Thursday, March 31, 2011

Aftermarket Cooler

Along with my new MSI 460 graphics card, I ordered a Zalman CNPS 9900 MAX. This is the first aftermarket cooler I had ever had to install, so I didn't realize what a task it would be. Before I started, I had to remove my entire motherboard from my computer. Always make sure that when you do this you are in a static free area, that you are grounded (no I don't mean by your parents), and that you have disconnected the power supply from the computer. The coller comes with different nuts and bolts which fit into it. It looked simple at first, but then I found that the directions were not so straight forward.

When I went to install it, the first thing I had to do was attach two brackets on either side of the cooler so that I would be able to mount it. This proved probably to be the easiest part of the operation. All they needed to do was to snap into place. Next, I had to setup the mounting bracket. This was possible the most difficult part of the entire setup. The directions were not clear at all on how you are suppose to setup one of the pieces. I had to go online and watch a flash video from Zalman's website on how to setup this part of the cooler. It was only a little bit helpful. Confusion aside, I manage to get the bracket setup the correctly. Finally, all I had to do was apply the thermal paste. I decided to use Arctic Silver instead of what came with the cooler since I know Arctic Silver works very well. I used the "line method" when applying. By "line method" I mean I pulled the Arctic Silver in a straight line about 3/4" long. I may have made a mistake here because when I started to use the Arctic Silver, excess liquid came out first before the paste did. I don't think it did damage to my CPU, but I definitely know for next time to wipe a little onto a paper towel first to get it started. After applying the paste, I put the cooler on top and pressed down slightly so as to spread the paste. I followed that by aligning it with the bracket and attaching the screws.

After all that work, I put my motherboard back into the computer, reattached everything, and booted up. I had made sure to test my temperatures prior to removing the stock cooler, and those temperatures ranged between 39-42 degrees Celsius. After the new cooler was installed, the temperatures ranged between 28-32 degrees Celsius on idle. A significant drop. However, one of my Cores seems to still be at 39 constantly and I can't figure out why. Hopefully there is nothing wrong.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MSI Hawk GTX 460 1GB GDDR5

My brand new graphics card!
After three days of waiting, a weeks of researching, my new graphics card has finally arrived. Installing it was a pain in my thumb because I shredded some skin while getting the PCI-E wires in and out. However, once it was in there was very little issues afterward. I booted into Windows without a hitch. After Windows installed the drivers, and I made sure I had the latest ones, I restarted the computer so Windows could apply the changes. Finally I got into Steam and ran Just Cause 2, a game which has its own benchmarking program in it. First, since I didn't have a lot of time, I set the display setting to "optimal" which is suppose to choose the best for my rig. I thought it was wrong at first because it set everything to "very high" and some optional items to "On". Here are my results:
This was by far an amazing investment, and will most likely last me the next two years or so. This, of course, is only one benchmark, if I had done others I would probably see slight differences. As for my old 9800 GT, I am putting it away in storage. I have some future plans for it that where I might put it to use. If my current motherboard support the PhysX feature though, I would have put my 9800 GT in PhysX with my MSI Hawk.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By End of Day

We have all been there, waiting for a package to be delivered by UPS. While waiting, you constantly refresh the page with the tracking number to see if anythings changed. This was me yesterday as I waited for my package from Newegg to be delivered. While constantly refreshing, I noticed the site said delivery "By End of Day" in both the early delivery section, and original delivery section. I had sense of what this meant, but I wanted to be sure.

