I want a touch screen Mac!

I’ve been following this argument online for a while and I think it’s time that Apple come to the realization that having a touch screen computer that runs OSX would be awesome!  I’ve tried using an iPad Pro at a store and I have an iPad Air 2 as a personal device but I want something closer to the Surface Pro that has ports and other shit so that I can connect my devices and load the content onto the computer.  I can use my regular MacBook for that but I kind of want that 2 in 1 device now as a personal device.

I’m personally fine if they want to make everything USB-C or something as a connector for power but I just want to be able to navigate OSX with my finger instead of using a touch pad.  I’ve come into some instances where I want to touch something on the screen since it’s so much like my iPad but I can’t make anything happen unless I use the mouse.  Access to the file system is pretty important these days for me now that I have a NAS.  I want to put stuff in the NAS but I might need it on my computer first and I wan to be able to organize it the way I want to.  The cloud isn’t good for everything and the there are some things I just don’t want floating around in cyberspace.

While the Mac App Store is nice, a convergence of the two app stores and being able to use touch, type, and mouse would be awesome.  Imagine taking something like a hybrid device and hooking it up to a 4K display!  And actually having it be useful to you as well from a computing stand point from a device that more in line with a tablet or as a real computer when you need it.  I think it’s only a matter of time before Apple has to do this, there are too many Windows variants out there and the fact that my work computer lets me touch the screen is pretty freaking awesome.  Now if I could only use it to write with a pen or something, that would be the ultimate!

I think the closest that I’ve seen to a good touch screen computer is the Microsoft Surfacebook.  I tried one out at my local Best Buy and it was a pretty decent machine.  I like that I can draw on it, remove the screen, but still have a mouse and keyboard when I want one.  I didn’t spend too much time with it but I configured one online and good lord it was expensive.  For that price I’ll just keep my 2011 MacBook Pro and my iPad Air 2 and switch between the devices.  But who knows, maybe them touch screen Mac is in the pipeline and we just haven’t been introduced to it yet.  I guess I’ll have to wait till WWDC to see what’s coming.

I despise the “iCloud Full” error

I’ll freely admit that I’m a pretty heavy user of all things iOS with all the iPads, my iPhone and my legacy iPhones still being used in my home.  My iPhone 6 is awesome and I use it to constantly take pictures and video of things around me when I travel and when I’m at home but the kicker is that it eats up a lot of data and I’ve reached the max capacity for my free 5GB account.  I’ve done everything that I can to reduce the amount of storage that any other app I have uses on iCloud but there is nothing that I can do to reduce the amount of space I use on iCloud without removing pictures.

I’m a digital pack rat and I save everything that I take a picture of.  I’ve started using Google Photos which affords me unlimited storage for my pictures online at high resolution but probably not at the max resolution like iCloud.  That’s actually perfectly fine with me since I as able to upload and save all my photos that I kept on my computer and on my other devices.  I wouldn’t mind using up all of my iCloud storage so much if I didn’t get a pop up message everytime I started my MacBook Pro that my iCloud storage was full and I needed to make room.  This is a very annoying thing that occurs and there’s no way to just dismiss the message permanently.  It takes me to my settings and asks for adjustments and I just end up shutting it off.  That’s just small I know but still quite annoying.

I had this impression that I would be able to store all my photos and videos in iCloud without burning through my iCloud storage but after looking at the Apple website it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’m technically fine if I’m out of storage and it auto deletes my oldest stuff since I have a back up but at least let me permanently get rid of the pop up message so it doesn’t interrupt my workflow when I want to just use my laptop.

Maybe this is something that they are going to fix I’m iOS 9, I don’t know since it isn’t out yet and I’m currently using the public beta on my iPad alone so all the features aren’t rolled out es that are on the cloud.  I suppose I’ll have to wait until everything is officially released in October.  In the mean time maybe El Capitan for Mac gets rid of this annoyance.

Winter Cleaning for the MacBook Pro

Normally people use Spring as the season to clean things up since its the time that people can leave their houses after Winter. Since I’m cleaning up my MacBook Pro and its sunny in Florida, I figure why not use my daughters nap times to do some cleaning up. I know where most of the clutter is on my MacBook. It consists of videos, pictures, and music. I have accumulated a lot of crap over the years and I know that with all my backups and switching from my windows desktop to my MacBook a lot of my clutter came with me and I just haven’t had the time or inclination to clean it up. The event that is prompting me to do some cleanup is that I have less than 150GB left on my hard drive. I prefer to have an ample cushion of free space so I’m looking for ways to eliminate some waste.

