Concrete Lunch

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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Opting Out

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Before Trump, Twitter was already bad. It was already a forum for harassment, bullying, propogation of stupid ideas. Trump made it worse. He makes everything worse.

Wil Wheaton is right.

But I still have some personal agency left. Tonight I’m deleting both of my Twitter accounts, and never looking at it again. Not give the morons, scumbags, and evil fucks any more of my attention. Not letting it make me worse. My job is to get better. Always better. Always aim higher.

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July 3rd, 2018 at 8:16 pm

A few tech notes

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As the weeks pass, I get closer to my goal of acquiring no new technology for the year of 2014. Sure, I’ve been constantly evaluating new gadgets, computers, etc. But I’ve not purchased anything. I have come close.

My current personal tech lineup consists of:

  • 7 year-old Mac Mini for audio/video editing, connected to wide-screen 27″ Viewsonic monitor. Not exactly state of the art, but the thing is this: it still gets the job done. It is slow on processing HD video, but it can do it. I’m not in a big hurry. It does just fine as the core of my podcasting setup using Garageband.
  • 11″ Samsung Google Chromebook: This is still quite useful, and is my go-to device for most web-surfing, writing, blogging, etc. If Google would come out with some good video/audio editing apps, it would really be great, but I don’t expect that. It is what it is, and it works very well. If Google start allowing apps to get loaded on to the Chromebook outside the Chrome browser it would most likely destroy the beautiful and effective simplicity of that the device does.
  • iPod Touch 5th version: just used for mobile wifi stuff, music, blah blah. I’m about to get a little tripod and lens kit for it, as it takes very very good HD video in good light conditions.
  • Amazon Kindle Touch: Still love this single-purpose device for its intended purpose – reading the written word. I find it superior.

I’ve been interested for some time in using an iPad to edit video. This week I finally downloaded iMovie for the iOS to my iPod and played with it a bit. It is really pretty incredible what you can do with this little pocket-sized device, but if iMovie isn’t any more full-featured on the iPad, then the iPad simply isn’t a good option for “real” video editing at this point. It would be alright for quick little projects, but not good enough to spend $500 on an iPad.

And really, why do I need to be able to do that? I don’t. If I want to edit video, I can just sit down at my desk and do it on the real computer.

Also, I really struggle with the issue of planned obsolescence. I just HATE the idea of ceasing to perfectly functional, if somewhat slow, computers, as long as they are meeting my needs.

My audio-video hobby of course requires some equipment, and like the computer and software itself I am making do with what I have. I’ve written about my podcasting stuff before, so all I’ll say is this: I have everything I need for that. I have great mics and a good system. Thankfully that stuff doesn’t really change a lot.

For video, I am shooting skate video using a couple of devices:

  • Old banged-up Canon point-n-shoot camera. It will not shoot full 1080p HD video, which I’d like, but it does get the job done, and it isn’t so nice that I have to worry about it. These little cameras do have a limited lifespan, so I can see getting a new upgraded one in 2015.
  • GoPro HD Hero – the original “Hero” model. Works like a charm of up close HD video of skateboarding.

I feel like skateboarding video has really gone overboard with the high-quality cinematic bullshit. Everyone thinks that every video needs to be some “epic” life-changing tale of greatness and wonder. I disagree. They should be fun and show the skateboarding. So my personal taste has kind of gone back toward simpler and shorter videos, with the “art” being in getting good shots.

My friend, podcasting partner, and team sLACK co-founder Tony Gale uses his iPhone almost exclusively for shooting skate video. He’s the one who really made me aware of how useful the iPhone/iPod can be for this. Again – I really love the idea of using this kind of minimal technology (minimal in that you are using a phone and not an expensive camcorder) to produce interesting and engaging content.

 

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October 24th, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Posted in technology

Tablet? Again?

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I went to Best Buy today to look around and was again checking out the tablet computers. Specifically, I was looking at the iPad Mini w/Retina Display and the Google Nexus 7.  There are lots of comparisons of the two devices out there on the web, but I don’t think the articles really convey the difference.

