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Apple, “Pro,” and Profits – Kirkville

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Apple’s new high-end, all-in-one workstation, the iMac Pro, is now available for order. Many people have gone to Apple’s website to configure the top-of-the-line model, finding it can cost upwards of $13,000 (or about one Apple Watch Edition, first generation). This is obviously just messing around, to see how much it would run to have the best processor, the fastest video card, 128 GB RAM and a 4 TB SSD.

The starting price for the iMac Pro is $5,000, and those who have looked into the various configurations seem to have found that the $7,200 10-core model offers the most bang for the buck.

But this isn’t a Mac for you and me; this is a Mac for real professionals.

For a long time, Apple has used the word “pro” to indicate devices that aren’t for professionals; they just suggest a higher level of performance or options. Take the current iPad Pro; there’s nothing specifically professional about that, it’s an iPad for anyone who wants slightly better features. The iMac Pro is for people with serious needs in terms of processing and data transfer, and not something that you’d buy on a whim.

The MacBook Pro? Nope, not just for professionals, but a better computer than the smaller, more limited MacBook and MacBook Air.

The Mac Pro? Even those computers – there were two models – weren’t just for professionals. I owned both of them. The first, known as the cheese grater because of its case, was a very good computer for anyone who wanted more than an iMac. I bought one back in 2006, and used it for several years. I especially appreciated the ability to add more hard drives and a second optical drive to the computer. It cost more than the current iMac models, but not that much; it started at $2,500, when a 20-inch iMac cost $1,500 at the time. Yes, you needed a display, but many of us already had one.

The second Mac Pro, which I bought in 2014, cost a bit more. (Information I find suggests that it retailed for $3,000, but my invoice shows that I paid under £2,100. I don’t know if I perhaps got a discount somehow…) The 27-inch iMac at the time, with the faster processor option, cost $2,000, so in each of these cases, the Mac Pro cost about 50% more than the best available iMac.

Apple has been criticized in recent years for ignoring the pro market, for still selling the 2013 Mac Pro at the same price as when it was released with now four-year old technology. The iMac Pro is the first attempt to remedy this, and we are told that a new Mac Pro will see the light next year.

My gut feeling is that Apple didn’t update the Mac Pro in part because they didn’t sell a lot of them. (There were some technical reasons that limited their ability to upgrade the computer, because of its form factor.) And they didn’t want to lower the price and admit that they were wrong. But now, they simply need to have professional-quality computers in their line-up.

I’m speculating, but I think Apple won’t be making much of a profit from the iMac Pro, or the coming Mac Pro, but rather needs to have these computers as flagship devices to show that the company can innovate. If they take a loss, because of R&D costs, it’s not a big deal, because for every iMac Pro or Mac Pro they’ll sell, they probably book 10,000 iPhones.

So these computers truly are for professionals, and perhaps some of the technology will trickle down to the rest of us. But above all, I think they are so Apple can show the world that it can still make computers that are better than any others.

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tingham
1 day ago
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I'm betting that the iMP is priced so that Apple is seeing similar profit from two non-pro models. Gruber made mention of there needing to be a balance in incentives for Apple to produce workstation grade computers but I can't find it now. By putting the price point at a place where they DO make a lot of money per unit; this provides the incentive needed to continue building better ones. (Kind of like the iPhone X argument… maybe?)

If the new Mac Pro releases at $7500 I won't be surprised unless it's all soldered-in components. Apple has got to start supporting full desktop GPU (with some form of future proofing) or it's just not going to work. Whatever that costs is fine by me but this iMP is just … I don't get it.
Cary, NC
MotherHydra
1 day ago
I remember the operative word used when Apple discussed the Mac Pro was modular, so I too am hoping that full-sized GPUs make a return in some way. I'm disappointed that a 2010 Mac Pro can outgun the sad GPU options inside the iMP, because as you point out, none of it really adds up given who Apple says they target with the device. Next year should be interesting to say the least.
MotherHydra
1 day ago
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While I don't think Apple would ever willingly sell a product without a tidy profit built in, Kirk lays out a solid perspective on these upcoming machines. I'll be interested to see how the as-yet-unseen Mac Pro stacks up in terms of specs. I wonder if it could possibly come in cheaper configurations when compared to the iMac Pro, it certainly seems like it would be best situated as a more configurable machine than the iMac Pro (you better get all the RAM you need right up front).
Space City, USA
peelman
4 hours ago
i was so busy this week this slid right past me. looking at the default specs, i am almost intrigued. but the prospect of a true Mac Pro on the horizon will keep me fence sitting. this may well be my next Mac. but i’m not willing to fork over that kind of cash yet.
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Brad Makes A Knife with Bob Kramer | It's Alive | Bon Appétit

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From: Bon Appétit
Duration: 14:06

Bon Appétit Test Kitchen manager, Brad Leone, is back for episode 20 of "It's Alive," and this time he's visiting the workshop of legendary knife maker Bob Kramer to see what goes into making a high quality chef's knife. Together they forge, grind, and squish their way through creating a 5 inch utility blade. A high quality chef's knife makes a great gift if you're still looking for the perfect present for your culinary loved ones this holiday season, or just to step up your own kitchen game. Check out kramerknives.com for additional designs, products, and maintenance tips.

