Browsing articles in "Apple"

Power to the people and an ROI to be happy with…

Aug 19, 2014
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Over the years Apple have offered us varying desktop units providing us the horse-power for high intensity creatives that spend their days in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Since the release of the first iMac, Apple has split its models between pro and consumer users.

The ‘then’

End of 2009 saw Apple release the first 27″ 2.6Ghz i5 iMac at less than half the price of the then Mac Pro 2.26Ghz quad core. Whilst a lower spec than the Mac Pro at that time, the new 27″ performed well for under the then Creative Suite version 4 (remember those days!). Since then both the iMac and Mac Pro and our creative suite tools continued to advance.

What can we report is that over this time the actual return on investment (ROI) from our customers investment in either iMac or Mac Pro hardware for their studio, has performed equally.
• Those that invested in the Mac Pro higher performing CPU generally saw a 5-7 year ROI, with the Mac Pro continuing to perform as the Creative Suite tools and operating systems advanced
• The iMacs generally reached a 3 year ROI before hitting a performance wall with the advancing Adobe software tools and the Apple OS.

The ‘now’

With the release of Creative Cloud for teams (CCT), and the continuing ‘free’ upgrades we now receive as part of our CCT subscription, we are already seeing even greater performance requirements of our creative Apple Macs – a need for high performing graphics cards, multi-core CPUs and RAM is escalating at a rapid rate. So how does this effect the ROI we receive from our new studio Mac hardware?

Unfortunately, the current 2014 27″ iMac performance is only a little further on from that of the 2012 model. Conversely, the release of the new Mac Pro has seen performance gains leap ahead significantly from its predecessor, and significantly greater than the current iMac. So, with our creative tools now requiring greater performing hardware the ROI we receive will vary significantly.

Today’s iMac will debatably manage under the current Adobe Creative Cloud version (we are already close to it’s limitations). Sure, we can increase our RAM to 32GB, but the graphics cards and CPUs can not be upgraded. With the ongoing releases under CCT subscription, the performance of the iMac will continue to dwindle and will unlikely provide us the 3 year ROI once experienced when running Adobe CS versions 4, 5 or 6. The new Mac Pro however has more than enough scope to deliver the same 5-7 year ROI experienced from its predecessor, assuming the hardware continues to live on during this time.

The ‘crystal ball’

In short, a 27″ 3.4Ghz iMac with 16GB RAM will start its life on the studio desk already maxed out under the new Adobe Creative Cloud. If we’re lucky we may achieve a 12-18 month ROI at best before the dwindling performance will see it heading for the window. At a cost of approx $2,800 this would equate to around $1,800-$2,800 per annum.

In comparison the new Mac Pro combined with the new Apple Thunderbolt display costs approx $6,100 and with a 5-7 year ROI equates to around $900-$1,200 per annum and during this time will be providing creatives significantly more power to explore and create using the new features of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Thats twice the ROI when compared with the iMac.

Siri. Your wish is its command

Jan 28, 2014
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So what or who is Siri you ask?

Siri is an intelligent personal assistant which started as an app and in October 2011 became integrated with Apple’s iOS (actually if you ask Siri “when’s your birthday”, it will tell you its first day on the job was 4 October 2011).  A little bit of history; Siri has been part of iOS since iOS 5 and was first supported on the iPhone 4S. Siri was added to the iPad (3rd generation) with the release of iOS 6, and is included on the iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, and the iPad Mini.

Here are some tips and tricks to start your conversation with Siri (if you’re wondering about the name, it is Norwegian, meaning ‘beautiful woman who leads you to victory’):

Tip 1: Hold the home button down and  talk to Siri as you would to a person. Say something like “Tell my sister I’m running late” or “Remind me to call the doctor” Some commands to start you off:

