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Tag: Apple

Practical Meter for USB Charging

Posted by Andrew at 5:09 PM on November 13, 2013

Practical MeterWith the plethora of USB charging power sources and charging rates, it was probably inevitable that someone would develop a meter to measure the power going to a device. The bragging rights go to Utah-based Power Practical and the Practical Meter, a USB in-line power meter. Looking much like a USB dongle, 5 LEDs show the power transfer from 1 W up to 10 W.

Originally a Kickstarter campaign that met its funding back in the July raising nearly $170,000, the Practical Meter has been today recognised as International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree.  “Just last week we shipped out the 10,000 pre-order units we received during our Kickstarter campaign to have the Practical Meter come to market,” says Matt Ford, CEO of Power Practical. “It’s crazy that a week later we’re being honored by something as prestigious as the CES Innovations awards.

As a pure USB device, it will work with anything that charges via USB such as smartphones, mp3 players or battery packs. Practical Meter is available now for $24.99 online and includes a 3-in-1 fast charge cable with mini-USB, micro-USB and Apple connectors.

Practical Meter Charging

Mac Mini Upgrade

Posted by tomwiles at 5:04 PM on November 4, 2013

I have two Mac Mini’s — one of them I use as a computer, and the other I use as an over-the-air HD-DVR connected to my home theater.

I decided to upgrade the machine as I use as a computer to an SSD hard drive, replacing the stock 5400 RPM drive. I replaced it with a Crucial M500 240GB SATA 2.5-Inch 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive CT240M500SSD1 purchased via Amazon for $159.99.

Dismantling a Mac Mini is quite a bit above my comfort level, so I took everything to a local Mac dealer I’ve had very positive dealings with in the past and paid them to make the swap.

The results are nothing short of phenomenal. Restarting the machine to fully back up takes about 29 seconds. Curiously, starting the computer from pressing the power button to fully up takes 24 seconds. This is much, much faster than boot-up sequence with the original 5400 RPM hard drive installed,

The machine has 8 gigabytes of RAM installed. Even with that much RAM, the overall feel of the computer once booted up is quite snappy comparing it directly to the otherwise identical HD-DVR machine that is still running it’s original 5400 RPM stock drive.

Hands down the best bang-for-the buck upgrade for any computer is an SSD drive. The speed boost is stark and will make a huge difference even on a machine with only 2 gigabytes of installed RAM.

If you have an older machine, particularly a laptop that has a decent processor but is in need of a serious speed bump, consider an SSD drive.

SSD prices are still high compared to conventional spinning drives, however I’ve found that simply adjusting my thinking a bit makes SSD drives much more affordable. A 120 gigabyte SSD drive sells for around $100 on Amazon. In an era of giant, inexpensive conventional external hard drives and ubiquitous home networks, it makes much more sense to use those external drives as shared storage to store photos, videos and other media, and get away from the idea of storing stuff on the computer itself. By using a 120 or 240 gigabyte SSD as the boot drive, it becomes possible to enjoy a massive computer speed boost and move media off to networked or external storage.

Mac OSX Mavericks: First Impressions

Posted by J Powers at 9:34 AM on October 23, 2013
Mavericks

Mavericks

Yesterday OSX 10.9 Mavericks was released for Mac and Macbook devices. In a new direction, Apple decided to make the update free and was available just after the keynote. Better battery life and iBooks integration were the keys of the system update. The biggest feature being Mac computers as old as 2007 will be able to install the OS.

My Macbook Pro is the 2011 model with AMD Radeon HD 6750M video graphics on top of the Intel HD Graphics (the card switches on video-intense processes). I have a Hybrid HD inside.

How the Battery Life was Extended

In Mountain Lion, I had processes stuck that would make the computer work harder. For example: When I left home I would close the lid to my Macbook Pro (Chrome being the primary window open). I would get to my destination and open the lid. Instantly, Chrome would have processes that stopped responding but would never close – such as Google Chrome Helper.

I would check my processes as the Macbook started heating up and the fan would go wild. Chrome was at 200% and its child processes also were working harder than normal. To fix this, I would have to close Chrome and go back in.

Chrome wasn’t the only program that did that. Photoshop, Audition and other non-Apple apps would also hold onto the processor.

