Top 10 NetBook Accessories

With all the good that NetBooks bring, they still need some accessories to help accomplish tasks better and faster.

1. Case Logic’s Urban Messenger Pak

It doesn’t look like a computer bag, yet holds a NetBook, accessories, phone and more in a stylish package.  An adjustable shoulder or hand strap lets you carry the bag on your back or in your hands.

case-logic

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Microsoft Introduces New Search Engine Bing

BingMicrosoft’s newly released search engine Bing is up and running, and it appears to be a hit.

I have several items I keep in a search list that I look for every now and then. I immediately put Bing to the test with the list, and was quite pleased at the results.  I was shown relevant sites, and not one result sent me to an outdated, invalid, or non-existent link.  To be fair to Google, I tried the same searches, and was given a completely different set for each query, of which two were invalid results.

Bing also plays thumbnails live in the search results by simply hovering your pointer over the image and boasts a snappy and clean interface.  I could do without the wallpaper though.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Google fan and they have come up with some of the most innovative ideas in browser and search technology, changing how we all use the Internet.  I’m anxiously awaiting Google Wave, the real-time communication “multi-tool”.

Ironic isn’t it, that Bing is the number one sponsored ad on Google.  Google may be getting paid for the sponsored ads, but Microsoft has a chance each time to convert the user to a “Binger” rather than a “Googler”.

Warranty Woes

Call me unlucky.  My late father used to say that if  there were one hundred items on a shelf, and one was defective, then he was surely going to pick that one.  I seem to have inherited that wonderful trait. Although some of the warranties were honored with either a repair, an exchange, or a complete refund, that does still not negate the fact that i’ve the worst luck in consumer history!

Here’s a small list of the many items that I have had to warranty, exchange, or attempt to get a refund on in the last year.

Elliptical Exercise Machine

Last year I purchased an Elliptical from a company through Amazon.  The unit came in about a week.  Within 20 minutes of my wife exercising on it, it made a clicking noise, then a horrendous grinding sound, and finally, before she got off the machine, it started spitting pieces of plastic from the spinning wheel.

Result:  We put it out with the trash.  It cost an extra few dollars for trash removal that month.

Elliptical Exercise Machine #2

Two months ago, we decided to get the same machine.  It had to be an isolated incident right?  Within 10 minutes of assembly, you guessed it, the same clicking noise.  No, my wife does NOT exceed the weight limit of the machine if that’s what you’re thinking.

I immediately got on the phone to the company.  The representative listened as my wife operated the elliptical, and she said  “oh I thought we took care of that problem!”  I explained that we had purchased the same machine last year, and it did the same thing, in just as little time.

Result:  The representative said I would receive another machine within a week.  I tracked the package and saw that indeed it was on its way.  I came home after work and on my porch was a new elliptical machine.  My wife and I were pleased with the prompt replacement.

Two days later, we came home and there is another Elliptical on my porch.  Now I had three ellipticals, two in boxes in my living room, and one assembled that didn’t work and headed for the trash.

I checked the tracking, and noticed that the package was resheduled to be delivered the following week.  What?  That would make FOUR ellipticals!  I called the same representative again and explained the issue.  She canceled the package in transit, sent a call tag to UPS to pickup a damaged item, the first one, and was to issue a calltag for the extra machine.

I still have a broken Elliptical machine and one in a box in my living room, total failure of a company to do anything right.

Coleman Queen Airbed

This was purchased at WalMart last summer.  Within a couple of weeks the mattress didn’t hold air.  No wonder it comes with a patch kit!  I brought it to WalMart to exchange it.  After every customer service employee attempted to figure out a solution, a manager was called over.  I was told that there is a 14 day return policy.  I looked at the receipt.  No such policy there.  I was told it was posted with the mattresses.  I bought it from an endcap with sale items, not in the sports department.  The employee from sports told the manager, in my presence, that yes, there was an endcap a couple weeks before, and that NO, there was NOT a copy of the policy posted with them.  The manager stuck to his guns.  No refund. I said all I wanted was an exchange.  He said no exchanges either.

