diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
Up to 960GB of Storage!
Up to 960GB of Storage!

SSDStorageMemory

Mac Performance Guide

Photography Blog and Publications
Photography Blog and Publications

Making an Old Dog of a Laptop Run Like a New One: Wow!

As relevant if not more so here in 2015, anyone using any kind of Mac without an SSD should look at upgrade options that really boost performance. From 2013:

Making an Old Dog of a Laptop Run Like a New One: Wow!

Here in 2015, SSD prices have declined very nicely vs 2013. The OWC Electra 6G series is wallet friendly at just $132 for 240GB, or $235 for a 480GB SSD. The OWC Extreme Pro series offers a bit more performance, but the night and day difference comes from upgrading the hard drive to an SSD.

Note that old-style laptops and MacMini models can accept dual internal drives (SSD or hard drive) via the OWC Data Doubler. If the goal is storage capacity, current model 2.5-inch hard drives offer up to 2TB capacity.

TRIM

With Apple removing TRIM support in the latest OS X versions, the drives recommended above do not need TRIM and never have, which in part is why MPG has been recommending them for years.

MPG likes “set and forget” products which just keep working reliably—some SSDs will slow down as they fill up and become internally fragmented, and this may be not only a speed issues, but a NAND (flash memory) wear issue (longevity).

Hard Drives: Staying the Course with Higher Performance and up to 8TB Capacity

While I’d of course love to have a couple of 8TB Viper SSDs (or even one), the cost is commensurate with the outrageous performance, or so I’m expecting as soon as I can get one to test.

Meanwhile, hard drives (HDD) keep increasing their merit by delivering speeds over 200MB/sec, and capacities of 5TB, 6TB and now a whopping 8TB. The 8TB Ultrastar He8 hard drive offers 1/3 more capacity than 6TB but at about double the price. Still, 8TB drives should drop substantially in price fairly quickly as consumer (non enterprise) models appear.

MPG’s diglloyd swapped to 5TB drives for main storage in multiple OWC Thunderbay 4 units less than a year ago, but done today, it would now be the HGST 6.0 TB Deskstar NAS drive*. See the performance tests; it’s a 'killer' fast drive.

* For the 2009/2010 Mac Pro models, I’ve had two reports that at least some production batches might have warm restart issues (cold bootup is fine), e.g. do a restart and the drives won’t appear, but shut down and start up and they come up fine. I cannot confirm this as a general issue, but it is something to be aware of in those Macs when used *internally* (no reports of issues externally). Possibly it involves a certain production batch, etc—no way to be sure.

Storage design

How to configure storage for backup, reliability and fault tolerance (everyone’s needs can vary) is a subject I often cover during consulting.

The best setup for any system is to:

(1) Utilize an SSD (“flash drive”) for the boot/system/apps volume and for any files that benefit from high performance, such as Adobe Lightroom catalogs, scratch space, video transcoding temp files, databases, etc.

(2) Utilize hard drives for main storage of large files: image files, video footage, music, etc. (But ).

While USB3 drives make good choices for single drives (e.g. for backup), a tangled pile of separate drives can lead lead to frustration and reliability issues of various kinds.

Instead, MPG strongly recommends investing in a high quality 4-bay unit like the OWC Thunderbay 4. Its 4 bays are eminently flexible, allowing drives to be used singly and/or in various RAID flavors, including RAID-5. Nearly all current Macs have Thunderbolt, a wonderful solution compared to past years.

For those desiring a smaller form factor and/or easy SSD support, there is the 4-by Thunderbay 4 Mini, which can be configured to use SSDs and/or HDDs. (2.5-inch drives).

See also Backing up High Capacity Storage: Partitioning for Practical Backup.

* HDD = Hard Disk Drive Spinning magnetic media as compared with an SSD which uses memory chips, no moving parts.

iMac: How to Upgrade the Internal Drive

Many users have chosen the iMac, but there have been obstacles to upgrading the internal drive, the main one being the need for custom thermal regulation, a problem which OWC has solved with their upgrade kit.

OWC has do-it-yourself videos and toolkits, or the iMac can be upgraded by a professional installer.

Unlike Prior Generations, Apple iMacs from late 2009 to current 2014 & later utilize digital reporting and even custom firmware for SMC drive temperature reporting.

OWC's Exclusive HDD Kits include our custom digital monitor that 'talks Apple SMC' and maintains proper temperature reporting and Apple Diagnostic compatibility allowing you to upgrade an existing 3.5" HDD with any 3.5" SATA HDD of your choice up to 6.0TB.

MPG suggests the HGST 6.0 TB Deskstar NAS drive for such an upgrade, but there are many other HDD choices.

SSD addition

With certain models, an SSD can be added to the hard drive for dual internal drive operation (hard drive + SSD), which enables Apple’s 'Fusion' technology.

Add an OWC Solid State Drive (sold separately) to your hard drive only equipped iMac to experience faster booting, near instant application launches and data transfer speeds up to 559MB/s!

Which Mac to Get? How to Backup? Planning for Growth.

By engaging me in consulting, I can help in the following ways—

  • Evaluating the backup protocol and the risks to user data.
  • Choosing just the right machine for your needs: CPU speed and cores.
  • Determining the right amount of memory.
  • Assessing whether more advanced solutions (such as multiple solid state drives) can actually help with a performance issue.
  • Deciding on the best solution for performance, reliability and fault-tolerance.
  • Planning for needs 6 months / 1 year / 2 years ahead, not just right now.
  • Evaluating whether a “faster” video card is faster, or just a waste of $200 or more.
  • Workflow, display, peripheral issues.
  • Tips on saving money when buying a machine and its add-ons.

Hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world.

Apple: A Trillion Dollar Company Dominating Personal Electronics, Cars and (incidentally) Computers

Apple is the most wildly successful company in history. Competition from Apple is a scary thing for any company in its chosen field of play, for good reason—Apple goes “all in” or doesn’t enter the market. In phones, no company makes money any more except Apple. Now the Apple iWatch is imminent. The Apple Car may be next.

Here’s a short but intriguing video (thanks to reader Martin D):

The Four Horsemen: Amazon/Apple/Facebook & Google--Who Wins/Loses (Scott Galloway)

Apple computers sell for premium prices at high profit margins in a cutthroat industry. But OS X and computers as we know them are now being marginalized as Apple products; they just don’t have much impact to Apple’s bottom line. This simple fact explains the slowdown in both computer and OS X development in terms of breadth and depth (and quality of OS X).

OS X Security: Various Developments

Various recent security developments.

What to do in general

Apple security fixes

Apple has issued several security updates recently. Keep your Mac up to date with security updates.

Crapware for Macs via Java

For some of my programming needs (server side code and other stuff), I use the Java programming language*.

So it’s disturbing that Oracle now has started bundling crapware with the java SDK. MPG considers the way Oracle is doing this to be unethical. Apparently this was done for years with PCs, but now is doing it with Macs. Beware!!!

Oracle adds crapware to Java for Macs
A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates

As noted previously, do not install any software or add-ons or “free” stuff unless you absolutely positively require it and know exactly what it’s good for.

* Don’t be confused by bad name choice: the Java programming language is NOT related to javascript (used by vast numbers of web sites including this one on web pages). Java in the web browser = BAD (disable it). Javascript = necessary.

Safari browsing history

Don’t assume claimed privacy features actually work.

Years-old Safari private browsing bug saves URL of every page visited, remains unfixed

Tested: OWC 240GB USB3 Thumb Drive (and now available for purchase)

OWC has a new thumb drive about to debut. MPG tested a 240GB production copy, as shown below. Other capacities smaller and larger (480GB) will be available.

UPDATE: the OWC Thumb Drive is now available for purchase.

With those sorts of capacities, MPG ponders why iPhone and similar devices are stuck around 128GB in a much larger form factor, and why there is not some sort of secure pairing standard for storage extension. Because with up to 480GB in such a small device, it could make a nifty adjunct to any digital device needing overflow storage.

As shown, the OWC thumb drive offers very high read and write speed for compressible data (“Zeroes”). This is performance that even two years ago was considered excellent for a fast full-size SSD.

With incompressible data (artificial worst case scenario), performance is lower, but still remains as fast or faster than the fastest hard drive for reads (reads are much more common than writes). In short, this is a high performance device.

OWC indicates that the drive is smart in that it “thermal regulates” for reliability; thumb drives are not really designed for taking a beating as with this continous test. Still, there was no sign of any performance deviation using DiskTester fill-volume across the entire 240GB capacity (writes ~240GB, then read ~240GB with no pauses or breaks).