Now with the addition of App Nap it looks like those processes are in check and ones not responding are not holding the processor hostage.

Safari and Battery Life

Safari saves battery life by not running any processes that are not within the viewing screen. At first I thought it was a virtual webpage screen – similar to what your iPhone or iPad will load up. When I scrolled through a process-intense website there were no blank spots waiting for the page to continue loading.

iTunes HD Playback

I had a friend that installed Golden Master last week. He was very impressed he could watch a whole movie without plugging in, so I had to test it out when I loaded Mavericks. I watched a full movie on a fully charged battery and still had plenty of time to do other things. Apple states its a 35% savings.

cool to the touch

cool to the touch

My Macbook Pro is Cooler

I bought one of those lap-desks because my Macbook Pro would get really hot after working for only 15-20 minutes. The fans would spin out of control to keep the machine cooler.

Today, I have been working for over 90 minutes and I can lift my Macbook up and place my hand on the bottom without feeling discomfort. Makes me wonder if there was a major bug in Mountain Lion…

iBooks

iBooks

iBooks on Mavericks

I have a non-retina display, but my model is an enhanced display (pre-retina I believe). I wanted to test out iBooks on my laptop. I was able to access my books and of course get more from the store. The pages flipped with a swipe on the touchpad.

With a simple command+ and command- I could increase and decrease font size. I could also highlight sections and post notes then be able to see the highlights on my iPad.

Maps on Mavericks

I do have to admit – I am impressed with how the maps works. I looked through my city and even found my house – saw my car sitting in the driveway. Unfortunately I didn’t get the 3D view like if I lived in San Francisco. Nonetheless, I was able navigate through and have a good comprehension of where I was.

Tagging Everything

In Mavericks you have the opportunity to tag everything for easier search. Since I wasn’t tagging things before, I probably won’t be using this feature. It all depends on how easy I can navigate Mavericks without tags.

Other features include an improved calendars and the iCloud keychain. These items I don’t use because I have Google calendar and 3rd party keychain access. Still, during setup I was able to sign in and put on a secondary sign-in email.

One 3rd party program I run called “Cinch” (snaps a window to full screen or half screen like in Windows 8) had to allowed in my security settings to run. It was the only program that required an extra step for me.

I also had to install Java Runtime to continue using my Adobe products (Photoshop, Premier Pro, etc).

Ultimately, I am really enjoying the power saver and cooler Macbook Pro. For these two reasons its a good idea to update your Mac to Mavericks. The additional programs (including an updated iMovie and Garageband) updated without issue. The update took this Macbook Pro about an hour to complete – although times will vary between different models.

Rovio gets ready for tricks and treats

Posted by Alan at 5:32 AM on October 22, 2013

angry birds friends halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and, as in previous years, Rovio is celebrating via its popular mobile games. In the past this has consisted of an update to Angry Birds Seasons, but this time around the developers are taking a different approach.

The Finnish company is rolling out two updates, this time adding zombie pigs to both the Bad Piggies game, as well as Angry Birds Friends, the weekly tournament game.

“This is the Halloween when Zombie Pigs will walk the Piggy Island! A new update for Bad Piggies, called Tusk ‘til Dawn, kicked off the Halloween celebrations by introducing 30 spooky new levels with scary Zombie Pigs searching for King Pig’s candy”, the company has announced.

In addition, beginning October 23 there will be a special Halloween tournament live on Angry Birds Friends. “Don’t worry! You’ll have new custom slingshots to fight the hordes of the oinking dead. You can purchase a new slingshot with a special power that will apply to all birds shot with it. You can change the slingshots for each bird, and once purchased you can use them permanently in both web and mobile versions of the game”.

Both updates are now available in the Google Play store and the Apple store.

Perfect Packaging by Orlebar Brown

Posted by Andrew at 4:17 PM on October 20, 2013

Apple’s a master at the complete end-to-end user experience and has elevated product packaging to an art form. Tech companies aren’t the only ones at this; I recently ordered some swim shorts from Orlebar Brown and this nondescript box arrived in the post.

