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New Deals on MacBook Pro, Mac Mini

See my review of the late 2016 MacBook Pro Retina.

See also OWC deals on used Macs.

B&H Photo has just posted a batch of steeper discounts on MacBook Pro models from 2015 and 2016 as well as Mac Mini.

Special deal $800 off 2015 MacBook Air 2.2 GHz / 8GB / 512GB. Ends March 30.

These discounts are greater than have generally been available so far. Discounts not shown on some items—click through to see savings.

 

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Caution on macOS 10.2.4: sudo is broken

See also About the macOS Sierra 10.12.4 Update.

This bug has totally destroyed my daily workflow; I use 'sudo' dozens if not hundreds of times a day. I don’t know what I’m going to do—I may have to clone macOS 10.12.3 back over the “upgraded” system — and I cannot do that on two machines because I keep no clones (they're secondaries but I use them nonetheless).

In Terminal, using sudo hangs on all 3 Macs I was foolish enough to update to 10.12.4:

sudo ls

The process just hangs, rendering sudo useless. It doesn't matter what comes after sudo; any and all uses of sudo hangs. Using control-C does not recover either; the Terminal window becomes unusable. Eventually the command executes, with a 4 minute and 39 second delay:

diglloydMP:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ date; sudo date
Tue Mar 28 13:44:57 PDT 2017
Tue Mar 28 13:49:36 PDT 2017  = 4 minute 39 seconds delay

Since reports of a problem surfaced two months ago, I have to wonder how a bug like this can be shipped to customers. I found a link to an alleged fix, but I am not familiar with that site, and the suggested fix is non-Apple software for 'sudo'—the idea of downloading a sudo replacement to give root access to my system makes me blanche.

In About the security content of macOS Sierra 10.12.4, Apple lists this “fix”. The alleged fix is not relevant to my usage; I am not using network directories.

sudo

Available for: macOS Sierra 10.12.3

Impact: A user in an group named "admin" on a network directory server may be able to unexpectedly escalate privileges using sudo

Description: An access issue existed in sudo. This issue was addressed through improved permissions checking.

CVE-2017-2381

Important observations that point to a solution as yet unknown:

  • Installing a brand-new 10.12.4 on a freshly erased volume does not suffer the problem.
  • Installing a brand-new 10.12.4 on a freshly erased volume and then using Migration Assistant on former system brings the problem back.

So whatever macOS is doing, the bug has to be related to some stateful data, something that Migration Assistant itself brings over when migrating. Presumably it is some kind of ACL or special permissions thing somewhere on something, but what and where is hard to know.

That a brand new fresh install followed by Migration Assistant does not result in a usable system is frustrating indeed.

Fixes tried

  1. On 2013 Mac Pro, rebooted into recovery mode and ran Disk Utility First Aid—no issues found. Problem remains.
  2. Reinstalled macOS on the iMac 5K (did not wipe out drive first, did an “install over”). Problem remains.
  3. Downloaded 10.12.3 combo installer; attempted to install over 10.12.4; this is not permitted.
  4. On iMac 5K and MacBook Pro, made a brand-new admin account and brand-new standard account, logged into each of those accounts. Problem remains, proving that it is not an account-specific or machine-specific issue.

So I went to some hours of effort to clone back macOS 10.12.3 on the Mac Pro then do a reinstall on top of that, it being my critical machine.

Only to find that macOS 10.12.4 had mangled my mail data to a new format (and what other data did it mangle?). So even now running macOS 10.12.3, Mail is now unusable. I could whack my mail with a backup from yesterday, losing an entire day’s mail. There is no way to merge easily. But what else did macOS 10.12.4 mangle? Or I can somehow put up with macOS 10.12.4. Shame on Apple for having a minor OS update mangle user data. Photos libraries are also mangled. Perhaps other things too, but by luck I used only Mail and Photos after the install.

I opted to lose a day’s mail. But to do so, I could not use Finder copy; the Finder generated errors copying, as is its wont with any large copy. I had to use Carbon Copy Cloner folder-to-folder cloning.

macOS minor updates mangle mail data

Other user reports

As of 29 March, two readers report no issues with sudo.

As with all bugs, there must be a cause for it to happen on all three of my Macs (Mac Pro, iMac 5K, MacBook Pro), even after a system reinstall and after creating a new user account (see what I tried, above).

Two Bonus bugs!

Bug #1 (shown below): Rebooting made this one go away, but it indicates something additional may be broken as well. This error never happened previously, only with 10.12.4.

Bug #2: Creating a new user does not show it in Users & Groups. I created a new admin user, and this user is not shown, yet the folder is right there in /Users. Nor could the new user be used to login. I had to remove it using 'sudo', which of course took 5 minutes!

macOS 10.12.4: System Preferences => Users & Groups will not load

Apple BugReporter filed

The last bug that I filed at Apple, it took 6 weeks to get a response. I am hoping for something quicker this time. Apple Bug Report #31307973.

Status +1 days: Apple has not even looked at the bug.

macOS 10.12.4: System Preferences => Users & Groups will not load
Mac Pro or iMac or MacBook Pro?
Storage, Backup, RAID?
Buy now or wait?

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OWC Accelsior Pro Q Speed vs Transfer Size

The OWC Accelsior Pro Q is a PCIe-based solid state drive (SSD) for the 2010/2012 Apple Mac Pro (or for PCs) and is also compatible with the Thunderbolt Macs of all kinds via the OWC Helios enclosure.

Sustained transfer speed is a strong indicator for judging performance for real-world tasks that need high bandwidth. While peak speeds are obtained with large transfers, in the Real World many programs tend to use transfer sizes that are too small... read more:

Speed vs Transfer Size, Single and Striped (2013 Mac Pro)

Performance of the OWC Accelsior Pro Q is outstanding, but software programs have to cooperate by using large transfer sizes. See the comments on Photoshop and its tile size.

OWC Accelsior Pro Q sustained transfer speed vs transfer size in OWC Helios enclosure on 2013 Mac Pro

TESTED: OWC Accelsior Pro Q PCIe SSD for 2010/2012 Mac Pro or any Thunderbolt Mac (via Helios Enclosure)

OWC Mercury Accelsior Pro Q PCIe SSD

The OWC Accelsior Pro Q is a PCIe-based solid state drive (SSD) for the 2010/2012 Apple Mac Pro (or for PCs) and is also compatible with the Thunderbolt Macs of all kinds via the OWC Helios enclosure.

The Accelsior Pro Q can be used in any 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro, or by installing in the OWC Mercury Helios enclosure on any Mac with Thunderbolt.

  • Up to 1293MB/s sustained speeds
  • PCIe 2.0 x 8 SSD
  • 480GB or 1TB or 2TB capacities
  • 3 Year limited warranty
  • Compatible with Thunderbolt Macs via OWC Helios enclosure.

The Accelsior Pro Q nearly doubles the performance of its OWC Mercury Accelsior predecessor.

Performance

Kicking off my review of the OWC Accelsior Pro Q:

Performance as Photoshop Scratch Drive (diglloydHuge Benchmark)

Sustained Transfer Speed, Single and Striped (2013 Mac Pro)

diglloydHuge Photoshop benchmark
OWC Accelsior Pro Q vs internal SSD of 2013 Mac Pro
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
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What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Security: Another Phishing Example (plus Apple Junk Mail Bug)

This phishing email (very dangerous) purports to be an Amazon gift award. The idea is that you will click the link, login to a page that looks like Amazon, then the hackers will have your login info to exploit in every possible way, including trying that login on the accounts you might have (which is why one should NEVER use the same login info on multiple sites, certainly not the password, and ideally not the username either).

Continues below with recommended email hygiene.

Secondary issue: the longstanding Apple Mail bug is also seen: junk mail filter is off (as shown), has been off for years, and yet Apple Mail still invokes junk mail filtering. Apple Mail junk mail works in a half-assed sort of way (better than nothing, but barely); I strongly recommend Spam Sieve instead.

Phishing Email Purporting to be Amazon Gift

Email security hygiene

If the above is not scary enough, here’s a good summary of a gmail phishing approach that is highly effective.

It just amazes me that corporations allow anyone using email to auto-load remote content, or to have links within emails clickable, since both are security hazards. Apple provides for disabling remote content, but has no “disable web links in email” option or option to warn first after running against a highly skeptical pre-flight check (which could even live-test the site for SSL and so on)—shame on Apple, for this is a major security risk vector.

  • Always disable loading of remote content by default. Failure to do so gives a ping back to a spammer indicating that the email is a “live one”. You might as well reply stating “thank you, please keep me on your spam list and sell it to everyone you can”.
  • Avoid clicking links in emails. This is a major vector for compromising a system. Clicking on links in email should the rare exception. If you really really want to, then right/control click to copy the URL, paste into a plain text empty window and see if the URL looks valid (and is https). If so, then paste it into the web browser. “Yes I’m smart enough” = no one is smart enough. It’s just too easy to make one mistake ever—I’m not. Don’t do it by default. The only exceptions I make are when I am expecting an email and/or for a part I am sure I trust and the headers all look good.
  • Have more than one email for sensitive accounts. Do not use an email address for banks, brokerage, or anything sensitive that is the same email as your regular one.
  • Use disposable email addresses for shopping, etc. Get rid of them every 3 months or so, moving to a new disposable one. The nasty thing here is so many sites require an email for a login instead of a username—poor security hygiene—making it tempting to use the email address as a username. This defeats the “disposable” idea and it also means an attacker can run that email against thousands of web sites to which you might belong. When possible, use disposable username and emails, to limit the damage. And never use the same password for more than one site—use 1Password to help, possibly leaving out critical logins for financial sites.
Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

When Will a new iMac and Mac Pro Arrive?

If a new iMac is coming, it ought to be announced by mid-April, which would still make it one of the longest “droughts” for an iMac update in a long time. Otherwise, think June or August. The bad news is the rumor of using AMD graphics chips, which 80% of pros do NOT want.

Tim Cook’s assurances of “great new desktops” don’t assure any pro users I know of, but MPG thinks there ought to at least be a new iMac soon, and, hoping against years of disappointment, a new Mac Pro, but perhaps one to be put off for up to another six months. But... never rule out good luck.

And maybe Apple would even diverge from its anti-functional approach with the MacMini towards a design that works more like an Intel NUC, which would be far more elegant than the current marginalized design that serves mainly to kill interest in the MacMini.

With desktop CPU performance at a standstill and software quality often a bottleneck , the areas for progress on performance come down to hoping for improving the support areas around the CPU:

  • Thunderbolt / USB-C support.
  • 8K display support (iMac 8K, special support on Mac Pro).
  • Optional 2nd internal SSD.
  • Two or three 16X PCIe slots (Mac Pro), although users might get by with Thunderbolt 3 on multiple busses.
  • 8 memory slots instead of 4 (Mac Pro)
  • 2 internal hard drives (Mac Pro).
  • Up to 18 CPU cores (Mac Pro).
  • Mild processor speed bump.

In other words, features that make actual computing work go a lot faster and/or be more productive and/or make for a lower cost of entry while affording future capability.

MPG does not expect that Tim Cook’s idea of what constitutes a “great desktop” has much to do with the list above, all past indications suggestions that “great” means thinner with fewer ports and less functionality. But at least Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C would be a nice bump forward.

* Such as Apple Mail being incompetently implemented and rife with bugs.

See also:

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

Manage That Keyboard: How to Disable Caps Lock

A friend of mine calls me every few months because he cannot login into his computer. It’s always the same reason: the caps lock key is pressed.

Setting aside the dubious idea of allowing caps lock to function at all for a login dialog (why encourage poor passwords?), how does one disable the caps lock key entirely? Simple:

  1. Open System Preferences => Keyboard
  2. Click Modifiers Keys…
  3. Choose Caps Lock = No Action
macOS: disable caps lock key in System Preferences => Keyboard => Modifier Keys

Michael K writes:

Not sure if you're aware of the 'Modifier Keys' bug introduced in Sierra or not. In case you're not – Sierra resets all Modifier Keys back to their factory defaults upon restart, meaning you have change them back to what you want every time you start the computer.

This has survived through all four releases of Sierra – 10.12 through 10.12.3. One of the first things I've always done any new OS is set Caps Lock to No Action, however, since Sierra the option has to set by the user every single time the computer boots up. The Mac Pro (5,1) and MacBook Pro (10,1) are doing this but the Mac mini (6,2) is not.

I've filed two seperate bug reports with Apple, clear and concise, I've heard nothing back.

MPG: yes, I’ve seen the bug myself on multiple machines. I had forgotten the cause... indeed I had fixed my friend’s machine and the geniuses at Apple unfixed it, so to speak.

Just now, I rebooted my iMac 5K and I see that the modifier keys have been reset. Ditto for the 2015 MacBook Pro. OTOH, the 2013 Mac Pro does not suffer from the issue from what I have seen.

When will Apple incompetence end? Do we have to wait years now to have Tim Cook assure us that “we have great macOS software coming”? Their are hundreds of crappy little things like this that have accumulated all over macOS (don’t get me started on the clusterf*** that is iCloud).

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
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Apple Core Rot: Logging Spew

My 2013 Mac Pro was running a bit noisy and hot for some hours yesterday even while idle. It is normally whisper quiet and all but inaudible. I have seen that behavior before, and it is always caused by some runaway process doing something useless in the background.

