I have a new Mac-related post coming up, but I wanted to finish off this series first (yes, it’s long overdue!). After month four, I started getting into a groove, and had fewer questions and issues – thus fewer things to write about. There were a few things though that came up, and so I give you the final entry in this series. In some cases I’ve added updates if things have changed since I first wrote these 6-10 months ago. It’s fair to say that things have smoothed out since the first six months.
Although I didn’t buy the iMac for gaming, I saw the promo for Wasteland 2 and the comments about it being similar to Baldur’s Gate, a game I used to spend hours playing. I bought it, let it install, fired it up…and squinted in dismay at the incredibly blurry text. There’s just no way around it: when you have a display showing 5120 x 2280 pixels over 27 inches of screen, and a game that caps out at only half that (2560px) you’re getting a lot of stretched pixels. The cut scenes in particular were extremely blurry; it got better once I was in the game, but even then the in-game text was pixelated. I spent about 5 minutes playing it, but the controls were awkward with the Magic Trackpad. I’m grateful for Apple’s refund policy, though it’s entirely unintuitive because the process looks like you’re asking for tech support until the final step where a refund option is presented. That’s very likely the last time I pretend an iMac with a laptop GPU and a 5K display can do any gaming. 🙂
The journey continues! By month four, I was starting to really get the hang of OS X, and most of my questions were more about “Why did they do that?” versus “How do I do that?”. I’m still no power user, but slowly the mysteries of OS X are unveiling themselves to me…
I am puzzled by what OS X does with videos and resolution. It looks like, in the case of video (because nobody like tiny videos), Apple will automatically double the playback size of a video; normal is a 2x zoom. This can cause some confusion if you’re working with videos – I’m not entirely convinced this was the right decision for Apple to make, but you can certainly play video at 2x size and have it look fairly good so there’s not a bit quality loss here visually.
Above: the default size of a 1920 x 1080 JPEG as viewed with Lily View.
Above: the default size of the QuickTime player for a 1080p video.
Above: the QuickTime video reduced in twice by two steps – close to proper size.
I’ve slowed down taking notes on my “learning OS X” project – largely because I seem to have gotten over most of the rough edges – but I still have many notes to share from the intense first few months. Here’s what I was experiencing in month three.
I’m not clear why/how, but the Microsoft Office updates for OS X are really terrible. The download takes forever – I’m on a 40mbps connection, but because there’s no speed indicator I’m not clear if the updates are gigantic or the update server just dishes up the bits slowly (hello Xbox Live!). The install progress also takes a while. The number of updates is fairly frequent (feels like almost weekly), and it’s a process that’s simply far too slow. Microsoft really needs to do better here. It would be great if updates for Office came through the App Store, but I imagine Microsoft has reasons for not using that delivery mechanism…
I kind of fell off the posting wagon with this series of Mac updates, so this one has notes that date back to January/February. Still, I wanted to share them. 🙂
I had a two week break from using my iMac over the Christmas holidays, and I honestly missed it. Not in a “throw my Windows laptop against the wall because I want to be using OS X” kind of way, but using the actual hardware – the amazing screen, the huge trackpad, the fast performance – the reasons why I still very much enjoy using desktop computers and could never be 100% laptop-only.
I ran into a strange issue: I’d installed a trial version of an app called LilyView – it’s a stripped down, fast photo viewer that allows me to use the keyboard arrow keys to move through images in a folder. Something, inexplicably, the OS X Preview tool does not do. I liked the tool, so I bought it from the Apple App store. I ended up with two copies installed – neither one indicated it was the trial version. So I deleted both, re-installed the commercial one from the App store. It would be nice if there was some sort of app intelligence here.
Setting global preferences inside an app is kind of crazy, but apparently that’s what you need to do to change email clients. I found the setting in Mail where you specify which email client to use for mailto links, I changed it to Outlook 2016, I verify the change, I exit Mail, I click on a mailto link in Chrome, and Mail opens up instead of Outlook! I’m baffled. So I did some more research, and when I tried it again maybe 30 minutes later, it all worked. WHAT? It’s worked fine since making this change.
OS X is really inferior with what details it offers on Get Info. From Windows, I’m used to seeing pertinent information about media files. Resolution, audio bit rate, video bit rate, EXIF data for images, meta tags for music, etc. In Finder, I have the Preview pane turned on, and I see duration, sample rate, and bits per sample (weird terms Apple is using), but they’re all blank. Maybe it’s a network share limitation? Not sure why; data is data. In order to examine the metadata on my MP3 files I had to use my Windows 10 laptop to access it, then MediaMonkey to change it.
And speaking of Get Info, I selected a bunch of files, then Get Info, and was immediately assaulted by the Get Info window for each and every file. Yikes! How do you select a group of files and get info about them, say the total size?
