OS X Yosemite

Version 10.10

Highly recommended for all OS X Yosemite users with limited RAM environments or those who wish to protect their privacy

Due to the difficulty in this OS X version to clear the inactive RAM after quitting memory-hungry applications resulting in poor performance issues on your Macintosh computer (especially if you have a traditional magnetic hard disk with limited RAM), you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (preferred) RAM memory purging utility. Available for OS X are the following tools:

  1. Boost&Memory 1.1.0 costs US$4.99.
  2. Dr. Cleaner Free and is the only app to optimise memory when an app is quit.
  3. FreeMemory 1.8.4 is free only from the App Store.
  4. iFreeMem 3.5 costs £10.
  5. MacPurge 1.2.2 is free.
  6. Memory Clean 5.0 is one of the better apps and is totally free (but only from the App Store).
  7. Memory Diaz 1.0.2 from the same makers of FreeMemory comes this app, which is free only from the App Store.
  8. MemoryOptimizer 3.2.0 is free (and discontinued).
  9. MemoryTamer 1.2.1 costs US$2.49 from the App Store.
  10. Purge 1.0 is free.
  11. purgeRAM 1.1 is a free AppleScript app from SUNRISE (requires administrator privileges to run).
  12. RAM Cleaning 1.0 is free and does exactly the same thing as the SUNRISE version..

The situation can be best summed up this way by a MacUpdate user:

[Memory cleaning apps] works as intended. The bigger issue is how Apple chooses to allocate memory. I have 24 GB of memory in my i7 iMac. Safari alone will use a big chunk of it. No other browser eats memory like Safari. This has been true since Safari's intro. Fortunately I have an SSD drive on the iMac, so there is no loss of performance when memory becomes lean.

But it's a different experience on my MacBook Pro with a standard 7200 drive. There, even though I have 16 GB of memory, beach balls when memory gets low. I don't mind closing apps. However, it's more the closed apps retained in memory that's the problem. Here, Memory Clean does what Apple doesn't - retrieves this otherwise unavailable memory.


Beware of the fact that some commercial apps will constantly call home to check whether they are registered. This is more of a concern as this can be an opportunity to send more information about your computer, who you are, where you are located, and the apps you have used, which kind of defeats the purpose of memory cleaning and protecting your privacy. It is also possible such apps could have been developed by programmers working for Apple, Inc. So ignore those shareware/commercial apps like the plague.


Any automatic RAM clearing tool must work on the basis of a user either specifying an inactive memory threshold below which the clearing of the memory is run, and/or setting a timer for when the apps will run their memory clearing process. The ability to detect the quitting of non-system-related applications to enable a software programmer to automatically run a memory clearing app is apparently not achievable according to the way the OS X has been designed by Apple. So all memory clearing apps will remain imperfect. However, to Apple, this may be all that is needed for the company to grab the data from RAM should there be a time delay.


The SUNRISE manual RAM clearing solution can be used in OS X "Snow Leopard" or earlier versions if you have Developer Tools and Xcode installed on your computer.


There is still a general misconception about the purpose of memory clearing/cleaning tools and whether there is any benefit. There are, in fact, two main benefits:

  1. It is for people with limited RAM environments where the inability of the latest OS X to release the memory causes a reduction in performance of their Macs. The problem is worse for people who still use the traditional magnetic hard drives where OS X regularly swaps contents in RAM with cache files on the hard drive when you perform various tasks in your applications.
  2. Where users do have adequate RAM, you may not notice a performance drop because OS X is able to utilise more RAM to run your applications at reasonable speed. However, memory clearing/cleaning is still useful in this situation because the latest OS X Mavericks and Yosemite can retain enough data about the applications you have launched and who uses them in the RAM irrespective of whether those application have been quit. This was not the case in previous OS X versions except for the fact that the Preview.app was a prelude to this feature as Apple tested the idea with users (and still is in the latest version). More specifically, you may have noticed in your 20 years of Mac experience how Preview.app does not like to let go of the files that you last opened and later closed but for some reason you cannot trash the files. When you look at the Preview icon in the Dock, you suddenly see no dot next to the icon as if suggesting it has quit. It hasn't. You have to click on the icon, the dot appears very quickly and then you quit Preview properly. Then the file can be trashed. All this is part of Apple's attempt to see what happens if data about the files you thought was closed can be kept in RAM without your awareness. If so, Apple can go the next step of sending the data through from RAM to its servers while you are online using the latest OS X. So essentially, memory clearing/cleaning is also about protecting your privacy.

However, if you are not terribly concerned about sharing your privacy with Apple and you have plenty of RAM, memory clearing/cleaning apps on the whole have no real benefit.

About version 10.10

Given certain interesting issues being picked up by users in OS X "Mavericks", not to mention the high RAM requirements to run it (well, it you want reasonable performance out of your machine, you have no choice but to increase the RAM capacity of your Macintosh computer or else use some kind of memory cleaner tool on a regular basis as mentioned above), it would appear Apple is rather keen to move on quickly to the next and greatest thing (at least in its eyes): OS X 10.10 "Yosemite".

Looking more like an update for OS X "Mavericks" users but with enough tweaks and refinements to the interface (the primary focus) to make it feel like an upgrade, Apple has released the official Developer Preview 2 of the upcoming OS X "Yosemite" version as of 18 June 2014, and with further preview versions right up to the end of September 2014, suggesting that perhaps we are not far off from Apple officially releasing this version to the public (everything is suggesting in late 2014, around the Christmas period). Sounds like Apple has realised not a lot of users have gone for "Mavericks", so the company is hoping this latest incarnation of OS X will do the trick.

Emphasising how this OS version is as American as "Apple pie" (perhaps the next release will be called OS X "Apple Pie" to sweeten the deal a little more from this American company), it is now called "Yosemite" as in the famous national park we all love to visit. Maybe one day the OS will finally allow users to give their own names to really personalise it. For now, it is all what Apple wants while trying to make it look nice enough to make users think it is their own OS they are using, but deep down it really isn't.

There are only three main areas of focus in this upgrade: (i) interface refinements; (ii) emphasise how good the Apple applications supplied with the OS is; and (iii) more integration and seamless syncing of data between iOS and OS X devices.

If you are thinking there are not a lot of improvements to this version on the surface of things, you are not alone.

1. Refinements to Apple Applications

In terms of the Apple applications, assuming you use them regularly, the new OS seems to emphasise the importance of getting users to feel totally at ease in using only Apple applications to do just about all the essential things thanks to words to the effect of "state-of-the-art" and "beautifully designed" just to lure users like fish to a bait. Understandable if Apple wants to profile users who use Apple applications and push certain information to Apple servers and so determine what users are doing, who they are, and whether they can find anything illegal or embarrassing in what users do (well, the company has to get its kicks from something these days if they are not busy working on its OS), while making it look like the company is there to help users have a better experience while advertising more software, music, video and products to them.

2. Better and more seamless integration with iOS devices

And to ensure Apple does not lose out on its ability to probe the activities, apps, and music collections of its customers while still being able to find ways to identify users, there is far greater and more seamless integration of iOS 8 and OS X "Yosemite" through a tool called Continuity. In this way, Apple hopes enough users will not need to try any third-party FileMaker Pro solution and so avoid Apple being blatantly anti-competitive through its changes and introduction of bugs under FileMaker Pro 13 to thwart certain FileMaker developers from selling alternative solutions to consumers. The tool will now make things "just work" and sync together if the devices are within range of each other using either the Bluetooth option (whether or not it is turned on), or via the Apple servers. Basically you are getting what you already have, but with a little more finesse, subtle transfer of personal data, and almost certainly a nicer interface design just to hide the real purpose behind the OS and its Apple applications.

