diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
Deal Zone, Great Deal Every Day
OWC Firecracker Specials
SSDs, hard drives, iPad, enclosures, used Macs and much more!
ends in 4 days

UPDATE: Your Passwords are at Risk with OS X and iOS?

Research paper: Unauthorized Cross-App Resource Access on MAC OS X and iOS.

I previously reported on this monumentally dangerous security bug in All your passwords at risk with OS X and iOS, and Apple Sits on the Problem.

ArsTechnica covers the same issue in Serious OS X and iOS flaws let hackers steal keychain, 1Password contents.

Why has Apple sat on this for over six months, doing next to nothing?

MPG advice is to use 2-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts. That means a hardware token or something like Authy. Unfortunately, many institutions are badly in arrears on security, not even allowing strong passwords. And there is only piecemeal and inconvenient support for 2-factor authentication. Worse, each institution may do it its a different way. It’s awkward.

Well, it’s a lot worse than your own stuff

The internet and the Cloud have become a very dangerous place for not just money and privacy, but real physical things, like steel mills. Are nuclear power plants next? It’s a valid question. The Federal Government just lost 4 million or whatever sensitive employee records to China (allegedly). Tip of the tip of the iceberg without a doubt, in terms of security penetrations that are “sleepers” and what is not reported and not detected.

Recently I sat next to a CEO of a major company whose business is to staff and run major events all over the country (conventions, exhibits, etc), including all the IT work and information collection. I mentioned the massive and dangerous security issues cropping up today, the fact that governments and organized crime were involved, that real physical things could be shut down and destroyed, and this naive CEO jackass actually argued with me that his network was secure and it was just not an issue because his security folks were doing their job. His attitude was that I was a “sky is falling” reactionary worried about fantastically remote possibilities. That’s the state of denial today that still exists in corporate America.

But a loss of privacy or money pales in comparison to far worse possibilities, like shutting down the power grid for a few months, which could kill (by starvation and similar) millions. It’s no laughing matter, and only a gray swan probability. In fact, it is a certainty when war comes because a country can be taken down by computer, no bombs or bullets needed (electronically attack all dams, power plants, distribution centers, hospitals, etc, probably with sleeper compromises already in place and undetected). This country sits and waits for that to happen, with virtually nothing being done.

Don’t Get Suckered In By Spam Email (Phishing) #2

See also the previous example of email phishing.

Some people are still easy prey, which is why such emails are still sent. This phishing attempt is incompetent (contains basic grammatical errors though many people might not notice) and less sophisticated than some phishing attempts, but still good enough to trick quite a lot of people.

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

  • NEVER CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAIL. Use the phone or manually enter the web site yourself.
  • Set Apple Mail to disable automatic loading of content within email. If you fail to do this, remote spammers know they have a “live one”, because the loading of that content is from the evil spammer server.

The email

Classic approach with classic incompetence: an implied threat of some kind (termination of service or similar), usually written with grammatical and/or spelling errors, generic “dear client” (but can be more specific), etc.

Red type are MPG annotations. Even as shown there are giveaways: Apple does not send from “service.com” or have a return path of nobody@lp.linkdatacenter.net. These are obvious clues; look for them for starters, delete immediately if any doubt.

Spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc

The email source code

What’s really going on?

There all all kinds of fishy links here, but the one you’re supposed to get suckered into clicking on goes to some site compromised by hackers.

Source code of spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc

 

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

Lexar Camera Cards Tested: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Now better organized, and with some updates too:

Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB SDXC Camera Storage Card (Tested in 3 Card Readers)

Lexar Professional 1000X 256GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Lexar Professional 1066X 128GB Compact Flash Camera Storage Card

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC in 3 different card readers
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC Digital Camera Storage Card: How Fast in Different Card Readers?

Your author reviews and uses many brands of cameras; some camera use CompactFlash and some use SDXC and some have dual slots, one of each kind. For the latest cameras producing big files, a fast SDXC card can make a noticeable difference in responsiveness, assuming the camera supports the latest protocols (older cameras not likely to benefit).

Card tested here: Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card about $99 with included card reader.

But the speed can very by camera (faster may not be any faster than a slower card in some cameras), and card speed can vary with card reader too.

MPG previously tested the Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card and found it to be blazingly fast with the Lexar-supplied card reader. But what about the card reader?

Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC in 3 different card readers

OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

A MacBook Pro Retina lasts 3 hours or less while doing photography work—a far cry from Apple’s misleading 9 hour claim (the 2015 model may be about 5% better).

So powering a laptop becomes a challenge out in them thar hills. I charge it as well as camera batteries and flashlights and so on using a power inverter in the SUV (a pure sine wave power inverter is best). I’ll probably replace the 400W power inverter unit I have since it’s a square-wave unit and gets quite hot and has gotten whiny and making unhappy noises*.

