Welcome to SEAL

South Essex Apple Link is an Apple user group run by enthusiasts with a collective deep understanding of the Apple technologies and its user community. SEAL welcomes Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users across the whole of Essex and surrounding areas.

We are currently meeting online every two weeks, for more details see our About page.

Next meeting: Friday 19th July 2024 Online (we will not be meeting on 5th July)

December 2012 Meeting Report

SEAL finished the year off with a meeting that was full of information although there wasn’t a great deal of information about new products from Apple other than the all new slim iMac 21.5” from £1099 and the 27” from £1499.

Some concerns were raised due to the “Bonded” screen, what happens after your warranty has expired it would be almost impossible to replace internal components say like the harddrive without the help of an Apple “Genius” or those very clever people at iFixit, here is a quote from iFixit during teardown of the new slim 21.5” iMac.

The fused display may look awesome, but at what cost, Apple? At. What. Cost?

The cost is quickly apparent: cutting open the display destroys the foam adhesive securing it shut. Putting things back together will require peeling off and replacing all of the original adhesive, which will be a major pain for repairers.

Given these concerns it would appear that sales of the new iMac are very strong, it certainly is a very good looking iMac that has little or no screen reflection due to the “Bonded” screen.

The best advice we can give is that you do buy AppleCare protection plan, after all said and done even Apple products go wrong!

As is quite normal at our meetings, we had a couple of demonstrations from club members. The first being the slightly delayed launch of iTunes 11. It certainly showed how much has changed since we first saw iTunes back in 2001.

For some it has a much improved look but still has the much appreciated software. The immediate impression is that there more graphics and fewer lists of text but with a more intuitive user experience.

On the left you have your libraries, while in the centre you can choose to view by artist or album, and on the right you will see your devices that are connected and the iTunes store.

We were shown how you can easily connect multiple devices to iTunes and still have them displayed all in one neat and tidy place. Browsing your collections in the new expanded view, that puts all the information about your albums in one stylish place making it less easy to get confused about what you are listening to.

The loss of Coverflow is to some an irritation but Apple says that not many people use it!

One very interesting iTunes 11 feature shown to us was the new ‘Miniplayer’ that gives a whole new window, not just a mode for iTunes. Using this ‘Miniplayer’ we saw how easy it is to find whatever you need from within this new window.

First impressions at the meeting of the new ‘Miniplayer’ was in the main very good. Building your playlists was so easy, as easy as a walk in the park.

iTunes 11 for general storage of music, movies and other entertainment media for the average user, appears to be very good but already “Power Users“ are saying that with massive libraries that they have iTunes is still a flabby monster.

Playing tracks from the cloud was good and the search feature is much improved. The new ‘Next Up’ feature makes it much easier when queuing tracks and a great addition.

The overall opinion of iTunes 11 at our meeting, “it was worth waiting for.”

We also had a demonstration of Reflector a highly impressive application that “Mirrors” what you are doing on your Apple device to another device over Wifi (AirPlay).

The application was very responsive in that what you did on one device, was immediately reflected on all devices that are connected over WiFi.

It was felt that this would be an ideal solution in a classroom situation, an iPhone 5 was able to control what was being displayed on the big screen.

That’s it from SEAL for this year, we wish you all a very happy Christmas and that you have a truly great year in 2013.

November 2012 Meeting Report

The November SEAL meeting went off with a bang, can’t say it was fireworks but nevertheless a very interesting meeting.

As usual we talked about the past month’s Apple news that included the new iPad mini, there were some thoughts about it’s size and weight stating with the WiFI version Weight: 308 g (0.68 pounds) with the Wi-Fi + Cellular version weighing in at 312 g (0.69 pounds) Height: 200 mm (7.87 inches) Width: 134.7 mm (5.3 inches) Depth: 7.2 mm (0.28 inches). The look and feel of the iPad Mini is great but it does show how good the Retina display is on the current iPad. It remains to be seen if the iPad mini will be a winner with Apple consumers, although for those of you that like to read books in the digital format the iPad mini would be ideal.

The ultra-thin design of the new iMac starts off with a price tag of £1099.00 for the 21.5 inch 2.7GHz available in November, with the 27 inch 2.9GHz starting at £1,499.00 available in December. The widescreen display has been reengineered reducing reflection by 75%.

As always we had the popular workshop where club members can discuss any issues they are having with their devices. One such member was having problems with WiFi and connecting to other devices, as always our club members were on-board, all issues were resolved with complete satisfaction.

