Accidentally put an SD card in the iMac’s DVD drive?

Apple usually puts a lot of thought into the design of their hardware.  However, the placement of the SD card slot right below the DVD drive has always escaped me.  I always suspected people are looking directly at their screen and put the card in the slot by feel.  As a result, it is probably all too common to accidentally put the card in the DVD drive which is right above it.  I recently saw this happen for the first time.

My first thought was to take apart the iMac including the DVD drive.  Unfortunately, this requires specialized tools and 1-2 hours of time.  I tried shaking it out (a scary thought with an expensive piece of hardware) but it didn’t budge because of the foam guards at the end.  Finally, I created a high tech tool just for the job.

This is a piece of cardboard cutout to have a little extension at the bottom.  I inserted this at the top of the drive and pushed as far back as possible.  I then slide it down and pulled it forward and the extension pushed the SD card right out.  This is a rather thin piece of cardboard which is probably necessary.  Be sure to be gentle as you don’t want to damage the DVD drive in any way.

Bamboo Stylus

Although the iPad is designed and best used as a finger input device, I occasionally switch to using a stylus, especially when drawing (see my beautiful artwork below). I’ve tried nearly all of the styluses out there and found the new Bamboo Stylus to be the best available so far. The reason is that others have a thicker pointing area that slides poorly and is less precise. The Bamboo Stylus has a smaller more precise tip (they claim 25% smaller than competitors) and feels solid and properly weighted. It is well made in Japan.

Combining the Bamboo Stylus with Sketchbook Pro for iPad ($4.99) makes a powerful drawing system. I prefer this to using a Wacom tablet for drawing since I can directly see what I’m doing under the stylus.

I’m waiting on the Cosmonaut Stylus (should be out in August) to see how its wide-grip compares. But at least until then, the Bamboo Stylus to be the best available so far. The reason is that others have a thicker pointing area that slides poorly and is less precise. The Bamboo Stylus is the best out there.

There is still the inherent downside that you can not rest your hand on the iPad since that will be seen as a touch input. But even with that nit, I enjoy using this stylus.

Speed Up PC

I was recently asked to speed up a slow laptop. Here are the steps that I took:

  • Apply Windows Updates: The computer had downloaded lots of updates (including Vista Service Pack 2) that were just waiting to be installed. This was a multi-step process since not all the updates could be updated in one package.
  • Run Spinrite: This checks for and automatically fixes hard drive problems
  • Remove Browser Toolbars: Google, Yahoo, and other toolbars in Internet Explorer and Firefox just slow down and junk up the browser without any real benefits.
  • Remove Google Desktop: This is a redundant desktop search tool that just slows down the computer.
  • Open Windows Task Manager, search for processes, and remove unnecessary applications and start-up items. This is done from Add/Remove Programs, from the startup folder and from msconfig.
  • Turn off Windows sidebar: This feature available in Windows 7 and Vista by default just loads pictures and a clock which people don’t use.
  • Remove some Windows features, as mentioned in 12 Ways to Speed Up and Slim Down Windows Vista.
  • Update Firefox: Firefox 4 has significant speed improvements.
  • Remove paid Antivirus and install Microsoft Security Essentials which typically uses fewer system resources and is a good and free Antivirus.
  • Run Disk Defragmenter
  • Update Power Settings: This laptop’s settings were to run the CPU at a max of 50% both when unplugged (to save the battery) and also when plugged in. The max CPU should be set to 100% when plugged in unless the computer is having overheating problems.
  • Install Foxit Reader: This is faster and less annoying than Adobe Acrobat which I removed.