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Six Colors: Review: 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

It looks good, but feels subtle—until you turn back to a non-Retina Mac display and are confronted with the brutal reality of a low-DPI screen. “How did we live like this?,” you’ll cry out to no one. Is a Retina display absolutely necessary in life? There are very few people who need this many pixels—designers and photographers come to mind. But, then, you could argue that about high-resolution displays on any device: We got along fine without them, and they’re not necessary, but life is sure nicer now that we’ve got them.

I disagree with Jason Snell; it’s not about people like designers or photographers. It’s about anyone who works with text and wants to see crisp, clear fonts. While this is a great display for those working with photos and videos, it’s also great for anyone who works with text a lot. It’s not a luxury if you work all day on a computer.

via Six Colors: Review: 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display.

The iTunes Guy’s Special iTunes 12 Edition

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpgWhen Apple released OS X Yosemite, they also gave us iTunes 12. Lots of things have changed in this new version, and I’ve been getting email from readers about many of the new features. In this week’s column, I’ll tell you how to bring back the sidebar, show you how to locate your music videos, discuss the new Info window, and issue hints for working with the new Wish List layout.

Read this week’s Ask the iTunes Guy at Macworld.

iTunes 12 and List Font Sizes: An Odd Way to Scale Fonts

The iTunes 12 interface has a lot of changes, one of which is the font used in its display. iTunes offers several choices of sizes for fonts in list views, and has for a while. With the new fonts, iTunes has also adopted a new way of changing the size.

To change the size of fonts in list views, go to iTunes > Preferences > General, and choose from the List Size menu. Here’s what an album in Songs view looks like in the three different sizes, small, medium and large. (They’re all scaled the same amount from the original screenshots.)

small.png

medium.png

large.png

You can notice two things here. First, the album art changes size as you change the list font size; the two shouldn’t be linked.

But also, the change from medium to large fonts only makes a small difference in the font size, but there’s a big difference in the link spacing. It looks way too airy in large size, but I do need to use the large fonts, especially with my new 5K iMac, as the relative pixel size of the interface is smaller than it was on my 27″ Thunderbolt display. This said, given the quality of the display, I may be able to use the medium size.

But I think Apple could have done this better. I don’t understand why the artwork changes size; there is a size slider in the View Options menu, and if I want to change the size I can do it there. (But not that in each of the above screenshots, the artwork is set to the largest size in that menu.) And the font itself? It should be larger in the large size, with, perhaps, a bit less line spacing. Extra spacing can make fonts easier to read, but in this case it looks like it’s too much.

First Impressions: 5K iMac (Spoiler: Wow!)

I got my 5K iMac early this morning, and immediately migrated my data from my Mac Pro. My first impressions of this Mac are simply this: Wow!

I haven’t done much yet; nothing that taxes the processors to be able to see how fast it is. I did get the faster processor and better video card, though; I want this Mac to be future-proof for a few years.

About imac

What really stands out – and the reason I wanted this iMac – is the retina display. I’ve been using retina MacBook Pros for a couple of years, and I always missed the crisp display when I came back to my 27″ Thunderbolt display.

This display is simply amazing. If you’re thinking of getting this iMac for the display, you have to see it; it will blow you away. Finally, with a display like this, computing is moving to a new level. When you work on a computer all day long, as I do, especially with text, it should look like this.

I’m a bit perplexed about the number of pixels in the display. The Displays preferences say it has the same relative number of pixels as the 27″ Thunderbolt display, but when I fired it up, after transferring all my data from the Mac Pro, all the windows show more than before.

One thing I’ve had to do is up the size of the sidebar icons (System Preferences > General > Sidebar Icon Size) and the iTunes list font (iTunes > Preferences > General > List Size). It seems that everything, at the default resolution, is smaller than before, even though the Displays preferences says the relative resolution is 256 x 1440. On the other hand, I haven’t changed my font sizes in Mail; they look fine, perhaps because they are so crisp.

The display is also very bright. With my Thunderbolt display, I usually had the brightness at the highest setting (during the day); with the iMac, I’ve got it about two thirds of the way up.

I’ll do some real-world testing later, when I get the additional RAM I’ve ordered (I’m adding another 16 GB, though, so far, even with 8 GB, everything seems to run just fine; I could probably have settled with only adding another 8 GB, but I’m thinking ahead.) For now, if you have a chanced to see this Mac, go take a gander at the display. It’s amazing!

