Archive for the 'hardware' Category

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Recovering after a laptop spill

I just have a feeling I’m going to need this some day. -m

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Another iTunes phone arrives, quietly

Check this out. It’s a RAZR V3i, which has a show-stoppingly bad mobile browser built-in. (But overall, it’s still better than the ROKR!) Compared to the huge announcements from Apple earlier this week, this one comes in fairly under the radar. Could this be a trial baloon leading up to an official iPhone?
If this one supports replacing the browser with Opera, this might be a near-term option… -m

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Virtual PC is free

According to the authoratative site. Looks like the virtualization markup is getting interesting. -m

Monday, June 19th, 2006

iPod Shuffle: $39

I don’t know if I hit a glitch in the system or what, but while I was making my periodic browser through the online Apple Store, I noticed a refurb iPod Shuffle for under fourty bucks. I was trying to wait for the next rev, but hey, I have more travel coming up.

I tend to lose (or have stolen, etc.) my portable devices. But if I lose this one, I’ll feel a whole lot less bad than if I lost a $400 one. :) -m

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

iGo Tech Support rocks

For a while, I’ve had an iGo Juice 70. They’ve really nailed the “universal” power adapter for notebooks. Input can be 120 volts, 240 volts, 12 volts (auto), or whatever you get on planes. Output is a series of pluggable tips that work well with 8 different models of notebooks, including everything I own.

The worst thing that can happen while travelling (well, not the worst, but up there) is having your notebook power adapter fail. On my recent trip, this happened…almost. The adapter would still light up, and the Mac would show as still charging, but the level of charge would in fact remain steady or even drop. Certain careful physical orientations seemed to help.

So I went on their web site, used their online support system, and got in touch with a helpful technician. He immediately shipped me out a new Mac adapter tip and cable. Problem solved. This is an example of how tech support should work. -m

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Still crazy after all these years

Part of tech reviewing means dusting off a Windows machine again. I haven’t done more than check email or run Quickbooks online on a Windows machine since I was writing my book in 2003. Remarkably, Windows XP is still the latest desktop OS available. But it needs updates.

Checking my update history, I had 37 updates installed, with Windows Update insisting on installing three more things including “Genuine Advantage”. Reboot. Yay, now I’m advantaged. Apparently the main new feature in Windows Update is a five-minute “Checking for the latest updates for your computer…” screen. Next Service Pack 2, which has to be installed separately.

This is taking a while, so I have time to re-appreciate the nuances of the Windows UI. In the system tray, I see room for six icons, but only four present. (Clicking the little arrow, though, causes a wiggle, with six icons showing in the same space; after a second, another wiggle and back to four). All of the icons are blurry, two of them enough that I have no idea what they’re supposed to represent.

I couldn’t make stuff like this up, but it blue-screened 73 minutes into the ordeal. Unbelievable. On the bright side, it did recognize that the whole Service Pack didn’t need to be downloaded again.

As an aside, the crash tool suggested that I run the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, so it’s possible the blue screen was hardware related. Amusingly, the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool is exactly 640kb. If you don’t get the tragic coincidence, post a comment and I’ll tell you. :)

The second run through installing Service Pack 2…blue screens again, this time with some USB error. Upon rebooting, a Windows Setup screen draws little dots for several minutes while “restoring previous configuration”, and the desktop warns me ominously that the system is in an “unstable state”, and that I need to go to Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs and uninstall SP2. The uninstall program helpfully warns me that lots of programs, including “hearts” and “solitaire” toward the top of the list, might stop working, but I bravely press on.

Reboot again. 640×480 resolution, and all kinds of messages like “found new hardware — disk drive”. On the change resolution screen in Control Panel, the “OK” and “Cancel” buttons are off the screen. And another reboot to get networking set up again. At this point I’m three hours wasted, six reboots, and I have nothing to show but an even more unstable system and Genuine Advantage. Wheeeee! At what point does Microsoft throw the “rewrite from scratch” swich? The saga continues, check comments on this post. -m

Monday, May 29th, 2006

“This drive has reported a fatal hardware error to Disk Utility”

I’m on the IT eqivalent of emergency life support for a few days. I returned to a DOA hard drive. If you’ve sent me mail in the last week or so, think about re-sending it. See the comments for the gritty details. -m