Part 1: Eliminate Movies from iTunes

iTunes 11

I have a lot of movies and TV show episodes on iTunes to say the least. A lot of them won’t make it to my iPhone or iPad these days because its available on Netflix except for a few choice movies that I simply must have because I watch them all the time at home or on the road. By far this is the easiest place to eliminate stuff because I was a little more careful in selecting videos to transfer to my Mac when I was moving files. I think I eliminated enough stuff to eventually save me 10 gigs. Granted that’s maybe 10 full blown movies but those 10 gigs comprised of a lot of TV episodes for shows I don’t watch often so that wasn’t too bad.

Part 2: Eliminate Music from iTunes

Ahh this is where things start to get really challenging. My music collection is quite large (well at least I think so) and I know there are a lot of duplicate songs all over the place and there songs encoded in different formats. This exercise was more tedious since there was no good way to actually do this task. I generally like to keep only MP3 files in my collection unless its the only copy of the song that I have. iTunes also doesn’t have a column that shows the path of the song on your hard drive. You have to use Get Info and then look at where the song resides. In a lot of cases I had 2-3 copies of entire albums that just took up a ton of space. I know I didn’t get everything but after about an hour I cleaned out another 5 gigs of crap from my drive. Not bad really considering your average song is only 5MB.

Part 3: Eliminate Duplicate Pictures

Duplicate Annihilator

This is the toughest one of all.  All my pictures are naturally saved in iPhoto.  A lot of video that I take with my iPhone is also saved here.  I also sync my wife’s iPhone to my account on the MacBook as well since she’s always on my account anyway (I have all the useful programs on my profile).  I also imported every picture I had on my desktop into iPhoto with reckless abandon.  A lot of pictures look alike when you’re just eye balling it and I don’t want to accidentally delete something that might be valuable.  To assist with this endeavor, I had to do some research on the internet to find a way to get rid of my duplicates.  Enter Duplicate Annihilator.  This was mentioned on some of the Apple news sites I track as well as on eHow.com.  What the program does is that it uses an algorithm to determine if there are duplicate pictures in your iPhoto library and tags a comment in them (I chose “duplicate”, imaginative isn’t it?) to find out which ones were were duplicates so that I can promptly delete them.  I suspect there will be tons of them in the library.  I have lots of overlap with my folders from my desktop and the biggest offender will probably be the pictures of my cats since I took literally thousands of pics of them before I had to give them up.  My wife and I also send pictures to each other that we save to our phones and later sync with the MacBook so there will be lots of duplicates that way as well that will require elimination.  I’m looking at the program and right now it will take about 10 hours to sift through approximately 34210 pictures and videos that I’ve taken since I first got a digital camera in 2002 (maybe it was sooner than that?  I don’t know…. I’m getting old and can’t remember stuff like I used to)

Right now it has only scanned approximately 300 photos but its already found 46 duplicates which isn’t bad. This software wasn’t free and I love free software but it was less than $10 so I think it is well worth the investment if it finds a ton of crap that I can get rid of and clean up my hard drive in the process.

The last step is a step I technically do every few months which is to run CCleaner which I’ve been using for quite a while since I was on Windows XP.  CCleaner just crunches through your drive and looks for old log files and cache’s to eliminate.  This normally nets me a few hundred megs unless I don’t clean out my trash can in which it then nets me a few gigs.  It’s going to be a long time before this thing is finally cleaned up.  I’ll probably have to continue this tomorrow since it’ll be another 9 hours before its done looking for duplicates.  After that I have to determine what duplicates need to be removed from my computer which in itself will take a lot of manual effort.  It sounds like my daughter is awake so thats the end of this blog post!

One month with the Mac

I’m writing this blog post from my MacBook Pro that I received from my father as my 2011 gift.  I have been slowly trying to users e this more than my desktop PC in the past few weeks but its been a slow transition since I have to ration my data usage more on a laptop.  Don’t get me wrong, my MacBook Pro has 750 gigs of space which is plenty but this thing needs to last 5 years at the very least.

