Tag: Apple computers

Off line for maybe a few days

My iMac needs an upgrade!

I have been having some tiny problems mainly with the Apple Photos app and the good folks over at Ugly Hedgehog were incredibly helpful. This led to me taking my machine into Dick Webster Computers here in Grants Pass for a potential upgrade.

So I am going to republish some earlier posts for the next two days, which I hope will be long enough to come to a conclusion about whether this machine may be upgraded or whether I am looking at a new iMac.

Footnote:

I called in to Dick Webster, a good, local computer repair shop, earlier today. Took my iMac with me.

They told me that that particular iMac cannot have the RAM upgraded to 16GB but they could install a SSD. However, they looked up the Apple Photos app and said there were a number of complaints from others that it was freezing.

I was told to save my money, the iMac was perfectly good and to choose a photo editing application that supplied my needs.

My only outstanding query is whether all the relevant software programs, i.e. the photo editing apps, will run without any bother on 8GB.

Things!

And I am not speaking of things that go bump in the night!

I switched from being a Microsoft Windows user to a Mac some time ago.

Apple products are not the cheapest by a very long shot but their operating systems are fabulous. So it was natural to follow-up having an iMac by getting myself an iPAD.

Not too many months ago I came across an application for the Apple Mac and iPAD that is called Things. As the website explains:

Things is the award-winning personal task manager that helps you achieve your goals.

This all-new version has been rethought from the ground up: it’s got an all-new design, delightful new interactions, and powerful new features.

I started off getting to know the app on the Mac and very quickly found it so useful and with such a clear and intuitive ‘user interface’ that I downloaded the version for the iPAD.

Here’s the little intro video that is on the Things website (and, please, understand that this review of this app is purely because of my own personal experience and has no connection whatsoever with the firm).

So if you are finding that keeping track of your to-do lists is becoming a bit of a headache and you are a MAC or iOS user, as in Apple MAC, iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch, then I really do recommend taking a closer look. Done so easily by looking at the features in the all-new Things!

Plus, the Things team offer great support!

For as Henry Ford is reputed to have said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” (Thanks BrainyQuote.)

UPDATE: In the last 72 hours I received a newly-ordered iPhone and Apple Watch. The iPhone has had the Things 3 application installed upon it and, hey presto!, my watch now reminds me of the things coming up; even when the phone is some distance away from where I am. Plus it does tell the time rather accurately!!

Closing my Windows.

A big move on in my computing. 

Warning! Today’s post has almost nothing to do with dogs plus if you are not into computing then you may want to come back tomorrow! 😉

A little over a week ago I ordered an Apple Mac computer.

So what, I hear you say.

Well one way or another, I have been associated with personal computing for too many years and with the Microsoft Windows operating system equally for a long time.

Here’s that history and, be warned, I do go on a tad!

In 1970 I joined the Office Products (OP) Division of IBM in the United Kingdom.  I joined as an office products salesman and after my initial training was based at IBM OP’s London North branch in Whetstone in the London Borough of Barnet.  I loved both the job (remember the Selectric ‘Golfball’ typewriter?) and the company and conspired to win the prize of top UK salesman for the year 1977.  By that time, IBM was selling dedicated word-processing (WP) machines.  They offered powerful benefits for companies of many sizes and, as an experienced WP salesman, I was enjoying the fruits of that success.  Thus it was that in 1978 I attended IBM’s Golden Circle celebrations for 1977 country winners from all around the world.  The Golden Circle celebrations were held in Hawaii!

I returned from Hawaii with the clear idea in my mind that this was the time to move on; my ego didn’t like the idea of not being number one again!  So within a couple of days of returning to my sales branch, I announced to my manager, David Halley, that I wished to give three months notice.  I can still recall David’s rather shocked response with him saying, “But I always thought Golden Circle was an incentive event!

In those days New Scientist magazine was a regular read for me.  During my time of working out my notice I read in the magazine about this new personal computer from Commodore Business Machines that had been launched in the UK.  It was called the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) and had been unveiled in 1977 at the US West Coast Computer Faire.  I was captivated by what I had read.

pet2001-black

I had casually mentioned it to Richard Maugham; a good friend and fellow office-products salesman working for Olivetti UK.  Richard said that coincidentally a close friend of many years had just been appointed sales manager for CBM UK Ltd.  That friend was Keith Hall and on making contact with Keith, I was invited to go and meet him and learn more about this funny device.  What I hadn’t bargained for was that Keith was yet another smart salesman; Keith and Richard had met when they were both salesmen working for Olivetti.

