Tim Cook on Tim Cook

Tim Cook:

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

Well said.

Jony Ive’s vocabulary

I love the way Jony Ive talks. It’s elegant and clear. In random order these are the most common words I’ve heard him use:

Compulsion, Ultimately, Personal , Singular, Boundary, Chamfer, Unapologetically, Unparalleled, Combined, Individuality, Fundamentally, Remarkably, Critically, Intimately, Polished, Great Intention, Functional, Incredible, Hard, Religiously, Excited, Process, Absurdly, Creativity, Creative, Ideas, Thought, Exclusive, Abstract, Object, Profound, Focus, Struggling, Special, Thrilled, Seduce, Great, Compelling, Thickness, Weight, Intent, Reasons, Occasions, Inevitability, Give Up, Resolute, Prototypes, Obvious, Multitouch, Compromise, Aluminium, Absolutely, Assumed, Relief, Extraordinarily, Harmonious, Beauty, Appearance, Care, Responsibility, Integrity, Subtle, Profound, Rare, Intently, Excitement, Clearly, Constantly, Defer, Shabby, Breakthrough, Significant, Unique, Experience, Precision, Seamlessly, Way Beyond, Simpler, Essential, Colorful, Harmoniously, Refined, Powerful, Intuitive, Useful, Significant, Fanatical, Integrity, Intentional, Ultimately, Thinner, Lighter, Defining, Structural, Robust.

Do you have others to add to the list?

iOS 8.1 and iCloud problems

512Pixels:

In short, apps using iCloud data will freeze or just crash at launch for many users. I’m seeing it all over the place in my iPhone 6, and like Fraser Speirs, can’t use apps like Keynote. Infuriating and pathetic.

I can reproduce this behaviour with Pages on my iPhone 6. The trend with Apple bugs is worrying. These are not glitches, these are usability issues that makes me wonder if Apple’s executives eat their own dog food when it comes to iCloud. 

In fact, I find it hard to believe that these bugs did not come up during QA.

Speed Test: iCloud Drive vs. Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. Box.com vs. SpiderOak vs. Syncplicity

You knew it was coming. After the iDisk vs. Dropbox, Dropbox vs Google Drive, and Dropbox vs Google Drive vs Box vs SkyDrive vs Amazon Cloud Drive posts, this time the speed test is between:

Other services that I have taken into consideration but not used:

Amazon Drive

You may have noticed that I haven’t included Amazon Drive in this speed test. To my surprise I discovered that Amazon is not distributing any desktop software anymore:

The Cloud Drive desktop application is no longer available for download from the Amazon.com website. If you currently have the application installed on your computer, however, it will continue to upload files, photos, and videos to your Cloud Drive account.

Wuala

I meant to test Wuala too. However, when I installed the application, I was prompted to install the Java Runtime Environment as well. In 2014, the need to install further software in order to use an application is annoying, so I decided not to test this sync service and deleted the application straight away.

Copy.com

When registering for a free trial, I was unable to confirm the email address with the service. I tried doing it for two days in a row, and on the third I simply deleted the application from my Mac. Too bad.

Warning

I acknowledge that this testing methodology is far from being scientific.

My setup and test methods might have affected the results. Other people might even get different values, maybe opposite from what I am sharing in this post.

The results posted on this blog are for personal use only and do not constitute a definitive proof on what service is faster.

More tests, using different scenarios, different networks, and a systematic way to time events are needed to calculate average times, variance values and to draw some more informative conclusions.

In any case I hope you’ll find this post useful, happy reading.

Methodology

I have simply installed the Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, SpiderOak and Syncplicity desktop applications on my Retina MacBook Pro 15″ and started uploading/deleting files.

I’ve used two different files for my tests.

AAC file

The song was The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) by U2. Its size is 9.3MB. With this file I carried out two sets of tests:

  1. An upload operation through the Finder by a simple copy/paste command. I did this three times for each service, on different days and at different times of the day to get more real world data.
  2. A delete operation of the file from the services’ web interface. By executing this test, I wanted to measure how responsive the cloud service was to events triggered in the backend.

