Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Apple Needs to Rethink Activity Monitor for High Core Count Machines

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Maxed-out 2017 iMac Pro is here.

Maxed-out 18-core 2017 iMac Pro

Below: this screen shot takes the entire vertical space of the iMac Pro screen. Apple really needs to rethink CPU History when there are 36 virtual cores. Perhaps a 2-column display, since there is ample screen width for history in two columns.

36 virtual cores on 2017 iMac Pro

What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Destroy Its Boot Volume Rendering Itself Unbootable

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Apple thinks its new security features are nifty.

MPG thinks that Disk Utility has bug after bug after bug. Including a bug that not only destroyed the boot volume (“Macintosh HD”) but destroyed the recovery partition.

In progress is a system restore over the internet via network recovery (hours-long process). Never in decades of using Macs have I totally hosed a machine this badly. Once hosed, it’s not even possible to boot externally—because that is turned off by default. What exactly does this not-a-bug-its-a-feature do for users?

Does Apple test anything these days? macOS Manure.

There is no way in heaven that I’m going to commit to an iMac Pro for my work given what I just experienced. I want a useful tool, not a science fair project.

MPG’s advice for any professional is to skip the iMac Pro unless its performance is a must-have for specialized work (the iMac Pro is inferior for my key tasks versus the 2017 iMac 5K). And backup frequently. The new secure enclave brings all sorts of new headaches and problems.

Update: the install is now hung in an infinite loop": “iTunes updated successfully”—Clicking Continue just presents the same “iTunes updated successfully” dialog—10 times or 100 times or 1000 times—forever. That’s after a previous infinite loop asking whether to install iTunes (no choice, in effect). Apple Core Rot in macOS Manure. I literally had to pull the power plug. It’s unbelievable that Apple ships this untested garbage to users. After pulling the power plug, rebooting forced me through the same setup process, but luckily iTunes was now current, thus bypassing the infinite loop bug. All of this following yet another bug claiming that 80GB of user-account data would not fit on a 220GB boot volume.

...

Backup, peripherals, etc

Budget for peripherals as well.

Backup

Everyone should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).

The Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones (use the drives individually in most cases, not RAID).

Primary storage

Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (Thunderbolt 3 version).

Note: the Thunderbay 4 is a terrific solution (I have 5 of them) but a Thunderbolt 3 version should be out soon. Hard drives go into the Thunderbay 4 or an external enclosure.

Port expansion

To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.

See also OWC Offers Dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI Adapter for Thunderbolt 3 Macs or PCs.

Peripherals

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Apple Throws Chinese Users Under the Bus

Back in Apple and Privacy: are there Bedrock Principles Based on Inviolable Philosophical/Moral Principles, or Rather, Concretized Pragmatic State of the Moment “whatever works” Policies?, I commented on the dubious pseudo-philosophical claims of Apple about privacy.

While I gave Apple some benefit of the doubt, the implications are now confirmed: Apple has thrown Chinese users under the bus by agreeing to store encryption keys for iCloud in China. Does anyone but a naif think the Chinese government won’t demand those keys sooner or later, and probably sooner?

I’d like Apple to formally state: “Before we turn over encryption keys to the Chinese government, we will give users 72 hours notice of that action and destroy all data (and backups) of any user that requests it”. That would show some shred of respect for the respect-for-user-privacy that Apple just loves to tout when it is convenient and makes for good PR. But Apple has made no such statement.

From Apple to Start Putting Sensitive Encryption Keys in China in the Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):

Apple says it is moving the keys to China as part of its effort to comply with a Chinese law on data storage enacted last year. Apple said it will store the keys in a secure location, retain control over them and hasn’t created any backdoors to access customer data. A spokesman in a statement added that Apple advocated against the new laws, but chose to comply because it “felt that discontinuing the [iCloud] service would result in a bad user experience and less data security and privacy for our Chinese customers.”

Apple’s move reflects the tough choice that has faced all foreign companies that want to continue offering cloud services in China since the new law. Other companies also have complied, including Microsoft Corp. for its Azure and Office 365 services, which are operated by 21Vianet Group , Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., which has cloud operating agreements with Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. and Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology Co.

