#329 Scoche Boom Can, Thunderbolt vs Display Port, Linux Mint on Macbook Air, Tim Verpoorten

In Dumb Question Corner Professor Albert asks for advice on what hard drive he should choose for his new Mac Mini. Rod Simmons reviews the Scoche Boom Can Portable Media Speaker. I tell the sad tale of incompatibility between the new Thunderbolt MacBook Pro and the Display Port Cinema Display and the outcome of my struggles. Knightwise from knightwise.com describes how he brought new speed to his first generation Macbook Air by putting Linux Mint on it. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we’re joined by veteran podcaster Tim Verpoorten of the Mac Reviewcast. Learn why he loves menu bar apps, why he hates the dashboard, a little reminiscing about the past and his advice to anyone starting a podcast today.


Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday September 11th, 2011 and this is show number 329. I thought for a long time about what I could say about September 11th and I’m at a complete loss. No words can really say more than what’s been said. I know our thoughts are with the families of the victims, and that’s has to be enough for now.

Before we get started I wanted to give a quick shout out to Steve Davidson, Ken Wolf and Rod Simmons for the lovely reviews they wrote about the podcast on iTunes, they’re great! It really helps out the show and I really appreciate it.

Dumb Question Corner

Good news – Professor Albert is back with another one of his dumb questions.

Hello Allison Sheridan, dis is your old pal Professor Albert. I am sorry to bother you again but I have another dumb Question. As you know, my St Bernard Bernard ate my Imac Computer, and vith your help I was able to SSH into it in his tummy dere to shut off the maintenance scripts to stop him from burping in the middle of the night. Well, the odder day, I decided to FACEPLANT my way in to his Stomach to see vat I could see dere and vats going on inside dere and all I could see was DIRT and a very happy Chipmunk, so it seems that Bernard has somehow gotten da Imac out of his stomach dere and buried it somewhere in our backyard, but to be honest Allison, I would rather not dig it up. Da chipmunk can keep it dere.

So I have to buy a new computer, but I am scared that if I buy a new IMAC Bernard will eat it again, so I have decided to buy a new MAC MINI. Dis vay I can lock it in a file cabinet and run 2 wires out and bluetooth da keyboard and track pad and all will be safe. But when I logged on to da Apple site to buy my new mac Mini, I got so confused. Dere are all dese different HARD DRIVES dat can be put in my mac mini 5400, 7200, SSD, SSD and 7200 and oh my got my head is exploding – vat does dat all mean? And what should I buy? If I buy da most expensive vay Elsa vill kill me, but I want to be sure dat dis Mac Mini can do vat I need it to do? I basically use my mac for email, some very light vurd processing and for some very simple editing of my motivational music videos. Knowing dis, – vat should I buy? 5400, 7200 hard drive – SSD or a combination of all? Help me out, Allison, you ah so smart!

Well Professor Albert this is probably one of those classic things to weigh – “how much will my spouse be mad at me vs. how cool would it be if I could buy…” The reality here is that your needs are fairly easy to meet so you won’t have to irritate Elsa too much. SSDs, or Solid State Drives, are wicked cool, makes boot up time go from minutes down to seconds, but they cost a FORTUNE. For me to put a 300GB SSD in my MBP instead of the included 500GB HDD was an extra THOUSAND DOLLARS! Needless to say, I went hard drive instead of solid state.

iFixit Guide showing bottom cover offNow that we’ve got that out of the way, there’s the question of 5400 vs. 7200. These numbers are a measure of the rotations per minute of the spinning platter of the hard drive. The faster the drive spins, the faster you can get to your data. It’s not nearly as dramatic a difference as an SSD, but people who are crazy about hard drives think the money is worth it. Personally I’d rather see you bump up the memory and processor before I’d go with the faster hard drive. It’s an extra $150 to go from a 500GB 5400rpm drive to a 750GB 7200 RPM drive. For $200 you could go from the 2.3GHZ i5 processor to the 2.5 AND go from 2GB to 4GB of RAM. More RAM is way way way more important to your speed. As soon as you get a couple of applications open, you’d run out of RAM at 2GB and then your applications will start using hard drive as RAM and you’ll have to go outside with Bernard to take a walk while you wait for Excel to run your pivot table calculation.

