Initial Benchmarks Appear for Unreleased Core i7-Powered MacBook Pro

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Date: Monday, February 8th, 2010, 07:23
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Processors

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There’s a new wave of MacBook notebooks en route.

And it may arrive sooner rather than later.

Per Canadian web site, Geekbench, a recent set of test appears to have show an unreleased Arrandale MacBook Pro notebook running at 2.66 GHz according to MacRumors.

The processor shown is listed as an Intel Core i7 M 620 running at 2.66GHz with a Turbo frequency up to 3.33 GHz. The Intel Core i7 M 620 functions as a high end dual core processor with Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading features.

The MacBook Pro model designation is listed as “6,1″ and has a non-shipping build of Mac OS X 10.6.2 (Build 10C3067).

The original article reports that supplies of MacBooks have been constrained according to international resellers, adding to the belief new Apple laptops are forthcoming.

Intel officially unveiled the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors at last month’s CES trade show in Las Vegas.

The new chips fall under the brands of Core i3 for low-end systems, Core i5 for midrange systems and Core i7 for the fastest systems.

The new processors include dual-core laptop chips under the three brands running between 1.06GHz and 2.66GHz, and desktop chips running between 2.93GHz and 3.46GHz.

According to Intel, the Intel Core i5 processor features: “4-way multi-task processing that allows each core of your processor to work on two tasks at the same time, delivering the performance you need for smart multitasking.”

Last month, Intel pulled an internal ad showing a MacBook running with the Core i5 processor. The MacBook was being offered as a prize as part of the Intel Retail Edge Program, and was sent out in promotional emails. The ad was later replaced with one offering an HP Envy laptop as a replacement.

QuickerTek Releases Wireless nCard for Older MacBooks, Mac Minis

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Date: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 06:31
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Pro, wireless

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It’s not quite as cool as whatever the iPad will become, but it’s useful stuff.

The cool cats at QuickerTek have released a new wireless nCard accessory for older MacBook notebooks and the Mac mini. The nCard extends Wi-Fi compatibility on the A, B, G and N standard and installs in the internal Airport card slot, with similar complexity to installing RAM chips. Per MacNN, the components are claimed to offer higher signal sensitivity and transmission power for potentially faster speeds and a wider reception area. Reception can also be further improved with an optional external antenna.

The nCard is compatible with 2006 through 2009 Mac minis but not the G4-based Minis, however and the 2006 through 2009 black and white plastic MacBook notebooks. The nCard also works in the 2006 through 2008 MacBook Pros in both the 15″ and 17″ inch models, excluding the unibody models.

The nCard is now shipping and is available for US$90.

Users Report Window Rendering Bug on MacBooks Under Mac OS X 10.6.X

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2010, 06:18
Category: MacBook, Software

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As much as you may like Mac OS X, there may still be some bugs to hash out. Per CNET, several MacBook users have reported experiencing a problem in OS X where the system shows areas of graphics corruption around windows. The corruption appears to be a black area of blocky lines in no particular pattern, and seems to be in the area of the window’s shaded region, moving with the window when it is moved.

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The behavior seems to be specific for computers that are running Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipsets. It started occurring with Mac OS X 10.6 for some people, though for others the 10.6.1 update spurred the problem, and as of the latest 10.6.2 release this problem has not been addressed. The issue seems to happen most when multimedia files are being played, especially with beta versions of Adobe flash are being used. From user descriptions, the problem seems to stem from a bug waiting to be fixed in the Mac OS X 10.6 operating system.

Recent reports suggest Apple is working on significantly improving support for more OpenGL 3.0 functions and extensions in OS X 10.6.3, which implies Apple will be updating the graphics drivers in the next update. Hopefully the bug that is causing this problem will be addressed then.

In the meantime, you can try the following fixes and workarounds:

- Reset PRAM and SMC.

- Boot into safe mode and clear caches with OnyX or other maintenance utility.

- Try a different user account.

- Try different graphics settings (bit depth, resolution).

This glitch won’t hurt anything and only affects the MacBook’s rendering of window shadows, which can still be interacted with normally. If you’ve seen this issue on your end and found your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

Notebook Users Report Battery Errors Under Snow Leopard, Workarounds/Fixes Suggested

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Date: Thursday, January 7th, 2010, 06:43
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Since installing it, I have to admit that I like Snow Leopard and it has yet to kick my pets or burn my apartment to the very ground.

These are good things.

Even so, per CNET, a large number of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have noticed a problem with the computer frequently displaying a “Service Battery” warning in the battery system menu. This also seems to be coupled with relatively short battery life, either with the battery discharging rapidly or with the computer going to sleep but still reporting high percentage of charge left in the battery. As of the Mac OS 10.6.2 update, affected users are still experiencing the problem.

This problem appears to be an issue with Snow Leopard’s handling of the battery hardware, where the services that are supposed to detect battery problems are incorrectly reporting the battery status, and subsequently triggering the system to go into a precautionary sleep mode or claiming the battery is draining. This theory is backed up by the fact that affected people who have downgraded back to Leopard either by reinstalling, restoring from backup, or even booting off the 10.5 Leopard DVD have not had the problem occur on the same hardware.

A recent TUAW article suggests this behavior stems from Snow Leopard being fine-tuned to reveal existing battery problems that Leopard was not aware of. While this may be the case for some people, the sheer number of people reporting the problem indicates there may be errors in the software. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to discern those with pre-existing battery problems from those with healthy batteries.

