I installed MacOS 10.9 (aka Mavericks) the day after it became available. Ars Technica has a fantastic and obsessively detailed review of Mavericks, so I’ll continue just with my own experiences. As of this date, its second dot-release 10.9.2 is in testing.
For me, Mavericks has pros and cons. On the plus side, there is a noticeable improvement in the computer’s performance – it seems ‘snappier.’ Fewer ‘lags’ when you scroll windows, that sort of thing. Also, font-rendering is better, much clearer.
On the minus side, there’s sometimes a performance issue relating to how quickly the contents of directories to show up in a Finder window. I’ve only seen it in column-view in the Finder (as opposed to list view or the icon view). When I’m saving a file attachment from an email or printing a Web page to PDF and navigating to a folder to save it, it sometimes will take as long as 10 seconds for the list of contents to appear. I don’t know what causes this – maybe an underlying change somewhere inside the operating system. Only in Column view. A little annoying but not a show-stopper.
I am also experiencing an egregious bug.
With my particular model of machine, there is a graphics issue that many users of that model have been experiencing, and it is absolutely as a result of Mavericks. I have a Mid-2010 MacBook Pro 15 inch, Apple model ID 6,2 (see **** below). The Intel I5 processor has in-chip graphics, but also, there’s a separate nVidia graphics card. If you set System Preferences > Energy Saver > Automatic Graphics Switching for better battery life, it forces all graphics rendering to the Intel processor. If you set it for “better performance”, it uses the nVidia.
By doing the former, many users, myself included, experience an issue where the drop-shadows surrounding application and Finder windows don’t render correctly. Instead of shadows, they are sharp lines. By doing the latter, the problem goes away, but battery life suffers slightly (not too bad, maybe 10%). But that’s not the point. Mavericks, in effect, has broken my computer. I shouldn’t have to rely upon a work-around.
I’ve been participating in several Apple discussion threads and other users also have this issue. This apparently is model-specific – everyone on these threads has the same MacBook Pro model, and nobody seems to be reporting this for any other model.
Apple is aware of the issue – to the extent that they have a pre-defined test for it in their retail stores. Also, they are replacing MacBook Pro motherboards (“Logic Boards”) for this issue, at no charge. In my case, it was replaced at no charge even though my machine is >3 years old and out of the AppleCare warranty altogether. On one hand, this is above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty customer service (I couldn’t imagine Dell or HP doing this, let alone a big-box retailer/reseller). On the other hand, Apple has made no formal acknowledgement or response to the issue – and I’m hoping that this issue is resolved on the next dot-release (10.9.2), which apparently is already in beta.
Many of the people with this issue, including myself, have also reported the problem to Apple’s Feedback ‘suggestion box’ which Apple engineers apparently actually look at. Also, I am a registered Apple developer and I’ve submitted this as a bug.
Other than this, there is no impact on the actual functioning of my machine other than the improvements that I mentioned at the outset, and the graphics issue. Which I can turn off by changing the ‘Energy Saver’ setting.
**** You can find out your model number by going to Apple Menu > About this Mac > More Info > System Report – and then read the Hardware Overview: “Model Identifier”)
This week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both reported on efforts being mounted by Google to launch an “Internet cable TV service” (an oxymoron). Joining Intel, Sony, Microsoft, Apple and others. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Intel is on the record as hoping to launch its own consumer Internet TV service, although in my opinion – even if they DO launch a service, which they insist they will – a service is not Intel’s true intention in that space. Instead, it’s another market-seeding effort – which Intel has done in the past with set-top box reference designs and software SDKs to drive that industry’s adoption of Intel processors. In other words, a retail TV service might be the icing on a different cake.