NOTE: By the time FileMaker Pro 14 is out, Apple would have had enough time to get users to make the most of Apple apps. So hopefully less desire by users to try non-Apple products.

If you use iOS devices a lot and need this level of integration, make sure you have a machine with the following specifications:

  1. MacBook Air (mid-2011 and above)
  2. MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
  3. Retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
  4. iMac (late 2012 and above)
  5. Mac mini (mid-2011 and above)
  6. Mac Pro (2013 and above)

Why? Apparently Apple has quietly introduced Bluetooth 4.0 technology into these models to enable the features in Continuity to work properly. Third-party Bluetooth solutions may get around this problem in the future for older Mac models, but it is recommended that you don't go out and buy one straightaway until "Yosemite" has come out of beta and is a fully fledged consumer product (approximately at the end of 2014).

3. Refinements to the interface

After all of these improvements to Apple apps and better integration with iOS8 devices, Apple believes it is necessary to give OS X "Yosemite" the "looks brand new" feel (and make people think it is worth the upgrade). The interface has been described as now providing the "elevated experience" feel (presumably because in the past there were little improvements to the interface since version 10.4) from an old trusted friend in OS X (cough!). Almost sounds like you are meeting a salesperson for the first time. Yes, very comforting indeed. Also, the company has gone through what it calls a supposedly "pixel-by-pixel" improvement in the interface as if it has weeded out things it doesn't like or has updated, not to mention enhanced the graphics in other areas. It is probably a situation of the company making its own decisions such as, "Nope, we won't have this in there, but we might add this instead and see what the users think". Does this mean users will lose not just the 2D look to their Dock as in "Mavericks", but something else? Well, it is possible that a number of things that people are familiar with today might get changed to something we have to figure out all over again, or lose out completely. But then it is possible Apple will merely refine things in a way that makes common sense from a company that ought to know better by now. It is too early to tell exactly what Apple has done and intends to throw in at the last minute. Certainly the interface has less of the 3D, and more of the 2D flatter look, with greater emphasis on translucency. This would seem like an improvement. But only time will tell if the changes are truly positive by everyone.

For now it seems these are the main changes. Unfortunately no indications from the company that users will require any less (or more) RAM to run it than the now old "Mavericks" version. In fact, preview developers are saying it will be as bad as Mavericks in terms of the RAM you will going to need (but surprisingly not more, as if suggesting "Yosemite" is just a superficial tweak of "Mavericks"). So if you are thinking of purchasing an Apple computer, make sure the RAM has no less than 8GB (and preferably 12 to 16GB). If you can afford it, take the RAM to the maximum of 32GB and be done with it, and then you won't have to put up with the nonsense again of upgrading RAM to handle newer versions of OS X in the future (and especially the applications too). You will need to consider this aspect very carefully, especially in the light that Macintosh computers nowadays only provide RAM as permanently soldered components to the computer's own logic board (as you will find in the super thin Apple laptops being sold today). Something you must consider very carefully before purchasing.

Apple, Inc. getting their beta testers to pipe up the greatness of OS X Yosemite

There could already be signs from Apple, Inc. that things are looking a bit desperate following the woes of the "bendgate" saga of the iPhone 6 Plus and numerous bugs in the latest iOS8. And now the company is hoping to convince users to make the move to OS X Yosemite as if this is better. Talk of millions of beta testers around the world putting in their input to the Developer Preview releases (at least 10 so far, and as of 1 October 2014 we have the Gold Master release, which is effectively the last stage before the OS gets its official release to the public) is probably all part of getting as many Mac users to see the benefit of a much more stable and hopefully prettier OS X.

Will users make the move? There are some positive aspects to be had of the latest OS, but don't get too excited. The biggest problems are its monstrous size, and the inability to clear inactive RAM after an application is quit. Not much can be done about the former, but one would think Apple would have fixed the latter by now. Apple, Inc. certainly knows about the latter issue, but it does not want to fix it and do the job properly. Therefore, this is probably going to be one of those releases where most average users (leaving aside those software developers and rich people with their latest Macintosh computers and high RAM specs for the moment) will just sit it out and use their current machines for as long as possible. If users decide to purchase a new Macintosh computer, they will know the latest OS will be installed and users will have to live with what they are given (no choice from Apple). Until then, Apple should not get too excited about its imminent release of its latest OS. Those users who live and breathe by a Mac and with money to burn will probably make the early move. But the majority of users will have better things to do with their lives and will make their own decisions on what to do next when the time comes to replace their computers. OS X Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion and Maverick users will remain in great numbers for many years to come.

More effort to get people to install OSX 10.10

As of 15 October 2014, a MacUpdate.com user had been promoting the ease of which anyone can own a copy of OS X Yosemite. Well, yes if one notices it is a free download, and it is the sort of thing Apple wants other Apple users to install and run. It is hard to tell if MacUpdate.com is in bed with Apple, Inc. with this OS X Yosemite thing-a-me-jig and, therefore, is helping to promote the company's latest OS X version, or whether Apple's own employees are doing the work.

NOTE: The same could be said of those MacUpdate users who denounce the benefits of an inactive RAM clearing/cleaning utility in OS X Mavericks and Yosemite, which we all know is not in the interest of Apple when it comes to helping the company learn more about users and the applications they use while they are online (or eventually go online at some point if the inactive RAM has not been cleared properly).

OS X Yosemite 10.10.0 first public release

Released on 16 October 2014 is the official public and hopefully stable release of OS X Yosemite. File size is a whopping 5.16GB and can be downloaded from here. Of course, it is only free if you can find a free public internet cafe or library and a fast enough download server. If you do decide to pay extra to your ISP to provide extra bandwidth needed to download this behemoth of an OS, make sure your computer has the minimum hard disk space and RAM needed to run it. And don't forget to check that your mission critical applications you need to use will still run. Also, make sure you have some kind of automatic inactive RAM clearing tool to run in the background to remove all traces of personal data and applications you have used to avoid Apple snooping about on your computer when you are online.

Better still, check with others first to see what OS X Yosemite looks like. The highly colourful interface may look okay initially, but after doing a lot of work on the OS, some people have come to hate the design. As one user wrote:

"A piece of advice that the author DIDN'T mention, but that I found crucial: make sure you like the aesthetic before upgrading. I saw screenshots and found it tolerable, but after 10 hours of using it for work and play, I *had* to go back to Mavericks. I think it's absolutely hideous: like half-digested skittles.

In my opinion, this is a huge downgrade for Apple, aesthetically speaking (just as iOS 7 was, and I stand by that), and it just looks like a homemade Linux distro."

However, there are some supporters of the new interface design. For example, a MacUpdate.com user said:

"After iOS 7, I was afraid OS 10.10 would bring a fancy, dull interface. Apple avoided this achieving a good intermediary solution. Graphic elements are almost flat, but you still get a sense of volume. And the excess of colors of iOS weren't mirrored in OS. Even Helvetica Neue, a font with bad legibility, works quite well in Retina screens.

Besides this, there are all these improvements, with much nicer Calendar and Reminder apps, excellent additions to accessibility, more dictionaries, iCloud drive, and good new features in Mail, Safari and Messages. All at no cost.

Of course, nothing is perfect. I especially dislike iTunes 12 interface and store improvements. Initialising time increased and a number of old issues are still unsolved (for example, MAP bad navigation and Safari high energy consumption). But it is an excellent OS anyway."

It seems OS X Yosemite will definitely polarise Mac users, especially with Apple's choice of new icons, with Mac "die hards" claiming this latest version is the best, while others will think otherwise.

