O'Grady's PowerPage » MacBook Air

Assorted mid-2013 MacBook Air owners cite “blackout bug”, point out screen flicker issue

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 08:46
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

This is what they created firmware updates for…

Per CNET, Apple’s mid-2013 MacBook Air appears to be suffering from a bug that results in intermittent loss of video output. When using an affected system, the screen may randomly blink to black for a brief second, or go to sleep and require a button be pressed for the system to wake again.

There is no indication on how widespread this bug is, but a number of affected users have noted the problem in a lengthy and growing Apple support discussion thread.

When the screen flashes intermittently, the system does not appear to shut down or sleep, since audio and other activity may continue; however, this does not occur at the times where the systems do go to sleep. This bug appears to affect both the 11-inch and 13-inch models, though the problem seems to happen more with the 13-inch MacBook Air. Additionally, it appears to happen more when on battery power than when plugged into its AC adapter; however, some have reported it happening on AC power as well.

The random nature of the problem suggests it is likely not software-based, so it may revolve around a physical sensor such as a magnetic switch in the lid or chassis, that could be contributing to the problem. Recently, the following YouTube video of the issue surfaced, showing an extreme condition of the bug, and its apparent tie to physical movement of the systems:



If you are experiencing this problem with your MacBook Air, then you can try some hardware resets to see if they can help the situation. The first is to perform a PRAM reset, by rebooting the system and immediately holding the Option-Command-P-R keys all at once. Continue to hold them until the system automatically resets and sounds the boot chimes again, and then release the keys to allow the system to boot normally.
The next reset you can do is for the system management controller (SMC), which governs how power and sensors are handled in the system. To reset this controller on the MacBook Air, first shut down the system and plug it into the AC adapter. Then press and hold the Shift-Control-Option keys on the left-hand side of the keyboard, followed by depressing the power button. Release all keys at the same time, and then press the power button to start the computer again.

If these reset routines do not fix the issue, then the next step would be to contact Apple and have the system replaced or serviced, especially since at this time the systems should still be under warranty. Since this issue came to light, Apple has swapped out a number of these for affected customers, likely with the intent of investigating the problem.

Depending on what Apple’s engineers find, we may see a firmware or software update to address the problem in the near future. Apple recently issued a software update for the Mid 2013 MacBook Air; however, this was to address a flickering display problem specific with use of Adobe software, and does not appear to address the issue at hand. Meanwhile, even though the issue may still happen, consider using the systems with the AC adapter attached, to at least reduce its prevalence.

This issue follows a similar, though unrelated, bug seen in the Mid-2010 MacBook Pro, where a faulty series of graphics cards has plagued those systems with regular crashes and black screens. In that case, Apple addressed the issue with a software update, though subsequent OS updates and upgrades have brought the issue back or exacerbated it for some systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air Mid 2013 Software Update 1.0, homes in on reported bugs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 19th, 2013, 05:28
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

If you bought a mid-2013 MacBook Air, the firmware update you’ve been waiting for has arrived.

Apple on Thursday released an update to its recently released MacBook Air models, addressing issues affecting Wi-Fi connectivity, screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop and volume fluctuation during video playback.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s “MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0” is the first for the company’s thin-and-light lineup that was in June, and fixes a number of bugs users have complained about over the past few weeks.

Among the initial problems cited by users was intermittent loss of Wi-Fi signals, a problem Apple partially addressed in a separate AirPort Utility software update earlier this month.

Another problem cropped up last week when MacBook Air owners complained of uncontrollable volume fluctuations while playing video content in both first-party and third-party applications. This too has reportedly been solved with the latest Software Update 1.0.

Finally, the release fixes an issue that would occasionally cause screen flickering when using Adobe Photoshop.

The MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update is available as a 3.55 megabyte download and can also be retrieved via the OS X Software Update feature on qualifying MacBook Air notebooks.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Mid-2013 Haswell-based MacBook Air owners cite volume fluctuation issue

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 15th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

This is why they invented firmware updates…

Per Macworld UK, a number of MacBook Air owners have taken to Apple’s Support Community forums to express concern over unexpected, and unwanted, changes in volume when viewing video content.

According to numerous posts, the issue presents itself in both first-party and third-party applications, such as QuickTime and Google’s Chrome. It is unclear whether the issue extends into other areas of OS X, though many of the replies to the thread started on June 21 pertain to watching videos.

A trigger or cause has yet to be discovered, though some users have found third-party volume control and enhancement apps like Boom can serve as a temporary fix while Apple works to resolve the problem.

Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Air lineup in June, concentrating on a significant boost to battery life instead of focusing on performance. With the new Airs, Apple also introduced the first Macs to boast 802.11ac “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” a next-generation wireless protocol that promises speeds up to 1300Mbps with the also new AirPort Express.

Previous to Friday’s news, both MacBook Air models were found to be running 802.11ac at speeds far less than advertised. It is thought that OS X is to blame for the artificial speed cap, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and it remains unresolved.

If you’ve seen this issue with your own mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

OS X 10.8.5 update in development to reportedly fix Photoshop/flickering issue on Haswell-based MacBook Air notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 11th, 2013, 06:49
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

As nifty as the new Haswell-based MacBook Air units are, there may be another bug to contend with.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacRumors, it seems that the MBAs with Haswell processors have issues with Adobe’s flagship software. In particular, many MacBook Air owners noticed severe screen flickering while using brush tools in Photoshop. When news of the flickering first surfaced, an Adobe representative said he believed a GPU issue or a driver bug was causing it.

It’s been suggested that that the flickering is a result of a software glitch. Apple has released a new build of OS X 10.8.5 to developers and the Photoshop flickering issue appears to be resolved, as reported by MacRumors:

“Today, MacRumors tipster Todd Davis tells us the flickering issue has been fixed in the OS X 10.8.5 beta released to developers today. The bug made Photoshop nearly unusable for a number of MacBook Air users. Some users have previously suggested that upgrading to the developer release of OS X Mavericks solved the problem, so the fix may be a matter of Apple pushing upgraded code sooner than it planned.”

There’s no word on when users can expect to see OS X 10.8.5 released to the general public. If the latest build does indeed fix the MacBook Air/Photoshop flickering issue, chances are good that Apple will push it out sooner rather than later, since it doesn’t want their newest Haswell laptop to present problems with such popular software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple working on 802.11ac bug fix for mid-2013 MacBook Air users, sends out limited invitation to test update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

If you’re having trouble with the Wi-Fi on your new mid-2013 MacBook Air, a fix may be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, in a likely response to reports of 802.11ac Wi-Fi issues with its latest MacBook Air refresh, Apple late Friday began sending out invitations to select users, offering inclusion in the AppleSeed Program to test an upcoming Wi-Fi centric software update for the notebook.

Sources who received the email said that Apple will provide selected customers with a pre-release version of the “MacBook Air WiFi Update 1.0” to install and use on their new machines, asking that they give feedback on any bugs found during the testing process.

While not explicitly stated in the AppleSeed invite, it is thought that the update relates to recent Wi-Fi connectivity issues some customers have experienced with Apple’s implementation of the fairly new 802.11ac wireless standard.

The recently-released 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs are the first Macs to implement the fast wireless protocol which, when combined with the new AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule, can reach theoretical speeds of up to 1300Mbps.

Although the technology has promise, a growing number of owners have complained of throughput limitations related to 11ac, with some reports speculating the wireless stack in OS X is at least partially to blame.

A thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage appears to confirm the AppleSeed invitations, but offers little information on the software. Those who have already agreed to Apple’s terms said the company has yet to activate the invitation codes or send out the software.

In December 2012, Apple released a similar Wi-Fi compatibility update for Mac two months following the debut of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. At the time, owners of the then-new machine complained of problems recognizing 802.11n networks in the 5GHz band.

If you’ve received the notice or have experienced any Wi-Fi issues with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

MacBook fan noise control guide posted

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 28th, 2013, 08:36
Category: How-To, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

You love your MacBook.

In intimate ways.

If your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air has begun making excessive fan noise, PowerPage head honcho Jason O’Grady has penned a full guide over on The Apple Core as to which applications can best control fan speeds and the resulting noise.

Head over, take a gander and let us know if Jason’s advice works out in the comments section.

Mid-2013 MacBook Air wake from sleep delay fix posted, simple Terminal command all that’s needed

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, 09:33
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

The new MacBook Air is nifty.

But there are still some bugs to sort out.

And in the case of the notebook being slow to wake up from sleep, PowerPage head honcho Jason O’Grady has noted a cool Terminal command that can resolve the slow wake issue, which first manifested itself when the MacBook Pro with Retina Display was released in June 2012.

The fix was reported in by user Erv Walter and is covered, step by step, in detail over on The Apple Core.

Click the link, take a gander and with any luck, your spiffy new MacBook Air will be able to wake from sleep just as quickly as you’d like it to.

