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.

How-To: How to Fix a Faulty Multitouch Trackpad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 4th, 2010, 07:23
Category: How-To

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Occasionally the Really Cool Thing on your MacBook or MacBook Pro stops working the way you want it to. And you get frustrated.

Per MacFixIt, a number of users have found that their multitouch trackpads on MacBook and MacBook Pro computers may randomly stop accepting 3 and 4 finger gestures. Although two-finger scrolling, tapping, and clicking will work as expected, the more complex inputs do not seem to be recognized.

This problem could be from a number of factors, including faulty preference files and other system settings and driver conflicts. Take a gander at the following tips to help resolve this issue:

Inherent Trackpad Delays:
If there are multiple confusing inputs being presented to the trackpad, the system may pause input for a second or two while it waits for a clear gesture to be used. These delays may be more prominent for multiple-touch gestures, so if you experience them, wait a few seconds and try the trackpad again with a firm and clear swipe instead of frantically trying to get the trackpad to work.

Test The Trackpad:
The utility “BetterTouchTool” has a “Live View” feature that can be used to visualize trackpad inputs. After installing and launching the preferences (from the BetterTouchTool menu extra), if the trackpad driver is recognizing multiple inputs you should see the dots representing those inputs on the Live View display. Keep in mind the BetterTouchTool is very experimental at this point, and while it does work it may crash; however, this feature should let you know whether or not the trackpad and driver are still working.

BetterTouchTool Live View: After installing and opening, select the “Touchpad” tab and click “Show Live View” to see the finger inputs on the trackpad.
(Credit: Screenshot by Topher)

Change Trackpad Settings: If the trackpad is not loading settings properly, try toggling some settings in the “Trackpad” system preferences. This should spur the system to load the new settings and hopefully get the trackpad working again.

Remove Third-Party Drivers:
If you have other input drivers, such as USB Overdrive, Logitech Control Center, or enhancers such as jiTouch or Multiclutch, try removing them and restarting the computer. Many times incompatibilities between input drivers may cause problems.

Try removing the .GlobalPreferences.USER-UUID.plist file:
The user account’s .GlobalPreferences file is a hidden preference file used for device settings such as colorsync profiles, default printers and monitors, and trackpad settings. After deleting this file and logging out and back in, you may need to ensure these items are setup correctly again. To do this, open the Terminal and follow these steps:

1. Type the following command (do not press enter): rm ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/.GlobalPreferences

2. Press the Tab key twice, and you should see an output of the files containing “.GlobalPreferences” in their name.

3. Locate the one with the UUID in it (the UUID will look something like this: 6F77B0D6-8208-4977-8B45-EB1ADF6714BA) and start entering part of the UUID portion into the terminal so the command looks like the following: rm ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/.GlobalPreferences.6F77B

4. When you have entered part of the UUID section of the file name, press the Tab key once and the file name should automatically complete, so the command looks something like the following: rm ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/.GlobalPreferences.6F77B0D6-8208-4977-8B45-EB1ADF6714BA.plist

5. After the full filename has been typed, press enter to remove the preference file, and then log out and log back in to your user account.

Reset the PRAM: The system’s PRAM contains a number of settings, including those for mouse and trackpad input. Resetting the PRAM should clear any problematic settings that may interfere with the trackpad. To do this, reboot the system and immediately hold down the options-command-P-R keys. Hold the keys until the system resets a couple of times, and then release them and allow it to boot normally.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or 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

Posted by:
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.

QuickerTek Announces Whip Antenna Upgrade for MacBook, MacBook Pro Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 14th, 2009, 12:31
Category: News

Accessory manufacturer QuickerTek announced the release of its 5dbi whip antenna for the latest crop of Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. Per MacMegasite, the US$49.95 antenna upgrade attaches to the internal Apple AirPort card through the ExpressCard slot or the security slot-depending on the MacBook/MacBook Pro. A detailed installation manual and all the tools required are included with the kit.

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There’s no additional software to install and the upgrade moves the antenna up and out of the MacBook/Pro case which boosts the wireless range and speed with the powerful 5dbi antenna which has a removeable antenna clips to the screen of the computer. The Whip Antenna for the MacBook/MacBook Pro upgrade is designed for the unibody MacBook/Pro 13″, 15″ and 17″ models including the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation laptops. It also works with all Apple AirPort Base Stations, all 802.11a/b/g/n wireless access points from Belkin, Cisco, DLink and most others as well. Compatibility includes wireless devices in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz ranges-which covers most any wireless network users are likely to encounter when going mobile. Like most QuickerTek products, the 5dbi Whip Antenna Upgrade is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

Apple Releases AirPort Client Update 2009-002

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2009, 08:55
Category: Software

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Rounding out yesterday’s sexy update-o-rama, Apple also released its AirPort Client Update 2009-002. The update a 13 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Inability to turn AirPort on or off in some cases after upgrading from Mac OS X Leopard.
– An occasional loss of network connection when using Wake on Demand.
– Inability to create a computer-to-computer network, or share the Internet connection on some MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini computers.

As always, Software Update is your friend in snagging and installing this.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried it and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple Releases SuperDrive 3.0 Firmware Update

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.

Rumor: Intel to Release Three New Arrandale Processors for Notebooks on January 3rd, 2010

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Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009, 06:52
Category: News

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It came from Rumorville, but it’s a good rumor, so hang on in there.

Fudzilla is reporting that Intel is planning on launching three Arrandale-based processors on January 3rd, 2010. These Arrandale processors are based on the advanced Nehalem architecture first introduced into desktop Macs earlier this year, and should represent a significant performance improvement over the Core 2 Duo processors that are currently found in Apple’s MacBook Pros.

The new processors will be branded under the “Core i5″ and “Core i7″ names and range from 2.4GHz to 2.66GHz with prices ranging from US$225 to US$332 in quantities of 1,000. Their TDP (thermal design power usage) of 35W as “not so attractive”, as it matches up with the current high-end processors used in the MacBook Pro and implies that Apple could use these processors in a new MacBook Pro update.

These new processors are said to eventually arrive in low-voltage variants that will also make them suitable for ultra-thin notebooks such as the MacBook Air.