​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Apple

I finally caved...

I just ordered my first new Mac since my 2013 MBP which was relegated to drum room duties a few years back. It had been chugging under the weight of multiple monitors and larger track counts for awhile.  Apple has creators wrapped around their fingers since they still imo provide the most stable and streamlined environment, especially for music and video. And they charge for that exclusivity. 

I’ve managed with a WinPC these last couple of years, enough to write all of the songs I’ve posted to date. It’s been a bumpy ride at times as I’ve had some major shutdowns and failures (all in the WinPC driver/software side) and recurring hiccups that regularly interrupt the creative process. It wasn't a new experience for me, as I've owned desktop PCs for over thirty years. I actually got my start on a TRS-80 Color computer, followed by an Apple IIe (which we never really knew how to use properly), an Amiga 500, and then finally a Gateway IBM 486.  I toiled under the pre plug n play environment for many years, so I'm not unaccustomed to making PCs work, I just grew really tired of it.

For me, the appeal of the Mac is that it just works. You turn it on and it's reliable like a television (pre smart tvs) or a refrigerator. You don't have to constantly struggle with driver updates, hardware conflicts, etc. I’ve had multiple Macs in the past, dating back to my first Mac Pro in 2007. With rare exception, they just perform. They don't unpredictably freeze up, crash, fail to boot, etc. like my WinPC still does on a recurring basis. When they die, they die horribly, but that’s typically after many years of steady service (and usually a few months after the AppleCare has run out). I'm willing to take the chance again just to have that Mac workflow environment, which is still my favorite by a long stretch.

So, with shaking hands (and spouse approval), I clicked the mouse and drained a considerable pile of ducats from the vault to order one of the new iMac Pros. I chose a mid tier option that I’m hoping will last at least four years and beyond. Mid tier in Apple terms is premium by any other company’s standard. By the time I feel compelled to upgrade again (inevitable in the computer world for the foreseeable future) we’ll hopefully have the house paid off and enjoy a bit more discretionary flexibility. Of course I paid for AppleCare this time so I'll be covered for any disasters at least for three years.  Depending on what's developed in that timeframe, I may still be happy with the its performance to keep going for a few more years beyond. 

It's not about having the fastest/newest computer, I've resisted Macs for many years now and went back to the desktop PC when they released those touchstrip MBP with very little incentive for the creative types. The iMac Pro is a step in the right direction and maybe the upcoming Mac Pros will be even more appealing, but I'm not willing to wait at least another year that could stretch to two based on how slowly they've trickled out updates to the pro level devices.  Having seen several reviews and demonstrations from creative professionals, I know the new iMac Pros are a content powerhouse and I look forward to just creating for a good long while. 


I suppose it's been a bit. We're fast approaching holiday season here with Veteran's Day weekend starting tomorrow evening followed by Thanksgiving in a few weeks. Significant events since the last post?  Mostly purchases of stuff. Dining room table, what for the holiday eatage. The prematurely necessary upgrade (replacement) of the iMac and Aeyoung's further cracked iPad.  I was wanting to wait and buy a new Mac Pro when they went on sale in December, but I decided to try the mobile hotspot option with my iPad and Aeyoung's laptop and discovered I could have essentially full laptop functionality with the interwebs at work. Which is nice (without going into detail about said use of interwebs). Did I mention I started playing WOW again? No? Never mind.

Apple's most recent reveal included new macbooks and ipads. I bought the high end version of the macbook pro (from which I'm typing this) and the high end lte version of the ipad. I am fairly confident I would have waited another year or two for any of these upgrades if the imac's graphic card hadn't bought it and aeyoung hadn't delivered the killing blow to her ipad (I drew first blood with the thing a few weeks after we bought it). We've been trying to conserve the fundage a bit until we get the 401K replenished in another two years, but some of these things have a mind of their own. I've essentially stopped looking for concerts to attend, which is sometimes a significant part of the budget. There are a few artists that I will go see no matter what, but last I heard Zep and Floyd aren't due to tour anytime soon.

