Hacking a 3 monitor solution with my old Macbook Pro
I now have my Mac driving a 30” and 27” monitor through a convoluted series of hacks.
I now have my Mac driving a 30” and 27” monitor through a convoluted series of hacks.
Ok, so the new Kindle Fire HD 7” looks pretty good. Better specs, same low price. What’s not to like? Well they made it BIGGER. That’s the thing about 7” tablets, they exist because they are small. The old kindle fire fit in my back pants pocket. It fit in my jacket pocket. The new one does not. So what size is it. Pick up a DVD or Xbox game case. Try to put that in a pocket. Doesn’t work. The actual HD 7” is a little taller and a little wider so even worse.
This is where the Nexus 7 got it right. This is also where I’m afraid the iPad Mini will also get it wrong. If I still have to carry it with my hand, then I think I might as well stick with a full size tablet.
There has been a lot of talk lately about Apple releasing a 7” version of the iPad. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not. People have been arguing how the existing apps will still work fine on a smaller screen, provided the app developers followed the suggestions for hit zones etc. Sure a smaller version will be easier to carry around but how much easier? There have been mentions of the new size being small enough to carry in a purse. But what if you don’t carry a purse like at least 50% of the population? Assuming the iPad mini is the same form factor it it still wont easily fit in a jacket or back pocket like a Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 would. So what would be the point? Cost. Ok, that is a good argument. A smaller iPad with a 1024x768 screen could use cheaper components to get the cost down. They could even drop the rear camera to save some money. But would they do that? What is the target cost? Given Google’s Nexus 7, the target would have to be close to 200.00. But if Apple went after that, what would that do to the rest of their product line?
Would they still be able to charge 200.00 for an iPod Touch? Are they willing to re-price the iPod product line in order to make room for an iPad mini? I’m skeptical. As far as I can tell, the iPod Touch is still a very successful, profitable product. It is small, fits in your pocket and basically does everything the iPhone does - minus the phone. That begs another question though…
For the same price would you buy your kid an iPod Touch or a 7 inch Android tablet like the Nexus 7? Sure if your primary focus is music you would want the device to fit in your pocket, but for everything else having the larger screen for the same dough would be compelling. This same argument floated around last year when the Kindle Fire came out, but I think it is stronger this year with the Nexus 7 since it is a much better product. So I’m left wondering, what would Apple’s motivation be to create something in the 7” form factor?
I really don’t think it would be fear of competition against the iPad - Currently there really isn’t any. Even as cool as the new crop of 7” tablet are, they still feel and behave more like large Android phones, than smaller iPads. So maybe the pressure they are feeling is in the iPod product line instead? If that were true, what could they do? One thought would be to create a larger, wide screen iPod instead of a smaller iPad. This would be a new category and form factor that would be positioned betwee the two. If the rumors of a taller iPhone 5 are true, then the new screen aspect ratio is coming anyway. The could just take that aspect ratio and blow it up to 7”. This would be much easier to carry in a pocket than a shrunk down iPad with the same 4:3 form factor. The exiting iPhone apps would still run - with black margins. Maybe when the keyboard were brought up, the app would slide up to the top and not be covered as much. New iPhone 5 ‘tall / wide’ apps would run just fine. And savy developers could detect the device and customize their UI to take advantage of the larger display. - Just a thought.
So as you can tell, will regards to the current round of iPad mini rumors - I’m still not convienced. Does a larger iPod make more sense? I’m not sure about that either, but it will be fun to see what they do.
I love Chrome. Well at least Chrome for Windows. I’ve been using it I first got my mits on the beta. Lately I’ve switched to Safari on the Mac - for various reasons I won’t get into here. So the real question is how good is Chrome on iOS and will I use it?
