ITLT: Computer Product Pages

So in the previous ITLT post: “Ultrabook & the latest Intel HD Graphics“, I realised how horrendous laptop product pages can be: hard to find the latest models and sometimes even harder to find their specifications at a glance.

In the order of best to worst that I saw are

  1. Apple: basically 2 different skews of notebooks each has 1 page for all specs and extra text with configuration options. Shows full specs and starting prices (MBAs /MBPs)
    Apple - Airs
  2. Apple - Airs specsSony: 1 page showing the 4 different types/segments of notebooks showing screen sizes and start prices. No filtering but the 4 different segments are unique enough that they don’t really need filtering. Each segment shows different models in that segment with processor, screen size & resolution, price. Comparison between models available non obvious page.
    SonySony - detailsSony - current models
  3. Lenovo: results show main specifications (CPU, Graphics, RAM, storage, screen size & resolution, OS, price) items list shows main specifications and has nice sidebar filtering but no filtering on screen resolution. Does not show possible upgrades. No comparison
    Lenovo
  4. Dell: 86 results in total but good filtering: checkboxes that work and filterable by 4th gen processor. Results list show OS, Storage, RAM, price.
    Dell - ComparisonDell - Listing
  5. HP: the main page separates devices into “Home” and “Work” which I don’t really like. Results show (screen size and possibly price). Filtering by size shows a checkbox list but it works like an option dropdown – you can select only one. There is no filtering based on processor, so results could be showing you old laptops. Comparison of up to 3 devices to see further specs. 40 devices in total.
    HP - FilterHP - Listing
  6. Asus: Nice sidebar filtering options but dismal details of results listing: only shows screen size. Processor filtering does not show 4th gen processors (only 3rd gen and below). UX 301 LA is named as “Ultrabook” but filtering by “Ultrabook” thinness hides it. Can compare models (max 5) to see more specs. 51 results in the “thin and light” category (176 in all categories) – lots of older models.
    Asus
  7. Samsung: Results show only screen size. No filtering and shows a lot of older models. Same model of different colour listed as a separate item – meaning there are duplicates. Viewing all shows all 187 results (lots of old models).
    Samsung

It’s sad to see how manufacturers are giving consumers a hard time just looking to find a laptop. It’s even sadder to see some manufacturers showing old models in their listings (Asus and Samsung). Kudos to Sony for simplifying their range to 4 distinct types of laptops but Apple takes the cake due to their minimal yet sufficient product line up and having information rich specification pages.

ITLT: Ultrabook & the latest Intel HD Graphics

So I’m looking for a thin and lighter laptop like the Macbook Air and looking at all the ultrabook and it’s sad to see that it seems that only Apple combines the latest 4th generation Haswell Intel processor (with better battery life) with Intel HD 5000 Graphics (or above) at a reasonable price. The HD 5000 series have a pretty decent performance advantage over the 4000 series (also see notebookcheck.net stats).

Sony, Dell, Lenovo, HP, Asus and Samsung all seem to have Haswell CPUs but paired with the older 4000 series GPU instead of the latest 5000 series with a few exceptions in bold. (These are based on Australian sites and perhaps other countries may have different models)

So it seems there are only 2 non-Apple notebooks with HD 5000 series and both are high spec’d. Strangely the i7 model of the HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 with the HD 5000 doesn’t seem available and the one that i7 model with the HD 4400 goes for AU$3,199 (HP). The Asus Zenbook UX301LA model with the HD5100 seems to be super tricked out and is AU$2,865 (Scorptec) with the regular i5 version at $2,499 (AsusNotebook.com.au). The Airs start at AU$1,099  (11″) / AU$1,249 (13″) with a fully spec’d 13″ at AU$2,099 (i7, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM). 

Even when ignoring the HD 5000 difference, I think all ultrabooks don’t meet the Air’s competitive price and spec combination (even when the Airs are configured with better RAM / CPU / storage). Hopefully with CES coming up, and the announcement of new ultrabooks, there may finally be a price competitive ultrabook to the MacBook Airs.

 

 

Note for personal future reference: 4th generation Haswell CPUs for each Intel Graphics series:

Places to get Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air Power Adapters in Brunei

A couple months back my 2 year old 13" MacBook Pro’s power adapter fizzled into oblivion while in the middle of working on a project. And thus began the quest for a MBP power adapter. Coincidentally lots of places were out of stock (AV, Yihfa, Dee Jay) or required a custom order which would take several days and thus I even considered knock-off power adapters from B.I.T. The next step was looking up if other Apple laptop power adapters would work to replace my 60W power adapter. AV did not recommend using a 85W power adapter for 15" MBP on my 13" MBP but after looking things up online it seems fine: the main take away is to ensure the same voltage but higher or equal amperage. Even Apple says a high wattage (voltage*amperage) power adapter is fine (via StackExchange: "Can a 60W MagSafe power adapter work interchangeably on a Macbook Pro that “requires” an 85W adapter?").

Surprisingly enough, I found my power adapter at Incomm at the Mall as I randomly just walked in to look a some phones.

Places to get Apple power adapters:

  • AV – Kiulap, The Mall, KB
  • Dee Jay – Gadong (same row as McDonalds – other branches doesn’t seem to stock power adapters)
  • Netcom – Kiulap, The Mall – custom order (thus will take a few days)
  • Yihfa – Kiulap
  • QQeStore
  • Yappe – Serusop
  • Incomm – Gadong, The Mall
  • BIT Computer – Kiulap (knock off / non original chargers)

Creating a Brunei Apple App Store Account Without a Credit Card

As mentioned in our episode of Corner Geeks 8: The Brunei Apple App Store, the video below documents how to create a Brunei account without a credit card.

Do note:

  1. not all apps seem available (e.g. WhatsApp) but most seem there.
  2. no music / movies / TV shows available
  3. AV mentioned that they currently selling Brunei iTune gift cards

The gist of the process:

  1. Load the App Store in iTunes
  2. Search for a free app (e.g. Angry Birds)
  3. Download the free app
  4. Sign up from the dialog box
  5. Select "None" as a "Payment Method" section during the registration

I still think getting a US iTunes Account is still the best option as it is completely unrestricted. You can create a US account without a credit card, using the same method above but select US instead of Brunei. You will need to buy gift cards online though, and I have bought iTune gift cards from both PC Game Supply and Jerry Cards with good results so thus far. See which works best for you and join the ecosystem that has yet to be rivaled (especially outside the US).

Corner Geeks 8: The Brunei Apple App Store

Corner Geeks Logo beta 2
MP3 link (right click > Save Link As…)

A ‘live’ / non-Skype Corner Geeks recording this week as I sat down with @mfirdaus as we discussed the Brunei Apple App Store while also passing him the InstallESD.dmg file for Lion. We hope that this is the start of more services being opened to Brunei and perhaps a legal way for people to get music, movies and TV shows in the future.

Show Notes

  • Apple brings the iOS and Mac App Store to 33 new territories, including Brunei!

  • We can register with a Brunei Credit Card
  • AV Electronics, the premium reseller of Apple products, says they aren’t currently selling Brunei iTunes gift cards

  • Registration without a credit card is possible with the same hack/work around to register a US account without a credit card (try download a free app in the App Store and create an account from there)
  • Brunei just has an App Store, not a full iTunes store with Music / Movies / TV Shows
  • Not all apps available in the iOS App Store: e.g. WhatsApp (could be developer’s setting when publishing app or some other unknown restrictions)
  • Prices shown in store are in US dollars
  • App ratings are reset meaning Brunei apps could make it to the recommended list
  • Sources for US gift cards: PC Game Supply / Jerry Cards (I have bought once from each of these sellers before and can verify that they work)

iPad 2 Launch in Brunei

So today was the launch of the iPad 2 in Brunei and @mfirdaus and I managed to do a bit of live streaming coverage. I got there just before 9am and noticed that there already was a queue of about 10 people but soon after that when the AV staff arrived on the scene they put up a proper queue with queue posts and a with a nice little sign.