As you would have a right to expect for the extra $170 it costs over the Nexus 7, the iPad is just a LOT nicer. I say this, and I really really really want to love the Nexus 7. I am very drawn to the idea of breaking the bonds of the Apple-verse when I can. But man, the iPad is a hell of a lot nicer. Even the scrolling action on the iPad is better. That’s really the first thing I noticed. when you scroll on the iPad Mini it just glides so smoothly. The Nexus 7 glides smoothly, but no even close to the iPad. This is one of those things that a straight-up numbers-to-numbers comparison doesn’t capture. The feel of the device in use.

Is it worth the extra $170? Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

Really, I probably would have broken my “no new technology in 2014” vow today and gotten a Nexus 7 (even if it isn’t as nice) had one thing not totally pissed me off. The f*#!ing cover for the thing is $50!  That is just out-fucking-ragious. It pisses me off. You spend $229 on a device, and the frickin cover for it costs $50? Insane! And man, you need that cover! I guarantee if I didn’t get a cover for it, I would drop it and break it within 20 minutes.

To be fair, it’s the same for the iPad. Worse, really. The “smart case” for the iPad, which is just a plastic sheet that attaches magnetically to the iPad, is $79.  So if you get a $400 iPad Mini with Retina display, you can look forward to paying almost 25% of the price of the device itself just for a cover for the front of it.

So apparently purchasing these gadgets is actually just a free ticket to take it up the butt on the cover, so Apple/Google can make some real money. None of these covers could possible cost more than $2 to manufacture. I’ll let you do the math and figure out the Rape Percentage/Profit Margin.

Well, again I didn’t buy anything. Sorry Google. I could totally see spending $229 on the Nexus 7. Not as nice as the iPad, but very cool, and it has some very nice functions. But sorry, not spending $50 on the “folio” for it.

 

 

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July 8th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Posted in technology

MacBook — it’s been nice knowing you?

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My 7 year old 13″ Macbook, which is on it’ second battery, will no longer take a charge.  Not – at – all. Totally dependent on power chord now.

If I weren’t in the middle of a bathroom remodel and still need to buy an expensive shower door and a new crapper, I would be on my way for the replacement about…right…now.

Maybe in a couple of months. For now, the Chromebook, iPod Touch will let me get by.

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February 21st, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Macintosh,technology

Radio

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People who enjoy music spend a great deal of time procuring a sound system that is fantastic, that has a huge sound, that performs.

I’m the same way. I love a good, rich sound.

But there’s something comforting about a small radio. Especially at night. Maybe it is the memory of hearing my dad’s bedside radio in the other room late at night, but I love to have the radio on at night. I love to have it on in my office when I’m working on something, or when I’m out in the garage. In the car — give me my iPod.

1891225_10151866469941502_1780433810_nI love this radio. I got it a couple of years ago. It’s a nice radio that pics up short wave bands too. So if there’s nothing on regular radio, I can always find some kind of crazy stuff from who knows where.  The crazier the better. I don’t like to listen to political talk radio. I think it is one of the biggest problems of our country, as it inflames peoples opinions against each other. When I say “crazy”, I mean conspiracy talk or crazy religious stuff, or just a good eclectic music show. Sometimes I like to just have it on a foreign language station via short wave.

One thing about radios though. If you want a radio that will have long battery life, don’t get one with display like this. It uses too much power. A standard old school transistor radio will last forever on the same batteries. They are actually not super easy to find these days, so if you have one take care of it.

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February 10th, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Posted in technology

Saturday Night Tech Bitching

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OK, I’ll admit I use some old technology. But damn, I got some bitching to do.

It will make me feel better…

Oh yeah – this post has some bad words in it, to reflect my state of frustration. If you don’t like to read such words, I invite you to get the hell of my blog right now.  K? K.

