Thu 2/19 Last Mini Store

ifo Apple Store reports Apple is closing it’s last Mini Store.

The Oakridge store—and five others—opened October 16, 2004, and all occupied a similar size—587 square-feet in the case of Oakridge, or about one-fifth as big as full-size stores of the time. The mini-stores were born of one goal and one realization. First, Apple wanted to extend the span of their retail initiative into more new territories, increasing the percentage of Americans who were within 15 minutes of an Apple store. Just as important, then-Sr. VP Ron Johnson said the company analyzed revenue and store sizes, and learned that smaller stores generated nearly the same revenue of larger stores, but with less construction, lease and and maintenance costs.

I was a Mac Genius when the first Mini Store opened in 2004. At 30 feet wide (the typical Apple Store was 45 feet wide), I already thought my store was cramped. I can’t imagine working in a closet store for over ten years.

At the time tipsters said there were plans for more mini-stores, including at alternative locations like airports and universities. However, no additional mini-stores ever opened beyond the original nine. By November 2008 the first of the mini-stores (Bridgewater, NJ) was converted to full-size. It’s taken over six more years to move the remaining minis into full-size spaces because of a scarcity of appropriate mall spaces.

It would have been fun to see more Apple Stores in more out-of-the-way places, but as Apple’s popularity exploded the limited capacity of the mini Store was no longer a viable option.

Wed 2/11 iPhoto Hard Links

Jason Snell reveals the secret behind the iPhoto to Photos migration process.

The Photos import process is friendly when it comes to disk space — it doesn’t duplicate the photos it imports from iPhoto and Aperture, so you don’t lose precious storage space. What is this magic? How can it not duplicate the photos, yet not risk losing all your data if you were to throw away your old iPhoto library?

Photos uses Unix-style hard links.

That’s what the iPhoto import inside the Photos app does: It creates hard links to the contents of your iPhoto library inside the Photos library. If you delete your iPhoto library, the files that were hard-linked from the Photos library still exist in the Photos library and aren’t deleted. For Mac users used to the a-file-is-a-file approach of the Finder, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

When I first read about the Photos migration process, I had the suspicion hard links were involved. How else could Photos and iPhoto share the same photos, in two different libraries, while using the space of a single photo library. Time Machine uses hard link magic to make similar space reductions while keeping multiple snapshots of your files. Read the full story to find out how Jason uncovered just some of Photos secrets.

Wed 2/11 Snowsemite

Clark Goble reminds us that we are all looking through rose colored glasses when we compare the reliability of Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard to OS X 10.10.2 Yosemite.

The reason people have such fond memories of Snow Leopard is because they are colored by the end of its life and not its beginnings. But it’s hardly fair to compare 10.6.8 to 10.10.0 or even 10.10.2 (that just came out last week). I do think it’s a fair criticism that upgrades started coming faster with Lion. Snow Leopard came out August 28, 2009. Lion came out July 20, 2011 nearly two years later. However Mountain Lion came out July 25, 2012, only a year later. It’s been around a year for each release since. That is we no longer have the stability of a year with a solid mature OS with most of the major bugs fixed.

Clark includes a long lists of bugs found in early versions of Snow Leopard to back up his claim.

Remember, no one is forcing you to upgrade to the latest version of OS X. If you want a more reliable operating system now, stick with Mavericks, and upgrade to Yosemite next year after all of the bugs are worked out.

Wed 2/11 Genius Bar Logos

ifo Apple Store relays the sad news that Apple’s is removing the historic Genius Bar logos from its retail stores.

An original and significant element of Apple’s retail stores is disappearing. Over the past month workers have been removing the “atom” symbol that has pinpointed the Genius Bars since the first store opened in 2001, and they are replacing it with wall graphics to match those recently installed in back-lit wall displays. The Corte Madera (N. Calif.) store was the latest to make the change. The symbol was based on the chemistry depiction of an atom, meant to signify “genius.”

I worked under the historic Genius Bar logo for over three years. I always though it was classy and elegant, even if the title of “Genius” was a little much. I will be sad to see it go.

Wed 2/4 Missing The Zip

Christopher Phin remembers the Zip Disk.

A little over 20 years ago, however, when Iomega introduced the original 100MB Zip disk, that was staggeringly huge for a removable disk. The wildly more common 3.5-inch floppies held 1.4MB. For context, the entry-level PowerBook 150, introduced in the same year, had a 120MB hard disk, and the base configurations of even 1994’s server Macs came with hard disks that were only five times the capacity of the Zip disk.

The Zip disk was popular because it was small and cheap. In the late 90’s it was the Air Jordan’s of the Sneakernet. But by the mid 2000’s, USB flash drives were smaller, CD-Rs were even cheaper, and both could store more data.

I made sure to purchase a 250 MB Zip drive with my Power Mac G4 in the Summer of 2001. The Zip Disk was the standard mechanism of file transfer in the design industry, and I did not want to be left behind. I can’t remember using that Zip drive very much. By the time I was out of art school the whole industry had moved over to USB flash drives and rewritable CDs.