Today, April 1, is Apple’s birthday. It was created on this day by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976. One of the things I love about Apple is the community that has been built around it. One of the best people in the community is Rene Ritchie. For the last 11 years on the iMore website, Rene has been a reporter, columnist, and editor covering Apple and other technology. But the thing I really like about Rene is he has always been incredibly positive and never says anything bad about anyone. He a great citizen in the Apple Community. During the last year, he has been on YouTube for iMore on a channel called Vector. His videos are straight forward and no-nonsense and they are filled with great facts. I really enjoy them. Well yesterday, he quit iMore and decided to go on his own. He has his own channel called Rene Ritchie. Please check him out if you never watched him. I wish him the best luck and I look forward to watching him.
In this time of the pandemic, my 10 year-old 27 inch iMac finally broke down. So I am trying to decide what kind of Mac I should purchase. On one hand, I would love to purchase the 2019 Mac Pro that Apple came out with at the end of 2019. It is incredibly powerful and more importantly its the easiest Mac to upgrade. Over the last 10 years since I purchased my 2010 iMac, Apple has made it almost impossible to upgrade Macs. My 2010 iMac was easy to update. MacSales.com would sell you a cheap kit to open that iMac so you could take out the hard drive that came with the iMac and then put a fast SSD drive. You could also open up the iMac and add a second SSD drive or another larger hard drive. Same with the MacBook Pros and old MacBook Airs. You could open them up and replace the hard drives with a better SSD drive or a larger SSD drive if it came with an SSD drive. But no more. You can’t really upgrade the SSD drives in the MacBook Pros and the MacBook Airs and its much much harder to now upgrade the iMac. But the 2019 Mac Pro you can easily upgrade. Apple designed it for pros to make it easy to take out and put in hardware in it.
But the problem is that Mac Pro is very expensive. Without the monitor, it is roughly $6,000 with tax for the cheapest configuration. That is a lot of money. How can I justify getting it? I am not some pro who makes videos or a musician producer who needs the power of such a an amazing Mac. And the 32-inch screen for this Mac Pro is close to $5,000. So if you want to get the Apple monitor for that Mac Pro, you would pay at least $11,000. That is nuts, right? But the thing is, this Mac Pro will last a long time. Because it is easy to open up, it will be easy to upgrade. So let us say I own it for 10 years. And 10 years is easy for the Mac Pro. After all, I used my 2010 iMac for 10 years easy. Monthly payments spread out over 10 years for $11,000 come to $91.66 per month. That isn’t bad when you think about it. Having a tremendous computer in your life for under $100 per month makes sense. I am trying to think of all the things I pay more than $100 per month which I would never enjoy as much as a Mac Pro with Apple’s 32-inch monitor. I pay a whopping $450 per month to park my car indoors in New York City. That is crazy. But I pay it because its convenient to have my car so close to where I live. I drink a lot of Diet Coke and probably average $2 per day on Diet Coke. Well that is $60 per month but that is still a big chunk of the $100 per month for the $11,000 Mac Pro and 32 inch monitor. My lunch during the work week is at least $7 to $10 per lunch. Let us say its $8.50 for the average lunch. That is $170 for lunch during the work week every month. And I don’t even really enjoy those lunches very much. If I made my own lunch and brought it to work I could probably average $4 or $3 for lunch every day. If I saved $5 every day for lunch at work, well that comes to about $100 per month which is what over ten years would be the cost of the Mac Pro and 32-inch monitor.
What Wonderful Things Could I Do With the Mac Pro?
So what would be some of the wonderful things I would do with the Mac Pro? Well, I love to edit videos as a hobby. And I would never really run out of processor power with the Mac Pro. The other great thing with the Mac Pro is you would have so much storage that you could easily make it a Windows computer with Boot Camp. Boot Camp runs off the same drive as the Mac OS. But with a Mac Pro, you could put another drive with a Mac OS on it but partition it so 90% of the drive is Windows. Then when you need Windows you boot the other Mac OS with with Windows on it rather than partitioning the drive that is your main Mac OS drive. Also, after many years go by, you can use the Mac Pro to be your server because it can hold so many drives.
