• apple,  hackintosh,  mac,  mac os x,  vintage

    Apple Clones and the “Hackintosh”

    In the world of technology, there are clones and then there are hacks. Depending on who’s point of view is being used and when, clones and hacks can have both positive or negative connotations. Take for instance the well documented case of Samsung outright cloning, or copying, many aspects of early iPhone hardware and software. When talking about personal computers, Macintosh and Apple // clones are fully licensed machines while “Hackintosh” PCs are unauthorized illegal work-alike machines.

    In Apple’s long history of making computer for the rest of us, few companies have received special status from Apple to make Macintosh clones. In the mid-1990s, PowerComputing’s PowerWave 604/132 and the UMax SuperMac S900/200 are two examples of favored status Macintosh clones.

    A Hackintosh computer on the other hand, is an unlicensed personal computer built from commodity hardware and modified in such as way as to boot the macOS/MacOS/OS X operating system. To do so, one must bypass Apple’s licensing restrictions and copy protections. Hacked copies of Apple’s computers are nothing new. Dating back to the 1980s, the VTech Laser 128 and the Franklin Corporation Franklin Ace 100 were two popular, and unlicensed, Apple // clones. The name “Hackintosh” itself is an amalgamation of the words “hack” and “Macintosh”. In Apple’s view, a Hackintosh is a very bad thing. From the point of tech enthusiasts, a Hackintosh is a call back to the early days of computing when tinkering with hardware and software to make something new or work in ways that were not intended by the original thing is exciting and challenging.

    In my view, having worked with both PowerComputing PowerWave “Macs” and a “Hackintosh” or two, the experience is a little bit of both. While PowerComputing boxes were fully licensed clones of the Apple PowerMacintosh PCs of the day, and could boot and use current versions of classic MacOS, I always felt that the commodity hardware was inferior to the more expensive components in Apple’s PCs. For example, after ordering a fleet of 12 PowerWave towers, six of them were defective right out of the box.

    Tinkering with a Dell Mini 9 netbook to coax it into running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was both a fun science project and an oddity in the office after many of the Macs had been replaced with Windows PCs. The amount of hacking the Dell netbook to install a modified version of the computer’s BIOS and hardware driver software was not for the uninitiated.

    One the plus side, a Hackintosh offers an enthusiast a number of configuration and optimization options that are just not possible with an official Macintosh. The ability to use any case style or video card are just two examples. One big draw of a Hackintosh PC is price. Hackintoshes offer a means to get the same or better raw computing performance out of readily available hardware at a much lower price. I remember the point about price being promoted in an old computer book I purchased in the early 1990s titled “How to Build a Cat Mac”. Remember the time when we actually went to a book store to buy books? The premise of the book is that you would take the motherboard out of an old Mac and retrofit it into a PC case and use PC components with it. Unable to afford a Mac as an early teen, let alone take it part to tinker with it, building a Cat Mac was not an option back then, even if I did find the idea of building my own customized Mac fascinating.

    However, there are some significant downsides to using clones and Hackintosh PCs. For one, Hackintosh computers are not legal from a software licensing perspective. While not usually a serious issue for a home enthusiast, trying to build a business around selling Hackintosh computers to consumers is a precarious position at best. Such was the case for Psystar Corporation and OpenCore Computer currently. For me personally, inferior battery life on the Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh was a deal breaker as was having to wait for authorized clone makers to update and release their modified versions of MacOS and driver software after Apple released the software for the Macintosh. For me, not having the latest and greatest software bits to play with is a deal breaker. While I am glad that Hackintosh computers exist from a hobbyist standpoint, I much prefer to have a computer and operating system that just work. While I don’t have my Laser 128, my Dell Mini 9 netbook, or even my old Cat Mac book, I do remember all three fondly and am grateful that I was able to learn from and tinker with them.

