TechTails Archives

Subject: Tech Tails #144: Troy's life (so far anyway!) and the iPod!
Date: December 9th, 2002

Hello Tech Fans!

I just found out that there are more people now who subscribe to our
Tech Tails Newsletter than read our local newspaper “The Valley
Reporter” that serves our community of 5 towns, and that is amazing.  I
figure that I should give you a little history of who I am so at least
you can relate a name with a face when you read my articles. I was born
in Berlin, Vermont on May 12th 1970, to Bryan and Vicky Kingsbury. I
grew up in Warren, Vermont (about 7 miles from where Small Dog is right
now) with my brother Bryan. My mom worked for the town of Warren until
1982. She and my father bought out my grandfathers half of the gas
station that my father built with him in 1962.

When I was around 7, I used to make a ton of money filling up cars with
gas. I think I got about 50 cents per hour, but the tips for checking
oil and washing the windshields were great! We did not live in town so
for entertainment, besides working, my brother and our cousins and I
would usually go into the woods and build tree forts, make walking
paths in the woods. We also used to go skiing and fishing a lot, too.
Growing up in Vermont, you had to be creative not to be bored and by
default you had to like the outdoors because your parents usually
wanted you out of the house for most of the day.

Having a small family business afforded me the opportunity to work a
lot thru high school and combining that with playing softball and
sports at school kept me out of trouble. Art and I were the youngest
players in the Warren Mens Softball league by far when we started
playing in 1985/86. After high school I attended Johnson State College
where I went to school to become a teacher. I have always liked
interacting with kids so I thought that the most rewarding job for me
would be becoming a teacher. Also, during college I met my wife Cheryl
Moochler.  (she is an incredible women whom I will have to talk about
another time, but on our first date I knew she was the one that I would
merry, I just knew).  Well, Cheryl was 1 year behind me so after
college I waited for her to get done so we could both move to Alaska to
teach. While I was waiting my dad got ill, so my mom needed help
running the family business until he got better.

What was suppose to be a short time, turned into a 7 year years of working 6 days a week and holidays. I ran
the am shift of our little C-store which meant opening the store at
5:30 AM and working until the second shift at 3 PM. However, most of
the time I was there to fill propane tanks, stock shelves, work in the
bottle room, and do all of the extras that needed to be done around the
store. During this time my wife and I eloped and got married in the
front yard of where our house is today which is pretty amazing
considering that for the first few years we did not have the same day
off together. Life progressed and in 1996 we were blessed with a little
girl, which we named Mckayla.

She was not your average baby we soon discovered.  We found out that
she had Williams Syndrome when she was nearly 2 not by a doctor, but a
mom of a child with the syndrome. By the next year 1998, we had to take
Mckayla down to the Boston Children’s hospital for open heart surgery.
It was only 1 year after that, that my parents decided to call it quits
in the convenience store industry and I decided that I needed to spend
more time with my family than to continue the 3rd generation family
business. I jumped ship and joined Small Dog in the fall of 1999 in the
shipping dept (where everyone at Small Dog usually starts!)

Working after hours and learning as much as I could, I soon worked my
way in to doing customer installs and into the Tech Room.  In September
of 2001, while here at Small Dog, our family was again blessed with the
birth of our son Jakob, 3 days before September 11th. Again, we had an
above average birth, Jakob was born with Spina Bifida.  This pretty
much brings you up to date of where we are as of now. Of the many
things that I have learned in life, the most important, I believe, is
you belief in faith, and the appreciation of friends and family because
you never know where life will bring you.


The iPod and the Battery By

I recently had my iPod die on me while trying to listen to music going
to work. I usually leave it plugged into my computer at work as a
FireWire hard drive so I was concerned that my battery was dead. I got
my iPod just about 1 year ago so I thought I would do some research on
this issue. It turns out that there were many out there with iPods like
mine and I was able to find some useful information.  Some of the sites
that were very helpful when looking into this issue was the Apple
Knowledge Base,, the Apple discussion boards, and

The first question I was trying to figure out was how long the battery
should last. That answer I found at They have a very
useful FAQ site. Below is the FAQ on battery life that I found.

Q: What is the expected life span of iPod's battery? What are some
battery recharging tips?

