Apple MacBook Pro 85w MagSafe 2 PSU

So last Sunday my PSU died.  I don’t know if it’s something about luck or what but in all my years (to many to count) of using computers the only component I’ve never lost (touches wood, bit late though now) a PSU.  Not in a desktop, laptop or server.  Might seem like slim odds of that happening but it’s true.  I’ve built a lot of machines over the years and have owned a lot of machines as well.  Never had a PSU die, ever.

So last Sunday morning was a bit of a surprise.  I’d used the laptop in the morning and then had put it on to charge late in the evening, I haven’t really liked leaving this charging overnight as it gets really hot.  So I must have taken it off charge around midnight, unplugged the charger from the laptop and the wall socket and went to bed.  8am I plug it all back in, nothing.  No green light and no orange charging indicator.  Tried an SMC reset, nothing.  Cleaned both the port on the laptop and the connector on the charger, nothing.  Tried all the solutions you’ll find online.  I visited a local store to try another charger but two large stores I visited had no 85w MagSafe 2 chargers in stock (loads of every other Apple charger though strangely).  The last store let me try the display charger and all was well.

So the charger is definitely dead.  It’s just turned 2 years old.  I have a PSU for my 1992 Amiga 1200 that sat in my parents garage for 20 years, unused, that powered up the first time I tried.  So why has the most looked after and perfect condition PSU fail whilst it wasn’t even powered?  Bit odd.  There were no sparks or smells yet no juice.  Oh well.

From reading around the web it seems (if the messages are even remotely accurate) that some people go through multiple Apple chargers.  I’ve personally seen so many with electrical tape wrapped around various bits of them you have to wonder if people either don’t care enough or there is a desgn issue.

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Pixar Renderman now free for Non-Commercial

Wow, you can now get your hands on a non-commercial version of Renderman for FREE.  Pixar has been selling Renderman for a long time.  That said the asking price of £1200 was pretty damn reasonable for such an amazing piece of software.  Nowhere near as good as FREE though.

Problem is now a question of if your fave 3D application is supported and integrated.  Blender isn’t at the moment so no dice there unfortunately.

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Microsoft to Retire IE – Project Spartan

This is actually quite a momentus occasion!  Hearing that Microsoft is going to retire the IE brand is something I’ve been waiting to hear for years.  From recent surveys it seems apparent that many people still aren’t really aware of what a brower is let alone know much about them in detail.

IE started out it’s life in conflict and it seems that conflict followed it throughout it’s entire career.  The very reason for it’s existance in the early days was as a reaction to the release of Netscape Navigator.  It was born in order to crush Navigator.  I think the problem stemmed from Netscape also claiming that eventually the browser would be the main deal on the desktop, very forward thinking at more or less true already.  The move to “The Cloud” is certainly moving a lot of things that way, the release of the ChromeBook type machines attests to this fact as well.

The problem has been that IE has never really payed much attesion to standards.  The box model of page layouts for instance.  It’s just never played nicely really making cross-browser issues a full time job for a web developer.  Another major problem with this browser is the number of proprietary “bits” that have appeard through the years.  The idea of a web site that only works in IE is simply laughable but that really was a goal for a while in my opinion.  A hugely stupid motive.

Going back to the idea of conflict I always found it amazing that Microsoft could on one hand argue in court that IE was crucial to the working of it’s operating system thus trying to fend off the anti-trust rulings.  Whilst at the same time IE6 was kicking around as the latest major version for 5 years.  IE6 was released in 2001 and IE7 arrived in 2006.  5 years in the tech world is several lifetimes, 5 years in the interwebs is hundreds of lifetimes.  How they could argue this point is incredible. The conflict coming here in that the idea to split up Microsoft was a very real one, all that risk to crush a competitor …

After they release IE7 they started to slowly try to bring it inline with standards whilst it also had a major problem – backwards compatibility.  Any app that has to sport a compatibility mode had failed in my opinion.  Either the current architecture is wrong or it is having to support an aging set of fuck ups in it’s past.  So not only was IE born in conflict, it nearly killed the company and also creates conflict for the developers that have to work with it daily.  With the next few versions being so different the cross-browser nightmares of the past became the IE-version-cross-browser nightmares.  It actually became harder to cater with all the various issues and rendering modes of all the different versions of IE.  Utterly broken.

In my opinion IE is something Microsoft should have buried a very long time ago.

Lets hope they don’t do it all over again with Project Spartan!

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Anti-Virus – BitDefender

So it’s the best … or at least was the best. *ahem* …

I’ve used a LOT of virus applications in my time, free ones, commercial ones massive enterprise ones and every other little tool and app going. I had been using Avira for a few years and decided in March 2014 that I’d try out BitDefender as it seemed everyone was raving about it at that point in time. It had somehow managed to attain that hallowed 100% match rate in virus tests etc. So I thought I’d give it a try.

I went through the nasty process of removing my old anti-virus software (see notes below!) and installed BitDefender.  Holy crap, it took a powerful machine (you know, fast processor, SSD, GTX580, 24Gb RAM basically a beast of a machine) to it’s knees.  It literally bought my overpowered workstation to a grinding halt.  I tried all I could to get it working at a speed where I could also do some work … you know, that’s kinda important …

Anyway, I failed.  After trawling the forums I couldn’t get BitDefender to leave enough resources for me.  Doing some searches it seemed that this was a problem that was plaguing many, many other users.  Personally I think they turned the heat up on their searching algorithm to attain a higher match rate to boost their marketing.  It seemed the software in it’s default configuration was so aggressively looking for stuff that they forgot that someone has to actually use the machine at the same time.

No virus software should behave like that at factory defaults … ever …

Anyway, when I un-installed the software I then logged into MyBitDefender portal to ask for a refund.  I asked for that refund 6 times … never got a replies and never got the refund either … £20 lost.  I had better things to do with my time.

Fast forward to now … I got up this morning to find a nice email from PayPal saying that I’d just handed them another £44.96 for the new spangly version.  So, I go to login to my MyBitDefender in order to take action (I was even considering giving it another go) but low and behold … I have no account.  Eh?  Yup, none of my email addresses (even the payment email address) was recognised.

WTF??

Where did my account go then?  I downloaded the original installer using this account.  Which according to their systems should have been an active account because it had just been renewed.  So another support call …

BitDefender confirmed that I had no MyBitDefender account, none … nada.  WTF?

So I had renewed an application from a vender that didn’t have an account for me and I couldn’t log in to download the software.  Customer services at it’s most confusing basically.  Anyway, I’m not giving them the £45, so I’m waiting for that refund to arrive … Whilst their tech may be good I have little faith in anything else …

Will stick with Avira thanks …

Update:

Got the money back, well done BD!

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WordPress & IIS Permalinks

When hosting a WordPress site under IIS you can run into some troubles when not getting things set-up exactly right.  I thought I’d post up the configuration file I use for enabling this.  The exact variables for your situation may var depending on the structure of your permalinks.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<configuration>
  <system.webServer>
    <httpErrors errorMode="Detailed"/>
    <rewrite>
      <rules>
        <rule name="Main Rule" stopProcessing="true">
        <match url=".*"/>
            <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll">
                <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true"/>
                <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true"/>
            </conditions>
        <action type="Rewrite" url="index.php/{R:0}"/></rule>
            <rule name="wordpress" patternSyntax="Wildcard">
                <match url="*"/>
                    <conditions>
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true"/>
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true"/>
                    </conditions>
        <action type="Rewrite" url="index.php"/>
        </rule>     
        </rules>
    </rewrite>
    <defaultDocument>
      <files>
        <clear/>

        <add value="index.php"/>
      </files>
    </defaultDocument>
  </system.webServer>
</configuration>
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Shopify

So we’ve just had the pleasure of building my first Shopify application for a client project.  Am I impressed?  Very.  Very, very impressed.

For e-commerce sites I have built in the past I’ve reached for WordPress and a range of e-commerce plug-ins I either recommend to clients based on their individual requirements.  Generally the sites I have built were bespoke sites for small organisations or individuals.  The solutions have always worked well and been successful.  Wordpress is a great solution and so well supported that is generally a no-brainer for me to recommend.

The latest commission from a client however gave me a little pause for thought as it was basically of a different scale altogether.  The client was a small one-man shop with limited internet experience and absolutely no previous experience of running any on-line systems yet there is a potential for the quantity of products to explode in quantity.  Obviously the performance of any web site is a combination of many factors from the code, the hosting infrastructure and the visitors internet connection to name just a few.  There are lots of ways of keeping WordPress performing well but there is a lot of custom configuration and infrastructure that is needed to turn a blogging engine into an e-commerce system and I didn’t want to overload the client with concerns.

Given this situation I decided to look over the various options for dedicated e-commerce platforms.  I looked over Velution, Big-Commerce and Shopify.  All are really very good platforms but we opted for Shopify as it worked out the cheapest and simplest for this particular project.  Buying into the Shopify system gives absolutely everything you need, right out of the box.  Even SSL is included as standard on the base plans which is really good.

Development of the custom theme was more or less complete within a day and setting up the rest of the back-end configuration was extremely simple.  We’re currently still working through this with the client but it is going really well and they are feeling really confident in their usage of the solution already.  So lenssniper has another happy customer.

If you’re looking for an on-line e-commerce system it’s well worth looking at Shopify and if you need assistance in getting your site designed and built, check out my lenssniper business and drop us a line.

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