Dropbox and SpiderOak seem to be employing similar techniques to speed up multiple uploads of the same file. That is, the system checks the file’s hash and if it’s already present on the server then it simply retrieves that file from the backend instead of uploading it again. The result is that successive uploads of the same file are faster.

It also means that tests like mine fail because the second upload of the same file is always faster than the first one. Before each upload — in an effort to deceive the backend server — I edited the ID3 tags of the music file. That made the server think it was uploading a new file altogether, helping with the results of my test.

Directory with a complex folder/sub-folder structure

For this test I chose the CloudKit folder retrieved from Users –> [user] –> Library –> Caches. In my case this folder was 56.7MB in size.

The reason for using such a folder is because I wanted to assess the behaviour of all these cloud services when you try to sync a file with a deep folder/sub-folder structure.

In fact, in one of my previous tests Google Drive failed miserably when trying to sync these type of files.

Results

You invariably introduce errors when executing tests in this primitive way. For this reason I chose not to consider fractions of a second in my measurements. All data you see is rounded to the nearest second.

To minimize the effect of other applications accessing the Internet, before running my tests I also quit all browsers, Mail.app, RSS reader, Spotify, and stopped Time Machine.

Configuration

The configuration I used to run my tests is:

– MacBook Pro Retina 15″ late–2013, i7 2.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB HDD

– OS X 10.10.0

– Broadband connection with 120 Mbit/s down, 10 Mbit/s up

AAC file upload speed

In this test the surprise was iCloud Drive and Syncplicity. Both services were on average the fastest to upload the 9.3MB aac file.

OneDrive’s results are bad because of the time it takes the applications to initiate the sync. In my tests it looks like the polling time for OneDrive is greater than 10 sec, which negatively impacts the overall results.

SpiderOak’s results are the worst of the bunch due to the client side encryption that this sync service carries out before uploading the file. In this case you cannot really blame SpiderOak. It all comes down to compromises: Security vs. speed.

Folder upload speed

I carried out this test only once for each service. Statistics theory says that you cannot draw any conclusion with one test only.

The reason for executing a test with a complex folder/sub-folder structure was to confirm some doubts I had after running a test a couple of years ago.

More specifically I believed that not all sync services work well with complex directory structures. The results above confirm my suspicion.

The fact that iCloud Drive is the fastest is probably a consequence of Apple optimizing this type of data transfer. All iCloud Drive data is stored as a very complex directory structure, so Apple was forced to optimize its service for it.

Google Drive on the other hand, shows the same problems I saw some time ago. It is unable to quickly upload folders with non-doc type of files and arranged in a complex way. It is obvious that Google doesn’t have any interest in optimizing this aspect of the data transfer, preferring to put its efforts on the upload of more common doc type files.

Delete speed

The delete speed test aimed at measuring how fast the desktop application responded to events started on the server. Again, iCloud Drive was among the fastest services together with Dropbox and Box.com. OneDrive and Google Drive were the two slowest services in this test.

The more I experimented with OneDrive and Google Drive and the more I thought that the desktop application for these two services is an afterthought. Something these companies had to develop but without putting too much love in it.

Conclusions

Despite the bad reputation that Apple’s cloud services have, iCloud Drive performed very well. It shows that it is tightly integrated with OS X as well.

Dropbox is the sync solution to choose if you don’t want to depend on Apple and if you need to work across platforms. Two of the biggest names in cloud computing Microsoft and Google also show that they decided to invest more on the server side of their solutions rather than on the OS X desktop application. I find OneDrive and Google Drive poor solutions even for basic use and I am not recommending them.

If security is your concern you should go with SpiderOak. The desktop application is not bad, but don’t expect the level of refinement that you can get with Dropbox. The speed is good too considering that every single file you upload is also encrypted before leaving your computer.

The pleasant surprise is Syncplicity. They give you a generous 10GB free plan and the service is backed by one of the big names in enterprise computing.

All in all the conclusion is simple. Stick with iCloud Drive if your life is in the Apple ecosystem. If you need more flexibility, need to share files, have access to past versions of your documents and not be tight with Apple, then go with Dropbox.

