It has happened. After 2 solid years of service, my MacBook has cracked on the top case, in the above picture.

I thought I was being careful with my computer, but even with careful usage, it seems that a combination of the monitor spacers and palm pressure cracks the case on the edge. Naturally the new unibody MacBooks don’t show this problem.

If this problem has happened to your computer, Apple now repairs the case free of charge, regardless of warranty. Take it to the Genius Bar and it should be taken care of.

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The newest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system was released a few weeks ago, and since I made the upgrade to my first-gen iPod touch, I’ve been using the system off and on. It does an excellent job of polishing what was already a very good system. Since I haven’t been using it consistently yet, I’m going to hold off on a real “review” until I have a chance to go through it more.

Briefly, here are the main things that Apple has brought to this update (which are all available in detail on Apple’s website):

Cut, Copy and Paste
Copy and paste text, images and other items from one application to another. Should be a great benefit when browsing the internet, Twittering or sending email messages. Very basic implementation, which only requires you to hold your finger over the screen, slide the in and out points, and choose from the menu.

Landscape mode in more applications
A controversial move by Apple with the original iPhone was the onscreen keyboard and many users seemed to resist the device because of it. While the original iPhone did have the ability to use the full width of the screen for the keyboard, many primary applications did not include this feature, which made typing significantly easier and more accurate. Apple seems to have addressed this by enabling the landscape mode in more of the built in applications. Mail, Notes, Messages (on the iPhone) and Safari all get the landscape treatment, with better support for 3rd party applications as well.

Full Spotlight searching
This is a feature I have noticed in my brief time using the new software. Usually, when on a secondary home screen, a press of the Home button brings you back to the primary screen. Now, once you are on the primary screen, another press of the Home button brings up the Spotlight screen, which a basic search field. Start typing, and every match is added to the results below the text box. In fact, it operates almost identically to the Spotlight function on Mac OS X. Additionally, this search field is now present in more applications like Mail, Music and Videos.

Other features include MMS messaging, internet tethering, better automatic WiFi login and Voice and Video recording (when using the new iPhone 3G S).

With more time spent on the new iPhone software, I’m sure I’ll find out more about the hidden bonuses and add-ons. From what I’ve seen so far, it is a worthy update and is definitely recommended for nearly all users.

Happy birthday to me!

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Normally I don’t follow the crowds to social networking sites online, but in the case with Twitter, it was just too large to ignore. With that in mind, I’ve joined the social networking site and have occasionally added updates. I’ll likely use it in the way I use this blog, with updates when a thought hits me, but there’s also a good chance that I’ll start using it much more often.

Follow me on Twitter

I’ll try my best to read the feeds of people who follow, and will likely follow them too. Check it out!

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With the planning of a new computer done, it’s time to begin the process of buying and assembling the parts together. The more you read about compatibility and user satisfaction, the better your final product will be. I highly suggest perusing Newegg.com (or .ca in Canada) to read about other users’ experiences with a prospective part. I used this site to read about parts, then sourced them locally to get instant gratification.

The components

While I won’t talk about physically assembling the computer (there are hundreds of articles like that across the web for that), I will explain what parts are necessary and which ones I bought.

The Choices

I purchased these parts because each met very specific needs for a fileserver. The case includes 4 internal 3.5″ drive bays, with 3 5.25″ and 2 3.5″ external bays. This leaves plenty of space for expansion. Additionally, the case includes a 120 mm chassis fan, meaning it will blow a lot of air, but will remain quiet. The cooling and noise factor is especially important for computers that will be on constantly.

The Intel E5200 was picked because the 45nm manufacturing process means it will require less power and cooling that comparable processors. The fairly high clock speed is just a bonus, but one that allows this computer to work as a video processing station. Remember, a few extra dollars spent at the outset means your system will likely satisfy your needs for much longer.

The hard drive choice is largely a matter of budget and ambitions, but I highly recommend a separate drive for the OS and main storage. Originally I didn’t really want a 500 GB boot drive, but my local store had a sale. The separate drives mean you can upgrade or even replace the operating system without touching your media files. It also means you can create filesystems like RAID or LVM without modifying your home folder.

The motherboard is perhaps the most important component in the build, and requires the most research. As previously mentioned in the planning post, the motherboard will make or break the connectivity of your machine, both to internal components and the network. The ASUS unit I chose has 4 SATA connectors and Gigabit Ethernet. It was one of the few — if not the only — motherboard I found that has both of these features and a MicroATX form factor. The gigabit connection means I can transfer data across the network at speeds of 40 MB/s!

