3. Maps (iOS 10) – After complaining about the UI change on the Activity App on the Apple Watch, here is a change that is easy to get used to: Apple Maps. The new interface is large and readable. Key information is shown in a font that is readable from the dash or console; no squinting required. The “End” button is now a prominent element in the lower right corner so you don’t have to hunt for it when you get where you’re going. Apple also added a “dark mode” for use at night.
I did it: I upgraded my iPhone 6s to iOS 10 and my Apple Watch to watchOS 3. All this is preparation for the move to macOS Sierra. I don’t know that I have a burning need to change to Sierra but it would be nice to not have to type in a password all the time. In the old days, I’d have hopped on Sierra as soon as it came out. I was at Macmedia at midnight to get my copy of Leopard when it came out and the same for Snow Leopard. But since Yosemite, I’ve gotten a bit gun shy. I upgraded a MacBook Pro from Maverics to Yosemite and software I depended on had issues. The same thing happened with the move to El Capitan. Sigh…
I’ll be back from time-to-time and update this with my thoughts about iOS 10 / watchOS 3.
1. Activity App (watchOS 3) – There is a maxim in UI/UX that you don’t change the UI unless you absolutely have to and, even then, think before you do it. That makes sense. Your users have gotten used to navigating the app and, although they may not love the design, they know how to do what they need to. If you tinker with the UI, you risk irritating more people than you are going to make happy. Given that, I was rather surprised that Apple would redesign the Activity App on the watch. In the previous 2.x version, tapping the app brought up the bulls-eye screen (three concentric circles) showing calories burned, the number of minutes you’ve exercised, and the number of hours you’ve stood for at least one minute. Scroll down and you get summary details. Swipe left/right to get details for the three categories (calories, exercise, and standing). Scroll down to get more information. In the 3.0 version, all that is scrolled from the first view. The only swipe brings up information about those you are sharing activity information with. The information is the same, just in a single page. The graphs are smaller now, too.
Verdict: I’m annoyed at the moment although I know I’ll get over it someday. I find I keep swiping when I should be scrolling. This is the app I use most on the watch and, while all the data is in the same place, it’s not in the same format I’m used to.
2. Breathe (watchOS 3) – This is a new app and, at first, I thought it was a gimmick. Really, an app to get me to breathe?
Verdict: Having used it for a few days, maybe there is something to it. It does focus you in the moment. You have to pace the graphics with you breathing and, while it’s not difficult, it takes a bit of practice.
I started looking at my site late last week and realized parts of it hadn’t been touched in 8 years. The “About” page referenced the up-coming release of OS X Mountain Lion and had deep-links to the Nikon website that no longer existed. The FAQ mentioned my web host, GoLiveHost.com; the were bought by Hosting Metro quite a while ago.
Talk about flotsam-and-jetsam left on the Internet!
I’ve been cleaning things up over the last few days. Hopefully I got them all.
After about 4 years with Apple’s Aperture, I have decided to go back to Adobe Lightroom. (Yes, I know the official title is “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” but they can just get over it!) I started with Lr with the original beta and then version 1. I didn’t have a laptop with the horsepower for Aperture. By the time Lr 2 was out I had a new laptop and switched to Aperture.
Of the two, Aperture has the better interface. It fits the way a photographer thinks. The tools are more accessible and, most of all, the interface stays out of your way! The big down side was it didn’t handle metadata well and edits were destructive: you had to go back to the master to fix it.
For a while, it looked like Apple was more dedicated to Aperture than Adobe was to Lr (e.g., Apple was the first with plugins). Now I think the reverse is true: Apple cares more about iPhones and iPads and less about the software creative professionals use. Where Adobe keeps adding features to Lr, Apple’s improvements are new cameras for the RAW converter and better integration with iPhoto.
Oh well, I can add Lr to the rest of the Adobe software I use.
One thing… Pray for me. This conversion is going to be painful. Maybe I should take some drugs and a nap first!
