30th November 2016

Who would of thought it, Stephen Hackett writing a book about old Macs.

The Bondi iMac — and the family of colorful computers that came after it — brought some much-needed clarity and excitement to the Mac line.

More importantly, it bought Apple time to integrate NeXT’s technology and build Mac OS X from the ashes of the aging Mac OS.

This book looks at these parallel projects with a consideration of Apple’s best product: the company itself. – Aqua and Bondi

I’ve just purchased the book myself, and I’m looking forward to reading about the early stage of Apple, that really changed the company.

You can buy Aqua and Bondi on the iBooks Store, or alternatively as a PDF from the website.

30th November 2016

autumn #leaves #obscura

28th November 2016

I’ve been using my new MacBook Pro for a while now, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it! I probably haven’t written about everything that’s new, but I’ve split everything up in to the main categories that I think everyone will care about.

Design

The physical design has changed a bit since the previous MacBook Pro, with it’s much smaller profile, and smaller bezel around the screen. And of course because it’s so light, it’s much more portable. Sure my old MacBook Pro wasn’t that heavy, and I could still carry it everywhere. But this is so much better at it. It’s so easy to just whip it out of my bag when I’m on the train into university.

I’m a fan of dark colours, so I definitely had to get the Space Grey version. It’s so much better than the boring silver.

Display

The display on this MacBook is absolutely unbelievable, and I’m still finding it hard to fathom the fact it is this good. Maybe it’s because it’s my first Retina Mac, but then there’s also the Wide Colour support. I’ve had a look at some different images on this new Mac and my old one, and the colours are just so vibrant.

Speakers

Not a feature I thought I would be writing about, but these speakers are a true improvement to the previous laptops. They’re so loud that I probably couldn’t ever have them at full volume when at my Mac, but maybe when you have a few friends round, this could be the sound system. It’s that good.

They’re also surprisingly clear, and the sound quality is a lot better. The fact that the speakers have moved to either side of the keyboard is a big bonus as well, because everything just sounds more real. I can’t really describe this, but it’s just so much better.

Keyboard

I honestly don’t see what all the fuss is all about, I really like this keyboard. It feels a lot more stable than the older design, and if I think about it, I can tell that the keys don’t travel as far. But they have some travel in them, and they make a pretty good clacking sound as I’m typing. I didn’t have a transition period to get used to it, I was able to type straight away.

Ports

This is one of the things that gained a lot of attention, and I completely see why. My MacBook has 5 ports, 4 Thunderbolt 3/USB C, and a headphone port. I understand dongles aren’t brilliant, and they cost even more money. But I believe USB C is the future of wired connectivity, and therefore devices will slowly move over to this standard.

My issue is with the fact that it doesn’t connect to my iPhone 7. Okay, the iPhone came out before the Mac, and not all iPhone users have a new Mac they can plug their iPhone into. But I would argue that hardly anyone even plugs their phone into their laptop anymore, so including a USB C -> Lightning cable in the box would of been so much better.

Then there is the headphone port, if Lightning is the future of audio, then why isn’t it on here? And more importantly, why can’t I use my EarPods with my laptop? Usually I would only ever use one pair of earphones (my current iPhones EarPods), on all of my devices. But now if I want to take my Mac somewhere and listen to music, I’ll have to either take two pairs of EarPods (3.5mm Jack and Lightning), or just use the old ones and carry a Lightning -> 3.5mm Jack adapter. Neither solution is any good.

However, while I say all of this stuff, the only thing I’ve plugged into my Mac has been my external display. And because my HDMI cable is always plugged into my screen, attaching an adapter to it is completely fine.

Gaming

I have the 13″ version of the MacBook Pro, and with just the integrated Intel Iris 550 graphics, it’s not a computer that’s hugely designed for gaming. But I’ve found that it was perfect for my needs.

I am a gamer, but not one that plays all the newest games, or even many games. The few I play are World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and a few smaller ones (the recent one being TouchGrind).

For World of Warcraft, I had to play it on the absolute lowest graphics on my previous Mac. It was find for me, because I still loved playing the game, but it wasn’t the best experience I could have. On this Mac however, I put this straight up to the mid level settings to test it out, and it worked! I was getting about 60 fps in very populated areas of the game. It’s a lot better than I expected it to be, and with the new display, the environments are really beautiful.

Then there is Minecraft, it’s not a hugely demanding game, but it’s not the small pixel game that everyone may think it is. I have it with every video setting turned up to the max (Except view distance, because that can get stupid), and it’s completely fine! It’s the perfect Minecraft experience, and while that isn’t much, it’s great to know my laptop can support it. And also whilst doing a lot of other things at the same time.

Touch Bar

I do like the Touch Bar, however I wouldn’t say it’s groundbreaking new technology. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. It’s made a few things for me much faster, especially the Emoji picker!