MPG will be field testing the OWC 240GB thumb drive on a photography trip shortly, more to follow.

OWC 240GB USB thumb drive, sustained transfer speed

OS X and Malware

Well worth a read.

Mac OS X Isn’t Safe Anymore: The Crapware / Malware Epidemic Has Begun

A few simple rules:

  • Many of the risks today involve the web browser. The best advice is to not install extensions of any kind, and to never ever install software that promises to improve your browser.
  • Do not download anything unless absolutely necessary and its provenance is absolutely clear.
  • Never download “free” software you just read about.
  • Never download anything a friend sent you, take a dim view of links in emails.
  • Disable java in the web browser (note: java is NOT javascript; virtually every site today needs javascript to function properly, including this site).
  • Don’t eat candy strangers give you at random.

diglloydTools Updated to version 2.2.11

diglloydTools

diglloydTools has been updated to version 2.2.11, , see the diglloydTools release notes page and download page.

Purchase diglloydTools.

There is only one change in this release:

  • During the read phase of fill-volume, MB/sec is is now also shown for the last 1/10/30 files as trailing averages (not just total average). This yields insight into any anomalous drive behavior while the test is running without needing to wait for the entire read phase to complete.

Some of the capabilities in diglloydTools

Aside from testing hard drive or SSD or RAID performance and reliability with DiskTester, data integrity with IntegrityChecker is a must-have workflow tool for anyone with important data:

diglloydTools graphing template
diglloydTools graphing template

OWC Weekend Specials

By reader request, this weekend’s OWC Weekend specials. See last week’s specials.

Which Mac to Get? How to Backup? Planning for Growth.

By engaging me in consulting, I can help in the following ways—

  • Evaluating the backup protocol and the risks to user data.
  • Choosing just the right machine for your needs: CPU speed and cores.
  • Determining the right amount of memory.
  • Assessing whether more advanced solutions (such as multiple solid state drives) can actually help with a performance issue.
  • Deciding on the best solution for performance, reliability and fault-tolerance.
  • Planning for needs 6 months / 1 year / 2 years ahead, not just right now.
  • Evaluating whether a “faster” video card is faster, or just a waste of $200 or more.
  • Workflow, display, peripheral issues.
  • Tips on saving money when buying a machine and its add-ons.

Hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world.

Reader Question: Photoshop and Large Files — Best Way to Optimize

Joe S writes:

It's time for me to upgrade my boot drive, as I am in running into limits working with HUGE files in PS with my current OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 240GB SSD drive in my 2010 Mac Pro.

I don't really have anything on the boot drive other than the OS and my Applications which are a lot - FCP, Adobe CS suite (CS5 and 6), Logic, DaVinci, etc.

MPG: The boot volume per se has nothing to do with Photoshop scratch space, since Photoshop can be configured to use any volume(s) for working scratch space. Thus capacity of the boot drive is a separate and orthogonal issue separate from speed with Photoshop—any fast SSD will do as a scratch volume, the fastest option in the pre-2013 Mac Pro being the OWC Mercury Accelsior (or a striped pair of them). The same SSD can be used for other purposes too (e.g., as the boot volume).

SSDs have come well down in price, so the upgrade cost is relatively low now.

See also the Optimizing Photoshop pages.

The first and most important factor in Photoshop performance is to avoid use of the scratch disk in the first place: install adequate memory so that the scratch volume is never needed; it is always faster to not have to use the scratch volume at all*. With enough memory, Photoshop will usually* not waste time with the scratch volume. OWC sells a 128GB memory kit for the 2013 Mac Pro for users with unusual memory requirements.

diglloydTools
BUY NOW

Assuming memory has been maxed-out, the Photoshop scratch volume should be the fastest drive (avoid hard drives, even striped): a fast SSD, the boot drive or other SSD, whichever is fastest. DiglloydTools DiskTester can prove out which performs best.

* Unfortunately, Photoshop sometimes uses the scratch volume significantly even when it has many gigabytes of memory it could use (bug). So a fast SSD scratch volume can still matter when such bugs are triggered.