The first way in which I attempted to find the answer was by using Google. Most sites said the day ended at 5'ish, but I knew that couldn't be right because I had gotten packages after 5 o'clock before. I kept searching, but still nothing. When I gave up on Google, I closed the tab and returned back to the UPS page. it was then I noticed that the words "In Transit" were underlined, usually meaning there is a link of some sort. I hovered my mouse over it and to my surprise it brought up a little box with delivery hours listed. "9 to 7, possibly later" is what it said. Who knew that what I was looking for was right under my nose the entire time!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Over the Weekend I Learned

Over the weekend I was looking through different software for Mac, just browsing to see what was available. While browsing, I came across Final Cut Pro. I decided to read the specs and specifications, and while browsing I learned something interesting. Final Cut Pro is Mac only software. I was a little surprised at first because Microsoft goes out of its way to make programs like Microsoft Office available for Mac, and so does Adobe when it comes to the CS5 suite. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. This was how Apple worked, they need control. They don't have control if their "exclusive" products run on other systems. Look at all the applications which Apple has made for their system, almost none of currently work on both Windows and Mac. For example, iWork and Things are a batch of programs which don't work with Windows. The only exception to this is iTunes, which works on both platforms. However, the Mac version gets Quicktime 10 to work with, while the Windows version gets Quicktime 8. It really comes down to which system can one up the other more.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Purchasing a New Graphics Card

The process to pick out a new graphics card is not always an easy one, especially when you are working with a hackintosh. The trick is, I have to get one that is compatible with the hackintosh, as well as one that will provide the best gaming experience when running windows. In addition, I must have the money for one. My options were either the Nvidia 4XX series, or the Nvidia 5XX series. My price range was no more then $200. I had to read up on the new fermi cards so I could get a sense of what the performance differences were between the 4XX and the 5XX sereis. When it came down to it, the difference in performance was maybe 10-15 FPS (frames per second). However, the 5XX series is a bit pricier because it just came out two months ago. After looking at the differences, it would seem I was confined to buying a 4XX series card. Next things to do? Well I had to choose between the 460, 470, or the 480. From what I already knew, the 480 ran way too hot, and the 470 was very noisy. Bassed on this, I decided to look into buying a 460. Many different companies make variations of the 460, so I had to decide on a company. This is where I had no idea what I was looking for, they all seemed the same. It was at this point that I went to reddit for help. I posted a thread asking what card would be good for me in the 460 series. Within a couple responses it was narrowed down to either an EVGA 460, AR Version, with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM, or the MSI Hawk 460 with 1 GB GDDR5. The difference between the two cards was the EVGA model came with a lifetime warranty, were as the MSI model was very good for overclocking. That means the MSI card can be set to run at levels higher then it is manufactured to.

There is a price difference between the two cards of about $10. Originally I thought I might need the lifetime warranty, however the more I thought about it, the more it seemed a card with more performance capability would be better. After searching, price matching, and more thinking, I decided on the MSI Hawk. The current price of the card is $199.00 with a $20 mail in rebate. I have decided I will be buying from Newegg because they have the lowest price overall. I was debating whether to go to Amazon or not, but I believe Amazon would be hard to deal with if there were any issue with the card. Thanks to reddit, and a lot of searching, I am getting a new MSI Hawk. My next challenge: Getting it to work with my hackintosh.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wireless iPhone Charger

Wi.u is not just any old iPhone charging kit. This is a wireless iPhone charging kit, meaning there is not need to connect wires to the charger while charging. Simply place it down on the Wi.u pad and let it charge. The device is made for iPhone 3G, 3GS, and the iPhone 4. What is even better you might ask? Well , that would be the application that comes with the charging kit. The application allows you to set the charger to charger at certain times of the day, when your battery percent reaches a certain level, or when ever you wish. You can even set up a weekly schedule.

Although the Wi.u is a concept design, by pledging some money you can make it a reality. In addition, when you pledge money towards the Wi.u, you are essentially reserving yourself one. I think this is a great product, and if I had the money I would back it. The only problem that I could see arising is the constant need to remove your iphone from the case to sync it. Not that this is a big deal, but it can get annoying after a while.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Birthday OS X

