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#925: What To Do With A Vintage Computer, How To Keep Your Computer Happy and Healthy, The Current State of Solid State Drives.

 
     
 

Greetings Friends,

I hope you all had a pleasant weekend with friends and family.

As usual, April Fools’ Day gave us some wonderful little gags on the internet. One that was particularly tech-related was iFixIt’s teardown of the Apple Watch See that here.

This weekend was full of planning some technical projects of my own, one of which is hinted at below. When doing so many replacements of standard parts, it can be quite enjoyable to use these skills to build something more unique once in a while.

Below are some articles to whet your appetite for tinkering and maintaining!

Warm regards,
-Mikhael
mikhael@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  What To Do With A Vintage Computer?  
   
 

While I would never recommend hacking apart an Apple computer that still has functional value to it, some older machines, or MUCH older machines, have aesthetic value.

The Mac SE, for example, is a wonderful platform with an iconic appearance, that offers the facade of a classic Mac. With some internal mounting and hardware work, it could be updated with a LCD panel or (rare to find and CRT displays, even the original, can be very dangerous to work with) color CRT display. Internals that could be used range from an intel Micro-ATX motherboard with a new PSU and SSD, or a Raspberry Pi, or even the borrowed internals of a MacBook Pro or Mac mini (probably the easiest unit to use for this concept technical-skill-wise). Just a forewarning, the rear will have to have some cutting and fabrication work done for ports to look nice and be functional.

One favorite of the PC enclosure hacking community is the chassis of the Blue & White G3, and the G4 towers. This wonderful design allows the mounting of a PC main board with PCI slots on the inside of the enclosure’s door, and has standard mounting locations for hard disks, a power supply, and two 5.25” optical bays. I would suggest these units offer the easiest hardware hack allowing an up-to-date computer in a Mac enclosure.

A final idea: A few days ago I sold an original GameBoy of mine to a young man on Craigslist who is going to be installing a Raspberry Pi and an LCD in its enclosure, to create his own portable game system.

Projects like these for technically minded people can be very fulfilling and fairly straightforward (with good research) and offer a unique and incredibly personal piece of computer hardware to own and use for years to come. It also offers the opportunity to recycle old components rather than buying off the shelf.

 
   
     
  How to Keep Your Computer Happy and Healthy  
   
 

Spring is in the air (we hope) and as thoughts turn to Easter Eggs, the Red Sox, and April showers, let us help you with a little “spring cleaning” of your Mac…

“My computer is running slow!!” How many times have you uttered that in front of your device? Nobody likes to see the “pinwheel of death” spinning on your desktop, making you wonder if it is ever going to stop. Before you bring your computer in for service here are some simple tips you can do at home to keep your computer at optimal performance.

Make sure you give it a good night’s rest.

The “brain” in your computer (whether it be an iPhone, iPad, or Mac) gets tired just like you do. It is always a good idea to shut down your computer before you go to sleep. This allows systems to reset, memory to re-organize, trash and temporary files to be completely removed. It is always a good idea to completely power down other electronic devices in your house including your television, VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray player, and stereo. You would not leave your car running all night? The same applies to other electronic devices in your household.

Keep your Operating System up to date.

Software updates are critical for the smooth and steady performance of your computer. Do NOT ignore them, despite what your Facebook friends tell you. A software update bug is far easier to fix than a computer running old and out dated software.

Location, location, location.

Use and store your computer in a clean, well lit, well ventilated room. Do not use it, your iPhone or your iPad in the bathroom. The mist from your steamy hot shower in the morning can potentially damage your device. Keep food and drinks as far away as possible. A liquid spill immediately voids any warranty. Don’t use Wite-Out on your screen either…;)

We love our pets, yet pet hair can get into the cooling fans and really muck up the works so to speak. (woof, meow, moo???) Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs but bad for your Mac as well. Smoke of any kind whether it be from a candle, incense burner, cigar, or “other” (wink, wink) can get into every crack and crevice in your device. Even the surface you rest your device on can potentially be troublesome. Stone, marble and the like conduct heat better than you would think.

Empty the trash and delete the cache.

Or was it the other way around? Either way, it’s always a good idea to remove unwanted and unnecessary files and folders. You would be amazed at how much disk space this junk takes up.