I realized a few days ago that I never came back and closed the lose ends on Parallels vs Fusion. (Of course, we are in the midst of moving from one house to another so perhaps I could be forgiven this minor oversight.) Basically, it comes down to this: both do the same job, they do it equally well, and the only differences are corner cases.
I’m not going to rehash what I put in prior posts; you can go back and read them if you missed one. So let’s talk corners…
- Speed – It’s one of those really difficult things to measure. The companies that write the code and those that review products can do it. They have all kinds of benchmark tests. And then they have to compare the numbers for the product being reviewed against similar products because saying “Product X scored Y on the Z test suite” isn’t going to mean much to the average user, even the technically savvy ones. And when you come right down to it the only “speed” that matters is in the user’s mind: do I think it’s running my task fast enough? Entirely subjective, I agree, but I also think it’s how most of us rate software. In this case, the reviews I looked at say Parallels and Fusion run about the same speed and that fits with my subjective evaluation.
Bells and Whistles vs. Under the Hood – This is another subjective kind of thing. Some people like all the bells and whistles they can get; others want to be able to tweak every setting possible. Paralles is the bells and whistles; Fusion is under the hood. Paralles seems to have a flashier UI than Fusion. They also have an app the runs on your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad (and maybe that Android thing). The app lets you control your VMs from a mobile device. Great for IT;meaningless to a home user. They also have more “modes” than Fusion does. One that Ihave found useful at times is Modality: it shrinks the VM’s display down to a small, translucent window that stays on top of all your other windows. It’s useful if you are installing software and it’s going to take a while. You have other things to do but you would like to keep half an eyeball on it. Fusion, on the other hand, is much more under the hood. It lets you tweak settings that aren’t visible in Parallels. An example is use of Intel and AMDs instructions for virtualization. Parallels doesn’t let you see them; it just assumes you want to use them. Fusion’s UI is also rather sparse which would appeal to an old UNIX guy – say someone like me! Fusion lets you get things started and then – for the most part – stays out of your way.
- Virtualization – Both do the same thing: intercept the keyboard and mouse and pass the info to the VM. Depending on how you configure the VM as far as the host OS goes, you may be able to cut-and-paste from the host OS to the hosted OS and vice versa. The hosted OS may be allowed to “see” host OS disks, ports, etc. (Personally, I don’t let the VM see much of anything on my Mac. I don’t need Windows doing squirrelly things.) The command-tab vs. alt-tab behavior (and things like it) are minor and can usually be compensated for by moving your mouse out of the VM’s view or using the keyboard device on the menu bar to “send” commands to the VM. An example of that is Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
I could keep going on but it all comes down to little things. Pick what’s important to you and go. Generally, there is no reason to jump ship unless (i) you are fed up with the product you are using, or (ii) the other guy has a widget you just can live without. If you are going to jump ship, the other company will give you 50% off as a carrot. I’ve been using Parallels for so long I know what to expect and there is no real motivation for me to change.
Note that there are other products out there, such as Virtual Box from Oracle (originally Sun), that are just as good. Again, you just have to find out who caters to your needs the best and go with them.
As I noted previously, I did get Parallels 8 installed on my MacBook Pro. The culprit was my Wacom Intuous5 touch tablet. They did have a hot fix for it I was able to download and install. Voila! Success!
If you have used Parallels for a while, there aren’t that many features at the user level to get excited about. Their What’s New page boils it down to three things: ease of use; Retina display support; and performance, especially battery life. I expect most of the improvement is under-the-hood in making it Mountain Lion– and Windows 8-compatible. Unlike most users, I primarily use Windows just for Internet Explorer. My employer allows remote access from machines running IE. They download a couple of Java apps to check the configuration (e.g., important patches, virus software, etc) and one to scrub the cache when you are done with your session. Microsoft’s RDC runs in the browser so you are looking at your desktop at work.
