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Showing posts from September, 2016

Faster Internet and the Bullshit of Cable Modem Marketing

People assume that a blazing fast 340 Mbit/second cable modem will give them better performance than an 80 Mbit/second modem.  "4 times faster!  8 times faster!"

All of that talk is simple marketing garbage, a hold-over sales pitch from the days of dialup modems.

The fact is that the Internet doesn't work like that.  You will likely get the same exact performance with a low-cost standard cable modem versus an expensive fast modem.

The reason?  Internet bottlenecks.  The Internet is a vast, shared network, and there are plenty of bottlenecks on every network path. With your 340 Mbit/second modem, you'll know that your modem is no longer a bottleneck.  But there are more than a dozen network devices between your computer and Google and so your cable modem is likely never the slowest device on the network.

What other devices are slowing things down?  First, there is your home WIFI.  Then there is bandwidth that your ISP provides to you.  Then there is the network equipm…

Apple's Self-Driving Car

Today it was reported that Apple's Self-Driving Car project is going through some significant challenges - with some layoffs, reorganization, and perhaps a change in focus.

But let's be realistic here: Self-driving cars are very hard, on the order of magnitude of the Manhattan project... or maybe harder.  An incredible amount of new science, AI, and associated engineering needs to be solved.  It isn't a "simple" hardware/software engineering exercise like creating the first iPhone, or implementing the Android OS from scratch, or implementing Twitter.

It took about 40 years for the helicopter to go from concept to production, as a lot of science and engineering had to happen before a helicopter could be a reasonably safe way to travel.

The idea that a self-driving car project wouldn't go through significant struggles and major changes in direction is fantasy, as that even happens with simple projects, such as the creation of another new fighter aircraf…

MacBook: burnt out magsafe connector repair

My MacBook (A1342 model from 2009-2010) stopped working, thanks to a cheap knockoff magsafe charger. The magsafe connector looked burnt with heat-distorted melted plastic and some black carbon surfaces.  Plugging in the charger resulted in no lights and no action.  My MacBook was dead.

First I tried to clean up the connector with some Q-Tips, tooth picks and solvent, but that did little, as seen in this "after" picture (below).   The heat generated by the aftermarket charger permanently deformed and distorted the MacBook's magsafe connector.  Clearly the damage was significant.

Looking at iFixIt, I determined that it would not be difficult to replace only the magsafe connector with the right tools.  I hoped and prayed that the problem was isolated to the connector assembly and not the logic board.

I bought a replacement magsafe connector assembly (available from Amazon) for under $20 and started to replace it by following the instructions on iFixIt, using a proper tool k…