Should you get a Retina Macbook Pro…

Yes!

But there are some caveats… Not the ones talked about on other review sites. Who cares about the price!? It’s cheaper than what I would have predicted watching the keynote. It is an investment. I’m playing Skyrim on a 4 year old laptop (more on gaming in a bit). Other than the wine smell it will definitely become an awesome server and backup solution, that will work for years still! I paid that laptop 3000$ and it was worth every penny.

The main problem about the Retina Macbook Pro is the graphics chip. A non-GTX chip, with only 1GB of VRAM! Now I understand a Mobile GTX would overheat, and the VRAM is less important because of the SSD drive. Still, why would Apple mention Diablo 3 in their keynote? This games graphics’ aren’t impressive… Really. I have no trouble believing you can run it at 2880×1800. How about Battlefeild 3 at Ultra? How about Skyrim at Ultra? Of course without anti-aliasing. Forget it!

Anyways, that’s my main throw-down. The glued battery is also a serious problem. It means that in three years, you’ll need to replace the whole bottom of your computer since the battery won’t keep its charge. It will be VERY expensive to swap (think 1000$ more like 200$). I’m not worried about the soldered RAM though, just put 16GB in there and you’ll be good for a while. I’ve rarely experienced long-term RAM problems.

So, Apple still aren’t trying to cater to gamers (I’m being harsh here, playing at 1920×1080 is definitely feasible). But they have made this laptop a WOW device again. It’s been a while since I’ve been WOWed by a laptop, the Air didn’t interest me the least.

What really surprised me is the HDMI port. I would never have guessed that, and it’s just a great thing. Congrats on that!

Final thoughts: I’m waiting for mine, hehe. I just won’t be gaming as much as I wished ūüė¶

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Lets get it straight…

Told ya!

I had to say that. Back in January, I predicted some things about the new Macbook Pro, which were not revolutionary but simply logical. It happens I got three things right. No DVD drive (yay), flash storage on a chip and a wider flash drive form factor (actually sata 3 if I understand right). So, “Told ya!”.

Of course the Mac Pro is keeping the ATI cards. We can all look forward to a refresh on that monster in 2013 (I’ll ponder on that and might post some predictions).

What happens when you spill a glass of wine in your laptop? Stay tuned for some fixing pictures. Finally, if you’ll be making some rj45 connectors, buy the CAT6 ones! They are so easy compared to the older ones. More on this later.

Last minute thought before WWDC 2012

Tomorrow’s WWDC and something just crossed my mind while browsing the Mac Pro page. I really have to get it out there since if I’m right… I’ll be right! Hopefully like my 2800×1600 predictions I posted a while back here (and yes, MacBooks losing the DVD drive, you heard it here first!). So some rumors were floating around about a return to Nvidia for graphic chips. It might make sense on the portable platforms, but what about the Mac Pro (which hopefully will live on).

I’ve been doing a lot of hash cracking lately (don’t ask) and looking at many benchmarks, but also a lot of real world numbers. The GTX 680 really sucks at crunching numbers, but it’s not surprising though. At the GPU Technology Conference opening talk, Nvidia stated that GeForce cards were now solely aimed at gaming, and all efforts on data crunching would go to the Tesla lineup. We all know how Apple works very hard to promote gaming on the Mac… [crickets]… [more crickets]… [thousands of tumbleweed passing by]…

Aaaanyways, lets put 1 and 2 together, shall we? Apple loves OpenCL… They’re integrating that tech into most of their software… GeForce cards don’t perform as much as ATI on OpenCL… Tesla cards rock on OpenCL… Let’s puff some smoke in here and turn on the lasers!

P-R-E-D-I-C-T-I-O-N TIME!

Either the Mac Pro keeps ATI cards, or it gets a Tesla card! [even more crickets]…

That was it. No really, I hyped it up a little too much didn’t I? I’ll try harder next time. Have a great WWDC!

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What should you be playing right now (mac)?

Schools over for me, and I’ve had lots of time to get into games again (hurray!). Other than getting back into Skyrim and digging my teeth into Tribes: Ascend, I think OS X gamers will have a great summer. Here are a couple of personal suggestions.

