Category Archives: Hardware

iPod Touch

Why doesn’t Apple improve on the iPod Touch every couple years? Why not take older chip sets — maybe a model from last years iPhone — and leave the form factor alone? Just keep stuffing updated tech into the existing design.

There are folks that can’t afford to buy their kids an iPhone but the iPod Touch may fit nicely into their budget.

Yep, it's a rooster.As a developer this is also a nice machine for testing. The only issue I see is it hasn’t been revved in a long time. It’s still using an A8 processor but it is still slightly ahead of the iPhone 5s which uses an A7. that’s important because the iPhone 5s is the lowest end iPhone that supports iOS 12. That means we could get another couple years use out of the current generation iPod Touch.

The iPod Touch with 128GB of storage sells for $299US.

Fingers crossed Apple updates it soon.

MacBook Monster

I listen to a podcast called Accidental Tech Podcast. If you’re a Mac or iOS Developer you’ve probably heard of it or you’ve heard of one or more of its hosts. One of their ongoing topics of conversation is Apple’s apparent lack of focus on the Pro market. It’s true Apple has become very focused on more consumer oriented products, like the iPhone. I mean, who wouldn’t? When you look at the numbers it makes total sense.

When Apple announces results sites like Six Colors do a great job breaking down all the numbers and, in Six Colors case, they make really awesome charts! Just look at this one from January of 2015.

Awesome Six Colors Revenue Chart
Awesome Six Colors Revenue Chart

Who can blame Apple for spending most of their time on the iPhone? Look at those numbers. They’re stunning. It’s not to say the Mac or iPad are losers, they’re not. Most companies would give anything to have one product doing so well, Apple has at least four; iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Watch. Most likely someone will write in to let me know I’ve missed one, or I’m wrong about something, but you get the point. Apple is killing it, on multiple fronts.

What about Pros?

Much of the consternation from the ATP guys revolves around the Mac Pro. Who can blame them? Apple hasn’t shipped a new model since 2013. The hardware is now embarrassingly outdated and is due for a much needed refresh.

As a developer I can understand their need for Phenominal Cosmic Power! But they’re stuck with an Ity Bity Living Space. Not fun.

I’d love to see Apple pull together a great new piece of hardware that includes all the latest, greatest, internals and really appease the Professional Apple Workstation crowd. This would include filmmakers, photographers, designers of all kinds, the CAD folks, and, of course, Software Engineers of all kinds. On my list of nice to haves would be a box large enough to hold multiple multiple core processors (say 256 cores, why not? Windows can do it), tons of RAM, and a killer external bus system to allow folks to chain together external GPU’s. That would be a really great computer, don’t you think? Maybe the base configuration is the most popular, but it sure would be nice to be able to take a Mac and macOS to an extreme level.

Having said all of that, as a Professional Developer I’d prefer a really great Portable Workstation.  What is that? Well, it’s a desktop replacement in a laptop form. Apple is obsessed with making everything thinner and lighter. I do appreciate that, I really do. My first MacBook Pro was a lovely 17-inch beauty, but it was big. Not only heavy, but it was long enough that it was difficult to find a decent backpack to carry it in. Let’s just look at the weight alone, it was 6.6 pounds.

I remember carrying that thing around my first WWDC in 2011. Early morning to late afternoon. Yes, I got tired of carrying it, but it wasn’t a hardship. I would happily trade a bit of weight for a super powerful MacBook Pro.

I read an article recently on the new Dell Precision 5520 on Windows Central. This thing is a beast.

“Besides the big Core processors, all of which are the last generation “Skylake” variants, there is the big kahuna with the Xeon E3-1505M v6. Introduced this year, this Intel Xeon is a quad-core processor with support for ECC memory, 8MB of cache (up from the usual 6MB in a consumer Core i7), and a slightly higher base clock rate of 3.00 GHz with Turbo up to 4.00 GHz. These specs make it one of the fastest mobile processors around, besting the Core i7-7700HQ found in the XPS 15 (9560) by 200MHz.”

