Computer Upgrade - 2019

My Computer Headquarters/Office

When I was in the military (Retired Veteran as of Jan, 2005), I wasn't making much money), and couldn't really afford the best computer(s). With my new career (post military), I can finally afford some of the nicer toys offered to consumers these days. The previous computer (another iMac) was purchased in November of 2013. It lasted a long time, and it did it's job well. With the purchase of our new computer (in 2019), I sold the old one back to Apple (as a 'trade-in').

In November of 2019, I upgraded my computer(s). I replaced a late 2013 iMac with a 27-inch montior with a new 27-inch iMac (5k monitor). This new all-in-one computer has the exact same desk-space profile as the previous iMac. I switched from a Mac Pro to the iMac line in 2013. They take up considerably less space, costs a lot less, and this modern line of iMac has more processor power than my old Mac Pro (early 2009 model). The new iMac (purchased in 2019) has an amazing 5K monitor. After my secondary Dell 30" monitor died (after 12+ years of service), I replaced it with an LG 27" monitor, so I've got two monitors (stacked vertically as shown here).

The computer upgrade was started at the begining of November and completed by the middle of November, 2019. Kim and I planned and saved for more than five years in preparation for this upgrade. With a budget of appx $5,000.00 (I didn't spend all of that), I initially planned the computer upgrade for November of 2018, but Apple didn't release an adequate iMac model that year. I considered the purchase of a Mac Mini as a replacement to the iMac desktop, but the Mac Mini doesn't come with a monitor (I didn't want to step down on the monitor option), so I would have had to purchase a monitor separately, and then I would have two 'extra' monitors if I went back to the iMac model the next time I upgraded. Instead I opted to wait. I'm glad I did; this iMac is sweet.

I purchased this IBM powered iMac just before Apple's switchover to the M1 architecture (The new Apple designed/engineered CPUs). Thankfully, I managed to acquire a 27 inch iMac before they were discontinued. Since my purchase in November 2019, Apple has seemingly abandoned this form factor. The 27 inch iMac is a perfect form factor for my needs, but Apple still hasn't (as of Sep 2023) returned this type of desktop to their line up. As a matter of fact, with the introduction of the 24 inch iMac (an M1 design), the new Mac Studio form factor and the reintroduction of the Studio Display, it seems that this may be the last of the 27 inch iMac line...


My Computer: Purchased 01 Nov 2019 / Next upgrade planned for Nov of 2024

Update: As of 17 May 2024- New iMac models (with M3 chips) were announced 30 Oct, 2023. On the 6th of Nov, Apple confirmed that there will be no 27" iMacs. New MacMini models announced 17 Jan, 2023. If I had to replace my 27" iMac (Which has an Intel CPU (see above)) today, I would likely purchase a Mac mini with M2 PRO 12-core CPU/19-core GPU and 32GB of memory (the max possible on the M2 PRO Mac mini) & 2TB SSD storage. I would purchase the MacMini M2 model over the new 24" iMac with M3 chips. I would have to add a display (Mac mini doesn't come with a monitor), possibly an LG 27" 4K monitor, and I would need to purchase a separate webcam (Mac mini with a 2nd party monitor would need a camer and microphone for Facetime). I'm good to go for sound. My Bose speakers (see below) will work fine with the Mac mini. The Mac mini, monitor and webcam should cost me approximately ~$3,000. I already have a good keyboard, Magic Trackpad and second 27" 4K monitor, but I would probably replace my USB hubs with a newer Mac mini specific dock/hub with more/expanded connectivity ports (and possibly an integrated storage bay/enclosure). That might tack on an additional amount; as much as $300.00 more. I'm still holding out hope that Apple will release (now that the M4 has been introduced to the MacBook lineup) a refreshed MacMini with an M4 chip (skipping M3 altogether) in late 2024 (Hopefully before Christmas). Just in time for my planned upgrade.


