New Aluminum MacBook Review

New MacBook

We finally received our first of the new MacBooks at work today.  We’re considering making this our default, preferred laptop across the organization. So, I gave it a quick trial run for about 45 minutes.

First, how does this keyboard feel?  I think it’s a tad bit cramped.  The response of the keys is ok, but I feel like my pinkies are held in uncomfortably tight.

The screen seems fine to me.  Less real estate than I’m used to, but much easier to read than my 17″ high res screen.

The speaker response is very adequate.  A bit tinny, but fine for normal work use.

The track pad seems pretty natural – I forget I don’t have a button.

Sitting it on my lap, it feels too small for me.  But, I could get used to it.

The compact size and light weight make it nice for moving around the building easily.

The glossy screen is very nice when the display is set to bright.  But, if I’m trying to save power in a meeting by dimming the screen, the glare makes it hard to view.  But, again, I’d get used to it.

I plugged in the laptop to a projector in a conference room, and it worked exactly as my MBP does as far as connectivity.  Looked fine.

The entire machine just feels well made. While the keys look cheap, they work well. The screen is amazing and very rugged. All the metal and glass on the case feel awesome to the touch and yet extremely rugged.

The only problem I had with the MacBook is that my wireless internet seemed to be really slow. I’m not sure if that’s an issue of the MacBook or if we were having problems here at the office today.

Overall, I think it’s a great little laptop for typical users at our office. Some developers will still prefer the 17″ MBP, but it’s adequate for the majority of our Mac users.

Stage Lighting on the Cheap

Stage Lighting

For the past year and a half we’ve been lucky to have been lent a Leprecon LP-X24 lighting control console. This has been a really nice board, but now we’re needing to give it back to it’s owners who have another use for it. As we move forward with expanding into some intelligent lights in the coming year, I don’t really want to spend a ton of money on a new controller which could easily cost $3,500-$10,000. So, I’m exploring some options of replacing the controller on the extreme cheap.

So, we currently have 24 microplex channels and 5 DMX channels, all of which are non-intelligent lights (not moving or color changing). Adam Callender at Granger Community Church posted a while back about how they started into a High End Hog controller system by simply purchasing something like a HOG 3PC DMX Widget and controlling their lights using a spare computer running the HOG 3PC Software. This option appears to cost about $1200 $1,700 plus the cost of a computer. And presuming we went with a real HOG lighting console in the future, the DMX Widget would continue to be part of that.

But, then that got me to thinking, “Haven’t I seen some other cheap or free software for lighting controllers?”

Well, after a bit more searching online, it appears that we could purchase a lower end (no pun intended) USB DMX Interface for $151. This would let us drive a DMX universe using software like the following:

Below are two web sites that I found with some more details on cheap/free DMX control:

So… I’m looking for any input or experience with any of these cheap/free DMX options. At this entry price point, I’m just tempted to give several of them a try and see if they meet our needs. But, I’d love to get feedback from others who may have already gone down this path.

How Fast is USB Disk on an AirPort Wireless Base Station?

Warning: This is a technical post, mostly to document and share my experience so others interested might stumble upon it. 🙂

So, I purchased a couple of new 1TB USB hard drives this week and have been trying to figure out how to best set them up for optimal speed and accessibility.  The latest setup is to connect them via USB to my Apple AirPort Extreme Basestation as AirDisks.  I’ll be backing up my laptops to these drives daily (I’ll share the backup details later), so I was curious just how fast I could dump data to them.

How fast should I be able to copy data to the USB hard drive attached to my Airport Extreme?

  • 210 GB/hr (480 Mbps) peak from server – limit of USB 2.0 is lower than my gigabit network
  • 131.8 GB/hr (300 Mbps) peak from laptop – limit of 802.11n

But are those numbers realistic for average write speeds?  I’m currently averaging about 10.5 GB/hr.

Somebody suggested that the Airport Extreme is limited to about 5 MBps (17.57 GB/hr).  This has something to do with the processor in the Airport Extreme (APEB).  Here’s what they’re experiencing:

  • reading from APEB: 16 MBps
  • writing to APEB: 3.5 MBps average and 5-6 MBps peak

3.5 MBps = 12.3 GB/hr which is about what I’m experiencing so far.  I have 4 USB disks connected to by AirPort, but I think this throughput should be for all drives combined.

If you have a USB disk attached to a network with something like the AirPort Extreme, let me know what kind of read and write speeds you are averaging.

I’m Mistaken for a Rogue Spy

Apparently the Illinois Department of Information had a computer glitch and now I’ve been flagged with a Burn Notice.

Watch the video featuring my burn notice

Thankfully this is just a clever viral video promoting the 2nd season of Burn Notice on USA.  But, I enjoyed how they created the customized video on the fly.