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How-To: Add Multi-Touch Functionality to Your Pre-2008 Apple Notebook Trackpad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 18:13
Category: How-To, MacBook

Amidst heated controversy as to whether Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system will add multi-touch gestures to older MacBook and MacBook pro notebooks, the guys at The Unofficial Apple Weblog have taken it upon themselves to ask what makes a multi-touch trackpad unique and how to simulate this on an Apple notebook sans such an interface. The answer lies in an embedded controller chip, identical to the one in the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows advanced input from more than two fingers at once.

Later, Apple’s unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros debuted with multi-touch trackpads, but also introduced new four-finger gestures, which will not be officially supported in the older MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros until Snow Leopard’s release.

The original MacBook Air and early 2008 MacBook Pro are the only machines which will gain additional gestures via Snow Leopard. The only reason these notebook models are able to gain these gestures via software updates, while earlier MacBook Pros and all plastic MacBooks are not, is because they possess the multi-touch controller chip in their trackpads.

The following is the list of Apple notebooks that will support multi-touch gestures, either now or after Snow Leopard:

  • MacBook Air (all models)
  • Early 2008 MacBook Pro
  • Late 2008 17″ MacBook Pro
  • Unibody MacBook (all models)
  • Unibody MacBook Pro (all models)

Still, for pre-2008 and plastic MacBook owners, the following steps (courtesy of the MacRumors forums) can help bring multi-touch functionality to your notebook:

First, download a modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext file. Navigate to System/Library/Extensions, and remove the old AppleUSBMultitouch.kext (you will need to type in your admin password).

Move the modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext into System/Library/Extensions. You’ll most likely have to type in your password again.

This next step is critical: repair disk permissions using Disk Utility. If you don’t, after you restart your trackpad will not function.

Once permissions are repaired, restart. Success!

This procedure isn’t for the faint of heart and will probably have to be repeated with every major Mac OS X 10.5.x update, but it should provide multi-touch goodness if you want it.

Apple Quietly Bumps Specs for White MacBook Notebook, Retains $999 Price

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, 08:09
Category: MacBook, News

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Early Wednesday, Apple quietly upgraded its entry-level MacBook notebook. The white plastic MacBook, which is still priced at US$999, now offers a 160 GB hard drive, 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a slightly faster RAM speed with the model sporting 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.
The previous version, released back in January, boasted a 2.0GHz processor with a 120GB hard drive and 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Other features on the revised MacBook remain the same, including the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card that was previously found on the model.

TechRestore Now Offering 500GB, 7200 RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:50
Category: hard drive, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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Concord-based TechRestore announced on Tuesday that the company has begun offering the first 500 gigabyte, 7200 RPM overnight drive upgrade. The offer includes data transfer and free shipping wherein MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook users can have a new hard drive installed with cloned data and returned via free shipping.
Clients also have the option of having their old hard drive installed into an external enclosure for an additional US$39 and nationwide door-to-door pickup service is available for the upgrade as well as local pickup from one of over 2000 TechRestore local pickup centers throughout the United States.
The Overnight 500GB 7200RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade for MacBook and MacBook Pro retails for US$299.
Note: TechRestore is an official PowerPage sponsor.

Apple Now Involved in Class Action Suit Regarding MagSafe Power Adapters

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:28
Category: Legal, MacBook

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A recently filed class action lawsuit has accused Apple Inc. of neglecting a flaw in its MagSafe power connector for MacBook notebooks that might not only cause a break but could trigger sparks, forcing customers to buy replacements and even creating a potential fire hazard.
According to AppleInsider, the suit, which was submitted late last week to a Northern District of California court in San Jose, the joint complaint from Tim Broad, Naotaka Kitagawa and Jesse Reisman claims that the MagSafe cable used for the MacBook and MacBook Pro will inevitably fray near one of its connecting ends. The claim contradicts Apple’s claims that the adapter is “durable.” The plaintiffs allege that day-to-day use, including winding the cable around the power adapter’s pop-out guides, ends up destroying the cable over time — and that Apple is aware of the problem but hasn’t fully addressed it with a safer design.
All three plaintiffs at varying points have had to buy replacement MagSafe adapters for their systems that, in two cases, have already either needed a replacement or are showing signs of needing one. The plastic sheath on the cable in each circumstance was often melted away and exposed the bare wiring. In the complaint, Broad noted the heat was enough that it might have caused fire damage to his home if he hadn’t been present to watch for the danger signs.
“It almost burned my hand when I brushed it accidentally,” he says in the 27-page filing.
The trio also points to numerous examples of similar patterns online, including Apple’s own online store, where the cables had frayed, melted or sparked and forced customers to get one or more replacements. Apple, meanwhile, only asks customers to visit a certified Apple service location if sparks occur anywhere other than at the power plug’s metal prongs; many of these visits, however, only result in the customers buying another US$80 adapter rather than receiving a free replacement.
As the problem is already known to affect “at least thousands” of users and may well include hundreds of thousands with the exact same issue, the plaintiffs want class action status to represent anyone who may have bought an affected MacBook and have charged Apple with violating California’s business codes as well as breaching the implied and explicit warranties attached to the computers.
Broad, Kitagawa and Reisman want Apple to not only refund any of the associated costs with the known defective products but to warn the public and, if successful, pay punitive damages alongside the expected compensation.
As always, Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