I have used Parallels since version 3 and there is one annoying bug they have never fixed. From time to time the VM takes 100% of all the CPUs allocated to it. I usually notice it when I am running Remote Desktop in the browser. When that happens, you have to shutdown the VM and sometimes Parallels itself to get the CPUs back. Every release I keep hoping it will be fixed and no luck. Could just be a quirk in Windows because I have not seen it with any other hosted OS.
I installed vmware’s Fusion 5 just for the heck of it. For the most part, I think I like it. I have been using it for all my "work" sessions and so far, so good. A couple of quirks (yes, it’s the word of the day) I noticed. The first is the devices Window’s can’t find drivers for – like the display. The display works just fine, Window’s just can’t find a driver for it and I haven’t figured out how to tell it to stop trying. One thing about the display though: it would appear that it can’t use a "non-standard" resolution. On my Cinema Display HD, I can’t get the Window’s window to use the full screen; it has to be a ratio of something standard. Parallel’s doesn’t care how you shape the window.
The second quirk has to do with how the VM handles mouse and keyboard input. In Parallels, when your mouse is over the VM (I run in a single windowed mode) the VM catches most of the keystrokes. Some, like a Ctrl-arrow that moves you from desktop to desktop in OS X, aren’t caught by the VM. Instead they are passed directly to OS X. In vmware, the VM catches the keystrokes, so a Ctrl-arrow will do a jump to next word in Microsoft Word. And Cmd-Tab won’t work but Alt-Tab does switch apps. To get it to behave like I want, I have to move the mouse out of the window so it is "out of view" of the VM. Then it behaves the way I want. Not a big deal but it will take some getting used to I think.
One thing I don’t like is the Full Screen mode. It is what it advertises: it takes the entire screen for use by the hosted OS, including the tool bar right up at the top of the screen. Maybe there is some key combination to get it out of Full Screen mode but the only way I’ve found so far is via the View menu. But to get to the view menu, you have to get to menu bar. I think when your mouse bumps into the top of the display it drops down but I can’t do it every time so it may be something I don’t realize I’m doing. In any case, I use the Single Window mode and it works just fine.
Fusion 5 is vmware’s latest release so of course it’s Mountain Lion- and Windows 8-compliant, leverages Retina on the newest Macs, runs faster, jumps farther on less battery power, etc. According to vmware, it’s got 70+ new features. Not sure how many "+" is but they are there.
Am I going to buy Fusion 5? I don’t know. I haven’t used it enough to have a solid opinion of what Fusion has that Parallels doesn’t. If you are considering a switch, they offer a 50% discount as a carrot if you already have Parallels
I did get Parallels installed. I found a thread in the forums that suggested the culprit might be my Wacom Intuos 5 touch pen tablet. I unplugged the tablet and the install worked fine. Glad it’s working; not so glad to be a beta tester in this case. Such is life in the Age of Technology.
Our fine friends at Parallels have released a new version of their virtualization software, Parallels Desktop for Mac 8. In the past, Parallels has run about 50/50 when installing the new release without issues; call it a coin flip. This is one of the losers. I suppose to be fair, others have been able to install it just fine and are raving about how wonderful it is. The rub though is if it doesn’t install in your environment, on your machine, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. And there have been complaints with more than one person asking for a refund. I will get to the installation issues in a moment but first…
I was looking at the notes on a new release of another software package I use: Logos. Logos is a software suite designed for Bible study. They not only have different version of the Bible, they have a thousands of reference books, maps, lexicons, etc. that you can purchase and download. Everything is linked and fully searchable. In a work, it’s the Microsoft Office of biblical study. (Only Logos works!) They usually have a bug fix/feature upgrade on Fridays, most Fridays in fact. (Their approach is similar to Adobe’s Creative Cloud: get the fixes/new features out to users as soon as they are ready. Ok, there are issues with this analogy but it kind of hangs together.) This Friday they announced that support for Logos 4 on Windows XP and OS X Leopard would ending in late October. Their reasoning is, in part, that it taks significant funding and time to develop features in their program that are backward compatible that far. The demographics of their user base indicate a small percentage are running XP/Leopard and it’s time to cut the strings. There has been protest because the community that uses Logos (pastors, students, etc) generally don’t have an abundance of money sitting around to buy a new computer.
