Nov 10 2016

Clean MacBook Air—not!

Adel Gabot

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2:53PM

Goddamnit.

I recently got a reasonably old MacBook Air—an 11″ Mid-2011 model, with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD—and I was planning to sell it.

It worked perfectly, save for a couple of keys that had the lettering on them almost rubbed off. The battery, which was five years old, still had 83% of its functionality, which was exceptionally good. It even had the original packaging. It should be a hit at the online store where I go to sell some of my stuff sometimes.

Thing was, it was grimy as hell.

So I went about giving it a good cleaning. That involved delicately “washing” it down with a barely damp toothbrush and cloth, using baby shampoo or dish cleaning fluid and a bit of water, then drying it with a lint-free cloth and allowing it to air out for a couple of hours before turning it on. That’s very important, because you have to allow every bit of moisture to dry up before you do.

Thing of it is, that particular kind of MBA has its power button integrated into the main keyboard, located where the backspace key normally would be, on the upper right corner. Also, the unit has the battery also integrated into its thin body; there’s no way to remove it, so there’s always a chance you could power up the thing without intending to.

As I was cleaning the keyboard and rubbing the keys with my barely damp toothbrush, I accidently hit the power button, and the damned thing powered up. I hit it again quickly to shut it down, but the damage was done.  The thing turned on, and unbeknownst to me, some circuits in the power key and a few others had shorted.

By the time the MBA was dry and I tried to turn it on, it was dead as a doornail. Didn’t even power up briefly to show it me it was still alive.

Crap.

So yesterday morning, I brought it to the shop to see what could be done. There, they gave me the bad news.

A normal repair would involve replacing the whole top case, which was essentially the full innards of the MBA, and would cost an estimated P15k. Considering that amount was more than half of the selling price of the whole thing, that was out of the question.

The repairman told me he could try replacing just the keyboard and see if that would work, but he had to source one from other customers first, and it could cost around P5k. And it just might work, but it wasn’t a sure thing.

That’s better than the alternative. So I told him to go for it.

This morning he texted me the good news. It worked. He was still testing the thing, but it was apparently good to go.

The bad news was, it was going to cost me P6k. P5k for the keyboard, and P1k for the shop. Wowza. Still expensive. I told him to haggle with the owner of the keyboard first, maybe he’d agree to a lower price. (Of course I knew the shop was inflating the cost so they could get some extra for themselves, but they weren’t going to pull that one on me.)

We finally settled on P3K for the replacement keyboard. Plus the shop fee, I owed a total of P4k. Still a goodly amount, but I figured I’m escaping by the skin of my teeth. (The only bright spot of the whole thing is, those two rubbed-off keys are brand new again.)

I’m picking it up in the morning.

All for a desire to have a clean computer to sell. And this is the the thanks I get?

Man.


Oct 24 2016

Album-crazy

Adel Gabot

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7:40AM

I don’t really know why, but I’ve recently been album-buying on iTunes like it’s going out of style. This, after not buying anything for months. (I feel I’m being gypped when buying albums, a feeling of entitlement I got after 20 years of having anything I like for free as an FM DJ just by asking for it.)

Since last week, largely on whims, I’ve bought:

  • Joanne – Lady Gaga
  • Version of Me – Melanie C.
  • Integrity Blues – Jimmy Eat World
  • Mad Love – Jojo
  • Eric Benet – Eric Benet
  • Day Breaks – Norah Jones
  • Outside Looking In – The Radio Sun
  • Ghosthunters OST – Various Artists

Two compilations of old songs:

  • The Power of The 80s
  • Classic Rock (3 CD Set)

A couple of old albums:

  • Kamakiriad – Donald Fagen
  • The Best of Sade – Sade

And, for some reason, a single:

  • Erase (Original Mix) – The Chainsmokers

So far, I love Jimmy Eat World, The Radio Sun and surprisingly, Jojo. I kind of like Eric Benet, Sade and Donald Fagen. And of course I adore the compilations. The jury is still out on the others.

Just trying to get back (very belatedly) into the groove again, I guess. Starting to feel my age.


Jul 4 2016

Testing out my mechanical keyboard—for the nth time

Adel Gabot

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7:59AM

Indulge me for a moment.

I’m just using this blog writing thing as an excuse to test out my 32-year old IBM Model M Mechanical Keyboard.

Again.

Unbeknowst to most of you, I’ve been vacillating on my use of this keyboard, replacing it with the supplied Bluetooth wireless keyboard provided by Apple every few months or so, then going back to it again.

I love the old IBM, but the lack of some of the default hardware-based software keys on it bothers me some. That, and the fact that it’s too big for my computer keyboard shelf; it juts out a half inch on either side (while the Apple keyboard is too tiny for the shelf, with three inches to spare on both sides) and I’ve had to make a few adjustments.

This morning, I decided it was time to go back to the IBM. So I dug it out, cleaned it up, put it back on, then tested it again to see if it works properly by writing this blog entry.

So far so good.