 Things at work are okay. We have actually had quite a light schedule thanks to our leaders in Washington and the furlough. The number of claim requests getting processed drop to nil since the regional office was affected by the furlough, but I expect the numbers will start climbing back up before too long. My last post discussed the unfinished game conundrum. So, with that in mind, I decided to jump back into playing WOW which won't help me complete any of those unfinished games and is just adding more time/money into a game that I've played around 40 days worth of. Yes, that was days.   WOW just has a special quality that always draws me back in. I'm leveling another mage this time, although I'm specced as a frost mage as opposed to my previous fire mage. And I can say frost is much more effective when soloing. I've been playing for a month and I'm just about level 73. I'm probably going to keep going and then upgrade to Pandaria once my character is ready for those zones. 

Most likely the new PS4 and Xbox will be released while I'm doing this. It's a veritable surfeit of gamage, my friends. I'm starting to think I'll never finish the PS3 and 360 games that are gathering dust currently. I've got a few steam games I'll play when I get around to them. I'm actually more interested in the new technology in these systems as opposed to any specific launch titles. The new kinect's higher resolution and ability to track not only individual limb movement but also the force of the movement means that the interactivity for the fitness programs is at a much higher level now.

 I watched a demo of a chubby game journalist (redundant?) trying to follow the Insanity workout and it looks very promising. It constantly tracks body movements and gives you instant feedback with various scoring metrics. At one point it was comparing his score to females aged 30-45 and he was falling short so he put a bit more effort into it to reach the goal. I gather there are all sorts of data to use like your former best, your xbox friends/family, all time records, etc. That's just the kind of geeky oneupmanship I like. Basically it's saying, "We know you know you're a fatass. But do you realize how much of a fatass you are? Didn't think so. Try harder, fatass"  It looks like most of the P90X workouts are on there as well and it also appears that all the kinect fitness programs (and there's a metric ton) will be free to play (at least for the first year) for xbox live gold subscribers. I think I may be moving my workouts up to the home theater in the near future. 


Everything breaks

at least in the realm of computers and electronics it seems. I have been a pretty stalwart advocate for Apple products, but in reality nearly all of my Apple computers have eventually suffered a major mechanical breakdown to render them unusable. The latest casualty is my 2009 iMac, for which I already had to replace the hard drive last summer (only to find out 2 months later Apple was recalling them). Now it's starting to flake out with graphic "anomalies" which render windows and icons completely black or scrambled and effectively unusable. A bit of online research revealed that other users with the same problem needed to have their logic boards replaced. In the Apple realm, I've learned that logic board replacement is usually about as cost effective as buying a new computer. I already suffered a logic board failure with my Mac Pro after its warranty ran out and that's what prompted the iMac purchase back in 2009. In fairness, the Mac Pro failure was because I tried to upgrade the RAM and accidentally didn't completely seat the ram in its socket before powering up the computer, and apparently this caused it to short circuit and fry the logic board. So that's two unusable Macs to add to my first mac laptop that I purchased in 2008 for my Afghanistan deployment that essentially died (would no longer power up) in 2011ish.  At that point I had bought a newer macbook pro, so the loss wasn't as significant. Still, in retrospect, we've had some pretty crappy luck with our Apple computers. But for some reason, I'm still motivated to buy a new one. I bought my first new Windows pc in many years (I think at least 5) back in 2012 because I was getting back into pc gaming. I learned that despite all the improvements over the years (Windows 7 was a definite leap ahead of Vista, which was the last OS I had been using), the windows experience still fell short of the simplicity and power of OSX.  I have been staying abreast of the Mac Pro update news, and they finally announced a completely new model this past June. I wasn't going to be as quick to upgrade until the iMac died, but not it seems I won't have a choice. I'll definitely pay extra for the applecare protection which is kind of a shitty requirement since these computers are not priced competitively to start with.  


It's another glorious Friday in the dee-eff-dub...

Tonight we're going to see Asia for the third time, this time in support of their XXX album as well as a sort of 30th anniversary of the original Asia album. They're supposed to play most of the album (although it doesn't appear to be in album order) as well as few from the new album and select songs from the others. They're playing at the Granada which is a decent small venue on Greenville in Dallas. We saw Eric Johnson there in October and I would swear I had seen shows there way back in the past before I joined the Army but I couldn't find any ticket stubs to corroborate that. I know I saw a lot of shows at the Arcadia, which is not too far away, so maybe I just remember the name. We originally had gen admission tickets but luckily they offered seats as an upgrade later after the original on sale so we took advantage. I hate asking Aeyoung to stand for two hours, especially when it's a band that only I really get into.