The Duracell DRINVP175 175-Watt Pocket Inverter with 2.1-Amp USB Port isn’t bad and I may buy another one since I gave that one to my dad who needed it on a trip.

Anyway, few vehicles are happy about an 85W power brick trying to pull power for very long to recharge a battery that is mostly drained. It’s not an issue if it’s just steady state usage power, but recharging a mostly drained battery draws some serious amperage at 12V for a while. So that means idling the engine at times just to charge the darn thing—highly inefficiently: 12V DC to 120V AC to MacSafe power brick back to DC.

The Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter looks like a good unit (400W sounds great but 20 amps at 12V is 320 watts and that’s already blowing the fuse, so 200W is plenty).

But all vehicle power inverters have an efficiency problem: they convert a vehicle’s 12V DC to 120V AC which the Apple power brick (or other AC charger) convers back to DC power — very inefficient. And so, over at diglloyd.com, a photographer’s perspective on powering an Apple Macbook Pro laptop in the field where there are no AC outlets:

OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

The Best MacBook Pro for Photographers, Videographers, Power Users

See the MPG review of the 2015 MacBook Pro.

Want the very fastest model? MPG recommends the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB at authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo. Save money on AppleCare too.

Here are MPG’s top picks for accessories to add to the 2015 MBP Retina:

2015 Apple MacBook Pro Retina
Cycling

Don’t Get Suckered In By Spam Email (Phishing) #1

See also the #2 example.

Some people are still easy prey, which is why such emails are still sent. This phishing attempt is more competent than some (no obvious spelling or grammar errors) and much less sophisticated than others.

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

NEVER CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAIL.

Use the phone and/or manually go to the web site yourself.

Spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc
Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Support, Firewire 800, Sound Ports

Reviewed: 2015 Apple MacBook

B&H Photo loaned MPG the latest top-end MacBook with 1.3 GHz processor, 8GB memory, 512GB PCIe flash drive along with a USB-C to USB adapter (even better: Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter and most users will want both).

12-inch MacBook (2015, gold)

My review of the 2015 MacBook is now published with multiple performance evaluations, mostly real-world assessments (stuff that I actually do daily):

These tests add a perspective by including the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina.

...In general, the 2015 MacBook is a fine performer in the context of its turtle-slow clock speed of 1.3 GHz—underpowered but runs like a champ given the “engine” that it has to work with.

 

SSD / flash drive speed shown below; see all the review pages for details and more.

SSD/Flash drive performance: 2015 MacBook 512GB vs 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 1TB

 

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Mini Review: 2015 Apple MacBook

Get Apple MacBook at B&H Photo. B&H Photo loaned MPG the latest top-end MacBook with 1.3 GHz processor, 8GB memory, 512GB PCIe flash drive along with a USB-C to USB adapter.

12-inch MacBook (2015, gold)

The MacBook is gorgeous in the gold finish, and incredibly sleek and beautiful. It is a wonderful device if all one needs is web and email and to putter around. In a real computer. And for that it will be loved, for it does that very well and its diminutive size makes it a take-anywhere device, being not far off an iPad form factor. Were it $900 and not $1800, I’d probably buy one just for its diminutive size/weight for those core purposes.

But the MacBook beauty is skin deep and forces form-before-function to the fore, because it has only a single USB-C port, and this port is required to charge/power it (two ports would have hugely improved it). It is a “toaster”—meaning that its a specific tool good at a few limited functions. Outside of basic usage, it’s a major bummer; it can be pressed into duty but with a painful loss in productivity, at least for what I need to do.

One port and only one port

The one USB-C port is required to power/charge the MacBook. So nothing else can be used while charging, and vice versa(at least until the OWC USB-C Dock ships, but in the field sitting in a car or similar, that’s a bit messy).

Right off the bat the absurdity of one port presents itself: system setup warns to connect AC power when migrating—but this is impossible, since that port is occupied by the USB SSD from which to migrate (at least until the OWC USB-C Dock ships). During the migration it sat at “2 minutes remaining” for half an hour, and since it doesn’t show battery life while it’s migrating, all I could do was hope. It did finish, but the impression is of a very slow machine.

Update: the Apple multipart adapter solves much of this port difficulty.

The charging issue might not seem like a big deal (“charge it later”), but with card readers and backup drives and iPhone all sucking charge power from the laptop, keeping it charged is in fact a big deal in the field. So as per the introduction above, if it’s just web and email and similar—no issue. Otherwise, it’s a real headache.

Why the MacBook a TOTAL FAIL for my field work

If you need an SUV for rough dirt roads, it’s not fair to buy a Prius and then criticize it for not being able to handle the road! And so it is with the MacBook—it’s superb at what it was designed for (light portable duty), but the MacBook sucks rocks for tasks that are no issue at all with a Macbook Pro.

My field days: it’s night after a long hard day in the field (up at dawn and shooting all day, repeat for a week or more). I need to get a lot of things done in a hurry: download the day’s images from 2 or 3 cameras, back them up, check email, handle subscriptions, review images, blog, etc. Because I really would like to eat and sleep too.

To do these things on the MacBook Pro, it is smooth sailing: I download using the built-in SD slot, backup to a USB3 backup drive (while simultaneously downloading still more images), the iPhone (personal hotspot) is plugged into a port for email and internet. Charger attached via power inverter in car, both USB ports used, SD card slot used (4 ports). All is good—I can work just like at home (one wrinkle is CompactFlash cards for which I need an external card reader, so those get downloaded first, I defer the backup drive). All the while, the laptop can be powered off an inverter in my car, so its battery is not sucked down by usage and the attached devices.

Enter the MacBook with its single USB-C port: it serializes this entire process, utterly destroying any efficiency: I can download images OR backup OR be connected to the internet OR charge the MacBook. And the battery gets sucked down while doing most of this. One can use Bluetooth for internet from the iPhone, but it’s not as good as wired, and it won’t charge the phone.

Update: the Apple multipart adapter solves much of this port difficulty.

It’s a pity to see such a beautiful device crippled in function. One more USB-C port, an SD slot and built-in cellular would address all of these issues. But that might have made it 0.1 inch thicker, distressing poor Jony. I’ll be sticking to the MacBook Pro for all my usual field work.

A MacBook does force you to carry more stuff too: a USB-C adapter and a card reader at the least, and maybe the OWC USB-C Dock too. So the small/light thing is less small and light than it seems, and then you’re working on a tiny screen with a slow processor too. Again, the question returns: what exact tasks it will be put to. If those fit the envelope, it will be loved, if not, it will frustrate and annoy. I can see, for example, flying to Germany to visit Zeiss with a MacBook, because I would not be doing the field routine described above—terrific. And no doubt millions of travelers will find the MacBook ideal for such purposes.

Reader comments

Fazal M writes:

Well, I bought one to replace my 15” rMBP. My primary computer is a 2013 Mac Pro with dual 30” screens (thanks for the NEC tip, I received it yesterday, it’s one serious piece of professional gear, including the factory calibration report). A laptop is only a companion device for me, used essentially only when I am traveling (my everyday mobile device of choice is an iPad Air 2 with LTE). I never do any photo editing while mobile, it’s just too painful, even on a 15” screen.

I anticipated the chicken-and-egg problem you describe and paid for the grossly overpriced Apple multipart adapter (one pass-through USB-C, one USB3 and one HDMI). I’ve also signed up for the Hub+ Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nonda/get-your-macbook-ports-back), which better fits your needs (it includes a SD card reader and a 4K capable mini-DisplayPort). The OWC docking station is just too big and mostly for desktop use.

Since USB-C is an open standard unlike Magsafe, I hope to see aftermarket accessory makers come up with replacement power bricks with a built-in USB hub and card reader. Possibly with some of the revolutionary Gallium nitride power conversion technology that should lead to a massive reduction in size. Not that the USB-C power adapter is particularly large compared to the monstrosity that is the 85W rMBP power adapter.

Speed is not that bad - I clocked it at about 50% that of the rMBP using my benchmark of choice, “openssl speed rsa”, and the much faster SSD (my rMBP is 2013 vintage) should offset the wimpier CPU.

The size and portability is amazing. It’s just one inch too wide to fit inside the cases I had bought for the original iPad. Definitely better than carrying an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard. My main use for it is going to be SSH access to production servers, along with running VirtualBox VMs of some sadly Windows-only management software I need for remote sys admin duty, and it is perfectly acceptable for that purpose.

Useful accessory: the Waterfield Designs Dash sleeve, proudly made in San Francisco (https://www.sfbags.com/products/dash-laptop-sleeve).

One thing I worry about is rigidity of the chassis. When Apple thinned the iPad Mini and the iPad Air 2, it compromised torsional rigidity and I managed to warp both simply from carrying them in my Scottevest jacket pocket. The MacBook looks like it could also be bent by something like a hip-hugging messenger bag.

MPG: some good tips here. I wasn’t aware of the Apple multipart adapter and that will help for sure.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Dell UP2715K: 5K Display: Works on Late 2013 MacBook Pro Also

Get Dell UP2715K and iMac 5K at B&H Photo.

On a lark, I hooked up the Dell UP2715K to the late 2013 MacBook Pro, not expecting it to work. But lo—it works as well as the 2015 MacBook Pro, with only one minor difference (the default resolution).

Dell UP2715K: Works on Late 2013 Macbook Pro Retina too!

Dell UP2715K: split screen issue, and reflections on the mirror-like finish
Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays

Dell UP2715K: 5K Display for Mac

Get Dell UP2715K and iMac 5K at B&H Photo.

Some more coverage of the Dell UP2715K:

Dell UP2715K: Split Screen Display Issue

Dell UP2715K: Calibration

Dell UP2715K: split screen issue, and reflections on the mirror-like finish
Dell UP2715K: which display mode is the color profile for exactly?

All your passwords at risk with OS X and iOS, and Apple Sits on the Problem

I previously reported on this extremely dangerous security bug in xxxx.

The internet is a dangerous place for financial transactions.

The way security flaws work is that the Bad Guys keep finding them and using them to steal. When a company like Apple fails to take immediate action to discuss the risks and to mitigate them, it is MPG’s view that it is exposes itself to massive liability. Apple’s apparent silence on this issue is scary.

The research paper: Unauthorized Cross-App Resource Access on MAC OS X and iOS.

The article in The Register: Apple CORED: Boffins reveal password-killer 0-days for iOS and OS X

Keychains raided, sandboxes busted, passwords p0wned, but Apple silent for six months.

Six university researchers have revealed deadly zero-day flaws in Apple's iOS and OS X, claiming it is possible to crack Apple's password-storing keychain, break app sandboxes, and bypass its App Store security checks.

Attackers can exploit these bugs to steal passwords from installed apps, including the native email client, without being detected.

The team was able to upload malware to Apple's app stores, and passed the vetting processes without triggering any alarms. That malware, when installed on a victim's Mac, raided the keychain to steal passwords for services including iCloud and the Mail app, and all those stored within Google Chrome.

Xing says he reported the flaws to Apple in October 2014.”.

Our study brings to light a series of unexpected, security-critical aws that can be exploited to circumvent Apple's isolation protection and its App Store's security vetting. The consequences of such attacks are devastating, leading to complete disclosure of the most sensitive user information (e.g., passwords) to a malicious app even when it is sandboxed.

...

"We completely cracked the keychain service - used to store passwords and other credentials for different Apple apps - and sandbox containers on OS X, and also identified new weaknesses within the inter-app communication mechanisms on OS X and iOS which can be used to steal confidential data from Evernote, Facebook and other high-profile apps."

MPG: Tim? Apple silence speaks volumes.

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

Dell UP2715K: 5K Display for Mac

Get Dell UP2715K and iMac 5K at B&H Photo.

The Dell UP2715K 27-inch UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K LED Backlit IPS Monitor works on the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina: simply plug in the supplied double Mini DisplayPort cable, set the display to 5K mode in the menu, start up the Mac and you’re done.

More coverage coming on the Dell UP2715K 27-inch 5K display.

Screen

Main comment: it is a shiny display like the iMac 5K; as with the iMac 5K, the first thing I saw on the screen was my backyard (reflection). Other than that, the display is hyper sharp gorgeous and just like an iMac 5K.

As I wrote in my review of the Apple iMac 5K, getting an iMac 5K is like buying a nice Mac with a free 5K display—something to ponder since the base pricing of the iMac 5K (about $1899) is similar to the Dell UP2715K display alone.

Uses two Thunderbolt cable to drive at 5K

The main downside is that (on the MacBook Pro) both Thunderbolt ports are taken up in order to drive it at 5K, leaving no Thunderbolt ports on a MacBook Pro.

This is soluble: connect the other Thunderbolt devices first, then connect the display to the device Thunderbolt port (thus a few devices with only one TB port cannot be used), aka daisy-chain them.

Full resolution image on Dell UP2715K: 5K Display on 2015 MacBook Pro Retina
Full resolution image on Dell UP2715K: 5K Display on 2015 MacBook Pro Retina
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

2015 MacBook Pro: On my Daily Real-World Task, it nearly matches a Souped-Up 2013 Mac Pro!

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

The MPG 2013 Mac Pro with dual D700 GPUs, 64GB memory, 1TB SSD, and custom upgrade to the fastest Intel Xeon chip (3.3 GHz 8-core) ekes out a 9% reduction in time over the 2015 MacBooK Pro Retina. At about 40% of the cost, the MacBook Pro Retina sure looks like a darn fine performer for the price.

Photoshop Speed: Create Size Variants from 36-Megapixel Images

2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro: grep search

2015 MacBook Pro: How Much Faster is it for Real World Daily Work?

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

This test is as real world as it gets, one that your author does day in and day out for generating lens rendering aperture series.

Thus it is of great practical value to ask whether the combination of faster SSD, slightly faster CPU and faster GPU in the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina could improve upon the late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina.

Photoshop Speed: Create Size Variants from 36-Megapixel Images

Deciding whether to upgrade is a combination of performance, screen technology, battery life, and other features; these all need to be weighed as factors as per real value. Since the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina model tested is an about $3100 configuration, trading up may at least start with a realistic assessment of performance differences for daily tasks—always a superior approach to benchmarks.