Dr. Drang on the history of computers

Yesterday I discovered a new podcast called TechnicalDifficulties. In the latest episode, the guest is Dr. Drang, engineer, blogger and Mac enthusiast. 

If you are over 50 and feeling nostalgic, you should listen to this episode. After listening to it, I got carried away with old memories and started searching the Internet for old development tools, applications that I used to use etc. 

In my search, I’ve discovered that Pascal is well and alive. There’s even an open-source project called Free Pascal, from where you can download free compilers for any platform you can think of, OS X included. 

Use iOS Spotlight to search your emails

Useful Apple KB on how to use Spotlight on iOS. For example:

Flagged june 2013
Searches for all flagged messages from june 2013, as well as for messages containing these words

Unread last week from:@icloud.com
Searches all unread messages from last week where the sender’s email ends with @icloud.com, as well as messages containing these words

Vip read yesterday
Searches all read messages from contacts marked as VIPs, as well as messages containing these words

to:appleseed monday
Searches all messages sent on Monday to a contact named “Appleseed”, or an email address starting with appleseed, as well as messages containing these words

The difference between the screen of the iMac 5K and the original Macintosh

You cannot describe the difference between the resolution of the new iMac 5K (5,120 x 2,880 pixels) and the original Macintosh released in 1994 (512 x 342  pixels). 

You’ve got to see it for yourself. 

How to move videos from Mac to iCloud Photo Library (Beta)

With the beta release of iCloud Photo Library in iOS 8.1, all your photos and videos are stored in iCloud. Only low-res versions are stored on your iOS devices. This helps you save precious space on your iPhone.

Provided you have an Internet connection, iCloud Photo Library (Beta) lets you access the entire picture and video collection you have collected through the years.

Pictures and videos shot with your iPhone/iPad are automatically uploaded to iCloud Photo Library, but how about the media currently stored on your Mac? It would be nice to be able to access that stuff while away from your computer.

Until Photos for Mac is released at the beginning of 2015, we will have to resort to some workaround to move videos from OS X to iCloud Photo Library (Beta). In this post I’ll give you two solutions.

AirDrop

The easiest way to transfer existing home videos from your Mac to your iOS device is through AirDrop. My experience shows that this method works reliably for files with less than 1GB in size. This is what you need to do:

  1. Open the Finder folder where your home videos are stored
  2. Select two-three files at a time (or in any case any number whose combined size is less than 1GB)
  3. Make sure that AirDrop is enabled on your iPhone
  4. Click on Share –> AirDrop at the top of the window

title

Dropbox

The old good Dropbox is useful when you need to move to iCloud big video files. The process is straightforward:

  1. While on your Mac, copy the video file to Dropbox
  2. Access it from your iOS device
  3. Save it to your iPhone

title

Conclusions

After moving my home videos to iCloud, I tested the playback speed from my iPhone. I was surprised with the lack of latency and how well the system is integrated with iOS.

Remember that these techniques work only if you have iCloud Photo Library (Beta) enabled.

On the iPad Air 2

2014 10 19 iPad thickness and weight

The table above summarizes the only thing that matters when talking about the iPad Air 2. Its thickness is only 45% of the original iPad and its weight 64%.

These numbers show that the new iPad Air 2 is a marvel of technology. When people ask me what is new in the latest model of an Apple device, I quite often talk about the weight and thickness of it.

Of course, new models are invariably faster and with many funky technologies, but it would be easier to add them on a device of the same size as the previous generation.

Adding new technologies, while making the device lighter and thinner is way harder. The physical aspect of a device always plays an important role when using it, for the good and bad.

2014 10 19 iPad thickness

2014 10 19 iPad weight

How to log into OS X Yosemite with your iCloud password

2014 10 19 account iCloud password

OS X Yosemite lets you use your iCloud password to log in and unlock your account. This is a nice feature if you don’t want to have two separate passwords.

To change the authentication method to unlock your Mac with your Apple ID password, follow these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Users &  Groups
  3. Highlight your user 
  4. Click on change password