Hardware/Primary Desktop machine:


Machine type: iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2019/Model Number A2115/Model Identifier iMac 19,1). This is my second iMac. I chose the iMac all-in-one desktop model instead of the Mac Pro (back in 2013). In comparisons of computing power for my needs, I now find that the iMac line has sufficient power to handle my computing needs. You no longer need a Mac Pro to do video editing, rendering, production (even the home video type). In the past, the iMac line couldn't adequately handle this type of application (in my opinion). Since occassional video production is now my most CPU/Graphics intensive application, I easily switched over to the iMac line for my computing needs.

CPU Type: 64 bit, 14nm, ninth generation Intel Processor (released in October of 2018), code named 'Coffee Lake'.

CPU Speed/Number of Cores: I selected the standard build CPU category. The base option comes with a 3.7GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 processor. With the Turbo Boost (automatically enabled based upon processor load), this CPU can clock up to 4.6GHz. This CPU has six, direct channel processing cores (no 'Hyper Threading'). The 6 core CPU has a 9MB shared L3 cache.

Memory: The base model comes equipped with 8GB (2x4GB - Two slots unoccupied) of 2666MHz PC4-21300 DDR4 SO-DIMM SDRAM (260-pin) - The machine has 4 memory slots. Once again, I exercised the 'Bigger is Better' maxim. I didn't quite max out the RAM, but I did opt for a juicier option than the default. I upgraded from the 8GB option to a 32GB option for $540.00. Normally, I opt for a second party upgrade (installing it myself). I'm not sure why I didn't do that this time around... I really should have. Apple charges way too much for the RAM - I could have installed 64GB of memory for appx $400.00 - I'm such an idiot! ...Perhaps I'll attempt an upgrade to 64GB by purchasing some second party RAM? There is some risk that the RAM from two different sources may not work in the iMac. Mismatched RAM is a thing. It could happen.

Display: The iMac desktop comes with a 'built in' monitor - Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that the iMac monitor comes with a 'built in' processor. This particular iMac comes with the juciest monitor one could ever want! It's an amazing 5K monitor. With a 5120 x 2880 resolution, you can clearly see the wrinkles on a gnats ass with this monitor (I operate the monitor using a 2560x1600 resoltion). The glossy glass-covered widescreen monitor has a 16:9 aspect ration, LED backlighting, featuring IPS (In-Plane-Switching) technology, and a P3 color gamut (P3, aka PCI-P3, is a common RGB color space standard created by Apple, Inc) and 500 nits of brightness (the Nit is the standard unit of luminance used to describe various sources of light. A higher rating means a brighter display. Ratings of 500 nits or more are extremely good).

Hard drives: With only one slot for internal storage, I'll need to connect external drives via USB and/or Thunderbolt in order to get the same kind of redundancy/storage I had on the old Mac Pro. The old Mac Pro had a total storage capacity (counting internal and external storage) of 9.28TB.

Internal to 27" iMac:

  • This model came with a 2TB fusion drive. The fusion drive is a serial ATA spinning hard drive (7200rpm) paired with (via PCI-e) a 128GB SSD drive for optimal speed. The 2TB drive is more than spacious enough for my current needs, and the SSD addition makes for super snappy apps, especially those I use most frequently.

External/Network drives:

