• ipad,  rumor

    What’s Up with iPad Pro Ship Times?

    Source: Apple, Inc.

    From time to time, I like to play “what if” as in “What if my rich Uncle Tim bought me some new Apple gear”. This week, I was thinking about what new hardware I might by between now and the end of the year (or early next year depending on when Apple Silicon Macs start shipping).

    This week was the iPad Pro Edition of the What If game. I was playing around with the 2020 11-inch iPad Pro, using the same specs as my 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The bottom line was $899. But the weird thing was that this iPad Pro was unavailable for pick up at any of my local Apple Stores. If Uncle Tim bought it for me online, from Apple.com, the delivery timeframe is October 1 – 8. The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro with similar specs has the same delivery window. Huh?

    Ok, I get it. Lots of people in the United States are still buying new hardware for back to school and work from home scenarios because the U.S. is still a complete disaster here on the COVID-19 front as compared to other countries. And that’s probably the real reason for the shipping delays and physical retail shortages. But, could there be another reason? Apple just refreshed the iPad Pro line back in March of this year. Apple can’t possibly be refreshing the iPad Pro line again in 2020, would they? I mean, the 2020 iPad Pros have only been out for less than six months. While this does seem crazy, it is not unfounded. Looking back at the iPad release history, the iPad 3rd Generation was release in March 2012 and replaced with the iPad 4th Generation in October 2012. Just seven months later (sorry, still salty).

    So, could new iPad Pro models be on the way before the start of the holiday buying season? I guess only time will tell.

  • adobe,  apple,  microsoft,  subscription

    Thoughts on Subscription Services and the Rumored Apple One Bundle

    I have been thinking about subscription services a lot lately. Newspapers, cable TV and streaming services, and most recently, podcast subscriptions. The only Apple subscriptions that I currently have are iTunes Match (yes, it’s still a thing) and the iCloud 200GB storage plan so I can share my iCloud storage space with my family using the Family Sharing feature.

    One-Time Transactions vs. Recurring Revenue

    Back in a time before the App Store, consumer software was a one-time transaction. Think back to how you purchased productivity software at the consumer or “prosumer” level a decade ago. You purchased a new PC and the software came pre-installed and you used it. Prosumers might have purchased big packages like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. You paid hundreds of dollars up front and ran the software until you needed a feature that was in a newer version or would no longer run on your PC’s operating system after an upgrade, at which point, you would purchase the software again. To reward customer loyalty, software developers would often offer customers a discount on the purchase of the current version.

    For businesses customers, the software model worked differently. Business customers would purchase a software license and with it, annual support agreements. Annual support agreements gave IT departments access to frequent software updates and technical support. The annual software maintenance agreements would typically run between 20-30% of the original purchase price.

    Fast forward to today. Subscription services are a lot like the maintenance agreements, where each subscription provides the software developer with a sustained revenue stream in exchange for regularly updated software packages.

    App Store and the Race to the Bottom

    With the introduction of the App Store on July 10, 2008, the consumer software model was forever changed. The iOS App Store was the point in time the popularized the idea of paying for software once and then getting free updates for life. The problem with that model is that it is not sustainable long term. Eventually, you will reach a peak customer base. When no new purchases coming in, there is no revenue to sustain development efforts. The lack of an upgrade system in the App Store further complicated matters. In the App Store, there was no way that developers could release, in effect, a 2.0 upgrade of their product and charge existing users a fee to recoup the development costs for the new features. To try and get customers to buy software, developers kept lowering and lowering prices to the point where many people would scoff at the idea of paying, $9.99, $4.99, $1.99 or even 99-cents for a game or app. This model, several years on, has proven to not be sustainable.

    Subscription Services

    Then, in 2016, Apple introduced the idea of app subscriptions. Rather than purchase an app, you subscribed to the app or a family of related apps from a single developer. You got the software for a monthly fee. Some developers offer a slight discount when a subscription is purchased annually. In exchange for the recurring subscription fee, developers would have the capital to fund the further development and support of their software.

    The notion of software subscriptions are not new. Looking to corporate IT solutions, annual software maintenance programs have essentially been rebranded as subscription services. Software subscriptions are also known as software-as-a-service, or SAAS – because IT loves acronyms. I first noticed SAAS software with the introduction of the Microsoft Office 365 service, now known as Microsoft 365. About the same time, Adobe started talking up their subscription product suite, Create Cloud. The Microsoft 365 and Creative Cloud SAAS subscriptions offer customers a lower annual software cost in exchange for software suites with guaranteed feature enhancements and bug fixes. I happily moved from a retail one-time purchase of Microsoft Office 2007 to Office 365 and Office 2013. Rather than spending $400 every few years, I would spend $99 annually. In exchange for my Microsoft subscription, I could share Office with my family and get additional OneDrive storage space. A lower price with more features. That sounds like a fair trade to me.

