• Explore the magic and the mystery!


  • Listen to The Tech Night Owl LIVE

    Latest Episode — June 15: AI guru Ed Watal joins Gene to talk about the focus and very real shortcomings of Apple’s new Apple Intelligence initiative, introduced at the June 2024 Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). He discusses some of the key elements of Apple’s software release and versioning strategy, and the limited launch of its AI technology, which arrived in beta, only available in U.S. English for a select few platforms that are also in early developer condition, including iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. He points out that the tech expert community wasn’t impressed, particularly with the limited launch and lack of Siri integration. Worse, over 90% of current iPhone users are excluded, raising questions about inclusivity in Apple’s AI strategy. What about Apple’s reliance on OpenAI’s ChatGPT for much of the technology, and how does that help Apple pave its own way in developing a secure and user friendly implementation of AI? Watal is the founder and principal of Intellibus, an IT strategy consultancy.

    For more episodes, click here to visit the show’s home page.

    Newsletter Issue #1055 — Upgrading Your Mac: The Cheapskate Way

    May 26th, 2024

    I was young and foolish — more or less — when I first brought a Mac into my home, after working on them at a prepress design studio for a year or so. My brand new system consisted entirely of Apple hardware, such as a Macintosh iicx, Apple LaserWriter II, a 13-inch Apple color display, the famous Extended Keyboard II and a mouse. Add to that a handful of apps, such as QuarkXPress, Microsoft Word and FileMaker, and the bill of particulars came to more than $14,000.

    In 2024 dollars, that’s $34,821.27, more than a decently-equipped midsized car. How times have changed. And, of course, fewer people buy cars nowadays; it’s all about SUVs and trucks, which thus put me out of touch if I got a new vehicle.

    Working as a paid Mac journalist, it was important for me to stay up with the latest and greatest. So over the years I upgraded my Mac every year or two, depending on whether the improvements made much of a difference. The arrival of Intel Macs in 2006 offered a demonstrable speed boost over the PowerPC. Not that the PowerPC was necessarily inferior to an Intel Core processor (it was once demonstrably superior), but since IBM and Motorola gave up on developing them for Macs in favor of embedded systems for cars and other products, Apple had to make a switch.

    Continue Reading…


    Newsletter Issue #1054 — A High-End Audio Attempt on the Cheap

    May 14th, 2024

    Before I get going with this review, I need to explain where I came from when it comes to home audio history. Back in the 1960s, my brother gave me an automatic turntable (make that a record changer), and one speaker. I made it the second speaker for a stereo system cobbled together from my vintage VM tape recorder. Chintzy, yes, but it worked well enough for my modest needs.

    In fact it was the system I used to listen to one of the greatest albums of all time, The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” It seems only yesterday when my wife and I opened a small package containing the album, and give it a spin. At the time, I was actually the morning disk jockey at a country radio station in Tuscumbia, AL. But we didn’t listen to the record at the radio studio; instead, I used my own paltry audio system. Clearly audio quality was not much better than that of a portable radios, but I relied on it for over a decade.

    I didn’t have the budget buy a proper audio setup until half a decade later, when I got a loan to finance a stereo setup that consisted of a Dual turntable, Dynaco build-it-yourself electronics and EPI speakers. Among audio components, it had decent quality audio. But the Dynaco amp, the ST-120, had a penchant for blowing out, thus taking out the tweeter on one of the speakers. After a few years, I found a repair shop willing to take the time to figure out the problem. In passing, they told me it was a design problem that they hobbled together a fix for.

    Continue Reading…


    Newsletter Issue #1053 — The Cheapskate Way: An Affordable Display for Your Mac

    March 16th, 2024

    In recent months, I’ve been looking for something affordable — or reasonably affordable — to replace my aging and obsolete Late 2014 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display. Let me tell you the process isn’t easy, especially if dollar signs are on your mind.

    So if you are seeking an all-in-one computer, your options are limited when it comes to Macs. Apple used to have two iMac lines. The basic model featured a 21.5-inch Retina display; the higher-end product had a 27-inch Retina display. While the original iMac was largely basedon portable computer parts, the newest models have come close to professional grade in terms of performance. Indeed, the short-lived iMac Pro featured an Intel Xeon CPU, same as older Mac Pros and high-end PC boxes.

    In switching to Apple Silicon, Apple has placed the iMac back at the low-end of the heap, the same position it occupied during its early years. You get a 24-inch display; actually it’s 23-inches, but Apple simply rounds it off. Also CPU horsepower is limited to the entry-level M-series chips. They are surely capable of performance levels that rise above their low grade, but for content creators, and those who crave big displays, they come up short.

    Continue Reading…


    Newsletter Issue #1052 — Apple Places You in Upgrade Hell

    March 6th, 2024

    Most of you are aware that I have been around the Apple universe since the 1980s, so maybe I know one or two things. I know, for example, that despite its claims or illusions to the contrary, Apple is not your friend. It is a multinational profit-making corporation that pays a little more than lip service to the environment, recycling and products that are more user friendly.

    Now when the first Macintosh personal computer was released in 1984, the critics pounced on it. Not just because a graphical user interface must be a toy, nothing to take seriously (they said), but it was offered as an appliance. You could use it, have it repaired, but upgrades just weren’t possible, unlike the do-it-yourself atmosphere in PC-land. Keep that in mind.

    Over the years, more and more Macs could be upgraded, until they couldn’t. One of the simplest was the Macintosh II series, where it was simple to lift the cover and replace RAM, hard drives and graphic cards. The floppy drive was dust prone because of its faulty layout on the chassis, so it often had to be removed for cleaning. So what could be better?

    Continue Reading…