Yesterday was the 10th birthday of the OS X operating system. The system, release back in 2001, has come a long way since its buggy beginnings. Some things have stayed unchanged throughout the years, such as the Dock and the Search Bar. It is also interesting to not that ten years ago, Windows made up almost 95% of the user market. That left Mac with a little less then 4% of the market. Today, Mac has atleast 11% of the market, and is also one of the most recognized symbols around the world. From Cheetah, to Panther, then Tiger, to Leopard, and now Snow Leopard, many things that make OS X great are consistent through out the different operating systems. This is a happy birthday to the Mac, and as a birthday wish from me I hope that Lion be the next great thing.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FireFox 4 is Out

A couple weeks back I mentioned that the release candidate of Firefox 4 was available to for download. As of just a few days ago Firefox has officially brought the improvements to everyone. Firefox is officially in version 4. This of course brings along the tab organization, speed, and the overhaul of the entire browser. It is always recommended that you upgrade your current version of Firefox if you haven't done so already. However, if you have incompatible add ons, you may want to wait a little so as to give the developer time to update it. Last thing you want is to have your favorite add ons not working because they are in compatible with Firefox 4. I had this issue, and the way I bypassed it was I downloaded Firefox 3.6 and ran it when necessary. Do you like the new Firefox, or do you prefer other browsers?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Purging an Old Drive

I have a hard drive which is failing, however it still has data on it. This drive is a good three or four years old, it was installed in my Macbook when I bought it. I had to remove it from there when I noticed the "S.M.A.R.T" Status indicated it was failing. When I removed it, I was left with a drive that had data on it which needed to be removed. I am not one for just a simple erase. I decided to be careful and do a 35 pass erase. This means that the needle goes around the disk 35 times completely to erase any and all traces of data.

35 times may not seem like a lot, but it is. As of now, I am up to my 17th time around the disk. My hackintosh has been running for almost two days now erasing the disk. This method, the 35 pass wipe, is the most secure method out there. I did learn recently though, if your disk warped over time there may be sections of it that are unreadable. That means that the needle won't go over and over and erase it. There are two option that post the best measure of security if you don't want to wipe your drive. First, take an axe to it and have fun destroying it. Second, rub a strong magnet over it. Doing so will mess up the ones and zeroes on the disk; thus, the disk will now have corrupt data on it instead of data which is retrievable.

Not everyone needs to clean their old drives, but since this one is out of warranty I want to make sure there is nothing left on it before I destroy it. You can never be too safe when destroying data.


Monday, March 21, 2011

And Then There Were Three

One of the four major cell phone providers in the US has just been bought out by another. T-Mobile was bought by AT&T for a whopping 39 billion dollars. This will make AT&T the biggest cell phone provider in the US. If this mergers passes the FCC, it will give AT&T all of T-mobile's towers, expanding the ranger of their signal in very remote areas. It will also bring with it T-Mobile's 34 million customers. Add that to AT&T 80 million customers to a customer basis of 104 million. That trumps Verizon 94 million customer basis.
When I first heard about this, I didn't think it was actually going to happen. However, AT&T has a little loop whole they found which will allow them to proceed with the purchase.
Picture from Engadget
As you can see, by going through with this purchase AT&T is achieving the goal which Obama set during his State of the Union Adress. The goal is to bring internet and cell phones to 98% of Americans in the next five years. This merger would help accomplish that.
To me, I almost see this as Microsoft is absorbing a company. I get the feeling that, just like Microsoft, AT&T will absorb the company and not know how to handle the customer basis. They will do what they please without any regrets what so ever. T-Mobile has had great customer service, and some phenomenal plans for usage since they were a smaller company. AT&T will probably not follow through with some of these ethics. From what I have read, AT&T has terrible customer service, while T-Mobile's was much better.
I guess it remains to be seen the effects of this merger. This leaves Sprint as the only under dog now. It kind of gives Spring the "OK" to do what they please because they can now charge less then both Verizon and AT&T and still be justified. They would be justified because T-Mobile, their only competition, no longer exist. This also leaves AT&T and Verizon left to duke it out.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Future DIY Project

