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    Newsletter Issue #1018: Random Thoughts on the Upcoming Apple Silicon Macs

    May 25th, 2021

    As you might expect, the skeptics are looking hard to find problems with Apple’s first generation Macs with the M1 chip. They need something to do, but other than app developers who haven’t upgraded their goods to the new silicon, and a few glitches here and there, the rollout has been quite seamless. What’s more, high Mac sales clearly indicate customers are pleased, or at least the changes aren’t impediments to buying new gear.

    Now I’m sure most people who purchase new Macs aren’t concerned so much about the fine details of a new processor architecture. That’s all about we geeks getting involved in the nuts and bolts and Apple’s design choices.

    For the first release of the M1 Mac mini, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple followed the same tact used in the transitions from Motorola to PowerPC and from PowerPC to Intel. The external designs were virtually identical to the models they replaced except for the new hardware. As a practical matter, most everything you did to make the new Macs run was the same as the older Mac. The 24-inch iMac represents the first change, to a thinner, lighter form factor — and they come in colors, which makes it sort of a throwback to the second generation iMacs from over 20 years ago.

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    Newsletter Issue #1015: The M1 iMac: A Disappointment?

    April 21st, 2021

    Note: It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but not to worry. I haven’t given up on this site or this newsletter. But it’s also true that not a lot of things have happened with Apple other than hauling in record amounts of cash and selling iPhones at a greater rate than the analysts expected.

    Well, there is, of course, those “Spring Loaded” products Apple introduced on April 20th. But an iPad Pro isn’t on my shopping list; never has been. I gave up on Apple TV with the acquisition of a VIZIO SmartCast set some years back; the Apple TV app and AirPlay 2 are supported. So my third-generation Apple TV stays unused.

    But when it comes to iMacs, I have 24 years experience with them, and therein lies a tale.

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    Newsletter Issue #1012: About the Stuff Most of Us Don’t Care About

    December 1st, 2020

    I’ve worked for years as a tech journalist. I’ve written for a number of major publications, including a large national newspaper, USA Today, and thus I want to think that I have at least a passing idea of how the other half lives. In this case, other half means someone who can enjoy lots of tech gear without taking out the credit card or making monthly payments on it all.

    Now it’s not as if you actually get to keep the latest and most expensive gadgetry from Apple and other companies. Most expect you to return that stuff within a specified period of time. Apple, for example, has a loan program for reviewers. You — or the publication you work for — has to sign an agreement, and the gear must be returned on time. While extensions are sometimes granted, if you don’t return the items, you won’t be able to borrow any more. Despite having more money than many countries, Apple watches every dollar, and that certainly makes sense.

    Some companies let you hold onto the gear on an extended basis, meaning you probably don’t have to bother to return it. After all, it’s not as if the company will recondition and send the item to another reviewer, although some do that. So despite what some people think, I am not awash in tech gear. I have to actually pay for this stuff I own, so I have one iPhone, my wife has one iPhone and one dying iPad. My desktop gear consists of a 2010 MacBook Pro (regarded by Apple as “vintage” for several years), and a Late 2014 iMac (which has just been declared “vintage”).

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    Newsletter Issue #1010: Some Random Thoughts About Apple Silicon

    November 11th, 2020

    Branding is obviously quite important to Apple, and that branding needs to be simple, except when it’s not. So quite often one word will do, perhaps with a modifier to reflect the model number, but Apple can also add unneeded complexities. So I have an aging iMac; the full model designation is listed as “iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014),” and that’s about as awkward as you can get.

    Now the same naming scheme applies to all Macs. If Apple followed the auto industry, I’d have a 2014 27-inch Apple iMac, and maybe that’s not so much better. The iPhone, at the very least, can be more simply described, such as my wife’s iPhone 6s, but when it comes to the latest and greatest variation of a theme, it’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Sigh.

    So when the first batch of Macs with Apple Silicon debuted during Apple’s media presentation on Tuesday, November 10, I wondered just how the chips would be branded. The scuttlebutt had it that they were derived from the A14, and thus might be labeled A14X, using the same design scheme as the iPad, which often gets an enhanced version of an iPhone CPU.

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