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I think Apple Macintosh computers are some of the best-made hardware you can find. They’re small, well-made and they last a lot longer than most similarly configured Windows PCs. I have family members who have MacBooks and MacBook Pros that are pushing ten years old, and they still work very well.

If you’re looking for a quality notebook or desktop computer, a Mac is a good way to go. They last, are well-built and can run just about any desktop operating system available. Unfortunately, they are among the most expensive computers on the market.

One of the best ways to reduce that cost is to buy refurbished, but that can present its own problems and challenges. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that you should look for when buying a refurbished Mac.

1. Buy from a Trusted Source

Refurbished Macs are available from a number of Apple-trusted partners like B&H Photo or Adorama or Mac of all Trades; the key here is to buy from a trusted source where they have high quality standards for certified used goods.

You can also get refurbished products directly from Apple.

2. Time It Just Right

Ordering refurbished products is often a matter of timing. Because everything is repaired or reconditioned, there’s no steady supply of what you might be looking for. You will need to watch what your trusted source has in stock at the time you’re looking to buy.

You may need to consider buying from more than one trusted source, so take a look around. Watch their refurbished inventory, as it may be cyclical. Inventory may fluctuate around specific times of the year – Christmas, Back to School, etc.

When one of your trusted sources has the product you’re looking for, pull the trigger. There’s no telling when that source may have the product configuration you’re looking for back in stock.

3. Buy as Big and as New as You Can

Many Macs are very difficult to upgrade, if they can be upgraded at all. Buying big (“big” as in more powerful specs) insures that as the machine ages, you’ll have all the computing power you need. Similarly configured Windows machines may be much cheaper, but they won’t last nearly as long. More-cheaply-made electronic components always wear out fast. Buying the best Mac you can afford will insure that you’ll have the best possible configuration for a long time.

Watch for Support Issues, Service Notes and Recalls

Many computers get refurbished for a number of different service and repair reasons. If you’re looking to buy refurbished, you’re going to want to make certain that the models you’re considering don’t have any outstanding service issues. While refurbished products are as good as new, resolved issues can recur.

For example, in 2013 Apple acknowledged a graphics problem with the Early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro. In 2023 Apple acknowledged a problem with the Intel Iris 6100 graphics adapter. Also in 2023 Apple acknowledged battery-life problems with their MPBs. In 2023 Apple acknowledged issues with keyboards in 2023 and 2023 MacBook Pros with Touch Bar. When you get the information you’re looking for, use it to help you with purchasing decisions. Buying expensive problems sucks.

The best place to find this type of information is in the forum and support sections of a number of trusted websites. You can check for issues and problems from some of the following trusted sources:

Conclusion

Buying refurbished Macs is a great way to get the Mac you want at a reduced price. They often come with the same warranty as new Macs and are even eligible for Apple Care. Follow the above tips, and you will be able to get your favorite Mac at a lower price.

Image credit: iMac computer, Mac book, iPhone, keyboard and mouse on black table by Aliona-art/Shutterstock

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What You Should Know For A Career In Artificial Intelligence

Across the realms of consumers and businesses, artificial intelligence (AI) has been wielding great influence and reshaping society as it were. Hailed as a key component of the 4th Industrial Revolution (along with the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, quantum computing, and other technologies), the rise of AI could well be considered as a seminal stage in the development of humanity.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), broadly speaking, is the ability of machines to replicate the abilities of human intelligence in tasks such that efficiency is boosted and errors go down. With concepts of basic engineering, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and psychology, among others, AI bases itself on the fundamentals of reasoning, learning, and problem-solving. A career in artificial intelligence is certainly an attractive prospect.

Related: – Is Artificial Intelligence Replacing Animators?

Where can AI be applied?

AI can be categorized in multiple ways, of which the most common is as below:

Weak/Narrow AI: trained to do specific tasks or functions

Strong AI: capable of making its own decisions when presented with actionable data

AI has great potential in terms of applicability in a variety of sectors. Some examples are given below:

Autonomous driving: Tesla, Google and others have been working for a while on autonomous driving technology, where AI is a basic building block. Ongoing work could soon see wider instances of fully-autonomous driving technology across the world.

