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There's no such thing as flawless protection

Jon loses his patience with AV vendor intimations that suggest they’re offering perfect security

Mac Pro mistake

Apple has admitted it made a mistake. Yes, it's that big a deal Apple almost never admits that anything is less than merely "fabulous" or "incredible" or "knee-trembling". Okay, I made the last one up. But it has decided to try to persuade us that it really does care about the high-power workstation market and that maybe the Mac Pro wasn't what a lot of its users wanted.

I think history is being a bit unfair to the Mac Pro. It does what it does extremely well. I use it as a desktop high-performance workstation, and its primary task is running Windows virtual machines under Parallels. I do a lot of software testing in these VMs, including antivirus testing. The facilities of Parallels, and the ability to lock down VMs and their networking, and access to facilities such as VMs, is a godsend when working with malware. The ability to flatten a VM and bring it back up again in a few seconds is a huge help too, especially when you execute a bit of malware and the package installed in that VM doesn't catch it in time. But I could rant about that topic for hours oh look, I already have.

The downside of the Mac Pro design was that it had no internal storage. So those who needed external PCI cards had to resort to using card cages connected using Thunderbolt. There's nothing really wrong with this approach: I use it myself for the interface card to my HP LTO tape library, connected via a long length ofThunderbolt fibre cable. The internal storage is eye-wateringly quick, but others wanted to plug in their own drives. Again, there are plenty of Thunderbolt solutions to do this in a powerful and effective way.

Some decided that two GPUs wasn't enough power compared to what you can do today using a monster single GPU but again, it'salittle unfair to rewrite the expectations after the event. Andsome doubtless hated the cylindrical design because it's a painto rackmount, requiring custommounting hardware from third parties.

For me, the biggest issue is that itwasn't upgradable. It's still USB 3. Itcan't output video at a higher resolution than 4K, so I can't plug in the latest monitors. It's Thunderbolt 2, not the far superior Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C (neither of which was around when the Mac Pro was released, of course).

So here is what I think Apple will do. A new box in a desktop and in rackmount configuration. Numerous Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connectors. Internal storage directly connected to the bus, but with some drive slots too. Internal PCI-E slots, for those who demand that. Built-in video support to at least 5K, possibly 8K resolution. A truly monstrous GPU facility. All for a price tag that's eye-watering, but doesn't quite require your first born.

Also note that Apple hasannounced the likely availability of an iMac Pro, aproduct that again would benefit hugely from Thunderbolt 3/USB-C. Arange of proper monitors wouldn't go amiss either. I note that Dell now has an 8K resolution monitor something similar would be just the ticket. If Apple delivers on both, then it can truly claim to be back in the groove.

By the way, a certain birdy in the form of a product manager just told me that there would be no Thunderbolt 3 on fibre cablesthis year. Maybe next year, he said. Seems that getting Intel to decide upon how it wants to do this is somewhat problematic, and that we shouldn't expect anything just yet. I'm not surprised it took forever for Thunderbolt on fibre to finally ship, after deadline after deadline went whooshing past. But it will come.

Apparently, Apple doesn't want fibre ports mounted on its computers. Fibre is too sensitive to dust and fluff, and Apple is paranoid about users having a bad experience. Hence the reason it's sticking to electrical connectors that are self-wiping/self-cleaning on each insertion.

Blackmagic for free

Blackmagic Design, the company that makes a huge range of pro video and audio devices, along with cameras, has released a new public beta of its DaVinci Resolve software. Think of itas editing software in the same vein as Final Cut Pro X.

Six months ago it bought Fairlight, a company with a long history in the pro audio world. The original Fairlight sampling synthesizer was what started the whole sampling era, astypified by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Art of Noise, Peter Gabriel and so forth.

In recent years, Fairlight has beenmaking studio-grade audio systems specifically aimed at film andvideo production. Resolve has always had pretty good audio-editing capabilities, but the acquisition of Fairlight and its integration over a few months is nothing short of breathtaking. High-end video programs, such as Final Cut Pro X, Resolve or Adobe's Premiere Pro, aren't the sort of tools that you just dipinto. You need to invest time to learn how to use such aformidable array of capabilities. With the Fairlight acquisition and integration, Resolve has made a rightful claim to being one of the very best. And note that it offers a full range of hardware control surfaces too, both for the video and colour grading world and the Fairlight audio side, which significantly lifts Resolve above Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X.

And the best bit? It's free: you can get a fully functional version of the app without spending a penny. If you want every high-end bell and whistle, including simultaneous multi-user editing within the same project, it willcost you the princely sum of $299 per user. Tosay this is an insanely low price is perhaps the understatement of the decade. Download Resolve ( and give it a whirl. You might well like what you find.

Dropbox leaves it inthe Cloud Mode

There's a nice new feature in Dropbox: you can decide to leave your files in the cloud and toonly download a particular file when you need it. It seamlessly works with the file system, so as far asyour OS is concerned, it's there inyour file manager. But when youclick on it, Dropbox downloads the whole file in the background. It'sasuperb solution for those who have large Dropbox installations, running to a number of terabytes in my case.

I don't want to turn on Selective Folder Sync and thus cut out folders Ithink I won't need, only to discover that I need them after all. At which point they're downloaded in their entirety and my laptop hard disk becomes full. With Cloud Mode,Ican have apparent access toeverything, but only pull down what I need, when I need it. Once downloaded, it's kept downloaded the process is just seamless. If you run Dropbox, give this mode a twirl and see how well it works for you.iPhone inductive charging

One the biggest annoyances of the iPhone 6 and 7 range is that they don'tsupport inductive charging. It'seven more annoying because inductive charging has been the onlyway of charging an Apple Watchsince that particular deviceshipped. So Apple clearly knows all about it, and has shippedproduct using it. But not theiPhone range.

My annoyance is compounded when trying to fiddle with either theLightning cable or the desktop stand I have for charging my iPhone. Getting it correctly aligned so that itconnects up is tricky, doubly so inthe dark at 2am without my glasseson.

So imagine my delight to find avendor on Amazon that sells a verythin case for the iPhone that implements inductive charging. There's a small tag cable at the bottom,terminated with a Lightning plug with a 90-degree turn. This popsinto the socket on the phone, andis pretty much streamlined. Takea standard inductive charging pad, dropthe phone onto it, and a modern miracle occurs. In fact, it would be quite hard for me to go back to wired charging.

Suffice to say, if wireless charging isn't part of the next iPhone, then I will be really quite cross.

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