The Only Monthly Mac Blog That Matters…

Month: March 2024

Are You Planning on Buying a New Computer Soon?

Does your crystal ball tell you that a new computer is in your future?

I get asked (all the time!) about when is the best time to buy a new computer – and I usually give the same answer: Think of it like a car, when it’s time to get a new one, you’ll know. Not exactly rocket science, but I like to think I’m pretty good about suggesting when. But it’s the what that requires me to put on my detective hat and start asking questions.

Now besides the cost of the new computer and any related expenses (for a quick refresher, read my blog post from July 2021), there is the small matter of deciding what model/configuration is best for you.

First thing to ask yourself: Laptop or desktop model? That’s a question only you can answer, it’s all a matter of how, where, and when you plan on using your computer. Of course, once you’ve answered that, you have sub-questions to answer. If you decided on a laptop, there are many choices below that: MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? Screen size? What processor? If a desktop model is in your future, then your choices are a bit narrower. It’s pretty much a 24” iMac (sorry, the 27” is no longer produced) or a Mac mini, a computer that you must add a third-party display to in order for it to be functional. (Most users aren’t going to go with a Mac Studio or Mac Pro.)

My best advice here: Ask yourself how you’re going to use the computer. On the go? Laptop. At home? Desktop. Then decide how you’re going to customize it. Gone are the days when you could easily add RAM or a larger hard drive, so plan accordingly. As far as RAM goes, Apple gives a minimum of 8 GB, which is fine for basic tasks (word processing, email, web surfing, etc.), but if you’re doing anything more processor intensive (audio or video editing, graphic arts, etc.), you’ll want to bump that up a level or two. Ditto for the processor, which you can think of as horsepower (to continue with the car analogy), the higher number, the more power.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, internal storage size (the device formerly known as hard drive capacity) should be gauged before pulling the trigger. Since modern internal storage is now solid state and no longer the old-school spinning disks and all that fun stuff, the capacity offered is usually less than on the computer you purchased a decade ago. Of course, these days, so much media is streaming, so users tend to have less music and fewer movies saved on the computer. But before whipping out your credit card, determine how much data is being stored on your computer. Then buy one with an equal (or larger) storage capacity. Think of it like renting a dumpster – decide what size you think you need, and then end up getting the largest one available anyway. I’ve never met a user who said “wow, I wish I had less space on my computer!”

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My Encounter With Apple Vision Pro

Not knowing what to expect, I signed up for the free demonstration of the Apple Vision Pro headset, at its SoNo Collection store. First and foremost, understand that I’ve never been a gamer, nor have dealt with any VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) devices, so I’m entering the arena tabula rasa. One of my children had an Oculus headset for gaming but ended up selling it because of motion sickness.

The Pregame Show

I trekked down to my local Apple store at my designated appointment time. Apple allocated half an hour for the appointment, and for the first ten minutes we discussed how the demonstration was going to proceed. First thing – my head was measured, and those dimensions were communicated to the “back room” so I could get the proper fit. Hunter, my demonstrator, discussed a little about the unit, and from the outset I made it crystal clear that I wasn’t in the market for the Vision Pro, but merely going through the demonstration as part of my professional knowledge.

And Now – The Waltz

Finally, the Vision Pro that was configured for my head specifications was delivered from the back room. At first glance, it looked like a space age pair of ski goggles, only with a thicker band for the back of the head. It was powered by an external battery connected by a cable – a trade-off, because having an internal battery would put more weight on the face, making it more uncomfortable than it has to be. The buttons are on the device itself are the digital crown (similar to the Apple Watch) and the Top Button. The Digital Crown is the one that is used the most – it opens the Home View, allows you to switch between surroundings. (More on that later.) We ran through a few settings in order to align the unit with my eyes, and off we went.

To say I’ve never experienced something like Vision Pro would be putting it mildly. The first screen is the Home View – which is like a floating home screen with familiar Apple icons on it (similar to an iPad) – but you navigate with your eyes, you gesture with your hands, and use your voice to dictate. The first part past the Home View was the surrounding – the immersive environments – yes, pictures, but looking far more realistic than any pictures I’ve ever seen. And in some instances, the pictures were a 180º wrap around.