MacOS Sierra has been filled with new bugs, too numerous to contemplate. But the one discussed here is what I call the “logging spew” bug: a continuous stream of logging visible in the Console application, and steadily growing the size on disk of the numerous logging files, all of which are 100% useless to 99.999% of users.

As it turns out, Activity Monitor (in it, View => All Processes) it was logd chewing up a steady 10% of a CPU doing nothing but logging, a few hundred messages per second spewing out. It was some bash process running even after I had quite all Terminal windows. I had to 'kill -9' the process by its process number, but so steady was the logging onslaught that it took a few seconds for console to finish displaying the output. I then rebooted to hope for some sanity.

Yes, you do really need 296 or 3845 CoreSync or whatever update logs in ~/Library/Logs. And thousands of other log files from dozens of processes like that. You will never want to look at these files, nor do you have any use for them, but Apple makes sure to pollute your user folder with them. Don’t get me started on system Logs, which you cannot easily delete, and just build up forever over time, like dental plaque.

Opening Console, you’ll see the ceaseless spew from a cornucopia of processes, including many I never want, and will never use. It might be 'quiet' at times, but what I’ve found is that a number of Apple services get triggered from time to time to go into a state of endless bitching and moaning, often with messages that equate to “fix this bug someday”.

For example, here is this lovely new Apple bug involving touchui. On a Mac Pro no touch user interface exists, but the engineers at Apple don’t bother to test much any more, so the com.apple.nowplayingtouchui apparently is just going to fail forever. The word “idiots” comes to mind. What triggers it I don’t know. Rebooting made this one go away until the next morning—it’s baaaaack, failing every 2 seconds again today. The “0 seconds... respawn” message means that the process is crashing or failing—an obvious bug that should never ship to customers.

Mar  9 21:26:06 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:26:36 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:26:36 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:26:45 diglloydMP syslogd[51]: ASL Sender Statistics
Mar  9 21:26:46 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:27:16 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:27:16 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:27:46 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:27:46 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:28:16 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:28:16 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:28:46 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:28:46 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:29:16 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:29:16 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:29:46 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:29:46 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.
Mar  9 21:30:16 --- last message repeated 2 times ---
Mar  9 21:30:16 diglloydMP com.apple.xpc.launchd[1] (com.apple.nowplayingtouchui): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.          
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Wikileaks Reveals Many Things... like Televisions as Covert Listening Devices

The internet is not safe and probably never will be. But most people do not suspect that their television can be a covert listening device, even when turned off. Unplugging it when not in use is the only safe bet.

Please read George Orwell’s visionary 1984.

Today’s Wikileaks treasure trove “Vault 7” is a 500GB download, for those who have time to read it. Here’s a 'fun' one from the NYT:

Some of the details of the C.I.A. programs might have come from the plot of a spy novel for the cyberage, revealing numerous highly classified — and in some cases, exotic — hacking programs. One, code-named Weeping Angel, uses Samsung “smart” televisions as covert listening devices. According to the WikiLeaks press release, even when it appears to be turned off, the television “operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”

...

In early 2015, Samsung appeared to acknowledge the TVs posed a risk to privacy. The fine print terms of service included with its smart TVs said that the television sets could capture background conversations, and that they could be passed on to third parties.

The company also provided a remarkably blunt warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

There are enormous privacy and legal implications here, and MPG is not singling out Samsung For example, law enforcement is already demanding Amazon Echo records shows that you probably have no legal protection even inside your own home. Today, the law has very weak protections for email, let alone your data in the cloud at Apple or Amazon and doesn’t even contemplate televisions inside a home. You have zero privacy rights in essence, all in the context of hysteria about cookies—security theatre and the joke is on you.

Anything with a speaker or camera or blinking light or GPS or internet connection or wireless connection is a vector, and both the CIA and organized hackers are enormously creative and well funded.

Cell phones, iPads, computers, televisions, smart watches, etc all form the infrastructure for a police state as per George Orwell’s visionary 1984, let alone organized and very well funded cyber crime organizations. The technology has arrived—hardware and software. What will happen? What might today’s campus thugs (aka students and professors), unable to tolerate other viewpoints without resorting to physical violence, might do with such power in a decade or two while holding office?

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

OWC Nearly Doubles PCIe SSD Performance with Accelsior Q

MPG Lloyd still runs dual OWC Accelsior 960GB PCIe SSDs in an OWC Helios 2 Thunderbolt 2 enclosure—a stalwart performer for years now. There is also the single-slot OWC Helios.

OWC has just started shipping the Accelsior Q PCIe SSD:

  • Mac Pro (2008 to 2012)
  • Other Macs with Thunderbolt via OWC Helios enclosure or OWC Helios 2 enclosure
  • Available in 480GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
  • Blazing-Fast PCIe Storage with up to 1,293MB/s sustained speeds
  • PCIe 2.0 x8 SSD

Blazing-Fast PCIe Storage

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Mercury Accelsior Pro Q delivers a gigantic speed boost to virtually any system. Streamline your workflow and say goodbye to frustrating render wait-times, dropped frames and spinning beachballs. With this much bandwidth, you can preview, render and process files at full resolution, in real-time. The bottom line is you create much more and wait much less.

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Tim Cook and Support for Pro Users

More interesting than the bromides Tim Cook has to offer are the comments on the post, over at MacRumors.com in Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'You Will See Us Do More in the Pro Area'.

It’s shocking (well, not really) that no one believes him). The frustration is palpable.

MPG doesn’t think Tim Cook actually understands what pro users want (there is strong evidence of that from his past comments). So it seems unlikely that Apple can build to a need they don’t even grok.

See also:

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

“Our digital fingerprints are everywhere. How do we protect ourselves?” — Stanford Engineering

Worth a listen.

Keeping out private information away from hackers and spies is a growing concern for many Americans. In the Future of Everything radio show, Stanford bioengineering Professor Russ Altman discusses how to keep our data safe with Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

Our digital fingerprints are everywhere. How do we protect ourselves?

Separately, TidBits has an article on privacy with televisions in What to Know About Smart TVs and Your Privacy.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

OWC Weekender specials

OWC has some great deals on iMac 5K models as well as various other goodies as part of their OWC Weekender Specials.

Check out the iMac 5K deals and the MacBook Pro too.

See all OWC Weekender Specials.

Hand-Picked OWC Weekender Specials

Caution on Upgraded Apple Remote Desktop

Apple recently issued a minor bug fix upgrade for Apple Remote Desktop (client and server portions). MPG recommends caution in upgrading ARD for this update.

With the usual Apple Core Rot software incompetence, the “upgrade” destroyed my ability to get to one server, made getting to a 2nd server flaky, and the 3rd server has lucked out somehow—but I suspect problems will crop up just when I need to use ARD, a scary thought. But there seems to be a fix, see further below.

For the problem server on 10.8, I rebooted twice and reinstalled the latest applicable client—no go, that server is now unreachable. The built-in firewall is disabled. Searching the web, I see that Apple has been breaking things like this for some years now—pure incompetence.

This is stuff that until the update has worked for 7 years. The nitwits at Apple seem to think everyone runs only the latest OS; my servers run 10.8, 10.10, and 10.11. Apple does not respect its users enough to actually test its “upgrades”, a pattern worsening year by year.

Update: my iMac with Apple Remote Desktop 3.8 works fine with the problem server. But as soon as I updated to Apple Remote Desktop 3.9, the iMac also fails to be able to connect. Clearly Apple has BROKEN Apple Remote Desktop 3.9.

Update 2: the user comments on the App Store confirm these problems in spades.

The fix — check a box

Found by scanning the numerous complaints. Why does Apple Remote Desktop make no effort to warn of older clients and inform the user of this change, rather than mysteriously hanging on any/all attempts to connect? ARD darn well knows the OS version from the configuration and/or prior connection. Two hours of my time wasted due to Apple’s contemptible contempt for its users.

The weird thing is that this fix was not needed for one of the servers also running 10.8. It suggests yet more bugs.

Check the box to connect to older versions of macOS clients such as 10.8

Will the next Apple Mac Pro (if any) be the Final Straw that Puts the Nail in the 'Pro' Coffin?

Pro users need pro machines:

  • An option for at least 128GB memory.
  • Ability to use the latest and greatest PCIe video cards.
  • Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.
  • Rock solid reliability.

Of the above, the PCIe slot issue is the #1 issue that makes the 2013 Apple Mac Pro an overpriced laughingstock for video professionals. This has been building as an issue for years now.

Quotes below from Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media in NVIDIA’s GTX 1080: The Tip Of The Iceberg?. The NVIDIA announcement referred to was May 2016; video cards are only going to become more powerful, already vastly outpacing the CPU for many tasks, at least when the GPU works properly (Apple’s GPU choice of AMD is hugely unpopular among pros). Emphasis added.

The announcement of the GTX 1080 is so big, that this card alone will most likely cause a shift in computer workstation ownership. Last year I wrote an article about how I upgraded our Mac Pro Tower with new CPUs, RAM, flash-based boot drives, and of course, the Titan X. The system still churns through heavy tasks, including working with 4.6K RAW footage, edited in real-time in DaVinci Resolve in 4K UHD timelines (even basic node structures play in real-time without the need for rendering).

But as good as that juiced up Mac Pro Tower is today, I know at some point, the time will have to come to an end, simply because Apple hasn’t built a PCIe-based system in many years now. As my article described, the alternative Mac Pro trashcan is simply not a solution for our needs, imposing too many limitations combined with a very high price tag.

The NVidia GTX 1080 might be the final nail in the coffin. I can guarantee at this point, we will have to move to a Windows-based workstation for our main edit suite and one that supports multiple PCIe slots specifically for the GTX 1080 (I’ll most likely get two 1080s that that new price-point).

I’m no stranger to working on Windows systems (I’ve built my own Windows boxes since Windows 3/NT) and have Windows systems running now in our facility. But with that said, I do prefer Apple OS X when possible. But with no support of a modern PCIe-based workstation from Apple, our hands are tied to move to Windows (we may get an HP Z840 system, something similar, or a custom build we’ll do in-house). Even if the GTX 1080 could be flashed for OSX, we wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of what the 1080 has to offer, due to The Mac Pro Tower’s older PCIe bus technology.

... With all that said, I see (and have already seen) a huge migration of longtime Apple users (such as me) going to Windows systems for their main workstation needs. The sheer power and lower cost is just too huge at this point. The NVidia GTX 1080 just compounded that point exponentially stronger.

...

The “juiced up Mac Pro” referred to is not a 2013 Mac Pro, but its predecessor. That is why used 2010/2012 Mac Pros are still strong sellers at OWC / MacSales.com.

The choice to embed non-upgradeable video cards in the 2013 Mac Pro and to omit PCIe slots spells the death knell for pro users looking to work with 4K/6K/8K video, 3D modeling and rendering, etc. A future Mac Pro (if any) that takes that same approach means that Apple has abandoned any pretense of offering pro machines.

Does Apple (Tim Cook) even “get” that the entire high-end pro market is going to abandon Apple over the next year because of a failure to meet the fundamental needs of professionals? His public statement that “great desktops” are coming must be seen as coming from the CEO of a phone and gadget company. MPG doubts that there is any 'pro' left in Apple, but hopes to be proven wrong.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Cables Now Shipping

macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 cable

OWC Thunderbolt 3 cables are now available, and shipping within a day or two.

OWC Premium Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cables are the perfect choice for your Thunderbolt 3 workflow. These premium quality cables are manufactured to the highest standard to deliver the incredible power of Thunderbolt technology, with models supporting data transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s and power delivery up to 60W and long cable runs.

That's enough throughput to drive two 4K displays simultaneously, or one 5K display. Experience the full high-performance capabilities of your Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C devices.

The cables come in two speeds, with the 40 Gb/sec cables substantially more expensive thn the 20 Gb/sec ones.

Thus it makes sense to use the 0.5 meter 40 Gb/sec cable if the devices is very close to the Mac. If the devices are to be daisy-chained and lack the need for more than 20 Gb/sec (few devices can even approach that speed), then place these last in a daisy-chain, and use the 20 Gb/sec cables.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 cable pricing
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Infographic

Intel has done a fine job of making USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 massively confusing (limitations based on cable length, cables that run at full speed or half speed, etc).

The infographic from OWC shown below might help in some ways, but there are various “gotchas”. MPG recommends generally buying full-speed Thunderbolt 3 cables, for maximum interoperability. However, lower speed cables intended for use with USB-C have their place also.

Missing/not noted in graphic: Thunderbolt 3 can drive one 5K display which supports Thunderbolt 3, or two 4K displays via Mini DisplayPort.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C Infographic
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

SoftRAID Updated to Version 5.5.6

SoftRAID, which is what makes RAID work for the OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID-5 edition, has been updated to version 5.5.6.

Known Bugs:

  • In the first release of Mac OS 10.12, the First Aid function in Apple’s Disk Utility application has a bug which prevents it from working on SoftRAID volumes. You can use a command in a Terminal window to perform this same function (Disk Utility calls this same command). For more information, see our compatibility page: https:// softraid.com/pages/support/compatibility_notes.html
  • There is a bug reported in Parallels Desktop 10 software which can cause data corruption in your Windows virtual machines whether running on SoftRAID or AppleRAID volumes. You must install Parallels Desktop 11 or later if you are running on a SoftRAID or AppleRAID volume.

