White iPhone 4

22 06 2011

I have to confess that the white one is definitely more attractive than the black one.





The Mac, the PC, the Mac — A lesson in the futility of reason in a “post PC” type of world. (Spoiler: Why you need to buy a Mac)

15 06 2011

A few months ago, I posted about the situations my wife and I had with Apple products–most notably their portable “Macbook” and “Macbook Pro” models–and our series of misfortunes.

I also posted that I was going back to a Windows machine, bought one, and that’s where it went from there. Undoubtedly, I have had exceptional service with HP and HP Support–they’ve always been, for me anyway, approachable and easy to deal with. I know they get a bad rap through some of the magazine ratings, however, I have owned HP notebooks since 2001. The majority of issues I have had with them were of a software, Windows-related nature–rarely of a hardware nature. That said, I had the DV7’s DVD drive go out on me and need to be replaced not long after I bought it. The repair process with HP was very simple, they sent me the DVD drive, and it was drop-in quick. I cannot say enough about how simple and easy the repair process was through HP.  That said, I am going back to a Mac not because of HP but rather the Windows issues.  I’ll explain…

Strike #1 – Backups

I have a plethora of data on my hard drive that includes everything from movies, MP3s, pictures, home videos, etc. I average somewhere between 150-200GB of data in just content alone. That’s a lot of data!  As a result, I am fanatic–dear I say religious–about backing up my data. I am a user and supporter of Dropbox (referral link here) for my super-important stuff (school related, mostly), use an external HDD to back up the drive en mass, and a DVD writeable every so often just to keep things off-site.  I AM A BACKUP ZEALOT.

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 has a utility called Windows Backup and Restore which I presume does two things very simply–can you guess what they are?  Backup and (wait for it) Restore [your] data. One hopes that this would be such an easy venture into backing up data as Microsoft would portray on its website: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore

So what’s the problem?

In short, this: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/979281

Title: Error code 0x8100002F and or error code 0x80070002 when you back up files in Windows 7

Description: When you click the Options button that is next to the notification, you receive the following message:

Check your backup results

The backup completed but some files were skipped.

View skipped files

My issue was I kept data within my user profile “C:\Users\[Name]\” rather than in the specified library of “Documents,” and as a result it was not being backed up.  I ran and checked to see if a restore file could be created and it couldn’t.  The data was not being backed up if it was outside of the Documents folder.

I added the said folder to the Documents “library” as Windows by default was set to back up anything associated with the libraries (i.e. Documents, Music, Pictures, and Video) yet it kept populating this same error.

Backup encountered a problem while backing up file C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\<folder Name>. Error:(The system cannot find the file specified. (0x80070002))

According to Microsoft, this is the reason….

Scenario 1 cause

This issue occurs if you back up a library that contains custom folders that are located under your user profile.

In the last few months I have been using the computer, I was simply assuming everything on the computer was backed up when I selected “Let Windows handle backup settings” rather than manually configuring it on my own–a mistake I shall not make again, trusting Windows with anything.

In order to make this error go away, or more importantly make Windows Backup and Restore actually back up the entire computer, you need to select “Let me choose which files to backup” and tell it what to back up starting from the C:\ root directory level.

WHAT A F’ING JOKE!

I am looking at this and thinking, “WTH! Shouldn’t the default be to back up the  whole computer, Libraries and non-Libraries, and especially anything in the profile folder.  What a joke…. Apparently, I’m not the only person the humor of this debacle is lost on. Simply do a Google search for “Windows Backup skipping files” and the hits will come pouring in.

In the end, what does this all mean?  Well, according to Microsoft’s own Knowledge Base (KB) document, there is a workaround for each of the three scenarios listed. Since Scenario 1 applied to me,

To resolve this issue, use one of the resolution methods that are listed for your scenario.

Scenario 1 resolution

To resolve this issue, take one of the following actions:

  • Ignore the error message.
    Note The custom library files that are stored in your user profile will not be backed up.
  • Move the library folder from the user profile path to a location outside the user profile path. For example, move the folder to the C:\MyLibraries folder.
  • Exclude the library from the list of files that Windows Backup backs up. Then, include the original location of the content in the library in the backup list.
  • Move the library folder to a location other than the user profile folder. Then, add a link to the moved folder from the library. Make sure that the library is included in the backup. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, and then click your user name.
    2. Right-click the folder that you want to move, and then click Cut.
    3. On the navigation pane, expand Computer, locate the place where you want to store the folder, and then paste the folder in that location.
    4. Right-click the folder that you moved to the new location, and then click Copy.
    5. Click Start, click your user name, right-click any empty area in the folder, and then click Paste shortcutNote To store the folder in a location other than a folder in your user profile, you may have to create a new folder. To do this, browse to the root of the drive in Windows Explorer, click New Folder on the Windows Explorer menu, and then edit the folder name. For example, rename the folder “MyLibraries.”
Wait wait wait…. what did that first part say again?!