Join Bon Appétit test kitchen manager, Brad Leone, on a wild, roundabout and marginally scientific adventure exploring fermented foods and more. From cultured butter and kombucha, to kimchi and miso, to beer and tepache, learn how to make fermented and live foods yourself.

Still haven’t subscribed to Bon Appetit on YouTube? ►► http://bit.ly/1TLeyPn

ABOUT BON APPÉTIT
Cook with confidence using Bon Appetit’s kitchen tips, recipes, videos, and restaurant guides. Stay current on the latest food trends, dining destinations, and hosting ideas.

Brad Makes A Knife with Bob Kramer | It's Alive | Bon Appétit

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tingham
1 day ago
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Recently decanted my first batch of sauerkraut. Brad saved my life. Watch every video he makes.
Cary, NC
dreadhead
2 days ago
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Vancouver Island, Canada
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Apple off to a promising start with its revamped pro Mac lineup

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by Dan Moren

So, the iMac Pro is shipping. After many years’ worth of fretting and worrying, Apple once again has a pro-level desktop that boasts the modern technology. And all is right with the world.

But is it? There’s no disputing that the iMac Pro is a capable machine: with up to 18 cores, a maximum of 128GB of RAM, and a hefty video card, the benchmarks indicate that this is a machine that can take everything you throw at it.

And yet it’s not Apple’s whole “pro” story. In an interview with select outlets back in April of this year, Apple executive Phil Schiller had multiple shoes to drop, including this morsel:

With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call ‘completely rethinking the Mac Pro.’ We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.

In other words, pro Mac users have a lot to look forward to in 2018 and beyond.

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tingham
1 day ago
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Seeing the price tags on the iMP – really glad I started putting an extra weekly deposit in my mutual fund back in February.
Cary, NC
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How Stardew Valley helped me cope with depressive episodes

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A few years ago, in an attempt to understand my own behaviour and increase my own theoretical knowledge, I picked up a variety of books which examined why video games mattered. Each investigated a different aspect of video games, whether it was the history or their influence on modern society, but one in particular stood out to me – Reality is Broken by game designer Jane McGonigal.

In this book, McGonigal explores the psychological needs video games fulfill, particularly for those who struggle with mental health issues, and argues that games have the potential to radically improve our day-to-day lives.

In truth, part of the reason I had picked up these books in the first place was for validation that my lifelong depression was not being intensified by my lifelong hobby. I desperately wanted an explanation for why I play video games more during a depressive episode, one that wasn’t simply “it’s escapism”. Then I reached one particular line in Reality is Broken which will stay with me always, a quote by play theorist Brian-Sutton Smith: “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.”

“It’s a perfect description of the emotional state of gameplay,” writes McGonigal about this quote. “A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”

stardew_valley_lolz

As someone who finds themselves unable to relax when not working, this explanation makes sense to me. Games provide us with productive, hands on work away from dreary reality. We like to be challenged and stimulated in a way we control. However, when I’m not in the right frame of mind, I’m often overcome with guilt that I should be doing something ‘purposeful’ with my free time and sometimes my favourite games just don’t fulfill that need.

If I spend countless hours playing competitive matches and somehow manage to lose rank, or lose an established Sims family in a fire, it feels as though those hours have been wasted and I have nothing to show for it. I come away more stressed than I was when the session began, like a bad day at work. There’s other times when I simply don’t feel up to the challenge of competitive games but don’t want the monotony of repetitive simulators. It’s a fragile line to balance.

However, when it comes to indie farming-simulator Stardew Valley, there is none of that guilt or stress.

Back in October, nearly two years after its original launch on Steam, Stardew Valley released on Nintendo Switch to a sea of praise. Everyone seemed to be hyped about it, particularly friends I’ve made through mental health advocacy who claimed it was helping with their anxiety.

