A New Mac

I’m beginning to look for a replacement for my 4 year old iMac. The current specs of my iMac suit me fine, 8 GB of RAM, 256MB video card (I don’t game), Intel Core 2 Duo processor. I haven’t really run into any issues with the tasks I need to perform… Until recently.

I have been experiencing quite a few issues with kernel panics that seem to be caused by the video card (according to the console and crash reports). They will either freeze the computer or restart it. They happen at random times. Sometimes the screen will freeze on the screensaver (with very few apps running). Other times they happen just browsing the web (in Safari).

Back in June I was had some issues with the video card and luckily the iMac was still under Apple Care and they replaced the video card and the logic board. I thought that would solve all my problems, and for a while it did. Now I experience panics and freezes on a daily basis. I even did a fresh install of Mountain Lion, just to be sure it wasn’t due to something I installed and also because I haven’t done a fresh install since I got the machine. I may take the machine to the Apple Store for diagnosis, but I doubt they will find anything (they didn’t “find” anything the last time either, but wound up replacing the two components that were likely causing the issue). The Apple Hardware Test did not find anything wrong, but obviously, something is. The problem is, if I do need to replace the parts, the cost will be close to half the cost of buying a new machine with no guarantee that it will fix the issue. Then I will be out of that money and back where I started.

So that’s where my dilemma comes. Do I buy a new Mac (and no, buying a PC is not an option. I adore OSX and love the apps I use on it and do not want Windows 8) and if so, what model?

I currently use my iMac for web browsing, Photoshop work, web development and, most importantly, as my media server. I have Plex Media Server running and stream all my media to my Roku. I would really like a Retina MacBook Pro, but I would not want that running at all times in order to stream media to my Roku (and what’s the purpose of a MacBook if it has to stay on my desk connected to several external hard drives?). So, in all honesty, I have 3 options, a Mac Mini, an iMac or a Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro has not been update in forever and is really expensive. Not to mention, it is overkill for my needs. I’m not processing raw image files or doing a ton of video encoding. I don’t need server-grade (and outdated) Xeon processors. I don’t want to go with another iMac because of Apple’s move toward soldering the RAM directly to the logic board. I also don’t want to be stuck where I am now with my current iMac. That being said, any Mac I choose will face the same issues that all new Macs have with user-swappable parts (besides the Mac Pro, which I’ve pretty much ruled out at this point).

So that leaves the Mac Mini. I can upgrade the RAM on it, but that’s it. Everything else has to be done by Apple or an Apple certified repair shop. Also, the Mac Mini has integrated graphics and not a dedicated video card. I don’t do much (any) gaming, but it does worry me that I may need that extra power. I’m not sure how well the transcoding that Plex does or graphic intensive applications (Photoshop) will work on it. I imagine they will run fine, but I really need more information on that.

The Mac Mini is definitely the cheapest alternative. Building one online (without upgrading the RAM through Apple) will run about $1500. Not bad, but how will the machine handle in 3 or 4 years? Will I need a better machine by then (I like to keep my machines running as long as possible, in fact, I’m typing this on a 5 year old white MacBook that is also on its last leg, but with the iPad, I rarely use it)? Will it start to die on me like my iMac is? If I get the Mac Mini I will upgrade the RAM to 16GB, probably from Crucial, but the integrated graphics gives me some pause.

I feel that Apple’s tight control over their products and slow update cycles is hindering me here. I really wish they had a computer for people like me that were more tech-geek friendly. An iMac that users could open and swap parts would be ideal, but that is not Apple’s style, unfortunately. A cheaper Mac Pro would work too, if it were cheaper and not reliant on server-grade hardware. I don’t think I can wait to whatever mystery product Tim Cook hinted at for Mac Pro users in 2013, especially since I can’t go on using the iMac with it freezing every day.

So what do I do? I’m not sure.

The Never Ending Saga of iTunes Launching Itself

Two years ago I reported how iTunes would launch itself on my iMac. After tons of research trying to find the cause, I think I found it.

To recap what was happening, iTunes would launch by itself and (about half the time) start playing music. I thought there was an issue with the Logitech mouse I was using at the time (because any time I would touch the wireless dongle on the back USB port, iTunes would launch), but that didn’t seem to be the case because plugging in the normal Mighty Mouse did not solve the issue.

I continued to troubleshoot and do my normal testing and found that touching any of the plugged in devices to any of the USB ports could trigger it. If I shut down the computer and changes which ports the different devices plugged into, the problem would go away temporarily. Eventually, iTunes would launch by itself again. One of the most ominious times iTunes launched by itself was one Halloween while I was not at home. I came home to find Slither, a song about vampires by KC rapper Tech N9ne playing. Weird, huh?

For the past 6-9 months the problem went away so I assumed an Apple update fixed the issue at some point. Then, I installed Mountain Lion and after a few weeks the problem presented itself again. This time, I noticed that the problem only reoccured when I was troubleshooting another issue in which I was constantly moving my Mac to access the USB ports in the back. I started searching again. That’s when I found this thread on a Mac forum.

This problem is related to the microswitch located at the very bottom inside the speaker jack. Whenever you get this problem, make sure your speaker cable is fully inserted into the speaker jack. Even the slightest depress on the microswitch can create interference, causing itunes to start and random songs to start playing.

