Menu

Michael Gracie

Upgrade your network for a quick return on investment

Here is was my network …

routercombo-old

There are many like it but this one is was mine.

At the time this network was in service, the following applied:

  • The monthly service cost was $92.95 excluding tax
  • The bandwidth allocation to the modem was 150Mb per second
  • The throughput directly from the modem was ~99Mbps (with a 10/100 USB adapter, the only one around)
  • The throughput to the laptop sitting 25 feet away ranged from 35Mb to 55Mb per second

In other words, I was paying a pretty penny for bandwidth I wasn’t taking advantage of, using outdated equipment. Some of which I had to pay rent on too.

Here is my new network …

routercombo-new

There are probably a few like it, but I recommend there be more.

It went into service at the following cost:

  • Arris SB6141 Modem – $69.95, with neither tax nor shipping cost
  • Airport Extreme – $139.32 to the front door

The Airport Extreme was added first, and throughput to the same laptop in the same location jumped to roughly 140Mb/second. Then the modem was brought up (with four additional download channels from the previous) but speed didn’t budge. Still, I was now utilizing most all the bandwidth I was paying for.

The next morning I returned the old (rented) modem. Afterward, thinking I didn’t really need 150 megabits – I had been getting along kinda so-so fine with the old 45Mbps (average) – I called my provider to downgrade service. I guessed that 50-75 megs would probably do. Unfortunately, that tier was no longer available, but they did offer a plan at a flat $69.99 that supposedly gave me the same one-fifty I was paying for before, and without a long-term commitment. I said go for it, and here is the result …

networkspeedtest

Excluding any purchase points (which I did use, to the tune of $57.24) or resale value of old equipment (estimated at $50), the investment was $209.27. Sans tax, my service now costs $22.96 less than before; that’s a payback period of just over nine months. Take into account points and equipment resale and it drops to under five. Not bad, and for ~148Mbps of additional, usable speed.

MG signing off (having not so much a need for speed as enjoying the return)

Editor’s notes: 1) results may vary, but these results were mine; 2) investment doesn’t include the hour fifteen I spent on the phone configuring new modems and adjusting plans

How to get a Comcast IPv6 address with everyday gear and a few mouse clicks

ipv6logoThe last time I tinkered with IPv6, it involved tunneling and a custom router. Since that time World IPv6 Day has come and gone, meaning internet service providers have had plenty of time to get a handle on the next generation IP addressing scheme. Seeing as Comcast is one of those major ISPs, Time Warner Cable acquisition or not, and happens to be the one plugged in at my present location, I ventured to find out if the beast could be roused. Without jumping through all the previous hoops.

Long story short … the findings were resoundingly positive. So what follows is the how-to, which has been outlined while running Apple networking gear but does not preclude possible tweaks for other hardware.

(more…)

“MacBook Pro Battery ‘Service Battery’ after Snow Upgrade”

AppleIt is entirely possible this is the longest support thread I’ve ever seen: MacBook Pro Battery ‘Service Battery’ after Snow Upgrade. Now nearly 100 pages and 1,500 replies, the only entity even remotely related to the MacBook Pro that hasn’t posted seems to be Apple themselves.

Yea, I’ve had this battery issue. And I’m on my second battery and still having problems – service battery warnings after 100 cycles, life measured in minutes instead of hours, and those spontaneous shutdowns. Sure, I could have bought a new MacBook Pro, but I chose to upgrade my existing one instead. Why?

I suspect Apple ignores the issue because that’s exactly what they want me to do. It seems that’s their stock in trade, recollecting what happened with the iPhoney Baloney 4’s antenna not long ago. Here’s a free bumper – now shut the hell up!

That’s precisely why I’m doing the opposite, along with waiting for someone with a litigious streak to file the class action.

MG signing off (to say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” three times fast)

UPDATE: Apple replaced my battery, again, and this time it was an “SMP” brand instead of a Sony. Maybe the latter was the real problem, and the fact I was lucky enough to get a very pleasant and helpful rep on the line when I made the call didn’t hurt either.

