Got a new Nexus 7 Tablet for work

I’m amazed that my new user experience with it has been night and day vs with my iPad or iPhone. Absolutely nowhere near as intuitive. And this after owning an HTC EVO for two years (jailbroken, using both HTC android and cyanogen mod). I’m no newbie to these things and I found the layout on the Nexus 7 gave me pause.

Maybe it’s a different paradigm? I have to imagine that the interface’s panels are meant to be somewhat Windows 8’ish and I haven’t even thought of touching that OS yet… Still learning the nuances of OS X…

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on February 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

High CPU with iTunes 10.7 – Resolved… Sort Of

** Updated 12/2/2012 **

Just upgraded to iTunes and the issue has not improved at all. I reenabled my Wi-Fi sync and it seemed to take a while longer before the AppleMobileDeviceHelper.exe started consuming CPU like crazy (about 5-6 hours) but consume it did. Also the iPhone and iPad completely don’t see the server so Wi-Fi sync is still broken. I’ve disabled that mode of syncing again. I suppose it will have to be an iTunes 12 fix?

** End Update **

So, it turns out that disabling sync over Wi-Fi eliminates the high CPU consumption issues with both the AppleMobileDeviceHelper.exe and ATH.exe

This is relatively painless to do since the Wi-Fi sync stopped working with the 10.7 iTunes update on the Windows 7 (64 bit) release anyway.

I’ll leave this disabled until the next iTunes update. It’s a shame because the Wi-Fi sync is a pretty slick feature.

To disable, just plug your iDevice into your computer and, in iTunes on the Summary page, uncheck the “Sync with this computer over Wi-Fi” checkbox and click apply

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

Just got my new iPhone 5

Switching from HTC EVO to iPhone 5 on Sprint.

The phone arrived today, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised, I really didn’t expect to see it until next week some time. I had only ordered it two days ago.

I have to admit to having become somewhat of an Apple fanboy ever since I started using an iPad 2 for work.

The HTC EVO was an OK phone but suffered from a couple of issues:

1) always chronically short of internal RAM with no way to increase it

I don’t have a great number of apps on my phone and I don’t really game at all so I was annoyed that I NEVER had enough room on my HTC phone. I was always using Titanium backup to back up stuff to my SD card and then remove it from active memory. Everything that could be put on the SD card WAS on that card and still I never had more than 60 MB free in RAM which was right on the cusp where it would start complaining to me whenever it was performing updates.

2) The Android required a lot of thought just to use it sensibly:

A proper backup requires rooting the phone and then installing Titanium Backup (best solution IMHO)

No default Tasks application

I always found it challenging to set the notifications reliably <– although this is probably just me

3) The Android was sluggish… all the time.

Say what you want about Apple products, they do know how to make the user experience a pleasing one. Even brand new, with nothing on it my HTC EVO would lag – just a bit – with every swipe. The iPhone almost starts moving before your finger hits the screen. It’s just that responsive. Now my iPad has had its share of crashes and mini freezes – most notably when using the web browser, but my android seemed to spend it’s life with a page half on and half off the screen as it paused doing who knows what.

In the beginning I wanted the Android because it was infinitely customizable (see Tasker if you don’t know how to take full advantage of your android) and it integrated VERY well with Google’s tools – gmail, contacts, maps – all of which I use heavily and – I admit it – I was somewhat of an Apple bigot figuring that only uninformed n00bs would overspend on such boutique gadgets. Ah well, you change with time…

But in the end I finally decided I wanted a device that had been well thought out and could be tweaked *enough* to keep me satisfied but not so much that it would be a fight to do what I wanted with it. My phone has 32  GB available to me so it is unlikely that I’ll manage to consume all that within its lifetime. I have a 4 year old 120 GB iPod classic that serves all my remote music needs so I don’t really need to store a lot of that space consuming stuff on the iPhone – I’ve never really wanted to expend precious cell phone power on listening to music anyway.


Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on November 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Resolution for: Issue with Garmin and sending addresses from Google Maps

So, in response to my query regarding the fact that you can no longer send map coordinates to a Garmin device from Google maps I received:

Dear Marc Bourassa,
Thank you for contacting Garmin International.
Marc, I will be happy to help you. If you are still getting that error message on the Google map site, then try using Mapquest or Bing mapping and it should go through for you. Have a good day.
With Best Regards,
<name removed>
Product Support Specialist
Garmin Mobile Team
Garmin International

With Bing I couldn’t even figure out how to try to send my GPS coordinates. Mapquest worked – be warned that you will want to edit your GPS favorites once you are done with friendly names unless you are OK finding them by address.

