New “Tip of the Week” published – Slope and Cloak

This week’s “Tip of the Week” video has been published on YouTube and on the SCO Showcase App.

We’re up to number six in the series and I’m getting some great feedback on the videos, so I’ll keep making them as long as people keep watching them.

This week, I answer a commonly asked question about the rather smart iPhone and iPad stands lurking in the background on my desk, as well as a look at an indispensable app for Mac and iOS security when out and about – that’s Cloak.

These short videos are completely free and available to anyone, so please feel free to share them with anyone you think may find them valuable.

P.S. – I was lucky enough to snag an invite to the Ulysses beta for V2.6 on Mac and iOS. So I’m now able to write my blog posts in Ulysses and export them directly to my WordPress blog – sweet! Don’t worry if you didn’t get an invite, v2.6 should be out in a few weeks.

Take it to the Next Level

You really must see this amazing video by Alexey Zakharov. It’s a short 4 minute video of old photographs from the 1930’s brought back to life in HD using some very impressive animation.

The video itself is impressive enough, but just consider what will happen when this is taken to the next level… and by that I mean once the rapidly advancing Virtual Reality technologies mature.

I can imagine in the next five years that these sorts of scenes will be rendered as super hi res environments that you can actually place yourself in and explore.

The possibilities are mind boggling… and it might not even take five years.

Apple and the Cloud

Several news reports that Apple have signed a deal to move some of their cloud services to Google.


According to the sources, Google executives have told partners that Apple is spending between $400 million and $600 million on Google Cloud Platform, although this couldn’t be independently confirmed. Also unclear is whether this range refers to an annual spending rate or a set amount of capacity.

This is interesting for several reasons:

  • Many people do not realise that Apple, despite a huge investment in their own iCloud infrastructure, is a customer of other Cloud service providers to deliver a wide range of Apple services. In this case, it’s being sugested that the move to Google was away from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Apple are the second major player to move away from AWS in recent days – Dropbox have recently announced that they have migrated almost 90% of their data from AWS to their own proprietory solution – a mammoth task The Epic Story of Dropbox’s Exodus From the Amazon Cloud Empire

It may well be that Apple will also eventually migrate all of their data to their own rapidly expanding set of Datacenters, but it’s not a trivial task and requires years of planning and investment.

Whilst on the subject of Apple and the Cloud, I’ll go against the usual old tired moaning that Apple doesn’t get the Cloud, and is poor in its execution of Cloud services as “it’s not their core competency”.

I would agree with this stance (partially) back in the MobileMe days, but I think Apple are hugely underated as a player in the Cloud.

iTunes had 800 million accounts in 2014 (*) a 40% growth on the previous year. Let’s say they have 1 Billion accounts today. These will be a mixture of iOS users, Mac users and even a percentage of Windows users too.

It has recently been reported that there are 782 Million people on iCloud. (*)

These are not insignificant figures!

For each device owned, here are just some of the things Apple has to manage every day, at a scale that is just unimaginable:

  • The app stores servicing both Macs and iOS with well over a million apps available for instant download.
  • The installation of millions of apps everyday, including the commercial transactions surrounding the installation.
  • Backing up hundreds of millions of iOS devices with iCloud Backup.
  • Restoring millions of devices and re-downloading entire catalogues of Apps and Data.
  • Syncing an ever increasing amount of data between Macs, iOS devices and iCloud – Contacts, Calendar, Keychain, Mail, Notes, Reminders, iMessage and more. With iMessages alone, customer send 200,00 iMessages every second!
  • Managing a huge email system infrastucture.
  • iCloud Drive syncing.
  • App data syncing via iCloud.
  • Providing web based versions of the most of the core apps in iCloud.
  • Manage the syncing of huge Photos collections between iCloud, iOS and Mac for millions of photos every day.
  • Apple Music and its supporting services streaming and downloading millions of songs to millions of users.
  • Dictation in the Cloud
  • Millions of Siri requests every day
  • and more…

The list goes on… Here is a snapshot of all the various global Apple Services, Stores and iCloud as of this morning.

Cloud Services

And they are just the customer facing systems.

Yes, Apple web services are not perfect and some people do have horror stories.

But next time you have a few seconds delay in something syncing, just reflect at the sheer enormity of the task managing all this stuff on a global basis, to hundreds of millions of customers and devices.

And stop saying Apple don’t know how to do Cloud services.

They patently do!

(Except iCloud Drive, they need to beef up iCloud Drive)

A TextExpander Strategy

TextexpanderOne of the stumbling blocks to using TextExpander is the problem of trying to remember all the abbreviations. The blog post I’ve linked to below gives a brilliant solution.

“Being fed up knowing I could get much more out of TextExpander, I went on a search to find the perfect solution to manage abbreviations and came across a blog post by Sayz Lim, ‘Creating Memorable TextExpander Abbreviations’. While the bulk of the post was insightful, the most inspirational part was a small block of update text which included a memorization method that rang true for me.”

(Via Medium)

I will be putting this into practice immediately!

Adobe Creative Cloud

I’m not a huge fan (or user) of Adobe products, but I have to say, the new Adobe Creative Cloud approach to bundling all of their professional apps as a subscription service is intriguing. The high cost of purchasing the individual Apps has always put me off, especially when there are so many low cost alternatives. The Adobe suite of creative products are all industry standard apps and packed full of Pro features.

The Creative Cloud option basically gives you every Adobe Creative tool for a low cost monthly subscription, rather than buying the individual Apps for many thousands of pounds. You also get cloud storage thrown in and upgrades to all the apps when new versions come out.

Screenshot 15 04 2013 10 31The apps are the full pro apps and can be selectively downloaded to your Mac once you take out a subscription. You don’t access them in the cloud, you download the full app. You also get access to the latest versions as they are released.

I’ve included a list of the included apps in the panel to the right.

The recent announcement of the hiring of Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch by Apple also intrigued me.

Kevin Lynch was instrumental in bringing the Adobe Creative Cloud to market, and as such, it’s interesting to see how the Creative Cloud works and if it is any indication of what Lynch may bring to Apple.

However, even at the usual price of £46 per month, my curiosity for Adobe Creative Cloud wasn’t piqued enough to put my hand in my pocket and fork out that amount of cash each month.

It would be good to have a play with the latest version of Photoshop and I’ve always heard good things about Adobe Audition and Lightroom. After Effects has a huge following in the video field, and there is always Premier Pro to take a look at.

But no, £46 per month was still a bit too high for me.

At the recent NAB in Las Vegas, Adobe suggested that the latest versions of their Pro video tools would be available soon. All these new versions will show up in the Creative Cloud Suite.


Even more interesting is that Adobe have launched a special promo on 12 months of the Adobe Creative Cloud for just $30USD or £23 per month. That’s a saving of 40% on the first year. The best thing is you don’t need to be an existing member or have an existing Adobe product if you use this link

Anyone can sign up for the deal, but it closes on April 19th so you need to act quick if you want to take advantage of the offer.

I’ve just signed up for 12 months.

I doubt I’ll be covering any of the products on ScreenCastsOnline, or that it’s likely that I’ll be switching to Adobe Premiere Pro for my video editing needs, but it will be fascinating to explore so many new Pro apps.

And at £23 per month for 12 months, it seems like an absolute steal!

The only downside is that if I get hooked or dependant on any of the apps, the price goes up to the full cost after the 12 months, but you can always cancel if you want.