If you haven’t played yet, Bastion is now out for the Mac. It’s got 29000 recommendations on Steam, was nominated in many awards and won 2 of them at GDC 2012. It’s a game full of soul, with narrating playing a huge part in bringing this gem to life. You absolutely deserve this! And it’s really cheap too.

Since my brother sucks at Tribes (sigh… nOOb), I’ve been playing lots of Team Fortress 2. It’s free to play, but not how you would imagine. You¬†actually¬†don’t need to pay anything! I’ve been playing for at least a whole year, haven’t put a dime into it, and am often a top player during a match!? This game is really fun, well-balanced,¬†competitive¬†and since it’s free, makes for some memorable killing with family and friends.

Torchlight 2… It’s not out for the mac yet. It wont be at launch time (don’t worry, the team at Runic Games is just too small to tackle both PC and OS X versions at the same time), but it will be out probably mid summer. This is an absolute buy. At 20$ it’s a steal, and again will be a blast to kill monsters in their co-op mode.

AirMech is a fun, free to play, strategic, top down robot killing RTS action… thing? It’s not natively ported to Mac and is still in beta, but if you have a google account, you can play it free on the Chrome Store. It’s well worth it, though you’ll need a good machine to run it (a 2-year-old mac should be quite enough).

These are just a few picks, but all of them are worth it. Of course there’s always Civ 5 as a must go-to and the new expansion seems awesome.

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Privacy with Safari

What plugins do you use?

Here’s my setup: Ad-Block, Ghostery and Cookies (which deletes all cookies when Safari closes, even the flash ones).

      

P.S. Ghostery will make it impossible for me to know if you’ve visited my blog… Or should! If you’ve installed it, and want to be sure, drop me a line. It would be interesting to see if it truly works (it works for me, but I’m admin so WordPress doesn’t list my viewings). Even though I get less stats, you get more privacy. Which is a win for you, and I use it personally so why not share!?

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NVIDIA’s idea of 3 OS’s…

What’s this you ask? Glad you asked! It’s a slide presented by NVIDIA during its unveiling of the new GeForce GTX 690. An impressive piece of hardware to say the least. Why is it posted here though? Well something NVIDIA’s president and co-founder,¬†Jen-Hsun Huang, said during this conference struck me…

“The situation is incredibly daunting. There are tens of CPUs. There are tens of GPUs. There are multiple resolutions. There are multiple operating systems; Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 coming out. And there’s incredible numbers of drivers.”

Wait, what?

“[…] They’re multiple operating systems; Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 coming out.”

Ahem, wow? I mean, we all know Mac gaming isn’t huge, but I can live with that. I don’t even mind NVIDIA not working with Apple. But what about Linux? Seriously, as president of a huge PC hardware company, how close minded can you be? I can’t believe what I just heard (it’s at about 6:10 in the video if you feel like hearing this… wonderful statement). If I was a Linux user I’d be pissed right now. I actually am, the penguin needs more love!

I guess Valve will be teaming up with ATI for its Steam distribution… wink wink.

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OSX Application Remover Review

Some of you may know that applications leave files behind when you drag them in your trash. Most of these are .plist (preference lists) or caches located in the Application Support folder (in your Library). There are quite a few tools out there that hunt down these files, and deletes them for you when you decide to remove an application. I personally use AppCleaner, but I thought it would be interesting to compare the different offerings that are available.

Removing .plists is definitely not required when using OS X, but I like to keep things tidy. There is also a good reason to keep those files around though, since if you ever choose to reinstall an app, it’s settings and preferences will be intact if it can find its old plist file. Bear in mind that this is in no way an in-depth review, but is intended as a good overview. Without further ado…

I present the tools (I included the versions available when writing this overview and all pricing in USD):

     

Feature set

Almost all the apps offer to remove widgets, plugins and preference pane entries. For AppCleaner, AppDelete and AppZapper, it pretty much boils down to that. Amnesia adds an option to remove ScreenSavers and to back up/restore your apps.

To access these features in iTrash, you need to double-click on the trash logo (thanks to Atarikid for pointing this out). I would expect a more intuitive way of accessing these features in upcoming versions. iTrash also removes lost plists files, which is a great addition I have been wanting for a long time! It will also run in Ghost Mode, which is a very neat, albeit slow, way to automatically scan for related files when moving an application to the trash. I wish it would use more CPU processing so the window could pop-up faster (this seems like a design decision and not a problem per-say). Finally, there is an expert mode, which finds even more files (I did not use this mode during my tests).

