diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro
Making Sharp Images
Retina MacBook Pro 13-inch $500 off
3.0 GHz, 8GB memory, 512GB flash drive

MagSafe Connector Disconnects? Fix it with the NewerTech Snuglet

When I travel for photography, I charge the laptop using a power inverter or battery source in my vehicle (I almost never stay in a hotel/motel). The rocky dirt roads are bumpy, the car is loaded up with gear; there is no flat table for the laptop to sit upon and charge in peace.

A pristine MagSafe connector port is bad enough—the thing just does not stay attached very well. But a troublsome flaw in the MagSafe design is that over time, small magnetic particles start attaching themselves inside the connector port on the laptop. I’ve had to dig out the larger particles with a knife blade, but always the very fine small ones are hard to get out. These particles exacerbate the hassles of an already too-loose connector, and so the darned charger plug is constantly coming off, which stops the laptop from charging. (The BatteryBox avoids this issue since it clips on, but it is not for charging).

Along comes a product I’d never have guessed existed: the NewerTech Snuglet. It’s a tiny little metal jacket that goes into the charging port. Two are included, and a tool is provided for removal (but I have no intention of removing it).

The NewerTech Snuglet just works. I am very pleased to have this problem-solver product; it kept my laptop power attached and charging on a recent trip. Fantastic!

NewerTech snuglet for Apple laptops with MagSafe charging
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Photoshop CC 2014 Now Gets the CC 2015 Bugs

I recently reported that a slew of new bugs had appeared in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

Now with the very recent update to Photoshop CC 2014, Adobe has apparently decided to backport the CC 2015 bugs into CC 2014, at least some of them.

Beware: the bugs involve the GPU, a notoriously unstable area. CC 2014 and CC 2015 have been crashing on me at 5X the rate of the previous versions.

Adobe appears to be steadily replacing proven and optimized non-GPU code with faster but unstable GPU code, while also apparently replacing optimized non-GPU code with turtle-slow code (maybe an internal overhaul of sorts).

So you now can choose fast unstable operation with the GPU code (regular crashes and malfunctions and/or broken functionality), or more reliable but turtle slow operation if the GPU is disabled (I have disabled the GPU for years due to instability).

Power On the Road: Power Inverter for Everything, MagSafe Charging for Apple Laptops

Over at my diglloyd.com photography site see:

Power On the Road: Power Inverter for Everything, MagSafe Charging for Apple Laptops.

BatteryBox
Pawtec car charger for Magsafe
 
Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products

Backdoors don’t work, never will, and raise alarming issues both technical and legal.

Kudos to Apple for recognizing reality (an item in short supply in politics) and making encryption the default in iOS with no decryption access to user data by Apple.

The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products

OWC Extends Warranty to 2 Years for Thunderbolt 2 Dock Owners

MPG received this today in email.

Classic win/win: customers get a longer warranty, OWC gets credit for going above and beyond. MPG sure wishes that Canon and Nikon and Sony would do the same for cameras and lenses!

See the MPG review of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock. It’s all but a must-have for MacBook Pro and iMac users, and excellent for Mac Pro too. The dock even passes through the video signal so a display can hang off it.

For the new 2015 Apple MacBook with USB-C, OWC is accepting pre-orders for the OWC USB-C Dock. Apple will likely switch all Macs to USB-C next year, along with a common connector that incorporates USB + Thunderbolt into one cable standard compatible with both.

The USB-C changeover will entail some hassles (adapter plugs), but simple things like charging a laptop via the cable will sidestep the anti-customer patented MagSafe connector headache (Apple produces no useful MagSafe functionality for on the road or battery use, nor does Apple alllow them to be made and sold, at best tolerating products that adapt to MagSafe).

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad
Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad

I can’t be the only one out there who suffers from kids who love to bake, and thus test my willpower in maintaining a caloric deficit for cycling.

The about $25 NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad looks very practical for kitchen use, and it includes a stylus, a nice touch given how messy hands can be in the kitchen.

