Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Time To Join the OS X Yosemite Public Beta


If you are an Apple fan and have always wanted to try the latest, but maybe not exactly done, software - now's your chance!

After 14 long years, Apple has launched a public beta for the next version of the Mac OS, OS X 10.10 Yosemite.  As the word 'beta' implies, this software is still very much under development and next exactly ready for prime time.  But if you have a second Mac, or know how to dual-boot your Mac to another partition, then this your chance to jump in the pool and test things out.  If you find something that's not working or has a rough edge, you can report it to Apple.

This is not for the faint of heart or the first time Mac user.  If you want to learn more about what's involved with being a beta tester, you should read yesterday's SPF post first.

Apple's accepting the first one million Mac owner requests to join the program.

Still interested?  Head over to the Yosemite beta sign up page to get started.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Sage Advice From ComputerWold About Running the Yosemite Beta

Mac OS X 10.0 Beta disc via ComputerWorld
 ComputerWorld, this morning, published some tips for Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta testers.  You should keep these tips in mind, especially since if you are a first time beta tester.

"First and foremost, keep in mind that this isn't the official release of the software; Apple is still testing and tweaking Yosemite. That means it may not function as expected. Some features may be completely absent or could differ from what Apple showed off during its WWDC keynote in June -- and some features may look very different in the final release."
Head over to ComputerWorld to read the full article.

[Via ComputerWorld.com...]

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Apple Super Serial Card II



When was the last time you saw one of theses?  The Super Serial Card II from Apple was the serial card interface for the Apple ][ line of computers, including the wildly popular Apple ][e.  This particular Apple serial card was released in 1981.

For more information about the back story and history of the Apple Super Serial Card II can be found over on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Upgrade to Adobe Flash Player 14.0.125 Now


Adobe has issued a security bulletin urging Flash users to upgrade to the latest release, version 14.0.125.  Windows PCs, Macs, and machines running Linux with unlatched versions of Flash are vulnerable that could allow an attacker to take control of the computer.
"Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player 13.0.0.214 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh and Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.359 and earlier versions for Linux. These updates address vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. Adobe recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions[.]"
You can download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player for your Windows PC, Macintosh, or Linux machine from Adobe Flash Player download website.

Today's full APSB14-16 security bulletin can be read on the Adobe website.

Three Years Ago Today, Atlantis Started Her Final Mission


The NASA space shuttle program, officially known as the Space Transportation System, or STS, has always been something that truly impressed me ever since reading about it in school all the way back in 1980.  I still miss seeing them leap off the pad and jump into space.

Space Shuttle Atlantis, on mission STS-135 to resupply the International Space Station, lifted off on July 8, 2011 as the historic final flight of the 31 year old NASA STS program.

Atlantis' four member crew included Commander Christopher Ferguson, Pilot Douglas Hurley, Mission Specialist 1 Sandra Magnus, and Mission Specialist 2 Rex Walheim.

Atlantis touched down at her home base, the Kennedy Space Center, on July 21, 2011 after a fourteen day mission in space.

You can read more about Atlantis' final flight on Wikipedia.  If you are visiting Florida, you can see Atlantis as part of a new public exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!


Happy 4th of July from Smartphone Fanatics!

(To my friends in Canada and the United Kingdom, have a Fantastic weekend!)

The WWDC 2014 Session Videos Are Online For Everyone


Every year getting tickets to Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC, is a big hoopla.  There are only 5,000 tickets available and it's really come down to the luck of the draw to get one.

This year, Apple had done something different.  They've made their breakout session videos available to anyone (i.e.: no developer account password required) to download and watch for free.

I'm not a developer, nor do I play one on TV, but there are few sessions that look pretty interesting.  Hit up the link below to see what interests you.  I recommend that you download the videos that you are interested in, as there is no telling how load the site will remain up.

Apple WWDC 2014 videos page

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Apple Releases iOS 7.1.2, Mavericks 10.9.4, Apple TV 6.2

Yesterday, Apple let a trio (or "Treo" for my long time readers) of updates for iOS, Mavericks, and Apple TV.


iOS 7.1.2

iOS 7.1.2 is minor security update for current model iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.  The 25MB delta update improves iBeacons connectivity, fixes issues related to some third-party accessory data transfers, and closes a hole in data protection for certain email attachments.

The update is available now via the iOS Settings app > General > Software Updates.  The update should install on any device that is already running iOS 7.

iOS 7.12 is expected to be the last iOS 7 maintenance update before the iOS 8 release that is coming this fall.



Mavericks 10.9.4

Similar to iOS, Mavericks 10.9.4 is a minor update that corrects some Wi-Fi connection issues, fixes relating to waking up a sleeping Mac, and a minor Safari update.

The update is available now via the Mac App Store.  For more information about the OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 update, please review Apple's 10.9.4 update KB article.

Apple TV 6.2

Along side of the iOS and OS X update, the Apple TV got a little boost to OS 6.2.  There does not appear to be any outward software changes, leaving us to assume that the update is strictly a bug fix maintenance release.