A: The iPod's Sony Lithium polymer battery (model# UP325385 A4H in the
June 2001 Catalog) is rated for more than 500 charging cycles - one
charging cycle consisting of draining the battery, than recharging it
to a full charge. Therefore, the life span you should expect from your
iPod's battery will depend on how often you have to fully recharge the
battery. Worse case, assuming consistent, very heavy daily use, you
might need to fully recharge the battery every 1 or 2 days. This would
result in an expected battery life span of 2 - 3 years. A lighter,
probably more typical usage pattern might result in a full recharge
once a week on average. This should equate to an expected battery life
span of 9 - 10 years.

Please bear in mind that these are estimates and are based on 500
recharge cycles - which is the minimum number of recharge cycles for
which the battery is rated. Also, since the iPod has been around for
less than a year, no one has any real world experience to back up these

Finally, please remember it is recommended to never allow your iPod's
battery to completely discharge since it is never turned totally off
(it instead just sleeps - this is what provides iPod's instant on
capability). You should recharge it to full charge regularly, before it
has an opportunity to fully discharge (Lithium polymer batteries do not
have a "memory"). In fact, some experienced iPod users try to never let
their iPod's battery indicator get below 2 bars. Also, many experienced
owners always recharge using the AC adapter as opposed to recharging
from the FireWire port on their computers. In certain situations, the
iPod's HDD will spin continually when connected to a computer, causing
excess wear on the drive & power drain. This can be avoided if you
"eject" iPod in iTunes and Finder, making the FireWire port a "charge
only" port. Or, you can opt to always recharge your iPod using the AC
adapter (or a car > recharger).

Now that I knew that my battery should not be dead, I then had to
figure out why it was only holding a charge for about 1/2 hour. No
matter how long I left it plugged into my computer at work it did not 
hold a charge for the 10 hours it was suppose to.  After pawing around
a bit, I discovered some very useful info on the Apple discussion
boards like the ones listed below…

From Apple discussion =>

Try the following procedure:

1. Charge the iPod using the wall adaptor for 3-5 hours (this ensures a
full charge - even though nothing is happening to indicate it).

2. Unplug the cable and let it sit - untried - for 24 hours.

3. After 24 hours, plug it into the wall adaptor or computer and do a
reset (menu and play buttons at the same time until you see the Apple

If the iPod now responds, I would perform the restore function of the
iPod updater. The restore will wipe out all your music, contacts,
calendars...but will put the software the iPod uses back to factory

I hope this gets both of you going again!

Charge the battery every three weeks when not in use. Even when iPod is
off, it is in a sleeping state that requires power. Without use, iPod's
battery needs to be charged about every three weeks to be ready for

In learning about the battery, I also discovered a small issue in
regards to the FireWire cable causing an charging issue with the
battery from the discussions page.

The new firewire cable Apple sent me is the "original" type firewire
cable which is thicker and better made; at least twice as thick as the
cable that came in the box with my iPod. Apparently Apple has reason
for giving me the older-type, more-reliable firewire cable. My guess
would be problems with the new firewire cable design.

My iPod is an *old-style* 10G with the old-style scroll wheel, not the
new touchpad, that I bought three months ago, although it came with the
*new-style,* thinner and snazzier firewire cable. The fact that Apple
chose to ship me the old-style firewire cable, made for the old-style
iPods, which is twice as thick as the original and not the same cable I
originally got, tells me that there is a known-issue with the new
firewire cable design. True, the thicker cable they sent me doesn't
look as snazzy, but it looks much sturdier and like it will get the job

It seems that with the new  thinner firewire cable, that it might not
be as durable as the old thicker white ones.

Still hungering for more info I went to the Apple Knowledge Base and
discovered the article about the iPod not charging, Knowledge Base
Article #60941, in which they talk about resetting the iPod and the
possibility of the defective fire wire cable and how to get a
replacement if your iPod is still under warranty. Knowledge Base
article # 61385 talked about battery care of you iPods battery, kind of
the do’s and don’ts of how to handle and store your battery in your
iPod. Lastly, I read the Knowledge Base # 61434, "iPod: How to get the
most out of your battery", in which I discovered some minor ways to
increase the battery life of the iPod.  In the end, my problem was
solved by performing the reset that was talked about in the Apple
discussions where you plug your iPod into the wall adaptor for 3 – 5
hours. I also discovered that I never turned my iPod off when I used
it. To turn off you iPod simple hold down the play button until the
display goes black. I hope this saves some of you some pain in dealing
with issues about your favorite MP3 player.