When I asked Keith the retail price of the ‘PET”, his immediate reply was, “Well why don’t you become a dealer and I can sell you one for 30% less!”  Like most salesmen, I was always a sucker to a good sales pitch! I signed the necessary paperwork. (It is very sad to say that Keith died a few years ago, at far too young an age.)

So it was that towards the end of 1978, I became the sixth Commodore computer dealer in the UK, opening my small store in what had once been a Barber’s shop in Church Street, off Head Street in the centre of Colchester, Essex.  I called my business Dataview Limited.

Frankly, I hadn’t a clue as to what I was doing!  If it hadn’t been for a gigantic stroke of luck I would not have lasted long!

That piece of luck was meeting someone who was a programmer for a large, traditional computing company, ICL, who had bought himself a Commodore PET and, just out of fun, was writing a word-processing program. Now if I didn’t know about computers, personal or otherwise, I certainly knew about word-processing.  When I looked at what Peter D. had written I practically wet myself.  Because, I was looking at a program that even incomplete already offered three-quarters, give or take, of the functionality of a £20,000 IBM Word Processor.

I offered to guide Peter in refining and honing his software which he graciously accepted.  Then a few weeks later Peter casually asked me if I would like to sell the software.  I jumped at the opportunity and in due course Wordcraft was launched under the Dataview umbrella.  (And do see my footnote!)

But back to my Windows journey.

In 1981 IBM announced the release of their own personal computer.

IBM PC
IBM PC

With my love affair with IBM not even dimmed, becoming an IBM PC dealer was a must.  An IBM PC version of Wordcraft was developed by Peter and now things were really rocking and rolling.  Then in 1983 Microsoft announced the development of Windows, a graphical user interface (GUI) for the operating system MS-DOS.  MS-DOS was the existing operating system on the IBM PC.

By the time I sold Dataview in 1986, Windows was well on its way to evolving into a full personal computer operating system and ever since that time my own PCs have been Windows based.  (Difficult to imagine now how in those early years Windows didn’t achieve any popularity!)

OK, fast forward 27 years to my present machine running Windows 7, Google Chrome web browser and all the fancy ‘cloud’-based applications of today.

Much of my time spent writing and blogging relies on me being online.  Like so many others, as soon as I turn on my computer it becomes an online PC.  On average, I am working in front of my PC for about 3 to 4 hours per day.  However, slowly but surely over the past few months I have become aware of a number of strange occurrences, the most annoying of which is the regular ‘hanging’ of my Chrome browser.  This was happening at least on a daily basis and required the complete rebooting of my PC – a right pain in the posterior!

Muttering about this to friends who know a lot more about computing than I, raised my awareness that the privacy and security of one’s computer was no longer to be assumed.  Then just recently, I read online,

A Special Surveillance Chip

According to leaked internal documents from the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) that Die Zeit obtained, IT experts figured out that Windows 8, the touch-screen enabled, super-duper, but sales-challenged Microsoft operating system is outright dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a built-in backdoor. Keys to that backdoor are likely accessible to the NSA – and in an unintended ironic twist, perhaps even to the Chinese.

The backdoor is called “Trusted Computing,” developed and promoted by the Trusted Computing Group, founded a decade ago by the all-American tech companies AMD, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Wave Systems. Its core element is a chip, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and an operating system designed for it, such as Windows 8. Trusted Computing Group has developed the specifications of how the chip and operating systems work together.

Its purpose is Digital Rights Management and computer security. The system decides what software had been legally obtained and would be allowed to run on the computer, and what software, such as illegal copies or viruses and Trojans, should be disabled. The whole process would be governed by Windows, and through remote access, by Microsoft.

Then a few paragraphs later:

It would be easy for Microsoft or chip manufacturers to pass the backdoor keys to the NSA and allow it to control those computers. NO, Microsoft would never do that, we protest. Alas, Microsoft, as we have learned from the constant flow of revelations, informs the US government of security holes in its products well before it issues fixes so that government agencies can take advantage of the holes and get what they’re looking for.

Now I’m using Windows 7 so imagine my angst when I then read:

Another document claims that Windows 8 with TPM 2.0 is “already” no longer usable. But Windows 7 can “be operated safely until 2020.” After that other solutions would have to be found for the IT systems of the Administration.