Result:  I contacted Coleman directly.  They would issue a refund in a couple of weeks if I sent a copy of the receipt, and cut the valve out of the mattress and mail it to them.  I did.  I called about the check four weeks later.  I would have the check in a couple of weeks.  The refund came as promised a few weeks after my follow up call.  Yes, I still shop at WalMart.

Parents Magazine Rubber Blocks

We bought a package of safe rubber blocks for our son.  Two days later, and maybe three minutes of playing with them, a one inch circle on one side of the block came off. Easily small enough for a seven month old to choke on or swallow.

I researched the company and called customer service.  I explained, and was assured I would receive a replacement set in a week.  I was assured this was not a known issue, but they did know that it would not happen again.

I called three weeks later.  I called again the next day, and the next, and the next.  Finally, after hearing that the woman who answers for this small company was away from her desk, I left a message.  I stated how I had the Consumer Affairs Department, the Better Business Bureau local to the company, and that I would pursue these outlets if the woman did not come to her desk in short time to reply to my calls.

Result:  I had a return voicemail within a few hours.  The blocks were back ordered, so the company was waiting for a delivery.  I would have the replacement blocks in a week or so.  They did arrive, but only after feverish follow up.

Apple iPhone

I bought the first generation iPhone two weeks before the 3G came out.  I think it was last May.  Six months later in November, the ringer on/off toggle switch did not toggle anymore.  It just flopped around sort of inside the phone case.  I scheduled an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store to get the problem fixed.

Result:  Easiest warranty repair ever!  The man at the Genius Bar asked if I had backed up my data recently, popped out my Sim card, popped it in a new iPhone, and within three minutes I was all set.  I walked out with a brand new iPhone.

Apple iPhone #2

Wednesday, after having about all I could take with the home button working intermittently, I made an appointment at the Genius Bar again.  I started to explain how the button was intermittent, and was interrupted with the same question.  Did I backup my data?  I said I had that morning.

Result:  New iPhone #3 in less than three minutes.  I may have a PC, but I love Apple’s Warranty and Exchange Policy. I am seriously thinking of getting a MacBook next time, but that won’t be any time soon since I just bought this here laptop, but that’s another story.

Sidebar: Unfortunately I backed my phone up to a computer that the next day would bite the dust in more ways than one, so I now have an iPhone with it’s date intact, but a new laptop that won’t sync to it unless I get that backup file on the new laptop.  Who knew?

XBox 360

I was one of the lucky thirteen people to get an XBox 360 in the KMart raffle at midnight the night it was released.  There were over 200 people there, and we each got a ticket.  People were selling their tickets for $20 to $50 for a CHANCE to buy one!  At number thirteen, my number was chosen!  What luck.  There were only about four or five games released that night.  I bought three, the remote, and an extra controller.

Result:  Ever hear of the Red Ring of Death?  KMart saw me the next day.  The games are not returnable.  Can’t I get a break?

Motorola Razr

I bought a pink Razr cell phone for my wife on her birthday from eBay.  The battery cover was a different color.  The battery didn’t hold a charge.  Here we go again.  I DID purchase a SquareTrade Warranty with this item, which I don’t usually do.  I contacted the company I bought the phone from.  They are a Power Seller on eBay.  Great feedback.  I could see why, as they sent me another battery and battery cover.

I also contacted SquareTrade when the phone started to have issues within a couple of months.  I was told to contact Motorola, so I did.  Motorola said to contact the seller, so I did.  The seller said that I got the SquareTrade warranty, so contact SquareTrade.  Geesh!

Result. My wife still uses the phone.  It works.  She has two batteries that hold a charge for a couple of hours each.  At least the battery cover color now matches.

Not all purchases go this way for me, but I have never heard of another person having such terrible luck.  Some purchases have been great, such as the Toshiba Satellite Laptop that lasted me for several years, or the Toyota Camry that ran like a top until someone decided to T-Bone me while going to a Novell class.

As you can see, I don’t usually purchase the extended warranty when I make purchases, but when I do there are a few rules I follow when deciding.

Item Price to Extended Warranty Price Ratio

I know companies have worked on this ratio extensively to make the price acceptable to the widest range of consumers, but there are times when the warranty price is much too close to a complete product replacement.  This is especially true for electronics.

