iPhone 6+ survives night in the snow, lens case, smart pen, top for 2014, VLC

The lens-holding Puzlook case is available for the iPhone 5 and 5s only, for US$99
The lens-holding Puzlook case is available for iPhone 5 and 5s only, for US$99

iPhone 6 Plus spends Christmas in the snow and survives — Living in an area where several feet of snow is a regular occurrence for several months every year means the constant fear of dropping your precious smartphone into a pile of the powdery white stuff. This iPhone 6 test suggests that Apple’s latest smartphone would also come away unscathed.

The Puzlook iPhone case combines a puzzle and photography — The Puzlook iPhone case contains five lenses for iPhone, including wide-angle, macro, telephoto, and fisheye lenses. There’s also a tripod mount and an integrated 8 GB USB memory stick. What’s weird is that the lenses are configured like a sliding tile puzzle. To use the one you’re after, you must ‘solve it into place (pictured above).

Apple patents smart pen for capturing digital copies of handwritten notes — Apple was granted yet another stylus design patent on Tuesday, this in the form of a smart pen capable of detecting hand movements for translation into digital line drawings and text.

iPhone takes on Android in a sci-fi battle to the death — The battle over whether iPhone or Android is better will never end, if only because Android users will never admit that they’re absolutely wrong. Normally the conflict is merely verbal, but thanks to this entry from a video contest hosted by mobile game controller maker MOGA this argument has become more interesting.

Mel Martin’s top apps of 2014 — For iOS and Mac, and here are Steve Sande’s top products.

VLC video player expected to return to iOS App Store as soon as next week — Popular video player VLC has been absent from the iOS App Store since it was pulled without explanation in September, but the developer of the app has indicated it could become available as early as next week.

2015, Spaceship barn, Mac Pro Probs, olde User Guides

Apple has decided to keep the historic Glendenning Barn intact as part of the Spaceship Campus build
Apple has decided to keep the historic Glendenning Barn intact as part of the Spaceship Campus build

Why 2015 will be the year of the Apple — Macworld writes “Apple broke sales records in 2014 with bigger iPhones, then satisfied long-time fans with a Retina iMac and an updated iPad—all great products, but we’re looking ahead to 2015, when we expect to see even greater releases out of Cupertino…” [I thought all of the last eight years were The Year Of Apple, already.]

Apple to keep century-old historic barn on Campus 2 grounds — In keeping with late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs’ Campus 2 land reclamation plan, a nearly 100-year-old barn (above) will be saved from demolition to stand surrounded by trees at one corner of the huge lot.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro continues to cause problems for professional users — One year after its release, Apple’s radically redesigned Mac Pro remains a source of frustration for some video-focused professionals whose workflows are being interrupted by rendering glitches apparently caused by problems with the unit’s ATI graphics system.

Think Retro: when Apple’s User Guides explained it all — In the box my iPhone 6 came in, there’s a small slip of paper. On one side it tells you what each of the iPhone’s five buttons are, and on the reverse it tells you how to switch it on; after that, you’re on your own.
That’s a far cry from the hefty instructional tomes you used to get when you bought an Apple product. [I have a few of these.]

2014 in review – the redesign of Mac NZ in WordPress has been well received

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Apple dominated mobile, no 12 gifts, Pocket Drive

Apple's chief smartphone dramatically trailed Apple's figures for 2014
Apple’s chief smartphone rival, Samsung, dramatically trailed Apple’s figures for 2014

Apple dominated mobile devices activated this Christmas with 51% share — New stats showing devices activated during the week of Christmas reveal that Apple commanded the lion’s share of new mobile purchases, accounting for more than half of all device activations by manufacturer.

Apple not offering ’12 Days of Gifts’ promotion for first time in six years — Since 2008, Apple has given away songs, apps, movies and other digital goodies as part of a holiday tradition dubbed the 12 Days of Christmas or 12 Days of Gifts for US (and formerly NZ) users, but not this year.

Pocket Drive turns your iOS device into an external drive — Pocket Drive (free with in-app purchases) is an easy-to-use app that lets your iOS device connect wirelessly to any computer on your network and move files, photos, music or videos between them. The app supports links to both Macs and PCs.

Online securely, Artful desktops, EU refunds, top 2014 products

You may need to drag your family into a more secure future
You may need to drag your family into a more secure future

How to help your family stay more secure online — Many of us travel during the holidays to visit family, have them visit us, or at least touch base with those we haven’t talked to in a while. One of the kindest gifts you can give beyond your own company and a new blender is to help relatives sort out online password and security problems that they may not even know they have. See Glenn Fleishman’s advice on Macworld. [It’s worth it for the cat-dragging gif alone!]

