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    DOWNLOAD — GCN Version: In a special encore presentation of a previous episode, we feature outspoken podcaster and commentator Kirk McElhearn. After Kirk mentions seeing a performance in a Shakespearean play by Ian McKellen, the subject turns to pop culture. Kirk isn’t a fan of super heroes, well except for The Shadow, an old radio and pulp novel character featured in a 1994 movie that starred Alec Baldwin as the titular character. Gene and Kirk discuss who might play the character if it was brought back. With Apple CEO Tim Cook making positive comments about the future of the Mac mini, the discussion moves the future of the cheapest Mac. The apparent backorder situation with Apple’s new flagship smartphone, the iPhone X, is also discussed. Gene mentions a published report that some iPhone X preorders might have been delayed because customers put freezes on their credit reports as the result of the hack at Equifax that impacted 143 million Americans.

    You’ll also hear from longtime Mac peripheral maker Larry O’Connor, of Other World Computing. Larry will give you the down and dirty details about upgrading Macs with new drives and RAM, and the fact that many recent Macs cannot be upgraded. He’ll also explain why he believes that Apple will eventually support more drives with APFS, especially Fusion drives, and about an app his company is developing that improves the efficiency of such drives, which combine a traditional hard drive with an SSD. A Fusion drive delivers most of the performance of a true SSD at a fraction of the cost. The discussion will also include the price of Apple upgrades, when available, and some of the products Larry’s company is working on, such as a 4TB SSD, and  peripherals to enhance new Macs equipped with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. And what about the possibilities of the forthcoming iMac Pro, and the promised Mac Pro refresh?

    Click to hear our latest episode: The Tech Night Owl Live — December 9, 2017

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    Newsletter Issue #941: A Brief Close Encounter with an iPhone X

    December 11th, 2017

    I’ve written about the iPhone X for months. It is not on my shopping list for a near-term purchase, because I have bills to pay. But I’ve always had extended access to iPhones and many iPads. So it was high time that I spend some face time with Apple’s latest and greatest.

    The occasion came Friday when I met a colleague who bought one the very first week. He had plenty of time to put it through his paces and, as a power user, he made sure to type some notes about his early experiences. So when he handed it over to me for an overnight “visit,” I was able to consult them to compare his reactions to mine.

    Now as you know, the iPhone X’s edge-to-edge OLED display allows for a product that is similar in size to the regular iPhone 8 to incorporate a larger display. I had an iPhone 8 Plus on hand to compare the feel, and the iPhone X is not only smaller, but noticeably lighter. The former actually feels a tad heavy when I hold it in one hand, and it wears a little over an extended period of time.

    Continue Reading…

    Is This a Way to Estimate iPhone Sales?

    December 8th, 2017

    So far, reports from industry analysts — and I don’t think they use crystal balls — does lead one to believe that sales of the iPhone X are off the charts. As Apple continues to improve production, more product is available to buy.

    Apple’s online store indicated, as of the time that I wrote this column, delivery ahead of Christmas, with limited availability at Apple Stores. This is a tremendous improvement from the five to six weeks backlog right after initial orders were taken in late October. It also helps put the lie to all the fear-mongering that you wouldn’t be able to receive an iPhone X for a month or more, or that it would make well into 2018 for things to settle down.

    While I’m not suggesting you’ll be able to go out and buy the version you like the night before Christmas, the situation does appear to be far better than one might have expected. This comes after months of claims that Apple would encounter serious difficulties in overcoming alleged early production problems, particularly with the sophisticated hardware for its Face ID feature. That Apple delivered the iPhone X weeks after the other new iPhones went on sale does indicate a slower production ramp up, at least at first.

    Continue Reading...

    Apple Continues to Flesh Out “Worldwide Video” Division

    December 7th, 2017

    Some time in the not distant future, Apple may begin to stream real TV shows, and not silly stunt fare such as “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps.” It seems real enough, but is there a demand for any more content?

    That was the question I had a while back amid reports of the failure of Apple’s plans for a TV subscription service. Supposedly the fourth-generation Apple TV was meant to spearhead the new delivery service, which would provide a slim and light repertoire of TV channels, maybe local stations, and perhaps a cloud-based DVR scheme.

    The Apple TV arrived with complaints that it was too expensive and lacked 4K support. While such companies as DirecTV and Dish Network introduced lower-cost streaming services, Apple was reportedly unable to reach the necessary content deals. Rumors had it that Apple made demands that the entertainment companies refused to meet.

    So if you take any of this seriously, does it mean that the industry realized they gave up too much to Apple when digital music went legal?

    Continue Reading...

    Consumer Reports Downgrades iPhone X, But Reasons Seem Legitimate

    December 6th, 2017

    As most of you know, I’m no fan of Consumer Reports or the way it tests tech gear and other products. Sure, the magazine presents itself as superior to other publications because tested products are purchased at retail, usually anonymously, rather than provided free by manufacturers. But that doesn’t mean the test methodology or the results shouldn’t be questioned.

    After giving the iPhone X a pretty favorable preliminary review, Consumer Reports found reasons to downgrade the product in its final report. Indeed, one of those factors appears to reverse a conclusion from the original test, but it’s fair to say that CR worked really hard to find faults in the iPhone X, just as they appear to do with other products under test.

    In brief, the Samsung Galaxy S8 remains number one at a score of 81, largely because of its superior rating for battery life. When it comes to durability, however, it doesn’t fare so well. CR rates it as fair, largely because of a broken display after 50 drops in a device they refer to as a “tumbler,” which, of course, has nothing to do with the name given to the Batmobile in the super hero film, “Batman Begins.”

    Continue Reading...