Struggling with my MacBook Pro

I spent a good amount of the afternoon struggling with my MacBook Pro because for some reason it wouldn’t boot up.  During the boot sequence I kept on getting green lines going horizontally across the screen and it would never finish its boot sequence, the computer would just stay at a blank white screen and proceed no further.  I spent almost 2 hours trying to get this thing diagnosed and fixed.

Things I tried:

  • Resetting NVRAM
  • Resetting the SMC (normally done when you put in a new battery)
  • Getting into recovery mode (every which way mentioned by Apple)
  • Getting a call back from Apple phone support and trying the above resolutions

I did eventually get into the computer and I started a backup of my MacBook using Time Machine but then I tried to backup and sync my iPhone and that crashed the computer immediately and I struggled another hour or so just trying to get into the OS again!  I did manage to get into the diagnostic tools twice but the only error it could come up with was that there was a problem with my battery and I knew that wasn’t true because I had just replaced the battery not even 2 years ago with a fresh one.  After getting into the OS again, I ran a backup with Time Machine and this time I just let it run all the way until it finished without touching the computer except to check up on progress.  After that was complete I ran a disk utility diagnostic (you can only do it if you’re in the OS or can somehow get into recovery mode) and it found some inconsistency errors on my hard drive.

Using the disk utility and an article from Apple, I ran the fix utility but it didn’t fix it at first since I was logged into the OS.  WTF!!  I was afraid of trying to do a reboot because it had taken so long to get to this point.  But no matter what I did the utility said I needed to be in recovery mode and run the disk utility from there.  I held my breath and rebooted the system and somehow I got into recovery mode.  The screen looked all messed up with lines going vertically up and down and my mouse cursor wasn’t even visible, it was just this really thin line and I had to guess at what buttons I was pushing some of the time.  The screen also looked like it duplicated itself on the left 1/3 so that was weird too.  Surprisingly the utility still was able to run and it fixed my problem!  I did a reboot and all seems well for now but I’m taking more Time Machine backups for sure.  I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to use the computer again that I was researching what computer I was going to replace it with.

I had written a post a few months ago that picking a new computer was going to be hard since I had a lot of legacy things to plug into it.  I narrowed it down to a MacBook Air, a Dell XPS 13, or the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.  I eliminated the MacBook and MacBook Pro because I don’t want to use dongles for my crap and the cost of the machine just didn’t seem worth it if I had to buy more junk just to plug in my junk.  The MacBook Air was my “compromise” machine, it wasn’t as powerful as my current MacBook Pro but it had all the ports and stuff that I needed but it wouldn’t have the retina display and I craved something nice to look at.  I eliminated it after looking at the cost of it against a Windows machine.  There are apps like DayOne and Noteability that I like to use on the Mac but its not deal breakers for me to use them.  There is Photos and Messages that I would miss, but again I have an iPhone and an iPad to manage that stuff.  Downloading photos I’m not even worried about anymore with Google Photos and my NAS.  I eliminated the XPS 13 mainly because I have had bad experiences with Dell over the last 20 or so years going back to when I was in college.  While all the online reviews have been stellar, dude it was a Dell!

That leads me to the Surface Pro 4.  Granted it was about a year old already and there was a new Surface Pro 5 coming out soon but I needed a new computer (well I thought I did but now my Mac works again) and it had the ports that I wanted.  It also had a pen which was something that I’ve been wanting so I can draw shit on the screen.  The only barrier was cost.  The thing costs as much as a MacBook Pro when you load it to the gills (I like having 1TB of space on my drive, mainly its all pictures and music but I have a NAS to take care of that now at home) so the requirement wasn’t really there.  I could get away with a 512GB SSD but then I remembered there is micro SD slot under the hinge!  I poked around on Amazon and there are 256GB micro SD cards!  Instant expand-ability and I can get multiple cards so I can switch it out based on what I wanted to save on the Surface Pro!  There was also a deal on the Sufrace Pro, it would come with the docker accessory for free!  That adds even more ports and I could hook up a monitor to it too if I wanted.  Alas my computer is working now but I think I know what I’m going to get to replace the desktop computer or the MacBook Pro.  It’s definitely going to be a Windows 10 machine unless Apple comes out with something compelling and that doesn’t require me to get a fuck load of dongles and new cables!

