On the iMac Pro’s Apparent DFU Restore Mode »

The T2 chip in the new iMac Pro is doing a lot of stuff, including offering boot protection for macOS:

I assumed this would complicate certain tasks, and it looks like that’s true, as noted in this Configurator 2 support document.

In short, the iMac Pro has a DFU mode, not unlike iOS devices:

In certain circumstances, such as a power failure during a macOS upgrade, an iMac Pro may become unresponsive and must be restored.

To restore an iMac Pro, you need a host Mac running High Sierra and Apple Configurator 2.6, connected to the Internet. A USB cable needs to be run from the unresponsive iMac Pro to the host computer. Configurator will detect the iMac Pro and prompt you to restore and update the iBridge device — the T2 chipset — to working order. Once the update is complete, the iMac Pro will reboot into macOS.

All security measures must be weighed against the inconvenience they cause. Personally, I don’t think this tips in the wrong direction, but I know many will disagree with me.

(I assume that disabling Secure Boot doesn’t do anything to make a restore possible without a second Mac and a copy of Configurator.)

Users with bricked iMac Pros aren’t going to know how to do this, unless they are super nerdy. That may not be a big deal now, but I think it is safe to assume this sort of thing will trickle down to consumer-oriented Macs at some point. That’s not to mention the headaches this may cause in the enterprise.

via Steve Troughton-Smith

Net Neutrality Repealed »

Aja Romano, Vox:

Despite last-minute requests to delay the December 14 vote from some Republican members of Congress, it went through as scheduled, thanks to the support of a much longer list of Republicans who favored the repeal and urged the vote to be held without delay. As had been heavily predicted for months, the vote was split 3-2 along party lines, with the FCC chair Ajit Pai and the other Republican members Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr voting for repeal and Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voting to protect it.

The vote to repeal came in spite of overwhelming bipartisan support for net neutrality from the public, as the FCC was clearly determined to move ahead with the repeal.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

The Lisa »

The Lisa is the computer that Apple used to introduce the GUI and the mouse. It was far too expensive, and after getting booted from the development of the machine, Steve Jobs wandered around the company until he took over the Macintosh project from Jeff Raskin.

The new, smaller computer packed Lisa-inspired technology at a much lower price. Since history honors winners, the Mac is the computer people remember.

That’s not to say the Lisa isn’t worth knowing about. I realized recently the machine’s 35th anniversary is coming up, so I spent a bunch of time researching the computer and it’s ground-breaking software for my column on MacStories this month. It’s on the long side, but if you use a Mac or iOS device, this computer is where much of the magic started.

MiniCast Offers Apple Watch Podcast Playback »

MiniCast is a new iOS and watchOS app that can send a podcast file from Apple Podcasts, Overcast or Pocket Casts to your Apple Watch. Here’s a bit from its launch blog post:

After many many many hours of prototyping, building proof-of-concepts and experimenting with watchOS’ (and iOS’) limitations, we found a way to achieve a “companion-ness” that felt right. On iOS, all features of MiniCast are contained in a single Action Extension. If we could have shipped an Action Extension without a container app, we probably would have. But that’s not possible on the App Store. So there is a container app which guides you through the first steps, how to enable the extension and how to transfer the first test episode. The primary interaction happens directly in the Action Extension in your favorite podcast app.

In short, to get an episode to my Watch, I find it in my podcast client of choice, hit the Share icon, activate the MiniCast action extension and I’m done. The Watch receives a notification that kicks off a download session.

I like this approach; I don’t want to maintain two podcast libraries for the occasional on-the-go listening.

The app works as advertised. I was able to send an episode of Connected to my Watch with just a tap, but MiniCast is plagued with the same problems other solutions have been. Transfer is painfully slow, even on my Series 3 Watch, and playback controls are a little lacking. It took that Connected episode about 11 minutes to transfer.

To be fair, this is on Apple. watchOS just doesn’t have the support needed to build good podcast clients. This is on the top of my wishlist for the next version of watchOS.

Until then, I’m going to keep MiniCast around. It’s free with a $3.99 IAP to unlock its features, and even if it’s a little clunky, it lets me keep my podcasts where I want them, and shuttle one over to the Watch when needed. I’ll just need to remember to transfer files in advance of getting to the gym or lacing up my running shoes.

iMac Pro Orders Now Open 

Well, it’s here. You can now order an iMac Pro. As expected, the base $4,999 model includes:

  • 3.2 GHz 8-core Xeon W CPU with Turbo Boost to 4.2 GHz)
  • 32 GB DDR4 EEC RAM
  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8 GB HBM2 Memory
  • 1 TB SSD

From there, everything is configurable.