Apple's iPod as it relates to the less obvious "features" by Art


Did you know that some newer iPods with software version 1.2, have a
moment where the backlight flashes briefly?

There is an Apple Knowledge Base Article that describes how at the
stroke of midnight (according to the iPod's internal clock) the
backlighting may flash for a moment while it self adjusts the clock
primes any pending reminders.

This strange bug can be avoided (should it bother anybody watching
their iPod late at night) by turning off the backlight timer feature
under Settings.


While we are on the topic of clocks, time and settings, make sure to
verify your iPod's clock time after every reset and update that you
perform on the tiny jukebox.

If the correct setting gets lost and you had set a reminder for
something, you will lose the efficiency of your planning and end up
hating the device as a result.

I don't want to see anyone hating their iPod.


The anti-skip technology is mostly something I had taken for granted
until I poked around in the Apple Knowledge Base on Friday.

There is a 32mb memory cache which preloads the music from the hard
drive during playback.

This amounts to more than twenty minutes of music. Even on the bumpiest
of back roads, or mogul runs at the ski mountain your iPod isn't likely
to skip once.


There is a quick no fail way of determining which iPod wheel someone
has on their unit at a glance (touch wheel vs. scroll wheel).

The older rotating scroll wheel has a firewire port on top with no
cover, open to the elements, while the smooth surface touch wheel does
have a port cover for the firewire connection. It is certainly an
upgrade as I remember a couple of cases now where a bad firewire port
on the 5GB iPod rendered it pretty much useless with no way to charge

This info might be handy for someone looking to buy an iPod on eBay or
something and wanted to see if the vendor knew what they had by the
picture offered.


The previously hidden "blocks break out game" is built right into the
1.2 version software settings of the later iPods.

If you have updated your iPod to 1.2, all you have to do is go to
Menu-Extras-Game-Select Game and your playing.

The one drawback, aside from losing a few minutes of your life playing
games, is that the high score is not kept by the software. There's a
new high score each time you open it up. Awww.

Password Protecting Your Mac By

This week I had a rather interesting call, a customer called in,
wanting to know how to password protect her iMac, her reason was quite

She has a problem with the local kids "townies" breaking into her house
or just walking in uninvited when her door is open to use her computer
(most likely to surf for *ahem*adult material *ahem*)

We got into a discussion about how to password protect her system, and
at the end of the call, I suggested...

"you know, you really should get a dog"

"Oh, I have a dog, it's so funny watching this big teenager running at
top speed out of the house, flailing his arms, being chased by a little

"yet they still come in?"

"yep, they keep coming back, you know, I've been a hippie since the
60's the kind that puts *flowers* in gun barrels, yet lately I've been
wanting to get a shotgun and go after the little ,  maybe I
should just get a canister of Mace"

"maybe you should get the local law enforcement to go after these kids"

"I've tried, they just ignore it, they'd rather pull people over for
going 5 MPH over the limit than stop these constant
breaking-and-enterings ..."

(why, I'll never understand)

Anyway, she brought up an interesting point, how to password-protect
your system with the built in Mac OS utilities.

In Mac OS 9;

Apple menu>Control Panels>Multiple Users

When the Multiple Users (MU) panel opens up, double click your account
icon to open it, enter a password, close the edit window, go down to
the bottom of the MU window, select the MU Accounts "On" button and
restart. When your computer reboots it will present you with a Multiple
Users account list, click on your user icon and enter your password,
and you're in. Once you're in, you have unrestricted access to the

Keep in mind, MU only prevents unauthorized usage at boot. If the
system has already booted it won't give you any additional protection,
unless you create a special usage-restricted account.

Create a new account and call this account "Guest".

open MU again, click New User enter a name and password select the type
of user account, the access privileges, and available apps;

Account types:

Normal - unrestricted access to the system Limited - user can only
access the apps and features the administrator allows them to, yet the
machine retains the standard appearance of the Normal account Panels -
has the restriction of Limited, and the entire interface consists of
giant full-screen "folders" and pushbuttons for launching the apps,
user does not have access to the Desktop

Access privileges and apps;

These settings are controlled by the Setup Details panel (below the
user account), it allows you to set up the apps and access features:

the following tabs control the following features;

User Info; change password, log in, manage accounts, access privileges
Applications; the apps that a Limited or Panels user has access to
Privileges; types of disks a user can access, network settings,
available printers...

