Tag Archives: cost

Mac or Windows – its upgrade time.

It’s almost decision time, but will it be Mac or will it be windows?

My original move to using a Mac was relatively indirect. I, like many people, had started my video editing with Windows MovieMaker. However soon upgraded to a basic budget priced editing package which did me for nearly a year. I could see it had a potential greater than what I was using it for, but there was very little support and virtually no tutorials around for it.

So time for something new. I hunted around on the web to find sites with good general video editing tutorials. Came across the IzzyVideo site where there was some excellent Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Express examples. FCP 7 was both a bit of an overkill for my uses plus too expensive, however the education price of Express was within my budget. Next, what did Express run on; OS X. This coincided with a need for replacement hardware anyway, but as I couldn’t afford a new Mac I ended up with a second-hand MacBook. So began my Apple adventure. I’ve ended up with a 3GS iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, and with an external monitor and keyboard attached, the MacBook used as a desktop machine.

However the MacBook is now seriously showing its age. One reason for using it as a desktop machine is that its battery is screwed. It has trouble running some programs and others won’t install because of its outdated graphics, its processor is constantly being hammered to death (cooling fan often freaking out!) and it’s got it’s fill of RAM but needs more.

Add to that my 3GS, as good as it is, is also showing its age. It’s battery still gives OK life however there are cracks creeping up its back cover, the On/Off button is missing, many new iOS features and more and more Apps coming out will not run on it… You get the idea.

So it’s decision time. Stay with Apple or move on? Apple does make some excellent products, but they are very overpriced (even after education discount). Are they worth the price premium?

The thing is Apple appears to be losing its innovative edge; at one time it was the undisputed leader in design an innovation, but now seems to be playing catch-up.
Going back a few years, the first iPod revolutionised the portable music scene (and helped to pull the company back from a very poor financial situation), the first iPhone showed what a difference a good interface can make, the iPad opened up the world of the tablet. The MacBook Air showed how to make a really nice portable laptop, iMacs had their own unique design.

However so many recent product releases have just been incremental rather than trend-setting. Android now more than competes with its smoothness of system operation. Many other screens give a better viewing experience that a Retina display. In numbers, Google’s Play store competes with Apple’s App store and is catching up in quality and range of Apps, Google’s Now voice search more than competes with Siri. A year or so ago Apple would never have released something like its Maps App in such a poor state of dysfunction.

My phone contract renewal time coincided with the Apple autumn announcement season, so I had been waiting with the proverbial bated breath to see what was coming up, and as a result I’m now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

There were two ‘final things’ that made me not stay iPhone. First, I had hoped the iPhone 5 would have been something exciting and new, not just a slightly stretched screen and updated processor. Second, iCloud. Over the last year I’ve moved from just being an internet user to that of using the cloud for more and more for my data storage and services, and iCloud just does not do it for me. Google was born in the cloud and inherently seems to do this sort of thing so much better than Apple.

This leaves me thinking about what may happen early next year when I look towards a computer upgrade.

The new iMacs look very tempting, but at a price. However I find myself using Adobe’s CS6 photo products more and more, so for video moving across to CS6 or even Avid’s Media Composer (both Adobe and Avid are cross-platform and both have competitive education prices) would give me the option to stay Mac, but not the absolute need which staying with FCP X would require.

For less than an iMac I can get a similarly specified non-Apple machine, either Adobe or Avid software, and have money to spare for extras like external back-ups. So, as much as I like Macs it’s far from certain that I’ll stay Mac for my computing.

(One final thing, I’ve been surprised at how quickly Macs age. I have a 10 year old Windows laptop which is still in regular productive use. Ten years ago means G3 powered iBooks. I wonder how many of them are still as useful?)

Cinema super-hero watching

Found myself down in the cinema a fair bit recently watching a few super-heros such as Avengers Assemble, The Amazing Spider-man, and also Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Enjoyed them all, but…when I say enjoy, I did enjoy them, but only ’enjoy’, not ’wow that was amazing’. All this got me wondering what’s going on with the big film studios these days.

This Ice Age is now the 4th in the series. I really liked the interplay between Sid, Manny, and Diego in the original. Now there are so many other characters (and sub-plots) demanding your attention that the original sparkle has been lost in a sea of indifference.

Another reinvention of Spider-man (I assume the numerous sub-plots were left open to enable plenty of sequel opportunities). However I’m not too sure how really different this version was compared to the start of the previous series (except perhaps for the college students who looked far more mid-20s than late teenage guys).

A pulling together of Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Capt. America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye into the Avengers. I thought a chance for some amazing interplay between these characters, but it seemed more a case of throw in as many impressive special effects as you can even if they’re not very original (how many times can New York get trashed in how many different films), and just let the plot look after itself without too much thought required.