I’ve transferred my music and photo collection to the Mac to test out iPhoto and iTunes. I’ll have to admit that using iPhoto is pretty simplistic and I like how I can arrange things in events.  I have a lot of pictures that I need to start managing and I’m even thinking of splitting my iPhoto library into a few libraries since there are some really old pics that I don’t care about these days but that I don’t want to lose.  I have backups everywhere but I really wanted to see what I could do in iPhoto with everything loaded in.

iTunes works the same pretty much the same way on my Mac like my Windows Desktop so I won’t dwell on that. What does work better is Frostwire and Handbrake.  I’m amazed at how much better these products are comparatively to my desktop.  I don’t use either that often though, I’m mostly concerned with surfing the web.  Which brings me to the native full screen apps and all the gestures that can be used. I’m big into using Safari instead of Firefox since I’ve had both of them installed.  I like being able to use my three finger gestures to move away from Safari and go back to it.  I’m also big on using some of the other apps like iTunes in full screen and iPhoto full screen.  It makes it more like my iPad than anything else which I like to use almost daily.  I’ve also been surprised that my wife has been using the Mac successfully over the past few weeks.  She’s been more involved in taking care of the baby but she hasn’t had a cause to close the lid and go to the office to fire up the desktop which I take is a good sign.

I’ll have to continue experimenting with the Mac but so far I have downloaded things like Spotify which I have found to be a really cool program to listen to music before I buy it.  It’s too bad that I can’t use the mobile app without paying for it though.   Just to be sure of compatibility with my already created docs, I bought a copy of Office for $25 using a program at work.  I’m going to try and defer to iWorks as much as possible though since its easier to manage over all but I will probably miss some of the familiarity of Office so in a pinch I’ll use that instead.  What I need now is a NAS since my household just went to multiple computer systems again.  I don’t count my work laptop as part of my ecosystem these days since I’m trying my best to keep work on my work laptop, and keep my personal stuff on my desktop and Mac.  I guess to a certain extent also my iPad and iPhone.

To punctuate my transition to my Mac, I haven’t turned on my desktop since I’ve been home except to sync my phone and I’ve moved from working in the office to the dining room for this week and I’m using my Mac and my work laptop at the same time.  The only thing I really miss is the ability to use my Bose sound system and utilizing my 23″ screen.  Here’s to continuing on with my Macbook Pro for the next few years!

Hell froze over, I bought a Mac

For the longest time I’ve hated Mac’s of every kind and color. I didn’t hate my Apple IIC though, that was my very first computer and I think I still have a stash of 5.25″ disks at my moms house with a word processing program and a number of games. I’ve been a MS Windows guy for a long time. I’ve used Windows since 3.0 all the way up to Windows 7 (I never used NT though). I recall my last foray into Macs when OS 9 and colorful iMacs were all the rage. I remembered hating the OS beyond measure compared to Windows XP, I couldn’t find any of my files, no one made programs for Mac’s that I wanted to us, and you couldn’t build one up from spare parts (I was frugal back then and upgraded hand me down computers or built them).

Time to fast forward a bit to 2011. By this time I have my home desktop with a 23″ screen, quad core processor, 3GB of RAM, running Windows 7 Ultimate and Office 2010. In addition to my PC (which is pushing 5 years old now), I have iOS devices aplenty. The PC does everything I need it to do but it’s not portable and I don’t want to use my work PC for personal stuff if I can help it. Enter the MacBook Pro with OSX Lion. My father was interested in getting a Mac and I told him I would help him if he got me one too. He decided that wasn’t a bad deal really and made it my 2011 present. I got one with 8GB of RAM, 750 GB of hard drive space and I added in iWorks so I could edit documents. I’ve had the computer for 4 days and I’m still configuring it but I have been able to find window program equivalents for the Mac for my every day usage. Now why the MacBook Pro instead of one of the new Airs? I’m still enough of an old school techie that I like having raw power at my command when I need it which the Pro offers since the Air only has 4GB and I got 8. Another reason was hard drive space. Pictures, music, and videos take up a ton of room and 250GB on board won’t cut the mustard for a portable machine for me. I know I could use an external drive but why go through all that hassle? I could do the NAS option but that involves buying more crap and I can transfer docs and other stuff through Dropbox if needed. I also have the 15 inch screen, I’ve been spoiled with my 23″ desktop screen but didn’t want to go with a 17″ since that would add a lot more weight than I was willing to carry.

