The need for speed, a week on.

It’s been just over a week since I fitted the SSD into this MacBook PRO, and I am still impressed by the speed of everything, boot up is amazing as is opening programs such as Dreamweaver and Photoshop.

Well worth the money in my opinion.

Having said that it’s debatable of course if I am actually doing anything constructive with the time saved!

Since fitting it I have looked around places like Youtube for other peoples thoughts on SSD’s and I have come to the conclusion that many people are spouting absolute rubbish. They are panicking especially about the expected or the perceived life time of SSD drives, personally I am not fussed. It lasts as long as it lasts.

A few years ago I went through the pleasure of a conventional hard drive failing totally that was less than two weeks old. It was replaced by the manufacturer without question so not a world ending problem. But it does show the need for a good system of doing backups. They do say that there are two types of computer user, the first has suffered data loss and now backs up everything, and the the second has never lost data and backs up nothing.

I am sorry to say that I come across as many of the latter as I have of the former. There is a saying amongst professionals and that is if you don’t have an off site backup then you have no backup at all, and by off site I don’t mean in another room in the same building. That is very true, I have backups here in the office but also I have ALL the business and other irreplaceable files backed up off site as well. I have come across companies that have there backup machine sitting next to the machine it’s backing up, that is madness especially in the case of fire or theft.

The other important thing to check is that your backup actually works, it’s pointless having a corrupted backup, if that’s what you find you have then you actually have no backup at all. Back in the dark distant days I remember a company that did weekly tape backups, but always used the same tapes, so in effect they had just one backup. They suffered a failure and found that the tape drive they were using was actually for some reason not writing to the tape. So for heaven knows how long they had been backing up nothing. The cost of the lost data in terms of lost information, orders and the business records took the company down, they just could not recover from a 100% loss.

So do you have a good backup system, and if your running a business could you recover from 100% data loss?

The need for speed.

As anybody who knows me will testify I am built for comfort rather than speed.

But one thing that irritates me is the time wasted when I am sitting waiting for one of the computers to do it’s thing.

It’s thing is normally writing to or reading from the hard drive. Hard drives are normally the biggest bottleneck on most computers. So in the case of this laptop I decided to do something about it, and that something was swap the hard drive for a Solid State Drive or SSD for short.

Now you only have to go somewhere like Youtube and you will find videos galore on SSD’s. The whole world and their wife seems to be an expert on them. If you venture onto Amazon you will see lots of them offered for sale and if you read the reviews they range from the best thing since sliced bread to the biggest waste of money possible. The truth is of course that the reality is that a crap computer will still be a crap computer even with an SSD in it, but people think after reading reviews and watching videos that the SSD should be treated like the second coming.

Anyway I decided to splash out and buy one, the model I settled on is the Samsung 840 EVO and it’s capacity is 500GB. It’s not the most modern and it’s not the fastest, but one thing in it’s favour is that it is not the most expensive either.

Well, the said item arrived and I opened the outer wrapping to be confronted by what can only be described as an oblong flat box just slightly bigger than a CD case. My first though was “Is this it?” Well despite delving back into the outer packaging I rapidly realised that indeed that was it.

On opening the box I was greeted by an oblong metal container, also known as the SSD. On holding it in my hand I did wonder if it was empty, as it was extremely light in weight.

But it was time to stop wondering how so little could cost so much and get it installed in the MacBook PRO. That job took under ten minutes, after all less than two weeks ago or so I had gone the same route installing a new 1TB hard drive in it, which was now being taken out and replaced by the SSD. Once installed I used TimeMachine to put back all the stuff including the operating system that I had taken off the other drive. One coffee and a couple of sandwiches later the task was complete. Once the bottom had been screwed back into place it was time to boot up the laptop and see how the new drive performed.

Well…. Performance wise I am very impressed, there is no comparison between the old drive and the new, not that I honestly expected their would be. The speed is certainly impressive, opening documents is as near as damn it as fast as opening them if they had been minimised on the tool bar. Boot up is I reckon over five times faster, with the conventional drive in the laptop booted up about the same speed as my iMac. Now it leaves the iMac in the dust. One other benefit is that I appear to be getting better battery life out of the machine as well not that it doesn’t have to spin up the hard drive.

All in all I am extremely pleased with the purchase, certainly I think it’s well worth the money, and I don’t look like a lemon as often as I used to.

Would I recommend one? Well that’s a difficult question to be honest, I certainly think it’s been an excellent purchase, but your experience may be different, it all depends on your computer and it’s specifications to start with. Personally I am seriously considering buying at least one more to replace the drive in the wifes laptop, which is without doubt certainly her bottleneck productivity wise. We shall see…..

 

Oh the shame. How will I live it down?

On Wednesday I had to do a terrible thing……

Well that’s got you all thinking….

On Wednesday I had to buy a Laptop and not only does it run Windows, but it’s version 8.1. Oh the shame of it.

Anyway, I need it to run a specific piece of software that won’t run on the Mac. Before anybody mentions it I have had a go at partitioning and dual booting the Mac to run OS X or Windows, but I was far from happy, the Mac seemed to want to run a bit warmer when using Windows.

So I bit the bullet and went out and bought an Acer laptop. Now it was a very technical purchase, I knew I wanted a 15.6″ screen but other than that for anything else I was not fussed. The most important thing for me is the keyboard, if I don’t like the keyboard on a machine then it’s out of the reckoning no matter what other specs it has or the price it’s selling for.

