Posts with keyword: gear


Waiting for the iPhone--Again!

I've had mixed feelings about whether to upgrade my iPhone to the new 3G model. Ultimately, I get three things: 3G, GPS, and 8G more RAM than I have now. None of those alone were enough to tip me and together, they were marginal. Consequently I wasn't all in a tizzy over today's iPhone availability. Still, since I had a few friends who were excited to get one and were coming up to the Apple store in Salt Lake to get one, I figured I'd tag along and maybe pick on up. What I wasn't ready for was 7
Continue reading...


Panniers for Laptops

For the last three weeks I've been riding my bike to work when occasion permits. Unfortunately, that usually only works out to a few times per week. I live in Lindon and work at Thanksgiving Point, about 17 miles one way. One of the first things I discovered was that I needed a good way to carry my laptop. I have a backpack and a messenger bag. I immediately dispensed with the backpack since it's up high and made me too hot. The messenger bag keeps the weight low, but after 17 miles, it's a boat anchor around you
Continue reading...


Following Up on MacBook Pro Memory and Freezing

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote that I suspected that a memory issue was causing my MacBook Pro stability issues. I bought a new 2Gb memory stick ($70) and haven't a single problem with my MBP freezing. Maybe the old memory was bad, maybe it just wasn't working well with the MBP (memory can be finicky), or maybe it was running hot and causing a thermal problem. I don't know. But for now, replacing a single memory stick seems to have solved the problem.
Continue reading...


Belay My Last! Parallels Found Innocent!

Well, maybe not completely innocent. Here's the story: A little bit ago, I claimed that uninstalling Parallels from my system had solved some instability problems I was having. Not so fast. I'd gone five days when I wrote that post without seeing any evidence of the instability after removing the drivers. The next day they came back. What did change was that my erratic mouse problem went a way permanently, so I still believe that vmmain.kext was the cause of that. But it wasn't causing the freezing. As I said, that returned and kept happening. I began to suspect
Continue reading...


Bigger Monitors Boost Productivity

An article in the Wall Street Journal's Business Technology blog reports on research that James Anderson conducted for NEC. The research found: someone using a larger monitor could save 2.5 hours a day. But James Anderson, the professor in charge of the study, tells the Business Technology Blog to take that result with a grain of salt: It assumes that someone will work non-stop for eight hours, which no one will, and that the tasks they perform will all benefit from a larger screen, which isn't always the case. But things like moving data between files are ideally suited
Continue reading...


iPhones On Campus

Abilene Christian University has a program to give all students an iPhone. They've also got a video that shows how the iPhone might be used on campus (the video is conceptual, not factual). I found some of the ideas to be pretty interesting, but wonder how much IT support would be needed to pull them off. For example, in one sequence the students type things into an application running on the iPhone and a tag cloud is built on the projected screen in real time. Slick. The current standard in teaching IT support is Blackboard and anyone who watches
Continue reading...


Complete Solution for Unmounting Time Machine Drives

A few weeks ago, I wrote about forcing Time Machine drives to unmount. From a comment to that post by bil_kleb, I learned about Bernhard Baehr's SleepWatcher program that provided a way to create a complete solution. Here's what I did. Download and install SleepWatcher. There are two installs that have to be done in the right order (StartupItem last). Now whenever you restart SleepWatcher will start as well. Modifiy your sudoers list. This allows umount to run as the superuser without a password (otherwise you have to type the superuser password everytime you put your Mac to sleep).
Continue reading...


More Macbook Sleep Problems?

I have a suspicion that the most recent OS X (10.5.2) update caused a spate of problems with MacBook Pro's refusing to wake up after sleeping. I base this on two pieces of evidence: I've experienced this after months of not having any problem at all. An earlier article I wrote on Fixing MacBook pro sleep problems is the number one hit on Google for that search right now and I'm seeing that page referenced at 3 to 4 times the rate is was a few weeks ago. Anyone else experiencing this?
Continue reading...


Inside the MacBook Air

Have you wondered what it takes to take a MacBook Air apart and what it looks like when you do? Look no further. Here's a step-by-step with high-res photos from iFixIt. The battery isn't trivial to replace, but it's definitely easier than replacing the hard drive on an iMac. I'd do it. Unfortunately, the 80Gb drive is the largest one that will fit. I wondered about that because often Apple's top choice is one size smaller than the current leader in terms of space. I regularly crack open my new MacBook Pros before I've even turned them on to
Continue reading...


MacBook Air SSD - Uncertain Performance Gain

One of the things that interested me about the Mac Book Air with the solid state drive was the hope that it might give better performance than a standard HDD and even better battery life. According to this review from Ars Technica, the performance gains mixed: [T]he summary is: the SSD does worse in sequential disk tests and writing in general, but spanks the HDD in random disk tests and reading from the disk. From No spin: Ars reviews the MacBook Air with solid state driveReferenced Wed Feb 06 2008 20:58:53 GMT-0700 (MST) What does that translate into? Booting
Continue reading...


Managing Spotlight and Memory Usage

Over the weekend, I reloaded Leopard. If you remember, I was forced to upgrade to Leopard by a bad Tiger update a few months ago. My preferred method of upgrading is to wipe the disk, do a fresh install, and then restore my applications and personal files from backup. Due to the circumstances of the situation I was in, I didn't get to do that. I decided that the three day weekend presented the perfect opportunity. The install and restore went fine and I was soon running a squeaky fresh copy of Leopard. I'm in the habit of running
Continue reading...


Passing on the Macbook Air

A number of people have given various objections to the Macbook Air (MBA): small drive, no firewire, no ethernet port, and so on. I can live with all of those. I'd get one primarily for travel, so I don't mind the small drive. I've been using disks over 801.11N with my MBP for months and won't miss an ethernet or firewire port. Further, I'm intrigued by the solid state drive. So, the MBA looks like the perfect travel machine with one exception: there's no 3G card. Huh!?! Further, because there's no Express/34 slot, I can't use the card I
Continue reading...


Not All HD Programs Are Alike

1080i broadcast, KSL TV (local news) note: jaggies on collar(click to enlarge) The picture to the right shows a close-up of the anchor in a local newscast from KSL-TV (channel 5 in Utah). The broadcast is advertised as 1080i (e.g. my TV claims it's a 1080i signal based on the info in the signal). If you look closely, you'll see that the collar (a nice, high-contrast diagonal line) has jaggies--stair-steps in the collar instead of a smooth line. You can see them very clearly. 1080i broadcast, KSL TV (national news) note: collar is smooth(click to enlarge) The second picture
Continue reading...


Ten Four Reasons Businesses Shouldn't Use the iPhone

Apple iPhone(click to enlarge) CIO magazine has a piece on the 10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple iPhone from Forrester Research. I realize we all like lists with numbers and ten is our favorite since we have ten fingers, but only the first four in this list are real reason. The rest are stupid. Let's look at them. The iPhone Doesn't Allow Data on the Device to be Encrypted - with all the problems businesses have with corporate data ending up on stolen or lost devices, I'd have to agree with this. Still, I'd bet the number
Continue reading...


Getting Free HD TV Programming

As I mentioned before, I bought a new HD TV for Christmas (a Sony 40 inch XBR4). That put me on the hunt for good sources of HD programming. Something I overlooked for a while, and I'm sure I'm not alone, is over-the-air, free programming from local TV stations. We're so used to the "antenna == bad" school of thought that the cablecos dished out for the last twenty years that we don't even consider it. There's no doubt that for analog television antennas almost always produced worse results than satellite or cable, but for digital, that's no longer
Continue reading...


Cheap Computer Microscopes

salt 200x(click to enlarge) Celestron will supposedly announce a sub-$300 dollar microscope with a built-in screen and a 2 megapixel camera. That's pretty cool, but it that's out of your price range, you can pick up an used IntelPlay QX3 microscope on eBay for $35. The specs aren't quite a sweet (200x, 1 megapixel), but it does hook to a USB port. I've had one for many years. I found an OS X software package called macam that works with it pretty well. My son and I took some pictures with it a while back. If you're looking for
Continue reading...


Family Information Center from an Old iMac

iMac as family information center(click to enlarge) I have an old 17 inch iMac G5 that I'm not using. After I installed Leopard on it, it just didn't cut it anymore, so it had been retired. I decided it would be fun to experiment with it as a "special purpose computer." That is, one that has limited duty. A while ago I read an article in Macworld on making a family message center from an old iMac and decided to give that a go. You can see from the picture how it turned out. I already had a VESA
Continue reading...