Example

As shown further below, Photoshop is using 40.29GB of real memory, the limit of how it has been configured, ~70% of system memory (the system has 64GB total). Other apps need memory, as does OS X itself, so a general rule of thumb is to configure Photoshop to use up to 70% of system memory.

Photoshop CC 2014 memory configuration: 70% good for most, up to 85% for 64GB machines

With larger memory configurations, configuring Photoshop to use 75% to 85% of memory generally works well (assuming no large memory requirements by other apps). In this case of a 64GB Mac Pro, configuring for 85% would add another ~9.6GB or so for Photoshop to use, which would encourage it to not bother with the scratch volume.

Quitting other applications will free up their memory and thus reduce total memory pressure and thus allow Photoshop to use more memory.

Photoshop CC 2014 using ~40GB of real memory

An Example of When More CPU Cores Mean Responsive vs Sluggish

Here’s a practical example of when more CPU cores can really help, assuming it’s of value to be able to use the machine for other purposes while backing up.

But the idea applies in general to any situation in which there is work to be done while some background activity is in progress.

I had gotten a bit behind on backups, so I powered on an OWC Thunderbay 4 with 4 backup volumes, and initiated some cloning operations using Carbon Copy Cloner.

As shown below, on a 4-CPU-core Mac, nearly all the CPU cores are utilized (400%). On the 8-core Mac Pro this is no issue at all; 4 CPU cores remain available for other work. On a 6-core machine it will also be quite reasonable.

But on a 4-core machine (iMac, MacBook Pro, 4-core Mac Pro), nearly all the CPU power is being used; any kind of interactive use for other purposes is not going to go fast or smoothly.

OWC Weekend Specials

The Thunderbay 4 is a favorite at MPG (Lloyd bought 5 of them).

See also RAID-5 Can be Partitioned to Suit, and there is no requirement to use RAID-5 of course; it is software and completely flexible).

The Toshiba 5TB hard drive is perfect for the Thunderbay 4, and very fast. So get 4 of them, and one cold spare (five drives total).

The Intel 600GB SSD has not been tested here at MPG, but $195 for 600GB is an appealing deal.

View all OWC Weekend Specials

Adware = Malware (Lenovo and https)

This stuff is hardly to be believed. According to the EFF:

Lenovo Is Breaking HTTPS Security on its Recent Laptops

News broke last night that Lenovo has been shipping laptops with a horrifically dangerous piece of software called Superfish, which tampers with Windows' cryptographic security to perform man-in-the-middle attacks against the user's browsing. This is done in order to inject advertising into secure HTTPS pages, a feature most users don't want implemented in the most insecure possible way.

Lenovo has not just injected ads in a wildly inappropriate manner, but engineered a massive security catastrophe for its users. The use of a single certificate for all of the MITM attacks means that all HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken. If you access your webmail from such a laptop, any network attacker can read your mail as well or steal your password. If you log into your online banking account, any network attacker can pilfer your credentials. All an attacker needs in order to perform these attacks is a copy of the Superfish MITM private key. There is (apparently) a copy of that key inside every Superfish install on every affected Lenovo laptop, which has now been extracted and posted online.

In MPG’s view, this should permanently exclude Lenovo from anyone’s consideration, for any product. Lifetime blacklist. For that matter, any vendor pre-installing adware should be blacklisted also. Finally, this ought to be dealt with severely; an immediate import ban on all Lenovo products in the USA and EU seems appropriate.

See also How to Remove Superfish Adware From Your Lenovo Computer.

Is Nothing Safe Any More? Cellular Phones Compromised En Masse

You can't make this stuff up. Are there any mirrors in the NSA building?

THE GREAT SIM HEIST: HOW SPIES STOLE THE KEYS TO THE ENCRYPTION CASTLE

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

...

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

...

Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”

Wow. Anyway, your hard drive could be compromised already too.

The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

My Mac Consulting Can Save You Money and Protect Your Data

Backup can be the most imporant thing of all when developing a professional computing platform.

By engaging me in consulting, I can help in the following ways—

  • Evaluating the backup protocol and the risks to user data.
  • Choosing just the right machine for your needs: CPU speed and cores.
  • Determining the right amount of memory.
  • Assessing whether more advanced solutions (such as multiple solid state drives) can actually help with a performance issue.
  • Deciding on the best solution for performance, reliability and fault-tolerance.
  • Planning for needs 6 months / 1 year / 2 years ahead, not just right now.
  • Evaluating whether a “faster” video card is faster, or just a waste of $200 or more.
  • Workflow, display, peripheral issues.
  • Tips on saving money when buying a machine and its add-ons.

Hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world.

Apple Watch for Sports — What About ANT?

In With the Coming of the Apple Watch, Digital Monitoring is the Next Big Thing, I suggested that Apple Watch would be a Really Big Deal. After watching :; the Apple videos, it seems that the fitness aspect alone could do millions a world of good. At least the slick presentation makes it appear that Apple has hit the nail on the head in making a fitness device that is light years ahead of previous efforts. It looks exceptionally well done in its mass market get-off-the-couch motivational potential (at least for a few weeks of use!).

And yet I was deeply disappointed in what was shown, or at least what was not mentioned, because Apple Watch appears to lack a critical thing: ANT support. As a cyclist with measured exertion of 7000 to 10,000 kilojoules per week (multiply by 0.956 for kilocalories* aka “calories”), I care about what it can do for me on my bike. Moreover, you must carry the iPhone (for its GPS) if you want things like speed and distance (but GPS performs poorly under trees and on twists and turns and switchbacks and many other places). AFAIK, the iPhone does not support ANT either and never has.

* The 0.956 conversion factor relates kilojoules (watts of power) as measured on the bike to 1% accuracy to an efficiency factor for the human body in converting chemical energy to work (muscles) for a highly trained athlete.

Thus if 1000 kilojoules of work are produced on the bike, 956 kilocalories of food must be eaten to produce that resulting mechanical work (most of the energy is wasted as heat, which is why exercise makes us hot). Hence the conversion factor between kilojoules/kilocalories is not 0.239 <=> 4.187 when calculating caloric intake vs measured work (exercise).

The generally accepted range of human body efficiency in converting chemical energy (glucose, fat, protein) to work (physical movement) ranges from 18% for an untrained non-athlete to 24% for a highly trained athlete. So one kilojoule on the bike (as measured) is roughly one kilocalorie of food for a highly trained athlete at steady effort, e.g., 0.2390 X (1/.240) = 0.995.

Having tracked caloric intake to the gram for years as part of training, I should probably raise my efficiency factor to 0.24; food and training logs suggest that my 0.956 figure is too low (e.g. I have high efficiency). But post-workout there are caloric needs for recovery and repair and growth, thermic losses during digestion (TEF), and also exercise intensity varies the metabolic efficiency (type of energy source), so I deem it more useful to stick with 0.956. Simply digesting and converting food to usable energy takes from 5% (fat, certain types of carbohydrates) to 30% (protein) of the calories consumed (thermic losses aka specific dynamic action (SDA)). So five years of weight/calorie/excercise data tells me that 0.956 is a highly accurate number for my own food and exercise habits.

ANT wireless data transmission

ANT is the wireless standard for sending/receiving instrument data to a “head unit” like an SRM PC7 or Garmin Edge or dozens of others (and, one would have hoped, Apple Watch Sport).

When I cycle there are seven (7) data streams to be recorded: heart rate from a band I wear around my chest, power and cadence from the SRM DA9000 power meter, speed and distance accurate to 0.1% from a carefully calibrated per-revolution wheel sensor. And elevation and temperature. All of which are transmitted via ANT. [Long and varied experience over years also proved to me that GPS is far too often way off for elevation and ascent, so it that too is garbage from my training perspective].

So unless the Apple Watch can record these data streams, it’s useless for my cycling purposes. It’s all good that millions of fair weather cyclists and runners and etc are to be served, but I sure hope that my disappointment is only due to an omission by Apple of stating ANT support.

That Apple has any intention of supporting this kind of data collection seems like a crackpot idea given the way Apple thinks—and yet millions of serious athletes would surely like to be able to use an Apple Watch Sport to make it happen.

3248 kilojoule extensive endurance cycling workout
64 miles + 6538 ft elevation gain @ 217 watts, 133 bpm, 4+ hours

How to Prioritize Network Interfaces for Peak Performance

How to Prioritize Network Interfaces for Peak Performance

One reason I looked into this issue is that OS X Yosemite caused me to eat up half a gigabyte of bandwidth from my iPhone since (yet another bug) it does not prioritize gigabit ethernet over wireless. But it’s a general performance and reliability issue for networking.

mpg
Four networking services simultaneously active

Lockdown: The Coming War on General Computing

Written in 2011, this exceptionally well written article remains more relevant than ever.

Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing by Cory Doctorow

The shape of the copyright wars clues us into an upcoming fight over the destiny of the general-purpose computer itself.

...

In one famous incident—a gift to people who share this hypothesis—Sony loaded covert rootkit installers on 6 million audio CDs, which secretly executed programs that watched for attempts to read the sound files on CDs and terminated them. It also hid the rootkit's existence by causing the computer operating system's kernel to lie about which processes were running, and which files were present on the drive.

...

I have made peace with the fact that I will require a hearing aid long before I die. It won't be a hearing aid, though; it will really be a computer. So when I get into a car—a computer that I put my body into—with my hearing aid—a computer I put inside my body—I want to know that these technologies are not designed to keep secrets from me, or to prevent me from terminating processes on them that work against my interests.

...

OWC Weekend Specials

Thunderbay 4 Mini for $298, certified used Macs, discounted memory kits, SoftRAID 5 for $138, Elgato Thunderbolt Dock for $128, Accelsior PCIe 480GB SSD (fast!) for $499.

Weekend deals

With the Coming of the Apple Watch, Digital Monitoring is the Next Big Thing

I rather dismissed the Apple Watch (surprisingly poor naming*) as something I had no desire for, at least in terms of time, tweets and such, but what really intrigues me now is its potential to radically change the “personal health metrics” game.

* 'Watch' is such a closed way to describe a device worn on the wrist which might be chosen for 1000 other reasons.

In my view, the Apple 'Watch' goes far beyond the iPhone in potential, because it’s an entirely new category applicable to nearly 100% of the population. It’s not a watch (though it can tell time surely), but rather a personal digital monitor even though at its debut it will likely be deemed a communications device. But the revolution will come not in duplicating what an iPhone can do, but in in opening up an entirely new playing field (personal digital monitoring).

Consider for example being able to monitor and continuously record blood sugar, sleep rhythms, heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels, blood alcohol, control of medical implants, all that stuff and more than can hardly be envisioned (sensors required for some of that). These are not just medical applications, but intriguing for sports use training and racing, for monitoring status of pilots and truck drivers and soldiers, and so on. And that’s just for starters. It’s a product that has far more meat to its reason for existence than an iPhone, because it spans every aspect of life, not just communications, and grandma or little Joey might have to have one (medically) unlike an iMac or iPhone. And it can be worn on the wrist.

So the Apple Watch intrigues me for its data recording and monitoring capabilities (albeit with some sensors required)—not at all for its communications aspects (mail, tweets, web, etc, though for some those things will clearly be a huge plus). It would be nifty if it supported wireless ANT heart rate, power, speed, cadence right out of the box, for cyclists and other sports.

I could see using the Apple Watch far more than my iPhone, if it were done right. I could see buying more than one if done really right, and configuring each for different things: customizing and “locking down” the Watch to as few as one specific function could be important to grow its market acceptance in dozens of smaller but not small market areas.

Hacking and personal data concerns are going to plumb interesting new crossover areas in the law.

On health

Some recent health-related posts on my cycling site:

Our Toaster Failed, and we want another one just like it

Our Dualit 4-Slice Toaster, Chrome failed after about 15 years of heavy use. We’re having it repaired for about 40% of the cost of a new one, because It Just Works. It’s unclear what failed, probably the timer dial, which has seen heavy use (kids go through a lot of toast!)

It’s designed right visually, it’s designed right functionally and it proved itself all these years. Even getting crumbs out is done the right way (the tray just pulls out at the bottom).

It won’t connect to the internet, won’t tell you what time it is, won’t notify your iWatch or tweet “toast is ready” or even beep when your toast is done. But it’s timer does have a pleasingly simple mechanical dial sound that also clicks lightly when done. You don’t have to update its firmware or read a manual to figure it out. It’s built solidly to last with direct-manipulation of all necessary and quite sufficient controls. It’s vented properly and has rugged feet on the bottom. Old school design, so rare today.

