Apple Retina MacBook Pro 15″ – Manufacturing Defects, Popping, and Creaking – Resolved October 31, 2012

As of October 31st, 2012 I officially consider this issue resolved positively. Apple replaced the MacBook Pro on the spot after identifying the issue as the adhesive between the battery and the upper case. Do please read the updates at the bottom of this post for full details. Thanks!


I use Apple hardware for almost everything these days for a few reasons including but not limited to: build quality, operating system and features, ease of use, fit and finish, and support.  When you buy a $2,200 laptop from Apple, a $800 iPad, or anything else – you generally expect it to be the utmost of quality and to ‘just work.’  This has been my experience with every Apple product I’ve owned so far until now.

I purchased a base-model Apple Retina MacBook Pro 15″ from the Keystone Apple Store on the north side of Indianapolis on October 6th, 2012.  I was very happy with the machine, that is, until I was sitting in my quiet hotel room during the cPanel Conference in Houston, Texas on October 8th, 2012.  I found that the space bar was making such an unbearably loud ‘screech’ when pressed that there was no way I could possibly continue using the machine.  I called AppleCare and they directed me to take the machine to the Apple Store in the Houston Galleria Mall, which I did.

I walked up to the Genius Bar for my appointment and explained the issue to the technician.  He said that he could not hear it in the store, as Apple stores are almost always loud, and wanted to take it into the back to see if he could hear it, which I said was fine.  After a minute or two in the back the tech re-appeared and agreed that the noise was unbearably loud and he said that he could understand why I was unhappy.  He actually removed the key to see what was wrong, and found that when removed the key was nearly translucent.  He explained that the key was simply a manufacturing defect.  In trying to put the key back on, it even chipped. Continue reading

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[Updated] – EzeeLogin Customers Beware – License and Pricing Changes without Notification (Admod.com)

Update 02/17/12 at 10:42 PM EST

We’ve worked all of the issues we faced out with Admod/EzeeLogin.  I’m going to leave this post live as a reminder for Admod/EzeeLogin and other companies who read this post to be as open and transparent about their actions that affect customers as possible.  Had Admod/EzeeLogin gotten in touch with us, and their other customers, and explained the change-over and how it does or does not affect them – this entire post could have been avoided.  On another note, had Admod /EzeeLogin responded to our ticket quickly – this post would have been avoided.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns – feel free to make them known in the comments.

Continue reading if you desire, but our issues that resulted in this post have been fully rectified.


If you’re currently using EzeeLogin and you signed up before the new “EzeeLogin.com” – be aware that when your current license expires there will be no option to renew it at Admod.com leaving you with no gateway.  This is apparently due them moving all of the EzeeLogin functionality / billing / licensing over to their new EzeeLogin.com domain.  While this is not a major issue in and of itself, it does require action by customers using their service prior to the new domain – and they sent no notices out making their existing customers aware of action required on their part.

When you try to log in at EzeeLogin.com using your email address from Admod.com, your address will not be found (i.e. they did not migrate over your license *or* your billing account).  This means when your license does expire – your EzeeLogin Gateway will effectively be rendered useless with no way to renew.  Had Admod/EzeeLogin contacted their existing client base to let them know they needed to sign up for a new billing account at EzeeLogin.com – then this post wouldn’t exist.

Upon searching Admod.com for any public notices of action required by their clients, the only information I could come across was less than detailed and did not indicate that any action was required:

 2011-08-08 07:07:54
New website for Ezeelogin
New website lauched @ www.ezeelogin.com

Taking this all a step further pricing has also increased without notice.  Prior you could get a license to connect to up to 50 servers for $42/quarter where as now $40 will only get you 10 servers on a monthly lease.  Increasing pricing is not a problem – when you let your existing customers aware of the price change.  When you increase prices without prior notice for existing customers it has the side-effect of pissing them off.

In my personal opinion, EzeeLogin/Admod are taking these steps because they’re too comfortable.  Their actions (and lack of notifications) alone have resulted in at least three larger providers I’m aware of saying “Hell, we’ll just develop and market our own product for less then EzeeLogin.”  While Admod/EzeeLogin likely had a monopoly on this niche need due to their product working well, their apparent failure at customer notification and public relations may very well have cost them their top spot in this market.  The providers that I know of that are going to develop their own gateways have the funds and capabilities to push a product out very quickly that not only is superior, but will be priced lower.

We reached out to Adod/EzeeLogin over 2.5 hours ago and have yet to receive a response from representatives of either site.

