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Tag: Macbook

Lenmar shows off the Chug Plug for your MacBook

Posted by Alan at 6:07 PM on February 15, 2014

lexmar

Jenny Simpson of Lenmar stopped by TPN in Las Vegas recently to talk about the company’s new battery pack for your MacBook computer.

The new Chug Plug can provide up to four hours of additional batter life and connects via the computers existing cable. It is Apple specific, so don’t expect to get one for your Windows PC. It has built-in smart technology that can detect how much power your Macbook needs and push extra if necessary. The Chug Plug will be available for $159 starting in March. You can check it out over at Lenmar.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Chris Davis of Health Tech Weekly

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Virgin Mobile’s YouTube Wants to “Blinkwash” You

Posted by J Powers at 11:28 AM on September 18, 2013
Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile is running a new video on Youtube. It’s called “Blinkwashing”. You will need a webcam connected to your computer, which the YouTube page will calibrate your face and blinking. This will act as a remote control to switch the video up.

Every time you blink, the video changes. It doesn’t lose place in the video; it just moves to another video with the exact same script. Blink your eyes and you see two girls talking on the phone about Virgin mobile. Blink again and you see an aerial view of police cars and the script sounding like its coming from the CB. Blink again and two bikers are arm wrestling.

It doesn’t matter how many times you blink, the channel will change. If you don’t blink at all, the video will continue on. There is everything from a clown to a karaoke channel talking about Virgin Mobile.

virgin-blinkwash[1]When I tried this on my Macbook Pro, it worked like a charm. However, on my desktop sits an older Logitech 9000 webcam which brought problems. You won’t be able to do this on mobile devices.

Could this be the start of something new? There is a possibility. Other head movement instructions could turn Youtube videos into a “Choose your own adventure” video. Want to walk through a door on the left – turn your head to the left.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to switch over to Virgin Mobile now…

 

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:05 PM on March 17, 2013

On review today is the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile, a 1 TB mobile external hard drive. Aimed squarely at the Apple MacBook crowd, the brushed aluminium finish and white LED compliments the host machine, and the combination of both USB3 and FireWire 800 show its Mac heritage. Of course the drive can be formatted for Windows or Linux use but the G-Drive is pre-formatted for HFS+ and is TimeMachine-compatible. As expected, the G-Drive is bus powered so there’s no power adaptor.

G-Drive Mobile

 

G-Drive Mobile Ports

The G-Drive Mobile has a couple of touches that set it apart from the other mobile drive offerings. To start with, it comes with all the cables that might be needed, so in the box there’s a USB3 cable, a FireWire 800 cable and a FireWire 400 to 800 cable. There’s no getting the box home only to find the cable need for your setup is missing.

G Drive Mobile Cables

Second, the packaging presents the G-Drive to best effect and the “Getting Started” instructions are printed on the inside  lid of the box. Again, it comes back to appealing to the Apple crowd who expect good design.

G-Drive Package

But enough of how it looks. How does it go? Pretty well actually. Connected up to USB 3, the G-Drive Mobile recorded the following data rates:

hdparm gave 107 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
dd gave write speeds around 105 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 104 MB/s for writes and 141 MB/s for reads.

I’m fairly sure that those figures make G-Drive Mobile the fastest USB3 unit tested, beating the previous holder by a considerable margin. Under FireWire 400, the figures were obviously slower, but are provided here for comparison.

- hdparm gave 36 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 22 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 22 MB/s for writes and 55 MB/s for reads.

Price-wise, the model here costs £129.95 but if you want USB3 only, there’s a much sleeker and cheaper version at £109.95 in the Apple store. However, if you need FireWire with USB3, the model viewed above is hard to beat, giving historical compatibility with older gear while also offering fast data transfers on newer kit.

Thanks to G-Technology for providing the G-Drive Mobile to review.

Upgrading An Old MacBook To An SSD

Posted by tomwiles at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2012

One of the machines I have is a 6 year old 13” white plastic Intel MacBook. In recent years I’ve used it as a backup machine just in case I needed it. It has a 2 gigahertz Core 2 Duo processor and is maxed out at 2 gigabytes of RAM.

Solid State Drive prices have been dropping lately, so I figured making the swap to a solid state drive and the performance boost it would bring would be worth it. I ended up buying a Crucial 128 gigabyte SSD for around $104 dollars with Amazon Prime picking up the shipping cost.

