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#888: How Water Ruins Lives, Pages Inspector

 
     
 

Greetings!

Tomorrow marks the release of the iPhone 5c and I’m sure there are tons of people excited for it. I have been going back and forth about whether to invest in the iPhone 5s or wait until my upgrade is due in February.

It’s one of those things where you tell yourself multiple times before the release of the phone that you have no need for it, and then it comes out and your mind changes pretty quickly… The 64 bit processor and the fingerprint sensor that allows me to forgo typing my Apple ID password is tempting me tremendously.

Fall is here and so is another great day of Tech Tails articles. Taylor gives some insight to our readers about resetting the admin password on your Apple laptop/desktop. Chris tells us the dangers of water and Cindy informs us how great the Pages Inspector is.

Have a great week and we hope to see you in the store!

Barry
barry@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  How Water Ruins Lives  
   
 

Every single week I invariably receive a device that has come into contact with water. Sometimes the customer spilled an entire glass of water on their MacBook Pro keyboard. Other times they dropped an iPad into a puddle of mud, or occasionally someone will get just a few droplets near their device; yet all of these instances have the potential to render a device unusable.

This becomes indescribably frustrating and expensive quite fast. Liquid contact voids warranties, as manufacturers know how physically difficult — in some cases impossible — it is to resurrect liquid-damaged boards. Whenever I break the terrible news (well, sometimes it’s not news) to customers that their computer has liquid damage and cannot be economically fixed, they give me their emotional reaction but, to this day, nobody has asked how liquids ruin computers or cell phones or iPods.

In a hypothetical environment where you could run completely pure water over a powered board, you would be surprised to find that nothing much would happen. Pure H20 is actually not a conductor! Its covalent bonds join the positively charged H+ ion with the OH- ion for a net charge of 0. Most water that we come into contact with does, however, contain free ions of different charges. Salt, for example, consists of sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-) ions that will separate as sodium chloride molecules dissolve in water.

Because there are these “mobile ions” present, electricity can be conducted through the water which, in reality, is a “solution,” and this is as good as causing a short circuit on your logic board. When any sort of liquid compound (soda, tap water, broth, tea, beer, etc) come into contact with a part of your boards, you run the risk of short circuiting and destroying tiny components like transistors, capacitors, and plug leads by causing too many electrons to flow through these components.

I find short-circuiting to be the most pervasive cause of liquid-contacted board failure though there are numerous circumstances where this type of failure is unlikely because, let’s say, the computer is not plugged in and the battery is depleted. There ought to be, in this case, little to no current in the circuitry of your device. That doesn’t really matter though because corrosion, the very same phenomena that causes rust on iron alloys, is imminent.

Corrosion occurs when an electrolyte (such as tap water) comes into contact with metal (found all over printed circuit boards) and slowly causes its atoms to bond with liberated oxygen ions – liberated when the electrolyte made contact with C02 in the air and started forming carbonic acid, which started dissolving the metal atoms.

As you can see, a number of chemical and physical forces go to work the moment any liquid touches your computer and is quite out of your control at that point. A lot of customers plead with me that they immediately powered their devices down, put them upside down, blew air on them, opened them up, dried them with leftover Kleenex or whatever, in the hopes that I’ll say “…oh alright, I’ll let it slide this time, but next time be more careful!”

Sadly, I have not yet been given access privileges to change the laws of physics and chemistry. Until then, please be mindful of your liquids and don’t take chances: those who have dropped their phones into toilets and gone on to use them (not sure why) for years after are freaks of nature and should thank the power of love for their good fortune!

 
   
     
  Pages Inspector  
   
 

I can’t remember how long I have been using Pages, but by this point, I can’t really recall using anything else. The choices in the template chooser have enabled me to create flyers, newsletters, birthday cards and business cards.

Easily enough, all these template choices are available in Pages in Page Layout. Customizing is a breeze. Dragging and dropping a photo on my Mac into a template is seamless.

Many customers ask for help with formatting a document in Pages. The easiest way to do this is with Inspector. Inspector is located on the top right of all pages templates and document. Just click the blue ‘i’ in the upper right hand section and the Inspector window appears.

To set margins, click on the Letter (Pages?) icon and you’ll choose Document Margins. There are several other page formatting options, including Footnotes and Endnotes, page number formatting, and access to additional Page Setup options.

One of the most interesting sections, Wrap, can make or break your experience with Pages. Often, designers tend to want to keep these options off, but for the rest of us, automatically being able to wrap text around images is key to a great-looking document.

In Layout, you’re able to add columns, set section page numbering and set page sections. In Text, you can set formatting, spacing, and color choices.

Adding images? Click on the Graphic icon for all graphics settings, including adding reflections, shadows, and other image options.

Appropriately, Metrics gives you options to add metrics to any table inserted in a document. Adding Tables allows you to select rows, column width and height, cell borders and more.

Experiment with Chart data to make your information stand out as a colorful graphic. There are several link options in the Link section; it’s not just for links to the web, as you can add content from your Address Book (or Contacts, as it’s currently known).

This is obviously a pretty basic primer, but Pages is more powerful than it may lead you to believe. It just might be worth switching from Word or Text Edit if you want a fast, clean application that produces polished documents (and now the iWork suite is free on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches). Give it a second look!

 
   
     
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Note: The AirPort Express is an Apple refurbished product and has a standard 1-year warranty.

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