  • adobe,  flash,  mac,  mac os x

    Uninstalling Adobe Flash

    Adobe Flash’s days are numbered. Flash is one of those technologies that I never liked using. Using a Flash app on a small business website was never great, but Flash on commercial websites just felt gross, slow, and never felt like it belonged on my Mac. Adobe announced that they would discontinue Flash Player for interactive content at the end 2020. Unfortunately, Adobe’s announcement was in 2017. With months still left on the countdown clock, why are we talking about Flash now?

    In the intervening years, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome have been becoming more aggressive at warning and then blocking access to Flash apps. Starting with Safari Technical Preview 99, the WebKit team will be completely removing support for Adobe Flash support from the browser.

    Long time Apple fans knew that this day has been coming. From the get-go, Apple famously did not allow Flash to run on their iOS platform. It was a decision that I fully supported after seeing how terribly Flash ran on Palm webOS devices. A decade ago, the late Steve Jobs ranted about Flash in a 1,600-word argument against the technology in a blog post titled “Thoughts on Flash“. In the post, he made an impassioned plea to convince the tech industry, and Apple customers, that Flash was a terrible technology while also arguing that Flash-free Apple products would perform better. It was classic Jobs: fight for the users and Apple all at the same time.

    So, now what? If you are like me, I’m ready to ditch Flash now. I already use the Safari Technology Preview beta software. My remaining need for Flash, working with a team that still used Flash on their website, has gone away. Now, I’m ready to rip Flash out of macOS 10.15 Catalina. Here’s how we can uninstall Flash together.

    First, go get Flash uninstall tool from the Adobe website.

    Next, double-click the uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg download file. This will create a Flash Player drive icon on your desktop (below, left and center).

    Inside the Flash Player drive, double-click the Adobe Flash Player Uninstaller.app file (above, right). When prompted, enter your macOS password to authorize the removal of Flash.

    When you are done, drag the Flash Player drive icon and the uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg file to the trash can icon in the Dock.

    Since Flash has a System Preferences control panel and plug-ins for the web browsers that you may have installed on your Mac, I like to also add in a reboot just for good measure.

  • apple,  mac,  security

    Apple Issues Security Update for ‘root’ Vulnerability

    IMG_1167

    Yesterday, an unusually dangerous security vulnerability in macOS 10.13.1 High Sierra was uncovered.  Less than 24-hours later, Apple has issued a patch to correct the situation.  The vulnerability allowed access to the Unix ‘root’ account – the most powerful ID on a Unix system – without the use of a password.

    apple_macos_10_13_1_security_update_2017_001

    Apple support article HT208315 gives you the specifics about this vulnerability.  If you haven’t already done so, go to the Mac App Store and install Security Update 2017-001.  It is a small update that does not require the Mac to be rebooted.

    John Gruber over at Daring Fireball received a statement from Apple stating the company’s regret and apology for rolling out High Sierra 10.13.1 with this bug in it.  The statement to Daring Fireball also noted that “starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of macOS High Sierra.”

    It was later reported, again by Gruber, that the Security Update 2017-001 patch inadvertently breaks file sharing in macOS High Sierra.  If you experience the post Security Update 2017-001 file sharing bug, Apple has posted support article HT208317 on how to fix file sharing.  To apply the file sharing bug fix, open Terminal.app and issue the command:

    sudo /usr/libexec/configureLocalKDC

    There is no output from the command.  When you are done, quit Terminal.

  • apple,  apple tv,  apple watch,  ios 10,  ipad,  iphone,  mac,  mac os x,  macbook pro

    Apple Software Update Monday [Updated]

    Update: iTunes 12.5.5 was also released today.

