Free iPhone Wifi at Starbucks

Hey a big incentive to learn how to make iPhone’s a proxy server for your laptop!

AT&T Officially Lists Wi-Fi Hotspot Access with iPhone Plans – Mac Rumors

AT&T’s iPhone website (under ‘Plans’ tab) has been updated to reveal that each iPhone plan now includes access to their “more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, including Starbucks all for use in the U.S.”

Color Printer selection

OK, so what we are making sure that we understand it. What are we doing thanks to Rennie’s excellent suggestion is to get a midrange printer first rather than buy a low mix 2840 and a high mix ImageClass:

“Xerox Phaser 8860MFP”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2199136,00.asp. This is a PC Editors Choice at $2,500 and 3 cents per page. Only issue is if you turn the thing off, then the ink melting doesn’t work. It is reasonably big at 14.5″x16″x21″ and some 60 pounds. It is solid ink so a different technology. The output quality is good. The regular printer is $2500 and the all-in-one if $4,000. They have lots of “models”:http://www.direct.xerox.com/direct/public/products/xerox_product_details.cfm/product/8560MFP.html?product_tab=Overview of this thing. The MFP/N is $1400 base, MFP/D is $1849 with duplexer and 2×625 sheet trays, MFP/T is $2550 with with a stand

“Xerox Phase 8560MFP/D”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2176515,00.asp. It is big at 24″x21″x26″ and 93 pounds. It streets for $1800.

“Xerox Phase 6360DN”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2135182,00.asp. This is a laser printer so not solid ink. It doesn’t come as an all-in-one though. But it did get Editors Choice and compete with the HP ColorJet CP4005dn. It is fast and color quality is decent..1600 direct.

“Xerox Phaser 8560MFP”:http://computershopper.com/reviews/xerox_phaser_8560n. This seems to about the same engine as the 8860 at the same speed, but it in not clear. Solid ink printers take only three seconds to start printig, but a couple of minutes of warmup each day to melt the ink

iPod photo dies with sad ipod icon

Yikes, I’ve never seen this icon before and it sounds like the hard drive died on our trusty Color iPod. How sad!

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iPod iconology or what does this picture on my iPod mean?

Sad iPod icon with exclamation point

This also relates to the diagnostic software noted above. The icon means that the disk scan was not able to recover the hard disk data. When this happens, try the steps here first.

iPod displays a sad iPod icon

n most cases, the sad iPod icon indicates a hardware issue. If you are able to force iPod into Disk Mode, then it may not be a hardware issue, and you should try to restore your iPod with the latest software.

Putting iPod into Disk Mode

# Before placing the iPod into disk mode, you should verify that it is charged.
# Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Set it to Hold, then turn it off again.)
# Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons for at least 6 seconds until the Apple logo appears.
# When the Apple logo appears, release the Menu and Select buttons and immediately press and hold the Select and the Play/Pause buttons until the Disk Mode screen appears.

First comparison of MacBook Air vs. the Lenovo Thinkpad X300

The ultraportables are some of the most interesting improvements being made now. With the “X300”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2270393,00.asp out now, you can really make a comparison. The long and short of it is that the X300 looks like a PC rather than a style marvel and has a solid state disk like the MacBook Air option. It does use a low voltage processor, so is about a third slower than the MBA, but it should have better battery life and of course it has a DVD. More importantly it has an EVDO option built in. This is probably what I miss the most about the MacBook Air. Wifi just isn’t everywhere and it would be nice to have a 3G modem option.

“Geek.com”:http://www.geek.com/thinkpad-x300-the-full-review/ agrees adn notes that it is nice to ahve three USB ports as well. You can stuff a 6-cell battery in and get 5 hours or take out the DVD and get up to 7.5 hours. The main drawback is that 64GB is a bit small for most operating systems.

Net, net, if you have to have a PC, this is the ultraportable to get. As I’ve told folks before. If you can hold out at all, please wait. The real miracle here are the solid state drives and this coming fall, they are really coming out in force. Will make the 80GB in the MBA and the 64GB in the X300 look tiny and way expensive.

Metrohispeed Fax Admin Interface Quirks

After trying efax and a couple of others thanks to a great efax review site, we are giving Metrohispeed.com a try. They are $13/month for 1000 pages per month, so a decent deal at Internet Email Fax Services by MetroFax.

Here are some notes about using them:

They do allow corporate accounts although no corporate discount. You can be an administrator over lots of numbers which is nice since we want a efax number for every professional that automatically goes to their inbox. The web user interface is pretty easy to use for an individual.

