Category Archives: Technology

What do I think of the MacBook Air?

MacBook Air The day after the Apple Keynote, everyone in the office asked me “So are you pre-ordering one yet?”  Well I guess the word is out that I am an apple FanBoy, but i need to be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t the price. I’ve shelved over more for my lovely Vaio Z1 of yesteryear.  I even think after the memory upgrades, California tax and all my current MacBook was as expensive.  I even have been saving some money for the past 6 months just for this purpose. So it isn’t price – it is something else though.

At first I thought it was the non-removable battery, but it turns out that it is trivial to replace. Some people complain about the lack of a CD/DVD drive, but honestly my IBM X40 didn’t have one and I never missed it. Some people complain about the lack of ethernet, but I think the USB Ethernet adapter is just fine since I only use a wire in the office and I would probably leave it permanently attached to my ethernet cable on my desk. What about when I travel – well I have an extra AirPort Express that I can throw in the bag.  I am not complaining about the size either, the screen is big enough and who’t want a lighter laptop?

So what is bothering me then? Well, I think it is the speed. I really want it to REPLACE my primary computer, and right now the benchmark tests say it falls far behind my consumer grade laptop. On-board video isn’t the problem, but I really would want it to be my primary machine, and I think the speed would really bother me.  I have a 2.0 Core 2 Duo now, and I at least would want the same in my replacement.  Maybe they bumped the processors up too fast in the entry level laptops because I want speed and the small size and can care less about ethernet and the optical drive.

OK – I will probably end up buying one anyway, so I shouldn’t complain too much – but please, oh please bump up the speed a bit.  Anyone else feel the same?


Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

I just got a new game that I have fallen in love with, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. This is an edgy re-make of the previous turn-based strategy Advance Wars: Dual Strike game. In this revision the story has a bit more depth, the cut-scene graphic design is updated, and the overall gameplay is updated to focus more on strategy than on an all out melee.

If you are unfamiliar with turn-based strategy games, you need to think of a war based strategy game where you need to plan your next turn by moving, attacking, building, or repairing tactical units of different strengths on the battle field. After you take your turn, your opponent (the computer) then moves all of their units to do the same. Think of a chess game where you can move all of your pieces once each turn.

One of the final innovations over the previous version is the fact that they have added WiFi gaming to the mix. Online play tied with the ability to create your own maps and terrain provide you with unlimited play options at all skill levels. Play your best friend across the street or strangers who live 5000 miles away (anonymously, of course).

Fake iPhone / iPod Touch

I took this photo at a local 3C (Consumer Products Shop). They sell Apple Products, and fake Apple Products in the display case next to them. This fake iPhone or iPod Touch is about the size of an iPod Classic and is a steal at around ~68 USD.

Epson C90 Printer Settings for OS X Leopard

About two months ago my apartment experienced water damage due to remodeling going on to the unit above me. Nothing really serious happened, but I did find a constant dripping into my old inkjet printer and about .25 liters in the printer chasis.

The very next day I contacted the remodelers and they apologised. They said we can get a new printer and they would pay for it. I wasnt looking for something expensive, just something that was like my old printer and I found the Epson C90, which even had Mac drivers.

We uppacked the printer, attached it to the Airport router, ran a test print on XP and went to install it on the Macs and low and behold I find out that there is a printing error. I go online and find out a lot of people are having problems with networked ink jet printers and I give up – until I find someone who uses Linux and see how they solved it.

Well many Linux users use CUPS printer drivers, and it just so happens Apple owns CUPS and licenses it to the opensource community. I found the driver in the most recent release of Gutenprint and select the driver, and printing is now A-OK.

I can’t really blame Apple for this problem, but I do blame Epson. You would think a printer company would QA the drivers properly before releasing them.

Gmail, the king of online email

Everyone by now should know about the Gmail, the free web mail service with ~4.5 GB of storage offered by Google. The amazing thing is that they keep adding more and more customer oriented features to the service.

Just recently Google added IMAP support to Gmail. This allows easy email/folder/label syncing between multiple computers and Gmail.

When you have an IMAP account, you can leave messages on the server until you would like to delete it. Additionally, if you have multiple devices / computers accessing the same account, information such which emails you have read and sent mail are synced to the server. Lastly, unlike POP3 (another standard), IMAP only needs to download a portion of the complete email. For example, it will only download the subject, until you ask to read the full email at which point Gmail will stream the email to you. This is a much desired feature allowing users to keep all of their email on a managed server and have the user experience of a desktop mail client.

Leopard Fever

Yes, I have OS X Leopard Fever. For the past few weeks I have been waiting for it’s release, even counting down the hours. Why you ask? Well for one, I will be installing it on a newer notebook that I don’t use as often (and that machine will become my primary machine). Two, I will re-organize all of my files in the process and be able to back them up with Time Machine (a much neglected task). Three, it is a non-beta copy of boot camp that I am looking forward to.

Now if you noticed, I live in Taiwan. The good thing for Taiwan is that 6 PM on October 26th comes earlier than a majority of the world. This means that I could reasonably purchase it earlier. Also, I live right next door to an Apple Authorized Reseller, so theoretically I can just go home, swing buy the shop, hand over my credit card and go home happy.

Now there is a snag though. Apple’s launch plans in Taiwan are different from the US. Only one reseller, will receive stock on the 26th and the rest will receive stock on the 29th. Lastly, they will only have limited stock of the single license and they are not selling the family license.

Why do I care about the Family license when it is more expensive? Well, I have multiple Macs at home. I don’t want to buy too many copies, and I already have the family license for iLife 08 and iWork 08. I am willing to shell out for this, but they arn’t selling it. The thing that gets me is that this is just an OS. Sure, I have Leopard Fever, but I am looking for a quick, satisfactory business exchange, not a T-Shirt, not a single license. Is Apple hoping that people who REALLY want the product will buy the single license and then buy another family license later? Is it that expensive to print out the 3 page piece of paper that says the software can be used on 5 computers (thats the only difference). I guess I dont get it, this is just a DVD, there are no moving parts and there is no reason they can’t release the software in both license flavors (or have an online upgrade).

I’m not complaining about the higher cost of the family pack, instead I am complaining that I cannot buy it on the same day. Also, historically Apple has had troubles with piracy in Taiwan, you would think that they would bend over backwards to make it easy for paying customers to buy whatever they want.

Crypto Everywhere

Recently I was reading an article on C|Net news concerning a company that is developing a cryptographic chip to lock out companies from creating “compatible” ink cartridges for inkjet printers.  The idea is that by encrypting the controller chip on the inkjet cartridge no one can copy the cartridge.  Even if a company could decrypt the chips, doing so would be illegal under current laws in the US making the compatible cartridges illegal to sell and illegal to own.

One of the major printer companies, HP commented to C|Net on this and said the following: “There are other folks who want to avoid the (proper) process altogether and design a cartridge to work with an HP printer.”  HP considers that buying any printer cartridge that is not manufactured by HP is “illegal competition”.

Now what does the US legal system think about this?  Well a few years back Lexmark sued Static Control who created compatible printer chips for non-OEM print cartridges. Ultimately Lexmark lost the court battel even after attempting to appeal the case.  Now if Lexmark introduces encryption into the mix this will be a whole other matter.

Historically the Supreme Court has frowned upon suppliers marking up and selling consumable products, however they tend to take a strong enforcement stance when it comes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which “criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, even when there is no infringement of copyright.”