The rationalization about user privacy is stunning: note the reference to feelings ('felt') but not to facts or to moral-philosophical principles, as well as the ugly precedent it sets.

What the statement above really means is:

We at Apple support privacy for our users as extremely important. Unless and until it impacts our bottom line.

This after Apple gave the FBI the finger as to cell phone encryption (Apple in 2016 fought a U.S. government demand to help unlock the iPhone of the gunman in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack). So Apple blocks the FBI, but thinks it is just fine to comply with a repressive government with zero respect for human rights in a way that compromises millions of users. The sanctimonious irony should not be lost on anyone, anywhere. George Orwell just rolled over in his grave.

One has to wonder about the convoluted rationalizations Tim Cook must go through to avoid implosive cognitive dissonance. That is, assuming he actually does respect user privacy morally-philosophically as a conviction, versus just a nice talking point. As I see it, it is either cowardice through and through, or it’s all been a nice “fair weather” show.

Will Apple be complying with government demands in any two-bit totalitarian dictatorship as well? Where is Apple’s formal policy on such matters—why not spell it out? Still, it’s hardly necessary—the precedent has been set so the policy is clear enough.

Does Tim Cook now have any credibility on any issue involving individual rights? You can’t pick and choose which rights apply or do not apply; one either has a deep conviction that individual rights matter (the founding principle of this country), or it’s all for show. Contrary to the absurd rationalization quoted above, this is not a complex issue: supporting a repressive state where individual rights don’t matter makes Apple complicit, with Apple sanctioning a totalitarian state. No amount of honey-coated press releases change that core fact.

To quote Tim Cook:

I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that.

How is Apple leading now?

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macOS High Sierra: APFS Corrupts Disk Images

Back in September, MPG advised to delay adoption of macOS High Sierra for at least six months. The macOS High Sierra rush-job felt disturbing to me. I wrote:

This is the half-baked situation I more or less expected—ship by calendar, not by quality.

A lot of bugs might pop up in APFS, and there might be data loss scenarios if history is any guide.

So I was not at all surprised to read that Mike Bombich, author of the excellent Carbon Copy Cloner, hit upon a data corruption bug in APFS. In macOS may lose data on APFS-formatted disk images, he writes:

This week we reported to Apple a serious flaw in macOS that can lead to data loss when using an APFS-formatted disk image. Until Apple issues a macOS update that resolves this problem, we're dropping support for APFS-formatted disk images.

Is this the last data corruption bug in APFS? One can always hope, but that is highly unlikely.

See also:

Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

What Can an iMac Pro 18 Core Do? Coming Next Week to Find Out

See the MPG recommendations for iMac Pro, backup, peripherals. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

My in-depth comparative review of the Apple iMac Pro evaluates the 8-core and two models of the 10-core 2017 iMac Pro against the 2017 iMac 5K and the 2010 and 2013 Mac Pro.

Both B&H Photo and OWC / MacSales.com made those comparisons possible, so I thank you for clicking through links on this site and buying your Mac and other gear at those vendors.

B&H Photo has graciously agreed to send me a loaner of the Apple 2017 iMac Pro 18-core 128GB 2TB Vega 64. I expect it early next week (Feb 20 or so), and I am eager to see if an 18-core CPU with 128GB and Vega 64 can crank out something compelling for photography work.

2017 iMac Pro Pricing for top-end configuration

Buying an iMac Pro or iMac 5K

Go in with eyes wide open—marketing hype is neither workflow efficiency, nor value.

Before spending for an iMac Pro, review all the shootout tests with the iMac Pro, along the following articles:

Backup, peripherals, etc

Budget for peripherals as well.

Backup

Everyone should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).

The Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones (use the drives individually in most cases, not RAID).

Primary storage

Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (Thunderbolt 3 version).

Note: the Thunderbay 4 is a terrific solution (I have 5 of them) but a Thunderbolt 3 version should be out soon. Hard drives go into the Thunderbay 4 or an external enclosure.

Port expansion

To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.

See also OWC Offers Dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI Adapter for Thunderbolt 3 Macs or PCs.