OK quick rant about Apple’s new direction.  If you’re going to make a computer and other crap, make it all compatible!  I mean I think its cool that your new MacBooks have the newest and latest tech but your iPhones, iPads, and event he new AirPods have no way to connect to the damn thing because they use older USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and connectors!  I hook up my iPhone and iPad to my MacBook Pro as a charger when I’m home because it charges really freaking fast.  Not to mention trying to sync your iPhone over the air when you have configured a USB drive as the backup target for the iPhone is SLOW!  iTunes sucks so hard in the syncing department, I prefer to sync using a cable since the data transfer is faster.  They need to design iTunes to run from a NAS or something, their cloud design is garbage and I’m not putting all my music in the cloud given that net neutrality is about to make data caps and throttling real.  OK quick rant over!

I’ll be watching my MacBook over the next few days and hooking up the Time Machine drive to it more frequently.  There aren’t any good tools out there to transfer data from a Mac to a Windows machine (I found plenty of articles that pretty much say, go to Finder, copy your files to an external hard drive, and re-copy them to Windows….. fucking genius, why didn’t I think of that???)  If my desktop also decides to breath its last, the only personal computer at home is my daughters under powered and frustrating as shit to update HP Stream (I happen to be writing this blog post from it and I even updated it to the latest Creator Update).  Maybe I can get permission to get the Surface Pro 5….. oooo that would be awesome!

Continued Windows 10 Update Frustrations

I’m writing this post on my daughters HP Stream 13 that my father bought her a couple of years ago and I’ve been trying to update it without success.  The problem is the need to have 5GB of free space on the drive which is something that I don’t have.  I think I’ve tried for the better part of a year trying to get the update installed with no luck.  I did go into the computer settings using my admin credentials and noticed that a ton of hard drive space is being taken up by recovery disks and stuff like that.  I tried to remove them but Windows 10 won’t let me which is a slight annoyance.

In this new age of computers with tiny ass hard drives, Microsoft needs to provide a better way to update the OS rather than just using the old C:\ drive to store everything for the update.  I’d be happy with just being able to use a flash drive or something.  I’ve read a few posts that says you might be able to do this but its way too involved and I’m just not that worried about security to bother with a 10 step process that “might” help update the HP Stream.

I’ve definitely learned my lesson regarding buying computers, I’m not going to get something with low memory like a Chromebook or a similarly speced out Windows computer.  I want at least 256GB on the hard drive, 1TB technically is what I want but a lot of computers don’t even come with that configuration option unless you’re willing to shell out mucho money.  My MacBook Pro that will no longer receive updates after this year has 1TB drive and that was an update from its 750GB hard drive.  I have plenty of space for apps, data, and OS updates.  I don’t put a ton of stuff in the cloud even though thats the way companies want you to go because you’re now subscribed and always paying for storage instead of paying for it just once.

I was really considering getting a new Surface Pro but these difficulties with Windows 10 might keep from actually doing it.  I want a touch screen with a pen but its more like a nice to have and not a must have.  On the other side of the equation, the lack of ports on the new Macs royally sucks, I still use my Mac to sync my phone, ipads, and tons of other stuff which requires a real USB port.  I don’t need thinner and lighter, I need something with a ton of ports, be semi thin, and have a huge ass hard drive (2TB would be ideal now).

Oh yeah, I also finished this blog post on my MacBook Pro, the HP Stream was pissing me off too much to keep using it so I switched to my more powerful machine.

Re-Installing Windows Still SUCKS

I managed to royally screw up my daughter’s computer when I was trying to delete the recovery partition because I wanted the latest and greatest Windows 10 updates.  The screw up was so bad that I am actually re-installing Windows 10 right now.  I haven’t done this in a long time and it brings back horrifying memories of when I had to do this over and over again with older version of Windows when I always ran into trouble through installing questionable software to get something done.