This made sense when I thought back on all the times the problem arose. Every time I would move my Mac to access the USB ports, I would move it in a way in which the speaker plug could have come lose from the jack, even if just a little bit. The tug on the speaker cord as I moved my jack made sense because the cable was taught enough to create the disconnect. After placing my Mac back where it should be and making sure the plug was in firm, I haven’t had the issue reappear. It looks like I have finally found the cause. Hopefully the countless other users experiencing this issue can use this information to help them rid themselves of this annoying problem.

Or so says Missouri Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

First of all, what world does this man live in? Second, what is “legitimate rape?”

Uverse to Block 20 Cardinals Games Again This Season

You would think that the two sides, Uverse and Fox Sports Midwest, would have come to some sort of agreement in the offseason. Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

For the second season in a row, Uverse subscribers will not be able to watch 20 games, including tonight’s versus the Reds. In fact, 7 of the 20 that are blacked out are games against division rivals like the Reds, Brewers, and Cubs.

Here’s the list of games being blacked out by Uverse.

DATE OPPONENT TIME
April 9 at Reds 6:10 p.m.
April 10 at Reds 6:10 p.m.
April 15 vs. Cubs 1:15 p.m.
April 17 vs. Reds 7:15 p.m.
April 23 at Cubs 7:05 p.m.
April 27 vs. Brewers 7:15 p.m.
May 2 vs. Pirates 7:15 p.m.
May 3 vs. Pirates 12:45 p.m.
May 11 vs. Braves 7:15 p.m.
May 16 at Giants 9:15 p.m.
May 17 at Giants 2:45 p.m.
June 13 vs. White Sox 7:15 p.m.
June 14 vs. White Sox 7:15 p.m.
June 19 at Tigers 6:05 p.m.
June 20 at Tigers 6:05 p.m.
June 25 at Marlins 6:10 p.m.
July 24 vs, Dodgers 7:15 p.m.
July 25 vs, Dodgers 7:15 p.m.
Aug. 3 vs. Brewers 7:15 p.m.
Aug. 10 at Phillies 6:05 p.m.

If you’re going to stay with Uverse, call 1-800-288-2020 and ask for customer retention. Tell them you’re unhappy about the situation and demand a discount. If they are going to screw over their subscribers, hit ‘em where it hurts… in their bottom line. Of course, it would be better if you cancel completely (not an option for a lot of people, I know).

The Death and Return of Superman

I was a huge comic book nerd when Superman died (and subsequently came back) in the comics. Like many other people, comic book nerds and regular Joes, I was shocked when DC Comics announced they were killing the Man of Steel. We were even more horrified when DC decided to bring him back a few issues later.

Max Landis (son of famed director John Landis) decided to make a hilarious short film about the whole ordeal. Check it out below.

Dueling Good Days

As an amateur historian and hip hop aficionado, I found the research of what day in history is actually Ice Cube’s “Good Day” fascinating. Murk Avenue breaks down the clues of Ice Cube’s It Was a Good Day to pinpoint the day.

CLUE 1:
“went to short dogs house, they was watching Yo MTV RAPS”
Yo MTV RAPS first aired:
Aug 6th 1988

CLUE 2:
Ice Cubes single “today was a good day” released on:
Feb 23 1993

CLUE 3:
”The Lakers beat the Super Sonics”
Dates between Yo MTV Raps air date AUGUST 6 1988 and the release of the single FEBRUARY 23 1993 where the Lakers beat the Super Sonics:
Nov 11 1988    114-103
Nov 30 1988    110-106
Apr    4 1989    115-97
Apr  23 1989    121-117
Jan  17 1990    100-90
Feb  28 1990    112-107
Mar  25 1990    116-94
Apr  17  1990    102-101
Jan  18  1991    105-96
Mar  24  1991    113-96
Apr  21  1991    103-100
Jan  20  1992    116-110

CLUE 4:
Dates of those Laker wins over SuperSonics where it was a clear day with no Smog:
Nov 30 1988
Apr   4  1989
Jan 18  1991
Jan 20  1992

CLUE 5:
“Got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck all night”
beepers weren’t adopted by mobile phone companies until the 1990s. Dates left where mobile beepers were availible to public:
Jan 18 1991
Jan 20 1992

CLUE 6:
Ice Cube starred in the film “Boyz in the hood” that released late Summer of 1991, but was being filmed mid-late 1990 early 1991 and Ice Cube was busy on set filming the movie Jan 18 1991 too busy to be lounging around the streets with no plans. Ladies and Gentlemen..

The ONLY day where:
Yo MTV Raps was on air
It was a clear and smogless day
Beepers were commercially sold
Lakers beat the SuperSonics
and Ice Cube had no events to attend was…

JANUARY 20 1992
National Good Day Day

Of course, it’s not that easy. Someone else has already set to disprove the day of January 20, 1992 as being the Good Day. 

Pujols Signs with the Angels

“Do I want to be in St Louis forever? Of course. People from other teams want to play in STL and are jealous that we are in STL because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you leave a place like STL to go somewhere else and make 3 or 4 more million a year? It’s not about money, I already got my money. It’s about winning, that’s it”.
-Albert Pujols Feb 15, 2009

He reportedly signed a 10 year contract worth $255 million (which is $3-4 million per year more than what the Cardinals reportedly offered).