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Apple’s Weird Math, or the Weight of the iPad

I was looking at the specs for the new iPad Air 2, comparing its weight with last year’s original iPad Air. I’m unimpressed by the difference in thickness between the devices, but wanted to see how much difference the thinner iPad meant in terms of weight. On Apple’s page where you can compare iPad models, I saw this:


compare-ipads.png

(I’ve edited the above, so the images display right about the weight section, which is quite far down on the Compare iPads page.)

I you think for a second, you realize there’s something wrong with the math. The iPad Air 2 weighs 32 grams less than the original iPad Air; that’s almost an ounce, or 1/16 of a pound. But the difference between the two – .96 lbs and 1 lb – is clearly wrong. Last year’s iPad Air actually weighs 1.03 pounds, yet Apple rounds this down to a pound. For other models, they have un-rounded numbers: .98 lbs for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model of the iPad Air 2, 1.05 lbs for last year’s version. But last years Wi-Fi iPad Air is curiously an even pound.

I suspect that Apple rounded down last year, and, since they did so, they can’t change the weight, but a simple calculation shows their error. It’s odd; you’d think they’re want to better highlight the difference between the two models: 32 grams, or just over 1/16 of a pound, or, to be precise, 0.07 lbs. When you compare the two in the above graphic, if you aren’t familiar with the conversion (454 g = 1 lb – you’d think there’s less of a difference in weight.

This isn’t a big deal, but it’s a spec that’s clearly wrong (at least in pounds).

How To: Use OS X Yosemite’s Finder Preview Pane

A neat feature in Yosemite that I haven’t seen mentioned much is the new Preview pane in the Finder. If you display this, you’ll see a preview of whatever item you’ve selected in a Finder window. (This is new in icon view; it has existed for years in column view.)

Here’s an example:


finder-preview.png

I’ve got three files in the folder above, and I’ve displayed the Finder preview pane by pressing Command-Shift-P, or choosing View > Show Preview. I selected a file, and you can see a preview of it; in this case, it’s an audio file, and you can see its artwork, size, duration, date information and more. If you hover the cursor over it, you’ll see a play button; you can play the music. If you have certain types of text files, you’ll see forward and back buttons, and you can view their content.

You can change the size of the preview pane, but not by much. And it doesn’t play well if you use a colored background; by default, I have all my Finder windows set to use a blue background, and it looks a bit odd when the preview pane is visible, as there’s no visible separator between the two sections.


finder-preview2.png

But this is a useful feature, one you may not want to leave on all the time, but one that you’ll toggle when you want to glance at different items in a folder without selecting them and pressing Command-I. It doesn’t display as much information, but what it does show might be enough.

How To: Use Dark Mode in OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite features a dark mode option. If you turn this on, your menus, Dock and application switcher (the bezel that displays when you press Command-Tab) will be black, and not translucent.

To activate this, open System Preferences, then click on General. Check Use dark menu bar and Dock.


Screen.png

You can see above what the menus look like. I don’t find this very usable; the contrast is too harsh (it’s always harder reading light text on a dark background than the contrary), and many menu extras don’t display correctly, including some of Apple’s. But if you like this interface, it’s just a click away.

The iPad mini 3 is Not Worth the Money

Apple yesterday updated the iPad line, with a new processor, improved camera and an even thinner body for the iPad Air, and Touch ID added to both the iPad Air and the iPad mini. But the iPad mini 3 sees only the addition of Touch ID; everything else is exactly the same as the iPad mini 2.

Nevertheless, this new iPad mini costs $100 more than the iPad mini 2, which Apple is still selling, for the base 16 GB model. It’s hard to compare other versions, as the iPad mini 2 is only available in 16 or 32 GB, and the iPad mini 3 in 16, 64 and 128 GB.


ipad-comparison.png

Nevertheless, that’s $100 for Touch ID, and for an iPad whose processor is already a year old, and which will have a shorter lifespan in terms of OS upgradability than, say, the iPad Air 2, which has a newer processor.

