Keep your Mac running at peak performance with MacKeeper

Keep your Mac running at peak performance with this must have all in one utility.

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If there’s one thing I know, its that actually using your computer causes it to be cluttered with junk that can really bog down its performance. Junk files, duplicate files, internet cache and expanding log files can really cause problems over time. Unfortunately, all of this garbage is usually flung all over your Mac, making it very difficult to get rid of. This is where MacKeeper comes in. It’s a really great all in one utility that not only cleans your Mac, but makes certain that it runs as well as it can, all the time.

MacKeeper is an essential Mac utility that provides an easy way to manage routine tasks and keep your Mac secured, clean and running fast. It’s a bundled utility, meaning that it has modules that clean, secure, optimize and control your data; and it does it all in one, single utility.

Identity fraud is one of the worst crimes in the world. When someone steals your identity, its hard to buy things or to keep your credit clean (so you can buy something later, like a car, house, or other big purchase. With MacKeeper, real time, safe browsing allows you to surf the internet and make online purchases without worrying about malicious websites. They’re blocked automatically. The app also provides built in anti-virus protection. This protection also extends to VM emulators running Windows through Parallels or VMWare. You’re Mac is kept safe regardless of what OS you happen to be using on it, which is pretty cool.

Further security protection is provided by MacKeeper’s Anti-Theft module. If your Mac is ever stolen, Anti-Theft can track its geographical location based on Wi-Fi and IP address; and then report its location back to you. It can also then use the iSight camera to take a picture of the thief. This is some of the most thorough computer security available for your Mac.

MacKeeper’s data control features also provide you with protection features to help keep your information private. If you like, you can use its Data Encryptor module to hide your files using a password so that the data can’t be found using either Finder OR Terminal. Its going to require some major hacking to get past that level of security, without the password, that is.

For data that gets accidentally deleted, you can use MacKeeper’s File Recovery module to scan your hard drive for deleted files that can sill be recovered (provided the disc space they were using hasn’t been overwritten with other data, that is). For when you need to truly erase data and make certain that it can’t be recovered, MacKeeper’s File Shredder can make certain that the files and folders you delete can’t be recovered. The one thing that you need to be aware of here is that shredding files with a military style wipe can take a lot of time. Be ready to commit to that; but if you need the files securely wiped, MacKeeper can do a really great job of insuring that they are truly erased.

MacKeeper can also help you optimize your Mac. Update Tracker analyzes all of the apps you have installed on your Mac and then checks to see if an updated version is available. If found, MacKeeper can download and install the new version for you. In order to help you keep your Mac working at peak performance, MacKeeper can analyze which apps run as login items and then allow you to control which apps do and do not start up with the system when it boots.

However, I think the best part of MacKeeper is its Geek on Demand Service and its new, Human Assistance. With Geek on Demand, you get expert technical assistance and answers to your computing questions within 48 hours. Human Assistance gives you instant access to a live tech. I wish I had more information on it, but all that is currently available is a teaser on their current website. There should be more information available as soon as their new site hits the ‘net.

MacKeeper really sets the bar for Mac cleaning and all in one utilities. It pretty much handles everything that you’d need an all in one utility to handle and it does it fairly well. The one thing that is both good and bad about the app is that the only module(s) that come activated are the cleaning apps, and then only the basic ones. If you want to use some of the other utilities – Internet Security or Backup – for example, , you’re going to have to install the utility. I guess this is a good thing, as you may already have an internet security product installed, and installing another by default with MacKeeper may really make a mess of your Mac.

Initially, I had almost 7.0GB of junk files on my Mac. While this gave me 7.0GB more space, the deletion of all of the cache files slowed some browsing functions down, as Safari and Chrome had to redownload some things again to speed the browsing experience back up. Its give and take with some of this stuff, and cache files, while potentially space hogs can really make your computer run faster.

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Windows 10 – What You Need to Know

Here’s what’s important about Windows 10

Introduction

I’ve been in Windows a long time. I actually missed Windows 1 and Windows 2. I took a look and thought they were a total waste of time; and back in the day, they were. Flat, 8bit graphic interfaces were a dime a dozen. Quarterdeck Office Systems (the makers of QEMM Memory Manager, and DESQView and DESQViewX) had a product that put a text based, windowing system on top of DOS (much like Windows 1 and Windows 2) and then had a GUI based environment also running on top of DOS (DESQView/X) much like Windows 3.x; and while BYTE – my old and much revived online version of the venerable paper publication – praised it, in the end, the organization tanked and was eventually acquired by Symantec.