For example, a 5.1 Surround Sound set from Wal-Mart.  I bought the basic DuraBrand set which was drastically reduced in price.  The set was normally around $99.  It was reduced to $39.  The warranty option was still based on the regular retail price of up to $99, so to add the warranty would have cost me $19 at the time.  50% of what the product cost me.  No deal.

Likelihood of the Item Becoming Faulty

I have purchased warranties on my wifes engagement ring and both our wedding rings.  Good idea too because one of my wifes diamonds became loose.  If we did not have the warranty option, we would have had to pay several hundred dollars for a loose diamond, as well as to have it set.  The warranty was not much at all, so under the Price to Warranty Ratio, it was a good buy.

It’s a good idea to get extended warranties on jewelery with rare gemstones that can become loose or fall out.

Warranty Coverage – Repair or Replacement

This is of great importance.  Mail-in service does not interest me in the least.  Dell has such a plan.  I don’t know about you, but i’m not willing to mail in a computer for a repair.  Especially when I could most likely buy the part for less than the postage

Replacement coverage is where I give the option some great thought.  As seen above, I have the Apple iPhone.  I am on my third phone, and have spent all of 10 minutes with a representative getting replacements.  My warranty is up on June 2nd.  For $60 I can add another year of coverage, and I can buy this coverage all the way up to that day.  For me this is a definate no-brainer.  I will most likely in June be buying the new iPhone, and will have a shiny new original iPhone to give to my wife to replace her Motorola Razr.

Warrantying Company

If a warranty is covered by a third party, I never buy it.  If you have ever had to deal with a middle man when it comes to a repair, you know where I am coming from.  The same goes for Authorized Repair Centers.

I had a Kenwood In-Dash Stereo that needed repair once.  I brought it to an authorized service center.  It was to take two weeks.  Two weeks later, I went to pick it up.  I was informed that since they were very busy they had not even diagnosed it yet.  I could still see the stereo with the check-in tag sitting o the shelf.  I brushed off the dust and took it home.  I bought a Clarion Pro Audio later that afternoon.

Authorized repair centers usually do not cover just the product you purchased.  In the case I just mentioned, it was a television and electronic repair center.  For their own service they charged a much higher rate than they would be paid for the warranty repair wich is most likely a flat rate plus parts, so my item under warranty was not a priority.

And the best advice I can give, whether you purchase a warranty or not is to always, always, always save your receipt and paperwork.  I have a filing cabinet for all of my important papers.  In this cabinet are folders with manuals to all products I buy that have a manufacturers warranty, with the purchase receipt either inside the manual or stapled to the cover.

This way when there is an issue, which as you can see with my luck there often is, it is just a matter of opening the folder and finding the products paperwork.

Apple AppleCare Website As long as your Apple product is still under the manufacturer warranty, you can add an AppleCare extended warranty.  Apple warranties are a bit pricey, but after using their warranty first-hand more than once, I am sold.  Great buy if you have an Apple product.

SquareTrade The great thing about SquareTrade is that you can warranty nearly any item, new, used, or refurbished that is purchased through eBay, and for low rates.

The Best Buy 2 year warranty for my new laptop was $79.99.  Through SquareTrade, it costs $59.99 for 3 years.

Consumer Affairs To find the Consumer Affairs Department local to you, just do a search with the locality and “consumer affairs”.  Here you can lodge a complaint about a company, just as you can with the BBB, but Consumer Affairs is a division of government.  If all else fails, a simple mention of this department to a retailer may get their attention.

Better Business Bureau

Pretty much a middle man when it comes to issues between consumers and companies. The Better Business Bureau is a great tool to lodge a complaint, or check a company’s reputation locally before you do business with them.  Businesses do listen to these complaints usually, as you can easily see by doing a local search for a company you might know.  Most issues are resolved in a timely manner.

In memory of a laptop

Three days ago I wrote about cable television, and how at my home we stream content from the internet for our viewing pleasure.  In the article, I mentioned our simple setup, including my trusty Toshiba Satellite laptop.  Not two days after the article was posted, my trusty Toshiba Satellite was no more.