But seriously. With a pandemic going on, and the economy being destroyed because no one can leave their home, am I really going to purchase an $11,000 computer? I would probably wait for Apple to upgrade the iMac. There are rumors Apple will soon update the iMac. When you get the iMac you also get a great 5k monitor. And you can pay just somewhere between $2.5k and $4k to get a really good configuration of a 27 iMac.
So there you have it. Don’t know what Mac to get. Do you?
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to argue that the Mac probably wouldn’t have survived without Office, and possibly without a good version of Office. And in 1997 Apple wouldn’t have survived if the Mac platform hadn’t made a resurgence. Apple’s own iWork suite — Pages, Numbers, Keynote — didn’t ship until 2005. Microsoft Office singlehandedly kept the Mac as a credible platform for classic productivity apps for 8 years.
I disagree with John Gruber that Microsoft Office was key to keeping Apple alive in the late 1990s. Definitely Microsoft investing in Apple having Office programs on the Macintosh helped Apple. But the thing is Microsoft Office, particular Microsoft Word on the Mac sucked compared to Microsoft Office and Microsoft Word on Windows back then. Among other things, if you used Microsoft Word on the Mac and then sent the file to your Windows computer, there were problems with the compatible format. I hardly ever used the Office program on the Mac because I was worried that the Word file would screw up the format when I opened it on Windows.
For decades I have been using Windows at work (for my day job) and at home using a Macintosh. And only in the last 10 years or so has using Microsoft Word on Mac worked well with Microsoft Word on a Windows computer. Back in the late 1990s people who really wanted to use Microsoft Office were definitely getting a Windows computer. No one in enterprise was using a Mac back then if they were mainly using the Microsoft Office. People were getting the Mac because they were enthusiastic about it or because they were working on media, like with video or photos or web etc. For me, I knew that Office sucked on the Mac for many many years. Microsoft Office was so bad on the Mac for so many years that most people wanted to use a virtual computer on their Mac to run Windows and Windows Office. That is how bad Office on the Mac was.
Now the Office Program on the Mac is much better. But I would say that is during the past 10 years. And it is certainly much better on iOS and on the iPad.
I was taken aback today when news crossed my desk that Clayton Morris and his wife Natali and their kids moved from New Jersey to Portugal under a cloud of civil litigation alleging that Clayton has committed fraud against various investors in real estate. See the news here (Washington Examiner) and here (USA Today).
Why I am taken aback is for years I have listened to both Clayton and Natli. Both of them were tech people on the internet. For almost 20 years I have been following and listening to Leo Laporte, the king of tech on the internet and podcasting. For many years, both Natali and Clayton, who had separate tech careers, were guests on Leo Laporte’s podcasts. Natali was also co-host of another popular podcasts called Buzz Out Loud. She was then single and known as Natali Del Conti. Clayton Morris for years was the tech guy on Fox’s Fox and Friends. At some point they got married and it was really cool that two tech celebrities on the internet found each other. (Although now an internet search shows me Clayton was married and may have gotten Natali pregnant while married to his first wife.)
So a couple of years ago, I thought they did a weird move. They quit doing tech and instead did a real estate program where they were trying get investors to purchase real estate. I listed to one of the podcasts and I didn’t like it because it sounded like they were trying to make investors believe they could make easy money investing in real estate. Among other things, they created something called Morris Invest and did podcasts telling people how they could make a lot of money through real estate. They also had a Youtube channel pitching investment advice.
I found thier pitches on the podcast and YouTube to be creepy. It sounded like hard pitches and that the Morris were primarily interested in making money.
Well things started coming out about the Morrises this past spring when on March 25, 2019, the New York Times reported various civil suits filed by investors into Clayton Morris pitch accusing him and his company of fraud.
Then within recent days the press has reported that the Morris have left the country and moved to Portugal. Natali Morris confirmed this on her website.
Natatli Morris is claiming that she and her husband are innocent:
Last month my family and I moved abroad. We have many reasons for this but the other day at our visa application appointment, I realized that the main motivation was the same thing that has pushed generations of parents across borders: to seek a better life for their family.
I am not one of those who rejects America. We had a good life there. But my husband and I have had a hard few years in our business and this has forced us to question everything. 1
It is not a smart move for them to move to Portugal while there are all these lawsuits claiming that they swindled various investors. It looks like they are running away with the money to Portugal. If the lawsuits go to trial and they don’t show up they will look guilty for running away. Even if they come back for depositions and a civil trial it still looks bad that they left the country, particularly if they took the money with them.
Also, if they are concerned about a criminal case, it is not a good plan to run away to Portugal.
I keep wondering what Leo Laporte and other tech people on the internet who knew them think about this.
I guess this saga will play out on the coming years.
One of my pet peeves on the iPhone and iPad is that when I play a video podcast on the Apple Podcast and I close the app because I want to do something else on the iPhone or iPad, but I want to still listen to the podcast, the audio would stop. So then I would have to manually start out the podcast using the control window. IOS 13 beta appears to solve that. I am running beta version 3 and when I get out of the Podcast app while watching a video podcast, the audio doesn’t stop. Hooray. Thanks for fixing this Apple. Here is a short video that demonstrates this.
Every year, early June is like a Winter Holiday for me. That is because WWDC, Apple’s Developer’s conference takes place in early June. This year it starts on Monday, June 3, 2019. I can’t wait.
I can’t wait because the future comes on WWDC. Apple updates the IOS and Mac System. Little by little we go in the future. And if we are lucky, Apple announces hardware at WWDC. This year we hope that Tim Cook will announce the new Mac Pro.
Here is a short video tip on how to suppress the 1st page number in a document in the IOS Pages app. It took me a bit to figure it out.
Ok. This is Lex. I am posting from my Micro.Blog app on my iPad. I am thinking of making some changes to engage more on the internet. Among other things, I want to podcast more. I am going to open an account with the Anchor services for podcasts. Among other things, Spotify recently purchased Anchor. That can be a good thing or bad thing. Anchor makes it easier to publish podcasts easier on the internet and also to get sponsors and ads. But Spotify might make podcasts who use Anchor be exclusive on Spotify. That wouldn’t be good because then some podcasts would be only on Spotify and not in iTunes or not on the open internet. But I like that fact that Anchor makes it easier to get sponsors and ads. That is what YouTube did to make it easier to get paid if you created video contents.
Apple frankly should step in and match Spotify. Apple for many years led the way with podcasts by creating a director in iTunes. Apple should make it easy for podcasters to monetize when they publish a podcast into iTunes. Right now, I had done a few podcasts through the Wavelength App that Micro.blog has. It costs $10 per month to publish podcasts through Micro.blog. But Micro.blog has limits on the amount of podcasts you can host per month and time limits. Plus, Micro.blog doesn’t make it easy to get suponsorships or ads, nor does it make it easy to collaborate with others on your podcast. Among other things, I am trying to figure out how to redirect my Micro.blog podcast to Anchor and I don’t see an easy way to do it.
I think Apple has to compete with Spotify in this move by Spotify to host podcasts. In addition to purchasing Anchor, Spotify is purchasing Gimlet, which is a company that makes pretty good podcasts. So Spotify is going into content by purchasing Gimlet. It seems that Spotify wants to diversify form just being involved with streaming music. If Spotify can sell ads against people’s podcast, similar to YouTube selling ads on videos, Spotify maybe will get additional revenues and profits. Apple, which had been the king of podcasts for many years, should get into this act. Apple is not trying to get revenue from services, rather than just selling iPhones, iPads, and Macintoshs. If Apple can take a cut from ads from Podcasts and also help people making podcasts, that could be a good business. So I hope Apple steps in.
One of the coolest things I learned and listened to recently was the Automators Podcasts with David Sparks and Rose Orchard. They had the co-founder and owner of the Launch Center Pro App on, David Barnard. They were talking of one of the new features of Launch Center Pro 3, which is that you can purchase cheap stickers that have NFC tech on the sticker and the sticker can basically trigger Launch Center Pro to do something on your iPhone. They pointed out that the newer iPhones have background NFC. That means even when you are not using your iPhone, the iPhone can sense NFC signals. I ordered some of the stickers from here. I can’t wait to try them out. Think about it. You will be able to trigger things from the iPhone from a sticker you stick on something. For example, you could put the sticker on your iPhone holder in the car, and when you put the iPhone on the holder the sticker could trigger Launch Center Pro to launch your Map program, plus you Apple Music playlist, plus sending a text to your wife saying your are leaving the garage. Or, you could put a trigger near your door so when you leave your house or apartment you just put your phone near it and it will shut off the wifi antenna on your iPhone. I hate having my wifi on when I leave home because I keep getting these notifications that a wifi network is available. I don’t want to joint a wifi network when I leave home. And they keep popping up.