As mentioned at the start (and despite my other comments) I enjoyed watching these films, but is it just me in that I do find myself getting a bit tired of the big film studios relying too much on the re-hashing of existing franchise and going for known safe numbers rather exciting us with something new. (We made money with this before so let’s just re-do it again and we’ll make even more money.)

Then I read that the film studios are splashing out over $200 million on making some of these action films, or around $2,000,000 per screen minute. That’s one hell of a lot, and considering the cost of a cinema ticket, I really expect more for that sort of outlay than just another repeat.

The cost of a letter, I don’t care.

Recently the Post Office has increased the cost of posting a letter. I really don’t care as I’ve almost stopped using the post. I’ve been using e-mail and other social networking type stuff for my messaging for many years, however the main reason I don’t use the post anything like as much as I did is because of the Post Office itself. Or more specifically, when the Post Office stopped their early morning delivery. I have no problem with them going from two deliveries a day down to one, but their shift of (the now single) delivery time from early morning to late morning has been a killer for me.

Let’s take the ’before’ situation. I could write a letter (the request) on Monday, get it off in the afternoon, and assuming 1st class post, the other party would get it before they headed off to work on Tuesday morning. They could then pen a reply during the day (response), get that off in the evening post. I’d get it Wednesday morning and get a reply (acknowledgement) off by the evening and they would then get it Thursday morning. They could then get a final note (confirmation) off on Thursday which I would get on Friday morning

So we have a request, response, acknowledgement, then final confirmation, all done within a working week. In fact this is not really any slower for those computer users who are not that geeky and just check their e-mail once a day.

However let’s look at the same situation since the Post Office ’updated’ their delivery service.

I write my letter on Monday (request) and get it off in the post. It gets delivered on Tuesday after those I’m writing to have left for work, so they won’t see it till Tuesday evening. They sort out a reply (response), this will be too late for Tuesday’s collection so won’t get into the system till Wednesday. This should then get delivered to me on Thursday morning, but after I’ve gone to work, so I won’t see it till the evening. I get my reply (acknowledgement) written on Thursday evening but this in turn won’t get into the postal system till Friday, arriving at the other end on Saturday morning. Even living in a city, my Saturday last post collection time is around lunch time, so even if they get their final reply (confirmation) written on Saturday it won’t get collected till Monday. This should get to me late Tuesday morning, but I won’t see it till Tuesday evening.

So our request, response, acknowledgement and final confirmation has now stretched from just a few days to a week and a half!

I’m sorry, but that’s just crap, so I’ve shifted even more of my communication across to electronic messaging. The only thing I now regularly use the post for is birthday and Christmas cards. I would be happy to use the postal system more, it’s not so much the cost of a letter but this reduction in quality of service that I find so distressing.

With service like it is no wonder the Post Office is losing business.

Nerdfighter Gathering

Attended the Nerdfighter Gathering last week-end. (27th June.) Including this one, I’ve now been to 10 gatherings that have required long distance travel. Sat down and worked out an overall approximate cost – and nearly required a change of underwear!!! Travel costs plus accommodation plus general spending; it all came to a rather scarily large amount. All I can say is that it has been worth it.

However this last gathering I did find a little different, and I must confess, not really my style. The previous ones have been dominated not just by YouTube users, but by YouTube video ‘producers’ or makers. People who find (need?) the method of communicating and expressing themselves through things like YouTube to be important to them. A specific type of character who might not find directly talking to strangers and those they are not familiar with particularly comfortable. Far easier to initially talk to others from the safety of the camera (and so of remoteness and distance). Make your own video, in your own time, no one pressuring you, and if you don’t like what you’ve said, then re-record it. No one else will be any the wiser. Likewise people can respond in their own time, safely from a distance. So on any first eventual encounter, you are not total strangers.

On the other hand this gathering had a large number of purely ‘user types’ there. A different character of person. Many principally there to see Maureen Johnson, an American author of novels and short stories aimed at young adults. This certainly gave the gathering a different atmosphere. A large group which was not one of active two-way communication, but of ‘principle participant’ with a relatively passive audience, and a second group of more interactive people. Overall, as a middle-aged adult, I did not find things totally comfortable, and for a first time ever at a gathering, found myself with feelings of stress.

I guess the day generally was an okay day. Re-established contact with one or two familiar faces. Met one or two new ones. Ended up going to a Julia Nunes gig; but I’ve got to ask myself was it worth the cost of the train fare, the travel time involved, and then the cost of overnight accommodation for two nights in London. Ummm…. need to think on this. If it had not been for two, no, three people, then definitely NO. On the other hand can I really expect *every* gathering I ever go to to be brilliantly wonderful? To be muttering about only one out of ten is not bad going. Also it itself was not ‘bad’, just ‘okay but…’.

Anyway, another time, another place, and another gathering will happen. Already thinking on my next one.

Be There!