1 thing you should know before buying the new Apple MacBook Pro

Apple‘s newly announced MacBook Pro, available for $2199, has already got Apple aficionados drooling.  But before you part with your money in exchange for the latest and greatest from the trail blazer in everything tech known to man, you might want to be aware of this: you cannot upgrade parts of the box and it’s also the “least-repairable!”

According to Computerworld, citing an email from iFixit, “The new MacBook Pro is virtually non-upgradeable — making it the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology. The teardown revealed that Apple used many of the same assembly techniques as it does with the self-contained and virtually un-upgradeable MacBook Air, including proprietary screws, copious amounts of glue, expensive parts — the screen in particular — that must be completely replaced even after the smallest failure, and fused components that will likely break when a neighboring part must be removed.”
Basically, you order the MBP with the amount of memory and storage you require. Trying to do that after purchase will be analogous to the camel going through the eye of the needle. The reason for such restricted hardware is simply in line with Apple’s whole strategy of breaking whole products into individual components, a move that quickly adds up for you the buyer, financially. It’s little wonder actually, seeing that the MBP does not come with an ethernet port and optical drive, both available as extra add ons from…guess where.
So before committing funds to the shiny all trail blazing, retina-display MBP, you might want to know that:  You cannot upgrade the memory or storage(at least for now) after purchase, limiting your chances of having a future proof box, at least for the foreseeable one. 

Skype 4.0 for Linux available for download

After like forever, Skype version 4.0 code named Four Rooms for Improvement for Linux is available for now for download. This version comes with four main changes:

  • Conversations View for tracking chats in a unified window
  • Improved audio quality
  • New Call View
  • Improved video quality and support for more cameras

There are a host of other improvements and bug fixes in this new version of the ubiquitous voip app. 

5 things I can do with the value of the new MacBook Pro in Ghana

The new Apple MacBook Pro is going for a $2199 starting price. As someone who once read economics at both first and second years in the university, I decided to just list a few of the innumerable things I can do with that money in Ghana here, assuming an exchange rate of Gh¢1.9 to the Dollar. Here’s a shortlist of 5 of those:

1. Pay for 2 of the 4 years of university education at Ghana’s Institute of Professional Studies in Legon. The tuition there goes for approximately $789.47/year. I could have some change to pay for about 70% of the third year’s as well.

2. Buy a plot of land for development. A 70 X 100ft parcel of land goes for roughly Gh¢4100 or $2157.

3. Buy 4 of these locally made desktop computers and donate them to these kids. Who knows how far that can go into shaping their IT future. I would also be helping grow a local computer assembling company, helping increase employment. 

4. Buy this  laptop with roughly the same specs and be able to upgrade the hardware as and when I want, with change leftover for other things. 

5. At a current rate of 20% for the 91 day government of Ghana treasury bills, I could make a quick $440 in 3 months. 

This is in no a slight or anything whatsoever on those who have the money and are willing to spend the fortune on the shiny new MacBook Pro. No. It’s just me thinking out aloud, day dreaming about how my life could be transformed in not so an insignificant way if I get the value of the MBP in my hands. 

Update:

My compatriot on Google Plus, Kwabena Brenya passed a comment that I believe deserves a place in this post. So we now have 6 instead of 5. He wrote:

You left out the most important thing $2200 can do in Ghana:
Feed a kid in an orphanage with 3 square daily meals for a whole year! 

Windows RT to cost OEMs $85 per device in licensing fees?

According to VR-Zone, Microsoft’s Windows RT – the iteration of the Windows OS for ARM powered devices- will cost OEMs willing to load the software onto their devices between $85-$90 per device in licensing fees. According to the site, initial estimates were that Redmond would charge $35 but “the reality is that Windows RT will cost staggering USD$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price.”

At this price, we should expect to see Windows RT (sounds like retweet to me, really) tablets are going to be at par with the iPad rather than Android devices. With expected prices to range between $500-$900 for a device, it’s going to be interesting to see how Microsoft plans to take on both Android powered tablets and Apple‘s iPad.

A late to comer to the raging table battle, one would have expected a more overwhelming strategy from Microsoft to take on Android instead since it cuts across both the high and low spec’d spectrum, but instead they chose to go after the iPad. The next year is going to be really interesting in the tablet market for observers and consumers alike. 

Infographic- International Internet Scam Hotspots

With a lot of people getting scammed everyday, the world of online scammers is vast. This infographic from Background Check sheds some light on where these scams originate from, broken down into country specific percentages. Some of the highlights are 

  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center receives over 300,000 complaints each year. 
  • These internet scams amounted to an almost $600 million loss in 2009. 
  •  Men lose $1.25 for every $1.00 loss reported by women. 
  • Nearly 66% of the complaints originated from the US.
  • The more than half of internet scams originate from the US

 

International Internet Scam Hotspots
From: Background Check Guide

Google acquires Quickoffice

Quickoffice, the popular mobile office productivity suite has been acquired by Google. Alan Warren, Engineering Director at Google wrote on the official Google blog regarding the acquisition

We’re happy to announce that we have acquired Quickoffice, a leader in office productivity solutions. Today, consumers, businesses and schools use Google Apps to get stuff done from anywhere, with anyone and on any device. Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite.