  • My 7 year old MacBook came with iMovie HD. For some reason it no longer recognizes my 8 year old Mini-DV camcorder for importing footage. Thing is, last time I tried it, all this shit worked! Did a software update sneak in and fuck up my setup? If so, well, screw them!
  • So I tried turning on the hardly ever used Toshiba PC laptop. I turn the thing on and it immediately is trying to sell me virus protection improvements. I already have virus protection. Apparently they want me to spend more. Turning this sonofabitch on is like going to a gas station where some dirtbag always asks you for some help “buying a bus ticket”.
  • Well, I find out that the laptop didn’t come with Windows Movie Maker installed. Never mind the fact that even 3 years ago when I bought it making movies on your computer was a pretty common thing to do. In typical Microsoft/PC fashion, they didn’t bother putting that on the computer. So I go to their download center, and it’s gonna take fucking 2 hours or so based on the snail-like movement of the progress bar to install ONE SIMPLE PROGRAM.  Well screw that. I force quit all the programs that were running and turn that bastard off. I wonder if I could gut it and use the case as a litter box for my cats.
  • Whilst all this bullshit is going on, I am trying my damnedest to remove a few songs from my iPod. Have you ever tried to do this? iTunes is one of the worst applications ever designed for actually managing your music and what is transferred to your portable device. It really makes me 1)sorry I have bought so much shit as downloads from the iTunes store, and 2)wishing I had just kept buying CDs, so I could move all that music to some other player/tablet/whatever. I wish I had all that music just saved as plain old MP3s, ripped from CDs, so I’d be less married to the iTunes system.  I feel like a wife whose husband beats the shit out of her, but he’s rich and she’s stuck there because she doesn’t want to start over. Yep. iTunes is an abusive spouse, and I am it’s bitch.

Now, you might be somewhat justified in pointing out that 7 years is pretty old for a laptop. That’s true. Congratulations – you have correctly assessed that factoid. HOWEVER — why, after me making no changes whatsofuckingever, does my setup for video not work anymore?

Out of 1 MacBook, one several-years-old Mac Mini, a Toshiba Windows/Shit PC, and $250 Google Chromebook, guess which device is operating as advertised? Yep. The cheap-ass Chromebook. It is limited in its function, but for its function is does great. No goddamn virus protection extortion racket. No shitty software. If this thing could edit video, audio, and hold my music, I would kiss all this other shit goodbye.

But sadly, as frustrated as I am finding some of the Apple products and software, they are still infinitely better than any PC available. The cheapest MacBook Air is better than any PC laptop you could get Santa to team up with the Devil and Einstein’s Ghost to build you. I may have to save up for one.

All this being said — Aikido and Skateboarding were awesome today — and this is all that really matters.

 

 

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February 2nd, 2014 at 1:14 am

Audio Recorders and Podcasting Gear

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I don’t usually just post links of stuff to purchase, but here are a few things on massive sale right now that would be good for a podcaster/videographer.

This digital audio is on massive sale, and it a really good one.

 

This is the one I use, the Tascam DR40. It is a fantastic device, as you will see if you look at my podcasting links. Also on HUGE sale at Amazon.

Finally, this is the USB Microphone I use. It is the “old” model, and thus on bigtime sale, but the newer version just has a headphone jack. Other than that, the old one is the same. Great sound for this microphone. Plugs into the computer. Simple.

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December 11th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

More thoughts on tech.

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I’ve written quite a lot about my Google Chromebook. I’ve had it a few months now and continue to enjoy it. It is light, boots up fast, and works pretty well. I’ve done most of my blogging from the Chromebook, plus a little digital image editing. For evening web-surfing and blogging it is my machine of choice. As I’ve stated before, I don’t really watch movies on it because it’s screen isn’t great and the video card (or whatever it has) isn’t super good for streaming HD movies. But it will do in a pinch for standard definition, and I’ve done that  bit while on trips.

This is the 11-inch Samsung Chromebook, which cost $250. So for that price I of course understand and accept the device’s limitations. It does what I purchased it to do, and not much more, but that is fine.

I have considered buying a Nexus Table too. They have really nice screens and work very well.

However, these devices are lacking in one area very critical to me. Content creation.

Since Google hasn’t developed their own really good video and audio editing apps for the devices, they simply are not up to the challenge of podcasting or video editing. I’ve tried all the apps available for the Chromebook, and they all suck. Sorry, but they do. I’ve searched and read about this issue as it applies to the Nexus tablets, and it appears to be the same there too. They seem to be great for surfing the web, playing game, and watching movies — content consumption — but simply are not equipped for content creation.

So other than replacing my burnt-out Kindle Touch, I think that 2014 will be a year of Zero Technology Acquisition. Unless my 2006 MacBook stops working, I will most likely stick with the tech that I already have. The only item I can see myself buying would be a replacement for that, or a new digital camera should my current one poop out on me.

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December 10th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Posted in technology

Kindle Death

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That bad news: When I turned on my Kindle on Sunday to continue reading “I Drink for a Reason“, well, it didn’t turn on. Not at all. It was fully charged. Screen, rather than displaying the screen saver normally seen when it is off, was black with some barely visible “burned in” lines of text from the book.

Not good.

A few minutes of online chat with a Kindle specialist at Amazon.com revealed that yes, it was just fried. Dead.

As longtime readers will know, I love my Kindle. I think the Kindle is a fantastic device for reading. I don’t want it to be a “tablet”. I like it as an e-reader. Easy on the eyes, enlargeable font, just a fantastic reading experience. I love it.

Not sure what fried this one. We have had power issues due to an ice storm. Perhaps a surge got it? Who knows.

The good news: When I bought this Kindle Touch 3G at Best Buy, I broke one of my normal rules and I payed for 2 years of their extended super warranty. It is 1.5 years old. Warranty still good. Took it to Best Buy. They gave me store credit for the full purchase price, and bumped it up by enough to buy the Kindle Paperwhite 3G — which replaced the one I have. So that’s cool.

What’s not cool is that they are out of the Paperwhite 3G.  But what is cool again is that soon a better but pretty much the same price Paperwhite 3G will be available.

So I will wait for the new and improved one.

I was very happy with Best Buy. They did exactly what they needed to do. No bullshit. Good job.

 

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December 10th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Cheap stuff

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For the last couple of month’s I’ve been mostly using my Samsung Google Chromebook for my internet/blogging/multimedia activities. It cost $250.

It’s certainly true that I would rather have a new MacBook Air, but as I have stated before I couldn’t see spending that kind of money right now. Too many other things I want and need to spend money on.

The more I use this little machine, the more comfortable I am with it. True, it is kind of cheaply built, but hell, look at the price. The only thing I’ve found it really doesn’t do that well is video display. I guess the graphics card, or whatever you call the part of this machine that processes video, isn’t super good. But it isn’t horrible either.

I guess there is on other issue that has come up, and that is video editing. While there is some reasonable cloud-based software out there for video editing, the challenge is in the uploading of your video footage into the cloud to work on it. HD video creates such big files. It just isn’t very feasible to upload hundreds of megs (or multiples gigs) unless you have a much faster upload speed than most people. There needs to be some app that will load locally on the Chromebook and process the video locally. Perhaps there already is and I just haven’t found it.

I’ve had good enough luck with this Chromebook that I’m tempted to apply the same “making the most out inexpensive equipment” ethos to the rest of  my computing activities. I hardly every use a real “camcorder” for shooting video. Almost all mine is done on a simple point ‘n’ shoot digital camera. I use a GoPro HD Hero sometimes, but overall the point ‘n’ shoot seems to be my favored device.

In a world of skateboarders using expensive and cutting edge cameras, I like the idea of shooting good pics, video, and audio using inexpensive stuff, on an inexpensive computer. While I’ve been thinking very seriously about getting a nice digital SLR, maybe just getting a better point ‘n’ shoot — one that will shoot video in HD — might be a better choice for me.

OK, yes, this is kind of one of those rambling blog posts that no one will want to read. Whatever.

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November 4th, 2013 at 4:26 am

Another nice thing about the Chromebook

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A few years ago I purchased a Toshiba laptop (mention in the previous post) on which to learn some Windows/PC software. Didn’t want to defile my MacBook by putting Microsoft crap on it.

The PC laptop comes with tons of useless advertising crap on it. You have to either pay the store (in this case Best Buy) to remove the junk, or spend hours doing it yourself.

The Chromebook, which runs on a Linux-based OS, has none of that shit. Turn it one, sign on, and you are good to go. No frustrating PC-like bullshit.

