iCloud is Not for Everyone

Apple's iCloud - Documents in the Cloud

Apple’s iCloud – Documents in the Cloud promises “all your documents, with all your edits, on every device.” Image: Apple

In the most recent update of the Mac OS, Mountain Lion, the Apple branded cloud computing service iCloud was expanded to more fully embrace the Mac from it’s previous focus on iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  After taking a look at in in reviews and a one friend’s somewhat exasperated experience with iCloud, I realize that the utility of iCloud will very much depend on what sort of user you are.

One of the enjoyable things I do, rather off to the side of the “day job” is serve as president of my local Mac User Group. Like many things in the tech world, Mac User Groups are not what they once were. Before the era of the internet, Applecare, the Apple Store, and the Genius Bar, Mac (and PC) User groups were often the only casual source of experienced to expert help and guidance for most users, especially non-professionals without their companies to provide IT support. And of course, mac’s were a markedly different species from PCs in those days, and were a lot more … well.. computer-y.

Apple’s arc in the last decade has been to cater to a vast underserved consumer computing market and to that end, has relentlessly pushed simplicity, elegance, design excellence and the appliance nature of their devices. Note that they almost never use the word “computer” any more, it’s even gone from the company name. It’s simply iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad… An iPhone is a more powerful and capable micro-sized computer that most of the Power PC line of Macintoshes, just one that happens to have a phone. And they’ve done away with most of the computer-y stuff that most folk associate with desktop computers, while still having it do all those THINGS, and typically very well. (Except Maps at the moment… opps) Using an iPhone, the focus is almost entirely on the apps, and what you’re doing, and not particularly on the device much at all.

Currently Apple is making an effort in it’s desktop computing operating system to bring that ideal to to their desktops and notebooks. And part of that effort is iCloud. But iCloud is not cloud storage as most of you who are power users already use and experience it, such as in Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon CloudDrive, Microsoft Skydrive. There are also cloud computing services as well like YouSendIt, Amazon Web Services, Google Apps and the like which actually provide computing services and apps remotely, and most of the cloud storage services also have some of this functionality. iCloud also provides some dedicated services for various iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac users, such as Music Syncing, iTunes matching, Mail and Calendar services, etc.

Continue reading

Mac Pros. Mac Users?

Mac Pro: 4, 8, or 12 Cores. WORTH IT?

The current Mac Pro update disappoints actual pro users. Image: Apple Computer

Apple recently released, after over a year in waiting, an update to their Mac Pro line of tower configuration computers. They introduced the Westmere line of the Xeon workstation processors and now a version with 12 computing cores is available. But for many Apple watchers, the update was a bit of a disappointment.

For openers, while Apple has been determinedly cutting edge on their new flagship mobile products, iPhones, iPads… were notably conservative on this update. New tech such as USB 3, Firewire 1600, Litghtbridge, or even established desirable standards as eSATA were skipped. Few expected Blu-Ray support, since Steve doesn’t like Blu-Ray. The video cards options offered by Apple are decent, but somewhat mediocre by contemporary standards. But all in all, commentary in the tech blogs has negative commentary edging out positive reviews. The general consensus seemed “meh,” with a lot of dissatisfaction centering on performance versus price issues compared to alternatives on the Windows and Linux side.
Continue reading

Barrier to Entry

Grab this end. Ancient graphic design tool. An X-Acto kniife.

Ancient graphic design tool. An X-Acto knife. Grab THIS end.

I had alluded to this subject in my earlier post about Adobe Creative Suite.  I did get a bit rantish about it. So I decided that I might clarify where I was coming from this time around. Now for a little background, I entered the field in 1980, yes that would be B.C. — Before Computers.  Moving right along, If someone had told me in 1989 that in a few years I would be replacing 90% of my professional tools every three to five years, I would have looked at them like they were out of their minds. Seriously, I made it a point to buy good quality pro gear and took good care of it. I had a steel t-square that I would be able to leave to my grandchildren, nearly indestructible. I had a lovely oak drafting table. A sweet little Badger airbrush and compressor. Red Sable brushes. A set of very slick and pampered technical pens. And seriously, a drafting instrument set I actually inherited from my grandfather.

Then “Desktop Publishing” happened.

The advent of the Apple Macintosh Computer, PostScript, PageMaker software, and the LaserWriter II printer changed everything. Forever. That was a weird time, when many companies tried to jettison their Agencies, Design Studios and Art Directors for low paid operators with Mac SEs. But after a few years, they decided that they needed people who actually knew some Design Principles operating the computers. So a lot of us went back to school, helloooo Continuing Ed., to learn more about this “Computer Stuff. ” A lot of good and talented people gave up and left the field, and some of us made the transition and picked up the mice, wondering, “what the f**k is this?”Continue reading

Adobe Creative Suite 4

Adobe Creative Suite 4 - Design Premium

Well, I went down into NYC for an Adobe Creative Suite 4 Launch Tour seminar last Friday. And got a reminder of why I took the bus when I had a NYC day job… it was 50 min inbound at 7:00-8:00 yesterday… but over TWO hours outbound at the height of the evening Rush Hour. Left the Javits Center at around 5:30… pulled into the driveway between 7:30 and 8:00.. OUCH. But the very evil part was walking the block or so from the parking lot to the Javits Center into the wind off the River… AIEEEEEEE!!!!! Oh my FACE! So you can see why I was less that excited about walking down from Port Authority in the Artctic Blast. Which put me rather out on hiking off to 8th or 9th avenue for lunch. So I ended up having very overpriced very blah and ordinary concession food at the center. FEH. On the other hand, I scored an $14 Early Bird rate at a lot LESS than a half mile from the Javits, so I think I’ll call it even and move on.

That said, Creative Suite 4 is pretty frakkin’ awesome, with lots of clever enhancements, with many peeves addressed and wish list items suggested by users added. This is of course a FAR superior approach than Microsoft, that just DOES STUFF to their apps, usually Office or Windows itself, and then shoves the “enhancements” down your throat. Often this breaks things that might have actually worked well in some of their products. So yes, I WANT IT. Very shiny. As Tim Taylor once said.. “More POWER! Utt! Utt! Utt!”
Continue reading