  • External/Network drives:
  • G-Technology G-RAID 4TB hard drive (Model number GRATHNB40002BAB SKU 0G02289/Purchased in Nov, 2013)
    This 4TB device contains two Hitachi hard drives (2TB each). The drive is a Thunderbolt 2 device (connected to USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port using a Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter), which I have externally connected to my iMac to serve as a primary backup for my system level 'Clone'. This bootable clone is maintained using Carbon Copy Cloner software by In addition to the 1TB partition for system level backup, I've configured another partition for external storage, Archive03 (1TB). While this hardware storage device can be configured as a RAID device (and it originally was), I am using it as two separate 2TB devices.
  • Buffalo Technology 6TB hard drive (Model number HD-LX6.0TU3/Purchased in Jan, 2016)
    This massive hard drive is attached to my network by way of my primary router. I've configured it to serve as a primary back-up destination (Archive01 (2TB - Set up as backup for music, movies and photos), Archive02 (2TB)), and a Time Machine backup destination (TimeMachine01 (1TB), TimeMachine02 (1TB)).
  • Seagate Expansion 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (Model number STEB8000100/Purchased in Apr, 2018)
    One of these bad boys (8TB hard drives) is used as my 'Media Drive' - That's right, all my media (music, movies, photos) is stored on one of these hard drives. Seagate isn't a very reliable brand, so I bought a 'replacement' warranty when I purchased these 8TB drives. The warranty was inexpensive, but it's a full replacement warranty with a content backup clause. So even if the drives fail, I'll get a new drive with my data copied to the replacement.
  • Seagate Expansion 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (Model number STGY8000400/Purchased in Jan, 2023)
    While I've got all my media on one drive, I'm backing up that drive to another 8TB drive. As noted above, I'm not very confident with the Seagate brand, so I bought a 'replacement' warranty. Having one drive as a back-up to the other pretty much guarantees the security of my data. Unless my house burns down... That's a sad thought. I sure hope that never happens!
  • Synology DiskStation 2-Bay Network Attached (NAS) DS214 (Model number WD20EFRX/Purchased in Feb, 2014)
    w/2x 3.5" WD Red 2TB NAS Hard Drives - 5400 RPM Class, SATA III 6Gb/s, 64MB Cache. My NAS drives are configured as RAID1 devices. I'm storing backups of data on one of these devices and using the other for remote access to some gaming materials and media files.
  • Synology DiskStation 2-Bay Network Attached (NAS) DS216 (Model number WD20EFRX/Puchased in Oct, 2016)
    w/2x 3.5" WD Red 2TB NAS Hard Drives - 5400 RPM Class, SATA III 6Gb/s, 64MB Cache. My NAS drives are configured as RAID1 devices. I'm storing backups of data on one of these devices and using the other for remote access to some gaming materials and media files.
  • Buffalo MiniStation 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive (Model number HD-PCF500U3B/Purchased in Oct, 2014)
    A portable hard drive connected directly to my iMac. Just in case I ever need a portable solution with more capacity than a thumb drive (I've got plenty of those handy). Buffalo is a brand that I trust/know, and this drive fills a niche case.
Total storage = 34.5TB
(Check this out - The oldest hard drive I own, and use - Was purchased in 2013. It's 10+ years old (as of 09 Feb, 2023), and still going strong. G-Technology makes excellent products, and I'm glad that I selected that brand for storage and back-up)

Media Drives: Apple stopped including built-in media drives (optical drives) back in 2008. In January of that year they introduced a new MacBook Air that didn't have a CD/DVD drive. That was the start of their efforts to eliminate these media drives completely. As processor became more powerful (faster), internet speeds increased, and drive storage became cheaper, Apple realized that media drives were no longer a necessary component for modern computers. Over the next eight years, Apple continued to remove optical drives from it's computers. The last Mac sold (in Apple stores/online) with an optical/media drive was the mid 2012, 13", second-generation, non-Retina (display technology), MacBook Pro (MacBookPro9,2/Models MD101xx/A, MD102xx/A). I've been using external media drives since November of 2013, when I purchased my first external SuperDrive in preparation for my first iMac (purchased in November of 2013).

