Briefly Noted: Apple Updates Remote, AirPort Apps

Yesterday afternoon, Apple released updates to their Remote and AirPort Utility apps.

Evident from the app descriptions, the AirPort Utility did not receive an iOS 7-like remake.  It still looks like it’s older iOS 6 version of the add.  The jump to 64-bit native code should make the app run smoothly on the new iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and the soon to be released, iPad mini with Retina Display.

The Remote app, received a complete iOS 7 design make over.  While the functionality of the software does not appear to have changed, the UI has.  Remote now has the Help screen overlay that flies in when you tap the help question mark icon located at the top right of the screen.  The Menu button now appears a circle icon with a text label “Menu” at the bottom center of the screen, with additional playback controls on either side.  The large “track pad” area still dominates the majority of the screen, however, now appears as a frosted pane allowing you to “see” your wallpaper in typical iOS 7 blurred effect fashion.

Both applications are available in the iTunes App Store for free.

Briefly Noted: John Siracusa’s OS X 10.9 Mavericks Review

If you like in-depth product reviews, and you just happen to be a Mac user, you’ll want to read John’s OS X 10.9 Mavericks review.

John is well respected in Apple circles and his latest OS X review is smart, accurate and a great read.

You can read it on the Ars Technica website, but I chose to purchase the iBooks version so I can not only get the iBooks features while reading the review, but to also throw some cash his way.

If you haven’t read his review already, you should check it out.

You can follow John on Twitter @siracusa, on the Accidental Tech Podcast, and on the Ars Technica website.

iPad Air Unboxing Photos

Here are some photos from my iPad Air unboxing and comparison with my iPad third-generation.

My iPad Air arrives home from the Apple Store
iPad Air and the beige Smart Case
iPad Air in it’s box
Boom! It’s and i
Behind the iPad Air are the accessories
iPad Air’s accessories
The inside of the iPad Air Smart Cover
iPad Air with Smart Case vs iPad 3 with Smart Cover
iPad Air on top of the iPad 3 (face up)
iPad Air on top of the iPad 3 (face down)

Backblaze – Effortless Backups for Mac OS X and Windows PC

I’ve been listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast and The Talk Show for sometime now and one recurring sponsor, Backblaze, caught my attention.

Backups are boring and nobody likes doing them.  But, when disaster strikes, everyone wishes they had one.  And that is where Backblaze comes in.  Backblaze, with it’s great team of people, including some ex-Apple employees, is an elegant backup solution that takes minutes to setup and gives you the piece of mind that lets you sleep at night.

Installation and Setup

Blackblaze works with Mac OS X 10.5 and later, Windows XP (32-bit), Windows Vista (32 & 64-bit), Windows 7 (32 & 64-bit), and Windows 8.  You download and install a small client application on your computer.  After the easy installation processes, it’s time to configure your backup.  You simply select which hard drive(s) you want to back up, select any folders that you want to exclude from the backup, and set your backup schedule.

For me, I’m backing up my MacBook’s main hard drive.  I’ve excluded my iTunes movies folder because I can redownload most content from Apple.  I want to make sure that I always have the most current version of my documents backed up all of the time, so I selected the default back up schedule of “Continuously (Recommended)”.  If your installation is anything like mine, you’ve spent about 10-15 minutes setting up the software.

What I really liked about the client installation is that is a real native application for Mac OS X.  It’s not a warmed over Java application that runs equally poorly on all of the support platforms.  I also appreciate that the developers have made this a “real” Mac application – one with the same look and feel that makes you believe that the application belongs on your computer.

Be Productive, We Got This

But you might be thinking, “Ya, but I have a lot of data.  This is gonna cost an arm and a leg.”  Here’s another thing that sets Backblaze apart from other online backup solutions: They will back up all of your data.  All of it.  Got 500MB? No problem.  Got 2TB?  No problem.  You just pay your monthly flat rate fee and Backblaze will back up all of your data.  The software throttles the data streaming back to their data center so get to you keep working the same way you always have.  Continuous backups run in the background keeping your data safe.  Based on my ISP upstream connection and the amount of data I have, my initial backup has been estimated to run about 42 days.  (I don’t keep my Mac on 24×7.  Your milage will vary.  When I last checked, the initial backup is projected to be completed in 22 days.)

With Backblaze, backups really are a “no brainer” and once the software is setup and running, you can forget about it and just do what you do best.

Hassle Free Recovery

When disaster does strike, you won’t have to worry about getting your data back because Backblaze makes recovery super easy.  If you accidentally deleted a folder, overwrote that important document or photo, or had a hard drive crash? Getting your data back is easy.  Login to the Backblaze website and select the computer that had the file.  Backblaze gives you four options for recovering your data: Single file download, multi-document .zip file download, restored data on a USB flash drive, or restored data on a USB hard drive.  The first two options are free, the flash drive option is $99 with a 53GB file maximum, and the hard drive option costs $189 for up to 3TB of data.

To help with your data recovery, the web UI data restore console allows you to navigate the folder structure on your hard drive or search for files/folders.  Have an iPhone?  Don’t forget to download the Backblaze iOS app.  With it, you can download individual files right to your iOS device.  That’s really handy if you need to look up some information that is back at home or the office when you’re out or at a customer site.

It’s aways a drag when a hard drive or computer dies.  But there is nothing more infuriating when the data loss is due to a stolen computer.  If you enable the feature, Backblaze has a Locate My Computer feature that can be used to locate your computer based on it’s network connection.  It’s a nice little bonus at no additional charge.

Plan Pricing

The personal plan that I selected is $5/month, but you can get down as low as $3.96/month if you pre-pay for two years of service up front. You can change your subscription plan at any time.  Business plans are $50/year per computer.

Conclusion

No body likes to run backups on their computer.  With Backblaze, backups are super simple and easy to setup.  When you need to, Backblaze makes it easy to get your data back a hassle free process.  If there is only one software service you buy this year, make it Backblaze.  You’ll be glad you did.

Purchasing My iPad Air

Another Apple launch weekend is upon us and, after a long mental debate with myself about whether or not to get a new Apple iPad Air, I did make the decision to buy one, upgrading from my iPad with Retina Display (third generation).

I chose to get my new iPad Air at the New Haven Apple Store.  I wasn’t disappointed.

The Apple Store had ample stock of the 32GB Space Grey Wi-Fi iPad Air.  Stacey, sales associate who helped me, what polite, asked if I had any questions or if I needed help using iCloud to move my data from my iPad 3 to my new iPad.

A major factor in my decision to purchase the new iPad Air was the weight of the unit as compared to my iPad 3 without its plastic back shell and Smart Cover on.  Being able to walk in and play with the new iPad Air without all of the security brackets and thick security cables was a major plus for me.

Another major benefit of shopping at the Apple Store rather than a big box store like Best Buy, which I did visit on Friday afternoon, was not only being virtually guaranteed to get the device I wanted, but also having my pick of new Apple accessories too.

In addition to buying the iPad Air, I also picked up a beige Apple Smart Case.

I’ve become a bit of a frequent visitor to this Apple Store over the last few weeks, and the store was busy, but not mobbed.  Over all, it was a great shopping experience and I was in and out in 20 minutes.

If you are on the fence about getting a new iPad Air this weekend, there is still plenty of stock available at your local Apple Store and online.  Third-party box stores inventory will vary.  (The Best Buy store I went to on Friday only received 22 Wi-Fi only 32GB Space Grey iPad Airs for example.)