But you have to be careful as an administrator. Their user interface for admins is very tricky in that it is quite non-standard in the way it works and there is no documentation I can find. So some notes for those of you who are using them:

# When you login as an admin, the upper left of the screen shows a bunch of fax numbers. You would think that this controls the whole user interface. That is if you switch the number on the top, you are then editing the parameters for that account. _That is not how it works!_ All the upper left does is change the small portion of the screen that reports what is in the inbox and so forth. So it is very easy to edit the wrong account. You essentially only use the upper left to see what’s in the inbox of each efax number.
# The way you edit individual accounts is in the lower left where are two ways to do it. By clicking on My Account or by clicking on User Administration. _These two ways are not the same and there looks like a bug where My Account is wrong_. This is really confusing, but I think somehow in the code somewhere the records are not selected correctly. They look one off to me.
# Only use User Administration to edit and you will see a list of users and their names. Then you will see users and their long names. Click on their names and this looks like the correct way to change things.
# There are two ways to change things and the two links are very unclear, but are in the middle of the screen and are called account profile and user preferences. Account profile links an email to a phone number that is in little red letters at the middle. _Don’t look at all at the upper left, this phone number although prominent has nothing to do with the user displayed and isn’t synced to the right._ User Preferences are where the passwords are.
# A note on passwords, Metrohispeed stores everything in clear text on passwords, so they can see your passwords directly. This is kind of unusual, so _don’t use any passwords with them more than once or for your other sites as the admins can see every password in the system._ Most sites will store everything encrypted, but it is nice to know which ones don’t. I’ve seen quite a few sites that do it well like WordPress where admins can’t see anything, but others like Bonzi and this one really are dangerous from a security POV. The safest thing is of course a password for every site but who has time for that?

Entourage 2008

Hey maybe this 12.0.1 fix will help with Entourage and the sync issues we’ve been having. The readme certainly gives some hope:

Description of the Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 Update

Reliability is improved when synchronizing with a server that is running Microsoft Exchange Server.
This update improves synchronization support for users of Exchange accounts by reducing instances of duplicate or missing calendar events and by providing more consistency with changes to the calendar on the Exchange server. Additionally, this update fixes an issue that prevents some Entourage 2008 users from synchronizing their contact list together with the Exchange server.
• Stability is improved when synchronizing data with devices and other applications.
This update fixes an issue that causes the Sync Services component to quit unexpectedly while synchronizing calendar and contact information to iCal, to Address Book and to mobile devices that are connected through iSync or iTunes.

USB Flash Drives

!http://c1.neweggimages.com/NeweggImage/ProductImageCompressAll200/20-211-182-01.jpg! It’s shopping day for miscellaneous stuff, so going through flash drives. I’d recommend the PQI i810 or the i220 if you really want small. 2GB is a good size for these little guys to do quick transfers and they fit on a key chain.

h2. “USB Flash Drive Reviews”:http://usb-flash-drive-review.toptenreviews.com/

I just lose these all the time. It is amazing to see how prices have completely collapsed. It is now 2 cents per megabyte for a flash drive. Most are USB 2.0 and there arent’ any performance reviews I can find so it is all about size and bundled software (which I’ll never use). I like the SanDisk Cruzer and the Transcend because the USB plus is retractable. Not clear if any will fit into a MacBook Air though.

h2. “Newegg Top Sellers”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2003240522+4802&name=Top+Sellers

Might be more efficient for shopping for things like this. Here is their list and this will mainly get you the geek-oriented, high performance drives that are oh so ugly:

* “Patriot Xporter XT 32GB Flash”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220261. Kind of amazing, you get 32GB for $130 including a rebate. A nice way for me to carry *all* my music. I just wish the iPhone came in a 32GB size 🙂 It is 24MBps read and 4MBps write.
* “Corsair Flash Voyager 8GB”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233037. $40 street. It is so think that it is not clear if it will fit in a MacBook Air though. The cap is going to come off is the only issue.
* “Crucial 2G”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148153B shows how pricing has changed. A 2GB crive is $8 after rebate! It isn’t very fast though.
* “Kingsontg 4GB”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134510. OK, 4GB is just $15. Wow!

h2. “Newegg Fashion”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2003240522&bop=And&Pagesize=100

Personally I like what “A-Data”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=50002135+40000522&Manufactory=2135&SubCategory=522&SpeTabStoreType=0 is doing on the fashion front as these can be really fun. So just take all the flash drives and sort by best rating and look at all the images looking for something cool looking and you get: !>http://c1.neweggimages.com/NeweggImage/ProductImageCompressAll200/20-141-275-06.jpg!

“pqi Intelligent Drive i810 2GB Flash”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820141275 which is incredibly sjmall and on a lanyard. They claim it is the smallest flash drive in the world. There is also the “i815”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820141361 but not clear on the difference. The i820 doesn’t seem available yet, but dispenses with the external case and is 4GB and looks like the i201 but comes in a case. Meritline has the 4GB 810 available for $22 including shipping so a real bargain!

Their “Intelligent Stick”:http://www.pqi.com.tw/product.asp?cate1=3 line is pretty amazing. Some are literally just a small stick with no casing at all! If you want a little more peroframnce. For slightly larger, you can get the “pro220”:http://www.google.com/products?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=wlj&resnum=0&q=pqi+pro+220&um=1&ie=UTF-8 which has 32MBps read speed for $42 for 2GB. Not really worth it IMHO.

