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Apple March 2019 announcements

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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The question I keep asking is whether I continue warning clients (through my website) and El Paso Apple User Group members that they'll have to add a USB 3 SSD and clone their system over to it (for at least some improved performance, and, at under $300 for a 1TB SSD...
I have a client on a very low budget who had to buy a replacement iMac, because the graphics in the old one failed, and this issue came up, but they were unwilling to add an external device (SSD) to Apple's all-in-one iMac design, due to the awkwardness of that approach.

Obviously, also, having an external "dongle" attached by a cable for your critical storage makes it all too easy to knock loose accidentally with the risk of data loss, so this is not really a great solution to the problems Apple has created.
 


Louis Rossman's YouTube video is spot-on. The question I keep asking is whether I continue warning clients (through my website) and El Paso Apple User Group members that they'll have to add a USB 3 SSD and clone their system over to it (for at least some improved performance...
That's what I did with my wife's 2017 21.5" iMac, which came configured with a slow-as-s*** 5400-rpm hard drive: I cloned her drive to an external 512GB SSD connected to one of the iMac's USB 3 ports. The performance increase was, and continues to be, substantial.
 


I have a client on a very low budget who had to buy a replacement iMac, because the graphics in the old one failed, and this issue came up, but they were unwilling to add an external device (SSD) to Apple's all-in-one iMac design, due to the awkwardness of that approach.
Obviously, also, having an external "dongle" attached by a cable for your critical storage makes it all too easy to knock loose accidentally with the risk of data loss, so this is not really a great solution to the problems Apple has created.
Maybe not great, but one does what one can. I've sometimes used some velcro to affix the external drive to the foot of the iMac and use the inner-most USB3 port. I guess you could use a bit of Gorilla Snot to keep the cable ends from coming loose yet be fairly easy to cut free if needed.
 


According to an article on Apple's support web site, the RAM in the 2019 21.5" iMac cannot be upgraded after purchase. You either increase the RAM at the time of purchase, or you're stuck with what you bought.
You may find the following note of interest (emphasis mine):
Apple said:
Install memory in an iMac

* Memory is not removable by users on iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012), iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013), iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2014), iMac (21.5-inch, 2017), iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2017), and iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2019). If the memory in one of these computers needs repair service, contact an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. If you’d like to upgrade the memory in one of these models, an Apple Authorized Service Provider can help. Before you schedule an appointment, confirm that the specific Apple Authorized Service Provider offers memory upgrade services.

Memory in iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2015), and iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2015) is not upgradeable.
It is only the 2015 models that they say can not be upgraded [at all]. All others (2012 through 2019) can be upgraded by an Apple Store or an Apple-Authorized Service Provider.

We don't yet have a teardown for the 2019 model, but the quoted text strongly implies that it is socketed, but in a location making replacement difficult, as has been the case for most of the 21.5" models.

iFixit teardowns for the 2017 Retina, 2017, 2013 and 2012 models indicate that the RAM is socketed, but is very difficult to access (requires a complete teardown).

But they also show that the 2015, and 2014 models have the RAM soldered to the motherboard, making replacement impossible without a motherboard replacement. Strangely, Apple's comment says that Apple can upgrade a 2014 model - assuming this isn't a typo, then that upgrade is going to require a motherboard swap, which is why I am going to wait until I see a teardown for the 2019 model before I jump to any conclusions about whether or not [any] upgrade is actually possible.
 


I decided to subscribe to the NY Times after a number of excellent articles from their reporters were the basis of some TV stories. Rachel Maddow said something like, "Here's a good reason to subscribe to the NY Times; their people do the work that helps keep democracy alive."
Agreed. John Oliver said something similar after the 2016 election: good journalism is not free.

Since then, I've done what you've done: subscribed to the digital editions of the NYT and The Washington Post, as well as making a yearly contribution to my local NPR station. (That's mostly for their local news reporting -- they actually cover what's going on at our state capitol.)

