Gary Allen, on the end of ifo Apple Store

In a post titled "My Work Here is Done:"

So, I’m doing to focus on my family and friends, drop the demands of writing and get back to what it was before—just fun. I won’t be writing new stories, but will attempt to keep up with some of the list-type material on this Web site for reference.

I'll miss Gary's insight into Apple, as well as his obsessive love of detail. Over the years, we have traded emails several times, and he's always been very kind and very helpful. Best of luck, friend.

On the MessagePad 2000

My buddy Thomas Brand has put together a nice set of links to celebrate the 18th birthday of the Newton MessagePad 2000.

I owned a 2000 for several years in college, complete with Wi-Fi card, keyboard and carrying case. It synced contacts, calendars and more with my PowerBook G4 via an ADB/USB adaptor. I could send and receive email, take class notes and more all on the little green machine.

While some of my classmates would use laptops, no one was using anything like the Newton. This was around 2005 — two years before the iPhone would be announced. Needless to say, I got some looks, but I didn't care. The Newton was fast, easy to use and offered a lot of things that just weren't possible at the time without a laptop.

I ended up selling my MessagePad to pay off my wife's engagement ring, but every once in a while, I cruise eBay looking for a replacement. One of these days, I'll pull the trigger.

Connected 32: I Misplaced That Civil War

This week's show is a fun one:

Stephen, Myke and Federico talk about some Italian history, TeleText’s current state in Sweden and then answer listener questions.

These awesome sponsors made it all possible:

  • Bushel: a cloud-based mobile device management solution for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.
  • PDFPen Scan+, from Smile: The app for mobile scanning and OCR.

More on Apple Retail Watch training

Mark Gurman:

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.

Don't miss the leaked training image:

On a backlight Apple Bluetooth keyboard

Joe Rossignol at MacRumors:

A new Apple wireless keyboard featuring backlight keys and a power button has been spotted on the Apple Online Store in Czech Republic and Hungary, with an identical Arabic version appearing on the U.S. storefront. The graphic render shows controls for adjusting the brightness of the backlight added to the F5 and F6 keys, as found on current MacBook models, while the eject key for CDs has been replaced with a power button.

I use the Apple wireless keyboard both at home and work, and have long wanted a backlit version. My guess is that if this is coming, it's got some tech from the MacBook's new keyboard in it. If this thing is real, I'll be picking one up.

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This post is sponsored via The Syndicate.

The 512 Guide: 'Which Mac desktop should I buy?'

Apple's desktop line is far simpler than its notebook one, but there are still many considerations to make before purchasing something like a Mac mini or iMac. The company sells far more laptops than desktops, but for many companies, schools and stay-at-home workers, a desktop can make a lot more sense.

Mac mini

Apple's smallest desktop machine, the Mac mini, is often heralded by the company as the perfect machine for a first-time Mac owner — it's designed to be able to drop in to an existing setup of screen, keyboard and mouse and just go.

The base $499 model is the cheapest Mac by $400, and while not the fastest thing on the market, handles OS X Yosemite without any issues.

If you do want more power, the Mac mini is more than capable for even a veteran OS X user, with lots of nice build-to-order options, including a dual-core Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB SSD. A fully loaded Mac mini can cost over $2,000, but sometimes the size (and headless operation) can come in handy.

What's Hot:

  • Small size and quiet operation
  • Flexibility in setup options

What's Not:

  • No quad-core option for pro users

Who is it for?

Anyone looking for a quiet, capable Mac to replace a PC. The Mac mini also shows up in data centers, media centers and more, due to its small size.

iMac

In my mind, the iMac is the default answer for most anyone looking for a desktop Mac. With a 21.5-inch or 27-inch built-in display, the iMac is the all-in-one for the masses. Thanks to Bluetooth accessories and wireless networking, most users will only need to plug in the power cable to get up and running.

Like the Mac mini, the iMac is very customizable, with near-endless options for RAM and storage options. Generally, the smaller of the two models isn't as powerful, but like with most Macs, even the base model is more than enough computer for an average user.

What's Hot:

  • Neat and tidy all-in-one form factor

What's Not:

  • Screen can't be reused by another system once the iMac is out of comission
  • The $1,099 model is limited to 8GB of on-board RAM
  • Only the 27-inch model can have its RAM upgraded later

Who is it for?

The iMac is for the masses. It's comfortable at home, in the classroom and at the office. While the upgradability of these machines in the long-term means being careful what you order, most users will find it a worthwhile trade-off for the iMac's thin, clean design.

iMac with Retina 5K display

The poorly-named iMac with Retina 5K display is basically a high-end 27-inch iMac with a much better screen. In the future, all iMacs will have such amazing display panels, but for now, the cost of entry starts at $2,499.00.

For that, however, the base Retina iMac comes with a fast CPU and 8GB RAM, which can be upgraded to a mind-blowing 32GB RAM, a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and a 1TB SSD.

The Retina display isn't a necessity, but for creative professionals, it gives a level of detail and quality that the other iMacs just can't deliver.

What's Hot:

  • That Retina display
  • Everything else that's great about the iMac

What's Not:

  • Steep price of entry

Who is it for?

Any creative professional who cares about screen and color quality above all else.

Mac Pro

The Mac Pro sits a the top of the Mac line, putting performance above everything else. It's a rocket in a world of airplanes; a desert speeder in the land of family sedans.

Starting at $2,999, the Mac Pro can be configured up to $9,599 with these specs:

  • 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache
  • 64GB (4x16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
  • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

This isn't a computer for the living room or home office; it's a world-class workhorse for audio and video editing.

What's Hot:

  • Power
  • Power
  • Power

What's Not:

  • Thunderbolt is still weird in places
  • No external Retina displays ... yet

Who is it for?

Video and audio professionals who need as much power as is available from an Apple product.

Inside Apple's Watch Health Lab

Good Morning America has a behind-the-scenes look at Apple's health lab:

Apple engineers, managers and developers have been secretly volunteering for the past year in this state-of-the-art lab to participate in rowing, running, yoga and many more fitness activities in order to collect data for the Apple Watch’s inner workings.

I love the hands-on, throw-people-at-the-problem approach used by Apple in this case: