Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bob and his iPhone

iphone_home I know that I’ve only had the iPhone  for a week I just wanted to share some thought’s on it. This was a combination quit smoking and Christmas gift. I had been researching the iPhone and other “smartphone’s”  on and off the last few months. At first I thought of the iPhone. Then I thought a Blackberry would be nice. Then I came back to the iPhone. The Android phone came along and that seemed to give the big Apple some serious competition. Despite some of the recent news and negative ads about AT&T’s 3G network problems the iPhone stayed in contention. Most iPhone user’s I encountered loved there phone and wouldn’t part with it.

A few things were the deciding factor:

Cost – Refurbished iPhone’s start at $49.95 & $99.95. An easier price to swallow than some of the  competitive “smartphone” prices.

AT&T – We were already with them with our current phone’s. To be honest they’ve been good with coverage and service. We weren’t locked into any contract but to switch over may have caused some hiccups or hassle’s which we didn’t want over the holidays.

Referrals – Those I’ve talked to about the iPhone all love it. Very little was mentioned about coverage or quality of phone calls. I think it(AT&T coverage and quality woes) may be over hyped and may also depend on your location.

Usage – I’m quite a light user when it comes to the cell phone. So the hype of dropped calls or poor call quality wasn’t a huge issue. I suppose if I was in a business or work that was dependant on being on the phone it may be a concern but I’m not either of those so it’s not a huge issue right now. I was looking for something to be able access the Internet, text, and be able to do more than just make a phone call.

I opted for the base refurbish model iPhone 3G 8GB model. The 16GB (also refurbished) model was out of stock  and new 16GB and 32 GB prices were a bit much to swallow. Actual activation was kind of slight pain calling AT&T customer service but all went well and I was soon playing around with it. The design is sleek and modern looking. It feels solid and comfortable in your hand. The screen layout is intuitive and quick to navigate.  I admit this was the quickest learning curve I’ve encountered  on any phone I’ve used. Working with a touch screen has been interesting and fun.

Within a short time I was downloading apps and customizing and discovering my iPhone and what it could do.  The day after we traveled to (from Rhode Island)Maine for Christmas eve and day. Along the way I noticed no drop in service or slow down. The only bummer was while at my mother-in-laws she had no 3G coverage though I was still able access the Internet even though it was a bit slower. I’ve downloaded a bunch of “apps” to try out. I'll write more about them in the coming weeks as I further try them out.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a happy new year.  Thanks for coming by and I welcome your questions and comments.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How not to fix your computer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Computer Troubleshooting Books

j0300940 There so many books on repairing or troubleshooting computers that it can be confusing to which one to pick. I’ve picked up many books on the subject. Some of which have been helpful and some haven’t. Many get looked at a few times and then to collect dust on my bookshelf. There is two books I do recommend above all else. Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts and The Laptop Repair Workbook both by author Morris Rosenthal. I wish I had picked these up a long time ago. They are thin in comparison to other computer books but, they pack a good punch.


Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts

As the author says to us in his introduction this book is not meant to read from cover to cover. This is meant to be a reference or guide. This book is full of flowcharts meant to guide those repairing or troubleshooting a computer. It does have the premise that you have at least some working knowledge of a computer is and what the different pieces are. It has no pictures to help you along. The flowcharts are easy to follow. Following each flowchart is an explanation of each symbol on that chart.

Some examples of the subjects included:

  • Power Supply Failure
  • Video Failure
  • Motherboard, RAM, CPU failure


The Laptop Repair Workbook 

This book covers laptops and is very similar than the previous book.  It only makes sense to have a laptop troubleshooting book. Laptops by there very nature have there own unique problems and can be more difficult to diagnose. This one is split into two parts. The first half of the book is a guide which gives a good overview of troubleshooting laptops. The second half we have the flowcharts with explanations following them. Some of the contents include:

  • Laptop Basics
  • Laptop Upgrades
  • Troubleshooting power problems
  • Laptop Video Troubleshooting
  • Troubleshooting Laptop Overheating

Taking your computer to the local PC repair shop can be expensive.  At the very least you’ll be more knowledgeable and less likely to be taken advantage of.  If you solve the problem yourself you’ve already covered the cost of these books. If your a computer enthusiast or even an A+ Certified Tech I believe you’d find these books an essential part of your toolbox. They are written in a way that isn’t overwhelmingly technical nor condescending to the newcomer.  Like I said before I wished I had gotten these books a long time ago and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What’s in your PC?

Ever wonder what’s inside your computer? Even if you open up your computer it may not tell you much. Sure you may be able to tell the what the components are(Example: Hard drive, CD/DVD Drive, Power Supply, etc..). Even if your lucky to find some manufacturing brand names you need a microscope and a decoder to decipher the markings. I find system information software a valuable tool.

Screenshot - 12_5_2009 , 4_05_32 PMSpeccy is system information software from Piriform who are the developers of CCleaner(system cleaner), Recuva(data recovery), and Defraggler(defragmentor). They have a reputation of producing some well made products.

Speccy can be downloaded from the Piriform website. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see when you use it:

Screenshot - 12_5_2009 , 4_02_35 PM

It will give you a an overview of what’s inside your PC. If you click on any of these it will give you more in depth details. Like this….

Screenshot - 12_5_2009 , 4_03_21 PM

For a program still in beta it works pretty well and I encountered no problems while using it. It’s a small program of about 1.1 MB so it’s a quick download depending on your connection. It’s not super in depth as far as information but, I believe it’ll serve well for casual and more experienced users alike wanting a quick snapshot of what’s inside. Being still in beta there may be more features to come. I hope they keep it simple and quick. Best of all it’s got a great

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dissecting a hard drive


I just recently pulled apart an old hard drive that I had lying around. I just thought I’d share what I found and post it here. I’ve had the urge to pull one apart for awhile but never got around to it. This particular drive was a 4.3 GB Quantum Fireball. I don’t even remember what computer this one came out of. It was perfect for the task.

IMG_4449 First task was to unscrew the six screws on the top of the drive.


Part of what attracted me to take this apart was that it had Phillips head screws holding the cover on. Many have the TORX head screws which are more difficult to remove if you don’t have the right tool. But wait….



There were two TORX head screws hiding under the “Warranty void if seal is broken” sticker

. Since the warranty period is long past I plowed on. I was able to get a tool to remove the screws.


Then I took a screw driver to pry apart the cover.


We now see the inside of the drive which hasn’t been open since the factory.


It almost reminds me of an old record player.



This is the circuit board that is beneath the drive.


A close up of the actuator arm. You can see where there was space to add more platters. The platters have a mirror like finish. I just thought share this with others that may be curious as to what’s inside there hard drive. Have a great day!