All posts by Clifton

Adding/Changing Credit/Debit Card Associated with Apple ID

Do you have a gift card that you want to associate with your Apple ID? You can do this by first logging into appleid.apple.com. Once logged in, you can scroll down to the Payment & Shipping section. You can then click “Edit Payment Information…” and add or change your card.

paymentinfo

Be careful, if you’re using a Visa/AmEx/Mastercard/etc. gift card, that you don’t throw the card away. When you try to use those funds later, for example on Apple.com, you will be asked for the security code on the card. If you don’t have the card anymore, those funds may be permanently inaccessible outside of some uncertain intervention by the seller or issuer of the card.

Best Time to Contact Customer Service

Customer Service Response Time

When we grouped tickets by the hour that they were created and then looked at average first reply times (FRT), the trend is somewhat intuitive: Tickets submitted outside of normal business hours have the slowest FRT. However, things tend to speed up when tickets are submitted around 9:00 a.m., after the tickets submitted from the night before have been dealt with but before the tickets from the day have begun to accumulate. Finally, FRT hits a peak around 6:00 p.m. when much of the support staff leaves for the day and non-urgent tickets may have to wait 12-14 hours before the next fully staffed shift begins and agents start tackling the queue.

[source]

Copyable PDF Text that is Somehow not Searchable

Well, the title of this post says it all. I downloaded a PDF from somewhere and wanted to search the contents. I could highlight text within the document. I could copy the highlighted text and then successfully paste it into, say, Notepad++. However, when I tried to search within the PDF, Adobe Reader would just appear to search through the entire document and return no results for words that were clearly there.

I could think of no reason for this, of course, but didn’t really have any ideas about how to remedy the situation. So, I had the idea to try downloading a different PDF reader. The first I came across is a free reader called Sumatra. The download and install process was very easy. I opened the troublesome PDF in Sumatra and immediately was able to search the text.

Sumatra in Action


Update: September 17, 2014

Since writing the above, I have tried opening the same problem document on a Mac (running Mavericks). Because I have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed on this Mac, Adobe Reader was defaulted to open that PDF. Strangely enough, the document opened without incident and I was able to search text! However, when I tried to scroll to various pages, I was thwarted by error messages at many different turns. My first instinct again was to find an alternate PDF viewer. I found the open source PDFView, but it didn’t work either after a certain page number. Then, I recalled that Mac OS comes with a PDF reader, Preview. Preview reads the document just fine and searches text with no problem at all.

The Heat is On: Computers and Temperature

HP Server Temperatures

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The internal chassis temperature for systems based on Core 2 Duo processors in the 775-land package should not exceed 38°C [100.4°F] (39°C [102.2°F] for the boxed Intel Core 2 Extreme processor) when the chassis is used in a maximum expected room temperature of 35°C [95°F]. Most chassis designed for the boxed Intel processor use extra internal chassis fans to improve airflow and many include ducting to bring cool air directly to the processor fan heatsink. Intel® tests chassis with the boxed Intel processor and the Intel Desktop Boards for minimum thermal requirements.

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Operating environment Operating your MacBook outside these ranges may affect performance:

  • Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)
  • Storage temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 90% (noncondensing)
  • Operating altitude: 0 to 10,000 feet (0 to 3048 meters)

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General rule of thumb for all PCs: The colder it is, the better it runs.
[…]
General rule of thumb for computer monitors (all types): Operates best at room temperature (72 F/22.2 C) while not in direct sunlight.
[…]
Ambient temperature above 90 F / 32.2 C: It would be rare to operate in this temperature because you’d be sweating profusely just sitting there, but some do. Your monitors and peripherals will run fine but the computer starts acting like an oven. Any air going thru there is also warm (or possibly hot) which at that point doesn’t help very much to cool it down.

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Generally speaking, good operating temperature for a PC is about 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 or so Celsius). Cooler than this is of course, better than warmer. Operating a PC in a hot room that is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit can make it very difficult to cool.

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Operating expensive IT computer equipment for extended periods of time at high temperatures greatly reduces reliability, longevity of components and will likely cause unplanned downtime. Maintaining an ambient temperature range of 68° to 75°F (20° to 24°C) is optimal for system reliability. This temperature range provides a safe buffer for equipment to operate in the event of air conditioning or HVAC equipment failure while making it easier to maintain a safe relative humidity level.

It is a generally agreed upon standard in the computer industry that expensive IT equipment should not be operated in a computer room or data center where the ambient room temperature has exceeded 85°F (30°C).

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Intel. (n.d.). Integration of boxed Intel® Core™2 processors in the 775-Land Package. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-031396.htm
Apple. (n.d.). MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010) – Support – Apple. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/1000/MA1533/en_US/macbook_13inch_mid2010_ug.pdf
Menga, R. (2008, February 26). How Cold Is Too Cold? How Hot Is Too Hot? (Computer Hardware). PC Mech. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.pcmech.com/article/how-cold-is-too-cold-how-hot-is-too-hot-computer-hardware/
Kozierok, C.M. (2001, April 17). Ambient Temperature and Acclimation. PC Guide. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.pcguide.com/care/care/gen/envAmbient-c.html
Grundy, R. (2005, November 14). Recommended Data Center Temperature & Humidity: Preventing Costly Downtime Caused By Environment Conditions. AVTECH News. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.avtech.com/About/Articles/AVT/NA/All/-/DD-NN-AN-TN/Recommended_Computer_Room_Temperature_Humidity.htm

Being Ethical Pays

WME-v-SP-Returns-Chart

[T]he World’s Most Ethical (“WME”) Companies prove a clear correlation between ethical business practices and improved financial performance. WME companies, if indexed together, have routinely and significantly outpaced the S&P 500 every year since the recognition was developed in 2007. On average, the WME companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 7.3 percent each year. The 2011 World’s Most Ethical Companies have already surpassed the S&P 500 year to date.

