Posts Tagged ‘Macbook’

Argh. Double argh even.  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  So what does it mean when doing the same thing causes different results?  Well, for me, it means I’m dealing with that fickle cat Mountain Lion, the latest Mac OS.

One of the issues I had was opening files of certain types.  No longer can you just click them and have them open or give you a warning ensuring you want to open them.  Now with some files, you get cryptic error messages instead and no option to open them at all.  It all seems to come down to revised security settings in Mountain Lion (ML).  One that proved particularly annoying was the fact I could no longer read the downloaded offline MacLife magazines that were in a “xxxx.dmg” format.

Even looking at the Console gave me no clue (see below).  It seemed to be indicating there was a space issue, which wasn’t true, unless the .dmg wasn’t mounted properly and it was trying to expand inside itself.

Argh.  It had me pulling my hair out thinking something was goofy with the file, I even downloaded it again to check and contacted the support for Coverleaf where i get my subscription from to no avail.  I had no trouble opening them before the ML update, so I tried again on a computer not updated and the .dmg mounted fine and allowed me to read the App inside.

Next idea was to try on another computer that was updated (our MacBook Pro) and sure enough it worked on there too.  So now the trick became figuring out what was different between them.  I took that one step further and asked my friendly neighbourhood Nerd via twitter if he could open the .dmg and the App inside, knowing he had the same MacBook Air as I.  He couldn’t either, but for some reason he got a slightly different error message that was actually helpful and it pointed towards the real culprit – Security settings.

Allow applications settings

Firewall

There are two things getting in the way, the “allow applications downloaded from” and the Firewall. And the annoying thing is, they are fickle.  If I toggle the firewall off then change from “Mac App Store and identified developers” to “Anywhere” and then when i control-click i can finally allow the app to load.

All it is is a web archive that opens in your browser.  I tried to add the App or the .dmg into the allowed developers under advanced Firewall settings (see below), but because each monthly archive has a different name you would need to add them every time.  Not a solution.

So in the end, turning off the firewall and then mounting the .dmg is the only way, just remember to turn it back on again after.

That brings us to double argh.  Mounting a network drive.  It works to browse to the share once and then try again later the same day and it won’t mount properly.  Or sometimes browsing doesn’t work at all. Sometimes using “connect to server” and spelling out the actual mapping, (i.e.: smb://192.168.X.XXX) works and then other times it will mount incorrectly and not enable you to work with the existing files or add new.  The only option you get is to “eject”.  Since we work on a network with numerous files in various places this gets real old real fast.  Haven’t found a workaround for this one yet.  Although restarting seems to work most of the time.

Another annoyance along those same lines is mounting a Firewire drive using the new Thunderbolt to Firewire connector, which has turned out to be a fickle thing as well.  If I connect the power to the drive first, wait a second or two and then connect the cable to the drive and the MBA it will usually work.  But not every time.  At first I thought it didn’t work at all which was a big disappointment, but perseverance allowed me to eventually figure out a way that works about 75% of the time so for now I’ll take it.

It seems naming the OSes after cats was a bit of a premonition since they are such quirky and fickle animals. The new big cat on the block wasn’t quite ready when it was released, and even now with 10.8.2 installed, two fixes later, it is still having issues.  Thankfully they can be overcome, but really, should we have to?  Take a little more time and get it right first Apple, just because you are getting a bigger piece of the pie doesn’t mean you can start letting the quality we have come to expect from you slip.

tcg

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Seems like every few months we get an Apple update that fixes the problem that certain MacBook users get where the first letter typed does not appear. it happened again after the 10.6.1. update for me and looks like Apple has acknowledged the problem again, and issued a firmware update for the keyboard, again.
Check your “Software Update…” to see if it applies to you.  You don’t need to restart your Mac to install it thankfully, but even so, this is not the first time its been broken, you would think by now they would know NOT to break it again when doing updates.  Hopefully this is the last time for this little glitch, but i’m not sure it will be.  if memory serves, this is the 3rd time i recall having to do a firmware update to fix the problem, so maybe, fingers crossed, the third time is the charm.

tcg

My favorite blood-related niece mentioned to me the other day (via facebook, since we never actually see each other anymore – nudge nudge) that games for the Mac are hard to find.  I was perplexed a little by that comment until i started to ponder it more deeply, and yes, in fact she was right – sorta.