    Apple gave us four updates for our iDevices and Macs today.

    apple_macosx_sierra_10_12_3_20170123

    Earlier this afternoon, MacOS Sierra 10.12.3 arrived offering graphics improvements for the October 2016 edition MacBook Pros.  The Sierra 10.12.3 update closed up a hole in Preview that was mucking with searching scanned PDF files.

    apple_itunes_1255_20170123

    iTunes 12.5.5 was also released for MacOS (and Windows PC) adding “minor app and performance improvements”.

    apple_ios_10-2-1_20170123

    Also arriving today was 10.2.1, a minor security and bug fix update for iPhone and iPad.  watchOS 3.1.3 tagged along to give Apple Watch owners a small tune up also.

    apple_watchos_3_1_3_20170123.png

    And, last, but not least, Apple TV got a minor bump up to tvOS 10.1.1 from 10.1.

    apple_tvos_10_1_1_20170123

    All of today’s updates are minor security and bug fixes, with no major features or new functionality added.

    Look for the iOS 10.3 beta releases to start arriving any day now.

     

  • apple //e,  apple //gs,  apple tv,  apple watch,  imac,  iphone,  ipod,  ipod touch,  mac,  mac pro,  power mac,  powerbook

    Happy 40th Birthday, Apple! Stay Foolish!

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtY0K2fiFOA]
    Apple – 40 Years in 40 Seconds video originally show during Apple’s Spring 2016 event

    In honor of Apple’s 40th birthday today, I decided to help celebrate by listing out all of the Apple gear that I have either owned (my own personal hardware) or I have used at work (which was a big Mac shop until the mid-2000’s).

    Items that I owned have a picture and the approximate year in which I started using it. All of the hardware listed below has been listed in chronological order by the year Apple released it.

    Apple //e, Apple

    ImageWriter II (1986)

    Apple IIgs (1988)

    Macintosh SE/30 (1995)

    Macintosh Classic (1990)
    Macintosh IIci (1996)

    Macintosh LC (1992)

    Macintosh IIsi (1995)

    Macintosh PowerBook 100 (1992)

    Macintosh PowerBook Duo 230 and DuoDock (1993)
    Apple QuickTake 100 camera (1995)

    Power Macintosh 7100/66av (1995)

    Macintosh PowerBook Duo 2300c/100 and DuoDock (1996)
    Macintosh PowerBook 5300ce (1996)
    Apple StyleWriter 1200 (1996)

    Apple Newton MessagePad 2000 (1998)
    Power Macintosh 7600 (1997)

    Macintosh PowerBook G3 “Wall Street” (1998)
    Power Macintosh G3 Blue and White (1999)
    Power Mac G4 Cube with Apple 17-inch Cinema Display and Apple Pro Speakers (2001)

    iMac 17-inch Flat Panel (2002)
    PowerBook G4 DVI (2002)
    Power Mac G4 Mirrored Drive Doors (2002)
    Power Mac G4 QuickSilver with Apple 20-inch Cinema Display (2003)
    Apple iPod with Dock Connector (2003)
    Power Mac G5 (2004)

    PowerBook G4 (2004)

    Xserve and Xserve RAID (2004)
    Apple iPod 5th Generation (2005)
    MacBook 13-inch (2006)
    Mac Pro with 23-inch Cinema Display (2006)

    iPhone 2G (2010)

    iPod Touch (2008)
    Apple TV 1st Generation (2009)
    MacBook Pro 17-inch (2010)
    iPad with Wi-Fi (2010)

    iPhone 4s Sprint (2011)
    iPad 3rd Generation with Wi-Fi (2012)
    iPad mini 1st Generation with Wi-Fi (2013)
    Apple TV 3rd Generation (2013)
    iPad Air (2013)
    iPhone 5s Sprint (2013)
    iPhone 6 Sprint (2014)

    Apple Watch Sport (2015)

    iPhone 6s Plus Sprint (2015)
    iPad Pro 12.9-inch with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (2015)

    iMac Retina 5k, 27-inch (2016)

  • apple,  apple store,  el capitan,  imac,  mac,  mac os x,  macbook pro

    My New Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Retina Display

    Today, I purchased a new Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Retina display!  This is my first new Mac since I purchased my beloved Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch.

    My daughter Kaitlyn and my Dad where with me at the Trumbull, Connecticut Apple Store for the big day.  Thanks, guys!  (Katie also picked up three new iPhone 6/6s cases too.  Thanks, Daddy!)

