AppleCare May Not Extend to First-Gen MacBook Air Hinge Problem

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Date: Monday, March 2nd, 2009, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air

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Following up on last week’s story regarding several users citing the hinge defect in Apple’s first generation MacBook Air notebook, a number of users are reporting a hit-or-miss policy in terms of Apple covering fixes for the notebooks under its AppleCare program.
According to Macworld, users have reported that Apple is flat out denying fixes for MacBook Air notebooks with broken hinges, even if the notebooks are still under warranty.
Per the article, an Apple Store location cited that a user who brought their MacBook Air in could spend US$800 to have the problem resolved or spend US$1,799 for a brand new, second generation MacBook Air. In this case, Apple cited the case as “accidental” damage wherein the repair would not be covered under Apple’s warranty policy.
In another case, user Lisa Eckstein (who documented the damage on her Flickr page) reported that upon taking the notebook to a “smaller and less busy” Apple Store location, employees promptly took the notebook and fixed it.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this occur on your end, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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MCE Ships 500GB OptiBay Hard Drive for Unibody MacBook, MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, February 24th, 2009, 07:04
Category: hard drive

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Accessory maker MCE Technologies announced that the company is now shipping its OptiBay hard drives for Apple’s unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook line.
Per MacNN, the drives range in capacity from 250GB to 500GB and arrive with an 8MB buffer. The 350GB and 500GB drives run at 5400rpm, while customers can choose a 7200rpm option for the 320GB model. The company claims that the OptiBay components consume less power than the original drives, contributing to a 10 to 15% extension of the battery life. The drives also support status monitoring and spin-down commands from the Mac OS.
The OptiBay hard drives are now available starting at US$190 and an optional enclosure can be used to convert the existing drive into an external storage device.
Customers can also purchase an OptiBay kit for the unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro, allowing the use of any standard 2.5″ HDD. The kit can be purchased for US$130.
If you’ve used an OptiBay kit before, let us know how the experience went in the comments or forums.

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How To: Get Around Unibody MacBook Pro Freezes During Screenshots

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Date: Monday, February 23rd, 2009, 08:30
Category: How-To

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As exciting and cool as your new unibody MacBook Pro may happen to be, there may be some bugs to sort out.
According to MacFixIt, a number of users have posted to the Apple Discussions board complaining that the screenshot function on their late-2008/unibody MacBook Pro notebooks cause the system to freeze for a few minutes.
Apple Discussions poster ikarus79m described the situation as follows:

“I have noticed a super weird bug with my new MacBook Pro. At least while running the integrated graphics chipset (not yet tried in power mode.) When I snap a screenshot using Shift+Command+3 (or 4) my computer takes the screen grab, however, then freezes for a minute or two. After that it comes back to life.”

There are several potential causes for this problem, the first being a driver issue, where the screenshot utility is more prone to problematic behavior when running with the drivers for the newer computers. This may be supported by some users having the problem only when running on the GeForce 9400M GPU.
Potential fixes are as follows:

Repair permissions: This problem seems to be influenced by some permissions problems for core system files. Fixing permissions using Disk Utility seems to help the problem. Alternative to Disk Utility, users might wish to do a more in-depth system cleaning using a third-party utility such as AppleJack or OnyX. These utilities can fix multiple problems beyond just permissions, since they can clear many caches, run built-in maintenance scripts, and run a variety of other tasks to keep the computer running optimally.
Reset the SMC and PRAM: While it’s unlikely that hardware settings in the SMC and PRAM would directly affect the screen shot utility, some users have seen improvement after resetting them. It is possible that some faulty setting could interfere with driver function. To reset the PRAM, hold the options-command-P-R keys down all at once after restarting, allowing the computer to reset s couple of times before releasing the keys and allowing the computer to boot normally. This Apple Knowledgebase article (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1411) contains the steps for resetting the SMC on various MacBook models.
Workaround: Because this problem is with the internal screen capture utility, users can bypass it by using a third-party screenshot utility.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Apple Releases SMC Firmware Update 1.3 for 13″ MacBook

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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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QuickerTek Releases 2009 Apple aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro External Battery and Charger

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Date: Tuesday, February 17th, 2009, 08:11
Category: Accessory

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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.

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Unibody 17″ MacBook Pro Notebooks Now Shipping

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Date: Monday, February 16th, 2009, 09:01
Category: News

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A slew of readers have informed AppleInsider that their order updates for Apple’s unibody 17″ MacBook Pro notebook have been updated to “shipping” as of Friday.
The notebook, which was launched in January at Macworld, showed signs of delay when some customers were told their orders would likely slip into March despite promises it would ship in late January. Early this month, the company let many of these buyers know that their orders wouldn’t ship for about two weeks due to problems “wrapping up” production.
The reason for the delay is currently unknown.
If you’ve heard naything from your end or received an order update, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Customizable Four-Finger Gestures May be En Route for Apple Notebooks in Mac OS X

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Date: Monday, February 16th, 2009, 08:12
Category: News

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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.

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Review: Spire Torq Backpack

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Date: Friday, May 25th, 2007, 10:00
Category: Luggage
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Most of you know by now that I’m something of a bag-o-holic. It’s probably because I’m so attached to my MacBook Pro and because I take it everywhere but regardless, I really dig bags or all shapes and sizes. One bag I’m currently digging is the Torq (US$170) backpack from Spire.
Spire is a bunch of admitted computer geeks with a passion for both outdoor gear and tech gear – and that comes through in their products. Torq improves upon two of Spire’s popular backpacks the Volt XL and Meta by adding capacity, comfort and additional protection.

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The Torq is a killer backpack that’s well padded and safely carriers a 15 to 17-inch notebook and a bunch of other gear. It’s split into three main compartments for: accessories, laptop and books/clothing. I recently loaded the Spire up with my MBP 15-inch and all its accessories (power supply, mouse, cables, CoolPad, ExpressCard, etc.) and still had enough room to bring my current raft of reading (three magazines and two books) and a weekend’s worth of clothes thanks to the expanding compartments.
The Spire’s dedicated notebook compartment offers a lot of protection thanks to the included Vertical Boot notebook sleeve. The sleeve has a Ballistic nylon exterior, Velcro flap, quarter-inch closed-cell padding on all six sides and a rear pocket can store thin folders or documents. The sleeve can be removed and used separately thanks to the built-in D-rings, shoulder strap and reinforced top handle.

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Torq also features a strong load-bearing padded waist belt which can be hidden when not in use, a bevy of external and interior pockets, light colored interior, key clip and dual side mesh water bottle pockets. Colors include blue (pictured), red, black and gray.
Although it may be a little large for the 13.3-inch MacBook, the Spire Torq is a perfect fit for either the 15 or 17-inch MacBook Pro. If you’re looking for a backpack to carry your MBP, the Torq Spire is worth looking into.

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Seagate Announces World’s Fastest HDD – and it’s a Notebook Drive

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Date: Tuesday, January 16th, 2007, 12:35
Category: hard drive

Seagate Technology has announced what it claims to be “the world’s fastest hard drive” – the Savvio 15K with a seek time of a mere 2.9 ms. The new 15K-RPM addition to the Savvio family offers a number of advantages over 15K-rpm 3.5-inch drives including size and weight (due to 2.5-inch form factor), 30% decrease in power consumption (5.8 watts at idle), and reliability (1.6 million hour MTBF).

DailyTech – Seagate Announces World’s Fastest Hard Drive

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Launchpad Raises and Protects MacBooks

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

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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?

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