Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's Hollywood-speak for Deja vú?

Remember when SkyLine used to be Independence Day?

Or perhaps you remember when it was called War of the Worlds?

Come on, Hollywood. Please.

New MacBook Air

I've decided to trade in my old MacBook Pro for an Air. I used to think that a big screen was what I wanted, but I've had a change of heart and now light weight is key, since I'm taking it with me on the train most mornings.

For a little while I had appropriated Scarlet's (original model) Air, and it was nice, though that machine only had 2 GB of RAM and was a little sluggish. It also was a little awkward only having a single USB port that was recessed inside that little door gizmo. Basically, it didn't work with anything except a cable, for the most part.

The new Air is a worthy successor. Not only can you get it with 4 GB of RAM, but they addressed just about all of the issues the original Air had (2 USB ports, and both them and the magsafe connector are mounted on a vertical, rather than a canted surface).

As we speak, I'm writing this post on CalTrain with the new Air. With the MiFi for connectivity, it's an excellent experience. Time will tell how the battery stacks up, but I may be able to leave the power adapter at home from now on if Apple's claims are justified. And leaving that behind makes my load about a third lighter, it turns out (the power adapter weighs almost as much as the Air. The rest is my tote).

Most remarkable is that the restore media for the Air is in the form of a USB ROM drive. It's slightly longer and narrower than a postage stamp, yet it contains all of the pre-loaded software and is bootable. The first announcements of third-party replacement flash drives for the Air have come out today, so this would be how you'd get your machine back up and running after swapping the drive out. Of course, that presumes you can find one of those pesky pentacle security Torx screwdrivers to get the bottom case off (really, Apple? What's the purpose of keeping me out of my own machine?).

I haven't tried the USB SuperDrive we bought for the old Air, though I assume it works just the same way with the new one. Of course, with USB ports on both sides of the machine, you no longer are forced to keep the drive on the right, if that's not what you like.

Once again, I was struck with how easy the transition to a new mac is with the migration tool. But at the same time, I was also struck with how bloody long the process takes. And I had to do it twice, since I was migrating two machines down into one. The second time, however, I used a USB Ethernet interface and connected the Air directly to the target machine, which improved the speed (instead of using WiFi) markedly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why don't they stock the good stuff?

Scarlet wants a speakerphone for the van. I did some research and I found the exact right one. Which is unusual. It's the Kensington LiquidAUX Bluetooth car kit. It's the most promising product pitch I've had: It's a speakerphone that does A2DP and has an auxiliary output (instead of an FM transmitter - we went to great trouble to get an aux port for the stereo to avoid FM transmitters). It plugs into the power port (formerly known as cigarette lighter) and has a USB power outlet.

So it's wonderful. I'm sold. I want one.

So why isn't there any in any stores nearby? I swear, it's supernatural. The one thing you want to buy is the one thing nobody ever stocks.

We'll actually have to see whether it lives up to the hype or not, but we won't know for a week because I had to buy one through the internet.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

No more POTS wiring

Well, this evening I decided we were done with POTS wiring in the house. Everywhere CAT-5 wire goes now, it goes to a T568B jack. The whole house is thusly set up for gigabit Ethernet.

We still have a couple of uses for analog phone lines, but they don't need to go over the house wiring.

I went to Fry's and bought a wall mount set of punchdown CAT5 8P8C jacks and just punched down the whole house onto it. We have an 8 port gigabit switch in the front of the garage, and it's all lit up for gigabit now.

So... w00t.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are you have problems with the 3G Microcell?

So, I know I'm not the only one having a terrible experience with AT&T's 3G Microcell. If you're one of the unfortunate folks who have one of these boat anchors and it's not working, I'd suggest you join me in my campaign to spread the word.

Here's a YouTube video posted by a guy in the marketing department of Cisco, the folks who built the Microcell for AT&T.

Here's a YouTube video posted by AT&T demonstrating the setup procedure for the Microcell.

Go leave a comment on these videos. Tell them your Microcell story of pain. Maybe if enough people do this we can shame them into some kind of public response.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's official, the 3G Microcell sucks

It's been 6 months now. It's time to take it to the streets.