Tag Archive for ‘David Sparks’

Preferring Separates Over the iMac ➝

David Sparks:

I have received many emails and messages from listeners and Labs members wanting to get a large iMac and asking how long they will have to wait. Based on this reporting, my answer will be, “Don’t wait; it’s not coming.”

I used to be a large iMac guy. I owned several of them over the years. If they released one today, I would not be interested. I’ve found I prefer the new world of separate computers and displays. My current display (a Pro Display XDR) has now worked with three different Macs. While there’s a higher cost going in, I think the math works out over time. Moreover, you can avoid that higher cost if you buy a non-Apple display.

My second Mac ever was a 20-inch iMac purchased in 2008. I loved it. And since then I’ve convinced two family members to purchase iMacs as well. But today, I wouldn’t recommend them. They just don’t have the versatility long-term when compared to the alternatives.

My recommendation for almost anyone that wants a desktop Mac now is to get a Mac Mini and an external display. You could get a Mac Studio or a Mac Pro, but if you’re the kind of person that needs the additional performance or connectivity, you already know that the Mac Mini isn’t enough for you.

In terms of displays, the Studio Display is an excellent option, but I think it’s far too expensive for most users. And I’m the oddball that doesn’t think larger displays are all they’re cracked up to be. My first thought would be to look at Dell’s offerings for displays. They tend to have decent specs for the price and generally rank well in reviews. But I’d have to do a bit more research to know for sure if that’s still a safe bet.

The beauty of a setup like this, though, is that you can continue to use the display for many years longer than Apple would support the iMac. When it’s time to upgrade you can just buy another Mac Mini and drop it into your existing setup.

And on the other side you’ll have a Mac Mini that you can use as a home server, hand down to a family member, or resell. It can be connected to a TV, used as a headless computer, or just about anything you can think of. Mac Minis take up almost no room and can be used in environments where an iMac just wouldn’t work.

➝ Source: macsparky.com

553 Million Facebook Users Compromised ➝

David Sparks:

Hackers managed to grab names, account details, and telephone numbers from 553 million Facebook users, and now they’ve published all that data on the web.

How do we convince 2.7 billion people to stop using Facebook? It’s clear that the security and privacy angles don’t work. So what will?

➝ Source: macsparky.com

Laptop-Less ➝

David Sparks has made the decision to go laptop-less and I wish I could do the same. But unfortunately, due to recent career opportunities, I don’t think I’ll be moving away from portable Macs anytime soon.

My hope was to purchase a 27-inch iMac to serve as our home server and occasional workstation for Mac-specific tasks and then use my iPad as my primary machine. But I’m going to need a Mac to run certain applications in the near future that just aren’t available on iOS.

It looks like I’ll stick it out with my current, aging MacBook Air until Apple refreshes their lineup in the next month or so. At that point I’ll have to decide which machine with a terrible keyboard I’m willing to use.

Apple Is Staffing Up Siri ➝

David Sparks, on Apple’s recent hiring of John Giannandrea, who previously worked for Google to integrate artificial intelligence throughout their products:

It looks like Apple is going to try and make Siri better by increasing engineering while maintaining its position on user privacy. I hope this makes a difference because Google and Amazon certainly aren’t standing still.

Regardless, don’t expect results immediately. I think Siri improvements will be a gradual thing, over time. I think it’s similar to the way Apple has improved its cloud services. They’ve come a long way with iCloud over the past few years, but that would be easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention.

Now that Apple has a product built upon Siri as its primary interface, they have a much larger incentive to improve their voice assistant technology. And this hire is only the beginning.

Overcast Versus Apple Podcasts ➝

David Sparks discusses his experience using Apple Podcasts over the past few weeks and explains why he switched back to Overcast.

Apple Airport and Eero ➝

David Sparks:

Remember when the Apple Airport was the best home WiFi solution? I sure do. I had a series of terrible routers and finally spent the money on an Airport. The system tools were easy to use and the WiFi was substantially better in my house. But still not perfect.

Last year I started using the Eero Mesh networking routers (Disclosure: they’re an occasional MPU sponsor) and my home WiFi made one of those leaps in technology that makes all nerds so happy. Everything got much better and my family now has stopped pestering me about dodgy WiFi.

Since moving into our new house this past fall, we’ve had some occasional Wi-Fi hiccups. A few times each week, our Wi-Fi just gives up on us. During those moments, we’re still connected to the network, but we aren’t able to transfer any data. This hasn’t compelled me to tear apart our setup quite yet, but it’s getting close.

I’ve been toying with the idea of just purchasing an Eero system with the expectation that it will solve all of our problems. But I already have a Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, and an AirPort Express. Our house isn’t that large and I feel like I should be able to solve our Wi-Fi issues by repositioning and reconfiguring our existing setup. And of course, I don’t want to spend nearly $400 on a problem that I might be able to fix by investing a little time into it.

But I suppose, if Eero is as good as everyone says it is, it will be a worthy investment.

Update: I spent the afternoon repositioning my AirPort routers, resetting their firmware, and reconfiguring their settings. I moved our Time Capsule to the other side of the office and am now using our AirPort Extreme to extend our network on the other side of the house — instead of the AirPort Express that we were previously using.

It’s only been a day, but our network seems much more stable now. I’m able to get consistent speeds in our master bedroom, which is located on the opposite side of the house from our main base station. This was where most of our dropouts occurred and was especially irritating when we were trying to quickly toggle HomeKit devices or respond to messages before going to sleep for the night.

With any luck, the hour or two I spent on the project will have fixed our problem and I won’t have to spend a bunch of money on new hardware.

Panic, Transmit, and Alternative Business Models ➝

David Sparks, on Panic discontinuing Transmit for iOS:

I use Transmit both on my Mac and iOS devices. I don’t recall what I originally paid for Transmit, but I believe it was in the neighborhood of $50. Since then I’ve upgraded twice so let’s say I’ve now given Panic $100 for the privilege of having their app on my Mac.

When I bought Transmit for my iOS devices, I paid $10. That is it. I’ve been using the app for years and all the money Panic ever got out of me was $10, less than I’m going to spend today on lunch.

I’m not sure if Panic would have found success by transitioning to a subscription-based business model or if charging more for Transmit would have actually resulted in more revenue. But it’s clear to me that Panic needed a way to get more money from users that rely on and loved using the app. I guess I would have expected the team to, at least, try an alternative business model before putting Transmit on the shelf, but I guess they decided it was best to just cut their losses.

The Case for RSS

David Sparks, on his continued usage of RSS:

The reason I’ve stuck with RSS is the way in which I work. Twitter is the social network that I participate in most and yet sometimes days go by where I don’t load the application. I like to work in focused bursts. If I’m deep into writing a book or a legal client project. I basically ignore everything else. I close my mail application, tell my phone service to take my calls, and I definitely don’t open Twitter. When I finish the job, I can then go back to the Internet. I’ll check in on Twitter, but I won’t be able to get my news from it. That only works if you go into Twitter much more frequently than I do. That’s why RSS is such a great solution for me. If a few days go by, I can open RSS and go through my carefully curated list of websites and get caught back up with the world.

I’ve been a big believer in RSS since the Google Reader days. It’s the best system I’ve found for keeping track of my favorite websites. I started out using Google Reader, switched to Shaun Inman’s Fever when Google killed their service, and eventually moved to Feedbin earlier this year.

I’ve used a handful of iOS apps for syncing with my backend RSS services — most notably Sunstroke and Reeder. Sunstroke is my favorite RSS app of all time, but was discontinued by its developer several years ago. I held on as long as I could, but eventually an iOS update caused the app to crash every time I launched it. I use Reeder now, which is great. It’s not as good as Sunstroke, but it’s closer than anything else available.

Getting back to David’s piece, he implies in the opening paragraph that the number of RSS users has been on the decline:

For several years now, the trend among geeks has been to abandon the RSS format.

I’m not sure if that’s true, but it certainly feels that way. Granted, podcasting is built upon RSS feeds and seems to be in a boom period at the moment. But the idea of subscribing to weblogs and news sites with your RSS reader seems like something that only a small number of us hardcore tech nerds are still doing. And that’s a shame because it’s such a simple and efficient way to keep up with your favorite sites.

I think Nick Heer raises a good point about the topic:

Truly, though, this isn’t a case for RSS so much as it is a case for a simple, easy-to-use way to receive updates from the websites you trust and like most. You could theoretically replace “RSS” with “JSON Feed” or “Twitter lists” — whatever works best for you. For news junkies like me, though, there will always be a case for dedicated feeds, without the interruption of non-news tweets or Facebook posts. RSS just happens to be one of the simplest implementations of that.

My favorite thing about RSS feeds is that it cuts out all the cruft. This gives David the ability to catch up quickly when he’s working on other projects for a few days and Nick the ability to read his feeds without all the distractions that come from reading his Twitter timeline or Facebook feed. If something else works for you, that’s fantastic, but I would love to see more people give RSS another chance.

Eric Schwarz recently gave it another go and seems very happy with it:

After re-evaluating my relationship with Twitter, I decided to dust off my Fever° install, fire up Reeder, and get my feeds updated. So far, I still get that can’t-miss aspect of things I enjoy, but I know that my traffic and viewing habits are only really passing through a few places—the Reeder app (or whatever RSS app I may try), my Fever° installation, and the sites producing the content. It’s a great feeling.

There’s a diverse set of clients and syncing services available, which can certainly be daunting to newcomers. But once you start subscribing to feeds and get in the habit of scanning headlines for interesting stories a few times a week, you’ll start to realize how powerful the system really is.

If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend Feedbin. It’s reasonably priced and very well designed. When I surveyed the options earlier this year, Feedbin looked like the best offering on the market. As for client apps, Reeder is superb. It’s available for iOS and Mac, works with a ton of RSS services, and offers plenty of customization options. As a bonus recommendation, give Feed Hawk a try. It’s an iOS app that lets you quickly subscribe to RSS feeds through the share sheet.