Orlebar Brown Box

Pretty dull on the outside but open the box up and everything is a visual and sensory treat. The inside of the box is a rich red, the swimwear (not shown) is neatly folded within a branded drawstring bag, the clothing tags are quality card, and with Orlebar Brown one doesn’t simply get a receipt stuffed in the box; one gets a receipt in a crisp brilliant white envelope, reminiscent of an invite to an exclusive event. Glorious.

Orlebar Brown Inside Box

In all honesty, I have never seen mail order done better – I’m sold and I’m now customer for life. And that’s before I’ve even put on the swim shorts, which are equally fabulous. Now, if I can just get that six pack sorted over the winter.

Was Steve Jobs Right? iPhone 5c Not Selling As Well as Expected

Posted by J Powers at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2013
iPhone 5c

iPhone 5c

One thing I liked about Steve Jobs philosophy – he never looked backwards. When he put out a product, the version lines were drawn and you would either pay for quality or go without. Maybe his ideals were based on more than feeling. Just today, Business Insider reports that Analyst Ming-Chi Quo just slashed their estimate of iPhone 5c by one third. The phone isn’t selling that well even with the high-profile colors.

If you notice in the market, the 5c is getting some discounts. Best Buy is the first to offer a $100 trade-in credit of any smartphone for an iPhone. With contract, that makes the iPhone 5c free.

But why would you want a 5c for free when you can get a 5s for $100?

The Steve Jobs Days at Apple

Jobs focus was on the quality of a product. After all – he wanted to change the world. You don’t change the world by moving backwards.

Back in 1989, Jobs told Inc. magazine, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” So when you take an iPhone and make it affordable and looking good, then dangle a better iPhone in people’s faces for only $100 more, which phone would the public end up choosing?

That is why Apple didn’t have 3rd party computer manufacturers. That is why Apple fought tooth and nail when hackintosh maker Psystar tried to force their way in the market.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs photo: Matt Yohe

iPad Mini the Exception?

When Kindle came out and everyone was clamoring for a smaller iPad, Jobs was very vocal about it. He even said the iPad mini was not in Apple’s focus. From an article on AllthingsD: 

“The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit [a lower] price point,” Jobs said. “It’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software. As a software driven company, we think about the software strategies first.”

When the iPad mini came out, it had the older processor and no retina screen – like an iPad2. The response was decent enough to keep it going – but it really felt like Apple was taking a small chance since it didn’t put the power in the mini that the 4th generation iPad had.

Why the iPhone 5c Isn’t Doing Well?

The reality is this: iPhone 5c was nothing more than the iPhone5. It would have been better to just re-issue the 5 with less internal memory like they did with the previous releases.

Some are also disappointed that Apple didn’t move past the 4″ screen. Even Steve Wozniak has been vocal about the display size. Rumors piqued of Apple trying different options and left people scratching their heads when it didn’t happen.

Now, rumors are flying again – maybe the next model will have it… maybe.

So should Apple look back? They haven’t on their Mac lines and the new Mac Pro looks very impressive – as long as it performs as good as it looks. The iPad mini does fit a niche but it shouldn’t be a step back. Most important – the case change is only important if it has features we never expected we needed – giving it that “Wow” factor that takes it one step past the consumer expectation. That is Apple in Steve Job’s eye.

iPhone Speed Test Comparison with Every Version of iPhone

Posted by J Powers at 7:41 AM on September 30, 2013


Do you wonder how the iPhone 5S compares to the first version? Maybe you just want to compare between 5S and 5 or 4S to see if you really want to upgrade. If you don’t have every iPhone to test your theories out on, then check out this video by Everything Apple Pro.

This YouTube video tries to show you how fast the different iPhones react. The 5S, 5C, 5, 4S and 4 all with iOS7 and the 3GS, 3G and 2G (EDGE) with their highest level of iOS software.

Things We Learned from this iPhone Speed Test

  • Some cases, the 2G out-performed the newer models (it turns off the fastest, for sure).
  • 5S shows its lightning speed (when connected to Wifi)
  • You can see the size progression from each model
  • Unlocking all of them at once is pretty sweet!

It also shows that unless you want the fingerprint sensor and M7 co-processor functionality or if you want a colorful iPhone and the dynamic background of iOS7, then upgrading from the 5 or 4S might not be necessary at this time.

