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.
Recently, Apple posted updated Knowledge Base documents referencing how to access the batteries, hard drive and RAM on the new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.
While the 13″ and 15″ computers come with a hatch that provides easy access (at least to the hard drive and battery), the 17″ computers do not have a hatch and many users have complained about the accessibility for user-serviceable hard drives, as well as RAM upgrades for the whole product line.
Per MacFixIt, Apple’s reasoning for removing the access hatch makes sense from a battery engineering standpoint, but it does limit users from otherwise relatively simple repairs, upgrades, and troubleshooting. Despite not having a hatch, the 17″ macbook is still accessible. Users will have to remove the bottom case of the computer, and will need a #0 philips screwdriver.
The Knowledge Base documents can be located at the following links: 17″ MacBook Hard Drive (and RAM) (note that the RAM installation instructions are inscribed on the inside hatch). 15″ MacBook Hard Drive (and RAM).
For users interested in upgrading the RAM on the new 15″ MacBook Pro, the following video guide functions as a very thorough demonstration on how to upgrade the RAM: www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Upgrade-RAM-in-Unibody-MacBook-Pro—Bleeding-Edge-TV-297–71649299
If you’ve upgraded your unibody MacBook or MacBook Pro and have any tips to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.
Accessory maker QuickerTek has begun selling its 2009 Apple aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro External Battery and Charger for Mac notebooks. According to MacNN, the unit is design for use with the latest unibody 13″ MacBooks and 15″ MacBook Pro notebooks. The battery is said to provide between eight and 10 hours of total run time as opposed to the five offered by Apple’s batteries. When attached, internal batteries are depleted before the QuickerTek one takes effect.
The QuickerTek battery is additionally said to charge in only three hours instead of five, as well as significantly extend the useful life of a MacBook by separately lasting between 2,000 and 3,000 recharge cycles. The unit retails for US$450.
If you’ve worked with QuickerTek batteries before or have an external battery of choice, let us know in the comments or forums.
There’s some interesting stuff buried within the depths of the Mac OS X file structure. Among these, according to MyAppleGuide, is a bit of code in Mac OS X’s Trackpad preference panethat would allow users of multitouch-capable trackpads such as those on the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros to define their own four-finger gestures.
The file is currently a .nib, meaning it’s currently just installed as part of the interface and no actual code is hooked up to it, but if you have a multitouch-capable Mac (such as a unibody MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air), you can find the same file at /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Trackpad.prefPane/Contents/Resources/ English.lproj/FourFingerSwipeGesture.nib.
Currently, the multitouch trackpad’s four-finger gestures are hard-coded and perform a given set of functions such as activating the desktop, triggering Expose, and bringing up the Application Switcher.
Customization of gestures could be en route in a future Mac OS X update, a feature many users might appreciate.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.
If you own a unibody MacBook or MacBook Pro with a Mini DisplayPort and want to export video to a TV or other HDMI device, hang on for just a bit longer.
According to AppleInsider, discount cable outlet Monoprice.com will begin sell Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters for US$14.25 starting March 15th. Two other new adapters, offering to convert the Mini DisplayPort signal for either DVI or VGA, will also be available that same day. The vast majority of today’s HDTVs have HDMI inputs, but DisplayPort is a relatively new player on the connection standard scene and connectors between the two are rare, especially for Mac owners.
Some users have been able to work around the problem with a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter that in turn feeds a DVI to HDMI cable, though that method may be less than ideal, requires the purchase of two adapters and may not be aesthetically satisfying and may degrade the video to a certain extent.
Apple currently sells a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter for US$29 as well as DVI adapters for US$29 through the Apple Store, but nothing for the HDMI standard.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments or forums.
The guys at TechRestore have sent along the following video of a conversion from an Apple MacBook to Axiotron’s Modbook tablet. (Disclaimer: TechRestore is a PowerPage sponsor.)
The video runs for less than two minutes and uses some undoubtedly nifty stop motion techniques to make it even more interesting:
Take a gander and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.
Anyone who uses a PowerBook or MacBook for any extended period of time know the amount of heat that they generate. If you plan on using a MacBook on your lap (which is forbayed by Apple) you need to use some sort of a stand to protect your, ahem, nether region from all the heat and EMFs that it generates.
A cool new stand that I’ve been using is the Futura Laptop Desk from LapWorks. Similar to its Laptop Desk 2.0 and UltraLite siblings, the Futura has a dual-purpose design: a) to provides an ergonomically-sound workspace across the lap, and b) to fold into a wedge-shaped stand for use at a desk. Pictured above is the Futura in the opened configuration which leaves enough room on the side for a mouse pad and a mouse.
Although it looks more like a futuristic mountain biking helmet, make no mistake, this is an excellent notebook stand. I don’t really use mine much in the opened configuration but instead prefer to use it in the folded “stand” position.
Futura features several open ventilation slots which allow air to enter from underneath and rubber pads create an extra 1/8-inch air space to let air circulate under the notebook. Visible in this third picture is the adjustable “kick stand” leg which allows you to adjust the amount of angle in the stand to suit your needs.
My favorite feature in the Futura stand, hands down, is the weight and slim profile. It weighs just 16.25 ounces and folds in half to 11 x 10.75 inches and half of an inch thick so you can easily stow it in your bag with your MacBook and you’ll barely notice that it’s there.
Anyone who has purchased an Apple laptop knows that the battery life is significant. I specifically remember getting four hours of life (full screen brightness) with my first G4 Powerbook. As time advances, the battery, processor, and electronic technology grows; and with it comes the ability to produce a portable that is more efficient and energy conservative, yet still has the performance that consumers require.
As time with your laptop advances however, the battery on your system may begin to lose its charging capabilities. What was once four hours of life, turns into three and a half, then to two and a half, and so on and so on. Throughout your system life, the greater portion of the time you will never use your laptop until the battery is empty. More or less you will use it for a little, then plug it back in, take it off, plug in again and so forth. The process of doing this can miss-calibrate the battery to the point where it will not allow maximum storage capability and lower your battery life.
Anyone using a MacBook Pro for extended periods of time is familiar with the decent amount of heat generated by Apple’s Intel notebooks. While the Core 2 Duo models are cooler, the original Core Duo chips output enough heat to fry on egg on them.
Because the heat problem is a well-known issue, Apple and all other notebook OEMs with a legal department stopped calling the beasts “laptops” a long time ago, in favor of the less-litigious “notebook.” Apple even went far as to release a knowledge base article (Article ID: 30612) stating:
For prolonged use, place your iBook, PowerBook, MacBook or MacBook Pro on a flat stable surface. Do not leave the bottom of the computer in contact with your lap or any surface of your body for extended periods. Prolonged contact with your body could cause discomfort and potentially a burn.
The problem is that MacBooks and MBPs are just so darned easy to use while kicking back on the couch watching 30 Rock while slurping glorious bandwidth from a zippy WiFi connection. So what’s a hippy to do?
I always use protection when using my MBP on my lap and almost never use mine bare back. My favorite stand these days is Launchpad A15 (US$50) from a group called 604 Labs.
The Launchpad comes in three flavors for 12, 15 and 17-inch “notebooks” and in sliver and black. The angled surface created by the Launchpad is more comfortable and ergonomic for typing on a desk but it also keeps the notebook a comfortable distance away from your twigs and berries for those times when you just must use it on your lap. Cooling holes in the aluminum surface allow heat to dissipate quickly.
Sure, there are a million various wedges and stands out there that will help ensure that you’re able to have a Father’s Day (one day) but what makes the Launchpad unique is that it doubles as a protective shell for your precious iron. When traveling, you can place your MacBook or MBP inside the cavity created by the underside of the Launchpad and then stick the whole shebang inside your bag.
While I wouldn’t advocate testing it, the setup feels bulletproof. Launchpad provides an extra layer of protection around your fragile computer while on the road. Launchpad slightly increases the footprint of your notebook while tucked inside so it may not fit inside the tightest of sleeves, but it should fit inside most looser fitting bags. I’ll be bringing mine out to Macworld Expo, so feel free to ask me about it if we cross paths. Just don’t try to test the bulletproof claim, ok?
Fans of yesterday’s “Anyone Knee’d a PowerBook?” will appreciate today’s Extreme MacBook installment. Those that really love their MacBooks may want to skip ahead to the next story as this one’s kinda gory.
Yes, I destroyed my MacBook
This was actually my third one. The others went back as DOA. This one almost worked, enough for me to keep it. It never really worked right though. Random lockups, wireless dropouts, wireless not working when returning from sleep. Weird stuff like my whole desktop just disappearing. Yes I tried different memory, and it always passed the Apple hardware test fine.
After six months of this crap, In a fit of rage I did this to it. The rage was probably caused by the crazy amounts of drugs I am on for Lupus at the moment.
It cut my hand pretty bad in the process, hence the blood. I can’t afford another one, so now I have to use my Windows PC
I was really disappointed in this computer as my previous Mac (Mac mini) was the best computer I have ever owned.
If you’ve got the stomach for it, there’s eight more pictures of MacBook murder.
Contributed by: carbuncle
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