Tag Archives: Hardware

Listen to Thriller Played by the FLOPPOTRON

I came across this and wanted to share it. I have posted about one other ‘musical’ piece played on the FLOPPOTRON in the past (“FLOPPY DRIVE PLAYS GOT THEME” July 31, 2016). I am amazed at how old really otherwise useless computer hardware can be used to produce art. In this case music.

Clearly, a fair amount of Hardware and Software Engineering went into assembling this ‘musical’ instrument.

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Robot Does Parkour

Robots – Most of the images we have seen of biped robots show them as slow, clumsy machines. This latest demo of the Boston Dynamics Atlas is far from that. Boston Dynamics bills Atlas as The World’s Most Dynamic Humanoid. Certainly watching the video above that seems like a valid claim.

Significant Hardware Hack Alleged Against China

Updated 10/9/18

Cyber Security – I read the article “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies” and . . . WOW. This reads like the plot to a science fiction thriller.

The idea of hardware being secretly hijacked during the manufacturing process has been around for a while. This allegation, if true, is significant! On the other hand, Apple has denied finding altered hardware in their official statement “What Businessweek got wrong about Apple“.

Since this article was just published October 4, I think there will be a lot of fallout over the next few days, weeks and months. It could have a significant impact on the cost of electronic products as supply chains reconsider off-shore manufacturing.

Added 10/9 – The article “Asian Countries and Industry Players Erupt over the China Spy Chip Controversy first started in the U.S.” still does not confirm the allegations against the Chinese, but it does indicate that there is a significant concern through the electronics sector.

Singapore, Singapore – P20 Mobile Accessories

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Locations – I recently had to buy a new iPhone. I woke up one morning and my 32-month-old iPhone 6 was simply dead. I ended up replacing it with an iPhone8, which I really like so far.

I have kept my last two iPhones in Otterbox Defender cases and I have been very pleased with the protection they provide. I dropped my iPhones on several occasions and these cases really came through. Unfortunately, the new iPhone 8 does not fit the Otterbox case I have for the old iPhone 6. The camera lens is larger on the 8. I needed to find a new case.

Now here in Singapore, there are phone accessory stores everywhere. The problem is that they only carry the fashionable cases, not Otterbox cases. I finally located a shop less than a kilometer away that carried Otterbox. I walked over there a couple of days ago and found the small shop “P20 Mobile Accessories” located at 175 Bencoolen Street #01-03 Burlington Square, Singapore 189649.

It was a little hard to find, but they had what I was looking for. In fact, the small shop had a good selection of iPhone and iPad cases, cables, and other accessories. If I am looking for items not carried by the Apple Store in the future, I will know just where to go in Singapore.


See my other Food & Location articles


 

Mac Accessory – 60W USB/USB-C dual port charging adapter

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Product Announcements QuickerTek of Wichita, Kansas has released its newest product, an innovative, high-performance 60W USB/USB-C dual port charging adapter allowing for one of the fastest and most efficient charging experiences for the newest smartphones, all 12-inch MacBook’s with USB-C, 2016-2018 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro’s, and other USB laptops and notebooks alike.

It includes both a USB-C port enabling up to 45W of power delivery and a USB-A QC 3.0 port enabling up to 18W of charging power. It is also compatible with QuickerTek’s Most Powerful Battery, giving our batteries the capability to work with both MagSafe 1 and 2 as well as any Mac charged through USB-C.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 2″ x 2″ x .75″
  • Input: 16 Vdc to 28 Vdc
  • Output: 20 Vdc at 5A (USB-C) / 5.2 Vdc at 2A
  • USB-C Port
  • USB-A QC 3.0 port
  • Built-in PD Chipset

The built-in PD Chipset dynamically detects devices to deliver optimum power level for maximum battery life and performance. It is equipped with the advanced circuit protections to prevent overcharging. This product features an input of 16 Vdc to 28 Vdc and an output of 20 Vdc at 5A (USB-C) / 5.2 Vdc at 2A.

Pricing and Availability:
The USB-C Power Adapter is available at $49.95 (USD) from QuickerTek. Members of the press please contact Rick Estes.

Product Review of the “ParcSlope”

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Product Reviews – I had been thinking about getting some kind of a stand for my MacBook for a few months. I mostly wanted to provide a cooler operating environment. Luckily, I won a ParcSlope from Twelve South as a door prize at the July CapMac meeting.

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The ParcSlope is a heavy duty aluminum stand that will work with just about any tablet or laptop. I am using it with my 2010 MacBook Pro and it works perfectly. It isn’t something I would carry around with me to a coffee shop as it weighs 2 lbs. and measures 2.8″ x 8.3″ x 9.6″. It is great though setting on the table in my apartment while I create my Blog posts.

I have been using it for a few weeks and I not only like the fact that it keeps my Mac running cooler, but I also find that the sloped (18 degrees) keyboard is more comfortable and easier to use.  The elevated screen is also more comfortable to view. It is advertised on the Twelve South website for $49.99 and can be found on Amazon currently for the same price.

While a little pricey, I think this is a great accessory for your MacBook or iPad.