Update: I decided to convert a video with Handbrake and see what happens. The fan is quite audible; not “loud” as such, but getting there. The Mac Pro, on the other hand, is ventilated better, so even when doing the same type of activity, you can barely hear the fan. The vent is on the back of the iMac, in the center; this may have been the case with other iMacs; I haven’t had one in years, but my Thunderbolt display had a vent at the bottom left of the display.

The noise is loud enough that I wouldn’t want to do this kind of activity while I’m working, whereas, with the Mac Pro, it didn’t bother me. It quiets down within about 30 seconds after Handbrake stops.

Update: After using the iMac for a while with only 8 GB RAM, I started running into a few issues: I couldn’t past graphics into Messages without it beachballing; I had typing lags in an app; and there were some graphics glitches. I got my additional RAM late in the day, and now have 24 GB in the iMac, but this underscores an interesting point. Apple shouldn’t sell a Mac like this with only 8 GB RAM. Sure, they want to upset you on more factory-installed RAM at a high price, but this leads to a bad customer experience. The Mac Pro, which is a tad slower than the iMac (in its base configuration) comes with 12 GB; the iMac should come with more. I probably don’t need 24 GB; 16 would be sufficient. But 8 is not enough.

Martin Scorsese to Produce Grateful Dead Documentary for Band’s 50th Anniversary

The Grateful Dead will celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary with an authorized feature documentary that will be directed by Amir Bar-Lev, helmer of the superb films The Tillman Story and most recently the Penn State football scandal Happy Valley. Martin Scorsese, whose own rock docus have provided the template for how to make these kinds of movies, will be executive producer along with Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, and Rick Yorn. Longtime Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux will serve as the film’s music supervisor.

The makers say their as-yet-untitled film will include never-before-seen footage of performances and backstage stuff involving the band, as well as new interviews with surviving members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir, as well as many other characters and pranksters from the Dead universe. This goes back to the band’s formation in the Bay Area amid the rise of the psychedelic counterculture of the ’60s. 

Yowza!

Grateful Dead Documentary: Martin Scorsese & Amir Bar-Lev Behind Movie | Deadline.

Display the Old-Fashioned Info Window in iTunes 12

I’ve complained about the new Info windows in iTunes; they’re ugly and hard to read. But there’s a way to use the old-fashioned Info windows. It’s well hidden though.

Select one or more tracks, press the Option key, then right-click and choose Get Info. You’ll see this window, the one familiar to iTunes users for many years, in the colors of Yosemite:


info-window.png

I’m told this works on Windows if you press the Shift key, then choose the contextual menu.

So, if you hate the new tagging window, you can still use the old one. I’d have expected this to also work if you press Command-Option-I, but it doesn’t; it only seems to work when you hold the Option key and use the contextual menu.

It’s interesting that Apple has kept this in iTunes, even if it’s hidden. It suggests that maybe, just maybe, the new window is tentative, and there might be a return to the older window.

H/t to Doug Adams, who passed this on from Paul J.

Update: as a commenter says below, you can apply a keyboard shortcut to this. In System Preferences, go to Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts, then click +. In the Applications menu, choose iTunes; for Menu Title, enter Get info; and for the Keyboard Shortcut, press Command-Option-I (or another shortcut, if you wish).


shortcut.png

One extra key to press, but you can display the old Info window as before without even using the contextual menu.

Amazon Fire TV: First Impressions (Spoiler: They’re Not Good)

I got an Amazon Fire TV today. It’s finally started shipping in the UK. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I have to say, my first experience with the device isn’t very positive. After plugging it in, I saw a screen asking me to choose my language, then I saw this:


IMG_2307.JPG

The progress bar moved, slowly, for about ten minutes, then I got a message that the update had failed, and I should unplug and replug the device. I did that, and the progress bar is moving very, very slowly. I called Amazon, wondering if there was something wrong, or whether it was just a Very Large Update, and the support person didn’t know. And there’s no way to reset the device to factory settings.

This isn’t a very good customer experience. To have a device that simply isn’t ready to work out of the box, and to have to download what may be several gigabytes of software to get it to work, is just wrong. The device should work, using its current software, and let you set it up and see how to use it. It should then tell you that there’s an update, and, perhaps, give you an idea of how long it will take to download the update.

Compare this with setting up a new iPad, which I did yesterday. Through every step of the process, the iPad tells you what’s happening, and shows you what you need to do.

That’s the difference between Amazon and Apple. Amazon doesn’t care very much about the customer experience; for Apple, it’s the key to keeping customers. From the packaging to setup to usage, Apple devices make you feel comfortable. Amazon, they just flog the stuff and let you deal with it.

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