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September 11th, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Enter the Chromebook

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I am typing this entry from my new Google Chromebook, working offline (intentionally) to test its offline document editing capacity.

It seems to work pretty well. I bought this machine a couple of hours ago. Since it is all Flash memory driven, it boots up really fast. It is light, which is why I purchased it — so I’d have a lightweight machine to use for travel. Something that won’t weight down my backpack.

Getting on WiFi is easy enough. There is a slight learning curve, even for technology veterans, in navigating the “desktop”. Unlike most laptops, you don’t really “save stuff to the desktop” on this machine. It is designed to work with Google Drive. Thus far, when I have tested it’s online/offline syncing ability, it seems to work quite well.

The Google Docs app I’m using right now will save in an MS Word format, as well as various other common text formats.

I intend to us this machine while on trips, for uploading photos, doing blog posts, writing, and general web surfing/communication. The apps available for video/audio editing seem limited right now, but not completely absent. The one I was really hoping to use for audio has been discontinued by its maker, which sucks, but I will figure out a workaround. It is rare that I need on the road audio editing. I’ll figure it out.

The screen quality seems pretty good considering this machine only cost $250. It looks a lot better than the full-sized Dell monitor I use at work, and is comparable to a non-Retina Apple monitor. So that’s cool.

The keyboard is big enough to be comfortable for full-sized male hands, and the track pad is fairly good. Not as good as an Apple track pad, but much better than the one on my much-hated and seldom used Toshiba laptop. It is one of those new-fangled trackpads with no discrete click button. The bottom of the pad itself is the button. This entire machine feels superior in its user-interface, keyboard, monitor, and trackpad than any PC laptop I’ve ever used. And at about ¼ or less the price.

Having everything you do show up in a Chrome browser window does seem strange at first, I must admit. Using Google’s apps and Google Drive is also strange to me. As much as I appreciate Google’s various products, it does seem somehow dumb to be giving them even more of my life to store on their servers. But really, they’ve already got it all anyway. If I decide to write a novel that will make me lots of money, I’ll do it offline I recon – and not on Google. Don’t want them coming after my fortune, even though they say in Google Docs that they won’t.

The construction of the Chromebook seems adequate. I wouldn’t call it flimsy at all, but I also wouldn’t say its bulletproof. A nice foam sleeve for travel might be a good idea.

Obviously, the machine works well for web surfing, since it is all based on the Chrome browser.

Importing images to the Chromebook was a bit confusing at first. I took a pic using a standard Canon digital camera, and connected via USB cable. The Chromebook didn’t seem to recognize the connection. Then I remember that the Chromebook has an SD card slot. I popped the SD card in there, and a file manager came right up. You can then drag the images into your “downloads” folder, or any other folder you create.

I’m still trying to figure out how to insert images into this document. There is an option for it in the “insert” menu, but it is grayed out. Will figure that out later. I wonder if it has to do with being offline?  Weird. I’ll also install the Flickr app and see how it works later at home, online.

OK, I’m at home, online, and I figured it out. Images can’t be inserted into the Google Doc unless you are line. Make sense. You have upload the image to Google Drive, where the Doc will always have access to it.

I tried a Flickr app, but it sucked. Better to just go to Flickr.com and use it normally via the brower.  Now I’ll try inserted this old skate image I had on Flickr. Not bad.

IMG_1454

Now, finally, to save this in some format that can be quickly and easily put into my concretelunch.info blog. Let’s see…

I don’t want to “Publish to web”, as this will simply make the Google Doc public on my account.

Simply copying directly from the Google Chrome window and pasting into WordPress worked, but the formatting was just a bit messed up. Really big gaps between paragraphs.

Saving this document in Word format, than doing “paste from Word” in WordPress didn’t work very well.

None of this is surprising. Stuff never pastes into WordPress correctly from other formats/apps.

I have just opted for the 1st choice – pasting directly into WordPress from Docs. I cleaned up the extra space between paragraphs. This is actually pretty common. I’ve not found what I consider a really good offline blog editor. I used to have one for the Mac, but rarely used it. It just didn’t work that well. The reality is that most of the time I am somewhere that WiFi is available, and I suspect that trend will increase in the future. Assuming that civilization doesn’t collapse.

