The Latest macOS Update Does This, and It’s Not a Good Idea

I just install the latest macOS update on my iMac. After it restarted, it showed me this:

Icloud files

While this is a useful feature for some people, it can be problematic, because it’s not clear which files are in the cloud and which are local. It’s very easy to accidentally delete files with this feature.

In addition, I only have 1 Mbps upload, so sending those 9 GB to iCloud would cripple my internet for a couple of days. And I recall when I accidentally turned this feature on when it was released, it was very difficult to turn it off without losing my files.

It’s a very bad idea to present this feature to users with the option checked by default. This should be an opt-in feature, not an opt-out feature. I predict that many users will run into problems with their files because they see this dialog, and click Continue without really thinking about it. They’ll see the bit about saving space, without understanding the consequences. If you haven’t updated, I recommend you don’t turn on this feature, at least not until you better understand how it works. Here’s an article I wrote when this feature was introduced.

If I were really cynical, I’d say that Apple is doing this to get people to spend more on iCloud storage…

Note: a commenter pointed out that he didn’t get this dialog when updating his Macs. I just updated my MacBook Pro and didn’t see the dialog. But it is a computer I don’t use much, and there’s not a lot of files on it. My guess is that the dialog appears if you have less than a certain amount of free space. On my iMac, with a 256 GB SSD, there’s 92 GB free (though, from day to day, for reasons I don’t understand, it oscillates from about 45 GB free to now over 90 GB). On the MacBook Pro, also with a 256 GB SSD, there’s 136 GB free.

Jean-Louis Gassée on HomePod Reviews

Jean-Louis Gassée, former Apple executive and created of BeOS, doesn’t like the way HomePod reviews have been done.

With its HomePod speaker, Apple has once again reshuffled existing genres. As an almost singular representative of the new consumer computational audio devices, HomePod’s slippery algorithms defeat quick and easy reviews.

He criticizes most tests, as not being scientific, and highlights David Pogue’s “blind” test of four speakers with give people.

He discusses the “computational audio” used by the HomePod, and notes:

This is where we find a new type of difficulty when evaluating this new breed of smart speakers, and why we must be kind to the early HomePod reviewers: The technical complexity and environmental subjectivity leads to contradictory statements and inconsistent results.

I think he’s missing the point. When one reviews something subjectively, the goal is to find out how it sounds to each listener. You can double-blind all you want, but that’s not how people perceive music. There is certainly room for measurements – but not when they’re done wrong – but the true test of a device like this, especially one where the surroundings change the sound, is to have listeners judge it.

Yes, when you have four speakers, and their volume isn’t perfectly balanced, that is an issue, but the main takeaway in Pogue’s review was that a) no one liked the Amazon Echo, because it’s a cheap, tinny speaker, and b) the HomePod may not be the best. It is notably very bass heavy, which means that some music will sound good, and some won’t sound very good at all. Compared to the other speakers – which have a flatter sound signature – the HomePod makes the mistake of imposing a tone on all the music it plays, and not allowing for individual user adjustments. (I’m not sure if all the better speakers that David Pogue tested allow for EQ tweaking; the Amazon Echo probably doesn’t, because it’s not that much of a speaker; the Sonos One definitely does, via the Sonos app.)

Finally, I find it almost risible to see the graphic that Mr. Gassée has included in has article as proof that the test was rigged. He points out that a louder speaker generally sounds better – which is well known – so the people who preferred one speaker must have been closer to that speaker.

Gassee

This is a clear example of bias. Persons one and five were certainly closer to the speakers on the end, but persons two, three, and four were closer to speakers B and C. But none of them like it. Mr Gassée’s lines are ludicrous; he’s talking about the distance, yet ignoring the fact that, for example, person three is notably further from speakers A and D, and much closer to speakers B and C.

This is a glaring error in logic, and it’s a shame to see it included in an article that gets so technical about computational audio, electro-acoustc music at IRCAM, and so one.

Apple HomePod Review: Superior Sound, but Limited by Siri

Apple’s HomePod has finally shipped, boasting a $350 price tag and marking the company’s foray into the “smart speaker” sector with a device that is more speaker than smart. This small, sleek device, clearly a product of Apple’s design team, is meant to offer high-quality sound and serve as a gateway to Siri, Apple’s personal assistant. In spite of the high price, it’s a very nice device, but it has a lot of weaknesses.

Should you buy a HomePod? Is it worth the price? Read on for our full review of Apple’s HomePod speaker to help you decide if it’s worth buying for your home.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog

Two Updated Take Control Books about Digital Photos and Lightroom

Tc digital photosNow that it’s so easy to take and store digital photos, it can become overwhelming to stay on top of managing them all. In Take Control of Your Digital Photos, Jeff gives you a plan for tackling this problem, starting with preparing your camera ahead of time, then choosing the right app to manage your photos, judging and organizing your photos, and backing up your photos for safekeeping. This book is geared towards both Mac and Windows users, and discusses the merits of five popular photo management apps–Apple’s Photos, Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC, Photoshop Elements, and Mylio–to help you choose the right one for your needs. (This book expands and updates an earlier title, Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac.)

TCo Lightroom CC 1 0 Cover for EPUBTake Control Books has also released a new version of Jeff’s book Take Control of Lightroom CC. Last fall, Adobe released a new version of its Lightroom application, Lightroom CC, that is specifically designed for cloud interaction, and meant to appeal to users who want to do more than the basics with their photos, but want something more streamlined and simplified than Lightroom Classic CC or Photoshop. In Take Control of Lightroom CC, Jeff gives a thorough but accessible guide to the new Lightroom CC. He explains where it fits in the Lightroom ecosystem, then moves on to detail how to import, manage, and professionally edit your photos using Lightroom CC. For those who want to keep using Lightroom Classic CC, he also looks at how the two apps can work together.

Get Take Control of Your Digital Photos and Take Control of Lightroom CC.