Replacing my Nintendo 3DS with a Nintendo 3DS XL

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I’ve enjoyed owning a Nintendo 3DS. It’s a great portable system. It’s not feature-rich or very powerful, but sometimes those characteristics aren’t enough to make a great system (or necessary). With the 3DS it boils down to how the whole package comes together and the types of games available for it. In my case, I still enjoy many of the classic Nintendo series so this was my portable gaming system of choice.

None of my gaming systems, including the 3DS, are played on a regular basis for various reasons. However, since it’s portable I’ll often carry the system around if for no other reason than to use the StreetPass capabilities.

The original 3DS was a great system but I decided that it was finally time to upgrade to the 3DS XL with its larger screens. This wasn’t my original plan. I was quite happy with the 3DS, but I received an Amazon.com gift card of $100, which easily covered half of the cost of the system.

Overall, there isn’t much of a big difference between the two systems except for the screen sizes. However, if one has a chance to move to the 3DS XL then I highly recommend it simply for this feature. I’ve never had problems with the 3-D features of the Nintendo 3DS, but having larger screens is a more enjoyable experience.

My only complaint about the 3DS XL is its battery life. However, it’s actually an improvement over the 3DS factory battery. I’ve become spoiled with the battery life of my old 3DS because I had replaced the battery with an extended one that, when new, could easily power the 3DS in stand-by for an entire week without losing half of the charge. This is not the case with the 3DS XL and, unfortunately, I have yet to find a replacement battery that I consider affordable (at least one does exist, but at about half the cost of the system itself it’s just too expensive, in my opinion).

This is a fun purchase that I’ve already enjoyed considerably. Perhaps in the near future the cost of an extended battery will drop dramatically. Until then, I’ll just have to remember to charge the 3DS XL more frequently than I did the 3DS (due to the extended battery the system almost never ran out of power before I got around to recharging it).

All of my information from the original 3DS was transferred over to the new 3DS XL using the software provided by Nintendo. The only issue I had, which I knew would be a problem, was that the 3DS XL I purchased came with a copy of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. As a result of the transfer that game was lost. I already owned a copy of the game, which I had previously purchased via the Nintendo eShop, so it wasn’t a terrible loss as I could have used only one copy anyway.

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OS X Mavericks (10.9) Breaks VPN Server

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Updated 12/10/2013: Jon Stacey has identified a fix, which involves restoring a copy of racoon from Mountain Lion. I followed his advice and was able to successfully establish an L2TP VPN connection again. Please visit the ‘OS X 10.9 Mavericks fix’ section of his page for more information.

Updated 07/06/2014: The VPN continues to function just fine. I’ve installed several server updates since my previous updates so at this point I’m no longer certain if the previous fix is still in place or if Apple provided a proper fix via update. Regardless, I haven’t had any new problems.

Despite having updated various software packages to avoid software problems with compatibility under Mavericks I hit a wall that I simply haven’t been able to get past. The built-in VPN server in Mavericks (with and without OS X Server) is broken.

I had it working just fine under Mountain Lion, which I managed using iVPN. After upgrading it stopped working. Not long after I added OS X Server and it still wouldn’t work (I purchased OS X Server for its Time Machine capabilities, not for VPN support so I didn’t purchase it expecting it to fix this problem).

Prior to upgrading I had an L2TP VPN server working. Since upgrading I’ve been unable to get L2TP or PPTP working, though I’ve seen more activity with PPTP during connection attempts than with L2TP.

I have hunted across many forum threads and I have been unable to find a solution that works. Some users have reported success though the apparent causes and solutions are extremely varied. The majority of posts are from users that cannot find a solution. This weekend I spent several hours trying to find a solution without success.

At this point there appears to be nothing more that I can do. I’ll simply have to wait until Apple issues an update that fixes the problem. Until then I’ll have to use a service such as LogMeIn to access my desktop, though it’s only a partial solution and doesn’t provide the full access to my network that I need from a VPN server.

Moving from an iMac Intel Core 2 Duo to an iMac Intel Core i5

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It turns out that my quest to upgrade my iMac wasn’t as critical as I thought (though certainly not a waste of time). One of the gifts my wife bought me for Christmas was a new iMac! The system is considerably more faster than the older iMac.

I’ve managed to test out some of the differences. DVD conversions dropped from taking about an hour and thirty minutes down to about forty minutes. Blu-Ray conversions are much improved. Ripping from disc takes the same amount of time (mostly likely caused by the limitation of using a USB 2.0 drive) but conversions have dropped from 10-12 hours down to about 2 hours. That’s a very impressive difference.

Though I haven’t used Windows 7 via VM Ware Fusion very much I did up the number of cores that it’s using along with the RAM. According to Crucial.com I can max the system out at 16 GBs for about $100, which is much less than I expected it would cost.

In the immediate future I will probably expand the RAM above 4 GBs.

The previous iMac will probably move to my wife’s craft room where it may spend much of its time capturing VHS tapes to digital files.

Updated 12/27/2011: It looks like I’ll be buying my RAM upgrade from Crucial, as usual. I swung by Best Buy today and checked out the prices. It would cost me $40-$50 more to upgrade with RAM from Best Buy. The store only sells the 4GB modules for about $35. I can buy two 4 GB sticks from Crucial for a total cost of about $46. I’ll need four 4 GB sticks to max the system out with 16 GB.

I’m not surprised. It’s rare that I find anything at a good price at Best Buy that isn’t on clearance. I was shopping for some Apple earbuds with the microphone and saw that they charge $40. Walmart sells them for just under $30 and I think both Amazon and Apple sell them for about $30.