The point in bringing this all up is that the flat state of the UI in both DESQView and DESQView/X is very similar to what has been labeled as “new” over at Microsoft. In fact, its not new, but a return to the more simple and perhaps more resource efficient. It seems as though Windows Vista cured many of us of the need for eye candy.

With Windows 10, everything old is new again, with Microsoft taking its customers back to the beginning… well sort of. The graphics are much better today than they were back in the 1990’s, and thankfully, they aren’t nearly as heavy as they were back with Windows Vista.

So, what’s new and fun about Windows 10? There are some new features. There are some returning features. So, what’s new and fun about Windows 10? Lets take a look and find out.

The Start Button and the Start Menu

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The Windows Start Button came back for a return engagement in Windows 8.1. The button brought back a familiar UI element; but many – me included – felt that the return of the button, and only the button, wasn’t enough. Back then, the button took you right to the Start Screen.

In Windows 10, by default, it still does.

However, it can be configured to use the Start MENU; and many of the members of the Tech Preview – me included – are relieved that its back. I can’t tell you enough how much having the functionality back is really appreciated.

Of the changes that were made in Windows 8.x, the Start Screen was the most obvious, and perhaps one of the most disliked changes to the OS. Microsoft has taken a lot of heat over that particular change. It hasn’t been received well.

Microsoft decided to try to make Windows into a universal OS at a time when the public wasn’t ready to see the platforms combined. They still aren’t, though Microsoft is still trying to approach that line of business. However, they’re taking a different approach – through the Windows Store. All apps are supposed to be universal apps, working on Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 10.

Here’s a cool tip about the new Start Menu. It’s a mish-mash between the Start Menu and the Start Screen, meaning you can pin Live Tiles to the new Start Menu…or not. The Start Menu can be modified to look like its old self. While its possible to pin as many Live Tiles as you need or want to the Start Menu, you can also remove all the ones that are pinned to it by default, making it as Windows 7 like as possible, which should make a great many people, very happy.

The Desktop is Back

ModernUI – or as its often called, Metro – was and is a huge sore spot for Windows and for Microsoft. While the Start Screen may work well for a mobile device, regardless of size (meaning a smartphone OR a tablet), it doesn’t work well on a laptop or a desktop machine. The way the UI works is counter-intuitive to the way users interact with a desktop or laptop computer. Users voted with their feet…or their hard drives. Many either downgraded their new computers to Windows 7, bought add-on software that allowed users to replace the Start Screen with Start Menu functionality (like that found in Start8), or moved to a different OS entirely.

Microsoft heard the outcry during the life cycle of Windows 8.x, and gave users the ability to boot directly to the Desktop and brought back the Start Button. Now with Windows 10, the Desktop is back to a more prominent state.

In fact, its back to a point where the Start Screen and the rest of Modern UI is (nearly) completely hidden. This is important, especially for desktop computers and for desktop replacement class laptops without touch screens. This return to the Desktop will make it easier for enterprise customers to make the transition. If that happens and the adoption rate for Windows 10 is respectable, then it will have been worth it for Microsoft to back track on Metro and the Desktop.

Continuum Mode

For those of us stuck in the middle, or for those that have a hybrid PC – one that has a detachable keyboard, like the Surface Pro 1-3 – Microsoft has created something called Continuum Mode.

Continuum Mode kicks in when a keyboard is separated from the tablet based CPU. When you separate the two, tablet mode kicks in, and you get the Live Tiles and ModernUI. When you reattach the keyboard, you get the Desktop. This auto transitioning is Continuum Mode; and unique not only to Windows 10 but to transitory devices that can be both laptops/ultrabooks and tablets.

ModernUI Apps in a Window

ModernUI – or Metro – Apps are those full screen, non-Windowed monstrosities that have been the bane of user’s existences since the initial release of Windows 8. Not many liked the full screened, non-Windowed, Windows apps that contained little to no familiar UI elements that everyone is used to. Prior to Windows 10, once opened the only thing that could close them was the computer after a set period of time of non-use.