Whatever the views of users, installation of OS X Yosemite should take a tad over 30 minutes on a 2.8GHz laptop with a traditional magnetic hard disk, or a bit faster with flash-based storage laptops. The installation process appears fairly safe (and probably the most thoroughly tested aspect from Apple). However, you should always backup critical data and applications before you install it. Once installed, it should be on a newer 2 to 3-years old computer (from 2011 or higher) and with adequate RAM to help rip through the graphics intensive interface, especially the graphically-demanding translucent windows and effects (there appears to be no option to turn off this feature). In fact, apart from the RAM requirements, this is the other thing that will put many Mac users off if their computers are a little too old. The next OS X 10.10.1 update may improve the latter aspect a bit. But for now, only upgrade if you have a newer machine with the specs needed to give you the speed to run this behemoth and highly fancy-looking OS X version.

Beyond that, enjoy the most iOS-like OS you have ever used on your Mac!

Apple trying to entice users to OS X Yosemite

Users are not quite flocking in huge numbers to download OS X Yosemite. We wonder why? As a result of this observation, Apple and some of its developers are trying to provide incentives for users to make the upgrade. For example, some apps will suddenly require the latest OS to run them with no backward compatibility on older OS versions. While Apple itself has released on 3 November 2014 a brand new Safari 8.0 version (somehow it did not make it into the OS X Yosemite download file) as a separate download since the company knows a lot of people use an internet browser. Unfortunately, it requires the latest OS to run it. Furthermore, the people working at the company have forgotten that other equally impressive internet browsers exist to do away with Safari altogether (and is just as fast, if not faster in performance).

Could Apple have finally lost the plot in all these OS X changes?

Or has the company reached a point in its history where the pressure of its shareholders wanting to see a good return from their investment has resulted in rushed products getting out the door and with limited testing and understanding of the needs of consumers and what they are looking for? It is either that, or the hunger for true innovation and building quality and stable products has yet to be seen at Apple in this post-Steve Jobs era.

Somehow the company needs to do things differently. And it needs to stop this giving all or nothing approach to users who simply don't care and just need things to be very simple, extremely compact, easy to use, and let them decide what features and additions they would like to plug into their OS to enhance its functions. Keep the core OS solid, stable, compact and able to run on any device or computer (and probably should be free). As people purchase new machines, they can either purchase or add new extensions to the OS to benefit from new technologies, or they can continue to use the existing OS but should run faster, and that's it. If the core aspect of the OS is well-designed and solid with no bugs or anything, the company will have time to focus on the plug-ins to enhance the OS. Then the quality of the OS will improve dramatically and more customers will be happier.

It just makes sense.

Unfortunately, the only reason why Apple will not do this is because of the software piracy issue. As Adobe, Microsoft and other software companies look towards a subscription-based solution to getting people to pay for their software, Apple feels it needs to constantly change enough core aspects of the OS to force people to purchase new software. Otherwise, the users will be hoping to see software companies provide free updates to existing software. This is the biggest problem facing customers and software companies such as Apple.

How will Apple deal with this very issue of software piracy while getting people to move onto the latest OS X version without affecting too many of its customers and potential new users?

The challenge to find a solution is now on.

What are the alternatives on a Mac?

Speaking of subscription-based software applications (which seems to be the trend for software manufacturers of expensive software apps because of the software piracy issue, but will it take off for consumers?), the only sensible way to go for computer users who need to achieve certain things in the digital form has to be the buy once and own forever approach to software. Never go for a subscription-based option because of the inherent unreliability of a network during crucial times when you need constant access to the application and the data file containing the important information you are working on. Even if the application tries to regularly save your file, at the end of the day you know you want to feel safe in completing the work in your own time and minimise disruption (bad enough if the power fails on your computer). However, despite being cheaper these subscription-based software tools for the budget conscious user, there are alternative free or low-cost applications that you can own outright.

So where do we start?

Unfortunately, there is no alternative for OS X on a Mac. Nothing from a competitor that is truly native and runs at the best speed possible (even OS X is still slow even without decent RAM). True, you can purchase Desktop Parallels and run a respectable Microsoft Windows version. But it is not quite the fastest (you will need plenty of RAM to get just enough speed out of a Windows emulation machine to probably match the speed of, say, OS X Mountain Lion). Might as well forget about this aspect for the moment.

However, in terms of other software, you can find some very powerful alternatives to the overpriced Adobe Master Collections Suite of tools for you to buy outright and own, and is definitely cheaper too.

For example, instead of Adobe Illustrator, you would be hard pressed to find a better alternative than Affinity Designer 1.2 for US$64.99. This is a new application released in October 2014 designed to pretty much do away with Adobe Illustrator, and has enough features you would expect to find in Adobe Photoshop. It is Mac and PC compatible, and the best thing is that it is amazingly fast in rendering graphics in real time, and can read and write in the Adobe Illustrator format if required. Otherwise PDF, EPS, SVG and the range of bit image graphic file formats are available as standard. If you want something that is easy to use and fast, you should try your creative artistic hand on this application.

For a more dedicated Adobe Photoshop alternative, try the free GIMP open source version. Yeah alright, it may not look exactly like Adobe Photoshop. That said, there is a version of GIMP that looks and feels very much like Adobe Photoshop. So if you are itching for an opportunity to ditch the Adobe tool for something else (especially if you are on one of those subscription-based services where you have to be online constantly for the privilege of using Adobe software), we recommend you try the Photoshop look alike GIMP version. Otherwise, for a low cost alternative with good, easy-to-use features, try Pixelmator ($US$29.95). Or you may wish to try out Acorn 4 (US$49.95). Pixelmator will certainly handle the Photoshop file format and gives you a decent range of useful functions to manipulate your pictures, but one can observe Acorn significant and radical redesign of its UI and under-the-bonnet code to make it a rather surprisingly easy-to-use and powerful alternative image editing application.

Stop Press!! Forget the previous paragraph. At last, Affinity Photo 1.2 has now been released, and this one is specifically targeted to those users wanting a replacement of Adobe Photoshop. Finally, you get a decent real-time power and precision tool with the ability to run all your Photoshop plug-ins, and at a price that just about anyone can afford. Yes, you will never feel like you will be missing Adobe's long time friend when you make the move.

As for Adobe InDesign, there are plenty of alternatives. However, for something that is pretty powerful and effective that will not empty out your bank account of every bit of savings is Scribus (the free open source version), PageStream (for US$99), and Swift Publisher for Mac (you are better off getting the complete extras with this application for US$99.95). And, dare we say it, Apple's own Page app is rather unusually well-equipped to do away with Adobe InDesign (and even Microsoft Word) for most users. Sure, it is long due for a major update and it does not come with all the precision tools you might expect of the more expensive desktop publishing versions, but that is coming very soon (we hope). When the update does come, it will be enough to replace Adobe InDesign except for the most precise and demanding desktop publishing requirements. In fact, Pages is unusual in its ability to not only provide very good text processing capabilities (for people who want an alternative to Microsoft Word), but is flexible enough to handle desktop publishing (so you don't need Microsoft Publisher, InDesign, QuarkXPress etc). At US$19.95, Pages is a remarkably cost-effective alternative. It may not have all the precision tools and features you might expect of the high-end commercial versions, but it is effective at what it does and meets the needs of most users. Furthermore, Pages will save in PDF and in the popular ebook formats such as epub.

But hold on! Do we see Affinity Publisher arriving over the horizon yet again on this desktop publishing front with another software tool to wow the public? If this is true, you may wish to check this tool out first. One might be pleasantly surprised at what you will find. Indeed, with a bit of luck, it might even open Adobe InDesign files just to make life easy for the professionals.

