My essential MacBook Air add-ons

macbook-air-gallery1-2014The MacBook Air is a great portable yet full-featured laptop.  It is thin, lightweight, and functional.macbook-air-gallery2-2014

However, it suffers on one very important feature:  Storage.

The flash storage is fast:  Because it is not a traditional hard drive, it has no moving parts.  But, the cost of the SSD limits the storage on the MacBook Air.  At least on the older versions.  I got the Mid-2013 128GB version.  Suffice it to say, it is now running at 98% capacity.

The immediate solution is to get two drives.

macbook-air-gallery5-2014

SanDisk Ultra Fit flash drive

sandisk-ultra-fitThis goes on one of the USB ports on the MacBook Air.  For $30, it adds 128GB of extra storage.  The limitation is if the USB port is one of the “slower” USB 2.0 (and not the USB 3.0).  So this would be good for storing and accessing data that does not require fast data transfer (music, photos, Word documents, etc.)

There are also other small-ish USB drives out there, such as the Samsung Flash Drive Fit and the Lexar JumpDrive.  Both of which come in 128GB so plenty of extra storage.

 

Transcend JetDrivetranscend-drive

There are several flavors of this drive.  I initially got the 128GB version, but recently had to get the 256GB version.  Depending on your budget and your needs, I would recommend one or the other.

 

Of course, you can also upgrade the boot drive.  This is a bit trickier, since it will require you to do research on the type of drive you need (Mid-2013 and newer requires PCIe SSD, which are different from the earlier laptops that use SATA).

With a 128GB flash drive and a 256GB JetDrive, I added enough storage to store my files from DropBox and Google Drive, as well as Photos Library and iTunes.

 

 

Headphone Burn-In

Have you ever purchased a new set of headphones that everyone raves about, only to be disappointed by its lackluster performance?  Too tinny?  Not enough bass?  Before you return it, try to burn in the headphones first.

What is burn-in?

Burn-in is like “stretching out” for new audio equipment before the big workout, and is the term used to describe the settling of the headphone diaphragms into their intended and most efficient state.  What this means is that it has to settle in to a proper “fit” or “sound.”

Burn-in is an electronic process wherein components are kept on for extended periods of time to detect potential flaws, and it is also a physical process where the diaphragms loosen up through use and eventually reach a point that could be considered final.  This has somewhat been used synonymously to “breaking-in” a new set of headphones.

The theory behind the process of burn-in postulates that using the headphones will loosen the diaphragms of dynamic headphones, thus allowing them to become more flexible and vibrate more freely.  This is analogous to breaking in baseball gloves or a pair of shoes.  With use over time, the headphones achieve their tone with gradually fewer sonic faults, thus drawing closer to the designer’s intentions.  Meier Audio has different words for the same process: break-in “improves the mechanical properties of the suspension of the drivers and also tightens” the windings of the coil.  The result varies among users:  Some cannot discern the difference, yet for others the difference is black and white.  Most, however, identify the difference as being more subtle.

How do I do it?

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Samsung F4 Firmware Update – Prevent Data Corruption

I have been getting lots of inquiries about how to upgrade the firmware of the Samsung F4 HD204UI 2Tb hard drive.

The major issue is the enhanced probability of data corruption (and data loss!).  There seems to be a flaw in the drive’s firmware where disk writes can become corrupted when the write cache is enabled.

Because of this, a firmware update was released by Samsung, and this updated firmware seems to be required for many of the older drives.

However, since Seagate recently acquired Samsung, the FAQ relating to this problem (http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386) is no longer available through Samsung.  Any attempt to access the Samsung domain will redirect to Seagate’s home page.  And, searching the Seagate site is futile and yields no useful information about this issue.

Fortunately, there is a functional download site to the F4EG firmware update.  Yes, it works!  I verified it several times now!

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3 quick tips for iPhone 4S #1

Quick tips for iPhone 4S users:

These are not secret tips, but almost all of my friends and colleagues did not know about at least one of these features (including myself).

I would like to credit Michelle R for these helpful tips.  She has fast become my go-to consultant for these things.

1.  Get to camera/iPod control without having to unlock your phone.  

If you are like me, you probably activated the key lock so that whenever your phone times out and locks, you have to put in the 4-digit numerical password.  If you need quick access to your iPod or camera, and do not want to have to input the password each and every time, you can just press the home button twice, and you will get direct access to the iPod controller (reverse, play/pause, forward), and the camera button on the bottom right to activate the camera.

2.  Scroll through contacts list quickly.

At the right of the contact list, there are letters that if you press on it and scroll up/down, you can scroll through the contacts list by letter rather than by each contact.

3.  Domain suffix (ie “.com” etc.)

I used to just type out this simple 4-character ending when surfing through Safari.  After a while, it got old.  Well, there is a key for it, sitting next to the “Go” key at the bottom right of the keypad.  So now you can type your address (www.whateverthewebaddressis) and then press this key to add “.com” at the end.  Sure, it will only save 2 seconds of your time, but if you type enough web addresses, over time any little bit will help.

If you keep the “.com” key pressed, it will give you other suffix options (“.net” “.edu” and “.org”).  Slide your finger to the other keys, rather than lifting and pressing the key.

If your default search engine is google (and not yahoo), you don’t even need to type “www” or “.com” so if you want to go to “www.nytimes.com” you just need to type “nytimes”

I hope this helps.

Upgrade Seagate 2TB ST32000542AS firmware to CC35

These days, we are relying more and more on electronic files for everyday things, such as pictures, videos, bills, and mail.  Because of this, the need to store these e-files is ever increasing.  These 1-2TB drives are becoming the rave of data storage addicts because of the cheap cost-to-GB ratio.  So I decided to take a look for myself.

I populated a D-Link DNS-343 NAS box with 4x Seagate 2TB (ST32000542AS) green drives I ordered online.  They came with CC34 firmware, and having read numerous posts and discussions, I realized that it is important to check on whether or not I need to upgrade the firmware before popping them in.  It was not easy, but it was not too difficult either… if you know what you’re doing, or if you have the proper guide.  I will show you how I did it with relative ease.

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