Peripherals

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Apple iOS Source Code In the Wild

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Last week Apple iOS source code was leaked; it is now guaranteed to be out there and available to any/all nefarious types. Apple claims it is old code, but code bases don’t just morph into something completely different; changes are usually small and incremental, particularly in core areas of the system. So the downplaying by Apple is not very believable.

This makes Apple look pretty darn sloppy—an intern gets source code, but the FBI gets the finger? Actions speak louder than words, as does inaction. At any rate, my views on encryption are stout: no government backdoors. But if Apple is going to tell the FBI to take a hike, Apple ought to at least make sure interns don’t put source code into the wild.

Hyperbole aside, here is what MacWorld wrote on it in Apple confirms iOS source code leak, but downplays it as old and outdated:

Apple is used to fighting leaks about its upcoming products and OS releases, but it’s never had to deal with anything like this before. An anonymous user on the popular code-sharing server GitHub has posted a major component of the iOS source code for all to see, and some experts are fearing it could be “the biggest leak in history.”

As first reported by Motherboard, the leaked code has since been pulled off the site but not before countless people were surely able to get their hands on it. Apple was forced to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to get the code taken down, and as UW research scientist Karl Koscher mused on Twitter, the law essentially forces Apple to admit that the code was real or else face perjury charges. In the DMCA takedown letter, Apple's legal team writes that the content in question is a "reproduction of Apple's "iBoot" source code, which is responsible for ensuring trusted boot operation of Apple's iOS software. The 'iBoot' source code is proprietary and it includes Apple's copyright notice. It is not open-source."

TheVerge.com piles on with hyperbole in Key iPhone Source Code Gets Posted Online in 'Biggest Leak in History':

Someone just posted what experts say is the source code for a core component of the iPhone’s operating system on GitHub, which could pave the way for hackers and security researchers to find vulnerabilities in iOS and make iPhone jailbreaks easier to achieve. The GitHub code is labeled “iBoot,” which is the part of iOS that is responsible for ensuring a trusted boot of the operating system. In other words, it’s the program that loads iOS, the very first process that runs when you turn on your iPhone. It loads and verifies the kernel is properly signed by Apple and then executes it—it’s like the iPhone’s BIOS. The code says it’s for iOS 9, an older version of the operating system, but portions of it are likely to still be used in iOS 11.

I’m in favor of ALL source code that is security sensitive being made available to researchers, at the least. And Apple should as a routine matter pay/hire competent 3rd parties for exhaustive reviews of source code for security issues). Particularly for macOS, where Apple has proven itself at best extremely sloppy and arguably incompetent in recent months.

Making source code available for public review means good things: (1) shows no back doors for government are present, and (2) weaknesses are quickly found and can be fixed.

Macfixit: Top Apple Blogs to Read

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Top Apple Blogs Seal

Macfixit Australia has posted a list of Top Apple Blogs; MPG is included:

IPAD, IPHONE, MACBOOK PRO RETINA, MACOS, NEWS
Top Apple Blogs to Watch Out For

There are numerous blogs and websites out there dedicated to Apple. That only tells us how much influence Apple has on consumers and how much media coverage has been made on Apple milestones and products.

Many people out there, technology experts and avid Apple fans included, are curious, enthusiastic, and meticulous enough to study the intricacies of the Apple devices and even the apps and games you can use on them.

To help you figure out what can best assist you with your Apple needs, we’ve picked some of the most popular Apple-dedicated resources. From gaming, to education, and even device security, each web page has something special and useful to give readers and Apple users alike.

...

SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Reviewed: TekQ 512GB SSD

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

TekQ 512GB or 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD

Early 2018 is an exciting time for Thunderbolt 3 with many new products emerging, particularly SSDs which deliver speed and convenience never before possible, right on the desktop.

On the heels of my review of the LaCie Bolt, I’ve reviewed the TekQ Rapide, an Indiegogo SSD which should debut in a month or so.

The TekQ is very different from the LaCie Bolt which is very different from the OWC Envoy Pro EX which is very different from the Samsung T5. And then there is the high-end OWC Thunderblade 4—what a terrific range of choices.

