Apple's March Keynote Summary

What has been announced:

Apple News+ - $9.99 subscription for accessing 300+ paper-to-digital magazines, including LA Times and WSJ.

Apple-March-Keynote

Apple Card - virtual credit card with real daily cash cash-backs and a physical credit card made out of titanium 😍 They are actually having nice promises about the low transaction and international (really interesting) fees.

Apple Arcade - gaming subscription with 100+ iOS/Mac/AppleTV exclusive games. Details and pricing info will be later.

Apple TV - new app, with better suggestions, integrations with all the content providers. Soon available on smart TVs as well.

Apple TV+ ad-free, on demand subscription with unique and exclusive content. More details soon.

Personally I was waiting for better iCloud Storage options πŸ™‚ But overall it was a good and very (next level) emotional keynote of all. The guests made the second half of the keynote very heart-warming.

Fixing wife's headphones

My wife has the OG Beats Studio headphones which were produced even before Apple acquired Beats in 2014. The Studios have good battery life and work great by this day except their earpads didn't last as good:

Old-pads

I was asked to fix them and this is what I did. I went to ebay and ordered earpads copies for the presumably Beats Studio 1.0 from China. But when they arrived a month after, it turned out they are incompatible with the Studios because of different, incompatible frames:

Incompatible-frames

The Studios' frames were a bit different shape and with different latches. Also after tearing the worn earpads it looked like the Studio's frames aren't even removable and were glued to the headphones. Not having other options except throwing away the old earpads and the incompatible new ones I got an idea.

I removed the frames from the new earpads by breaking the frames and taking them out of the earpads' cushions. Then I just started pulling on one cushion onto the Studios' frame and being flexible it actually fitted around the old frame very well! After finishing out the first earpad, I repeat the same with the second and it worked! Now my wife has hear headphones as good as new:

Old-pads

Cleaning a GPU

Recently I bought a used Nvidia GTX 1080 ti for a really good price due to the end of the mining craze and miners dropping off their GPUs for cheap.

GPU-assembled

Since I'm waiting for my case to arrive (~2 months overdue), I can't actually use the card yet, so I decided to clean it up in the meantime.

First I took off the fans with the their shroud:

GPU-no-fans

Then I unscrewed everything I could but still couldn't remove the radiator. It turned out it was just quite stuck to the memory chips, VRMs and the die via the thermal pads and paste. So with a bit more effort I could separate the radiator from the PCB. And this is what I've found underneath, yukk:

GPU-dirty

Next I took some isopropyl alcohol as I was advised by my friend, and started rubbing. A lot. The thermal paste was very easy to remove from the die, but the grease from the leaked thermal pads was all over the place and took me probably an hour to clean. There was also greased and/or burned pieces of dust everywhere - this is what would get in all the places of your GPU after a while. I cleaned those pieces of dust with some pressurized air and thin wipes (to reach tight places between capacitors).

This was the result:

GPU-assembled

In the beginning when I first removed the radiator I took a note on the thermal pads which I found underneath it. From what I saw at that moment, the VRM thermal pads looked to be about 1mm thick, when the thermal pads between the radiator and memory were around 2mm. That's why between cleaning the GPU and putting it back together actually one week passed while I was waiting for new pads and thermal paste to replace those I cleaned off the GPU.

When the thermal paste and pads finally arrived, I applied them and tried to assemble the GPU:

GPU-thermal-pads1

But I couldn't fit the radiator back! Not only it wasn't touching the die, it also wasn't touching the VRM πŸ™‚ The reason was that the pieces of the thermal pad I applied on the memory chips (2mm) where to thick and got in the way of the radiator touching all the elements it's supposed to cool. After deciding not to wait another week for new proper-sized thermal pads, I just put the ones that I had in a plastic bag and rolled them with a glass to 1mm thickness πŸ™‚:

GPU-thermal-pads2

Afterwards I could complete the assembly with the radiator touching all the necessary parts. Now my only concern is whether I did a good job or not and didn't actually break something on the way πŸ˜… Hopefully my case would come soon, and I will update this post.

P.S. For the memory chips I used almost all of the 1x120x20mm Thermal Grizzly's 8W pad cut into pieces, whereas for the VRMs - a slice of the 1x120x20mm Phobya Termopad XT with 7W of heat dissipation. Practically you can get thermal pads capable up to 17W made by Fujipoly, but in our region they impossible to find and they cost few times more than the ones I've bought.
For the die I've applied the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut advised by my cousin few years ago. I've used this paste before with excellent results and can highly recommend it!

Mac Safari YouTube picture in picture

If you're using Safari on the Mac and you like watching YouTube (who doesn't), you can watch your videos in a floating window by using Mac OS's picture in picture mode.

Safari-PIP

To do so, open any Youtube video, double right click on it and select 'Enter Picture in Picture':
Safari-PIP2

That's it! Now you can move away your Safari window and enjoy your videos over other apps.

Samsung 970 Evo Plus

In case you’re looking to buy the best performing NVMe SSD drive, Samsung got. you covered. Again.

In the beginning of this year Samsung quietly pushed an update to their already top-tier 970 Pro series - the 970 Evo Plus. And even though the name is a bit misleading ("it's supposed to be a slightly cheaper/faster version of the 970 Evo?") the Evo Plus actually is a faster and cheaper alternative to the 970 Pro, who knew!

