Various and Sundry Observations On, Well, Important Stuff

| Computing with Bifocals

First of all, lets talk about advertising from the electronics companies over the holidays. My degrees are not in advertising, they are not even in business. When I see advertising I respond to it as a consumer and nothing more.

Due to some health issues, I watched way more TV over the holidays than I ever do on an ongoing basis. I was astonished at some of the ads I saw. “Our tablet is better than the iPad”, “Our tablet is cheaper than the iPad” and “Our phone does things that the iPhone can’t do.” What all these ads had in common was to make me think about the iPad and iPhone. Most of the ads tended to be frantic and had a desperation about them that was a real turnoff. Yelling and bright colors don’t make me decide what product to buy. I can’t believe advertising companies get paid for this stuff.

And that doesn’t even cover all the tablet ads that offered to give the purchaser something free if they would just buy. I’m sure that sales stats will show what worked and what didn’t, but I found most of these ads laughable. 


Next, may I discuss solid state drives (SSD) for our Macs? I didn’t know what an SSD was or why my Mac needed one. Well, it doesn’t exactly need one. I can continue to use my Mac without it, but with it I have several advantages. Foremost being that information on my Mac pertaining to other people’s work is better protected, physically. Yes, of course I back up my computer every day, but as any long term computer user knows, backups fail. I have a friend who had seven back up devices and he backed up to a different one every day. A power surge knocked out all seven at the same time.

With an SSD installed on your Mac, you automatically have drive stability and ruggedness. You also get faster speed. Since I installed an SSD, my Mac boots faster, my system responds quicker and applications load almost instantly. An SSD has no rotating platters or drive heads that can be damaged if your Mac is dropped or bumped during operation. I’ll explain more about that shortly.

When I decided to get an SSD for my 13-inch MacBook Pro, I checked out several companies. Making a choice turned out to be easy. Other World Computing sells their own drives and almost everything related to those drives are manufactured in the U.S. Their products are also reasonably priced and OWC offers awesome tech support.

I had the opportunity to speak with Larry O’Connor who is President and CEO of OWC. I wanted to know, in layman’s terms, just why SSDs were better than conventional drives. Larry explained to me that SSDs don’t have a spinning disk like traditional hard disk drives, therefore there is no spindle that retracts and no opportunities to scratch the physical disk which is how most data is lost and hard drives fail.

When I decided to buy a SSD, I spoke to one of the sales people at OWC. Once they had the specs for my particular Mac they told me exactly which options I had. I selected the DIY Upgrade Bundle, 240 GB SSD with USB 3.0.  The drives sells for US$207.99 and has a three year warranty. I selected the DIY kit because it includes the drive, and external drive case, and a set of tools necessary to install the drive.

DIY kit 

If I had wanted to install the new drive myself, I had access to video’s on the OWC site that would walk me through it. Fortunately, I had access to someone who would do it for me. I chose to remove the optical drive, replace it with the original drive, and then install the SSD in the original drive spot. Frankly, there is no way I would have tried to do this myself. I don’t want my fingers and the inside of my Mac to ever become familiar with each other.

One last observation. In some ways this relates back to the ads I discussed at the beginning of this column. Have you ever spent time with an Android phone user who makes a big deal out of trying to explain to you why his/her phone is better that your iPhone? It happened to me three times over the holidays, and I found it to be an interesting experience.

I don’t feel the need to justify my purchase of an iPhone, but all three of these folks felt the need to justify the purchase of their Android phone. And, they really seemed to want me to argue with them about it. As one final, ironic twist, one of them needed to know where to get gas, and they had to ask me to look it up for them.

Which, of course, I was happy to do.


Teaser image via Shutterstock.

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I can’t believe advertising companies get paid for this stuff

Agreed, but then we likely aren’t in the target demographic, you know, people that are swayed by sound a fury signifying nothing.

Other World Computing sells their own drives and almost everything related to those drives are manufactured in the U.S. Their products are also reasonably priced and OWC offers awesome tech support.

Agreed OWC is great to do business with.

I chose to remove the optical drive, replace it with the original drive, and then install the SSD in the original drive spot

That’s the same package I keep thinking about for my MacBook Pro. The speed of an SSD and the big storage of the stock drive. On top of that the old drive becomes the first stage backup.

I’ve noticed that some Android users that are surprisingly defensive about their phone. Personally I don’t give a tinkers damn about what phone somebody uses but more than a few Android users I’ve worked with seem to obsess about it.
Funny aside related to that. Today my boss was talking to one of the engineers, they both use Android phones. I overheard them commenting that they really wished that there was Skype for phones. I looked at them and told them that we’d been using it for a couple of years. Apparently they either have old enough phones that it won’t run on their version of Android or they haven’t been able to find it in the GooglePlay store. Not sure but I found it amusing.

Lee Dronick

  I overheard them commenting that they really wished that there was Skype for phones.

Why have a phone on your phone if you are going to Skype. smile


Great read, thanks for the article!

And by the way, I do work in advertising so maybe I can offer you a bit of insight based upon my humble experience… But most of the times that an Ad turns out to be something like “we are just like X but better!” it’s because the client feels small and un-respected by the audience. They feel they need to piggyback on the big guy - and try to profit from the leader’s recognition (steal a bit of it’s thunder if you will). It’s very hard to convince a client to let go of the fear and panic that they are feeling to do the right thing.

Lee Dronick

Thanks for that insight LeFrancoy.


Nancy ~ Given your installation, why did you choose the ‘kit’ with an external drive case? Gonna use it as a coaster, or something?

Also, your, um, careful friend with the seven backup drives; had he never heard of surge-protectors?

Nancy Gravley

iJack, I purchased the kit because I didn’t know what was going to be the best way to make use of the SSD. (Waited for advice from the expert who performed the installation.) Either way, I knew the drive case would be used by either me or my expert. It all worked out perfectly.


2 cents/minute anywhere in North America and Video calls to non iOS devices.


Nancy, SSDs have the same failure rate as platter drives, saying otherwise leaves people with a false sense of security. What SSDs have in ruggedness comes from no moving parts that could cause a head crash or dislodged spindle with a violent enough jolt from a physical drop.

But SSDs have a whole slew of their own problems, from bad memory management failures (intrinsically there are large portions of SSD memory that are unstable and there has been a lot of engineering put into the on board controllers to make the failures unnoticed). To memory wear out.


I agree daemon that SSDs are not inherently more reliable than HDDs, they are, in the main, more rugged. So for a portable device, they are a better choice than a spinning drive.

Still. backup!


Look, my point is that your average consumer level equipment has a failure rate of about 2%. It took years of work and engineering to bring SSD’s failure rate down to 2% so that they were just as reliable as platter based HDDs. They’re not more reliable, they’re just as reliable.

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