Right now it’s going through the motions and I’m just waiting for the thing to finish so I can start configuring it.  There wasn’t any software on the  computer (mainly because there isn’t any room to install any) so I’m not too worried about that and there is also no data on it either.  I just have to reinstall some stuff like Chrome and setup the bookmarks again and everything should be all set.  This experience makes me want to ditch the idea of getting another Windows computer and just getting a MacBook Pro or even just the regular old MacBook when the time to upgrade comes around.

I think in all the time I’ve had the MacBook Pro, I’ve messed it up once so bad that I had to reinstall the OS and even then I was able to use my TimeMachine backup to restore all my files and settings.  I think Apple does a better job of creating backups and restores than Microsoft and that’s one of the main selling points for getting another Mac.  I do still need a desktop level OS to do some things but I am trying to see how well I can survive with just my iPad Air 2 but I just keep on going back to my computers.  I think I’ll skip a tablet for my next major computing purchase and go for a regular computer.  Since I maintain my computers so well, it’s going to be a while before one of them dies (my desktop is currently 9 years old and running Windows 10 and my MacBook Pro is 5 years old and was just upgraded with an SSD).

Woohoo the OS is starting to install, maybe it will require my input soon……

I need a faster computer

I’m trying to be cost coscious by keeping around my 8 year old desktop since I use it for so little these days but I think the reason I use it for so little is because its so slow.  Back when I bought my HP Desktop it was a killer machine, quad core intel processor, 3GB of RAM and almost 2TB of hard drive space for me to play with.  To give a little background on how old it is, it was pre-loaded with Windows XP Media Center Edition.  I’ve never actually used the Media Center part except for a short period of time when I wasn’t living in my townhouse but overall the computer was pretty bad ass.

I’ve since loaded Windows 7 Ultimate Edition on it (because I like all the bells and whistles which adds to bloat but it makes me happy).  This particular year it seems the computer is going slower than normal.  I think its truely showing some signs of its age.    I have a MaBook Pro that I use more than the desktop since its portable and faster for the most part but even that one is showing its age a little bit.  What I think I want is a new computer with SSD instead of a traditional hard drive.  The only problem I have with that is that I like keeping things locally instead of in the cloud so I have control over a lot of my material, namely pictures and videos that we’ve been taking as a family.

There is also an idea to re-do the entire office and if we do that, I don’t think we’ll need a new desktop since it just takes up so much room.  My Bose speaker system is also starting to show some age as well and I’ve thought about replacing it too but I’ve held off since I was considering what to do with the desktop when it finally dies.  Although knowing me, I’ll probably end up fixing the computer again to keep it running while skimping on performance parts that I normally would have bought.

A good example is that I’ve been trying to watch a movie on my desktop but its so painfully slow to actually turn it on, launch windows explorer, and then start up the movie.  I think hats why I just copy movies to my iPad and stream it using an Apple TV, instant gratfication!.  I still need a computer though so I’ll wait until I have more cash to burn and then try and get something like a new MacBook Pro or something.  I need lots of horsepower but I also want a lot of drive space.  I have external drives that can somewhat fit the bill but they have moving parts so its not ideal.  Only time will tell, in the mean time I’m going to continue to suffer using my desktop until it finally dies, and I mean really dies like the processor melts or something.

On a better note, WWDC is in half an hour so I get to glimpse what the future will bring to iOS and OSX.  I’ve also reserved my free upgrade to Windows 10 so 2015 will see massive updates to all my computing devices 🙂

Windows 8 is a FAIL

Okie dokie.  I’ve been a Windows user since I was a freshman in highschool and back then I wasn’t even allowed into Windows unless my teacher said I could go because the programs that I was using were DOS based (thats Disk Operating System to you youngins).  Windows 3.0 and 3.1 were pretty horrible.  There really wasn’t anything fun you could do with the thing and it looked aweful because of the 16 bit graphics and the windows themselves really didn’t do anything but piss you off.  Windows 95 through Windows 7 has been pretty consistent, it has a start menu, it has search (for the most part), and it lets me get to my programs easily and I know where everything is.

Windows 8 is a step away from all that.  Microsoft has decided to unify the user experience by using a bunch of tiles.  I’ve seen it in Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and now in Windows 8.  I must say that I thoroughly despise it.  My sister in law bought a new computer and wanted me to help her set it up and it had Windows 8 on it and it also had a touch screen (thats definitely new).  I know that Windows 8.1 brought back the Start Menu but Windows 8 lacks any start menu whatsoever.  To me thats is the most important thing in Windows.  To get to the traditional desktop I had to click on a tile that looked like a desktop but it wasn’t labeled “desktop” so I would know to click on it.

After some initial struggles I was able to finally get the hang of it and attempted to get the programs I needed on the computer installed and move some data around from an external drive to the computer.   Needless to say it was a less than stellar experience and it took longer than it needed to if I was using regular Windows 7.  I don’t think I’m going to upgrade to Windows 8 or potentially buy a new Windows based PC if the interface remains the same or if this is the new direction of Windows.  I need a traditional desktop experience.

My future most likely will be OSX Mavericks since its still pretty traditional in terms of how it works.  I’m hoping that they don’t try and merge too much of iOS with with OSX and make it more like Windows 8.  I have to admit that OSX has definitely grown on me since I’ve owned a MacBook Pro over the last 2 years.  The swipe gestures are definitely helpful and since I do most of my stuff using a web browser I don’t have a real need for a whole lot of programs except for iPhoto, iTunes, and Safari.  I’m another 3 years from my next upgrade so I’m hoping that they don’t mess something up that will force me to keep my old PC and MacBook running until something better comes along (hopefully I won’t be forced to use Linux, that would really suck).

iPad or Netbook?? Hmmm….

I have recently begun to question what it is I do with all the technology in my house and the one thing that keeps on coming back is that I really just need it to look stuff up.  This has gotten me into thinking about the types of technology I should buy.  I currently spend a great deal of my time in my office because I have a computer and a TV in here but I have TV’s in other parts of the house but I don’t use those TV’s as much because there is no computer.  I have devices such as my iPhone and my iPod touch or even my laptop coputer that I use for work.  I use my iPhone when I’m away from home, which is quite a bit, but I wanted something for the house that I could just lug around but not be too heavy and do the things I want to do which is web surf to do research.

I’m torn between the iPad which is a new device that just came out from Apple which is really a huge ass iPod Touch or iPhone or getting a netbook.  I went to Best Buy this weekend and decided to try both devices…. well thats a lie, I know what  a netbook is like, its just a PC but on a much smaller scale that runs Windows etc. etc…. and I didn’t really try it out but since I have a laptop already, how much different can it be?  The appeal of the netbook right now is the price point.  Well kinda…. I have a bunch of United Miles that I can use towards a netbook such as the Acer One or I can use those points for a couple of different things like speakers for my iPod Touch so I can take it to the beach and stuff and a mini DV camera to record movies.  I would have to travel to Chicago one more time and transfer all of my Marriott points over to United in order for me to make this purchase.  The drawback that I see is that its still a computer.  I have my home desktop which has more power than I know what to do with with a 22″ screen and Bose sound system.  I’d have to deal with Windows and all the crap that goes with it and installing applications to make it do the things I want it to do.  Although it would be quite useful to have a more portable computer to have around the house that wasn’t my work laptop.  I don’t know if I see myself editing pictures and what not but I do think that I would upload stuff from my camera to the web or something like that.  All this makes a pretty good case for a netbook to me since it has the versatility of a computer but in a much smaller package.