Admod/Ezee – you’ve made a seriously glaring error by not notifying your (previously) quite loyal customer base of these changes.  We ourselves have been customers since July 1st, 2010.

…. /facepalm

Update 02/15/12 at 10:00 PM EST

We finally did hear back from them, the representative that responded seems to believe that the “login” feature being removed from the old site is an oversight. They stated that we could maintain our old license through the old site although we would not be able to upgrade through the old site. Any changes to the plan would require moving to the new site/pricing (at roughly a 1500% increase).

I’m waiting to hear from a higher member of management to confirm this and to get some additional details as well as waiting to see if the “login” button does come back to the old site.

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iPhone 4 S, and Siri

iPhone 4 SI went to the Keystone Apple Store on the north side of Indianapolis, Indiana today to have them check the battery on my iPhone 4.  I felt as though the battery had been lasting me less and less time throughout the day and knowing that lithium ion batteries degrade over time I figured the battery life was just getting short.  It turns out that the battery was fine ( well within spec, considering it’s age ) and I opted not to pay $79 to have it replaced.

While talking with the technician I was informed that at 6 P.M. they were going to be releasing any pre-ordered iPhone 4 S’ that had not been picked up and that the line was starting by the door.  At this point it was only 5:15 PM so I walked to the outer door to find that I was only second in line.  I chatted with the person in front of me whom was a very nice woman and over the next 30 minutes the line behind me grew quite quickly up to about 45 individuals. Continue reading

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R1Soft – CDP 2.0, CDP 3.0, cPanel Integration, Delays, and Poor Support (Updated)

R1SoftLet me start by saying that R1Soft, when it works, is an excellent solution that has on a few occasions saved us from partial or complete data loss in the event of an unexpected hardware failure or other unexpected data issue.  That is about the extent of what I have to say good about R1Soft which is extremely unfortunate.

My experiences with R1Soft formally began on March 12th, 2009 when we first obtained our trial R1Soft license.  I was in contact with David Wells from R1Soft after having faced an issue with some lost MySQL databases due to a mistake made by a technician when performing some maintenance on a server.  When discussing the issue with David he made it clear that with R1Soft backing up the server not only could we have restored those destroyed databases but we would also be protected against total data loss such as a catastrophic server failure.

We used the original trial license until March 30th, 2009 when we purchased the R1Soft Linux CDP starter pack for $500 including 5 Linux CDP agents, 1 MySQL addon, and 1 Archiving addon.  This was an excellent deal and up until this point R1Soft had lived up to every promise and we were very happy with the software.

David at R1Soft mentioned CDP 3.0 was coming out soon and mentioned, if memory serves, within the next quarter.  Promises were made such as faster backups, faster restorations, more reliable operation, cPanel integration, a more streamlined interface, and a lot of other features that surely anybody else running R1Soft 2.0 would love to see.  I’ll cut straight to the point – it was nearly 2 years before the 3.0 version of the R1Soft CDP was released in beta and even then it didn’t include all of the features that were promised and was even missing many of the key features of 2.0.

R1Soft 3.0 beta was released as a “standard edition” which only allowed backing up to the same server on either a secondary disk or network mounted storage.  There was no centralized backup server and when I looked into it no bare metal restoration – both features that had been available in 2.0 for over 2 years.  When the “enterprise edition” was finally released in beta, years after it was promised, it did not include bare metal restore or cPanel integration.  You are reading this correct – basic 2.0 features were totally absent from the 3.0 version of the R1Soft CDP even with it having been released nearly 2 years after it was originally promised.

With version 2.0 over the years and 3.0 the short period that we’ve been using it – we’ve always had strange issues that we’ve reported that have been entirely ignored.  We’ve had issues where 2.0 would cause kernel panics, would simply fail to back up, or would fail to restore that support either stated they could not replicate, that they claim don’t exist, or that they claim will be fixed in “the next release” or “sometime soon” that still happen.  We’ve had tickets where we gave them full and complete access to a server to diagnose and reproduce the issue, view and download logs, or anything else they needed to do and gotten back canned responses telling us how to do things on WINDOWS R1Soft backup servers or agents when we run exclusively Linux and made it clear in the ticket.

