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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Positive Mac Feels

I was in a meeting during the Apple event this week. I caught up on the event a few hours later as I headed home on a busy train. As I read the news I felt really positive. Which is a rather nice change from how Mac events normally make me feel!

Mac Mini

The new Mac mini looks like an amazing bit of kit. I’m pretty sure i don’t need one but gosh i really want one. The new mini reverses some of the negative trends Apple hardware has been following. It has ample ports, upgradable memory and is equipable with a wide range of processors.

About the only thing which is less than steller is the price. It gets expensive real fast with a base 6 core model costing £1069 and the i7 version at £1249. That said, i got 7 years of use from my last Mac mini and i’m sure the resell values will continue to be steller.

MacBook Air.

The new MacBook Air is a little confusing to me. I think it’s going to come down to performance numbers. In spirit it appears to be a 13.3” version of the the 12” MacBook. The upgrade to thunderbolt 3 and a second port is welcome, but the pricing and performance questions are alarming.

I suspect this will quickly become the “default” MacBook and i’ll start seeing them everywhere.

iPad & Wrap up.

Both of the new machine would make for great personal Macs. Perhaps something to look into more in the future when i have a better idea of things. I am mostly enjoying the single Mac lifesyle.

The new iPads look amazing, but the prices are just to high for me to consider at the moment. I will wait and see, perhaps the next version of the basic iPad will be a better fit for me.

Overall a really positive event from Apple. It’s great to see life breathed into the Mac range. I hope the positive feels continue to last!

Published: 2 November 2018 | Categories: , Permalink

HomePod: it’s got complicated.

I really want to like the HomePod. I appreciate the care and attention which goes into this sort of product.

However, oh man, it’s hard to like the HomePod sometimes. I’m only a week in and it’s a very mixed picture.

The issues.

Let’s start on a low and end on a high. The main issue with the HomePod isn’t the hardware. It’s the software..

To win me over it needed to do three things. Act as a speaker for my Mac, sound good at usable volumes and be reliable.

So far is failing at all three.

Speaker for my Mac – this is a partial success. The HomePod doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack so it only really works for apps which support AirPlay. After trying with every setting I could find I could not get system sounds (alerts etc) to come out via the HomePod.

Sound good at usable volumes – I live in w flat in a shared block and I have sensitive hearing. Both of those factors limit how much noise I can make. The HomePod’s 360 sound trick doesn’t work at low volumes. For most of the my test music I couldn’t hear the lyrics over the bass and there’s no way for me to tweak it.

Reliability – it’s not worked properly with anything. My iPhone can’t connect to it half the time and even when it does who know what will play where. Connections hang and weirdness happens. At one stage it was playing a track from Apple Music and my local library at the same time. What a mess ;(

So… basically it’s not fit for purpose with what I originally wanted it for. However….

The good.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Modern life is goodish! When the HomePod is on song, it is incredible.

In a larger room and with the volume up it sounds extremely good. So much so I have started setting aside time to simply listen to music as an activity in and of itself.

I can’t do it much (the neighbours have kids) but when I can it may even become one if my favourite things to do.

So a few days in the picture is really mixed. It’s not going to work for what I wanted. But perhaps it may still have a role to play as something new.

I’m giving myself a few more days to decide on if I try and turn it or not.

Published: 26 August 2018 Permalink

Homepod First Impressions

I’ve only had the homepod on my desk a few hours, however in that short time it has made quite an impression. Here’s a quick post to capture why i brought one, how it handled setup and how the first experiements have worked out.

Why a homepod?

I’ve kinda wanted one for a while, but i didn’t need one. In the office i had my iMac which has great speakers, and i don’t have much use for a voice assistant in my life.

However, i recently sold my iMac in favour of a MacBook + 4K display combo and the display i picked doesnt have any speakers… so i needed some speakers.

The homepod can act as speakers for my Mac as well as being good for podcasts and the like. So it seemed worth a go. It’s expensive, but i figured if it dont get along with it i could always return or resell it.

Argos?

I got mine from argos. I debated the colour for a while (i went with white, but it was a close run thing!) and then ordered it online for instore collection. I was impressed they had them in stock locally; especially as my local argos is inside a sainsburies.

I didnt buy it from the local apple reseller as while the staff are nice enough they don’t offer a very competitive returns policy and i had no way to see if they had them in stock. I couldn’t easily travel to both so i went with the more established seller.

I paid the retail price of £319, which is a bit steep… its got a lot to live up too.

Initial setup.

The very first impression i had was “wow, this thing is heavy”. It’s heavy enough i needed help getting it out of the box safely.

The packaging was easy to open and as i pulled the homepod out a little guide fell out telling me to wave my phone near the homepod to set it up.

The homepage is going in my office, so i plugged it in, and waved my phone in its direction…

… Nothing happened. So i waved it some more, and then it worked! A screen came up, telling me to install an update to my phone…

… Update installed, i tried again and it worked. Taking me through the setup process. My speech can be a bit diffifult, so it took a few times for it to understand me.

I was really impressed with the setup process. It had a clunky start but once everything was lined up it was very smooth.

Playing Music.

I brought the homepod as a speaker first and foremost. It happens to have Siri (which is kinda handy) but in my life its taking the place of a mini speaker or some PC speakers. With this in mind, the first thing i did was connect it to my Mac and play a youtube video.

I was really impressed with the sound quality. Its loud and clear and it handles tone well. It sounds much better than my iMac did for music.

It is somewhat directional, espcially at lower volumes. It has to be pretty loud before it can really “fill a room” with audio. I’m going to experiment a bit with placement incase this is because i have it on the corner of my desk.

Siri stuff.

I have used siri a little. To ask for different tracks and the like. It’s very cool and It has mostly worked. I asked siri what was on my calender and it directed me to my phone… so i guess there are some gaps.

I also used Siri to turn my lights up and down, very cool but perhaps not super useful!

Thoughts so far.

So far i am impressed with the homepod. The setup was pretty seamless and it sounds great. I am looking forward to living with it for a bit to see how i feel in a few weeks time.

Published: 19 August 2018 | Categories: , Permalink

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