My first thoughts are I like the interface and find it easy enough to use. Some initial criticism:
So will I use it? Man I just don’t know. I used to use an alternate browser on iOS back in the early days, but eventually Safari caught up, and I abandoned it. I’m just not sure Chrome on iOS is compelling enough for me. Tab syncing is cool, but that is coming in the next iOS and OS X updates. I think the one feature that will probably keep me in Safari is the ‘reader’. I use it all the time to format articles for reading on the small screen. I just don’t think I can do without that now.
The latest version; 1.2.3101.4994, is pulling 0.1% CPU running and paused. Finally.
The goal was to give my mid 2010 MBP a bit of a performance boost to help me hold off replacing it a little longer. I’ve always held that when purchasing or upgrading a machine, one of the most significant bottlenecks is the hard drive. In fact when ever I purchase a machine I’ll trade a slightly faster CPU for a faster HD every time - oh and always max the RAM. I ordered the machine with a 500GB 7200 RPM drive - which felt pretty snappy at the time, but now in the days of SSD, it feels down right sluggish.
I’ve been thinking about this upgrade for a bit over a year now. Since my 500G drive is pretty much maxed out with VMs, HD Video and such, I’m in a bit of a pickle because I can’t really afford to get 500G of SSD to replace it. Instead I opted keep the HDD and swap the optical drive for an SSD. Apparently, going sans-optical is all the rage now anyway. This time last year my plan was to get as small an SSD as I could to run the OS, and keep all my data on the HD. I was considering 80 - 120G. Luckily prices have dropped enough in a year that I was able to get a 240GB for even less than the 120 I was looking at back then. I opted for an OCZ Vertex 3. I also purchased a drive bay adapter and an external slim drive enclosure so I could use my DVD drive via USB when I needed it. The whole kit set me back less than 250.00 on Newegg.
I’m still keeping most of my large files (VMs, Video, Music) on my HDD, but now I have a bit more freedom and room to decide what goes where. I’m using symlinks from the SSD back to the HDD in those cases so that everything pretty much just looks the same as it did before the upgrade.
I did some rough performance benchmarks before and after. Nothing too technical, just a few items of data:
Event: HD / SSD
Boot to login: 1:49.5 / 20.2
Login to finished: 45.9 / 16.1
Xcode startup 8.1 / 5.5
Project build from clean: 1:47.4 / 1:46.1
iMovie startup:18.2 / 8.8
Garageband startup: 11.9 / 3.6
Vmware boot W7 cold 2:09 /2:05
Photoshop startup: 15.1 / 3.0
Notes: The VM boot didn’t change, which makes sense as the VM is still located on the HDD. I included it though because I wanted to see if there would be an impact as a result of paging. I still predict that overall system performance once I’m running tons of apps will improve as paging will be done at much faster speeds. If I had a VM I used all the time I would just move it to SSD. The Xcode build results are a bit disappointing but also understandable. That build test was for my most complicated iPad project - building for the device (the slowest case). Unfortunately most of the build time is spend optimizing .PNG files (CPU bound) and there are a TON of those. The good news is that I usually build for the simulator instead where the .PNG optimization is skipped. This same project builds clean for the simulator in 8.5 seconds! I don’t have the before numbers captured, but I’ll tell you that is a lot faster than it was.
Will this upgrade satisfy my tech lust for now? Well things are feeling pretty snappy and I’ve got more drive space to play with. I’m feeling pretty good, the shakes are subsiding. I think as long as I stay away from the Apple store and the glow of the shiny MBP Retina display I’ll be fine… for awhile anyway.
Some shots of the operation:
The SSD ready to be mounted in the bay.
Back cover removed. Nurse hand me a scalpel.
Legacy optical removed.
SDD and drive bay adapter installed. (SSD is on the opposite side of the adapter).
All the parts have shown up for Operation Infusion - which I hope doesn’t turn into Operation Bricked MacBook.
So the goal is to breath some new life into my 2 year old MBP. I’m hoping it helps me stay off my case of new MBP Retina envy. It won’t do anything for the retina part - but the fact that the new MacBook Air out performs my MacBook Pro is really bugging me now.