One issue that we, as well as several providers I network with, have faced with CDP 2.0 is when an end user starts a restoration and does not select the “overwrite files” option and “overwrite failed” errors cause the agent to fail on the restoration.  Now it wouldn’t be quite as bad if the agent just failed out and quit – but it actually fails “on” and consumes a full CPU core indefinitely until an administrator manually kills the restoration process.  There are several valid reasons to do a restoration without overwriting such as if you wish to replace any deleted files inside of a directory tree from a backup without overwriting any files not deleted – this error makes this impossible.  One provider I speak with opened a ticket about this on or around April 9th, 2009 and this issue has yet to be resolved.

Right now R1Soft 3.0 is extremely unstable on OpenVZ kernels, and has been since it has been released.  I know of approximately 5 kernel issues that R1Soft 3.0 has on various CentOS, CloudLinux, and OpenVZ kernels that cause the backups to either simply fail, or worse, for the entire server to hang or lock up.  Not only are R1Soft agent licensed extremely expensive, but they will take your production servers OFFLINE which is unacceptable.  I’ve gotten word that these issues have been resolved and will need to go through 10 business days of QA testing meaning, at minimum, 2 weeks before these serious kernel incompatibilities are resolved assuming all of their testing goes well.

With what R1Soft charges for new licenses, charges for maintenance, and the number of licenses they’ve sold, I simply do not understand how they cannot have a solid development team that can resolve issues in a timely fashion as well as building the new revisions of the software that have been promised.  Why does it take R1Soft 2 years to go from 2.0 to 3.0 when it was promised and why is the software so ridiculously unreliable, buggy, and incomplete when it finally makes it to the market?

Update 02/17/2011

R1Soft 3.0 has some “kernel” issues that occasionally causes a server under specific circumstances to lock up entirely forcing a reboot.  Their development team apparently has recently just finished finding and fixing all of these issues however the next step is to push those updates through “Quality Assurance” and then they’ll be available to those using the software.  While I am all for “QA”, I’m more for us not having to reboot servers twice a week due to the backup process causing the server to hang.

Last night the R1Soft process killed one of our servers at around 5 AM EST and unfortunately it occurred during a period of time that did not have staff coverage. The staff member who was supposed to be watching the process that decided to go awol which meant that bringing the server back online quickly fell onto my shoulders.  Coincidentally, knowing that we had staff coverage, I set my phone on silent for the first time in over two years and it just so happens that this is the night that R1Soft causes the server to hang up, while a staff member is not working like they should, and my phone is on silent.  I’m not trying to make excuses as the staff member should have been doing their job and that is definitely a failure on our part.

It is however a bad situation that should never have happened – if the R1Soft CDP Agent and Kernel Module would work like they’re supposed to the server never would have crashed and been offline.  While yes, the staff member certainly should have been doing their job which would have involved rebooting the server within minutes and avoiding extended downtime, ultimately the failure is due to the R1Soft Software.  I hope for R1Soft’s sake that no competitor brings a quality product to market although I dream about it every night.

It’s bad that a backup system that we rely on to protect our customers’ data also causes us to have to make sure we have somebody awake and watching in case the backup system takes one of our servers offline.  Hopefully R1Soft will have the fixes for these issues pushed out within the next two weeks although I won’t be holding my breath.

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Comcast – EXTREME Lack of Customer Service

Comcast Bill showing $50 "Unbilled Activity"

Let me first begin by saying that I’ve had Comcast Internet and Television service for well over 4 years and for the most part I’ve been satisfied with the service itself.  I’ve rarely had to use customer service as generally I’ve not had issues with any of my services and when I did for the most part Comcast fixed those issues in a timely fashion.  I’m not entirely sure what has changed over the last year or so, but things have gone seriously down hill when it comes to customer service.  I’m going to do my absolute best to detail exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened so that you can hopefully make an informed decision as to whether you wish to go with Comcast, to continue your existing Comcast service, or to shift to/choose another provider.

On September 27th, 2010 my wife and I moved in to our new apartment a couple of minutes away from our old apartment and we had previously called to schedule Comcast to come out and perform a transfer of service to get our DVR Box and our Cable box online in our new apartment.  Comcast came out and performed the transfer of service free of charge and since we were moving into a larger apartment we opted to go ahead and get another digital box for one of our bedrooms while we were at it.  The technician that came out explained to me that this was his first installation where he was on his own and apologized ahead of time if it took longer than we expected.  I told the technician that I understood and that it wasn’t an issue. Continue reading

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From Leasing to Owning and Colocation

Dual 5620 ServerFor over three years my company has always leased its hardware from the facility in which our services were located.  For a long time we felt that it was better to pay a little more over time for the hardware in exchange for not having to make the large initial investment, not having to recycle old hardware when we upgrade, and not having to cover the parts and labor for replacing failed hardware.