You don't want to buy Adobe Acrobat to manipulate PDF? Try Apple's own free Preview application (so long as Apple is able to make it stable and run smoothly as of OS X Yosemite). It will allow you to delete PDF pages, drag-and-drop PDF files and individual pages into another PDF, and you can crop, highlight and copy text and images from any PDF. Whilst it may not be able to perform text-recognition of a scanned PDF image, Preview is a good place to start your PDF manipulation dreams. If you want to add the OCR text-recognition experience to your digital efforts, try Prizmo for US$49.99. Prizmo can detect text in over 40 languages. So you will have no problems there.

As for Adobe Flash, try Hype 2 for US$59.95. This is more than a capable tool to replace the Adobe version and makes it even easier to achieve all your Flashy aims and more on the web. Just so long as you are happy to create animations in the HTML5 format, this is the tool for you. Alternatively, you could try MotionComposer for US$149 to retain the Flash file format used by Adobe when editing and saving Flash animations.

And for Adobe After Effects, Apple comes to the rescue yet again with its own alternative called Motion for US$49.99. Perhaps Apple is sensing that one day Microsoft and Adobe will do away with Mac compatible product versions in the future and Apple is preparing for this with its own range of alternative applications? If not, then Apple may have to cripple its software a bit with each upgrade to try to avoid stepping into the word processing and desktop publishing environments of its big software manufacturing brothers.

Now if only someone else can provide an alternative to OS X that can run on a Mac, and then everything will be just fine.

9 November 2014

Perhaps we have spoken too highly of Apple Pages, for it seems Apple has decided to downgrade the UI design and reduce the number of useful features since version 5.0. As one MacUpdate user stated:

"The user interface for this release is quite poor. I am shocked that a company that prides itself so much in elegant and simple designs has crippled their application suite. The way the styles and various elements are presented are simply presented in an inferior fashion that requires more drilling to find things than before.

This really feels like a significant downgrade and I'm highly disappointed."

As for the number of useful features, another MacUpdate user wrote:

"...I saw that some (actually quite many) features are missing in this latest version. I am a long time Pages user, and of course I fear that Apple could do the same to iWork they did to AppleWorks…"

One explanation given by some users is that Apple is probably trying to grab more users of iOS devices to use Pages on OS X (and hence purchase a Mac computer as well). However, in order to do so, Apple has to dumb down the interface and reduce the number of features so that it can cater to people with little or no understanding of software and hardware technologies. Once this is done, Apple can later make another newer version of Pages that works on an iPad and still look the same when the time comes to make everything seamless in transferring and syncing data between OS X and iOS.

And afterwards any subsequent update will look like a massive improvement to iOS users.

The only problem with this approach is that as Mac users get more experienced and become accustomed to the extra features of Pages, any reduction in the number of useful features and a dumbing down of the UI design to the point where things are not efficient and easy-to-find again will quickly alienate this group of people. Then the only thing to keep Apple sustained is to keep enticing new Mac users to its OS environment, while the more experienced Mac users have to broaden their horizons and start looking at alternative OS and other applications to get the features they have lost in the Mac version.

Or there could be another explanation. More specifically, Microsoft was probably not happy to see Apple treading in its word processing, publishing and spreadsheet territory and had threatened to pull its flagship Microsoft Office product out of the Macintosh environment. So Apple decided to scale back the features and functions of Pages (and probably Apple Numbers app too) in its capabilities and appearance. A real pity. And a lost opportunity for Apple to become independent and a true leader in quality software.

Or maybe it is time we truly open up the Mac environment to allow Microsoft, Linux and anyone else to provide an alternative native OS environment for the Mac and so give Apple a run for its money, and then users can benefit from running Microsoft Office or any application in their full native speed. No more Windows emulation software. No need to have a separate partition to run Linux or another OS. Everything just runs on one system. And if Microsoft is really smart, it should even allow Mac software to run on Windows too. Or Apple can run Windows software on OS X. At the end of the day, let consumers decide which OS is best for them. Now that's real competition.

Or more likely, once software manufacturers get too big, it is not surprising to find the possibility of collusion between them in order to avoid entering the territory of each one.

Not enough iOS users are purchasing Macs

The reason for Apple to make OS X Yosemite look more iOS-like is because the company is gambling on people to purchase Macs if they have already bought an iPad and/or iPhone. The only problem is, Macs on offer in the stores are not installed with OS X Yosemite. Apple is apparently hoping people who do purchase Macs with OS X Mavericks will intend to upgrade the OS on their own. Unfortunately, what the company has not predicted is the limited interest even from experienced Mac users to make the move to the latest OS X version on their own Macs, let alone new Mac users. To make things worse, iOS users are able to do everything they need with an iPad or iPhone. Why would these users need to purchase a Macintosh computer as well?

Just to make it clear how Apple is out-of-touch with consumers at the present time, Microsoft has done its homework and has decided to come up with the thinnest, lightest, toughest and easiest-to-carry tablet/laptop combo machine called the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. This computer is so well made and powerful enough that even a number of U.S. Department of Defense personnel are touting this as the best product of its kind in terms of true portability and power. It can be used as a tablet, or appear as a laptop with its own separate keyboard. And its portability is something to behold. A truly remarkable piece of engineering.

The only thing competitors can do now to compete with Microsoft is come up with two tablets that can be connected together, with one tablet acting as the keyboard and the other as the display (and these can switch over depending on how the laptop is placed on a table). Or a specially dedicated keyboard could replace one of the tablets to create an effective and powerful laptop to compete with Apple's own MacBook Air.

Who would have thought that Microsoft would be more innovative than Apple these days?

December 2014

Apple has made the rather obvious and necessary decision to install OS X Yosemite on new Macs being sold in the Apple stores. While it may give no choice to new customers of Mac computer products, at least the decision does force people to use the latest OS version and not waste more time and/or money to upgrade it again. It is the only way the uptake of the latest OS will increase (so long as consumers want to buy new Macs if an iPad or iPhone is somehow not sufficient for their needs).

Now what could Apple possibly add to an already overweight OS to get people to upgrade yet again in a couple of years time? Perhaps the company will consider adding a decent voice recognition technology (i.e. not sent to Apple for processing), 3D animation of folders and turning the desktop into a 3D virtual reality world for you to explore and find your folders and then figure out how to open them when accessing your files in some cryptic Apple way? Perhaps the OS can finally serve the users a drink from its virtual fridge or bar? Or maybe it can start controlling every aspect of our lives through wireless interactions with all TVs, electrical appliances etc? Sounds like a scary thought.

Or why not just keep everything simple and compact (for speed, reliability and to keep the number of bugs to an absolute minimum) and just focus on innovative new Apple products that people will want to use in the quickest and easiest way possible (and enjoyable too) and let them live their own lives (in the real world that is!)? In fact, it may even teach people to learn to think for themselves and not let a computer do absolutely everything for them. Sure, make things more compact, tougher and prettier, but focus more on other software that will truly help to make life easier for everyone at the lowest cost possible. To begin with, why not replace all Microsoft products on the Mac since the day will come when Microsoft will probably ditch all their Mac products and just focus on PC software. Of particular note should be Microsoft Word. As for Adobe products, Apple can produce alternatives that are cheaper and just as powerful as any Adobe product. If not, the competition from smaller independent third-party software manufacturers are already starting to compete with the likes of Adobe and its software.

Or is Apple still in bed with Microsoft and Adobe at the moment while giving the impression to everyone of a presumably competitive software and hardware industry?