Artful for Mac is desktop art that matches your taste — Artful (NZ$$6.49) is a well thought out app that lets you have any of thousands of public domain artworks as your desktop based on parameters you select.
The app works as a menu item, and you pull it down to get a nice control panel letting you very precisely select the type of art you want displayed. You can choose the style of the art, the medium, the kind of canvas, and you can choose from one or hundreds of specific artists, or anything in between.

Apple codifies 14-day refund policy for iTunes purchases in the EU — European consumers now have two weeks within which to request a refund for most content purchased from the iTunes Store, according to recently-updated Apple support documentation, unifying the company’s return policies for both physical and digital goods.

Top products of 2014 — From Kelly Hodgkins at TUAW (bags, iPhone 6+, a game …) and the same site’s Mike Rose.
For me, iPhone 6 (not the bigger 6+) is dramatically the best iPhone I’ve ever owned; the Apple leather case is very nice indeed and cuts down the slippery factor, but I need to check out some more; This War of Mine (review coming) is a very moving game that makes you think hard about conflict, I still love my STM shoulder bag which has now been all over the world, and NZ, several times; I’m still super happy with my 15-inch MacBook Pro with SSD and Retina Display (2012 model).
I’m DYING to evaluate the 27-inch iMac with Retina! I would say that’s the best Mac ever produced, but I hope to let you know properly soon. It was so popular with reviewers I missed my slot in the queue, since I had to go overseas.
I look forward to a bright and interesting Apple-centris 2015 … and I’ll get three books published, too.


Your new iPhone 6, best apps, mini iPhone rumour …

A new rumour hints Apple may be planning a smaller iPhone option
A new rumour hints Apple may be planning a smaller iPhone option

Got an iPhone 6? Do these 10 things first — It’s here! Your iPhone is here! Woohoo! Thing Zero to do as you rip it out of the box is to not drop it, whatever you do. [iPhone Sixes are slippery.]

If the iPhone 6 is too big for you, just wait: An ‘iPhone mini’ may be coming in 2015 [rumour] — The iPhone 6 is too big. I’ve heard that as much as I’ve heard praise for the new, larger iPhones, which have in any case outsold prior iPhones. But for those who miss the ease of slipping their smartphone into a pocket or using it one-handed, Apple could be planning an ‘iPhone mini’ for 2015—in other words, a return to the prior model’s 4-inch display size. [For me the smaller of the sixes is p-e-r-f-e-c-t.]

Mike Wehner’s favourite apps of 2014 — Fling, Dark Sky etc. Here are Dave Caolo’s, and here are Macworld’s top games of 2014, too.

Dear Apple, please bring the iPhone 4s into the future — So says  John-Michael Bond: “There’s something awful about being in love with an outdated piece of technology, but I will hold onto my iPhone 4s until the day it dies…”

Finally, keep your kids entertained — Over the holiday break with these 4 apps.

Auto-update, your new Mac, apps, photos and more

Here it's a bright, clear day in New York, but I'm back in a few days so most Mac NZ services should return to normal
Here it’s a bright, clear day in New York, but I’m back in a few days so most Mac NZ services should return to normal

Normal transmission — Will resume(-ish) from Tuesday 30th December when I’m back in Auckland; between then and now I’m travelling but these items should help keep you entertained and informed till then.

NTP bug fix was Apple’s first ever automated security update — On Monday December 22 (US time), Apple released a new security update fixing security issues affecting NTP (network time protocol) in OS X. Updates are common occurrences for any computer user, Monday’s update was a first for Apple – it was the first time the company pushed out an automated security update to its users.

The first 10 apps to install on your brand-new Mac — As a nearly 30-year veteran of Mac ownership, Glenn Fleishman has 10 solid suggestions to make your life better by shaving off the little irritations that remain in Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and in Apple’s bundled software. [For the record, I don’t agree with Launchbar. New Mac owners are bewildered enough by the Dock as it is – Launchbar just adds to the confusion. But that’s just my opinion as a 26-year Mac user.]

iCloud Photo Library, Photo Stream & how to make sense of your photos — Taking the place of Photo Stream next year, Apple’s iCloud Photo Library will consist of a brand new photo app for Mac and a new way to sync photos across all your devices. [Apple actually added to the confusion on this rather than simplify.] Stephen Robles explains.

How to create artistic prints in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements — Printed images make the perfect, yet personal, last minute gift. In this column you’ll learn how to spice up your prints in Photoshop and Elements by adding a painterly edge or by creating a digital matte with text underneath it. Both techniques are fabulous for framing your own prints, too, whether they’re destined to hang on your own walls or those in a gallery.