Reviewed: TekQ Rapide SSD

The TekQ 480GB / 960GB SSD is being offered via Indiegogo:

TekQ 512GB or 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Reader Question: Time to Move to High Sierra?

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Stan B writes:

With macOS 10.13.3 out would you consider a blog entry in the next few days with advice about whether it is approaching getting safe to upgrade to High Sierra from Sierra?

MPG: I’d list my top 3 reasons to “upgrade” to High Sierra if I had more than zero reasons.

My advice is to stick with Sierra at least another 3 months. There have been too many security issues too recently with High Sierra, along with destabilization of some programs (DreamWeaver, which I use, now crashes several times daily in the File Open dialog). Actually, I recommend skipping High Sierra entirely—never. If its successor focuses on bug fixing then consider it. There is just no reason to go to High Sierra; it’s all negatives.

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Reviewed: 2TB LaCie Bolt 3 Thunderbolt 3

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Early 2018 is an exciting time for Thunderbolt 3 with many new products emerging, particularly SSDs which deliver speed and convenience never before possible, right on the desktop.

The about $1999 LaCie Bolt 3 is a 2TB Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C SSD which internally contains two M.2 PCIe SSDs striped together (can also be used in separately or in RAID-1 mirror mode). It maxes-out the Thunderbolt 3 bus for large reads, which is as good as it gets.

Reviewed: LaCie Bolt 2TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD

The LaCie Bolt 3 competes with the OWC Thunderblade, which I will be reviewing soon.

Build quality is top notch.

LaCie Bolt 2TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD, rear ports
LaCie Bolt 2TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD

CAUTION: Photoshop CC 2018 Latest Release Broken With Dual Displays (Unusable for Me)

The word from Adobe is that this issue is being worked on—with alacrity I hope.

...

Installing older version of Photoshop
(after uninstalling)

I use dual displays. I don’t think this issue exists with a single display.

I’ve been reporting (to Adobe) dual-screen issues for years now, but they have never been fixed in spite of detailed description of the problem. I accepted that with resignation.

But now whatever bad code was causing that problem has been let loose in the latest release of Photoshop CC. It appears to me that the code involved uses the 2nd screen dimensions and pixel scaling to zoom a window on the primary screen. This latest release breaks in all window modes.

  • Zooming, Fit to Window, Actual Pixels broken
  • Crop tool broken
  • My palette positions are problematic, with the tools palette off the top of the 2nd screen so I cannot move it back into position without changing Display => Arrangement. But that messes up the other palettes, so it is a complete redo.
  • Probably more, but I can’t work with this version so I am going to revert to the prior version.

Here is how to revert to a prior version of an Adobe application. It is relatively painless, but be sure not to delete prior settings when uninstalling.

Adobe: Install previous versions of apps

All window modes are affected: both full screen modes and even normal window mode with a title bar.

Dual displays arrangement: NEC PA302W 2560 X 1600 as primary display plus
(to the left), the iMac 5K 5120 X 2880 @ 2:1 scaling (“looks like” 2560 X 1440)

Below, the Image Size window is shown to demonstrate that going to Actual Pixels on a 2560 X 1600 display is seriously messed up. The window was brought up after Actual Pixels.

After View => 100% for 3064 X 2298 image on 2560 X 1600 display
January release of Photoshop CC 2018 is broken for zooming, Fit to Window, Actual Pixels, Cropping in all window modes
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Reader Comment: LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt 3 Storage Dock

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Christopher C writes:

I have an iMac Pro coming tomorrow (Apple business-to-business lease), and decided that it was silly to pair such a fast machine (8-cores, Vega 56, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD) with old storage, so I just took delivery of a LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 8TB (there’s a mouthful!) which I purchased through the link on your site from B&H.

I have never used a RAID before, and have my work fairly highly segregated, such that I keep video and “derivative” scan and print files on drives separate from my primary Lightroom images drive. Even with 132,000 images, the Lightroom drive only currently requires 2.3TB of space, so I have fair flexibility in setting up the 8TB LaCie.

