Archive for August 30, 2017

New CORE GAMING Kickstarter from Mobile Edge

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 30, 2017 by itnerd

Everyone needs power and they need it On The Go. Mobile Edge CORE Gaming Backpack, now available via , delivers a seamless design that integrates power on the go via its external USB 3.0 quick charge port, complete with a built in charging cable. Now it’s super simple to connect to Mobile Edge’s lineup of battery packs, including the Urgent Power and Core Power AC — all available as add-ons during the Kickstarter program.  The CORE Gaming Backpack, armed and integrated with these Mobile Edge power sources, are ideal for gamers, travelers, college students, just about anyone who needs the ultimate in transport, protection and easy access to their gear, and the power on the go to keep that gear running all day long.

  • The Mobile Edge UrgentPower 5200mAh (Universal SmartPhone/USB Device Battery Charger) is available as a Kickstarter pledge of $120 or more, and as a $25 add-on to the CORE Gaming Backpack purchase ($89).
  • The new Mobile Edge CORE Power AC-27000mAh Portable Laptop Charger is only available via Kickstarter to supporters who contribute $199 or more to the campaign, and as a $125 add-on to the CORE Gaming Backpack purchase.

Designed, prototyped and tested by gamers for gamers, the CORE Gaming Backpack is the first product offered in Mobile Edge’s new lineup of gaming products. To support this effort, the CORE Gaming Backpack is available from now through September 21, with exclusive perks such as Discounted Pricing of $89 (MSRP $129.99), at www.kickstarter.com. In addition, program backers can select from an additional 10 funding levels plus to back the CORE Gaming Backpack Kickstarter program, which has an overall goal to raise $30,000.

Here’s a video:

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#PSA: APFS Is Going To Be The Default Filesystem In High Sierra If You Have An SSD

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 30, 2017 by itnerd

If you are planning to upgrade to macOS High Sierra when it ships in September, I would strongly suggest that you make a backup before upgrading. Now to be frank, you should do that anyway as you need to be able to cover yourself in case an OS upgrade goes south. But this time it’s doubly important. A support document was just posted to the Apple Support site and it says the following:

Apple File System (APFS), is the default file system in macOS High Sierra for Mac computers with all flash storage. APFS features strong encryption, space sharing, snapshots, fast directory sizing, and improved file system fundamentals.

When you upgrade to macOS High Sierra, systems with all flash storage configurations are converted automatically. Systems with hard disk drives (HDD) and Fusion drives won’t be converted to APFS. You can’t opt-out of the transition to APFS.

The document is here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208018

The fact that anything with an SSD will get converted to APFS and you cannot do anything to stop could be scary. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • The drive may be inaccessible by other file systems.
  • If the OS breaks down for some reason, this may make recovery of data a serious issue. Third party disk utility DiskWarrior for example does not currently have APFS support. Other similar utilities are in the same boat.
  • What if you have some piece of software that doesn’t play nice with APFS? Well, you’ll likely find out after you install High Sierra and you’ll have to roll back to the Sierra OS if you have a backup.
  • What if you have a non-Apple SSD in your Mac? Will that be converted? This document doesn’t answer that question. If it does get converted, will it run into issues as I am sure that Apple can’t test every SSD variant out there.

Now, here’s a few reasons why this may be a non issue:

  • APFS is faster
  • APFS gives more accurate time stamping of files
  • APFS allows concurrent access, while the present filesystem HFS+ has central locks, which ends up being a massive performance improvement on very multicore machines, since they’re not constantly sat in spin-locks waiting on IO
  • APFS supports snapshotting and copy on write
  • APFS supports sparse files
  • APFS’s implementation of hard links actually works
  • APFS has decent, not-hacked-in support for TRIM
  • APFS encryption is more secure
  • APFS can quickly compute the size of the contents of a directory
  • APFS can do write coalescing
  • APFS uses volumes, rather than partitions, letting them be dynamically resized

But the biggest reason is that if you’re running any version of iOS 10.3 since March of this year, you’re already running APFS on your iDevice(s) and as far as I know, there hasn’t been any problems with it. Thus moving a bunch of Macs over to APFS may be a non-event.

My advice is going to be the same one that I started out this article with. If you plan on moving to macOS High Sierra, make sure you have a backup just in case things go sideways. It’s the best way to protect yourself.

The Great Canadian Road Trip: Part 12 – Moncton To Quebec City

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 30, 2017 by itnerd

Today was a very long day with two things on our to do list before we arrived at our stop at Quebec City. The first was a drive to see the Hopewell Rocks located just outside Moncton. The cost is $10 a person and a ticket to the Hopewell Rocks will get you in to see the rocks for two days. Quite simply, this place is stunning as evidenced by these pics from the Nikon COOLPIX W300 camera:

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I want to highlight a couple of things that my wife and I managed to capture during our visit:

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Drones are clearly a problem here.

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This is an ecologically sensitive area. Thus you have to tread lightly if you visit here.

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Another sign that this is an ecologically sensitive area is this sign.

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If you click to enlarge the above picture and look closely, you’ll see a Peregrine Falcon. We came across a bunch of them nested on a cliffside and flying back and forth, it kept us in place for over 45 minutes watching them fly around.

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We also came across a New Brunswick tourism commercial being filmed. The guy in the suit in the canoe is New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant.

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After you’re done walking around the rocks and what is basically the ocean floor, you can rinse off your hiking boots here.