With my new headset coming in the next week, I decided I was going to modify them slightly. The way they are now, they hang on your ears in such a way that it hurts after a while. This weekend I am going to look for materials that will allow me to make ear pads. What I plan on doing is cutting foam into a shape that fits around my ear, and then covering it with a leather of some sort. Thanks to reddit, I am now looking for Naugahide, a leather which you can buy for projects. The challenge is making the ear pads fit in such a way that the headset won't fall off. It is all in the planning stages right now, but I am picking up the items today so I have them when my new headset comes. I may also consider making an amplifier for my current headset. I am not sure if this is possible since it has a microphone, but I am sure I can figure out a way. There are lots of DIY amplifiers out there, I just have to find the right one. I could even consider making one or two more amplifiers, assuming I find a tutorial, for my speakers and base. Anyway, I have to think about how I am going to get these ear pieces to fit. Back to the drawing board!


Friday, March 18, 2011

NES for Japan

One way to help Japan would be to donate to the Red Cross, another would be to go out there and help. However, you can also sell one of the rarest Nintendo Entertainment System games ever sold on ebay. Nintendo Stadium Events is the rarest NES game ever sold. It was only in production for one year before being taken off the shelves. The game is factory sealed, which ups the value significantly. This copy has been verified as a legit copy by the Video Game Authority, or VGA for short. They have given it a rating of 75 out of 100, which on their scale is considered very good condition and near mint. The seller has put the minimum acceptance price at 500,000 dollars, but I have a feeling he may have to lower it. He promises that 10% of the proceeds will go to Japan Quake Relief.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Cat Strikes Again

For those readers who have been here since the start of the blog, you may remember the incident with my laptop adapter and my cat. Well my cat has struck again, and this time at my Logitech G330 gaming headset. Besides the fact that I was furious, I now was put in the position to figure out the problem. Do I call Logitech tech support and hope they help, or just go buy a new headset. Seeing as I was still under warranty, I called up Logitech. I went through all the menu prompts, and was connected with a representative fairly quickly. The very first thing I asked, before explaining my problem, was how long was my limited warranty which came with my G330 headset. After a minute of looking, he told me two years. This was good, it meant I could get my replacement and be covered by warranty, which means I wouldn't have to pay. I then proceeded to tell my story that my cat attacked my headset, and that I was hoping the warranty would cover it. No questions asked, he simply said he needed some contact information from me; thus, I provided it for him. At the end of the call he made sure I understood that I would get an email in the next 24 hours with a shipping label. All I had to do is box up the headset and put the shipping label on it. Once shipped, I wouldn't get my new one shipped until they received my package at their plant in Arizona. 

I was very pleased with the overall experience. This is the first time I have ever had to call Logitech tech support for a warranty issue. The process was clean and easy, and the rep was very nice. I am glad that Logitech does such a good job with their customer support, it really helps when you are the end user with a broken item. Now I just have to get the packing label in my email and this process would be great!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Take a Minute

While many of us go about our daily business, it is hard to imagine that just across the sea a country is in need of dire help. Japan, one of the most prominent countries in the worlds, was struck by an 8.9 earthquake over the weekend. The earthquake was then followed by a tsunami and multiple aftershocks. Tens of thousand are dead and many more are missing. What most people don't see from the news pictures, and other media, is the fact that people there are without water, electricity, and even food. You take these items for granted until you no longer have them. If you have the time, please take a minute to help those in need. Go to The RedCross and donate some money towards the cause.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Chrome OS in Virtual Box

There is now an easier way to try out Chrome OS. Previously, the only way to do so was to burn the Chrome OS image to a USB drive. Just yesterday Hexxeh, the creator of Chrome OS Flow and Chrome OS Vanilla, released a build of Vanilla which works in Virtual Box. Before we get started, make sure to download the Virtual Box Build of Chrome OS, and also download Virtual Box. Now let's get started.
1. Install Virtual Box on your computer
2. Unzip the chrome os file. It ends in .tar.gz and will unpack to a .vdi file
3. Open Virtual Box and click "New"
4. Click continue and then proceed to naming your OS. I called mine Chrome OS
5. Then click the drop down menu and select either other or Linux. If you select other, do the same thing for the box below that one. If you select Linux, then in the box below that select Ubuntu. Your screen should now look something like this:

6. Click continue. Now designate how much RAM you want Chrome OS to use. I think 512 MB is enough.
7. Click continue again. Now click on the second option, use existing drive, and locate your Chrome OS .vbi file
8. Click continue once more and you are ready to go. Now go boot up chrome OS!
Neat right? I did this over the weekend. The only issue I have so far is Chrome OS won't run at a higher resolution then 800x600.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jump Ahead

Well it is that time of year again. It is time to push your clocks ahead one hour. You know that means? It means we lose an hour of sleep. Luckily, most computers are set to change automatically, along with your cable box and phone. This means you lose and hour of sleep, unless of course you plan a lot of Minecraft because the time is always the same there. Anyway, thanks to this I can be extra tired this week and have no idea what time it is. Don't forget, if you own devices that need to be changed manually, like a wrist watch, make sure to change them now so you don't forget later on. So next on my list of... things to... (yawn).... talk about..........*zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weekend Plans

The weekend is here and I have some things which I plan on learning. As part of my goal to learn code, I have invested in Xcode 4. For only $5, I get the entire Mac and iPhone SDK to use. Now, I by no means know how to use Xcode,but I will learn. I happen to find a great tutorial which teaches how to program using Objective-C. The tutorial is actually very straight forward. The reason I have found it easier to understand is because of what has taught me. My limited knowledge of python has allowed me to understand Objective-C better. Plus, as long as I take time to try each of the snippets of code, I will understand it better. Hands on always helps when learning a new language. Reading gets you no where.

My plan for this weekend is to learn as much about Objective-C as possible. I will, in the future, apply my knowledge of what I have learned to create something. I say something because I am not exactly sure what I want to create yet. So far I have only worked with code which I can execute in Terminal, meaning there is no user interface yet. I guess that is something which I will learn later on. Much of what I am learning now, although it is only numbers and some other functions, will help me later on. Each small snippet can help make a great program what it is. This is my plan for the weekend, what is yours?


Friday, March 11, 2011

FireFox RC4 is Out

Don't actually click the picture, it won't download.
Just released a few days ago was the FireFox RC4 Browser. RC 4, or Release Candidate 4, is the next major upgrade for FireFox users. The upgrade boasts a slew of new features, both seen and unseen, to help better the web browsing experience.
New Tab Location

Firs up is the new tab location. Following other browsers, such as Chrome and Safari, Firefox RC 4 brings the tabs to the top of the browser. This is useful because it puts a barrier between you and the tabs, the barrier being the URL bar. This can stop you from accidentally closing the wrong tab while browsing. In addition, you can now switch tabs using the URL bar. I don't know how helpful this feature is, but I personally don't see myself using it.

There are also some small changes that have been made. Again, following the trend which Chrome set, Mozilla has added a way for you to sync your Firefox information with an account. This account will allow you to easily get your bookmarks, links, and favorite sites where ever you go. All you have to do is sign in with your Firefox Account and your good to go. There is also a feature which many users will find helpful. This new feature allows you to organize your tabs. You can group them, re-arrange them, or leave them the way they are. For all you neat freaks out there, this feature is for you. Each group acts as its own separate window. This allows you to have multiple windows open, but only see the one you are working in if you have grouped tabs together. I found this to be very useful when browsing the web as it made my browsing experience less cluttered.

Last, but not least, Firefox has improved it speed over previous versions. Pages load much faster, although I don't think it matches the speed of Chrome quite yet. I did a V8 Benchmark Test on my Macbook and Chrome came out double what Firefox RC 4 did. Bigger is better in the test, so that says a lot. I used the same versions which Mozilla used.

Other additions include WebM support for HD video in HTML5, plus better HTML 5 support. If you use Firefox, go get this update now! Keep in mind that not all your add-ons will work because some might not be compatible with RC 4.