Five great tools for supporting your family’s computers remotely — And lo, did the good people of the world return home, to celebrate Christmas and perform heroic acts of tech support. We’ve all had to do it, whether for a newly received gift or one from last Christmas that never quite got figured out. Since you (probably) won’t be moving closer any time soon, you need some good remote support tools, and we’re here to help you find them.

How to stay connected in unconnected places — Many of us whizz our way to the relatives’ for the holidays, carrying with us a plethora of electronics

Pegatron to investigate, iPhone 6 demand, top games, Twitter honesty

Apple supplier Pegatron announces investigation following controversial BBC report — Following a BBC investigation into alleged mistreatment of employees at an Apple supply chain factory owner Pegatron has announced it will investigate the claims made in the documentary and address any issues it discovers. According to Digitimes, the company filed a statement on December 22 with the Taiwan Stock Exchange promising to implement improvements in their factories.

Survey shows demand for Apple’s iPhone 6 still growing as supply stabilises — Apple’s new, larger-screened iPhones are even more popular now than they were when they were announced, according to survey data released Tuesday, boding well for the Cupertino company as it continues to chip away at supply shortages.

Freemium games dominate App Store list of most downloaded, highest grossing apps for 2014 — Apple on Tuesday released its annual Best of 2014 list for the App Store’s most-downloaded and highest-grossing titles, revealing so-called ‘freemium’ games as the year’s biggest money-makers. And here’s Macworld’s 20 best for 2014.

Updated iOS app is brutally honest — So you’re on Twitter and you have followers, but how many of them really care about your tweets? Twitter’s got answers.

Cook top CEO, Spaceship, The Interview, patents, free wallpaper

AppleInsider drone shows the Spaceship construction progress
AppleInsider drone shows the Spaceship construction progress

Tim Cook is CNN Money’s CEO of the Year for 2014 — CNN Money has named Apple’s Tim Cook as the best CEO of 2014. Citing a rise in the value of the company’s stock by 40 percent during the year, a share price near an all-time high, and very successful launches of both the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and Apple Pay, Cook beat out BlackBerry’s John Chen, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and GM’s Mary Barra – among others – for the prestigious spot on the list.

Amazing Apple Campus 2 aerial tour courtesy of AppleInsider — The new Apple Campus 2 AKA ‘The Spaceship’ is rapidly progressing through construction, and AppleInsider has been sending a DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus drone through the skies of Cupertino on a regular basis to provide a birds-eye view of the campus taking shape.

Sony wanted The Interview on iTunes for Christmas, but Apple rejected fast timetable — In attempt to make its controversial film The Interview available to view on Christmas Day, Sony Pictures reportedly pursued a deal with Apple that was brokered by the White House itself, but the timetable to place it on iTunes was apparently too aggressive.

Apple-backed Rockstar Consortium to shed 4,000 patents, end lawsuits in $900M deal — Rockstar Consortium, the patent holding firm created by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony to purchase thousands of foundational telecom patents from now-defunct Nortel, looks set to wind down operations after the partners agreed to sell much of Rockstar’s patent portfolio to IP risk mitigation company RPX.

Twelve South loves you and is giving you a Christmas present — Those of you who have dual-screen setups for your Macs are going to love the nice Christmas gift that accessory manufacturer Twelve South is sending your way. The company has partnered with San Francisco photographer Scott Gordon to create sets of dual-screen backgrounds you can download and install for free.

Slopes, better iPhone pictures, leather cases for iPhone 6

Mujjo has just introduced classy leather cases for iPhone 6
Mujjo has just introduced classy leather cases for iPhone 6

Slopes 1.4 hits the app store with Health Kit integration and more — Slopes is a powerful winter sports companion app for iOS that provides snowboarders and skiers with 3D maps of their routes and stats of their runs.
Slopes 1.4 introduces a new Today widget featuring stats on your current day and your previous run, new Health Kit integration, and full support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

How to avoid taking lousy iPhone holiday photos — There’s an old wheeze that’s routinely bandied about in regard to digital photography: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” If you take some care, you can produce the best of both worlds from your iPhone – here’s how.

Very smart iPhone cases — Dutch company Mujjo, of the excellent gloves you don’t need to take off to use iDevice touch-screens, has just introduced a Leather Wallet Case line-up for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in grey. They’re designed to hold 2 to 3 of your essential cards without sacrificing its slender silhouette. Crafted from signature vegetable-tanned leather, the effect is toned down to create a desaturated wallet case. [This company could do with an NZ distributor!]

Security Update, Apple Store Xmas, Microsoft, gifts, VPN, benchmarks

A bit of Christmas Karaoke in an Apple Store
A bit of Christmas Karaoke in an Apple Store

Apple releases a security fix for OS X Network Time Protocol issue — Apple just released a new security update for OS X’s Network Time Protocol service. Apple recommends users with Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion install the update as soon as possible, even though there is no official word on what exactly the update covers. The update is small and installs fast, however. You should see it immediately when you load up App Store on your Mac and choose the Updates tab.