Reasons to Buy a Mac Mini

For Christmas, I bought a Sony XBR4 40" LCD TV from Amazon. I was thinking I ought to get an Apple TV to go with it, but then thought that a Mac Mini might be more versatile. While in the midst of indecision, Dave Winer made up my mind for me and Scoble put the icing on the cake. I'll get a Mac Mini. Dave's new product--not yet released--sounds like a fun convergence of a big, bright beautiful screen hanging on the wall and the Internet. The XBR4 already has a DVI input, so hooking up ought to be
Continue reading...


Hard Drives and Apple

One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you and outlet to vent when you get crappy customer service--heck, I think that drives blogging more than anything. Dave Winer got ripped off in an Apple store yesterday and told the tale on his blog. I've owned, if you count the machines I buy for my students in my research lab, dozens of Apple machines in the last five years. Overall, I find them to be moderately reliable--but I have to admit most of the problems I've had have been on new-release machines. I've never taken my
Continue reading...


Taking an iMac Apart

I wanted a bigger hard drive in an Intel (Core Duo) 20 inch iMac than the one it had and took advantage of CompUSA's clearance sale to pick up a 750Gb drive. I'd taken the cover off of my G5 iMac plenty of times and it's dirt simple, so I thought I was in for an easy time. I was very wrong. My first clue should have been the separate RAM bay door on the bottom of the machine. No one puts a RAM bay door on a machine that's easy to crack open. Where the back simple lifts
Continue reading...


The Optical Disk is Dead

My recent travels had me wishing for a lighter bag--that implies a smaller laptop--or no laptop. I'm not ready for the latter, but I'd be happy to give up the optical drive on my laptop to get it. I never use it on the road. I'm willing to plug one in for the rare cases where I use it. I'm ready to jettison optical drives on all portable computers.
Continue reading...


30 Inch Dell Monitors Are a Steal

I've got two Apple 30: displays--one at home and one in my office at BYU. They're lovely. I can't imagine programming without one. All that real estate makes a huge difference in productivity. Last week I picked up three Dell 3007WFP 30 inch monitors. They're a steal; Dell has them priced less than $1200 (compare that to the Apple educational price of $1600). A c|net head to head review puts them neck and neck. I'm sure the esthetics won't be the same, but I can live with that. Why the price drop? Dell's got a new 30 inch display
Continue reading...


Memory Solves the PC Problem

A few weeks ago I reported that I'd put together a PC with my kids and it failed to start up. After trying a variety of things, I came to the conclusion it was the motherboard, the CPU, or RAM. A friend sent a note to say he had a couple of sticks of extra RAM I could try in it, so after a week of forgetting about it, I finally did and it solved the problem! The new RAM was from Silicon Mountain. The RAM that wasn't working in the motherboard was Kensington. Various forum postings indicated that
Continue reading...


Debugging a New PC Build

It's been years since I built a PC and there's plenty that's changed, so since my lab needed a new PC, I decided to buy some components and out one together. I did it at home so my kids could help. Unfortunately, it hasn't had such a happy ending--I can't get it to boot. Through a series of experiments, I've decided it's either the motherboard or the CPU, but I can't decide which. I'm using a ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard and a AMD Athlon 4200 CPU. I don't have anything in the motherboard right now except the CPU, the
Continue reading...


OLPC Pictures

Scott Barlow took some pictures of the laptop from the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. It's small that I thought. I love the color though.
Continue reading...


Building an Adapter for the iPhone Jack

As you know, if you have an iPhone, the headphone jack is recessed. This was apparently done for esthetic reasons: pulling it out would have resulted in a big bulge--not something Steve Jobs would approve of. I happen to have some accessories that don't work with the iPhone because of this little design decision. There are adapters, but they are bulky, stiff, ugly, and expensive. So, I decided to make my own. The results were OK--not perfect. Here's what you need: A pair of earbuds with a plug that fits into the recessed socket. I had an old pair
Continue reading...


Green Pixel Plague on Apple Displays

Doug Kaye has been bitten by the green pixel problem. He blames the display, but I don't think it is that simple. Here's why. I too have been troubled by this problem since I got a 30 inch display. Over that time, however, I've had 4 different Powerbooks or MacBook Pros and they've exhibited different behaviors. One would give me the green pixels every time, all the time. No amount of rebooting or reconnecting the display would fix it. With two, I never saw the problem--not once. With the MacBook Pro I'm using now, I see the problem occasionally,
Continue reading...


iPod Silence is Disconcerting

I've got a weird problem with my iPod. It won't play music, podcasts, or anything else I load on it. It's making sound--you can hear the clicks in the head phones. And it thinks it's playing the display shows the song dutifully playing with the progress bar moving along. I can even feel the hard drive spinning up as it starts to play. But no sound comes out. I've checked the volume and looked through the settings. I've restarted the iPod. I've even restored it to factory defaults and reloaded everything. Nothing works. Given that it makes sounds for
Continue reading...


