One Big Problem with Apple’s ‘Thunderbolt’

Macbook Pro with Cinema Display Cable

If you haven’t already heard, Apple updated its entire line of Macbook Pros this morning. Like usual, the new models have updated processors, graphics cards, etc… But the biggest new feature is the addition of a new port called, Thunderbolt.

From Apple:
“…Ultrafast and ultraflexible, the Thunderbolt pipeline is more than 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and it offers unprecedented expansion capabilities. It changes what you can do on a notebook.”

Sounds great, right? But, there’s one important thing to know – the new port isn’t an additional port, it replaces the existing Mini DisplayPort. You might be asking, how can this be?

From Apple:
“The Thunderbolt port will give you plug-and-play performance with a whole new world of Thunderbolt peripherals, as well as with the Apple LED Cinema Display and other Mini DisplayPort peripherals. You can daisy-chain as many as six devices, including your display.”

OK, that answers that. But, there’s just one BIG problem with this setup – the cable! Apple Cinema Displays have a wonderful 3-pronged cable that carries power, video signal, and usb (to power the usb ports on the back of the display). If you use the cable the way it’s intended, there’s no way to plug anything else into that port.

Currently, the only way to use your display and an additional device at the same time, is to physically position that device within a few inches of the Thunderbolt port on the computer and divert the (short) video cable to that other device – then run a cable from the secondary device to the computer. Am I the only one who thinks that’s just plain stupid?

At some point (soon) Apple will probably come out with new displays that either have Thunderbolt ports on the back, or have a reworked cable, but until then, this implementation isn’t very practical.

I’m all for reducing the number of ports / cables required for a given system, but I’m not sure how well it works to include your display in a daisy chain. It requires you to either have additional ports on the back of the display (so it can be first in the chain), or have your display at the end of the chain – which seems impractical for most workflows. Realistically, a good chain should have your most-used device at the front, and the least used device at the back. Of course, another option would be to use a hub, but now you need an additional piece of hardware, which to some degree works against the whole idea of reducing.

Oh, crap! Syfy cancelled Stargate Universe!

Stargate Universe

Oh no, I just saw a commercial for the “final 10 episodes” of Stargate Universe! Apparently it’s been cancelled, and won’t be returning for a season 3.

I’m a big fan of this show and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second half of season 2. This is very disappointing news. Sadly, this will be the first time in 14 years there hasn’t been some flavor of Stargate on TV.

Season 2 resumes airing on Syfy on March 7th, 2011.

X-Men First Class due June 3, 2011

Oooo… can’t wait!

X-MEN FIRST CLASS charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to prevent nuclear Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

YouTube Link

AT&T iPhone Customers Get 1000 FREE Rollover Minutes

Text YES to get free minutes

As a thank you for not jumping ship, AT&T is offering existing iPhone customers 1,000 free rollover minutes. All you have to do to get them is text, “YES”, to 11113020 by March 31st, 2011. It should also be noted that by sending this text, you’re opting in to receive future offers. But hey, it’s 1,000 free minutes, and you can always opt out again later.

via TUAW

Is Media Temple a Good Host, or have I just been saying that for so long I’ve convinced myself it’s still true?

I’ve been hosting my sites on Media Temple for almost 5 years now. In general I’ve been happy with them, and I’ve recommended them to friends and clients. But, with my recent troubles with the GridContainer, I started to wonder if they’re still as good as they once were, or if they gradually went downhill and I just hadn’t realized it.

Read more

Hotfix Released for WordPress 3.0.5


A tiny bug made its way into the recent release of WordPress 3.0.5. The release did fix the security issue that it was intended to fix, but it was a bit overzealous and “stripped advanced HTML (on display, not save, thankfully) from comments by people with the unfiltered_html capability.”

This particular bug has been deemed a rare case, and the developers would prefer to focus on 3.1 than release yet another 3.0.x update, but they were able to sneak a hotfix for the bug into the latest release of Akismet (2.5.3).

A new plugin, appropriately titled Hotfix has also been released to fix this particular bug and select future bugs as they pop up, “so you don’t have to wait for the next WordPress core release.” Think of it as a dedicated plugin for minor WordPress updates.

Media Temple GridContainer Woes

My sites are hosted by Media Temple. Generally I’ve been pretty happy with them, but the last few days have been a giant pain in the ass.

On Monday I migrated my Grid Service account from the MySQL SmartPool, to the dedicated MySQL GridContainer. One is a shared version of MySQL server, and the other is a dedicated version with double the resources. In theory, the GridContainer is supposed to be “better” than the SmartPool, as you’re not competing for resources with neighboring sites. But so far that hasn’t exactly been the case.

Even though my site has been running fine under the SmartPool, from the moment I migrated to the GridContainer the MySQL server has been crashing every 8-10 hours. You may have noticed the site keeps going up and down. Media Temple can offer no explanation for this.

I’m still trying to troubleshoot, and things seem a little more stable now, but so far I’m not terribly impressed. I may opt to go back into the SmartPool. I’ll be writing up some thoughts on this whole thing once I get through it.

Until this is resolved, I’m waiting to publish new posts, as I’ve already had to roll the database back once.

Update: I cancelled the Grid-Container. Read more, here.