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#856: Fusion Drives, Wi-Fi Security, iPhone Replacement Service

 
     
 

Hello all,

This winter has seen some pretty intense weather…vicious cold, record warmth and tornados in some parts of the country. Well, according to Punxatawney Phil, the most famous groundhog of all, it will be over soon and spring will be on its way.

Fine with me, especially now that Burlington’s Penguin Plunge is over — it needs to be cold for that. For those of you who don’t know, a penguin plunge (also known by other names) involves taking off perfectly good warm clothes and jumping into a frigid body of water. This year in Burlington, it was about 12 degrees F with a biting wind and the water was about 36 degrees F.

I know all those stats because I was down at the waterfront with my two kids watching my wife do the plunge. About 1,200 lunatics took part and raised an estimated $400,000 for Special Olympics Vermont. I usually just send supportive thoughts from a warm distance, but this year, as they say, it was personal.

Stay warm, and thanks for reading.

Liam
liam@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Fusion Drives  
   
 

In October 2012, Apple announced Fusion Drive as a feature for their consumer desktop Macs. Within a week, Ars Technica’s Lee Hutchinson wrote an article about the viability of building a Fusion Drive for any Mac running 10.8.2 based on some initial research by Jollyjinx. Two weeks later, Macworld did some real-world testing and provided some easy to follow instructions.

Coincidentally, my girlfriend’s Late 2009 iMac’s 1TB spinning disk was getting frightfully full. Knowing that we hadn’t used the optical drive in ages, I decided it would be a great opportunity to go Fusion (and the holidays were right around the corner). I snagged a 3TB Seagate drive and went to OWC to grab a 120GB Mercury Electra SSD. I knew I was putting this in an iMac’s optical drive slot, so I knew I’d need an adapter. Luckily, I found one at iFixit.

The hardware installation went great, especially when we ended up having the iMac drive temperature sensor in stock to replace the firmware-fed sensor that the machine came with. Once I got it back together, I went ahead with the software install. I created a 10.8.2 install disk from my InstallESD.dmg file from my Install OS X Mountain Lion.app, booted from it, formatted each drive using Disk Utility, and went ahead with the diskutil Terminal commands. After the logical volume was created, I went ahead and installed OS X.

Installing iStat Menus allowed me to keep track of disk I/O as I installed software, configured the machine, and transferred data. In short, the algorithms Apple has in place heavily favor the SSD, but as soon as your drive reaches a certain allocation, the HDD bias affects access to large libraries of data. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the speed of booting and launching apps and greatly appreciate the ease of not having to manage multiple volumes. It’s been a month and I can happily recommend this solution to anyone eager.

Just remember — don’t forget to back up. (I’ve got Crashplan, SuperDuper, and Time Machine all working simultaneously.) If you want a bit more of an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of Fusion Drives, I highly recommend Anand Shimpi’s article.

 
   
     
  Look this Gift Horse in the Mouth  
   
 

Free Wi-Fi is great. It seems like the last few years have seen an explosion in Wi-Fi coverage. At this point, there are even apps that will lead you to cafes and restaurants with free Wi-Fi in your area. Pretty nifty. But most people never stop to think about the security implications of all this open Wi-Fi.

People who take this functionality for granted will jump on open Wi-Fi networks to do all the same stuff they do at home without blinking an eye. They leave file sharing on, they make travel reservations, do banking and online shopping, type in email and work login passwords, and so on. All this information could be scooped up by a savvy predator on the same network.

I log into free Wi-Fi whenever I can to see what people are doing and it’s pretty surprising. People don’t turn off file sharing, so there are usually at least a couple of iTunes libraries visible. Public folders too. If you put something sensitive in there, you could easily be in trouble.

I just looked in my Public folder, for instance, and I found a copy of a paystub I had forgotten that I put in there. If I did not make a point of turning off all sharing when I go out, that information (including my Social Security number) would have been there for the taking. And that’s just the beginning. It is possible for someone to trick your computer into routing all your internet traffic through their machine. Imagine the guy sitting across the room from you just sifting his way through your browsing session and you’ll get an idea of how creepy this can be.

Many companies set up secure VPN connections on their employees’ computers so they can connect to company servers and resources over a public network with minimal risk. For consumers, there are some options as well, and one involves Terminal that will keep you (and your data) safe and secure. The only trick is that you will need another machine at home connected to the internet. Look for that article next week!

 
   
     
  iPhone Replacements  
   
 

Exciting news for all iPhone users out there!

We can now do in-warranty and paid out-of-warranty iPhone replacements at all of our retail locations. In most cases, we can replace a non-working iPhone with a new one same-day. The process usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete and before you come in, make sure to back up your data by either syncing with iTunes or running an iCloud backup.

You will receive a new iPhone just like it was from the factory — your data will not be on it. iPhones don’t keep information on their SIM cards, so a good backup is going to be your friend.

To check to see if your device is covered under warranty, please visit our warranty page. If the phone is out of warranty or has accidental damage (broken glass, dents, or water damage), we can usually still swap it out as long as it’s not completely destroyed (it will cost you, though, since accidental damage isn’t covered by warranty).

AppleCare Plus will take most of the sting out of getting your damaged phone replaced, however (hint, hint). Listed below are replacement costs.

  • iPhone 3GS – $200
  • iPhone 4 – $200
  • iPhone 4S – $250
  • iPhone 5 – $279

We carry all models for replacement. If we are out of your particular model, replacement may take a day or so.

For more information on backing up your device, check out Apple’s Support article.

 
   
     
  TT SPECIAL | High Capacity Flash Storage, Tiny, Tiny Package  
   
 

TT| $10 Off LaCie 8GB MosKeyto USB Flash Drive (Ships Free!)

15.99

It’s one of the smallest USB drive on the market — the LaCie 8GB MosKeyto USB Flash Drive this week. Seriously, this thing is tiny: it extends just 6 mm out of your USB port, and weighs 10 grams.

Save $10 this week — includes free shipping, since, let’s face it, it’s almost as light as a mosquito!

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  TT SPECIAL | Mobile Keyboard with Benefits  
   
 

TT | Save $60: Matias Folding Keyboard & Mouse - Black

39.99

The Matias Folding Keyboard folds easily and compactly to fit into a bag, has a comfortable, tactile feel, and includes all of the features you’d expect from a full-sized keyboard: a number pad (with Tab key), arrow & navigation keys, function keys, and volume controls.

Save $60 on this keyboard/mouse combo this week!

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  TT SPECIAL | Bluetooth...Hands-free...Worth It!  
   
 

TT | Save $10 on the Scosche motorMOUTH Plug and Play Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit

19.99

If you have a phone with Bluetooth compatibility, grab this lil’ number! The Scosche motorMOUTH Plug and Play Bluetooth Handsfree Car Kit plugs directly into a vehicle’s MP3/AUX input for hands-free conversations and will stream audio from any A2DP device.

This week, it’s $10 off!

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