I asked the AV staff on hand about how many units they have, and was told “alot” and not to worry. But sadly about 15 minutes after that @JustCinful went in to get hers, but was told that there were no more 3G models in stock and could only pre-order. She was about 50th in the queue, so there weren’t that many people before her. I honestly wish AV gave a specific number of units rather than a vague terms like “a lot”.


Above is a Photosynth panoramic image at 10:08am after the first batch of 20 went in.

At about 3:30pm after recording a uploading the video and did some other recording, I went to AV and they still had Wi-Fi models in stock. Final prices are below and contact AV on Facebook, Twitter (@ave_brunei) or call them at +673 223 7650 (Kiulap) / +673 245 6436 (Mall)

iPad 2 Wi-FI

  • 16GB: B$668 / B$696 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B$798 / B$832 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$928 / B$967 (Cash/Normal)

iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G

  • 16GB: B$848 / B$884 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B978 / B$1019 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$1108 / B$1155 (Cash/Normal)

Check out the edited live coverage video below

OS X: Solving “The operation cannot be completed because you do not have sufficient privileges for some of the items” problem

I was trying to backup some of my files in OS X onto an external hard disk and ran into the following error dialog box: “The operation cannot be completed because you do not have sufficient privileges for some of the items”

So I thought it was a permission issue of a file/folder that I did not have permission to read. So I went to file information (File > Get Info) of the folder and under “Sharing & Permissions”, I made sure that I had read permissions and clicked “Apple to enclosed items” (I believe this applies the permission rules to all sub files and folders recursively).

I tried copying the folder over again and the error dialog persisted. Wasn’t too sure why it still happened so I tried cleaning out the dot files using the “dot_clean” command from Terminal and viola! Copying went on without a hitch.

So when you encounter the “The operation cannot be completed because you do not have sufficient privileges for some of the items” again

  1. check file/folder permissions (use get Info from Finder)
  2. use dot_clean (from Terminal)

Installing/Using Boot Camp on unsupported versions of OS X

So I installed Boot Camp when it was still in the beta versions on an OS 10.4 MacBook about 2 years ago but never install a Windows partition. Recently I tried to install Windows, so I started Boot Camp Assistant only to be greeted with a message that it had expired. As with most Apple stuff, there isn’t much support if you don’t upgrade (and in the process pay Apple more money). After some searching I found this forum post which basically states to change the date to 2005 (System Preferences > Date & Time) and ensure “Set date & time automatically” is unchecked.

I can verify that it works with OS X 10.4 on 20th August 2010 (Note: Boot Camp Assistant was previously installed so I just needed to run it, not install it. I can’t seem to find any download links to old Boot Camp versions either)

iPad’s Weird Rendering Issue of Images with Text in Safari

So my sister got an iPad and one of the first things I did was to load up my Unofficial Lite Edition of The Brunei Times E-Paper to see how it looked and I was surprised at how bad it rendered the text in the images. It looks fine on my computer and even on a Nokia E71. I wonder why it looked bad on Safari on the iPad. Now if I saved the image and viewed the saved photo in Photos, it turned out fine. Anybody care to explain this to me?

Note: this seems to happen with images that are bigger than the native resolution of the display (or that have to be scaled down in Safari. If I open an smaller image that does not require scaling, the text is fine and clearly visible

Below: Nokia E71 (in Web Browser) and iPad (in Safari) showing the same page (iPad image seems slightly out of focus but close up of the iPad image can be seen in the 2nd photo)

Below: Close up of the page in Safari

Below: As mentioned, if I save the image and open it in Photos it seems fine.

OS X Desktop Icon Placement Issue

So I was trying to lay out some icons on the desktop (OS X 10.5.8) and noticed a weird and frustrating issue/problem.

  • I clicked and dragged an item (using the Trackpad)
  • Moved it to a location I wanted to place it
  • I let go of the trackpad

Now we would all think the item would place itself where I had placed it or if auto-arrange is on, to the closest square in the grid. But oddly enough that didn’t happen. If anybody has an answer for me