  • Apple USB SuperDrive: The iMac (the one I purchased in 2019) doesn't come with any media drives (CD or DVD). I purchased a USB SuperDrive (back in 2013) for any disk reading/writing needs. Model MD564ZM/A is a slot-loading 8x SuperDrive (DVDA±R DL (double-layer)/DVDA±RW/CD-RW). Writes DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL discs at up to 6x speed. Writes DVD-R and DVD+R discs at up to 8x speedWrites DVD-RW discs at up to 6x speed and DVD+RW discs at up to 8x speed. Reads DVDs at up to 8x speed. Writes CD-R discs atup to 24x speed. Writes CD-RW discs at up to 16xspeed. Reads CDs at up to 24x speed.
  • SEA Tech Aluminum external USB Blu-Ray writer Super Drive. One external drive is not enough. I needed a Blu-Ray reader, but wouldn't be content unless I could also write to Blu-Ray discs, just in case. I purchased this drive from Amazon. On the back is a label which indicates that this is a 'Archgon' Ultra Slim Optical Drive Model: MD-8107-U3. Apparently it has a Panasonic Blu-Ray device inside. According to documentation I was able to find online, this drive is able to read and write to the following formats: CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. It can read UHD 4K BD, but it can't write to the UHD Blu-Ray discs. I use it to read Blu-Ray discs.

Internet connection: I unse Xfinity/Comcast as my Internet Service Provider. There are other options in my area (broadband wireless, aDSL over phone lines, Satellite), but they can't possibly provide the speed afforded at the price that Comcast offers. My connection speeds: 200Mbps (download) / 5Mbps (upload) always-on cable (Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem) internet connection w/DHCP IP assignment (Plan was last upgraded on the 15th of Mar, 2020). Cost, after a one year promo period was ~$55.00/mo (not counting fees and taxes). Of course the price has gone up (more than once) since then. Currently (as of 09 Feb, 2024), I'm paying $71.00/mo for the service (after a $5.00 discount for using a credit card/with automatic billing/payments). I own my own modem, my own router, and would switch to a different provider if I could find one that provides comparable (or better) speeds for the same (or better) price. Xfinity has been reliable (of late - with only two unexplained/unexpected outage during 2023, and no apparent outages so far this year (2024))). Unfortunately, their customer service remains and has always been abysmal (I've been their customer since 2003). I dread every telephone support experience, it's ALWAYS painful and less than satisfactory; sometimes making matters worse, and always raising my blood-pressure to stroke inducing levels.

Wired/Wireless Network: Setting up and maintaining a proper wireless network is no easy chore. Especially when you have a large house and a lot of devices employing several different wireless standards for communications. Add in some wif-fi wielding neighbors in a standard tract-home community, and you've got one challenging wi-fi landscape.

  • My primary router is now an AmplifiHD mesh router. I have configured the router to produce a mesh network using two Amplifi mesh point extenders (purchased separately, otherwise the endpoints are hard coded/only compatible with the AmplifiHD mesh router sold with them in the 'bundle'). This router is capable of multi-hop transitions across the area of coverage (no need to re-select/re-authenticate as you move from one device's coverage area to another), self-healing wireless coverage and enhanced range (the benefits of mesh routers). The router's mobile app (for iPhone/iPad) is intuitive and easy to use. The web based configuration capability is just about useless. With the mesh point extenders, it's easily capable of covering my 2,200sqft house (ranch style) - plus (the previous router left me unable to connect while mowing the lawn). Thankfully, the router (it's manufacturer) notifies me when there are updates available.
    • Legacy: Unfortunately, Apple has stopped producing their Airport line of network devices. Apple officially discontinued the AirPort product line on the 26th of April, 2018. They've sold off their inventory, and they no longer sell the products through their online or retail stores. It's a sad day. Apple made some great network devices. They were innovative, reliable and well supported. Unfortunately, I've had to turn to someone else to provide my network needs. I still own some of the Apple network devices, but they no longer serve in a primary boundary role (Internet/Intranet interface)
  • Secondary router/running in bridged mode: One of Apple's older MB764LL/A Airport Time Capsules. It's a 500GB model, with 802.11a/b/g/n simultaneous dual-band wi-fi capabilities. I'm using this router as a network pass-through (bridging) to provide more ethernet and USB connectivity). Yes it's old, but it still works well. I'm using the timecapsule with my wife's laptop. 500GB is more than enough to back up her laptop.
  • Secondary router/running in bridged mode: In November of 2013 I bought one of the new (at the time) ME182LL/A Airport Time Capsules. The 3TB model (~$379.00). The Time Capsule is a simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz/5.0GHz) wi-fi base station (Apple's Airport Extreme router) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless, Bluetooth (modified in Apr 2012 to use an external antenna), an Ethernet WAN port, three Ethernet LAN ports, and one USB port. It supports the following protocols: NAT, DHCP, PPPoE, VPN Passthrough (IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP), DNS Proxy, IPv6 (6to4 and manual tunnels). There's a 3TB hard drive inside the casing for use as a Time Machine backup (I'm using this one with my iMac). Unfortunately, my plans to use this as my primary router were thwarted. It failed to perform as expected. I wrote all about that failure on my blog. No matter what was tried, I could not get the Time Capsule to create a hidden network (which is o.k. - I can live with that) or allow my Airport Express to pair with the base station. In the end, I connected the brand new Time Capsule to my network in bridging mode. I've added it to my network as a Time Machine destination, and removed it from any network/base-station responsibilities.