Well, now to finish up this post I’m typing directly into WordPress, like normal.  As I come up with new thoughts about the Chromebook I will collect them and post them. So far I think it is going to be a good option for light weight mobile blogging/social media/word processing.

 

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September 10th, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Conflict?

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In my continuing quest for a better life and better ways of living, I have come to cherish my lunch hour. It is a time that I ‘m away from my computer machine, away from the telephone machine, away from my beloved library patrons. Over the last few years I’ve done most of my reading during lunch. I have thought some of my best thoughts during lunch. I have written them down. One of the most enjoyable parts of my week are the days I sit on the sidewalk patio of a local eatery with my rig, relaxing with my thoughts and my books.

Below you will find my “lunch rig”. This is my current lunchtime non-eating equipment. Here, side by side, you find total harmony where there should in fact be conflict. On the left, my newly discovered (just a couple of months ago) Kindle, which I deem to provide the best possible reading experience. Yes, this librarian thinks reading the Kindle is better than reading paper. It is easier on the eye, convenient, and elegant. Granted, I think the Kindle and eReader content in general lacks any real long-term archival quality. No one is going to dig up a Kindle in 3000 years and be able to read it. But for my lunchtime needs it serves admirably.

Existing side by side with the Kindle, in total harmony, much like the often-sung-about Ebony and Ivory, is my actual paper journal and Lamy Safari fountain pen. Yes, while reading on my modern device I often write on good old paper using a fountain pen. Not a keyboard. There is something satisfying and civilizing about the experience of putting ink to paper. It slows me down from my normal pace. I gather my thoughts, relax my shoulders, arms, neck, and face, and smoothly (as possible) form legible handwriting.

I have found that my practice of Aikido has improved my handwriting, once I understood the connection. Relaxation. Centeredness. Awareness of the moment. A desire for elegance and utility, rather than brute force and function. Flow. Yes, flow is important.

Handwriting is personal. Handwriting belongs to the writer.

Technology coexists with the Old Ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by admin

November 26th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Posted in art,technology

Tagged with , ,

Why my MacBook rules

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While at the Internet Librarian conference, and in transit to it, I have…

  • Chatted with my wife
  • Kept up with my friends
  • Edited the Metromorphosis.com website before the sessions started today, and used Pixelmator to do image editing, all sitting in the lobby.
  • Edited a new trick tip video for Bob’s Trick Tips last night, uploaded it, and posted it.
  • Skyped with my previously mentioned beautiful wife.
  • Watched some killer skate videos
  • Sent my boss and colleagues back home some good information before even compiling a full report.
  • Tweeted a lot.
  • Taken lots of notes. Love it that the conference has good wifi coverage and plenty of power outlets.
  • Etc, Etc, Etc.

Written by bibliosk8

October 26th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

More MacBook flickering screen

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So as you longtime readers know, when I originally got a MacBook the screen had a nasty flicker/noise problem. I took it back the next day, and the Apple store replaced it. This MacBook that I’m typing on now has worked pretty well.

However, for that last couple of month’s I’ve notice a minor screen flickering when it is running on battery power. Sometimes it is quite noticeable. Like right now. It isn’t the same problem that the first MacBook had. That was kind of a screen static/noise thing.  This is more like the brightness level goes up and down slightly.

This is a a bummer, because I like Apple products a lot. I would like to say after several years of using this computer I am “delighted” with it. But this screen thing — errrr — well, it makes me un-delighted. It makes me question whether I’d replace this computer with another MacBook. Not sure what else I’d get, but after having 2 apple monitor crap out on me with extreme prejudice in my computer-using past I just don’t have confidence that Apple can do monitors right.

Frankly, I’m not sure this problem is even the monitor. I suspect there is some kind of power management issue, since it only happens on battery power. Still, it sucks.

On the other hand, the Dell laptop my wife had a few years ago lasted only two years before it took it’s final dump and had to be replaced.

Oh well. This is pretty high up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, so I guess I’ll stop complaining.

Written by bibliosk8

April 28th, 2010 at 3:39 am

Posted in Macintosh,technology