Archive for April 20th, 2011

iPad used more than Linux computers?

Today, Royal Pingdom posted a somewhat-surprising blog entry that shows that the iPad alone, not any other iOS device like the iPhone or iPod touch, is used more than Linux computers.

Why is this only somewhat surprising? There’s plenty of reasons:

The positive about the Apple devices:

The iPhone and iPod Touch set the stage with — and raised the bar on — user friendliness in portable devices. The iPod was the device that some would argue re-made Apple. It quickly took over the portable media player market and set the new de-facto standard for what to expect in a music player: Lots of storage, and a simple, user-friendly interface. With the iPod Classic, new features brought even higher expectations. The iPod Touch and iPhone sealed the deal for Apple (and some would argue dealt AT&T a blow to the knees).

When the iPad arrived, it ran off the same iOS that the iPod touch did, which brought a familiar look and feel to iOS users. Drawing from the same App Store ensured that users would experience Apple’s touted “There’s an app for that” experience. In addition, the iPad pioneered the tablet experience to the mass market. Behind it’s launch, Android and Blackberry have struggled to gain market share.

The comparison to Linux:

When you compare the Apple iPad to the Linux market, it’s little surprise that the iPad comes ahead. Even the more popular Linux distros like Red Hat and Ubuntu, although moving ahead in leaps and bounds, still suffer their shortcomings with user friendliness and ease-of-use. Hardware quirks and incompatibilities often get the better of inexperienced users, who turn back to Windows or Mac for that lacking bit of hardware support.

Additionally, there aren’t many computer manufacturers who will sell systems with Linux pre-installed for an out-of-the-box experience. While Dell has sold systems with Linux pre-installed, and has sold select system with no OS, there’s a distinct bias in the new-sales model towards Windows. Why? Money. Microsoft pays the OEMs a commission for new-system sales with Windows pre-installed. On top of that, there’s less work for the OEMs to make sure that hardware works as expected. System76 has started picking up the pre-installed Linux market, selling systems with Ubuntu pre-installed, but the price is arguably higher than a system from another vendor, and I can’t speak to the warranty or support.

Conclusion:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Linux user and I love it. But I’m not blind to the fact that it has it’s shortcomings — although Red Hat and Ubuntu have really worked towards making everything work as it should, and making the user experience the best possible. Linux also runs on a wider-range (and a more inexpensive range) of hardware than Apple OS. Also, you can’t ignore that this study has a big of a flaw in it: This only compared stats between iPod and mainstream Linux (desktops and laptops) — two completely different device platforms.

Apples to apples or apples to oranges? Do the numbers even mean anything at all? What are your thoughts?

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Keep your laptop cool the right way

Laptops by their very nature use smaller and more compact systems than their desktop counterparts. Unfortunately, this applies to the cooling system — the heat sink and fan assemblies — as well. Anyone who has any experience with computers, or electronics in general, knows that heat is one of the biggest enemies of electronics.

With the smaller and more compact cooling systems of laptops, unfortunately they have smaller fans and less airflow space, and are more quickly and more frequently affected by dust build-up in the heat sink and fans than desktops. However, even though the air flows through a smaller space, it works very well to cool the laptop, provided that the air spaces aren’t blocked or clogged.

Note that during heavy usage, its normal (and expected) for your laptop to get a little warm on the bottom. However, if you can’t put your hand there without having to pull it away, it’s too hot.

Most laptop users who have experienced an overheating laptop turn to a readily-available but poor choice of solutions: the laptop cooling mat. These poorly-designed devices are generally flat plastic “trays” with a USB-powered fan or two in the middle. They only serve to stir the air under your laptop and actually do very little to cool its hard-working internal electronics.

Signs of an overheating laptop include slow speeds (the processor clocks down to lower it’s heat output after it reaches a certain temperature), random sudden shutdowns (the processor shuts the system down in an “emergency” when clocking down still can’t cool the system), and program freezes, crashes, and more (hot processors become unstable, and the heat can affect nearby components). It’s also not uncommon for sustained periods of high heat to permanently damage your laptop’s motherboard or other components. So, protect your investment and do the right thing: clean it.

Preventing the problem of an overheating laptop is easy to do. Simply blow the air vents out periodically with compressed air. This 2-minute job serves to quickly evacuate the dust and dirt from the heat sink and fans, and keeps the air flowing as it should.

Unfortunately, once the dust has accumulated past a certain point, it’s sure to have formed a giant dust bunny and the compressed air will do very little. It’s simply too large now to go back the way it came in, but it’s still not too late. You’ll have to disassemble your laptop far enough to get the heat sink (and possibly the fan) out and clean it by hand.

Depending on your laptop, it may be a quick operation, or it may not. Use your favorite search engine to find disassembly instructions for your specific model, and budget yourself an hour or so, depending on the length of the procedure.

It’s extremely important that you reapply a thermal compound to the processor before the heatsink is reattached. Thermal compound serves to fill in the small gaps between the processor and the heat sink for ideal heat transfer.

Have a story about an overheating laptop? Have a photo of a giant dust bunny to share? Have some other feedback? Please feel free to share it in the comments below!

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