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad

NewerTech Introduces Kitchen Kit -- Use Your iPad in The Kitchen Mess-Free

  • Stand for iPad & Stylus Bundle Keeps Your iPad Clean & Safe in the Kitchen
  • No Wet, Sticky, Damaged, Smudged, or Greasy Screens -- Makes Cooking a Joy
  • Swivels 360 Degrees for Viewing Recipes, Videos, Internet Sites, Listening to Music, & Chatting
  • Not Just for the Kitchen – Use in the Garage, Living Room, & Craft Table – Anywhere You Have Busy Hands

WOODSTOCK, IL, July 7, 2015 — NewerTech www.newertech.com, a leading performance upgrades and accessories company for Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods since 1988, introduced today the NewerTech Kitchen Kit iPad stand and stylus bundle that lets you safely use your iPad in the kitchen for viewing recipes, videos, web browsing, listening to music, IM’ing and Skype video casts -- all cleanly and easily while cooking.

The Kitchen Kit includes the NewerTech NuStand 360 iPad holder that rotates 360 degrees and pivots up and down and the NewerTech NuScribe Stylus, an elegant digital and traditional writing tool that functions as both a capacitive stylus and twist-barrel ballpoint pen.

Your Ideal Sous Chef

The Kitchen Kit’s stand features a soft touch, scratch-resistant rubberized black aluminum finish and a weighted, anti-skid rubber base with removable silicone blocks that keep your iPad right where you want it at all times, even in a busy kitchen -- safe from splashes, spills and kitchen debris. The stand has a rear cutout for clean cable routing and works with all full-sized iPads (original to 4th generation).

You can quickly and securely clip the iPad in for a full 360-degree range of motion and precise positioning, so the iPad is always in the right spot for viewing. Featuring the protection of a one-year limited warranty, the Kitchen Kit makes your iPad readily available while cooking, with easy cleanup with just a damp cloth.

To keep messy hands from touching the iPad screen, the Kitchen Kit includes a silver stylus. A combination twist-barrel ballpoint pen for writing on paper and an input stylus for iPad notes, it also provides precise navigation, note taking, and page turning on an iPad with a precision-formed, soft rubber tip for a smooth screen surface touch. The Kitchen Kit is equally at home in the garage, home brewery, backyard, living room, craft table, at parties or anywhere else you want easy and safe access to your iPad with busy hands.

NewerTech’s Secret Ingredient is Convenience

“NewerTech is dedicated to giving our customers quality products that add convenience to their lives,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, NewerTech, “and the Kitchen Kit is a great example. It’s the easy solution that makes working with your iPad hassle free, anywhere.”
The Kitchen Kit includes everything you need:

iPad stand:

Black aluminum NuStand 360 desk stand.
Holds all full-sized iPads (original to 4th generation).
Rotates 360 degrees.
Adjusts up/down for easy viewing.
Soft touch, scratch-resistant rubberized black finish.
Weighted, anti-skid rubber base.
Rear cutout for clean cable routing.
Dimensions: 12” (H) x 8” (W) x 5.5” (D).
Weight: 1.6 lbs. (.7 kg).
Corner hold blocks for iPad - set of 4.
Corner hold blocks for iPad 2nd, 3rd & 4th Generation - set of 4.

Stylus:

Silver NewerTech NuScribe 2-in-1 touchscreen stylus.
Combination twist-barrel ballpoint pen and touchscreen input stylus for precise navigation, note taking, and page turning.
Precision-formed, soft rubber tip for smooth screen surface touch.
Screwdriver and screw.
Warranty: One year NewerTech Product Limited Warranty (does not include consumables, such as pen ink).

Pricing and Availability

The NewerTech Kitchen Kit for full-size iPads is available immediately from Other World Computing at: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/CHEFSTBNDL/, priced at $24.99.

Cycling

OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID Customers: Get your FREE SoftRAID Download

See the MPG review of the OWC Thunderbay 4. HIGHLY recommended (MPG has five of them).

OWC tells MPG that most buyers of the OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID edition have not downloaded the free SoftRAID app. Definitely should be done, because the SoftRAID folks are very good about updating for OS changes.

If you haven't installed the SoftRAID engine that comes free with your ThunderBay 4, you're missing out on your drive's maximum performance.

