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#931: Storage Space, Old iOS Devices, iOS 8.4


I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend! I spent the long weekend camping with my family, complete with lots of great times with friends around the campfire and out on the water. As much as I love technology and make it a point to always have the newest products from Apple, it is nice to spend time away from it all. Most of the time where my family and I camp there is no internet, much less any cell phone reception. I admit that I get a bit of a thrill out of letting the battery drain on my phone and not bothering to even plug it in again until Sunday evenings when we return home. Technology is all around us, but it’s nice at times to forget about it all and spend a few days just taking in the world around us.

Technology is a powerful tool and often times we forget about the power that it can have as we become so accustomed to just clicking and typing away at our machines. In our service department and retail store we continue to see a rise in customer machines with invasive programs such as MacKeeper installed on their machines without their realizing how this invasive program ended up on their machines. Over the years as avid Apple users we have had little to worry about when it comes to these kinds of problems, and for the most part there is still not a lot of worry. Simply double checking before you download a file is often all that you need to do!

Thank you for reading!


  Storage Space  

There’s a famous quote often incorrectly attributed to Bill Gates back in the early 1980s that “640KB of memory ought to be enough for anyone.” He didn’t actually say it, but the quote has been ubiquitous in computer articles and discussion. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after just over a decade of computing it’s that no amount of memory or storage space is ever enough.

In 2006 I remember the big deal was new laptops were starting to ship with 1GB of RAM. This was a big deal! Almost a decade later there are few modern operating systems that will even run with 1GB of RAM.

Around 2004 my parents got me a new computer that had a 120GB hard drive. This wasn’t giant for the time, but it did seem like it would be hard to fill it.

In 2011 I built a new desktop at home and opted to shift money from a bigger hard drive to a better processor. Instead of springing for 1TB I went with 500GB. Today that machine suffers from lack of disk space.

It really does seem like a universal law that if you have the space, you will fill it. I think when all is said and done my home disk storage space adds up as follows: 500GB disk in my desktop + 120GB disk in my 2007-08 Mac mini, 1TB Seagate mirrored RAID, and the 128GB SSD in my Macbook Air. The 1TB mirrored RAID has become the real workhorse for my home storage. I could’ve built it as RAID0 and had 2TB of storage space, but I wanted mirroring since I was also using this as a destination for several backups including my Macbook Air Time Machine backup.

I’d never had 1TB of free space before, so at first it seemed like I’d never be able to fill it. The Time Machine backup didn’t end up being that big either and it’s grown rather slowly. However, I’ve been getting back into film and sound production and I’ve quickly amassed 10s of gigabytes worth of raw HD video footage. Last time I checked, my 1TB RAID had just under 200GB remaining.

I decided it was time yet again to expand my storage capacity. Since I already had the stable RAID, I went looking for the biggest reliable storage I could find. I was also very interested in Thunderbolt. Now that I have my Macbook Air I can take advantage of Thunderbolt storage. It should be noted that single disk, spinning drives connected via Thunderbolt will ultimately be limited by the speed of the drive itself rather than the Thunderbolt bus. Therefore it’s hard to tell whether a Thunderbolt-connected drive will actually be faster to access than the same drive over USB 3.0. Thunderbolt drives are also more expensive because the controller chipset is still much more expensive than USB 3.0 chipsets.

That being said, I was going to be transferring things to and from my Macbook Air which has the super snappy SSD. I ended up settling on a LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 mobile 2TB drive. I’ve only had it a few days, but I love this drive. First, the construction is excellent. The rubberized cover helps protect it against bumps and LaCie even claims it’s water resistant (I’m not going to test that claim though!). I don’t like portable hard drives with cheap-feeling construction. I like the solid feel in my hand. Second, I do think the Thunderbolt transfer speeds especially off the Macbook to the drive are very good. Since a lot of what I’m moving onto the drive is big HD video files, this is very helpful. I also love the fact that the Thunderbolt cable is integrated into the drive case and is also long enough to be useful. Many portable drives ship with comically short USB connection cables. The Thunderbolt cable on the LaCie is at about a foot long, and tucks away in a slot around the outside of the rubberized case for safe keeping. The drive also comes with a USB 3.0 cable/connection if you want to connect it to an older Mac or PC or anything else.

