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    DOWNLOAD — Free Version: This week’s guests include commentator and podcaster Peter Cohen, who discusses the CPU bug, involving malware dubbed Meltdown an Spectre, and why was Apple blamed by some for a problem that’s existed with CPUs throughout the computing industry since 1997? Peter provides a full explanation of the problem and how it’s triggered. There’s also a discussion about the dispute over iPhone X sales, whether sales were high or disappointing. Gene and Peter also talk about the recent announcement from Apple about its five-year plan partly based on the U.S. tax cut, where Apple plans to repatriate billions of dollars of its overseas hoard and use some of it for new hires, employee stock awards, a second corporate headquarters, new data centers and, as expected, stock buybacks and dividends.

    You’ll also hear from tech journalist Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. Jeff discusses a possible Skype alternative known as Discord, and mentions the announcement that Microsoft has unified the Office code base that may, at some time in the future, mean feature parity of both the Mac and Windows versions. In discussing the Apple TV 4K, Jeff mentions a problem with a recent update for one of the HDR visions, Dolby Vision. The discussion moves to the amazing performances of character actors and how they enhance a movie or TV show, which includes brief discussions of the duo’s favorite shows. Jeff offers his opinion about Apple’s promised investments as the result of the tax cut. There’s also a brief exchange on whether or not Apple ever plans to update the Mac mini, which hasn’t been changed since 2014.

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    Newsletter Issue #947: Apple and Losing the Message

    January 22nd, 2018

    In a recent TV interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrongly suggested that customers were properly informed about the iOS change that resulted in throttling performance on iPhones with failing batteries. Unfortunately, the interviewer failed to correct him or make much of an effort to ask proper follow-up questions.

    Now Apple did mention a change, first for the 10.2.1 update in 2016, that it was addressing a sudden shutdown problem on some units. But there was no disclosure that the fix meant that performance would be reduced to eliminate the problem. Another sentence or two about the fix reducing performance to regulate power use would have been appropriate, as would an explanation that the user should have the battery checked and see if it needed to be replaced.

    Two sentences, and a load of problems and suspicions would have been avoided. There would probably not have been dozens of class action lawsuits and possible other actions against Apple for allegedly engaging in a planned obsolescence scheme.

    Continue Reading…

    What the Apple TV is Missing

    January 19th, 2018

    As regular readers know, I haven’t used my third-generation Apple TV for several weeks. It was hooked up to my VIZIO 4K TV during the installation process. I checked the input to make sure it was fully operational, and seeing that it was, I never used it again.

    I’m even thinking about selling it on eBay.

    This all comes as a pretty new development to me. I’ve had so-called “smart” TVs for a number of years. The first, a 50-inch Panasonic plasma from the last decade, had an interface that was dead slow and almost unusable. Similar to car makers, the TV industry was slow to recognize the need to perfect embedded software beyond the basic setup screens.

    The 55-inch VIZIO E-Series, acquired at a professional discount in 2012, had a more up-to-date smart TV feature, with dedicated buttons on the remote for different services. Only it barely worked, even though all of the settings were correct. The firmware was up to date and all, and I had the option of having the set repaired under warranty, but I didn’t bother. The interface just wasn’t ready for prime time, and I had that Apple TV on which to rely for iTunes and Netflix content.

    Continue Reading...

    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.

    Continue Reading...