If you wanted, you could use a third party application, like ModernMix from Stardock Software to put them in a window. That gave you the chance to make them more Windows like at least.
Now, with Windows 10, ModernUI apps appear in a window by default. This means that they behave like any other Windows app. Now, you can size them, minimize them, and close them very easily.

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ModernUI has received a make over and now, it seems a lot more palatable than it was before being windowed.

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Windows 10 – If you Love it, Set it Free

Some thing that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

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Over the past 20 plus years, Microsoft has made a great deal of money with both Windows and Office. In fact, those two products alone have given the company a great deal of freedom to pursue other products and technologies. Without either Windows or Office, Microsoft wouldn’t exist… Period.

When it comes to consumers, keeping everyone on the same page, has been a huge problem for Apple as well as Microsoft. Apple addressed their OS based issues and now has a plan to get their users on the latest version at all times.

Microsoft doesn’t have such a plan, and really needs a strategy. They may be doing that with Windows 10. Some think that they are planning on giving Windows 10 away to consumers for free.

If they do, it makes a great deal of sense. Many consumers NEVER upgrade their computer’s operating system. Their PC came with operating system N. It should always have operating system N, and they don’t want to change it. They purchased it because it has specific features and functions provided by hardware integrated with features in that OS. They may not have those features if they change their operating systems, and therefore, don’t want to lose them. They may also not be a big fan of change; or feel they are technically competent enough to upgrade or change the OS on their computer. Whatever the reason, many people don’t change their OS, which creates support issues for the PC manufacturer and (in this case) Microsoft.

While changing a computer’s operating system may not be at the top of every computer user’s list, keeping it current can make a user’s life a lot easier. Keeping current makes your PC more secure as well as better performing. So, its good for consumers.

Making updates and upgrades available to consumers free of charge can create a lot of difficulty, however, especially for hardware manufacturers who have historically relied on new OS versions to jumpstart consumer PC sales.

However, a free Windows is an idea whose time has come. The problem that they have is the frequency of updates. Most everyone is used to getting a new version of Windows on an annual basis. We’re also used to getting new updates or fixes from Microsoft every month on Patch Tuesday. For this to work, the frequency of updates has to be one that is palatable to the people receiving those updates.

Businesses don’t like monthly updates. Updates to business PC’s at that frequency create too much disruption. However, consumer PC’s represent a less disruptive path, and updates at that frequency are far less worrisome, if not desired. Consumers get everything that Microsoft releases every Patch Tuesday.

The enterprise, however, will have a bit of a different cadence. Enterprise customers will get all of the updates at the same time as consumer customers. They’ll have the ability to package all of the updates together and then release them at their convenience as a stake in the ground with a shelf life of 10 years. They’ll be able to use that stake in the ground for as long as they need or want. If they lock themselves in (to that stake in the ground), they’ll continue to get security updates, but their feature set won’t get updated unless and until they remove the stake in the ground.

In the end, though, support and the updates for corporate customers will cost them. In the end, support and updates for consumers – those that are using the most up to date versions of Windows – should be free.

What do you think? Should Windows be free for consumers? Should they be able to get all security updates as well as new features and functionality free of charge? Should corporate customers have to pay for everything? Why don’t you chime in the comments section below, and let me know what you think.

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Convert movies and videos for use on just about any of your devices with Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4

I love movies and videos. I’ve got a huge iTunes library and a huge 27″ Thunderbolt Display to play them on. However, when I’m out and about, I obviously can’t take that huge display with me. An iPad or other portable tablet is handy for viewing video on the go, but sometimes, the video isn’t in the right format or is too big for the display you have. This is where apps like Ashampoo’s Movie Shrink and Burn come in handy. It’s a cool Windows-based, video management tool for your mobile devices.

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Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4 tailors your videos to your device, whether it be smartphone, tablet, gaming console or PC. Supported devices include all the latest consoles and gadgets such as Sony PlayStation 4, iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. The app has an intuitive step-by-step user approach that guides you from start to finish. Its so easy, anyone can do it. The latest version provides a fresh, modern design with state of the art handling. The app employs the latest software technology with multi-core support for blazingly fast results.

The app also includes burning technology. With it you can burn your movies to DVD and Blu-ray from within the app. The app supports HD; and you can use the app’s burning features to archive your video collection on Blu-ray and navigate it easily using the intuitive on screen menus.

