Archive for August, 2011

Ask Different Podcast #11: Tom Negrino

August 29, 2011 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the eleventh episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts are, as always, Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

  • We have a special guest today: Long time Apple user, speaker, and author Tom Negrino!
  • Tom was introduced to Macs by accident. He got a Macintosh after seeing the 1984 commercial, and has been using them ever since. He tells the story of how Macs have factored into his life over the years.
  • Tom has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. He tells us how he accidentally started writing, and how that’s lead him to where he is today, with more than 40 books published.
  • Out of us four, Tom is the only one who has been using Macs since before OS X. When asked what he misses from those days, he tells us that “OS X is so much better than the original system that there’s really no comparison.” He shares some of the things that have been drastically improved (or added altogether) with OS X.
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It’s Saturday night: Do you know where your Laptop is?

August 24, 2011 by jcrawfordor. 3 comments

Say you take your laptop to the coffee shop with you.  You walk away to get your drink, and when you turn around it’s gone. This happens all the time, opportunistic thieves see an untethered laptop and just grab and run. Other times, they’ll break in to a car and steal the contents, including your computer. According to one study, one in ten laptops will ultimately be stolen. The thief now has not just your laptop, but your data – and increasingly often, they’re using it to get to your identity.

nhinkle included some tips on preventing laptop theft in his series on college computing. In this article I’ll present some tools that can help you get a stolen laptop back.

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HP unveils a new Intel vPro Desktop; they vow to continue their PC Support

August 23, 2011 by Tom Wijsman. 5 comments

As you have probably heard, HP evaluated alternatives for its Personal Systems Group; which includes the exploration of separating their PC business into a separate company through a spin-off or other transaction.

However, they recently unveiled a new all-in-one Elite business desktop which integrates the power of Intel’s second-generation Core vPro technology; delivering up to 40 percent better performance, 15 percent faster hard drive access, and reduced downtime via remote IT management.

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Ask Different Podcast #10: Ask Different turns one, Industry Shakeups, Musical Apps

August 22, 2011 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the tenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

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Computers and College Part III: Protecting Your Computer

by nhinkle. 2 comments

A college computer can be an expensive investment, and college is a risky place for laptops. What can you do to keep your computer safe? Risks to your laptop are varied: accidental damage, theft, even just your friends sneaking in to play tricks. Read on to see our tips on how to keep your computer safe and sound.

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Super User’s 2nd Birthday Super Contest

August 19, 2011 by nhinkle. 0 comments

Happy Birthday Super User

It’s already been two years now that Super User has been running, and we’ve come a long way. We still continue to provide as an excellent source for questions and answers to the online community for anything computer related.  We have also added the new officially blessed blog and had our very first community elections for moderators where we added 4 new moderators bringing us to a total of 8 moderators!

Update: the contest has ended! The judges are hard at work deciding the winners – expect the official results within a week. Thanks to everyone who participated in Super User during the contest!

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Computers and College Part II: Saving Money

August 15, 2011 by nhinkle. 3 comments
Now that you’ve decided what computer you want to take with you to college, how can you save some money? Here are some tricks for getting the best hardware and software for your money. more »