Video card / Displays:


Video card: iMac desktop - This particular beefed up version of the iMac comes with a Radeon Pro 580X video card with 8GB of GDDR5 memory. You need a lot of memory to drive that 5K monitor, and this beast has an awesome video card. The monitor/video card simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display at 1 billion colors, and 1x 5120x2880(5K) external display (60Hz w/1 billion colors) or 2x 3840x2160(4K UHD) external displays (60Hz w/1 billion colors) or 2x 4096x2304 (4K) external displays (60Hz w/millions of colors). I currently run the primary monitor at a 2560x1440 resolution (so I don't have to squint) for routine/daily use. The video card/iMac also has support for Thunderbolt 3 digital video output via the Native DisplayPort output (to the built-in display) or the USB-C ports on the back of the built-in monitor. You can also connect Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI and VGA monitors using applicable adapters. Finally, the monitor has a built in FaceTime HD camera.

Second display: In January of 2022, I purchased a new second display. I purchased an LG-27UN850-W 4K HDR display (from Amazon) for $479.99. The new monitor isn't as big as the old Dell monitor (27" vs 30") and it's 16:9 aspect ration means it's wide but squat. The new monitor can display images in UHD (Ultrafine High-Definition) resolution (3840x2160), but I'm only using a 2560x1440 resolution to match my iMac's display (my eyes can't quite cope with the 3840 or 5120 that my monitors are capable of. I've also got the HDR capability turned off for default work. If I'm watching a movie, I might turn it on. Of course the new monitor is mounted in the same manner as the previous monitor; on a wall mounted articulating arm above my iMac (Thankfully I didn't have to change out the mounting bracket - Thank goodness for those VESA mounting standards). Hopefully, this monitor will last just as long (or longer) than the refurbished Dell (see below).

Up until Jan 12 of 2022, I used a Dell 30" monitor (a DELL3007WFPHC Display) with my new iMac (as a second monitor). I used the Dell 30" monitor with three different Macs, going back to 2009 (The refurbished Dell 30" monitor was purchased 19 May, 2009 for ~$800.00). That refurbished Dell monitor lasted me more than 12 years. I'd say that I definitely got my money's worth. It cost me a bit to get the Dell 30" monitor to work with my new iMac (my 27" iMac w/5K retina monitor), but I eventually got it to work in 2560x1600 mode (by purchasing some equipment (a Club 3D CAC-1510 (USB-C) to DVI-D Dual Link Adapter for $42.49).