New features in version 5.5.6:

  • Sometimes, when email notifications are sent through a yahoo.com mail account, the subject line gets garbled. This is the result of some, but not all, yahoo email servers being able to handle Q-encoded UTF-8 text. The work around in version 5.5.6 is to detect when the outgoing email account is on yahoo.com and then convert the subject to straight ascii text.
  • SoftRAID Lite and SoftRAID Lite for ThunderBay now allow you to delete all volumes created by SoftRAID and SoftRAID for ThunderBay including volumes with RAID levels 4, 5 and 1+0.

Bugs fixed in version 5.5.6:

  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which prevented it from reliably sending email notifications.
  • Fixed a bug in SoftRAID driver which could cause mirror volumes to rebuild instantly, leaving secondary disks with invalid data. This would only happen if more than one secondary disk was missing or out of sync. (SR-305).
  • Fix a bug in the SoftRAID driver which causes disk errors in mirror and RAID 1+0 volumes (SR-416).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID driver which could cause some RAID 1+0 volumes to fail early in the rebuild process with a disk error (SR-381).
  • Fixed problem which caused certifying 4 Kn disks (disks with 4 KB sectors).
  • The SoftRAID application no longer crashes when you attempt to create a volume with more than 16 disks (SR-399).
  • The volume tile now updates immediately when the user enables or disables the volume’s safeguard (SR-320).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which could cause log entries to be corrupted or incomplete. This primarily affected the SoftRAID_Email.log file when SMTP logging was enabled.
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID application which caused big pipes connected to the volume tiles to be missing 2 pixels on their left side when displayed on Macs with Retina displays (SR-374).
  • Fixed a problem with the filename of the Japanese QuickStart Guide. The filename was causing DiskWarrior to say that the file was incorrectly encoded (SR-415).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which caused it to display the “Disk is missing from a mirror volume” dialog even when this preference was disabled (SR-413).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID driver which caused the SoftRAID Monitor status indicator in the menu bar to go yellow whenever a mirror read-only secondary volume was attached.
  • Fixed several broken links in the SoftRAID On-line help (SR-386).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which caused it to sometimes skip the SMART test on startup. This would happen if you configured email notification to send an email on reboot. (SR-303 & SR-299).
  • Fixed a bug which caused Tech Support Reports to sometimes be missing volume headers (SR-238).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID driver which prevented it from warning users if a volume was missing a disk. Older versions of SoftRAID would only warn a user once. This version warns a user every time the startup or restart (SR-68).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which caused some log entries to be truncated. This especially affected the log entries for disks which are predicted to fail (SR-407).
  • Fixed a bug which caused mirror read-only secondary volumes to be identified as mirror volumes in the SoftRAID log (SR-262).
  • Fixed a bug which allowed users to attempt to convert AppleRAID RAID 1+0 volumes (SR-406).
  • Fixed several bugs which caused incorrect error messages to be displayed when sending test emails in the Email Notification window.
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID application which made the error count text in disk and volume tiles display incorrectly if there are 1 or more errors (SR-360).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID Monitor which caused the incorrect IPv4 address to be listed in email notifications (SR-392).
  • Fixed a bug in the SoftRAID applications which causes clipping of the text for the “Log SMT commands” preference button in the Servers tab of the Email Notification window. This clipping only occurs when the user is running with German as the chosen language.
  • Fixed two bugs in the SoftRAID application where the incorrect text was being displayed when the chosen language was Japanese. The incorrect text was displayed in the Preference and Quit menu items.
  • Fixed problem with the title of the Certify Disks dialog (SR-378).
  • Fixed a problem with the warning dialog which gets displayed if the user starts certifying an SSD with only 1 pass. The buttons were not translated (SR-379).
  • Fixed a typos in mirror dialogs (SR-362 and SR-349).
  • Fixed a bug in SoftRAID application which caused disconnected mirror secondary disks to become new volumes when reconnected. This occurred if an additional secondary disks was added to the volume while the first secondary disk was disconnected. (SES-348).
  • Fixed a bug which indicated that TRIM was enabled on an SSD when it was actually disabled in the SoftRAID preferences (SR-290).
  • Fixed a bug which caused the SoftRAID Monitor indicator to not appear in the menu bar if no SoftRAID formatted disks were attached (SR-386).
  • Fixed a bug which caused the SoftRAID Monitor to use a lot of CPU time when it first started up. This was accompanied by warning messages in the system.log file which said that SoftRAID Monitor was “inherently inefficient” (SR-318).
  • Improved the capture of volume headers in Tech Support Reports (SR-238).

Big Discounts on *Current Model* iMac 5K at OWC

If the iMac 5K display were offered as a display only, say at $1629, it would be worth it. So why not get one, and with a free iMac computer included?

I consider the late 2015 iMac 5K the best display on the market today at any price for viewing images. In this sense, consider it a fantastic display that includes a free computer.

See also the diglloyd DealFinder for iMac 5K as well as all 2015 iMac 5K. Or search for more used Macs.

Note that these Macs are factory sealed Apple refurbished with 1 year warranty.

B&H Photo WPPI deals

Thru Feb 12. Certain specials require promo code BHWPPI17.

 

Save big on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays
Certified, and warranted by OWC
✓ Free shipping and 14-day money back guarantee

OWC Now Has Thunderbolt 3 Cables

macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 cable

Thunderbolt 3 cables are now for sale at OWC.

OWC Premium Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cables are the perfect choice for your Thunderbolt 3 workflow. These premium quality cables are manufactured to the highest standard to deliver the incredible power of Thunderbolt technology, with models supporting data transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s and power delivery up to 60W and long cable runs.

That's enough throughput to drive two 4K displays simultaneously, or one 5K display. Experience the full high-performance capabilities of your Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C devices.

The cables come in two speeds, with the 40 Gb/sec cables substantially more expensive thn the 20 Gb/sec ones.

Thus it makes sense to use the 0.5 meter 40 Gb/sec cable if the devices is very close to the Mac. If the devices are to be daisy-chained and lack the need for more than 20 Gb/sec (few devices can even approach that speed), then place these last in a daisy-chain, and use the 20 Gb/sec cables.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 cable pricing

Missing/not noted in graphic: Thunderbolt 3 can drive one 5K display which supports Thunderbolt 3, or two 4K displays via Mini DisplayPort.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C Infographic
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Macular Degeneration Linked to Blue Light (sunlight and most forms of LED lights)

Love that iPhone or iPad or other phone or tablet or computer display? Long term, the blue light from cell phones and tablets and computer displays might have serious implications, and that’s no laughing matter, even if it takes 50 years for it to happen. It is particularly concerning since children from a very young age stare at cell phone or tablet screens for many hours. Excessive blue light is also linked to eyestrain and various health problems.

Observation: the iMac 5K display can be run extremely bright, and looks to contain a lot of blue light.

Macular degeneration (retinal cell death) has been linked to blue light (380nm to 500nm). The term HEV (high energy visible) might also be heard. A sampler:

To be clear, there is no scientific evidence yet that blue LED light will cause macular degeneration (leading to loss of vision) the same way sunlight does. It is a matter of intensity, duration of exposure, and almost certainly a complex interplay of personal factors (overall health, diet, genetics, etc).

From White Light–Emitting Diodes (LEDs) at Domestic Lighting Levels and Retinal Injury in a Rat Model (emphasis added):

LED (or solid-state) lighting sources are designed to emit all energy within the wavelength range of human vision, making LEDs the most energy-efficient commercially manufactured light. However, many current “white-light” LED designs emit much more blue light than conventional lamps, which has a number of health implications, including disruption of circadian rhythms (Holzman 2010).

The most popular LED lighting product, a phosphor-conversion (PC) LED, is an LED chip that emits blue light, which passes through a yellow phosphor-coating layer to generate the ultimate white light (Spivey 2011). Although the white light generated from LEDs appears normal to human vision, a strong peak of blue light ranging from 460 to 500 nm is also emitted within the white light spectrum; this blue light corresponds to a known spectrum for retinal hazards (Behar-Cohen et al. 2011). Some epidemiological studies have suggested that short-wavelength light exposure is a predisposing cause for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (Wu et al. 2006). Animal models have also been used to determine that excessive exposure to blue light is a critical factor in photochemical retinal injury targeting photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) (Hafezi et al. 1997).

Things are often more complicated; tangled up in all this is the age factor: too little blue light can also be a problem, and age can be a mitigating factor of sorts because the lens of the eye yellows with age (yellow filters out blue). But if the damage accrues from youth to middle age, the yellowing lens is not of much help:

With age, the lens becomes more yellowish, and thus, the spectrum of blue light transmission dramatically decreases through the years. It is suspected that one reason older individuals experience sleep problems is the lack of blue light during the daytime.

Spectral transmission graphs

The closer the light wavelength is to ultraviolet (UV), the more damaging it becomes in general. This is true in general for skin cancer or killing viruses in water or degradation of plastics or paint or anything over time (just find any can or bottle that has been sitting in the sun for a long time). That’s because shorter wavelengths contain much higher energy levels (go beyond UV to X-Rays and killer gamma rays).

To assess UV/violet/blue exposure with a sunglass or contact lens, one would need a spectral transmission chart. Yet when I request spectral transmission charts no vendor has them, even first-class sunglass vendors like REVO. Statements like “blocks blue light” are presumably true, but ought to be backed up by hard 3rd-party evidence, that is, a spectral transmission chart showing just what is blocked—and this varies by the tint and coating of the lens used. Accordingly, I hope to actually measure the spectral transmission of sunglasses that I actually wear sometime soon.

Spectral transmission graph

The link between blue light and macular degeneration

In Macular Degeneration Linked to Sunlight and Low Antioxidants:

Some cases of age-related macular degeneration may arise from a combination of low plasma levels of antioxidants and exposure to blue light from the sun, a multinational European study suggested.

The combination more than tripled the risk of the eye disease among individuals with the lowest combined levels of antioxidants, Astrid E. Fletcher, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues reported in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

...

I’ve also spoken to an optometrist who regularly snapshots the retinas as part of eye exams, and he states (for my eyes and in general) that he has not observed any change in retina health in recent years. Thus theoretical lab tests are no subsitute for real-world scientific evidence as per retinal cells in human eyes, particularly given outdoor light exposure. That said, many of us spend many hours staring at bluish LED displays (cell phones, tablets, computer displays) and/or under LED or CFL lighting in the home or office.

The blue light from LEDs is now associated with retinal cell death. How much is too much is as yet unknown, but the evidence leaves little doubt that blue light kills retinal cells:

The relation between macular degeneration-retinal damage and exposure to light has been known since the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, in the last 5 years, the advent of new technology LED along with its massive use in screens of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops…) has made phototoxicity the main field of our research.

The studies conducted by the Complutense University of Madrid have shown that LED devices emit 5 times more toxic light than light reflected by paper or emitted by the older-style CRT monitors.

In-vitro experiments in which human donated retinal pigmentary epithelium cells were exposed to 36-hour circadian cycles of direct LED light of different intensities have been forceful: without protection, cell death amounted to 93%. However, when a protective element was placed between the cells and LED light, the survival rate of cells increased by 90%... Dr Sánchez-Ramos acknowledges that it may take another 10-15 years for research to demonstrate conclusively that LED light causes macular degeneration in the same way that sunlight does.

See also The Lowdown on Blue Light: Good vs. Bad, and Its Connection to AMD.

Nowadays, there's an increase in the use of digital devices and modern lighting—such as LED lights and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)—most of which emit a high level of blue light. CFLs contain about 25% of harmful blue light and LEDs contain about 35% of harmful blue light. Interestingly, the cooler the white LED, the higher the blue proportion. And by 2020, 90% of all of our light sources are estimated to be LED lighting. So, our exposure to blue light is everywhere and only increasing... Who's going to need the most protection? Those who have high exposure to white LED or fluorescent light bulbs in offices and homes, frequent users of LED computer monitors, tablets, or smart phones, and those at risk for AMD, particularly those at high risk, (those with family history, smokers, etc.).

UV-blocking contact lens

Assessing the risks, protection

Given the lack of nailed-down scientific evidence, one has to make a personal assessment weighing the factors. But there are reasonable precautions to take, even ignoring the macular degeneration theory—sunglasses and blue-light-cut eyeglasses in particular.

Many companies are pushing solutions such as eyeglasses with blue-light-cut coatings, so the vested interests involved need to be considered. That said, blue light filtering eyeglasses might reduce eyestrain and this is easy enough to assess for anyone working at a computer for hours every day. Such solutions are thus appropriate to try, particularly if there is any evaluation period offered.

In my personal case, 10-12 hours daily computer usage seems to put me at high risk, which concerns me greatly. However, I don’t know how much blue light my LED computer displays emit, and I have no basis for knowing whether the risk is zero or something very significant.

Nor do I understand if configuring my NEC professional displays to run slightly warm (yellow) would reduce the risk (I would expect it would).

