Category Archives: Hardware

MSTORE Comes To Plaza Terronal

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For those of you living in Chiriquí that have moved away from the Dark Side, I have news of an Apple Store that is coming to Plaza Terronal. Google Map.

One of the workers said it should be around eight more days until the store is ready.

Plaza Terronal already has PanaFoto and MultiMax which sell Apple products, but now there will be a store dedicated to Apple products. I hope they will be carrying the iPhone.

The sign on the window says it is an authorized distributor. I will be interested to know if they are also an authorized service center.
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Cutting the Cord

“Cutting the Cord” seems to be the topic many people are thinking about these days, especially in the U.S.. It refers to reducing the dependence on cable programming and moving to getting your entertainment and information off the Internet.

A revolution is underway and this year I believe it will begin to move at an accelerated rate. Apple recently made a major price reduction in its Apple TV to $69 from $99. The current rumor going around is that a new offering will be announced during the WWDC in June. It is speculated that its processor power and memory will be increased as well as its content ordering.

This will undoubtedly result in new offerings in the U.S. by cable companies as they see the Internet entities encroaching on their turf. Even Cable Onda has started to offer apps that allow you to see some of their programming on smart phones or tablets.

What does this revolution mean to those of us living in Panama. Well, it depends on the capability of your current Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you are connecting to the Internet with a WiFi dongle on you laptop then it may not mean much. However if you have a reliable 4MB download speed then the options start opening up. Continue reading Cutting the Cord

New Apple TV Coming

Earlier this month Apple had a set of new announcements including the new Apple Watch release date. At that time they reduced the current price for the Apple TV to $69. I forecasted that the price decrease told me that a new Apple TV was coming.

This week most of the Apple Rumors center around a new Apple TV to be announced in the June Apple WWDC. Speculation is that it will be accompanied with a much faster processor (A8) and more memory which will be needed with the addition of more streaming content.

No price was given in the rumors, but my bet would be $99. When it comes out, I’m gonna get me one.

Just Signed Up For Apple Care

I just added Apple Care to my Mac Book Pro. I am still within my first year, but outside of the support period for phone support.

With all the changes I expect to appear in the next IOS and OS X release with iCloud and the new Photos App, I am counting on needing Apple phone support. This may be the first time I have ever paid for an extended warranty on any product. At least I don’t remember any other times.

I must say that the Apple Phone support I have received on my Apple products has been outstanding. The support has either been immediate or they have set up an appointment for a specialist to call me.

I have used Dell support, HP support, and others, but I have found no comparison to Apple’s support.

Apple Care isn’t cheap and for this Mac Book Pro it runs $349. Only time will tell whether I feel that I receive value equal to money spent.

I needed to call Apple today because of a problem I was having with my contact list. It required a transfer to a senior specialist and she was able to sort out the problem in about 15 minutes. I can honestly say I would never have solved the problem no matter how long I Googled the problem.

Apple Announcement

Yesterday was Apple’s March announcement. I watched it as these events are usually fun and unmatched by Apple’s competitors.

The Apple Watch is available to order. Would I buy one? Maybe, but fortunately for me, my Apple 4S iPhone is not compatible with the new watch. While the cheapest version comes in at $349 and is the best of the current “smart” watches, it would not fill a need for me. Besides, the second version should benefit from lessons learned on version one.

Apple also did some upgrades on some of their laptops, basically the 13” MacBook Pro. These are necessary improvements, but nothing out of the ordinary.

There was a new 12” model that took the stage and how it will fair, remains to be seen. A 12” screen is a marginal amount of real estate and with the low end processors, it will not work for many people. If word processing and minimal number crunching is all that is required, it will be fine. It might be great for a student, as long as the student didn’t want to play games.

I think I would still go for a refurbed 13” Mac Book Air, for a light weight carry around.

What I felt was the biggest announcement, was a price drop of the Apple TV to $69. The price drop tells me that there is a high potential that there is a new Apple TV device in the works. The current generation is behind all of the competitors in processing power.

If I were a betting person, I would think that the next model will attack the gaming community as well as improving Internet access to programing. My bet is that the new device will be aimed at Christmas.

Still at $69, the current model is capable enough to make Roku and Amazon look at price reductions also. A new refurbed model is now $59.

One thing that didn’t get talked about is the next OS X and IOS releases. These releases will be bringing the new Photos App to the desktop and making more use of iCloud. I suspect that that this upgrade is still not ready for prime time. They did release an update to IOS, but this was primarily a bug fix with some more supporting features for Apple Watch.

So the good news is that no $ will be leaving this house for any of the new Apple announcements. The only possible exception is that my grandson is finishing his ‘PC for College” paper to tell me what he wants. However, he is currently a Window’s fan, so there may not be an Apple purchase this year.

Up In The Air

Apple releases IOS 8 today. With the reviews I have read, it should not go on any iPad 2 and possibly not on the iPhone 4S, which is what I have. I may put it on one of my 4S iPhones and see how bad the performance is. If it is too bad, then I will consider trying to get an iPhone 6 when I am in the U.S.

What a shame. I really didn’t want to change iPhones till the next model.