OR you could stick with the low end MacMini which is still pretty good – and just buy an 8GB RAM upgrade from Other World Computingg and do it yourself. This is only $$70! I thought they were hard to open, but the new 2011 Mac Mini has a simple round bottom cover you rotate and pull off and boom, there’s your RAM.

So bottom line, don’t get the SSD, don’t get the 7200RPM drive, but go for as much RAM as you can afford, and maybe bump up the processor speed if you can. I think the two of you will be very happy.

Rod Simmons on Scoche Boom Can

Next up let’s join Rod Simmons with another one of his great reviews.

Rod’s written review of the Scoche Boom Can at simplemobilereview.com.


I’ve noticed something with people I hang out with, and that’s that the word Tutorial is simply always preceded by the word ScreenSteps. The two words are virtually synonymous. When you want to teach something, you reach for the tool that makes it easiest. Sure could write a tutorial using Microsoft Word, but you could also use a wrench to hammer in a nail – it would make a mess of the nail and the wood but in the end you’d get it done. Same thing with Word, technically you CAN drop images into the document and it is possible to get the words to wrap around it nicely, but it’s painful and arduous and you’ll want to hang yourself if someone changes the image on you. Instead why not use the tool that smoothly takes screenshots, lets you annotate them and drop in text to explain each step? You can get that for only $39.95. Try it once on their free 30 day trial and you’ll know immediately why it’s worth every penny. What do you have to lose? Head on over to ScreenSteps.com and be sure to tell them that Allison sent you! While you’re at it, you could also try out Blue Mango’s free public beta of their new product Clarify for sending shorter form instructions to people. You can find it at bluemangolearning.com/clarify.

Display Port Apple Cinema Display vs. Thunderbolt MacBook Pro

Do you remember a while back I described the frankenstein of adapters I created in order to keep my 22″ ADC Apple Cinema Display working for the last nine years and counting? I told you that the long life of that monitor (and the 17″ I had at home until recently and which is also still working) compelled me to buy another Apple Cinema Display even though they cost an arm and a leg. In 2008 when I bought a new MacBook Pro, I bought the 24″ Cinema Display and it’s fabulous. I love it. It has the chimera cable (reminiscent of the old ADC connector) which has power, USB and display port connectors. It worked like a champ for the nearly three years I used that display-port MacBook Pro.

24In May I got the newly released Thunderbolt MacBook Pro with great delight. It turns out you can plug display port monitors into the Thunderbolt connector on the MacBook Pro and they work just fine. Except. I noticed after a little while that every once in a while the bottom quarter of the screen would suddenly jump to the left and then snap back. Very disconcerting. then it started turning black and then back on. It would stay off for maybe 3/4ths of a second. VERY disconcerting.

I called AppleCare in early June and they suggested I take the Mac to the genius bar at my local Apple Store, since the monitor behaves normally with the display port MacBook Pro. I did that and of course testing it at the Apple Store it didn’t behave once. Not a problem though because the genius looked in the database and found out that it was a known issue, and that it would be solved by a firmware update. Ok, great. Don’t have to send my new baby back, don’t have to replace that monitor I dropped a cool thousand dollars on, just wait a bit and resolution would come.

A week or two later a firmware update came out that said “solves screen flicker problem”. But not for me. I went to the support forums at Apple and found a slew of people with the same problem. I added my comments and went back to waiting. After about a month I got impatient and called Apple Care again, and they said, “known issue, wait for a firmware update”. Another month goes by, call again, same answer. Now I’m getting angry. I noticed that my brain had actually begun to compensate by automatically closing my eyes for a full second every time the screen would start to go off. How scary is that?