Printers: Our home is currently hosting four printers (two in the office and two downstairs near the D&D table)

Printers in the office (on the desktop):
- Brother HL-L3270CDW: A color, wireless, duplex, laser printer. I bought this one in Mar of 2022 (along with a set of high-yield toner cartridges). This refurbished printer came with a starter set of toner cartridges, which should yield approximately 1,000 prints (I'm still using the toner cartridges (in Jun of 2022). The high yield cartridges are supposed to yield 3,000 prints. We shall see. I bought this printer to serve as a primary work horse for my desktop needs. Hopefully I won't be disappointed (Like I often am with Inkjet printers). Update: As of Jun, 2022, I think there's a slight problem with the 'infuser' of this printer (perhaps a different component?). I think that the infuser isn't getting 'hot' enough. The toner is sometimes smudged/smeared upon application, and/or it's susceptible to smudging or smearing when prints are first removed from the copier or duplex printing is selected. I've decided that this seeming defect is slight enough that I will not request a repair/replacement.
- Brother MFC-J995DW: Another wireless multi-function ink-jet printer with duplex printing. This ink-jet printer produces color prints for far less than any Epson printer I've ever owned. I purchased this one in Dec of 2018. Like the MFC-J985DW that I purchased in 2017, this new model came with an entire years worth of ink. This new 'INKvestment' line of printers has ink that is considerably less expensive than the typical Ink-Jet printer (and I've been able to purchase 3rd party cartridges that are compatible with the Brother printers), and I'm no longer able to trust Epson to satisfy my printer needs. This model has slightly more network compatability features than the MFC-J985DW, and the ink cartridges have been redesigned to hold more ink. For more information on Brother's INKvestment printers, please read the review of the MFC-J995DW produced by Tom's Guide.

Printers in the basement (aka the 'Data Center'):
- Brother MFC-J985DW: A wireless multi-function ink-jet printer with duplex printing. This ink-jet printer produces color prints for far less than any Epson printer I've ever owned. Granted, I've only owned it since March of 2017, but it came with an entire years worth of ink. This new 'INKvestment' line of printers has ink that is considerably less expensive than the typical Ink-Jet printer, and I'm no longer able to trust Epson to satisfy my printer needs. ...Unfortunately, not long after I used up that first year's worth of ink, I decided to use some non-genuine inks. Of course they're cheaper. I didn't go with 'the cheapest', I tried to select one that had good ratings. Four years after the purchase (it's five years later as I write this) I find myself with a printer that will only print in black and magenta. I am absolutely convinced that the printer reads the chips on the cartridges I bought, then it intentionally disabled printing using those other colors. I struggled for more than a year trying to get the other colors to print, to no avail. I even bought some genuine Brother ink cartridges (triple the cost!), but that didn't make any difference. This planned obsolecence is really annoying. This printer is hereby relegated to the basement, where it will serve out the rest of its sentence in the 'data center'. Thus is the fate of unfaithful servants of the desktop! Update: As of 18 Jan, 2023 - Lately, I've noticed a change to the color printing coming from this banished printer. Over the last few months, I sent copy to this printer; I can't remember specifically why. I seem to remember that it performed well. Today (18 Jan, 2023), I printed a color test. The printer performed flawlessly. All the colors printed without any problem. Hooray! I will have to start using this for my more important color prints. No, it's not coming upstairs (yet). I just don't have room for it.

- Brother HL-2270DW: Wireless laser printer with duplex printing. This laser printer produces black and white toner prints for cheap. It's a great printer for use with drafts that don't require color and plain text documents (I print a lot of those for D&D). This printer sits in the basement, closer to our D&D table. Eventually I'll get a color laser printer that I can share with others (D&D players). For now it's connected to my primary network, because it doesn't have dual network wireless capabilities.