Anyway, we settled on a machine based on the above criteria and also bought a wireless mouse at the same time. You can’t do serious work with a trackpad, I dislike them with a passion even on the MacBook.

Once home and I had got rid of the half a tree that came wrapped around the machine and the bubble packing round the mouse, you know the type where you need scissors to break in I set about setting up the computer.

Like it seems all machines running Windows it came with a load of preinstalled stuff that was no use, well certainly not to me. Once we had registered the machine and before we did any updates we started first by making a set of recovery media. I mean who in the right mind puts the recovery stuff in a separate partition on the only hard drive in it? If the hard drive fails you have lost everything. Once that was done I set about removing the “You can’t do without it added software.”

By the time I had finished I had removed about everything except the OS and it’s utilities. It must be so confusing for somebody buying a computer for the first time to be greeted by all this junk and perhaps thinking they have to use it.

That out the way and a couple of mugs of coffee later I did the Windows updates, there were a fair few, but we have a decent internet connection so it did not take too long.

Then, with the software installed we were ready for action. I must say the computer is quite nice to use, even Windows 8.1 is not really that much of a pain. I can’t compare it directly with the MacBook PRO quality wise as it cost a quarter of the price of the Mac. But all in all it’s not bad to use.

So that was my Wednesday adventure, but one thing puzzles me, and that is…..

Why did the laptop come with three A4 pages of instruction and that was it whilst the mouse came with eighteen pages, although they were much smaller they went into some great detail. Perhaps there is a trend that the more we spend the less written assistance we get. What are your thoughts?

The Great Phone Swap.

Now those people who know me know that I love to play with technology. For somebody heading towards the age where we could be called a boring old fart I do love gadgets.

Recently I decided that it was time to swap my phone for something different. I was using an iPhone 5 and I will admit that I was very happy with it. So I scanned the deals for an iPhone 6 on contract. However, they wanted silly money each month.

So I made the decision to move away from the iPhone, this was despite the fact that my office is 100% Apple with a MacBook PRO and an iMac computer system linked in with an iPad Mini.

I had already decided not to change phone provider, I am with O2 and happy with their service and coverage. After much poking around I decided on an HTC 1 M8 smart phone. The design is nice and it has received quite a few good reviews with no real bad ones. Not of course that this is always an indicator of what a product will be like for me personally but it can be a fair indicator

A few minutes on line and the deed was done, the phone would arrive the next day. Now I don’t know if it’s just me but many people employed by courier companies look the type that you would generally cross the road to avoid.

Anyway before I digress, the phone arrived safely the next day, after checking to confirm that was all OK, I did a sim swap and the beast was ready for use.

As I started going through the settings it occurred to me that the Android system shared one bad trait with windows computers and that was the number of darn updates that were suggested.

Once these were out of the way I looked at was actually installed on the phone, what I would use and what I would delete or uninstall from the unit.

I then discovered that many of the programs or Apps as they like to call them these days could not be removed from the phone. Now this I find irritating to say the least.

Anyway onwards and sideways, now I know the phrase is normally onwards and upwards but in this case sideways is a far better choice.

Eventually things like favourites and the phone book were all sorted and we could get down to seeing what the phone was like in everyday use.

Some two weeks after first using the phone I must say I am overall not that impressed, yes there are good points such as a nice screen and decent sound but the irritating things outweigh the benefits.

In every day use the phone is just a tad too big to be used in one hand I find and also the touch keyboard is more temperamental than a four year old on a high of sugar. When I first got the phone it used the KitKat operating system, O2 have since made the new Lollipop operating system available and I have upgraded, if upgraded is the right word to that, I won’t even dwell on the stupid names of the operating systems.

Anyway, getting back to the touch keyboard, for me it’s just too sensitive, though it appears better with the new OS but sometimes letters etc. register on the screen as pressed before you touch the screen, get within an couple of mm of the screen with your finger and it will behave as though you have touched it. It’s also very easy to type the incorrect character as well, to avoid this using a touch pen is almost a requirement.

When holding the phone to my ear my thumb wants to be just where the volume rocker is so it’s all to easy to either decrease or increase volume during a call. The swipe method of answering a call could also be a bit better as sometimes in my experience it can take a couple of goes to answer, assuming of course you don’t accidently reject the call in the process.

Call volume is good and audio is nice and clear, I have had no calls drop part way through. I must admit it does feel a bit big when I hold it to my ear though.

A case is a must as the back which is curved seems a bit on the smooth side and I always feel as though it could drop out of my hand.

The camera is nothing special and the editing effects built in are in my case a waste of time.

I could go on and write a couple of pages more about the bits on the phone but it would be largely pointless. I can sum up the phone by saying it’s like a beautiful woman with no personality. It’s undoubtedly a lovely looking device but in day to day use it just has too many little irritations, or at least that’s what I find. If I could take all the good bits of the HTC and the iPhone 5 and combine them then I would be a happy man. Come to think of it perhaps that’s been done already and called the iPhone 6.

I have put a PAYG SIM into the iPhone 5 and still take that out to do simple things like navigation and weather, it’s just easier to use.

So the question you want to no doubt ask is do I regret getting it? Well the answer is no I don’t and I will use it as my main communications device. But it is far from the ideal phone. Perhaps I was spoilt with the iPhone which, like all Apple products just seems to work with no problems, no junk installed and no major or for that matter minor irritations.