P.S- This is the blogs 200th post!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

iOS 4.3 is Out Leaving Verizon iPhone Behind

Yesterday iOS 4.3 was released from Apple ahead of schedule. The firmware update for the portable devices was suppose to come out March 11th. It includes the fixes for AirPlay and also the faster load times for Safari. This is all fine and dandy, except for the fact that the Verizon iPhone was left out. There is no statement from Apple regarding why this happened, but it would seem that it has. The Verizon iPhone has firmware 4.2.6 loaded on it, which came with the Personal Mobile Hotspot. This, in itself, is interesting because the Personal Mobile Hotspot was the big update which was included in iOS 4.3.

Since the Verizon iPhone started off with a slight head start, it may lead it to the phone running a different firmware. In other words, there might be two sets of firmware made. One would be made for the GSM iPhone and the other for the CDMA iPhone. Although this is annoying, it would make some sense. The phones are different because of their carriers, and the Verizon one was running a modified version of 4.2 when it was released. How long the Verizon iPhone customers will have to wait for the firmware update is unknown. In fact, there has not been any word of whether they will receive the update or not. I am guessing we will have to wait until June to find out unless Apple states otherwise. June, for those of you who don't know, is usually when the iPhone refresh happens.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carrier Update

Note: This is not the actual image of my iPhone,
this is just a picture with a copy of the message I receive  
It isn't often that I don't know what my iPhone is doing. I am usually pretty good about knowing what is coming out. Recently I got a message like the on in the image. Although I wasn't sure what it was, I said update anyway. Just remember, don't ever update unless you know what you are suppose to get. Anyway so I looked into this a little. It turns out that in addition to your iPhone's firmware, there is also firmware from your carrier. This message pops up to let you know that you can update your carriers firmware. It would be nice if it told me exactly what the update contained. I only said yes because it was carrier related. If it were related to the actual device, like device firmware, I would have waited until I got home so I could find out more about the firmware. It is too bad Verizon doesn't post any where, at least that I know of, for their customers to read what comes with the update.
Maybe, in the future, I can find out what this means before I update. With the hopes of a better iOS notification system in the future, it may be easier to find out more about the update before updating.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Newer Speedtest

My speedtest
Recently the site got a slight overhall. The site, which allows you to test the speed of your Internet Provided, has added some new features to make the site better. Starting of is the G.U.I, or Graphical User Interface, which has been completely redone. It looks great and adds a kind of futuristic feel to the site. In addition, there is now the ability for you to test multiple computers under one account. What this means is you can create an account and sign in with it on multiple computer. After signing in, you can test each computer's results and have them grouped so you can compare them. I am not quite sure how this feature is useful to me as of now, but I am sure it will serve some purpose in the future. Next, while speedtesting, the site has improved upon which server it chooses for the test. Prior to the update, I believe the choice was based on the server nearest to your location. Now the site will test on the server which is nearest to your location, but also has the lowest ping. This, in turn, will help yield the best results. Finally, the site has added a new feature known as "Speed Wave". This feature is a competition of sorts, which allows you to test your speed against others throughout the world simultaneously. You can also do this against your friends to see who has the fastest internet. I find this to be one of the coolest additions, and will most likely use it when friends argue over who has the fastest internet.
Overall, it is the same site as before, but with some minor tweaks. The new addition help keep the up to date and give it a new look. Give it a shot, maybe even post your speeds below.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Upgrading Windows

While my laptop was in the shop, my desktop was also being worked on. I was working on upgrading the OS from Windows Home Premium to Windows Professional. You would think the process would be easy, but then again nothing is easy. I had a trial version of Home Premium, and it was about to expire. From what I had been told, and what I read, there should be an issue running the upgrade disk. Turns out I read that wrong. Windows Pro would only upgrade the OS if the previous OS had been an activated Windows OS. This left me with no choice but to upgrade via a "custome install", also known as a "clean" install. What does that mean? Well it just means it wipes my hard drive and installs the OS. However, I did not that Windows made a folder with all my old information in it. The folder was known as "Windows.old". It housed everything from the old OS.    