20 December 2014

Apple is facing a major upheaval in its long and somewhat tumultuous history. And the next major change for Apple will likely take place in less than two years from now. We see this from the way PC manufacturers such as Lenovo and Microsoft are offering extremely thin and tough laptop/tablet combo machines by late 2014 that are just as powerful as the desktop or laptop variety. Apple has no such similar product to compete with the new breed of PC laptop/tablet products (the closest is Apple's MackBook Air and even this machine is still not a tablet as yet). Why? The reason is simple. Apple has not learned from its old days of using PowerPC chips in its once famous and illustrious Macintosh computers. At the time the old chips were used, it allowed Apple to maintain loyal Mac users who were more likely to purchase another Mac given the ease-of-use and more intuitive OS and hardware design. But that all changed when the decision had to be made to move onto Intel chips used by many PCs. Now the very same reason is being applied to portable Apple products with their A7 microprocessors. Unfortunately for Apple, it has not learnt from the past and now the time is fast coming when the company will have to switch back to Intel chips because of the increasing number of Intel-based portable laptop/tablet devices being offered by PC manufacturers.

However, to complicate things a bit, Apple has a purpose in maintaining a different microprocessor for its portable devices. Basically, it forces Mac users who want their data to be accessed on a portable device to transfer the data through Apple's own servers via the free iTunes software. Apple is there to gather information about its users and what they use as well as marketing information on what users do with Apple products and software. But should Apple be forced to switch the microprocessor back to Intel to get the sales up again and the shareholders happy, consumers can bypass iTunes and the Apple servers and just transfer not just their data, but also any Intel-based software of their own liking and run it as they wish. Apple does not like this latter option, especially in the face of possible software piracy concerns. Only one problem: PC manufacturers are giving Mac users a new choice. If you have PC software or created your own PC compatible software on an Intel-based machine, you can easily run the software and access your data on portable PC devices. There is no need to use Apple's own iTunes software and pass the information through Apple's own billion dollar servers.

How will Apple survive in the face of these new breed of intelligent, innovative and well-made Intel-based PC portable devices? There s only one way: All Apple portable devices must move over to the Intel microprocessor. But while Apple wants to maintain the option of seeing all the data and software people transfer between portable devices and Mac computers, we can see the company is facing a dilemma, and one that is likely to see major upheavals for the company in the coming years.

The future for Apple is only just starting to get interesting.

31 December 2014

There are already some interesting indications that a number of ex-Apple engineers could be helping to prepare Mac users for the eventual switch back to Intel processors when the new and properly-built Apple iPads are released (or perhaps introduce the new Apple laptop/tablet combo machine). These engineers have released an app called Duet 0.9.9 which they claim to be the first of its kind to permit Mac users to connect to their OS X Macintosh computers and interact with it using a portable Apple device (e.g., an iPad). Using the right high-speed cable, not only is the refresh rate of the screen fast enough to use the portable device as a second monitor when extending the display capabilities of your Mac (or give the option to see what you are doing on your Mac should the original display get damaged or lost), but you can literally go the other way and use the touch screen of the portable device to manipulate the Mac desktop and run applications.

This raises an interesting point: Apple may not like to provide consumers with a laptop/tablet combo machine because of the expected implications of making this move (which would see the end of the A7 microprocessor), but Mac software developers can prepare their own Mac apps to work properly on Apple portable devices so when the time comes for Apple to allow people to use new portable Apple devices like they were a Mac computer, everything will work fine. And if not, Mac developers can create PC compatible software to work on PC laptop/combo machines. It is really quite simple.

Now this is most revealing to say the least. Could this be the clearest sign yet that some ex-Apple employees are not happy with what Apple, Inc. is doing at the present time and the type of products it is focussed on selling to consumers?

Apple really has to look at itself. In particular, why stop restricting consumers from doing their best through the software Apple makes? Introducing bugs, removing useful features from previous versions (only to later re-introduce them at a cost), and choosing not to provide the best and well-made products that last for as long as people want (if it means a lifetime, then so be it) is simply not the way to go. Show some social conscious to the people who use Apple products and think about what they wish to achieve for humanity and this planet. Let customers be genuinely happy in achieving greater things for other people using the tools provided to them by Apple for as long as they need those tools. And if it turns out certain products will reach a point where they are perfect (well, nothing is ever perfect) and there is nothing more Apple can do to improve on them, then be happy and let others be happy. Apple should be proud to have done its best. So the next step must clearly be to innovate in other areas. Develop new products in totally different areas and don't stick to the same areas where Apple might feel inclined, as a shareholder company, to force people to live with unnecessary bugs, crippling software features or whatever. Just wake up.

As for the ex-Apple engineers, they are probably making a killing at US$14.99 for the iOS version of this app (the Mac app is free, but rather useless without the iOS app). At least their business head is screwed on right. But just make sure the product is the best they can produce and flexible enough to handle any situation and give people the options they need to achieve what they want or need to do for others.

Is it a lot for consumers to ask for these things from Apple?

1 January 2015

These ex-Apple employees may have its own way of attracting Mac users to look at Duet 0.9.9 by claiming the Mac app is free (not that users expect it to be free when they notice the app advertised as such) only to read the fine print and discover that the iOS app is actually US$14.99 (and is needed for the technology to work), but it would appear that someone else has already created an identical solution. Air Display 2.1 uses WiFi and a compression algorithm to make the whole process look smooth (i.e., enough throughout of data to prevent stuttering movements on the display) on the Apple portable device. So no extra costs by way of purchasing a special cable. More importantly, the developer is upfront about the true costs, which is US$19.95. This is precisely how apps should be advertised (and people still look at the app to learn more and make their own decision as to whether to purchase a license or not — or they may build their own free app using the free Xcode from Apple if they so choose, which is perfectly fine too).

Please note that Duet 0.9.9 and Air Display 2.1 (the latter has been available since late 2010) probably require the latest and fastest iPads to be useable and useful to most users. But you can try an older iPad to see what happens.

Already people are offering ways to change the Yosemite interface...at a small price

You have to give it to Apple. It knows how to annoy enough users to the point where now some developers are cashing in on the idea of offering a facelift of OS X "Yosemite" with icons from the previous OS version. Take, for instance, XRevert 2.0 released on 16 December 2014 (formerly called YosemiteRevert priced at US$1.99). Somebody has purchased a new Mac for Christmas and is already offering a way to change the icons to those of OS X "Mavericks" (fortunately the desktop picture can be easily changed by the user, but then again there could be enough newbies out there who would want a utility to handle that one too) at a new price of US$4.99. Clearly this guy is trying to recoup his costs (does this mean he thinks the Macs are overpriced as well?).

Now if only someone can figure out a way to get rid of the bloated nature of Yosemite and perhaps everyone can finally enjoy a truly useful OS. Yes, and pigs can fly too.

OS X NTX Network Time Security Fix

A security fix has been released since 22 December 2014 for the ntpd time grabbing network service. The problem relates to the way "an attacker [might send arbitrary code through the NTP network] to trigger buffer overflows". For Yosemite users, you can download from here. Mind you, the likelihood of getting attacked through the NTP server is extremely slim if users merely turn on the NTP service on OS X for a few seconds to update date and time and then turn it off. The NTP service is not meant to be left on permanently while users are online. But then again, there are some users who prefer everything to be simple and fully automatic and constantly checking online for the most accurate information just to ensure time is accurate to a tiny fraction of a second as if it would make a difference in their lives (we certainly don't want users to miss out on that all-important meeting).