Predictive maintenance: proactively scheduling maintenance and hence minimizing costs

Smart cities: better safety, reduced crime, higher energy efficiency

The future uses of AI are even more exciting. Possible applications are many:

Personalized, dynamic pricing: online and offline stores map prices as per consumer behavior

Faster designing of products: aided by quicker sifting through large amounts of customer data through machine learning and deep learning

Related: – The Illusion of CreArtificial Intelligence

How good is the potential for an AI career?

As a technology, AI is still in its initial stages, and there is a lot more that the technology could do with further development. The market is expanding fast and a lot of opportunities keep coming up for a career in artificial intelligence. A survey by job site Indeed suggested that in the UK alone, the number of jobs available in AI has gone up by 485% during 2014-2023 i.e. demand outstrips supply by a factor of 2:1! Across the world, job postings in this field have more than doubled.

Automation and AI were feared as possible death knells for “traditional” jobs, but what has transpired is that AI has in effect created many more jobs than it has taken away i.e. the net effect has been one of new job opportunities coming up. Salaries in the AI domain are skyrocketing too – well-skilled AI professionals in the US can comfortably earn six figures and possibly even higher packages.

How does one begin a career in AI?

Related: – AI Technology skills highest in Demand in 2023

Some of the key skills for AI specialists include:

Bayesian networking (including neural nets)

Computer science (gain coding experience with popular programming languages)

Cognitive science theory

Engineering

Physics

Robotics

Algebra, calculus, logic and algorithms, probability, statistics

If you are already a software engineer, you could take a definitive step towards a career in AI with some specialized or focused AI courses, many of which are available freely on the internet as well as from recognized institutions and delivered both online as well as through classroom training. If you do not have the time or other resources for long-duration courses, you could choose an AI certification that you could do part- or full-time.

What are the possible career paths?

The possible career paths differ as per the experience level. These include:

Freshers: these would do well to get skilled in mathematics as well as courses in machine learning, programming skills like C++, general business knowledge, and hands-on training.

Programmers: these could start coding by moving to algorithms.

Data analysts and data scientists: these need to strengthen their programming skills by knowing how to prepare data, be proficient at visualizing and building models, and have good communication skills and business knowledge.

5 Fan Wikis Which You Should Definitely Take A Look At

The web has gone through many transformations since the public began to use it in earnest. The biggest revolution may well have been the creation of open tools that make it easy for anyone to contribute. 

Wikipedia is probably the best example of this. It’s an encyclopedia written by the people, for the people, which has produced a surprisingly authoritative online text. Wikis like Wikipedia democratize knowledge and, through the wisdom of crowds, self-corrects its content as people scrutinize and resolve conflicts.

Table of Contents

Now imagine that amazing community power applied to something a little less serious? That’s where the fan Wiki finds its niche. Driven by massive communities of passionate fans, these fan wikis are dedicated to some of the most popular (or obscure) cultural properties in the world.

The contributors are deadly serious about documenting just about everything anyone would want to know about a fandom, and there are plenty of things we can’t imagine anyone wanting to know as well.

Star Wars is one of the largest fandoms in the world. It’s hard to imagine anyone on the planet not at least knowing the name “Star Wars”. However, the depths of Star Wars fandom goes far beyond just the mainline movies that make billions for Disney.

There’s an extensive universe of books, games, comics and more. Wookieepedia is the most complete documentation of all things Star Wars and goes into immense detail. Star Wars is infamous for the fact that just about every on-screen object, robot, alien and human have detailed back stories. 

That guy who loses his arm in the Mos Eisley cantina? It turns out he’s a famous criminal surgeon, who just happens to have deep connections to the main storyline of Star Wars. Yes, it’s a retcon, but you’ll find both canon and non-canon factoids like these lovingly detailed on the fan wiki Wookieepedia.