CleanApp doesn’t remove plugins nor widgets, but catches up with a wealth of other features. It can find duplicate files, clean really old files, can scan your drive to display the biggest folders, it can scan all your apps for unnecessary language packs, scan for cache files and the list goes on (there are simply too many features unrelated to deleting applications to list them all here). For the purpose of this review, I will solely concentrate on cleaning app-related files.

Simply looking at the feature set, Amnesia seems over priced. It is the most expensive of the bunch, but doesn’t offer compelling features to justify its price… Lets test these out now.

Testing

I will be simulating an uninstall of pro apps Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Digidesign Pro-Tools. In addition, I will test more common apps such as Skype, Chrome, Firefox and Steam (that should be interesting).

When scanning for related files, AppZapper and CleanApp were¬†extremely¬†fast (almost instantaneous results). AppCleaner, AppDelete and iTrash displayed results in a very reasonable time and Amnesia was slow… very slow…

  • For Lightroom iTrash displayed a whooping 63 results, offering to remove every single preference file for the whole Adobe suite… Wow! Amnesia reported 12 results including my Lightroom data folder! That’s simply unacceptable. AppDelete returns 8 good results, AppCleaner 6 (it misses the Application Support folder), AppZapper 5 and CleanApp 4 (both failing to detect .savedstate and .lockfile files).
  • For Photoshop iTrash again takes the lead with 68 results, and again would clear all my settings for the whole Adobe suite… AppCleaner displays 53, but these are mainly irrelevant, since they are all in the Photoshop folder. AppZapper shows 45, and just like AppCleaner counts every plugin inside the Photoshop folder as a unique item,¬†Amnesia 11, AppDelete 6, CleanApp 5.
  • Scanning Pro Tools was interesting. iTrash does it’s thing again and returns 16 results that are actually relevant this time around ¬†(it identified many log files and a cache folder). Amnesia’s scan took longer than all the other apps’ combined (including the time for AppZapper to crash and for me to relaunch it). It returned 5 results. AppCleaner, AppDelete, AppZapper (after the initial crash of course) and CleanApp all returned the same 3 results.
  • For Skype, Amnesia’s scan is still slow and it’s 12 results are questionable, since it identified 2 Skype installer .dmg files in my Downloads directory… AppCleaner, AppDelete and iTrash find 7 related files. AppZapper 6 and CleanApp 5.
  • Now onto Chrome, iTrash wins this one with 10¬†actually relevant results. Amnesia gets 9. AppCleaner and AppDelete 8, AppZapper doesn’t identify any of the Chrome folders and returns a mere 4 items as is the same with CleanApp and it’s 3 results. Amnesia, AppCleaner, AppDelete and iTrash all successfully show .savedstate and .lockfile items.
  • When testing Firefox Amnesia returns 8 items (it misses the .growlticket and includes 2 installation dmg files… I’m still not sure what I think of that). AppCleaner, AppDelete and iTrash return the same 7 files. AppZapper misses the .growlticket and returns 6 results. CleanApp only returns 5 results (it fails to find the .growlticket and the .lockfile).
  • Finally we get to Steam. Amnesia finds 7 items (including the installation dmg, plists and some logs). AppDelete identifies 3 items. AppCleaner, AppZapper, CleanApp and iTrash all report the same 2 results (the app itself and the Steam Application Support folder).

Overall feel and interface

As an AppCleaner user, I actually like how it works and its interface. It resembles AppDelete, AppZapper and iTrash in many ways. AppDelete displays it’s results in a separate black-styled window, which I didn’t like. AppZapper feels nice and it’s interface is clean, but it only shows you filenames (you have to mouse-over a filename and wait for a tool-tip for the file path), which I don’t like. iTrash is also pretty similar to the others, but uses an unintuitive way to display more options (double-clicking on its trash icon). Amnesia is ugly and hasn’t been updated to the Lion Aqua interface. It is also unbearably slow. CleanApp is a different beast. I really like how it displays a thermometer beside the files it found, displaying how confident it is about each result. Very useful. It’s window is unbearably large though.

