Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fix Your Slow Samsung Evo SSD - Performance Restoration Software (currently for Windows only)

If you own a Samsung Evo 840 SSD, it is most likely reading data much slower than it should be. This is due to a bug in the drive's firmware and effects old data already on the drive.

With these Evo SSDs being so popular, Samsung has acknowledged the problem almost immediately and has released a restoration tool that fixes this issue. The tool is only for Windows at the moment but there is a note on the download page stating that a Mac/Linux version is coming at the end of Oct.

You can download the Restoration tool here. Also, on that page you should download and install Samsung Magician. It will give you all the info on your drive including the drive's current firmware version.

NOTE: Make sure you have a current backup of all the data on your Evo SSD before performing any sort of fix or firmware update!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taming Windows 8 for Desktop use - Just do these two things

I have been using Windows 8 since it's release on my main workstation. It is actually a pretty good upgrade from Windows 7 especially now with 8.1 and other bug fixes that have been released since its launch. Out of the box however, Windows 8 can be a confusing and downright frustrating experience on a desktop PC. By default your Windows 8 PC boots up into the Windows 8 Menu, a bunch of unfamiliar tile icons in full screen. There are two types of apps for Windows 8. Modern Metro apps that open full screen that are really better suited for touch devices and the classic Windows desktop applications that open in a window from the desktop.

I would start by installing all available Windows updates. Windows 8.1 can be downloaded from the Windows Store (push the windows key on your keyboard and type "Store" and open the green shopping bag icon). Search for Windows 8.1 in the store search.

After that here are the two things you will need to do:

Why I didn't upgrade to a MacBook Air - 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display (mid 2014)

I finally upgraded my 2008 MacBook Aluminum! I was originally going to purchase the 13" MacBook Air (MBA) but ended up leaving Bestbuy with the 13" MacBook Pro w/Retina display. It's only 0.5 lbs heavier than the Air and is just slightly thicker. Surprisingly though it has a smaller footprint than the MBA.

Really though, it's all about getting in on that Retinal display. For $200 more than the MacBook Air, you can get the 13" MacBook Pro w/Retina that is almost as thin/light, has 9+ hours battery life, and a more powerful cpu/gpu not to mention a full HDMI port and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports.

To me, a laptop screen is so important. It is, after all, how you interact with the device. It made sense for me to spend a little extra and give up some portability for a more powerful laptop with a much better screen! That being said, the MacBook Air is the perfect laptop if you care mostly about weight and battery life.

First post from my iPhone!

I'm testing the blogger app on my iPhone. Seems easy enough. Here's a photo

You should! - Disable Comcast XFinity hotspot and enable bridge mode on Comcast wireless router

Comcast customers can (should imo) opt out of Xfinity hotspot that is enabled on all their routers by default. 

From Xfinity Wifi FAQ page:
How do I disable/enable the XFINITY WiFi Home Hotspot feature?We encourage all subscribers to keep this feature enabled as it allows more people to enjoy the benefits of XFINITY WiFi around the neighborhood. You will always have the ability to disable the XFINITY WiFi feature on your Wireless Gateway by calling 1-800-XFINITY. You can also visit My Account at, click on “Users & Preferences”, and then select “Manage XFINITY WiFi.”

Also, in most cases, you'll want to use your own wireless router. You'll need to call Comcast support and have them put their router in bridge mode. With the their router in bridge mode, you can simply plug a network cable from the Comcast router (they say port #1) to the WAN/INTERNET port on your own wireless router and have fun!

After almost 4 years on Android, I switched back to iPhone (for now)

I was a big iPhone fan. I got the original iPhone a month or so after it was released (I still have it) and I continued to upgrade through each and every revision. AT&T allowed this upgrading behaviour by simply extending my 2 year contract each time a new iPhone was released. At the time, iPhone was an AT&T exclusive and with so many iPhones pounding on their wireless network, service suffered in my area (Boston, MA). Service got so bad for me that I had to switch to another carrier. I ended up moving to Sprint in early 2011. They had great 4g (WiMAX) coverage all around my travel area and had very competitively priced plans. Just... No iPhone.

Original iPhone next to the iPhone 6 Plus!

