Posts in category apple - page 6

MacBook Pro 17″ 2.6GHz ordered

Since moving house I have been using my MacBook Pro 15″ 2.0GHz at home, for contracting and even for the odd diagnostics and organization in the office.

The last 20 months have been a bumpy ride with the logic board being replaced twice once for whining and the second time when the inner memory slot went dead. The battery has been recalled and the power supply cable started melting and the paint started flaking off the enclosure but thankfully Apple sorted out all these problems rather swiftly with advanced replacement parts and speedy repairs through local service centers iQ Guernsey and Guernsey Computers.

Every company has problems with products, especially first revisions, but how they deal with them is important and one of my logic board failures was a couple of months out of warranty but their customer services department authorized the replacement anyway. Such service counts for a lot in my book and so now I have outgrown my notebook another MacBook Pro will be it’s replacement…

My paltry 100GB disk space got eaten up with an extensive music library and plenty of 10 megapixel RAW digital camera images. Subtract a 15GB Boot Camp and I was soon looking at external storage. Parallels and Visual Studio 2008 meant I needed to up from 2GB to 4GB of RAM and I found myself constantly missing my 24″ Dell monitor. I also need to be able to test 64-bit applications now that I am developing Cocoa apps.

The Apple Store UK just added the 2.6GHz processor and 200GB 7200RPM drive options this week and although Guernsey is barred from The Apple Store UK local re-seller iQ matches their ex-VAT prices on Pro gear so on Saturday I ordered my new dream machine complete with the high-resolution 1920×1200 anti-glare LCD (no glossy mirror for me thanks).

They also have friendly shop staff unlike Guernsey Computers (although Vernon in their service department is helpful if you can get to him). One thing I really can’t stand though is Apple’s pricing policy on RAM.

To upgrade from 2GB to 4GB they want £450 extra! Crucial UK will do a 4GB kit of the same spec for just £98. I’m not alone in this observation.

It’s just insanely ludicrous.


Freeing up disk space on Mac OS X

Space was a little tight (5GB) after my upgrade to Leopard and so I went on the hunt to free up space and ended up freeing almost 20GB of my 100GB disk – enough to let me set-up a new 20GB Boot Camp partition that will host Vista and take over from my XP Pro Parallels image with any luck.

Large forgotten files

Disk Inventory X helps identify large files on your system which may no longer be required. In my case 8GB of imported iMovie clips, a 4GB Parallels backup HD image and a 140MB download of Boot Camp 1.4. A few blank DVD-R’s later and I’m almost 13GB lighter.

Unnecessary languages & platforms

I had previously removed the unused foreign languages and binary support using a mix of tools that was time consuming but obviously the Leopard upgrade has replaced all that.

Monolingual can remove both languages and binaries in a single sweep although it does take a good few minutes to run. Despite electing to keep English, English (UK), French and German for now as well as keeping the Intel and Intel 64-bit binaries I managed to claw back another 1.9GB of disk space. As an example Address Book shrunk from 45MB to 9MB.

As a warning, be aware you will need to reinstall Mac OS X if you want these languages back…

Music library clean-up

Head into iTunes and create a couple of new Smart Playlists:

  • Untitled and set the criteria of Play Count is 0
  • Abandoned Songs and set the criteria of Last Played is not in the last 3 months

Go through these and decide if they are worth keeping or not, in my case this was another 2.5GB.

You may also want to try dragging your ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music folder to the Library in iTunes to make sure iTunes is aware of all the files. I had about 30 songs that were no longer in iTunes but still in the file-system, no doubt from previously removing them in iTunes and hitting the wrong option.

Cleaning up the logs

Okay, we’re hitting that law of diminishing returns here but head into Utilities > Console and Move to Trash many of those logs.

Empty that trash can and rejoice!

If only we had compressible file-system support like Microsoft introduced with MS-DOS 6.2… Well, thankfully it’s on the cards as it is a feature of ZFS which is only read-only in Leopard but should be read-write before 10.6. That should claw back another 5-10GB of space for developers with all those highly compressible source files on their disks.