So there’s your fix. I don’t see any indication that they think that their software not working with the only worthwhile web mapping program is an issue.


Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on July 12, 2012 at 1:42 am

Issue with Garmin and sending addresses from Google Maps

I can see from the forums on Garmin’s website that this has been an issue since at least June 30, 2012.

I’ve opened up a support ticket with them that reads as follows:

Trying to send addresses to Garmin Nuvi from google maps via Chrome. Using latest Garmin plugin (it forced me to upgrade from V3.x to V4.x). On the following garmin page:

I receive this error:

An HTTP 404 Error has occurred.The page you requested does not exist.

I see from the forums that this has been an issue since at least June 30, 2012.

Can you please direct this issue to the team responsible? There were no reasonable choices on the Garmin support web site and it made me select *something* so I selected this category.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on July 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Internet Speed – Are you getting what you pay for?

This past weekend I had a glitch in my Comcast internet service. On Saturday afternoon my internet connection simply died. It was pretty obvious to me that the issue was between my house and Comcast but they assured me there were no issues and that they’d send someone around to look at it… on Monday… in the mid afternoon… because I don’t need to earn a living someplace else…

Anyway, after reading a book and then heading out to a friend’s place for a small party I came back and found my internet connection was miraculously restored. Good thing it was Easter, otherwise surely that miracle would not have occurred.

So I don’t know, and obviously Comcast also doesn’t know or will not admit, what happened but I’m online again. Since I don’t really trust miracles, I ran some speed tests and, as you can see below, the results are typical and all over the map.

Does anybody out there have any idea which tests can be trusted and why?

As you check these out keep in mind that I’m a Comcast internet subscriber. I get nothing else from them so in theory, nothing happening at my place should alter these results (i.e. TV or Phone service through Comcast) and nobody’s in the house as I do this and nothing on my other computers is set up to automatically chew up bandwidth right now.

I pay $70.37 a month – yes they punish me nicely for not bundling – and I’m *supposed* to see 12 Mbps down (actually 15 Mbps with “turboboost” whatever the heck that is) and I’m guessing 4 Mbps up.

Comcast’s own speed test – reports 23.15 Mbps down and 4.26 Mbps up

Speakeasy – reports 15.74 Mbps down and 4.15 Mbps up – reports 24.62 Mbps down and 4.26 Mbps up – reports 10.9 Mbps down and 3.4 Mbps up

and finally, AT&T’s (Uverse) test  – reports 42.08 Mbps down and 4.09 Mbps up

Overall, for upload speeds I’m at least pretty confident that it’s at about 4 Mbps.

For download speeds, I don’t mind saying that AT&T’s results have always been hysterically optimistic so I discount those results right away.

The remaining results vary between 10.9 and 24.6 Mbps.

If I watch the cute graphics on the flash testers the little speed needle tends to bounce up and down throughout the testing period. The more bouncing, presumably the more latency / drops during the test??

The only test that I, as an end user, really understand is that produced by Basically they download a file of a certain size, time how long it takes and then give me my speed. This makes me partial to them but the part of my brain that doesn’t want me to be getting screwed by Comcast balks somewhat at paying $70 for below advertised performance.

Anybody out there with experience, knowledge or a reasonably formed opinion as to how trustworthy these speed testing sites and results are?


Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on April 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm

The iPad “youripadnamehere” cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.

My iPad2 (32 GB, WiFi & 3G) is configured to use “iTunes Wi-Fi Sync”.  For the past week, when I get up in the morning I can see on my PC a dialog with the message ‘The iPad “youripadnamehere” cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.“. Checking the iPad under Settings > General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync  confirms that it hasn’t synced in over a week. Initiating a manual sync (pushing the “Sync now” button) yields the “cannot be synced” dialog on my PC.

A quick Google search indicates that this is a fairly common problem for iPhones and the solution seems largely to require you to change USB ports. But I could not see a solution for iPads.

It turns out that the issue arises because I do not recycle my PC regularly – under Windows 7 it simply does not need it anymore and it seems that iTunes becomes somewhat unstable after a few days of running continuously.

The solution? Simply stop iTunes and restart it. Clicking the “Sync Now” button on the iPad now works just fine.

Long term, to ensure that the iPad syncs regularly is presumably to recycle the iTunes app periodically. I’ll likely wait to see the error message again and use that as my cue to perform the recycle.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on December 30, 2011 at 6:59 am