Apple tries to digitally fuse together separate physical flash drives to form a single bootable disk

Apple seems hellbent at making sure users cannot create multiple partitions on flash drives (it does not matter if the drives are physically separate units) to prevent people from launching older OS X versions. The need for users to stick with one OS X version (preferably Yosemite) is so great for Apple that the company has managed to find a way to force more than one flash drive unit connected together on one Macintosh computer to digitally fuse together as one drive. Here is a quote from a MacUpdate user revealing the latest situation:

"I bought a Mac Mini in last 2012, then sent it to OWC so they could install a 240GB SSD piggy-backed on the 500GB that came with it. I expected two volumes but when I first booted it up, it connected with Apple and soon thereafter these two volumes mysteriously became a single fusion drive volume of 740GB."

For experienced Mac users who know very well the importance of multiple partitions and installing at least another OS X bootable disk in case anything goes wrong to the primary bootable disk, this move is a very bad one. It seems Apple wants every Mac user to be as naive as those people who do take the plunge to try out a Mac for the first time (and have never used a Mac in their lives). Basically Apple just wants it done its way so if anything does go wrong, the company will have a better chance of checking people's Macs while performing the repairs (i.e., pushing information to the Apple servers).

OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 and Security Update 2015-001

It is good to see Apple is capable of finding more security-related issues with OS X Yosemite (but not much more). This update also improves the security of Safari, bring it to version 8.0.3. To obtain these latest security improvements, use the Software Update command under the Apple menu to grab the OSXUpdCombo10.10.2.dmg file (make sure you get it after 28 January 2015 as Apple did release a version that would not work on machines with OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 version)., or download the full 5.4GB version from here.

The advertised improvements noted by Apple in this update are:

* Resolves an issue that may cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
* Resolves an issue that may cause web pages to load slowly
* Fixes an issue that caused Spotlight to load remote email content when the preference was disabled in Mail
* Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
* Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
* Improves VoiceOver speech performance
* Resolves an issue that causes VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
* Addresses an issue that may cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
* Improves stability and security in Safari

OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Update

This contains the latest Security Update 2015-004 together with other updates (including Safari 8.0.5). It is highly recommended all users update OS X Yosemite. For further details about the security improvements, see OS X Mavericks and OS X Mountain Lion.

Views on OS X Yosemite (version 10.10.3) compared to previous OS X versions

Yet another reason why not enough users are making the move to OS X Yosemite is why is it that OS X Mountain Lion can give a low battery warning with minutes to spare and yet OS X Yosemite can't seem to find enough time to give the warning and allow the user to plug a power cord into the computer? Instead OS X Yosemite just prefers to shut down, losing everything you were working on. Are we to assume that OS X Yosemite just needs more power to do its job?

And if that is not enough, the retention of data in the active RAM is interfering with the ability to manipulate PDF documents in Preview.app and Adobe Acrobat.. For example, open a PDF document in Preview.app and it is clear what version it is. After using Adobe Acrobat to capture the document of a different version and closing the document after saving, drag and drop another document that looks the same and with a very similar title but clearly the cover page is a different version and yet somehow Acrobat keeps opening up the previous document. Well, let the truth be known, it isn't actually opening up the previous document file. Rather it is getting a copy from memory, because as soon as you tell Acrobat to recognise the text and convert it to an editable text version, it goes through as if it has never been OCR processed before. But that's not true. The previous document had been converted and saved. The data for this latest document is coming from the active RAM that is retaining the previous non-OCR-recognised document despite already doing the work, saving it and expecting the document to disappear are closing it. So even saving and closing a window will not necessarily clear the previous document from RAM. And if you quit the application and restart, it finally wakes up. Hallelujah! But don't think it is over yet. As soon as you quit the application, OS X still retains some data about the application in RAM. thereby reducing the performance of the computer over time. Geez, that's smart Apple. Who was the dummy at Apple who came up with this idea?

Similarly, after working with a PDF document or two in Preview.app, saving and assuming after closing the files that that is the last time you will ever see them again, try to add a PDF document or page into another PDF document. On the first occasion, it somehow manages to grab the previous closed document from active RAM and inserts it into another document, but not the document you were trying to drag-and-drop into the open PDF in Preview.app. Try it a second time and the app finally realises it should be using the PDF document on the desktop you were dragging across and inserting into the current open PDF document. Extraordinary. If you have similar pages with just a few changes, this bug can create considerable problems as you just don't know whether you have inserted the correct PDF document unless you zoom in and look very carefully to see any differences to help you determine if you have the right document. It is a problem in Preview.app that has existed right back to OS X Mountain Lion. And incredibly, Apple has never actually used the app enough to recognise the problem. It seems like the company just makes the app, does a quick check, and if it seems to do the job, it forgets it and assumes it is ready for prime time use. Long-term testing is simply not on the company's agenda unless enough users complain about the problem.

But to make matters worse, Preview has far more bugs introduced under OS X Yosemite than in previous versions. Simple problems that involve trying to print, which after a while causes Preview to crash and generate the following error:

"Thread 0 Crashed:: Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
0 libobjc.A.dylib 0x00007fff9574c0dd objc_msgSend + 29
1 com.apple.print.framework.Print.Private 0x000000010399f406 0x10399d000 + 9222"

In another example, the error appears in a dialog box as "Preview quit unexpectedlywhile using the XRPSACMNTKAAccount plug-in". The recommendation is to re-open (yet again) the app to achieve a fairly basic task of printing something.

Of course, not all problems with Preview are print-related. How about the basic task of deleting and inserting pages (especially after inserting the wrong pages kept in RAM instead of what the user wants) causes Preview to suddenly hang and do nothing. You have to quit and re-launch.

And did we mention Preview suddenly quits quite consistently after a few times of printing different documents from this app, but with no reports or dialog box generated just to make it harder to figure out what went wrong? Or even the fact that once you insert a PDF document or page into another PDF document opened in Preview.app that clicking on the thumbnail of the new pages will not show the page in the main window pane? Only a quit and relaunch (after it saves automatically, which it shouldn't because it is the user who should decide to save it). Clearly it is not an issue of insufficient RAM. How about 16GB? Is this enough for Preview and OSX to do their jobs?

While Preview.app is not entirely useless, it is not far from being described as the worse app Apple has ever produced. More embarrassingly, it is an app that has somehow gone backwards in the quality controls. And it isn't as if the app has received a lot of new features to warrant the extra bugs, memory leaks and all the rest. Looking at it, it is hard to tell what new features have been added. All we can see is a general refinement of the interface as well as a need to re-arrange familiar buttons around (so what's wrong with the previous design and button arrangement in earlier versions?).

Really, for the time and the amount of effort Apple has wasted in re-designing its entire set of silly OS X Yosemite icons, it could have spent it wisely on checking the Preview.app and making sure it works extremely well. That would have been a far more worthwhile use of its time.

No wonder a number of Mac users are thinking why anyone bothers with the upgrade when even the most simplest tasks are just not made, well, simple and flawless every time. Okay, there might be bugs if Apple decides to add new features. Fair enough, so long as they are being fixed within reasonable time. However, simple things like switching back to Preview.app and scrolling slightly down the thumbnails of pages can suddenly see the app jump down to the last page, and then you have to scroll all the way back up to where you were last time. What a time waster. This may seem insignificant if people don't use Preview.app, but if people are doing lots of work and are meant to use an app like Preview, it becomes counter-productive and wastes extra time for the users. So what's so special about Preview.app under OS X Yosemite that we get all these bugs? Clearly things like the scrolling issue was much better in previous versions of Preview.app. Why are we losing such basic navigation functions like this in the latest OS X version? And why is it that Apple cannot see this in their own applications now that OS X Yosemite is up to version 10.10.3? It would be funny if Apple is actually using Windows 8 or some kind of non-Apple apps to explain why such basic bugs are not being picked up. Is the company afraid to use its own apps for everyday use?