Empty your browser. Your browser stores information about websites you go to so they load faster the next time you visit. Over time these files build and do nothing but take up space. Get rid of ‘em! In Safari: Safari > Reset Safari. You will have the option to NOT delete certain items such as saved passwords and auto-fill forms.

Click on Finder and select Applications. Scroll through the list and if you have not used it in some time, it may be time to do some spring cleaning of your programs. Click, hold and drag to the trash can. You can always download Skype again if needed.

Open iPhoto and empty the trash there as well. At this point, empty the trash can then restart your computer.

After your computer restarts, take a peek at your Login Items. They are the programs that start when you boot up your computer. Go to your System Preferences, select Users and Groups Click on the Login Items tab and uncheck programs that you do not need immediately upon start up. Remember they can always be started at a later time.

External Storage.

If you have a lot of media on your hard drive such as movies or songs, you may want to consider an external drive. Movie files can be especially large. A full length high-def movie can be as large as 3 GB! Move them from your hard drive to an external drive. This not only frees up space on your drive, but saves it from searching through movie and music files to get to last weekends baby shower photos. Make sure that you are backing these files up, though, as Time Machine does not back up external drives by default but can be configured to do so.

A stitch in time saves nine, that’s what my mother always told me. These “stitches” we’ve given you can not only save you from costly repair down the road, but also ease the wear and tear on you, your computer, and us lowly techs here at Small Dog!

Woof, woof! (Happy Spring!)

 
   
     
  The Current State of Solid State Drives  
   
 

Apple has really cranked up the speed on their current line of MacBook Pro in recent years, thanks to PCIe solid state hard drives. Most computer companies install traditional mechanical drives, while some other companies install SATA solid state drives, but Apple has taken storage to another level. SATA SSDs top out around 550MB/s, while PCIe solid states allow for a whopping 1,250MB/s!

There is also a significant physical size difference between both. The new PCIe SSDs are a lot smaller than their SATA-based counterparts which means faster, thiner laptops. Now drive manufacturers are discussing storage capacities on these drives going up to 10 Terabytes thanks to 3D NAND technology currently in the works from Intel.

 
   
     
  Celebrating 20 Years  
   
 

We’re celebrating 20 years! Woohoo! We will be offering YOU some pretty big deals, including 20% off all Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and speakers, $20 off Otterbox cases, a Mac mini bundle that is hard to resist, and much more both in-store and online!

Stop in during the month of April and wish us a very Happy Birthday! Check out all the specials at: smalldog.com/20years

Mac mini bundle

Have you been considering an upgrade? Mac mini is an affordable powerhouse that packs the entire Mac experience into a 7.7-inch-square frame. All you have to do is connect your new display, keyboard, and mouse, and you’re ready to make big things happen. This computer is petite, energy-efficient and comes with the same great built-in apps for work and play as all the other Apple computers. Purchase this bundle during the month of April and save $100!

Hammerhead Charging Bundle

Been struggling to keep your phone charged? Always running out of cables because your friend “borrowed” it again, and maybe there just aren’t enough charging ports? Well Hammerhead’s Charging Bundle is just what you need. This bundle includes a 2-Port USB Auto Car Charger for the long road trip ahead, a 4-Port USB Wall Charger, when the whole family gets stuck in the same hotel room, as well as a USB-to-Lightning 1 Meter Braided Cable to set your cable apart from the rest so next time your friend “borrows” it you’ll be able to reclaim it again.

Outdoor Tech Wireless Privates

The Outdoor Tech Wireless Private Headphones produce great sound for a seclusive listening experience and come in many different colors. They are very portable and fit nicely on your head, with a canvas wrap around the headband for extra comfort. Thanks to the touch control built into the size of the headphone you are able to control volume with a swipe. These headphones really have it all, and through the month of April you’ll save $20.

Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage 500GB

If you have been looking for a mobile companion that is as mobile as you are (other than your iPhone) look no further. We just added the Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage 500GB to our inventory and couldn’t be more excited. This small but powerful device will allow you to bring along hundreds of movies and thousands of songs, photos, and files anywhere you go. You can wirelessly stream them to your tablet or smartphone without wires or web anytime, and with 6 hours of battery life you’ll never be left bored or without the ability to store the next precious moment captured on camera.



View all specials for the month of April here.