If push comes to shove, I could drop The Post and keep the Times and NPR; but I like having a "second source", and the Post often takes an even deeper dive than the Times when it comes to breaking news.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More perspective on Apple News+ from people in the business:
Joe Pompeo/Vanity Fair said:
“Are We At A Party, Or A Wake?”: Journalists Wonder If Apple News+ Is A Trojan Horse

... As one media executive put it to me, “If you have a subscription business or a membership business, and you’ve got, like, 9,000 digital subscribers, you don’t have much to lose going in with Apple.” On the other hand, by getting on board with Apple News+, you run the risk of abdicating your direct relationship with readers and potentially cannibalizing your existing subscriber pool, thereby handing more leverage to an ever-more-powerful platform economy that has already wreaked havoc on journalism and the news business.

“I have a suggestion: everyone who subscribes directly to any and all publications participating on News+ should unsubscribe ASAP and subscribe to the Apple bundle,” Rafat Ali sniped on Twitter. “Only then will publishers realize their own idiocies here.”
Josh Constine/TechCrunch said:
The danger of ‘I already pay for Apple News+’
At the mercy of a new algorithm

Apple doesn’t care about news, it cares about recurring revenue. That’s why publishers are crazy to jump into bed with Apple News+. They’re rendering their own subscription options unnecessary in exchange for a sliver of what Apple pays out from the mere $10 per month it charges for unlimited reading.

The unfathomable platform risk here makes Facebook’s exploitative Instant Articles program seem toothless in comparison. On Facebook, publishers became generic providers of dumb content for the social network’s smart pipe that stole the customer relationship from content creators. But at least publishers were only giving away their free content.

Apple News+ threatens to open a massive hole in news site paywalls, allowing their best premium articles to escape. Publishers hope they’ll get exposure to new audiences. But any potential new or existing direct subscriber to a publisher will no longer be willing to pay a healthy monthly fee to occasionally access that top content while supporting the rest of the newsroom. They’ll just cherry pick what they want via News+, and Apple will shave off a few cents for the publisher while owning all the data, customer relationship and power.
 


Agreed. John Oliver said something similar after the 2016 election: good journalism is not free.
Very true. As a journalist, I make a point of subscribing to the NY Times electronic edition and the Boston Globe in print (with full electronic access) because I prefer reading the morning paper in print. I also will turn off ad-blocking for news sites I visit occasionally that have well-behaved ads, or kick in something now and then to good news sites like The Guardian.

Right now Apple News+ looks like it only makes sense to magazines that rely heavily on advertising and can use it to boost circulation and sell more advertising, which is their main profit center. It also may attract publishers in trouble, who are looking for extra income to keep afloat, but I doubt it will be much help.

What I would love to see is Apple adding the option to read individual articles that otherwise would be behind paywalls, either as part of the basic service or as a small extra fee per article that would be split with the publisher. That could reduce the processing costs that make it hard for publishers to offer access to individual stories cheaply.
 


But, if you drink the iPhone Kool-Aid and buy into iCloud, you invite the insidious Apple ecosystem into your life;
Last week someone I know got her 13" MacBook Pro, which she uses for both home and work, stolen. (And yes, you've guessed it, no backup.) I was able to lend her a spare MacBook Pro, log it into her iCloud account, and watch her contacts, calendar, and keychain silently repopulate themselves in just a few minutes. Add her work and personal IMAP email accounts, and she's up and running.

So if iCloud is Kool-Aid, sign us up for another tanker-load of the stuff.
 


Maybe not great, but one does what one can. I've sometimes used some velcro to affix the external drive to the foot of the iMac and use the inner-most USB3 port. I guess you could use a bit of Gorilla Snot to keep the cable ends from coming loose yet be fairly easy to cut free if needed.
I use 3M Command strips for picture hanging with Velcro to hang all sorts of stuff on the back of the monitor and other out-of-the-way places. Very easy to remove if desired.
 


Maybe not great, but one does what one can. I've sometimes used some velcro to affix the external drive to the foot of the iMac and use the inner-most USB3 port. I guess you could use a bit of Gorilla Snot to keep the cable ends from coming loose yet be fairly easy to cut free if needed.
I really suggest using 3M VHB tape. When I had a retail store, we used this for affixing everything to everything else (alarm sensors to iPods and computers, keyboards to counters, even iMacs to counters under the bracket for security, etc.). It holds like a horse yet is removable (we used a standard 'black stick' to remove and leave no residue). Small pieces can hold and secure the cable and even the connector as well.