Clearly this is part of Google’s strategy of making the use of Google apps seamless regardless of device or platform. It does not come as a surprise seeing how the battle for domination has shifted over the last few years to the mobile terrain. Google naturally is bolstering its mobile arsenal, chiefly Android, in the face of increasing competition from the other platforms.

How to pin NetBeans to the Windows 7 taskbar

Based on the JGoodies Java library, SevenBeans is a NetBeans module that makes pinning the IDE to the windows task bar easy. There seems to be an issue with NetBeans not being able to pin itself to the taskbar of Windows 7 x64. 

My personal experience was that NetBeans would not pin at all, and for others, the icon duplicates itself. But with SevenBeans, you can pin the IDE to the taskbar and start menu without any icon duplication, icon overlays, a jumplist to recently opened projects and tabbed thumbnails of opened documents.

So if you’re a NetBeans user and experiencing the problem of pinning it to the taskbar on Windows, you might want to give SevenBeans a try. 

Lenovo Sucks- Never buy this box

Being both a student and worker means having a lot to carry around. One of the things I did not have to let weigh me down is my laptop since I carry it around pretty much everywhere. Looking for a much lighter laptop with reasonable specs, I settled on this Lenovo Ideapad S205 netbook. 

It’s a nice notebook packed with reasonably powerful specs, but unless you want to run with Windows as your OS, avoid this box like the plague. It ships with a faulty bios that cannot boot any Linux distro that ships with GRUB2 as the default bootloader. I’ve read GRUB2 itself is not fully done yet, but so far every box I’ve tried installing a GRUB2 distro on has simply worked. Since virtually all the Linux distros out there ship with GRUB2, it effectively means running Linux on this notebook is nigh impossible.

I’ve seen tedious workarounds that involve chrooting and other long winded methods. Unless you’re a masochist or have enough time to spare, you’re better off shopping for another box than buying this. So far I’ve not seen any bios update from Lenovo to correct this anomaly even though their forums are flooded with similar complaints. 

This was my first Lenovo purchase and with this experience, they can sure count it as my last, not just purchase but will also not recommend it to anybody. Get a better brand that you can install 

Ghana- Of voter registration and wasted computer science graduates

It’s the year 2012 and Ghana is gearing up for her presidential and parliamentary elections slated for Dec 7, 2012. As has always been the custom, the voters’ register is revised to take out the names of the dead, add the names of those who turned 18 within the 4 year period from the last elections, and also those who for one reason or the other could not register are given the chance to do so.

This year, the Electoral Commission of Ghana in agreement with all the political parties, has decided to usher in the era of so called biometric voter registration, a move aimed at curbing the incidence of minors who register, double registration and voting among others. This on the surface it’s a laudable idea, but- and there’s always a but- upon reflection, one cannot help but notice how the entire exercise makes the thousands of computer science students that the nations universities produce each year irrelevant.

How so do I mean? Four years ago the National Identification Authority started what was a nationwide exercise to register every person living in this country for a so called Ghana Card. The one card to rule them all, in LotR speak. One of the main objectives of this exercise was for the data collated to form the basis for a voters’ register since the Ghana Card was going to be biometric. Millions of Dollars was spent in carrying out this exercise. 

Fast forward four years and the biometric voter registration kicked off this morning, with the goal of- guess – registering voters to be issued a biometric voter registration card. I’ve been asking the simple question of what happened to the NIA Ghana Cards? What has happened to the data that was collected? The NIA exercise was very comprehensive. Why can’t we just use that instead of spending another US$125M in conducting this exercise? If I can use the voter registration card both for voting and as a national ID, then of what use is the Ghana Card then? 

Is it that we don’t have the brains to be able to write a bunch of if-else statements to sort the data collected? What is needed for a voter register? Every data set needed to make up a voter register was collected during the NIA exercise. The same data is going to be collected again, at the expense of time, energy, money and at a considerable disruption of both work and school activities. If we have to keep duplicating duties and wasting hard cash doing so, then what becomes the use of the thousands of CS students graduating each year? Is data sorting, collating and arranging so difficult that the cost of starting from scratch is better than building on what is already available? 

We live in a country where we keep hearing the rhetorics of how we’re moving forward and becoming the beacon of ICT in the Sub-Sahara region, yet almost every public act belies this. A causal walk into any IRS office will testify to this. If the politicians won’t let the young, fresh CS brains they train help cut down costs, then I really don’t see why they should complain about brain drain and how graduates keep leaving the country en masse.