After going to the Hopewell Rocks, we started the journey to Quebec City. Along the way, we needed to get the oil changed in our Hyundai Tucson. Now when it comes to vehicle maintenance, I am laser focused on that as I have found that if you take care of your vehicle, it will take care of you. Now when we planned this road trip out, we calculated that we could make the drive to Newfoundland and back within 6000 KMs which would have been within the maintenance window between oil changes. I could then get an oil change when I got back to Toronto. However, with our various detours, we were now at the end of that maintenance window. Thus we needed to find a Hyundai dealer to get an oil change. Originally, we tried the local dealer in Moncton. But they were booked until Friday. So we tried a city that was on our way to Quebec which was Fredricton. That led us to this dealer:

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We ended up at Hyundai Of Fredericton and they bent over backwards to fit us in. Not only that, but they were friendly and went out of their way to make things easy for us. For example, they did the oil change on their alignment rack so that we didn’t have to take the bikes off the Tucson’s roof rack. The dealership had a very nice feel and it had speedy WiFi for me to update the photos that I took earlier in the day. Best of all, they told us that it would be about an hour for the oil change. We were in and out in under an hour and we arrived 30 minutes early for our appointment to boot. We can not say enough positive things about them. We really thank them for their hospitality and for their top shelf service.

Speaking of the Tucson, let me share a few words on how it is as a road trip vehicle. It feels solid and is easy and great to drive for long periods of time. It’s easy to pass transport trucks with the 195 pound feet of torque that it has and is comfortable to be in. Plus we were able to fit all of our gear in it. Though some of our stuff was on the rear seat. It for the most part has been racking up fuel economy below 10 liters per 100 KM’s. The only time that it didn’t was in really hilly terrain where it was sub 12 liters per 100 KM’s. The only bit of trouble that we had with it was the climate control system. On the first two days of this road trip, it would work for 5 or so hours and then stop working, which would make the rest of the drive very uncomfortable. However the next day it would work fine. I suspected that there might be some user error at work here. Thus I decided to RTFM and found that the optimal setting for the climate control system was 23 degrees Celsius. We had it set to 17 degrees Celsius. So we set it to 21 degrees Celsius and seemed to work fine for the rest of the trip. Still, I’ll be taking it to the dealer when we get back to Toronto to make sure everything is okay.

For the next seven hours we got to enjoy scenery like this:

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After a couple of refueling stops, we arrived at Quebec City. This time, we were staying at Hotel 71 in the old part of Quebec City. When we rolled up to the door, the valet/doorman greeted us and told us where to part so that we could unload and let them park our Tucson. In the process of taking the bikes off the car so that we could store them in our room, the valet said this:

“Oh, you have a Giant. So do I. I have a TCX cyclocross bike because I am hard on bikes.” 

That then led to five minutes of bike nerd-dom where we talked about our bikes and what parts we had them. Including the fact that I had just upgraded my Giant with these wheels. Let’s just say that he got a really good tip.

Now, Hotel 71 was almost a perfect hotel for us. I’ll get to the parts bothered me first:

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This is yet another hotel with a clock radio with a 30-pin dock connector. #Fail. The other fail was the WiFi. It worked from the standpoint that I had no issues using it, but it was intermittently slow. Likely because of load. Either they need to have a few more access points to spread things out for their guests, or they need a bigger pipe into the hotel to support their guests.

But here’s the good stuff. This is an unbelievably upscale hotel with exceptional customer service. Plus there’s a bunch of cool things that I will note:

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The bathroom is incredibly upscale and it includes a waterfall shower.

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This room actually has a working DVD player, which is the first one that I’ve seen in a hotel in years.

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The desk that I worked on had a couple of power outlets and a Ethernet port. I will note that two big power blocks won’t work up here, but there are additional power plugs below the desk.

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When you walk up to the bed, the underside of the bed lights up. This is handy at night so that you don’t have to get up and turn on any lights.

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Besides the room cards that you get from the hotel, you also get a card that gives you access to a wine vending machine which can sell you wine by the glass.

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If you need help choosing a wine, there’s a tablet next to the wine vending machine that can help you with that.

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There’s a pair of switches that can set the room number light outside the room so that you can let the hotel staff the following:

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Red is do not disturb.

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Green is do not clean.

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White means that there’s no special instructions for the room. Clearly this is a very cool hotel that a nerd like me can appreciate. After settling into the hotel, we went out to dinner. I’ll let my wife tell you about that:

I am thinking on how precious our vacation time really is as had we arrived a couple of hours earlier to Qubéec City, we would have had time for an earlier dinner at Le Brigantin and then had time to enjoy one of Québec City’s premier event called Les Grands Feux Loto-Québec. This is a special fireworks event takes places steps from our hotel on the river and on this particular Wednesday the theme was classical music. We saw people dressed as Mozart or Beethoven in their white wigs and costume. But alas we had to make a decision to have dinner before all restaurants close up for the night or check out the Les Grands Feux Loto-Québec. 

Le Brigantin offered pasta and was casual and cozy. Hubby ordered the Cheval Blanc beer along with a simple pasta served with tomato pomodoro sauce:

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When it arrived at our table you knew it was going to be good as I see the steaming pasta and smell the sweet tomato sauce served with the made in house penne pasta. Through that dish hubby was transported to one of his best pasta memories in Italy. For me I ordered their duck confit salad and it was one of the best salads that I had. It was perfectly balanced and lightly dressed and elevated the salad to umami or next level as the young people say. For dessert hubby order a very decadent brownie while I had a cheese platter. The cheese platter at Le Brigantin is designed to give the diner options. You can order one cheese option which you can have as an appetizer or for me I ordered a two cheese option which they give you two cheeses (one goat and one cow cheese) or you can have a three cheese option which would serve as the main and served with raspberries,

Our next stop is the long drive from Quebec City back to Toronto. Stay tuned for our final entry in this travelogue.