I connected my HTC One to the USB hub and it wouldn’t show up as a device. The phone knew it was connected to a computer – I had various options for file transfer, charge-only, etc. – but despite various modes I put the phone in I never saw it in Finder. Not sure what magic pixie dust I need here to have it show up as a storage device…hmm. Looks like I needed to install Android File Transfer. I’m genuinely surprised by that!
The native resolution of a DVD (720×480) on the screen of a 5K iMac (5120×2880) is just plain funny. Even Blu-rays seem a bit puny in comparison to the insane number of pixels on this display. I was working with some photos recently and images from a smartphone, or cropped, look equally tiny. Especially from a lower-resolution front-facing camera. Viewing the world though a display this high-resolution distorts my perception of what “sufficient solution” even means…Apple really outdid themselves with this display, but sometimes I’ll check what something looks like on my “low res” 1080p laptop screen to get reality check. And to think that as of January 2016, 51% of users are viewing the web through 1366 x 768 or lower resolution screens. Whoa.
After this post I’ll be switching to a weekly format as my explorations wind down (or become less public at any rate).
Airdrop is really interesting. On my iPad I turned it on, then on the iMac I searched for Airdrop in Spotlight. The first result was the Extensions panel as part of System Preferences, which didn’t help. Then I remembered that Airdrop was on the left Favourites panel in Finder. Sure enough, there was my iPad, and it was ridiculously easy to transfer a few JPEGs and MP4 files. So fast, and so, so much better than what I have to do on my Windows machine with a cable and iTunes. This is a very tangible example of how Apple’s ecosystem works better the more Apple stuff you have. They could of course enable iTunes to act as a Airdrop bridge on Windows, but they won’t.
I transferred a .MTS file (a type of video file) over to the iPad, and got this interesting prompt (above) saying I needed an app from the app store to open it, or I could put the file in iCloud. I selected the app option, and I’ve been staring at the app store loading for over a minute. I don’t think it worked. Interestingly, my iMac said that my iPad “declined my request.” I tried again twice more, and the “Get App” button never worked. Looks like I’ll just use Handbrake to transcode to MP4 to go this route. It would be slick if Apple did a transcode to supported formats when you did the Airdrop…
Another two days, another series of discoveries and questions. Yay for cheap(ish) RAM!
My new RAM arrived, so I was able to do the upgrade to 32 GB. This time, it worked! I didn’t want to unplug all the cables from the iMac, so after removing the power cable I performed the RAM upgrade with the iMac vertical. It was slightly tricky, but Apple put in strong guide-rails so once I got them in there a gentle push was all that was needed. When I hit the power button the first time, nothing happened. Oh, I forgot to plug the power back in. #PEBKAC Power in, power on, I mutter “Please boot…please boot….YES!”. OS X boots up, 32 GB of RAM installed. I wonder though, will it make the iMac feel any different?
I spent time time pondering the insanely great 5K display, and figuring out how hot – really hot – Apple lets this Skylake CPU get.
I’m intrigued by the way Web sites are delivering content for ultra-high resolution screens as part of a push for not only mobile responsive, but mobile adaptive (meaning not only does the layout change based on screen resolution, but different page assets are delivered). I was shocked at the clarity of this image of Samuel L. Jackson on the iMac display. Digging in, I find it’s a huge (for the web) 2200 x 1467 pixel image. That’s 3.2 megapixels! It’s 193 KB, so a bit hefty, but on a desktop or laptop, it’s fine. At 10.5 inches across on my iMac display, that’s a 252 PPI image. No wonder it looks so insanely good!
I thought at first that I couldn’t edit appointments in Calendar that were created via Exchange, because I kept looking for an edit button. Turns out I just tap what I want to change and change it. My brain evidently expects things to be more complicated than they are. 🙂
Looks like not all apps can do split-screen on a virtual desktop? I tried to put bbEdit and Word 2016 beside easy other and got the little “No you can’t” icon. I wonder if there’s a way to know before hand, or if you’re supposed to just try it and see what works?
Another two days, another batch of comments, question, thoughts and general pondering…
It’s really slick that TextEdit has a built-in spell checker – I’m guessing it’s system-wide in OS X? When I exited TextEdit, it didn’t ask me if I wanted to save the text file I had open. That was convenient for me in this case, but not prompting a user to save a file – and instead overwriting it – could be problematic in some cases
The fan in the iMac is starting to bother me a bit. It’s not loud, but it is noticeable when I’m in my office late at night and there’s no music playing. It spins at 1200 RPM when the Mac is idling; at full tile when rendering using Handbrake it hits a very loud 2747 RPM. The tone of it – that small fan tone – is a bit irksome. I’m sure a big reason why I can hear it more easily than my desktop is because the iMac is much closer to my ears, and my desktop uses bigger, slower RPM fans (I specifically installed multiple ultra-quiet 800rpm fans). I wish Apple had gone the opposite direction with cooling: instead of treating it like a laptop and putting in a tiny, loud-ish fast-spinning fan, they could have taken advantage of the larger chassis space and done something interesting. Water cooling perhaps? It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, more of a slight disappointment and a missed opportunity.