In Mac OS X:

Mac OS X is by it's nature, a multi-user system, so setting up a logon
password is a lot easier in 10 . As an added benefit, each user's
personal information is kept private from other users on the system,
and each environment can be customized to the user's taste.

There are 3 levels of access in Mac OS X:

User - a limited account, the user cannot make any major changes in
System Preferences (like changing the Startup Disk) or access the
system folder without an Administrator password

Administrator - (Admin): an admin has access to 80% of the computer,
but cannot root around in the system folder, this is actually a
benefit, as the BSD Unix core of X is rather fussy, and doesn't
tolerate exploration and "tweaking" too well....

Root - A.K.A. "Godmode", the Root user has 100% access to the system,
the system assumes you know what you're doing and gets out of your way,
heck you could probably delete the active* system file while it's

To set up multiple user features in OS X, go to the "System
Preferences" docking, deselect "Login Automatically as " this
will bring up the login window at boot, forcing the user to enter their
name and password.

So, for maximum protection in OS X, you'd set up accounts for only
those authorized to use the system Anyone trying to log on to the
system needs to enter their username and password, no username and
password, no access.

However, for the customer I spoke with at the beginning of the article,
I think the easiest way for her to secure her Mac is to change the
locks on her doors, keep her house locked, and get the police involved


Here are some Specials for this weeks Tech Tails....

What's a pirates favorite house chore? YARRRRd work. I think that one
of the best uses I've had so far for my iPod is yard work. I can mow
the lawn, paint the house, shovel the driveway, etc, etc, etc.

Get an iPod for your yard work! Apple 10GB iPod - $379! Includes two
nips of Small Dog Syrup & a coupon for a pint of Ben & Jerry's Ice

To order:


FireWire 15 foot cable w/S400 6-6 Plug

iPod Out of Warranty ? Have a bad firewire cable ? Get a new one from
Small Dog for just $1 a foot. 15 foot 6-pin to 6-pin cable for $15

To order:


iMac G4/700 15 in 128/40/CDRW Snow with extra RAM

Need a new computer ?  Get an iMac G4/700 15 in 128/40/CDRW (r) Snow
with extra 256 MB RAM Installed for $1029.00

To order:


.Mac Internet Annual Subscription and Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar w/ Coupon
for Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream

A good place to back up Very Important info is not to have it in around
at all. Keeping it at another location, like the servers at Apple would
be a great option to burning a cd and placing it in you local saftey
deposit box at the bank.

Get .Mac Internet Annual Subscription and Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar w/
Coupon for Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream for $209

To order:


Capture the moment this holiday with the Canon ZR45MC miniDV Digital
Camera, Canon DVM-E80 80min MiniDV Tape Cassette and Canon DVM-CL
Cleaning Tape for Canon MiniDv . Life passes us by, way too quickly and
you can't remember everything! Sso get it on tape! Once you have it,
you can burn it in iMovie and keep it for ever. Order this set up for

To order:


Well I hope that you found out something new that you did not know
about and got a laugh or two. Remember to do something nice for someone
today and thanks for Reading Tech Tails.


PS. If you find this newsletter useful, tell a friend so that we can
help them out too !!!

-+ You are subscribed to TECH TAILS,  a tech tips email newsletter from
Small Dog Electronics. If you would like to unsubscribe from  this 
list: Send  ANY  email  message  to:  To add yourself, send ANY email to: If you  need  additional  help, please
-+ Check out our other newsletters: KIBBLES & BYTES our main Mac
Newsletter Kibbles& EDS UP! -- news/info for
the Mac educator MACWOMEN -  a  weekly 
email  newsletter focusing on Women and the Macintosh DO YOUR BUSINESS -- our biweekly small
office/home business newsletter
-+ Small Dog Electronics           "High Technology for Low Prices"
1673 Main Street, Waitsfield, Vermont 05673 USA Phone: 802-496-7171 
Fax: 802-496-6257  Email:
LOGO and HIGH TECHNOLOGY FOR LOW PRICES are registered trademarks of
Small Dog Electronics, Inc. Entire contents Copyright 2002 Small Dog
Electronics, Inc., Waitsfield, Vermont USA - All Rights Reserved