This evening I made the installation. I started out by installing the new SSD in an external Firewire enclosure and installing OS/X onto it first. After a very smooth, painless installation process, OS/X asked me what I wanted to transfer from the old drive to the new one, and though I left out most of the documents and other clutter, I did tell it to move the applications over, which to my surprise it did a stellar job of copying over to the new SSD drive.

After rebooting into the new drive while it was still connected via Firewire, I copied over a few miscellaneous files I needed and then shut everything down. Next, I swapped the new drive into the MacBook.

The results are nothing short of amazing. The old 7,200 RPM hard drive made the machine seem sluggish and non-responsive. With the SSD in the same machine, things seem to happen almost instantly. The conclusion I take away is that conventional hard drive performance has been a bigger performance bottleneck than we realized.

The days of the conventional spinning hard drive are numbered. The conventional hard drive will one day be going the way of the cathode ray tube monitor and floppy discs.

If you are tempted to shell out big bucks for a new machine just to get a performance boost, if you have an older machine that has otherwise good hardware, consider upgrading to an SSD for an incredible performance boost at a fraction of the price of a new machine.

Octa Whale Tail Vacuum Dock

Posted by J Powers at 8:08 PM on May 17, 2012
Octa Vacuum dock with Whale Tail

Octa Vacuum dock with Whale Tail

If you are looking for a way to hold your iPad, maybe your hand hurts after a while, then this dock might be something you want to look at. Octa has an iPad Vaccum dock that puts your hand in the middle of the iPad. Best part – you can use this for your iPad, Macbook Air, Kindle, Nook, or any other device 3 1/2 inches in circumference.

The Octa is a half-ball with a suction cup affixed to the flat end. Affix the suction cup to the device, and press the button. The suction technology affixes the Octa to the iPad. You can even attach to an iPad case, if the surface is flat and non-porous.

Place the cup on the back side of the tablet, then push the button 5 times. That will create a suction to the device. To remove, you lift the rubber tabs to let air into the surface area (make sure you have a good hold on the tablet).

Octa Whale Tail

Octa on Wall

Affix the Octa on a non-porous wall to hang your iPad

The Octa Whale Tail is an adapter you can connect to the Vacuum Dock. It looks exactly like a Whale tail. This allows your iPad to sit upright. It also lets you set your iPad at a better angle when you are sitting in a reclined or feet up position. You can also reverse the Vacuum dock and use the tail as an iPad holder. Attach the dock to a non-porous wall (or the back side of an airplane tray in its upright position), then bend the tail so it holds the tablet.

I’ve been using the Octa Whale Tail for a couple days now, and I am really impressed. By putting my hand in the middle of the iPad, my hand doesn’t get tired. The tail can also mold around your hand for an ergonomic feel. This would be perfect for someone that has to hold a tablet all day – maybe a poll taker, a wait staff (if they have an iPad POS), a teacher, a speaker and more.

The Octa Vacuum with Whale Tail is $49.95, and available now.

 

Sticker Munch Make Logos Fun at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 4:01 PM on April 19, 2012

Geek booksNovelty sticker company Sticker Munch launched at last week’s The Gadget Show Live and I was able to grab an interview with MD and founder, Sufian Hassan. Sticker Munch offer a range of novelty stickers that put the fun back into technology by incorporating the logo as part of the design or by trading on the geekiness of it all.

The stickers themselves are high quality vinyl decals and can be stuck to almost anything, from laptops to books, skateboards to vehicles. Some of the decals will be for particular models or devices, e.g. iPad, especially when the logo is integral to the design, but others can be stuck anywhere!

Prices range from an astonishingly low 50p up to £10.

 

KB Covers Keyboard Overlays

Posted by Andrew at 8:57 AM on February 17, 2012

KB Covers offer specialised keyboard covers for Apple Macs and MacBooks. Rather than dust covers, these are keyboard overlays which re-label for foreign languages or show keyboard shortcuts.

KB Cover Keyboard Overlay

A good example for the former is a foreign language student who wishes to use a keyboard with the studied country’s layout and alphabet. Imagine the convenience for students of Arabic or Cyrillic languages. For software packages, the overlays highlight keyboard shortcuts to enhance productivity – it’s much faster to press “alt-f” than it is to use the mouse to select an item from a pull-down menu. All major software is covered – Photoshop, Final Cut, Media Composer, Sibelius, etc.

