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    DOWNLOAD — Free Version: This week’s guests include tech journalist Josh Centers, Managing Editor for TidBITS, and author of “Take Control of Apple TV” and other titles. Josh talks at length about the notorious CPU bug and how it’s impacted the computing world. Gene brings up reports that older Windows PCs will evidently suffer from performance reductions, and Josh mentions cloud services, such as gaming systems, which are heavily impacted. There’s a brief discussion of 4K TVs which moves into the Apple TV 4K. Has Apple’s set-top streaming box realized its potential, or has it become less useful with the growth of smart TVs that offer their own streaming channels without needing outside gear? Josh mentions the TCL televisions that come with Roku technology built in. There’s also a CES 2018 update and some of the most interesting new gadgets.

    You’ll also hear from prolific author Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus, who summarizes his joint tests of an iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus. He carried around one of them in each pocket for weeks, and tested the cameras to see which he preferred and why. Which one did he decide to keep? What about the CPU bug and its impact, and about the misleading impression created by some members of the media that it was just an Apple problem and not one that affected billions of devices? Gene and Bob also talk about Apple’s iMac Pro workstation, which can cost over $13,000 when fully maxed out. Will Apple keep its promise to release a newly-designed Mac Pro that will be both modular and upgradeable? Or will the company just stick with the new iMac? Gene explains why he suspects one of Apples new display will offer 8K to better support movie editing.

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    Apple’s Expansion: Some Smoke and Mirrors

    January 17th, 2018

    Since the GOP’s tax cut was passed last year, some companies have come out and, more or less, announced higher wages and special bonuses. It all seems to be developing nicely, regardless of your political leanings. But some of those announcements have fine print you might not appreciate.

    So AT&T announced last year that it was handling out $1,000 bonuses to some 200,000 employees. All well and good, until it turned it that this had already been arranged with its union. Then the ax fell, as some 2,000 employees received their pink slips. Not the Christmas present they expected.

    Walmart didn’t do much better. So their U.S. employees will receive a minimum wage of $11 per hour. But a third of the states have already increased minimum wage to $10 per hour or more; in Arizona it rose to $10.50 as of the first of the year. So Walmart didn’t really have much of a choice in those places, and getting 50 cents or a dollar above the lowest wage hardly comes across as much of a raise.

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    More Evidence of Growing iPhone Sales

    January 17th, 2018

    So here’s where it stands: During the December quarter, there were two diametrically opposed versions of iPhone X sales. One was that it did really well, the other not so well, maybe even terrible. But the unfavorable spin was clouded with the usual stuff about Apple cutting back on orders from the supply chain at the end of a year. What the people who spread such stories forget is that March sales are normally lower for Apple, so components will be ordered in smaller quantities. It’s only logical.

    Unfortunately, such reports are not uncommon. It’s meant to convey the illusion that an Apple product is a failure even when the company reports really good sales.

    So what did happen with the iPhone X, and, in fact, the iPhone 8 family? Did they do well? Are there any indicators of success?

    Well, one survey, from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, reveals that Apple’s market share compared to Android in the U.S. grew by a decent margin.

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    Mac Malware Revisited — Again!

    January 16th, 2018

    It is curious that the infamous CPU bug was identified by some members of the media as an Apple problem. Even though it impacted most CPU chips produced in the past 21 years — perhaps even the PowerPC — somehow it was strictly about iOS and Mac users facing danger when browsing in Safari, or potentially suffering from a serious performance slowdown after installing Apple’s patches.

    To its credit Apple did get out fixes that reportedly “mitigated” the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, at least for recent OS versions. Microsoft was also quick on the draw, but with less success. Some older PCs with AMD processors were essentially bricked, being unable to boot past the startup screen. While recent PCs didn’t reveal much of a slowdown in posted benchmarks, some cloud services appear to suffer.

    Our Linux web server uses a pair of Intel Xeon processors and was updated last week, apparently, but I’m not at all certain if there’s much of a change in CPU usage. Traffic tends to be high on Sundays and Mondays, although system load dos appear to be somewhat higher than usual. I’ll have a better indication of the impact in a day or so.

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    Newsletter Issue #946: Living Without an Apple TV

    January 15th, 2018

    In 2011, I received a third-generation Apple TV as a holiday present. I appreciated the gesture, since I was anxious to try Netflix streaming, and perhaps consider renting a movie from iTunes on occasion.

    Unlike the original Apple TV, released in 2007, which provided a hard disk drive for storage of media content, the second and third generations had a mere 8GB flash storage, sufficient to manage streaming content. You couldn’t even store your purchased movies on them. For that, you had to rely on your Mac or iOS gadget.

    The OS was essentially derived from iOS, as was the A-series CPU. The main difference between these two generations was improved HD support, from 720p to 1080p. Having used both, I can tell you that the difference in picture quality wasn’t all that significant.

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