I had to switch to Android and specifically to the HTC Evo 4G. This was Sprint's best Android offering at that time and imo was mostly a huge downgrade coming from an iPhone 4. It was sluggish and the camera was just not good (I was very disappointed with the camera). On the bright side, I did have a lot of fun customizing Android OS and I did enjoy the bigger screen. Another big bonus to moving to Sprint and Android was complete Google Voice integration. This meant I could use my actual mobile number with Google Voice and take full advantage of all it had to offer. I loved GV features like being able to dial directly from the default dialer, seamless international calling at really good rates, awesome voice mail customization, but mostly being able to both make calls/text, and get my voice messages from any web browser. I use Google Apps for my business email and this just all worked so well together!

Fast forward almost four years and I have never really looked back at the iPhone during this time. I went through five Android phones in these 4ish years. Each time my experience improved with both hardware and software. My Android phone upgrade path was as follows: HTC Evo > Samsung Galaxy SII > Note II > Note 3 > Nexus 5 > HTC One m8. I really like the HTC One m8 the best. The Galaxy SII was the first Android phone I owned that I thought finally competed with iPhones. I had the Note II for the longest out of all these and generally enjoyed the huge screen experience.

Sprint began to very slowly upgrade to LTE. Too slowly. I eventually moved to T-Mobile but couldn't bring my Sprint Note II with me. I figured upgrading to the Note 3 was the logical move and though it was indeed an upgrade to the Note II, I was ready to try something new. I returned the Note 3 for a Nexus 5 after only a few days. I absolutely loved the Nexus 5. It was all screen, thin, had good specs, felt great in the hand, had pure Android and was fairly inexpensive. But for me it had this fatal flaw of randomly not receiving calls and at times, not alerting of missed calls or voice messages! I really tried everything to fix the problem short of exchanging it for another (refurbished) Nexus 5. I wasn't the only one with this issue. I found several Google support forum threads with thousands of replies regarding the issue with the Nexus 5 not exclusive to T-Mobile. I am an original Jump! customer so I get to upgrade 2 times a year. I jumped to the HTC One m8 and it really is a well made device. The phone was fast, had a great screen, and the best speakers on any phone out there! The one thing I was very disappointed in was the camera. The 4MP ultra pixel camera wasn't doing it for me. It was capable of taking some decent shots and really brightened up low light scenes but it was so inconsistent. My wife has an iPhone 5s and we would many times be taking photos of the same events. Her iPhone consistently took better pictures and video.

So far, I'm enjoying my experience back on iPhone. The apps are high quality, and both the camera and screen are great. There are some things I miss on Android but nothing I can't go 6 months or year without (until I Jump! again perhaps back to Android!). Have you seen the Google Nexus 6? Looks niiiice :)

"Bendgate" - Should you be concerned?

I pre ordered an iPhone 6 Plus on T-Mobile on September 13th. It took almost three weeks to actually get the phone. During that time, I was watching all the reviews online. Then there was the whole Bendgate issue. I couldn't believe Apple would overlook such a bad design flaw. After using the iPhone 6 Plus for two weeks I can say for sure that it is indeed overblown or at least I haven't experienced any sort of bending or warping. I have used the phone for about a week without a case then a week so far with Apple's leather case. I do own some fairly skinny jeans and have performed some "extreme sitting" as well as normal walking/running, and placing the phone down (face up and down). I have inadvertently leaned against the phone in my pocket several times. So far, not even a hint of a bend. I'm guessing a lot of iPhone cases were sold during this whole fiasco.

After two weeks of normal usage with and without a case. Surprise! No bending!

Another concern was that the iPhone 6/6 Plus screen could scratch easily. I found several youtube videos that claimed that their iPhone 6 screen had mysterious permanent scratches after seemingly normal use.

So between the supposed delicate screen and bendgate, I seriously considered cancelling my pre order. If it wasn't for some other favorable iPhone 6 torture test videos, I probably would have.

In the end, I'm glad I didn't cancel my order because even though it's only been a couple of weeks, my iPhone 6 Plus doesn't have a scratch or bend on it. I have dropped it once already with the case on it and I certainly haven't babied the phone. I'm just using it like any other phone I've ever owned and it seems to be holding up just fine. So far, from my experience under normal usage, I wouldn't be concerned about bending or scratching.

iPhone screen after 2 weeks with no screen protector. Not a scratch on it. 

Apple leather case has a soft suede finish on the inside. 

Apple leather iPhone 6 Plus case in blue. Perfect fit that doesn't add too much to the thickness of the phone.

Full access to ports and speaker.