the late 80’s on. Not sure what that says about me, but a fun flashback.



Evernote Webclipper for Safari get big update

We have completely redesigned the Web Clipper to provide efficiency at each step. This update includes improved layout and annotation, as well as advanced options like highlighting and notebook selection.

I’m a big Evernote fan and the Webclipper is a reason why. Over the years the clipper has evolved to simply a way to shuttle webpages into Evernote to adding in tools for markup, organizing, and tagging. All these new features let you clip and forget, rather than going back into Evernote to make edits or organize.




Podcast: Looftlighter, Sapphire Glass, Robin Williams, Google Customer Service, plus more






Apple mission statement on its culture of diversity

Apple's report and this video seems to follow well the recent NYT article on Apple University. The video is a nice mission statement for the company's culture, or at least the goal for their culture.

CEO Tim Cook:

At Apple, our 98,000 employees share a passion for products that change people’s lives, and from the very earliest days we have known that diversity is critical to our success. We believe deeply that inclusion inspires innovation.

At Apple, we believe inclusion and diversity of experience and ideas drive creativity. As a company, we are committed to the advancement of equality and human rights. Narrated by Denise Young-Smith, VP, Human Resources, Apple.





A look at Apple University

Brian X Chen for New York Times:
In a version of the class taught last year, Mr. Nelson showed a slide of “The Bull,” a series of 11 lithographs of a bull that Picasso created over about a month, starting in late 1945. In the early stages, the bull has a snout, shoulder shanks and hooves, but over the iterations, those details vanish. The last image is a curvy stick figure that is still unmistakably a bull.

“You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,” recalled one person who took the course.

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.

My understanding was at least some of this professional development was geared at Apple being Apple without Steve Jobs. A shared culture is important to any organization. Understanding why things happened is important, but also important to share this knowledge with people who weren't there when it happened.

I'm curious how things are understood within Apple when there's a high level of compartmentalized secrecy. I wonder if these programs help current employees feel connected to things or if its purely presented within historical context?



iPhone 6 prank

Oh, Jonathan... making fun of random people with a bad knock-off 4.7-inch iPhone 6 running Android with an iOS skin.






Podcast: iPhone announcement date, traffic school, Apple-Samsung lawsuit, plus more




iPhone event reportedly set for September 9th

John Paczkowski for ReCode:
As with September events past, the focal point of this one is to be Apple’s next-generation iPhones, which are expected to feature larger displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches and run speedy new A8 processors.

Surprise! Apple will launch a new iPhone in September. And it will be faster with a bigger screen. Anyway, the here is it appears we have a specific date.



Apple, Samsung work towards burying the patent hatchet

Joint statement:
Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the companies said in the statement. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”

Apple has spent a good deal of attention and resources in battling Samsung. None of that adds any value to its customers, so best to button this up. At one time the lawsuits may have made some strategic sense, but likely that is long past.



OWC adds software RAID option for ThunderBay external storage

Other World Computing announced a bundle solution of its ThunderBay 4 RAID 5 enclosure with SoftRAID. OWC says the software RAID solution offers greater performance for the money vs hardware solutions.
“Going this route offers an extremely competitive price point with exceptional flexibility, advanced RAID / drive health monitoring features, and up to 35% higher performance compared to other RAID 5 hardware solutions that typically cost twice as much,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, OWC.

The software solution promises performance of up to 675 MB/sec sustain read/write speeds in a RAID 5 configuration. RAID 5 offers redundancy with a spare drive. If one drive goes down, the RAID will continue to perform. Once the failed drive is replaced, the RAID will rebuild itself.

In addition to flexibility and performance, SoftRAID offers unique tools for Mac users with drive monitoring and email notifications.

The ThunderBay 4 features dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, which allow daisy chaining other Thunderbolt devices. The ThunderBay 4 supports a 4K display or up to six additional ThunderBay enclosures.

Pricing starts out at $689.99 for 4 TB model and options go up to 20 TB. A bare kit is also available for adding your own drives.





Recent Articles

The Verge: Comcast’s internal customer retention guide

The Verge has posted Comcast’s “Quality Guidelines” for customer retention. This goes back to the Ryan Block interaction with a customer retention rep a few weeks ago. Nothing is really shocking, but still interesting. There are a few situations where a Comcast rep is instructed to not press for retention, such as the account holder dying.