Star Wars might be making the big bucks these days, but Star Trek has just as much deep lore and additional content that isn’t either a TV show or movie. It may not have nearly as large a collectible market, but Star Trek geeks love nothing more than poring over starship schematics and the fictional history of Gene Roddenberry’s utopian Federation.

Memory Alpha is the largest and most comprehensive collection of canonical Star Trek lore and information on the web. Note the word “canonical”, there’s actually a separate site known as Memory Beta, which is the custodian of non-canonical Star Trek information. 

For anyone who wants to deepen their Trekkie credentials, Memory Alpha is a must-visit fan wiki site.

A “trope” is a common story element or concept that can be found within particular genres or an entire medium. In many ways, tropes are the basic building blocks of stories but sometimes the term has a negative connotation that means something is derivative. 

Whatever music you’re a fan of, you’ll likely find its lyrics among the two million titles documented on LyricWiki. Every genre and even some incredibly obscure titles. It’s also pretty useful if you’re a fan of heavy metal bands like Amon Amarth, but really can’t tell what they are singing.

It’s got interesting user blogs, value-added features such as a “Song of the Day” and a list of which songs are trending on iTunes. Artist pages only include their discography and complete lists of songs. This is a fan wiki site with lyrics and nothing else, which is a good thing.

You will however find direct links on artist pages to their official site, Wikipedia article and any other social media. So it’s still a great place to start discovering a given band or solo artist’s music.

Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you’ve probably heard of World of Warcraft. The game is still massively popular today and it seems as if it will never die. While developer Blizzard has tried to make it as easy for new players to enter the fray, the truth is that WoW is insanely dense with lore and the learning curve is still pretty steep.

Which is why the community-driven fan wiki named WoWWiki is such an invaluable resource. Whether you simply want to understand more about the game without playing it or are trying to find your feet as a new player. Heck, even veterans of WoW are going to find plenty of things they didn’t know.

WoWWiki is absolutely massive. With over 300,000 pages and 100,000 articles on offer, there’s no reason to be worried that you’ll have to ask other players for answers. If you do want to chat to the community, WoWWiki has a section with forums and discussions that make an already comprehensive resource even more so. 

There are plenty of pretender MMOs out today, but they still haven’t matched the breadth or depth that WoW offers.

By The People, For The People

Should You Buy A 32

IDG

If you see this happen on your 3D rendering job, it’s OK if you cry.

You need to multi-task like you’re nuts

IDG

The above tasks are actually fairly realistic, say, for someone making an indie movie. Threadripper’s compute performance is even more more pronounced when you do two heavily threaded tasks at once. Below, for example, you can see Blender being run along with Cinebench. Both are 3D rendering applications, and are unlikely to be run simultaneously, but if you do, the results are spectacular.

IDG

If you run two 3D rendering apps simultaneously, the Threadripper kicks butt..

You may not remember but just a few years ago, some tech companies were rationing PCIe lanes as though they were chocolate bars in 1943. With Threadripper, you get all the PCIe lanes you need—64 (with four of those dedicated to the south bridge). What this means is you can run all the add-in cards or PCIe SSDs you want or need.

Oh my…

This may look like a graphics card, but it’s not. It’s an MSI Aero M.2 expansion card for its Threadripper motherboards, and it holds up to four M.2 cards.

This may sound crazy, but this $1,799 32-core CPU is kind of a good deal from a certain point of view. That’s because two years ago, Intel was charging $1,723 for a 10-core Core i7-6950X CPU. That’s basically $86 per thread for a 20-thread CPU. With the 18-core Core i9-7980XE, Intel is charging $55 per thread.

IDG

This is crazy: but the $1,799 Threadripper 2990WX is kind of a deal.

You want the ultimate in bragging rights

Let’s admit that you don’t need a 32-core core CPU if you’re not Kevin Feige and rendering dailies from the next Avengers movie. For most of us, Threadripper 2990WX is over-over-over-overkill.

But if you’re the kind of person who likes showing off that you just “had” to trade in your 2023 car for the 2023 version because you like the new floor mat style—this CPU is for you. If you like to tell people, “last week I got lost in my summer house again because I only spend a week there a year,” this CPU is for you. Sure, it’s a complete and utter waste, but when the only time it gets switched on is just before visitors come (to show off the lighting), then this CPU is for you.  AMD

The 32-core Threadripper 2990WX is the ultimate show-off CPU and even comes in a show-off box.

Reasons not to buy a 32-core Threadripper

IDG

No, a 32-core CPU doesn’t make gaming any faster

You just play games

If you like to quip “can it run Crysis?” and ask if 32 cores will make my games go faster, the truth is—it won’t. At the rate that games iterate and support newer CPU technology, by the time 32-core CPUs are needed for games, we’ll be living in generational space ships on our way to Alpha Centauri.

That’s not to say Threadripper 2990WX is bad for gaming, but there’s just no reason to buy this CPU if you “just play games.” And while you’ve heard that more cores will make gaming faster, that future hasn’t arrived yet.

IDG

If you expect Premiere to give you a huge boost from a 32-core CPU think again. The 18-core Intel Core i9 is actually faster here.

While most assume a 32-core CPU is wonderfulness for video editing, it is mostly overkill. That’s because few video editing applications can fully exploit the thread count of a 32-core Threadripper. There are also some who blame the CPU’s unique layout for underwhelming performance in video encoding tasks too (more on that below).

The exception to this rule is that if you do multiple things simultaneously, such as rendering a visual effect while editing video, the 32-core Threadripper could be the better choice.

AMD

To cram 32-cores into a consumer CPU, it added two dies that don’t have memory controllers on them. Instead, those must talk through a second-die to reach memory.

You’re afraid of the memory bandwidth limitations

It is, in essence, like having four interconnected apartments with only two having access to the hallway. If the tenant who lives in the apartment without access buys in bulk, works from home, and just plays console games in her free time instead of going out, it’s not a problem. But if the tenant runs an indie record label and has bands and groupies and pizza deliveries all day long—it’s a problem.

Now imagine your software workload as the tenant, but you don’t know if she’s the shut-in or the music impresario. It’s one facet of the 32-core Threadripper that you should probably take a long, hard look at before picking one up.

Where To Buy A Refurbished Tablet

These are often sold by big-name retailers, come with warranties, and cost a good chunk less than buying the same model brand new. But is it safe to go down this route? Our guide on buying a refurbished tablet explains all you need to know and where to buy one.

What is a refurbished tablet?

As the name suggests, these are devices that may have been originally sold to someone, then returned – either with a fault of some kind or because the customer used their right to change their mind after purchasing it online. Alternatively, they may have traded in a used tablet to get a discount on a new one.

Unfortunately, the word refurbished means different things, depending upon who you buy it from.

You might assume that a refurbished tablet has had parts replaced (such as a battery) and any problems fixed. But while some companies may put devices through an actual refurbishment process and make it exactly as good as a new model (or as close to it as makes no difference), others simply grade the devices according to their own standards.

Those standards – then – aren’t comparable between different sellers, so a Grade B tablet might not be in the same condition as a Grade B from another. You’ll have to read the precise description of what each category means in terms of condition from that particular retailer.

Is refurbished the same as used?

Refurbished devices can be exactly the same as used, or second-hand. That’s because, as explained above, the devices may have been previously used and that means they vary in condition. Only a truly refurbished tablet will be indistinguishable from a brand new one, and this is why those tend to cost a bit more than ‘graded’ devices that have simply been checked, cleaned and any previous user data wiped.

However, there is a difference between a ‘refurbished’ device and used one that a private owner is selling. The main one is a warranty. All reputable sellers of refurbished devices provide one, and you should be extremely wary of buying a tablet from a seller that does not provide at least a few months’ warranty.

If you buy a used tablet from a private seller via Gumtree, ebay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, you do so at your own risk: there’s little to no comeback if there’s a problem later.

For more information on the differences, read our more in-depth refurbished vs second-hand comparison.

Is it safe to buy refurbished tablets?

Yes, so long as you buy from a reputable store and we’ve recommended some below. Several members of the Tech Advisor team have bought refurbished items over the years and haven’t had any issues at all.

Unless you’re buying directly from the manufacturer, such as Apple or Samsung which have ‘true’ refurbishment schemes, there’s no guarantee that the refurbished tablet from another source will come with original, genuine parts. Some use them, some save money by opting for third-party components, which are cheaper.

The thing to look for when going down the refurbished route is the kind of warranty the seller offers, plus the descriptions of how it classifies a refurbished item, so you know what condition the tablet is in.

Not all warranties are the same though, so be sure to check how long the seller is offering before you buy. Many these days come with 12-month coverage, but we have seen shorter ones, so read up first to avoid any disappointment later if things don’t do to plan.

Is buying refurbished tech eco-friendly?

It most certainly is. Ensuring that existing devices get a longer lifespan rather than being dumped in a landfill means less e-waste and lower volumes of newer devices needing to be built. Save money and the planet. Not a bad combination.

Where to buy a refurbished tablet

There are many places that sell refurbished tablets. Here are some of the best.

Apple

Apple

With the iPad being the best-selling tablet out there, this is the best place to start. Apple has a Refurbished and Clearance section on its online store, in which you’ll usually find a good selection of its tablets on offer, as well as iPhones, Macs, Apple Watches and other devices.

The drawback is that refurbished models are only around 15% cheaper than the equivalent new iPad, but you get the same one-year warranty as when buying a brand-new device. One thing to note, Apple tends to offer only last-generation devices on the refurbished store, so it’s unusual to find anything from its current range.

Visit the Apple Refurbished store

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon is another good choice for refurbished tablets. You’ll find them in the Amazon Renewed section, which encompasses both refurbished and second-hand items.

Amazon rates the condition of the device as Excellent, Good or Acceptable, with the first option being in like-new condition, with a battery capacity of at least 80% of what it was when brand new. You get a one-year warranty where the company will refund of replace the device if it doesn’t work as expected.

There’s a good range of tablets on offer including iPad and Android tablets. As always with Amazon, prices are attractive.

Visit Amazon Renewed store

eBay

eBay

eBay now has its own Certified Refurbished section of its site, where you can pick up tablets, as well as a whole range of electronic goods, for some decent savings. You can expect discounts of up to 30% compared to buying the same tablet brand new, and all covered with a 12-month guarantee from the seller.

eBay describes its offerings as follows: ‘Certified Refurbished items are in a pristine, like-new condition and are inspected, cleaned and refurbished by the manufacturer or a manufacturer-approved vendor.’ They are also covered by eBay’s 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with the device.

Visit eBay Certified Refurbished store

musicMagpie / Decluttr

musicMagpie

Depending in which region you live, musicMagpie (Europe) or Decluttr (North America) is another great option if you want to pick up a refurbished tablet.

The company states that all devices have to pass over 90 different tests to be eligible for its Certified Refurbished program, which is accompanied by a one-year warranty and 14-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product.

Just note that this is, at its heart, a grading process and the company doesn’t replace batteries or components.

Decluttr/musicMagpie has three condition grades for devices, so you know exactly what you’re getting. These are Pristine, Very Good and Good. If you want a like-new product, go for Pristine, but if you don’t mind a few minor marks or scratches (which could most likely be covered up by a case) then you can save more money on the Very Good or Good tiers.

Visit musicMagpie / Decluttr store.

Back Market

Back Market

One of the newest companies to join the refurbished revolution is Back Market. Like others on this list, it takes older and used devices and has them restored and then thoroughly tested so you can get a great tablet for less than the standard price of a new one. This is done by hosting products from other resellers which have returned products to their former glory.

It employs something called a Black Label mark that potential refurbishers have to attain before being able to sell products through the Back Market site. This denotes they have reached the quality of workmanship acceptable to Back Market. The site says that it constantly monitors the products offered by refurbishers, even going as far as anonymously purchasing ones from the site to ensure that standards are not dropping.

Like with musicMagpie/Decluttr, there are three condition grades which represent the aesthetic and technical state of the product on offer, each comes with a one-year guarantee and you have 30 days to change your mind and return the item for a full refund.

Visit Back Market store

To see which devices are the ones to look for, read our best tablets roundup.

When Are You No Longer A Startup?

At a certain point, a startup becomes a full-fledged enterprise. Staff roles are defined, an established product or service is regularly purchased and the lines of communication are clear. However, there is no set benchmark for when this occurs. There are many steps and changes a startup has to go through to operate and function as a successful business, and it takes some organizations longer than others. Here are some signs you’ve moved beyond the startup stage – and indicators you need to up your game.

Signs your business is no longer a startup

A startup is typically defined as a fledgling business. However, some companies describe themselves as such regardless of their longevity and success. But technically speaking, there are some clear signs when your organization no longer fits into the startup category.

You’re acquiring other startups.

One of the strongest signs your business is no longer a startup is you are acquiring, or looking to acquire, other companies. This could be for a number of reasons. Recruiting talent is incredibly competitive, so instead of trying to poach top-tier candidates from other companies, it may be more beneficial – and sometimes more cost-effective – to acquire a company with the talent you desire. Another reason to acquire other businesses is to control more verticals, giving your company more of a competitive edge in the industry. When a business is in a position to purchase another company, they have the capital and workforce to be a competitive business.

You’re making products fit for the current market.

At their inception, startups are often researching the market by evaluating their products or services compared to successful companies. Once a business has achieved its desired product or service and is actively selling it, it has adjusted to the market. Having a complete product that is sold, while also developing updates or new products, is a sign a company has moved beyond its startup phase.

You’ve become more bureaucratic.

Startups usually have an informal chain of command and a loose management style in the beginning. Since the initial team is at most a few people, there’s an opportunity to be avant-garde. As the team grows and more people are handling responsibilities, the business becomes more bureaucratic. Leaders and executives are now using more official and formal channels of communication, and there is a standardized operating procedure. This type of structure is implemented for the sake of clarity and consistency among the staff. When processes become less flexible and more formal, a startup has begun transitioning to an established business.

Did You Know?

The management theory of Max Weber lays out six traits of bureaucracies.

Signs your business is still a startup

Some leaders are eager to portray their companies as established, but reality suggests otherwise. Companies should still consider themselves to be in startup territory if they meet the below characteristics.

You’re still testing markets.

You’re still in the startup phase if your company is currently testing business ideas and taking them to market. It could take years to identify your target audience and finalize its concept, and after you do, you still need to determine how to stand out in the marketplace. Once your company is out of the brainstorming phase and your prototypes become final products with a clear sales plan, then your business has grown beyond the startup phase. [Related article: How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Startup]

You’re still working on your branding details.

Initially, startups are usually so focused on developing their product that they don’t have a clear brand. A solidified brand makes your business identifiable to consumers, but that comes once you’ve established your product line, company mission and culture. It could take time to create a name, logo, visual style and written tone that represents your organization. And those things may change as your company develops new products or modifies its goals. If your business is still developing its brand, then you may not be ready to graduate to the big leagues.

Bottom Line

Even major corporations change their branding over time. For a startup, however, a consistent logo and color scheme are essential to start being recognizable to consumers and peers. Learn how to build brand intimacy and emotionally connect with customers.

You’re still hiring integral employees.

A startup is often still in the process of hiring its most essential employees. In the beginning, the founder typically assumes all or most of the company’s responsibilities and, as the business grows, they begin to hire staff to fill the most critical roles. These roles include a chief executive officer (CEO) and a chief operations officer (COO) to ensure the organization is running smoothly, a product manager to oversee the development and release of your products, and an accountant to manage the company’s finances. If these roles remain vacant, your business is likely still a startup.

Tip

If you’re still acquiring the proper technology to operate your business, such as CRM software to manage your client relationships and sales, that’s another indicator your enterprise is still in its early stages. 

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