Migrating from Quicken 2006 for Mac to Quicken Essentials

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The Short Version: I think it’s worth $25 if you can find it at half-price. It’s not very useful for much more than basic balancing of a checking account. To import from Quicken 2006 you must install the new version and import from Quicken 2006 prior to installing Lion (or by booting into Snow Leopard). It works well enough for my needs.

I’ve enjoyed using Quicken 2006 for Mac for several years. My financial tracking needs are relatively simple though it had more than enough features. Unfortunately, Intuit chose to not provide an Intel binary for the program. While I can understand why a company wouldn’t port an older program, I don’t understand why Intuit didn’t develop a version with equivalent features that is compatible with Lion.

I debated whether or not to move to Quicken Essentials. I needed a financial program that is compatible with Lion. However, many of the reviews were very negative. In fact, the number (and weight) of the negative reviews made me very wary about buying it. Weeding through the reviews I found several individuals that stated it worked just fine if you only need to balance a checkbook.

In the end I decided to go ahead and purchase it. While I do have a couple of investment accounts and various credit accounts it wasn’t essential that I track them in Quicken (I wasn’t doing this anyway, at the time).

If you’re considering upgrading then I think I can safely state that it works just fine for tracking a checking account. If you’re interested in managing credit accounts, investment accounts, printing checks, integrating with TurboTax  and a number of other activities then this product probably isn’t something you’ll want.

There was one other thing that made the decision acceptable – I found a discount so I only had to pay $25. Unfortunately, it looks like the link to the discount is no longer good – the link now goes to a page that shows only the regular price.

Warning:If you’re interested in Quicken Essentials because you plan to upgrade to Lion then you must install Quicken Essentials and import your data before you upgrade to Lion. My father ran into this problem but was able to make it work by booting into Snow Leopard.

Superdrive Failure After Upgrading From Snow Leopard To Lion

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A few days ago my wife’s MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2010) suddenly couldn’t read CDs or DVDs. Inserting a disc results in the drive spinning up and down a few times and then ejecting the disc after a moment. We quickly realized this was the first time she had tried to use a disc since I upgraded her computer to Lion.

So far, I haven’t been able to fix the problem. I’ve tried several different suggestions, but I haven’t hit on the correct one. My assumption is that one of two problems have occurred: (1) The Snow Leopard to Lion upgrade resulted in a software problem that affects the Superdrive or (2) it’s purely a coincidence and the Superdrive has simply suffered from a hardware failure.

In the worst case, the MacBook Pro is still well within the AppleCare warranty period so we can have it repaired, if necessary. I’ll try some additional tips as I come across them before we resort to sending it off or visiting an Apple Store.

This doesn’t seem to be an uncommon problem. Quick searches turn up numerous complains from individuals using different configurations who upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion and ran into the same problem. I’m including a few related links. If I find a solution that fixes our problem I’ll add an update to this post.

Updated 11/11/2011: The fact that this problem just started after upgrading to Lion may be a coincidence. I went through some additional diagnostics this evening. The one step I did that has convinced me that this probably is a hardware failure was an attempt to boot from a CD. My assumption is that if the drive issues were caused by a software problem then it wouldn’t appear before booting into Lion.

While it’s true that my wife hadn’t tried to use the drive since we upgraded to Lion, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that the hardware failed sometime before or after the upgrade. In addition, I have noticed signs indicating that the body area where the drive is located isn’t well reinforced. On more than one occasion, and with other models with similar body designs, that when one holds the laptop in a way that puts pressure in that area that it seems to transfer into the drive itself. In my opinion it’s very possible that the drive can be damaged if one has a disc in the drive while putting any kind of pressure on that area of the frame.

It looks like we’ll need to take the MacBook Pro to an Apple Store for repair.

Updated 11/12/2011: The nearest Apple Store is a long drive from our house so we opted to call Apple support and mail the system back for repair. The initial call was painless. It didn’t take much to convince the Apple tech to enter a ticket to have the drive fixed. I updated him on what I’ve done and when I mentioned it wouldn’t boot from a CD he agreed that the drive was most likely bad. It was a good experience overall. I didn’t have to go through the troubleshooting steps again – the tech accepted my conclusions without forcing me to follow a script.

Updated 12/12/2011: The weekend after my wife submitted the support ticket she received the box to ship the laptop on Tuesday. Her laptop was repaired and back in her hands by the Thursday of the same week.

Upgrading My White 2006 iMac Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo and Installing OS X Lion

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Not very long ago I added a post explaining why I didn’t think it would be worth upgrading the processor in my Core Duo iMac and also why I wasn’t in a hurry to upgrade to Lion. Well, as often happens, I wasn’t satisfied with those conclusions and eventually decided that the benefits outweighed the effort involved.

This post won’t include step-by-step instructions – just some general information and maybe a few tips. However, I do think it was indeed worth upgrading my iMac to be able to run Lion.

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mControl v3 Upgrade

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Embedded Automation has officially released version 3 of mControl. There are several changes including new modules that can be purchased individually to additional features. Based on what I’ve seen it appears that the Base version, available for $170, includes almost everything that version 2 came with.

I wasn’t thrilled about the price until I learned that owners of previous versions of mControl can get an upgrade discount of $150, cutting the price down to only $20! Tonight I submitted my request and mControl 2 license and plan to purchase the upgrade as soon as the discount is available under my account.

For more information about upgrading there is a guide available on their store product page.

Updated 10/04/2011: Last night I purchased my upgrade license, which was only $20 after the discount. The only problem I had was applying the new license. I had to delete the license key file that I used with the beta version before I could re-install mControl 3 and apply the new license.