• Internet search with “Google pictures of grumpy cat”, “show me pictures of a 747″, “What’s the phone number for Moo Chow Chow in Ponsonby”
“Show me a map of Ponsonby, Auckland” – now this works (just make sure privacy settings for Siri is turned on under Settings) however Siri can’t look up places or give directions in NZ at the moment – hopefully that service will be extended to us in the near future!
• Answer those tricky questions: “what’s 35 miles an hour in kilometres per hour”
Query your contact list by asking “what’s Jason Brown’s birthday?”
• Set alarms by saying “wake me up at 6am tomorrow” or “wake me up in 2 hours”
• If you’re recipe reading using your iPad in the kitchen telling Siri to “set the timer for 3 minutes” or “what is 2 pounds in kilograms” is very handy
• Wake up in the morning to ask “what’s on my calendar today“, “what’s the weather like in Wellington?” or “what is today going to be like?”
• Setting reminders is a breeze, simply say “remind me to buy an engagement gift for Sarah
If you aren’t sure, ask Siri what it can do for you – it will tell you.

Tip 2: After all this conversation, if you decide you’d like Siri to have a male voice on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Siri > Voice Gender (if you’re using iOS7).

Tip 3: Tell Siri what your relationships are. For example, “Elliot Johnson is my husband“, “Benjamin Daley is my brother“. After you’ve done this, you’ll find saying “call my brother“, “what’s mum’s birthday“, “email dad” etc so much faster.

• If you don’t want to tell Siri what the relationships are, manually set relationships in your contact details instead – edit your contact card, tap to add related name, choose the label, tap the blue arrow to choose the contact person.
• If you have more than one brother, differ the relationship e.g tell Siri “Benjamin Daley is my youngest brother“.

Tip 4: The more you teach Siri what you were really meaning, the more it will learn and understand you. If you get a response that wasn’t quite right, hit tap to edit below a response then use the keyboard to edit the term.


Let’s just assume now you’re on iOS7; Siri can now playback voicemails, return your last missed call, search Twitter & Wikipedia, and change app settings (e.g. turn on/off Wi-Fi). All you need to do is ask but for some of these functions it would help if you are in Australia, since they haven’t reached our NZ shores yet.

 Tip 5: Open settings easily by saying “open [app name]’s settings” for example “open Safari settings”. Asking Siri to “turn the Wi-Fi off” and “turn on airplane mode” is useful, just remember that Siri needs the internet to work so you’ll need to change your settings back manually to use Siri again.

 Tip 6: You can ask Siri to post a status on Facebook – “post on Facebook Cocktails are fine in Fiji” or “write on my wall Fiji is a balmy 28 degrees”. If you’re on Twitter, just say “tweet did you just watch Lorde on the Grammys? hashtag grammys”. You can even ask “what’s trending on Twitter” or “what are my friends saying on Twitter”. It’s just a shame this can be used by our Aussie friends but hasn’t extended to us in NZ yet.

Tip 7: Definitely try texting (useful when you’re cooking, driving, exercising…): “Text Heather I’ll be late home for dinner”, “text mum I’m on my way” etc. If you aren’t happy how Siri understood what you said, instead of confirming it, say “change it” or say “cancel” to abandon it (also try “append” to add on to the message). You can also punctuate using Siri – say “dot dot dot”, “comma”, “semicolon”, “open quote” & “end quote” to your dictation.

Tip 8: When you’re driving in the car, it is very handy to ask Siri to “read my mail” – Siri will check your new emails and give you a headline overview. You can also send an email, even send it to more than one person.


Lots of easter eggs to be found too – try these: “tell me a joke”, “what is inception about“, “what’s the best phone”“I’m drunk”, “who made you?”, “do I look nice today”, “do you love me”, “does Siri stand for seriously”…Lastly, if Siri is upsetting you with pronouncing your name wrong, say “you didn’t pronounce my name correctly” to get an apology, say your name again and then choose the option you like the best, or say “from now on call me…[nickname]” or manually add yourself a nickname by editing your contact details in the Contacts app. Go on, give yourself the nickname you’ve always wanted from a BFF….

Mac Pro Resurrection 2013

Jul 9, 2013
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At the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year, Apple gave a us a sneak peek of the next generation Mac Pro to replace the sorely outdated version we currently have. We were treated to a presentation on the new internals of the machine and its stunning redesign. Rather than the huge aluminium cased computer – the new Mac Pro will be a small cylinder not much bigger than your kitchen jug. Inside that small form factor is an absolute powerhouse – an order of magnitude quicker than the most powerful iMacs we use today. The high end production Mac is on its way back.