I decided to escalate in tech support to a senior support specialist, a guy named Chris. Chris was lovely, he was sympathetic, he pointed out that it had been 4 months now and that I had every right to be upset. but he also said that the answer was still wait for a firmware update. I explained that having $3000 worth of Apple gear on my desk and having it flicker at me was not acceptable. He agreed. I said to him, on a lark, I think a brand new monitor would make me happy. He said, “you know, that’s a great idea!” I couldn’t believe it. He went off for a while to chat with his supervisor to see if he could make it happen. He came back in about 10 minutes to tell me sadly that his boss wouldn’t support it.

I tweeted out asking what else I could do. 4-5 calls, and one visit and I’m still nowhere. Victor Cajiao suggested I write a paper letter to 1 Infinite Loop. I thought that sound advice, so I penned a short but sweet letter explaining my frustration. After a week I called my little friend Chris in tech support. He said he could see that the paper letter had been received (it was added to my case). He suggested I wait a few days to see if customer support called me. I asked him, since we were such chums now, whether he thought it would help or hurt my case if I pounded my chest and barked about how I was this super important Mac podcaster and all that. He said, “I’d pull out anything you got at this point!”

Waited a couple more days (now been about a week and a half and no call from customer service) so I called them. I was routed to a specialist also named Chris. I guess we’ll call him new Chris. So New Chris is super sympathetic, feels my pain, blah blah blah. Now I’m not chums with new Chris yet, and I was getting in a rather grumpy mood about this whole affair so I wasn’t nice to him at all. Not super rude or anything but very matter of fact and curt about it. He said he’d talk to engineering and call me back in a few days. I told him in very firm tones that when he called me back, the one answer he was NOT allowed to give me was, “wait for a firmware update”.

Ok, so fast forward to Thursday when I called him. Get this. He says, “we’ve decided to give you a brand new 27″ monitor”! I about drove off the road talking to him. He said he couldn’t give me a thunderbolt monitor but that they still had the display port versions in stock, and that it would be under warranty, not refurbed and that I could even buy applecare on it if I wanted (my old one was just out of warranty). I was delighted! And then I started thinking…why do we think that another display port monitor wouldn’t have the exact same problem? I asked him why he thought that would fix it. He said “I’m not technical so I don’t know.” I asked if he could ask engineering about it, and he said he couldn’t (they really appear to isolate the engineers from everyone else at Apple.

I suggested he ask someone technical and if they said they thought it could help let’s go for it. Next week someone is supposed to contact me, they send me shipping labels, I send them my monitor and as soon as it shows as begin shipped they ship me the new one. Fingers and toes crossed about this, I’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out.

Knightwise on Giving up Lion

And now for something completely different – one of Knightwise’ “unique” reviews on how he’s using his first generation MacBook Air.

Knightwise has an original Macbook Air (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) and Lion was just too fat for it. Instead, he erased the entire drive and replaced Lion with Linux Mint.
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Knightwise – you have such a unique style of story telling. I love the idea of making the original Macbook Air living on as a fast Kate Moss machine by running Linux Mint on it. I’d like to see one of your videos demonstrating how well it works. Pretty please? It would be an excuse to show off the great video quality of your new point and shoot camera! For the rest of you, if you’d like to enjoy more Knightwise, head on over to knightwise.com (spell) to subscribe to his media feed. Sometimes it’s audio, sometimes video, and sometimes it’s actually a docucast – usually tutorials written in ScreenSteps. I love his show because you never know what you’re going to get.

Chit Chat Across the Pond

Tim and Al at Macworld 2010

Tim Verpoorten of the MacReviewCast hung up his microphone last weekend, so I figured that now that he was retired he’d finally have time to join us onChit Chat Across the Pond. There’s some questions I’ve always wanted to ask you Tim:

So where do you find all that freeware? Give up your sources!

