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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.

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.


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:


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

Apple Plans to Stop Selling Fitbit Devices in Stores

“Apple may soon stop selling the popular Fitbit devices, as it clears the way for its own wearable technology product set to launch sometime next year, according to sources.

“It’s unclear exactly why Apple will no longer sell the devices, which track steps and other health metrics, in its retail stores. But the move comes a week after Fitbit issued a statement saying it was still “evaluating integration with HealthKit,” Apple’s new software application that acts as a central repository for health and fitness data on iPhones.”

This is a bit mean-sprited on the part of Apple, but it’s important to remember that, if Apple does stop selling Fitbit’s products, there may be more to the story that we don’t know. I don’t know how well Fitbit’s products perform in Apple’s stores, but I’ve found the Fitbit One to be the most accurate of the four fitness trackers I tried.

via Apple Plans to Stop Selling Fitbit Devices in Stores | Re/code.

What to Expect from Apple’s October New Product Presentation

It’s that time again; Tim Cook and his minions will be taking the stage to present new Apple products. And, once again, Apple has been taunting us with the cryptic text of their invitation:


It’s been way too long… What does that make you think about? For me, it suggests that Apple is going to unleash a wide range of product updates. There will be new iPads, perhaps a retina iMac (and, if so, hopefully a retina Thunderbolt display), new iPods (why not update the iPod touch, and even, perhaps, the nano), and more. If you think about products that haven’t been updated in a while, you come up with the following:

  • The Mac mini: last updated two years ago, the Mac mini is a mainstay of many users’ media systems, it works well as compact server, and it an affordable desktop Mac for people who have a display and don’t want an all-in-one like the iMac.
  • The Thunderbolt display: it’s not just that mine is nearly three years old, and just went out to be serviced (it needed a new power supply, as it started emitting fumes; and it’s still under AppleCare), but the Mac Pro needs a companion display. Rumors of the 27″ retina iMac suggest a 5K display, something the Mac Pro could handle with dual-channel video.
  • AirPort hardware: standards have evolved, and, while it’s only been a bit more than a year since the last refresh of the AirPort Extreme, the AirPort Express is a year older, and still doesn’t have 802.11 ac.
  • The Apple TV: this will clearly be updated soon, as it’s two-and-a-half years old (though there was an interim refresh a year later). I expect it to become a device for home automation, as well as for its current usage as a media player.
  • The Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse: it’s been over four years since the Magic Trackpad was released, and five years since the Magic Mouse. Could this be the time to refresh these devices with a Touch ID button?

My guess is that we’ll see a few big items – new iPads, retina displays – and a lot of small items. They might not all get stage time, but I think it would be a good time for Apple to show that they aren’t letting some of their less sexy devices languish.

Oh, and we’ll see more about OS X Yosemite, and iTunes 12, which, I think, will be demoed with some new features that aren’t in the beta that is available to developers. It might be too soon for Apple to unveil a music streaming service – and I’d expect a different type of event for that, one with artist performing – but we may get an inkling of what Apple’s acquisition of Beats is going to bring.

Let’s hope that Apple can get the streaming thing working right tomorrow, so we don’t have to see the TV Truck schedule, or listen to Chinese translations.

Great New Mac App Bundle: 8 Apps for Only $30

StackSocial is running a great new bundle of Mac apps. There are eight apps in the Mac to the Future Bundle, three of which I use and like very much: Fantastical, Ember and Capo. Fantastical is a great calendar app; I use it on both my Mac and my iOS devices. Ember is a tool for taking and storing screenshots, webpages, PDFs, images and more. And Capo 3 analyzes songs, telling you what chords they contain, so you can play them yourself.


I don’t have anything to say about the five other apps – and the web development course – but those three apps alone are well worth the $30 price. Get the Mac to the Future bundle now.

6 iOS Apps for Tuning Your Guitar

If you play guitar or another string instrument, one of the thankless tasks you do before you play—and in between songs—is getting your instrument in tune. There are several ways you can do this: You can have another instrument—preferably one that doesn’t go out of tune—play a note, and then tune your other strings to that one. You can use a tuning fork for one string, and tune the rest of your strings to that. Or you can buy an electronic tuner that you clip on your guitar.

But if you have an iPhone or iPad, why not use an app? There are lots of apps that can help you tune your guitar, or other instruments; here are five of them.

Read more in my Macworld article.

Ireland Is Looking To Close Apple’s Favorite Tax Loophole

Ireland is moving to phase out the “Double Irish” tax structure that has let companies like Apple and Google save billions of dollars in taxes, sources tell Australia’s iTnews. Although the change is not sure, it is reportedly “more likely than not” to happen.

Ireland’s tax structure helped Apple achieve a staggeringly low tax rate of 3.7% on overseas revenue.

How the supposed loophole works is, basically, that multinational companies transfer income to an Irish subsidiary that re-transfers income to a company registered in Ireland that is a tax resident in a tax haven nation. The reported change would make all companies registered in Ireland eventually pay taxes in Ireland.

According to the article, Apple avoided taxes of $25 million dollars per day in 2012

via Irish Government Meeting Apple Taxes – Business Insider.

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