For years, Apple TV has been Apple’s entry into the streaming video player market space, and the TV vector of Apple’s device-content-software ecosystem. After many rumors have come and gone, Apple is now reportly “playing nice” in the pay TV industry sandbox. People forget that Apple has been on the side of Big Media for years. The same strategy worked for them with the music industry a decade ago. Also, most pay TV operators, premium pay TV programmers and TV networks offer apps designed to work on iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch devices (and on the Mac via a Web browser). Steve Jobs became the largest shareholder of The Walt Disney Company when he sold Pixar to them. And now, Sky News, ESPN, HBO Go (among others) have launched apps designed expressly for Apple TV. Bottom line, Apple is both a friend and a friendly distribution channel; not a threat.
Then there are Sony and Microsoft. Over the past year, reports have had both of them taking runs of their own at being “Internet TV providers.” Sony’s effort sounds ambitious, but the rumor mill had gone quiet. They’d have some chance, by virtue that Sony is a media company (Sony Pictures) and the PlayStation is a content ecosystem; not just a game platform.
AT&T offered a special kit for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, to make it compatible with AT&T U-verse IPTV, although sales of that add-on have been suspended. Microsoft also offers branded apps from Comcast, Verizon and a number of TV programmers via Xbox Live. But Microsoft’s efforts to launch its own TV service by negotiating directly with TV programmers ran onto the rocks.
I was originally inspired to write this article because I started thinking how Google might have a better chance than any of these competitors. The TV networks are distrought over the fact that audience measurement for online video is not comprehensive, making advertisers leery of advertising in that medium. Meanwhile, 97% of Google’s revenue is from online advertising, so you’d think they’re onto something (See *** below). But a number of other TV programming distributors offer online platforms and already have relationships with the networks. Also, Google would expect a share of any ad revenue and is no friend of pay TV or broadband providers, particularly in cities where Google is building its own broadband service.
Not to mention that Google has taken other runs at the TV opportunity, most notably with Google TV, a noteworty technology that happened to be one of the great failures of high-tech marketing. Google TV cost Logitech millions of dollars, and their CEO his job. For its part, Google did nothing to correct the misperception that Google TV was a service, instead of the TV middleware that it actually was. [ Update July 26: Google has launched yet another TV device, Chromecast ]
So, here’s how I rank their chances at launching and sustaining an online TV service:
- Google: 0%, for having alienated the TV industry, which is highly resistant to change
- Microsoft: 0%, because they don’t instill confidence that they can succeed. Consider the recent launches of Windows 8, Xbox One, Surface, Windows Phone, and Microsoft’s exit of the IPTV middleware category (Mediaroom) only after becoming a leading supplier.
- Sony: 50% because they are working with TV industry players and because they are a content owner themselves. Also, they are in the process of revitalizing the Playstation ecosystem. [ Note: I previously was saying they had a 10% chance. ]
- Intel: 50%, because they appear to be trying to work within the parameters of the TV industry. If the retail service fails, it’s not the end because a service is only part of Intel’s true agenda despite what they say.
- Apple: 100% if they collaborate with the pay TV industry. Apple’s ecosystem is the broadest and deepest (albeit sans games). Also, Apple gets credit for having saved the music distribution industry’s bacon.
Samsung is a huge wild-card here. They have a device and in-home distribution product ecosystem and have been successful in extending Android into something useful, but Samsung has not announced any intentions of their own, other than partnering with content companies and distributors (pay TV, Redbox Instant and a few others)…
*** I’ve begun to think of Google Search, Android and Chrome as ad-malware. But that’s a whole ‘nother rant, for the next episode of “Why can’t I download that Android app without accepting its terms to track my location and phone usage?” I’m saying to myself “Get over it or switch!” and from my tone, you might guess my decision.
In recent months, lots of buzz has been building across the business and industry press about Intel Corporation’s work-in-progress toward an OTT TV service. A recent Reuters report said that Intel does plan to introduce a consumer service this year, but is struggling to close content deals, even though it is offering a premium for the programming.