It also means buying any of the iPad Mini’s that may still be in Panama stores is a bad idea since it uses the same cpu as the iPad 2.

The other problem I will have in not running IOS 8 is that I want to move my desktops to the Yosemite OS in October. I am afraid if I have IOS 7 on my iPhone, it will no longer sync with Yosemite.

I will be coming back from the U.S. with some new technology, the only question is what it will be. October, Apple is supposed to announce new PC hardware and possibly a new Apple TV.

The jury is out on how much Lilliam will allow me to bring back.

I should add that I am running the third beta distribution of Yosemite on my MacBook Air and it is running great. The second beta distribution removed all of the problems I saw in the first distribution and brought no new problems. By the time it releases in October, it should be rock solid.

HERE is a really good article on Apple.

Burning The Candle At Both Ends

Sometimes I just don’t know when to shut down. Last night was a good example. I didn’t go to bed before 3 :30 AM. It would not be a big deal if I were staying up for something worthwhile, but last night, after working on a technical project, I stayed up watching a movie to unwind.

Lilliam is usually my governor and keeps my days in order, but she is in Costa Rica and won’t return until next week. When she is not around, I forget what time it is. When I was young, I could go without sleep better than I can now, so I am sure that I will have to have a nap this afternoon.

So what has been going on? I have visited the stroke victim twice this week. The second visit, I spent several hours with him. His caretake’s father has been released from the hospital after they decided they could not remove a tumor. She needed time to visit him in a hospice he has moved to. I hope that she doesn’t give out with all the stress she is under.

I am not satisfied with the stroke victim’s progress, but I have no control over that. I am also not impressed with C&W’s telephone connection at his apartment. He has been without telephone for two weeks. I had to go by the C&W office and submit a second trouble ticket. If it is not up soon, I will have to make another trip to the office. They need to give him a refund for lack of service. Just another thing you put up with living in paradise.

I guess that has me under a little stress and when I get under stress, I tend to dive into technology to unwind. Continue reading Burning The Candle At Both Ends

Apple Yosemite Beta Testing

The last couple of weeks have not been much fun for me. Lilliam has been in Panama City and it has just been Koki and I looking after each other.

All of my time has been making trips to and from the stroke victims house, to the bank finding options for paying the stroke victims bills, or getting some carry out food. I told Lilliam, on one of my phone calls, that we needed to buy some new dishes. When she asked why, I told her because all of the ones we have are dirty and in the sink.

I am not sure she appreciated my humor. She comes home today and the sink will be empty and all dishes in their proper place.

As I said, I have not been doing anything I enjoy, so yesterday evening, I decided to begin another technology project. Getting involved in studying technology and solving those types of problems, rather than other people’s health problems, relax me and get my mind thinking about something that is fun. Continue reading Apple Yosemite Beta Testing

VPN vs Unlocator

I met a couple at yesterday’s Embassy’s Outreach that had read some of my original posts on VPN and were using WiTopia to allow themselves to access some US sites that only allow US IP addresses.

They had also read my first post on Unlocator and had tried it and had some problems while Unlocator was in their early stages. I had two days of problems when I first signed up too.

However, since I have been using Unlocator now for over two months without any problems, I thought it might be worth another post.

First, if you are not aware of the benefits of a VPN, read this. Everything mentioned in my previous post about VPNs is still true. I have kept WiTopia on my laptop and use it if I am traveling to insure I have a secure connection.

I have moved to Unlocator for my home access to Netflix and Hulu for one big reason. Unlocator does not do any of the encryption that VPNs do and my Internet speed for movie streaming has doubled. My IP address shows up as a Panama IP address and Unlocator provides you with DSN addresses that solve the problem of accessing many sites.

Unlocator is still in beta and it is currently free to try, but will charge $5 a month when it leaves beta. I will have no problem paying to use them.

VPN is an advantage if you travel a lot and are using a lot of free Internet access points. If you are not aware of how dangerous it is to use non password protected Internet access, study up a bit on Internet Identity theft.

A final note on Unlocator. It will work on a PC, a router, Apple TV, Xbox or PS3, Roku and other devices. The Unlocator site specifies all supported devices, sites and has installation instructions.

Try it while it is free and see if it will work for you. I have it installed on my Apple Time Capsule (Apple’s router with automatic backup) and all devices in my house receive the benefit.

Two For Two

Carlos Arauz has done it again. I don’t know if my iPhone had been hit, but about a 1/4 inch of the screen has been dead for several months. This problem prevented me from changing to numeric or changing languages.

I took it to Carlos and had him replace the front screen. Now I have a brand new (hardware wise) iPhone 4S. It is working perfect. I am super happy!

I dropped off an original Apple Mac Mini to be diagnosed when I picked up my iPhone. I also have another friend that has an iPad with a busted screen that I think Carlos will get the opportunity to work to work on.

I am very pleased with the work Carlos did. He is a very professional young man and very experienced with Apple, having worked for Apple in Panama City for five years.

If you are in need of Apple service and don’t want to wait for the item to be sent to and from Panama City, drop me a note and I will provide you with Carlos’s contact information.