The New Mac Pro

The new Mac Pro is finally available. The Mac Pro utilizes a stainless steel frame that provides mounting points for a wide array of components and configurations. An aluminum housing slips off to provide 360-degree access, with the processor, graphics, and expansion slots on one side, and storage and memory on the other. One size does not fit all pro users, so you’ll be able to customize the Mac Pro to your needs.

For the ultimate in performance, the Mac Pro relies on an Intel Xeon W processor, and you can choose from 8, 12, 16, 24, or 28 cores. Base clock speeds vary with the number of cores. With the high-end 28-core configuration, Apple is promoting performance increases over the previous 12-core Mac Pro of 300% to 500% for activities like Photoshop filters, Xcode builds, Logic Pro plug-ins, and Autodesk Maya rendering.The base level of RAM is 32 GB, but there are 12 DIMM slots, so you can upgrade to 48 GB, 96 GB, 192 GB, 384 GB, 768 GB, or a whopping 1.5 TB.

Much of a workstation’s performance comes from its dedicated GPUs, which are essential for 3D animation, 8K video compositing, and building lifelike gaming environments, along with pure number crunching. Apple integrates GPUs via the new Mac Pro Expansion Module, or MPX Module, and the Mac Pro holds two MPX Modules. Those modules come with an AMD Radeon Pro 580X, Radeon Pro Vega II, or Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, the last of which combines two Vega II GPUs in a single module. Those cards also offer a variety of DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3, and HDMI 2.0 ports for connecting displays.

The Mac Pro offers eight PCI Express expansion slots: four double-wide slots, three single-wide slots, and one half-length slot preconfigured with an Apple I/O card. Apple also offers the Afterburner PCI Express card, which accelerates ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs in Final Cut Pro X, QuickTime Player X, and supported third-party apps.

That Apple I/O card provides two USB 3 ports using the USB-A connector, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and two 10-gigabit Ethernet ports. The top of the Mac Pro case provides another two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Storage begins with a 256 GB SSD for those whose data is all stored externally. However, you can also upgrade to 1, 2, or 4 TB SSDs.

The Mac Pro starts at $5,999.

Control Location Tracking

The New York Times recently published a bombshell article revealing just how completely our every movement is tracked by companies in the business of selling our locations to advertisers, marketers, and others. Anonymous sources provided the Times with a dataset from a single location-data company that contained 50 billion pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans over several months in 2016 and 2017.

This data enabled the Times reporters to track numerous people in positions of power, including military officials, law-enforcement officers, and high-powered lawyers. They were able to watch as people visited the Playboy Mansion, some overnight, and they could see visitors to celebrity estates. Once they identified any particular phone, they could track it wherever it went. Imagine what that data could be used for in the wrong hands.

No one intends to let unknown companies track their locations constantly. But code built into smartphone apps does just that, often without our knowledge. Many of the apps that request access to location services have an entirely legitimate reason for doing so—for example, Google Maps can’t provide navigation directions unless it knows where you are. But others want location access for less practical reasons—do you really want to let a coffeeshop app know your location at every moment in exchange for the occasional free latte? And some apps—notably weather apps—may have a legitimate need for location information but use that data for far more than users expect.

Even if you’re not too perturbed about companies you’ve never heard of knowing your exact whereabouts at all times, there’s no guarantee this data couldn’t fall into the hands of foreign governments, organized crime, or hackers willing to sell your movement patterns to an aggrieved employee, corporate spy, or jealous ex-lover.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Location Privacy

Luckily, Apple provides controls in iOS that let you limit your exposure. For most people, going completely dark isn’t realistic. Too many iPhone capabilities require location services, ranging from turn-by-turn directions, to geotagging photos, to using Find My to see if your kid has left the soccer tournament yet.

Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and scroll down to see a list of every app on your iPhone that would like to know your location. (The same is true on the iPad, but fewer people use their iPads as much while out and about.)
  2. For each app in the list, tap the app’s name to bring up the Allow Location Access screen, which has up to four options:
    • Never: Prevent this app from ever determining your location.
    • Ask Next Time: The next time the app wants permission to track you, make it ask again.
    • While Using the App: Allow the app to track your location as long as you’re actually using it.
    • Always: Let the app track your location at all times, even when you’re not using it.
  3. Tap one of the options to select it, and then tap Back to return to the list.

We can’t tell you exactly how to configure each app since everyone has a different set and different levels of privacy worry.