 

Pros

  • Solidly made
  • Works with almost any tablet or laptop
  • Cooler laptop operation
  • More comfortable keyboard access
  • Higher screen for easier viewing

 

Cons

  • Heavy and cumbersome, not something to carry in your computer bag
  • Price

 


See my other Mac and macOS articles


 

Japan, Tokyo – Sony Archives

When looking for someplace within walking distance of my hotel I came across the Sony Archives. The small museum is located at 6-6-39 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. The archive collection is managed by Sony, is free and is open to the public, but it does require a reservation ( +81 (0) 3-5448-4455 ).

Sony was founded in the wake of world War II in the fall of 1946. The Sony Archives is not large. You can easily browse through it in about an hour. Many products are on display, including the prototype electric rice cooker that was their first product.

If you are interested in more history of Sony, the Podcast Tech Stuff had a series of three episodes (November 2, 9, & 16 of 2017) that give a good background story. You can find them on the iTunes site.

I would not recommend going out of your way to visit the Archives, but if you are in the area and have a little free time it is an interesting walk through elecronics history.


See my other Food & Location articles


 

Review of Eufy Smart Plug

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Product Review – My old mechanical timer for a lamp in my office finally failed after several years of service. I decided that this was an opportunity to take a look at one of the smart plugs. I found the Eufy Smart Plug on sale (it looks now like this product has been discontinued and replaced with the eufy Smart Plug Mini, about $22 now on Amazon) so I ordered it.

This is not the most ‘brilliant’ of smart plugs, but then neither did my application require much. I can set a schedule to turn the plug on and off, which is what I was primarily looking for. I can also turn the plug on and off remotely with the EufyHome App (availble on the App Store for free) on my iPhone. It was very easy to set up and pair with the Eufy App running on my iPhone.

While this unit does everything I need for my limited application, I would not buy another one. Any future purchases I make need to be compatible with HomeKit, preferably without the need for a controler.

 

Pros

  • Low cost (about $13 when I purchased it)
  • Easy to set up
  • Does everything advertised
  • Works With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Set on/off Schedules
  • Track energy usage
  • WiFi enabled
  • Can be controlled remotely from the App

 

Cons

  • Not Homekit compatible

Upgrading My Mid 2010 MacBook Pro

I have had a mid 2010 MacBook Pro for a while. It works well, but it is sluggish. Rather than invest in a new MacBook, I chose to make a fairly quick and simple upgrade.

To make my MacBook more useable I upgraded it (similar to what I did to my 2010 Mac Mini a few years ago) with a new SSD.

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It already has 8GB of RAM, so I decided to replace the hard disk with an SSD. I purchased a new SanDisk 250 GB SSD when I found it on sale a few weeks ago.

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I had purchased a 2.5″ external drive case from OWC a while back. I used the interface contained in the drive enclosure to attach the SSD to my MacBook. After formatting the SSD as an APFS drive, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ (make an exact copy) my boot drive to the SSD. Fortunately for me, this didn’t take too long as the 320 GB hard disk was less than half full – less than 4 hours.

Once the drive had been cloned, I rebooted my Mac selecting the SSD as the boot device (depressed the Option keep when the Mac chimed on reboot and selected the new SSD as the boot drive). I verified that the SSD was working as it should, then shut down my MacBook.

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I removed the screws on the back cover, then removed the screws holding the hard drive bracket. I was then faced with removing the Torx screws that held in the drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a T6 Torx screwdriver available. That necessitated a trip to a nearby Lowe’s. There I picked up a “Kobalt 14-in-1 Precision Driver Set” for about $10 that included the needed T6 head (second from top on left in the photo above). Equipped with that, I easily removed the screws holding the drive in place, then gently disconnected the SATA ribbon cable from the drive. With nothing holding the drive in place I was able to remove it from my MacBook.

I attached the SATA cable to my SSD, placed it into position in the Mac, then refastened the bracket in place. I closed up my Mac, then fired it up. As expected it booted in a fraction of the time previously required with the hard disk. The operation of macOS is now much snappier. Apps boot faster. Alfred works quicker. For the investment of less than $100, I have a drastically improved MacBook.

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As a final step, I mounted the old hard drive in the external chassis. I haven’t reformatted it yet, but if there are no hiccups in the operation of my MacBook I will soon reformat that drive as APFS and will have an external 320GB drive to use.

If you have an older Mac, this is a relatively easy and low-cost way to bring new life to it!

 

References

  1. How to upgrade your MacBook Pro with an SSD
  2. How to select a different startup disk

See my other Mac and OS X articles


 

The Secret History of the iPhone

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Podcasts – I listened to episode #145 of the Internet History Podcast (I mentioned in an earlier article that this was one of the podcasts that I regularly listen to) just yesterday.  In this episode, Brian Merchant, Author of the book “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone” is interviewed. While the episode could not touch on all of the topics covered in the book, the podcast did reveal some interesting things about the iPhone.

If you are interested in Apple and the iPhone the podcast is something that you may want to listen to. If it peaks your interest, you will want to read the book.