Next week is a short week before Thanksgiving on Thursday and starting on that day I have 11 days off in a row. Which is nice. We don't have any special plans other than decompressing. Well, there is the Rush show the following week. That's kind of a big deal, at least for me. Rush announced two days ago that they would be filming Phoenix and Dallas for the next DVD which was a pretty big surprise. I'm not sure what motivated them to shoot in these locations, but I'm pretty happy about it. The only other concert video I have of a show I actually attended is the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas from 2004. That's a compilation DVD and I didn't attend all the shows on the DVD. I did make a very brief appearance (in the audience) in the small set by Union Station (Man of Constant Sorrow), which was the band a set or two before the real reason I was there, Eric Johnson. We have VIP tickets for Rush and our purchase was complete at one minute past the on sale time, so I'm cautiously optimistic we'll be somewhere close enough to actually show up on the DVD at some point. Even more important, we'll have a concert video of a show we attended to enjoy for the rest of our lives. That is a great thing.

There haven't been any other world shaking developments on the homefront. We're starting to put money away each month with the eventual home purchase in mind. I transferred most of the music related artwork & paraphernalia from the big bonus room to my studio/home theater room. It seems trivial, but having all that music memorabilia on the walls and scattered about the room really enhances the vibe. I'm actually pretty happy with the overall size of that space and I think it would be fine for our eventual home. I definitely plan to separate the home theater and music studio at our eventual home, but I know I don't necessarily need a huge room for my music studio.

I've learned a few hard lessons thanks to Apple, Inc. lately. Mainly that they have started to morph into a more MS Windows kind of experience in the recent past. The more systemic chronic problems really began with my purchase of Mountain Lion when the installer informed me my hard drive was about to die. Too bad I didn't know then that Apple would eventually deem these hard drives defective and offer free replacements (3 months and one new hard drive too late for me). Adding to the Apple frustrations were my even longer standing issues with Itunes and my portable devices (iphone/ipad). My problems always stem from not being able to get complete information transferred from my computer to the device when adding new music. I still buy new music several times a month and for whatever reason, itunes just arbitrarily (it seems) will fail to copy album art, or the complete album, or some other frustrating element whenever I try to copy new music over to my devices.

After multiple attempts to fix the problem manually I eventually have settled on periodic complete wipes and restores of the devices. This seems to be the only effective way to ensure that everything from the mac will transfer to the device. I'm not really ocd about much, but my music collection (and the problems associated with itunes) can make me certifiable. I don't know why with the long age of itunes software that it's still such a common problem to just transfer media files between the mac and the device. I understand the need for DRM, but I don't download much of my music at all. It's about 99% (literally) ripped from cd's I have purchased, because that's still the way I prefer to buy my music. Knock on wood, it seems to be working for me.

Right along with the itunes/media devices frustration I started to experience problems with mountain lion itself. The two most important peripherals (not counting my backup hard drive) I use are my presonus mixer and axefx. These both worked as audio devices initially when I upgraded to mountain lion. But for some reason over time, one and then the other stopped being recognized by the system. I went through the whole nutroll with deleting all traces, reinstalling, updating, lather, rinse, repeat with both devices. I reinstalled mountain lion several times. Then I got desperate. I wiped the mac and installed mountain lion clean. No joy. I then jumped through several hoops until I could get Lion installed on a usb drive so I could perform a complete wipe and fresh install of Lion. This also now seems to be working for me.

All of this with no significant changes on my end, just wanting to add music to my mac/devices and to use the gear that had previously been working. During the process I got to a point that I thought my mac was truly dead and I was going to have to replace it. I had also been thinking about getting a pc at the time (mainly so I could play guild wars 2) to use separately because for some reason along with mountain lion, the mac no longer wanted to let me install a bootcamp partition. So I got the pc during the time I thought the mac might be truly dead but it made a comeback once I went back and wiped everything and started over. Now I have the mac dedicated to music and just basic mail/internet browsing. Hopefully that will provide some more longevity so I'm not compelled to upgrade too soon. With the software I own, I still feel the mac is better suited for music production. Unfortunately I'm starting to get the feeling apple is more concerned with selling portable devices since that's where the real money lies, and they are going to continue marginalizing the power users.