Not too long ago we decided to re-evaluate our decision to lease our hardware and ultimately decided to obtain our own fully owned hardware and to colocate that hardware in a data center facility.  The initial cost is one of the largest barriers to get over when going from leased to owned and as an example we’ve spent nearly $25,000 in new equipment alone.  We’ve bought server chassis, processors, motherboards, RAM, raid controllers, hard disks, power distribution units, and switches in order to bring our systems online at a new facility.

There is a lot that goes into deciding which facility you’re going to go with and it requires a lot more research and time than choosing a leased provider.  When you’re leasing you can simply order new servers somewhere else, cancel the old servers at the old provider, and shift your data over.  When you colocate your own hardware it’s not so easy to make a change like this.  You either have to double your hardware to do live transfers or you have to take the sites and services offline to physically transport the hardware from one facility to another.  All of this makes it very important for you to make sure that you’ve chosen a facility you can trust and one that you plan on doing business with for a very long time.

We researched facilities for several months and looked at the pricing, power, cooling, transit providers, locations, redundancy, and remote hands and ultimately settled upon HandyNetworks LLC based out of Denver, Colorado.  This is going to be a learning experience for myself as well as those who work for me so I’m going to do my best to post my experiences, expectations, and any surprises we face along the way.  The hardware will be online on or around November 15th, 2010 and we’ll begin transitioning customers over to the new facility starting on November 18th.

If there is anything particular you’d like to know about the process of choosing the facility, the transfer process, or anything else having to do with obtaining hardware and colocating – feel free to comment this post or any future posts on the subject and I’ll do my best to address your questions.

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Samsung High Efficiency Front Loading Washer & Dryer

So my wife and I just moved into a new apartment and either our old washer got damaged during the move or it just decided to give up the ghost.  We hooked the old set up and woke up the next morning to a huge pool of water in the laundry room!  Needless to say that the wife was not very happy with the situation and we began perusing craigslist.com looking for a replacement set.

We ended up buying a used washer and dryer that turned out to be a not-so-great purchase.  The set appeared to work fine however once we got them home and tried using them we quickly found out that the washer didn’t pump any cold water even on the “cold” setting but instead only used hot water.  The dryer also did a good job of drying but it sounded almost as if the drum was hitting the side of the dryer as it was running… Needless to say that I decided that buying a used washer and dryer wasn’t a good idea so I went to my local HHGregg store to look at a new set.

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at major home appliances, at least several years, and I expected them to be around $1,000 or more per unit and was surprised to find this unit MSRP’d at $799 listed at $649 each at HHGregg!  I negotiated the price down with the salesman to $580 per unit and I feel I got a pretty good deal on the set.  I had to drive to the north side of Indianapolis, which is around a 45 minute drive from our apartment, to pick up the set.  I could have waited for the local store to get the units in stock however we had laundry that needed done and I really just wanted to bring them home that day.

I have to say that Samsung packed the appliances quite well!  The washer’s drum was supported from below on molded Styrofoam and the drum was held in place by four shipping bolts and spacers.  After getting the set fully unpacked and installed I ran them through an empty cycle to make sure that they were working as they should and then I got to washing laundry!

The washer uses an extremely low amount of water, so little that I was almost worried it wouldn’t get anything cleaned.  I quickly ran a full load through the washer and was amazed as it spun the drum up to 1,300 RPM during the spin cycle in perfect balanced harmony due to the Vibration Reduction Technology.  The washer is nearly completely silent as it does it’s job and the dryer is similar in that it’s extremely quiet.

At the end of the day – if you’re looking for a new washer and drier I can highly recommend Samsung appliances.  The estimated yearly operating cost of the washer is $14 if you’re using an electric water heater and $8 if using a gas powered heater.

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SolusVM VPS Control Panel Good *and* Bad?

The Beginning

At the hosting provider I own we originally started offering Virtual Private Servers late 2008 to address the needs of our clients who were outgrowing shared but didn’t yet want to move to a full-blown dedicated environment.  We did offer VPSs for about 6 months before the HyperVM scare at FsckVPS happened where dozens of VPS nodes were wiped clean and data lost.  We then decided to discontinue HyperVM and worked on migrating our existing VPS clients to other providers we worked with and trusted to be reliable.

