Est. 2007

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

How to clean a Macbook

In Life on May 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

So like the many people out there that have a white macbook, I have been wondering of how to keep it that way i.e WHITE. I have stumbled upon something that may be of interest to you all.

The miracle substance is called JIF cream. It is suppose to be a harsh cleaning agent usually used on stoves etc, but trust me it isn’t that bad as long as it is wiped off quickly. It will loosen all dirt on the surface and leave it like new. It doesn’t really harm the actual plastic or anything like that. You can also use something like pine-o-clean or dettol to then wipe of the JIF residue. This will disinfect the computer and the keyboard so that your computer doesn’t only look clean; all the nasty bacteria are also killed.

I’m not too sure if this applies to those who had palm rest discoloration, but mine had started to catch a lot of dirt early on and once I started to keep it clean, the problem hasn’t be so prevalent. Still it is worth a try if your situation is quite bad.

Overall I think that it’s quite a discovery. Some MacBooks I’ve seen don’t look remotely like they were once white and light grey. I’m glad that mine still does.

The Spray Can

Telecom ditches “Big Time”: Orcon bumps up data caps

In Tech on May 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Ok, so Telecom has ditched its Big time broadband plan. The plan that gave users an all you can eat plan, but with the caveat that their traffic would be shaped.

It is obvious that this was going to be a failure right from the start. This is one of the largest ISPs in New Zealand and it would attract a great number of users to the service. Some more enthusiastic large downloaders included. At some point in time the number of users sharing the bandwidth would just be ridiculous and some even found workarounds to the shaping and this put more strain on the system.

There is of course a better way to this all. In my opinion, there is a better approach to this all. Firstly, instead of offering maximum speeds to users all the time and then capping their data, they could turn the whole thing around. Instead offer a fixed speed and then no data cap. Possibly having say a 512kbs plan for most and this way everyone would be happy because your bill would be fixed and you still got a decent speed. There would then be speed packages higher than that.

The alternative solution is to have every single user on one plan i.e everyone is on the big time plan and all data is always shaped. This idea may work in theory because a lot of users are always going to be light users and only a minority are excessive users and this basically has the effect of balancing things out. The other obvious reason to do this is because access to the internet infrastructure inherently doesn’t have data caps and instead is always based on speed, hence with this system, that pipeline is always in full use.

I also have an opinion against building this new local broadband networks; it is a real waste of money. The international network, specifically, the Southern cross network isn’t up to it. The local speed already exceeds international bandwidth and thus making a network with 100mbps won’t make anything faster or better for us. It would be best to put that money into improving that infrastructure instead.

In an unrelated story, orcon has also today bumped up my data cap by 10gb for free. Hopefully, they will show up on the website soon enough. I was pondering a switch to slingshot, but I no longer have a reason to anymore. Personally, although I like slingshot, they had refused to give me a new line and had asked me to set one up via telecom. Orcon, on the other had signed me up with their new network. Obviously, I have some loyalty to them in this respect, but only as long as they take good care of me.

The Spray Can

Pentium Dual Core is Basically a Core 2 Duo

In Tech on May 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Something quite interesting just struck me. I decided to have a close look at pentium dual cores and their benchmarks specifically.

Ever since the release of the new core i3,i5 and i7 series this year, core 2 duos have been discontinued and the many shops are getting rid of their existing stock. Here in New Zealand, a core 2 duo with a t6500 processor ran around the $1200 mark upto early this year and they continue to do so in some instances.

On the other hand, we have some new pentium dual cores. Late last year saw the introduction of the t4400 and this year we will see the t4500. These seem to be very much the same as the core 2 duos in terms of architecture and it seems that intel is leveraging on that. I always thought that the pentiums would lack a lot of the function so of the core 2 duos, but I find that I am quite wrong. I found from cpubenchmarks and intel’s website that they are quite the same in many terms. The t4400 is quite comparable to the t6600 for example except that t4400 has just 1mb l2 cache where the t6600 has 2mb. From the benchmarks it is quite apparent that this doesn’t make much of a difference in performance. In terms of price, it is possible to pick up a laptop with a t4400 chip for around $850.

That means there is a good price advantage in buying one, especially for those who just need it for basic use and don’t want to shell out the extra for a core i3. It is also a no-brainer that there is no point buying a core 2 duo at a higher price than the new pentiums.

The Spray Can

Macbook Setup

In Life, Tech on May 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

OK, very sorry for the poor image there, but its been taken from my less then stellar mobile phone camera. Anyway, as you can see its pretty basic in all respects.