Or is this the way Apple likes to gather user profiles and general system and app information by expecting people to constantly send bug reports to the company on a regular basis (because the company can't, or don't want to, see the bugs that people are reporting)? Well, we are up to version 10.10.3 and the bug reports from users are clearly not fixing the problems in Preview. Or is Apple saying it works better if you buy the latest flash-solid-state drives MacBooks and iMacs and that we all should buy the latest stuff?

Or is Apple thinking nowadays that because OS X is free that we should not expect too much from it. Just accept all the bugs and oddities, even the new ones suddenly introduced into existing apps, because users can't expect their technology to work perfectly if it is free.

As another example of more oddities, if we move away from Preview.app and focus just on OS X, we see signs of not being consistent in its behaviour as with previous OS X versions. For example, choose grid for positioning icons on the desktop. Now drag and drop a file from an external drive to a position where you expect a copy will be made and stay in that position where the cursor was after letting go of the mouse button (or very close to it). On very rare occasions, OS X Yosemite may work out where the file should appear (i.e., the user's last cursor position, or very close to it if it snaps to a grid position). But more than 90 per cent of the time, OS X Yosemite prefers to do its own thing and places the file slightly off-center, but very near the middle of the screen, often forcing you to hide all the windows of every application to find the file and drag it to where you had hoped it would appear. Why the extra work? You don't see this in OS X Mountain Lion. Sure, it may seem like nothing, but when people are trying to do their work on a Mac on a daily basis, it is these tiny idiosyncratic behaviours that just wastes time and makes life harder for users.

Want more examples? How about the fact that after a period of fairly regular use of an app that it would suddenly decide to quit? It doesn't happen in OS X Mountain Lion even for apps that are known to be very stable and working fine. What exactly is OS X Yosemite doing that it should suddenly run out of RAM and some library function in the system can't do its job and then crash, thereby bringing down with it the app that for some reason OS X needs to do extra things with it? Users can have plenty of RAM, even with 16GB, yet applications feel more unstable under OS X Yosemite.

And for all the marketing fanfare from Apple about how great OS X Yosemite presumably is, it is all a great farce. The idea of a quality Apple product through OS X gets thrown out the window as soon as users sit down to actually use the thing and achieve the work they are suppose to be doing with it. And if they have any experience with Macs, they will quickly see differences and start to ask questions about why they are losing basic functions?

Really Apple? Stop farting around with user profiling and transferring personal data through their servers and start focussing on paying close attention to fundamental things like proper and predictable navigation in apps, making sure icons stay in the position users expect (or very damn near to it), and fixing up bugs. These fundamental things are more critical to Mac users. And if Apple cannot even do the latter properly, why does the company expect people to upgrade and put up with the rest?

As a result of the reluctance of quite a few experienced Mac users to move on and upgrade (and accept all the bugs), Apple is trying to do sneaky things to entice users to make the move to OS X Yosemite. The classic example has to be the latest FileMaker Pro 14. A popular product, still in need of significant improvements, but it is slowly getting there. At any rate, this app no longer works on OS X Mountain Lion, only OS X Mavericks or higher. We wonder why?

Well, if users can't expect a free OS X to be working properly, why does Apple expect people to upgrade? It doesn't make sense. Either Apple does not use OS X and its own apps to see what is going on from the perspective of the users, or Apple is just too obsessed with gathering information about users and wasting time in not focussing on producing quality Apple products. Seriously, where is the once great pride among the people at Apple in producing the best products they can instead of worrying about certain control freaks among Apple management executives telling these people how the products should be designed to suit their limited vision? Isn't the true vision meant to be that of the people who use the products?

The same is true of the latest Safari. For some reason Apple's own web browser only works with OS X Yosemite. Now really? So who came up with this dumb idea? Let us guess, was it someone in the management team? No surprises. Yet remarkably third-party developers such as the makers of Firefox have no trouble making a web browser that works on OS X Snow Leopard or higher. So what is so special about Safari that it needs OS X Yosemite? Let us guess: Is it again to gather people's personal details and internet habits?

The only way to explain this silly situation is because Apple wants users to make the move to OS X Yosemite (or at the very least OS X Mavericks — well, we don't want people to completely think Apple is trying to push users to the latest stuff, do we?) because the company thinks it has found a way to combat software piracy as well as learn more about its users for marketing purposes etc (or so we are officially told). The only problem for Apple is that it has already lost a number of rather fundamental things in OS X Yosemite, and it isn't just the lack of Bluetooth support for existing headsets or other wireless devices (unless it is the absolutely latest thing), the ordinary-looking icons, the poor memory management decision to not clear the RAM when applications are quit or documents are saved and closed, and its anal-retentive focus on sending data to online servers to see what users are doing, who they are and so on.

It is probably time Apple goes back to the drawing board and start focusing on getting the basics right (and making sure everything is working flawlessly), especially given how much time the company has had with tinkering its latest OS for more than 8 years.

OS X Update 10.10.4

Apple seems business focussed today with the decision to release OS X 10.10.4 on 1 July 2015. However, is the company truly business focussed? Unfortunately, if the last update and bugs in Apple apps or within OS X is anything to go by, it would be hard to believe it is.

At any rate, the main focus of this update seems to be mainly in the areas of increased reliability of network access (mainly to make it easier for Apple to gather information from your system and your personal details as part of its profiling service), sending your photos and videos to Apple's iCloud server, and making it easier for people who choose to try OS X Yosemite to migrate their files over to the new OS, There is also better hardware support for external displays. And there are a few bug fixes in Mail, Safari and the new Photos.app (with better upgrading reliability from the older iPhoto and Aperture libraries to the new library set up by this new app).

To be more specific, here is the official list of improvements according to Apple:

* Improves networking reliability
* Improves Migration Assistant reliability
* Addresses an issue that prevented some external displays from functioning properly
* Improves the reliability of upgrading iPhoto and Aperture libraries to Photos
* Improves reliability when syncing photos and videos to iCloud Photo Library
* Addresses an issue that could cause Photos to unexpectedly quit after importing some Lecia DNG files
* Resolves an issue that could delay outgoing email messages in Mail
* Fixes an issue where a website could prevent the user from navigating away by presenting repeated JavaScript alerts in Safari.
* Addresses an issue where OS X systems bound to directory services could stop responding under certain conditions.

The last point is interesting as Preview.app can stop responding under certain conditions as well. However, no specific indications from Apple that Preview.app has been (or will be) improved, suggesting that the problems of the app probably stem from the various changes done to OS X Yosemite. And until the OS is truly stable and free of bugs (performed at Apple's own pace), it is likely apps such as Preview will face a period of instability for a little while longer until they are fixed too.

Let us see how things pan out.

For further details about the update, check this Knowledge Base article. And download the full Combo Updater (since Apple will not permit users to keep a copy using the Software Update option via the App Store). It will be a 1.9GB file, so consider going to one of those free internet access points where the download of this digital beast will be fast enough.

2 July 2015

Ah, you can forget about a stable Preview.app and a well-behaved OS X Yosemite. None of the fixes Apple has decided to do has done anything to address the above issues. This is really just Apple plugging up whatever obvious holes it feels are important in relation to networks. Beyond that, Apple has noticed a few users are using Macs for music listening and reading iBooks, so Apple has helped provide a few stable fixes with their beloved Apple apps. Any more improvements? There is a quiet expectation from Apple that users will constantly upgrade if they wish to get anything more. It is a company that has never experienced true competition on the Macintosh platform because there is no competition it has to worry about. Other than to appease Microsoft and Adobe in making sure Apple does not provide alternative and powerful enough Office and graphic designing software to compete with these big software companies and so allow Mac users to receive the Mac versions of the companies' own flagship software, Apple is really operating to its own tune. It has its monopoly over Mac users. Unless Microsoft decides to make the next version of Windows totally Mac compatible, Mac users just have to make the most of what they are given.