I know it’s early, but I’ve yet to even make a dent in the space on the LaCie. 2TB should be enough to handle my storage needs for at least a little while.

  Aging iOS Devices  

iOS 9 is on it’s way and I’m super excited! There are all sorts of really great things coming. Of all the features of this upcoming release, I’m most excited about “under the hood refinements”.

I am still using an iPhone 4S and I get a lot of blowback on this from everyone that knows me and all the cutting edge gizmos I have. My iPhone is definitely my most significant and most used device and while I’ve thought a lot about going for a brand new iPhone 6 plus 64GB and adding AppleCare+ to the mix, the price tag has scared me away (I buy my phones outright leaving me free from 2 year contracts and early termination fees). It’s a beautiful device and the speed improvements would be something I feel many times throughout the day.

My poor iPhone 4S 64GB is pushed much harder than most. I’ve got dozens of push notifications coming in every day, sometimes dozens in an hour, on top of that I have several really awesome notification center widgets. This old iPhone from 2011 is a technological marvel. I remember when it was being announced in October of 2011, Steve Jobs was on his deathbed. The iPhone 4S was and remains a truly beautiful device. It’s well built, but its dated hardware struggles (sometimes limping, flailing, or crawling) through every task that I throw at it. I also love the physical size.

The 3.5 inch display was actually a very carefully thought out design decision because it would allow the average human thumb to reach every part of the screen without needing the grip to be repositioned. There’s a feature on the iPhone 6 that addresses that issue. A double tap on the home button (not actually mechanically pushing down on the home button causing it to click) will cause the display, or at least the image on it, to slide down a bit and make it much closer reach. While one handed operation has never been something I’ve needed on my iPad, it doesn’t make sense to me to have a phone that can’t always be used with just one hand.

The small physical size of the iPhone 4S isn’t something that I want to give up, but the speed of the device is definitely making me long for a faster device. The device will routinely freeze up when I’m using an app and I’ll have to quit out of the app by pressing the home button, return to the home screen, quit the app and try again. Sometimes this will be so bad that I’ll have to force reboot the device by pressing the home button and the lock button at the same time until the Apple logo appears and let my poor old iPhone 4S reboot. Even rebooting has become a painful process; it takes over 2 minutes for the device to power back on. Generally this isn’t too bad, but if I’m in the middle of something (like taking a photo or video) it’s a real show stopper that’s sometimes the most frustrating part of my day.

iOS 9 is supposedly going to address these issues with “under the hood refinements”. Copying the marketing directly from Apple’s iOS 9 preview website, these improvements will result in more responsive performance (hopefully this will be an even bigger deal on older devices), easier updates (optimized storage of only what you need for the specific device, rather than one universal app for all devices), and better battery life (more efficient programming means less work for the processor, this also ties back into the more responsive performance).

The fact that iOS 9 is going to be compatible with older devices like the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 means a lot to me. It makes me feel like my older devices are still current and relevant even though they’re missing a few features the newer devices get. Even with those missing features, it’s not like I bought my device with those features and they disappeared. My iPhone does more, works harder, and is more capable than it was when I bought it. Same goes for my iPad 2. I’m happy with my older iOS devices. They meet my needs and I am glad they are still able to roll with the punches.

  iOS 8.4  

iOS 8.4 came out last week and I want to share with you some quick thoughts with you.

Apple Music: One of the biggest reason to download iOS 8.4 is to get access to Apple Music. I plan to write an article all about Apple Music soon but I will not lie, it was the reason I updated my iOS devices. Some quick things you should know about Apple Music is you can try it free for 3 months. A selection of 30+ million songs on your devices is pretty awesome. I recommend giving it a shot.

iBooks Update: iBooks saw a few touch ups including:

  • The ability to listen to audiobooks within the app itself
  • Some new setting option including turn off Auto-Night theme in your library and being able to pre order books in a series from you library
  • New Chinese font

There is off course the traditional bug fixes that each iOS update has. The only warning I have to give you is if you use Home Sharing you will not want to update. iOS 8.4 has disabled Home Sharing and this is not a bug but a deliberate choice made by Apple.

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