In order to address the issue, the article offers the following tips to help sort things out via the mighty Apple Knowledge Base:

- Calibrating the battery

- Resetting the PRAM

- Resetting the SMC

Strangely, the battery issues have cleared for a few users who have just shut down and restarted their systems on a regular basis. While keeping the power supply plugged in to prevent any issued with the battery, they’ve turned off the machine and rebooted to see the battery being normally recognized. This suggests the problem may be with a setting more than a specific bug, that hopefully can be reset by a full restart. MacBook owners may tend to sleep their systems instead of restarting them, which will keep various settings from being refreshed.

Further supporting the claim of software issues in Snow Leopard is that some users have cleared the problem by booting into 64-bit mode. If you do not have any software that requires a 32-bit kernel and system extensions, try booting into 64-bit mode by restarting and holding down the “6″ and “4″ keys simultaneously. For some the problem has returned when booted back into 32-bit mode, but for others the switch to 64-bit mode has fixed it even when booted into 32-bit mode.

Another suggestion to address this problem is to remove the power management system preferences, which contains parameters that determine how the system will behave when running on either AC power, battery, or a UPS. This file is called “com.apple.PowerManagement.plist” and is located in the /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ folder, and can be removed without harming anything. This isn’t a fix, however, and those who have done this have found it only seems to temporarily remove the warning in the battery system menu, and does not address the underlying issue.

Lastly, the issue may lie with the upgrade process itself, where settings for Leopard are not working with Snow Leopard. The temporary successes with removal of the Power Management property list suggests this may be a possibility. As a result, try booting off a clean OS installation of Snow Leopard to test the hardware.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end of have found a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Apple Offers Additional Education Store Discount, Brings MacBook Prices to Below $800 in Some Cases

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009, 05:09
Category: MacBook, retail

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Sometimes there’s a decent deal to be had if you look for it.

According to MacNN, Apple has offered an educational discount on the current MacBook, dropping the price below US$899. Apple recently dropped the standard educational price by $50, on top of a previous price below the $999 retail cost via its educational store. At at least one school-specific Apple storefront however, the cost has been lowered to US$728. Shipping remains free.

The impetus for the price cuts remains unclear, though it seems likely that Apple just wants to clear out its holiday stock. Apple also sells to most of its educational customers in the run up to September, when many schools begin classes.

The company’s usual “Back to School” promotion offers money towards an iPod when buying a new Mac.

Etsy: Now Selling MacBook, MacBook Pro Vinyl Decals for Cheap

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 28th, 2009, 08:12
Category: Fun, MacBook, MacBook Pro

You love your MacBook or MacBook Pro, but sometimes there’s the feeling that it could be a little cooler looking. The guys at The Unofficial Apple Weblog have completed a quick roundup of custom vinyl decals for your road machine.

The cool cats contributing to Etsy seem to have their work cut out for them, the company making a wide assortment of decals for as little as US$10 before shipping and handling.

Take a gander and if I can’t sell you on them, maybe Yoshi can:

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Airport Security Destroys Woman’s MacBook, Offers to Make Amends

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Date: Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, 06:03
Category: MacBook

If I ever thought the TSA people were knuckleheads, they’ve just been put to shame.

Engadget has the story of overzealous Israeli airport security officers stopping American attorney Lily Sussman, asking her a volley of questions, taking issue with her answers and placing six bullets into her MacBook before allowing her into the country. The full course of the event is described over on her blog and the young lady has been offered compensation, though this leads to one central point: back up your data.

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If you have any similar airport security horror stories of your own, please let us know.

Apple Releases SuperDrive 3.0 Firmware Update

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Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2009, 08:20
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook, Software

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Amid its slew of updates, Apple also released its SuperDrive 3.0 firmware update. The update, an 18.4 megabyte download, helps eliminate the noise made by the optical disk drive during system startup and wake from sleep on your Mac. The update applies to some MacBooks, the iMac and the Mac Mini and requires Mac OS X 10.5.7 to install and run.

The SuperDrive 3.0 update can be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later to install and run.

Apple Releases Firmware Updates for MacBook, MacBook Pro

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Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2009, 07:36
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.4 for its MacBook notebook. The update, a 3.1 megabyte download, eliminates the noise made by the optical disk drive during system startup and wake from sleep on MacBook computers.

The company also released its MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.8 for some MacBook Pro models. The update, a 3.4 megabyte download, also eliminates the noise made by the optical drive during startup and emerging from sleep.

Both updates can be snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later to install and run.

Apple Posts Tips for Sudden Motion Sensor, Trackpad Use on Recent MacBooks

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Date: Tuesday, December 1st, 2009, 05:04
Category: MacBook

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Apple has recently updated a couple of its knowledge base articles which may prove useful for MacBook notebook owners. Per CNET, the articles cover how to enable and disable the built-in sudden motion sensor in MacBook and PowerBook computers, and also how to use the glass multi-touch track pad.

Advanced tips for Sudden Motion Sensor:
Apple included sudden motion sensor technology in PowerBook and MacBook computers to protect components such as hard drives when the computer is moved. Additionally, there are some third-party security programs that interface with the sensors, which will alarm when enabled if the computer is moved. Despite the conveniences, there are situations where the sensor may be inadvertently activated, causing the hard drive to repeatedly pause while it parks the drive heads. This KB article covers how to disable it in various MacBook and PowerBook models in various versions of OS X.

Using the Multi-Touch trackpad (Video).

Tips for using the Multi-Touch trackpad:
The multi-touch trackpads in Apple’s MacBooks are built to be intuitive; however, some new users inconvenience themselves by not using the trackpads properly by clicking with all fingers, or developing awkward two-hand methods for doing routine tasks. These articles cover the details on the trackpads, and how to best position your fingers when using them.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it should be useful and if you or if a friend or family member snags a new MacBook this holiday season, give the links a gander.