After traveling to a dozen countries, streaming television for several months, and taking the beating of a small boys hands as he zoomed by in his Jeep walker, the poor Satellite threw in the towel. My wife paid just over $800 with tax for the laptop from WalMart in 2005, a great deal at the time.  Equipped with a 60GB Hard Drive, 512MB of RAM, and a HUGE 15″ Display, heck, it even played DVD’s! Cutting edge technology for 4 years ago!

That Toshiba Satellite was such a workhorse, that we decided to buy another one based on our great experience.  I mean, I had a 95 Camry and liked it so much that I bought a 97 Camry after I wrecked the 95.  I bought a 2003 Hyundai Elantra and liked it too so much that I bought a 2007 Hyundai Elantra after the 2003 had front end trouble.  Why not keep the tradition going on? Besides, change is evil.

I know all about how computers get cheaper.  I’m not telling you anything everyone doesn’t already know.  I could tell you how this new Satellite has a 160GB Hard Drive as opposed to the 60GB on the old one.  How this has a 2Ghz Celeron, where the other has a 1.4Ghz.  And the RAM, even after upgrading to the maximum was 1GB, and here I have 2 whopping gigabytes!  And not only does it play DVD’s, it can burn them too!

I’m all about new technology and saving money.  I like both equally, especially when I get more for less each and every time.  This model Satellite I picked up yesterday from Best Buy for $379.  Just over $400 with tax.  That’s almost exactly half the cost of the purchase in 2005, with nearly four times greater specs.  50% savings, four times the value, seems like a no brainer to upgrade.

Are there any other sectors besides technology where a purchase is half the price for twice (or more) the product?  Not automobiles.  Not food.  Definitely not the finance sector.

So, my wife and i are already planning our dream purchase for 2013. We’re going to get the laptop with a 17″ Flexible OLED Display,  500GB SSD, 8GB PC12800 RAM, and a Blu-Ray RW.   Can’t Wait!

Since the majority of the old laptop has died, I’ve parted out what’s useable and listed it on eBay, bid on these relic pieces here.

Cable is dead to me!

This is a guest post by Keith Lemery, a professional chef, network administrator, husband and father.  It was written to compliment and follow up the complete list of of websites to stream full tv shows and movies from.

Several months ago my wife and I decided to cancel our Time Warner cable television service.  We had the digital cable package with DVR, remote, and HD Tier.  All together this package cost us just around $100 per month.  We then added a Netflix subscription for $8.99 per month, which includes mailed DVDs, as well as unlimited streaming.  This reduced our overall television bill by at least $80 per month, or almost $1000 per year!

I had been dabbling with internet television for a while.  Hulu, Justin.tv, TV.com and NBC.com on my iPhone.  When we made the switch, it was a little awkward, but after some tweaks, we don’t miss cable at all, and if anything, wonder why we hadn’t made the switch sooner!

Here is our setup:

A four year old Toshiba A55-S106 laptop, hooked up to our 32″ Westinghouse HDTV, via the SVGA out port.  This cable I had bought on eBay a couple years ago for less than $5.  To do this on a Mac, check out Mike’s article utilizing Understudy and Front Row.

My iPhone serves as a remote control.  I am using Air Mouse Pro by RPA Tech, Inc. which is available on the iPhone App Store for $5.99.  It controls the laptop by using the iPhone as a touchpad and also has a soft keyboard.

When opening FireFox, three tabs open up.  Yahoo.com, Hulu.com, and NetFlix.com.  I could add any number of channels we watch, NBC, CBS, Disney, but these suffice on startup.

Hulu is amazing.  We have several subscriptions to programs we watched regularly on television.  We usually DVR’d the programs to watch at a later time, so the fact that the programs are posted to Hulu a day or two after showing doesn’t bother us in the least.

As for NetFlix, we keep our DVD queue active, and use the unlimited streaming feature to it’s fullest.  I subscribe to the NetFlix new release RSS, so I get updates of new releases on my iPhone through Google Reader.  When I see a program or movie I like, I open the Phone Flix iPhone application, and add it to my queue.  It’s a seamless process.  Something I never imagined I would be doing a year ago.