This gave me a chuckle though:
If a customer wants to check with their roommates before agreeing to a sale, the rep is supposed to communicate urgency by reminding the customer how tough it is to get an installation appointment.

So, the reason you need to stick with Comcast is because their service is so crappy you might have a hard time getting an appointment later? OK.



Lightning dockStubz connector helps solve problem of docking with a case

CableJive recently released a lightning version of its dockStubz line of adapters. The adapter is essentially a male/female pass-through spacer using Apple’s Lightning connector. The adapter allows users to dock their iPhone 5/5s/5c even with the most bulky of cases. So, for example, if you have a speaker dock, you can dock the phone with say an Otterbox Defender or a waterproof case.

I’ve been playing around with the adapter and it seems a good solution.

The dockStubz for Lightning comes with the adapter and an additional spacer. This allows for some flexibility for the specific case used. dockStubz for Lightning is available now for $18.95.



iPassword offering extension for third party iOS 8 apps

AgileBits announced support for third party developers to link into iPassword. Basically app developers can hook into iPassword for user credentials. iOS 8 for the first time allows app to talk to each other, which will greatly simplify keeping strong credentials for apps and services.

1Password App Extension for iOS from AgileBits on Vimeo.




MacBook Pro lineup gets Haswell CPU bump, more memory

Tuesday morning a refreshed line up for the MacBook Pro appeared on Apple’s online site. Changes include speed bumped processors utilizing recently released Haswell chips from Intel. New stock CPUs now go up to 2.5 GHz quad-core i7 in the 15-inch version and 2.8 GHz dual-core i5 in the 13-inch. The 15-inch also got upgraded to 16 GB of memory across the board.

Build to order options allow for 2.8 GHz quad-core Core i7 in the 15 inch with up to 1 TB flash storage. On the 13-inch, customers can add on a 3.0 GHz quad-core i7, 16 GB of memory, and the same 1 TB storage options.



Podcast: Walkie-talkies, iOS 8 betas, CES and much more

This week we reminisce about Walkie-talkie adventures, iOS 8 betas, lack of new Apple products, and CES.




FLIR One Thermal iPhone case goes on pre-order

The FLIR One was one of the more interesting Apple-related things I saw at this year’s CES. The product is a case for the iPhone 5/5s that adds thermal optics to the phone. It was a pretty cool demo.

The FLIR One is available now for pre-order for $349. It’s expected to ship starting August 7th. The only down side I think is the timing with a potential new iPhone. Before dropping $350 on an accessory, you might want to consider whether or not you plan to upgrade to the next iPhone, which will almost certainly have a new form factor.




New MacBook Air stickers ad



Whoever is selling MacBook stickers is probably going to have a good week.



A detailed look at Yosemite and iOS 8 Continuity features

Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica:
First, as with the phone call feature, any devices you want to use with Handoff need to be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID, which also happens to pair them via Bluetooth.

Once you've signed in to the same iCloud account, our old friend Bluetooth 4.0 is responsible for keeping each of your devices informed about what the others are doing. Open a webpage on your iPad, and it will let any paired devices nearby know that they can open that page. Start writing an e-mail, and it will let those devices know that you're writing an e-mail.

There are a list of features, but Handoff to me is one of the most interesting. I do drift between devices depending on the situation. With Handoff I suspect I won’t have to think as much about which device to work on. Just start with whatever is at hand and if needed I can (hopefully) seamlessly jump to another.



Maroon 5, Pharrel Williams, Beck headline iTunes Festival

Apple announced Monday its 8th annual iTunes Festival in London. This year’s concert festival will feature performances by Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Beck, Sam Smith, Blondie, Kylie, David Guetta, 5 Seconds of Summer, Calvin Harris, Chrissie Hynde.

iTunes Festival will feature over 60 acts throughout September at the legendary Roundhouse. iTunes performances can be watched live or on-demand by millions of iOS users around the world on their iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch and iTunes on their computer or in stunning HD with Apple TV. Tickets are free for competition winners only.



Comcast vs Ryan Block

Ryan Block, formerly of Engadget:
Please note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in -- by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

It sounds like this customer service rep has a gun to his head. Comcast responded to Vice.com saying "This isn't how our customer service representatives are trained to operate."