While I wear UV-blocking contact lenses* as well as sunglasses when outdoors, it’s not clear to me that my contact lenses block blue/violet light at all as when using a computer display. If they did so effectively, it would interfere with my assessment of color balance for photographs. So I suspect that I have no protection for computer work using just contact lenses.

* The Accuvue web site states that “UV-absorbing contact lenses are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area”.

I do a lot of cycling, and high quality sunglasses are very important to me. Hiking at extreme altitude is also considerations. At the least, high quality sunglasses are no-brainer for both comfort and eye protection. See my experience report with the Revo Guide S sunglasses at WindInMyFace.com.

Revo Guide S polarized sunglasses, Open Road lens

Change the display

Professional displays offer the option of custom calibration, so that a display can be set to, say, 5000°K instead of the typical 6500°K. This is one solution that should greatly reduce the amount of blue light.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Security: Phishing Email Purporting to be a Password Reset Notification

Playing off the now-common practice of companies sending emails for logins from new IP addresses and so on, this latest type of phishing email is very dangerous.

Do NOT click on links in emails (in general), particularly ones like this.

See also other security topics.

Evil phishing email purporting to be a password reset request notification

NEVER (well, almost never) click on links in emails. Well, almost never; if it arrived right after you yourself requested a password reset—that’s a reasonable case. Otherwise, if you were born yesterday and actually think it is legit, go to the claimed site by entering the web address manually, e.g., apple.com or whatever.

In MPG’s view, Apple Mail is remiss in not adding technology to counter such emails, if only popping up a little display with the URL when the link is moused-over. It’s just insanely discourteous to users that features like that are not there, at least as an option.

Apple’s Time Machine Obliterates my Data When It is Most Needed (Restore)

macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

MPG has long advised NOT relying on Time Machine for a primary backup, and instead using multiple clone backups. It has had bugs before, and I ran into a doozy over the weekend.

I had mangled a bunch of html files as part of a major site overhaul, and I just wanted the top-level folder back as of 12 hours or so prior—that’s the type of thing perfect for Time Machine.

  1. Enter Time Machine.
  2. Restore Folder.
  3. Observe that the restored folder now has ZERO files in it (empty). Time Machine WIPED OUT everything. No error message, no indication of any issue (that folder has had files for many years, and thousands of them).

Given this observed behavior MPG strongly advises not relying on Apple Time Machine. Except perhaps for restoring a file or two due to user mistakes—that at least works well enough.

It doesn’t matter what the explanation is when backup software fails in its most critical purpose (restoring), it must be considered garbage. It doesn’t matter that it has worked for me in other situations (single file restore). That is, it just cannot be relied upon for a primary backup.

OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Finder Hangs While Copying

macOS Sierra 10.12.3.

Apple’s macOS just keeps getting more and more unreliable, and for basics—Apple Core Rot.

I was just trying to copy about 900 files from one volume to another (both SSDs). The first couple of tries, the Finder hung when most of the way done, as shown. Copying those same files in Terminal (cp src/*.html dest) works instantly with no issues, proving there is no drive problem.

I gave the Finder several chances: first I force-quit it—same problem. Then I rebooted—same problem. In each case, 'cp' at the command line copied all the files in under a second without any issues whatsoever. The rest of the system is totally stable.

This is not the first time I’ve seen Finder file-copy problems—I’ve seen worse issues with silent failures and files not copied—very dangerous stuff. If I had to guess, I’d say some nitwit got his or her threading code wrong and never bothered to write any proper tests.

Finder hangs during file copy
Finder hangs during file copy

Isolating/Blocking Hard Drive Vibration, Especially on a Hardwood Desk or Floor

Hard drives (“spinners”) typically rotation at 7200 rpm, and this generates vibration. Placed on surfaces like concrete flooring, this is of little concern. But placed on a hardwood desktop or floor, those vibrations can resonate into the material in a quite annoying way (a low humming vibration typically). Or not, depending on the material. While the enclosure can eliminate much of the vibration, certain frequencies are not attenuated.

MPG has both a hardwood desk and hardwood floors, so these types of vibrations are very unwelcome, hence a search for a solution.

Sorbotthane stick-on bumpers

Even the best drives have some vibration, and if you have 4 or 8 drives in a RAID, it gets worse. If you have a vibration problem, try 1.25 sorbothane bumpers . They work well to detach any vibrating something from a hardwood floor or wooden desk or similar.

Isolation pads

The Auralex MoPAD Monitor Isolation Pads do the job. While designed for audio monitors (speakers) they do a great job of blocking vibrations from spinning hard drives. The pads include wedges that allow the hard drive(s) enclosure to sit perfectly level on desk or floor.

Auralex MoPAD Monitor Isolation Pads
(leveling inserts not shown; can sit level too)
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Intel 'Kaby Lake' Processors for MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook, etc: Already Way Behind the Curve?

Apple released the 2016 MacBook Pro starting in November 2016 utilizing processors that had some limitations, including a 16GB memory limit (or at least that limit given power consumption considerations).

In January 2017, Intel announced many additional new 'Kaby Lake' CPUs. These new CPUs offer more range of power and clock speed options, and some incremental improvements.

B&H Photo already shows a wide range of Intel Kaby Lake PCs.

A product 'bump' might occur in 2017 for the 2016 MacBook Pro, though this seems unlikely until at least June. But it may include a MacBook Pro with a 32GB memory option (!), perhaps as early as June, perhaps as late as Q3. Having 32GB goes a long way towards making the MBP 'pro' again.

MPG advises pro uses to defer purchase of a MacBook Pro if not immediately required. There is not much 'pro' in the current MacBook Pro lineup, the 2016 model being actually slower than the 2015 and 2013 models in some cases.

More likely is a new MacBook relatively soon—hopefully not one crippled again by having only a single USB-C/Thundebolt 3 port.

What’s possible in a laptop?

While Apple dithers and makes a non-pro MacBook Pro, vendors of high-end true professional-grade laptops just shut up and deliver.

It’s just that Apple won’t step up to the plate and do it. Few professional users care about marketing-bozo ideas on reduced battery life or “it’s not pretty enough” rationalizations for pro machines that are really just overpriced dilettante consumer toys. Imagine if a machine of this power were offered by Apple (but with a Retina display and PCIe SSD). It would be snapped up by pros for all sorts of reasons. Which leads us to crux of the issue: Apple does not build computers for professionals any more, hence the odds of getting one are modest at best.

Available PC Laptops Make a Launghinstock of Apple MacBook (non) Pro
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Touchbar MacBook Pro not Rated for Colder than 50°F — Serious Design Flaw for Active Users?

I’ve had my iPhone act dead when I camp overnight in the mountains (unresponsive or dead battery indicator). I put it into my pocket or in the airflow of a heater vent, and it comes back to life.

Update: my assumptions were wrong: even the 2015 MacBook Pro specifications state 50° to 95°F as well as the 2013 MacBook Pro specifications— same as the 2016 models. But it is also rated for humidity of 90% or less... I don’t know how any New Yorker or Bostonite can use a Mac in the summer!

...

Frigid Dusk, 11,000' elevation

What about the Macbook Pro? My trusty 2013 MacBook Pro served me over three years, including in conditions down to 0°F (32 degrees F below freezing) as well as many an enjoyable snowstorm. I now have a brand-new 2015 MacBook Pro, opting for that instead of the flawed and already out of date late 2016 MacBook Pro.

Over at blog.MacSales.com there are some good tips in Tech Tip: Keep Your Electronics Warm During Cold Weather: TEST

Not Sure If It’s Too Cold? Check the Specs

One final word of caution. If you’re not sure whether your device will work outside in cold weather, check the manufacturer specifications. Most specs include minimum and maximum temperatures both for storage and for use, and as long as you keep those limits in mind while either storing or using your device, you should be able to prevent damage.

The new 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, for example, can be stored in temperatures from -13° to 113°F (-25 to °C), but only used in temperatures between 50° to 95°F (10° to 35°C). An iPhone 7 or 7 Plus can operate in a wider range — 32° to 95°F (0 to 35°C), and can withstand non-operating temperatures between -4° and 113°F (-20° to 45°C).

As I often travel in the mountains where temperatures frequently approach 32°F (and often drop into the teens), the 50°F minimum temperature specification is a bad joke. Basically, most of the year and most of the time I’m in the mountains, the MacBook Pro technically is inoperable, according to Apple. But here’s the thing: once the MBP is warmed up, its internal temperature is much warmer, and it should be fine. So once I heat up the cabin of the SUV, I’m good. Still, it’s hardly instant.

Fortunately most of the time I am working in my SUV when on my laptop, so I can warm it up given a little patience (running the engine and sealing the cabin).

See also:

Hole in the Clouds, Early Morning at 0°F
__METADATA__

Dana M writes:

My suspicion is that the operating temperature range is mostly noted for the battery. The polymer batteries that Apple uses in all their devices fail within minutes in the bitter cold.

We routinely use all versions of the MacBook Pro at temps from -10˚ to 30˚ F as long as they are plugged into power source (usually a generator or lead acid car battery). I know, I know… not always available for everyone especially when using a computer designed for portability. Also, when in the cold, I keep a hand warmer rubber banded to my iPhone in the cold and it works as well as on a 72˚F sunny day (hand warmer goes on the backside of the phone against the battery).

MPG: that makes sense. On the other hand my Lupine batteries work fine in extreme cold, and for the Iditarod.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

Intel “Baby Canyon” NUCs with Kaby Lake and Thunderbolt 3 and Lots More

Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a small-form-factor personal computer designed by Intel.

Sorry, it’s too nice for Apple to offer. It needs at least 80% of its features ripped out, so that Jony Ive can design something useless to make it look cool in a product shot. For starters, it needs those cooling vents removed to look cool so it can overheat, along with screws that take a tool no one has, to screw you know who. And memory that is not soldered on? Egads!

When I find myself getting excited about a non-Apple computer, it is proof of just how sucky the range of Apple product offerings has gotten.

I’d love to have one of the Intel Core NUCs as an option for a compact little server. Alas, I don’t want to run Windows or Linux.

The latest Intel NUC offerings have everything I’d want for a mini server or a terrific ultra-compact home computer. It makes the Mac Mini look like the cheap shitty overpriced plastic toy it is.

Now imagine super-sizing this NUC into BUC (big unit of computing) and let’s call it the 2017 Mac Pro. Don’t get me started on rhyming in exasperation with either of those.

If Apple made this product, I’d call it insanely great. But Apple doesn’t, because Tim Cook probably thinks the Mac Mini is a great desktop computer because it is a shitty non-upgradeable cheap white semi-sealed plastic toy.

Seriously, if Tim Cook allowed this NUC to be made, fools like me would buy one for $500 more just to run macOS Apple Core Rot™ on it. Read it and weep.

Intel NUC7i7BNH Highlighted Features:

  • 7th generation Intel Core i7-7567U Processor (3.5 GHz Dual Core, 4GHz Turbo, 4MB Cache, 28W TDP)
  • Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 650
  • 4GB DDR4 (1.2V) 2133MHz Memory Pre-Installed, up to 32GB
  • 128GB SATA or PCIe M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD) Pre-Installed, up to 1TB (64GB available Contact Sales)
  • M.2 22×42/80 (Key M) slot for SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen3 NVMe or AHCI SSD
    Support for 2.5” SSD, HDD, or SSHD up to 9.5mm SATA3 (6Gbps) drives Pre-Installed up to 2TB
  • Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
  • Thunderbolt™ 3 (40 Gbps), USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) and DisplayPort 1.2 via Type-C connector
  • Supports USB 3.1 devices directly
  • Supports external PCIe chassis
  • Supports Thunderbolt DisplayPort (DP) monitors
  • Supports Thunderbolt devices (some adapters may be required)**
  • HDMI 2.0 supporting 8-channel digital audio (7.1 surround sound)
  • DisplayPort 1.2 via USB 3.1 Type-C connector, supporting 8-channel digital audio (7.1 surround sound)
  • Up to 4096×2304 (4K) monitors supported on both HDMI and DisplayPort (Type-C) Ports
  • Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) (10/100/1000)
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 4.2, Intel Wireless Display 6.0
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) via Type-C connector on back panel
  • (2) USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, including one charging port
  • (2) USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
  • Intel HD Audio via Headphone / Microphone jack (3.5mm TRRS)
  • Dual Array Microphones built in (front panel openings)
  • Consumer infrared sensor on front panel
  • Micro SDXC Slot with UHS-1 support, on side panel
  • Back panel DC power connector (12V-19V)
  • Kensington lock support
  • Product size 4.55″ x 4.4″ x 1.85″ (2″ at rubber feet)

Additional Features:

  • VESA Mount bracket with screws included
  • 65w “wall-mount” style AC/DC Power Adapter with Multi-Country AC Plugs (US, UK, EU, and AU)
  • Support for user-replaceable 3rd-Party lids.
  • Internal NFC and AUX_PWR headers
  • Internal two USB 2.0 ports via header
  • Low-acoustics active cooling design
  • OS Certs Windows 10
  • OS Compatibility: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE
    Extended Warranty available

Product Overview:

The Simply NUC7i7BNH System is equipped with Intel’s newest architecture, the 7th generation Intel® Core™ i7-7567U processor. The Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 650 with 4K display capabilities provides brilliant resolution for multi-monitor desktops, digital signage, gaming and home theaters. And with both HD Audio for personal audio support, and 8-Channel Digital Audio available on the HDMI and DP (Type-C) connectors supporting 7.1 Surround Sound, you can support an immersive audio experience.