The Losers

You’ve probably guessed it by now. I would stay away, far away, from iTrash and Amnesia. Amnesia is the most expensive and it sucks. It feels like a Panther app, it is painstakingly slow and was going to delete years of pictures and personal data when removing Lightroom. Amnesia fails miserably.

iTrash is pretty good at finding stuff… too good actually! When I delete an application, I don’t feel like sifting through pages of false-positives to select the few real results. I want an app that always shows good results, an app that I can trust wont break my workflow. iTrash might be a good fit for control-freaks who want to spend a lot of time analyzing what applications are leaving behind, while running the risk of breaking your system. I am not that person.

I had high hopes for AppZapper, but it simply doesn’t live up to its price tag. At 12.95$ it is the third most expensive app, but fails to find many relevant files, and doesn’t offer any additional features to justify its price. I would definitely skip this one.

Honorable mentions

AppDelete is really good at finding stuff, yet is always on the safe side. It’s price tag is fully justified, and even though I don’t like how it displays results, I think it’s a great app. I trust this one completely. If finding more plists when removing an application is worth a few bucks for you, then this is the app you need!

I hesitated a long time if I were to include CleanApp as an honorable mention. This article focuses on identifying and removing left-over files from applications, which is CleanApps’ biggest down-side. It misses a lot of files… It is actually the worst at finding related files. The app itself is amazingly powerful though, and the price is right. If you don’t mind many files left behind when uninstalling stuff, and are looking for a great overall cleanup application (a great companion to Onyx for example), I would absolutely give CleanApp a go. It simply can’t be seen as an app remover in itself though. Some more work on its detection algorithm would make this an insta-buy.

The Winner

Nothing can beat free, especially when it works exactly as expected.¬†Don’t expect any bells and whistles here, AppCleaner does exactly as its name implies, and does it well. It doesn’t find as many files as iTrash or AppDelete, but it’s really close and every single identified file and folder during this test was relevant. It earns the SlowTech awesomest number 1 champion award of the best application remover app.

SlowTech recommendation: AppCleaner

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Spring cleaning your Mac

So I got up this morning and the birds were chirping, the sun was up full heat while I drank my coffee, and then I realized only 15 GB were left on my user partition! Time for spring cleaning, plus some well overdue backing up.

Every time it gets to this, I use the same set of tools (all free except for ChronoSync and iPartition, both of which aren’t necessary for an in depth cleanup). Here are the apps, in the order I use them:

               

  • OmniDiskSweeper will scan your drive and nicely display what folders use up the most data.
  • AppCleaner will help you uninstall apps completely. Most applications leave plist files and other logs behind, AppCleaner finds those and deletes them for you.
  • Onyx is the swiss army knife of OS X optimization and fixing. There is simply so much stuff in here, it is a must!
  • iDefrag¬†is a great tool to defragment your hard-drive. It will optimize kernel file placement for faster boot-up times.¬†Paid app.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool for backing up your boot partitions.
  • ChronoSync is best at backing up, synchronizing and archiving data. Paid app.


How I go about it:

First and foremost, I launch my RAID 5 drive to store my backups and big/important/Document files (it’s a¬†OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2. It rocks!).¬†I back up my boot partition using Carbon Copy Cloner, just in case. Then, using OMNIDiskSweeper I will scan my partitions.¬†I don’t necessarily delete files with the app itself, I use it as a guide to help identify huge folders. It also helps find locations where you wouldn’t have looked, such as Adobe Encore’s Render folder using up 40 GB… I go through my Downloads folder and pretty much trash everything that is older than 2/3 months and that doesn’t ring a bell. I also move a of stuff to the aforementioned drive, using a great and revolutionary tool called cut and paste… Thank you Lion.

Next up is AppCleaner, which will help deleting old and unused apps. Finally, you can empty your trash… This will probably take a couple of days if you are removing a lot of files. You can spend the next few days swearing at Locum! See update…

If you haven’t decided to throw your mac away after realizing how daunting and painful it is to simply remove files… Congratulations, you win patience! Now the fun part, Onyx. Did I mention Onyx is great? It’s awesome! First let it scan your SMART status and your startup partition. It’s a pretty easy tool to use, but I’ll go through some of the steps. Oh wait, my startup volume is corrupted! Probably because emptying the trash froze my computer… Thank you Lion! Well if the same happens to you it’s pretty simple. Restart holding cmd-r, select the disk utility, select your main drive and click repair. Then select your boot partition and repair. While you’re at it you should repair your disk permissions. Do the same to all your partitions.