A central storage database can make using multiple computers much simpler and convenient, and with properly chosen components, it can be built with a fairly small investment.

Disclosure
Newegg provides a small affiliate payout for items purchased through these links. I recommend Newegg because of their rapid shipping, low prices and excellent customer service.
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Not much comes close to setting the interwebs ablaze than an Apple keynote. Fanboys everywhere were glued to their computer screens yesterday to learn what new things would come out of Cupertino this summer. While the WWDC is a developer’s conference, there were many intriguing announcements that are of interest to the general Mac-using public.

Here are some of the big points from the keynote yesterday:

iPhone 3G S
The iPhone 3G — and, it could be argued, the iPod Touch — have been fairly revolutionary for mobile computing. Apple tries to continue that with the iPhone 3G S, which they are touting as the most powerful iPhone yet. According to the keynote, nearly all the standard operations done on the phone are faster and more responsive. Things like launching messages, webpages and basic applications all seem to be quicker. Hardware wise, a new 3 megapixel, autofocusing camera makes an appearance, which even includes video recording. Hardware encryption and voice recording were also added.

Prices vary by carrier, naturally, but Apple’s price is $199USD for 16GB storage, and 32GB goes for $299USD. Is it worth it? While I don’t use an iPhone myself, I think the benefits over the iPhone 3G are subtle, but if you jumped in with the original iPhone, or have even held off purchasing the phone since the beginning, now is certainly a great time to join the party.

iPhone OS 3.0
The big deal of the keynote was more detail about the iPhone 3.0 software. Since the entire convention is for developers, most of the announcements were for the SDK included in the new software. The biggest news is that the new software includes support for copy and paste right on the phone. Additionally, landscape mode has been added to multiple applications, Find My iPhone and an undo function have been added. The latter is available just by shaking the phone — sort of like an Etch-A-Sketch function, and Find My iPhone is a feature of MobileMe that enables users to track their phone should they lose it, and optionally wipe the data remotely should it be stolen.

Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall (those taking Steve Jobs’ place presenting the keynote) had a few digs at AT&T about functions added to iPhone 3.0, that may not be available from AT&T until later. Tethering is a feature many people have asked for, now that most phones are connected to the internet with a speed almost equal to a home DSL line. It is a way of connecting the phone to a computer through USB or Bluetooth so that the phone can be used as a modem to get the computer online. The other jab at the American provider was that multimedia messaging service won’t be able to share your photos, videos and sounds with other people until later in the summer. This feature, which is available on nearly every other handset in the world, will finally bring the iPhone on part with what can be considered an essential service.


New MacBook Pros
In what I thought was a somewhat unusual move, Apple announced that the 13″ aluminum MacBook would now be a MacBook Pro, making the white polycarbonate model the only remaining MacBook. Besides the natural speed increases, the hardware changes made to the whole line were SD card slots instead of ExpressCard and a new, longer-lasting internal battery that cannot be removed. The battery situation is one I think may see some strong opposition. For a computer that is a “pro machine”, where the user is in the field for a long time, the inability to swap out a battery and get another 4 hours could be frustrating. The fact that all the previous MacBooks could have batteries swapped while the computer is sleeping means that with enough batteries, users can work continuously. Fortunately, though, I think that the power and design of the computers mean that the batteries may be an afterthought.

Snow Leopard
My personal favourite announcement of the keynote was the announcements about the newest Cupertino cat, Snow Leopard. As previously shown, Snow Leopard foregoes hundreds of new features in favour of making OS X faster, smaller, more efficient and more stable. The big news was the addition of technology to take advantage of multi-core processors and advanced GPUs. Grand Central Dispatch makes it very easy for developers to use every ounce of power from advanced Intel CPUs. This is because early versions of OS X were not optimized for multithreading, preventing software from using all available horsepower. To take advantage of GPUs, Apple has spearheaded an initiative to create a new language that threads operations in a way that GPUs can handle. Best of all, nearly all the major manufacturers have jumped on board.

Breaking from tradition, Apple has decided that this new upgrade should be available for $29USD for Leopard users, making it the cheapest 10.x upgrade yet. A family pack for 5 users will be available for $49USD, which is a full $150 off the Leopard price. If a value pack is available with a Snow Leopard license, iLife 09 and iWork 09 for ~$100, I know where I’ll be when it’s available in September.

As we’ve come to expect from Apple’s keynotes, a wide array of new products and services will be available from Apple this summer, making it yet another exciting time to be a fan of the fruit company.

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