  • Doing this for many years I have a following of friends and listeners that love to send me links to their favorite freeware finds.
  • I use an RSS Reader (NetNewswire) and between my 2 main Macs and my iPad, I sync over 455 feeds that I follow daily. There are many many links to blogs and Web sites that will introduce you to new software releases and updates and also recommendations of freeware that i always check out for myself.
  • Years ago there were several Web sites that monitored all software releases for the Mac platform, but over the years many of them have fallen by the wayside. For a single, definitive Web site now, I would suggest macupdate.com and simply use their great filters they have to find freeware only and the latest dates of releases.

Why are you so obsessed with the menu bar, and How many menu bar apps do you have?

I love the menubar because it’s right their in front of your face. You can place icons on your desktop for links to apps or services, but they become covered and lost in a busy multi-tasking environment. The menubar gives you these links and preferences right there, all the time for you to monitor or open.

My Menubar:

Apple related icons.

  • Spotlight
  • Audio
  • Spaces
  • Time Machine
  • iDisk Sync

Non-Apple related:

  • iStat Menus (CPU, Network, Sensors, date and time) I do not have Memory, Disk Usage, Disk Activity, Battery) But I have them all available in the drop down combined option.
  • LogMeIn
  • Evernote
  • Transmit
  • Chronosync – GoodSync
  • Arq
  • Quiet Read
  • Meteorologist
  • DropBox
  • PathFinder
  • Text Expander
  • Air Video Server
  • MediaLink

The rest all open up when the app is opened.

What drives your hatred of Dashboard apps?

  • Awkward to use.
  • Forced to leave the working environment and open it. No interaction with active apps.
  • Widgets are where useful little utilities go to die.
  • Allow widgets to be added to the desktop and work as Geektool does now, live feedback on your desktop as you are working.

What was it like for you in the earliest days of podcasting?

  • Podcasts tended to be more informal
  • Everyone knew everyone else podcasting in your field
  • I never scripted much of the podcast to begin with.
  • I always wanted live chats on the podcast compared to recorded segments.
  • I also strayed far off of reviews at times and talked about any Mac related subjects I wanted to. Became more focused in the last half.

What would you tell someone just considering doing a podcast?

  • Doing that a bit now already with Steve Beyer
  • It’s not easy, so do it for one reason only, enjoyment.
  • Very little money for very few people. Most will pay for bandwidth and over head if you’re lucky.
  • Spend some time and get the audio right. (My pet peeve is bad audio)
  • Understand the demands if you want to try video podcasts.
  • Think about working with other podcasters in their podcasts before starting yours to get the feel and get your name out to your targeted audience.

Tim is truly one of the greats. Not just great at the Mac stuff but a great person. His gentle guidance over the years has been an inspiration to me. We will definitely have him back on the show again, I had trouble stopping after 50 minutes!

That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills: ScreenSteps from ScreenSteps.com. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at [email protected], follow me on twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

4 thoughts on “#329 Scoche Boom Can, Thunderbolt vs Display Port, Linux Mint on Macbook Air, Tim Verpoorten

  1. BJ Wanlund - September 12, 2011

    ARQ makes me think of IRQ addresses. which was such a gigantic pain in the rear end when I actually built my own PC for gaming way, way back in the day. And, quite frankly, turned me off of the whole idea of tinkering, and turned me on to the Mac and other pre-built computers because I never have to tinker with those sorts of annoying settings ever again.


  2. knightwise - September 12, 2011

    By request : Here is the demonstration of running Ubuntu 10.04 on the Macbook air.


    Excuse the low light quality in the intro video … but enjoy the show anyway..

    Watch kate fly ! 🙂

  3. Allison Sheridan - September 12, 2011

    You giggle every time you do those wobbly windows don’t you?

  4. podfeet - September 16, 2011

    Testing to see if I FINALLY have a working gravatar when I’m logged into WordPress. thanks to Rod Simmons for helping me fix this!

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