Available via MacInTouch Amazon link for less than $10 bucks for a good sized roll.
 


That's what I did with my wife's 2017 21.5" iMac, which came configured with a slow-as-s*** 5400-rpm hard drive: I cloned her drive to an external 512GB SSD connected to one of the iMac's USB 3 ports. The performance increase was, and continues to be, substantial.
One can also use Thunderbolt. Though the hardware is a little more expensive, the performance is better. I've got a few clients with Thunderbolt SSDs zip-tied to the back of their iMacs....
 



I really suggest using 3M VHB tape. When I had a retail store, we used this for affixing everything to everything else (alarm sensors to iPods and computers, keyboards to counters, even iMacs to counters under the bracket for security, etc.). It holds like a horse yet is removable (we used a standard 'black stick' to remove and leave no residue). Small pieces can hold and secure the cable and even the connector as well.

Available via MacInTouch Amazon link for less than $10 bucks for a good sized roll.
I used to work for an electronics contract manufacturer and can attest to the robustness of 3M VHB tape.
 


Could one put together a Mac Mini and a decent (used) monitor and get an equivalent or better product than the new iMac?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Could one put together a Mac Mini and a decent (used) monitor and get an equivalent or better product than the new iMac?
It really depends on the customer and application.

On one hand, the Mac Mini's SSD storage is vastly superior to the hard drives in iMacs and even to Fusion drives.

On the flip side, iMacs at $1299 and up have dedicated graphics hardware that's sorely lacking in the Mac Mini.

Ultimately, each customer has to do an analysis of their needs vs. the features of the Mac Mini (and monitor, etc.) vs. the iMac's features vs. Apple's pricing structure.

Whenever I've had to analyze these options for our own use, I have to add the MacBook Pro (and previous MacBook Air) into the comparison, which has often ended up as the best choice. (The Mac Pro... not so much.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple did release two new products today, a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini.
And now iFixit has a new teardown report:
iFixit said:
iPad Mini 5 Teardown

What’s that on our teardown table? It’s a big phone! A small tablet! ~~AirPower!?~~ No, it’s the iPad Mini! This year Apple revisited their smallest tablet, bucking industry trends by keeping the Mini's screen small and bezels big. Did Apple stick to tradition all around, or will we be treated to an interior redesign? Looks like we’ll have to tear this tablet down to find out!

...

Final Thoughts

A single Phillips driver takes care of all the screws.​
Many components are modular and can be replaced independently, but the Lightning port is soldered to the logic board.​
x Battery replacement is possible, but still unnecessarily difficult.​
x Gobs of adhesive hold many parts and cables in place, complicating all repairs.​
x Removing the home button is tough, and will be required for display replacement if you want to keep Touch ID functionality​

Repairability 2 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)
 


Could one put together a Mac Mini and a decent (used) monitor and get an equivalent or better product than the new iMac?
Mac Mini, decent screen, and a Thunderbolt GPU would probably blow away an entry-level iMac, but then it would also cost much more... but would be more upgradeable.
 


Could one put together a Mac Mini and a decent (used) monitor and get an equivalent or better product than the new iMac?
As others have said, it depends on your needs. For my needs as a writer and journalist, the Mac Mini and a generic monitor has been an excellent combination. A big plus is being able to replace the screen when needed - I had an Apple flat panel portrait display fail, and later needed a 27-inch screen to read tiny type. I have been able to stretch the usable lifetime of the Mini with external drives. However, I have minimal graphics or audio processing needs. A big question would be whether or not you need a retina screen.
 


Could one put together a Mac Mini and a decent (used) monitor and get an equivalent or better product than the new iMac?
It depends, as others have said, but let me add to that. I have tested out my workflow on a 2015 MacBook Pro with a dedicated GPU, a Mac Pro 5,1 with a 5770 graphics card and with a newer 680GTX card; and the Mac Mini 8,1.