That did it for me – time to move on from Windows.

Many Apple-user friends said that I should switch to the Apple Mac; that it was the only logical way to go.  I checked that all my important software applications that I used under Windows were compatible with the Apple Mac Operating System and thankfully they were.  I was speaking of Open Office, WordPress, Scrivener, Picasa, Skype.  Then I started to browse the Apple website.  I was clear about wanting a desktop machine, an iMac, and pretty soon realised that my change of personal computing was going to cost me around $1,500, perhaps a little more.

Then Dan Gomez, both long-time friend and Apple user, in browsing the web came across the Mac mini.  He called me and I took a look.  For well under half the price of an iMac, I could get a great alternative to my Windows PC and use many of my existing peripherals.

A quick conversation with Zachary of the Apple Mac mini sales team and the deed was done!  So all that remained was the great transition!

The box arrived last Wednesday.

Surely too small for a full-blooded personal computer?
Surely too small for a full-blooded personal computer?

I resisted opening the box until last Friday when I had some decent spare time.

This is a long, long way from the Commodore PET!
This is a long, long way from the Commodore PET!

Plugging it all together was easier than I feared.

Just screen and keyboard/mouse and we are good to go!
Just screen and keyboard/mouse and we are good to go!

Then the acid test. Could I even understand how to operate it?  I put that off until Saturday!

The new Mac mini system  on the right, all ready for me to play with!
The new Mac mini system on the right, all ready for me to play with!

I have to say that first impressions, especially of the elegance of the display and the icons, were great.

But this had to be a fully functional machine for me.  Where to start?  By downloading and installing the most critical of my software needs: Scrivener, my writing software.

Imagine my great pleasure and huge relief when less than a couple of hours later, not only had I downloaded and installed Scrivener for Apple Mac OS but had passed the latest backup file across from my Windows PC and accessed it on the Apple.

My (very) draft book file installed and running on the Mac mini!
My (very) draft book file installed and running on the Mac mini!

So, all in all, despite this being very early days, it’s starting to look like a great change.

However, I mustn’t close without thanking a few people:

Dan Gomez and John Hurlburt, friends and Apple users, and in John’s case experienced on both Windows and Apple systems. Guys, I couldn’t have made the decision to change without your kind, generous and supportive advice.

Zachary Brown of Apple sales, Mac mini team. Zach, I know it’s your job but nonetheless you did and said all the right things. (And the new screen is much better than my existing one!)

Last but not least, my dearest wife Jean, who just let me get on with things and even though I knew she didn’t have a clue as to what I kept muttering on about, never let on.

Footnote:

Earlier on I wrote about launching Wordcraft, the word-processing software for personal computers. That was in early 1979 and later that year I was invited to present Wordcraft at an international gathering of Commodore dealers held in Boston, Mass.

During my presentation, I used the word ‘fortnight’ unaware that Americans don’t know this common English word.  Immediately, someone about 10 rows back in the audience called out, “Hey, Handover! What’s a fortnight?”

It released the presenter’s tension in me and I really hammed my response in saying, “Don’t be so silly, everybody knows the word fortnight.” Seem to remember asking the audience at large who else didn’t know the word.  Of course, most raised their arms!

Now on a bit of a roll, I deliberately started using as many bizarre and archaic English words that came to me.  Afterwards, the owner of the voice came introduced himself.  He was Dan Gomez, a Californian based in Costa Mesa near Los Angeles and also involved in developing software for the Commodore.

Dan became my US West Coast distributor for Wordcraft and was very successful. When Dataview was sold, Dan and I continued to see each other regularly and I count him now as one of my dear friends.  Through knowing Dan I got to know Dan’s sister Suzann and her husband Don.  It was Su that invited me to spend Christmas 2007 with her and Don at their home in San Carlos, Mexico.  Jean also lived in San Carlos and was close friends with Su. Together they had spent many years rescuing feral dogs from the streets of San Carlos and finding new homes for them.

Thus it was that I met Jean.  Both Jean and I were born 20 miles apart in London!

So from ‘Hey, what’s a fortnight’ to living as happily as I have ever been in the rural countryside of Oregon.  Funny old world!

The marriage of Jean and Paul wonderfully supported by Diane, maid of honour, and best man, Dan Gomez.
The ‘voice’ Dan Gomez – Best Man at the marriage of Jean and me, November 20th 2010.