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Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

Java is a great programming language and platform to work in but in it's best moods it is, at best, a pain.

Today I fixed a huge issue that I thought was just with Java, but discovered it was so much more than just Java's fault. An application I use on my Mac called Flexiglass was causing problems. 

When I open a menu item within a Java application (such as the basic GUI builder in my ZPE editor) I get the following error: 'component must be showing on the screen to determine its location'.

This comes from Flexiglass, since Flexiglass changes a few system properties and therefore interferes with Java's menu system in some way or another. Anyway, the fix is to turn off the two checkboxes as pictured below:

The fix

The simple fix is to switch off two checkboxes

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Whilst I do use technology on a regular basis and find using my Mac straightforward most of the time, there are things that Apple is doing that make macOS as it will soon be overly complicated.

I talk of things like deeper cloud integration and, in particular, security measures. As a result of Apple's move to making macOS a secure platform in a similar way to the closed iOS operating system they develop for mobile devices, macOS will be a very tight and secure system, making developers' lives much harder and making it much harder to tweak your system. Closing the operating system more and more, Apple has chosen to make it now so that you cannot download apps from the internet and run them unless they have been signed. This is very bad for me since I use things like NoSleep to keep my MacBook awake when I shut the lid amongst others. Apple's closing of the operating system is reminiscent of when they closed the hardware on all their machines - taking out the ability to remove your RAM and replace it with new stuff and making it more expensive to replace the SSD, a move that nearly put me off Apple altogether. 

As well as this, the deeper cloud integration that Apple has been implementing recently has become overly complicated. Keychain is one of my favourite tools of iCloud, but it's also devilishly annoying when it comes to a system reformat. iCloud Keychain can also be an absolute pain when it comes to changing one's password. All of this makes me wonder why I bother with Keychain, oh yeah, my passwords are all stored on it.

Tell me what you think then, do you find that Apple's attempts to become more closed than ever is a good thing? 

WWDC is getting less exciting as the innovation begins to get less innovative. I'm personally no longer shaken by the new releases of iOS since version 7, which was the last real iOS that I could say was exciting. Since then Apple's software releases have become less exciting and certainly don't hold the same level of innovation.

Anyway, WWDC last night was the moment Apple dropped the name OS X and named it macOS. So now, my Mac will no longer run on OS X but on macOS. The new version will be known by the name macOS Sierra. I'm happy to say the inclusion of Siri is something that I am excited about. This is something OS X should have had a long time ago.

iOS 10 is opening up to developers and third-party apps more and more. First off, Siri is being given an SDK and opened to developers so that apps can take advantage of the power of Siri. Third party developers such as WhatsApp will have more power over the iOS device too.

The most interesting part however was with tvOS. I feel that Apple has made a few crucial updates such as the new dark mode, which you may think is not crucial but let me tell you, it is. There was also the addition of the new single-sign on option for different apps stream through cable TV. 

Overall, WWDC 2016 was very lackluster and one of the least interesting WWDCs of all time. A lot of this is down to the fact that Apple have run out of fresh innovation since they've already implemented most of the important features of our smartphones - all they do now is move things around.

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WWDC

Today is the day. WWDC 2016. Have you thought much about what we might expect?

One of the main things that I am expecting is Apple finally dropping OS X and naming it macOS (stylised exactly like that). Doing this would make macOS feel right at home with iOS, tvOS and watchOS.

Of course, iOS 10 is expected and OS X 10.12 (or macOS 10.12). Apple will probably also announce tvOS 2 and watchOS 3. Also, there may be a few more watch straps announced today. With macOS 10.12 I am expecting that Apple will finally bring Siri to us Mac users.

Anyway, that's my thoughts. Let me know what you think below.

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Happy birthday to the most awesome tech company Apple! 

Today Apple becomes 40 years old! I remember quite a lot of Apple through my life, and I definitely remember my first personal Mac which I got in September 2011 and since then my love for Macs has defined the way I work. 

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First of all, this post is not an appraisal of Apple in anyway, quite the opposite, which is not normally what the posts in the Apple Everything category are.

2015 was not just an odd year for Apple but in my opinion, one of the worst in terms of design.

The MacBook (Retina)

I was so hyped when the MacBook was being re-released but incredibly disappointed by a certain number of things about it.

The Retina display is a lovely addition to this computer and makes it one of the highest resolution displays in the market at the moment along side it's bigger brother, the MacBook Pro.

I happen to be the owner of a Pro and feel somewhat disappointed by Apple's recent changes that they have been bringing to the Pros - particularly the minaturisation of components since this has resulted in Apple taking away all of the possibility of upgrading components.

On the subject of the MacBook, absolutely nothing can be replaced and the laptop itself features just one connector. A single USB-C connector provides the power inlet as, the data connector and video connectivity. I'm not a fan of these designs where functionality suffers for design to gain.

