A little bit of research on the electronic waste issue… looks like computers on the whole are orders of magnitude better in environmental terms than they were just a few years ago. In particular, a typical 15" CRT had almost a kilo of lea

d in it, nasty, nasty.
Apple claims to lead the industry in recycling products, at over 70% by weight. More here: http://www.apple.com/au/environment/
And where I got started was here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_waste

I was intrigued by Apple’s new “Fusion Drive” that is an option on the new Mac Mini and 27" iMac, and I went digging through the configuration screens to see the price of said drive.

So it’s $300 (AUD) for 1TB spinning-rust plus 128GB of flash, vs $360 for just the upgrade to the 256GB SSD alone. So there’s a slight premium attached to it, how unusual for Apple. ;)

For a power user who will manage their own storage, the path of hard drive and SSD still seems like the better option, but for the everyday consumer this is a great advance. The speed of SSD and capacity of a hard-drive, transparent to the user, with easy backup and restore.

Further reading: Digging Into Apple’s Fusion Drive Details – The Mac Observer

So today Ricky Gervais tweeted: “Dear Religion, This week I safely dropped a man from space while you shot a child in the head for wanting to go to school. Yours, Science.” (link)

What immediately came to mind: “Dear Science, today I was looking 

after hungry orphans while you were dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan. Yours, Religion.”

Now I don’t mean that seriously… just posting a counter-point that setting up religion and science as enemies is a ridiculous thing to do. Yet people on both “sides” do so due to other vested interests. Both have the capacity for either tremendous good or tremendous evil.

Mobile data: learning the hard way.

I never thought I would be the victim of “bill shock”. But pride comes before a fall. :)

I’ve had my shiny iPhone 5 less than a week, and have been loving actually being able to have a good quality voice conversation and mobile data that works. Even to the point where I could download 500MB+ in under 10 minutes in a farm paddock in Gunnedah.

Sunday morning I get a text message saying I had used 109% of my 2.5GB allowance… and  I panicked just a little, given excess usage is 10¢ a MB.

Fortunately, the solution is to jump on Telstra’s live chat support, and add in an extra data pack. $15 for an extra gig, or $30 for 3 GB. You’re fine as long as you do it before the end of your billing cycle.

What I think had happened: I had turned on mobile data usage for iTunes Match. I’d set a whole heap of music to download, and it hadn’t finished before leaving the house. Naturally, on the brand-new 4G network, it downloading everything in record time. Lesson learned!

Back on Tumblr

Hmmm, I thought it was time to get a Tumblr site set up for random longer posts that don’t really belong on Facebook or Twitter… and it turns out I had one from 2010 … that’s a generation ago. That pretty much only auto-fed from my business blog anyway, boring. Anyway… let’s see if I can use it more this time.

Lightroom: Open 2 catalogues at once

A common thing I’ve seen pop up in feature requests for Lightroom is the ability to have two catalogues open at once. The main use case is so there can be exports running from one, while editing or processing in the other.

Well I do just that.

But first a warning; this method is not documented anywhere and likely unsupported, so any loss of data is your own responsibility. And I run Macs, so I have no idea if you can do this under Windows. I would avoid changing any settings or preferences in Lightroom that are likely to affect the other copy as well.

The trick is to duplicate the main Lightroom application, as shown:

window showing the main Lightroom application duplicated

Then you can open up both copies independently, load separate catalogues into each, and tada! You can now export from one while working in the other.

screenshot showing two copies of Lightroom open

(click to see full-size)

Hope this helps in your search for an efficient workflow!

Photoshop dual-monitor colour management issue

I’m running an NEC wide-gamut display alongside the iMac 27″, and while the iMac was being used only as a secondary display, I’ve been scratching my head for quite some time that I couldn’t get colours in Photoshop CS5 to match across both monitors. The colour-critical display showed fine, but when images were moved over to the iMac (usually for reference), the colours displayed much more saturated.

All other applications were fine, including Lightroom, so it didn’t impact on workflow too much. However, it started to drive me insane when I sat down for a lengthy printing session, so it was time to investigate.

It turns out that with the introduction of OpenGL rendering in Photoshop, if you run dual screens your secondary display (i.e. the one without the menu bar on the Mac) is effectively NON-colour-managed. The only solution I discovered is to turn OFF “Enable OpenGL Drawing” in the Photoshop Performance preferences.

My concern is that if you are running two displays that are similar in gamut, you may be being bitten by this bug without realising it, and making incorrect colour decisions.

MobileMe, the iPad/iPhone, and syncing.

So I was reading daringfireball, as usual, and this post on MobileMe and syncing piqued my interest. I’ve come to adore MobileMe, because around 15 months ago as all of a sudden my wife and I have calendar & contacts shared between 3 Macs and 2 iPhones, and hopefully one day an iPad.

It was this wireless, immediate syncing that finally pushed us over to really using our iPhones to replace paper-based calendars and address books. And the iPad will fill one need we’ve had; an immediately visible calendar for the whole family to see, possibly with a family photo slideshow thrown in.

So in the aforementioned article, John Gruber is commenting on Sachin Agarwal’s post on MobileMe. Agarwal wants MobileMe to be free, and to sync everything else that on our mobile devices; media, and presumably apps and their data. Gruber comments is that this isn’t feasible, which I take issue with.

With 802.11n in the iPad, and surely in next month’s (oooh, NEXT MONTH) “iPhone HD”, we’ll now have access to our home network and the computers on it at, let’s say 15-20 MB/s (which is what I see in practice.)

Now does that figure ring a bell? How fast is a USB 2.0 connection in reality? I get a transfer rate from my USB drives of around 20 MB/s. So 802.11N is certainly fast enough for syncing on a local network.

But not to the cloud. (Are we allowed to drop the quotation marks on “the cloud” yet?) There, we have tiny download and even more craptacular upload speeds, (4 Mb/s down and 1 Mb/s up for me) and that’s likely to be true for years to come.

So no, we’re not going to have all our tens of gigabytes of photo, music, and video media in the cloud for a long time yet.

Let’s take a step back then. We already have iTunes home sharing, which means that making sure all our iTunes downloads and CD/DVD rips end up on the home server is no longer a totally manual process. It’s only natural that this will eventually extend to our iPhones and iPads, in a very similar way. This can work, since unlike calendars, contacts & email, our media collections don’t change radically very often, rather we’re just adding a CD or movie every week or so.

The way I’d see this working would use the magic of Bonjour (as see in iTunes Home Sharing, the AppleTV, and even the iPhones themselves when used with the Apple Remote program to control iTunes). When your iSomething is on your home 802.11N network, it would appear in iTunes just as if it were connected via USB. Syncing would be handled when the device was inactive, and if necessary due to the large transfers, only when connected to power.

Ultimately then, this would be the out-of-box experience:

  • You buy an iPad or iPhone.
  • Turn it on and login with your MobileMe account.
  • Your email, calendars and contacts sync down from Apple’s servers.
  • Your media and applications sync over your local wireless network.
  • Boom! You’re done.

And as a final comment on Gruber’s post, I’d agree that turning iTunes accounts into basic MobileMe accounts is a brilliant idea. (And the years I’ve already paid for can be refunded through iTunes credit.)