Thing is, I wanted to restore my games, but I didn't want to have to use the product key
After looking into it more, I found you can't restore games from Windows.old, you can only restore documents and other files. It would have been good if I had taken more of my save game files, not many of them were backed up. I did get the important one, although I did miss Super Meat Boy. Anyway, so after all that I had to go about reinstalling my games, which I am still in the process of doing, and trying to put the save files I did recover back in their proper position. This would allow me to play them again.

There is an underlying lesson that I learned here. Back up! Back up! Back up! NEVER do an OS upgrade with out backing up your files. Yet, you know what they say, you learn from your mistakes. I now know what to do in the future I guess.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

So...What Happened?

Those of you following me on twitter, you probably know by now that I had an issue with my Macbook. What exactly was my issue though? Well, around 9 PM Thursday night my keyboard stopped functioning. In other words, when I typed nothing happened on screen. The mouse wouldn't move either. My guess was there was a fault connection of some sort which caused the issue.

At first, I was not to keen of going to the Apple Store to get it fixed. Yet, I needed it fixed so I could use my laptop. The reason behind me not wanting to go to the Apple store is because I didn't want to pay a large sum of money for this issue. All I wanted was my keyboard fixed. I thought about it and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like I would just have to go to Apple. I picked up my iPhone and , through the Apple Store App, scheduled my appointment at the Genius Bar for Friday afternoon.

At about 2:30 PM Friday afternoon I arrive at the Apple Store. I am greeted by a nice elderly man who signs me in. He tells me to stroll on towards the back and wait there until I am called. I knew this already, it wasn't my first time going to the Apple Store, but I just went with the flow. After about five minutes I am called to the counter. The Genius, let's call him Genius, asked me what was going on. I explained to him my keyboard was not working, and, before he could ask, told him my laptop was out of warranty. With that Genius typed some things on his computer and said "Well, we are giving free repairs on cracked laptop cases, let's see if we can fit you in there." That moment just blew me away. The first thing he offered my out of date, out of warranty, product was a free repair. I gladly said yes. Genius explained to me that they would take off my old keyboard and replace it with a brand new one. Genius also made me understand that Apple was not responsible for any data loss that may occur during the operation. I wasn't surprised by this, I had a time machine backup anyway just in case. I filled out the necessary paper work and gave Genius my computer. He told me it would be ready with in 24 hours.

I left the story overjoyed with my experience. I got a brand new keyboard, and I had to pay nothing for it. The cost of the replacement would have been $74! I drove home and started working on some things around the house that needed to get done. It wasn't until about 6 PM that I received a call. When I answered, it was Genius from the Apple Store. He informed me my computer was ready and I could come pick it up when I was ready. I was a little taken aback. I had not expected the repair to be done so quickly. I didn't have time Friday night to pick it up, so I went Saturday afternoon to get it. I walked it, told them I was picking up a Genius Bar repair, and strolled on towards the back. I told another Apple Genius the same thing, and he went to the back to get my laptop. I booted it up in the store to make sure everything worked fine. As I expected it did, and with no data lost.

There was one more thing that happened on the way out. I was looking around, checking out the new Macbook Pros with Thunderbolt. I was approached by another Apple employee, a nice elderly man. He asked me if I had any questions or if there was anything he could help me with. I responded with "No thank you, I am just looking around". He must have noticed me eyeing the new Macbooks because the next thing he said was "You know, these are the new Macbooks. They have Thunderbolt. Let me tell you, I got one of these and going from a dual core processor to a quad core is amazing. The speed difference is mind boggling." I nodded and kept looking. It was at that point that my brother, who was there with me, asked if there were any cords or products for Thunderbolt. The sales rep started talking about how nothing was out yet, but there were products in the making. He asked my brother what type of laptop he had, to which he responded "A Macbook which I bought last year". The sales rep said it was too bad he had bought it last year, if it were in the last three months they could give him the new one for free in exchange for his old one. He did state that my brother could upgrade his RAM to 8GB and that would help speed it up. For some reason it was then that the sales rep looked at me and said "Do you know how to do that?" I responded "Yes" and kept quiet. He continued to talk with my brother about various things such as dual booting windows or running VMWare Fusion. Each time though, he asked me if I knew how to do these things. I kept answering yes. It was after about 5 minutes that he said to me, politely, the following: "You know, you seem to know a lot. You should look into getting a job at the Genius Bar as a Genius." It was right there and then that may experience became almost perfect. Now I have to think about whether or not to look into getting a job there.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