Ashampoo makes some of the best software titles on the internet today. Movie Shrink and Burn hasn’t been updated in a while, and Ashampoo is not only bringing back a great app, but its providing support for all the latest handhelds, tablets and gaming consoles where you would want to view converted and compressed titles. It takes advantage of some of the more advanced processor types, so the app is fast and quickly converts videos and will burn them to DVD or Blu-ray if you want.

The app’s price is fair; and if you’re an Ashampoo member, then you’re likely going to get a discount on the title as well.

download Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4

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Microsoft Launches Windows 10 Technical Preview

“But this one goes up to [10]..!”

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Introduction

I’ve been working with Windows for quite some time. I was one of Microsoft’s first technical beta testers, WAY back in the day. In fact, I still have a Microsoft Account with one of the ORIGINAL @.msn.com addresses. It goes back to the Windows 95 and MSN Online betas from 1994-1995. MSN Online was Microsoft’s answer to AOL. The address is still active and used today.

I’ve been interested in Windows based tablets and TabletPC since the early 2000’s. TabletPC showed a lot of promise, but like so many things in technology, it was a bit before its time. Convertible TabletPC’s took off, but slate styled TabletPC’s (the form factor that was the precursor to the iPad and ever version of Surface and Surface Pro Windows based tablets), did not.

In fact, slate styled TabletPC’s were a total failure. The idea would eventually take root after Apple came a long with the iPad and showed us what a tablet could really do, but slate styled TabletPC’s are yet another example of technology introduced way before its time.

Microsoft Introduced Windows 8 in 2012 and like Windows Vista, the public – as well as the enterprise – completely rejected it. I think that the public and the corporate world disliked Vista because it was a performance dud. I think the public and corporate world HATED Windows 8 because the user interface changes were so drastically different from Windows XP and Windows 7 that they just couldn’t get used to it and be productive with it.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be looking at Windows 10 Technical Preview. I’ll be taking a look at both the Consumer and Enterprise versions, though in all honestly, without a AD server set up and running, I’m not going to be able to do too much evaluating on the enterprise side. The situation that I thought I might be in didn’t come through, and my look at some of the more corporate tools may not materialize as I’d hoped. However, I’m going to try…

I’ll be looking at the Consumer version on my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 tablet and the Enterprise version on my Surface Pro 1. Today, I’m going to talk about Setup.

Setting up Windows 10

There are a few different versions of the Windows 10 family available. Most people who get involved, will have the Windows 10 Technical Preview. IT Professionals will have access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Enterprise as well as the Windows Server Technical Preview, the windows Server Technical Preview (VHD), the Microsoft Hyper-V Server Technical Preview and the System Center Technical Preview.

Now, just for everyone’s information, here are the descriptions for the last few items:

• Microsoft System Center solutions help IT pros manage the physical and virtual information technology (IT) environments across datacenters, client computers, and devices. Using these integrated and automated management solutions, organizations can be more productive service providers to their businesses.
• Microsoft Hyper-V, formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization, is a native hypervisor; it can create virtual machines on x86-64 systems. Starting with Windows 8, Hyper-V supersedes Windows Virtual PC as the hardware virtualization component of the client editions of Windows NT.
• Windows Server (VHD) is simply the Windows 10 Server, but running from a Virtual Hard Disk.

With all of that said, Let’s get into the specifics of installing Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Microsoft Surface 1

Setting up Windows 10 Technical Preview up on my Surface Pro 1 was easy. I chose the 64bit version, downloaded the ISO file, burned it to a DVD and ran the setup file. After that, installing Office Professional Plus 2013 was super easy. Everything seems to be running correctly and working as intended. While I know there are some touch enabled features that aren’t quite there at this point, what I’m seeing so far looks solid.

What’s going to be key here is the balance of Windows 7 and Windows 8 styled interfaces that create what is supposed to be Windows 10. Specifically, what we’re looking to see here is how well MetroUI or ModernUI is hidden, removed or modified to provide a more user acceptable UI.

This is a wait and see development that I will be examining over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more on this, as well as Microsoft Windows 10.

Dell Latitude 10 ST2 Windows 8 Pro Tablet

Wow.

This is clearly an example of all computers/ tablets are NOT created equally. I’ve been trying to install Windows 10 on this tablet now for about 3 days. It hasn’t gone well at all. I have no idea what is wrong, or what is going on.