From there, the demonstration ramped up – showing some scenarios (a woman singing, a child’s birthday party, some sporting events), all which were more and more impressive as the demonstration proceeded. There were animals that approached the screen and even seemed to poke their noses into my space! The only part I found disappointing was a 3D preview of the latest Super Mario movie. I have never liked 3D movies – maybe because I didn’t find the technology very good in the past, or maybe the entire premise of 3D is overrated. Whatever the reason, that part of the demonstration was extremely underwhelming. The coup de grâce was the final segment – before it was shown to me, I was asked by Hunter if this type of thing would be disturbing to me – was a few beautifully-shot scenes, most notably a woman walking a tightrope across a canyon. The camera angle was from the perspective of the tightrope itself, making it a compelling and pretty amazing experience.

When It’s Over

When the 20-minute demonstration concluded – I removed the Vision Pro and my head felt lighter. It was akin to wearing ski goggles or a scuba mask – it wasn’t hugely uncomfortable while you were involved in things, but once you were done, I felt better that it was off my face. Wearing it for more than an hour would seem exhausting to me. And like putting on a wet bathing suit, I didn’t feel the urge to put it back on again. I was asked (not a hard sell, however) if I had changed my mind about buying it. I reiterated my stance – that it was for professional research purposes, and Hunter said in any event, he would email my measurements to me in case I changed my mind.

What’s The Point?

The images I saw were fantastic – 90% of what I saw was stellar – crisp, clear, and in focus. Some parts of it looked more like a diorama – maybe a little too much of the 3D pixie dust was thrown on that part it. The movies and pictures I saw were pretty amazing – yet I didn’t see a lot of business potential for any user of this. Sure, there could be applications for a business use – for example, a room can be “staged,” or an empty lot can be viewed with multiple variations of houses on the property. Or it could be used for people with vision problems, or perhaps, other neurological issues. Those are the two that I came up with right away, I’m sure there’s more that can be done with it.

Final Thoughts

Because the Vision Pro is so pricy, and it seems to fall more into “entertainment” than “business” arena, I see it more of a niche item. I certainly can’t image in a world where people are walking down the street with these things strapped to their heads. And unless I hit the Powerball jackpot, the $3500 price tag pretty much seals the deal that I won’t be picking up one of these anytime soon. Unlike a Porsche, the Vision Pro is out of my price range – it isn’t – but it’s a matter of justifying to myself. If it were a product that would help me earn more money or something that I feel would be worth its while with my time and money, then maybe. But for now, I’ll sit on the sidelines and see where it all goes.

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All About Bookmarks…

Last month we discussed a bad habit that some people have when it comes to surfing the web. (Don’t remember? Find it here.) I also predicted that this month’s newsletter would have a section on bookmarks, so here we go!

So, what are bookmarks, and why are they good to use?

Similar to a physical bookmark (which marks a place in a book for future reference), a browser bookmark is a place holder for a web page, typically one that you reference often, saving time and the potential peril of mistyping the URL and ending up on a scam site. And the good news is, that no matter what browser you use, whether it’s one of the name brands (Chrome, Safari, Firefox), a member of the JV team (Opera, Brave, Edge), or one on the lunatic fringe (Tor, Epic, Ghostery), you have the ability to create (and edit) bookmarks.

While each program has its own nuances, it’s pretty much the same across the board. In the menu at the top of every browser, there’s a BOOKMARKS pulldown. (Except for the outlier, Microsoft Edge, because Microsoft tends to a contrarian in a lot of areas.) To add a bookmark in your browser, simply pull down on the menu as described above and look for the command to “add bookmark,” “bookmark this tab,” or something similar.

You can also edit your bookmarks – delete some, change the order, create subfolders, etc. In order to get there, pull down on BOOKMARKS and select:

Chrome: Bookmarks Manager
Safari: Edit Bookmarks
Firefox: Manage Bookmarks

(For all other browsers, it’s a similar process.)

Finally, one more organization/efficiency tip:

In all your browsers, you can designate some bookmarks to be “favorites.” Those favorites will reside on the “tab bar” at the top of the browser window. This is handy for your oft-visited bookmarks – Amazon, your bank, Facebook, my blog, etc. Of course, each browser has a slightly different name for that option:

Chrome: Bookmarks Bar
Safari: Tab Bar
Firefox: Bookmarks Toolbar

Of course, you can add, delete, change the order of these favorites as well. This is found under the VIEW menu at the top of the screen. Note that there is an option to hide this, so if your bookmarks don’t show up at the top of your page, pull down VIEW menu and confirm it’s enabled.

🔥 There are ways to sync your bookmarks, through iCloud, Google, Firefox and more.

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