Apple’s services security goof

Apple‘s OS X operating system is, in this user’s opinion, a bastion of security. It all boils down to its UNIX roots, and it’s that fact, not the famed usability, that won me over. Considering that, you’d think Apple could apply some similar know-how to the fortitude of their services, but alas my iTunes account has been disabled. The situation could have been easily avoided too.

I’ve been receiving these notices intermittently for some time…

Apple security

(more…)

If I can’t hack it I can’t buy it

For the last few months I have been debating a laptop purchase. I’m running a four year old MacBook Pro 2.33, with a 120 gig hard drive and 2 gigs of RAM. It was time.

Unfortunately, I’ve also found the need for a more portable device, something I can type away on when out of the office, but with minimal added bulk (Editor’s note: MG is bulky enough on his own). I debated the iPhone 4 (with accessories) as well as the iPad, but knew I would have to swallow hard with a new laptop AND one of those.

I did the research, analyzed the cost benefits of several options and combinations of options, then wound up taking an entirely divergent route. I applied screwdrivers to the MacBook Pro and did some upgrading myself.

MacBook Pro 2.33

This is not to say I won’t wind up with a more portable device, but I had one serious problem with the Apple products – they are just not hackable. The biggest point: I can’t put whatever software I want on the iStuff – I’ve got to go through the iSwoons Store. Secondarily, I can’t switch batteries on a new MacBook Pro – another deal killer. The finest new machine is running at around 2.66 Ghz, so mine really isn’t that far behind. Further, I’m prone to thinking that solid state drive prices are going to plummet in the next few years – the feeling is we’re not far from seeing SSD prices that are similar to the mechanical drive prices of today. SSD will add to battery life too. The end result of my analysis was buying just a little more time.

For $75 I wound up quadrupling the storage capacity on this old aluminum slab – a new Hitachi 500 GB went in, and it runs at 7200 rpm too. Another $35 got an extra gig of RAM. Yea, I’m stuck with the old 3GB limit, but so what – that’s a 50% increase over what I’ve got today.

Will $110 buy me another 24 months on this machine? I’ve already made the bet – what do you think?

MG signing off (to relish in new found speed and storage capacity)

iPhone kerfuffle makes me wonder whether anyone bothers unplugging anymore

I find the OS X platform exceptional for development, but what buggy code I do produce is almost exclusively for the web. Therefore, I don’t follow what goes on at Apple Developer conferences – it just doesn’t concern me. But today I heard that Apple had announced a new iPhone at their Worldwide Developers Conference, and almost immediately the news turned sour. Amongst the spoiled grapes, users were peeved that AT&T was not going to allow existing iPhone owners to upgrade equipment at subsidized prices unless existing contracts allowed for it, and that MMS and internet access tethering wouldn’t be available right away either. People are downright hostile, over a phone.

I’ve toyed around with an iPhone, and I don’t understand the attraction. But it certainly seems like a fatal one. It’s got a pretty, but delicate screen. There’s no tactile keypad or keyboard. You can’t swap batteries when the charge dies. You can install applications on it, but only those the manufacturer approves (and delivers). Rumor has it the manufacturer can “brick” the phone, of any “owner”, any time it likes. But my goodness it plays music. And you are always “connected” when you have it.

Considering the magnitude and intensity of the obsession with the device, I wonder whether the always connected mantra is becoming a neurosis.

It sounds like you need to unplug man. What do you think DeJour…should we take him with us? Definitely.

Forget the white rabbit. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg…heck…Oprah Winfrey – they’re handing out their own brand of blue pills.

I doubt those passed even phase 1 trials, hence the side effects are anyone’s guess.