Applicable part numbers start owctb4msrxxx and owctb2sr

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

Apple Releases OS X 10.10.4

OS X 10.10.4 (released today) supports TRIM on 3rd-party (non Apple) SSDS.

There are also a variety of security fixes in OS X 10.10.4. some of which are darn frightening that they were there. And of course there are many more not yet fixed. The web is a dangerous place.

I’m a big fan of the “Improves networking reliability” item, since the network stack had gone partially dead as it has been wont to do (even as a side-by-side computer on the same subnet proves that nothing is wrong with the LAN or internet).

The OS X Yosemite v10.10.4 Update is recommended for all OS X Yosemite users.

The OS X Yosemite v10.10.4 update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac. This update:

  • Improves networking reliability
  • Improves Migration Assistant reliability
  • Addresses an issue that prevented some external displays from functioning properly
  • Improves the reliability of upgrading iPhoto and Aperture libraries to Photos
  • Improves reliability when syncing photos and videos to iCloud Photo Library
  • Addresses an issue that could cause Photos to unexpectedly quit after importing some Lecia DNG files
  • Resolves an issue that could delay outgoing email messages in Mail
  • Fixes an issue where a website could prevent the user from navigating away by presenting repeated JavaScript alerts in Safari
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

OS X 10.10.4 Now Supports 'TRIM' for 3rd-party SSDs

OWC SSDs do NOT need TRIM (MPG has never used or enabled it all these years).

See OWC SSDs Built to Perform with or without ‘Trimforce’ Command.

To enable TRIM for your SSD, use Terminal (in the Utilities folder). Regrettably, there is no way to control the behavior on a per-SSD basis. Given the claimed risks this is a dubious design (it’s on for all non-Apple SSDs, or off for all).

MPG strongly recommends backing up before enabling TRIM.

Enabling TRIM

Devices connected indirectly, such as multi-protocol enclosures with multi-port chipsets might not be accessible in a manner that supports TRIM.

The command to enter in Terminal is trimforce enable.

diglloydMP:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ trimforce enable

Man entry for trimforce

TRIMFORCE(8) BSD System Manager's Manual TRIMFORCE(8)

NAME
trimforce -- enable TRIM commands on third-party drives

SYNOPSIS
trimforce verb

DESCRIPTION
trimforce enables sending TRIM commands to third-party drives attached to an AHCI controller. By default, TRIM commands are not sent to third-party drives. Use extreme caution when enabling TRIM, as some drives may not correctly handle the commands. trimforce must be run by the system administrator.

VERBS
enable
Start sending TRIM commands to AHCI-attached third-party drives. Requires a reboot to take effect.

disable
Stop sending TRIM commands to AHCI-attached third-party drives. Requires a reboot to take effect.

help
Display brief usage syntax.

ERRORS
trimforce will exit with status 0 if successful, or with an appropriate error if it cannot parse input, allocate memory, or is unauthorized to perform its work.

HISTORY
The trimforce utility first appeared in OS X 10.10.4.

Firecracker Deals at OWC

See all OWC Firecracker Deals (good through 5 July).

SSD

Old dog laptop but you want a new puppy? Upgrade it with an SSD.

480GB Mercury Electra 6G for $197.74240GB for $107.74 1.0TB Mercury Electra 6G SSD for $397.74.

These are also great in OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini bus powered case.

Hard drives

See also Hard Drives: Odds of Failure with Time, When to Upgrade/Replace.

5TB Toshiba for $147.74. These are fast drives and work great in a Thunderbay 4 (these 5TB drives fill most of MPG’s Thunderbay units).

OWC has a 90-day DOA guarantee too: if a new drive fails within 90 days OWC will replace it with a new one.

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

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

 

Cycling

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.

Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter

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

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

 

Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

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

Update: the Apple multipart adapter solves much of this port difficulty but the OWC USB-C Dock for MacBook is an even better option when at home/office with power.

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.

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.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

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

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

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

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
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

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

$230 off iPad Air

From authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo:

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
Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

Used Macs are a Good Value

Used Macs at OWC.

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

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:

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

Mac Deals at B&H Photo

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
Cycling

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

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

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

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.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

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.

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
Mac Pro Reviews by diglloyd

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