Archive for May 2022 - Page 1


    Apple Unveils New IT Professional Training Courses

    Apple IT Training Image

    Last week Apple unveiled a new IT Training course and website, available at

    There are actually two parts to the full course, the "Apple Device Support" course and the "Apple Deployment and Management" course. The Device Support course is approximately 14 hours in length and will cover tools, services, and the best practices used to support an organization's iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Once you have completed the course you can attempt the exam to earn the Apple Certified Support Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3021-ENU.

    Apple Device Support IT Training images

    The Apple Deployment and Management course is approximately 13 hours long and will cover the ways to configure, manage, and secure Apple's products while using a mobile device management, or MDM, service using Apple's Business Manager or Apple School Manager. Once you have completed this course and pass the exam, you can earn the Apple Certified IT Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3019-ENU.

    Apple Deployment and Management Tutorials


    There are a couple of things to note about these. First, the "Certified Support Professional" is required before attempting the "Certified IT Professional" certificate.

    Second, the exams are online exams and administered by Pearson OnVue. When you do take the exam, it will cost $149 each. So, that is something to keep in mind. According to Apple's documents, if you do not pass the exam on the first try, you can retake it again after 14 days, with a maximum of four attempts to pass the exam.

    Each exam is 110 questions, of which you need to get 80%, or 88 questions, correct in order to pass. You have 120 minutes to complete the questions.

    This is a great addition for those looking to get some training on Apple's products with documents directly from Apple. The ability to learn at your own pace is a great thing for providing significant flexibility for those wanting to learn.

    Source: Apple Newsroom


    Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga: A Review

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga Deluxe Edition Box

    If you have been reading my site for a while, you might realize that I like video games. One thing you might not realize is that I also like Legos. You might expect that if you combine the two that I would be the target market, and you would be absolutely correct.

    Over the last 18 years of blogging I have written some reviews of Lego games, including Lego Dimensions and a list of my favorite games for 2017 . When I went back and looked, I thought I had done reviews of more of the games, but for some reason it turns out that I have not, but I absolutely played a lot of Lego video games over the years. Some of these include Lego City Undercover (on both Xbox and Wii U), Lego Marvel, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Indiana Jones, and, of course, all of the Lego Star Wars games. With Star Wars and Lego being two of the things that I like, I thought I would write a review of the "Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga" video game, so let us look at various aspects of the game.

    I played Skywalker Saga on the Xbox Series X, you can get a copy for any of the consoles Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, or Xbox One, as well. You can get the physical version or the digital version, deepening on your system and preference.

    Before we get into the game we need to take a brief look at the source material, the Star Wars film franchise.

    Star Wars Films

    Star Wars Logo

    You are likely aware that there are nine films that focus on the main characters within the Star Wars franchise. In fact, these nine films are three trilogies, the "Original" trilogy, the "Prequel" trilogy, and the "Sequel" trilogy. All of these comprise what is called "The Skywalker Saga". There are other anthology films, but these are not included in the game. The complete list of films in the "Lego Star Wars: the Skywalker Saga" are:

    1. The Phantom Menace
    2. Attack of the Clones
    3. Revenge of the Sith
    4. A New Hope
    5. The Empire Strikes Back
    6. Return of the Jedi
    7. The Force Awakens
    8. The Last Jedi
    9. The Rise of Skywalker

    Throughout the game you will be able to play all nine films and use a variety of different characters. Some of these will be from the films that you can easily recognize, while others may be a bit more obscure. Before we dive into the game itself, let us look at its actual release.

    Game Release and Delays

    It is quite common for games these days to have an initial release date and end up being delayed. But the Skywalker Saga is an outlier, even for the norm. The game was initially announced at E3 in 2019. An initial release date for the game was set in May of 2020 with an expected release in October of 2020. However, events in August of 2020, it was announced that due to COVID-19 the game would be delayed with an expected release date being set to Spring 2021.

    Fast forward to April 2nd, 2021, and TT Games announced via Twitter that the game would be delayed indefinitely. The reason provided was to allow more time to work out the bugs since the game was supposed to be the largest and biggest Lego game to date. In January of 2022, TT Games announced that the Skywalker Saga would launch on April 5th, 2022. The game did in fact launch on April 5th, 2022.

    I am one who enjoys all sorts of Lego games and this was absolutely no exception. I had pre-ordered the game in December 2020. I opted to get the "Deluxe" version, which included the character pack as well as a Luke Skywalker mini-fig. This pre-order length is the longest that I have experienced, and I have been gaming for a long time. The number and length of delays were worth it though. This was one of the most stable, although no perfect, Lego video games that I have played to date.

    About the Game

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga Opening Screen

    The Skywalker Saga is an ambitious game. As the name states, it covers the entirety of the Skywalker Saga, which is all nine of the films, from "The Phantom Menace" to "Rise of Skywalker". You might initially think that would have to start at the first film, "The Phantom Menace", but that is not the case. In fact, there are you can start at any first movies of each of the trilogies. This means that you can begin at The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, or The Force Awakens, depending on your mood.

    For my play through I opted to start with The Phantom Menace. Within each film, you are not able skip ahead to another film, you actually have to play through the trilogy in order. Next, let us look at the game play.

    Game Play

    Within Skywalker Saga that are actually two different modes of being able to play through a particular level, Story Mode and Free Play. Story mode is a locked mode in which you will need to use the provided characters to complete the level. Free Play mode is very similar to Story mode, except you can choose any character that you have unlocked and can switch freely between them in order to accomplish the tasks required.

    Each class of character has its own unique abilities. Here are some benefits for each class:

    • Jedi - Jedi mind tricks, Jedi powers
    • Heroes - Hero Terminals, Grappling Hooks
    • Scavenger - Special Tools
    • Scoundrel - Special Targeting
    • Bounty Hunters - Enemy detection, grenades, and some can temporarily hover
    • Villains - Explosives, Access weapons caches
    • Dark Side - Jedi mind tricks, Jedi powers
    • Astromech - Special Terminal access
    • Protocol Droid - Translation, Break Apart, droid terminals

    Stud Collection

    There are a number of features within Skywalker Saga that features that you have come to expect from Lego games. Chief amongst these is collecting of studs. Studs are circular lego pieces that will provide you will various amounts depending on the color. The colors and their stud values are:

    • Silver - 10 studs
    • Gold - 100 studs
    • Blue - 1000 studs
    • Purple - 10000 studs

    Studs are used for a variety of things throughout the game. Some of these include purchasing upgrades, ships, characters, or even during quests. There are only a few quests that actually require you to pay for something using studs. If I recall correctly, the most expensive thing paid for during a quest was 10,000 studs.

    True Jedi

    "True Jedi" is a status where you collect a requisite amount of studs in each level. The amount varies level to level. For some levels it can be easily accomplished during story mode without any multipliers, while others are more easily accomplished with stud multipliers enabled.


    Each of the nine movies has six levels to go through. These levels are re-creations of the movies with some additional elements. If you have seen the movies you will definitely recognize the various parts of each movie and which parts the game is recreating.

    Within each level there are some tasks that you need to accomplish. There are five mini-kits that you need to locate and obtain. These mini-kits are used to unlock various Micro ships. Some of the mini kits can be obtained while playing through the story using the characters provided to you, meanwhile there are others that will require you to use other unlocked characters in order to obtain these other mini kits and can only be obtained during free play.

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - Level Select

    Along with the mini kits there are also three challenges per level. Some of these you will inevitably get by accident, while others will require you to make a concerted effort to obtain them. There are 135 total challenges to accomplish, three for each of the 45 levels. Challenges are not identified in anyway, except for at the end of the level. For these challenges, you may want to find the information on the internet.

    Kyber Bricks

    Throughout the Skywalker Saga there are 1166 Kyber Bricks that you must obtain in order to get 100% completion. Within each of the levels of the nine films there are six Kyber Brick. These are awarded for each of the following:

    • Level completion
    • Obtaining "True Jedi" status
    • One for each of the three level challenges
    • Collecting all five minikits

    That means that within the nine films there are 270 Kyber Bricks that are possible just for going through the levels and completing all of the challenges and obtaining True Jedi and collecting the minikits.

    Kyber Bricks are used to make purchases that will help upgrade different character classes.

    Character Upgrades

    Character class upgrades will allow you to make improvements to various character classes. Some of these upgrades are for the "Base" class, which applies to all characters, while others are class specific. These upgrades cost a combination of Kyber Bricks and studs. As each of the upgrade levels goes up, it will cost both more in Kyber Bricks and studs. Studs are more easily obtainable.

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - Class Upgrade

    Now that we have covered a few different aspects of the game play, let us turn to the Galaxy.

    The Galaxy

    In the Skywalker Saga you can go to any of the planets across the Star Wars galaxy at any time. You do not need to finish any levels to access the planets. On each of the planets you will have a variety of mini puzzles to accomplish and characters to obtain. There are 25 different planets with at least two specific areas that you can travel to, and likely more. One of these is the "Space" around the planet and another is on land. Many of the places that you can land will be familiar and are places you have played during story mode. The total number of areas you can travel to is 55, and even some of these have areas that you are not directly accessible, except by taking a taxi (free) between areas on the planet.

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - Galaxy Destination Selection


    Throughout the Star Wars galaxy there are a number of different quests that you can perform. The list includes:

    • 140 Side Missions
    • 731 Puzzles
    • 38 Trials
    • 10 Challenges

    All of these items can be accomplished whenever you would like. As is the case with many other aspects of Lego Star Wars Skywalker Saga, some of these will be easy, while others will be challenging.

    As a note, the challenges listed above are different from the level challenges and are galaxy-wide challenges.

    Data Cards

    Throughout the Galaxy there are 19 datacards that can be collected. Each Datacard will allow you to unlock a special extra, like stud multipliers, or a special GONK companion. These are round in various worlds and will each cost studs to unlock. The stud multipliers are particularly expensive to purchase, but their cost will be made up somewhat quickly particularly if you have more than one multiplier enabled.


    Rumors within Skywalker Saga are a way of learning information. This information may be quest specific, but it may also be just general information. You can purchase any rumor, in the Holographic in-game menu. The types of rumors you can purchase are for any of the side quests, galaxy-wide challenges, level challenges, or even minikit information. Rumors are not free and will cost you some studs to obtain. Here are a couple of screenshots showing the process.

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - Rumor not yet purchasedLego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - Rumor purchased

    Xbox Achievements

    No Xbox game is complete without at least some achievements. There are 45 achievements that can be triggered by completing actions. It is not likely that you will get all of them very quickly, in fact it will take a while. But, as you play it is inevitable that you will trigger at least some of them just through the natural course of the game.

    Bugs and Glitches

    No game is ever going to be 100% perfect, and the Skywalker Saga is no exception. However, compared to other Lego video games that I have played, this one did have fewer noticeable bugs, with the exception of those outlined below. One thing in particular that I did notice is that none of the achievements failed to trigger for me. All of them popped as expected, which has not been my experience in the past. Even though it was the most stable, there were still some bugs.

    I ran into a few issues while playing the game. This includes not being able to advance in some levels, some levels not being able to be played in "Free Play", and my favorite, is having the game glitch so bad that I could not get out of a loop where I dropped through the floor, was caught, and placed right back to the same place. This was annoying because I could not even move or switch characters so I could get out of the loop. Here is the video showing that glitch.

    YouTube video showing the Capital Ship glitch which I could not do anything about without exiting the game.

    The second bug that I came across was in the level "C-3P-Oh No!", in "The Rise of Skywalker", where "Free Play" would not actually be work. Instead, it enters story mode. This bug only occurred when flying to the level and trying to select Free Play. If you use the Holographic level selection screen and select Free Play it worked as expected. Below is a video showing the bug.

    Here is a video of a last bug that I encountered. This one is just a bug, it did not affect game play. One of the many quests is to collect various characters for someone else and this is just a bug where the camera angle obscures the actual collection of the character. It did not affect game play.

    Video showing a couple of minor bugs that are strictly visual and do not affect actual game play


    Beyond the bugs mentioned above, there is one thing that can be annoying. There are 1166 Kyber bricks to collect in order to get 100% completion. While I can appreciate a large game, having to do the same thing over and over does get monotonous after a while. If you are going to attempt to get 100% on the game, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time obtaining all of the items, collectibles, characters, and completing all of the levels and challenges.

    A second annoyance that I encountered is regarding characters. Before we dive into that, we need to cover another feature. One aspect to the Lego games is the ability to unlock stud multipliers. There are five possible multipliers within the Skywalker Saga. These are the 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, and 10x multipliers. These can be used in conduction to allow you to get a lot of studs fairly quickly.

    With all of multipliers enabled you actually get 3,840 times the value of each studs that you collect. What this means is that for a silver (10) stud collected on the screen, you actually receive 38,400 studs. If you collect a 10000 stud, that means that you collect 38,400,000 studs. This can add up quickly and can be very helpful to obtain True Jedi status. Now, back to the characters.

    Regarding the characters, it is not that there are too many characters, although there are certainly quite a lot of them, the issue is that you have to "purchase" each one of them individually within the game. What would be nice to see is a way of being able to purchase all available ones in a single go.

    I can see where having this feature early in the game could easily go awry and have someone inadvertently purchase all of the available characters and then no longer have the studs to do perform other tasks. In order to avoid this, it could possibly be that the option would not appear until after you have unlocked all of the stud multipliers. This way, even if someone accidentally does this, it will not take long for someone to acquire the studs again.

    The same would also apply to ships, although there are significantly fewer of them, but it could be helpful to that option for those as well. However, this approach would not make sense regarding upgrading character classes because upgrading character classes does require a bit of thought depending on what functions you need at the time.

    The last annoyance is actually regarding some of the battles. For some of the battles, like when you are facing Count Dooku on the ship, your character has a particular perspective. While I understand the need for this, it can be quite annoying, particularly if you are attempting to get a Kyber Brick or complete a challenge. This is because you cannot change the perspective, and in this particular instance, even switching characters does not allow for freely looking around, the perspective remains the same no matter what character you are using.


    As with any game you end up learning things as you play the game. Lego Skywalker Saga is no different and I thought I would provide you some tips that may come in handy for when you play.

    1. Unlock the stud multipliers as soon as possible. As outlined above, the sooner these are unlocked the quicker you can collect studs.
    2. Along with stud multiplier, the stud magnet is a good thing to unlock as well. This may be something you want to unlock after you unlock the 2x and 4x stud multipliers.
    3. Be sure to upgrade character classes as you go, there are some additional capabilities which may be useful in the game.
    4. Be sure to explore the capital ships. They contain some goodies.
    5. Make use of the mission tracking capabilities and do not be afraid of hopping from planet to planet.
    6. Do no expect to be able to do everything in order, it is just not possible.
    7. Talk to non-player characters no matter where you are. You can learn quite a bit from these characters.

    Closing Thoughts

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga does go through all of the nine films and does a pretty good job of recreating the experience of the films. While the game does have some bugs, at least as of this writing which is less than two months after it launched, it has far fewer bugs that previous Lego games. This makes the game quite a bit more enjoyable to play.

    Even though the game is enjoyable overall, it might start to feel like Groundhog Day when you are doing the same things over and over. It may be advisable to break up tasks and do various things throughout the galaxy. The game is ambitious and a giant galaxy. That being said, you will likely want to consult some walkthrough and hints to figure out how to achieve some tasks throughout the game play.

    If you have a significant amount of time that you want to use playing a game, you could possibly put it towards Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. There is a lot that the game has to offer. I have not calculated how long I have spent playing the game, but it is a significant amount of time. I looked at the amount of time that I spent on the game and it took me just under 129 hours total to reach 100% in the game. Therefore, if you do pick it up you will absolutely get your money's worth when playing, unlike some other games.

    Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga - 100% Completion

    First Generation Apple TV: 15 Years Later

    Photo of the top of the First Generation Apple TV

    This article continues the series that I started earlier this year called "15 Years Later". The series is intended to look back at 2007 and many of the big things that occurred during that year.

    To date, I have covered the following:

    This is another article in that series. This one will cover the original Apple TV.

    Apple TV Introduction

    Typically, when Apple introduces a new product they do not pre-announce it. However, there is are exceptions to this. The only exceptions is when Apple introduces a new product line, that requires certification by regulation agencies, like the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The reason for this is that Apple would rather control the introduction and information as opposed to having it be released by another agency.

    Apple initially announced the Apple TV, then called the iTV, in September of 2006. You can watch the introduction video below.

    On March 21st, 2007 Apple began shipping the Apple TV. So let us look back at the 1st generation Apple TV.

    Apple TV (1st Generation)

    Of course at its release it was not called the 1st generation Apple TV, it was just the Apple TV. The original Apple TV was a smaller and thinner version of another Apple product, the Mac mini.

    In fact, the physical size of the Apple TV was 7.7 inches by 7.7 inches by about 1.1 inches tall. This would fit nicely in a stereo cabinet with other devices.

    The original Apple TV had two different connection types, HDMI and component video. The reason for both is that not all TVs at the time had HDMI connections, but many at least had component.

    The Apple TV was limited to either 480p or 720p when playing video. However, the interface could be shown at 1080p.

    The Apple TV also had an ethernet jack as well, only a 10/100 Mbps connection. This was enough bandwidth to easily stream from a computer to the Apple TV. Ethernet was not on the only connection you could use.

    Ports on the back of the first generation Apple TV

    I know I tended to use Wireless more often than the wired connection. The Apple TV could connect to 802.11a/b/g/n. Even 802.11g would be fast enough for streaming 720p video, and since 802.11n was faster, it was definitely able to handle it. However, there was one area the speed would be even more beneficial, and that was the primary use case, syncing.

    Syncing with iTunes

    The Apple TV was effectively a giant iPod. This meant that you could connect the Apple TV to iTunes and synchronize data over to it. The Apple TV would appear in iTunes and you could then choose the movies, podcasts, or TV shows to synchronize.

    Storage and Pricing

    The Apple TV came in two storage sizes, a 40GB or a 160GB model. Both of these were 5400RPM 2.5-inch laptop hard drives. The 40GB model cost $299 and the 160GB model cost $399.


    The first-generation Apple TV contained a low-power Intel processor. This made sense because the Apple TV was developed early into Apple's transition to Intel processor. Specifically it has a 1.0 GHz Intel Pentium M. It had 256MB of RAM with an integrated Nvidia GeForce Go graphics card with 64 Megabytes of dedicated video RAM.

    Internals of the first generational Apple TV


    The way that you interacted with the Apple TV was by using a white plastic remote. This was the same remote that was included with iMacs at the time. You could also use an aluminum remote as well.

    These remotes have a four way directional pad with a click button in the middle.

    Original Apple TV Remote

    Apple also introduced an iOS app that would allow you to connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to use the Apple TV. Sometimes it was easier to use the iOS iTunes Remote, particularly when you needed to enter in a password.

    My Purchase

    Even though the Apple TV started shipping in March, it was not until May 5th, 2007 that I actually picked up an Apple TV. The model I got was the 40GB model. This was because it was cheaper at $299 and it was the most I was willing to spend at the time.

    The Apple TV was a spur of the moment type of purchase and not one that I had really planned on making. I distinctly remember where I bought it from, it was a Circuit City. I was looking through some old paperwork and I ran across the receipt at some point recently. Although, now I cannot seem to find the original receipt.

    The original Apple TV Today

    Unlike many old Macs, you cannot really use the original Apple TV in its original configuration today. Since iTunes is no longer able to sync, you cannot add any media to the device.

    There still is one thing that you can do with the 1st generation Apple TV, it was possible to use it as an AirPlay destination. I was not able to get my video to AirPlay to the Apple TV, but I could get music to AirPlay successfully. Therefore, if you have an original Apple TV you can still use it for at least one thing. The AirPlaying was done with my mid-2017 iMac running macOS Monterey.

    Air Play of a song to a first-generation Apple TV

    Personally, I do not use my original Apple TV anymore. I have since upgraded to several of the newer models. I do still use the first generation Apple TV as a way of raising up my iMac or another monitor, depending on what I need. When I did briefly plug the first generation Apple TV again, the hard drive was a bit nosier than I had remembered, but it was still operational.

    Closing Thoughts

    The Apple TV was a good device for its time. Even though it required you to sync data over to it, the speed of the wireless connection, with 802.11N, or even the 100Mbps ethernet connection, would synchronize data fairly quickly.

    The fact that it was the same physical footprint as the Mac mini allowed it fit nicely into an entertainment center with other devices. The Intel Pentium M processor was a lower speed, but allowed for passive cooling, so there was no fan noise.

    There is one spot where there might be noise, and that would be the 40GB or 160GB spinning hard drive could be the place where noise would be heard, particularly as the device got on in age.

    The Apple TV cannot really be used with any modern Mac, with the exception of being an AirPlay destination. Therefore, if you do have the need for a TV and you still have an original Apple TV, you could still use it.

    Apple Newsroom: Apple TV Now Shipping - March 21, 2007


    Using Loopback to Output to Multiple Speakers on macOS Simultaneously

    Loopback Icon

    When Apple announced the Studio Display I ended up buying one. You can read my full review of the Studio Display.. When I ordered the Apple Studio Display I knew I was going to use it with my iMac. In fact, I ended up using it as my primary monitor. After I connected and setup the Apple Studio Display I started looking at various aspects. One of the things that I tried out were the speakers on the Studio Display.

    The speakers on the Studio Display are significantly better than those in my 2017 iMac, even though they are better, I wanted to see if I could use all of the speakers at the same time. I knew that the iMac speakers would not be as good, but they would still be something.

    During this testing, the screen on my iMac began to crack. I did not know if it would stop or if it would continue to expand. Therefore, I ended up buying a Mac Studio and a second Studio Display. You can read my review of the Mac Studio.

    With both the iMac and the Mac Studio, I tried looking to see if macOS could do this natively, but I could not find a way of being able to output to both the Studio Display and the iMac speakers at the same time. macOS only lets you choose a single output at a time.

    I thought about which apps that I knew of that I could use that would be able to output to both deices at the same time. I knew it was an app from Rogue Amoeba, who is a prominent Mac developer who specializes in Mac audio apps. They have a couple well-known apps, Audio Hijack and SoundSource, but I knew neither of these were the one I was thinking of. I ended up going to their website to figure out the name. The app I was thinking of is Loopback. We will get to how I use Loopback in a bit, but first let us look at how I use audio most of the time.

    Listening Habits

    A vast majority of time I listen to just about everything using my headphones. This could be music, an audiobook, or podcasts. When I am listening to audio I am almost always using my headphones paired with my iPhone. The reason I do this is because I can listen to audio whenever I go without having to pause it or move the audio between devices.

    There are those times that I may want to briefly checkout a video that someone has sent me and instead of using my iPhone, I will likely use the Mac I am on. I do this so that I do not need to necessarily pause the audio I am listening to. Even with this there are times when I would like to listen to music while doing other things on my Mac and not have to use my headphones. For those times, I want to be able to have the music sound as good as possible, and internal speakers on the Macs I own are just not good enough. And this is where Loopback can come in handy.


    Loopback is an app that allows you route audio from any Mac app, or input, to another app, or any audio output. For inputs, this can be a microphone, an app, or another input. Some examples of inputs can be a game system, or stream deck, a microphone, or even just the macOS system audio.

    When you first start up Loopback you will be shown a Quick Tour. A good description of what Loopback is capable of comes straight from the first page on this Quick Tour. It states:

    "Loopback's magic is built on its ability to create “virtual audio devices”, which appear on your system exactly like a physical device. These virtual devices merge sound from multiple applications and inputs into a single source. Virtual devices pull audio from source apps and devices, then routes it with a set of channel mappings. In seconds, you can get a virtual audio device configured, then select it as an input or output in any audio application on your system."

    There are three possible items within a Loopback device, a Source, Output Channels, and Monitors. A default Loopback device will two items defined, a "Pass-Thru" source, and a single two-channel item.

    A "Pass-Thru" device is a virtual sound output device that can be used to, as the name suggest, pass output to the device to Loopback for processing. Before we dive further into Loopback, let us look at the setup.

    Setup (With a BIG Caveat)

    There is one caveat when it comes to installing Loopback, and that caveat is a rather large one.In order to get Loopback running on an Apple Silicon machine you will need to change the security model of macOS. This is done by entering into recovery mode and then changing the "Security Mode" to "Reduced Security". The reason that this is required is because on Apple Silicon machines Kernel Extensions are not allowed to load by default, and it takes a deliberate action to allow these items to run.

    Loopback Setup - Security Settings

    It should be noted that you cannot run Loopback without changing the security settings on an Apple Silicon Mac and then subsequently allowing the extension after reboot.

    I would like to see do a more in-depth vetting of some companies and allow them to run within the "Full Security" mode. This would likely require a change to the overall approach to macOS, so it is not likely to occur, but it could be something that Apple could take on, if they chose to do so. Now, let us get back to Loopback.

    Naming a Device in Loopback

    Given that you can have as many loopback devices as you would like, you will want to keep them all straight. This is best accomplished by providing them with a descriptive, or at least easily identifiable name. To name a device, perform these steps:

    1. Open Loopback
    2. On the left side, Locate the Loopback Audio device that you want to rename
    3. Click on the Loopback Audio Device you want to rename.
    4. On the right pane, Click on the "pencil" icon next to the name.
    5. Enter in the new name for the device.
    6. Either press the "Enter" key or click outside of the edit box.

    That is all it takes to rename a device. Now that you have the item named, you may want to actually use it for the system. Let us look at that next.

    Loopback Device as Output

    The "Pass-Thru" loopback item is the key to being able to use multiple speakers simultaneously. As mentioned earlier, the Pass-Thru is a virtual device. What this means is that it is available as a virtual speaker device. This means that you can set the output for your Mac to the Loopback device. The way that you are able to have Loopback perform any of the processing that you have specified within your Loopback setup.

    To set a device as the system output device, perform the following steps:

    1. Open System Preferences
    2. Click on the "Sound" system preference pane.
    3. Click on the "Output" item at the top of the screen.
    4. Locate the output device that you want to use as your system output.
    5. Click on the output device you want to use as the system output.

    As soon as you click on the output device, the system audio should change to the Loopback device. Now that we have that covered, let us look at how I have configured Loopback to be able to output to multiple speakers simultaneously.

    Loopback - System Preferences Sound Preference Pane

    Multiple Speakers for Output

    The Studio Display has a set of six stereo speakers which can easily out perform many other audio setups. The real question is how do you get dual Studio Displays to output audio at the same time. Let us look at how I managed to accomplish that.

    Before I came across the final setup, I tried a couple of different approaches that ultimately were not right. Let us look at some of those false starts next.

    False Starts

    I did manage to go through a couple of different iterations for the Loopback setup to try and create a dual speaker setup before I added a new Loopback Device and set everything back to its defaults, which is what I actually wanted.

    Before I stumbled on using the default setup, I tried another setup. It looked like this:

    Loopback - Approach 1

    As you can see I specified the Music app as the source, since it is the primary app I wanted to control, I had a single set of channel outputs, for channels 1 and 2. The left channel was connected to every other output channel. Similarly, the right channel was placed on the remaining outputs.

    There were two issues with this approach, other than being the actual wrong approach. First, only one of Studio Display's volume outputs could be controlled with the function keys on the Mac keyboard. This ultimately meant that I would have to manually adjust the volume for the other Studio Display.

    The second issue is that the configuration ends up negating some features of songs. In particular, by linking outputs to each channel on the Studio Displays, if a song is mastered for Dolby Atmos, the Music app would no longer be able to properly provide the full Atmos experience.

    Loopback - Approach 2

    Another iteration that I tried was a similar one, but instead of just two output channels I had setup eight channels with the left and right channels going to each of the corresponding channels on each set of channels. Each of the channels is then connected to each corresponding channel on the Studio Displays. The same issues existed for this approach as the last ones. Instead, the best approach is actually a rather simple one.

    Final Setup

    The setup that I ended up with, is, actually very simple. If you are using Loopback, it is actually quite simple. All I did was add both Studio Displays as "Monitors". Once I did this, anything that is pushed through the Pass-Thru device will be output to both Studio Displays simultaneously.

    Here is my actual setup:

    Loopback Dual Studio Display

    The actual setup is deceptively simple. It uses the default Pass-Thru device, connected to a single two-channel output, and then the left and right channels are connected to the proper corresponding channel on each of my Studio Displays. With this setup, and by setting the default audio output to "Studio Displays", and that is all I need to do.

    This still does have a couple of downsides. First, some apps will have their own preferences for which device to use for output, therefore may have to set the app's specific output. This may be a choice that you made previously, or the app could have some other undefined behavior. Typically, this is easy enough to fix, but it is something to be aware of.

    While taking screenshots of Loopback, I did come up with another possible setup. This one is similar to the one that I set up as my final one, but instead of setting up left and right on each of the Studio Displays, I came up with the idea of connecting the left channels to one Studio Display and the right channels to the other Studio Display.

    Loopback Studio Displays - Left and Right Approach

    Things Not to Try

    Throughout all of my testing I went through a number of iterations to see what might work. One of them was to output to a HomePod mini. I can unequivocally say, do not bother. The reason I say do not bother is not because it does not sound great, it absolutely does, but the HomePod mini has a significant delay when outputting to the HomePod mini along with any other speakers. It can easily become problematic and you can begin to get a headache trying to listen to anything on another set of speakers at the same time as the HomePod mini.

    Closing Thoughts

    The way that I am using Loopback is just one way of using it. Loopback is capable of routing audio from any device or app to any app or device. Loopback is what Apple should have built into macOS, but they have not. Therefore, Loopback is needed to fill in the void.

    If you have a Studio Display connected to a Mac, it might be worthwhile to take a look at Loopback and see if you will be able to have audio output to all of your speakers simultaneously. Loopback is capable of doing so much more than I have covered here. What I described above only scratches the surface of what is possible with Loopback. This is just a single possible use case for the app, but one that might be particularly helpful if you have multiple Studio Displays.


    Apple Discontinues the iPod touch

    7th Generation iPod touch

    It was not that long ago that I had commented to my friend Barry Sullivan that Apple needed to determine what they were going to do with the iPod touch, either increase the screen size to 4.7 inches, to bring it inline with the iPhone SE, or cancel the product outright. They opted for the latter. Today Apple announced that they are discontinuing the iPod touch, the last in a long line of iPod products.

    1st generation iPod

    The iPod was initially introduced on October 23rd, 2001 with the first generation iPod. In September of 2007, Apple introduced the iPod touch as "the iPhone minus the phone". The iPod touch was a widescreen iPod and device that many felt safe giving to their kids instead of a full-fledged iPhone. In the newsroom post, Apple states:

    Among the incredible ways to enjoy music across a range of devices, including a wide variety of models from the new iPhone SE to the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone is the best device for streaming Apple Music or storing an entire music library on the go. Apple Watch and AirPods are the perfect companion, allowing users to access over 90 million songs right from their wrist, starting at just $279 with Apple Watch SE. iPad starts at just $329, comes with a more powerful chip, larger display and the latest iPadOS features. And for the best way to enjoy music at home, HomePod mini is just $99.

    One thing I would like to point out about the above paragraph. It is somewhat disingenuous to say that someone can purchase an Apple Watch SE and listen to music. This is because it requires an iPhone to setup an Apple Watch. Yes, an Apple Watch could be added for another person in a family, but at that point it is not fully standalone. Therefore, someone wanting to get a device to download and listen to their music on the go has to pay at least $329 for an iPad. If they want to only listen at one location, and only stream Apple Music, then the HomePod mini is the way to go.

    My Thoughts

    I cannot say that I am surprised by this decision. The 7th generation iPod touch was introduced on May 28th, of 2019 and has not been updated since. It took Apple a few months to even update the webpages when the 7th generation was introduced. So, it is not surprising that the product is being discontinued.

    I myself was never much of an iPod touch person. I do have a 7th generation iPod touch that I use mostly for development and testing, but it is not something I use day to day. Even though the iPod touch was not for me, I did own a fair number of iPods over the years. A 1st generation iPod mini, the 1st generation iPod nano, the 6th generation iPod nano, and a 7th generation iPod nano, and a 5th generation 30GB iPod.

    1st generation iPod mini

    The discontinuation of the iPod touch does have some overall implications. First, for many instead of purchasing an iPod touch for their kids, many are now more likely to pass down old iPhones that do not have cellular plans. Second, for developers, the iPod touch has always been an outlier. It has the smallest screen size available at 4 inches. Trying to create interfaces that work at the variety of sizes available can be challenging. Being able to slowly drop support for the 4-inch screen should make development a bit easier, in the long run anyway.

    It is sad to see the iPod line come to an end, but since the introduction of the iPhone, the sales of iPods has been decreasing. The iPod touch has not been a big seller for Apple for many years now. And the iPhone is a much more capable device, particularly in the world of streaming music.

    Source: Apple Newsroom


    Reading List for April 2022

    Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

    We are now well into the spring and April is now over and May has begun. It is time to provide my reading list for April 2022.

    For the month I listened to 22 different titles, of these 6 were new titles, or 27.2%. The title I want to highlight for April is "Still Just a Geek" by Wil Wheaton.

    Celebrated actor, personality, and all-around nerd, Wil Wheaton updates his memoir of collected blog posts with all new material and annotations as he reexamines one of the most interesting lives in Hollywood and fandom--and now for the first time in audio, narrated by Wil himself!

    From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

    Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.

    Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.

    In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion--writing--Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike."

    Note There are some trigger warnings for "Still Just a Geek". There are some aspects which might be hard to listen to, so be warned.

    If you opt to listen to the audiobook, you can listen to Wil read it himself, which is a very interesting experience given that the book is an annotated and expanded version of "Just a Geek".

    For May, I am not sure how many titles I will listen to. I know I mentioned that there is at least one new item for March, April, and May, but the new title for May is not released until May 31st, so we will see if there is a new title for May or not.

    Title Author First Listen Amazon Apple
    Last Command (A Fallen Empire Book 0) Lindsay Buroker Yes Amazon Apple
    Star Nomad (A Fallen Empire Book 1) Lindsay Buroker Yes Amazon Apple
    Honor’s Flight (A Fallen Empire Book 2) Lindsay Buroker Yes Amazon Apple
    Ready Player One Ernest Cline No Amazon Apple
    Red Shirts John Scalzi No Amazon Apple
    Revolt in 2100 Robert Heinlein No Amazon Apple
    Methuselah’s Children Robert Heinlein No Amazon Apple
    Pilot X Tom Merritt No Amazon Apple
    Trigor Tom Merritt No Amazon Apple
    Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson No Amazon Apple
    Still Just a Geek Wil Wheaton Yes Amazon Apple
    Delta-V Daniel Suarez No Amazon Apple
    How To Randall Munroe No Amazon Apple
    Project V.E.R.A. Tom Merritt No Amazon Apple
    And Then She Vanished (Joseph Bridgeman Book 1) Nick Jones Yes Amazon Apple
    New York 2140 Kim Stanley Robinson No Amazon Apple
    Off to be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 Book 1) Scott Meyer No Amazon Apple
    Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0 Book 2) Scott Meyer No Amazon Apple
    An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0 Book 3) Scott Meyer No Amazon Apple
    Fight and Flight (Magic 2.0 Book 4) Scott Meyer No Amazon Apple
    Out of Spite, Out of Mind (Magic 2.0 Book 5) Scott Meyer No Amazon Apple
    The Vexed Generation (Magic 2.0 Book 6) Scott Meyer No Amazon -
    Total   22    

    Previous Reading Lists