Local channels and programming is somewhat hit or miss, but most new televisions can pick up local HD channels.  There are some great YouTube videos on building your own HD antenna from coat hangers if you are out of range as we are, but the only thing we ever watched locally was the news.

I don’t miss the …coming up after the break cliffhangers and three minute commercial segments at all.  I can easily check the web for local news if I have the desire.

My wife and I have no intention of ever going back to paid cable service, ever.  It seems that soon enough all television networks will have an internet presence, if they don’t already, and will put most if not all of their programming online as ad revenue for online programming increases.

And the best part of all, we can watch an hour long program in around 41 minutes, and a half hour program in 21.  So roughly 30% of the time a program is on is given to advertising.  Sure, Hulu has commercials, but they are usually 15 to 25 seconds.

We are really enjoying having all of this control over what we watch, as well as the savings.  For us it was a simple decision, one that we should have made a long time ago.

How about you?  Are you still paying for cable television?  Could you use the extra $1000 a year savings?

Remembering to Backup: Step-by-Step

Our data is everywhere! There is the data on your PC, laptop, netbook, phone, PDA, Media Center, online… you get the idea. Just thinking about putting a backup system in place can cause a serious headache, but even worse is the prospect of losing that data. This short guide is designed to help walk you through the  process of creating a backup system that you actually will use.

OVERALL STRATEGY
First, you need to answer the following question: What would be the worst case scenario if I lost all of my digital data? If you don’t like the answer, you now have the motivation you need to continue this exercise.

Now that you have determined the purpose and established some motivation, we next need to figure out where all the data you care about is located and what to do with it.

COLLECTION

Now, you will brain storm and discover all the places where you have data that is important to you. Use a spreadsheet (you will build on it later) to capture this information and then use the following memory jog list to discover all the locations where your data lives.

Memory Jog List:

  • Emails: All of the places where you check email.
  • Contacts: Both the contacts on your PIM (e.g. Outlook) and on mobile devices such as your phone or PDA.
  • Calendars: Every place where you store calendar information. (I recommend you use one master calendar)
  • Tasks, Project Information: Both your own personal task lists and those where you collaborate with others.
  • Documents and Notes: All of the documents that are stored locally, plus those that you may have saved online.
  • Bookmarks: If you are using Firefox, check out www.foxmarks.com.
  • Online Services: Do you use any online services where you have an account? (e.g. Google Docs, FaceBook, Live.com) [are these stored locally?]
  • Application Files: If you use software applications, such as Photoshop, you may have files related to those programs on your computer. You should also back up your application disks.
  • Video Games: Any saved game data files and the game disks.
  • Multimedia: All of your music, photos and videos.

NOW BACKUP

For mobile devices such as your PDA or phone, I suggest you backup to your PC. Then your PDA and/or Phone data gets backed up with your PC.

For data at home such as on your PC’s, iTunes Library and X-Box 360, the solution is rather simple. You can use a centralized backup solution that is automated. This type of solution plugs into your home network independent of any computer and is a central place to store backed up data as well as other files you wish to share. Western Digital has a home centralized backup solution that is able to take care of all your backup needs easily. Plus, their software allows for remote access, so you can backup even when you are on the road.

As additional piece of mind I also suggest that you use an online backup solution like Mozy.com on a monthly basis. By adding an automated monthly online backup you protect your data in case of a disaster at home.

SHARE WITH US YOUR BACKUP PLAN

I hope this post has motivated you to put together your own backup plan that makes it fairly painless to execute.

Have you already mastered the art of backup? Did you find any cases where you could not backup? Please share your backup stories with us in the comments.

Things I love: Griffin SmartShare USB slim hub

A year and a half ago I bought my way into the cool club buy purchasing a Macbook.  It’s been serving me very well and I’ve been so happy with it I actually sold my Windows desktop this past fall, the Macbook is now my only computer.  The one thing I always felt slighted about when buying it was the lack of USB ports, it only comes with two.  Two, seriously, are Macbook users less likely to plug things in than Macbook Pro users?

While I’ve lived this long with playing the swap this for that game, sometimes it’s a real pain.  The USB ports are so close that it’s nearly impossible to use a thumb drive + any other cable, and my card reader, yea that’s the only thing fitting in there, the second port becomes inaccessible.  Last night, I finally found a solution.

