Mac OSX Mavericks: First Impressions

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.

HBO A la Carte Option on Google Play

HBO-Go

One of the biggest frustrations for cord cutters is they cannot get premium TV shows from HBO or Showtime. Well, HBO has changed that (in a way). Shows like Game of Thrones, the Newsroom, True Blood and more will be found on Google Play starting at $1.99 per episode. You can even get full seasons at $19.

HBO said this was just the beginning of their partnership with Google Play. According to an article on Engadget, they plan to put more content up soon – including older shows and documentaries.

A la carte options are very similar to what iTunes does. I used to get all my episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad for $35. Only downfall is I would have to wait 24 hours for the shows to be uploaded and cataloged in iTunes.

This also doesn’t void any contracts with cable companies.

HBO will be rolling this out in the coming months.

One Billion Podcast Subscriptions

One Billion Podcast SubscriptionsWhile some people have suggested that podcasting is a dying art, the data indicates an entirely different reality. Apple announced on Monday, July 22, 2013, that there have been more than 1 billion podcast subscriptions through the iTunes store. Thats a big number!

If you visit the iTunes store today, and visit the part about podcasts, you will see the image that accompanies this blog. It is part of Apple’s special promotion to commemorate the 1 billion podcast subscriptions.

The data from Apple notes that the 1 billion subscriptions are spread over 250,000 unique podcasts. The podcasts are in over 100 languages. More than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes store (so far).

Those 1 billion podcast subscriptions do not necessarily equate to the same amount of “listens”. Many people, myself included, have fallen behind on listening to the podcasts that they have subscribed to. Personally, I have more podcast episodes that are sitting in my iTunes, waiting for me to get around to listening to them, than is reasonable. My intent is to get to them all, eventually!

Video Podcasts Behaving Like TV?

image

Roku

One of the downsides to Internet-based video content is that generally each new program being played back must be initiated by the user. This isn’t much of a problem if one is watching a full-length movie or television show via Netflix or Amazon Streaming. However, if one is watching short-form content like video podcasts such as “Film Riot” then watching a bunch of episodes in a row tends to be a bit more of a pain since each one must be started playing depending on the playback platform.

I discovered an interesting trick that the Roku is capable of using the free iTunes podcast database app that can be added from the Roku store on your Roku. The app connects with the iTunes podcast database and will display both video and audio podcasts. Select an episode and it will begin to play. If you select an older episode, either video or audio, it will play that episode and then automatically play all episodess that follow it in the correct order.

This is a very useful feature say if you want to catch up with several weeks’ worth of video podcasts. Each podcast plays automatically in the proper order. It is almost like being able to turn video podcast streaming into more of a conventional television viewing experience.

App Review: Image Resizer

This app is exactly what I needed! Recently, iTunes made a change to the specifications for show artwork for podcasts. Now, your image must be a 1400 x 1400 jpg. This made things a bit difficult for me.

For a while now, I have been creating original artwork for one of the podcasts that I am involved in. I have a background in Art Education, which means that every so often I just feel the need to create some hands-on, not done on a computer, type of art. After the art is finished, I would take a photo of it, upload the photo to my computer, and then use it as art for an episode of my podcast.

The new change meant that I wasn’t going to be able to do things as easily anymore. The photos I was taking were at least twice the specifications that I now needed to fit the artwork into. What I needed was an app that could quickly and easily resize that image for me, (without costing me a fortune to use it). I also needed it to be Mac compatible.

I started my search by clicking on the App store icon that was at the bottom of my screen. After a little looking around, I found an awesome little app called Image Resizer. It was created by Bitten Apps, and only cost $2.99. The price was nice, so I decided to give this little app a try.

I found it to be incredibly simple to use. Open the app, and an interface immediately pops up. Drag the image that you want to resize from your desktop, and drop it in the app. It will keep the image aspect ratio of the original image (unless you go and uncheck the box that tells it to do so).

Unlike some of the other image resizing apps, this one allows me to type in the dimensions that I want the image to be changed into. All I had to do was type 1400 into each box, and click the button that says “Resize!”. Just like that – I had turned an image of my artwork that was too big to use as podcast art into something that fit into iTunes new specifications. I highly recommend this app.

iTunes will not Shut Down

iTunes I have a Mac Mini with Lion and the latest version of iTunes installed. Occasionally iTunes will do something strange and today was one of those days. I was on iTunes listening to some music and podcasts. When I was finished I went to shut it down. After I shut it down it popped back open. I tried to shut it down again and the same thing happened. I then tried to force close it and still it popped open. The only way I could get rid of it was to shut the computer down by using the power button. This is not a practical solution so I started to do some research.

