My XBox Live Gamer Card
Tuesday, November 11. 2008
I bought my new MacBook Pro on Sunday night. I opened it, took a look at it and started it up to make sure it powered on. I didn't do anything else other than admire the new magnetic latch mechanism (which really is no mechanism at all).
Monday I took both my PowerBook G4 and the new MacBook Pro to the office to copy all the data over. I knew I should be able to use Migration Assistant to move data from the old machine to the new machine via Ethernet. Direct connecting from one Ethernet port to the other didn't work. I wasn't too surprised as I was able to setup an IP address by hand on the G4, but didn't appear to have any ability to do that on the MBP. Once I realized that wasn't going to work, I broke out a router that has a DHCP server in it and plugged both machines into that. It took a couple of tries, but eventually Migration Assistant on the G4 popped up with the "Please Enter Your Authentication Code" dialogue. I did and off it went with "Preparing Files." I left my office, returned and found the MBP had fallen asleep, woke it up and unsurprisingly the process had died. Vowing to stay in my office and keep both machines awake through the process I started it over. Once again it failed with an "I have lost my connection" error on the MBP. I decided to try once more and once more it failed. I was disappointed, but knew I had other options available to me.
I've never used Firewire, never had a need for it, don't even have a cable. It took me a few minutes to realize that the G4 has both FW400 and FW800 ports. So I stopped looking for a 400 to 800 converter and hopped on the bike and rode to the closest provider of Apple computers (which is very close). Picked up my first ever Firewire cable and returned to the office. I plugged the two machines together, and followed the instructions for setting the G4 in Firewire mode. The first time it failed, but after a power cycle it worked exactly as it should have.
I was stunned when the Migration Assistant on the MBP said it would only take one hour and twenty-one minutes to do the copy. It blazed along and for a while looked like it would take less time than that, but then slowed down toward the end and eventually, when the progress gauge was all the way full. I got an error telling me that the network connection had been lost. I clicked the "Retry" button and it worked for another long period of time but then came back with the same error again. I looked at the gauge, did a moment's evaluation and clicked the "Cancel" button, which immediately placed me into new user setup. I created a new user named test and completed the initial setup.
Logging out as Test I saw that my account from the other machine was there. I logged in, and aside from a couple of minor window placement changes, everything worked exactly as expected but much much faster! I was thrilled. Where the CPU monitor on the G4 lived almost constantly at the top of the graph. The CPU monitors on the new machine were barely above a flat-line. Everything worked and everything worked faster. I'm thrilled.
Things I like about this machine. I love the uni-body construction of the case. it is extremely stiff, and extremely solid, and feels very rugged. The G4 was a wonderfully solid machine. This one ups the ante significantly. The rubber feet on the bottom are another wonderful addition. The G4 was missing one of it's tiny rubber feet. The stresses of sliding across desks and tables and countertops for four years finally became too great and one of them pulled off. That won't be a problem with the new feet. they're big and wide and have a lot of surface area, both in contact with the bottom of the computer and the desktop. Backlit keys are fantastic. I prefer working with the lights off, so the lit keys are a wonderful thing. In addition the new keyboard should get much less crud in it than the G4 keyboard did, the aluminum webbing between the keys should prevent the vast majority of hair and lint from dropping between the keys (the keyboard on my G4 got a bit gross after being in use for a long time). The sound quality is also much better. Even at maximum volume I could often barely hear the G4. Now I have to keep the volume very low. The iTunes control keys are also a nice touch. I've been using them a lot.
The much talked about trackpad is something I neither love nor hate. For the most part it works as expected. I think after several more days of use I will be tweaking some of the settings, but I'm not sure. It does so much that re-teaching myself how to do things like scrolling and activating Expose are taking a bit of time. Some of the gestures I just don't get, likely because I am not involved in computing. In areas where those gestures get a lot of use.
The screen is marvelous. It's bright, clear, and easily readable, but, it is also glossy and a fingerprint magnet (despite the included iMicrofiberscreencleaningcloth). I loved the matte display on the G4. I'm having a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the glossy screen on the MacBook Pro. We'll see how/if I adjust over time.
Apple will certainly be glad I purchased the new machine. I'd quit buying music because the 60Gb drive on the G4 was at 99% capacity. With 250Gb of space I should be able to invest in a bit more music now.
The aluminum wrist wrest on the G4 became pitted and discoloured due to some sort of chemical reaction with my skin. I will be buying some sort of protector for this machine, unfortunately Marware doesn't have their's available yet.