I think what Launch Center Pro is doing with these NFC stickers is really cool. Will let you know what I do with them when I get them. I think I ordered something like 10 stickers, 5 of which are clear, and 5 of which have the icon from Launch Center pro.
Along with being a big fan of Apple, I am a fan of MacStories.Net and Federico Viticci who founded that Apple-centric website from Italy and his writing. What caught my eye recently was a great review of the PCalc App’s update (version 3.8) to take advantage of the APIs that Apple recently in IOS 12 regarding Siri Shortcuts. Federico really praised how PCalc integrated setting up Siri Shortcuts in the app and he said it was a great model for other apps. Federico also gave an example about how cool the automation will be in iOS 12 with the Siri Shortcuts and the Shortcut app that Apple released. You can read Federico’s article here.
One of the things Federico highlighted was the the PCalc app now allows you to create Siri Shortcuts using the clipboard in iOS as an input. And he gave an example where PCalc can convert currency to another currency using input from copying a number to the clipboard. He then explained that after you create some Siri Shortcuts for PCalc, you can then see those Shortcuts in the Shortcut App that Apple created and then you could chain together the shortcuts and name the combination for a shortcuts for that combination. Basically, the idea is that you can pick a number for the currency you want to convert, and then it will convert it to various currency using the Shortcut App and the Shortcuts that are in PCalc that you created.
So I tried doing that but I ran into a problem. When I used the Shortcut App and selected PCalc Shortcuts, the problem was that once it converted one number, it than put the answer in the clipboard, and so the next conversion, rather than using the original number in the clipboard used the new number in the the clipboard.
For example, I experimented with converting Euro’s to British Pounds and also to the U.S. Dollar. The input was 100 Euros. It converted to Pounds correctly, 88.88 Pounds, but then used that number to convert to dollars, instead of 100 Euros.
So on Twitter I reached out for assistance from Federico and the developer of PCalc, James Thomson, was kind enough to respond also. Here is what he said.
So James Thomson confirmed that the way PCalc works is that the output is added to the clipboard.
Referring to features in the Shortcuts App, Mr. Thomson suggested the following that could be a possible fix.
Well with that solution, I found a workaround. And while I used the clipboard, I also added a feature where the Shortcut prompts me to fill in a number for the Euro, and then it first tells me that the first conversion number was an English Pound, and then when I was ready give me the Pound conversion number, and then tells me the next conversion is the U.S. Dollar, and the answer for the conversion to the Dollar, and then tell me the next conversion was the Chinese Yuan, and then the conversion answer.
In the Shortcut App here is how I did it. First, I used the scripting function “Ask for Input” where I set the question for the prompt to be “Enter Euro.” That prompts an input and I set the value to “number” as I want a number, the value of the Euro I want to convert.
Then I add the script “Get Variable” and I set the “Magic Variable” to the “Ask the for Input.” This grabs the input and then passes on that variable to the next step, the script “Copy to Clipboard.” The number I input becomes a variable which was then pasted into the Clipboard. Because when I first did this the output was just a number without a label, I inserted a script to first label what the next number that was shown would be. So I installed a script “Show Result” and typed in Pounds. This shows the word “Pound” before the conversion number is revealed. The next step was that I added the Siri Shortcut I created in PCalc, which take the variable I added to the clipboard and converting the Euro number to the Pound number.
I repeated these 5 steps for the conversion to Dollars and Yuan. So all together 15 steps. The trick is because each time, the “Get Variable” is set to “Ask for Input” and then pastes into the clipboard, the clipboard for the subsequent conversions is not the output from PCalc’s prior conversion, but instead the original input that I typed in. That way, for example, if I convert 100 Euros, each conversion uses my original 100 Euro input.
Here is a video showing how it works.
I agree with Federico that PCalc’s implementation of Siri Shortcuts is really great. You should check out Macstories.net and PCalc.