I was curious how this game was any different from the likes of Farmville or Harvest Moon, farming simulation games which I had poured hours into during difficult times only to find I felt even emptier at the end of my session.

stardew_valley_multiplayer (1)

Stardew Valley had been sitting in my Steam library, practically untouched, since I bought it at launch. Apart from the hour I spent assessing it originally, I hadn’t really given Pelican Town, or its residents, a chance.

The nature of my illness means that though I tend to function fairly well on a day to day basis, despite my anxiety, I have unpredictable and bad depressive episodes. When Stardew Valley released on Switch, I was in the depths of one of these episodes and once again sought something to waste away my hours.

Perhaps it was my mindset, or maybe it’s simply the charming aesthetic, but this time I became fully consumed by Stardew Valley. Its delightful soundtrack, perky residents and nostalgic art style, remind me of childhood games like Pokémon, immediately setting me at ease.

The general premise of Stardew Valley is nothing new: you inherit a farm from your grandfather, move from the big city to a quaint town and are expected to turn your inheritance into an agricultural empire of some sort while completing quests for your neighbours. Simple stuff.

As McGonigal explains in her book, and I will butcher with my layman’s description, a large part of why we enjoy games like this is because they are focused tasks which present a clear outcome. I felt happy when I planted fields of strawberries because when I sold my crops I was able to see how much money I made and it gave me a much-needed feeling of achievement. “I completed the task and here’s the outcome, I didn’t waste my time because look how nice my farm looks and how much lovely money I have”. It made those poorly functioning receptors in my brain perk up a bit.

stardew valley boat

Initially, as the quests began to pile up, I was overwhelmed, wondering how I could ever do everything at once – plant my parsnips, water them, make friends, clean up my farm and still have the energy to investigate the never-ending mines. Even the idea of it now makes my heart pound in my chest. How is this helping anyone’s anxiety?. Then I realised the true gem of Stardew Valley – you don’t have to do everything at once, you have all the time in the world.

You see Stardew Valley isn’t meant to be a short term game. You don’t rush to the finish line. You work at your own pace, prioritising what you see fit and taking on as much as you can handle, even if that means bite-size chunks. This was a perfect recipe for me to be spoon-fed during a time when I struggled to even wash. I knew if I didn’t grow the crops I needed to this season I could always do it next year. If I didn’t get a chance to complete a quest today, there’s always tomorrow. I soon developed my own routine without external pressures.

The beauty of Stardew Valley is that you cannot fail and you cannot die. The worst that can happen is you end up in hospital after a rough night in the mines and have to restart the day. But that’s not to say Stardew Valley shies away from reality. Do not assume it is a place us sad folk disappear into to escape the horrors of everyday life. If anything life’s difficulties are mirrored in the townfolk of Pelican Town. Take Shane for example, my choice of resident to woo. As you develop a relationship with Shane you begin to learn he is not simply a dick to everyone in town, he secretly struggles with alcoholism and depression. When watching Shane’s story play out, I did not find it harrowing, I found it comforting that his problems were acknowledged at all in a game which, on the surface, appears to simply be about running a farm. I felt connected to the characters because they were like me.

Stardew Valley will remain a safe haven for myself, and others like me. Somewhere, even if you don’t quite feel up to the day’s challenge, you always have tomorrow or the next day. Where you are encouraged to be productive and stretch your creative abilities, but not penalised when you cannot meet the mark – because there is no mark or expectations. Time slows down here, training us to address problems as and when we can. I know that even if I can’t get out of my pyjamas today, Demetrius will be ecstatic with the melon I grew him.

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tingham
3 days ago
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If any hot take about vidyagamez needs a signal boost this one is your huckleberry. I've had a very similar experience lately having come back to SDV on the Switch.
Cary, NC
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Cabel Sasser’s First Look at the iMac Pro

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Speaking of Twitter threads, here’s a short one from Cabel Sasser, after a few days with the iMac Pro:

Games. Fired up the ol’ Firewatch, to test the iMac Pro (Radeon Pro Vega 64) vs. my current Retina 5K iMac (Radeon R9 M295X). At 2560 × 1440, the iMac topped out at 25 FPS, the iMac Pro at 62 FPS (!).

You have to love the black Lightning cable.

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tingham
4 days ago
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Kindayawn.
Cary, NC
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1 public comment
johnparkinson
4 days ago
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I find it amusing that that getting 62fps in Firewatch at 2560x1440 is considered any great achievement.
London
MotherHydra
1 day ago
Think of all the buttery-smooth walking that can now take place! Kind of. LOL.

Infrequent Site Stories is the blog reader we need

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Launching today on all three platforms—web, iOS, and Android—is the new Infrequent Site Stories view. This configurable river of news offers a view of stories only from the blogs that publish less often than 1 story per day.

