Apple Vision Pro reviews and commentary

If you’re interested in understanding Apple Vision Pro,  I recommend the review by Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), who says, “Just as interesting as this individual product is the possible future that this implies”

Apple Vision Pro Review: Tomorrow’s Ideas… Today’s Tech!

As usual the production is superb, but more important is the insight Marques brings. Watch the whole thing. 

Marques also did an earlier video that goes into the details of Apple Vision Pro, how to use it and how the gesture control and other features work. It’s excellent for those of us who like to dive into the details. 

Using Apple Vision Pro: What It’s Actually Like!

I also have to point you to the video Casey Neistat made. It’s ridiculous and also profound. It’s hilarious watching him riding the subway and walking around Times Square. And you get the feel of what this thing is like, better than any other video I’ve seen so far. His commentary at the end is spot on. Check it out:

the thing no one will say about Apple Vision Pro

The conversation about what this thing means and how to think about it is expanded in The Talk Show 395, With Special Guest Adam Lisagor

 You can get this as an audio podcast, but the video, showing John and Adam as their Apple Vision Pro personas is worth watching. Adam’s company, Sandwich, makes commercials with personality and style. Adam understands how to communicate about technology, and their conversation about Apple Vision Pro touches on all those human elements of what this technology means. Yeah, it’s long. I think it’s all worth watching, but you can check out the intro for the first two minutes and then skip to the chapters that interest you. The Chapters “Using Vision Pro”, “The Apple Ecosystem”,  and “Filmmaking and Vision Pro” are my own highlights. 

So now that I’ve given you a bunch of homework, what’s my take on this new device and the future of this new technology? It’s pretty simple: You don’t need an Apple Vision Pro. But you will. 

An Old Server, Renewed

I’ve had my hands in Unix/Linux system administration for most of my life. I first touched Unix at University, but didn’t really get into it until a couple years later when I was working in Manufacturing and Technical Support in my first job. Later, at Silicon Graphics, I was deep in it – at one point being the go-to person in our backline support center for obscure topics like troublshooting a problematic (old unix heads will understand). And of course, I’ve administered my own Linux systems since the 90’s.

Some months ago, a warning about PHP compatibility in WordPress woke me up to the reality that my system that serves this site was terribly out of date. I had done security patches and various updates, but the long rock-solid foundation of Ubuntu 16.04 (LTS) and Nginx 1.10 should now be brought up to current along with PHP. Took me a few months to get around to it.

Think how daunting this task is. Each major update of an operating system is fraught, even for Windows and macOS which assume less sophisticated users than does Linux.  I had a carefully crafted multi-site Nginx web server, handling five domains and two semi-private experiments in a combination of plain HTML/CSS and dynamic database-backed Content Management Systems (mostly WordPress). To bring this server up to current, Linux would require three (3!) major updates, not to mention the updates to MySQL, PHP, Nginx, and other various bits. sigh

An alternative was to set this all up from scratch again. I could setup a new server with Ubuntu 22.04, and the latest Nginx and PHP, and maybe move the database to MariaDB. I played with this for a bit. Setting up the new server is a quick thing, but getting everything else migrated and working just right… Another sigh.

So I bit the bullet and ran the updates. 

Ubuntu 16.04 -> Ubuntu 18.04: pretty easy

Ubuntu 18.04 -> Ubuntu 20.04: Ok, that wasn’t so bad.

Ubuntu 20.04 -> Ubuntu 22.04: Hmmm. Seems like it just worked. 

I tried not to hold my breath too much as I started my testing. I had to disable and delete Apache, which had somehow got installed and enabled even though Nginx was already configured. I had to make a few changes in my Nginx configs so that the various domains would use the right version of PHP. A couple other small tweaks, like disabling a broken old WordPress plugin that wasn’t needed anymore, and… 

It worked! Wow! 

Deepest thank to all the Open Source contributors that make this possible. Truly amazing!