Teenage girls fill Apple Store with Christmas spirit in adorable dance video —This video is news only in the most tenuous definition of the term news, but it’s the holidays, the actual news is depressing as hell, and frankly a little levity never did anyone any harm. Today’s dose of the holiday spirit comes from YouTube user perksofinfinity who went with a friend to an Apple Store to shoot this adorable dance video set to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Dr Mac’s Tried and True Apple Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks (Part 3) — Here’s Bob LeVitus’ final batch of reasonably priced gadgets (and holders for gadgets), all of which will be appreciated by the geeks you love.

New Microsoft site targets users looking to switch from MacBook to Surface Pro — While it was Apple who for years targeted Windows switchers to the Mac platform, the tables have turned as now Microsoft is now the underdog, focusing its efforts on trying to win over MacBook users with its Surface Pro hybrid computers. [Where does the queue start, again? Oh, there’s no queue?]

How to remove MacKeeper Part II (the pop-up edition) — Christopher Breen recently provided instructions for removing the MacKeeper app from your Mac, along with its component parts. But for some, that’s only a piece of the puzzle

Great deal on VPN Unlimited — Need access to otherwise-restricted and/or geo-located web content? Don’t trust your WiFi connection? Need to ensure online security? You need VPN Unlimited, and this deal is Super Cheap (US$19 for 3 years!).

How to use benchmarks to cut through marketing hype — Your Mac’s overall performance can slow down over time. Most often this happens because we gradually add more apps and background processes, have more and more documents and browser tabs open, and don’t restart very often. Joe Kissell has a couple of remedies.

App Store in review, Bing, Minecraft story mode, video edits


The App Store Year in Review in one infographic — Apple Sliced is a online service that tracks the price of every sale made in the App Store. It’s a solid resource for locating daily sales and popular apps. Sliced has just released an interesting infographic (that’s a bit of it, above) that takes a look at prices and activity across the App Store based on the information they’ve accumulated over the year. View the whole thing here.

Microsoft updates Bing iOS apps with fresh look and translations — Microsoft continues its make nice to Apple with a solid update to the Bing Search app for iOS. There are separate versions for the iPad and iPhone. The GUI has been slightly reworked, and the biggest feature is a translation option for any content you have brought up with Bing. You can set a language in the app settings, but the default is set to translate to English.

Minecraft is bringing Story Mode to iOS — Minecraft developer Mojang has announced they will be collaborating with Telltale Games to create a new story mode for the game. Mojang promises it will be a narrative-driven game about Minecraft, but didn’t expand on what exactly that would look like.

Video editing on the fly — Video Zoom (NZ$2.59) is a just-released app that will let you take an existing video and crop it, or add a smooth zoom. The app also lets you record a new video from within the app.

Stock buy-back, MacKeeper, Russian Ruble, Broken Promises

You don't need Mac Keeper, although many have been persuaded otherwise.
You don’t need Mac Keeper, although many have been persuaded otherwise.

Apple bought back $56 billion of its own stock in 2014 — Apple is no stranger to stock buybacks so its no surprise that the trend continued in the 2014 fiscal year. According to a new report for FactSet, Apple spent over $56 billion buying back stock this year. That’s $36.8 billon more than IBM who took the second for most spent on buybacks with $19.2 billion.

How to uninstall MacKeeper from your Mac — Some people have found MacKeeper useful, others not. [Here’s my take: if you leave your Mac on all night sometimes, it does all the same things as auto-run routines, and if you also run Repair Permissions – my Help link above tells you how to do that – you’re amply covered. MacKeeper is nothing but a well-advertised rort. You don’t need it at all. So if you got suckered and you want to follow this advice, here it is, but hey, you might be happy having some agency over the processes, in which case leave it on.]

Apple raises prices in Russian App Store amidst Ruble meltdown — Apple has raised the price of apps in the Russian App Store in the midst of a meltdown in the value of the Russian ruble. The move follows Apple’s decision earlier in the week to stop selling iPhones in Russia because of the volatility.

You can now watch the BBC’s Panorama documentary Apple’s Broken Promises — On December 18 the BBC’s Panorama aired a documentary called Apple’s Broken Promises which questions if Apple is doing enough to protect the people who makes its products. The already controversial film utilises undercover reporters and hidden camera footage to show what life is like for workers in a Chinese supply chain factory. In the second portion of the documentary reporter Richard Bilton travels to an Indonesian tin mine, where he seeks to discover if the metal being mined is actually being used in Apple products. You can watch the docco here.