New MacBooks revealed – Faster, stronger, better

The new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display weren’t the only juicy things revealed at Tuesday’s product rollout in San Francisco; there were also upgraded versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro.

Apple’s 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros as announced on October 22, 2013
Apple’s new MacBook Pros, 13-incher on the left, 15-incher on the right.
The most notable upgrade to the laptops is their processors. The 13-inch model now comes standard with a dual-core 2.4GHz Intel fourth-generation Core i5 processor, while the 15-incher’s base-model processor is a quad-core 2.0GHz Haswell Core i7. The smaller model can be upgraded to a dual-core 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, and the larger to a quad-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i7.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has lost a bit of heft – it now weighs in at 3.46 pounds, down from 3.57 pounds in its previous incarnation. It’s also marginally thinner at 0.71 inches, down from 0.75 inches. The 15-incher went on no such diet – it still weighs 4.46 pounds and remains 0.71 inches thick.

The fourth-generation Core processor in the 13-incher has Intel’s Iris Graphics, while the 15-incher has Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics. The larger of the two MacBook Pros can also be equipped with Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 graphics memory.

Apple’s new MacBook line as of October 22, 2013
Apple’s marketing lead Phil Schiller, speaking at the rollout event, claims that the 13-inch model now gets up to nine hours battery life. “So if you’re a fan of The Black Knight as I am, you can watch the entire trilogy on one charge,” he said. The 15-incher’s battery life is rated at eight hours.

Both models have been upgraded to PCIe flash, which Schiller claims is 60 per cent faster than “the previous generation.” Wi-Fi has been upgraded to 802.11ac (802.11a/b/g/n compatible) in both, and the previous generations’ Thunderbolt ports have been upgraded to Thunderbolt 2.

The base model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro runs $1,299, down from $1,499 for its predecessor; the base 15-incher will cost you $1,999, down from $2,199. Both models are available beginning Tuesday.



AutoCAD for Mac

Steve Jobs, in the “Back to the Mac” press conference held at Apple headquarters on Wednesday, mentioned AutoCAD is finally coming to the Mac. Now all the architects and designers in the world have an option other than the Windows platform for their main workstations.

Up until recently, AutoCAD was only available natively on the Windows platform. Apple fans have been crying out for the professional application to come to the Mac for years now. Even Steve Jobs admitted to wanting the app on the Mac platform for some time.

“AutoCAD is coming to the mac — we’ve coveted this for a long time,” said Jobs during the presentation.

Autodesk, the makers of AutoCAD already have a Mac version available for download as a trial on their web site. You can find it here: AutoCAD for Mac.


Apple iPad Pre-Orders Now Delayed

I was reading a press release this morning about the Apple iPad Pre-Orders. It indicated all pre-orders going forward were going to be delayed on the Wi-Fi units until April 12th with the Wi-Fi + 3G versions still coming “late April”. We’re almost to April and no date on the 3G models seems a bit odd. Add to it that Apple is delaying add’l Wi-Fi models for 9 days and my mind starts to wonder.

My first thought when reading that was could Apple have discovered an issue with the first run units that needs to be fixed before additional devices are shipped? All you early MacBook Air adopters know exactly what I’m talking about. We suffered through more than our fair share of problems with the first gen versions of those. Still great devices and I wouldn’t necessarily wait if I had it to do all over again.

For the iPad, I don’t know that I’d want one of the April 3rd shipped devices. Part of me wonders if it wouldn’t be better to wait until the 3G models come out (I’m waiting for 3G anyway) to at least have a little better shot at a device sans the early adoption woes.

Part of what is contributing to this paranoia is I’m really really surprised that Apple is even selling that many iPad Wi-Fi editions out of the gate. Aside from devices for press and all the giveaway iPads I’ve seen going for everything from buying insurance to selling affiliate offers to buying make money online products, I just don’t see the early adopters going for the base version. Everyone I know is waiting for the 3G edition.

Perhaps Apple has intentionally created the shortage, just like always seems to happen with these cool category changing products. Course, again, this doesn’t seem likely. Especially given that Best Buy will have iPads hitting the shelves the same time the Apple Store does this time around.

What does everyone think? Apple cover up, poor production planning, or just plain old shortage?



Sea of Faces


One of the most anticipated additions to iLife ’09 and iPhoto ’09 is the Face-recognition feature that identifies within your photo library pictures of the same people and gives you the opportunity to quickly identify and locate pictures of friends and family. This innovative concept seems adapted from the facebook idea of ‘tagging’ people in photos, but Apple has taken it one step further with the face recognition program that can search your database and find pictures without you having to locate and ‘tag’ every photo.

This application takes some getting used to and some set up time. When you first open Faces, you must go through and identify people individually in your photos. This can be an arduous process, but after tagging a person in 20 or so photos, iPhoto will composite a selection of photos for you to choose from that confirm that the person you are selecting is in those pictures as well. The program can recognize pictures where people have aged (sometimes within a ten year span, more if you vary the pictures that you select of that person) and then stores the person and their list of photos on a ‘corkboard’ that you can access and scroll through to locate certain individuals. Faces will even try to locate faces in a video from your digital camera.