I see that you highly recommend SoftRAID, and so have downloaded a trial of the “Lite” version to give it a spin in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 modes. I have three full backups of my photographs (onsite, offsite and BackBlaze), the first two fully verified with your wonderful IntegrityChecker, so at some level I don’t really need the safety of RAID 1. I am, however, starting to shoot more 4K video with the Sony a7Rii and Sony a6500, and some of it is recorded to Atomos Ninja Flame in ProRes 422, so that is dense footage, and would probably benefit from using part of the LaCie as temporary storage for “working” video projects in RAID 0 mode.

I very much appreciate all the recent testing you’ve done — especially on the iMac Pro — and just renewed my “Mirrorless” subscription. Without your testing, I would not have known that there was such a significant advantage to having a generous 2 TB internal SSD on the iMac Pro, and I pointed out your testing and site to my friend at Apple, who was very glad to learn about it. Thanks too for continuing to include equipment such as the LaCie 2big in your reviews, as that would have slipped past me otherwise.

I had initially thought to order one of the OWC Thunderbolt 3 docks, but realized after your mention that the LaCie 2Big would cover the basics (SD card slot, Displayport for 27” NEC PA272W), as well as update my image file storage.

MPG: see my in-depth review of the iMac Pro.

The LaCie 2Big is a very nice product—see my in-depth review. It can be used with the LaCie RAID Manager to create a hardware RAID, or a program like SoftRAID can be used to create a software RAID.

I will be reviewing the 4-bay OWC Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 3 as soon as it arrives.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock has other features in addition to its Mini DisplayPort that make it a good choice such as extra USB ports (including high power ones, which the LaCie 2Big lacks), and also a gigabit ethernet port.On that last point, I explained to a consulting client today that in his workgroup one machine like an iMac Pro could host two gigabit networks to in effect double the network bandwidth by putting some users on one network and others on another network.

2TB LaCie Bolt: Uses Two 'Blades' So Can Run as RAID-0 Stripe (default) or RAID-1 Mirror or Two Independent Volumes

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

The about $1999 LaCie Bolt 2TB SSD is a heavy serious feeling brick of an SSD—very solidly built. It requires AC power and provides two Thunderbolt 3 ports, so it can be daisy-chained to other devices.

Internally, the LaCie Bolt uses two 'blades' (M2. PCIe SSDs) which by default are a RAID-0 stripe. But it can also be configured as two independent 1TB volumes, or a RAID-1 mirror if desired.

2TB LaCie Bolt: both blades are visible and can be configured as a stripe, mirror, or independently

I was curious how fast a single blade would run.

Read speed averages 1600 MiB/sec = 1678 MB/sec
Write speed averages 577 MiB/sec = 605 MB/sec

The single-blade test is informative: peak read spees are heavily throtted by the limites of the Thunderbolt 3 bus (about 2800 MB/sec). If not for bus bandwidth throttling, the LaCie Bolt would be capable of 3.35 GB/sec.

Write speeds are slower at about 605 MB/sec, which means aboug 1210 MB/sec in a RAID-0 stripe.

Tests with the fill-volume command of https://diglloydtools.comdiglloydTools.

2TB LaCie Bolt: sustained speed across drive capacity for one of the two 'blades'

RAID- 0 Stripe sustained transfer speed

Tests with the fill-volume command of https://diglloydtools.comdiglloydTools.

Read speed averages 2670 MiB/sec = 2809 MB/sec, which is about the limit of the Thunderbolt 3 bus.

Write speed averages 1333 MiB/sec = 1398 MB/sec which trounces the SSD in my 2013 Mac Pro.

2TB LaCie Bolt: sustained speed across drive capacity, Thunderbolt 3 on iMac Pro 10-core 3.0 GHz

RAID-0 stripe speed vs transfer size

The Apple iMac Pro 2TB SSD is at last 2X faster on writes than the LaCie Bolt,

However, the LaCie bolt is faster than the iMac Pro for reads all the way through 1MiB reads! Reads tend to be much more important than writes in most all types of computer usage because data is read far more often than it is written (booting up, launching an app searching, all sorts of things like thgat are all about read speed).

Speed vs transfer size from 32K to 512 GiB, LaCie Bolt 2TB vs Apple iMac Pro 2TB
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

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