While I'm happy with the overall performance of the Brother brand printers, I recently purchased a color laser printer. The inkjet technology is slightly less expensive (with the recent introduction of the 'tank' and 'ink-vestment' lines), but they're highly prone to clogging. Apparently no one can make printer heads that perform properly, and the war to make all second party ink cartridges obsolete is very annoying (I've wasted countless dollars fighting the obsolescence tactics and anti-consumerism moves of printer manufacturers over the past twenty plus years). I'm hopeful that the laser printer alternative will actually work properly. If you buy inkjet printers you should be prepared for crappy print results and overall performance issues. You'll get better performance if you purchase the amazingly overpriced cartridges produced by the big names (Epson, Brother, Canon), but properly functioning printheads and ink shouldn't be that difficult to produce. I've switched (recently (March of 2022)) to the more reliable and better performing solution (a color laser printers), now I'll have to watch to see whether the results are worth the price (yes the laser printer was significantly more expensive than a comparable inkjet printer). Update: As of 27 Oct, 2022 - I've been using my color laser printer since March of this year (appx 7 months), and I now regret the fact that I purchased a refurbished printer. There seems to be some sort of problem with the 'Fuser' component. I don't believe it's getting hot enough to fuse the toner to the paper properly. If its heated to the correct temperature, it should adhere to the paper in a permanent manner. This unit seems to be too cool for proper fusing. I often enounter smudges, speckling, and powdery toner residue on the surface of the paper. If I but another color laser printer, I would definitely pay for a brand new unit.

Camera: The iMac's built in monitor comes equipped with a built in FaceTime HD camera. The built-in 720p FaceTime HD camera (with an ambient light sensor) lets you make video calls that are so clear, it seems like everyone's in the same room. Make FaceTime calls from your iMac to any FaceTime-enabled Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The video is supported with the iMac's dual noise-canceling microphones. The camera has an indicator light that illuminates when the camera is in use, but it doesn't have a manual shutter like the old Apple iSight camera, and I can't disconnect it at will like a second party USB camera. When I purchase my next computer (as a replacement for my current (as of 09 Feb, 2024) iMac, I will likely (because I plan (as of 09 Feb, 2024) to purchase a MacMini) need to purchase a new/non-Apple camera (with integrated microphone) for use with FaceTime.

Mouse: I exclusively use the Magic Track trackpad 2 for Mac. Awesome! Transforms your hand into a mouse. It's the best 'Mouse' I've ever used. It beats the traditional mouse, the scroll-wheel mouse, and the thumbwheel mouse. No wrist strain, easy to use, highly configurable. Additionally, it's got a rechargeable battery that lasts quite a long time, and I've got the charging cable nearby for the inevitible inconvenient moment when it decides to stop working or requires charging (see note below).

Speakers: Bose Companion 3 - Series II mulimedia speaker system. These speakers work so well that I bought a second set and gave my first purchase to a relative.

Keyboard: I'm still not using one of the standard Apple keyboards. While I like the aluminum body with chiclet keys styling, the ergonomics of that keyboard aren't comfortable for me. For many years (appx 10 years), I used an Adesso Tru-Form ergonomic keyboard: Model EKB-2100. Despite it's problems handling powered USB peripherals (any use caused continuous restarts after any operator initiated system restart), it served me well for many years. In February of 2009, I bought a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard. The Microsoft keyboard features an ergonomic design, augemented with numerous customizable hot/favorites keys, internet/media keys, integrated palm rest, and an outstanding design - Microsoft makes some good stuff. This keyboard is one of their better products. I used that Microsoft keyboard for many years (9 years), and I still own it. It's the same model that my empoyer offers as an Ergonomic option. If necessary, I'll bring it back. In 2018 (for Christmas), I bought a new ergonomic keyboard; one with a superior design (or so I've been led to believe). I'm now using a Kinesis Freestyle2 Keyboard for Mac (9" Standard Separation). Combined with the VIP3 Accessory Kit (KIN-FS-VIP3), this keyboard can be tilted and angled in a manner to produce a highly customized typing experience. My wrists, hands and forearms are already appreciating the fact that I can use the keyboard more comfortably than I ever thought possible.

