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A Book and Some New Toys

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Soon after Steve Jobs’s death, I went ahead and ordered a copy of his biography. I spent some time deciding which electronic version I wanted (Kindle vs. iBooks), but I ultimately realized that I could just go ahead and buy the hard copy, thus avoiding any syncing issues entirely. This book would be worth owning on paper anyway.

So I actually received the book two days ago, and having only read a couple chapters in, I can say that the book is great. I won’t bore you with any details since I suspect anyone reading this blog will probably read that book anyway. Furthermore, other tech blogs have been incessantly posting tidbits from the book, behavior I find incredibly annoying since most people want to read those tidbits for themselves. It’s not even tech news!

The other day, an interesting deal popped up on SlickDeals. Verizon had two iPhone 4/4S bundles listed in their online store as free. I quickly jumped and ordered 3 of each (the maximum allowed amount). That was last Sunday. On Thursday, my order status never updated, so I called in and asked. I kept getting vague answers about how I’d be getting an email with more details on my order on Friday, but my order would be processed by then. On Friday, lo and behold, I get a cancellation email with an offer for 30% off. Psh. Not cool. Anyway, I called in to complain, and insisted that my order should be fulfilled. I get some attitude from the first CS rep, suggesting that since I was not a Verizon customer, I could only get the 30% off offer as a courtesy. Discrimination eh? Escalation! I pointed out that I’d talked to non-Verizon customers who successfully had their orders pushed through by calling in (SDers). At first the supervisor tries to deny that and suggest that the other person might have just taken the 30% discount. I insisted that that was not the case. After 20 minutes of arguing, I successfully got one of each package pushed through, again “as a courtesy.” Yeah, 3 of each was probably a little bit excessive hahaha. Anyway, along with my book the other day, my package came. For a little bit of my time, I got a free Power and Protection Package, and a Premium Brand Package. The P&P Package had a case + belt clip, a car charger, and some screen protectors. The PB Package was the real winner. It included a Jawbone Icon, an Incase case (with a little stand), and another set of screen protectors. Cool! What I’ve learned from this experience: Verizon’s customer service isn’t really that great unless you pull a little bit of arm twisting; companies are usually on the hook for pricing errors, unless they want to lose customers. I know I sound like a bit of a jerk for all this, but the person I spoke with on Thursday actually promised to process my order.

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Categories: Discussion, Random, Tips

iPad Multitouch!

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple of blog sites have been posting that iPads running iOS 4.3 can easily have the 4-5 finger multitouch gestures added. I’ve gone ahead and verified this. However, I’d like to clarify a couple things from that post (my information comes from the comments). The trick is completely doable using Xcode 3.2.6 which is free for those who sign up for a free developer account (note: no perks, just Xcode and the iOS SDK). The installer is a 4+ GB download. At least Xcode and the iOS 4.3 SDK need to be installed (totaling over 10 GB more). Once that’s done, the process is pretty much the same. Start up Xcode, go to Window -> Organizer, and plug in the iPad. The process took less than 30 seconds, and I have the gestures up and running on the iPad.

Categories: Discussion, Tips

iFixit’s Tools and MCE Optibay

March 14, 2011 1 comment

I got my tools from iFixit last week, and immediately got around to putting the Optibay and my other, Intel X25-M SSD into the MacBook Pro. The toolkit, which includes a 54 bit Screwdriver set, a set of 4 metal spudgers, and 2 black sticks, is actually fairly nice. The screwdrivers are actually magnetic, contrary to what I originally thought. Using the tools for the job was a breeze. Of note, I am very happy that I finally have some spudgers on hand, as I no longer have to worry about damaging some components while trying to separate a connector with my fingernails. The spudgers work with much more precision for those kinds of tasks.

As for the actual surgery, I only needed around 10 minutes. I did end up having to open up my machine like 7 more times in the same day (and restart like 80 times), but more on that later. Putting in the Optibay is VERY easy, and even a complete novice should be able to figure it out without too much trouble. Once I got the Intel SSD in, I booted up the machine, and prepared Boot Camp Assistant so that I could finish up the easy job with an installation of Windows 7 on the Intel drive.. or so I thought.

I quickly learned that while Boot Camp Assistant would be happy to partition both drives, Macs will NOT boot up non-OS X CDs/DVDs from external drives. Damn. I open up my machine and pop the disc drive back in. At this point, I have to do several things to try and make this work. I booted up off of the OS X disc that came with the Mac and installed Snow Leopard on the Intel drive (since with only one drive I need OS X on the drive to run Boot Camp Assistant). After 30 minutes, it’s time to try Windows again. I restart the computer, hold the Option key, and there’s the Windows 7 install disc. I select that and… flashing question mark folder…

I’m going to skip talking about EVERYTHING I tried, but I did everything from PRAM resets to SMC resets to just repeatedly restarting the computer. I did permissions repairs as well. I did take out the Intel drive several times just to see if the stock SSD would allow booting from the Windows disc, and it did. Something was up with the Intel SSD. I did also attempt to update the firmware, but the machine refused to boot from the firmware update disc too. At some point, I did boot into the Windows installer, but the installer said that my Intel drive was not bootable, which was stupid because I’d clearly booted into OS X on that drive NUMEROUS times already.

At this point, I just gave up. I scheduled an Apple genius bar appointment and went to bed (at this point I’d probably spent 7 hours trying to do a simple task).

The next morning, I thought of something. I popped the Intel SSD into my girlfriend’s crappy HP laptop, and the firmware update came up without a hitch. I put the drive back into the Mac, and voila. The Windows installer came up, and my problems were solved. The HP finally did something right. I’m still a little baffled, since the Intel SSD worked fine on previous firmware on my old MBP. Maybe the SATA III interface was giving the Intel SSD problems. Either way, I now have Windows 7 up and running (in my Optibay) on this machine. For those wondering, I have all 120 GB of my stock Toshiba SSD dedicated to OS X, as my boot drive. The Intel X25-M has 110 GB toward Windows 7 (25 of which is used up already just to Windows 7 and some necessary updates/antivirus) for gaming, and about 45-50ish GB toward OS X. I have yet to find a use for that 45-50 GB, but I’ll leave it around just in case I want to play around with it. It’s always good to have a backup boot drive anyway. 85 GB is plenty to install 2-3 games at a time on.

After a nightmare of an experience, I’ve basically gotten everything figured out. The whole process should NOT take more than 2 hours or so if you take note of a couple things:

1. Do any Boot Camp hokey pokey BEFORE you install the Optibay.

2. Make sure your SSD is updated to the latest firmware, regardless of your experience with that SSD on other machines. Keep in mind your mileage may vary with different SSDs, since they all use different controllers and different firmware.

To add one last thing, I’ve noticed my temperatures coming down a lot. When I first got the machine, I was idling around 45 C. Now, it sits around 35-36 C, sometimes as low as 33 C. In Windows, my idle temperature is around 38 C, which is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than the 60 C idle I was seeing on my old C2D machine in Windows. I’m going to attribute this to the new, improved thermal management of the SNB CPU in the machine as well as the larger chassis of my 17″. My initial plans to re-thermal paste the insides seem to be pointless now, so I won’t have to worry about buying the paste and taking apart my MacBook Pro again.

Categories: Discussion, Review, Tips