2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro: grep search
Cycling

Tested: Lexar 256GB 1000X SDXC Card

Lexar Professional 256GB 1066X SDXC

I ordered the 2-pack of Lexar Professional 256GB SDXC, expecting that the performance would approach the rated 150 MB/sec. It’s not that strong.

Reviewed: Lexar Professional 1000X 256GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

That said, this kind of storage can put a lot of stuff onto a card at still very high speeds and the cards are very useful in the field, and can be used as tiny but capacious backups.

Performance of Lexar 256GB 1066X SDXC

USB-Charging your iPad, iPhone, Cameras in the Car, Colored Lightning Cables

Lightning cable in green
(iPhone / iPad)

I took a new item with me on the road (mountains trip) recently. A simple thing, but one which helps a lot during the day to recharge things like iPhone, bike tail-light, compact cameras.

The NewerTech USB car / auto dual-port charger lets me charge two items at once, with up to 3.1 amps of power. At about $9.75, it’s a no-brainer. There is also a single-port unit, but it makes a lot more sense for two ports. Get two or three of them—that way the rest of the family can plug their stuff in and/or another one can be running in the trunk or back seat *.

The colored Lightning cables (for iPhone/iPad) are handy too—no arguments over whose cable is whose and longer and shorter ones allow a cable to be routed and device charged from just about any charger port in the car / vehicle.

* While the vehicle is running, most vehicles won’t tolerate pulling 5-10 amps for very long while the vehicle is off, but amps is generally fine for a reasonable period of time. But maybe Tesla owners and similar can pull more power than in regular cars (I don’t own an electric vehicle).

Charge two devices in a vehicle
Dusk At Ellery Lake
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

$230 off iPad Air

From authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo:

Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays

Big Price Drop on my Workhorse Hardware-Calibrated Wide Gamut Pro-Grade Display: NEC PA302W

About $1699 is the lowest price I’ve ever seen on the NEC PA 302W BK-SV and that includes discounted shipping and the hardware calibration and software (add to cart to see the price). WOW!

UPDATE 29 June: The price has been moving around and the B&H price on the PA302W has now apparently lapsed. OWC also carries the PA302W, as does Amazon.

The NEC PA272W is of the same quality, and is about $1199 with hardware and software calibration. But it is 2560 X 1440 and has a slightly smaller form factor and thus slightly denser pixel pitch.

The NEC PA302W is my workhorse display on which I do all my photography work. It is a wide-gamut display with true hardware calibration (not faux calibration). The PA302W calibrates to within 1 delta-A accuracy and has a gamut greatly exceeding AdobeRGB in some areas (like reds).

Due to pixel density issues with 4K displays, I still do all my photo evaluation on the PA302W, because its 2560 X 1600 is far more amenable to evaluating images than the too-high pixel density of 4K displays. As a 30-inch display the 2560 width is easy on the eyes (pixel density) and the 1600 height is substantially more working room than the typical 1440 height of most display (1440 feels squeezed and cramped to me compared to 1600).

See my review of the NEC PA302W wide gamut display.

NEC PA302W wide gamut display
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Used Macs are a Good Value

Used Macs at OWC.

Suggested Accessories for the MacBook Pro

Particularly for the Apple 2015 MacBook Pro (applies to many models), here are MPG’s top picks for accessories to add:

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Mac Deals at B&H Photo

Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 960GB, perfect for travel or silent backup

2015 MacBook Pro: Only the High-End Model supports 5120 X 2880 External Display

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, which MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

See the MPG review of the 2015 MacBook Pro.

As per Apple specifications, it would be wise to go right to this top-end MacBook Pro Retina model if there is any goal of having an 5K display (please use that link so that MPG gets credit).

MPG intends to test the Dell UP2715K 27" UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K LED Backlit IPS Monitor on this 2015 MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt digital video output

• Native Mini DisplayPort output
• DVI, VGA, dual-link DVI, and HDMI output supported using Mini DisplayPort adapters
• Support for up to 5120-by-2880 resolution at 60Hz on a single external display (model with AMD Radeon R9 M370X only)

HDMI video output

• Support for 1080p resolution at up to 60Hz
• Support for 3840-by-2160 resolution at 30Hz
• Support for 4096-by-2160 resolution at 24Hz

2015 Apple MacBook Pro Retina
Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

2015 MacBook Pro: Search Speed

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

Searching is faster on the 2015 MacBook Pro, cached or uncached.

Search Speed (grep)

2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro: grep search

2015 MacBook Pro: Photoshop Performance

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

When memory is adequate and I/O is not involved, the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina and the late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina are all but identical in performance when CPU clock speed is accounted for:

Photoshop Speed: diglloydSpeed1 and diglloydMedium Photoshop Benchmarks

But should memory run even a little low (causing swapping to disk), the blazingly fast SSD in the 2015 MBPR then trounces the older model, that older model having a much slower SSD.