CPU Options:

  • 3.2 GHz 8-core with Turbo Boost to 4.2 GHz: Stock
  • 3.0 GHz 10-core with Turbo Boost to 4.5 GHz: +$800
  • 2.5 GHz 14-core with Turbo Boost to 4.3 Ghz: +$1,600
  • 2.3 GHz 18-core with Turbo Boost to 4.3 Ghz: +$2,400

The 14 and 18-core options aren’t shipping until February.

RAM Options:

  • 32 GB DDR4 EEC RAM: Stock
  • 64 GB DDR4 EEC RAM: +$800
  • 128 GB DDR4 EEC RAM: +$2,400

Storage Options:

  • 1 TB SSD: Stock
  • 2 TB SSD: +$800
  • 4 TB SSD: +$2,800

GPU Options:

  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8 GB HBM2 Memory: Stock
  • Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16 GB HBM2 Memory: +$600

Other Options

The machine comes with a Space Gray extended Magic keyboard and Magic Mouse in the box. A Space Gray Magic Trackpad 2 can be swapped for the mouse for an extra $50. To have both will run you $149 more.

The VESA mount adaptor kit is $79. Unlike the Retina iMac, this can be added by the customer; the other iMacs must be ordered VESA-ready or not, and can’t be changed after the fact.

Mercifully, AppleCare+ is the same $169 it is for other iMacs.

Burning a Pile of Money

A fully loaded iMac Pro costs $13,348.

I think a common order will be a 10-core machine with 64 GB of RAM but the stock GPU and SSD. That’s the machine that I’ve had in mind, and it runs $6,748. I know that’s a lot more Mac than I’ve ever had, but I’m having second thoughts:

The Henry Ford Acquires Original 1972 Blue Box »

The Henry Ford, keeper of many of technology’s most important artifacts1 has recently acquired the first project between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak:

Created to make free illegal phone calls, Blue Boxes were the first joint business venture between the two innovators, three years before the founding of Apple Computer Inc. in 1976. The new acquisition joins The Henry Ford’s collection, which also includes an original 1976 Apple I Computer. The Blue Box was purchased at Bonhams’ History of Science and Technology Sale.

“The Blue Box, an early invention of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs gives us insight into two innovators who went on to change the world,” said Patricia Mooradian, president and CEO of The Henry Ford. “At the time when this device was created, they were just young adults who had an unbridled passion for learning how things worked, and making things for their own use. This artifact speaks to ingenuity, curiosity and resourcefulness and fits perfectly within The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation.”

This is very cool, as the blue box was an important step in the formation of Apple.

Workouts++ Adds Podcast Playback to watchOS »

John Voorhees, in his review of the new update:

Workouts++ has come up with a solution that works surprisingly well given the audio API limitations of watchOS. It has a dedicated tab in the iOS app where you can subscribe to your favorite podcasts, which show up in the ‘All’ section of the tab. If you tap on an episode, it downloads and is transferred to your Apple Watch, a process which can take a while. The advantage of downloaded episodes is that there’s a little button on the Watch’s playback screen to skip ahead and back 30 seconds or one minute at a time depending on the length of the episode.

When you start a workout on your Watch, you simply swipe left once to display two sets of podcast episodes. At the top of the view are the downloaded episodes that play immediately when you tap the play button. The remainder of the podcast view lists streamable episodes. Tap one of those episodes and it doesn’t start playing until (at least in my tests) about 4 MB of data has been transferred to the Watch. The initial buffering doesn’t take very long on a good connection, but if you’re headed out for a run, the wait can feel longer than it in fact is.

I still want Overcast on my Watch, but this update from _David Smith is incredible, and the best part is that’s free.

Connected #172: Shazamalo »

This week on Connected:

Myke was surprised by Apple’s Shazam acquisition, Ticci is living that 4K life and Stephen is thinking about an iMac Pro.

We are collecting stories for our year-in-review episode. Please tweet your favorite Apple and tech topics from 2017 with #ConnectedYear and we’ll see them!

My thanks to our sponsors:

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Considering an iMac Pro »

Over on iMore, I’ve written about my justification for an iMac Pro:

I make stuff for a living. While even one of my old PowerBooks is enough computer to blog with, the podcasts and videos I produce follow Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available.” The same is true for computing. No matter how fast my Mac may be, the applications I use will steal every scrap of power available.

My most intense tasks are multithreaded, and the iMac Pro is uniquely suited to crush all other Macs in this type of work. I look forward to seeing the various pricing options on Thursday.