Note: There are two versions of the Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard. USB Wired and Bluetooth Wireless. As with most 'Wireless' devices - There is a problem. They're just not reliable... I specifically chose the wired version of the Kinesis keyboard because bluetooth keyboards have a tendency of not working properly. You would think that after 30+ years of development (First developed by Nils Redbeck of Ericcson mobile in 1989/First commercially available in 1999), the standard would work flawlessly - Not! Bluetooth as a wireless protocol is more prone to unauthorized access (aka hacking), and then there’s the problem with batteries. Any bluetooth device also requires batteries, which must be changed. If you’re lucky, they’re the re-chargeable sort, but even those wear out and have to be replaced. I prefer wired over wireless for many reasons. I choose security and reliability over convenience in most circumstances.


Operating system / Core components / Software:


Mac OS: macOS Sonoma 14.5 (23F79)- As of 16 May, 2024. When I got my new computer (a new 27" iMac with 5K retina display) I upgraded the new computer to macOS Catalina 10.15. The new OS was very different from the previous OS (macOS Mojave 10.14). The change from 32 to 64 bit Operating System, and break-up of iTunes (into four apps (Books, Music, Podcasts and AppleTV)) has been a huge change. It took me a long time to work through the Mojave to Catalina update. Thankfully I didn't have to reformat the hard drive, but migrating the data (from the old mac) took six+ hours. The upgrade from Catalina 10.15.7 to Big Sur 11.0.1, on the other hand... Subsequent OS upgrades were relatively pain free and seemed to take very little time. The most recent update to 14 was smooth as well. The only problem noted with that upgrade was one application (MacGPG (many of the GPG Tools)) stopped working because of incompatability with Apple's MailKit/ Extensions functionality. In this OS release (Sonoma), Apple discontinued the use of plugins; as a result my GPG encryption/decryption (within the ended. The developers and Apple took considerable time and effort in order to make the new Extensions Framework work with developer's extensions. As of macOS 14.3, Apple finally got the Extensions Framework working correctly. See my Encryption page for more details.

Apple's Mobile Operating System: iOS 17.5.1 on iPhone 15 Pro Max (as of 24 May, 2024), and iPadOS 17.5.1 on a 10th generation 10.9" iPad (as of 23¨ May, 2024). No more iPod: As of Mar 2022, I wiped my iPod touch (I had a 7th Gen iPod Touch) and gave it to my father in law, so that he could use it to control his Homepod minis - Yes, you absolutely must own/use an iOS/iPadOS device (a macOS/computer won't do) in order to configure/set up a Homepod mini. There is no way to configure these devices without some other iOS/iPadOS device. Imagine how many people (myself included) were surprised to learn this. Unfortunately, the iPod touch has been 'discontinued' - As of May 10th, 2022, Apple announced the end of the line for the iPod. The 7th Gen iPod Touch (the model I purchased in Sep of 2019) was the last of the line. Sales will continue, while supplies last. It truly was the end of an era.

Productivity Software - When I ordered this latest iMac in November of 2019, it came with the iWork productivity software: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote all came pre-installed on the iMac at no extra charge. That wasn't always the case. When the iWork productivy suite was first released (2003-2007) it cost $79.00. Since then the productivity suite has improved, but it still lacks a few features (Notably the Database, Draw and Paint functions) of the predecessor suite: AppleWorks (fka ClarisWorks). If you don't own a Mac or Apple mobile device, you can still use the productivity suite for free. Just get yourself a free iCloud account, and you can use the online/web-based versions of the software for Free! Learn more about the web only access to iCloud: <> All you need to get started is an Apple ID: <>. Yes - I said Free! The basic iCloud account is free, and it comes with 5GB of storage. If you need or want more storage and features, you'll have to upgrade to one of the iCloud+ plans: <> No - You don't have to use a Mac, an iPad or an iPhone in order to use the iWork productivity software or an iCloud account. You can access and use most of the iCloud enabled apps/features from a Windows machine. All you really need is an internet connection and a sufficiently advanced web browser: <>. This is not a trick. You can do this for free.


Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail:
Last Updated: May 24, 2024