While iMacs give us a great all-in-one solution today, into the future as software gives us more capabilities we will have many users in a design studio who’ll require more performance and expandability. Whilst the final specifications of the new Mac Pro are not yet set in concrete, what we’ve been told thus far is very impressive.


New operating systems

WWDC also gave us insight into the next generation of operating systems. OSX 10.9 “Mavericks” is an incremental improvement over 10.8 Mountain Lion which really focuses on getting the multi-screen experience right (finally) with a whole host of improvements and technology for software developers to deliver us some great software products.

iOS 7 is a redesign of the iOS operating system for Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and AppleTV. This has had the most work done to it and steps up the game in the world of mobile operating systems. iOS 6 was a workable release, but didn’t offer anything too groundbreaking to users of iOS 5. There’s been much talk about iOS 7 in forums and twitter but as always, judging a beta version of an operating system is a bit premature. We expect to see these two out by October this year.

MacBook Air

What was on offer and out now is a revision of the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air will be remembered as one of the great Mac laptops. It changed the expectation of what a highly portable laptop should be, and thankfully, killed the netbook. This revision gives us a new generation processor from intel which is even more energy efficient than before – while still being faster. Battery life for the 13″ MacBook Air is quoted by Apple as lasting up to 12 hours on a single charge. Independent testing has found this to be incorrect – they are getting 13 to 14 hours! An entire day without recharging. Nice. Other items improved include faster networking, faster SSDs and faster graphics.

The MacBook Air is available now and comes in a 11″ or 13″ screen with multiple storage options. Talk to your DA account manager for more information about how this could work in your business.


AirPlay – more than music!

Jun 19, 2013
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Apple’s AirPlay technology is a wonder of modern technology. Most people know AirPlay as a way to stream music from an iPod or iPhone to speakers connected to an Airport. This would be a fairly standard setup providing hours of entertainment. Not only does AirPlay stream music, but it can also do the same for movies on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) to an AppleTV. Great for sharing those YouTube videos to a wider audience.

With OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion, Mac laptops have been able to “mirror” their desktops through an AppleTV connected to a projector or TV screen. This is a fantastic setup to have in your boardroom – finally free from cables, missing adaptors and messy setups.

Imagine: walk into the boardroom, turn on the TV, open your laptop, select “Boardroom AppleTV” from the AirPlay menu. Done. Your desktop is now on the big screen.

If you prefer to present from your iPad, then you can use AppleTV to mirror the iPad screen to your big screen in the boardroom also – rotate from portrait to landscape and your audience sees that too.

In most cases all you need to do is add an AppleTV to your boardroom setup (especially if you have a modern TV with a spare HDMI input). Projectors can be tricky, but with a little help from us, they can be configured in most cases. Talk to your DA account manager to see if this can work for you. It is a breath of fresh air for your boardroom.



I want more speed!

Apr 16, 2013
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In the past the best way to speed up your computer was to add more RAM. Typically the motto was “you can never have too much RAM”. Lately that has changed. The rise of reasonably priced solid state drives (SSD) to replace the hard drive in your computer has meant that we can all get a major speed-up for our slightly older machines.

Why the speed boost?
Modern computer operating systems have a concept called virtual memory (VM). VM is used when you push your computer beyond the physical RAM limit and it starts to use your hard drive as extended memory. This isn’t good – accessing data from RAM is thousands of times faster than accessing data from the hard drive. (Hard drives are just spinning – magnets similar to an old record player! A SSD looks like a hard drive, but is all memory chips, no moving parts and FAST).

When VM is used off an SSD – it is quick. So even a Macbook Air with 2GB of RAM can keep up with a Macbook Pro in your studio (obviously not in graphical tasks as the Macbook Air has a pretty weak graphics card compared to a Macbook Pro or iMac).

Something to think about
If you have a Macbook Air – you already have an SSD. If you have a Macbook, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro or some models of iMac, you can get an SSD retro fitted (get your tech guru to check it out for you). The performance gain is huge! It’ll give you a little bit more life out of your existing hardware. Applications launch quicker, files open faster, Mail/Safari/iCal all operate far more smoothly. All pluses. (The only downside is the price per GB – a 256GB SSD costs around $450). This is a highly recommended performance boost for any computer. If you already have 8GB of RAM and are looking for a bit more speed, an SSD will beat more RAM hands down.