Ask Different Podcast #9: Google+, Lion, Ask Different’s Growth

August 8, 2011 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the ninth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We’re back! Our (unplanned) summer sabbatical has ended, and we begin again. The length and frequency of our previous shows was too exhausting, so we’re cutting back a bit. Our shows will not occur every single week, as we’ve chosen to focus heavily on single subjects rather than attempt to cover the every-continuous stream of Apple and related news. We are currently planning on bi-weekly shows, with exceptions for significant events and product releases.
  • We begin by sharing our experiences with the fast-growing Google+. These three early adopters’ are generally impressed by the circle management features and the ability to mute posts from people in your circles, but the service has its share of rough edges including a less-than-stellar native iOS client, and post ordering that doesn’t always keep older posts below newer ones.
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is finally here, and sure enough we’ve dedicated the lion’s share of the show to discussing it! We share our thoughts and experiences with the changes, big and small, to the most recent version of Mac OS X.
    • We discuss transitioning to Lion’s auto-hiding scroll bars and reversed scrolling direction, and debate what configurations are appropriate for various types of input devices. Everyone’s made the switch except Nathan, who’s promised to give the changes another chance.
    • We love gestures! Kyle and Jason’s high praise for Lion’s gesture integration leaves Nathan wanting a multi-touch input device.
    • Lion’s new native full-screen capabilities are useful and slick, but they have at least one serious limitation. We discuss when full-screen is useful and when it isn’t, especially when used in combination with the new Mission Control. Kyle also put together a short video demonstrating how trivial it is to have multiple operating systems set up, and switch seamlessly between their desktop environments leveraging multiple spaces via Mission Control, and full screen modes.
    • None of us have tried out Lion Server. Jason lays out the various reasons he’s reluctant to do so. We briefly touch on the notable changes generally known, such as the removal of MySQL invariably due to legal reasons with Oracle, and the continual lack of ZFS, originally slated to appear on Snow Leopard Server. On this and other topics, Kyle highly recommends John Siracusa’s review of Lion on Ars Technica, with particular reference to the “What’s wrong with HFS+” section, and Episode #27 of Hypercritical for details on ZFS’ numerous benefits among many other topics.
    • Lion’s Versions feature is promising, but has its share of limitations. We compare it to other revision tracking technologies and look at its key features and potential pitfalls. Hopefully, we’ll soon see more apps start to integrate Versions in exciting and original ways.
    • Lion brings a complete overhaul to the way Mac OS X is installed and restored. We share our feelings on Apple’s decision to move everything away from restore DVDs to internet downloads and a recovery partition.
  • Our question of the week is What tiny thing in Lion makes you smile or has caught you off-guard?, asked July 20 by bmike.
    • Each of us pick our favorite tips that have originated on this question, and references to it from Reddit and Hacker News.
    • In addition to these sources of traffic coming to our corner of the Stack Exchange network, Ask Different sponsored Daring Fireball!
  • In lieu of just one single app, we talk about some of our favorite apps that have been released or updated after Lion’s release.
    • Nathan revisits Coda and how the new features that Lion brings could greatly benefit the app.
    • Kyle highlights BBEdit 10 as a dramatic improvement to a fantastic multi-purpose editor, which is currently on sale for $39.99 ($10-off for the next two months!).
    • Jason sings praises for a post-only Twitter client known as Wren, and talks about how it takes advantage of many Lion-specific features.
  • We wrap up our discussion talking about Spotify and it’s integration into our respective music and media listening habits.

This episode was recorded on Wednesday, August 3rd. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at


Computers and College Part I: How do I choose?

by nhinkle. 10 comments

It’s that time of year: school starts soon for many college students in the US and elsewhere, and many are looking for the perfect laptop to take with them. From typing papers to entertainment, a computer is practically mandatory at most universities these days.

Choosing the right computer – especially one which will hopefully last you through four years – is a difficult process. Take it from personal experience though that it is achievable: I did it myself, and so can you. Here are some tips from a college student, computer nerd, and Super User on how to choose the right college laptop for you. This is the first part in a series of articles about computers and college. Even if you aren’t a Super User yourself, this information will hopefully be helpful in making a decision.

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QotW: Does running Commands in Verbose Mode slow them down?

August 1, 2011 by nhinkle. 3 comments

This week’s Question of the Week comes from MaxMaxie, and is about command line usage in Linux:

Does running commands verbosely make them slower?

I’ve found myself using the -v flag for lots of applications less and less (especially for trivial stuff liketar and cp). However, when I did and I was, say, unzipping a large file, it would take longer than when I didn’t use the -v flag. I assume this is because the terminal has to process the text and I’m filling up whatever buffer it might have. But my question is, does this make the application actually run slower or does it complete in the same amount of time and what I’m seeing is the terminal trying to catch up?

According to Matt Jenkins, it does indeed. His explanation of why is an interesting read, but the question remains: exactly how much does it slow things down? I decided to find out – read on to see just how much of a difference verbose flags can make.

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