    Where’s the Apple Bundle? On the Way, Likely.

    Which brings us back to Apple and their subscription services. Apple, back in 2018, publicly started to talk about “services” as being the next revenue generating product. The iPhone has been the largest revenue generator for the company for many years, however, iPhone sales have stabilized. The company needed a plan for sustained revenue. The answer that Apple has turned to is a synergy between hardware and online products. Customers would by the hardware and then buy monthly subscription services. The hardware plus services model gives Apple a sustained revenue stream like the ones that Microsoft and Adobe have for Office 365 and Creative Cloud.

    Apple has released a scatter shot of services: iTunes Match, iCloud storage upgrades, iCloud Photo, Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade. If you subscribe to a small number of Apple services, say Apple Music and Apple Arcade, the cost is $15/mo or $180/yr. Subscriptions to Apple Music (Family), Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and a bump to iCloud storage can easily coast $336/yr. What is missing is the bundling of services at a lower price. Adobe’s Creative Cloud works that way. So does Amazon Prime. Why hasn’t Apple gotten into the bundle game?

    There have been a number of possible explanations for this this. The first being one that I mentioned earlier, that Apple is just bad at services. Another is that Apple is having trouble with the licensing terms of bundling Apple Music with other services, as suggested by Chance Miller writing for 9to5Mac. In the early days of online music sales, record companies saw Apple become a powerful middleman between they and the music download buying customers, dictating terms of how music could be purchased through the iTunes Music Store. It was a cautionary lesson for the music industry, for sure, and I feel a contributing factor in the rise of direct to customer streaming services like Disney+. Why share revenue with Apple when studios can have a direct relationship with their customers. Along those same lines, it is possible that Apple News+ could be suffering from a similar content licensing and customer relationship headaches.

    Despite the challenges of navigating the legal implications of bundling Apple’s own in-house services (i.e.: Apple Arcade, iCloud Storage, Apple TV+) with services that are built on top of content licensing deals (i.e.: Apple Music, Apple News+), there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Leaker Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg, suggest that Apple could finally be readying a services bundle as early as this fall alongside the launch of new iPhone hardware.

    Apple Inc. is readying a series of bundles that will let customers subscribe to several of the company’s digital services at a lower monthly price, according to people with knowledge of the effort.

    As someone who has been eyeing Apple Arcade as a way to get away from freemium games which require In App Purchases (IAPs) to advance, the idea of being able to get a bundle with more iCloud storage and a games subscription is appealing. I suspect that Apple will focus on the high visibility services of Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple News+ to drive adoption and that the smaller servers, like extra iCloud storage and Apple Arcade will be relegated to “sign up and get them for free” status in the bundle.

    Could we get an Apple One service this fall that includes Apple Music Family, Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of “free” iCloud storage? How much would this service offering cost? Assuming that someone subscribes to those services, one would spend about $38/mo. What would a price that a customer would shrug and automatically subscribe to a service for? My guess is that for a made-up bundle like the one I mentioned, a customer might expect a 20% discount, bringing the cost down to $25/mo. That seems reasonable. You end up paying for the “big” services and get the “smaller” services included in the monthly price.

    Conclusion

    The idea of an Apple bundle, like the recently rumored Apple One, is one that customers have been asking about since Apple first started playing with services. I think that Apple customers will go for a single monthly plan that will enhance the experience and joy of using their Apple devices, particularly the iPhone in the vein of an Amazon Prime service.

    For me, a $3/mo 200GB iCloud plan is sufficient to prevent my family from seeing the dreaded “Your iCloud storage is almost full” pop-up on a regular basis. Being able to play games on all of my Apple devices for $5/mo without questionable game mechanics is nice. While I do not use a streaming music service, my wife and kids do. Being able to add an Apple Music Family subscription would be a nice perk for them to listen to their music ad-free. For me, would an additional $15-20/mo make sense? To give my family an ad-free music listening experience and some extra TV content, I can see myself signing up Apple One this fall.

  • accessories,  apple

    Are Your Lightning Cables and Chargers Legit?