Apple Hard Drive Replacement Programme

Mar 6, 2013
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Over the last 6 months, we have been going through our customer purchase records and identifying those of you who purchased iMacs between October 2009 and July 2011. Why you ask? It’s all to do with an Apple hard drive replacement programme.

In a nutshell, 21.5″ and 27″ iMacs bought in that timeframe had faulty Seagate drives inside that didn’t necessarily cause failures, but were operating in a way that could cause them to fail. Have we lost you?

All you need to know is that team DA have been identifying these iMacs, backing these up (something the Apple programme had no provision for so if you weren’t a DA customer you’d be paying an extra fee for this), sorting out drive replacements and voilà – operators have told us how much faster and stabler the machines have become!

If you have an affected iMac, you’re eligible to receive a free drive until 12 April 2013 (or 3 years after the original purchase date) – if you’re a client of ours, don’t worry we’ve taken care of everything! Still not sure what this might mean for you – send us an email.

Screen technology 101

Nov 14, 2012
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Retina display. IPS. Full lamination. What does all this new speak mean?!

Lets try to demystify the new screen technology a bit and see which actually improves the user experience.

The biggest mover in the screen technology is the legendary “retina display”. This first appeared on the iPhone 4 and was a huge improvement over the iPhone 3 screen. Retina is defined as a display which, at a normal viewing distance, does not show any pixels. If you get close to a normal display, you can make out the pixels, or dots which make up the display. An exaggerated example of this is getting up close to your living room TV – you will certainly see the pixels there! If you have a look at an iPhone 4, you can get very close to the screen and not be able to make out the pixels – it is pretty amazing. For a phone, a retina screen is around 326ppi. If you look at the specifications of many Android phones, you will see that they have around 280-300ppi screens. Whilst not 326ppi, they are still very high resolution. Are they retina quality? It depends how far away you have to hold your phone from your eyes…

For an iPad or laptop screen, the resolution is less. The reason for this is that you generally hold these further away than you do with a phone. The iPad retina is 264ppi. The Macbook Pro retina is 220ppi.

So, we have established that a retina display is a high resolution screen in which the pixels are so fine that the human eye cannot make them out. Great. But what does this mean for a user? Here is an extreme closeup example which might give you a good idea. The left shot is from a iPhone 3GS, and the right shot is from a iPhone 4 retina display:

You can see the difference immediately, especially in the text. For users who spend a lot of time working with photography or kerning type, a retina display is a hot ticket.

One caveat – your software needs to be retina “ready” to take advantage of the screen. So if you use iPhoto, Aperture, Pixelmater, Microsoft Office 2011 – these are all ready to go. Adobe have announced support in Photoshop, but nothing is shipping yet. Clearly (pun intended) having a retina display along with retina ready software is a benefit.

IPS (In-Plane Switching) is a technology which improves LCD displays overall. It improves the response time, offers clearer imagery and less colour distortion over wide viewing angles. The creative director sitting alongside you will see the colours as you see them. If your screen has it – good news!

For the new iMac, Apple used a new bonding technique which brings the LED cell right up against the glass plane. It is called “full lamination”. For a user, this means a sharper display and better colour representation, and it means a much thinner computer! Apple also fully calibrates each iMac screen. This is from the Apple website for the iMac: “We put every single display through an exacting colour-calibration process using three state-of-the-art spectroradiometers: one to measure gamma, one to measure white point and one to check the work of the other two. This equipment is tuned to meet colour standards recognised around the world for precision and accuracy.”

All in all it is a good time to retire your old workhorse and check out some of the new machines with the exciting new display technologies onboard.


iPad Mini

Oct 29, 2012
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You have a 9.7 inch iPad – so why would you want a 7.9 inch model too? You probably don’t. To take Apple’s language, the iPad mini is not a “smaller” iPad – it is a “condensed” iPad. Very careful use of words there!