This creative new program is not without its drawbacks. Macworld says, “The Faces training system could be a bit more straightforward, and it’s not as automatic as you’d expect. For example, we were hoping for some sort of batch-training mode, but you have to spend quite a bit of time manually confirming or rejecting each suspected match. You need to enter a collection of a person’s photos to get iPhoto started, then click Confirm Name and hope that there are some good candidate photos for you to train.”

What do you think of iLife ’09 and its Faces program? Let us know in the comments section.


Steve Jobs First Step Out of the Limelight?

I got to thinking again this morning about Apple’s latest “money saving tactic” of quitting Macworld Expo altogether (read my earlier post here). I’m Wondering what Apple is up to.

Are they trying to avoid going down with yet another event that is trouble and headed for the big Consumer Show Heaven in the sky? Are they really spending that much money taking part in a show they don’t feel they’re getting a good value out of? Did the Macworld Expo execs forget to send the Apple execs a Christmas card with the usual jelly bean of the month club membership for the coming year?

Of course there’s a lot we don’t know, but one thought ran through my mind…is this an easy way to transition Steve Jobs out of the spotlight and begin grooming, or at least trying out, possible replacements? Phil Schiller is, after all, one of Apple’s marketing geniuses. It would have been better if he’d gotten some stage time at the WWDC Keynote, but nonetheless, a guy in marketing, much less a genius, should be able to get up and kick some keynote butt.

As I was pondering these lofty questions and running through my mail, I see an update from a news service about Steve Jobs’ hormone imbalance treatment. Now replacing Jobs at Apple’s last appearance at Macworld Expo makes sense. It also lends some credibility to the news sources reporting Jobs’ health issues. At this point you may be thinking “Uh, yeah genius!  That’s exactly what they’re doing.”, but I hadn’t made the jump yet.

With Phil at the keynote helm, we have to wonder if Apple will set him up for success or test the waters first. Will they show that Apple is bigger than Steve Jobs and announce a revolutionary product or two (such as a new iPhone form factor or Mac tablet)? That would sure solidify a stance that Apple can/will march on regardless of whether or not we see Jobs at the public forefront.

Or will Apple give us some dismal upgrades to existing lines leaving us wanting just a bit more like it has in too many keynote addresses in the past? Consequently, this wouldn’t do much to solidify the Philster as a worthy Jobs replacement.

It will be interesting to see what happens and we won’t know, as usual, until showtime.  One thing is for sure:  Apple again has us talking about and wondering what tomorrow’s keynote will contain. I’m already excited!


Apple Bails on Macworld Expo

I just read on Macworld’s site that Apple is no longer going to take part in the Macworld Expo after this January’s conference.  If that wasn’t enough, Steve Jobs isn’t going to be giving the keynote as has become tradition at the Expo in years past.  Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, will be giving it in his place.

My initial reaction:  What the HECK?!

I don’t know what Apple’s financial responsibility is for Macworld Expo, if any, but it seems to me it’s a great opportunity to take part in and give back to the Apple community it has created. Not to mention it’s a show at which Apple is undisputedly the king vendor.

Sure times are tough.  Of course all businesses need to look for ways to cut back. There’s no doubt the Apple stores could easily fill the role and have proven to generate more impact than an Expo every could. BUT…to bail on one of the largest and possibly purest Mac related events…that seems like a bit of a kick in the face. Where else are they going to walk in and get “the king” treatment and exposure without exceeding what was required for the Macworld Expo?

Even though I have never attended a Macworld Expo, I look forward to the keynote and what goodies Apple will be providing in exchange for my wallet getting lighter. I personally believe that Apple’s exposure at this event goes far beyond the group in attendance, impacting what they have referred to in the stores as “Mini Expos”.

Anyone else with me on this?

Here are a couple of articles on if you want to read a bit more:
Apple announces its last year at Macworld Expo
Apple at Expo: What went wrong?


Apple Chasing Dell & HP for Market Share

I read this morning that Apple is now the No. 3 PC maker in the U.S. with it’s sites set on Dell and HP.  This seems pretty impressive to me given how huge Dell has been historically.  Reminds me of the days when Apple had only a fraction of 1% of the market in terms of users as well as PC sales.


Apple Sues Mac Clone Maker Psystar…FINALLY

It’s been a long time coming…and I know this isn’t exactly breaking news for anyone following Mac/Apple related news topics, but I had to comment.  I can’t believe how long it’s taken for Psystar to get slapped by Apple for stepping on Apple’s hardware toes.  The interesting thing is, based on what I’m reading, this doesn’t appear to be as much about the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) breach, as about trademark and copyright infringement.  Here’s a link to the initial source we found the news at:

The Gray Blog – “Apple Goes After Clone Maker Psystar”

Personally, I like the idea of Mac clones.  Although I wasn’t a big fan of the clones in the late 80′s, now that we’re on Intel processors, the hardware options become a lot more interesting.  This could end up being a huge boost for the Apple OS and it’s market penetration if they open up licensing at some point.  I’m certainly not saying I don’t like Apple hardware, it rocks.  But I always cringe a bit at the cost of their more robust systems.  Course “cringe a bit” doesn’t prevent me from actually ponying up the bucks to buy a high end system.


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Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta Updated

For those of you who have been running into the annoying warning that the last beta release of Remote Desktop Connection for Mac has expired, Microsoft decided to bless us with an updated release yesterday.  You can download it here.  The new release promises to last until the first official release.  The site was down at times yesterday but seems to have been available throughout the day today.