All-in-all, I'm very pleased with my experience with the new machine.
Tuesday, October 21. 2008
My amazing PowerBook G4 just passed it's fourth anniversary with me. For a notebook computer that gets almost constant use, and is powered on for 20+ of every 24 hours it has been incredible.
On Sunday I faced my first major crisis since my hard drive failed shortly after I bought the computer. My disk is almost full. The 60Gb drive has about 3.5Gb free when I restart, and hovers at slightly less than a 1Gb after about a week of use. Sometimes something pushes it further and I get a warning "Your startup disk is almost full." When that happens, I shut down all my apps, reboot and all is well with the world.
Saturday night I got the message. Restarted the machine then left it to watch some TV. I wastched it reboot from across the room and didn't think a thing about it until I tried to unlock the screen on Sunday Morning to blog about my experiences at the Apple Store and at the theater with Jennifer. The screen wouldn't unlock. All I got was a spinning beach ball. This has happened to me before, sometimes I can wait it out, other times I've had to power off and then power on. This time I had to Power off and on.
The machine wouldn't start.
I went online to figure out how to eject the CD that was in the drive (Cmd+Option+O+F then "eject cd") got the CD ejected, then booted from my Leopard install DVD. I ran permissions repairs, I ran disk repairs, nothing worked. My machine still would not boot. I booted into single-user mode, and saw a message "Waiting on Window Server" I found others who had had the problem, but my Google-fu was not up to finding a solution.
The next step was a re-install. I wasn't too pleased with that, but I'd done it one other time to no ill-effect. So proceeded to attempt the installation. The DVD got partway through the validation stage (a very long process on my PowerBook) then died. I cleaned the drive tried again and again it died. The third time all went well, with the validation, but the installer died almost immediately with an error. That wasn't a good sign.
By now I was about four hours into the ordeal and starting to think a new MacBook Pro might be in my future earlier than I expected (if you follow my Twitter feed you saw those tweets). When Jennifer got home from church I told her that things were looking bad. She suggested that maybe I needed to be prepared to get out the credit card. Finally, on my seventh attempt at an install, everything worked correctly. About 5:00pm I had a working system.
Monday I picked up my external drive (the one Time Machine uses for backups) from my apartment, took it all to the office and attempted to use Apple's Migration Assistant to recover my data. I discovered a few things along the way. I use a hack to allow Time Machine to backup to the NAS drive. That hack makes it a bit more difficult to use Migration Assistant to find a Time Machine backup. To get everything working I had to do the following:
I logged out of the temp account, logged in under my old account, and everything was back exactly as it should have been except my printer settings and possibly my album art (the album art screen-saver isn't working though I DO have album art on the machine).
Time Machine worked exactly as I had hoped it would work. It backed up all by itself, and allowed me to restore the data I needed when I desperately needed it.
Sunday, October 19. 2008
Yesterday the following appeared in my Twitterstream
Apple Store let me down for the very first time. Drove all the way to swap out an obviously dead iPod told we would have to wait until 5pm 2:59 PM Oct 18th from TwitterBerry
Turned out that a really great employee didn't allow that to happen though.
The replacement iPod we received when Travis's birthday iPod failed developed a row of dead pixels. We decided that yesterday, after Kellan's soccer game, we would return the defective unit and get a new one. We arrived to a packed Apple Store, and Travis approached the young woman who was functioning as store hostess. We told her what the problem was, she left briefly and then returned to tell us that we couldn't return the iPod until 5:00pm. She told us the Geniuses were really busy and wouldn't be able to look at it until then.
5:00pm was two hours away, we'd driven a long way to get to the store and Jennifer and I were going to the theater that evening. We couldn't wait two hours. We told her so, she said she couldn't help us.
We hung out a bit letting William play a game, while Travis and Kellan checked out the iPhones and I checked out the new Mac Book Pros. While that was going on a nice sales type guy came over and asked us how we were doing. I told him "Not so good, for the first time ever, the Apple Store has let me down." He asked what was going on, we told him. He gave us a rather lengthy explanation of why we needed to wait until 5pm. It was lucid, and completely understandable, but still didn't take the sting out of the fact that we had travelled a long way for a simple return and were apparently not going to be able to accomplish that task.
He asked if we would like to see if there had been any cancellations. We said sure. He checked, and their hadn't been. We would still have to wait until 5:00pm. Then he asked if we would like to "fly standby." Once again we said sure. We filled out the Genius Bar web-app. and stood around to wait for a while. He came back within five minutes and told us "They can see you right now!"