    The following pictures are of my unboxing and initial setup.  I hope you enjoy them.

    I love that years later, Apple is still printing “Macintosh Think Different” on their boxes.  “Think Different” was the slogan from their iconic ad campaign from the 1990s.  Today’s Macs don’t look anything like their beige box siblings, and are insanely more powerful, but “Think Different” still inspires me to always do my best.

    I will be upgrading my new iMac to 32GB of RAM from the stock 8GB as soon as all of the software setup and Time Machine restores are done.

    Waiting is the hardest part of setting up a new Mac.

    While I wait, I decided to try and figure out which keyboard I wanted to use with my new iMac.  From top to bottom, the Apple Magic Keyboard (2015), Apple Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard (2005) and the Apple Extended Keyboard II (1990).  Yes, that last one uses Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) connectors.  You can still find ADB-to-USB adapters on eBay.
    My MacBook Pro 17-inch – still working hard while my 27-inch iMac is still goofing off while it’s Time Machine restore continues to run while I write this blog post.
    Thanks Steve.
  • apple,  el capitan,  itunes,  mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server

    Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.11.4 Update, Other OS X Software Updates

    Following today’s “In the Loop” event, Apple has released a number of software updates for Mac OS X, including the El Capitan 10.11.4 Update, iTunes 12.3.3, OS X Server 5.1 and Apple Configurator 2.2.

    Mac OS X El Capitan Update 10.11.4

    New in “El Cap” is the ability to passcode protect notes stored in the Apple Notes app.  This feature addition is in-line with today’s iOS 9.3 system update which brings the same feature to iOS devices.  The Notes app also gained new sorting capabilities too.  If you are an Evernote user, or more correctly, an Evernote user looking to escape, Notes can now import Evernote files.  Evernote importing is a feature that Microsoft recently released for the PC version of OneNote with the help of an optional Microsoft OneNote plug-in.

    Also of note for Mac users is the addition of Live Photos being shared between OS X and iOS in the Messages app and AirDrop.  iBooks also received an enhancement that allows iBooks to write PDF files into your iCloud account – making the PDF files available to all of your iCloud connected OS X and iOS devices.

    iTunes 12.3.3

    iTunes 12.3.3 is a minor update that adds support for the new iPhone SE and the iPad Pro, the 9-inch flavor, to iTunes.  iTunes is the only cross-platform software update that is also available on Windows 7/8.x/10 PCs.

    OS X Server 5.1 and Apple Configurator 2.2

    Both, OS X Server 5.1 and Configurator 2.2 received updates that add new features to support the new Profile Manager and iPads with shared configurations.

  • apple,  el capitan,  mac,  mac os x

    Apple Releases OS X 10.11 El Capitan for Macintosh

    Apple, today, released the next generation of the Macintosh operating system: OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

    2015 is a “rebuilding” year for both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan with both new operating systems focused on making things run smoother, faster, more efficiently and securely.

    With El Capitan, Apple brings Split view to OS X – one of my favorite feathers – new features to Mission Control, the new San Francisco display font, faster graphics with Metal (requires 2012 or later Macs) and many more features and enhancements.

    El Capitan runs on most Macs that have been released since 2007 and requires that the Mac has OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8.  El Capitan requires about 6GB of free disk space.  As with the last few releases of OS X, OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been released by Apple for free.

    Download El Capitan from the Mac App Store.

  • calendar,  fantastical,  flexibits,  ios,  mac,  mac os x,  productivity,  yosemite

    Flexibits Launches Fantastical 2 for Mac

    The calendar mavens over at Flexibits have released a major update to their popular calendaring app, Fantastical 2 for Mac!
    A short video of Fantastical 2 for Mac in action is available on the Flexibits website.

    Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 for Mac includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), an intuitive parsing engine, iCloud reminders support, light theme, time zone support, birthday reminders, and much more.

