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Personal Blog

Apple Event

I will be covering tonight's Apple Event via Twitter and my blog. At the moment my blog is not fully equipped to do live blogging so I will not be using for that. As a matter of fact, that is one of the features I will be working on next.

The plan for this is to allow live posts which are posts that update when a user is reading them. This may not happen, but I'm hoping it will. The next few days will also allow me to create a subscribe button for this blog. I am also thinking about adding RSS to the blog, but as this technology is not used very often these days it may seem a bit pointless, but maybe.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

On the 9th September 2014 Apple will unviel their latest products, rumoured to be the iPhone 6 and the new iWatch. 

The date will be particularly of interest for me because my phone is up for renewal on October the 7th so I'd be buying a new iPhone anyway.

I'd also just like to end this post with a comment about this being my first proper post from my content management system I have developed. :)

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

The US is supposedly giving up control of the DNS root zone. Read it here from Ars Technica:

From Ars Technica/

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

In the next few days Microsoft will rebrand SkyDrive under the name OneDrive due to a claim by BSkyB that this is a breach of their trademark. The new is catchy and it's quite nice, but it will take time for people to adjust just as it took people a while to adjust from Windows Live Folders, and then I think SkyDrive folders(?) or something. There have just been too many to remember.

It's a bit like MSN Hotmail, sorry Windows Live, sorry Outlook. The constant change makes it difficult to talk to others about. I still occasionally refer to my email provider as simply 'Hotmail' or sometimes 'Windows Live' and very occasionally just 'MSN', but really, it is now Outlook. Outlook is a good name for it and it feels so much better than what it was like back in 2003 when I first used it on my 24K or 56K dial-up modem (everything had to be that way, otherwise it would take hours to load[!]).

Microsoft have a terrible problem with rebranding. Windows 8 has this problem with things like Xbox Music which was previously Zune music from what I remember. In some sense, I don't really know what an Xbox is. What actually does the word Xbox mean now? Is it a brand of different things? Is it a program or is it the hardware? I call on Microsoft to describe it.

Microsoft's bad marketing plans are probably one of the reasons I steer quite clear of their recent products, and if they keep going this way, constantly rebranding things, I will not be able to come back.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

It's been speculated for sometime that a new Mac Mini is next on the line up for Apple. Well, once again, the Belgian store has placed on their site a new Mac Mini, featuring Iris graphics.

The picture below shows that the CPU and RAM have yet to be placed here but the Iris graphics definitely sounds like a new feature. From this, we can assume it to be Haswell powered and not a future generation of Intel CPU that is going to take us by surprise in April.

Mac Minis on display

The lack of a new Mac Mini is frustrating

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
mac os x

Intel's new Haswell chips have been out for about half a year and are incredibly powerful CPUs. Ranging from the i3 to the i7, the 4th generation core processors was set from the offset to be a big thing.

But recently, my computer; known as The Zebra, which was a second generation Core i7 2600K based system, died on me. The problem was related to a motherboard issue. The system had to be replaced from board to CPU and I decided to replace it with a new Haswell system to make it as future-proofed as possible. The specs of the system are now being boosted several generations further, but it's not without problems.

For a start, I could not find any board featuring FireWire headers or connectors, making my drives with FireWire harder to connect to the system (I eventually decided to trade in FireWire for eSATA). This was none the less a disappointment. On top of that I could only get a decent board without PCI at all. Now it's fully understandable that PCI is being completely phased out, but it's just getting so rapid that it's more costly to the end user. Luckily, I found a mid range board that suits me fine and features just one PCI connector, the Gigabyte Z87-UD3H. This is actually my third Gigabyte and my third UD3 model, with my previous being the Z68XP-UD3 and the previous being the P45-UD3R model.

But the real problem is down to compatibility with Haswell. I've read numerous forums where users are complaining about solid state drives and compatibility with Haswell, in particular the Sandforce controller in the 1000 series (this does not include the SATA 6Gbps versions, apparently). This is the exact drive I own for my PC, so on top of a failing motherboard, I now know that I've got to fork out on a new solid state drive. The Sandforce controllers in the original drives were actually pretty bad for numerous reasons such as a false advertising AES256 instead of AES128 etc. but it was not enough to put me off buying four of them (with my MacBook Pro is the only one of the four that has been a Sandforce SATA 6Gbps).

Anyway, on top of the issues with the drive, there have also been reports that some power supply units (PSU) have also had problems, as such Corsair and other power supply manufacturers are now doing their bit to specify which of their units are working with Haswell boards. Now when you add all this together, it seems like a disaster on Intel's behalf, but from what I am reading it down to the fact that some drives are out of date and do not support the new C states to the full. C states are power states for a computer system, and apparently Haswell adds more C states that makes energy saving better in the system. Of course, all the hardware needs full compatibility with these states in order for it to work and this is where some power supply units and solid state drives have problems.

Corsair's compatibility list can be found here:

You can share any experiences you may have had down below.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

If like me you love following big computing companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and all the others out there, then you may have noticed that there was just a big release from two of the larger companies there.

Both Apple and Google have just released new devices; Google with the new Nexus 7 (I love and hate my 2012 Nexus 7 because it's constantly running slow, but is now used for simply browsing the web and playing Happy Street[!]) and Apple with the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Now it is confirmed that Apple has set the 15th of October (great news for you Calum Cormack) as the date for their next event.

Expected at the event is the new iPad. Some mentioned that the new iPad, now in it's fifth iteration, will feature a smaller bezel, thus allowing the iPad to shrink slightly. Others have stated that a 13 inch iPad may be on the cards. Whilst both of these are feasible, neither have concrete evidence yet.

However, as much a Retina iPad Mini would be something to expect don't get your hopes up. It is completely understandable why Apple has not put one into it's medium size tablet. Retina displays actually made the iPad 3 (first with Retina display) thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. Apple would be giving up the very thin design of the Mini for a display that is not necessarily needed on the company's cheaper line of tablets. However, it seems the right time to do it, as Google launched it's new Nexus 7 which has an eye-watering 323 pixels per inch, and if Apple intends to keep up with Google, or overtake, they will need to push forward.

Also at the event will hopefully be that long awaited update (for me anyway) of the Mac Mini. This year we will see Haswell enter into the mini sized Mac. As well as the Mini, we are also expecting a couple of other Macs including the iMac and possibly MacBook Pro (or Retina?).

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

Whilst my iPhone is downloading iOS 7 right as I type, I wanted to go through the features that will make it brilliant. This is my personal opinion so disagree if you like.

Control Center

Control Center is like the Notification Center but for controlling your device. Swipe up and access all of your settings easily, much like Android's Quick Settings (it's getting a bit copy-cattish here now). Control Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, a handy torch and more.


Us Mac users have had AirDrop for about 2 years, but it is the most used part of OS X that I use on a regular basis. Send files between Mac and Mac to make an easy file transfer. Now iOS 7 brings the same feature. You can easily share a photo with a friend who is running iOS or Mac OS X without the need for third party applications.

Notification Center

It's just so beautiful. It loses it's silly tweed background and goes for the full on iOS 7 design. The Today feature will be useful for me as I can check the weather, stocks (and yes, I constantly check stocks, mainly because I'm interested in the computing industry stock) and more.


Lord Siri will be updated as well. Apparently more voices are coming with it, but that's not what I am excited about. iOS 7's version of Siri will bring the ability to control the device much more. For instance, you can ask him to turn on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Great for when you are on a hands free like I am sometimes.


Safari has better performance. It also looks more attractive and the tabs are organised in a neater way that will suit every device. Tabs are shown from above, a bit like a magazine rack. It all looks awesome.

But to finish

I never mentioned how I do like the consistency of the new user interface. It is so much more consistent and coherent that iOS 6 and before. I am excited a lot about the interface and the new design is a change I will have to get used to, but it will be great to try something new, hopefully.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

In what I would personally say was a good move, Steve Ballmer is to step down as the CEO of Microsoft in the next 12 months, announced earlier today. Steve Ballmer has been running the company as CEO since 2000 and has been a key part of the company.I'm not fond of Ballmer and some of his work with Microsoft, but lately some of the companies failings have been pointed at Ballmer.

Ballmer leaving this role has made share prices rise, put confidence back into those of us who follow Microsoft and allows for new marketing strategies to be applied in relation to the company.

We shall see how this pans out in the future.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news

It has been long known as the business oriented phone company but today RIM (Research-In-Motion) and latterly, BlackBerry Ltd. went up for sale. BlackBerry has dropped to as low 2.9% of the phone market this year, whilst Google's Android phones take around 80% of the market, you would imagine figures like this make the company directors at BlackBerry Ltd. slightly concerned.

In the same way we lost Palm, a company who pretty much got the touch devices out on the market in the first place, BlackBerry were one of the first smartphone manufacturers for business users. It's a sad fate, but Android and iOS are in control of the smartphone market with the others trailing behind.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news