Of course the problem is that now is not a good time to perform such surgery. In fact no time this this year so far or in the for-seeable future would be a good time. But now with the parts sitting there staring at me, maybe I’ll take a Saturday or Sunday off and give it a go.
I woke up on Saturday to an email from Skype saying they delivered my order for a subscription for the amount of 9.99. We’ll since I never ordered anything I was concerned.
I logged into my Skype account and saw a subscription to a calling plan to Guatemala as well as about 10 calls to said country. I immediately changed my password and cancelled the subscription. Then I set about trying to figure out how to contact support about this. Holy crap, what a serious maze! The site pretty much refuses to direct you to any form of support other than FAQs and the user Forum. In fact I think the only way I found an actual email was during my password reset I had problems and found a mail link there. (It kept telling my my really strong password was too easy to guess - in the end I used a simpler password and it took that?!!). So I sent off an email reporting the incident and asking to have the charge reversed.
Sunday I get an email from their tech support saying that to protect me from fraudulent activity they have temporarily suspended my account. I need to contact them via online support chat. They also helpfully remind me how to keep my account safe by watching out for phishing sites or emails, and being careful when logging in on a public computer etc.
Ok, I know what you are thinking, I must have done something dumb to get my account hacked. Well, first my password was at least moderately strong - numbers, letters and caps and all that. Second I never, ever, enter log in credentials unless I go directly to the site in question - also no phishing attempts that I can recall. And finally I only ever use it from my iPhone or my iPad - in fact the only time I’ve logged into it from a computer was a few days ago when I upgraded my Mac to the new Skype client, and started it up for a few minutes to see what had changed. Hmmm.
So today I hit up the tech support online chat hoping to get all of this resolved. I wait for someone to get on the chat. The first guy on, tells me he can’t help me, and needs to pass me up the chain of command. I wait some more. The second guy gets my info, and makes me wait a few minutes more. Then he says that he needs to verify who I am and asks for the first six and last four digits of the credit card number used to make the purchase, card holder name and all that. - “What purchase I reply? I didn’t make the purchase it was fraudulent”. - “No, not that purchase, the Skype credits you bought”. Ok, hold up, that was like a zillion years ago. My credit card number changes about every 18 months I have no idea. So he then asks me if I know the order number. Umm, gee, let me see… that was like a zillion years ago. So I get a flash and think, I’ll just search for it in Gmail. I dig through about 50 ‘extortion’ emails from Skype, you know the ones where they say you’ll lose your credits if you don’t make a call to a landline in the next 7 days. (Is that legal?) - and I can’t find it. Then I remember that I’ve been on Skype longer than I’ve been on Gmail - so I pop over to Hotmail. Man that is dusty, I have not logged into that account in so long. - sure enough I find it. It was back in 2006, before I updated Skype to my gmail account.
So with order number in hand he proceeds to re-activate my account, then send me a link so I can change my password to get in. Arg, again with the password. After I get the password changed for like the 4th time. He verifies that I’m in. At this point it’s been 40 minutes. He then asks if there is anything ‘else’ he can help me with. Umm, yeah, what about reversing that charge? “Sorry”, he says, “we can’t issue any refunds”. “Well that was a big waste of time then. We did I even bother to report it?” I say. ”Yeah I guess I”d be pretty upset if that happened me” he replies.
And that’s it then. I’m out a couple hours in total and 10 bucks of Skype credit. Lame. Well at least I won’t get anymore of those annoying emails telling to ‘save’ my Skype credit - because I don’t have ANY now.
I wish Apple would just open FaceTime up for Windows users. Then I’d never have to use Skype again.
As I had previously posted, I have been un-able to downgrade my iPhone Dropbox back to a version that supports the upload quality settings. Well I got some help from their tech support. This solution worked for me:
1) On your iPhone upgrade (over the air) to the newest version of the Dropbox app.
2) Link your account to this new version 1.5.1
3) Unlink your phone from this version of the app.
4) Delete the new version from your phone.
5) Install the old version from your local iTunes and link your account.