Photoshop CC 2014: diglloydSpeed1 benchmark (Photoshop 2014.2.2 20141204.r.310)
Photoshop CC 2014: diglloydMedium benchmark (Photoshop 2014.2.2 20141204.r.310)
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

2015 MacBook Pro SSD Speed = Awesome in the Real World Too

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

The diglloydTools IntegrityChecker program is about as optimized as any application can be, hence the speed benefits of the fast SSD in the 2015 MacBook Pro should be reflected in significant gains. But performance of the 2015 MacBook Pro with its 1TB flash drive is even better than the sustained transfer speeds imply, suggesting that the 2015 MacBook Pro SSD has lower latency and higher transaction rates on top of much higher sustained throughput. Extremely impressive.

Real World Shootout: IntegrityChecker Verify

Real World Shootout: diglloydHuge Photoshop Benchmark

This leap in real-world SSD performance represents the biggest gain MPG can recall ever seeing in an SSD changeover. Where is a revised Mac Pro with this new tech (and a 2TB option)?

SSD/Flash drive in 2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro, IntegrityChecker verify 75.5GB data (157624 files)

While the gains are not as large for big Photoshop jobs, a halving of the time required is mighty impressive.

SSD/Flash drive in 2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro, diglloydHuge benchmark
Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Support, Firewire 800, Sound Ports

OWC Announces USB-C Dock for new MacBook

The new Apple MacBook uses a single USB-C connector which generates ample compatibility and expansion headaches.

The OWC USB-C Dock, available for pre-order for $129 addresses most of these issues, though availability is said to be fall of 2015.

OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook

Other World Computing Announces New USB-C Dock, Available for Pre-order

New dock featuring USB-C provides eleven ports of connectivity, available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold

WOODSTOCK, IL – June 8, 2015 – Other World Computing (OWC), a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company, announced today the OWC USB-C Dock. Available for immediate pre-order, the new OWC USB-C Dock provides a complete connectivity solution for the 2015 Apple MacBook and other computers that utilize USB-C ports.

Available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, the OWC USB-C Dock provides eleven ports and enables essential everyday peripheral connectivity. Users will be able to charge devices, connect a display, add external storage, import photos from an SD card, utilize wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, connect their favorite audio accessories, and even power their MacBook, all through a single USB Type-C cable.

The OWC USB-C Dock includes eleven ports for easy connectivity:

  • Five fully-powered USB 3.1 Generation 1 ports, including: two high-power USB Type-A ports for fast mobile device charging, two USB Type-A ports, and one USB Type-C port.
  • One full-speed Gigabit Ethernet port adds high-speed wired networking support for use when speed and stability are essential.
  • One HDMI port provides connectivity for an external display, including support up to 4K resolution.
  • One Secure Digital (SD) card reader to easily transfer photos, video or other content from an SD card.
  • Two audio ports, including audio in and audio out.
  • One USB-C port for connecting to your MacBook or other USB-C-enabled host machine.

Power for your MacBook. And more.

Included with every OWC USB-C Dock is an 80 watt power adapter. This is in contrast to other dock solutions relying on the power adapter that ships with the Apple MacBook, resulting in insufficient and unreliable power for many bus-powered USB peripherals. The included 80 watt adapter shipping with the OWC USB-C Dock is capable of powering not only the new MacBook but also all of the USB peripherals users will directly attach. As an added benefit, users can keep the original Apple MacBook 29 watt power supply in their bag for when they are on the go.

“...puts all other docks to shame.”

The OWC USB-C Dock has been developed by the same design team that developed the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, which has been critically acclaimed by customers and product reviewers. Selected as a Finalist in the 2015 Stevie Awards, a premier business award program, the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock has a customer rating of 4.9/5.0. Derek Kessler, Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, stated “OWC’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock puts all other docks to shame.”

“The OWC USB-C Dock is at the cutting edge of technology and design, giving our customers the absolute most from their new MacBook with eleven high-performance ports and an impressive 80 watts of power,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, OWC. “USB 3.1 is an exciting new standard of connectivity, and I am very excited that OWC continues to deliver innovative solutions at the forefront of possibility, just like the all-new OWC USB-C Dock.”

Availability and Pricing

The OWC USB-C Dock is currently available for pre-order at www.macsales.com/usbcdock. Delivery of the dock is scheduled for the fall of 2015. The OWC USB-C Dock is priced at $129.00 for a limited time during the pre-order period.

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2015 MacBook Pro SSD Speed = Awesome

Authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB, the configuration MPG recommends for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. Save money on AppleCare too.

The performance of the 2015 MacBook Pro with its 1TB flash drive sets a new standard among all Macs. The speed gains come by virtue of using the new SATA Express design; this is not something that can be had by upgrading a flash module in an older Mac.