Griffin introduced the SmartShare USB slimmed down two port USB hub, kind of aimed towards the Macbook Air but works great with my Macbook.  USB hubs are nothing new, but they’ve always been bulky and often offer 4 or more USB ports in line, which again presents a problem if you’re using a larger than average thumb drive or something funky like the card reader for my compact flash card. Not anymore.

The SmartShare is simple and elegant in design and has two ports not connected to each other, allowing devices to be plugged in of almost any size.  At less than three inches long, it neatly fits into my Crumpler bag without excessive cables or plugs.

These small, simple devices make my both more productive and happy.  It’s fully USB 2.0 compatible and will transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps.  Last night I plugged two external hard drives into it and had no speed issues accessing either one of them.  If you need an extra USB port without the bulk of other models, check out the SmartShare.

One Laptop per Child XO computers BOGO again

Last year the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) campaign offered a buy one to be donated, get one laptop deal. They are doing it again this year and offering the same deal.  For $399 you get yourself a sprite little lappy and one goes to a third world country.  Some more on the laptops and the program:

What is the XO Laptop?
The XO is an impactful learning tool designed and built especially for children in developing countries, living in some of the most remote environments. As such, it has several features you won’t find on any other laptop.

For starters, it’s about the size of a small textbook and made with a rugged plastic exterior. It has built-in wireless and a unique screen that works in full color or black and white to make it readable under direct sunlight for children who go to school outdoors. And finally it’s ultra-low power using only about 4 watts of power (most laptops use about 60 watts). This means, when there’s no electricity, it can be recharged with alternate power sources like solar power.

Why Give a Laptop?
Why give a laptop to a child who has no running water? If you replace the word “laptop” with “education” the answer becomes clear. You don’t wait to educate until all other challenges are resolved. You educate at the same time because it’s such an important part of all the other solutions.

The Children
Currently, there are XO laptops in over 30 countries from Peru to Rwanda, and everywhere it goes, the results are the same. The laptops help children build on their active interest in the world around them to engage with powerful ideas. When the laptops arrive school attendance goes up, teachers download lesson plans from the web and kids begin teaching each other how to use the machine. With the XO, kids actually learn how to learn.

The One Laptop Per Child Organization
Founded in 2005 by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, One Laptop Per Child has a simple mission: to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each and every one with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, creative, self-empowered learning.

By giving a laptop, you are helping bring education to children in some of the world’s most remote areas.

You are connecting them to each other. To us. To hope. And to a better future.

Just as last year, if you live in the US you can claim half of the money back as a donation when you fill out your taxes.  Get more info and buy one here.

OLPC official site

Review: Crumpler The Considerable Embarrassment Laptop Bag

More than a year has passed since I bought my way into the cool club by purchasing a Macbook laptop and I couldn’t be happier.  At the time of purchase, I also ordered a Crumpler The Considerable Embarrassment Laptop Bag for it, based almost soley on the name and reputation of the company. Since I own one of their larger photo backpacks I knew that everything about the bag would be top notch and didn’t even really shop around for another bag.  I’ve been using this bag near daily for more than a year and figured it needs a review, so here goes.

Laptop bags come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics and functions, aside from going with Crumpler, my bag needed to have the following:

  • Black in color
  • No screaming logos
  • Dedicated padding for the laptop
  • Pockets inside to keep things organized
  • High quality velcro, zippers and buckles
  • Long lasting

The black in color and lack of logos makes this bag look more like a man-purse or messenger style bag and nothing about it screams out that there is a spendy laptop inside, very important to me, you may disagree.

There is a dedicated section for the laptop which holds my 13.3″ Macbook just fine but will also hold up to a 15″ Macbook Pro.  It has a flap that covers the laptop inside the main portion and padding on all sides.

There is one long zipper inside the bag that is great for storing magazines or papers that need to stay flat and 3 main pockets inside the front portion of the bag.  The two towards the edges are deep and open, one usually holds my charger while the other is the perfect size for a 16oz Nalgene bottle.  The middle pocket is a bit more shallow and has a velcro closure at the top, I usually keep business cards inside.  The main portion of the bag will hold everything else, from books and notebooks to a sweatshirt if need be.  On the front of the padded laptop section are some slots for pens, a small velcro covered pocket that holds my Macbook remote control and one more open pocket which I have yet to find a use for.  There are no external pockets, I’m fine with that.