If you go to any of the big box retailers looking for Mac games or even programs for that matter you will be hard pressed to find any that are specifically Mac, you may find a few dual-OS games, such as Spore, or World of Warcraft for instance, but very few if any that are solely Made for a Mac. The gaming stores handle all the console games, PS2, PS3, DS, XBox, Wii, etc., and maybe some windows based stuff, but nothing for Mac.  There is always the Apple Store, if you want to purchase games online that is, because still, sadly, not all cities have a brick-and-mortar store to go to.  Where i live we are fortunate to have a recently expanded pseudo-apple store Mostly Digital that sells most of the stuff you can get through Apple.ca (or Apple.com) although some of it needs to be ordered in, but thankfully that is typically a next-day thing.  Sure there is always Amazon, or Macgamestore if you want to buy online, but not everyone is comfortable using a credit card to purchase on the interweb, nor does everyone have a credit card.  There are quite a few games already created for Macs, be they ports of windows games, or multi-platform games that are offered for various OSes and consoles, and if you search the web you will find many, but actually physically finding them in a store you can walk into and pick them up is another issue.

I know Macs are still a small share of the computer market, and an even smaller share of the gaming market, but how much of that is just due to lack of availability?  Maybe the old adage “if you build it, they will come” could be rewritten to “if you stock it, they will buy”.  Could the lack of availability be one of the reasons that Mac-gaming is not booming?  Possibly.  It used to be that Macs had the image of being used by creative types and were only meant for serious design-use but with that image changing and Macs being sold in more places and aimed at students as well as the pros, there is a growing calling for more apps, more programs and more games.  So i say this to all of the retailers out there, you can’t sell what you don’t stock.  The gaming market is made up of a lot of the same people who are buying most of the Macs out there, students and young professionals.  More and more places are selling Macs, hopefully they take that one step further and begin stocking more programs and games that work on them.

BTW, don’t tell her, but she is also my only blood-related niece 😉

tcg

Always one to enjoy a challenge, when i had the opportunity to dissect a MacBook that stopped working due to a logic-board failure, i anxiously jumped at the chance.  Besides, i figured, its already broke, what more could i do?  haha.

So the MacBook in question stopped working and was diagnosed as having a “bad” ( never liked that expression, “bad”- makes it sound like its either gone off, or has done something it shouldn’t have and needs a good finger-wagging ) or “dead” logic-board, which unfortunately is a somewhat common occurrence.  I’m not one to say that Apple is not allowed to make mistakes, but from what i’ve read, it seems there have been quite a few logic-board failures, more than there should have been IMHO.  It’s fine if you bought AppleCare to extend the warranty of your MacBook, but if not this is a very expensive fix, unless of course you can do it yourself, or happen to know someone who doesn’t mind tearing a laptop apart completely to replace the heart of the beast.  If you can’t do the work yourself, you may as well just buy a brand new laptop, since the cost of the parts and labour is going to cause you to dig deep, very deep, and end up within a C note of the cost of buying brand new.

Now, getting back to me and what i was doing… i took some precautions that i would highly recommend to anyone attempting this.  First – make sure you have ALL the tools you need, ALL the components you need, various sizes of philips screwdrivers, something plastic to pry open the top-case if your fingers are not adept enough, the manual on how to disassemble your laptop, and patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  Everyone does ths kinds of electronic surgery differently, i prefer to get a large piece of blank white paper, 24″x36″, and tape it down to a desk as my work surface.  That way as i remove each piece i can place them on the paper with a number next to it chronicling the steps with small cryptic notes, which, if like my experience, comes in handy when you don’t get to reassemble the MacBook right away.  D’oh!  But i’m jumping ahead…

The logic-board was purchased from PowerBookMedic, who also happen to have a very good manual on how to replace yours, as well as other manuals for most of the components they sell.  I say very good because there are a few small items not covered very well, so if you are not used to working inside small spaces and thinking for yourself, this is a good time to put down all the tools, the broken laptop and just quietly walk away.  Still with me, okay, good, lets begin.  READ THE MANUAL.  At least once, then slowly and carefully follow the instructions to remove the battery, L bracket, hard drive and memory – if all does not go well you may be selling these on Ebay shortly.  After the initial components are removed, it’s time to start removing screws, a lot of them.  Keep them all separate and labelled because later it may be difficult to figure out the difference between a 2mm and a 3mm screw, or which were full threaded screws and which were partially threaded when it comes to putting it all back together.  Removing the “top-case” is the first part of the process, after that, you will see all the work much more clearing, and have a better idea of what you are getting yourself into.  The logic-board is basically the entire motherboard of the laptop, and is buried underneath a lot of components, some of which you can move out of the way, others have to be actually disconnected and removed as you can see from the various pics below…

Once you have all the parts removed, you can carefully remove the logic-board from the case, move the battery from the back of the old board to the new one (as detailed in the manual, and shown in the pic below) and then begin the task of reassembly.  If you have made little notes and scribbles like i did and been methodical in your dissecting you should find this task fairly easy.  Remember to make sure you follow the same steps in reverse order to the dismantling, you may be tempted to jump ahead, but that is how mistakes can occur so stay calm and true to your course and you’ll be fine.  Ensure you push all the connections down onto the board fully, and make sure all screws are tight – but not too tight.  You don’t want to strip one of these tiny little screws and not be able to remove it in case you have to redo parts of the dismantling process again.  I know, i know, you are saying “Nope. never again” but hey take it from me, i had to go back and find the loose connection after i had it all together, so i know it happens.