Immediately, I noticed a few things:

  1. I type a hell of a lot faster on the IBM, with less mistakes and typos, and it’s seldom that I look down on it while I’m typing. I’m a hunt-and-pecker, have been my entire life, and I notice, because of its smaller size and the lack of tactile feedback, that I tend to always look at the Apple keyboard to see where my fingers are at. With the IBM, I’m practically a touch typist.
  2. In retrospect, I don’t really miss the default software/hardware keys of the Apple. Sure, it’s sometimes a bother having to use the trackpad to access some of the functions absent on this jury-rigged keyboard, but I can live with it.
  3. I feel a lot more comfortable using this big behemoth of a noisy, klack-klack-klackety keyboard. Waaay more comfortable. I could never pin down why I was always so antsy using the Apple keyboard (which is a perfectly usable and wonderful keyboard, all things considered) but I realized that it just isn’t for me. Maybe because it’s too quiet, and the shallow key travel doesn’t sit well with my fingers.
  4. The IBM just feels… right.

The reason I’m testing it again is I’m anxious that it might go belly-up on me at any time; some of the keys might stop working, or the inexpensive USB connector-adaptor I bought in Virra Mall for P60 might suddenly fuck up and give up the ghost. But I don’t really need to worry: the thing is built like a tank, and I don’t think it’ll screw up anytime soon. If it’s been working fine for 32 years, it’ll work another for 32 years easy.

So, writing this short blog post takes care of testing the keyboard out and putting it through its paces.

It’s working just fine, and I’m happy.

 


Jul 1 2016

The Sony “Rolly”

Adel Gabot

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1:32PM

Saw an article on The Verge‘s Circuit Breaker gadget blog recently about the Sony Rolly. It was a look-back article, honoring and paying tribute to recent-but-quickly-rendered-obsolete tech. Nice. I have some experiece with the Rolly too.

Several years ago, I had a client who owned one and showed it off every chance he could get. He was obviously very proud he had one of the new-fangled toys, and he graciously lent me the thing for a week. I showed it off to all the people at my office in ABS-CBN, at the house, and to everyone I could.

Predating the Sphero Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB-8 by a good few years, the Rolly was a vanity project for Sony. It was pretty expensive back then at US$400, pretty rare—and pretty nice too.

It was essentially an egg-shaped wireless Bluetooth speaker that fit in the palm of your hand and had blinking lightbars (or light-rings) around it that changed colors on the fly or if you shook it really hard, two ends (or as Sony calls them, arms) that opened up and flapped like wings and rotating tracks that that moved together or in opposite directions and let it dance around intelligently to the music.

It had 2GB of flash memory and an accelerometer built-in. You synced it to your computer, tablet, phone or MP3 player via Bluetooth, and it would dance around on the floor or on the tabletop with many predetermined routines, with the ends flapping open and closed separately or together in time with the music, zooming and spinning around the room on the two tracks, as if it knew the song it was playing and was actually dancing to it specifically.

While it can dance to streaming music on the fly, it also has a “choreographer” program that can analyze the music tracks and create specific “motion” files for it to dance to. It can even play spoken word files which the arms would flap to and create the illusion that the device was actually talking. But it was much better at dancing.

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And that was all it did. As I said, a vanity project.

I really don’t know what purpose it served. I mean, who wanted a speaker that danced all over the room? It would be nice to watch for about fifteen minutes, but after that it got old real fast.

It’s been discontinued in most outlets, and you’d be lucky to find one in a store or website.

It’s since been superceded by Sphero and a few other companies who’ve created far better and more capable toys than the Sony Rolly, but if I find one of these at a discount store or website somewhere, I’d be sorely tempted to buy it, just for old time’s sake.

And that sums up my brief experience with the Rolly.


Jun 29 2016

A contrite admission

Adel Gabot

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8:58AM

A serious confession here: I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Never have.

I know it sound ridiculous, knowing how up-to-date and obsessive I am about TV shows, but I somehow never really got around to it. I think I did watch the very first episode years ago when it first came out (where one of the characters pushes a kid out of a tower), but put it aside as I thought it was another hack-and-slash fantasy, intending to watch it later.

But I never did. (Ditto for The Walking Dead, although I gave up on that one after the second season. But that’s a story for another blog entry.)

When GoT started to snowball into the behemoth it is now, I told myself I should get around to it, but never really found the time. And it’s gotten away from me. By the fourth season, I’ve given up the fantasy of eventually catching up—there are too many episodes gone by already!

When my friends gather around to discuss the latest show, I sagely nod my head and act like I know what they’re talking about even if I don’t, and try to participate as little as possible so I’m not found out to be the boor who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones.

Everyone watches it. I mean, who the hell doesn’t?

Me, apparently.

Of course, through osmosis, I vaguely know some of the high points, like the Red Wedding thing, that Jon Snow boondoggle where you don’t know if he’s alive or dead, White Walkers—which are apparently the show’s version of militant zombies, and the various battles and deaths and all that, but honestly, I don’t really know a single thing about the damned show.

And now it’s a cultural touchstone, a weekly ritual where people actually form theories as to where the show will go and discuss it endlessly online and in person. The second to the last episode of the season has gone into the books as the highest rated TV episode ever.

Now that it’s wrapped up the sixth season and is preparing to go into its last (or maybe a couple more—well, the 13 final episodes, however the creators want to slice it), I told myself this morning that this deception’s gotta end. I owe it to myself to watch the entire thing and finally see what everyone’s been obsessing about all these years. Binge-watch six seasons of the show in the hiatus before they end it.

I’m finally going to be in the loop.

So this morning, I set my computer to download all the shows thus far, and when they’re ready, I’ll get started binge -watching. After all these years, I’ll finally be a citizen of Westeros. Winter is coming, and we all have to get ready!