macOS Sierra

As Scooby Doo used to say, "
Ruh Roh! That was my first thought when I read the hardware requirement for macOS Sierra. Apparently, Macs from 2007, 2008 and many from 2009 are not supported any longer and won't be able to install Sierra. And of course the media is quick to jump on that and spread gloom and doom. But is it really true? When I was upgrading my Mac Pro 2008 last summer to Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) I supposedly was not going to be able to enjoy all that it had to offer. The hardware just was not up to snuff to enjoy Handoff, Continuity, the Metal APIs, Airdrop, etc. Sure, that would have been true if I had a STOCK Mac Pro from 2008 that had never been upgraded.

Apple draws up these lists of hardware requirements for an OS and does so with the original specs of those various Mac models. So, while the original Wifi/Bluetooth 2.1 card would not support Handoff and Continuity, the updated
Wifi/Bluetooth 4 card I installed DOES support them. Likewise, the old nVidia 8800 GT card does not support Metal, but the nVidia GTX 680 card I installed DOES support it. I imagine it will be the same with Sierra, if you have upgraded components, there will be a way to install Sierra and it will probably run just fine.

When I built the Mac Pro (3,1) last summer I had the hope that it would last me 3 years. Well, one year down and two to go. Even if I can't update to Sierra, El Capitan is serving me well and Apple will issue security updates for it for the next couple years at least. It is fast, stable and I am able to use all of the features of 10.11.5.

These new features for Sierra just seem like window dressing to me. I don't use Siri on my iPhone and iPad, so why would I care if it is on my Mac Pro?

I don't use Photos but
Adobe Lightroom instead. Using Apple Pay on your Mac for purchases but still need to authenticate with Touch ID on another device? Why wouldn't I just make the purchase on my iPad to begin with? The improvements to iCloud Drive and little things like Universal Clipboard and the new file system they mentioned are more interesting to me but not earth shattering.

Sierra just looks like a very minor update that brings mobile iOS features to the desktop. I just can't get angry like some that are going on about how their Macs are no longer supported. People forget that Apple is not charging money for these OS upgrades anymore. So, they are to give away a free OS update year after year and still be expected to support computers from 8-9 years ago?
Come on! And it isn't like they close the door completely. I was able to get my old 2006 Mac Pro past 10.7.5 all the way to Mavericks 10.9.5 because of some hacks that Apple probably could have shut down but didn't. I have no doubt that the Mac hacker community will find ways to get many of those unsupported Macs to update to Sierra.


Stratospherix FileBrowser


I have been using
Stratospherix FileBrowser for a couple of years now and feel many iPad users miss the boat with this app. In my opinion it is like having the Mac OS Finder for iOS. This is the main complaint people have with iOS, they want to be able to access files, copy files, move files where and when they wish to and not have to email files, or save to the Camera Roll, or use iTunes, etc.

The first app that should be bought for an iPhone/iPad user is the $5.99 FileBrowser. No, strike that, the first app paid or otherwise, has to be FileBrowser. Not a game, not Facebook, but FileBrowser.

I have this app installed on both my iPhone and iPad Pro and with FileBrowser I am able to access my Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, both Mac Pros and any hard drives connected to them, as well as a WiFi RAVPower device that has 64 GB of storage. I can move and copy files from anywhere to anywhere. Select something from Dropbox and copy it to a hard drive on my workstation Mac Pro, or select a file from Google Drive and copy it to the WiFi RavPower. I can select multiple files to move, rename files, make folders, organize, pretty much all the things that people are asking Apple to do within iOS.

FileBrowser lets you view images, stream videos and music. You can use the iOS
Share and Open In commands within FileBrowser to choose an app to open a particular file or to pass a video file to another app like Infuse. I can make Bookmarks to save favorite locations that I am always navigating to, no need to waste time going from folder to folder to folder. If you are reading a document within FileBrowser you can even create a Bookmark and it will open that document to that specific page.

Too lazy to open FB and then click on a bookmark? Stratospherix has you covered! The HomeScreen links allow you to create an icon that will be added to your Home Screen on your iPad/iPhone. Say you are having to use a certain location over and over, why not make a HomeScreen link for it? FB has a Toolbar actions menu and you can 'Create a Folder Link' and then 'Add to Home Screen'. Click on the icon and it will open FB and go to that designated location.

I find it to be a very robust app and covers all my needs. Need to download a file from a URL? Check. Paste from the iOS clipboard into a new file? Check. Supports
Airplay? Check. Does it have great documentation and how-to videos to learn the app quickly? Check. Even if Apple eventually gave us a Mac OS-type Finder for iOS it may never be as good as FileBrowser is right now. and Pluralsight Apple TV apps


I subscribe to both and Pluralsight (formerly Digital-Tutors) and love both of their iOS apps. What I would do is airplay a video tutorial from their apps on my iPad to the Apple TV to watch on a bigger screen. It was not ideal but it did work. Now both have released tvOS apps for the Apple TV and they are both great. Now I can eliminate the middleman that was the iPad and don't have to use Airplay. I just start up the app for either or Pluralsight and use the Siri remote to control things, much simpler. The tvOS apps for both are synced up so whatever playlists, history I have with either the iOS app or desktop apps is all coordinated. Just a great job by both companies in bringing their services to the Apple TV.