This seems like a ripoff. With Apple still selling the older model – and even the first iPad mini – it’s obvious that, unless you really need the storage, you’re better off getting last year’s model. You can even get a 32 GB iPad mini 2 for less than a 16 GB iPad mini 3. Touch ID is nice, but it’s not that big a deal, and not worth paying $100 for.

iTunes 12, iTunes Match and “Removed” Files

Apple hasn’t said whether iTunes Match has changed at all, but I’m seeing an issue with a number of purchased tracks in my library with iTunes 12. I have about 60 tracks that show an iCloud Status of “Removed,” and which, while they are in my iTunes library on my Mac, they don’t show up on my iOS devices that use iTunes Match. The Removed status means, according to Apple:

“This icon appears when you remove a song from iCloud (from a different computer). Songs deleted from iCloud are immediately deleted from associated iOS devices, but will remain on other associated computers until you manually delete them.”

As you can see here, Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album, which I purchased from iTunes, shows several tracks as Removed. Some show as Purchased, as they should.


removed 2.png

This is a bit confusing; I only use iTunes Match with one computer. Since they’re all purchased songs, I think this has something to do with iTunes Match itself, and since I didn’t see this in iTunes 11, something has either gone wrong on my Mac, or on the iTunes Match back-end. I did turn off iTunes Match and turn it on again, and that did nothing.

I found that if I select one of these tracks, then right-clicked and chose Add to iCloud, it gets added to my iTunes Match library as Matched, not Purchased. When I deleted some of the tracks, then re-downloaded them from my Purchased list, they showed up correctly as purchased. This is a problem, however, because most of these tracks come from Bob Dylan: The Collection, a digital box set of Dylan’s music I bought years ago, which isn’t tagged by album. So to find the exact tracks in my Purchased list, I’d need to spend a lot of time, as there are multiple versions of many of these songs.

I’m also seeing some tracks that show up twice, once as Purchased and a second time as Matched.


removed3.png

And on a number of albums, tracks show up as Matched twice. There is one copy in my iTunes library, and another in the cloud, and the durations of the tracks differ by four or five seconds.


Different times

None of these problems occurred with iTunes 11. It looks as though iTunes 12 did something to whatever database is stored on Apple’s servers, which contains information about your iTunes Match library. I have no idea how to fix this, other than, for the Removed tracks, re-downloading them.

As for iTunes Match matching, I tried with some albums where some tracks matched and others were uploaded – this shouldn’t ever happen; if the album is on the iTunes Store, every track should match – and I saw no change. This suggests that the iTunes Match matching algorithm hasn’t been improved, though it would require more rigorous testing to prove this conclusively.

So, if you use iTunes Match, think twice before upgrading to iTunes 12 (though if you do upgrade to Yosemite, you don’t really have a choice). Feel free to post comments if you’re seeing the same problems.

Yosemite Tip: How to Turn Off the Annoying Translucency

One of the big design features in OS X Yosemite is translucency, also known as “blurring the interface for no reason other than because it looks cool.” It does look cool; for about five minutes. After that, it’s just annoying. It’s hard to see things clearly, especially in menus. There’s no justification for this in a user interface, other than the fact that it may look cool.

Fortunately, you can turn it off, but the setting isn’t in an obvious location. Open System Preferences, then click the Accessibility icon. Click Display, then check Reduce Transparency.


com.apple.preference.universala.png

Note that the correct term is translucency, not transparency. Apple did use the correct term in the earlier betas, and uses the word translucency on its website, but for some reason they changed it here.

Have a look and see how much easier Yosemite is to use when you can’t see through windows and menus.

The Committed Podcast Discusses Apple’s New Products

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I discuss the new products that Apple announced yesterday. We recorded right after the presentation, and we talk about the new 5K iMac, the new iPads, and even the paltry Mac mini. We also reflect on the end of the Macworld/iWorld Expo.

Listen to The Committed, Episode 54: “80 Pounds for Touch ID”.

iTunes 12: How to Display the Sidebar

It’s that time again: a new version of iTunes is available. And this time, the sidebar, as we knew it before, is gone for good. However, you can still display a sidebar with your playlists, and this duplicates much of the previous sidebar functionality.

To do this in any library – choose a media library by clicking the icons at the top-left of the window – just click Playlists in the navigation bar.


ITunes1

You can also use the Column Browser, if you are in Songs view (choose Songs from the menu at the top-right of the window), to approximate an older iTunes layout:


ITunes2

I’ll have more on iTunes 12 in future articles.

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