Unboxing the Cr-48 Chrome notebook

January 17, 2011

Wherein I present unboxing pictures (slide show) of Google’s sexy and delicious Cr-48 Chrome notebook, complete with a cameo by my MacBook Air 11.6″ – enjoy :)


Unboxing the Apple MacBook Air 11.6″

November 5, 2010

Wherein I present unboxing pictures (slide show) of my special ordered Apple MacBook Air 11.6″, complete with cameos by my MacBook Pro 13″, iPad, iPhone 4, and Acer Aspire 1410 – enjoy :)


Unboxing the Acer Aspire 1410

November 20, 2009

Although my notebook of choice (and primary computer) is my MacBook Air, I sometimes prefer something smaller and cheaper to hit the road with… Enter the netbook!

Read the rest of this entry »


2nd anniversary

November 22, 2008

tnkgrl Mobile is 2 years old today!

It’s been a great 2nd year. I’ve looked at a lot of devices, both short and long term, like the Nokia N95-3, Apple MacBook Air, Nokia N82, Apple iPhone 3G, Nokia E71 and HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1.

I’ve hacked the Asus 701 (Eee), the Vulcan Flipstart, the MacBook Air SuperDrive, and the Acer Aspire One. There’s even been some crazy adventures

But I’m planning to bring you a lot more goodness – in fact, Matthew Bennett and I are starting a weekly podcast. So come back soon and come back often :)


Tasty bits, revisited

September 21, 2008

Yes, I know. I’ve completely & utterly failed at maintaining my tasty bits column – it’s been dormant since late April…

It appears I don’t have the time or motivation to publish it in the present format, so I’ve decided to try something new – and this is it!

Here’s a list of tasty bits, devices I’m excited about, and hoping to get my hands on.

- Nokia N85:
Take the awesome N95-3, add a lens cover, add European 3G (in addition to US 3G), add USB charging, replace the single LED flash with a dual ultra-bright LED unit, replace the LCD with an OLED screen, and make it a lot thinner. That’s the N85, and after playing with it in Helsinki, I can’t wait to replace my N95-3 :)

- HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1:
What’s not to be excited about? It’s the first Android device and the first HSDPA smartphone on T-Mobile USA’s AWS network. Want! See you in line…

- Samsung i8510 (INNOV8):
Take the N95-2 (European 8GB), add a lens cover, add a micro-SD card slot, replace the 5 megapixel sensor with an 8 megapixel unit, replace the single LED flash with a dual ultra-bright LED unit, and make it a bit thinner. That’s the INNOV8, and I’ve played with it. It’s a great phone, other than the lack of US 3G.

- LG KC910 (Renoir):
If my experience with the LG Vu is any indication, this device might be worth getting for the 8 megapixel camera alone. Hopefully, LG’s improved the touch screen and user interface…

- Lenovo IdeaPad S10:
It’s the only 10″ netbook that I’m excited about, because it offers a great balance between price, features and design (it even looks like a smaller IdeaPad U110). Hopefully, it’s just as mod-able as my Acer Aspire One!

- Voodoo Envy 133:
I’m not a PC person, but I love everything about the Envy – the ultra-thin design, the carbon-fiber body, the Ethernet port on the AC adapter, the external optical drive, the back-lit keyboard, the removable battery. It almost makes me want to cheat on my MacBook Air :)

Here’s a few more random pieces:

- I got to play with the Yamaha Tenori-on at Austin GDC last week. It’s a very cool device. Here’s a video of it in action, featuring industry colleague and rock star Kurt Larson

- I made a couple more videos during my trip to Finland. I’ve also posted the last of my pictures.

- Have I mentioned how much I enjoy Nokia’s design direction, lately? Even its low-end devices are sexy!


MacBook Air SuperDrive for all

June 24, 2008

So like me, you have a MacBook Air SuperDrive… It’s affordable, it’s functional, it’s sexy. If only it was usable with other Macs and PCs!

Well rejoice :) I have successfully hacked my MBA SuperDrive to work with other Macs and PCs. All you need is a $9 part (shipping extra) and a bit of soldering and you too can do this mod.

First, take a look at pictures of this mod and a video where I connect my hacked SuperDrive to my Mac mini and my HP Mini-Note running Windows XP.

Now here’s a bit of background. The MBA SuperDrive is designed to work only with the Apple MacBook Air. How is that possible?

Some people have speculated that perhaps the MBA SuperDrive draws more than 500 mA and that the MacBook Air provides more than 500 mA via its USB port. This is not the problem. My attempt at connecting the SuperDrive to several PCs and Macs while injecting additional current using a special cable was unsuccessful…

What about drivers? I (and others) have scoured the MacBook Air system folder for additional and modified .kext files (kernel extensions) by comparing them with the ones available on other Macs – nothing.

Other people have suggested that perhaps the optical drive within the MBA SuperDrive uses special firmware. This is not the problem either. After taking apart the SuperDrive and mounting the optical drive directly into a PCs removable bay, it was recognized just fine.

This leaves the IDE to USB bridge. It’s a small circuit board that allows an IDE device like the optical drive within the MBA SuperDrive to work as a USB device. It uses firmware too – and Apple appears to have designed custom firmware for it!

There appears to be some sort of handshake happening between the MacBook Air and the IDE to USB bridge within the MBA SuperDrive. I looked into re-flashing the controller (which is a standard part) with generic firmware, but after several hours I was getting nowhere.

The alternative was of course to replace the IDE to USB bridge with another one, which is exactly what I ended up doing. The trick was to find a small enough circuit board. I was about to give up on this mod when I stumbled upon the aforementioned $9 part on a series of tubes.

The part is small enough to fit within the MBA SuperDrive, but requires removal of the daughter-board (containing a power connector, a USB connector, and several capacitors), as well as the non-ideal relocation of the 12 MHz crystal.

And the rest is history – you can figure it out from the pictures :)


Amazon Kindle vs. Seabol & friends

June 7, 2008

Once a upon a time in the good land of milk & honey lived a band of happy gadgets. The leader of the band, Seabol, took it upon himself to keep a loving eye on the others, a MacBook Air, an HP Mini-note, an iPhone, and an alien gadget from another planet, the Nokia N95-3

The band’s benevolent dictator was always very nice to all of them. She made sure no unwanted gadgets from the dark land far far away joined the band.

One fateful night, an evil gadget, the Amazon Kindle, somehow infiltrated the band, unbeknown to the benevolent dictator. It first attacked the iPhone, which managed to escape, being so thin and slippery.

The Kindle jumped on the MacBook Air, but was foiled by its strong aluminum shell. it then pounced on the HP Mini-note, but was blinded by its glossy frameless screen.

Something needed to be done. The Kindle was about to consume the Nokia N95-3 when Seabol jumped to the rescue. Within seconds, the Kindle was foiled and Seabol & friends prevaled!


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