Jazooli’s Portable Tablet Desk Stand Review

Posted by Andrew at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2013

For some time I’ve been looking for a decent desk stand to hold my 10″ tablet but all the ones tried so far have some annoyance or niggle. Usually the stand wouldn’t work well with the tablet still in its case, but others would be bulky, flimsy, only for the iPad or just plain rubbish. The good news is that I think I’ve found the answer in the shape of Jazooli‘s “Portable Lightweight Universal Foldable Desk Stand“. They’re fibbing a little with the “lightweight” but in all other respects this is a good product. It’s solid metal, folds up, has two positions and works while the tablet is in its case. Perfect!

When folded up, the Jazooli is nice and slim, fitting neatly into a little pouch. At 200g, it’s not what I would call lightweight but the mass does mean it’s not easily knocked over.

Jazooli Folded

There are two ways that the stand can be stood up. Here it is in the upright position, which is good for viewing movies or keeping an eye on Twitter.

Jazooli Upright

For typing on the tablet, the stand has a reclined mode, aka “I-dont-want-everyone-else-in-the-office-to-see-I’m-on-Facebook-instead-of-working” mode. This position works well with ultrabooks, notebooks and small laptops to give an angle to the keyboard.

Jazooli Lying Back

There’s an extra smaller leg that pops out from the main support – it’s more obvious in this close up. The metal finish is better seen in the image too.

Jazooli Close-up

Finally, here’s what the stand looks like with a 10″ Android tablet on board. Note that the tablet is still in its case.

Jazooli Stand with Tablet

 

In summary, Jazooli’s portable foldable desk stand is currently my favourite tablet stand. Obviously your needs may not be the same as my needs but as it’s currently available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 and from Amazon.com for $2.55, it’s hard to go wrong!

[Disclosure: this was a personal purchase]

Apple Discontinued their Cards App

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2013

Apple LogoApple has decided to discontinue their Cards iOS app service. September 10, 2013, was the last day it was usable. The service is no longer available.

If you were someone who used, and enjoyed, the Cards app this news may come as a disappointment. Apple says that you will still be able to view your previous purchases by opening the app and tapping “Saved Cards”. That is the only function that the app will continue to have.

What are your options for replacing the app? Apple suggests that you use iPhoto instead. In the announcement about the discontinuation of the Cards iOS app, Apple points out that you can order letterpress cards, customized with your photos and text, through iPhoto.

You place your order, and the cards will be shipped to you “through a carrier such as FedEx rather than through the United States Post Office”. I’m not sure why Apple has decided against using USPS, but there you are. Apple has a page with lots of information about iPhoto Print products that you can check out if you are considering using iPhoto as a replacement of the Cards app.

The Apple M7 Co-Processor: What it Is, What it Does

Posted by J Powers at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2013

Apple-M7Last time I had to deal with co-processors was in the 90′s when I put in a 386SX/DX combo into a PC. Technically, co-processors are in your computer still – just as one chip. However, Apple has separated the processors once again with the iPhone 5S. The A7 and the M7 processor.

The A7 processor will be the primary processing unit for your iPhone. A chip that brings the smartphone to 64-bit processing, the A7 will be able to give you some great gameplay while managing your apps and even using the muli-task features of iOS7.

The M7 is going to handle the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass information. This instantly turns your phone more into a pedometer, heart-rate monitor, location tracker and more.

The M7 runs at lower power so it doesn’t drain your battery when you are on a walk or run. It can also free up CPU time from the A7 chip so location-based apps work a little better.

Expect the healthcare industry to utilize this chip as they put out more apps that can monitor your health. Companies like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband can utilize this chip for their exercise apps. If an iWatch is in the works, it could possibly have monitors that would report straight to the M7. As for location tracking, the M7 will be able to geo-tag photos and video better.

Ultimately, with this co-processor, Apple has been able to tout a 40x difference in speed and 56x graphics difference from the original iPhone. It even is close to doubling the speed of a iPhone5 (from the chart Apple provided at the event).

The 5S breaks some new boundaries. The M7 chip looks to give location tracking and healthcare apps the ability to build strong programs that help in your everyday life. If it all comes together right, the iPhone 5S could be a major shift in the mobile computing market.