The “Traveling Disk i201”:http://www.pqi.com.tw/product2.asp?oid=19&catE1=19&PROID=333 is like the i820 but comes in cool colors. You get get them from “Meritline”:http://www.google.com/products?q=pqi+i201&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1 for $13 for 2GB.

Some other cool ones are:
* “Patriot 2GB X-Mini Green”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220246 looks like a green blob. $15 for 2GB. The X-mini comes in lots of colors including red.
* “A-Data PD17 1GB”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211182 which is red and has a nice clip on it.
* “A-Data S701 4GB”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211252. Which has faux carbon on the outside and is very small.

Microfinance Interest Rates

Brett asked me why are microfinance interest rates so high? Turns out there has been lots of good discussion on this, the first is that “ADB”:http://microcapitalmonitor.com/cblog/index.php?/archives/284-Why-are-Microfinance-Interest-Rates-so-High-Asian-Development-Bank-Paper-Explains.html says rates at 30%-70% are effectively covering the high operational costs. It takes people to manage these microloans, so the banks don’t operate at a profit in effect, they are just covering.

While it might be nice to cap rates, this just reduces credit inflow. Miracles of competition really but the infrastructure cost of administering a $500 loan is probably the same as a $5,000 or a $50,000. Certainly true in the developed world.

And “UNCDF.org”:http://www.uncdf.org/english/microfinance/pubs/newsletter/pages/july_2004/voice.php has a great definition of what too high an interest rate is. Basically, says that covering the banks cost is the minimum set.

Terabyte Backup Drives

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be shopping for four terabyte drives just for backups. Amazing how things have changed. Even more amazing is that it is so easy to fill a terabyte server these days with music, videos and home movies. In any case, if you need a backup for these, obviously a tape drive isn’t going to work. Really the only practical choice is another hard drive. In the Time Capsules case, it has an archive feature so you can plug in a USB drive and backup the entire drive en masse. Tried this with a 750GB drive I had and it really works.

If you want to really be safe though you want more than a single backup. So for a single system, maybe you get two backup drives that you do biweekly and then a single drive you keep for the month and a final drive you keep for a year. That’s a very robust solution. You just keep recycling the two drives and then at the end of the month, take last months backup and reuse it. This is the so called towers of hanoi backup strategy. At the end of the year, you take the weekly drive, make it the yearly and reuse last year’s drive.

But what drive to get. Amazingly, terabyte drives now cost $180-250 now, so all this runs you about $1,000 to have a really robust backup. The best thing of course is that a restore is very simple. No magic software needed. The Seagate 7200.11 with a separate enclosure or the Seagate Backup Pro seem like the best answers. The main issue is what enclosure can you get as there is a $60 price difference for the enclosed vs. non-enclosed Seagate drive.

Trusty dusty “Storagereview.com”:http://storagereview.com does a great job keeping track of drives. There are four drivest that are terabyte right now from Samsung, Hitachi, Western Digital and Seagate. Here are how the choices breakdown:

h2. Seagate Barracuda ES.2 or 7200.11

The “benchmarks”:http://www.storagereview.com/ show that the “leaderboard”:http://www.storagereview.com/leaderboard.sr right now is in favor of the Seagate Barracuda ES.2. This is a “server drive” so theoretically more reliable and costs a little more according to “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/48840037/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline it is $247.

Most importantly, it comes with a five year warranty for both of them. As an aside the consumer version is the Barracuda 7200.11 and it isn’t clear what it is missing so a potentially good choice. “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/48683394/search=seagate/st=product/sv=title/ shows it at $220.

You can also get it with an enclosure from Seagate as the “FreeAgent Pro”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/54601870/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline at $280 which is a little steep if you already have or know how to make enclosures. “Seagate”:http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/external/freeagent_pro_data_movers/ has these at $270 with FireWire400, USB 2.0 and eSATA so quite versatile

h2. Western Digital

With a backup drive, you don’t need world class performance since it is all happening on slow USB 2.0 most likely. So cost may and decent reliablility (since you won’t have these drives on much) will be more of an issue. So the WD drives which are 5400 rpm rather than 7200 rpm don’t really suffer much.

“WD My Book Essential Editional External 1TB”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/51329464/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline might be a good choice at Pricegrabber it is $212 including the enclosure. The main issue is the warranty is really short at one year though.

The bare drive, “WD Caviar GP”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/50100629/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline is $190.

h2. “Samsung Spinpoint F1”:http://www.storagereview.com/samsungs_spinpoint_f1_hits_performance_database

This is a new drive with just three platters, so that is why it is cheaper than the 4-platter Seagate but not as cheap as the 5400 rpm Western Digital. “Pricegrabber”:http://www.storagereview.com/samsungs_spinpoint_f1_hits_performance_database has it for $202. It also only has a 1 year warranty.

h2. “Enclosures”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/hard-drives/m/54601870/search=freeagent%20pro/st=sort/sort_type=bottomline

I’ve been using the Vantec Nexstar 3 for all my drives, but they are limited to 750GB drives at most. So have to go to Newegg to find another one.

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