The methodology for the World’s Most Ethical Companies includes reviewing codes of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories; evaluating the investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; looking at activities designed to improve corporate citizenship; and studying nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers and customers.

Ethisphere Announces 2011 World’s Most Ethical Companies. (2011, March 15). Business Wire. Retrieved May 8, 2014 from: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110315006776/en/Ethisphere-Announces-2011-World%E2%80%99s-Ethical-Companies#.U2wqGYFSb7A

Two Lives to Live: A Brief Foray into Virtual Reality

Clifton Snoodle arrives on the campus of Northern Illinois University bright and early to begin class. He walks into the main building where the other students are just settling in and takes a seat with them. The professor appears to be running a bit late which is somewhat unusual. Just when Snoodle and his classmates start to voice concern, Dr. Cabrera appears as a cloud and then his normal digital form begins to fully materialize. This may be the time to mention that this is a virtual lecture and the students are all actually avatars gathered in a virtual replica of NIU within the virtual environment Second Life (SL).

Second Life, or “SL,” began development by Philip Rosedale and his San Francisco-based company Linden Lab in the late 1990s. Rosedale noted a movement to digitize information, making it easier to share and to manipulate. He wanted to explore the concept of not just digitizing specific real-world items like books or medical records, but of the entire world, including people. This eventually led to the immersive virtual environment of SL, a place where mostly humanoid representations of users (avatars) can interact with each other much like people interact in the real world.


Northern Illinois University and Virtual Northern Illinois University

The residents within SL can do a wide range of activities, limited only by their imaginations. Every visit can be somewhat like a virtual vacation. In one location, there might be a single platform to stand on, surrounded by accurately-rendered representations of various planets and other celestial bodies; in another location, there might be a scenic beach with swaying palm trees and sunbathers drifting lazily in a nearby ocean-like body of water. There is also an economy within the environment which is based on a monetary unit called a Linden (Currently, $1 US = ~$260 Lindens). SL residents are able to create objects such as clothing and buildings that they legally own the rights to according to Linden Lab’s terms of service. This means that savvy residents can make profitable businesses selling in-demand items in exchange for Lindens.

Since its inception, Second Life has had significant real-world impact. One example of the commercial impact is that of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide which did market research inside Second Life for a hotel it wanted to open. The musician Ben Folds played at the virtual opening and Starwood representatives watched as users there for the event explored their virtual models. Because it is so easy in SL to alter things like the colors of walls, flooring texture, and arrangement of furniture, Starwood could make instantaneous changes and get immediate feedback, something impossible to do in the real world. Once gathered, the data were then implemented in the actual construction of the hotel.

Speaking in 2008, Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) noted that spending as little as 90 seconds in the SL environment could lead to behavioral changes outside of SL. This could be quite meaningful for the ~60,000 daily users of SL, let alone for potential users. In an experiment conducted by VHIL, it was found that participants who used more attractive avatars inside of SL got an apparent confidence boost that extended to real life. These respondents were more likely to say that they would pursue more attractive mates outside of SL. In a more recent study, researchers at the University of Kansas Department of Dietetics and Nutrition found SL to be an effective tool for weight loss maintenance. In a 20-person study, these researchers found that, when study participants engaged in effective weight loss behaviors inside SL, they were more likely to maintain those behaviors outside of SL (Peters, 2013).

Second Life Treadmill
An avatar uses a treadmill within SL

In the 2009 film Surrogates (based on the graphic novel series The Surrogates), the human central nervous system can be made to remotely control robotic representations of people. Of course, this is nearly the same premise as Second Life. An interesting facet of the SL world is how it allows users to live in another skin, albeit a somewhat cartoonish one. If human beings could make this experience even more immersive by employing robots as in Surrogates, there might be some serious implications for the real world. One character in the film uses a robot surrogate that looks like a female supermodel. While the statuesque surrogate kisses and gropes a male surrogate, the female surrogate’s human source sits at home, an unkempt, obese man, festering in his own filth, perhaps so addicted to his robotic existence that he cannot leave that robotic existence for even long enough to relieve himself. This could clearly be a grave problem for maintaining a viable human race. If everyone simply lives vicariously through their robot ambassadors while their real bodies rot, human reproduction may be seriously impeded. Why should two real humans ever meet in such a reality, let alone copulate? For many people, this could represent an unthinkably horrific human future, but is it any more unthinkable than the present where extensive and unnecessary plastic surgery is the norm?

Perhaps it is good that we do not have to answer such questions just yet. However, no one can be entirely sure where technology will take humanity. If an earth like the one depicted in Surrogates is in store for humanity, it will probably be best to prepare as best possible. It seems obvious that this preparation should include a thorough study of the effect on the human mind of virtual environments like Second Life.

Rosedale, P. (2006, Nov. 30). Second Life Unveiled. The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved from http://fora.tv/2006/11/30/Philip_Rosedale
Retrieved Mar. 17, 2013 at http://www.niu.edu/virtualtour/index.html
Retrieved Mar. 17, 2013 at secondlife://GLIDDEN/140/163/27
Terms of Service. (2013, May 8). http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
Jana, R. & McConnon, A. (2006, Oct. 30). How to Get a Second Life. Business Week. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/playbook/06/1030_1.htm
Dell, K. (2013, May 30). How Second Life Affects Real Life. Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1739601,00.html
Mullis, S. (2013, May 19). Can Losing Weight In Your ‘Second Life’ Help In Your First? NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/05/19/185164635/can-losing-weight-in-your-second-life-help-in-your-first