I bring this up because it points to a larger question: why do people upgrade hardware and/or software? After all, you have all your data on the current machine, all your programs, you know how to use what you have. I know people who have machines and software that are 5+ years old. Their philosophy is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe the better question might be why don’t people upgrade?
If you think about it, upgrading your computer can be a costly adventure. If you have hardware/software that is 5-7 years old, upgrading won’t be as inexpensive as buy a new "this." In order to use "this" you’re going to have to upgrade "that" and the "other" and leads to more money. Maybe you can upgrade the memory or disk in the computer and be ok; maybe you have to upgrade the entire machine. Are all the peripherals going to work with the new machine or do you replace those as well? What about software? If you upgrade the OS, will it run on the hardware you have or does it need something newer? Are the applications you have compatible with the new machine and OS, or do you have to purchase upgrades, assuming of course the software is still in production. By way of some examples…
- One member of my family has a PowerBook G4 running OS X Leopard. I can’t upgrade it to Snow Leopard because SL only runs on Intel chips. We have a newer hp printer. I can’t down load drivers that will run on the PPC G4/Leopard configuration.
- Another family member has a newer laptop running SL and she wants the features in the latest iPhoto. That only runs on Lion. I could upgrade to Lion but the Laptop would run slower.
- I needed to calibrate the colors on my screen (for photography). When I started the program I have used before it told me it only ran on the PPC chipset. Leopard/SL had Rosetta to allow you to run older programs on the Intel chipsets. No more Rosetta in Lion.
Now back to Parallels 8. Open the DMG for it and you see this…
Double click the install, wait a few moments, see screens flash by and I see this…
I tried downloading the software again. In hindsight, this wasn’t necessary. If the DMG was corrupted, the integrity checks would have caught it. I tried Reopen… and ended up in the same spot and the same with Report… I tried Ignore and that didn’t help (rarely does). I tried deleting PD7 -but- I didn’t empty the trash. I use Parallels to connect to my desktop at work and, since I plan to work from home tomorrow, I am loathe to go that far. Part of that comes from the fact that on one of the Parallels upgrades I had some VMs that got trashed in the process. I have backups for them but around version 4 or version 5 they didn’t have a nice way to get VMs back into your "configuration." I ended up re-installing them from scratch. Not a huge deal because I only depend on one of them (an XP instance to run IE; my employer uses ActiveX plug-ins to check your PC configuration for up-to-date virus signatures, etc., and to wipe the browser cache when you log out). I don’t depend on them to run applications.
For the moment, I’m rather stuck. Maybe tomorrow after work I can contact Parallels and see what they have to say.
Did I mention I downloaded the VMWare Fusion 5 trial? You listening, Parallels?
I’ve talked before about how much I like Parallels’ Desktop for Mac (now at version 7). I’ve been using it since version 3 when I got my first Mac Book Pro. Some of the updates have been painful (I believe 4 to 5 was agony) but all in all, they have delivered new, mostly useful features and have been timely about fixing glitches. One I would desperately love to see fixed is the "guest OS takes over the world" features, sometimes known as "all your CPU belong to us!" I’ve seen this this most with Windows (XP, Vista, 7 and now 8 Preview) but it’s happened with Linux, Solaris, etc. I don’t know if it’s an abstraction issue with the hardware or the OSes are trying to do something out of the ordinary. Just all of a sudden the CPU’s peg at 100% and everything goes to pieces. I just updated with the latest rev of their software and I pegged the CPUs so the problem is still lingering. Sigh…
Two most commonly viewed words on a Windows platform are "(not responding)." If it was one of our children we would say they were ignoring us. That or they had ADD. Can you get Adderall for Windows?keep looking »