The Good

Fast forward to late 2009 when we brought our first new SolusVM VPS server node online.  SolusVM has been an exceptional control panel with a good list of features and while it is missing some basic features such as bandwidth reports, cpu graphs, and memory graphs SolusVM has been working on improving their software over time.  We can handle a few missing “features” as long as we know that those features are in development and will be added.

The administration control panel and the user side of the control panel are very clean and concise while still being very powerful.  The only gripes we originally had with SolusVM was the inability to customize the client side templates and re-brand the solution however they did enable this ability and so far we love the control panel in this aspect.

SolusVM does offer a forum where you can post your questions and issues and receive support from others using the software as well and fairly regularly a SolusVM staff member will also stop by and help out as well.  There is also a support ticket system should you have an issue that is urgent or that does require some privacy.  Our general experiences with SolusVM support over both methods has been fairly good – I wouldn’t go so far as to say great but the support definitely has not been bad.

The Bad Continue reading

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Tynt Insight – Very Interesting!

TyntWell a friend of mine sent me over to tynt.com to check out Tynt Insight.  I watched the video on their front page and then decided I would go ahead and give it a shot here on MikeDVB.com.  What is really neat about it is that you can select an excerpt from any of the posts or content on the site and when you copy it and then paste it somewhere (like an email or IM) it will include a link to read the rest of the page automatically.

Edit: I did find that there is no way to selectively disable this feature which makes copying shell commands out of a blog post difficult as you have to edit each copy before pasting it into a shell session.  I’ve disabled Tynt until I find a way to disable it per-page but I am open to suggestions 🙂

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Disappointed in Sony – LCD TV Servere HDMI Sound Issues (KDL-52V5100)

So the wife and I love to play Xbox 360 together and up until recently we only had a single 32″ LCD TV (Sony) that we’ve had for nearly 4 years and it has been an amazing problem-free TV. We decided to pick up a second Xbox 360 and a new TV and we figured if we were going to get a new TV we might as well get something we really like and ended up choosing a Sony 52″ LCD TV because it’s a beautiful TV, has a wonderful picture, and we’ve had amazing performance out of our current Sony LCD TV. As it turns out our decision to choose the Sony TV was a mistake.

I’ll admit that I didn’t do the appropriate research before choosing this TV and had I done so I likely would have avoided this model but at this point it’s too late to do anything about it. Almost daily the TV will begin having HDMI sound issues where the sound signal loses it’s continuity – it sounds almost as though somebody is muting and then unmuting the sound very quickly once every second or so which is at the least very annoying and it doesn’t stop there. About 5 minutes after the sound begins having issues it will start to cut out for extended periods of time of up to 15 or 20 seconds and then go back to cutting in and out quickly. Sometimes the sound simply drops out all together and doesn’t come back – the solution to all of these problems is to unplug the TV and to plug it back in. We’ve tried simply powering off the TV, switching HDMI ports, switching Xbox 360s, trying other HD input sources, trying different HDMI cables and the result is that the TV has issues.

I hope that this article will come up in a search and help anybody considering this model to choose another less problematic TV. I’m not trying to bash Sony here (they do make some good products) but they obviously didn’t test this TV thoroughly and once the issue was reported they did release a software update that hasn’t fixed the issue. When I called Sony about this they told me that I had the latest software on the TV (which I had already verified on my own) and that there was no solution to the issue.

I uploaded a clip of the TV acting up – it’s fairly long and I do discuss the issues with my wife a little in the background. I was holding an Xbox 360 controller as well as the TV remote during most of the video. I did hit Mute a couple of times during the video to demonstrate that we’re not just muting the sound (it would show up in the bottom left hand corner) and to illustrate that it’s an issue with the TV.

Update – 04/23/2010


So after doing a lot of research and reading I managed to get my hands on a “secret” copy of the firmware for this TV with a release date of 12/04/2009 which is 4 months newer than the latest version on the site and that was previously on the TV.  This came directly from a Sony engineer here in the US and due to the nature of the firmware it wipes out all existing settings on the TV (any customizations made to picture, etc) which is why it’s not posted on the site or so that is what I was told.

I’ve installed the new software, tweaked all of my settings back and so far so good.  We played about 5 hours of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 without any HDMI audio issues and personally I think the picture looks brighter/better than it did previously but that could just be me looking closer than I did before.  I’ll definitely update this post in a couple of weeks after I’ve had enough time to conclusively say that it’s resolved the HDMI sound issues and if that’s the case I’ll make a download of the firmware available.  If you have this TV and want to try the firmware drop me a comment and I’ll get it over to you via email.

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