I really doubt that rep is that crazy aggressive without fearing for his job. So, yeah, Comcast doesn't train their people to act insane, but using fear and intimidation can make people act insane. That's tactic might help make quarterly numbers, but obviously makes for awful customer service.




Apple launches Swift developer blog

This new blog will bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the Swift language by the engineers who created it, in addition to the latest news and hints to turn you into a productive Swift programmer.

Apple is not know for blogging about anything, much less “behind-the-scenes” stuff. This is a pretty interesting outreach effort to get developers interested in Apple’s new programming language. The blog is a part of a larger public site on Apple’s developer website.

Swift was announced at WWDC this year as a new system for developing apps for iOS and OS X.

It will be interesting to see future posts, but I’ll guess this might be geared more towards new or casual Apple developers. From the reaction at WWDC, current developers for the most part seem eager to jump on board.



LEGO Fusion looks pretty neat

LEGO is coming out with four new Fusion kits that are designed to work with iOS devices. Basically using the special blocks, you can capture your creation using the camera on an iPhone or iPad. The LEGO app will then translate your creation into an interactive digital form. Sounds pretty cool. Expected to ship in August or September.

Below is a teaser video. Note that it’s stuffed with misleading “simulated graphics” but you get can an idea of how it works with some device shots.




Tim Cook’s leadership and innovation

Tim Cook and Apple are very private and we’re left to piece together clues on how Apple’s culture is changing with Cook as CEO.

Daisuke Wakabayashi for WSJ:
Inside Apple, Mr. Cook is less hands-on when it comes to product development, according to people familiar with the matter. Presented with a list of product ideas, Mr. Jobs quickly dismissed most with an expletive, said people who worked with both men. Mr. Cook tends to encourage staffers with comments like "let's push that forward" or "let's see what we can do with that" in his Southern drawl, a remnant of his Alabama upbringing.

Mr. Jobs's repudiations bruised feelings while making sure the company stayed focused on a few projects. Under Mr. Cook, current and former employees say Apple may be spreading itself too thin, pursuing too many ideas and compromising the "laser focus" that Mr. Jobs used to create the iMac, iPhone and iPad.

"It was Steve's job to say no," one of these people said. "Tim is not as comfortable doing that."

Jobs famously had good instincts and his personality was such he could push people to excel. Some of that was a cult of personality, but also fear of disappointing Steve and getting in the crosshairs of his turret. That’s not typically a conducive culture for innovation and risks, but Apple and Jobs made it work. Jobs is credited for a lot of that success using his unique skills, experiences, and personality.

In this situation, a downside was Jobs was the safety net at Apple. Employees could present ideas knowing Jobs would kill it if it wasn’t good or force them to go back if it wasn’t good enough. It sounds like Cook instead empowers employees to make more of these decisions. It also seems widely accepted that this is a weakness when it’s not. Certainly that’s going to result to some stumbles as the teams at Apple learn to fly without Jobs as a safety net. I think, however, it has the potential to make Apple even better without Jobs.

Either way, it certainly would be better than if someone other than Jobs tried to be Steve Jobs.



Detailed look at iOS 8 Privacy

Luis Abreu:
I’ve gathered this information by watching over 17 hours of WWDC 2014 sessions and carefully reviewing, analyzing what was said, and writing a huge number of notes on Security, Privacy, UX and other areas which I will be publishing here in the coming weeks.

This came across the Twitters and is a great effort. It's was posted last month and incomplete, but what's there is pretty interesting stuff. Hopefully Luis will finish the project.



IBM's Watson in the kitchen

Bon Appetit:
Developed by IBM, Chef Watson is a complex piece of software that essentially discovers and invents dishes, using what it’s learned from Bon Appétit‘s 9,000-odd recipes, plus its own understanding of which chemical flavor compounds go together (and which don’t). Through a Web app, Chef Watson had asked Perry for some basic inputs—a specific ingredient to use, a type of dish to create, a theme—and returned her a dizzying array of ingredient lists for her Fourth of July menu..

That's pretty cool. The version discussed here just give a list of ingredients and the cook needed to figure out how to assemble. Sort of like a version of the TV show Chopped. Apparently a newer version includes cooking instruction for the ingredients.





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