Apple Hardware

Inside Apple’s iPhone Charger

Ken Shirriff did an amazing teardown of an Apple iPhone Charger. If you’re like me and enjoy reading in detail about how electronics are engineered, you’ll really enjoy this one. Citations and all.

The real takeaway is that it’s a very high quality product both in terms of build quality and design. That’s pretty typical of most Apple products. Ken goes on to note that it only costs a tiny bit more yet Apple charges substantially more than the competition. However the cost analysis only covers parts, not manufacturing, R&D and patent licensing which is generally substantial, especially when you have a highly customized and well engineered solution.

Around The Web Space

Builing The USS Enterprise

Someone is very obsessed with building the USS Enterprise. Not the Navy’s carrier USS Enterprise, the Star Trek one.

It’s actually pretty interesting to read. While it seems very improbable given the costs and the uncertainty, it’s interesting since we are at the point where a roadmap technically would make sense. It’s ambitious and who doesn’t love reading about an underdog idea? Especially when it involves making something that was imagination just a generation ago into a plausible reality.


Apple Data Centers To Be Green By 2013

Just the other day Microsoft announced it was going carbon neutral. Apple is now goaling for 100% renewable energy for it’s data centers by 2013. This is a very different goal than Microsoft, but still quite interesting.

Apple is a much more focused company than Microsoft. I could be wrong, but I doubt they are dogfooding their future product like Microsoft likely is. My guess is Tim Cook is looking at the financials today, and where Apple wants to be in 2013. He’s a supply chain guy. When it comes to IT operations (the cloud). Electricity is a huge part of that supply chain. Renewable energy has a high upfront cost, but it’s very predictable. The sun doesn’t increase in cost depending on politics or hurricanes, nor does wind. If Apple is going to become the cloud provider for it’s growing tablet and phone market, it’s going to need to scale it’s cloud even further. That means controlling prices from it’s suppliers. Energy included. Apple can afford the high upfront costs of renewable energy. It can benefit from the longer term predictability and eventual drop in costs to scale this.

That is why I think they are doing this.

Around The Web Audio/Video

How To Use A Paper Towel

Joe Smith One Paper Towel

This is a pretty interesting presentation. The content matter while slightly silly is actually pretty informative and eye opening. I bet we all waste more paper than we realize. What really stands out is Joe Smith has amazing presentation skills. This should be shown on the first day of any public speaking class. This is pretty much the best example of solid public speaking skills. Audience engagement, entertaining, great use of language, demonstration, repetition and humor. All in perfect balance.


Lenovo Gets Rid Of The Classic Keyboard

It’s no secret that I’m a keyboard snob. After all how many others have written several blog posts about keyboards. I’m rather disappointed to see Lenovo getting rid of the classic keyboard. Lenovo (previously IBM) ThinkPad had the best keyboards of the PC laptops. There was no competition.

Apple managed to achieve a decent “chicket style” keyboard, the spacing is pretty good. The low action makes it very responsive. So I’m not totally opposed to the style. I’m typing on one now.

Looking at the photo, I can’t imagine this new keyboard Lenovo is using will be any good. The function keys look quite narrow and the arrows look like they have the prev/next against them. Those buttons are essentially useless and just ruin the feel of that part of the keyboard. My T43 has them, but at least that was a classic keyboard which was very tactile. I’d imagine the new keyboard also changes the usability of the Trackpoint. I’m just going to assume the spacing and action is solid.

I guess this is the downside to making laptops thinner and lighter.


Disable X11 When Using SSH On Mac OS X

When you SSH into another box from Mac OS X, X11 automatically starts up because X11 forwarding is enabled by default. I have no idea why it’s a default as I suspect the vast majority of Mac OS X users never use X11 forwarding. It’s annoying to need to quit it every time. The fix however is easy. Edit your SSH config located here: ~/.ssh/config.

By default you’ll see a line like this in a series of otherwise commented out configs:

   ForwardX11 yes

Change that “yes” to a “no” and save the file. No more quitting X11 every time you SSH into another box.

In the event you need to use X11 forwarding from time to time, you can enable it when connecting by doing:

SSH hostname.tld -o ForwardX11=yes

It’s nice to get rid of those little annoyances every once in a while.


How Yahoo Killed Flickr

Gizmodo has a great essay on how Yahoo killed Flickr. I think this excerpt is a pretty good summary:

It was a stunning failure in vision, and more or less the same thing happened at Flickr. All Yahoo cared about was the database its users had built and tagged. It didn’t care about the community that had created it or (more importantly) continuing to grow that community by introducing new features.

It’s worth a read. It’s a textbook example of how not to build/manage a product. Yahoo isn’t in it’s current situation by accident or chance. The upside is there’s a bunch of good lessons for everyone inside and outside of Yahoo here.

Love or hate what Facebook is doing, they are essentially the antithesis. Every decision Facebook makes is seemingly about growing the community and features that increase engagement. There are of course many other ways to fail.

The Internet is a network/community of cooperation. If you forget about the network/community factor, you’ve lost.

Audio/Video Space

Shuttle Enterprise Unmated At JFK

Shuttle Enterprise 747 Unmate @ JFK

About two weeks ago I got to see Shuttle Enterprise Arrive in NYC. NASA Television has now posted some video of the Shuttle being unmated from the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Unlike most of the times we’ve seen this process it was done by crane.

Open Source

Getting ant Working In CentOS 6

I was seeing this error after installing ant on CentOS 6.2 via yum:

$ ant
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: org/apache/tools/ant/launch/Launcher
Caused by: java.lang.ClassNotFoundException:
	at Method)
	at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(
	at sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader.loadClass(
	at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(
Could not find the main class: Program will exit.

Odd, generally yum packages work out of the box. The problem ends up being that ant can’t find ant-launcher.jar The solution is to add the following to your .bashrc

export ANT_HOME=/usr/share/ant
export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java

Once you do that it should find the necessary jar and work just fine.

Hopefully that saves someone else the hassle of figuring this out.

Blog General

New Server

This blog is now up and running on a newer faster server. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past week moving sites and syncing databases as I transition things over. Still some loose ends, but I’m mostly there.

Back to regular blogging tomorrow.