Both the SATA and PCIe versions of the M.2 SSD are supported to give you a range of cost effective to extreme performance SSDs. The 2.5” 9.5mm drive bay supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) drives. Simply NUC offers high-performance choices of SSDs and HDDs up to 2TB and a 1TB SSHD. Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready.

With Thunderbolt 3, you can support external Graphics Cards (eGFX) through external expansion boxes, as well as future expansion. For those with Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt devices, you may need an adapter to convert to the Type-C connector.

Designed for Windows 10, the Simply NUC7i7BNH has the performance to stream media, manage spreadsheets, or create presentations. There’s also a high-speed USB 3.0 charging port that lets you easily charge your tablet or Smartphone quickly. And for peace of mind you’ll get embedded security that helps keep threats out, user identities and credentials safe, and your data protected.

Operating Systems offered by Simply NUC have been modified for proper operation with Solid State Drives and have performance tweaks. Microsoft Windows was designed for operation with Hard Disk Drives and omitting these changes can shorten the life of the SSD significantly.

** = Refer to Intel’s Baby Canyon Support page for tested Thunderbolt devices. Thunderbolt 3 supported on Type-C connector only. Thunderbolt 2 supported through TB3 Type-C to TB2 mDP Active Adapter. Not all Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, or Thunderbolt 3 devices have been tested by Intel or Simply NUC and in some cases tested results are provided by end customers.

A reader writes:

I have a NUC running VMware ESXI at home. I had to break the Apple EULA to run OS X VM's on it, but with 500GB internal and 500GB USB3 SSD and 32GB RAM, I have four VMs running with free backup.

I could have put an old MacPro in at home, but the power usage is silly compared to the NUC. They're great little machines.

MPG: the acronyms alone make this a challenging proposition, let alone violating the EULA and dealing with the complexity and risk of future macOS breakage—but it might be worth it for some.

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

Checking drives before putting into “production”

diglloydTools

See also Even ”Enterprise Grade” Drives Fail.

According to Tim Standing of SoftRAID, initial verification of a drive can preclude a large percentage of relatively early drive failures.

While SoftRAID has a certify command, it does not graph the performance, and so I would add this point: in my experience, drives that show aberrant behavior are also more likely to fail, even if they pass certification.

The diglloydTools DiskTester fill-volume command can test 99% of the drive and graph the behavior, as shown below, where 5 samples were tested simultaneously, and then graphed together to verify consistent performance—important for RAID setups.

Over the years I have found that aberrant performance behaviors (obvious in a graph) are often an excellent predictor of flaky drives. The test-reliability command is good too, with the major benefit of being able to operate on in-use drives—no need to take a system down for days to certify (which means having to completely wipe) the drives.

Show below is drive performance for five samples of the HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8 hard drive. All samples deliver the same pattern of declining performance as the drive fills up—exactly as expected. Drives with excessive remapped sections tend to show weird spikes in speed in the wrong places. This is bad for RAID performance as well (when drives do not perform the same in the same area).

Performance across 8TB capacity of HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8, 5 samples
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

Lifespan of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)

Get APC UPS at B&H Photo.

A bad smell developed in the garage, where I keep a couple of servers running on uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Two batteries, each weighing about 75 pounds, are daisy-chained for extra “juice” off an APC SmartUPS 1000XL. I do so because I’ve had power failures up to 24 hours.

Both of the add-on batteries had leaking battery acid, or rather, signs of it having leaked such as white powder and blackened wood under the units and what looked like fluid on the plastic casing. I disconnected them and set them aside for the next hazardous waste day.

UPDATE 18 Jan: APC tells me that the add-on batteries were from 2005. I’m skeptical since that’s the year I started my business and I don’t think I bought 150 pounds of batteries way back then, but that’s the claim. If true, the batteries were way past their lifespan. But the APC SmartUPS 1000XL gave no warning or indication of a problem.

The main unit with the “smarts” to which these batteries were daisy chained does not appear to be leaking, but its battery is now over 3 years old. The unit is running hot even at an ambient temperature of 40°F, and the charge lights show only about 80%, so it is done-for. These things should never get even warm under such conditions, so that battery is surely toast.

This is not the first stinky leaking battery problem with APC; I had this happen just as I was leaving for a trip last summer. That time, the battery had bulged so much that I had difficulty extracting it. I gave up and it went to hazardous waste disposal.

Maybe this is my fault: after all, lead acid batteries have a limited lifespan. But the fact that the APC unit cannot detect such potentially serious failure situations is disappointing and calls for taking care to assess the health of any UPS on a regular basis (3 months is probably about right).

I’m probably going to pick up a new APC Smart-UPS 1500VA with LCD and Audible Alarm Disabled, which has pure sine wave power when when running on battery power. It can also take additional monster batteries which plug into the rear of the unit, for extended runtime.

Tips:

  • Check your UPS battery every few months for signs of leakage: put an appointment in your calendar to check.
  • If the UPS is running hot, there is a very good chance the battery is bad. It could leak or rupture and cause damage. A fresh UPS does not run hot (once fully charged), since it is just bypassing current to devices.
  • Use a marker to write a date onto the battery itself, as shown.
Interior of APC SmartUPS 1000XL

Jon L writes:

I have used replacement batteries from this source of several years now. My backup demands are not as demanding as yours, but I have used several replacements from this firm that have served me well.

Below is the link to the APC RBC7 battery mentioned in Don H's reply to your post.

http://www.batteryspec.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?action=link&product=182

The listing of replacements for all APC UPS Systems:

http://www.batteryspec.com/html/apc-ups-replacement-batteries.html

This company has been in business for > 30 years so they are not a flash in the pan. Substantially less expensive than APC replacements as well. I’m sure you know more about the technology behind these batteries than I do.

You might take a look. No relationship with the firm: just a satisfied customer.

MPG: I’ve been leery of 3rd party batteries, but the prices above are far lower. But this site has way more brains to their approach: a listing showing UPS models and their batteries. It is WAY better than the APC site. Also, it's about 30 miles from me. I’m going to see if I can just drive down their and get things swapped out.

One thing APC *does* include is free return postage for disposing of the old one. I know little about the issue; I’m just a customer who doesn’t want an exploding or leaking battery. And since 3 (actually 4) APC batteries have leaked or bulged in the past year, I’m open to credible alternatives at a lower price.

Don H writes:

In the 1990s I worked for a growing company and had to spec out a UPS large enough to support five servers for a six-hour outage. At the time APC had the best modular system, so we bought that and it performed well. This was back when Cisco’s product line only had three basic models of routers while Apple had a sprawling product matrix with far too much overlap among machines. (We called that phenomenon ‘Spindlerization’, due to Mike Spindler’s penchant for trying to match the PC world model-for-model.)

Over the years I have bought and used APC UPSs for personal use, but noticed that they too expanded their product line to the point that one can no longer navigate it. (Meanwhile, Apple famously managed to rein in their own product line.) One consequence of this lack of cohesion is that many UPSs became orphaned because the batteries were no longer available, or became so expensive that it was not economically feasible to buy a replacement battery for almost the cost of an entirely new unit. And this is what irritates me about a lot of companies: the changes made to the parts are all just different enough to thwart cross-product or backward compatibility, yet the changes are not significant enough to provide any functional benefit.

Sony did this with their consumer electronics power supplies (it seemed like every new product changed the charging connector and power brick.) Wristwatches (remember those?) have a battery variety that fills fat books. Samsung’s entire business is a pathological example of change for the sake of change. (I have no idea how their service department handles it all, partly because I will never buy a Samsung product.)

I have discarded otherwise functional APC UPSs because it was too frustrating to chase down replacement batteries. The last time I looked, their web site was a mess*. Because of these practices I have written them off - APC is dead to me. Other UPS companies have similar, but not quite as acute disorganization, but I haven’t had the bad experience (yet?) with other brands that I have with APC.

Well, crap. I just looked at Tripp Lite’s product line. That’s 279 different models, each with one insignificant feature different from a dozen others.

I guess it’s better to have an embarrassment of riches rather than nothing at all, but I am personally getting really tired of hacking my way through other companies’ wasteful lack of focus or product cohesion. Your post on APC just happened to trigger this particular rant.

* Ok, I just looked again and the first thing I see at APC is an ad saying “Want to turn APC products into Recurring revenue?". I know the intention is to sell ‘managed services’ but my immediate interpretation is that they have figured out a way to milk their own customers with post-sales water torture costs.

But I stand by my complaint about their ridiculous product line. I would be willing to bet that they now have three or four hundred UPS models just in their Back-UPS and Smart-UPS categories, and that’s not getting into their enterprise ’solutions'.

MPG: indeed, it is a very confusing product line with hundreds of options.

I spent 20 minutes trying to find the right internal replacement battery for the SmartUPS 1000XL (it is not listed in specifications or data sheet!). I am pretty sure that the right replacement for the APC SmartUPS 1000XL is the APC Replacement Battery Cartridge #7, RBC7. I did find the external add-on battery supplement page.

APC sucks in a lot of ways: the web site can be extremely slow, it is very hard to find the right battery (and no distinction between internal and external). Tech support inquiries require serial numbers—well it’s not see easy to get a serial number when a 50 or 75 lb device is in a tight space that does not make it visible. I might look at TRIPP LITE and see how that goes because evey time I have to deal with battery issues it chews up hours.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Bill Atkinson’s “Photo Card” for iPhone/iPad: Tangible Internet-Age Postcards

Bill Atkinson is Mr. Hypercard, of Apple fame. He is a color expert and brilliant photographer. Today I had the pleasure of his company on several topics, including his latest creation.

Bill showed me his latest creation, the iPhone/iPad app “Photo Card”, available on the Apple Store. Other platforms are coming, e.g., Android, and I am trying to persuade him to do a web interface for computer users like me.

It started simply enough—Bill showed me one of his postcards—printed and sent through the mail. The card is very durable and aside from holding it to see sheen to reveal the printed-on postal service processing stuff (or a UV light), it looks like it was just custom made and was never posted.

It’s the kind of thing you could not do half as well at home: I was astounded at the quality of the laminated card with excellent color. They’re way more good enough to frame—and no backing/support is needed in a frame so you can see front and back of the card. backing/support is needed in a frame so you can see front and back of the card.

More info

CNET: Apple legend Bill Atkinson's new mission: Save the postcard

Twit.TV part 1 and Twit.tv Part 2 and Twit.TV Part 3

How it works

First, you need to create an account and buy credits.

You choose your own image, your own stamp, and you can even add a QR reader for a voice recording. Very slick, very well thought out. For example, just entering the zip code alone looks up the city and state, saving time on addressing.

A preview after editing is shown below. The fish picture (mine) will be the front of the postcard. The stamp is a real postage stamp made with my own image, the bike is a graphic just for fun, the smaller fish picture is yet another picture of mine, and the yellow/blue thing will contain a QR code with a recorded voice message up to a minute long.

Two things from my POV: (1) the images have to be on the phone to be used by the app, which for me means copying and syncing to the phone first—a hassle. This is of course NOT an issue for shots made with the iPhone and already on the phone. (2) I would like to make cards on my Mac in an app or web browser because it is far more efficient for me to work on a computer, where all my photos and contacts are stored.

Bill Atkinson’s iPhone app 'Photo Card', preview of final card

Below, a not yet finished card.

Bill Atkinson’s iPhone app 'Photo Card', editing view

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

FOR SALE: Lloyd’s Apple Laptops, NEC Display

Cleaning house—recently bought a new 15" MacBook Pro.

Contact Lloyd

  • Mid 2012 MacBook Pro 13" 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB / 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD / Intel HD Graphics 4000 512MB with charger $825. OWC sells a similar model used for $1200. Speedy little laptop fast enough to run all my web sites (it was a spare).
  • NEC EA244UHD 4K display $650 (sells new for $1049). See my review.
    A very nice 4K display (see my review), but I’m just not using it any more because of iMac 5K. Never saw many hours of operation, so backlight should have long life. Would make a terrific primary display for space constrained environments and/or an excellent 2nd display.
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Adobe Memory Usage, with no apps in use

See my Mac wish list.

Earlier today I wrote about macOS BloatWare.

Adobe Memory usage with no Adobe apps running

Now it’s Adobe’s turn to be spanked: I take a dim view of products using substantial memory when absolutely nothing is running.

These Adobe processes are just there running all the time even when no apps are in use, and they take up 132MB of real memory. On 4GB or 8GB machines, this is not a trivial consideration and if every vendor did this, pretty soon a GB or two of memory would be scarfed up to no useful purpose.

Adobe ought to have one bootstrap daemon using at most 10MB, one that can fork off all this overhead cruft when an app is actually in use. As shown, memory usage rises to justa bout doubles for these overhead processes when an Photoshop is in use—a huge amount for what is likely a very basic task.

macOS BloatWare (and what feels like SpyWare)

See my Mac wish list.

