‘Cheesegraters and Crystals’ »

Dr. Drang, weighing in on the design of the Mac Pro’s air vents:

This isn’t just marketing blather. The hole are a negative-space representation of a common atomic arrangement in metallic crystals, something that most engineers learn about in their introductory materials science class.

While I never took an introductory materials science class, this article helped me visualize the Mac Pro’s design better than anything else I’ve read about it.

Apple Opens Mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Recall, Urges Customers to Stop Using Machines »

Apple has just launched a repair program for the Mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it sounds really serious:

Apple today announced a voluntary recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk. The units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and can be identified by their product serial number.
The recall does not affect any other 15-inch MacBook Pro units or other Mac notebooks.

Because customer safety is a top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using affected 15-inch MacBook Pro units. Customers should visit apple.com/support/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall for details on product eligibility and how to have a battery replaced, free of charge.

The service page has more details:

Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. Affected units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and product eligibility is determined by the product serial number.

Please open that page and run your serial number if you are using one of these laptops.

Liftoff #101: Behind the Back Fence »

This week on Liftoff:

The Artemis Budget is becoming more and more real, as NASA promotes the number of companies involved in building its hardware. Elsewhere, ESA is preparing to go to Jupiter with the JUICE robotic mission and Bigelow has big plans for the ISS.

So. Much. Space. News.

My thanks to our sponsors:

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Connected #248: There Will Be Consequences »

This week on Connected:

Federico and Stephen are joined by David Sparks to talk about the state of Apple’s current betas, the updated Files and Shortcuts apps and the ever-growing system of rules that form Connected’s drafts.

My thanks to our sponsors:

  • Bombas: The most comfortable socks in the history of feet. Use this link for 20% off.
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36 Seconds »

Shelly Brisbin has published an audio documentary about accessibility and the iPhone:

From the moment Steve Jobs announced it in 2007, anticipation for the first iPhone was off the charts. And when it shipped? Customers lined up around their local Apple stores; some arriving days before the phones could be bought.

But the hype and hysteria left one group of cell phone users out – if you had a disability, the new hotness was just a cold, unresponsive rectangle of plastic and glass.

This is the story of how that changed in June of 2009, and what it has meant to people who are blind, have a hearing disability, or experience motor delays.

I started it this morning and can’t wait to wrap it up this evening.

On the Mac Pro, the G4 Cube and Their Shared Vent Design 

In a recent episode of ATP, the guys spoke about a conversation that was overheard at WWDC between Tim Cook and Jony Ive that included an interesting detail of the holes in the front and back of the new Mac Pro:

Then there’s video Marco posted on Twitter, in which Ive appears to compare the opening of the Mac Pro to the Cube:

In short, it seems that the vents on the new machine came from a design rooted in the era of the G4 Cube, nearly 20 years ago. There was speculation that a different route was taken due to cost.

As you can see in this image by John Siracusa, the openings on the new Mac Pro are quite complex and probably expensive to manufacture:

Here’s how Apple describes this design:

The lattice pattern on the Mac Pro is based on a naturally occurring phenomenon in molecular crystal structures. A network of three-dimensional interlocking hemispheres, it increases the surface area, optimizing airflow and structural rigidity.

To create the structure, a spherical array is machines onto the internal and external surfaces of the aluminum. The result is a lightweight lattice pattern that maximizes airflow while creating an extremely rigid structure.

This video on Apple’s website shows it well:

Here’s where the G4 Cube comes in. This morning, I saw a tweet from Huxley Dunsany, complete with a macro shot of the underside of the Cube:

From the bottom, these vents do look very much like what’s on the Mac Pro, perhaps the subject of the comments between Ive and Cook.

As I have a G4 Cube in my collection, I decided to do have a closer look. I pulled the core out of mine and removed the video card to take a closer look at this area from the back:

While the design from the outside is very similar to the Mac Pro, to my eye, it is not quite the same. The new machines uses hemispherical cuts, while the design on the Cube is created by two overlapping flat components. There are no fancy hemispherical cuts here.

The vents in the rear of the PowerMac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) are constructed in a similar fashion, just with much bigger openings, as you can see on the right of this photo:

And from inside the machine:

No fancy hemispherical cuts here, either; just two sets of flat, off-set holes.

Apple may have been playing with what would become the vents on the new Mac Pro nearly 20 years ago, but the construction of them seems to be all-new.

Ungeniused #81: High Fives »

This week on Ungeniused:

High fives can be used as a rad greeting or a sick burn, and they can even help you keep from getting sick.

This may be my favorite episode of Ungeniused in quite a while. Don’t miss the “up high; down low” segment.

My thanks to our sponsor:

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Syncing an iPod with macOS Catalina 

With the breakup of iTunes, the USB-based syncing of iPods and iOS devices has been moved into Finder. While I am fully on the Apple Music train, there are many users who still plug in their devices to move media onto them, and I’m glad macOS Catalina has been engineered with those users in mind.

When you plug in an iPod to a Mac running Catalina, the device appears in the Finder sidebar,1 and clicking it reveals a wide range of syncing options, organized in a much nicer fashion that what is found in iTunes 12:

As you would imagine, each section in this interface surfaces content across various apps on the system. For example, Finder sees the local files I have in the new Music app:

The same is true for videos. Here, I have a local file that I simply dragged from Finder into the TV app, and Finder sees it, ready to sync it to my iPod:

If all of this seems a bit simple and obvious, it is. Apple’s done a good job at keeping support for its older media ecosystem intact, just tucked away out of sight so the new one can shine.


  1. In this example, I am using a 7th-generation iPod nano. Even though Finder has Disk Mode disabled, the iPod still shows up as a mass storage device. I’m assuming that’s a bug in this early beta. I would have used one of my much older iPods, but my Catalina test machine is a 12-inch MacBook, so I can’t adapt back to FireWire with it. 

Kbase Article of the Week: Mac Pro (Early 2008 to Mid 2012): About the PCI Express Slots »

Apple Support:

PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), or PCI-E, is a newer implementation of PCI which uses a much faster physical-layer communications protocol than older PCI bus architectures.

Rather than using a bus as PCI did, PCI Express uses dedicated, unidirectional, point-to-point connections known as “lanes” to communicate with PCI Express devices.

The first generation of Mac Pro came with a program named Expansion Slot Utility:

I wonder if the new one will come with something similar…

Update: I guess so: