- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

NOF GINOSAR, Israel — In the evening, a cooling breeze blows onshore from the Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret, as it’s known in Hebrew. During June days, temperatures can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

But the air isn’t the only thing that can overheat while in the north of Israel. Alongside approximately 300 delegates at a conference here, access to Wi-Fi became nonexistent. Yet, it was vital, critical even, that your columnist be able to communicate. What to do?

Struggles with data communications can quickly turn one into a digital MacGyver, improvising solutions, and that’s what I did here. Using an Apple MacBook Pro, some software and the iPhone 4S, I was able to get some critical items out via email, even if the price tag will be a bit high.

Here’s what I did, plus the how and why: from my Mac, I selected the items that needed to go out. Using a synchronization cable (supplied with the iPhone), I fired up the $19.95 PhoneView program (https://www.ecamm.com/mac/phoneview/) to move files from the Mac to the iPhone, and specifically to the FTP Client Pro software described here a few weeks back.

Once on the phone, I selected the desired files and either, in the case of text, copied and pasted into the body of an email, or with photos, attached them to a message and hit the on-screen “send” button.

Apple’s iTunes offers similar file-transfer capabilities, but I chose PhoneView because it’s also handy for transferring a variety of files in the opposite direction, from the phone to the computer, including photos, video and voice memo recordings, among others.

Sending the essential emails required using mobile data, and I have the feeling that a nice, large bill will result. That said, the work had to be done, and that necessitated the effort.

As I write, Wi-Fi service is much better, and free, which means giving my wallet a rest for the time being.

Apple’s new products

Half a world away from my data-connection problems, Apple announced a raft of new and updated items. Chief among these is the new MacBook Pro notebook computer, now featuring a “Retina display” screen with very high resolution.

How high? Here’s Apple’s explanation: “over 5 million pixels, 3 million more than an HD television. At 220 pixels-per-inch, the Retina displays pixel density is so high the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels from a normal viewing distance, so text and graphics look incredibly sharp.”

I’m using an iPad with the Retina display, and can attest to the sharpness it provides. To have this on a portable computer is quite an accomplishment. But there is a price: the basic MacBook Pro with Retina display will set you back $2199, which is $400 more than a regular, 15-inch display screen model. Climb the ladder of memory and solid-state storage and you can expect to pay much more.

However, the raw power of a solid-state (or “flash memory”) drive and the stunning quality of the Retina display will place this product in a class of its own. For those who work with images, video or design, and have to do so on the run, this may become an essential part of their toolkit. The rest of us can just drool and save up our dollars.

Apple also announced the July arrival — no date specified, however — of the Mountain Lion release of Mac OS X, the firm’s desktop/notebook operating system. If you’re running Lion, the current OS X version, the upgrade will cost $19.95. Users of older Mac OS versions will have to upgrade to Lion first, and for those squeezing out life from the old PowerPC-based Mac line, that would involve buying a new Mac entirely.

According to Apple’s announcement, Mountain Lion offers additions such as “Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing … Dictation, Power Nap, AirPlay Mirroring, Game Center and the enhanced security of Gatekeeper.” Later this year, Apple promises an update that will include “Facebook integration,” making it easier to connect with your online “friends.”

Many of these features — Messages, which let’s you send SMS or text messages to cellphones and other mobile devices; Dictation, which lets you, well, dictate text into some applications such as email; and the “Game Center,” which groups games together — come from the firm’s iOS, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad. The Dictation feature is particularly useful: it requires no training and is rather accurate. (Proofreading is advised, however, to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Trust me.)

The conclusion I would, with respect, draw from the Mountain Lion announcement is that Apple is moving toward an integration of its desktop and mobile computing environments. As was asked here last week with Microsoft Windows, might Mountain Lion be Apple’s “last” desktop-only OS?

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