Recently I’ve found that Photoshop CC 2017 on macOS 10.12.2 will no longer complete the diglloydMedium benchmark in 16GB of memory without a slowdown—compare 2013 results to 2015 results to 2016 results—the trend is substantially slower at present. What I observe here in 2016/2017 is a lot more memory swapping, which necessarily slows down the test.

So something has bloated in the system to push it beyond the point at which 16GB is adequate, causing that memory swapping: (a) the benchmark runs as fast in 2016/2017 as it did in 2013 when enough memory is availble and (b) Activity Monitor shows lots of swapping going on. See 2013 Mac Pro results, which show that time to execute in 2013 is within 1.1% of the 2016 figure. Ditto for the iMac 5K — but both have 64GB.

I think it likely that the slowdown is mainly due to a bloated macOS memory footprint, though I cannot rule out Adobe getting sloppy witih a lot of memory usage overhead.

We don’t have to look far for seriously bad software design: here is macOS Finder using nearly 5GB of real memory. This is a design obscenity, given that Apple sells a lot of laptops with 8GB total system memory.

5GB memory usage by macOS Finder

Why does all this stuff run that I do not want, some of which I have even turned off?

All of these processes consume memory and at some point, consume CPU time.

I was looking through running processes and wondering how much crapware and bloatware I might find. But off isn’t actually off in some cases, like Siri.

Qué Siri, Sera isn’t an acceptable answer. All of these were running on my 2013 Mac Pro, all take memory and none of these processes offer functionality I want active. Some like “CallHistoryPluginHelper” raise privacy concerns, and that’s not idle speculation.

Use "sudo launchctl list" to list active background processes. Alternatively, one can select all in Activity Monitor and copy/paste as plain text, but the two lists use different names for some processes.

The list below reflects turning off everything that I don’t want that macOS allows to be turned off, so the actual list for most users may be significantly larger/longer. As well, there are more daemon processes running than just these.


AirPlayUIAgent — I never use AirPlay
AirPlayXPCHelper — I never use AirPlay
airportd — I never use wireless on my Mac Pro
CallHistoryPluginHelper — raises privacy concerns: what call history? From my phone?
CallHistorySyncHelper — raises privacy concerns: what call history? From my phone?
callservicesd — for what exactly? Phone call lists again?
com.apple.photoanalysisd.plist — privacy concern to be analyzing photos without consent
findmydeviced Find My Mac is turned OFF
mediaremoteagent — I doubt this does anything I want.
mediaremoted — I doubt this does anything I want.
mobileassetd — I doubt this does anything I want.
parentalcontrolsd — with a single user and no parental controls set?
photolibraryd — I don't want Photos library
Photos Agent — I don't want Photos running
Sirioffensive - I have Siri turned OFF
Wi-Fi — I never use WiFi on my Mac Pro
wirelessproxd — I don't use or want wireless
WirelessRadioManagerd — I don't use or want wireless

If Console.app is opened, it’s a mess: a steady stream of sputum is ejected constantly. You’ll see this on every Mac, it’s voluminous, and a fresh system install brings the same mess. A very small sample below. A lot of this is normal, but a lot of it repeats constantly, and it’s all from Apple stuff—and what is “CSSM Exception” from Spotlight (mdworker) and why does it spew constantly? It makes looking for real issues far more difficult.

default	13:15:43.802085 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: clientForBundleID:
default	13:15:43.802128 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: updateIfRecentlyInstalled
default	13:15:43.850130 -0800	Core Sync	TCP Conn 0x60000018aeb0 event 1. err: 0
default	13:15:43.850159 -0800	Core Sync	TCP Conn 0x60000018aeb0 complete. fd: 31, err: 0
default	13:15:43.850295 -0800	Core Sync	TCP Conn 0x60000018aeb0 starting SSL negotiation
default	13:15:43.930815 -0800	Core Sync	TCP Conn 0x60000018aeb0 SSL Handshake DONE
default	13:15:46.033359 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: clientForBundleID:
default	13:15:46.033419 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: updateIfRecentlyInstalled
default	13:15:46.033859 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: clientForBundleID:
default	13:15:46.033882 -0800	gamed	GKClientProxy: updateIfRecentlyInstalled
default	13:15:46.100246 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 0, EGID: 0
default	13:15:46.931828 -0800	symptomsd	NDFSM: auto bug capture is administratively OFF, ignoring symptom with key: 421890
default	13:15:47.537797 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 0, EGID: 0
default	13:15:47.538055 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:47.538475 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 501, EUID: 501, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:47.546837 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 501, EUID: 501, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:51.187559 -0800	CommCenter	#watchdog #I Callback Watchdog: checkin 328
default	13:15:51.187636 -0800	CommCenter	#watchdog #I Server Watchdog: checkin 328
default	13:15:56.345479 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 0, EGID: 0
default	13:15:56.345596 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 0, EGID: 0
default	13:15:56.345729 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:56.345783 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 0, EUID: 0, GID: 89, EGID: 89
default	13:15:56.346063 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 501, EUID: 501, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:56.346153 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 89, EUID: 89, GID: 89, EGID: 89
default	13:15:56.355784 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 89, EUID: 89, GID: 89, EGID: 89
default	13:15:56.355894 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 501, EUID: 501, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:56.359875 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 89, EUID: 89, GID: 89, EGID: 89
default	13:15:56.359905 -0800	opendirectoryd	Client: , UID: 501, EUID: 501, GID: 20, EGID: 20
default	13:15:56.379043 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: csresource, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.379083 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: csresource, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.379258 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: dirval, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.379300 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: dirval, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.379560 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: unixio, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.379644 -0800	mdworker	subsystem: com.apple.securityd, category: unixio, enable_level: 0, persist_level: 0,
default_ttl: 0, info_ttl: 0, debug_ttl: 0, generate_symptoms: 0, enable_oversize: 0, privacy_setting: 2, enable_private_data: 0
default	13:15:56.612652 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612654 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612700 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612699 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612758 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612758 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612797 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.612797 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.616884 -0800	trustd	cert[2]: AnchorTrusted =(leaf)[force]> 0
default	13:15:56.616921 -0800	trustd	cert[2]: AnchorTrusted =(leaf)[force]> 0
default	13:15:56.618896 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.618909 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.618945 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.618968 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.619007 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.619010 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.619046 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.619046 -0800	mdworker	CSSM Exception: -2147411889 CSSMERR_CL_UNKNOWN_TAG
default	13:15:56.625643 -0800	trustd	cert[2]: AnchorTrusted =(leaf)[force]> 0
default	13:15:56.625651 -0800	trustd	cert[2]: AnchorTrusted =(leaf)[force]> 0

Mike writes:

MacOS X, I will remain on Yosemite, has always been full of bloat and it is deteriorating fast and steadily.

SIP making it even harder to find the necessary ticks and switches to be halfway back in control of your own machine.

With 16 GB RAM in my MacBook Pro the system eats 25-30% of RAM after a cold boot just idling in Finder.

Deleting or unloading all those services is in my eyes a must. There are daemons active that are meant for features that aren't even supported on my hardware. Airdrop, anything iphoney, like handoff, cloud-nonsense: the lists just keeps growing.

After going through all these launchctl agents and and demons (sic!) – that are sorely lacking in documentation; just to add insult to injury – I am now happy about a system that 'just' eats away 10-15% RAM at idle. That is about half of both RAM-sticks the machine came with.

Of course you have to avoid Mail.app and Safari, Contacts and just about anything that Apple chose to bundle. They are mostly useless or downright dangerous for my data.

Then try to look at what cfprefsd does, writing plist files into your user preferences directory every minute for things like Dock and Finder that only are in use. Not changing anything in there respective preferences. coresymbolicationd's data directory, coreduetd's /var folder (Even when it was never used, never was supported on my machine, it managed to accumulate 5 GB of worthless data when I found out about it.) The always growing out of hand and often self.corrupting cache-files, etc. The only example I know of that actually got better from 10.9 to 10.10 was /private/var/log/asl keeping itself in manageable and sensible proportions in Yosemite. Keeping in mind that there are now even more examples of these crazy writes to disk one keeps wondering if this is equally detrimental for ssd's as the recent Firefox-session-store 'scandal'? Once set up I rarely change prefs in my apps. And yet. Cfprefsd writes 10 GB a day 'for me' and this is untenable _and_ untameable.

So I keep asking myself and now I am asking you: For how long will you remain in this sinking boat and swallow all those salty drinks Apple keeps serving us?

Come WWDC security updates for Yosemite will stop. If they announce a single new feature instead of a very, very large list of grievances fixed along with an apology for all those crazy stupid design decisions of the past years (starting with .DS_Store), then I will jump ship.

MPG: the natives are getting restless.

Constant writes to disk are a source of wear and tear on SSDs; the flash cells on SSDs can be written so many times. Writing 1 byte or ten is the same as writing an entire 512K block (of flash memory). It is perhaps an argument for never booting off an expensive SSD, just to avoid the constant write-harrassment of the SSD by the OS.

Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

Safari Seems Less Stable in macOS 10.12.2

See my Mac wish list.

Safari has been crashing more lately, and I suspect macOS 10.12.2 is involved, though it might just be that macOS Sierra is the turd it has felt like from the start.

Today, I just wanted to print one page from a web site—it’s not asking a whole lot.

Process:               Safari [30427]
Path:                  /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/Safari
Identifier:            com.apple.Safari
Version:               10.0.2 (12602.3.12.0.1)
Build Info:            WebBrowser-7602003012000001~2
Code Type:             X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process:        ??? [1]
Responsible:           Safari [30427]
User ID:               501
Date/Time:             2017-01-10 08:43:53.862 -0800
OS Version:            Mac OS X 10.12.2 (16C68)
Report Version:        12
Anonymous UUID:        3A1B3248-8914-452A-A38E-AF944F6FE8CA
Sleep/Wake UUID:       652ED10F-8234-48DA-A5DA-00E009C4C044
Time Awake Since Boot: 26000 seconds
Time Since Wake:       3300 seconds
System Integrity Protection: enabled
Crashed Thread:        33
Exception Type:        EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV)
Exception Codes:       KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at 0x0000000000000018
Exception Note:        EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY
Termination Signal:    Segmentation fault: 11
Termination Reason: Namespace SIGNAL, Code 0xb
Terminating Process: exc handler [0] Thread 33 Crashed: 0 libobjc.A.dylib 0x00007fffbcc32b5d objc_msgSend + 29 1 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fffa5bb3aed -[NSView(NSLayerKitGlue) _drawViewBackingLayer:inContext:drawingHandler:] + 1717 2 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fffa5bb3432 -[NSView(NSLayerKitGlue) drawLayer:inContext:] + 80 3 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadc76314 CABackingStoreUpdate_ + 3740 4 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadd93464 ___ZN2CA5Layer8display_Ev_block_invoke + 75 5 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadd930c5 CA::Layer::display_() + 1803 6 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fffa5bb22ca _NSBackingLayerDisplay + 577 7 com.apple.AppKit 0x00007fffa5ba5531 -[_NSViewBackingLayer display] + 885 8 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadd86f6e CA::Layer::display_if_needed(CA::Transaction*) + 572 9 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadd87099 CA::Layer::layout_and_display_if_needed(CA::Transaction*) + 35 10 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadd7c878 CA::Context::commit_transaction(CA::Transaction*) + 280 11 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadc73631 CA::Transaction::commit() + 475 12 com.apple.QuartzCore 0x00007fffadc73aab CA::Transaction::release_thread(void*) + 589 13 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd73b50f _pthread_tsd_cleanup + 544 14 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd73b249 _pthread_exit + 152 15 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd73bda8 pthread_exit + 30 16 com.apple.Foundation 0x00007fffa99d2dd7 +[NSThread exit] + 11 17 com.apple.Foundation 0x00007fffa9967c81 __NSThread__start__ + 1263 18 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd739aab _pthread_body + 180 19 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd7399f7 _pthread_start + 286 20 libsystem_pthread.dylib 0x00007fffbd7391fd thread_start + 13
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

The GPU remains a Science Fair Project

See my Mac wish list.

Update 10 Jan: Adobe contacted me (well, I sent a link to this post to Adobe!), and they are going to look into the crash I'm seeing. I have provided an actions file and script to drive it. Now if only they would also agree to do something to address the GPU scaling headache.

Three+ years ago, the 2013 Mac Pro was released by Apple with graphics drivers rife with bugs. It took 6 months to get the drivers to a usable state. Adobe actually added GPU support for sharpening, then had to take that support out. What I never understood is how Adobe could ship those code changes without proper testing, the proof of that being self evident in the undoing.

Graphics driver bugs caused by half-baked Apple code are one thing—and I do pin the lion’s share of the blame on Apple. [It is my understanding that AMD engineers actually developed the drivers for the Mac Pro, but it’s Apple’s responsibility to ensure quality control.]

GPU problems with Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CC 2017,
macOS 10.12.2

But graphics driver bugs aside, Adobe could at least address what it can, that is, Adobe fails to fix severe usability bugs that result from enabling the GPU—for over two years now. Adobe was/is well aware of this issue, because I communicated directly, the issue was acknowledged as “hard to fix”. But even though I suggested minimally invasive user interface changes that could at least sidestep the scaling problem, this was not done either. Well, what is the point of a GPU if it results in unreliable operation of any kind?

And now GPU bugs persist to this day and now have taken a turn for the worse.