    If you have owned an iOS device for longer than six months, you probably have found a need to purchase additional Lightning cables and chargers. While you can purchase first-party cables from a local Apple Store or apple.com. Many of us, however, will buy those cables from Amazon or eBay.

    But, are the cables you buy from your favorite online retailer a legitimate Apple cable? Maybe, maybe not, according to ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. That Amazon is chockfull of fake products is nothing new. The Washington Post’s Jay Green covered this problem last year.

    As Kingsley-Hughes points out, Apple has published a support document to help customers spot knock-off products. When purchasing cables and chargers for your iOS device, you should look for the Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) logos on the packaging.

    Apple’s modern Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch badge, source: Apple, Inc.

    I encourage you to read Apple’s support document and share if with family and friends. Using fake cables and chargers can damage your Apple products and can pose a fire risk.

    So, what accessories are safe to buy? Obviously, purchasing directly from Apple is one way to be sure your product is genuine and safe. There are other third-party vendors that sell high-quality accessories including Amazon Basics, Anker, Belkin, Monoprice, and Nomad.

  • apple,  iphone

    On the 2020 iPhones Arriving Fashionably Late

    Source: Apple, Inc.

    During Apple’s financial results conference call for Q3 2020, which took place on July 30, Luca Maestri, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, pre-announced that new iPhones will be shipping a little bit later than usual this year as a result of global COVID-19 pandemic. At about the 24:27 mark into the call, Maestri states:

    “In addition, as you know, last year we started selling new iPhones in late September. This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later.”

    In my mind, “a few weeks” means just that – about 3-6 weeks. Had there not been a global health crisis, we would have expected that Apple would have expected Apple to hold their fall iPhone event on or around Tuesday, September 8. Following that would be the launching of pre-orders on Friday, September 18 and new iPhones going on sale by Friday, September 25.

    With this new guidance on when to expect new iPhones, Apple is telling investors, and Apple watchers like us, that there will be new iPhones this year and that they will be arriving in October (my guess) rather than November or December.

    In my opinion, the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max hardware is so good, I wouldn’t mind hanging on to my 11 Pro until the spring. But I get distracted by shiny things and will order a new and completely unnecessary iPhone this fall.

  • apple silicon,  big sur,  intel,  macos,  parallels,  vmware

    Apple Silicon Macs: An Overview

    During this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, WWDC, Apple announced the long-rumored start of the transition from Macs that run on Intel CPUs to their own in-house designed CPUs, currently referred to as “Apple Silicon”.

    Apple Silicon features, source: Apple, Inc.

    All of This Has Happened Before

    If you are a user who came to the Macintosh platform during or after 2006, don’t worry. This is actually the third time Apple has made a big architecture shift like this. Apple’s first Macintosh architecture transition was in 1994 from the Motorola 68000-series processors, the ones that were used in the original Macintosh line up, to the PowerPC 601 CPU first introduced in the Macintosh PowerPC 6100. Then, in 2005, Apple again transitioned the Mac. This time from the PowerPC architecture to the Intel Core Duo architecture. The move to Intel processors also had a side benefit in that Mac could directly boot into Windows; something that had previously required special hardware cards or slow virtualization software. Clearly, moving from one processor architecture to another is something that Apple has some experience with. The move from one CPU architecture to another is an extremely complicated effort. Apple spends years planning for and laying the groundwork components for such a transition years in advance. For example, discarding 32-bit app support from 2019’s macOS Mojave was, in retrospect, a major leading indicator for the start of the Apple Silicon transition in 2020. Tim Cook’s words at WWDC 2020 carry the same message as Steve Jobs’ during WWDC 2005 right down to the dad joke about secret labs and double lives.

    Steve Jobs talks about the Mac transition to Intel at WWDC 2005
    Tim Cook talks about the Mac transition to Apple Silicon at WWDC 2020

    Moving to Apple Silicon

    Starting with the A4 processor, Apple has been designing and using their own special blend of CPUs. Apple’s custom purpose-built processes have been used in 2010’s iPhone 4 and the original iPad. Apple has continued to press their custom processor advantage by building an in-house team of chip designers that has powered iOS and iPadOS devices to greater levels of performance year-over-year. Johny Srouji’s silicon team has been very, very busy.

    One of the big advantages to Apple’s CPUs is that they aren’t just CPUs. Apple refers to their processors as “systems on a chip”. In traditional Intel Macs, there are discrete CPUs, graphics processing chips, known as GPUs, and RAM. For example, a current iMac will have an Intel Core i7 Coffee Lake CPU and will have to send messages between the AMD Radeon Pro GPU and memory. Communicating between these components takes time. Apple’s A-Series SoCs, including the first Macs running Apple Silicon due out late this year, give these machines a performance boost over those that use off the shelf commodity parts.