“To resolve this issue, take one of the following actions:

  • Ignore the error message.
    Note The custom library files that are stored in your user profile will not be backed up.”
WTF!  Ignore the error message?!  That’s my data Redmond-loving idiots! Your software cannot back up data in my computer unless it’s listed in your precious Libraries by default?! What a stupid, stupid design!
Time Machine, however, backs up everything on your Mac, and even lets you restore an entire machine. The difference between Time Machine’s backup schemes is night/day.
Time Machine doesn’t take an entire night to backup approximately 250GB of data to an external USB 2.0 HDD. (approx. 2hrs, actually). Windows Backup and Restore (WBR) takes approximately 6 hours since it insists on backing up an entire system image along with each data backup.
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Anecdotal Complaint: Windows Media Player 12
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This is a short one.  Try to rip a CD in Windows Media Player 12 to MP3 format. It’s greuling…. The only thing more grueling is letting it try to update/complete album art.
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Conclusion: Why you need a Mac
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Someone once told me: “Your best compliments can often come from the greatest of insults.”
It’s no secret I have had my angst and frustration with Apple, including one of their ex-employees posting defamatory content about me. To Apple’s credit, they spotted and removed the content after a snapshot was e-mailed to them (I still have a copy, though).  The Yelp review I posted is available here.
I have had more than a few issues with getting repairs–mostly through the retail store–and getting repairs completed correctly and completely. 
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In the end, it all comes down to two things: product quality/reliability and customer service. At times, it is not how good or great a company is but how poorly others are. On this note, I can say that Apple has not cost me data or anything except time–Microsoft’s Windows 7 Operating System has cost me that plus the possibility of losing data. Their software does not do exactly what it is supposed to do.
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Despite all the extra features offered by Microsoft for Windows 7 customers, including Windows Live Essentials 2011, it all boils down to a sincere effort by the Redmond, Washington based company to detract from people leaving Windows for Mac OS X.
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The single-biggest reason to buy a Mac isn’t because it is not Windows but rather it is the antithesis of Windows. Everything from the simple “OK” or “Save” button to a system-wide backup, it just works. There is no what-if’s between the click and the action, it does exactly what you want and tell it to do. If you are a long-time Windows aficionado who thinks I’m crazy and Windows is the sublime future, I’m sorry to disagree with you. However, I cannot tell you how glad I am for Windows, that it’s here, and that it’s available for people to buy on their new PCs or install on their Macs.
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The only thing uglier than competition between Windows-based PCs and Macs is an all-or-nothing market where there is no competition.




PlayStation Move: Goodbye FPS Mouse+Keyboard!

26 05 2011

Far be it from me to shrill for any one company, device, or product. Sony certainly is no exception but in the case of the PlayStation Move (PSM), I have to admit I’m impressed. Color me surprised when I opened up my X-Mas ‘10 present and found a PSM wrapped and ready to rumble. We already had a Nintendo Wii but last year when I read that Killzone 3 was coming with Move support, I had a minute bit of interest in how it would pan out.

When I first set up the Move, I thought, “Ok, it’s Wii-ish, but the camera is intriguing.” The Sports Champions game that comes with it is a lot like Nintendo Wii Sports with two very notable exceptions:

a) Graphics and sound are obviously better

b) You can’t cheat with PSM like you can with the Wii mote.

Example. When you’re swinging your axe down on someone, you have to carry through the entire stroke, otherwise it stops right where you stop. Yes—it’s that accurate.

The one thing I take away from the PSM vs. Wii is that the Wii mote is bordered to the screen while the PSM isn’t. When you move the cursor or crosshairs off of the screen in a WII game, it loses you completely. However, the PSM can keep going because of the wide-angle camera that tracks the lighted ball on the end of the controller.

The most noticeable difference is when playing Sports Champions, and of course…(wait for it) Killzone 3.

Killzone 3 was made for the Move, or vice-versa. They fit together like hand-in-glove, and not like some post-production patch (ala Heavy Rain) that makes you do silly gestures and that is “motion gaming.” No no no…this what twitch FPS fans will appreciate. Having cut my teeth on the Call of Duty and MoH franchises on the PC, I felt that using a controller was a step backward when playing FPS. The Move changes all of that.