Looking Forward To My Trip to Yosemite

Earlier this month at Apple's WWDC developer's conference, Craig Federighi, introduced us to the future of the Mac OS - OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Yosemite User Interface

With Yosemite, the Mac user interface remains familiar to long time Mac users and yet, have a clean new look.  Long time and new Mac users will be able to walk up to the Mac and begin using it very quickly.  OS X Mavericks was a nice upgrade from Mountain Lion, but the user interface across all of Apple's stock apps and icons looked disjointed.  Some icons didn't change at all, such as Contacts, and then new apps, like iBooks, used the design language from iOS 7, and used the round orange ball with a white book.  Similarly, apps like the aforementioned Contacts and Reminders apps just looked or functioned terribly.

With Yosemite, Apple goes back under the direction of Jony Ive, and created a new cleaner, flatter, less cluttered design language for Mac OS X (1) and I think it looks really fantastic!

Simulated Yosemite screen running on a MacBook Air

Yosemite screen capture from the Apple WWDC '14 presentation

As you can see from the above images, take from the Apple website, Mac OS X still looks like Mac OS.  All of the interface elements look like they belong together as a whole.  The dock icons take on three clean shapes: round, square, and rectangles.  (They are suggestions, however, developers can use their own icon design, so for example, Office 2011 3D stylized icons are OK in Yosemite.)

And, for the first time in a long time, Apple will be including a sort of theme for OS X.  You can chose from the standard "light" theme which looks much like the stock Mountain Lion and Mavericks theme with it's translucent or solid white menu bar or the new dark theme which uses a darker menu bar styling.

Softpedia screen captures of Yosemite's dark mode
I'm really excited to get my hands on the first public beta later this year and install it on my Mac. (2)

Supported Macs

For Yosemite, Apple has elected to keep the current list of compatible Macintosh hardware as it's predecessor, Mavericks.  Essentially, any Macintosh that has a release date of "Mid 2007" or later will be able to run Yosemite.  Well.  That's a pretty generous range of hardware and means that my five year old 17-inch MacBook Pro will still be supported and will be able to run Apple's latest Mac operating system.

Now there will be a catch, as with everything in life.  Not all of Yosemite's features will be available on every Mac released since mid-2007.  For example, my MacBook Pro won't support the new Handoff feature in Yosemite.  That's because my Mac lacks the Bluetooth LE 4.0 hardware.  That may chance by the time Yosemite is released this fall, but you get the idea.  The take away here is that if you want all of the bells and whistles, you had better be running on the current or previous generation of hardware.

At some point, I'll need to upgrade to a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, but for now, there's no need since my Pro's hardware is still in great shape.  The question is, will there be a cool feature in Yosemite that requires a hardware upgrade that will push me to buy a new Mac this year?  The answer is probably not, but when the next MacBook Pro or MacBook Air hardware refresh comes around, it will be time to upgrade. (3)

Upgrade Path

Most customers will be installing Yosemite directly over the top of Mavericks or Mountain Lion.  The software will be delivered over the Internet to your Mac via the Mac App Store.  Just download the update installer (which, can take a long while) and you're off to the races.

For this upgrade though, I'm thinking about doing a clean install of Mac OS X.  Since getting my MacBook Pro, every OS upgrade has been an "over the top" upgrade.  This time around, I want to do some house cleaning, so I'll be making a backup of my Macintosh HD with Carbon Copy Cloner, and then creating a bootable DVD of the Mac OS X Yosemite installer (a USB flash drive also works), and then erasing my disk and installing Yosemite "cleanly".

It will be a little bit of extra work, but I think my Mac will run a little bit faster after clearing out the years of left over garbage that can build up over time.

Conclusion

Over all, Yosemite looks like it will be a great upgrade for both customers and OS X software developers alike.  Apple has made a lot of under the hood changes that will benefit everyone.  Customers running on the newest Apple hardware should see all of the new features, while older Macs will enjoy most of the new features, but maybe not all of them.  (Handoff and AirDrop, at the time of this writing, are still not confirmed to work on all the Macs that Yosemite can be installed on.)

For more information on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, check out the Apple OS X Yosemite preview website.


Footnotes

(1) Yes, I keep calling "OS X" by it's old name, "Mac OS X".  Some old habits die hard and this is no exception for me.  I really don't care that Apple is trying to make Mac OS X sound more like iOS by dropping "Mac" or "Macintosh" from their desktop operating system's name.  I'm a Mac guy, the computer is a Macintosh, and so it's still Mac OS X for me.

(2) OS X Yosemite is still in prerelease software development cycle know as "beta", which means it's up and running, but still has lots and lots of bugs in it.  You're not going to install buggy beta software on your Mac's primary partition as your everyday OS are you?  I'm not.

(3) I just really, really don't want to give up the 17-inch display, even if newer Retain MacBook displays have a higher resolution.