Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Is it the time to buy a new laptop?

The MacBook Air laptop which we have to our place was bought almost 5 years ago from Japan. I bought it with a discount that I received when signing up for an internet connection with OCN. I did not use it that much because I had my trusty PC with me. But my wife used it a lot, but mostly for watching tele dramas.

It’s received all the OSX update up to date. I think it will change from this time though. It is running a Sandybridge CPU clocked at 1.7GHz with 4GB RAM which is quite slow for today’s standards, but it is almost as fast as the 12” MacBook. So there is no real reason for Apple to stop supporting it, except for sales reasons. They want us to pay for a new laptop.

From the outside, other than few scuff marks which are only visible if you look closer, the outer shell has held up very well. However the screen has some imprints of the keys on the keyboard, which I am not sure if they are permanent or I can get rid of. They haven’t caused any inconvenience while using the laptop, but when you power it on for the first time after resuming from standby, when the screen is dark.

To be honest, OSX is quite slow for my needs. The 4GB RAM probably is the culprit. Opening lots of tabs in Chrome can bring it down on knees.

Optus Galaxy S7 software update

Firmware update

Couple of weeks ago, I got the second over-the-air (OTA software update for my Optus branded Galaxy S7. I actually found out the availability of it on Whirlpool forums and before the phone automatically searched for the update manually and it showed up.

Screenshot_20160806-164039

It updated from firmware G930FXXU1APF2 to G930FXXU1APGH. Everything went fine without a hiccup.

I noticed two things after the update though.

  1. The phone would fall back to 3G when the LTE signal strength is too low, much earlier than before. This was a problem for me with the previous firmware, where at work, it would stay in LTE despite having zero signal bars. The result of this was terribly slow internet speeds. So I had to keep the network in 3G forcefully. I still keep it that was however, because the best signal strength I would get in LTE is 2 bars. It’s mostly 1 bar, and this can hamper the battery life unnecessarily. And, although the Optus agent said that my 4G reception would improve after 23rd of July, nothing happened.
  2. There is a process called Media Server in the top battery consuming apps list,  which I had not seen before. I still haven’t been able to figure out what is causing this process to run in the background. Some people had mentioned it was caused by Google Chrome, but I use Firefox; some say it was triggered by VoLTE, but disabling it did nothing. (I was briefly testing LTE speeds around where I live, and VoLTE was enabled.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Upgrade plans for my desktop PC

The Small Form Factor PC that I built last year is quite fast for almost all the things I do with it. But I love upgrading my PC just to experience what the latest and the greatest hardware has to offer. Sadly, things do not usually live up to my expectations, but that is a different story.

This story is about the potential upgrade path this particular PC offers.

Sadly, my options aren't vivid. The PC is built in such a way that a tangible increase in performance requires a substantial amount of spending, which sometimes defies the reasoning behind "building" a desktop PC.

Let me explain.

Video card

Let's look at the video card first, because as you probably know, I am a gamer. The video card is the most important component in a gaming PC. But, I am not the typical gamer you would find elsewhere, but that is for another discussion.

Right now, I have an overclocked MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G in my PC. To see a tangible increase in performance, I have to at least get a GTX 1070 and overclock it, which would give me 50% performance gains over my current card. But it would cost me close to $700 if I want to buy locally. $100 or so cheaper if I buy it from outside Australia, but it will make claiming for warranty painful. The GTX 1080 would give me twice the performance but it would cost me a whopping $1000 if bought locally! I am not going to spend that sort of money on a single piece of computer hardware, probably ever! But the GTX 1080 can be bought for less than $900 if I look to import it from outside.

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