iPad 2 Announced

Yesterday Apple came out and pushed the industry forward once again. Although not all the enhancements in the iPad 2 are new to the industry, the way they are utilized is. Let's get the specs on this new product. We start of with a dual core A5 processor, the next generation CPU that apple has produced. It is two times faster then the A4. In addition, they have added a front and back facing camera. This allows for facetime between devices as well as with iPhones. In addition to these examples, there are a slew of small, but big, improvements.
Overall the iPad 2 keeps the same 10 hour battery life, which is quite amazing when you think about it. Plus, the device is 33% thinner and 15% lighter then the last iPad, making it even more impressive that it can go 10 hours.
Image taken from
In the above picture you can see the iPad 2 compared to an iPhone 4, that is how thin it is. It is crazy to think about.
Another addition to the iPad 2, and one of may favorites, is the "Smart Cover" technology. This technology is quite amazing. Apple has invented a cover which attaches to the iPad magnetically. The cover not only covers the screen, but also has a micro fiber cloth on the inside to keep dust off the screen. In addition, when you remove the cover, the iPad 2 will detect that you are removing the cover and turn the screen on. This saves you time, not that you need that, to get to your work quicker.
Flip up the screen to turn the screen on.
The screen also acts as a stand for when typing and for when you are watching movies. You just roll it up into a triangle and you are ready to go.
The iPad now incorporates face time into the mix of features. It can now make video calls to other iPads, and iPhones. Keep in mind that face time only works if you have a wifi connection.
Finally, the iPad 2 has the ability to connect to a TV screen using an HDMI cable. Not only that, but you can do it in full 1080P and the TV will mimic the rotation of your iPad. Although this might set you back a couple more dollars, it is worth it if you are a teacher or a businessman who gives presentations.
Well, that about raps it up. The iPad 2 comes in 16,32, or 64 GB versions. Each can be put on either the AT&T network or Verizon. There is also a wifi version. The pricing remains the same as the last iPad.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Will Others Respond?

With an Apple event right around the corner, it is interesting to think about what other companies will say and do after the event. If the rumors hold true, tomorrow's even will get a new iPad witha camera, and possibly the next iPhone. The iPhone may or may not have a sliding keyboard and a larger screen. In addition, Apple will most likely boast about its new OS Lion, hitting store shelves this summer. So what does this do for the competition? For one thing, Android is working on its OS known as "Honeycomb", which boasts many nice features the iPad doesn't have, such as a much nice multi tasking system. Then there Motorola who just announced the Xoom, the product known as the "iPad Killer". They may have beaten Apple to the camera, but Apple has beaten them in price. There is of course the HTC Thunderbolt, which is the first LTE phone on the Verizon network, can that out do the next iPhone. That one is unclear. And then we get to Microsoft, who, only two three years ago, released Windows 7. Windows 7 received its first service pack this past week. To put that in prospective, XP had three service packs before Vista, and Snow Leopard has 6 big updates. So would that mean Windows 7 is here to stay for a while, or will Microsoft jump ahead and announce Windows 8? Sure they have said it is in the works, but does that mean they know what to do? For all we know that could be a PR statement just put out to satisfy customers.
Remember, almost everything Apple has done in the past couple of years has forced the industry to try and keep up. What ever move they make tomorrow will pretty much dictate what the year will be like in terms of technology.