Internal Flash Drive / SSD Performance vs Late 2013 MacBook Pro

Real World Shootout: IntegrityChecker Verify

disktester run-sequential-suite --iterations 5 --test-size 8GB

Performance of SSD/Flash drive in 2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro
disktester run-sequential-suite --iterations 5 --test-size 8GB
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Big Capacity for your Digital Camera: Lexar Professional 128GB Cards

 
2-pack of Lexar 128GB 1000X SDXC

I greatly favor high-capacity cards because they act as an accumulative backup for my field work (as redundancy to laptop download+backup, for which I use an OWC Envoy Pro EX).

The Lexar 128GB CompactFlash and Lexar 128GB SDXC cards are highly appealing on a speed+capacity+price basis. Even if the goal is not photography, they make for an interesting and extremely compact storage medium. SDXC cards insert directly into the slot on the MacBook Pro, and both types of cards can be read in a card reader like the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader.

For someone traveling and looking for compactness, having a 128GB or 256GB storage card in a camera allows for an awful lot of photos (even in RAW) and/or video footage.

Lexar 128GB CompactFlash and Lexar 128GB SDXC

What caught my eye was a 2-pack Lexar 128GB SDXC 1000X cards for only $126 with free expedited shipping.

Even more appealing for those needing the capacity, see the 2-pack Lexar 256GB SDXC 1000X cards for only $275 with free expedited shipping. In the past, the 256GB cards have carried a steep price per GB premium, but the price per gigabyte now is only marginally higher than the 128GB cards.

Storage and RAID Deals

Have some bare hard drives lying around you’d like to use?

The NewerTech Voyager S3 lets you simply insert hard drives (or SSDs)—this is one way to make backups as inexpensively as possible: bare hard drives or SSDs are the least expensive storage vs those in enclosures.

The Voyager S3 take both hard drives and SSDs, 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch. The Voyager S3 is also handy for any kind of system upgrade scenario where one wants to prep a new hard drive or SSD to replace an existing internal drive.

Deals on drives

Looking for RAID? SoftRAID is discounted from $179 to $125.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Upgrade iMac to up to 8TB Internally!

Anyone looking to maintain that all-in-one feel of the iMac has gotta love 8TB internally.

This is not a job I’d take on myself (complexity the upgrade process), but OWC offers a service to perform the upgrade (see hilited note).

Other World Computing Announces Apple iMac Hard Drive Upgrades Now Extend to 8.0TB

Apple iMac owners can now increase their storage capacity to 8.0TB while maintaining system fan and diagnostic performance

WOODSTOCK, IL – May 27, 2015 – Other World Computing (OWC), a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company, announced today that Apple iMac owners can now upgrade their iMac to 8.0TB of storage while maintaining correct system fan control with the OWC in-line digital thermal sensor. The new drive option, one of many upgrade options for the iMac from OWC, extends the iMac upgrade path and provides increased storage capacity with 23 percent lower energy consumption.

OWC Upgrade Kits - Increase Storage Capacity with Confidence

OWC upgrade kits for Apple iMac computers provide the tools and equipment required to install a new hard drive or solid state drive in an iMac. All OWC drive upgrade kits for iMac computers include a 14-piece toolkit, two suction cups for outer glass removal and a microfiber cleaning cloth. Solid state drive upgrade kits include a SATA data cable and an SSD power cable.

OWC hard drive upgrade kits include the OWC In-line Digital Thermal Sensor, which works though the iMac System Management Controller to eliminate excessive fan noise and maintain proper system fan control. This innovative device is designed specifically for the iMac, requires no software hacks and is designed to be compatible with Apple's built-in diagnostic processes.

The OWC 8.0TB iMac upgrade option utilizes the HGST 8.0TB Ultrastar® He8 hard disk drive. The drive is sealed with helium inside rather than air, which leads to 23 percent less power consumption than air drives. The HGST drive comes with a five-year warranty and usually ships on the same day as ordered.

"We're excited our Apple iMac upgrade options now extend to 8.0TB of capacity while also maintaining proper performance of the iMac cooling fan," said Larry O'Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. "The drive provides a large amount of storage capacity while running cooler and quieter than competing hard disk drives. We believe this new drive option will enable iMac owners to further extend the usability of their computers."

Availability and Pricing

OWC drive upgrade kits for Apple iMac computers are available immediately with prices starting at $39.00. Various disk drive options are available and are sold separately from the upgrade kit.

While OWC encourages the do-it-yourself philosophy, this can be a difficult upgrade that requires advanced skills. Customers who are not fully confident in their ability to upgrade their drive can have OWC upgrade their iMac where our certified technicians will expertly complete the upgrade for the customer. Upgrades are usually completed and shipped back to customers within 1-3 weekdays. The total time for the entire upgrade process, including transit time, is dependent upon customer location and the shipping methods chosen.

