Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Greetings from the Apple Harvest

Hmm - Christmas is just over a week away, and I can't believe how long it is since I last posted anything! My only defence can possibly be that I've been too busy playing (I mean working!) with all the new gadgets acquired over the last few months. I started a new contract in July which has taken a huge amount of my time. I'll be continuing in the New Year for another six months but only on a part time basis which should allow me to focus on my other interests. At the end of the day, the real benefit of working is that it pays for the technology which we share an interest in. I think that's a reasonable assumption, otherwise you probably wouldn't be reading this. In truth this is the third time I've started this post and time keeps moving on so I keep having to rewrite it! Anyhow here goes…

So what's new?

Well, first of all before I got to finish the first two drafts of this piece, Apple had just announced its new product range at the Octoberfest. Clearly they've not been sitting on their laurels for the last year, and the news about the iPad mini came as no surprise - unlike a few other things.

I finally changed my broadband supplier at the start of the summer so the Apple Harvest now runs on a super fast 60Mbs system. And boy, does it fly!  Average speeds while connected across the ethernet are close to the max, and wifi has a significant boost also. In real terms I can download an iTunes LP in about 20s, an HD film in about 4mins and downloading Zinio magazines or the morning newspaper takes just a few seconds.

There's bucket load of new hardware as well. I was in Switzerland in July so treated myself to the new (3rd generation and now already obsolete!) iPad to take advantage of the cheaper prices in Europe. I pre-ordered in iPhone 5 which arrived on the 21st September as promised. I also upgraded to the new Apple TV and Airport express to take advantage of the improved bandwidth. The iMac is still hors d'combat which means the old MacBook Pro is the computer of choice in the office, and I finally had to upgrade the Express Card SSD as I keep running out of space on the old one. Most exciting of all is the imminent arrival of a brand spanking new iMac 27in 2.9GHz with a 3Tb Fusion drive which is due to be delivered on Monday!

I had expected to be commuting between my base in the East Midlands and London because of my new contract but luckily I only have to make the journey once a fortnight which has left me with some extra cash. So I confess to acquiring a couple of things I perhaps wouldn't have normally bought. I finally caved in a got a iPod Classic 160Gb version. It's my first real iPod (I don't count the 1st gen iPod Touch) and I just love having my entire 20,000 song library on one portable gadget. I added a bluetooth adapter so I could use my Sennheiser MM240 bluetooth headphones and I'm delighted.

I also bought an Adaptive Clamshell iPad keyboard case for use when I'm on the road. It's a bit of a luxury because my 13in MacBook Air still goes everywhere with me and I do prefer that for doing real work. But it does protect the iPad really well; it doubles up as a stand and can be used in some places when even the tiny Air can't fit.  And finally, as I simply couldn't resist it I bought an iPad Mini. More on all the hardware and how it fits into the Apple Harvest environment over the next few weeks.

There's a bit of new software in use at the Apple Harvest as well. The Apps Store and Mac Apps Store continue to bring out the worst in me and I end up buying apps that I rarely use, but at the same time there are some real gems around. All the computers at HQ are now running Mountain Lion or iOS 6. Personally, I rather like the fact that features co-exist between the two systems, but what I still love is the fact that the development community continues to provide software which makes my life easier and more fun.

The downside of doing real work for a large financial institution is that I'm forced to use their closed system. And when I say closed I really mean that. None of the creative and productivity tools I use on the Mac (or to be more accurate, their Windows counterparts) can be installed on the clunky old Lenovo machine I've been issued with, because of the security protocols in place. That clunkiness is made worse by having to operate through a VPN tunnel and corporate logging software monitoring my every move. Activities that might take an hour on the Apple Harvest system with it's workflows and seamless integration can take most of the day in the corporate environment. It's ironic that so many businesses are complaining about employee productivity whilst at the same time doing everything in their power to inhibit it. The dichotomies of progress!

I'll be writing a bit more about all the new goodies over the next fews week as I try and kick start the Apple Harvest and my own butt into action. In the meantime - Happy Christmas to all supporters of this blog. Hope you find your Christmas stockings stuffed with loads of gadgets, and I look forward to being back with a vengeance in the New Year.


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