Google+ June 2011 ~ High Tech House Calls

Unexpected Chemistry of Cookies

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Signing Up for ATT U-Verse? Think again!

AT&T's U-Verse is AT&T's latest high speed Internet offering. What makes this different from DSL (which utilizes the existing phone line coming into your house) is U-Verse uses a fiber-optic network connection which is much faster. Your area must be wired with fiber-optic cable for this service to be available to you.

Here are some things to think about before you sign up:
  • Unlike cable or DSL Internet access, a special wall outlet will need to be installed in your house. A cable or DSL modem only required an existing cable wall outlet or phone jack outlet. 
  • AT&T will probably want to put the U-Verse outlet in the easiest to install location. That location could end up to be your ground floor formal dining room most likely not where you would want computer equipment installed.
  • If you have a wireless router, it must be located to where the new U-Verse outlet is installed. In general, wireless routers should be installed as high up and central to your house as possible for the best wireless network coverage. If you have to move your wireless router to your ground floor formal dining room, you may be unable to connect to the Internet from your second floor master bedroom.
  • If your second story home office computer is connected via a CAT5e cable connected to the wired port in your wireless router, you will need to buy a wireless adapter for your home office computer in order to connect to your new wireless network.
  • Know what you are buying. If you already have a wireless network, you do not need an AT&T Gateway installed. A Gateway is a combination U-Verse modem and wireless router. In general, equipment from high speed Internet providers is inferior to what you can buy. Also, you already have a wireless router, why should you pay for another one?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is replacing laptop screen in your future? - You want a big laptop screen, but want the laptop to be as light as a f...

How to Tell If Your Apple Laptop Disk Drive is Failing

Eventually, your hard drive will fail. Hard drives are expected to last between 3 to 5 years before they eventually fail.

How do you know when your time is up with a hard drive?
  •  Your computer starts to slow down. (but a slow computer can be caused by other things besides a failing hard drive.)
  • Run the Disk Utility in the Utilities Folder. Select Repair Permission (controls access to programs) first, then verify Hard Drive, last. Both these scans can take some time to complete and will make using your Apple laptop difficult, if not  impossible during these scans. If you have Permissions that cannot be repaired, please refer to this Apple article to determine if this is something to worry about:
  • To repair errors found while verifying your hard drive, you must boot your laptop using the installation DVD that came with your laptop and run the Disk Utility from the DVD.
  • If you find that your permissions cannot be repaired (outside the errors that are OK to have as reported by the Apple article) or your hard drive cannot be repaired with the Disk Utility, it is time to start backing up your data. It is only a matter of time before your laptop will stop booting because the hard drive has failed.

Is replacing your laptop screen in your future?

You want a big laptop screen, but also want the laptop to be as light as a feather. How does a laptop manufacturer accomplish this goal?

They make the lid of the laptop razor thin to minimize weight. Unfortunately, this means that a small flex of the lid can  crack the laptop screen. The laptop screen itself is approximately $150. Labor could easily add another $100. Laptops are not designed to be taken apart easily, so it is very likely a screen replacement will damage the fragile plastic snaps that hold the lid and screen together. Your laptop will never be the same cosmetically and you are also dangerously close to the cost of a new laptop.

How do you prevent a cracked screen?
  • Re-evaluatate your need for a large screen laptop. Perhaps a 15.4" screen will do.
  • Use a laptop case. Never jam a laptop into a book bag where the laptop is sandwiched between text books.
  • Buy an Apple MacBook Pro. These laptops have aluminium cases and the lid will not flex. However prepare for sticker shock; you should expect to pay around $1200 and up for a usable MacBook Pro.

WordPress vs. Google Blogger for your Blogging Needs

Which is a better platform for your blog?

When I first started blogging a quick and dirty comparison between WordPress and Google's Blogger showed that I could create a blog with Blogger without buying a manual and dedicating hours of internet research. The same could not be said of WordPress.

  • WordPress is a tool kit that appeals to the professional blogger and graphic artist because of the infinite amount of tweaking that can be done to the blog with the tool kit.
  • Blogger allows you to do things quick and dirty. 
  • To publish your WordPress blog to the internet you must have a domain or you can buy one from WordPress.
  • Blogger will give you a domain for free.
  • A cottage industry has sprung up around WordPress offering templates that can be purchased and downloaded if you are not familiar with creating your own.
  • Blogger seems to have less of a marketplace feel with many free templates available for the searching.
  • WordPress requires some free software installation.
  • Blogger requires nothing more than a connection to the internet and an internet browser.   
  • WordPress blogs are not indexed for searches automatically by Google. You must add code to aid Google finding your blog.
  • Guess which blog tool gets automatically searched by Google? Your blog using Blogger, as part of the Google family, is automatically indexed to be searched by Google.   
I suggest you start out with Blogger. If you become frustrated with the amount of control you have or lack thereof, or how your blog looks and feels, move on to WordPress. WordPress has a tool that allows the importation  of blogger entries into WordPress, so the transition is easy.

Find Me Function for iPad and iPhone

Now that the controversy on Apple collecting data on where your iPad and iPhone are located has died down, let's look at the Find Me function built into these devices.

  • The requirement of a MobileMe account has been lifted making the Find Me function free to anyone with an iPad or iPhone and a current version of the operating system loaded on their device.You must have an Apple ID set up. Your Apple ID is associated with the iTunes store and should have been set up by you when you first created an iTunes library on your computer.
  • Go to your Mail, Contacts and Calendars setup on your device. Add a MobileMe account and type in your Apple ID and password.
  • Verify your account by opening the email Apple sent you and clicking on the link. 
  • Return to the MobileMe screen and turn on Find My iPad/IPhone.
  • To test your setup, go to and log into your account with your Apple ID. A map should appear pinpointing the location of your iPad/iPhone. At this point you can erase, lock or send a message that will be displayed on your misplaced iPad/iPhone.
If you turn off the Find My iPad/iPhone, your iPad/iPhone can no longer be located. An educated thief would immediately disable the Find My iPad/iPhone function . Therefore, a certain amount of luck is involved in recovering your stolen iPad/iPhone.