Most of what you see in your day-to-day feed is news that’s up to the minute and is probably stale within a day. Even 8 hour old news can be a problem. But sometimes what you want is an overview of the news that isn’t exactly news. It’s stories from the blogs who have individual authors, or blogs that publish only a few times a month. And missing out on those stories is a tragedy because it is those blogs that pushed you to invest in an RSS reader in the first place.

Today I’m happy to introduce a new feature that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s called Infrequent Site Stories and you can find it at the top of your feed list on the web, on iOS, and on Android.

Infrequent Site Stories is the river that captures stories from those authors who aren’t pulling from the firehose. These are the stories that are more thoughtful and more relevant days, weeks, months, or even years down the line. These stories are not to be missed. And the best thing about these stories is that there are far fewer of them than there are of your normal full river from All Site Stories.

You can also configure the Infrequent river to be more or less inclusive of content that is more or less frequently published by changing the filter anywhere from 5 to 90 stories per month.

These options are also available on all three official NewsBlur platforms and will let you perform a filter similar to how Focus mode reduces your number of unreads. It’s great to dip into Infrequent Site Stories and get stories you would ordinarily miss out on.

Try out the new Infrequent Site Stories feed, available only to premium subscribers. If your experience is anything like mine, it’ll be one of the new must read feeds in your reader.

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samuel
5 days ago
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I’m thinking about making the list of rivers customizable so you can hide any of the three (global shared, all site, infrequent site).
The Haight in San Francisco
JayM
5 days ago
Just being able to click/touch and drag would be great for the order of the items.
tingham
5 days ago
@Samuel Is there an open item on get satisfaction for this discussion?
samuel
5 days ago
No I'm just spit balling. Had the idea a while ago and figured it was time now since some people read every story and have no need for this special filtered feed.
dlanods
5 days ago
Please. I use All, but don't use Global and I can't see myself using Infrequent, so having to remember to aim for the central button of three very similar buttons doesn't feel like great usability given how often I'm misclicking at the moment. Bring able to move All to the bottom would be much nicer.
tingham
5 days ago
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Maybe do: https://twitter.com/tingham/status/940279104082980865 instead?
Cary, NC
deezil
5 days ago
That was what I wanted in a much cleaner way than what I was going to explain with just words.
rosskarchner
5 days ago
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I've been imagining the opposite feature-- there are feeds, where if an item goes unread for more than a day (or even a few hours, say for an evening Axios newsletter), I'm never gonna be interested, and would prefer them just to silently disappear or be marked as read.
DC-ish
zackfern
5 days ago
I've also wanted a feature like this. But I'm still very excited about this Infrequent Stories feature! Thanks Samuel!
expatpaul
5 days ago
I would also really like this feature. I would prefer a cut-off of a couple of days, but if this was configurable (feed and "stale" date) then we would all be happy :-)
wreichard
5 days ago
Infrequent stories will be great, but what you’re describing is really the feature I dream of. Right now I use Apple News (shudder)for that.
luizirber
4 days ago
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Davis, CA
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3 public comments
brennen
2 days ago
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This is good stuff.
Boulder, CO
tante
5 days ago
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"Infrequent Side Stories" are a great idea to quickly determine the stuff beyond news. Love @newsblur for that kind of stuff.
Oldenburg/Germany
sfrazer
5 days ago
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Perils of UI changes: I keep clicking "Infrequent Site Stories" instead of "All Site Stories" because I target the area above my top feed name, not the words in the label.
Chicago
docheart
5 days ago
Agreed. I read all my news feeds and I would like the option to turn this off. I do love the new app and how it looks on my phone otherwise. Thanks!
deezil
5 days ago
Since I got this, I have clicked on that new header probably a dozen times.
chaosdiscord
5 days ago
I'm intrigued by the idea, and will dabble with it. But like sfrazer, it's throwing off my default use case of reading "All Site Stories." Now ASS (snicker) is in the middle, making a less obvious target. Maybe swap ASS and ISS?
philipstorry
5 days ago
Yep, swapping would be most welcome. Otherwise, a great feature!
JimB
5 days ago
Agreed. Damned irritating. I posted a suggestion to disable it within a couple of days of the feature first arriving.
lhagan
5 days ago
It's no help if you're using one of the native apps, but in the web app you can easily remove the Infrequent button by adding this under Account > Custom CSS: .NB-feeds-header-river-infrequent { display: none; }
hooges
5 days ago
tweeted about this exact same problem. I'm a big fan of all site stories, wish this was moved up one spot
alexlomas
3 days ago
Exactly the same here!
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