First of all, I tried to install the 64bit version. Huge mistake, as the ST2 tablet is a 32bit device. Seeing as setup wouldn’t even start, I had asked my good friend, Larry Seltzer how he got it installed on his ST2 and he reminded me that the Dell as a 32bit machine. So, back to downloading I went.

After I got the right version installed, I decided that I wanted the Enterprise version installed, so I grabbed it, burned it to a DVD and then installed it, completely wiping the tablet in the process. Big mistake…

I’m not sure what the issue is with the Enterprise version on this tablet, but it wasn’t very well liked by this unit. I wasn’t able to install any software on it, including Office Professional Plus 2013. The install routine would get about 35-40% through and simply stall. I let the app sit there “running” for more than 16 hours, and it never budged. In total, I’ve tried to get Office installed on this tablet for about 2.5 days. Its not been fun or encouraging.

I think I’m running into some hardware issues. I’m not sure if the processor isn’t completely supported, if there’s a graphics problem or WHAT else might be causing the install routine to go out to lunch, but this is really ticking me off. I have no idea why things are stalling in the middle of the install routine.

The only way I’ve been able to kill the stalled install routine is to turn off the device. That however, preserves the install state of the Office install, and when you try to restart it, it must first remove the changes made by the PREVIOUS install before it can continue, giving the unit yet another chance to have the install stall

I checked the Dell Support Page for this model and I do have a BIOS update available for it. There is also a relatively new chipset driver update that is available. I’m going to try the BIOS update first and then see if the chipset drivers will install or help if the BIOS update doesn’t resolve the issue. I was five BIOS versions behind…

This could also be an issue where the support files for the ST2 just aren’t really there yet. Honestly, I have no idea why I’m having issues and Larry Seltzer didn’t. We have the same device. I’ll keep everyone posted on this.

In the mean time, do you have any questions or concerns about Windows 10 that you’d like me to look into for you, please let me know and I’ll be happy to get the info and then report back to everyone. In the mean time, I’m going to go grab a crowbar and see if I can’t get everything installed on the Dell that I want and need to get installed. This is getting to be a bit on the silly side…

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Manage your Windows PC with GEGeek Tech Toolkit

Manage your Windows PC with this collection of technical apps and utilities.

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Windows is a great operating system that is riddled with opportunities for improvement. Historically, this is a great way of saying that the OS has serious issues. Its also a great way of saying that it needs help. Which is one of the reasons why utility suites like GEGeek Tech Toolkit is something that nearly every somewhat technical Windows user needs. If you have a Windows PC, you really need to do yourself a favor and check it out.

GEGeek Tech Toolkit is a complete collection of over 300 Portable freeware, tech related programs. All of them are all accessible from a single Menu Launcher Utility. The utility suite resides on a USB or flash drive, providing the user the ability to update the programs with little to no intervention. This insures that the apps are completely portable.

The app is a system tray tool that gives you access to its cache of tools and utilities. You run the toolkit main executable, and it puts everything on the flash drive at your disposal within a couple of clicks. It has apps like WinRAR, Chrome and Firefox, as well as malware removal and disk recovery tools. The apps are part of the download and included with the suite. Everything runs off the flash drive.

I’m actually afraid to run any of the utilities in this suite, but I was finally able to get the software to download and correctly decompress. It took me five timeDs to do it, but I finally got it to work.

Getting the software to download, however, was difficult. It would not download to my Mac either via OS X or Windows 7 via Parallels. The download kept getting corrupted just at the end. I was finally able to download the software on my Surface Pro, but after decompressing the downloaded file, Windows Defender identified at least 7 components as hacker software/malware.

Finally, the product website is a huge mess. There’s SO much information screaming at you when you visit the product’s website that its very difficult to process it all and make sense of it. Even I got lost in it; and I know my way around software and websites. Its in need of a serious overhaul as well.

While everything in this utility suite runs, I’m not entirely certain I can recommend the application to general users. Use this one at your own risk.

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iOS 8.0.2 Released to Resolve Cellular Issues

The QA Manager at Apple is having a really bad week…

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve got 25 years in QA management. I know that Apple hires only the cream of the crop; but you have to wonder if after not one but two huge software bug blunders in the last two years if the guy running the QA ship at Apple is the right guy. It’s a reasonable question. And I’m certain that its something that is likely crossing the mind of EVERY member of Apple’s senior leadership team’s minds.

Earlier today (as of this writing), Apple released iOS 8.0.2 to resolve the issues with cellular connectivity and TouchID functionality. Specifically, the release provides the following improvements and bug fixes:

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Unfortunately, the big issues around cellular connectivity and TouchID were tested by the same QA organization responsible for the same testing type of misstep that occurred with Apple Maps. That particular issue was enough to get Scott Forestall fired. However, it didn’t go much lower than that.

Now, a couple releases later, there’s another huge testing bungle hot on the heels of the iPhone 6 release and iOS 8. Funny how the same QA manager that blew Apple Maps also blew the testing on this particular release.

This was a big one; and from what I’ve read on Bloomberg, this guy has had a really crappy week.

iOS 8.0.1 was aimed at fixing issues from the iOS 8 GM release, and also introduced Apple’s health and fitness-tracking application HealthKit. Unfortunately, the update also disabled some people’s – and the estimates around “some” is around 40,000 – access to their cellular network so they couldn’t make or receive phone calls.

While some may try to make the story about the QA guy and the fact that he blew the testing on three huge bugs (Maps, TouchID and cellular connectivity), the issue shouldn’t necessarily be about what was missed, but how it was missed.

Apple does most of the right things the right way. Its clear from their sales, stock prices and consumer loyalty. I’m not entirely certain what went south with iOS 8.0.1, but I have a few ideas; and I’m going to offer them briefly with the hope that they will be taken constructively and not as deconstructive criticism.

While Apple ranks their bugs with an industry standard process, its said that their bug review meetings can get ugly. Engineers often argue for more time to fix a problem while product managers push to move the release forward. In the case of Apple Maps and iOS 8.0.1, too much risk was assumed by the product manager(s) in question. Its obvious that more time should have been given to issues in iOS 8.0.1 or the issues weren’t discovered until after the software was released.

The biggest issue that I’ve seen – IF it in fact proves to be accurate – is that software testers and engineers don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the actual release date. This is the biggest reason why there is normally a software update to iOS a week or two after the release of the device. Testing and Development get the latest hardware, install the OS, and then start poking around. Prior to that, QA and Dev team members either use existing hardware to test the new mobile OS, or run the new software in an emulator.

While this seems like a no brainer to resolve, the problem exists because of one word, really – Gizmodo. The leaked iPhone 4 hardware that got passed around is still giving Apple heartburn, nearly 5 years later, and as such, Tim Cook has limited use of unreleased hardware to only senior managers, unless special permission is granted. This makes testing difficult.

Internal turf wars also create issues as teams responsible for testing cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity will sometimes sign-off on a release too early, and then – as in the case of iOS 8.0.1 – connectivity or other compatibility issues are discovered. There tends to be a lot of finger pointing when things like this happen, and that’s never productive.

No matter how you slice it, there’s something very wrong with the way Apple’s SDLC (software development life cycle) is working. The in-fighting going on between development, testing and product management is leaking out of Apple’s nigh impenetrable walled garden and into the streets. It happened with Maps a couple years ago, and its happened again with iOS 8.0.1. While the fallout from the latest SNAFU won’t be nearly as big as it was with Maps, its toxic none the less, and needs to either be buried, or stop completely (the preferable outcome).

I’ve been in situations like this. Its hugely problematic, and hugely indicative of individuals that put themselves before the company…. and it never ends well, especially for individuals that are involved. The activity breaks down relationships, productivity and creates problems that kill opportunities to get future work done. It also breads additional problems, so the issues are circular.

This may go underground again; but then again, it may not. No matter how things are looked at, however, Apple has to make it stop.

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iPhone 6 First Impressions

I’ve had the iPhone 6 for a few days and here are my initial thoughts on the device

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It happens every year since 2007. The world goes bat-stuff crazy when Apple announces and then releases a new iPhone or iDevice. Everyone that has the old one WANTS to get the new one. Not everyone that wants one can either afford to buy one or those that are, are lucky enough to get one on the actual launch day. This year, I was blessed enough to be both.

I’ve been playing with a space gray, iPhone 6 since the evening of 2014-09-19. I completed an unboxing for Soft32 that you can see on my site, iTechGear.org.

After working with the device for about five or so days, I have the following to share about the device.