The Sharpshooter attachment (MSRP $30) does one thing, and does it very well: it makes your shots more accurate, especially when the controller is vibrating. You also get a more comfortable grip on the game when shooting rifles or trying to take prone positions. However, playing without it is akin to playing with a wireless mouse that has twitch-ready accuracy. You can turn off vibrations but it takes away from the game. I find that when playing Campaign, I like to use the Sharpshooter; when I am playing multiplayer, I like to go sans-Sharpshooter unless it’s a sniper match.  To each their own.

Anyway, this is my true pick for anyone who is a FPS fan. I’m loving it on Killzone 3….it’s almost an unfair advantage when playing people who are on controllers. You decide. Winking smile

Amazon.com: PlayStation Move Starter Bundle: Video Games





AT&T Data Billing…

26 05 2011

My wife had this happen with her account—the data usage was rocketing even though her phone odometer said otherwise. A few weeks ago, I purchased a Smartphone from AT&T (Samsung Focus, Windows Phone) and my data charges skyrocketed after approximately two weeks.

The Today Show did a spot on it that was posted on MSNBC, I thought I should share….

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

To AT&T Wireless’ credit, they did credit the overage of $15. They also noted that I never received one of the “several” warning messages I’m supposed to receive as the phone approaches the 200MB limit. The only one I received was the SMS that stated I went over my limit and an additional $15 was tagged onto my bill.

At first, I thought it was the phone having issues—I had Wi-Fi on all the time, wherever I go, and when I’m at home. However, upon further inspection, I saw that the data charges were at night when I’m in bed, and the phone is sitting quietly on it’s charger.

If there was a discrepancy of a few KB in the middle of the night, I probably wouldn’t care as I would assume it was just something updating (i.e.. e-mail notification, calendar, etc.) However, when your data usage JUMPS from a few MB to 100+MB in a single day, something is terribly wrong.

I’ve reached out to AT&T via telephone and Twitter, neither has been able to properly answer why the data charges appear at night when the phone is not in use or if the data billed is “sent” or “received” data.  The last word I got was via telephone that the dates/times that are stamped online are simply when the phone updates, and are not representative of when the data was actually used. I asked how can AT&T Billing be so sure those data charges are accurate if there is no way to audit them, and was told that “it is accurate…no need to worry.” Forgive me for sounding cynical but nothing sounds Kosher about any of this.

Thankfully, my wife’s iPhone 4 has an odometer which is supposed to give an accurate reading of exactly how much data is sent and received. The time we had a billing issue like this, the data was way off from what the phone was reporting. I offered to send the rep a screenshot from the phone yet she credited the account and took my word for it.

My wife and I have been with AT&T since July ‘08 (iPhone 3G launch) and have relatively few issues with them. However, in the last year, we have had to call in with two [data] billing issues. The only other complaint I have about AT&T is at-times we drop calls seemingly more than I can remember when we had T-Mobile, and certainly more than when we had Verizon. Although there are some nice perks with AT&T (i.e.. Rollover Min), I admit that I am coming to a crossroads: I think I’d rather have less dropped calls than Rollover Minutes.

In the end, we decided to return the Samsung Focus to the AT&T store, and wait until the end of our contract to make any further buying decisions that relate to smartphones or data devices. My wife plans to hold on to her iPhone until the contract is up unless any further data billing issues arise. It may be just a coincidence but it seems that these charges arose nearly two weeks after I got the phone, around the time when the return policy would be up (except California, 30 days here).

 

Data Usage 2

(From the Samsung Focus)





This Coffee Shop’s Restroom Policy Is Extremely Subtle – The Consumerist

24 05 2011

This is excellent…. enjoy.

This Coffee Shop’s Restroom Policy Is Extremely Subtle – The Consumerist





How a law firm tested "phantom" AT&T smartphone data use

23 05 2011

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out…

How a law firm tested "phantom" AT&T smartphone data use





Thoughts on Apple’s Location Data FAQ

27 04 2011

 

As posted on their site…..
Apple – Press Info – Apple Q&A on Location Data

 

First, “Users are confused” is not a good way to talk about your customers but who am I to judge?

I don’t have a problem with what Apple is doing nor is it any different than what other smartphone mfgs are doing. However, I do have a problem with how they bungled it….as they did with Antennagate….as they did with the original iPhone pricing…. how anyone is still an iPhone customer after the string of media fumbles… oy vey!

Some highlights…

"Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date."

CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, NBC, etc. and just about every news outlet already did that for you.  The horses have already left the barn but I’m glad to see you finally closed the door.

"This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data"

Except by GPS tagging, of course.  No mention of UUID in this FAQ either.

"This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below). "

Then why not say so early on?  Unless of course you were waiting to announce the white iPhone to drown out the controversy.

"Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy."

So letting it get to CNN-type proportions, or get to Senate panel investigations meant you had your customers’ best interests in mind?