Club member David made a recommendation for a free battery management app available from the App Store, called Battery Doctor (Battery Saver, Battery Life) by Beijing Kingsoft Internet Security software Co.Ltd. The App is compatable with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

David did say that the App had strong words with him for fully charging (With Trickle Charge) more than once in 30 days, whereas he should only be charging as and when needed, then once a month do a thorough charge with trickle.

Some other comments from David said that he is somewhat suprised at the number of Mac users that logon with their Admin password to do their everyday tasks. There were some comments on this, like “What’s wrong with that” and “I always do,” David said that it is something that he would never do, because he believes it may be possible to circumvent the Admin logon, from outside and gain access to data. In a similar vein (Security), he said that someone on the Apple Support Communities website asked if there is a way to automatically open a file embedded in an Email, his answer to that question was, Bad Idea! If there is a way, don’t do it!

It is hoped that one of our SEAL members will be able to put together a demonstration of Aperture for Mac, in the near not to distant future, we look forward to that.

October 2012 Meeting Report

South Essex Apple Link October 2012 Report.

The October meeting had a lot to offer, what with the new iPhone being released in late September and iOS6.

iPhone 5 Sells 5M on Launch Weekend
Exceeds the 4M sold by the iPhone 4S. The new iPod touch and iPod nano are now also available. iFixIt Teardown available: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone-5-Teardown/10525/1

Many members were quite vocal about what they see as falling quality standards on Apple hardware and software, general feeling was that Apple have been at the very top of the market for a long time giving the buying public what they want but now the competition is is getting tougher, Apple is rushing to get stuff out to the waiting public. We have always relied on Apple to provide a quality product but in the last year or so standards do appear to have slipped, to the point that Tim Cook wrote an open letter of apology to Apple’s customers stating that Maps fell short of their usual commitment to deliver the best experience.

He stated that customers using Maps and submitting feedback will help the product improve feedback can be submitted within the Maps App. In the meantime he evensuggests that customers try mapping products from other companies including Nokia and Google. Then on the other hand, the Taiwanese government thinks Apple Maps is too good, they’ve asked for one of their sensitive radar installations to be blurred out!

Apple TV 5.1 Update
Free software update for 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV
Subscribe to Shared Photo Streams, a new iCloud feature. Support for sending sound to Air Play speakers and devices. Search for movie trailers.
Switch quickly between multiple iTunes accounts, New screensaver options, ability to reorder menu buttons. Other minor improvements.

September 2012 Meeting Report

At the September Meeting we discussed Apple’s recent special event where the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5G and new iPod Nano were announced.

During our workshop session, topics included extending a WiFi network, hard drive failures and the importance of good backups. During the hard drive discussion, David suggested the Data Cent Failing hard drive sounds page which has sound clips of faulty drives to help you identify if yours is sounding abnormal.


August 2012 Meeting Report

At the August meeting we discussed the month’s Apple news including iTunes movies in the cloud (now available in the UK), Apple gaining control of the Apple.co.uk domain and the rumours of an iPhone announcement on the 12th of September.

We then talked about the widely reported hack on Wired reporter Mat Honan which lead to the breach of several of his accounts including his Apple iCloud account. As well as being an interesting story this hack has some important lessons on how one vulnerable account can let a hacker into many others and the potential consequences.

The bulk of the meeting consisted of a presentation of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion by Dave and Robert. Dave showed many of the new features of the OS including some smaller ones members might not have heard about. Features that sparked particular interest were Dictation, the Safari 6 “Omnibar” and the Gatekeeper security system. Robert then gave a more in-depth look at Notification Centre.

At future meetings we’ll cover some other aspects of Mountain lion in more detail. If you’re interesting in finding out more, Ars Technica have an excellent review covering the OS in great detail.



July 2012 Meeting Report

At the July meeting there was plenty of news to discuss with Apple’s WWDC announcements of iOS 6, the Retina Display MacBook Pro and details of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. We also talked about Microsoft’s Surface announcement and the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Robert gave a talk on SSDs (Solid State Drives, flash memory based hard drives) which Apple are now fitting as standard to many Macs. He covered the principle of operation and some of the advantages and disadvantages of using an SSD. Then he explained how he upgraded his Early 2009 Mac mini with an SSD.

Some useful pages with further information about SSDs:

Storage Review’s comparison of SSDs and HDDs - http://www.storagereview.com/ssd_vs_hdd

Paper on SSD security (technical) by Michael Wei et al. - http://static.usenix.org/events/fast11/tech/full_papers/Wei.pdf