Size and Form Factor

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is perhaps one of the thinnest smartphones I have ever put my hands on. While the 4.7″ screen size is perhaps the biggest – and most noticeable – of Apple’s new smartphone’s features, the device’s waist size is relevant news, especially after report after report of the device bending.

With the new design, the iPhone has departed from its four version, design stagnation (iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s). The iPhone 6/6 Plus is new. Its sexy. Its bigger, and its thinner. It provides the user with a whole new smartphone experience; or at least that is what Apple would have you believe; and its probably true.

In hand, either device is huge. While the 6 Plus is like holding an iPad mini to your head, the iPhone 6, while only slightly smaller, is still vastly larger than its predecessors. Over the past few days, I’ve found that holding the device is noticeable, especially after using the iPhone 5 over the past two years. However, its noticeably larger, and you know that you know that you’re using a much larger device.

The device is super sexy; but I wouldn’t use it without a case. I made this decision BEFORE hearing about all of the device bending stories and before seeing all of the pictures. As such, the day that I got my iPhone 6, I went to AT&T and bought an OtterBox Defender Series Case for my iPhone 6. I love the profile of the iPhone 6, but if smartphones get any thinner, they will definitely need to be able to bend or fold on purpose in order to prevent the device from being damaged.

You won’t want it to be in a case, but you’re GOING to need something to help protect the device. Its really a GREAT looking device; but while Apple has done a really great job of designing a technologically advanced, consumer friendly device, it may have gone too far in thinning it out.

The screen seems great, and iOS 8 provides a way to change the display resolution on the device to provide those with failing eyesight – like me – a way of changing the zoom level so that its easier to read. The setting is available on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

So far, I like the size change. The older form factor seems tiny by comparison. Thankfully, the larger device still fits in my Arkon Car Mount, allowing me to use the device with my hands free kit in my car.

I’ll have more on the device size and my use of it in my full review of the iPhone 6.

Battery

Over the past few days, there have been a number of reports on issues with battery life. I have on occasion experienced some of this. While the battery in the iPhone 6 is definitely bigger – you can tell its got a longer battery life – its clear that in some instances, it should last longer than it does.

Like many others, I connect my iPhone to my Pebble Steel, my car radio, my Nike Fuel Band, my Bluetooth headset, and of course, my MacBook Pro, among other devices. While many of these may be BT-LE compatible, and therefore don’t suck too much power, some of them aren’t. Interestingly enough, I don’t see Bluetooth being among the guilty parties in some of the power drains I’ve seen.

As with the iPhone 5 and earlier, most of the drain I’m seeing is coming from screen and processor/co-processor use. Yes. You can read that as gaming. Its also one of the biggest reasons why I really don’t do a lot of gaming on my iPhones. At the end of the day – literally…the end of the day – it doesn’t pay off.

On my iPhone 5, I could start the day with a full charge and after one session of Angry Birds Friends, where I went through all 6 levels for the week – perhaps, 30 minutes of play – my battery life would be down below 70%. I’m seeing similar performance with my iPhone 6.

Some games just suck battery life. You’re going to need to govern your game play and figure out which games are the biggest culprits. I’ll have more on battery life with my review.

iOS 8

I’ve written a lot on iOS 8 over the past few months. You can see my coverage on Soft32 over the past few months, here, here, here and here. The beta period wasn’t pretty. While the OS itself is showing some stability, the release of iOS 8.0.1, has been just as big a train wreck as the other pre-releases of the new mobile OS. Apple, like so many others, is cutting corners on quality; and when you have something like this, being this big, and this visible, you simply just can’t.

Releases of any mobile operating system need to be clean and as issue free as possible. As a software quality professional with over 25 years in quality, I can tell you that there will always be bugs. Always. You’re not going to get away from them. However, you need to make sure that the bugs that you are releasing with are known, of lower priority and severity, and that fixes are planned and coming. Releasing an update to your mobile operating system that disables all mobile, cellular communications and kills the device’s biometric security measures is certain evidence that your QA director isn’t watching where the ship is going. Defects of that severity and priority were easy to spot and should have prevented the release of the update.

I’ll have more on the device, including comparative photos of the iPhone 6 up against the iPhone 5, the HTC One (M8) and Lumia 520 that I have. If you have any specific questions on the device or on iOS 8, I’d be happy to address them in my review. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comments section, below.

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