Mac OS X Leopard – my story so far

I couldn’t pick up a copy in the USA as the Seattle store was closed for remodeling and when they said October 26th, they meant at 5pm and not 9am, go figure! Thankfully IQ in Guernsey had them in-stock when I arrived back home Saturday.

The Good

  • Upgrade process went flawlessly.
  • Safari’s find function dulls the page and highlights found instances of the word(s).
  • Safari supports in-line HTML editing… with some line-break and styling issues (at least in WordPress).
  • Safari now renders Aqua-like buttons in HTML pages instead of the nondescript grey buttons.
  • Safari lets you drag textarea’s to be bigger on any web page
  • Speech’s new Alex voice is pretty impressive.
  • Terminal now gets themes and tabs.
  • Internet Connect is gone and properly integrated with a rewritten networking preference pane.
  • FrontRow is now a standard accessible application and looks like Apple TV (Mmm HiTech theme)
  • Interface Builder seems to be rewritten, with designers for toolbars, drawers, core animation, transparent windows…

The Bad

  • Safari still has no option to ‘open new windows in new tabs’.
  • Safari resizes images to fit the display and lacks the option to turn it off.
  • Stacks doesn’t show the contents of sub-folders and fires up a Finder window I must close after I launch the right app (I’ve had my apps grouped and launched from a folder in the Dock since 10.2).
  • Use Interference Robustness for Airport is gone and you still can’t see WiFi speed.
  • Some third party issues have problems and require upgrading providing the vendor has a fix out – not helped by Apple not giving them the final release until so close to launch day.
  • iChat still doesn’t support MSN or ICQ and lost the hologram effect previously demonstrated.
  • Login Window… still has no global short-cut and Universal Access fails to work with the top-right menu.
  • NTFS support is still bloody read-only!

The Ugly

  • Mail-style tool bar buttons now appear also in Preview. The ugly surround means the icons themselves are tiny and mostly monochrome making them difficult to distinguish.
  • Folder icons are now only differentiated by a subtle imprint on the folder itself making it difficult to distinguish between them having lost the elements of color and shape.
  • Menu bar transparency just looks wrong and is quite distracting. It’s tempting to edit my wallpaper to make that part solid white…
  • Transparency ‘glass’ effect on the menu bar is also distracting and looks like a poor knock-off of Vista’s Aero.
  • Dock’s 3D new perspective effect is suitably not-quite-right to be distracting. I’ve moved it to the left for now so it’s off.
  • Help > Search is a massive ugly blue band like Spotlight.

It’s good, but I wouldn’t say twice as good as a usual OS X upgrade… which is almost how long it took.

ThinkMac has a great visual summary showing some of these problems.


Apple’s Boot Camp beyond the expiry date

Screen shot of Boot Camp expiredStories about Apple’s Boot Camp and the looming expiration of the 1.x beta versions to coincide with the release of Mac OS X Leopard and Boot Camp 2.0 are abound.

To clarify there are a number of pieces of software which make running Windows on a Macintosh, they are:

  • EFI firmware update with legacy BIOS support
  • Boot Camp Assistant (partitioning tool)
  • Apple’s Windows drivers (iSight, touch pad, Apple Remote etc.)
  • Apple’s Windows software (Software Update)
  • Third-party drivers (Intel, ATI, Nvidia, RealTek etc.)

The license to use Boot Camp will apparently expire when Leopard is released however the Boot Camp Assistant will expire 1st January 2008. To re-partition your disk after this date simply set your clock back to any time during 2007 then launch the Boot Camp Assistant. I have tested this and it works just fine, just remember to set your clock back afterward ;-)

Other components are unlikely to expire as:

  • the EFI firmware update was never part of the Boot Camp package but a separate prerequisite
  • the third-party drivers are available directly from the vendors

The only real question is whether the Apple-provided drivers and software for Windows will continue to function. I believe they are unlikely to expire and if they do it only covers non-essential functionality like the keyboard back light, iSight driver, Apple Remote etc. many of which were not even present in earlier versions of Boot Camp. The touch pad functions as a standard input device (albeit in a more basic mode) without Apple’s drivers.

As Douglas would say Don’t Panic.