iPad Pro


I guess I am on the 3 year upgrade cycle for the iPad. I have had the first generation iPad, then the iPad Air and now the iPad Pro. The iPad Air wasn't giving me any issues and was still a very good tablet but I really wasn't happy with any of the bluetooth pressure sensitive stylus. Having a Wacom Intuos tablet and a small Cintiq really does spoil you and sets the bar pretty high. The limitations of what third parties like Adonit and Adobe had to work with made having a Wacom-like experience impossible. They did the best they could under the circumstances. But now with the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil we finally have a solution that nearly rivals Wacom. I say nearly because the Apple Pencil does not have programmable buttons or an eraser but this is the first iteration and maybe that will come later on in future editions.

The one problem I had to figure out is which size to go for the large 12.9 inch or the regular 9.7 inch size? I worried that the larger screen would be more difficult to carry around and be on the go. It seemed that the smaller size was more appropriate for me and something that I was familiar with. It is the only size I have ever used. There are subtle differences between the two, the larger has 4 GB of RAM while the 9.7 inch has only 2 GB. The larger iPad Pro has more surface area so there is more room to dissipate the heat from the CPU/GPU. The smaller Pro has less surface area so the A9X chip is slightly underclocked, not much but a little (2.24GHz to 2.16 GHz). They both have the 4 corner speakers, smart connector but the smaller iPad Pro has additional features, improved cameras (can record 4K video), Retina Flash, and True Tone display. That True Tone display has caused some confusion, it isn't just a take it or leave type of deal, you can turn it off if you want. I expect the 12.9 inch iPad Pro to get these improved features with the next iteration, but for now, the little brother enjoys them exclusively.

I decided to have some color finally and picked the Rose Gold option. It is also great to finally have a Touch ID sensor on my iPad. I will do a more in depth blog post about the
Apple Pencil and give my thoughts on that soon.

Apple TV, 4th Generation

I wanted to wait a couple months or so before giving my review of the 4th gen AppleTV. Full disclosure here, I have owned every single generation of the device. My favorite one was the 2nd gen because I was able to jailbreak it and install third party software. I installed Plex that way and it was great for a good long time but the specs of that 2nd gen Apple TV eventually caught up to it. Father time is of course undefeated and catches up to everyone. Unfortunately, the 3rd gen Apple TV was never able to be jailbroken so I relied on Roku's to watch Plex. I eagerly waited for Apple to release a new version that had an App Store, that had more CPU/GPU power and it seemed like it would never happen. Well the long wait is now over!

In looking over the specs, the new Apple TV has the same specs as my iPhone 6 but improved a little. A dual
A8 but clocked to 1.5 GHz, a quad-core Power VR 6450, 2 GB of RAM, and a choice of 32 or 64 GB of storage. It has an HDMI port, Infrared receiver, Bluetooth 4, a USB-C port for diagnostics, Ethernet port, Siri remote, but the Optical Audio got eliminated. The overall outer case has gotten taller to probably accommodate a heatsink and larger power supply. This is a product that has the specs of a mobile device but since it can be plugged in all the time Apple was able to increase the A8 clock speed a little.

I have read that people are upset that they can't use the USB-C port but with Plex and other apps being able to stream content, that to me is a non-issue. And this time around Apple has made
sideloading content relatively easy. You can download the free X-code and use a USB-C to USB cable to sideload apps on to the Apple TV. There is an app named Provenance that is an emulator and allows you to play old NES, Sega Genesis games. In the past you would have had to jailbreak your Apple TV but now we can sideload. Progress.

Gameloft's Asphalt 8 Airborne


I love driving games and while I have played Asphalt 8 Airborne on both my iPhone and iPad I couldn't wait to try it on the Apple TV with a game controller. The Nimbus controller makes me a much better driver that is for sure. I was intrigued to see how the game would play on the Apple TV what with the way developers have to work within the confines of tvOS. I know that the game for iOS was a download of over 1.3 GB and yet the Apple TV has an initial limit of 200 MB, and then it can get 2 GB of on demand resources and go all the way up to 20 GB.

It is a new way of dealing with games for me, the idea of
app thinning, slicing, on demand resources and such. I was really worried about Asphalt 8 not being the same experience that I had come to know on the iPhone/iPad. So far I have no complaints, from time to time I do have to wait while resources are downloading and also, I have had the occasional hiccup in the game where the frame rates were lower than I wanted. All in all though I greatly enjoy playing this mobile game on a much bigger screen with a nice game controller.

I know people want to compare this to a Playstation or Xbox but I know the specs of the Apple TV and honestly it is fine for the mobile, casual gamer, which is what I am in this point of my life. Still, Asphalt 8 Airborne is a good example of the games that the Apple TV can handle right now. I do think that Apple is going to have to make some concessions eventually, like the requirement that games have be able to use the Siri Remote if no game controller is present.
That won't fly. Some games are more complex and need extra buttons, joysticks, etc to function properly, hopefully they drop that Siri requirement soon.