So, what if Intel fails to achieve its content goals and the service never launches? Perhaps this Intel OTT strategy might actually be the “nice to have” layer on top of Intel’s true intent, which follows a proven Intel formula. Read the rest of this article on Telecompetitor Plus (Premium Content)
This week, the FCC unanimously approved a reform of its Universal Service Fund into the Connect America Fund. One of its stipulations is that communications carriers will be required to offer broadband access to anyone that requests it. It also defines broadband speeds as 4mbps downstream and 1mbps upstream.
It’s a step in the right direction, although, according to a 2010 study by Oxford University, funded by Cisco, the U.S. still ranks just 15th worldwide in broadband. The study cites the leader, South Korea, as having 100% broadband penetration at an average speed of 35mbps.
In today’s American political climate, we can only hope that common sense prevails in the broadband arena, and that this modernization of the Universal Service Fund holds up. The old Bell System chartered itself to serve only urban areas, which is why rural residents can thank the U.S. government for mandating funding – a program with roots in the 1930s – to help ensure rural service. But, like today’s health care debacle, many rural people are likely to be hoodwinked into voting against their own self interests and oppose universal broadband as a wasteful socialist program.
Mea Culpa note: I posted a blog entry a few weeks ago when it began to circulate that Intel had pulled the plug on its Atom (CE4100, CE4200) chip sets. In fact, only the marketing team was dissolved and reassigned. According to reliable sources, the chips themselves are alive and well, and the next-generation 51xx dual-core series are in the hands of outside developers, with the first new products coming in the CES 2012 time-frame. That’s what I get for succumbing to sensationalism.
Update, October 28, 2011: According to reliable sources contacted after this blog entry was posted, only Intel’s Digital Home Group (the Marketing team) was dissolved and reassigned. The Atom chips themselves are alive and well. In fact, the next-generation 51xx dual-core series are in the hands of outside developers, and the first new products based on them are coming in the CES 2012 time-frame.
(Original Post: October 13, 2011) It’s interesting and unfortunate that Intel seems to have (suddenly) exited the Atom STB processor business – The CE4100 ‘Sodaville’ and CE4200 ‘Groveland’ chips. You’da thought it was a healthy business, given the effort and expense Intel put into promoting it just last month at IBC. A sizable booth, and about a half-dozen commercial implementations on display – and if it’s true, this move likely left these implementations in an awkward position.
It’s strange timing, just as the platform was beginning to get some market traction. The Boxee Box uses it. Logitech and Sony built GoogleTV devices around it. Amino built its Freedom product line around it, including a custom–built an Atom-based box for Telecom Italia. Not to mention Comcast and DirecTV and their upcoming Atom-based set-tops. But these chips were much more expensive than other STB chips and never got to real volume as a result.
From the initial news reports, it has not been clear if Intel has stopped taking orders for the chips altogether, or has only ended proactive marketing for them. Intel’s apparent exit follows in the tracks of (a couple weeks ago) Intel pulling out of MeeGo, which is the environment that Intel had been pitching to STB co’s for these chips. Now MeeGo has been merged with Limo, to expand its scope and shift it toward HTML5 (not a bad thing, but disruptive for developers).
Just goes to prove my old theory. In the end, so many companies always revert to “safe” businesses when the chips are down (and that’s literally, in the case of the Atom line). For Intel, it’s always been about the chips – the money they put into vertical markets such as TV are tactical marketing programs, not strategic.
Then there’s Cisco, which buys S-A and later sells its Mexican STB factory to Foxconn. Nobody’s quite sure what the story with Cisco’s Videoscape is, but its lead executive resigned. Cisco always goes back to its core networking businesses.
Google and Google TV? The Google TV platform was also implemented on ARM-architecture chips, so that platform itself is not in jeopardy with Intel’s exit. But (without going into the tangent about what Google might have planned for the platform after the Motorola Mobility acquisition), Motorola’s IPTV set-tops are Broadcom and Sigma (MIPS architecture) based. So (correct me if I’m wrong), wouldn’t GoogleTV have to be ported to MIPS in order to run on these Motorola boxes, if it hasn’t been ported already? That could make it a long wait.