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

OS X Yosemite May Drop Unstable 'discoveryd' and Restore mDNSResponder

This is good news if the final version of OS X 10.10.4 ships without the troubled discoveryd.

The 'discoveryd' problems have cause usability misery for some users.

I’ve had my own inexplicable and disturbing network failures which require disabling networking, then re-enabling it—even as the same local LAN has no issue at all on a 2nd machine. Maybe it’s discoveryd, maybe not but I’m hoping. And then there is the Pathological Network Performance in Apple OS X issue, but I don’t expect Apple to fix that one.

Now if only Apple can get more adults in charge for OS X, things might start looking up on Apple Core Rot.

Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Support, Firewire 800, Sound Ports

Some Deals at B&H Photo on Macs

B&H Photo is an authorized Apple dealer.

Suggested accessories for the Macs:

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

OWC Teardown of iMac 5K

OWC has an unboxing and teardown of the new iMac 5K.

The MPG recommendation for the iMac 5K is 32GB memory.

Apple Photos: Nuisance Behavior by Design

I shoot about ten different types of cameras a year, dozens of lenses of various brands, and about a dozen different Compact Flash and SDXC cards.

Each and every time I insert a card into the card reader, Apple Photos pops up. There is no preference in Photos to disable this nuisance. And since Apple Photos is dreck as far as any professional use (and an unacceptable risk to any professional workflow that must be dependable over time), it’s a nuisance I’d really like to get rid of. So here is one way to do that.

Image Capture:
disable launching app for card/camera

An alleged workaround is to open Image Capture (why not Photos itself?!), select the card icon, and using a tiny little control set it to “No Action” upon card insertion. This must be done for *every* camera card.

But this setting is destroyed every time the card is formatted in the camera. Since I do that every time I start a new photo job, this is no fix at all, just a make-work waste of time with no benefit.

To Apple Core Rot and the Apple bugs that never get fixed that waste my time each and every day, add the arrogance of presuming everyone wants to import images into Apple Photos, assuming that everyone possesses only one camera or camera card that is never formatted, and the conceptually vacant design thinking of not allowing a simple checkbox setting to disable the behavior.

Update: I finally just followed my own advice and removed Photos.app. Headache removed.

Image Capture:tiny little control to disable launching an app
(preference destroyed every time a card is formatted)
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RAID-5 Can Partitioned

Several readers have emailed to ask whether RAID-5 or RAID-4 can be partitioned into multiple volumes. Indeed it can:

RAID-5 or RAID-4 Can be Partitioned to Suit

Note that OWC offers a RAID-5 edition of the Thunderbay, which comes with SoftRAID 5 included. The MPG recommendation for most users is to NOT use one large 12/15/18TB volume, but to “chunk” it (partition it) into 4/5/6TB volumes that thus match the 4/5/6TB capacity of single-drive external backup volumes. This has the operational advantage of simplicity when cloning.

See Using Cloning as a Backup Strategy.

Three 5TB RAID-5 volumes using four 5TB drives
Three 5TB RAID-5 volumes using four 5TB drives
Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 960GB, perfect for travel or silent backup

OWC Memory Kit for new iMac 5K

MPG has used OWC memory (and SSDs) exlusively in all its Macs for the past six years.

Even Apple has OWC memory—I (Lloyd) know—because by accident I returned the iMac 5K last year with 32GB of OWC memory and never got it back! :;

Save $300 on memory: Apple wants $600 to go from 8GB to 32GB, but the OWC 32GB memory kit for iMac 5K is only $300. Installation is super easy.

OWC Announces Availability of Memory and Drive Upgrades for Latest Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display, Memory Savings of up to $300 vs. Factory

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Other World Computing announced today the immediate availability of the OWC Memory Upgrade Kits with up to 32GB for the new configuration of the Apple iMac 27″ with Retina 5K display.

The new iMac configuration comes with a 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and a 5K Retina display, for a price of $1,999.00. OWC offers memory upgrade kits of 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB, which offer savings up to $300 over comparable factory options. Like all OWC memory upgrade kits, a ‘how-to’ install video and OWC lifetime limited warranty are included.

One of the Easiest Upgrades for Your iMac

Just like the original iMac model, a memory access panel on the rear of the newly announced iMac ejects via a simple push button located above the power input. Adding more memory is fast and simply involves installing new modules into the memory slots and reinstalling the access panel. Mac performance experts recommend selecting the least amount of factory installed RAM when ordering any iMac, taking advantage of significant cost savings by choosing OWC memory.

Savings up to $300 Compared to Factory Upgrade

New iMac owners seeking to max-out their RAM can select the 32GB OWC memory upgrade from OWC and save $300 compared to the 32GB factory cost of $600. For even more savings, iMac with Retina 5K display owners can trade-in the two factory base 4GB memory modules.

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