• Newsletter Issue #928

    September 11th, 2017


    I turned 72 on September 9th. I have worked long and hard for some 55 years to earn my keep.

    Unfortunately, the Night Owl is suffering from a severe financial crisis.

    If anything I’ve ever done has ever made a positive difference to you, please help me survive and get past this nightmare.

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    IMPORTANT! Please don’t forget to uncheck the box labeled Paying for a good or a service? so I’m not charged a service fee. Thanks.


    There are lots of questions about what Apple does and why. So take the decision to eliminate the possibility of upgrading RAM and storage devices on most Macs. You’re basically limited to the iMac and the Mac Pro. With the former, changing RAM is possible, far easier on the 27-inch version. You can swap out the drive (or both drives on a Fusion drive equipped model), but it is no easy process, since the screen is attached to the chassis via special adhesive strips.

    I suppose the forthcoming iMac Pro will offer similarly crippled upgrade prospects, though I would hope, for a computing workstation that lists for five grand and up, Apple might make things somewhat easier. The next Mac Pro is being touted as a modular computer, so I would hope upgrade options will be similar to those of the original Mac Pro rather than the failed 2013 model.

    But why would Apple keep you from upgrading your Mac? While it’s easy to say that you should future proof your computer and buy a model with the RAM and storage options you expect to need, you may not be able to afford a more expensive system now. Or maybe your situation changes, and you end up needing more capacity than you expected. But it’s then too late, and the only solution is to buy a new Mac.

    It’s no doubt true that Apple can build lighter, slimmer Macs that are more reliable if memory and storage are soldered onto the logic board. It may be true that only a small percentage of Mac users ever consider upgrading  RAM and drives. But is this a customer-centric approach? Hardly.

    In any case, on this weekend’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, we presented author/publisher Joe Kissell, of Take Control Books. This segment focused heavily on all the new books Joe and his authors have written about macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. You learned about the new Apple File System (APFS) and why the drives on some Macs aren’t being converted by the High Sierra installer. Joe also talked about some of the other features in macOS 10.13, which include an enhanced version of Photos with a decent selection of photo editing tools. iOS 11’s key improvements were also covered, and you learned about one of Joe’s favorite features in Safari, which stops those awful autoplay videos that appear on many sites. There was also a brief discussion about the recent hack at one of the American credit bureaus, Equifax, which impacted over 143 million people.

    You also heard from longtime Mac peripheral maker Larry O’Connor, of Other World Computing. Larry offered the down and dirty details about upgrading Macs with new drives and RAM, and the fact that many recent Macs cannot be upgraded. He also explained 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 also focused on 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?

    On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast: Gene and Chris present Daniel Liszt, also known as the Dark Journalist, who discusses his investigations of such controversial figures in paranormal research as Corey Goode. If you NetSearch Goode’s background (and those who surround him), Daniel Liszt’s work will be at the top of your search. He has uncovered disturbing revelations about Goode and his business manager, ‘Emma Gold,’ aka Roger R. Remseur aka Roger Richards and suggestions of an attempt to create a “cult” around Goode. Find out who is behind “Cory’s kids” and why are young people being targeted by forces that appear to be promoting fantastic messages by so-called “blue avians?” Oh, and you’ll also hear a discussion about the political impact of the alternative media.


    Once again, let’s put all this in perspective: On Tuesday, September 12th, Apple will hold its annual iPhone bash, where new models are expected to be introduced. There may also be a third-generation Apple Watch with an optional LTE radio, and a fifth-generation Apple TV featuring 4K and HDR.

    But for the sake of this column, I’m not going to bother with much in the way of new products and product specifics beyond the iPhones. While I can read the rumor reports as well as anyone, it hardly makes sense to speculate about matters that may or may not have been made obsolete before some of you actually have a chance to read this column.

    Instead, I’ll continue my focus on how the skeptical Apple media continues to try to spin their stories in a negative way. Where I discuss specs, it’s only in relation to the products you can buy now from other companies.