News you probably can’t use – 4/30/09

    Technology

  • Apple to introduce more affordable Macs – it’s always those pesky ‘sources’ you have to wonder about. Unless Apple drops their prices by 50% or more (and without handicapping existing systems), I don’t think they are going to make any significant market share gains in this economic environment.
  • Another phishing scam hit Facebook – I’d like to worry about the phishing issue, but I’m not on Facebook. No…I’m more worried about the catfish noodlers depicted in the news encroaching on my territory.
  • Twitter’s reach is limited – It’s part of the meme that Twitter can’t keep users on board. Part of this may result from Twitter syntax (i.e. direct message versus replies versus retweets) being a little tough to grasp, or it may just be that Oprah hasn’t started pumping the service full of feel-good self-helpedness yet.
  • Finance

  • Comcast is cranking up the cash flow – And I’ll tell you how. My Comcast internet is down today, and when I called tech support they offered to send support out. Great…except they also said it’ll cost me $27, unless I want to pay money for ‘service assurance.’ So I’m supposed to a monthly rate for broadband, and pay extra to keep the service up? The moment I mentioned pro-rating my bill for all the time service is down, the tone changed.
  • Chrysler is headed for bankruptcy – Last minute negotiations with creditors don’t pan out, but thankfully the government sweetener (i.e. more taxpayer dollars) doesn’t pan out either.
  • Continuing US jobless claims at fresh record high – The meme tossed around here is that things are turning around because new claims for unemployment have slowed. Can’t go into the numerous factors that may have caused that, because I hardly trust the government estimates to begin with. What I can say is that the powers that be have a lot of motivation to convince you to spend, even if it does mean stretching the truth.
  • Fly Fishing

  • California Legislator Wants Striped Bass Eradicated – The striped bass are always in trouble, particular on the East Coast. But hearing that a Californian doesn’t give a damn about protecting wildlife is just too much.
  • If you teach a man to bonefish – Well he might still go a little hungry (I’m not sure how tasty bonefish are but I have heard they’re edible). But he will have a hell of a lot of fun.
  • What…three tidbits on technology and finance, and only two on fly fishing? Yep, I think you’ve had enough this month already.

MG signing off (to find some news you can actually use)

Is “1984” required reading at Apple headquarters?

Apple LocationThe next operating system release from Apple, Snow Leopard, is going to include the CoreLocation framework already available for iPhone developers. And…

Since Macs don’t include GPS technology like the iPhone 3G, CoreLocation will utilize a Mac’s existing networking hardware to triangulate the system’s location in a manner similar to the way the original iPhone was able to use the technology to emulate a true global positioning signal.

This may all seem very interesting to those who don’t mind strangers knowing where they are 24/7, but for those of us who value our liberty, we’d rather not have this stuff as default.

No, there is no tinfoil hat here. This is a choice issue – the first of which is the choice to NOT use an iPhone and NOT use mobile maps (unless they are installed resident in my phone’s memory) because I really don’t care to have corporate behemoths knowing where I’m at and where I’m going all the time (and that goes for Apple, Google, and my mobile carrier). Unless the CoreLocation services can be easily disabled, you’re going to have to scrutinize every app you install on your Mac for the access, or not use your networking hardware if you enjoy piece of mind.

I’m personally not willing to deal with the privacy hassles – unless the services can be removed, Leopard is going to be the last Apple operating system upgrade I ever employ.

RELATED: A reaction to reactions on Google Latitude. Hard to have a problem with something that is opt-in.

High finance deserves the middle finger

The bird is the word…

  • In a ‘who drew up the f-ing covenants’ moment, GM just received bailout money but is [insert still, perpetually, or if you feel like being witty, surprisingly] having problems getting labour costs in line. Bankruptcy filing, a certain middle finger to the public, is still on the table.
  • Long ring fingers as compared to index fingers may point to more success amongst traders. And a longer middle finger on the hands of bank CEOs gets the banks more bailout money too…
  • The same goes for the politicians when it comes to selling more US Treasury securities to unsuspecting investors, before sending out the default notices.
  • As for tech, analysts are giving the middle finger to Sony, and Apple probably isn’t far behind.
  • And on an unrelated note, today in People

  • Paris Hilton’s website is infected with malware. Information Week is actually telling the story instead of the tabloids, so if you’re a ‘Hollywood-type’ you can assume the headline isn’t just some codespeak for Ms. Hilton giving you the middle finger.

Adieu.

Mac virus warnings: popularity breeds (temporary) insecurity

Warning – Macs need anti-virus protection.

Now you see it. Now you don’t.