The main flap closes with two large velcro strips and there are buckles that can be clipped for added security.  I rarely use the buckles because the velcro is just that strong, and in more than a year hasn’t collected those annoying little balls of fuzz that prevent it from working.  The only zipper is as mentioned, inside, and is Crumpler branded, I’ve never had an issue with them, on my photo backack or this bag, it’s just solid and works.

I was a bit concerned with just how long this bag would last, it’s made out of Water resistant 1000D Nylon shell & 420D Ripstop Nylon lining but there is no extra padding on the bottom, which is where it comes in contact with the ground, floor, etc.  Some higher end models from different companies often have rubber or a second layer of nylon around the bottom to prevent wear from running and overall use, to my surprise and delight, the bag shows no signs of wear, anywhere!  The strap hasn’t started to fray, there hasn’t been one thread come loose anywhere and as mentioned, the velcro preforms as new.

The one bonus feature to this bag that I’ve yet to see in any other mass produced bag is the bright colored inside.  My bag is black on the outside and a bright green on the inside.  Crumpler has been doing this for as long as I know, my photo backpack being baby blue inside, and for a reason.  Someone actually realized that if you drop something in the bottom of your bag, say a pen, it’s pretty hard to see down there when the liner is black, so they make them bright, fun colors to help locate what it is you are searching for.   The bag also features a comfortable shoulder strap pad that doesn’t flop over like some cheap bags do.

Onto the negative aspect.  The outside is listed as water resistant.  It is, but since it’s not a waterproof bag and there is no main zipper for the opening, only the folded over top, don’t walk outside in the rain for hours on end and expect the inside to remain dry.  At the corners of the bag there are little openings from where the fabric kind of bunches up that rain can get into.  My bag is used to get my laptop and stuff from my house to my car and from my car to wherever I’m taking it.  If I needed to walk several many blocks to get on a train and then go to my location in the rain, I’d consider keeping an umbrella with me.

At $85 the Crumpler The Considerable Embarrassment Laptop Bag isn’t the cheapest on the market, however considering that it’s safely kept my $1,100 Macbook safe for more than a year, I’m very happy with the purchase and have no regrets.

Reclaim disk space on your Mac in 5 minutes

Last year I bought my way into the cool club with a Macbook and haven’t looked back.  At the time of purchase there was a pretty hefty difference between the 120gb hard drive I got and the 160gb drive on the upgraded models, nothing else was readily available for the Macbooks and I figured the 120gb would suit me just fine.  It more or less has, but I did gut the 250gb hard drive from Ubuntu box I built more than a year and a half ago because it was getting dusty and backed up my entire 60gb iPod and started to archive photo shoots from 2007 and the first half of 2008 to clear space on the Macbook.

For a working computer, 120gb suits me fine; I don’t need 500gb or more of photo archives or movies stored locally.  What I could use is an extra few gigs deleted out of the Mac OSX install that I never use, but how do I do this and what could be deleted?  A few weeks ago I got my answer from an RSS feed in my reader (sadly I don’t recall which blog) that would grant me my wishes of reclaiming disk space.

A very small application called Monolingual installs simply and quickly and lets you delete unused languages from your OSX install.  Don’t know about you, but I only use English, I will never have a need for Cantonese language set.  Running the application is simply, most languages are already ticked but I went through and ticked everything except for English and Spanish (who knows, maybe I will learn Spanish one day).  Click Remove and sit back and wait.  In less than 5 minutes I freed up 2.4gb of space!

Officially, the software,

is a program for removing unnecessary language resources from Mac OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space.  It requires at least Mac OS X 10.3.9 (Panther) and also works on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger).

Additionally, should you delete the English resources your install will be FUBAR’d and you will start to cry.  This should be added to one of those few things that just about everyone does when they first get a Mac or reinstall the operating system.  Does anyone know of a similar program that will remove all the printer drivers and devices that I’ll never use?