With the release of macOS 10.12 Sierra and Adobe Photoshop CC 2017, Photoshop has become more unstable than it has been in years. My 2013 Mac Pro, 2013 and 2015 and 2016 MacBook Pro and iMac 5K all have shown this GPU problem, as shown. Not always, but at launch or other times, and often enough to be disturbing.

Just today, something hard-crashed my Mac Pro (hard power off required), an extremely infrequent event (months without such a crash)—I was using Photoshop/ACR. I suspect the crash was a GPU driver crash in kernel space.

I don’t know where the fault lies (Apple or Adobe), but it is pathetic that one of my test suites (Lens Filters) cannot be completed on any Macs reliably, and never can run successfully on 2 of the 5 Macs.

Chad M writes:

I just upgraded my 2013 Mac Pro to Sierra over the holidays while I had down time.

I’m using an AJA LHI through ThunderboltBox and Final Cut X 10.3.1. I am getting kernel panics now (must be around a dozen).

I’m suspecting a driver issue of some kind – and your GPU thoughts have me leaning to look more in that direction. Maybe the next OS update will help. I should never have updated. So frustrating!!

DIGLLOYD: frustrating indeed for professionals trying to get work done. A kernel panic is of the same bug level as my 'hard freeze' I reported: something nasty happening at a level that kills the operating system.

Martin writes:

I read all your articles, and especially the more nerdy stuff about apple. Normally most of the people writing about Apple have nearly no clue about this more nerdy in deep stuff.
but I have to say something about your GPU disillusionment.

I’m into this GPU stuff since the late 90 doing 3D visualization and animation with extremely special and expensive cards, GPU acceleration before it was on the mass market.

And people like me know all these weird problems you experience.

It may sound bold and offensive but the 2013 MacPro with AMD GPUs and Adobe is the worst possible scenario. AMD drivers are known from the beginning as not suitable for professional work, besides they always had this FireGL pro line.

When you’re lucky that the drivers are stable, you will somehow experience display or rendering (calculation errors), especially working with fine graining values or extremes.
This is the reason nearly every pro in the 3D business or doing extreme compositing / video stuff is equipped with NVidia cards. The bad thing, the quality of their drivers is declining. In most of the pro software products is CUDA better integrated, integrated at all, more stable and a lot faster.

AMD looks always sweet on the spec sheet but they never deliver these speeds or stability. And the last 20 years there was never a stable and bug-free OpenGL driver from ATI/AMD, they are known for bad OpenGL.

The bad stuff, a lot of Adobes GPU implementations are also founded on OpenGL, like Lightroom's develop module - ADOBE confirmed this official that LR uses OpenGL. So every Mac now with a DGPU has an AMD GPU. Adobes Mercury Engine also relies on a lot of NVIDIA stuff - Premiere renders x times faster on a GeForce — is there is now other problem - ADOBE’s GPU implementations are really bad - MEDIAENCODER loves to show it uses CUDA but renders on your slow CPU.

But there are other software companies who have working GPU code - like Phase One. Run Capture One Pro on an 5 year old Intel i5 PC with a cheap GTX 970 — this is so much faster than Lightroom on the most badass Mac or PC money can buy. But Phase One also suffers from bad AMD drivers on Mac Mac and PC—just take a look and their user forums, a lot of people mourn that the software is so slow on their newest hardware.

At the end it relies on the software and Apple is constantly kicking us pros into our balls with their decision not to use NVIDIA.

MPG: the survey at BareFeats.com shows that 80% want NVIDIA cards, not AMD.

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

2.5K or 4K or 5K Display for Image Editing and Viewing?

See my Mac wish list.

This essay at diglloyd.com goes into all the considerations in choosing a display: 2.5K or 4K or 5K Display for Image Editing and Viewing?. It applies equally to Windows users also.

See also Can a 2016 MacBook Pro support an 8K display?.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Crapware in macOS

See my Mac wish list.

I just thought that screen shot below captures the hubris run amok at Apple: the disregard for users that manifests itself at every level of the software and hardware product stack.

Crapware that I cannot remove is a dissatisfier (applies to iOS also), whether it is Chess.app or Garbage Band (oops, did I mis-spell it?) or the other Apple apps I never use and never will use.

Chess.app is a required application in macOS Sierra

On a related note, I have turned Siri OFF. The arrogance of Apple running the Siri process anyway is part and parcel of the attitudinal problem.

macOS: Siri runs even when off

When Siri is off, it’s still running. Any attempt to disable it in the plist is rejected by special security privileges that cannot be bypassed.

macOS: Siri runs even when off and cannot be disabled, even in the plist

I thought that use launchctl might work, but it doesn’t work to unload it.

sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Siri.plist
/System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Siri.plist: Could not find specified service

See also:

Greg M writes:

macOS: Siri runs even when off

I enjoy your comments about how bad the software Apple produces.

I opened up Contacts this morning and got this dialog box. All I did was open up Contacts, did no operations within.

MPG: sheer genius.

 

Can a 2016 MacBook Pro support an 8K display?

See my Mac wish list.

The Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K Display will hit the market in early spring, raising the question of whether any Macs can drive that glorious 33.2 megapixels.

The GPU power along with the bandwidth required to drive four 4K displays is just emerging, but the 2016 MacBook Pro looks like it might be capable enough.

Apple specifications for the 2016 MacBook Pro state:

Up to two displays with 5120-by-2880 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors
Up to four displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors

A 4K display is 3840 X 2160; thus four displays at 4096 X 2304 offer 13.7% more bandwith than required to drive an 8K display. Of course, an 8K display would have to be the only display, unless a 2017 Mac Pro arrives that can drive six or eight 4K displays. But with a MacBook Pro, presumably the internal display remains usable, so a dual display system looks possible.

Using two Thunderbolt 3 cables, it should be possible to drive an 8K display on the 2016 MacBook Pro in 10 bit color*, at least in terms of the required bandwidth, using a trick similar to how a 5K display was possible in previous Macs: drive each half of the display with one of the Thunderbolt cables, that is, Multi Stream Transport. The same trick might work for 8K. Perhaps Apple or Dell will weigh in on this possibility soon.

* The Apple specifications indicate “billions” which means 10-bit color.

Potential for an iMac 8K

Since a 32-inch 8K panel now exists, and the 2016 MacBook Pro already has the bandwidth to drive an 8K display, an iMac 8K is technically possible with today’s technology.

An iMac 8K could use a custom graphics solution to push those 32 megapixels, just as the iMac 5K does. There is no need for wait for standards to evolve to support external 8K support; it can be done internally with a proprietary solution. The main issue is cooling, but Apple should be able to engineer an appropriate GPU cooling system. And since the 2016 MacBook Pro is an even greater cooling challenge, and it can drive four 4K displays, it hardly seems like an iMac 8K should have any barriers to supporting an 8K built-in display.

The Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K Display will apparently sell for $4999. Even assuming that Apple could use its considerable volume to get that price down to $2000 or so, it would make an iMac 8K with the necessary GPU power something hitting the $6K to $8K range in price. So even though it appears to be ideal for an 32" iMac 8K, cost is likely to push off such an iMac. Then again, Apple has surprised us in the past, and could do so again, particularly with its failure to innovate for several years now.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K Display Suggests that an iMac 8K is Technically Feasible

See my Mac wish list.

See also Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment.

While I saw firsthand the LG 5K display for the 2016 MacBook Pro, unfortunately I did not chance upon the Dell 8K 32-inch display which was announced at CES.

7680 X 4320 pixels = 33.2 megapixes in 32" form factor, aspect ratio 1.77:1

A 4K display is like tiling together four HD displays and thus requires 4X the bandwidth of a conventional 1920 X 1080 display. An 8K display is like tiling together four 4K displays for a whopping 33.2 megapixels (7680 X 4320).

A a full resolution Nikon D810 image is 7360 X 4912, so its entire width fits with room to spare on an 8K display, although the aspect ratio is too tall to fit vertically. The pixel density of an 8K display has to be an awesome viewing experience, but high pixel density is problematic for assessing image sharpnesss.

The $4,999 UP3218K is slated to go on sale on March 23rd. It has a refresh rate of 60 Hz and will work with zero Macs and only a few select PCs with specialized video hardware, and even then GPU performance will need some time to catch up. The display supports 100 percent Adobe RGB, sRGB, and Rec709 color gamuts.

HDMI 2.1 (announced at CES) supports 8K, but Apple doesn’t even support HDMI 1.3 yet, so external 8K displays are likely to take a few years to become more than a special rarity.

However, at least in bandwith terms, 8K might already be possible; see: Can a 2016 MacBook Pro support an 8K display?

Potential for an iMac 8K

Since a 32-inch panel now exists, it seems ideal for an iMac 8K which could use a custom graphics solution to push those 32 megapixels—no need for wait for standards to evolve to support external 8K support; it can be done internally just as with the iMac 5K.

The Dell display will apparently sell for $4999. Even assuming that Apple could use its considerable volume to get that price down to $2000 or so, it would make an iMac 5K with the necessary GPU power something hitting the $6K to $8K range in price. So even though it appears to be ideal for an iMac design, pricing is an obstacle that could put off an iMac 8K for a year or more.

LG 5K Display for 2016 MacBook Pro

See my Mac wish list.

See also Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment.

Yes, you want one. It looks fantastic in person, shot below from CES. But at present it works only on the 2016 MacBook Pro, via a Thunderbolt 3 cable, as shown below. OTOH, for about $1700 you can get a 5K display from Apple with a free computer.

I am NOT recommending it for work where evaluating image sharpness or very fine tweaks is needed—that’s why I still use the NEC PA302W for my image evaluation—the pixel density is way too high for that type of detail work. But like the iMac 5K viewing experience, the LG 5K is aweseome for viewing images, with its 14.7 megapixel display.

I did not chance upon the Dell 8K 32-inch display which was announced at CES, but a 32-inch panel now exists, it seems ideal for an iMac 8K which could use a custom graphics solution to push those 32 megapixels. An 8K display requires the bandwidth of four 4K displays and isn’t going to fly with any Mac (yet).

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook Pro
__METADATA__
OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 2TB SSD

I’m in SSD heaven!

I just saw a production version of the OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 2TB SSD. About twice the size of the current OWC Envoy Pro EX (my go-to drive for travel backup and other on-the-go purposes), the new OWC Envoy Pro nonetheless fits in the palm of my hand. The larger size is all for the better, because it allows for very high capacity, cooling fins for sustained ultra high performance and a robust aluminum case.

  • 2TB capacity with a form factor that implies a 4TB version should emerge.
  • Thunderbolt 3.
  • Tested with DiskTester: this external SSD not only rocks on small transfers (about as fast as anything I’ve ever tested), it hits 1300 MiB/sec on writes and 2000 MiB/sec reads. Externally. That performance blows away the 1TB internal SSD in my 2013 Mac Pro, at twice the capacity. Practically speaking, more speed is of no practical concern for anything but the most specialized or obscure situation.
  • Pricing TBD.

I see this drive as a breakthrough device: 2TB (and maybe later, 4TB) capacity, desktop grade SSD performance, outstanding portability. I can’t think of anything ever before that combines all these attributes, with no downsides at all. Many people could carry all their Stuff on one of these drives and never look back. The possible catch: is it backward compatible with Thunderbolt 2 via the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter? It should be, but this is to be confirmed.

The OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 2TB SSD should be available for purchase “before NAB” according to OWC (that means April or so).

2TB OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 SSD attached to 2016 MacBook Pro
2TB OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3 SSD attached to 2016 MacBook Pro
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

A Powerful Argument for a Small Laptop

I grabbed dinner at the airport on the way to CES. I asked Andalé Taquería if El Presidente Burrito trumped El Supremo, but they feigned ignorance. Personally I think both are quite a mélange of ingredients.

Anyway, I’m sitting on a Virgin America 737 or whatever this narrow-bodied thing is, and I’m back in cattle class. There is barely (barely!) enough room to open my 15-inch MacBook Pro, with the likelihood of it being damaged if the passenger ahead of me reclines his seat—so I politely asked for a warning if he were to be so inclined (double entendre intended).

If I flew regularly, I’d buy a MacBook just for airline travel. In the “old days” a 15-inch laptop was not a problem. On Virgin America, it’s a bad choice size in this godawful sardine can. But there were few options left when I bought my ticket.

Update: the return flight on Jet Blue was vastly better for leg space. And for $25 I sat in seat 4D where I could actually stretch my legs out, and my pack would fit under the seat ahead of my. Night and day better vs Virgin America.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

OWC “DEC” for 2016 MacBook Pro

Update 4 Jan: I’ve seen the prototype of the OWC DEC first hand. The DEC bolts onto the bottom of the MacBook Pro after removing the bottom shell of the case. The result is a seamless integration with all the key ports I need (gigabit ethernet, USB-A 3.1, SD card slot), delivering what feels in the hand very much like the 13" 2012 MacBook Pro in thickness (but in 15" size).

The convenience of this form factor should not be underestimated by any power user: no dongles, the classic ports right built-in, and from what I understand—potentially configurable for all sorts of things like extra battery power, gobs of SSD storage, possibly even hard drives. In short, a really powerful platform could make a MacBook Pro into a portable desktop grade machine, particularly if/when Apple introduces the Kaby Lake chipset to the MacBook Pro line.