Now back in Onyx you can skip the verify tab, under Maintenance and Scripts, select execute. These are completely safe to run. Next up is the cleaning tab. I would run all the tabs before restarting your computer, but make sure to read what each option does. Most defaults are safe, but double-check to make sure. Once all the cleaning is done, reboot and voil√†! Of course Onyx has many more fun options, but they aren’t about cleaning so I’ll let you discover those yourself.

If you have the time, defragmenting your boot up drive would be a good idea, though beware this can take a¬†really long time. I really recommend Coriolis’ iDefrag. It works wonders.

OK, now I really prefer having clean and optimized backups, so I’ll backup my OS using CCC again (I delete the backup we did earlier). Then, I use ChronoSync for my document folder, my pictures etc… I like it because I can tell it to keep files I have deleted locally, and to archive older files which I’ve modified. Even though that might not be as relevant since Lion saves histories of file edits, but I prefer being safe than sorry.

Update: Well well well, just as I was going to send a bug report about Locum to Apple, I decided to make sure I wasn’t securely emptying my trash… Ouch! I was! I apologize for spreading false… hate-blog? on locum. So let’s make my horrendous mistake constructive at least! If emptying your trash is slow and takes up a lot of CPU, maybe your always securily emptying your trash. To make sure, go to the Finder preferences, to the advanced tab, and uncheck the “Empty trash securily” if it’s checked.

If you ever want to securely empty your trash, “command + right-click” the trash icon, and it will display the “Secure Empty Trash” button. Easy as that.

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Game publishers: “Houston, we have a problem?”

If Kickstarter could speak, I think this is what it would say:

“Game developers, meet fan base.”

“Fan base, meet game developers.”

Game publishing has changed and there is no going back. For good or for worst we’ll see, but I would lean towards good. If you’ve missed out on all the Double Fine fun, worry not, Wasteland 2 will be coming soon. With your help, it might even make it to Mac! I think this is one of the most interesting things that has happened to the video game industry since Steam and the Indie revolution. Lets dig deeper…

One of the first thing that struck me about both Double Fine and Wasteland 2 is the fact that both games offer DRM free versions. The publishers want to make buyers feel bad when they download illegal copies of games, but in reality, all they are hurting are the huge wallets that have refused to publish games we want to play and that game developers want to create! Or worst, ruin old classics! Take X-Com for a tragic example.

If you aren’t sure what a DRM free download is, well basically you can take the game, create a torrent and share it with the world. It will work! I am definitely not encouraging you do that, but it’s interesting to see how game studios don’t care about it. All they care about is making fun games, and live decently off of¬†that. Which to me sounds respectful.

A comparison to iTunes could be made here, which changed the way people buy music. Publishers lost big because of Napster, but they lost even bigger because anyone can self-publish on iTunes. The same can be said about Steam. The stupid middle-man (suit clad publisher), who will measure a game’s quality by the amount of copies sold, can now be skipped all-together.

Or can it? Indies have used Kickstarter in the past, but also Alpha version pre-orders and other ways to fund they’re games. What the system brings is a way to fund more expensive games, or bigger teams, who have a product people have been waiting for. I would tend to think this funding method will get more and more popular with time.

So they lived happily ever after?

Not so quick. As many have mentioned, all it takes is for one huge scam and everyone will most definitely back away… or will they? I can already imagine a game-oriented Kickstarter-like page on Steam. That would be awesome. So even if Amazon fails (and they definitely will take any steps required so it doesn’t happen), the crowd-sourced funding method will not.

Finally, what’s great about this phenomenon is the games aren’t even sold yet. The game studios will make even more money once the sales start. I bet you they’ll make enough for a couple of updates and maybe even patches/DLC. In the end, publishers will always be there for huge titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty, but could you imagine the next Skyrim being funded this way? ABSOLUTELY.

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What I think of Safari

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Update:¬†I’ve just updated to 5.1.4, which should¬†give 11% better JavaScript performance and fix a cookie issue I’ve had for so long. I’m crossing my fingers it actually helps. Since the update, my CPU monitoring seems a lot more reasonable. Coincidence? I would have to believe the update does help. What was I thinking!?

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