Yes, you read that right. This laptop can be configured with a Xeon processor, not to mention 32GB of RAM. That is professional sized horsepower in a small package. This is what I’d like to see from Apple. A true high-end Portable Workstation. Oh, and do you remember the weight of that old 17-inch MacBook Pro I mentioned above? Yes, 6.6 pounds. This Dell weighs 4.56 pounds. Compare that to the new 15-inch MacBook Pro which weighs 4.02 pounds. It’s not that big a difference.

I’d love to have this kind of power wrapped in Apple’s design ascetic. Oh, it should only come in one color. Black.

Hello, Surface Studio

Hot buttered popcorn and a movie, ahhh!Not to be outdone by Apple, Microsoft announced Surface Studio a few days back. It looks like a winner.

Ars Technica: “And as is Microsoft’s habit, there’s human interaction novelty, too, with the Surface Dial. This is a Bluetooth spinner and clicker with haptic feedback. Spinning the wheel can invoke either system functionality (such as changing the volume) or application features (such as the amount of red, green, or blue used by the current paintbrush in a painting app); there’s an API to allow third-party software to provide Dial-specific capabilities. Its unusual feature is that it can be used off the screen, or, when in studio mode, on the screen. When used on the screen, the Surface Studio knows exactly where the dial is and can draw radial menus or other controls around the device.”

JavaScript Scene: “That’s a huge amount of gorgeous screen real-estate for only $2,999. And it’s a touch screen. And it has an amazing interactive dial that you can place directly on the screen. You can draw on it with pens.”

CNet: “Really, though, this is all about the Surface Dial, a wild new idea that instantly excited people from its on-stage demos. The metal dial can be an on-screen tool as much as a desktop one, and looks like the other-hand tool designed to work alongside the Pen in everyday Surface creative use.”

I want one. It makes we want to create desktop software for Windows again.

It looks like Microsoft has hit one out of the park.

Designer Neven Mrgan took a trip to his local Microsoft Store to check one out. He seems impressed.

Can you imagine using Photoshop with the Surface Dial? Yeah, it could be awesome for designers.

Buying a PC Laptop?

I’m a Mac

I’ve been a Mac for a few years now. When I was working at Pelco a few years back I had a 17″ MacBook Pro and I loved it. We bought our daughters Macs when they graduated from high school and I bought my lovely wife a Mac. We have more than a few iPod’s laying around the house and four iPhones between us. We’re definitely an Apple loving family.

Three years ago, with the help of my brother, we released our first iOS application, RxCalc. It’s been all Apple, all the time since then. I finally got my first Mac for Christmas, December 2011. Up to that point I developed iOS software on my wife’s Mac.

I was finally able to venture out on my own in May, 2012. My primary goal was to find enough freelance work to allow me to work on my own software from time to time. I’d love to ship some iOS and Mac software this year, or early next year. So far things have been great. I’m just rolling off a great project and trying to wrap up another, both iOS. But, being a freelancer is difficult. Work is work, right?

To Windows, or not to Windows?

Most of my 20 plus hears has been spent writing software for Windows, so it’s something I know, and I’m comfortable writing software on that platform. I’ve been in discussions with a company to work on some Windows based software, so I may need a PC once again.

I have a decent MacBook Pro so I wonder if VMWare would do the trick, but the software I’d be working on requires hardware accelerated graphics. Have the VM folks solved that problem? Will Direct3D work? I don’t know the answer to that. These are questions I need to solve so I can decide if spending the cash, and carrying around two laptops, is worth it.

PC Laptops

On Saturday I walked into our local Best Buy to see if I could find a decent 15″ laptop for under $1000. All the laptops were under $1000! That was a big surprise. The thing I quickly discovered is I don’t pay attention to hardware any longer. Since I became a Mac user our choices are limited to a few very high end pieces of hardware, so all you have to decide is how much RAM you’d like and how big the hard drive should be. In the PC laptop world is wild and varied. The one thing I did notice is every laptop I looked at had about 4GB of RAM. That would need to be bumped right away to 8GB and I figure I’d need at least a 500GB drive, but what processor should I get? It’s not like I’m going to use this laptop for anything but coding on Windows.

So, the big question. What sub $1000 laptop is decent enough to install Windows 7/8 and run Visual Studio? It doesn’t have to be the best ever, just good enough.

Comments welcome.