Our older model is even simpler than this photo. Now look at all the variety of toasters. Most are not only plastic but try too hard and end up being lame: beepers and timers and dials and even dual dials and dual LED displays and dual sliders, Charlie Foxtrot designs, many more parts to fail, confusion to arise. (That is exactly how both OS X and iOS now feel to me these days). Guess how many of those toasters will be working even 2 years from now with a family making toast every day of the year.

I want OS X Toaster and iOS Toaster.

Product designers out there: think Dualit toaster when designing any product.

Get Dualit 4-Slice Toaster at Amazon.

Dualit Classic 4-Slice Toaster, Chrome

Reader Comment: Apple Core Rot

More about Apple Core Rot.

Reader Andrea D writes:

I wanted to write you about the Apple Core Rot. My opinion is quite simple and not an original one. I once read that in Engineering there are three factors:

  • Quality
  • Features
  • Time

And in a project you never can have all three. At most two.

If you want Quality and Time (e.g. delivery date) then you have to forget (reduce) Features. By my limited knowledge about Steve Jobs I'm sure he always seeked Quality + Features rather than Time. He waited years of prototypes before introducing the iPad for example. So the equation is quite simple.

It seems Apple is now seeking Time + Features, believing naively (or on purpose) that also Quality can be archived (or is unimportant). It's just not possible. Also, Managers aren't much aware of the fact that there is nothing worse than letting entropy grow in code, which is inevitable if you are under time stress (instead of quality stress). It makes developers unhappy too. On long term those are really bad decisions.

Since OS upgrades are free I'm sure that Apple would get a much better feedback if they focus on Quality+Features or at least on Quality+Time (if you are eager to show many upgrades frequently). For various reasons I really disagree with fixed delivery dates, especially so short (a year is nothing for development).

And personally the look of Yosemite is horrible, I would say "without character". For years I loved the quality and uniqueness of the Apple Icons. Yosemite looks to be a clone of a recent mobile trend instead of proposing it's own view. Also, if you change completely your own look, it means that you don't believe anymore in the existing one, you admit it. Instead I loved the consistency of OS X maintained for years opposite to the many Windows OS revolutions. Puah. Double Puah.

MPG: models like this drill down on reality, and I would agree in general, having been a professional software engineer and manager for 25 years in my “previous life”.

Fixed delivery dates are the worst possible choice, because what always happens is that poor managerial judgment ends up being the norm: the pressure to deliver what was promised, on time, with a hopper-full of promises to out of the gate. And what manager wants to ever say “we didn’t get it done in time” or be dissed as the one that says “we can’t get it done on that schedule with quality”. Might as well beat your head on a brick wall.

Moreover, more features inherently means more bugs and it’s a non-linear growth rate in bugs as modules combine. So the more there is, the more bugs, the more security holes, etc. Less is almost always more. Or at least fewer features, but very well thought out ones that always help and never hinder. But when selling to millions, you hype and you sell. And what sells today is constant changes (visuals in particular), with each rev “better” only because it fed the ego of the latest designer not because some hard metrics proved that it works better.

I want my iPhone to be more like a toaster.

Kevin B writes:

I heard yesterday that Apple is developing an electric vehicle... One that may be driver-less no less. Well.

This comes at the exact same time that not only are you reporting widespread rot, but as of about a month ago my own 2013 iMac cannot safely eject either one of my two Thunderbolt external backup drives without crashing... 100% of the time. (After contacting tech support, they are aware of this issue and "hope" to have a fix with one of the next OS updates.)

I personally could list other firsthand issues (rot) but what you are cataloging on you site will definitely suffice.

Could it be Apple is spreading itself a little too thin? Or is Apple simply not taking seriously the products it already sells/features, i.e. rather than concerned with hardware/software stability it's endlessly focusing attention on the next shiny new thing? (Rhetorical questions all.)

Given the increasing rot, I wouldn't dare get into the new electric -- driver-less or not.

MPG’s guess is that the best and brightest (speaking in percentages) have long since been pulled off the OS X team, leaving less than a critical mass of experienced and talented engineers, with a corresponding reduction in good judgment, along with donut-holes in the knowledge base.

Apple Aperture: Taking It No Further

Details.

Apple Aperture messaging juxtaposition
“When Photos for OS X is available this spring,
Aperture will no longer be available for purchase from the Mac App Store.”

Up to 960GB of Storage!
Up to 960GB of Storage!

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