The overlays are a ultra-thin and made from high quality silicone. There’s a big selection of overlays for different countries and software packages. Prices are in the range $20-$40 and I think they’re great value.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Dock Your MacBook with Henge Docks

Posted by Alan at 11:26 PM on January 25, 2012

Henge Docks may be a name you aren’t yet familiar with, but if you’re a MacBook owner then you may want to get to know this company a little better.  Henge Docks makes docking stations for the full line of Apple notebooks, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, and all sizes of each.  Since Apple doesn’t provide built-in docking capability it took a third-party company to come up with unique way of getting around that limitation.

Henge Docks was recently at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas to demonstrate their MacBook docking station and GNC caught up with them to get a look at how their system works.  You can see it in action in the video below, including the brand new MacBook Air dock which was shown for the first time at CES, and a few other cool new products in their line.  The line of docks range in price from $50-75 and you can check them out at Henge Docks.

Interview by Steve Lee of Netcast Studio.

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Is Snow Leopard The New XP?

Posted by tomwiles at 11:18 PM on August 31, 2011

Like a lot of people, I purchased the Lion upgrade on the first day of availability from the Apple App store.

I upgraded two late-model Mac Minis along with an older 17” MacBook Pro. The Lion upgrade solved a freezing problem on the Mac Mini I use as an HD-DVR. However, it created a number of serious problems on the MacBook Pro – Lion would not work with my Verizon USB aircard, it would not back up to my HP Windows Home Server, and it would not work properly with the Ubercaster podcast recording application.

After living with these Lion-induced problems for more than a month on the MacBook Pro, I downgraded it back to a prior (and fully functional) Snow Leopard backup image. Everything is now back to normal, with everything once again functioning the way it should.

My MacBook Pro is no slouch, yet it seemed a bit sluggish running Lion compared to Snow Leopard.

If you have a Mac that’s more than a couple of years old, and/or you are running a variety of software and hardware that Lion likely won’t support and/or that may never be updated to run properly on Lion, I would strongly suggest skipping the Lion upgrade.

I found the Lion interface changes mostly annoying. On a computer (as opposed to an iPod), I prefer normal scroll bars. In Lion you can turn the scroll bars so that they remain on, but they are thin little gray lines that I have a hard time seeing and grabbing with the mouse. I don’t like the changes Apple made to the Finder in Lion, nor do I like the changes they made to the Spotlight Search functionality. I found the changes to the Mail program to be of dubious value, as well as the cosmetic changes to the Address Book adding no functionality.

Snow Leopard runs perfectly well and just might be the new XP.

Freecom Mobile Drive Mg Review

Posted by Andrew at 4:01 PM on May 26, 2011

The Freecom Mobile Drive Mg is no ordinary 2.5″ external drive. It’s a thing of beauty. Intended to complement Apple’s MacBooks, the slimline Mobile Drive has a magnesium body that looks and feels great. The icing on the cake is that it’s USB 3. I’ve seen lots of external drives but this is the one you want.

Even the packaging reflects the target market. Instead of a relatively dull cardboard box, this comes in an acrylic box so that you can see drive before you’ve even purchased it. The model shown here is the slimline 320 GB USB 3 version which is just 1 cm thick. Freecom have used the bevelled-edge trick to make it seem even thinner than it is but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is thin and Freecom claim that it is the world’s thinnest external drive. In addition to the 320 GB capacity, there are two 720 GB units which are a bit thicker at 1.5 cm – one is USB 3 only, the other is USB 3 and Firewire 800.

Apart from the USB 3 connector and the Freecom logo, the only other external feature is a white LED which indicates power and disk activity. It’s difficult to make out in the picture below as it’s not lit, but it’s pretty much right in the middle. The drive is bus powered so there’s no power supply needed.

The Mobile Drive Mg comes pre-formatted with HFS+, so if you have a Mac, you’re good to go out of the box. If you’re a Windows or Linux user, it can easily be reformatted to another format.

I think we’ve established that it looks good, but does it perform? Connected up to USB 3, the Mobile Drive recorded the following data rates:

- hdparm gave 75 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 82 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 74 MB/s for writes and 85 MB/s for reads.

Under USB 2, the figures were obviously slower but still healthy for a USB 2 device.

- hdparm gave 30 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 37 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 35 MB/s for writes and 40 MB/s for reads.

Looking at the data, using USB 3 roughly doubles the performance when compared to USB 2, which is not unexpected. If you are interested in the specs, there’s a datasheet .pdf.

Price-wise, the model here costs 79 euros, with the 750 GB model bumping the price to 119 euros. Adding the Firewire port will cost 10 euros extra.

You know you want one.

Thanks to Freecom for the loan of the Mobile Drive Mg.