GPU-assembled

Here are the basic specs:
Samsung 970 Evo Plus: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 3,300MB/s seq. write
Samsung 970 Pro: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 2,700MB/s seq. write
Samsung 970 Evo: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 2,500MB/s seq. write

If you're into the new SSD, look at the 500GB/1TB Evo Plus, since the 250GB version has noticably lower writing speeds.

The Evo Plus got quite famous very fast: in our region few shops already have the new SSDs out of stock, when they just barely entered the market. So if you'd like to get those speeds in your PC, you should probably consider buying the 970 Evo Plus now or you'll have to wait for the next batches.

Samsung Galaxy S10(+/e) hands-on

The Galaxy S10/S10+ and S10e are really really great phones. But still far from ideal, and here's why.

Samsung-Galaxy-S10
Samsung-Galaxy-S10+
Samsung-Galaxy-S10e

Each of them have a wonderful, best in class (except the brightness IMO) screen with a really not that obstructive hole-punch cutouts which your mind might not even notice after some time anyway. All of three models have exceptional build quality and feel light but premium in the hand. Cameras which are taking nice (maybe a little over-saturated) photos, now include an awesome wide-angle view as well:

Samsung-Galaxy-S10-camera

Stereo speakers are loud and clear, you get the headphone jack, expansible storage, the devices are waterproof and come in a range of colors. The price for all of what you get is also quite spot on. And the first ultra-sonic in-screen fingerprint scanner is another cherry on top. On top of a very rich hardware cake.

With these phones everything is great, but only in terms of hardware. Software -wise the situation is completely different. And I'm not talking about their new One UI - you can love love it or hate it. By the software situation I mean what you can expect from a flagship device while using it. As usual, the demo devices I've tested couldn't keep up even with their own demos. If you take a phone and start going though the feature screens you will definitely notice short lag and stutter here and there. And that's on phones with 8 or 12 GB of RAM! Next is the hole-punch support. I kinda get it that Samsung depends on Google's support of all the new hardware that affects the position of UI elements. But how come on the day of release, Samsung with their own One UI and so much custom software and even standalone apps couldn't figure out the hole-punch'ed UI portion in landscape and filled the whole side with a black vertical bar (on the right of the screen in landscape) just wasting the screen real estate:

Samsung-Galaxy-S10-horizontal

These are day one problems. But what about support later on? Samsung devices get one or maximum two system updates. And even those come with a 6-9 months delay comparing to Google's devices. Another thing is the quality of these updates - a friend of mine told me recently that one of the latest updates for his S8 makes his phone to loose cellular connection once in a while. From his words the same happens to his colleague who also has a S8, so that's not a one-off problem. And this is what makes these phones noticeably less appealing for me: you can have the best hardware, but if the software is buggy, you won't be able to enjoy it. And if there's a chance of having a laggy phone out of the box or even in few months, the hardware itself just doesn't cut it. So if you're open to better software on a slightly worse hardware, the Pixel is your best bet. Although even it had inconsistent performance noted by its users. So if software is key for you, I guess only the OnePlus is your only option, with almost stock Android and fast software updates.

Though one thing the OnePlus is not capable of doing now is having these awesome wallpapers matching with camera cutouts πŸ™‚
Samsung-Galaxy-S10-plus-wallpapers

Lenovo X1 Extreme

The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme is a more powerful version of the iconic X1. Why is it a no compromise laptop?

Thinkpad X1 Extreme

So why is the X1 special at all? It's because of its built material. The original X1 named Carbon launched back in 2012 with the very original body made out of carbon fiber. I remember holding it for the first time - it was really light compared to others but at the same time without any flex at all because of the sturdiness of carbon fiber. This material looks really great and like nothing else. If feels in some way close to plastic but unlike it is completely resilient. Carbon fiber is truly amazing and having a whole laptop out of it felt and feels unique.

The X1 at that time was on par not only with build quality but with specs as well. And this year the Extreme edition pushes them to the limit of such a portable device. You can opt in for a 4k touchscreen, Xeon CPU, up to 64GB, a P2000 or 1050Ti GPU and up to 2TB nVME storage. The highest configuration will cost you around $4500 which is insane, but still $1500 less than a maxed out MacBook Pro with a worse screen, GPU and CPU. The Lenovo also has an arguably better keyboard to type on and a bunch of not yet obsolete I/O.

Unfortunately two things keeps the X1 to be the best laptop ever in my opinion: the trackpad and OS. And even though so many years passed and there is still not a single PC with a decent trackpad I keep my hopes high that someday someone will build a Mac-level trackpad for PC. What I'm not holding my breath for is having anything except Windows working properly on such nice hardware like this. Although each year I constantly hear about Ubuntu supporting more and more devices, so maybe it can be worth trying on this beast?

Chernobyl

Interesting perspective on our national tragedy and its current state.

Part #1:

Part #2:

Part #3:

Part #4:

FB Messenger iOS dark mode hack

For the last year of using an unofficial Messenger Mac client Caprine that has an unofficial dark mode I just couldn't understand why the official iOS Messenger app doesn't have dark mode for years. But now it's there. Sort of.

FB-Messenger-dark-mode

Overall I wonder how this have been found in the first place, but it works:

  1. In the messenger send anyone the πŸŒ™ (moon) emoji
  2. Accept the dark mode prompt
  3. Switch it on
  4. Enjoy

Can't wait to have it in more apps and hopefully system wide in iOS 13 this summer-autumn. But for now it's the best I can have for an app I probably use the most often among others.