Three ways to increase your computer’s performance

April 19th, 2014

Three cool tips from the gang at CNET on speeding up your computer. Yes, computers feel fast when they're new, but over time they get kludged up and tired.

All three of these tips are valid, and there's no voodoo there or stuff that can harm your system.

I'd add a fourth tip - update drivers, especially graphics card driver, and especially if you are a gamer. AMD and Nvidia send a lot of time optimizing drivers for games, and there can be a huge performance difference between minor updates.

My Latest Toy: Western Digital My Passport Pro

April 19th, 2014

As well as being a PC Doctor, I'm also a pro-am photographer (Shameless plug: Check out my Flickr page!), and one of the side effects of being a photographer that doesn't delete anything but the worst of shots is that you create masses of data.

Data I don't want to lose.

Dealing with the data problem is not much of an issue when you are working in front of a desktop system - you just bung in a new larger drive and get on with your day - but when you're working on a notebook, space is a premium. Even the 1TB PCI-e drive on my MacBook Pro (which is an insanely fast drive) isn't really big enough to handle everything - and there's no way to cram a larger drive into the system

So I have to rely on external storage.

For a few years now I've been a fan of Western Digital My Passport drives. They're small, fast, and reliable. Given my happy past experiences with these external drives, I was excited when Western Digital sent me a pair of 2TB My Passport Pro.

My Passport Pro

Unlike the My Passport drives which house a single drive, the My Passport Pro houses two drives. This makes them thicker, but the two drives have benefits. Using the supplied software you can configure these drives as RAID 0 or RAID 1 (depending on whether you want speed or data duplication) or you can set them to appear as separate drives.

My Passport Pro

The My Passport Pro comes equipped with Thunderbolt connectivity, and the cable is attached, which is great because it means I don't have to buy one, and won't lose the one supplied! This drive delivers transfer rates as high as 233 MB/s, so it's no slouch. The drive also gets power from the Thunderbolt connector so there's no separate AC adaptor to carry (or lose).


I've only had this drive for a few days and already it's fitted into my workflow very well indeed.

The 1TB MacBook Pro drive is FAST!

April 19th, 2014

The 1TB PCI-e solid state drive that comes as an optional extra for the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is crazy fast.

Here's a benchmark of a late-2012 MBP featuring a 256GB Mini-SATA 6 Gbit/s SSD:

MBP SSD benchmark 1

And here is the early-2013 MBP featuring a 1TB PCIe 2.0 x2 5.0 GT/s SSD:

MBP SSD benchmark 2

This is fast. Insanely fast. It blows SATA SSDs out of the water.

It's important to note that the 1TB drive is faster than the 512GB or smaller offering because it is a 4-channel PCI-e drive, whereas the smaller drives are only 2-channel.

Does everyone need this speed? Heck no! But if you're working with large files, or processing a lot of photographs or video, then the speed bump is more than welcome and add tremendously to overall productivity.

USB 3.0 radio noise can interfere with 2.4GHz wireless devices

July 18th, 2013

Interesting research by Intel on the negative effects of radio interference generated by USB 3.0 devices on 2.4GHz wireless devices.

Improving the shielding on the USB 3.0 receptacle connector can help reduce the amount of noise radiated due to USB 3.0 signaling. In addition, shielding of the USB 3.0 peripheral device plays an important role in reducing the amount of noise radiated in the 2.4–2.5 GHz range.

How easy is it to scratch the iPhone 5’s screen?

July 17th, 2013

I've not bothered with screen protectors for a while. The truth is that one day I realized I was putting up with a horrible screen experience so that one of my kids to get my scratch-free handset at some point down the line.

No more.

My iPhone 5's screen goes commando! That said, I do protect the rest of the phone with a G-Form case. Without that there would only be a few random parts of my iPhone left!

I've just taken a look at my iPhone 5 -- which I've had for about eight months -- and the screen is in pretty good condition. There are a couple of light scratches, but these are hardly visible, and to be honest I'm not even sure they are scratches. The screen could just need a good clean!

While I'm not going to carry out a scratch test, the folks at iFixit have. Here's a cool video or MJ and her daughter Ellie putting an iPhone 5 through its paces. It's both adorable and painful to watch!

All in all, the iPhone 5 seems pretty scratch-resistant to me!