Launchpad Raises and Protects MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 09:28
Category: Accessory

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?


Extreme: Yes, I Destroyed my MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 20th, 2006, 08:00
Category: News

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


MagSafe Stress Relief

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 28th, 2006, 10:00
Category: MacBook Pro

For those of you worried about the weak spot/melting point of the MagSafe connector, here’s what I’ve been doing with all my laptop power supplies for the last few years. I cut a short piece of 1/8″ spiral cable wrap available at Walmart or Radio Shack, usually in a package of multiple diameters for a couple bucks, wrap it around the weak point and cinch it down hard with a small zip tie and a pair of pliers. Cheap trick, but until they add some real stress relief at that joint, it cheaper than buying a new power supply.
Contributed by: Kent Sievers


Melting or Fraying MagSafe Adapter Not Covered Under Warranty

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 27th, 2006, 09:00
Category: MacBook Pro

MacFixIt has the skinny on MagSafe power adapters that are becoming frayed and even melting. In knowledge base article 302461
Apple calls this “strain relief damage”
and says that it’s not covered under warranty. “Strain relief damage and missing cable
insulation or rubber typically result from excessive force or improper
use which are not covered by Apple’s one year limited warranty.”

We’ve received several reports from readers indicating an issue where MagSafe power adapters — included with MacBooks and MacBook Pros — fray or melt at the wire-to-head connection point shown to the right, or at the metallic connection point.

MacFixIt – Melting or fraying MagSafe power adapter connections (MacBook, MacBook Pro)


CoolBook Bug Update Fixes CPU Setting Issue

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 21st, 2006, 10:58
Category: Software

Shareware author Magnus Lundholm has updated his program, CoolBook, a $10 application which allows the user to adjust the clock speed and voltage of Intel Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors.
A bug which was discovered and has been corrected in the latest version of the program, prevents the CPU from running at the user-configured performance mode when the laptop is running solely from a power adapter without a battery installed.
Lundholm also suggests that CoolBook users can quit the installer once it’s finished its task, then open CoolBook and enter preferred settings for the battery and power adapter modes before restarting.
Although the Intel Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors are renowned for running at much cooler temperatures than their G4 predecessors, Lundholm’s published benchmarks have recorded temperature decreases by as much as 14°C (25.2° F).


MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.1 Proves Troublesome for Users

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 21st, 2006, 09:22
Category: Software

A number of users have reported difficulties with their laptops after downloading and installing the MacBook 13″ Firmware Update 1.1.
Problems have ranged from increased fan noise to increased operating temperatures to problems recognizing certain devices that had been seen before.
The firmware update, which was released yesterday, focused on fixing problems with the MacBook’s temperature sensors and random shutdowns.
In some cases, downloading and reinstalling the most recent Mac OS X combo updater (for both the Intel and PowerPC hardware architectures) can resolve these issues. In other cases, utilities such as Cocktail or Tiger Cache Cleaner can help clear the system cache and resolve these issues.
In cases where the user is having significant problems, a firmware downgrade disc can be created, although this is applicable only to situation where the firmware update failed during installation. For instructions as to how to create the firmware downgrade disc, click here.


The Apple Core: The MacBook Chasm Shrinks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 9th, 2006, 06:00
Category: The Apple Core

A very short two weeks ago I wrote about the MacBook chasm, the difference in features and benefits between Apple’s consumer MacBook and the professional MacBook Pro. I wrote that Apple’s revving the MacBook Pro to the faster and cooler Core 2 Duo processor essentially widened the gap between the two lines and that it would make potential MacBook buyers think long and hard about the MBP before buying.
Well no more.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.


Apple Releases Updated Core 2 Duo-Powered MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 8th, 2006, 09:45
Category: MacBook

Following last week’s insistence on Apple’s part that UK online retailer remove their pre-order page for Apple’s upcoming Core 2 Duo-based MacBook line, Apple has unveiled the anticpated new laptops. The Apple Store web site is currently being updated as of this writing, typically a sign of a major product introduction to market.
The new MacBooks, still available in white and black colors, will be priced at $1,099, $1,299 and $1,499 respectively depending on features. The units, which run at 1.83 GHz and 2.0 GHz configurations, feature 13″ glossy widescreen displays capable of a 1280 x 800 resolution, a 667 MHz front side bus, an Intel GMA 950 graphics unit, built-in iSight video camera, built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 port, one audio line in port, one audio line-out port, Apple Remote and MagSafe power adapter.
The low-end 1.83 GHz configuration will feature 512 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive and Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW). The 2.0 GHz models will feature 1 GB of RAM, a 6x SuperDrive with dual-layer burn support and 120 GB hard drive. All MacBook models can be expanded up to 2 GB of RAM provided the user installs matched pairs.
Apple executives have claimed the new units are up to 25% faster and will help with key holiday-focused tasks such as photo work (iPhoto rated 25% faster), digital editing (iMovie rates 20% faster) and web publishing (iWeb rated 27% faster).
The new MacBooks are scheduled for release on Monday, November 13th and will be available for pre-order through Apple’s online store, typically within a few hours based on past product releases.
Contributed by: By Chris Barylick


15.4-inch MacBook due in May 2007

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 1st, 2006, 00:00
Category: MacBook

Foxconn Electronics (the registered trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry) will produce a 15.4-inch MacBook model for Apple for the first time, with shipments to commence in May 2007, according to sources at notebook makers. Because of the new order, Asustek will no longer be the sole supplier for Apple’s MacBook, the sources said. Both Foxconn and Asustek declined to comment on the news.

DigiTimes :: Foxconn to ship 15.4-inch MacBook to Apple in May 2007


The Apple Core: Apple issues fix for MacBook random shutdowns

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 27th, 2006, 09:16
Category: The Apple Core

Apple yesterday released MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 which “improves the MacBook’s internal monitoring system and addresses issues with unexpected shutdowns.” The update was released to address RSS or Random Shutdown Syndrome that has plagued MacBook owners.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.