Safari Resetting (Crashing) on iPhone

Has any one else experienced Safari resetting or crashing on their iPhone. Just the last few days this has happened to me several times. I'm trying to figure out if it's a Web site I go to, how I'm using Safari (quite a few pages open at once), the network I'm on (don't think so), or something else. I hope Apple's getting the crash reports from me and others. Meanwhile, Marc Hedlund has some praise and scorn for the iPhone.
Continue reading...


iPhone Matches Hype

David Pogue, the technology reviewer for the NY Times, has released his review of the iPhone. The conclusion: [E]ven in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles. In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn't hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, "It ain't bragging if you done it." From The iPhone Matches Most of Its Hype - New York TimesReferenced Tue Jun 26 2007 17:45:18
Continue reading...


iPhone Service Plans

Apple and AT&T have released details of the iPhone service plan. Most interesting part: the phone is activated using iTunes. Looks like you'll just buy the box and take it home to activate it rather than doing it at the store. They say that customers with existing AT&T contracts will have the option of keeping their current number and upgrading the account to work with the iPhone, but I'll bet that's not true of business accounts. We'll see.
Continue reading...


Hard Choices

I'm trying to figure out: Where's the best place near my house to get an iPhone? Which of my kids should I make stand in line all day for me? Sometimes being a Dad is tough work. If anyone has good intel on iPhone sources in Utah County, let me know. Update: Near as I can tell, the AT&T store in American Fork will have them. Still checking.
Continue reading...


First iPhone App

Want a glimpse of the first iPhone app in the wild? OneTrip is a shopping list application that is built with the iPhone's form factor and multi-touch screen in mind, but will run in Safari on any platform (and apparently Firefox as well). one thing I noticed when I played around with it is that there's no log in. That makes it simple, and cookies are good enough to keep your list around from visit to visit. But the power of a Web-based application lies partially in it's ubiquity. I want to be able to maintain my list on
Continue reading...


Why Does HP Software Suck Sooooo Bad?

I have an HP Scanjet 4670 that I've owned for 3 years now. I haven't used it for a year however, and a few months ago when I rebuilt my machine, I didn't reinstall the HP drivers on purpose. This morning I needed to make a scan. I worked for an hour to try to figure out how to make it work without installing HP drivers (it's hard to find good information on whether this is even possible) and no joy. I really didn't want to install the drivers and all the other stuff HP would force on me,
Continue reading...


Picotux

This picotux server is pretty cool. It's no bigger than an RJ45 jack. With power over Ethernet, you could deploy these anywhere you can run Cat 5 cable. I'm not sure why I love things like this, but I do.
Continue reading...


Macbook Pro Memory Woes

Sunday my Macbook Pro (Core 2 Duo) downloaded a software update and wanted to reboot, so I said "OK." When it started back up, I got three beeps and then the power light flashed. Obviously it didn't boot--it had failed the power on self test with a RAM error. Not good. I tried reseating the memory, no joy. Finally, I discovered that I could put either SIMM into the top slot and it would boot, but putting anything in the bottom slot failed. So, I booted with just the 2Gb card and made a clone of the machine to
Continue reading...


Broken Scroll Ball on Mighty Mouse

I know a lot of people don't like Apple's Mighty Mouse, but I actually like the thing--at least the bluetooth version. It's small, fits in my backpack and pairs with my MacBook Pro consistently (which can't be said of all the Bluetooth mice I've owned). The one I keep in my office, however had a problem: the scroll ball stopped scrolling up. Down, right and left all worked. It was annoying. I was wondering if I needed to send it in to be fixed (or simply buy a new one). I fixed it. Turns out the sensor for scrolling
Continue reading...


Information Devices

One of my graduate students, Sam Curren, has an interesting post on hardware widgets. One, WidgetStation looks like the kind of thing you could build a nice special purpose dashboard out of. It's nice enough looking that the CEO or CFO wouldn't mind having on their desk.
Continue reading...


Trusted Computing...Sounds Great. Is It?

Here's a great little video on trusted computing. Not much on the details, but well done and aimed at a less technical audience.
Continue reading...


