Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist


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Apple’s evolving relationship with pro creatives

2006:

Here at Apple, we like to say we are at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. Creativity has always been in our DNA, so we are really thrilled to show you the best ecosystem for creating photography, video, and any kind of media.

Today we are announcing the new Mac Pro tower. This is a beautifully engineered tower case, with room for two optical drives, four internal storage drives and four PCI slots for graphics cards, audio, and anything else, all in one beautiful, rugged package.

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A few things for a slow Friday

Hey, everyone. Its Friday, and I know for a lot of you, the work starts to wind down. So here are a few things you shouldn’t miss today, while you’re wasting time waiting for the weekend:

Free Podcast!

I’ll be giving a free 30-minute podcast today at lunchtime (east coasters) looking at a few of the new features in Sierra. If you’ve been using the latest macOS for a while, there won’t me much surprising here. But for those of you who haven’t upgraded yet., Ill be showing off some featured and discussing things to consider, particularly with consideration for support staff and admins. its at 1:00 eastern, and you can sign up here.

Imaging on the Mac will be dead soon(ish)

For the first time in many, many years, Apple will be releasing an all-new and maybe revolutionary file system later this year. Rich Trouton talks about it on his blog, Der Flounder, and what this means especially for imaging systems.

Introducing the Macintosh Portable

28 years ago, Apple released the Macintosh portable computer. It was huge, heavy, ugly, slow, and awful, and the battery lasted about 5 minutes. But Jean-Louis Gassée’s introduction was mesmerizing. He assembled the thing, by hand, on stage, as he talked about it! You really gotta watch this, if only for the nostalgia and showmanship.


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A few discoveries after my first week with the new 2016 MacBook Pro

I’ve has the new 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with Touchbar (they really have to work on their naming) and I have learned a few things. Some delightful, some… not so much. I’d rather not re-hash arguments that have already been made elsewhere ad nauseam, but show you some real-world info.

USB-C

Lets get one thing out of the way, right off the bat: USB-A, USB-B, and USB-C are connectors. Think of them like shapes. USB 1, USB 2, and USB 3, are bus speeds. To make matters worse, there are three types of USB 3:

USB 1: 12mbps
USB 2: 480 mbps
USB 3.0: 5,000 mbps & HD video
USB 3.1 genUSB- 1: 5,000 mbps & 4k Video
USB 3.1 gen 2: 10,000 mbps & 4k video

As far as ports go, thats where things get confusing:

USB-A supports: USB1, USB2, USB3, 15w power draw
USB-C supports: USB1, USB2, USB3, Thunderbolt3. 100w power draw, reversible plug

So USB-C is a reversible plug and can also be used for charging and Thunderbolt, which means its ALSO backwards-compatible with SATA, FireWire, HDMI, DVI, VGA… basically everything. It is, truly, finally, the one connector to rule them all. But not every device supports all of this. Thats where things get complicated. No longer can you just look at the shape of the jack and know what it is. You have to be intimately aware of the specs of your computer. This could have been a place for Apple to forge ahead and support everything, and make things easier on their users. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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Apple as overhauled two-factor authentication…

…And its kind of crazy confusing. But its worth it in the long run, because the new format is much better, and much faster. It looks like I’m not the only one who had trouble setting it up in the first place. But if you use AppleID for Education, VPP, ApplePay or you’re just concerned about better security, you should read this and be prepared to support your users.

Unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch requires two-factor, not two-step, iCloud protection—what?


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How I learned to stop worrying and love wifi [UPDATE]

I’ve been happy with my Apple Airport Extreme for a few years. I have an old house with plaster walls and metal mesh, so basically I live in a faraday cage. The Apple wasn’t strong enough to reach all corners, but it WAS stronger than the other leading reviewed routers- I tested the Google OnHub and the Netgear Nighthawk last year, and the Apple was strongest. AND I can boost the signal with two Airport Expresses, which have the added benefit of streaming music, so I don’t have to pay for Sonos’ expensive offerings.

But I want more control, I want to play with routing tables and VPN and QoS, and I want to see if the new generation are stronger, so I just picked up a NetGear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 R8000 (because you’re not a quality product unless you have three nonsensical names), and I am both looking forward to, and dreading, setting it up and connecting my whole house again from scratch. Good thing I have the day off.

Update!