1 August 2015

If you are unfortunate enough to have upgraded to OS X Yosemite, make sure you reset all your printer and scanner settings in the Printer and Scanner preferences pane under System Preferences. And also update all printer drivers. This will undoubtedly be a pain in the butt for those users who have saved lots of printing presets or settings for existing printers about how to print documents (such as whether to have stapling, folding, double-sided printing or not, booklet mode etc.). If you are in the professional printing industry, you will know what this means and how painful this is. Unfortunately, Apple has little consideration to the professionals who must use Macs and instead are quite happy to change the way print settings are stored in certain files. To avoid corruption or losing certain configurations of how to print something (you may wonder why after selecting to print with stapling in top left-hand corner the stapling stops working until you realise Yosemite is having trouble working with the old settings created and stored in the files from previous OS X versions), clear all the settings and start from scratch. Until Apple finishes off the nonsense it is doing with OS X in making these unnecessary changes and give everyone a decent and stable OS to work on, people can expect further time-wasters like this in the next OS X upgrade.

6 August 2015

For the most advanced OS available (or so it is touted by Apple, Inc. for this OS version), OS X Yosemite and/or Preview.app still can't handle a simple situation of low disk space. This Apple software somehow continues to assume you have unlimited space to store any amount of data you want without ever needing to check first if this is the case.

For example,. insert a PDF page or a PDF document into another PDF document using Preview.app, save the file, and suddenly it will claim it can't save the document. No explanation why, so you assume you close the document and re-open and try again. But hold on! That's not what you do. Never close the window. You must export the file to a new location on a different disk. Why? Because OS X and/or the Preview app cannot explain the fact that you have run out of disk space. Furthermore, the Preview app does not save the data to a separate file to prevent damaging the original file. It will save right into the original file and hope to hell that the user has enough disk space. So when you do run out of disk space, Preview or OS cannot communicate to each other to warn the user of this possibility or tell you what happen when it does and what to do about it. You have to find out after clicking on the Save command and, if you are not sure what happened and close the window, then it is too late. You will get the message:

"It may be damaged or use a file format that Preview doesn't recognize."

Before you close the window (or else the file will not open again due to corruption), use the Export as PDF command and save it to another location (i.e., a different disk, with extra space of course!).

Such basic low-level detection features like this is what helps users immensely no matter how minor it may appear in the scheme of things for Apple. The company has been too focussed on pushing users to use a system it wants to see implemented but leaves behind the fundamentals of how users need to use the technology.

OS X Yosemite is a classic example of how out-of-touch the company is with its users.

OS X Update 10.10.5

This update is primarily for delivering the latest Security Update 2015-006 to Yosemite users. However, to force users into accepting other changes to OS X, Apple has provided further improvements to Mail.app (mainly imp[rove compatibility with certain email servers), Photos.app (now allows videos to be imported from GoPro camera), QuickTime Player (you can now play Windows media files), and Safari 8.0.8 (security fixes). In terms of Security Update 2015-006, this is designed mainly to address vulnerabilities in the Apache, Bluetooth, system kernel etc.

The security updates in this file are probably important to have (unfortunately you are not provided with a separate security update file as with Mavericks users), while the other updates are few and relate to those users using selected Apple apps (unfortunately, no improvements to Preview.app). Any other changes is probably undocumented from Apple.

On the performance level, things are slightly improving. To see significant performance benefits, we recommend you should use Terminal.app to disable various iCloud services. Download and uncompress this AppleScript app from SUNRISE to do this specific job for you — it will remember your admin password after the first time so you won't be pestered to re-enter on running the app again, and only repeat this process each time Apple releases an OS X update or upgrade.

To receive the full combo update, click here (2.12GB).

Security Update 2015-004

Released on 22 October 2015, Apple has kindly provided Yosemite users with a security update (the same one as provided in OS X El Capitan version 10.11.1). The 334.7MB dmg file can be downloaded from here.

Security Update 2015-006

Being careful not to leave Yosemite users high and dry in the security department following the release of OS X El Capitan 10.11.2, this update will address numerous poor coding in Apple's kernel, iBooks, bluetooth and other parts of OS X and its apps as covered by the El Capitan update. The 352MB update was released on 11 December 2015.

Security Update 2016-003

Following the release of OS X 10.11.5 on 16 May 2016 and the security improvements made there, OS X Yosemite users can benefit from this through Security Update 2016-003 (434MB, showing the improvements are minor but the system components needing to be updated are quite hefty).

Security Update 2016-004

Following the release of OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 on 18 July 2016, any security improvements made there have been brought over to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. You can download the update (456 MB) here. But don't expect too many more security updates to be provided. Once OS X Sierra is released, the company expects most users to make the upgrade.

Apple Secutity Update 2016-005

Unless you do a lot of internet work and download all sorts of attachments from unknown people and visit strange web sites, this one is not absolutely critical. If you do update using the whopping 468MB file (mostly an updated Safari 9.1.3 plus a little extra security for the system itself), beware that users have reported issues with their "nvidia drivers for unflashed graphics cards on 10.10.5" not working. It is recommended that you update those drivers via http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/97606/en-us to complete the picture. For those users who are not technically-minded, run your System Information.app in the Utilities folder of the Applications folder. If you see anything in the video section suggesting Nvidia is used in your system, then update the Nvidia drivers. For everyone else, happy computing (and getting a real life too!). This update was released on 1 September 2016.

A breakdown of the components used in this update and where you can download them separately, check the following links:

Firmware Update:

http://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/31/50/031-74572/d6rg3uuihx9tfvsavc7i4vk1ay6q15hvmt/FirmwareUpdate.pkg (115.5MB)

Security Update 2016-005 for OS X 10.10.5:

http://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/31/50/031-74572/d6rg3uuihx9tfvsavc7i4vk1ay6q15hvmt/SecUpd2016-005Yosemite.pkg (352.1MB)

If you perform these updates manually, do them in the order shown. Or use the full Security Update 2016-001 file.

And to complete the security update, install Safari 10.0 (for those who use this browser). This only just arrived within 2 weeks of the security update.

Apple Secutity Update 2016-006

In the wake of the macOS 10.12.1 update, Apple has released Security Update 2016-006 for Yosemite. It is highly recommended that you backup your data first before applying this update (or make sure you have an alternative OS startup disk in case anything should go wrong).

Improvements are all to do with better memory handling and better validation checking for specific situations, such as running apps and opening PNG files which could contain maliciously-crafted code designed to arbitrarily run in memory and do thinks you have no control over (such as getting your OS to send personal data to a third-party).

These improvements only come if the company has a desire to fix things. With macOS Sierra already out, the desire is there to ensure the latest software is perceived as being reasonably secure and so encourage users to make the upgrade.

Apple Security Update 2017-002

This OS X security update (710.6 MB) addresses certain security-related issues. It should be remembered that not all memory corruption issues are fixed. The full improvements come if you have OS X El Capitan or macOS Sierra. Whatever improvements Apple is happy to give to Yosemite users, be patient and do not restart or switch off if your computer appears unresponsive. This update may take a while.

Apple Security Update 2017-002

An updated Safari 10.1.2 update is provided to macOS Yosemite users. If you use Safari (why?) for internet access, you should update the browser as soon as possible. For macOS Sierra users, this should be included as standard in the macOS 10.12.6 update.