    Using their own SoCs gives Apple another strategic advantage – they are able to develop key customer facing features such as Touch ID and Face ID which required the use of the technology that is found in the iPhone’s T2 secure enclave. While Apple didn’t specifically talk about future Macintosh products during the online only developer conference back in June, I expect the first Apple Silicon iMac to have Face ID. While today’s Intel-powered MacBooks have Touch ID, the current design requires a heavy amount of engineering to fully integrate the T2 co-processor with the Intel CPU. I expect that the first Apple laptop with Apple Silicon will have a much cleaner, streamlined implementation.

    Besides performance, I am particularly interested in seeing where Apple Silicon Macs go in terms of customer security and privacy, machine learning (i.e.: high quality ML search results in large Photo libraries), and quality of life features (i.e.: Apple Pay and Apple Watch unlock).

    What About Virtualization and Thunderbolt Support?

    The switch over to Apple Silicon won’t be without tradeoffs and compromises during the two-year transition period. Since the announcement at WWDC, two big questions have come up about key features of Intel Macs.

    Apple Silicon Macs running macOS 11 Big Sur will feature Universal 2, Rosetta 2, virtualization, and native iOS apps for iPhone and iPad, source: Apple, Inc.

    The first is what about virtualization? Virtualization allows customers to run Microsoft Windows and other operating systems. Apple has said that their first party solution, Boot Camp, will only work on Intel-based Macs. For Apple Silicon Macs, Apple will be introducing a new virtualization layer and re-introducing key technologies from the PowerPC to Intel transition: Universal 2 and Rosetta 2. With Universal 2, app developers will be able to compile and deploy apps for both Apple Silicon and Intel Macs. Rosetta 2 will help protect customer’s investment in software by enabling software written only for Intel Macs to run smoothly on Apple Silicon Macs running macOS 11 Big Sur. During the keynote, Docker and Parallels were both specifically mentioned as a way to run containers and Linux virtual machines on Apple Silicon Macs running Big Sur. Since Apple Silicon Macs are based on the same processor architecture as iPhone and iPad, iOS and iPadOS apps will now be able to be natively run on new Macs without modification. This will be a boon for customers and developers alike as the number of apps and customers will increase.

    But what about Mac users who rely on the ability to run Microsoft Windows for things like Active Directory management tools and Windows-only business applications, including Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio? Presumably, virtualization vendors VMware and Parallels will be working on solutions for Apple Silicon Mac. This, however, is not a forgone conclusion. Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Fusion developer VMware posted a question to Twitter asking how customers would use their software on Apple Silicon.

    One possible solution would be Apple and Microsoft working together to bring Windows on ARM support to Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur. Microsoft’s Surface X PC already runs a version of Windows 10 that has been optimized to run on a custom Qualcomm ARM chip known as the Microsoft SQ1 SoC. Such a deal could go a long way to virtualizing Windows on Macs similar to how Windows runs on Intel Macs today. At the very least, such a deal could be a leg up for VMware and Parallels products. Microsoft is working collaboratively to make sure that Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are ready for Apple Silicon-powered Macs. Anything is possible from the sometimes partners and sometimes rivals. I like to think that there will be a solution for running Windows and Windows-only application on Apple Silicon Macs, but I won’t be counting on the ability to virtualize Windows on an Apple Silicon Mac into my buying decision at the end of the year.

    At the tail end of 2019, Apple began shipping their new Mac Pro tower and Pro Display XDR. The Pro Display XDR, a several thousand-dollar professional workflow monitor, uses Thunderbolt 3 technology to connect it to compatible 2019 and 2020 Macs. The Thunderbolt 3 standard requires and Intel CPU and is one of the reasons why the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro tablets have USB-C only ports. The good news is that Apple plans on protecting their customer’s investment in the 32-inch 6k display technology. Intel recently announced the USB-C 4 and Thunderbolt 4 standard, which is based on the same USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connector port. Apple, in a statement to news outlets, said that, “We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon.” While Apple did not get into specifics of how they will bring USB-C 4 and Thunderbolt 4 to future Macs, we now know that existing and new peripherals based on the Intel standards will continue to be supported into the future.