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Well, I need more time to work on a detailed review, and I am shipping up to Canada tomorrow for a race, so I’ll be reporting back next week. But in the meantime, here are my first impressions:

  • Very easy to set up, after just a tiny bit of confusion. It kept telling me to disable my old router, even though I did. I clicked “I have no access to the old gateway” and all was good.
  • The router had a unique wifi SSID and password printed on the bottom, which was nice- no chance of neighbors or wardrivers detecting it and hopping on my wifi.
  • However, the web page to configure the router still uses, yup, “admin” and “password”.
  • With one 2.4GHz channel and TWO 5GHz, my houseguests were bound to get confused. I followed a tip from an Apple engineer, and made all three the same name, and I’ll let my computers figure out which antenna is strongest. I don’t know why I never did this on my Airport- perhaps it didn’t let me? I forget.
  • VPN is problematic, I’m still working on it. I can connect, but I’m not getting a different public IP.
  • Port forwarding was very easy to set up.
  • Static IP reservations were very easy to set up, but they don’t seem to be working over wifi
  • It was very easy to set up something I’d always wanted to get around to- a dynamic DNS thanks to no-IP. I don’t know if its normally free, but an account is free and can be set up right in the Netgear interface.
  • Connecting a USB drive worked fine, and I could shave via a web page: port 8443, read only. I haven’t tried two-way file sharing yet, and it doesn’t seem like it will work with Time Machine.
  • It has an iTunes streaming music server built in. Thats weird.

So all in all, its a mixed bag, mostly good. But here’s the most important points:

  • The wifi signal strength is very, VERY strong. I have a really clear signal and fast speeds in every nook and cranny of my house. MUCH better than any base station I’ve ever tried in my house.
  • The Netgear Genie app is a garbage fire. DONT install it. Use the web interface instead, its pretty good.


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DropBox is acting shady; and some security tips

DropBox recently added some new tricks that were… surprising. Ever see an app be able to do THIS in the Finder before?

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Whats all this, then?

Yeah, me neither. interesting. but how did Apple allow this? Spoiler: they probably didn’t.

http://applehelpwriter.com/2016/07/28/revealing-dropboxs-dirty-little-security-hack/

And here’s some more info on how it was done, as well as a bunch of useful tips when you want to investigate anything on your mack with some command line tools:

http://applehelpwriter.com/2016/08/29/discovering-how-dropbox-hacks-your-mac/


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Better web browsing on your Mac

So, there are a lot of opinions out there, and they change every time a new browser is updated, but I happen to think that Apple’s own Safari is a pretty darned good browser. Its fast, its efficient, its kind to my battery, it finally supports pinned tabs and muting audio from the tab bar, and I love Reader view. But it doesn’t play nice with Flash. You can download the Flash plugin, of course, but that thing is going to cause you problems of its own, even when you don’t need it. no, I really wish to keep Safari pure and unmolested by the likes of Flash.

Now Google Chrome comes with Flash built in, but it has other problems of its own. I used to be a BIG Chrome supporter, but it has kind of sucked in the last few years. Its getting better, but its still not there. And being an Apple fanboy, I like Safari’s ability to sync to my iPhone and iPad. So what to do?

Heres what you do. Download Chrome, but use Safari day-today. When you encounter a page with Flash or another page that doesn’t play well with Safari, open it in Chrome. And to do THAT even easier, download this extension to open the current page in Chrome with a single click.


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Endless fun

Open the Network system preference on your coworker’s Mac. Re-name the Ethernet interface to “Wi-fi”. When they can’t get online, and express confusion that it says their cable is unplugged, tell them, “Oh yeah, thats a well known bug in El Capitan. You need to go to IT and ask them for a wi-fi cable”.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 5.31.44 PM


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AppleTV: Apple needs to put the horse before the cart.

If Apple had talked to app developers back in 2009, asked them to develop apps for a new mobile platform, which would be severely locked down and restricted from accessing the OS in any way, and oh yeah, they would only be allowed to distribute these apps via Apple’s locked-down storefront, which would take a 35% cut of all profits, and not allow volume pricing, upgrade pricing or bundle pricing… they most certainly would have been laughed off the planet, maybe stoned for good measure.

I’d like to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, and assume they knew this. So what they did instead was, they released a phone with no apps… a phone which was so far ahead of the competition, it quickly dominated the entire market. A year later, when the app store was proposed, developers really had no choice… it was go along with Apple’s rules, or become irrelevant.

Perhaps it would be good for Apple to remember this lesson as it struggles (allegedly) to get its (alleged) streaming TV service off of the (hypothetical) ground. Quit sitting on the new AppleTV and put it out there. Give it an app store. Give it 4k streaming. Give it gaming. Give it HomeKit control. And price it attractively for a change. (If the rumors are saying $150-$200, you know it’ll be $299. Which is stupid. And I’ll still pay. Which is stupid).

A year from now, there will be 10 million of them out there, and THEN you can go back to the TV networks and cut a deal.