Go with your instincts. If thinking about a particular app or company recording your location gives you the creeps, turn it off and either find an alternative or do without.

New 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple has introduced a new 16-inch MacBook Pro that improves on its predecessor in several ways. The 16-inch MacBook Pro replaces the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro and starts at $2399.

Apple says the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s new Magic Keyboard has “a redesigned scissor mechanism and 1mm travel for a more satisfying key feel.” Many people disliked typing on the previous keyboard’s butterfly mechanism and keys failed frequently, causing Apple to redesign the keyboard multiple times and offer a repair program for out-of-warranty devices.

The display is of course larger, with a 16-inch diagonal measurement and a slightly higher native resolution. That translates to a default resolution of 1792-by-1120, up from 1680-by-1050, so the new MacBook Pro will show more content than the previous model. Apple says the 16-inch MacBook Pro is up to 80% faster than the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro. 16GB of RAM is the base level and up to 64GB is available. Storage starts at 512GB and goes to 8TB. The new notebook also features significantly improved audio input and speakers.

Between the larger screen, the six-speaker sound system, and the 100-watt-hour battery that Apple says provides up to 11 hours of battery life, the company had to increase the size of the 16-inch MacBook Pro slightly compared to the previous 15-inch model. It’s about 8mm wider and 5mm deeper and weighs 4.3 pounds, which is more than the 4.02 pounds of the previous model.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro continues to offer four Thunderbolt 3.0 ports for charging and connectivity. You’ll still need a collection of dongles for connecting peripherals, displays, etc. Note that the 16-inch MacBook Pro ships with macOS 10.15 Catalina and almost certainly cannot be downgraded to 10.14 Mojave.

Apple Business Manager

Apple Business Manager ensures that every Apple device you purchase is associated with your corporate account before it’s shipped to you. That enables zero-touch configuration and eliminates much or even all of the manual set up. Here’s how we make this happen.

We’ll work with someone at your company to set you up with two Apple programs: Apple Custom Store and Apple Business Manager. You will merely need to respond to some email messages from Apple and a call with Apple to verify that they agree to Apple’s Terms & Conditions on behalf of your company.

Apple Custom Store provides a customized corporate store for purchasing Apple devices for your company. All devices purchased through your Apple Custom Store are automatically tied to your company until you intentionally release them, such as while decommissioning. This can help protect against theft or employees keeping devices they shouldn’t.

Apple Business Manager, is what enables us (or you) to enroll and manage devices purchased through your Apple Custom Store. When we say “manage” we’re talking about mobile device management, or MDM. MDM systems allow IT administrators to define “profiles” that specify your company’s settings and policies. Those might be email login credentials or security policies such as requiring each Mac to turn on their screensaver after 5 minutes of inactivity and require a passcode to unlock. An MDM system lets your company control when to install operating system updates, ensuring that nothing happens before you’re ready.

Don’t upgrade to Catalina Just Yet

We know you want to play with the new features, but Catalina is not something you should install right away. Apple changed the operating system in some fundamental ways that could break your essential apps or workflows.

32-bit apps don’t run anymore: To identify which 32-bit apps—and portions of apps—won’t work in Catalina, download and run the free Go64 utility from St. Clair Software. If you rely on any of the software it calls out, you’ll need to update or find an alternative.

Newly installed apps must be notarized by Apple: Notarization is a process Apple uses to verify that an app distributed outside the Mac App Store is free of malware. It’s likely that older apps already on your Mac when you upgrade will continue to work fine, but if you try to install an older, unnotarized app, that may not work.

Apps require more permissions than before: In the last few versions of macOS, you’ve probably seen apps asking for permission to do things like access data in Contacts, Calendars, and Photos. In Catalina, apps will have to ask for permission to access files in your Desktop and Documents folders, and external volumes. It’s possible that older software won’t understand.

We suggest you wait for the 10.15.3 or 10.15.4 update, or get in touch with us early in 2020 for a status update.

State of macOS

With the announcement of macOS Catalina 10.15, coming this fall, we’re recommending our customers upgrade to a minimum of 10.13 (High Sierra) and preferably 10.14 (Mojave). Earlier versions will be unsupported and won’t be getting updates. This means no security updates and software will stop being developed for these operating systems. We’re doing upgrades carefully and in person to ensure they go smoothly and don’t recommend they be done by your staff during crunch time.

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