Developer support is key to The new visionOS platforms

A key element of the success of visionOS and the Apple Vision Pro will be how they handle Developer support over the next several months. And it’s not enough to let those developers get their hands on the hardware with some access to support from Apple. It’s critical that the Apple staff that supporting these developers be very active in their code-level and design and interaction support, with a goal to learn from the process actively, and to bring that learning back into Apple for the benefit of visionOS, the Apple Vision Pro and future products, the supporting APIs, the development tools, and the developer support process itself.

The people supporting developers as they learn how to work with visionOS and as they create new apps, games and connected products will be immersed in the developer’s work. This is not just about getting bugs fixed or clarifying the documentation or making improvements to the tools. The learning coming in from this effort should be an important part of the definition of where this thing goes next.

The Timeline is often the wrong paradigm

It’s great to see folks stepping away from assumptions brought over from other social media systems. The river of posts may serve the attention merchants’ engagement goals when they can keep you endlessly scrolling, but it’s not the way we naturally think. So we have filters and other methods of tightening our focus down to the “important stuff”. Or maybe the important people.

Better yet, rethink that interface. We’re seeing a lot of that kind of creativity happening.

Ben Brown, @benbrown, author of Shuttlecraft ( is experiementing with a news reader style interface that lets one browse by person/feed.

I think it’s a great idea, so I told him so:

This started a whole conversation between us, which was very fun.

The creativity and fun of the ActivityPub world (which is not just Mastodon) reminds me of the early days of Twitter when their open developer APIs created an app ecosystem that was dynamic.

Watch WWDC for Technology Futures

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is this morning, and so I’m annoyed by all the people who are wrong on the internet. 😉

The mainstream press, and even some of the tech press (and certainly the financial press) never seem to know what to think of the news from WWDC. The tendency is to think of it as a product announcement event, even though product announcements at WWDC happen only occasionally.

WWDC is the richest look at Apple’s long-term plans that we ever see. As much as individual new products are picked apart and analyzed, the best information about Apple’s plans and the general direction of their technologies and products comes at WWDC.

This is a show for Developers. Most Developers are chomping at the bit to find out what new features and systems will be in this year’s new software, including Apple’s major operating systems (iOS, MacOS, et. al.), and languages and tools (Swift, Xcode, SwiftUI, ARKit, et. al.). Developers want to start building!

But many of us also watch closely for directional signals on what’s coming in the future. For example, Apple’s Memoji are cute animated avatars that you can design and decorate. They are cute and fun, but many people thought them silly and even useless. But developers saw the directional signal: Apple’s deep integration commitment for Augmented Reality. Apple’s commitment to privacy has been on display year after year at WWDC. And although we couldn’t really know it for sure at the time, Apple’s Metal framework for graphics presaged the move to Apple Silicon.

Apple’s just wrapping up the transition to using its own processors, Arm-based Apple Silicon, across all products. The last major product family to get Apple Silicon, Mac Pro, will be coming out soon – possibly being announced at WWDC today.

Both SwiftUI and ARKit are high on my list for expected improvements. They have both been developing in some interesting ways the last couple years and are also both “unfinished” in ways that are both frustrating and intriguing.

The pace is sometimes frustrating. Holes in capabilities (and bugs!) can be maddening. But it’s still remarkable the progress made over a few years.

Hacking with Swift – a great learning resource

I’ve been following Paul Hudson’s work for a few years now, and I’m also a very happy subscriber to his Hacking with Swift+ program. Paul provides great learning resources, many of them for free. If you want to get started learning Swift (and SwiftUI), I recommend 100 Days of SwiftUI, his free learning program. He also has a UIKit version, at 100 Days of Swift.

But right now, around WWDC2022, he’s also running specials on his books and bundles, for 50% off.

I have enjoyed and learned a lot from his books, and own all of his bundles. It’s amazing how he keeps updating the various books. I really don’t know how he does it all. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet him and thank him personally at (or around) WWDC this year.