I had a bit of glitch in my replacement, the battery connector was not the “energy star” type needed for the replacement board, but a call to my friendly neighbourhood Apple retailer solved that issue and cost very little in the grand scope of things ($30 +/-).  So after waiting a couple of days for the part to arrive, i installed it and finished the reassembly.  Now came the moment of truth.  Pushing the power button and voila!  The friendly and familiar mac start-up noise! which unfortunately was followed by a flash on the screen and then black.  Uh oh.  what the…?  Okay, don’t panic, must be a loose connection, so again, remove all the simple components, take off the top-case and sure enough there was the culprit, a loose top-case connector, which if you are familiar with MacBooks, also houses the power button.  I pushed it down good and snug, and put it all back together again.  Moment of truth, and yes indeed – Voila, for real this time.

Total time taken, approx. 3-1/2 hours, but i am overly cautious and did have to open the case the extra time to re-seat the top-case connection, but all in all, a successful repair to a very good machine.  I’m a big fan of the MacBooks, all models of it, in fact its what i do all of my work on (when i’m not forced to use a windows machine at work i mean) and am glad we were able to save this one from the dumpster, or actually, i guess save it from being sold for parts on Ebay.

tcg

I’ve been waiting for today for a little while, watching the rumour sites about the impending event, and then last week it was confirmed, today Oct 14th was the day, Apple’s “spotlight turns to notebooks” event. Being a consumate tech geek, i had to sit and read the play by play on Engadget’s website – it was great. Almost like being there, only without the long flight and expense. They had minute by minute updates and pics being posted, truly using all the latest tech to help keep us poor unfortunates uptodate on the event as it happened. Kudos Engadget, and thanks.

I sat here watching as they discussed the state of the union from Apple’s stance anyway, seeing the graphs and numbers showing Apple’s gains in the marketshare and was impressed if not slightly concerned (but that’s a topic for another day) and waited patiently while i ate my lunch for the real even to start – give me a look at the new MacBook Pro and quit stalling! Sorry, i have little patience for these things – probably just as well i wasn’t actually in attendance at the event for that reason… me yelling out… “blah blah blah – get on with it Stevie, we all know you guys are doing well”. Then finally, there is was a revised MacBook Pro. Well kinda, first off a bit of backstory about the revisions and the manufacturing both the old way and the new way. A bit humdrum, but nice to know they are taking strides in environmentally friendly manufacturing. Then, finally (this time i mean it) they begin to talk about the changes. I’m not gonna bore you with the details, but suffice to say the specs got better in most aspects, graphics, cpu, fabrication, with only minor bumps in HD size, but the change to NVidia chipset making up for it. Claiming 5 times speed bump is pretty impressive. A glass touchpad with the multitouch interface was quite impressive as well. there were no real surprises, as i said, i had been watching the rumour sites for some time and pouring over the leaked images and info, so most of this was old hat, cool to see it actually being demonstrated but nonetheless no big surprises when it came to MBP’s.
The lack of wow for me came when they finally got around to telling us the pricing. I was hoping for a slight drop in price, not to have the price raised. Even a slight up in price seems unacceptable to me. The better MBP was now $100 more than the previous model. ick. Sure, i know, i know, Apple products are better quality, blah blah blah, preaching to the choir there – i’ve been saying that for years when justifying the costs of apple’s computers to windows computers – but its still tough to swallow when its coming out of my wallet. (After all, i still answer to a higher power when it comes to purchasing new tech. no matter how cutting edge and how much i think i need it, gotta run it by the boss or i may find myself getting aquainted with the couch at night for a while.) I thought the nice part about becoming more widely used and accepted would be producing more to fill the demand, thereby reducing the cost per unit of manufacturing and research and development. In which case shouldn’t Apple products get less expensive as they sell more? Or is Steve Jobs still saving for his diamond toilet seat?
All in all, the products released today were impressive in theory, but i’ll have to wait until they arrive at my local Mac retailer before i can determine which one is right for me. The MacBook Pro line is very impressive, and the upper end of the MacBook line got most of the same revisions to it including the change of the shell from plastic to metal, so really it has become a smaller version of the MBP, which kind of blurrs the line between the Pro products and the home user/student models. Why not just call them MBP’s as well, just like the 17″ version. They could have a 13.3″, a 15.4″ and a 17″ version of the MacBook Pro, and then just keep the white plastic Macbook as the cheaper, entry level mac laptop. Makes sense to me, but then again who knows what Steve has up his black mock turtleneck sleeve, he and the other big wigs at Apple always seem to be a few steps ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to innovation. Although their stance on Blue-Ray and HDMI has me baffled a bit, they are a driving force in the world of technology and i for one always look forward (to paraphrase The Rock) to what they are cooking.
tcg