I started to search the Apple forums for an answer. The first answer I found said to repair your disk permissions. To repair permissions you go under Utilities, then Disk Utilities and then choose your home hard drive and then click repair disk permissions. Repairing disk permissions took about twenty minutes and when it was done, I restarted iTunes and then closed it down and again it popped back open. Another person suggested moving the iTunes .plist from the Preference folder which is in the Home Folder to the Desktop. So I tried that and again iTunes popped back open. I went back and re-entered the search string and realized I had been looking at an older forum. I found a more recent forum from 2011 and one of the posters commented that on occasion a dashboard widget can cause this problem. The light bulb went off in my head, when I remembered that I had attempted to use the Red Alarm Widget earlier in the day. I deleted the widget and that solved the problem.  I still not sure why it worked since when I reinstalled the widget and restarted iTunes with the alarm turned on, I was able to successfully close iTunes down. The same thing had happened once before several months ago and that time the problem application was Plex. Again when I uninstalled Plex and then reinstalled it everything worked normally.  Have you run into this problem and did you find a different solution. Finally does anyone know what is causing this problem to spring up every once in a while.

Apple Releases New iTunes Beatles Ad

It seems Apple thinks you may want to give the gift of the Beatles this holiday season as they have released a brand new iTunes Beatles ad.  The new ad comes right on the heels of a free children’s eBook hitting the iTunes store.  The Yellow Submarine eBook carried with it the simple “For Steve” dedication and tells the tale of the 1968 movie in the form of a children’s book, with clips from the film, animated illustrations, and a read-along from actor Dean Lennox Kelly.

The new TV ad, which was posted to YouTube by Apple yesterday, features a clip from the song Magical Mystery Tour as the video rolls seamlessly through a history of the Beatles albums with real and animated pictures.  The commercial excludes U.S.-only Beatles releases like “Meet the Beatles” and focuses exclusively on the core U.K catalog, ending with Abbey Road.  The ad ends with a simple “The Beatles on iTunes”.

With Beatles music still fairly new to the digital form and still just as popular as it was when it was released more than 30 years ago, it’s not really a surprise that Apple would put out this little reminder in time for holiday shoppers looking for just one more little gift.  The Beatles music has now reached a whole new generation of fans, including my own children who were 13 and 10 when we took them to their first concert two years ago – Paul McCartney won them over.

Starbucks’ Free Pick of the Week

Starbucks Coffee CupI’m possibly a bit slow on the uptake here, but Starbucks in the UK are offering a free “Pick of the WeekiTunes download. Some weeks it will be a music track, other weeks it will be an e-book, some will be well-known, some will be up-and-coming.

I came across this freebie last week while frequenting my local coffee house but after checking on-line, it looks like the promotion has already been running for a few weeks.

You’ll find little credit card-sized vouchers with a download code on the back close to the tills. I picked up The Damned United by David Peace. Enter the code into iTunes / iBooks and it’s added to your collection. Easy.

Jam Up Turns iPhone, iPad into One Big Effects Pedal

JamUp

JamUp

I’ve seen multi-effect processors for iPad before. We did a CES interview on a stompbox. Positive Grid (positivegrid.com) is another company offering effects pedal for iOS. Today, they announced JamUp, a new multi-effect guitar app and guitar interface for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

JamUp gives guitarists access to many tones. They also have the  iTunes Jam Player and the very first sound-on-sound phrase sampler.  With 24 hybrid amps/effects, 16 user presets, sound-on-sound phrase sampler, iTunes player and more, you might be able to replace your large pedal board with an iPad or iPhone.

“JamUp is the must-have guitar app on iPad or iPhone for guitar players,” remarked Calvin Abel, Product Manager at Positive Grid. “It channels the traditional multi-effect pedal into one single guitar app with a good number of jamming and practice features, plus the stunning user interface and convenient form-factor, giving you the ability to completely transform your rig with this one app.”

You can choose from 6 historic amp models and convolution cab simulator, spring and digital reverb, tangy modulations, tape and digital delays, classic and fuzzy distortions, filters, compressors, noise gate and other essentials. JamUp also has “play along” capabilities. Capture loops and riffs and create sound-on-sound overdubs.

You will need the special adapter to connect the guitar into your iPhone, however, if you already have that device from another program, you can easily use it with JamUp.

Two versions of the software: JamUp Lite (Launch Special 30 days free) and JamUp Pro ($19.99) are available in iTunes App-Store now. JamUp Plug US MSRP is $39.95.

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