    It all starts with a spicy headline, one guaranteed to attract attention. So there’s a certain financial portal promising, “The best alternatives to Apple’s iPhone 8.”

    Take a deep breath please, and don’t spit out your coffee or diet beverage because you’ve had enough of this nonsense. You don’t want to make a mess.

    Now it goes without saving that there is no iPhone 8, although that’s the name most commonly used. But it may well be that the product labels won’t be quite as speculated, and this is one of the more recent rumors. So instead if an iPhone 7s and an iPhone 7s Plus, representing minor refreshes to last year’s models, and an iPhone 8 to represent a 10th anniversary iPhone, Apple might just have changed things.

    So the story goes that the new mainstream iPhones will be labeled iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and the premium model will be known as the iPhone X. As a 10th anniversary model, that actually makes more sense than calling it iPhone 8, which would presumably be next year’s name. It may also better survive the logic test, because if there is an iPhone 7s this year, what would it be called in 2018 if the iPhone 8 moniker is already taken? iPhone 9?

    I don’t have the patience to argue the name game.

    The article in question merely takes the easy way out, which is to look over the predicted specs of the iPhone 8, or iPhone X, or iPhone Edition, or iPhone Series 10, and compare them to current gear, products you can buy now. The theory goes that there’s no point in buying something new from Apple if you can acquire something as good or better than last year’s models from the competition.

    I’ll go through this quickly.

    So the blogger in question suggests you consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 because its cameras may be superior to the ones on the iPhone 7 Plus.

    Now that may even be true, since Samsung make quality cameras. But it is foolish to believe that the newest products from Apple won’t have improved cameras, and nobody outside of Apple or its suppliers can tell us how well those cameras function. Once the new iPhones are on sale and tested — and I suspect a handful of tech journalists already have them on hand, or will within a day or two — a proper comparison can be made.

    Maybe the Samsung will still have a better camera setup, but don’t bet on it until real tests are done.

    Yet another argument is the suggestion that you can buy a smartphone with “a big screen without a big phone,” citing the Samsung Galaxy S8. The reason? Well, because it has an edge-to-edge AMOLED display, allowing for narrow or non-existent bezels. The implication is that the mythical iPhone 8 will be larger, but since a key feature of this device is said to be an edge-to-edge OLED display, such an argument has no basis.

    Indeed, it’s a sign of desperation, as if the blogger has run out of ideas, and that takes us to some more questionable arguments.

    The next suggestion is to buy a Google Pixel handset to get the “pure” Android experience. But what does that have to do with an iPhone that runs iOS? Among meaningless comparisons, this one is just irrelevant for obvious reasons.

    Yet another argument suggests an Essential phone built by a new company run by Andy Rubin, Android’s creator. Again, this is a silly argument and besides, according to the blogger, “the Essential’s camera isn’t all that good.”

    So why even bother? Besides, I’m not at all clear why there even needs to be an Essential phone to begin with, considering there are so many different types of Android handsets already.

    Again, I have no problems with comparing Apple gear to other products. But on the weekend before new iPhones are expected to be demonstrated, and perhaps 10 days or so before they go on sale, it hardly makes any sense. It’s a fantasy, but that doesn’t stop the critics from seeking more ways to build traffic without having to publishing actual facts.


    The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

    Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
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    One Response to “Newsletter Issue #928”

    1. DaveD says:

      I have to work hard to find good articles to read about Apple. There are so much crap on the Web. I spend my reading time here daily and three times a week with Macalope at Macworld. (Macworld has at times other good articles, but a poorly designed site.)

      Yes, there are situations when Apple should be criticized. In 2016, I put mine in Apple’s Products Feedback trying to squeeze my comment into the 750 characters limit. In the past there were no limits. When there are many articles criticizing unannounced Apple products or with Siri that Apple has mentioned to be improved, the conspiracy side inside me alerts me to publications in the pockets of Samsung, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Again, fair criticism is good on products that are available in the marketplace.

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