Learning Swift andSwiftUI

This is a great time to get started learning Swift and SwiftUI. The language and tools have matured to a very usable state, and there are some excellent learning resources out there.

I’ve been learning Swift and SwiftUI for a bit now and I’m getting fairly proficient. During this journey I’ve taken several online courses and bought quite a few books. Most of these were very well done and I’m glad to have supported their creators in some small way. But a few really stand out.

Big bonus for the 2021 Holiday season, these folks are all having Black Friday or Holiday sales. See each site for details.

Hacking with Swift is a website by Paul Hudson that teaches Swift and SwiftUI. His free course 100 Days of SwiftUI is excellent. If you like his style (and his dogs!), he also has some paid options that are very much worth the money – several books and an excellent online membership called Hacking with Swift+ ( Paul keeps creating new lessons and updating old ones and I subscribe so that I can have access to all of it. (Plus I like supporting Paul’s fine work!)

The books that have really made a difference for my deeper understanding of Swift and SwiftUI are all written by Daniel Steinberg at Dim Sum Thinking ( I first met Daniel some years ago at a technical conference where he gave a short talk. I was immediately impressed with his teaching style and the way he brings to life the underlying structure and logic of the programming language and related libraries and tools. His books and lectures go beyond simple “how-to” to teach how things work and why. You can find his brilliant books, including a full bundle of them, and his videos and other work at, and he sells his books as eBooks at Gumroad

If you are coming from a Design Background, or if you are like me and are very much NOT a designer, then you’ll get a lot of value from the courses at Design+Code – Meng and Stephanie are great instructors! Their courses are first-rate, and you can get started for free. I especially love the visual, hands-on teaching method. Also, if you join there are design tools and other extras.

There are so many other wonderful books and courses out there, you can simply poke around and find something to your liking. I feel guilty not listing all those that I know. But the most important thing is to start. Pick a course, free or paid, and get rolling. Try to do a little every day and you’ll make quick progress. And don’t forget to have fun!

You should wait to install MacOS Catalina


There is a lot of really great stuff in Apple’s new macOS release, Catalina (macOS 10.15).

But there is also a lot changed that can cause problems.

I strongly recommend you wait until the first major update (likely macOS 10.15.1) before upgrading to macOS Catalina.

If you do decide to upgrade to Catalina, be sure to take all the usual extra precautions, especially to make a full image backup of your main boot drive. Right now, my recommendation is Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) which has a new version available that works with Catalina. (SuperDuper, my other long-time favorite, has not yet (as of this writing on October 8th, 2019) released a version that works with Catalina.) 

The makers of CCC have written a great blog post, which also explains a bit about what is changed in Catalina that makes it complicated to support and why having a fully bootable backup is essential for safety. (tl;dr – it’s the only way to go BACK to Mojave.)

I always recommend maintaining a fully bootable backup that’s updated on a regular basis, but before this Catalina upgrade, it really is absolutely essential. 


For a full review of macOS Catalina, check out MacStories:

Advice on Computer and Software Upgrades

Keeping your computer software up-to-date is important for security, and also gets you the latest great features. Computer hardware is better than ever, which also means that a computer stays useful longer than ever and is more reliable because of better chassis, connectors and electronics, and fewer moving parts.


Whether you are using macOS (previously Mac OS X), Windows, or Linux, keeping your computer up-to-date gives you the latest security updates and helps keep your computer reliable and fast. We can quibble over preferences and the track records of software vendors, but keeping your software updated is always the best choice.

Continue reading “Advice on Computer and Software Upgrades”

Email Apps

I’ve been using email for over 35 years (no typo) and I’m still surprised by the clever new ideas I see in the best email apps. Email apps can add an email to a reading list, or turn it into an item in your to-do list, or add an event to your calendar. Many have features for smart sorting of your email and to “snooze” an email for later. Many are beautiful and thoughtfully designed with gestures for touch-screen devices.

But what’s best for me is not necessarily what’s best for you. Below I run through some basics about email and make some recommendations for good apps to try.

Continue reading “Email Apps”