    Fantastical 2 has a beautiful all-new design and includes many OS X Yosemite features, including a Today Widget, Action & Share Extensions, plus Handoff support to provide continuity between Fantastical 2 for Mac, Fantastical 2 for iPhone, and Fantastical 2 for iPad.

    Fantastical 2 for Mac’s natural language parsing engine has been updated to be even more friendly and flexible. The parsing engine now understands expressive repeating events such as third Thursday of every month, every weekend, last weekday of the month, and more. Plus, users can now add alerts by ending their natural language input with phrases such as “remind me tomorrow at 3PM”, “alert 1 hour before”, or “alarm 3PM.”

    “When Fantastical came out 4 years ago, our goal was to reinvent the calendar app to ease the frustrations of using calendars,” said Michael Simmons, CEO & President of Flexibits. “With Fantastical 2, we challenged ourselves to reinvent Fantastical itself.”

    I think for me, the perfect integration with Mac OS X Yosemite with the ability to use OS X Dictation, Today view, and Handoff to/from my iPhone and iPad together with Flexibits natural language parsing engine are the killer features that make this upgrade well worth the purchase price.
    In addition to the super functional Mac toolbar mini window, Flexibits has included a new very handsome looking Today widget.  But the big new visual enhancement for Fantastical for Mac is the new full calendar view.
    Fantastical 2 is available now directly from the Mac App Store for $39.99.  As the name implies, this is a completely new version of Fantastical, which means if you have already purchased Fanastical 1 for Mac, you will need to purchase it again.  The enhancements found in Fantastical 2 for Mac are really well worth it.  Plus, you are helping out some great indie Mac developers in the process.
  • app store,  apple,  ipad,  iphone,  ipod touch,  mac,  red

    App Store Goes (RED) To Help Fight AIDS


    Apple has long been a supporter of AIDS prevention.  This year, Apple has launched a multi pronged event to help raise awareness of the fight against AIDS.

    To start, Apple has posted a special (RED) page on their website.  There is also a link to the RED.org website where you can lean more about the work that is being done and the other companies that are helping fight this disease.

    Apple also has a few other promotions going on for your favorite iOS devices.  As in years past, Apple is promoting their (PRODUCT) RED devices and accessories.  Current model iPods are available in (RED) editions as well as (RED) cases for iPhone and iPad.  I have a few of the (PRODUCT) RED cases for my iPhones and iPads.  They cost the same as other Apple cases and look great!  What’s better, is that they are on sale all the time.  You owe it to yourself to pick one up and feel good that you are supporting a good cause all the while having a case that looks great on your device!

    Apple is also running a special promotion on Friday (11/28/14) and Monday (12/1/14).  On Friday, when you purchase participating products, you will receive a special (Product)RED Apple gift card and Apple will donate a portion of the proceeds to (RED).  Similarly, on Monday, when you make a purchase at an Apple Retail Store or online, Apple will donate a portion of the proceeds from everything they sell to (RED).  That’s pretty damn amazing when you consider that Monday is “Cyber Monday” and a lot of people will be doing online Christmas shopping that day.

    New this year, is iOS app developer’s involvement in the (RED) campaign.  From November 24 – December 7, either 100% of app or In-App Purchase item is donated to (RED)’s Global Fund.  There are some really fantastic apps that are part of the program.

    For example, Apple has updated Garage Band with a special (GarageBand)RED Loop Pack.  Rovio has created three special (RED)’s Mighty Feathers levels to play.  My favorite iOS app that is participating in this year’s campaign has got to be ustwo’s Monument Valley.  With a $0.99 IAP, you can purchase one extra level – Ida’s (RED) Dream.

    If games and making music aren’t your thing, there are still other ways to help.  In total there are 25 iOS app developers involved this year, with apps like 53, Clear, Kitchen Stories Recipes and Star Walk 2.  You can find the complete list of apps and IAP on the App Store.  If you would just like to make a donation you can do that too.  Just open the App Store on your iOS device and make a donation.

    This holiday season, we have lots to be thankful for.  Please, make a donation to help fight HIV/AIDS by participating in one of these programs.