Apple Posts Job Listing for 3G Engineer for Mac Hardware Group, May Bring Additional Functionality to MacBook Line

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:45
Category: MacBook, Rumor

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Over the past couple years, 3G has become a common buzzword within the technology industry. The iPhone 3G has it right there in the name, some PC laptops have the functionality built in and Mac notebooks have access to it via third-party add-ons.
Computerworld has reported that Apple is now advertising a new “Communications QA Engineer” position in the Mac Hardware Group at the Cupertino campus.
The posting specifies the job’s description as : “Testing and reporting hardware, software, and device driver bugs for Communications technologies including AirPort (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth v2.0, gigabit Ethernet, and/or 3G Wireless WAN in a detailed, timely manner [emphasis added].”
While it’s not chiseled out in stone, there is the possibility that Apple could be adding 3G functionality to its MacBook notebook line. This could also be in reference to testing that encompasses third-party 3G modems to check for interference with the MacBooks’ other built-in wireless systems.
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, but this could be interesting.

Rumor: Apple Allegedly Lowering Prices for MacBook Notebooks, iMacs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 1st, 2009, 07:00
Category: iMac, MacBook, Rumor

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Apple may be in the process of restructuring its Mac offerings to include a variety of lower-priced models. According to AppleInsider, an anonymous source told the publication that this change could be in effect and that more affordable variations of the MacBook notebook and the best-selling iMac could be en route.
Though specific details weren’t to be found and Apple recently reported its best non-holiday quarter yet, Mac sales have taken a hit as the economic recession continues. Shipments for computers were down 3%, while iPhone and iPod sales contributed to an 8.6% gain in revenue.
According to the article, many analysts believe Apple’s lackluster performance in the PC segment can be explained by its higher ASPs. Although the structural collapse of selling prices has slashed revenues for many companies, the Mac-maker could be experiencing a drop in market share as customers flock to less-expensive systems. While Apple was shipping less Macs for the recent quarter, HP systems showed an 11% gain.
Acer has doubled its market share in the U.S. in recent quarters, this gain being attributed to the popularity of its netbook devices. User spending is also said to have contracted significantly in the first quarter of the year, and it remains unknown if the global PC market has reached its lowest point.
Although revised pricing information has yet to be fully disclosed, it is believed that the first products could arrive as early as this spring with a revamped MacBook line.

Apple Quietly Admits Hairline Crack Issue on White MacBook, Offers Repairs

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 9th, 2009, 07:44
Category: MacBook

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After months of contention, Apple has privately acknowledged an issue within some of its 13″ MacBook notebooks in which hairline cracks have arisen during normal usage patterns.
According to AppleInsider, Apple issued a bulletin to its authorized service providers in March that essentially reversed its stance on replacing the bottom casing of notebooks that may be experiencing these symptoms.
Initial reports surfaced in November that Apple was refusing to cover repairs for the bottom casing of the notebooks despite its willingness (on occasion) to address identical problems with the top portion of the casings containing the keyboard and palmrests.
The bulletin apparently identified four key areas prone to hairline cracking, including the case front below the palmrests and trackpad, the portions around the I/O ports, the back rear corners, and the back rear ventilation area.
Apple has also noted that other portions of the case could be affected by hairline cracking and has asked service providers to determine whether the cracks themselves were due to the owner’s negligence.
In the event that providers are unable to identify signs that the user is at fault for the cracks, they’re advise to escalate the notebook for coverage by Apple, regardless of whether its one-year limited warranty has expired.
The exception also applies to the black plastic 13-inch MacBook that was discontinued last year, but does not extend to any other member of the MacBook family, according to those familiar with the matter.

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MacBook LCD Mod Tutorial Goes Online

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009, 08:17
Category: Hack, MacBook

It’s a matter of how comfortable you are taking your notebook apart and soldering new components into place, but for MacBook owners looking to make the Apple component of their LCD screen look like this:
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check out the tutorial created by Mac user Eddie Zarick.
The tutorial includes a full list of supplies and materials you’ll need, including a US$200 Century Plus One sub-monitor, but this should yield some fairly cool results.
If you’re about to take this on or have performed a similar mod, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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Apple Releases Battery Update 1.4 for 13″ MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 10:04
Category: MacBook

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Late Monday, Apple released its Battery Update 1.4 patch for its older 13″ polycarbonate (black or white) MacBook notebooks. The 210 kilobyte download improves the ability of MacBook batteries to maintain a charge when the system is shut down and not used for an extended period of time.
Users can determine whether their notebook requires this update by following these directions:
1. From the Apple menu, choose About this Mac.
2. Click More Info to start the System Profiler.
3. Locate the Hardware section and select Power.
4. Batteries with this information in the Battery Information section need this update:
1. A device name “ASMB016″ or “ASMB013″ in the serial number
2. A Pack Lot Code is 0002
3. A battery firmware version of 0110
The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 to install and run.
If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Apple Releases SMC Firmware Update 1.3 for 13″ MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009, 08:29
Category: MacBook

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its SMC Firmware Update 1.3 for the company’s 13″ polycarbonate (black and white non-unibody) MacBook notebooks released in early 2009. The update, a 557 kilobyte download, works to clear a performance issue wherein the notebook may slow down when booted while using battery power only. This SMC Update improves startup time when starting up from the battery.
The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.
If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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