I basically got a Maxtor basics HDD; the one with mac sticker on it. There is a belkin 7 port powered usb hub in there as well. You may be able to see the yellow/white Kingston thumb drive sticking up from the top as well. There is the iPod touch. Obviously, the computer you see sitting there is a Macbook (early 2009). It’s been propped up on a book. It also runs Win 7 for all those Info-sys assignments.

Now the main thing here is kinda my take on the usb hub. I believe it’s probably the best thing I ever bought. It is powered so I know that every thing is going to work well and it has so far. It also has those top mounted ports and that makes it easy to plug in USB drives and my iPod for syncing. It’s also got a cable conduit so that all my cables that need to be on the desk stay that way. The hub practically lets me have a docking station. At the moment its got a printer, HDD and a tuner card hooked up to it along with that flash drive. I really do think Belkin make the best usb hubs by far. Some of the others are just so ugly that they can’t be put on the desk comfortably, especially if you are conscious of aesthetics.

I’m still pondering if I should get a stand and separate keyboard and mouse and possibly even a separate monitor. I can’t seem to bring myself to shell out the extra cash for the lot. Perhaps later this year or even the next. There really isn’t much choice if you want to get a mac specific keyboard; you either have to buy the Apple versions or a logitech diNovo. Otherwise, it’s just going to have to be a PC version if you want a cheap one. With stands, there is a dime a dozen. It’s easy to find a custom made one as well that could be made out of wood or plastic or even aluminum and steel. Mice are dime a dozen as well, logitech make some really nice ones and of course there is the magic mouse by Apple. Anyway you cut it, there is a fair price to pay for a decent ergonomic setup.

The Spray Can

Ubuntu 10.04

In Tech, ubuntu on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm

So if you’re like me and have been away from Linux for a while now, the good news is that Ubuntu 10.04 has been released. This marks a long term service release (LTS). Also of great controversy is the change in the colour scheme from brown/orange to purple/black.

Personally, I’ve installed this on my brother’s notebook. There are a lot of noticeable changes to the whole system. One of the biggest that I have noticed is the installation of restricted drivers for graphics and wireless cards. This has become quite easy as the system will warn you that you need to install them and will do so if you request. Also, the specialized function keys worked straight out of the box and so did suspend. The use of the ext4 file system as default is the second. The system also has started using grub 2.0; however, I am unsure as to when they started doing this. Personally, being quite well versed with legacy grub, it is a bit cumbersome to go to different files to change different things. I much preferred the text file system of changing settings of the old grub.¬†I still find that partitioning the system with gparted is better than waiting for the installer to allow you to do it. The installer still isn’t quite as intuitive and feature rich as gparted in its entirety.

In the more general review, I can safely say that the distro is maturing well. For many new users it can be a far more pleasant experience than previously. I also believe that it can cater for many basic computer user needs with all the in built software that it comes with. The restricted media codecs and flash are also quite easy to install using the medibuntu repository. Sure, I found that flash wasn’t perfect and didn’t perform as expected, but i’m sure they’ll fix that soon enough.

So, let’s recap on linux’s position. You can pretty much install it on a machine and 9/10 times it should all work fine including wifi and graphics even those pesky Broadcom ones. You got all you basic apps all in there, including office productivity software, music, web, email, bit torrent, IM and the list goes on. For all I know my PC can suspend pretty well and this is on a very budget machine, hence I believe that is all good for the most part for all. Linux has got eye-candy in the form of Compiz. It runs very well on net-books with special net-book versions that cater for that market, which includes ubuntu remix and whole bunch of others out there. In terms of¬†peripherals, printers that are compatible with a mac should work since mac and linux use Cups. A range of tuner cards are supported and most other things like webcams should work; obviously with many exceptions. In the more general linux traits side, it still needs no virus protection. It can still manage to kill apps without shutting down. It can still go days without a reboot.

I think Linux in general is at that point where it can succeed as a desktop system. I do believe that many of us out there that use a system mostly for the web and basic things can manage to use linux and especially ubuntu as a distro for everyday use. I do believe that people should give it a try and not be prejudicial towards it. So many people simply dismiss something because they are too afraid of change. That’s what’s got us into this whole Windows monopoly in the first place. We’ve had relative stability with XP, but guess what, the regular cycle for Microsoft is around 3 years and paying the big bucks every time a new version comes out is a really big part of IT costs to big companies and even non-profits and schools despite the volume discounts. Just look at those that bought a Vista PC, they might not want to buy a new computer, but it seems like they should just cause the retail version of the upgrade license for windows 7 runs in the hundreds of dollars. The other issue is of ethics, just think about it, it is ethical for schools to use and force the use of proprietary software. In the end, the answer lies with users, they vote with their choices and so it comes down to them. So, wouldn’t you say, people should know their choices before they make that choice. All the good reason to try Linux, wouldn’t you say?

The Spray Can