Another factor is data safety: by having a 2nd (or 3rd drive) in the DEC, pros that cannot lose data can backup the internal drive conveniently (think video footage that cannot be re-shot and whose loss could break a reputation after ruining that wedding or whatever)—remember the soldered-on SSD is a lot of downtime if the MBP goes down. Of course, an external backup should also be used, and there the OWC Envoy Pro is ideal.

The conceptual design is just about limitless, affording possibilities for huge SSD storage (my guess is that up to 8TB will be possible before long, OWC says up to 4TB initially), extra battery power should be configurable too—how about 20 or 30 hours of battery life? That too is my guess but the volume of the DEC should be able support something like that and/or a mix of SSD and battery boost. Other potentialities are there too. I don’t see anything that precludes all sorts of terrific expansion capabilities, all by extending the thicknesss of the MacBook Pro to a total height little different from what used to be the standard thickness.

The OWC DEC will be available for purchase in Spring 2017, according to OWC.

Form factor of the OWC DEC is little different from what used to be the standard MacBook Pro thickness. Connector at right (prototype, final will be more elegant) couples the Thunderbolt 3 port of the MacBook Pro to the DEC.

Later units (not prototypes) will have an SD card slot and USB port on the right side, and other ports (gigabit ethernet, more USB ports) on left side. OWC hints at other potential ports as well.

Prototype of OWC DEC attached to 15" 2016 MacBook Pro
Production version to polish fit and finish, plus space gray or silver options

Sleek enough to travel with because the form factor is little different from what used to be the standard MacBook Pro thickness.

OWC Makes MacBooks ‘Pro’ Again With Game-Changing OWC DEC

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

OWC today announced the OWC DEC, the first-ever expansion solution designed specifically for the 2016 Apple MacBook Pro. The OWC DEC is the finishing touch to a MacBook Pro, allowing users to take their laptops to the next level, extending the life and the functionality of the already-exceptional 2016 MacBook Pro. The DEC is the latest in OWC’s long line of upgrades for nearly every Mac made and continues the company’s legacy of providing the best solutions for Mac owners.

The OWC DEC attaches completely flush to the bottom of the 2016 MacBook Pro, providing additional flash storage and connectivity, ultimately increasing the performance of MacBook Pros. With the OWC DEC, users will get an enhancement path for their 2016 MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to keep their system upgradeable for the long term in a clean and integrated fashion. On top of the core functional benefits, the OWC DEC also touts a sleek design. When installed, the OWC DEC and MacBook Pro will be as thin as a 2012 MacBook Pro, allowing this advanced solution to retain the attractive light weight design that users favor.

This patented solution has a range of features, which include:

  • Up to 4TB of additional Flash/SSD storage (for a maximum of 6 TB, including factory capacity)
  • SD Card Slot/Multi-Media card slot
  • USB 3 Type A Ports for standard USB cabled devices
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • And other features to be announced at a later date

Larry O’Connor, OWC Founder and CEO, will personally showcase the OWC DEC prototype in Las Vegas this week. The OWC DEC enables the new MacBook Pro to be updated and expanded in order to operate at peak performance and ultimately be relevant for years longer than may otherwise be expected.

“We’ve been developing this concept for over three years and feel now is the perfect time for this ground-breaking product,” said O’Connor. “Storage space is always at a premium on a laptop and without the potential to upgrade the factory drive, the OWC DEC brings that option back in addition to cleanly supporting the gear we all rely on.”

The release of the OWC DEC comes on the heels of a significant year of new product announcements from OWC, including the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, OWC USB-C Dock, Aura SSD and the newly released Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini and Mercury Elite Pro Dual.

OWC will ship the highly-anticipated OWC DEC in Spring 2017. OWC Upgrades are available from MacSales.com and other fine retailer and e-tailers in the U.S. and around the world. For more information, please visit www.owcdigital.com/DEC.

Desktop CPU Performance at a Standstill?

As I wrote in Computers Are not Getting Faster in a Meaningful Way, GPU is Half-Baked Tech, Too Many Software Developers Suck, computer performance has hardly changed in 3+ years. All while most software continues to make poor use of CPU cores, so a double whammy from two different directions.

ArsTechnica comments on the CPU situation in Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake review: Is the desktop CPU dead?:

With identical performance to Skylake, Intel brings desktop performance to a standstill.

The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-"tick-tock" world—which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video. Huzzah.

Update 04 Jan: are at least a few reasons why the Intel 'Kaby Lake' release is significant:

  • Improved graphics performance.
  • My understanding is that the Kaby Lake 'H' series supports 32GB memory, thus making a MacBook Pro with 32GB of DR 23000 DRAM possible. But whether the power draw is viable on a laptop is unclear (meaning what we could expect from Apple, given the rationalizations seen with the Nov 2016 MacBook Pro).
  • The i7-7920HQ 3.1 GHz (turbo boost to 4.1 GHz, 4 real CPU cores) might be suitable for a MacBook Pro.
  • The i7-7700K 4.2 GHz (turbo boost 4.5 GHz) shoudl be suitable for an iMac. This perhaps is the “standstill” point—that’s only 5% faster than the 4.0 GHz iMac 5K that sits on my desk today—at the cost of a 95 watt TPD.

Even if CPU performance is stuck in 3rd gear for now, all is not lost. In particular, Apple could go back to a real “pro” desktop by making it a big box again, with features like this. I bet that it would be a best-seller Mac Pro:

  • A choice of 4 to 18 CPU cores, or whatever the limit is currently. Even better: dual CPUs again.
  • 8 memory slots accepting up to 256GB. Stretch goal: 12 or 16 memory slots for up to 384GB.
  • 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports, split across 3 busses.
  • Support for three external 5K displays.
  • Single outrageously fast GPU.
  • Two 16x PCIe slots for optional 2nd or 3rd GPU and/or extra PCIe SSD, etc.
  • Internal SSD options of 1TB or 2TB or 4TB, option for 2nd SSD with same capacity options, running at 3 GB/sec.
  • Space for two internal hard drives, thus allowing 20TB internally in addition to the SSDs.
  • Nice to have: 4 USB3 ports to keep connectivity hassles down with useful legacy devices (mouse, keyboard, camera card readers, USB3 drives, etc).

Why not? Apple could re-establish itself as a serious player for high-end performance. Make it a box, but very quiet box, a big cylinder if some nitwit demands that as the tradeoff, but make it robust.

BareFeats.com has a a very interesting survey highly relevant to the above points: 63% prefer a tower form factor, 62% prefer six or more CPU cores, 34% prefer 128GB or more memory, few users want AMD GPUs (NVIDIA strongly preferred), 73% want support for at least two displays, 39% want 5K support, 43% want at least 4TB of internal storage. And so on. Clearly there is a desire for a high end machine.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Apple Core Rot: PDF Support

Is this incompetence, disdain, or all-out contempt for developers and users? MPG tends to favor the “incompetence and mismanagement” theory, but those generally require some degree of the other two, that is, to allow it to be approved and ship to customers.

Apple Insider: Apple's changes to macOS PDF handling stymie third-party developers, cause data loss

Apple's changes to how it handles PDFs in macOS Sierra are causing problems with third-party utilities, with the most profound issue potentially causing the removal of an optical character recognition layer from user's files.

Adam Engst from long-time Mac journal TidBITS noted that while problems were widely publicized at Sierra's launch with ScanSnap scanner software, other issues have persisted after two updates, and in some cases gotten worse.
...

According to reports collated by Engst, and confirmed by AppleInsider, Apple has re-written the PDFKit framework in macOS 10.12 Sierra, and implemented a common core with iOS and macOS. However, this has caused some serious issues with software that relies on Apple's PDFKit.
...

MPG: data loss supports the “disdain and contempt” theory, but does not rule out sheer incompetence.

Note the “common core” thing—a very dangerous trend for future APIs in terms of reliability, compatibility and data integrity particularly since Apple seems to have no idea what unit testing is.

Whose data of any kind is safe when Apple has no qualms about rewriting APIs that damage user files? Such actions show a profound disrespect for users, although leaving RAID users hung out to dry is arguably far worse.

On the Apple Core Rot topic, see one more view in Apple’s 2016 in review.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Monitoring Most Everything: iStat Menus

 
iStatMenus: CPU and Network Status

Last week I reported on cleaning out dust to forestall component failure.

A program like iStatMenus can help figure out if a Mac is overheating; take a baseline when new or after cleaning and periodically check those temperatures against temperatures some months later (assuming the same room temperature). Or, if the Mac’s fans are running too loudly or too frequently under no apparent load situation, check out the temperature of the components.

BJango Software also offers iStat for Mac. Maybe it can run locally only, but it seems to be designed for remote monitoring via iStat Server.

While iStatMenus has a wealth of information, and has a smooth and polished interface—it’s a terrific tool—there are two things that bother me which are peculiar to my own setup.

  • I would prefer to have all this information in one window for two reasons: (1) see everything at once, and (2) locate the window on whichever display I want to, (3) unclutter y menu bar. Well, it’s iStatMenus for a reason so that is by design. Still I would like this info in a window which would reside on my 4K display for the same reason all my palettes in Photoshop are off my main screen.
  • With my dual display setup, the main screen is standard (non Retina) resolution. The very small type is not os easy to read on standard-res displays. The menu bar must be on that display (it is not a viable option to put a menu bar on the other display and/or to make the 4K 2nd display be the primary, for my own reasons). So I am stuck with small type that is unfriendly to my eyes and cannot be captured with retina quality in a screen shot either. The foregoing is inapplicable to my iMac 5K or to my MacBook Pro.

Below, all the sensor measurements on my 2013 Mac Pro.

iStatMenus: Sensor measurements on 8-core 3.3 GHz 2013 Mac Pro

Configuring the “Combined” menu

I like the combined menu because I can mouse over each area as submenus. If configured to use separate menus in the menu bar (each area of reporting having its own separate menu), then each menu has to be clicked on separately.

See my previous comments: a modal information display is not nearly to my linking as being able to see all this stuff in one larger status display.

iStatMenus: “Combined” menu with Memory submenu
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

2016 MacBook Pro: Test Results vs 2015 MacBook Pro and 13" 2016 MacBook Pro + a Big Surprise

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Deal on top-spec 2015 MacBook Pro at OWC.

I encountered a stunning surprise when testing: the 13" 2016 MacBook Pro dual-core 2.4 GHz beat out all but one of the other Macs on my #1 most important Photoshop task. And I had to give the other Macs several tries to get better times; the times usually were slower.

That’s insane! But I ran and re-ran the test—same deal. So to paraphrase Mark Twain, there are lies, damn lies, and benchmarks. All that matters is how well a computer works for one’s own particular workflow.

This amazing performance is from the 13" 2.4 GHz / 16GB / 512GB non-touchbar model, whose Turbo Boost mode hits 3.4 GHz, which is only 0.1 GHz slower than the fastest processor Apple offers in the 13" model. But those faster base-clock-speed models require the touchbar, and the touchbar is a non-starter for me and others. Plus, the touchbar model has a significantly smaller battery and slotted (not soldered-on) SSD. I also found that the 13" model has the least trouble cooling itself, as judged by fan noise (not much even under load). Plus the 13" model does not slow down under some loads like the 15" model does.

While all of the machines showed some variability in test results (laptops in particular), multiple runs confirm the dominance of the 13" 2016 MacBook Pro in this real-world workflow challenge. The graph below takes the fastest time from each machine. Other tests show the 13" model to be be slower, but quite a feisty ankle biter on many tests. If anything, it shows that software plays a huge role in using or not using CPU cores efficiently.

2016 MacBook Pro vs other Macs: Photoshop filters

2016 MacBook Pro: Test Results Updated to include 2015 MacBook Pro and 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Deal on top-spec 2015 MacBook Pro at OWC.

2016 MacBook Pro: Photoshop Filters

2016 MacBook Pro vs other Macs: Photoshop filters
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Bought the 2015 MacBook Pro: Best Model for My Usage at a Big Savings

2015 Apple MacBook Pro Retina

See all my previous discussion on the 2016 MacBook Pro, which I returned.

My main issue with my rock-solid 2013 MacBook Pro has been simple: its 512GB SSD has been an increasing headache (only 180GB free space given other necessary stuff, a problem on my photography trips). So I’ve been wanting a MacBook Pro with a 1TB SSD for a while, but I didn’t want to pay full fare.

As well, ergonomics and performance and compatibility all matter to me—all a 'fail' with the 2016 MacBook Pro. The 2015 MacBook pro is the best one Apple ever made (for my needs) when those things are all taken into consideration—not the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Bonus wins:

And while the 2016 model has Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, that brings adapter hassles and I really don’t need TB3 anyway, since I expect an iMac or Mac Pro to bring TB3 sometime soon in 2017—and when I am working at home I don’t use the laptop anyway. So TB3 doesn’t do anything for me on a laptop.

For a lot less money, I bit the bullet and ordered a 2015 MacBook Pro 2.8 GHz / 16GB / 1TB 2015 from OWC. Which is faster on what I do anyway! It is factory sealed Apple refurbished with a one year warrant and eligible for AppleCare, so just like a new one.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

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