I did go and see an iPad today at Best Buy and gave it a whirl for internet, books, and a game or two that I was already familiar with such as Flight Control.  It’s a pretty neat device I must say with the big touch screen and the accelerometer.  It’s strengths are what hurts it for me right now since it would duplicate the functions of my current iPhone and iPod touch.  The difference being is that the screen size is way bigger so it would make things like reading my Kindle Books or watching my videos that I put on my iPhone much more appealing to me if I took it with me on the road.  I guess the fact that it can do what I currently do on my iPhone except on a much bigger scale is an appealing aspect.  I use my iPhone a lot for watching movies and reading books on the plane ride to and from my client sites.  The kicker is that the 3G version isn’t out yet and I’m not really willing to pay for another 3G plan.  I was considering buying a Kindle at some point but this would actually eliminate that need since I would have potentially 3 different book stores available to me instead of just Amazon.  The movie part would be awesome too, I would be able to watch movies in larger formats on the road and I could potentially watch them at home or on my balcony instead of being cooped up indoors all day long.

I’ll have to think about this one for a little bit…….. lol……. not really, I just finished buying an iPad using my EPP discount at Apple.  I didn’t get a discount on the iPad itself but I did get one on the case.  I bought the 64GB version so I can hold more of my movies on it.  I might still get the netbook too since I have to take a trip to Chicago in late May but we’ll see.  Having a new Canon Camera would be nice though….

It’s not a good weekend for my tech

Well this weekend has been a total bust when it comes to the technology I use at home. I’ve spent the better part of the weekend trying to get everything back in working order and its taken hours to get there (I’m still doing updates right now). I was hoping for a nice quiet weekend of playing video games and watching movies but I guess that didn’t go exactly to plan.

First thing that went wrong was my iPhone completely crashing. I don’t know what caused this to occur but while I was out with my wife, my iPhone would only show the Apple logo. No matter what I did to try and get it unlocked (and there isn’t a lot you CAN do with an iPhone away from a computer to reset it), it just wouldn’t budge. I decided to turn it off and head home and do some research on trying to get it unstuck. No matter what I read the same solution kept on popping up which was to reset the iPhone and reinstall everything. I own a 32GB iPhone and its almost full so needless to say it took quite a while to get everything in order again. Doing a restore from scratch requires moving a lot of my icons on the iPhone around since it was restored in alphabetical order and I certainly don’t use my apps that way. On top of all that, I had to re-jailbreak my phone and install all the apps that went with it. The configuration wasn’t so tough like a Windows Mobile phone but it was still a pain to do on a Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday night my desktop computer started acting really funny. It was all slow and it wouldn’t do anything when I tried clicking on programs that I normally used. I decided to try a few things from my old tech support days to try and get things running again but nothing I tried worked. I also started to notice a clicking noise from my hard drive which normally isn’t a good sign. I ended up deleting my entire C:\ drive (good thing I don’t keep data on there) and tried re-installing Windows 7. I had to let it run all night long in order to install properly and that was another indication something was wrong because it doesn’t take that long to install Windows. Once everything loaded up, I tried to run a disk diagnostic on the drive and lo and behold I found bad sectors. Rather than risk it, I decided to replace the drive. My HP desktop was my first new computer in years so I had to read up a little to figure out the specs and what kind of hardware was in it so I bought the right kind of drive. Cracking that baby open was a cinch and I only needed a Philips head screw driver to take the drives out.

I was able to isolate my C drive and remove it and I went to Best Buy and got a new drive (1TB too!) really cheap. I’m currently in the process of trying to put all my programs back on my computer but I know that I’m going to miss something while I’m doing all of this. I’m getting the bare essentials first and then I’ll work on my nice to have apps like my VM’s. Needless to say, this weekend has been pretty painful. I’m considering buying Acronis True Image to make snap shops of my computer system drive so I can do restores. The trick is trying to get everything I used to have on my computer and then taking a snapshot. Plenty of people tout the system restore point but I’ve had nothing but trouble using that feature so I’m going to look elsewhere. Windows 7 Ultimate does have a newer back up feature but I don’t think it takes images of your drives. Now what I really need is a SATA enclosure or something so I can try and wipe out my old drive.

Oh well, at least I was able to upgrade my computers storage so I can put even more crap on it. I will probably be slow in reinstalling everything, I want to play some Assasins Creed II this weekend 🙂