This is why the MacBook fails for to grab me.

As well as offering just the one physical connector, the MacBook is powered by a measly 1.2GHz Core M - a mobile CPU that is intentionally cut down for a better thermal design power. Again, this is well suited to making the computer smaller and thinner, but at the end of the day this is still a laptop computer. Other than that it is a stunning machine and had it not suffered functionally, I would have considered one.

Apple Magic Mouse 2

The Magic Mouse 2 was released as the final release of 2015 along with a new Magic Keyboard and a new Apple Trackpad.

The Magic Mouse 2 is, in my personal opinion, the biggest design flaw in any wireless mouse ever.

The Magic Mouse 2 is finally a rechargeable Magic Mouse, meaning you can say goodbye to the AAs required in the previous version. The big flaw with this is how it is charged however.

The Magic Mouse 2 is charged via the Lightning connector. This is alright I suppose, although I'd rather have seen it being charged by MicroUSB but I could never imagine Apple doing this since they like to use proprietary connections that they have developed for everything.

However, the charging connector is on the bottom of the mouse. This means that the mouse cannot be used while it is being charged. I mean what?! This is so ridiculously stupid and it may seem impossible to even think that this is the same Apple who designed the iPhone, the Unibody Macs and the iPad but it is.

I'm not the only one to have complained about this, but this is entirely my own thoughts on this. Take a look at the picture here to see what I mean.

Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro is a really great idea, something that has actually existed for many years on Windows tablets, like my 2010 Fujitsu Lifebook T4410.

The Pencil allows the user to simply write on the screen with a stylus but have the benefits of things like pressure sensitivity and angle detection so that the stylus produces more realistic results. This is great with things like Microsoft Onenote and taking handwritten notes and drawings.

The problem with the Pencil is one of the ways in which Apple has allowed users to charge the device. When the Pencil runs out of the juice, the user has the choice to take it to a plug socket with the adapter included and charge it using that. Alternatively, if they only have the iPad Pro on them, they can charge it using the Lightning connector on the base of the Pro. This allows them to go completely mobile and leave behind all charging devices.

The problem is how it is charged however. Putting the Pencil in the bottom of the iPad Pro and charging it makes the Pencil more susceptible to being broken. Remember all those USB ports that have been broken by leaning on the cable when it's plugged in? The same can be said with the Pencil when it is in the iPad Pro Lightning connector.

Take a look here for a picture of this.

iPad Pro Keyboard

The iPad Pro also came with a keyboard case thing as an option. I was very pleased to see that Apple was adding a physical connector for the keyboard, since a Bluetooth keyboard is not an ideal solution in my idea. I was let down by the fact that it is what I to refer to as a 'cloth keyboard'. I'd have really liked it to have been one of the hard keyboards, transforming the iPad Pro into a convertible tablet, somewhat like my Windows tablet.

Mac Mini 2014

I decided to include the end of 2014 in this post since I wanted to bring up the Mac Mini 2014. Once again, the Mac Mini received no updates in 2015, but a 2016 refresh with Intel Skylake is expected.

None the less, the Mac Mini, the modder's machine in Apple's words, was completely redesigned in 2014. This redesign involved removing any parts that were modifiable and replacing them with parts that could not be changed. What a disaster. The same will be with the 2016 version.

Conclusion

While I am happy with my current range of products, my favourite device I own is my Mac Mini due to the fact that I can change parts inside. I have a 2012 top model and refused to take the 2014 model due to the fact that there were no quad core options available as well as due to the lack of removable parts.

Apple has gone the wrong way recently with design, and knowing Apple they will not change this and will stick to their guns. Who knows if I will ever buy another Apple product.

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I have recently changed from Source Sans Pro to Open Sans again as the font on my website.

I noticed more and more than it becomes increasingly difficult to read the text at smaller font sizes with Source Sans Pro and received a comment about this yesterday. I have since switched back to the font I used right up until July this year for quite some time. Since going back to this font, just today, I will say that the text is far more legible. 

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Since I am an Edinburger I thought it was important to post a link to mark this moment, the moment Tim Cook visited the Edinburgh Apple Store for the first time! How I'd have loved to have been in the store at the time.

The Scotsman has more here.

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Mac OS X has featured a dashboard for a long time. It was introduced in Mac OS X 'Tiger' (version 10.4) and since Mac OS X Lion (10.7) it has received barely any attention from the developers.

OS X Dashboard

Dashboard still has yet to change

But now since Lion it has had absolutely no updates. It still looks like something from pre-Yosemite with it's skeuomorphic icons and it just doesn't fit into OS X. I love the dashboard in OS X, but it looks close to it's end.

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This post is a collection of all the information you will need from the keynote today. I will likely do a full review of this in the next few hours.

