The Promise of a Silicon Leap Forward

M1 iMacs

the M1 iMac, make no mistake, this is a Consumer Machine.

I have not been the most diligent blogger, but will drop something when the itch grows too much to bear and spills from my fevered brain. Of course the Pandemic has been nothing but interesting…, and now the household is finally vaccinated and we’re cautiously starting to get out of “The Box” and resume interacting with the local community again. Of course as the mischief of the gods would have it – barely a month after I dropped a chunk of cash on a “new” used upgraded Mac Pro – the lockdown hit. The subject of a previous blog post, if you’re interested. But the studio did get rather slow, and sadly, a couple of clients, and I think at least one vendor closed their doors. Others took their work in-house, and some went “radio silent.”

I suppose during more down time than I was entirely comfortable with I could have blogged more. But I devoted the the unexpected free time to learning about streaming, using Zoom, honing my skills with Video and Audio production, messing about with my drums, and of course all the house things. Domestic harmony while In The Box is a good thing.

But as we rolled into the back half of the year, something dropped that made a bit of a splash. Or rather, a tsunami in the tech universe. Apple announced Apple Silicon, in the form of the M1 chip. Then these chips were put into the iPad Pro, Mac Mini, the MacBook Air, 13” MacBook, and most recently, a new 24” iMac, with an … well, interesting new design. Thinner, of course, and colors, tho’ the white bezels esthetics are clearly not for everyone. Continue reading

On The New 2019 Mac Pro

Apple Mac Pro 2019 and Pro XDR Display – Photo: Slash Gear

Been a while, and I am back, since this issue is on my immediate horizon.

I make my way as a working Graphic and Web Designer in the green hills of West Virginia where I relocated from the NYC region in 2014. In that time, the Mac computing landscape has changed immensely – and not changed much. But you KNOW that the New Mac Pro would catch my eye, and appropriate pro kvetching. It’s design, it’s features, it’s engineering, and it’s blink-worthy pricing, all very worthy of discussion.

Am I going to get into it? As a mid-tier working-class Design Guy – Oh, Hell Yes.

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Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading

Get yo’ iPad On

My Alt self staring back from an iPad

My alt self in the screen of an iPad. Image: PC World. Composite: KG/FRS

This is kind of an experiment, not only am I taking about my experience with a new iPad, but also updating the blog using the WordPress App on iPad, and seeing If a long form article on the iPads touch keyboard actually is sane and/or reasonable. For openers, I do very much miss arrow key from my standard keyboard. But that still falls under “quibbles.”

One thing I swiftly noticed that neither the Facebook or Facebook Pages apps allow you to copy text from within them except while you’re posting. Bummer. I had posted my first thoughts on the FRS Facebook Page. But I was able to get in in Mobile Safari. Live and learn. Remember that early versions of iOS didn’t have copy & Paste at all. But I got it —

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New Printer in the Shop

Canon Pixma MG6220

Where I replace my ancient canon inkjet. And test the new one.

After nearly 8 years of faithful service, my comparatively ancient Canon inkjet printer gave up the ghost, failing with some sort of recurring glitch down in it’s silicon innards. After replacing a print head, the ink tank sponges, it reached the end of any reasonable user maintenance. So I replaced it with a comparable mid-range model, the SOHO targeted multifunction Canon Pixma MG6220. To give you a sense on how swiftly this world moves, that model is already discontinued and succeeded in the model line.

It’s performing well, an respectable successor for the aging Pixma iP4000 it replaced. The wireless functionality works flawlessly from two machines in my studio, once tweaked to life. The prints are the usual high canon quality. However, it is worth noting that test prints from a CMYK target document will still show “contamination” of dots of other colors in swatches of – in theory – pure C, M Y, and grays set as pure black percentage Greys have CMY dots unless set to grayscale print. But this is designer quibbling. But I am well aware that desktop inkjets are NOT appropriate for precise prepress color proofing. (One can dream, but we’re not any printer maker’s target market of any significance any more and “Pro” machines are horrifically costly ) More on this later.

Of course it comes without any cables, but I still have the perfectly fine USB A-B cable from old the iP4000. But this is less of a annoyance than it would have been since this printer utilizes Wi-Fi quite well. I can also connect wirelessly from my other workstations and the laptop through our local network. It also seems to run through ink a bit more quickly, but I manage to minimize it by leaving the printer powered up. I also wish there was a bit more guidance for using the various printer paper profiles built into the driver, but this is a continual Canon issue, not specific to this printer. More on this later.

I still like that Canon Ink tanks have been consistently less costly than HPs insanely costly ones, and their drivers better and more versatile, esp. on Mac OS, but their ink prices ARE creeping up. >: (  And more on this later… Continue reading