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#920: Pertinent Details, Tribute to Powermac G4, iCould Drive


Hello Fellow Tech Enthusiasts,

I hope your January is an uplifting start to your new year! All of us here at Small Dog Electronics are looking forward to what Apple comes up with this year. Many of us are crossing our fingers for a new lightweight unibody design that combines the 13” Air and 13” Pro, and we’re all hoping for USB 3.1.

Whether you are using your Mac for writing a dissertation, running your business, reading the latest news, or watching movies, it is still the same computer all of us know and love. Let’s learn more about them!

I enjoyed the two most recent episodes of the Podcast 99% Invisible. One of them was on product and brand sound (“The Sizzle”), and went into detail on the Apple Start-Up Chime. The second was discussing the broad gap between an introductory user of computers and an enthusiast/professional (“Of Mice and Men”).

I have to get back to repairing computers, but it was great to chat, and my fellow technicians and I have prepared some interesting reads just for you!


  Pertinent Details  

I want to take a moment to talk about how important it is that a technician see a damaged computer in its original condition. If it’s something like a liquid spill or physical damage, it becomes less of a diagnostic and more of a Sherlock Holmes style forensic investigation.

As a technician, when a computer comes to my repair bench with a issue listed as “does not power on”, I have little to go on. Opening the machine, I’ll inspect every component on the main logic board for corrosion. I’ll look for debris inside the machine. I’ll verify all cables and connectors are seated as they are from the factory. I’ll watch the dust trails on the bottom case for interruption, either by liquid or looking for finger marks to see if the computer has been opened.

Sometimes somebody with a liquid spill will try to clean the computer’s internal components before bringing it in for service, either with rubbing alcohol or distilled water. Alternatively, and possibly after cleaning, rice will be used to dry the machine. Firstly, the computer is not covered by warranty any longer when this (or the damage) has been done, but secondly, it makes it very difficult to determine what the initial cause of damage was.

This next part can apply to any repair when the tech can’t recreate the initial issue or determine the root cause. When a technician can’t determine what parts are malfunctioning, or can’t verify visible/physical damage to the components, it’s literally guess-work, even if they have test parts to use (which often is not the case). This can result in an extended turnaround for the repair and multiple expensive part re-quotes as we attempt to resolve the initial issue.

When bringing a computer, a car, a pet, or any other “broken thing” in for service, it’s best to give the experts any pertinent details about the device (or pup) and what’s happened to it in the past. It quickens the diagnosis and vastly increases the accuracy of one. It will allow the technicians to give a fairly solid quote on repairing the machine in a timely fashion, and allow you to get a straight answer on repair cost and retrieve the repaired unit quicker.

  Tribute to the Powermac G4  

I remember my first Mac, the Power Mac G4 Quicksilver, equipped with PowerPC G4 processor running at 867 Mhz (yes, that’s right… Mega- not Giga- hertz), 512 MB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GeForce 2 graphics card.

With side door access, this model was easy to upgrade. It was a tool-less design that came out before PC designers thought of putting in their gaming case designs. After putting mine through a few years of traveling and abuse, I decided it was a tank of a workstation as it had no cracked plastic or broken doors!

This machine had one of the most elegant operating systems at the time, OS X. Now keep this in mind: it was released in 2001 and at that time Windows was Windows 2000 and XP came out later that year. Consumer friendly Linux was still in its infancy. So OS X was the only consumer level Unix system. It was extremely easy to use and finely tuned to the machine’s hardware. I must say for being such a power horse at the time, the Power Mac G4 ran quietly.

The only drawback for me was portability. I had to carry this computer around a lot, and it was not light, but designers at Apple were insightful enough to put handles on the case, which made carrying the beefy machine around easier.

This was a solid machine and never gave me any issue, I eventually sold it to buy computer parts for another project, but looking back I wish I kept it for nostalgic reasons.

  iCloud Drive  

Most of you have heard of iCloud. However, there is a great new feature: iCloud Drive. One of the features I most enjoy about iCloud Drive is that you can let any app that supports iCloud Drive access your iCloud storage. Then, you can edit these same files that have been saved by other apps. You can also gain access to the iCloud Drive via a few different methods, which makes getting access to your iCloud quite easy.

Some common questions I receive when speaking to customers about iCloud Drive include:

  • Can I use my non Apple devices to access iCloud Drive, and how do I gain access to my iCloud Drive?

Yes, you can access your iCloud from your Apple device, as well as your non-Apple devices.

  • How?

There are a few ways to gain access to iCloud Drive. You can view your entire iCloud Drive from Finder (by default it should be in the Favorites sidebar) in OS X Yosemite. If you have iOS 8, you may gain access from Document Picker which will provide a popup window that gives you access to the full iCloud Drive. And do not forget that you may access iCloud Drive from a variety of compatible web browsers – Safari 6 or later, Firefox 22 or later, or Google Chrome 28 or later. This web version of iCloud Drive lets you create folders, upload files, download files, and delete files. Even devices with Windows 8 or later works in a very similar way as iCloud Drive on OS X Yosemite. To gain access via Windows just visit here to get started install iCloud for Windows.

  • Another popular question: Is there a fee for iCloud Drive?

The initial iCloud account gives you 5 GB of storage space free. iCloud Drive is a part of iCloud and as time goes on and you are saving your important memories, you may have to eventually upgrade from the free iCloud plan to a variety of paid options.

Whether you are using the free iCloud Drive or have paid to upgrade to more storage, iCloud Drive is one of the best iCloud features which many families (mine included) will appreciate when it comes to preserving precious memories.

Editor’s note: iCloud Drive requires devices running iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and/or Windows 7 or 8 with iCloud for Windows 4.0

See this link for more details.

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