What we have with the iPad mini is a iPad 2 (A5 processor, 1024×768 non-Retina display) packed into a condensed 7.9 inch package. It runs iOS 6 and has all the expected assortment of cameras (front and rear) and Apple covers. This device was pretty clearly aimed at the growing crop of android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire which have been selling quite well despite criticism of the size by Steve Jobs. Of course, he did say Apple would never put video playback onto an iPod…

The iPad mini is targeted at education and casual users who don’t want to carry around the “bulk” of a full size iPad – but want the power of the iPad apps. The apps are a key point in this whole picture as not even the toughest Android advocate on the planet can defend the very poor selection of quality Android tablet apps vs the 220,000 iPad tailored apps on the Apple store. No real point getting into an argument about it – the App stores tell the whole story.

Early reviews on call the iPad mini “the best small tablet” – but adds it certainly isn’t the cheapest (NZ$479 incl GST for the 16GB WIFI version)

Educational content and iBookStore content (along with Amazon Kindle app) gives the iPad mini a wealth of content for children and the selection of games is untouchable. A great gift for children heading into the next year of schooling – and the price point means it is not as dangerous as sending a child to school with a laptop which can easily get damaged.

As far as we can see, the iPad mini is a huge product for education and the casual user – but if you want a “laptop replacement” – the iPad gen 4 with all its retina display goodness is still the pick of the crop!


New treats from Apple. The iPad mini and the super thin iMac.

Oct 24, 2012
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Apple has been busy releasing cool new toys this year, today they’ve been especially busy.

New iPads
As expected the iPad mini was revealed today. The iPad mini has a 7.9 inch screen with the same resolution as the iPad 2. The iPad mini is everything that you expect from an iPad but in a “concentrated” form.

The full-sized iPad received an upgrade with a new, more powerful processor, upgraded WiFi and Camera.

Both iPads feature the new lightning connector.

More info

iPad mini


New Macs
The iMac has been given a redesign. The iMac received a processor upgrade and USB 3, but it is the new design that is taking the spotlight. It is now unbelievably thin, any thinner and you might lose it!

The MacBook Pro with Retina display now has a 13″ model with the same Thunderbolt, USB3 and HDMI ports as the 15″ model. The 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display does not have ethernet, but you can get a Thunderbolt adapter for that.

Both the new iMac and MacBook Pro do not have an optical drive, so now CD or DVDs unless you get an external drive if you still need to use these.

More info


iPhone 5 preview

Sep 18, 2012
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The iPhone 5 is coming to NZ soon (28th September) – and it looks great.

While there are a few who say it isn’t innovative or it is just an iPhone 4 with a larger screen – we aren’t going to be lazy and say that. Lets have a closer look.

Starting with the exterior, the iPhone 5 is made from Aluminium and Glass. The front glass sits over a new 4 inch display and has the “touch sensor” layer built into the LCD giving a brighter display. This also means that it helps with battery life as you can run the screen at a lower brightness setting without compromise. The sides and back are made from aluminium with a small glass window top/back and bottom/back to keep the signal strength up. Overall it is 7.6mm thick and weighs 112grams. That’s crazy!

On the inside, they have used a custom Apple A6 processor, put in a better 8MP camera, and basically shrunk everything internally to fit it in. Overall, the device feels solid, yet very light.

The items to note before you jump in: The bottom connector is not the 30 pin connector you are used to. It is a new “Lightning” connector. Don’t worry, there is an adapter to the 30 pin which you can buy. The other thing is the nano-sim card. Make sure your provider has the nano-sim ready and waiting before you jump into your iPhone 5. Those of us who are brave will be able to cut down our micro-sims probably…time will tell.

Overall it is an amazing piece of engineering which we’re sure the competition are crying about!

What’s cool:
Design, Quality, AppStore, Screensize, Lightweight, Fast

What to watch out for:
Make sure you get a “plastic film” for the back of the black model BEFORE you put a case on it. The black model has been reported to scratch easily, and putting a case on it will scratch it too. The only solution is to get white, or put on a back protector film.
All your 30 pin dock connector stuff, The Nano-sim, Your very jealous & abrasive Android friends – their Galaxy S3 is just an S2 with a bigger screen ;)
(Just kidding, although we prefer the Galaxy Nexus…)