Travis got his replacement iPod and the Apple Store remains in our good graces, thanks to a young sales guy who didn't want his store to have let down one of it's most loyal customers.
We did learn a valuable lesson. Any time we need to go to the Apple Store for anything other than a purchase we will make sure we've scheduled ourselves for the Genius Bar, even if it feels like we don't need to waste the Geniuses time.
Monday, September 8. 2008
I have PocketMac.
I hate PocketMac.
It sorta kinda works most of the time, but it requires me plugging in a USB cable--I don't know why, both my BlackBerry and my PowerBook support Bluetooth--and sometimes it gets all messed up and duplicates events, but like I said it sorta kinda works, but since it only sorta kinda works I often didn't sync it, it was just to frustrating. That frustration led to me not always remembering things I was supposed to remember, and that is bad.
I wasn't really looking for a solution, Rim had acquired PocketMac, and I was hopeful that they might eventually bring out a version of the product that worked the way it should. That hope, so far has been in vain.
First I started using GMail, then after several years of doing that I started using GReader, and with both those products working so well for me, I decided the time had come to try GCal. I messed around with it a bit and, as usual was impressed by how good a job Google had done creating a web app, but I didn't do much more than mess around a bit until I discovered that Google had created a syncing tool for the BlackBerry. Then things began to change.
The previous link will let you download Google Sync over the air, directly to your BlackBerry, once you have it installed, you can log in too GCal using your Google credentials and perform your first sync. By default Google Sync will resync every two hours or whenever you make a change on your BlackBerry. There are a couple of things you need to know. Google Sync will not sync events created prior to its installation. It will only sync new events. This seems to be a bit of an oversight, but that's the way it works. The other thing to note is that sync has frozen up on me at least once. I don't know why. It just stalled and it took me rebooting my BlackBerry to get it moving again.
After getting things working between GCal and BlackBerry I tackled getting things working between GCal and iCal. I found this reference at Google which will help you decide whether to setup a CalDav link between GCal and iCal or not.
Now that everything is configured, I can make changes on my BlackBerry and have them appear on my PowerBook as well as on the web at GCal. I'm sure I'll discover problems, but it works far better than PocketMac ever has.
Sunday, August 24. 2008
I've blogged twice before about how fabulous it is to deal with the people at the Apple Retail Stores. I'm going to add another one to the list. Given my current customer service nightmare with Microsoft, it's wonderful to be able to say something nice.
Travis turned 15 late last month and he wanted an iPod. At first he wanted one of those cute little Nanos but then he looked at the quantity of music he wanted to play and decided he needed a Classic. I didn't think there was any way Jennifer and I could afford one, but I went to the Apple Store online the week prior to his birthday and found that we could, just barely, afford the refurb models. So I ordered it on Tuesday the 22nd, and received it on Wednesday the 23rd.
Travis was ecstatic when he opened his present and discovered what it was. I helped him hook it up to his iTunes and we loaded it with music and all was good.
On August 13th, the boys and their mom were heading to the beach for a camping trip. Travis listened to his iPod the whole way to the coast. Left the iPod in the car that night, and the next day when he turned it on he got a big red X on the screen. Jennifer called me, and I walked her through a reset. That didn't help. When he got home we tried to put the iPod in disk mode and that didn't work, so we made an appointment to see the Geniuses at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store at Bridgeport Village.
We arrived and had a short delay before they could help us. We provided the Genius with the paper work from apple.com, he asked a few questions, tried a few trouble-shooting things, checked it for water damage, reached into a drawer behind him and pulled out a replacement iPod and handed it over.
As we were leaving I told him that it is that kind of service, that has made me a customer for life...
...If only Apple made a gaming console.
Saturday, April 29. 2006
Two weeks ago I bought my first iPod, a black 60Gb Video version (which will likely never ever see a video). It's very small and very sleek and I like it quite well, and boy did I feel cool with those trademark white earbuds in!
There's one problem. If Apple wants people to be seen with those white earbuds, they need to include ones that suck FAR less.
I ride a motorcycle, and often listen to music while I ride. I need music to be louder than the wind noise inside my helmet, which is fairly loud. At those volumes Apple's standard earbuds pop and crackle and distort like an old AM radio trying to pull in a weak signal. After two rides dealing with distortion so bad I couldn't recognize some of the music, I replaced the white earbuds with a pair of $15 Sony headphones I had been using with my old Creative Nomad. I was stunned at how much better those very inexpensive Sony's were compared to the Apple ones. Not only did they not distort, they were also slightly louder.