Let us know if the fix works in the comments and if you have any other cool fixes of your own, please let us know.

Study finds mid-2013 MacBook Air’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds throttled by bug in OS X

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:51
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

Even in the event that the Wi-Fi connectivity issues on the mid-2013 MacBook Air notebooks are hardware-based, the underlying operating system software is apparently throttling potential data speeds on the new networking protocol.

Per AnandTech and CNET, a series of tests by AnandTech confirms that much of the Wi-Fi speed throttling is software-based. The new MacBook Air was announced by Apple at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, and in addition to extended battery life, the new systems include support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, which supports up to three times faster data rates in comparison with 802.11n.

In testing, AnandTech noticed that the link speeds of the systems are very high, at an average of about 533Mbps, but when transferring files over standard networking protocols, the speed drops to about 169Mbps at its maximum. This is over three times less than the expected speeds.

In investigating the issue, AnandTech discovered that an apparent bug in OS X limits the TCP window size (the maximum data that can be sent at a time) to a maximum of 64KB, which is far less than the 256KB needed to meet the speed capabilities of the 802.11ac connection.

As a result of this finding, AnandTech shows that in its current state, while the 2013 MacBook Air will still give fast file transfers, these will be limited to about 21MBps, instead of the more than 50MBps expected. Luckily, this limitation being in software means the fix should be easy, and it may be only a matter of a quick update for these systems to realize their full potential.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into mid-2013 MacBook Air Wi-Fi issues, “capturing” units for study

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:41
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

This might be why your friends, the ones who wait a month or two after a brand new product hits the market, could be right…

Per 9to5Mac, over the past few days, a notable amount of users have complained about Wi-Fi issues plaguing the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models released during the week of WWDC. Besides less-battery-intensive chipsets, the marquee feature of the new MacBook Air revolves around faster Wi-Fi connectivity thanks to new 802.11ac cards. As with any new product, bugs are plausible. It’s also been noted that new reports claim that the MacBook Air WiFi issues are due to networking issues in Apple’s OS X software.

The following facts are currently in place:

In the United States, Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) and MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013) computers with any Wi-Fi issues.

According to a source at Apple, the company is working to independently identify what exactly is causing the new Wi-Fi-related problems. According to the source, AppleCare and Apple Store Genius Bar employees have been instructed to “capture” affected MacBook Air units. These units will then be sent back to Apple for further testing so a solution could hopefully be achieved. While Apple is asking AppleCare and Genius Bar staff to “capture” units facing problems, that does not mean Apple is confirming the new MacBook Air is flawed. This points to Apple pushing to determine why at least some units are seeing Wi-Fi problems.

There have also been reports of at least a couple of customers facing MacBook Air WiFi issues who have successfully swapped out their notebooks for new ones. One of these people has said that AppleCare provided them with a complementary USB-to-Ethernet adapter so the new MacBook Air could connect to the internet without Wi-Fi. Apple also informed these people that their original laptops have been “captured”.

If you’ve picked up Apple’s latest MacBook Air notebook and have any feedback to provide about its 802.11ac Wi-Fi performance, please let us know in the comments.

Growing number of users cite Wi-Fi connectivity issues with 802.11ac-equipped MacBook Air notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 21st, 2013, 05:15
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

To be fair, this is what they invented firmware updates for.

Per Gizmodo, some early adopters of Apple’s latest MacBook Air models have found their new thin-and-light notebook will unexpectedly and repeatedly drop its wireless connection.

A growing discussion thread on the Apple Support Communities website details the connectivity problems being experienced by numerous users. The problems appear to apply to both the 11- and 13-inch varieties of the recently updated notebook lineup.

In addition, an anonymous source from an Apple retail store in London said that their store has had complaints about wireless connectivity for the new MacBook Airs that are “well above average.”

In the thread, users say they’re experiencing the problems across a range of routers, including Apple’s own AirPort accessories. Users say they can initially connect to a Wi-Fi network, but that connection will drop after a short period of use.

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an available solution that addresses the problems seen by all users, though some have had success with various routers or even different placement of the MacBook Air.

The updated MacBook Air lineup launched last week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. In addition to faster 802.11ac connectivity, the notebooks also feature Intel’s latest Haswell processors, helping to enable battery life as great as 12 hours.

The new MacBook Airs are also priced US$100 less than their predecessors, with the new low-end US$999 11-inch model packing 128 gigabytes of flash storage.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and noticed any issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, please let us know in the comments.