    Buying Advice and the Future

    The announcement of Apple Silicon Macs and macOS 11 Big Sur make for an exciting time for Macintosh fans. Just as the transition to Intel CPUs unlocked better performance, Apple Silicon Macs will usher in the next decade of new features for customers.

    With that said, the next two years are going to be in flux. If you are a tech enthusiast, then you are probably going to be like me and will want to get your hands on a new Apple Silicon Mac as soon as you can. As an early adopter you will not doubt run into some compatibility issues with existing software and peripherals. 2020 Apple Silicon Macs, after all, will be “1.0” devices. Apple Silicon hardware released in late 2021 and beyond will have the benefit of feedback from late 2020 and early 2021 Apple Silicon Macs. You should avoid buying a new Apple Silicon Mac with the hope that one day a feature you need or want will be supported.

    If you are someone who just prefers the Mac, then buy the best Mac you can when the need comes up. Don’t worry about which chip is in your new Mac. You will receive years of support and trouble-free use for years to come.

    If you are a professional who relies on the Mac to get your work done, you will have some decisions to make. If you find yourself working primarily in Adobe Creative Cloud products, Microsoft Office, and Autodesk Maya and Cinema 4D, you may be ready for the new platform. However, if you look down the list of software and features that just have to work flawlessly, then, your best bet is to stick with the Intel Mac you have today or purchase a new Intel Mac when you need one during the next 18 months.

    The future of the Macintosh platform is brighter as it has ever been, and I am looking forward to the new features!

  • accessories,  iphone xr,  webcam,  windows 10

    DroidCam for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 PCs

    Whoever expected that in 2020 webcams, like the ones made by Logitech, would be in tight supply? Thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic forcing many people to work and learn from home; good webcams are hard to find. It doesn’t help that the webcams in our laptops have varying degrees of quality.

    That’s where DroidCam by Dev47Apps comes in. It’s simple, really. Your iPhone has a way better camera system than any webcam that has been shoved into the lid of a MacBook or Windows PC laptop. With so much of our work, learning, and socializing happening via web conference, there are many reasons why you will want to look your best on camera.

    DroidCam has two pieces: the main app that runs on your iOS or Android smartphone and a client app that presents the camera feed to your Windows PC. Unfortunately, there is no Mac client app. The app is free to use, with ads and watermarks. In my testing of the free app running on my iPhone XR with the latest version of iOS 13, I did not see any ads or watermarks in the video. For $4.99, you can remove the ads, watermark, and unlock “Pro” features like HD Video and video controls, using your smartphone as a mic, image flipping and rotation, brightness settings, screen captures, and a few other tools.

    DroidCam client running on Windows 10

    There are three ways to connect DroidCam to the client app on your Windows PC. The first is to connect both the smartphone and the PC to the same Wi-Fi network. Since I was using my solution for work, I didn’t want to use a public Wi-Fi connection for my video calls. The next option is to create a private Wi-Fi network between the smartphone and the PC. While better than a public Wi-Fi connection, this option seems like too much of a hassle. The third option, I feel, is the best option: using your smartphone’s sync cable to connect the phone to the PC. In my case, that was an Apple Lightning to USB-A cable. Wires, in 2020? I know, it seems crazy, but there are good reasons. First, running your smartphone as a webcam is going to place a heavy load on the phone’s battery. Keeping your smartphone plugged into your PC is going to help keep the battery up. Secondly, there are less changes of weird problems cropping up when Wi-Fi is out of the mix.

    There are few things that I didn’t like. There doesn’t seem to be a way to engage the front facing TrueDepth camera on my iPhone XR. DroidCam only seemed to be able to control the rear facing 12MP camera. This situation is understandable given that Dev47Apps originally developed the app for the Android platform. This does mean, however, that the iPhone screen is always pointing away from me. This makes interacting with the iPhone during setup difficult when it’s mounted in a c-clamp on a tripod. To be fair, my tripod rig is not the developer’s fault.

    Unlocked DroidCam client HD Mode options

    After attending a few work conference calls using DroidCam, I happily paid the full price to unlock the pro features. Paying $4.99 rather than spending hours trying to find a good webcam that is actually in stock on Amazon, eBay, Best Buy or others is a much better use of your time and attention. With its low cost, DroidCam is a very economical solution for getting better video performance out of the equipment you already have.

  • apple,  lifestyle

    The Underdogs – WFH

    I had to laugh when I watched Apple’s new promotional video ‘Working-From-Home Thing’ featuring the likable Underdogs office team.

