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Anki: intelligent flash cards

I’ve just started using Anki, a free, open source Mac OS X flash card application that also has companion iPhone and Android applications (not free) that sync your data.  What an incredible app — one can import tab-delineated text files and turn them into flashcards with one click!  It supports unicode font encoding, so your text doesn’t have to be in English.  You can embed images on cards as well.  And the intelligent review algorithm is fantastic — it will schedule your next review of a card depending on how easy or hard it was for you to remember.  Amazing.  Hats off to Anki.

Anki does exactly what it says it does, it “makes remembering things easier” with “friendly, intelligent flashcards.”  This application is not just for students, it’s for anyone who wants to remember anything.  It’s now part of my daily workflow.  Test it out for yourself — it’s free!

New iPads, Macs, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple had its media event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct 22. Here’s a rundown of the new and noteworthy:

iPad Air: the new 5th generation full-sized iPad,

  • Offered in the new colors Space Grey or Silver
  • Slimmer, lighter, and faster than its predecessors, with the A7 64-bit chip
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $499; 32GB – $599; 64GB – $699; 128GB – $799
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $629; 32GB – $729; 64GB – $829; 128GB – $929
  • new covers and cases

iPad mini with Retina display: in new colors Space Grey and Silver. We have finally got a great mid-sized 7.9″ tablet with Retina display!

  • Much faster with the A7 64-bit chip: up to 4x faster CPU and 8x faster graphics
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $399; 32GB – $499; 64GB – $599; 128GB – $699
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $529; 32GB – $629; 64GB – $729; 128GB – $829
  • iPad Mini original, now reduced in price, $299 for 16GB Wi-Fi model
  • new  covers and cases

Mac OS X 10.9 “Maverics:” Looks like we don’t have an incredibly different system, but one with some new bells and whistles. NOTE: Watch out for compatibility issues — it’s a good idea to make sure all of your critical applications are Maverics-compatible before you upgrade. You don’t want to find out after the fact that your productivity is stunted because you upgraded before a business-critical application was ready. Here is Apple’s info page on Mavericks.

  • Mavericks is a free one-step upgrade to users of Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.6-10.8)
  • Machines capable of running Mavericks are:
    • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
    • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
    • Xserve (Early 2009)
    • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
    • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
    • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
    • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Better battery life for all machines capable of receiving the update
  • Compressed memory, allows better use of memory to run more applications without having the system slow down
  • Graphics: better graphics memory allocation. Image processing improvements.
  • Safari sports new features: shared links, new reader view, website Notifications
  • Notifications: you can respond in the notification pop-up. Also, you can now sign up for website notifications as well.
  • Finder now supports tags to help organize and retrieve documents
  • Multiple displays improvements
  • Maps application now on Mac OS X
  • iBooks application now on Mac OS X
  • iLife updates (iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iWork updates (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iCloud keychain: keeping your passwords and credit card information secure and accessible across all your devices
  • Calendar app, now is location aware, has driving times listed from previous appointments, maps app integration, weather.

New MacBook Pro 13″ and 15″: The MacBook Pro line has been refreshed, with some significant new improvements.

  • Now slimmer, faster, lighter, and more powerful
  • New Intel CPUs and Iris Graphics gives up to 90% faster graphics engine and faster, smarter core processing power
  • Improved battery life, up to 8 hrs (15″ rMBP) and 9 hrs (13″ rMBP) of battery life in iTunes video playback
  • Flash memory is now much faster
  • Thunderbolt 2 connectivity is much faster
  • Wi-Fi is improved and much faster, supporting 802.11ac standard
  • 13″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,299: 2.4GHz dual core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Iris graphics.
  • 15″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,999: 2.0 GHz quad core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Iris Pro graphics.
  • The entry level machine does not come with a discrete graphics card, which is a step down from previous models. One shouldn’t be getting the entry level machine anyway — if you are paying this much for machine, you should get an appropriate amount of storage and RAM, and a faster processor with a discrete graphics card (I counsel my clients to purchase the maximum available storage and RAM because neither are upgradeable).
  • A well-appointed new 15″ rMBP might be: 2.3GHz quad core i7 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics card with 2GB GDDR5 memory, 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage (SSD), and AppleCare: USD$3,099 plus tax.

MacPro: The new Pro Desktop has been completely revamped, as was announced last month:

  • New design: cylindrical tower, thermal core at the center
  • Faster cores, busses, graphics, and cooling systems.
  • All flash-based storage
  • Lots of ports: 6 Thunderbolt 2, 4 USB 3.0, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 HDMI 1.4 UltraHD port
  • Lots more features
  • Starting at USD$2,999 plus tax

iWork and iLife updated for iOS, Mac OS X, and iCloud.

  • new iPhoto that allows you to create iBooks on the iPad
  • iMovie redesigned and more powerful, for iOS and Mac OS X
  • Garageband: 32 tracks creation now possible
  • colaboration is now possible in iWork documents via iWork for iCloud, no iCloud account required, and compatible with any browser
  • Pages, Keynote and Numbers redesigned and updated

You can watch the full keynote here. Contact us here for a purchasing consultation to determine what hardware will best suit your needs!