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On Software Updates

Another week down, with summer finally beginning to look that bit closer. It’ll be so nice to wake up in sunlight, and get the vast majority of the evening before darkness sets in – I love that about the summer months.

Anyway I wanted to talk about something I mentioned briefly in social media posts this week (check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) – software updates.

There’s been a steady change of attituides over the past several years, encouraged by software providers, to UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE! I wanted to explore that a little after the latest iOS 9.3 updates caused users some problems.

I’ve always been an early-adopter, and I think as a support person, that’s part of my job. But I don’t believe that to be necessary for most people. Why try to fix something that ain’t broke….and risk breaking something else?

My advice to general tech users is to wait at least two weeks after a software release is shipped before applying it. The only time I would say differently is when the new software is an urgent fix for a flaw of the dangerous kind (i.e. risk to security or of data loss). If the new release is to patch minor issues, or rollout new features, surely a two week wait won’t hurt? At least then you can let some other sucker find the ‘oopsie’ the software author never noticed during beta testing.

Let’s consider iOS 9.3. It was released originally on March 21st. Immediately there were reports of older devices being prevented from activation (rendering them temporarily useless), which Apple resolved by releasing a new build of the software fairly quickly (March 25th). But there were still reports of many users suffering from […]

About todays release of OS X El Capitan

Today, September 30th, marks the release of OS X El Capitan, the latest version (10,11) of OS X. As always I strongly recommend holding off installing it for a little while until any last minute bugs have been discovered and fixed. As always, I expect most Mac users to completely ignore that advice and go ahead anyway! So I have a couple of thoughts for you before you upgrade.

This latest release is a traditional minor upgrade to Yosemite(similar to how Snow Leopard was to Leopard, and Mountain Lion was to Lion). There are plenty of new features added (see here for more info), and minor tweaks to how things are done, but its not a complete reworking. As such, the chances are that it won’t create any significant problems to Mac users on release. But if you use your Mac as a major part of how you make your income, let other people find that out for you – there’s nothing in El Capitan that you can’t wait a couple of weeks for!

If you’re still desperate to go ahead…..please make sure you do a backup of your entire system before performing the upgrade. If the upgrade causes you problems, at least you’ll be able to go backwards and carry on working. I’ve written plenty of stuff about backing up, the most applicable being this one.

And whenever you do the upgrade, I strongly recommend you create installable media for your own use. This will save you downloading the whole 6Gb again should you need to reinstall the new OS on any of your computers. You’ll need to stop the upgrade happening and run a manual process before going ahead, and I did document this for an […]

Music Streaming: Thought for today

With Apple Music recently launching and Spotify also widely used around the world, I’m going to say something about Music Streaming today that will seem to many like obvious advice. But I’m not sure everyone, at least not everyone in the UK, has thought about this…..

For many people the idea of millions of tracks being available in the cloud to stream instantly for free (Spotify with adverts) or for a small, monthly fee (Spotify Premium, Apple Music and several other services such as Tidal) is a no-brainer. For the cost of buying one album per month, you’ve potentially got unlimited amounts of music for your listening pleasure.

But please don’t forget, every time you stream a song you’re using some of your monthly data allowance if you’re not at home/work (or somewhere else with a WiFi connection). Looking around at the ‘typical’ UK data allowances available today, many people will have around 1Gb of data usage (some of you may even had a quarter of that). A 1Gb allowance will get you, roughly, 250-300 streamed songs before you go over your allowance. Depending on the network you’re on, this will result in either a slowdown of your traffic, a block on traffic for the rest of the month or additional charges.

If you are commuting regularly without WiFi access you’ll possibly go over your allowance pretty quickly. But there is a way to avoid this. With Apple Music and Spotofy Premium you are allowed to download music for offline access. This means that the music you pick will be strored locally on your device avoiding the need for you to use mobile data allowances when travelling. On Apple Music, all you need to do is select […]

WWDC 2015 Review

Last night Apple kicked off their annual developers conference with a Keynote chaired by chairman Tim Cook. Here’s what was announced, and my thoughts in our WWDC 2015 Review .

I’ll keep this review to the non-developer topics so it’s on point for my readers (also, within my own area of knowledge!), and I’ve tried to list the stuff in some sort of order of importance/interest (which may be different to you of course).
Apple Music
Coming: June 30th

What’s new: Streaming, and (proper) 24×7 Internet radio hosted by industry favourites like Zane Lowe

This was the “one more thing” announcement, which Tim Cook seems to have adopted now, and the single item that the most time was dedicated to (around 40 minutes).

It’s a huge change for Apple, moving to streaming (in 100 countries, including the UK), although they will continue to support purchased music going forward. Think of it as a major competitor to Spotify. Pricing is likely to be £9.99 per user, or £14.99 for a family (I believe this will be part of Family Sharing – if you need help with that, contact us) per month, which works out favourably against the competition’s current pricing, at least until they get chance to try and match prices. The big advantage is that the first three months will be free, and from that point on you will be billed through iTunes like any other music or app purchase.

One of the big talking points in music is ‘new music discovery’, and this is why Apple has set up its own Internet radio station. The details are sketchy right now, but it sounds like there’ll be one worldwide station broadcasting all the time. I assume there’ll be shows focussed on new […]

Two words on Yosemite

As you are no doubt aware, OS X Yosemite was released to the public on Friday. For free (paid upgrades? How old fashioned!). But for those people asking me whether they should upgrade immediately, I have two words of advice:

NOT YET!

Ok, so that’s the short answer, now for the slightly longer version with my reasoning.

Like a lot of computer users/geeks I fully understand the “need” to upgrade to the latest/greatest software as soon as it’s available. But the fact is, new software is almost always buggy. It doesn’t matter how well it’s written and tested, when it’s released to millions of users, there’ll always be a couple of software/hardware configurations that haven’t been accounted for and tested. Or bugs that just weren’t spotted for whatever reason. That said, Yosemite was subject to a fairly long, and large, public beta so I expect less issues than perhaps in previous releases of OS X.

So here’s my honest opinion on upgrading to any new OS. Let the others find the problems, let the developers fix them…..and then upgrade. This is the least painful way forward, even for someone using a computer at home. But for a photographer, graphic designer, videographer or writer whose main tool to do their work (other than the talent they were blessed with and the skills they have developed through hard work) is their computer……it’s professional russian roulette. You’ll probably be ok, but then again you might get the 1 in 6 bullet that not only stops you working right now, but leaves a trail of damage and creating a mountain of work to get back to where you were before the upgrade.

Of course there’s going to be some of you who still say ‘screw waiting’ […]