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    Newsletter Issue #1021: The Apple Hardware Updates We May Not Need

    October 17th, 2021

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear: This story doesn’t mean Apple’s hundreds of millions of customers no longer care about buying new iPhones. Or any other hardware from them. It doesn’t necessarily even apply strictly to Apple, although that remains the focus of this column. But it does show how tech companies have more or less surpassed what customers need to get stuff done.

    This is what I mean:

    Over the years, whenever I bought a new Mac — or a new iPhone — there would be a tremendous boost in performance over the previous model with just one exception. That was the first model with a PowerPC chip in 1994.

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    Newsletter Issue #1019: The Road to Becoming Obsolete

    July 17th, 2021

    No, this article is not so much about electronic gadgetry than a personal observation, something that one might regard as inevitable. But I’ll pull through it.

    So over the years, I was always more or less at the front of the line in buying new computing hardware. Not that I had lots of money to burn, but I was able to juggle my finances in such a way as to be able to finance the latest and greatest gear from Apple.

    Now having current gear really didn’t help all that much with my productivity. After all, the actual performance boosts from year to year were generally fairly slight. Indeed, the 1994 introduction of the PowerPC chip was, for a while, a step behind. Almost all of the apps I used had to be run in emulation mode till they were updated — if they were updated. That meant existing basically two processor families behind. Apps launched slower, everything ran slower, and it wasn’t the chip matured, and apps came along, that things were improved noticeably.

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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 #1013: Apple’s M1 Macs: Must You Wait?

    December 29th, 2020

    If you’ve used Macs for a long time, say over 25 years, you might recall the original processor migration. Then it was the journey from Motorola 680×0 chips to the PowerPC, said to be the ultimate processor. But it wasn’t such a friendly change.

    For one thing, just about every app you used, even those from Apple, hadn’t made the trip to the new processor. So they had to run in emulation. So they’d run, more or less, about the same as Macs using the 68030 CPU, such as the IIci or the IIx. If you were upgrading from a Quadra, for example, using the 68040 CPU, you lost the performance advantage till the apps were updated.

    Now if you weren’t using Macs way back then — or weren’t even around — no worries. Most of this should be pretty clear anyway. Apple as “vintage” for several years), and a Late 2014 iMac (which has just been declared “vintage”).

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