I’ll admit that this OS is way better than OS 9 back in 1999/2000. Is at least usable for what I want it to do and with my focus being on photos and music for this computer rather than tinkering like what I use my desktop for, getting a Mac seemed ideal. What really sold me was Lion and the improvements that were made to the OS. The biggies for me was full screen mode, a more iOS like experience, the App store believe it or not, iLife and iWorks. I’ve only dabbled with is iLife and iWorks but so far I like how I can send pictures of my new daughter with nice backgrounds and stuff without having to work so hard. The full screen mode and gestures associated with app switching is pretty nifty along with the pinch to zoom for Safari.

I still had to install Firefox because I’m just used to that browser and the various plugins that I have with it. I’m hoping that they can make that full screen and that pinch to zoom can be used in any application. I won’t be replacing my desktop with this computer. My iDevices overall will still sync to my desktop at home. My desktop has a Bose sound system which is totally awesome and I’m not giving that up any time soon for a laptop. What I am hoping is that the computer will be useful to my wife over the next few months or years. I bought it so we can make some great photo stuff and movies as our family grows so that we have some keep sakes and be able to share some stuff with friends and family. The addition of FaceTime will be big for me too so I can see my family while I’m on the road working. I still plan on getting an iPhone 5 for the two of us but this will be another way for us to communicate if she’s on the computer.

I have to say this for Apple, they have certainly turned things around in the past 10 years. I never thought I would own a Mac but here I am with my first Apple computer in almost 20 years. I hope this thing lasts at least 5 years since thats my current refresh cycle for computers. I’ll continue to get gadgets like the iPad on a more frequent basis as my cash flow allows but for now, the MacBook Pro should do nicely.

Do I still need a computer?

I’ve been asking myself if I still need a computer after getting an iPad over a year ago. I spend quite a bit of time doing things on my iPad and now my iPad 2, but I don’t think that my computer is going away anytime soon because the are so many other things that I can still do on the computer that I can’t do on my iPad. I’m hoping that will change over time, it would be great to only have to use something like my iPad for work instead of lugging around my laptop everywhere.

Here are my major tasks that I use a computer for that I cant use my iPad for currently.

1. File management is major for me. I have tons of files everywhere on my desktop. I keep them all organized and everything on my desktop but I need a lot of storage to ensure all of my data is safe. I store common things like movies, pictures, and music but then I have more sensitive stuff like financial data and a backup for all of my emails on Outlook. I also need the ability to find files and just select the files and have an app open rather than opening an app then trying to use the file.

2. Office Applications are definitely needed for me. I have the ability to create basic things like word, excel, and PowerPoint but I need the more advanced features like creating pivot tables or creating Visio diagrams. Actually Visio would be one of the most important apps that I utilize with my job. If I had that, it would go a long way in moving from a laptop to my tablet

3. Storage is very important. Right now I’m limited to the amount of storage that the tablet has. There are some new storage devices that can work over wifi which is helpful so I can grab files that don’t reside on the iPad but this is new technology so I’m not too sure about using it. Cloud Computing is getting a lot of attention lately but it’s not as secure as I would like and I want offline access to my stuff like I do now. I also know that I’m going to need a lot more data space in the future once my baby is born to hold all the pictures and videos that I’m going to take.

I guess I’ve answered my question, I will definitely need a computer for the foreseeable future unless something really cool comes out that will untether me from the desktop. Now the question is, do you go Mac or PC? I’m personally a PC guy but that’s because that’s what I grew up on and what I use for work. I’m using a lot of iOS devices though so I’m starting to give Macs another look although my problem with Mac is still the unavailability of some of the software that I use on a PC. I like the integration between the Apple products but it might be a long time before I can justify the purchase of major technology for the home beyond getting new iPhones. For now I’m going to struggle on with my Windows 7 desktop and enjoy my 23″ monitor with Bose sound. I give it another 10 years before I might be able to remove the desktop from my home but by that time I might just have a home server to take it’s place.