Only problem with them is they're black. So no one knows I'm listening to an iPod.
Friday, August 5. 2005
We had a power outage in our cul-de-sac last night, so I ended up running my PowerBook on battery until I went to bed.
The power came back on about 2:00am, but when I woke up this morning, the glowing ring around where the power adapter plugs in wasn't lit. My power adapter has seen better days. My rat Turing is quite a big fan of the white cable, and I had to tape over a couple of places where his teeth had left gaps in the insulation. So my immediate and hopeful thought was...Ahhh my power cable has finally failed.
Fortunately, there's an independent Apple dealer on my way to work. I stopped off, took my notebook and power cord in, and asked them if they could tell me which failed. The very kind technician went and grabbed a power adapter and plugged it into my notebook, and my heart sunk, there was no telltale orange or green ring around the plug. The technician then took my adapter into the back room and came back and told me it was working just fine.
I asked him what was wrong and he told me it was a DC input board failure. I asked how hard to fix, and he said quite easy, but they were backed up for three days. Well three days without my PowerBook is not acceptable and I told him so. He said they were the fastest in Portland, I told him no, I got a new hard drive from the Apple Store at Bridgeport Village in 27 hours.
I got to the Apple store about 15 minutes before it opened, sat outside in the lovely sunshine and made a few phone calls. Once the door opened I walked straight up to the Genius Bar, and said "I believe I need a new DC input board." The guy at the counter said "let's just see about that" and whipped out a power adapter and plugged it into my notebook and low and behold there was a lovely orange ring! I cheerfully paid for a new power adapter (though there's NO way those things should cost $79).
I have two possible explanations for what happened at PowerMacPac. The first, and kindest, explanation is abject stupidity (using the wrong wattage adapter perchance?). The second is that they saw a lovely AppleCare repair coming their way and were willing to inconvenience me for three days to get the warranty job.
Whichever one is true, I won't be visiting there again they have yet to show me they want me as a customer...
I sent the link to the above entry to the support email address at PowerMacPac. You never know, they might try and make things right, apologize for the situation, something that will renew your faith in them and make you think about patronizing their store again.
A few minutes ago I got a response from them which out of fairness to them I will quote completely unedited...
Thank you for your feedback.
Now my first thought was that it was an automated response, but it actually came from a real person who is listed as one of their technicians.
Friday, July 1. 2005
Monday the hard drive in my PowerBook G4 died. I got a S.M.A.R.T error when I booted from my Tiger Install DVD. I was in the midst of a cold/flu/allergy bout of illness, and in no mood to deal with that kind of problem.
I called the folk who sold me my computer: "Three days at best they said." I called the other independent Macintosh store: "Four to Seven Days." I called the Apple Store at Washington Square here in town. "We're not sure, but about a week. However, you might want to try the new store at Bridgeport Village." I was out of options, so drug myself onto my motorcycle and made the 20 mile trip to this new Apple store.
They were quick to help me. They were willing to do it "right now" if they had the drive in stock. I was pleased. They didn't have the drive, so I left the machine. I called back the next morning, and asked if they had an ETA. They didn't have the drive yet so I went back to bed. I called again just before 6:00pm and got word that they were just finishing up. I hopped back on my bike and picked up my newly running PowerBook.
Just about 29 hours without my PowerBook. That's an absolutely astounding level of technical support.
Thank you everyone at the Bridgeport Village Apple Store!
Monday, June 13. 2005
...on the hard drive of my PowerBook. (With apologies to William Blake)
I've been running Tiger on my 15" Aluminum PowerBook for just over a week now. The second thing I noticed is that it actually isn't burning, Tiger seems to run much cooler on this computer than Panther did. I can't explain it, it just feels cooler to my hands, and considering I sit at my PowerBook 12+ hours a day, I trust my hands!
The first thing I noticed is the speed. Holy smoke is it fast! I don't know what the engineers at Apple did, but whatever it is, everything feels faster. Not just a bit faster, but a lot faster. For a new version of an operating system to be faster than than the previous version is a major miracle. It was almost as if I had a new processor installed.
I'd like to use Spotlight, but most of my work is done with email, and Spotlight can't yet index Entourage, so my usage of the feature is a bit limited. Dashboard is interesting. I have a couple of widgets I like to use already. I don't believe it's a "can't live without it" feature, but it does what it does and does it fairly well. I've read complaints about not being able to use the widgets on the desktop. I would absolutely hate having those widgets on the desktop. I like my wallpaper far too much!
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