The design of the Touch Bar is better than I imagined, as it blends into the physical keys on the keyboard really well. I’ve had it in a wide range of lighting conditions, and it’s always just felt natural.

It’s certainly not just bringing iOS to the Mac in regards to adding a touch screen, I think it’s a true extension to the keyboard.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I love this new MacBook Pro. It’s the perfect laptop for me, and probably even more.

The design is a great improvement, and the only flaws I see at the minute is the lack of ports, but this will improve over time as more of my devices become USB C.

I’ve had three MacBooks before this one, and my previous one lasted me 5 years. So I expect this one to last me probably the same amount of time.

It is a bit expensive, and more so for myself because of the Brexit price increase, but I think it’s totally worth it.

28th November 2016

With the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar, you can now create your own favicon that will appear there when a user sets it as a bookmark. The same file is also use to create an alpha mask when adding your website as a Pinned Tab.

It’s a small bit of code, that you add to your <HEAD> section, just by your other favicons.

Just specify that it is a “mask-icon”, add the location for the file (has to be SVG), and then specify a colour to be used. The colour is the background on the Touch Bar icon, and it’s also the colour used in the Pinned Tab mask.

Code:

<link 
    rel="mask-icon" 
    href="safari-pinned-tab.svg" 
    color="#dc7604"
>

As an example, you can see the new touch bar icon I made for Radical Thinker.

If you haven’t already, you can also set an icon for when a user adds your website to their home screen on iOS. This is done similarly, but doesn’t have to be an SVG.

Code:

<link 
    rel="apple-touch-icon" 
    sizes="180x180" 
    href="apple-touch-icon.png"
>
26th November 2016

A few weeks back in issue #56 of the Club MacStories Weekly newsletter, I wrote about my current home screen, and what I changed when moving to my iPhone 7 Plus.

With the iPhone 7 being released, I took that as my chance to join the infamous Plus Club. And with that, I thought I would look at a different way to organise my Home screen as my previous 5S was just one page of well categorised folders. With this new shiny toy, I started fresh with a Home screen of my most used apps.

If you want to see the whole thing, or just want to check out Club MacStories (It’s great!), check it out here.

Once your a member, you can find my home screen in the archive, and it’s "MacStories Weekly: Issue 56".

24th November 2016

The developers of RapidWeaver, Realmac, have just launched Squash 2 for Mac! As they put it, it is “The Easiest Way to Compress and Optimise Images for the Web.”, I completely agree with that statement.

It has a really simplistic and clean UI, which I’m a big fan of. And also it has a few very smart features.

How To Use Squash

You can either drag and drop images (or even whole folders), onto the application window or icon to compress the files. Or you can of course navigate to File, Open.

Then you get to see the animation, which has a nice sound effect to it, while it’s compressing the images. And after that it tells you how much space it saved, and then completes the specific output option you have set in your preferences. It’s as simple as that.

What Can It Do?

Squash can compress JPG, PNG, and GIF images without losing any image quality. So there’s really no drawbacks!

It can also convert PSD, RAW, and TIFF files into compressed JPG files as well. Which can be a huge lifesaver if you don’t fancy opening up Photoshop or Lightroom for example to simply export an image.

Then with the output of images, you can choose to either have it replace the original images with the compressed versions, or you can save separate copies. This is managed in the Preferences window, and it also let’s you choose a specific folder to save them into.

Another little extra is the ability to add a custom suffix to the image name, so for example you could be compressing a bunch of images, and you want to clearly know which ones have compressed versions. Just add something like “-compressed”, and then “Photo_0123.png” would get compressed, and saved as “Photo_0123-compressed.png”.

Finer Adjustments

If you want to refine the compression even more, you can select the JPEG quality you want to compress to. And there is also an option to have a slightly more compressed PNG format, but this will take a longer time to complete.

Why Should I Compress?

There are a bunch of reasons why you should compress your images, but here are a few:

  • It saves space on your drive, or even cloud storage where space may not be hugely available.
  • You can upload your files to places like Facebook and Twitter much faster.
  • If your app uses a lot of images, then having all of these compressed, it will be faster to download, which means less bandwidth is being used.
  • Your email attachments will be smaller, so they will load and send faster, and who wants huge emails anyway?
  • Websites will load much faster with smaller images!

Examples

I had to do a few benchmarks on some images, to see what sort of compression I could get. So here is what I got:

Download

Now that I’m sure you want to check out Squash 2 for yourself, you can find more information on the RapidWeaver website, and buy Squash 2 from the Mac App Store!

And if you get there before the 28th November, you’ll benefit from their whopping 60% Off Launch deal.

24th November 2016

Just signed.

AFCStadiumTour #Arsenal

24th November 2016

Just look at that view!

AFCStadiumTour

24th November 2016

Welbeck has probably been in this dressing gown for over a year.

Arsenal #Welbeck