    Apple’s Underdogs – Working from home

    You see, I needed a distraction from the shenanigans on social media, on cable news, and in newspapers. Apple’s satirical commercial highlights both the challenges we are all facing while trying to work at home while showcasing their products that help make collaborative work easier. With a run time of over six minutes, the video does feel a little long when compared to 2019’s Underdogs commercial. The scene where one of the Underdogs needs to talk to an IT person hits a little too close to home.

    If you want to see what Apple products can do in action, enjoy Apple’s video production values, or simply just relate to trying to work from home when you are used to working in an office, you should watch this short.

  • how-to,  ipados,  mac os x,  numbers

    Adding Videos to Apple Numbers Spreadsheets

    Numbers is the spreadsheet application in Apple’s iWork productivity suite. With the recent release of Numbers 10.1 for macOS, you are now able to embed and playback YouTube and Vimeo videos directly in Numbers spreadsheets.

    As a longtime user of Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint, I understand why presenters would want to add a video to their slide decks, but videos in a spreadsheet, that seems a little weird. So, naturally, I had to try it.

    Apple’s website shows beautifully crafted works of art cleverly disguised as spreadsheets. As and IT professional, my spreadsheets are usually uninspiring lists of things hastily thrown together so that I can quickly move on to the next thing that needs my attention.

    YouTube video embedded in a Numbers spreadsheet

    In my sample Numbers spreadsheet, I have a very simple high-level task list for deploying some computers and joining them to a domain. To provide instructions for redeeming an Apple gift card code, I embedded a YouTube video from the Apple Support channel. Using videos as a way to help illustrate how to perform a task is just one practical example of why one might want to embed a video in a spreadsheet.

    To embed a video in your Numbers document:

    1. Find the web video you want to embed and copy the videoURL
    2. Select the Numbers sheet where the video will be embedded
    3. Click/Tap the Media Add > Web Video
    4. Paste the video URL and click Insert
    5. Reposition and resize the video as needed

    There are a few problems that you will need to be aware of if you are going to use videos in your spreadsheet for professional purposes. The first is that you will have to click (macOS) or tap (iOS/iPadOS) the play button twice to get the video to play. The first click loads up the video, which is pretty quick, and the second begins playback. The second is that your video will not be playable in full screen. Depending on your use case, that could be a deal breaker. Your mileage will vary depending on your project’s needs.

    To learn more about how to add embedded videos to your Numbers spreadsheets, there are detailed directions on Apple.com.

  • games,  ms-dos,  vintage,  vmware,  windows

    Creating Image Files for Use with Virtual Machines

    This weekend, I started a small project to install some old DOS and Windows 95-family games into virtual machines (VMs) that I have running in VMware Fusion (VMware Workstation on Windows PCs).

    Trying to get old MS-DOS games, like Quake and Tie Fighter working have proven to be particularly difficult as I have long forgotten the art of configuring drivers in autoexec.bat and confg.sys.

    To help, I have found two tools that have been useful in this weekend’s hacking effort to get the games loaded and relearn what was forgotten.

    The first is Apple’s own Disk Utility. Disk Utility can be used for a number of things on macOS, but it can be used to bundle up the contents of a folder into a floppy disk .img file. Apple has a really good step-by-step KB support article on how to make disk images.

    I wasn’t having much success in using Disk Utility to create CD and DVD .iso files. So, rather than waste many hours on troubleshooting, I chose to download InfraRecorder for Windows and load it into a Windows 10 Insider VM. The free software can be downloaded from Ninite.com – a site the provides safe utility software for Windows PCs without all of the malware, bloatware, adware…you get the idea.

    Finally, if you are looking for some old boot disks or OS installers, WinWorld has a full library of software that should have what you are looking for. For me, I needed that Windows 98 Second Edition floppy to get the oakcdrom.sys file since my original floppy went missing over a decade ago.

  • lifestyle

    Happy Independence Day

    This Independence Day is like none other in our lifetimes. We face a global pandemic. Police are killing unarmed African Americans in plain view of video cameras without fear of punishment. There is food and financial insecurity for the most vulnerable people living in this country while corporations are putting up record breaking profits. Our government is grid locked with “Us” vs “Them” tribalism. And, there a self-absorbed white supremacist who is more interested in dividing us than uniting us in the White House of this once great nation. I am embarrassed by what we have allowed America to become.

    I hope and pray to God that one day We the People will have the courage to return to values such as truth, service, and cooperation.

    So, on this Fourth of July, I recall the sacrifices made by all the men and women who founded this country and, in the words, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”