On everything I've tried, including video conversion, the Mini blows away everything else. I don't think it would do better on video than a brand new iMac, but my guess is that its bus speed and CPU speed overcome the lack of a good GPU. When I used the Mac Pro, I could never swamp the slow or the fast GPU. They mostly idled. I had nothing that would really use the GPU hard — not video conversion, not photography. (I never crypto-mined, though.)

I think, for most workflows, the Mini 8,1 is more than fast enough. Just don't pair it with an LG 4K monitor.
 




pro for component systems
Dell 2412 series monitors have served for many years with a progression of CPU boxes ranging from Power Mac Dual G5 towers through a succession of Mac Minis. The upgrade timing for the monitors has been driven by "green" factors - LED backlight and heat production. The Mac Mini progression has, to some extent, been driven by Apple's macOS abandonment of older boxes, but also by performance and I/O capability. Once multi-drive slot-loading Thunderbolt enclosures became available, the number of external drive enclosures with their many power and interface cables melted away. Slot-loading facilitated both drive upgrades and use of hard drives for swappable backup media, as for off-site backups. I did mistakenly downgrade one 2012 Mini for a 2014 Mini. That has since been rectified with a 2018 Mini.

pro for unified systems
I configured a Late 2012 iMac 27-inch for a client. We added beaucoup media storage with a single Thunderbolt enclosure. The screen is magnificent. The desktop is uncluttered with the wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse. This system is still going strong. It replaced a much older iMac, which had continued existence by means of external drives - I refused to open the thing. Apple then obsoleted it, making my life simpler.

comments on external storage (both iMac and Mini)
Cables do not have to rule the world. Between 3M tape and small-footprint drives, adding storage devices to an iMac is not that demanding, especially if bus-powered enclosures can be used. For multiple external drives, Thunderbolt-connected, multiple drive enclosures are, in the long run, more cost-effective and reliable than rat's nests of cables and single-drive enclosures.

display as the driving function for system choice
If you have a favorite monitor type that serves your purpose, choosing a component rather than an integrated system makes storage and CPU upgrades a separate problem - display choice is not driven by macOS upgrades.

bottom line
Choose what makes business and esthetic sense for your applications and environment.
 



I really suggest using 3M VHB tape. When I had a retail store, we used this for affixing everything to everything else (alarm sensors to iPods and computers, keyboards to counters, even iMacs to counters under the bracket for security, etc.). It holds like a horse yet is removable (we used a standard 'black stick' to remove and leave no residue). Small pieces can hold and secure the cable and even the connector as well.

Available via MacInTouch Amazon link for less than $10 bucks for a good sized roll.
What is a "standard black stick" please? Thanks!
 


I'm curious: which Thunderbolt SSDs are these, specifically? Have there been any issues, e.g. with performance dropping with heavy activity/heat?
I have been building my own using either G-Tech G-Drive Mobile drive cases or Buffalo MiniStation cases.

In both instances I open the cases ([web search] is your friend) and replace the spinners with nice Samsung or Crucial SSDs. The G-Tech is nicer to work with, but both have been rock solid. The case does get a little warm, but being lashed to the iMacs' aluminum stand can help dissipate heat. Monitoring the drives from time to time with DriveDX has shown no issues. It is fast and reliable, and the boot drive gets the whole Thunderbolt channel instead of the shared USB one.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
And now iFixit has a new teardown report:
And then another:
iFixit said:
iPad Air 3 Teardown
A couple weeks ago, Apple surprised us with two new iPad announcements. The first iPad on our teardown table only held some Mini changes, so we’re hoping this one has something a little bigger in store. Join us for a teardown as we jump into the Air!
...
Not to sound like a broken record, but your eyes don't deceive you! That Air 3 looks an awful lot like the 10.5" Pro!
...
Final Thoughts

A single Phillips driver takes care of all the screws.​
Many components are modular and can be replaced independently, but the Lightning port is soldered to the logic board.​
x Battery replacement is possible, but still unnecessarily difficult.​
x Gobs of adhesive hold many parts and cables in place, complicating all repairs.​

Repairability 2 out of 10
(10 is easiest to repair)
 


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