Logitech Panic

For a while, I have occasionally had my MacBook Pro panic when I unplugged the USB cable. For you non-Unix geeks, that means the machine stops--dead--and has to be rebooted. OS X hides the reason from you. Even when you restart, it simply asks if you'd like the problem reported to Apple. However, if you push the right buttons on the dialog box, you can see the dump. When I did this, I discovered that it was the Logictech Control Center that was causing the problem. LCC configures Logitech mice and keyboards. I did the usual thing and updated
Continue reading...


Remembering the Beepwear Pager Watch

My old Timex Beepwear watch(click to enlarge) This morning while I was rooting around in a drawer, I found my old Timex Beepwear Pager watch. I bought it back in 1998 when I still wanted a pager and thought it was pretty cool that it would hold my appointments too. It's ugly and I thought it was a boat anchor. I didn't wear it much. By coincidence, I was reading O'Grady's PowerPage blog today and saw an article about Sony Ericsson's BLuetooth watch. The watch definitely looks more stylish than the Beepwear watch, but it's even heavier. The Beepwear is
Continue reading...


Quad Core Upgrades for Apple

Later this year Intel will release quad core versions of it's Core 2 and Xeon processors that are pin-compatible with the current two core versions. The folks over at Anandtech dropped quad core samples into a Mac Pro and they worked just fine. I suspect that upgrading your Mac Book Pro would be dicey due to power and thermal issues, but upgrading Mac Pro towers should provide quite a boost for well-threaded applications
Continue reading...


Goodbye Ditty

Dell has discontinued the DJ Ditty. I'm shocked.
Continue reading...


My Audio Setup

Some people have asked me what I use to record various audio for IT Conversations. The set-up I'm using right now is the result of a lot of experimentation and a lot of help from people like Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani. Paul's Podcast Rigs Web site is a real help to anyone getting into podcasting. Audio recording setup(click to enlarge) My current setup consists of the following: Apple MacBook Pro with 2Gb of RAM. Obviously, you could substitute some other computer. I also use a Apple 30" Cinema Display, which is clearly optional, but very nice. Mark of
Continue reading...


What I Expect from Online Retailers

Last week, I wrote about the joys of being on the bleeding edge with the new MacBook Pro. The disk issue is giving me fits. The problem is that in anticipation of putting a 160Mb disk in the machine (before I realized that fast 160Gb SATA drives are impossible to find), the machine was ordered with a 100Gb drive in the interest of being economical. I can't work in 100Gb--at least I'd rather not. My laptop is my only machine and I want everything on it. So, at the moment, that requires a 120Gb drive at the minimum. No
Continue reading...


MacBook Pro and the Bleeding Edge

One problem with life on the bleeding edge is that there isn't as much infrastructure built up and parts are scarce. Take Apple's MacBook Pro, for example. I've got a gleaming example sitting by my desk that I've been playing with for a few days. It's very fast at some things and Rosetta works well. Too well, perhaps. You might forget to upgrade some G4 apps to native ones because they still work passibly. But, that's another story. Two problems I've run into so far. First, Apple switched to SATA drives for the MacBook Pro. That probably gave them
Continue reading...


TiVo's Got Podcasts

This weekend, I noticed that my TiVo could play podcasts. I don't know how long that feature's been there, months probably, but I just found it. Unfortunately IT Conversations isn't on their pre-populated list, but there were some that I was interested in. For example I listened to the latest TWiT this morning while I was getting ready. Here's a few thoughts and observations: This is a no-brainer for TiVo. Lot's of free content that they can put on their box for little effort and garner a "new" feature. You can add podcasts not on TiVo's list, but you
Continue reading...


Bose Service Rocks

Last month by Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones broke. A little piece of plastic on the right side of the head band broke, allowing the right earpiece to flop out. I was bummed; these aren't cheap headphones. I called Bose expecting a run around of one sort or another. Instead, I got a flat-out "send them back and we'll replace them free." No receipt proving purchase date, nothing. Just "send them back." The new ones arrived today, about a week after they received my old pair in the mail. Very impressive.
Continue reading...


Audio 101

One of my new duties as Executive Producer is recording what we call the show IDs and the intros and "outros" for the IT Conversations series. The show ID is the very first portion program that introduces what's coming up: "Up next on IT Conversations..." The intros and outros are the pieces that are specific to a given series: "And now, here's out presentation from Emerging Technology..." I have a pretty good set up, MOTU Traveler firewire mixer, Audio Technica mics, and so on. My goal is to get good sound, but I noticed as I recorded some things
Continue reading...