ScreenCasting Nirvana – Virtual Machines?

Parallels logo RGBParallels Desktop 10 for Mac was released yesterday, with welcome speed improvements, efficiencies in battery life and disk space plus support for OS X Yosemite.

I have both VMWare and Parallels and each time one is upgraded, I end up buying the latest release in the hope that I can use it for my screencasts.

Currently, I keep a separate user account for screencasting on my Mac. This is a “clean” account, and when I’m recording a screencast, I log out of my personal account and into my demo account. I’ve tried user switching, but I find it safer to logout completely out of my personal account.

Such a pain.

My ideal scenario would be to use a Virtual Machine as my demo environment to record my screencasts, and open that without logging out of my personal account. This would give me so many benefits such as snapshots, keeping multiple builds, rolling back to known states – all accomplished very quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

Except, that the graphics performance in both VMware and Parallels is just not up to it.

Dragging windows around the screen causes tearing and other visual distractions. Safari screen refresh is a mess. The performance of the Virtual Machine is rock solid in all aspects, except for the graphics performance – even on my Mac Pro.

It’s such a shame.

In all other aspects, running a virtual machine is amazing, using either VMware or Parallels.

But I’ll keep buying the upgrades until my screencasting nirvana is achieved.

As an aside, at the same time as upgrading to Parallels for Mac 10, I also bought an update to try out Parallels Access… “The fastest, simplest and most reliable remote access from your mobile device”

I’d heard some good reports about its unique approach to accessing applications on your Mac from an iPad or iPhone.

Wow!

Expect to see it featured on the iOS show in the next month or so.

No New IOS 8 Beta for Developers?

Ios8Apple released a new build of OSX Yosemite to developers on Monday (Beta 6). This is usually followed by a new build of iOS 8 on the same day.

This is understandable due to the close integration of both Yosemite and iOS 8 to allow the Continuity features such as Handoff to interoperate.

However, for this beta release cycle, there was no accompanying iOS 8 Beta 6 release?

Various blog sites (such as MacRumours) are reporting that there was a new Beta 6 version of iOS 8 released, but it’s only to Apple partners – presumably carriers who need to test the radio related components.

The reason being touted is that Apple would not release the build to developers due to the fact it must be getting close to the Gold Master Build?

I find this hard to swallow!

My take is that there may be some new features, or clues to the specs of the new iPhones, included in iOS 8 Beta 6 that Apple didn’t want to be pre-announced. It’s unlikely that the features may be obvious to the partners, but may be something that curious developers could expose quite easily.

It could be something as simple as a way to deduct the screen resolutions of the new iPhone 6 by digging into the code.

Either way, September 9th is rapidly approaching… I’d better get on with my tutorials!

Updated: I did of course mean Yosemite! Thanks @andreagelati

Curved 34-inch ultrawide display?

If you checked out my updated Setup page, you’ll be aware that I’ve been using the LG 34UM95 34″ 21:9 Wide Screen Monitor.

It’s a beautiful monitor with a fantastic screen resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels and the ultra wide format really is a boon with lot’s of screen real estate to play with. The 21:9 format is fantastic, especially for applications with a linear timeline such as Final Cut Pro or Screenflow. Plus, it’s optimised for Macs with built in Thunderbolt 2.

The screen is wide though, very wide.

Hence my eyebrow raised when I heard about a new version of the LG 34UM95 to be launched at IFA 2014 next month – The LG 34UC97 – a curved version of the 34UM95!

LG Curved

Based on personal experience with the 34UM95, a curved version of the screen would be amazing. Viewing the huge width would benefit from a slight curvature, bring the edges of the screen in closer to the user.

LG have published a photo of three of curved displays together, although to my eye, I don’t think they are the 21:9 aspect ratio displays. But the photo does give an impression on how awesome three curved screens would be.

Three curved

So will I get one?

It really depends on pricing, availability as well as what else is happening in the monitor world.

Now I have a 4K camera and a Mac Pro, it may be time to start thinking of a 4K display, although I really do like the 21:9 aspect ratio.

Don’t forget, we also are waiting for Apple to show their hand on what they are proposing to do in the monitor space.

Perhaps before Christmas?

Reversible Apple USB cable?

I’ve been following reports of a new standard for USB connectors (Type C) which allows for greater speed and a reversible cable.

Voila Capture 2014 08 19 09 13 26 am

Huzzah!

Of course, the only downside is that the new cable would require a new USB port, so it may take a while before this becomes widespread.

However…

Voila Capture 2014 08 19 09 29 03 amIt appears that Apple already have matters in hand with a special reversible USB to Lightning cable that doesn’t require a special USB socket! Rumours are that this just may be released with the new iPhone(s) in the Autumn.

The rumours are given further credence with the release of two videos from Sonny Dickinson on Youtube.

If this is the case, (and based on the releases of the Lightning cable round about the same time before they were launched, it looks likely), then this is a welcome change and should be an instant hit.

It will be interesting to see if Apple release this as a standard cable, or cash in by making it an optional accessory.

Gut feeling is that they will release it as a standard cable but will still make a ton of money by people clambering to update the USB cables they already have.

It’s just a pity that they didn’t introduce this with Lightning when it first came out!

Updated Setup Page

Following many requests, I’ve updated my setup page on the blog and re-published it, bringing it back up to date and identifying many of the elements shown on the blog header image.

You can find the updated page via the menu on the blog, or via this link.

Just a couple of points – The Panasonic GH4 camera is brand new and as a total photography newbie, it’s early days. Starting to get to grips with it but I mainly acquired it as a way into 4K video. I’ll be exploring more as I get to grips with it and will keep you informed of progress.

You may notice that the original Mackie audio mixer and external audio gear is now unlisted. I’ve moved over to processing my audio for the show using software rather that external audio hardware – Audio Hijack Pro as a live noise gate and Adobe Audition 2014 for post processing. It remains to be seen if I continue doing that, or if I go back to using external gear.

The Apollo Twin audio interface is currently unplugged as I’ve been having crashes when trying to use it with ScreenFlow – I’m using the Onyx Blackmagic USB interface for now until I can get to the bottom of the crashing problem.