The introduction

The start of the keynote was all about Watch OS 2 and what it has brought to the Apple Watch. New Watch apps include Facebook Messenger, a Go Pro app, iTranslate and a new app for measuring pregnant mothers.

iPad

Tim Cook talks about how the iPad has changed the way we work and create. Now Apple asks itself how they could improve it. The result, the biggest change in the history of the iPad: the iPad Pro. Does this mean I will need to update my website's media queries?

The Pro looks beautiful. The iPad Pro is twice the height of the iPad Air 2 in width. It has 5.6 million pixels with a resolution of 2048 by 2772 pixels on a 12.9 inch display. It features an Apple A9X APU which is now 1.8x times faster than the iPad Air 2 in CPU performance and 2x faster in graphics performance. It is faster than 80% of portable PCs sold in the last year and faster than 90% of PCs sold in the last year in terms of graphics.

All this, and still ten hours of battery life and incredibly slim (6.1mm)! It also features a four speaker audio system.

The iPad Pro was actually expected by many, so the shock was rather small for me!

Apple also introduced the Smart Connector, which allows a new physical Smart Keyboard to be attached to physically to the iPad and whilst I do not like the looks of the official keyboard but the physical connection is a huge bonus!

Apple also spoke about a new accessory called Pencil. Pencil is basically a really awesome stylus for the iPad.

Microsoft had a say today at the event as well - they announced that they were bringing features for the Pencil to Microsoft Office that allow input from the Apple Pencil. It's nice to Microsoft and Apple working together on this.

Adobe also spoke about their new apps that are coming to the new iPad. Adobe Comp looks really impressive (maybe not something I would use) and the multitasking works so well with it.

The new iPad Pro starts at $799!

The iPad mini 4 also got a short introduction. It is simply a smaller version of the iPad Air 2.

Apple TV

Today, Apple "did something" about the lack of innovation in the TV industry.

The new remote uses a new touch surface that makes it fluid to move around. This is a more innovative way to interact. The new Apple TV also supports voice commands through Siri.

The Siri search also searches across multiple apps including Hulu, Netflix and iTunes, all in one search. Siri can also rewind the video and put subtitles on when you mention that you missed what someone said!

There was a lot of focus on the new screensaver features, which doesn't really interest me but there we go. There was a bit that really touched the inner Bond fan in me as well which was nice!

The new Apple TV also now features its own App Store.

The games coming to the Apple TV look incredible.

Unfortunately, Tom from Hipster Whale didn't make it across the road in Crossy Road. Crossy Road looks lovely on the new TV, but I'm not sure I'm that thrilled by the idea of games on my Apple TV with the remote.

Apple has also taken the concept of hand off further by allowing you to continue playing games you own on your iPhone and Apple TV.

Oh and yea, my favourite feature, it has HDMI-CEC. The new Apple TV has 32GB or 64GB of built in storage. The new Apple TV has all the same connectors as the previous one other than the removed optical audio port.

iPhone

The iPhone 6 is the most popular iPhone ever and indeed they are the most popular and most loved phone in the world. Tim Cook now asks, how do you continue that success? The answer, the iPhone 6s.

The new iPhone 6s looks exactly the same as the iPhone 6, but it changes are phenomenal.

Multitouch is replaced by a new type of interaction called 3D Touch. As expected, this is a similar technology to the new Force Touch Trackpad found on the new MacBook. iOS 9 deeply integrates this to allow contextual data to appear where it could be considered useful. I really like the looks of this and cannot wait to try it out in the next few weeks. At this point, 3D Touch looks well integrated  into iOS.

The new iPhone is also made with a new 7000 series aluminium. The new iPhone 6s also features the new Apple A9 APU. It is supposedly 70% faster in CPU tasks and 90% in graphics tasks. The new iPhone 6s has a new fingerprint sensor for Touch ID which is twice as fast.

The new camera is 12 megapixels, which will increase resolution but not at the price of quality. The new camera seems to take great photos. It can now take 4K video (that's 8 million pixels!). The front FaceTime camera now also has a flash that uses the display of the camera using True Tone technology.

Live Photos now also add a small video to the photo, which allows the photo to transform to something that moves.

Apple are also adding a new Android transfer app that they consider the 'neighbourly thing to do'. This allows Android users to transfer much easier.

Prices are still the same of the iPhone 6s, starting at $299 for the 16GB.

Apple are also launching a new iPhone Upgrade Program that entitles you to a new iPhone every year and includes an unlocked iPhone and AppleCare.

The best news, iOS 9 will launch on the 16th September.

The new ad had a slight rip off of the 'Okay Google' adverts but it was very Apple.

To finish

Tim Cook made a really nice tribute to the all the Apple employees and there was, as always, some live music (this time from One Republic) and a song specifically for Tim Cook.

And that is it for another year from Apple.

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