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#866: The Hinge, Google Estate, Self-sculpting Sand

 
     
 

Hello readers,

Looks like spring may be springing here finally, after one last seemingly spiteful snowstorm that took out any number of fresh green sprouts. I don’t care as long as I can work outside. Although being outside in winter gear in April certainly feels like a defeat. I usually tough it out just to be able to say I’ve put away my winter clothes, but not this year.

In other news, we have taken another step toward a real version of the Star Trek replicator. I wrote a little article about it below. Hope you enjoy that and this week’s other offerings.

Thanks for reading,

Liam
liam@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  The Hinge  
   
 

Kings of industrial design, Apple utilizes every last bit of available space in their machines. Often overlooked is a very functional piece of the notebook computer, in that it allows it to fold. But the hinge also handles a lot more you may not have known about.

In modern unibody MacBook Pros, that black plastic covers many important pieces other than just hinge hardware.

On the left side is the cable that handles all the video sent to the display. It twists through the hinge assembly before running into the LCD.

On the right, it’s more varied. You have the internal USB cable for the camera and LED. The antenna cables run through here for the Wi-Fi card. The Wi-Fi card resides inside the hinge on many models — it’s quite small. The cable that powers the display backlight (which causes the LCD to illuminate) also runs through the right side.

These cables are protected against abrasion with special covers. They get twisted back and forth all the time as the display is moved.

This assembly stands up to a lot of abuse, day in and day out. But the hinges do loosen, and cables can pinch. Liquid spilled on the hinge area can cause issues, as with most elsewhere in the machine.

The most avoidable hinge problem is loose hinges caused by lifting the machine by the display, or knocking the display from side-to-side. Too much weight on the display, like some snap-on cases, may also cause the hinges to loosen. Overall, the hinge is robust and engineered well. Even on old and heavily used machines, they remain very smooth and reliable.

 
   
     
  Google Estate?  
   
 

Have you ever worried about what’s going to happen to your digital life when you die? I haven’t, but Google has. They have released a new service for Google users that allows you to plan your digital estate called Inactive Account Manager.

Here’s what you do: Set your Google account to be either deleted after three, six, nine or twelve months of inactivity, or have all your data and login information sent to a trusted family member or friend. Data sent to a trusted contact can be set to some or all Google services: Google+, Blogger, Contacts, Google Voice, Circles, Drive, Gmail, Picasa and YouTube.

To set up your digital afterlife, go to your Google account page by clicking your user name, then Account in the top right hand corner. On the main page, click Learn more and go to setup under Inactive Account Manager in Account Management.

Once at the setup screen, you can determine how you would like your account managed. I know that this isn’t particularly technical, but I find it interesting as an example of a place that I’m sure none of us thought we’d be ten years ago.

Here is a link to a more in-depth article:
http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2013/04/plan-your-digital-afterlife-with.html

 
   
     
  Self-sculpting Sand  
   
 

3D Printers have really gone down the road towards one of the neatest pieces of Star Trek tech (in my opinion) known as the replicator. This device can basically make anything, and I mean anything, appear in a briefcase-sized opening in any wall on any ship in the Star Trek universe.

Would you like a cup of tea, Earl Grey, hot? No problem. New gun? No sweat. That is pretty nifty if you ask me.

I’ve always found it interesting that the replicator’s capabilities varied based on the needs of the plot. For example, it often for some reason could not produce the single thing people needed to solve their problems, forcing Kirk or Riker to romance some alien to save the day instead. Alas, that is Hollywood.

Anyway, at this point there is a device called a 3D printer that can make increasingly sophisticated things by printing very thin layers of plastic one on top of another. I hadn’t realized how sophisticated the process had become until I heard that somebody had printed out a working lower receiver for an AR-15 assault rifle and had fired rounds from it…holy moly.

After that, I heard a much less depressing story about something called self-sculpting sand. Basically this stuff is small, magnetized cubes roughly 10mm per side with microprocessors inside that can as a group map a 3D object and then recreate that object by linking together.

At some point, I’m expecting nano-tech to be able to make them incredibly tiny. Imagine needing a part for a machine, dumping it in a bag of dust, and an hour or so later, pulling a perfect replica out.

You can view the original article I found about this self-sculpting sand here.

 
   
     
  SPECIAL | Exceptional 2D Printer  
   
 

TT | Save $20 on HP OfficeJet 6600

129.99

So what if it is 1D short of being a 3D printer? HP still makes a great product when it comes to their line of printers.

The OfficeJet is a wonderful addition to any Mac environment due to its AirPrint capabilities.

This week, we are offering a $20 savings on the HP OfficeJet 6600 H711G Multifunction Wireless Inkjet Printer.

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  SPECIAL | These Hinges Are Still Strong  
   
 

TT | Save $100 on White MacBook from Early 2009

449.99

It is amazing how Apple can produce a product that holds up through so much daily abuse. The MacBook, while no longer in production, is still alive and kicking and we have some!

We are offering $100 off the early 2009 white MacBook 2.0GHz (used). Just $449.99!

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