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#827: Tech Tails Tidbits, Boosting Your Wireless Network Connection, Voice-Only FaceTime Calls


Hello Readers,

By popular demand (actually one email from a really nice guy), I will at some point talk about the weather each week. I can’t say for sure if it will be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end, but it will be included. Mentioning the weather is a Tech Tails tradition I intend to continue, and tradition is important to me; it helps me feel rooted and like I know where I came from. And for me, knowing where I came from is a big part of how I figure out where to go next.

Today is one of those days that makes me glad to live here in Vermont. It is in the mid-70s, the air is dry, and the sky is cloudless and blue. It’s my idea of a perfect day weather-wise. It’s especially welcome after a week of brutal heat and humidity occasionally interrupted by violent thunderstorms that brought flooding and downed trees and power lines.

It was different when I was a kid. (That’s what I tell myself from time to time when I feel old and crotchety.) The last few years seem to have been a little unsettled in the weather department, but when I think about the weather when I was a kid, I have to admit that I don’t remember what it was really like (except there was certainly more snow). Memories of the good old days often gloss over a lot of stuff that maybe wasn’t so good, or at least wasn’t quite as glorious or perfect as we remember.

For most topics these days, we have lots of ways to store and pore over tons of data so we don’t have to remember everything. It’s still fun though to sit on my porch and talk about how different things were back in the good old days. I’m going to wrap this up right there, I think. Next week, as another promise, I will also include something for you besides the weather.


  Tech Tails Tidbits  

Bad Chrome Follow-up
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about Chrome crashing with kernel panics on machines with the Intel HD4000 graphics chip set (i.e. new MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros).

CNET verified this soon afterward with an admission from Google, and hopefully this means that a true fix is in the works.

Free iOS App of the Week: Angry Birds Seasons
Everyone has played it by now, or at least a version of it via mobile device, Facebook app, etc. At our house, it’s been installed on pretty much every computer, and it’s an overwhelming favorite.

This week, Angry Birds Seasons for iPhone is free, so hurry! Squawk!

  Boosting Your Wireless Network Connection  

With wireless networking technology advancing faster than we can read about it, it’s always good to know that your Mac is accessing and transmitting data with your wireless network as best as it possibly can. To obtain this requires a little maintenance work on your part.

Firstly, open up System Preferences, and navigate to “Network.” The side bar of the Network preferences pane will display all configured connections available on your Mac. Most of the time, especially with laptops, the user strictly connects via Wi-Fi. If this is the case, you can select any other connection types in that sidebar and remove them via the minus symbol directly below. Removing this network connection “clutter” tells your Mac what it should specifically be looking for as far as incoming connections.

Second, located next to the plus and minus symbol is a little gear. Click on this gear, and select “Set Service Order.” A small window will pop up. Beginning from the top, this list tells your Mac in what order to search for these connections. You will want to click and drag “AirPort” or “Wi-Fi” (if using Lion) to the top of this list. Click “OK” to set this order.

Lastly, and probably most effective in speeding up your Mac’s internet connection, is to configure your DNS servers. With “AirPort” or “Wi-Fi” selected in the sidebar, click on the “Advanced” button towards the lower right corner. Click on the tab labeled “DNS.” Now you’re going to add a few DNS server addresses into the box labeled “DNS Servers.” I, personally, have used Google’s public DNS servers for a while now with no complaints. Website addresses are resolved quickly and effectively in my experience using these servers, which are: and You can also do some available DNS server research on your own, if you’d like, but I would highly recommend these DNS servers, as they have never let me down.

Upon completion of this network maintenance, click “Apply” at the bottom right of the Network preference pane, and give your new configuration a test run!

  Voice-Only FaceTime Calls  

My family lives in Arizona, and I use FaceTime fairly regularly to stay in touch with them. Occasionally though, I’ve run into issues either with their network or mine where we’d get erratic video and poor audio.

In a moment of frustration during a recent call, we discovered that FaceTime will continue to function as voice only on an iDevice if you bring yourself back to the home screen. Make your call as normal, and then once you’re connected, either press the home button to bring yourself back to your main screen or press the power button to put the device to sleep. The audio call will continue and you should notice a quality increase.

In my case, I can continue to use bandwidth hogging applications (any other MMO players out there?) and still talk to my family.

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  SPECIAL: AirPort Express Closeouts  

TT | Save $20 off original pricing: Apple AirPort Express Base Station 802.11n


We have a handful of closeout AirPort Express Base Stations left and they’re $20 off original pricing!

Perfect for a standalone Wi-Fi router or for use as a repeater, they can not only transmit your wireless internet, but wirelessly broadcast your tunes or wirelessly print your masterpieces.


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