How-To: Add Multi-Touch Functionality to Your Pre-2008 Apple Notebook Trackpad

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Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 18:13
Category: How-To, MacBook

Amidst heated controversy as to whether Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system will add multi-touch gestures to older MacBook and MacBook pro notebooks, the guys at The Unofficial Apple Weblog have taken it upon themselves to ask what makes a multi-touch trackpad unique and how to simulate this on an Apple notebook sans such an interface. The answer lies in an embedded controller chip, identical to the one in the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows advanced input from more than two fingers at once.

Later, Apple’s unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros debuted with multi-touch trackpads, but also introduced new four-finger gestures, which will not be officially supported in the older MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros until Snow Leopard’s release.

The original MacBook Air and early 2008 MacBook Pro are the only machines which will gain additional gestures via Snow Leopard. The only reason these notebook models are able to gain these gestures via software updates, while earlier MacBook Pros and all plastic MacBooks are not, is because they possess the multi-touch controller chip in their trackpads.

The following is the list of Apple notebooks that will support multi-touch gestures, either now or after Snow Leopard:

  • MacBook Air (all models)
  • Early 2008 MacBook Pro
  • Late 2008 17″ MacBook Pro
  • Unibody MacBook (all models)
  • Unibody MacBook Pro (all models)

Still, for pre-2008 and plastic MacBook owners, the following steps (courtesy of the MacRumors forums) can help bring multi-touch functionality to your notebook:

First, download a modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext file. Navigate to System/Library/Extensions, and remove the old AppleUSBMultitouch.kext (you will need to type in your admin password).

Move the modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext into System/Library/Extensions. You’ll most likely have to type in your password again.

This next step is critical: repair disk permissions using Disk Utility. If you don’t, after you restart your trackpad will not function.

Once permissions are repaired, restart. Success!

This procedure isn’t for the faint of heart and will probably have to be repeated with every major Mac OS X 10.5.x update, but it should provide multi-touch goodness if you want it.

iFixIt Posts Full 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro Disassembly/Report

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 17:58
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures

With Apple’s new 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro (formerly the MacBook) having been released, the guys at iFixIt did what they do best: making a mess of the latest Apple hardware and reporting on it.

Over in their latest teardown, the guys have dug into Apple’s newest notebook and discovered some cool stuff, such as a similar battery architecture to the 17″ unibody MacBook Pro, the new .5″ SD card slot and how to cleanly remove the logic board if necessary.

Take a gander and let us know what you think!

Other World Computing Releases Mercury On-The-Go Pro 500GB Portable Hard Drive

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, 12:29
Category: Accessory, hard drive

Other World Computing announced the release of the OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro, the company’s 500GB, 7,200RPM pocket-sized drive for the Mac or PC. The unit features FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 interfaces for data transfer speeds up to 100MB/s and measures 3.5″ x 5.5″ x 1″ in size.


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In addition to these specs, the drive is also bus-powered, doesn’t require a power outlet and retails in the following configurations:

  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro “Triple Interface” FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0: US$239.99 Features Oxford 934 chipset, two FireWire 800 ports, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, FireWire 800/FireWire 800 to 400 and USB 2.0 connecting cables, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro “Combo Interface” FireWire 400 + USB 2.0: US$219.99
    Features Oxford 934 chipset, FireWire 400 port, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connecting cables, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro USB 2.0: US$189.99 Features JMicron 20339 chipset, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, USB 2.0 Mini-B connecting cable, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • The three new OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro 500GB 7200RPM models are compatible with Apple OS 8.6 to 9.2.2, OS X 10.0.x, and 10.2.8 or later.

    How-To: Get Around MacBook/MacBook Pro Sleep Issues with Mac OS X 10.5.7

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, May 19th, 2009, 08:46
    Category: How-To

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    Mac OS X 10.5.7 has been out less than a week and, according to MacFixIt, a number of users have reported sleep issues with MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks upon installing the updated operating system software.
    Over on the Apple Discussion Board, reader “Roger G” reported the following:

    “The 10.5.7 upgrade (both with Combo and Delta from Safe mode) killed the ability of my white MacBook to sleep via clamshell closing. After a reboot, the system would sleep normally, but awakening the system and then sleeping would result in a system freeze. The monitor light on the case would not wax and wane in brightness but would stay on full. A few minutes later the fans would start spinning at full speed until the battery drained or the machine was rebooted.”

    User “smitty 195″ expressed a similar sentiment with the following:

    “I am having the identical problem as everyone else (freezes on 2nd sleep attempt). I have a MacBook Pro, and upgraded to 10.5.7 yesterday.”

    Per various reports around support forums, the issue appears to be tied into Ethernet settings on the notebooks, as described by “Andreas S.”:

    “It appears that if the Ethernet is not enabled (airport only network settings) that on the MacBook Pro the sleep only works once and crashes the second time.”

    The following steps are currently being offered as a fix for the issue:

    1. Open System Preferences > Network
    2-1. If you see your Ethernet port in your list of network ports (on the left-side of the window) and it says “Inactive,” activate the port by clicking the gear wheel icon and selecting “Make Service Active.” Click “Apply.”
    2-2. If you do not see your Ethernet port in your list of network ports (on the left-side of the window), click the “+” button in the bottom-left corner.
    3. In the “Interface” drop-down menu, select “Ethernet.”
    4. Enter a name and select “Create.” You should see your new Ethernet connection appear.
    5. Click “Apply.”
    Note: If you are having this issue and your Ethernet port is already enabled, try disabling it (using the gear wheel icon menu > “Make Service Inactive”). Log out or restart your Mac, then enable it. Be sure to “Apply” your changes.

    Once complete, the notebook can be testing by closing the screen and seeing if the sleep function succeeds. Be sure to try this twice, as several reports have pointed to the second attempt at sleep to be the one that causes the issue.

    TechRestore Now Offering 500GB, 7200 RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:50
    Category: hard drive, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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    Concord-based TechRestore announced on Tuesday that the company has begun offering the first 500 gigabyte, 7200 RPM overnight drive upgrade. The offer includes data transfer and free shipping wherein MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook users can have a new hard drive installed with cloned data and returned via free shipping.
    Clients also have the option of having their old hard drive installed into an external enclosure for an additional US$39 and nationwide door-to-door pickup service is available for the upgrade as well as local pickup from one of over 2000 TechRestore local pickup centers throughout the United States.
    The Overnight 500GB 7200RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade for MacBook and MacBook Pro retails for US$299.
    Note: TechRestore is an official PowerPage sponsor.

    OWC Releases Faster Internal Superdrives for 13″ MacBook, 15″ MacBook Pro Notebooks

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, April 30th, 2009, 13:42
    Category: Accessory, MacBook Pro

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    Accessory provider Other World Computing announced the release of its new Mercury SuperDrive Internal Upgrade Kits for Apple’s 13″ MacBook and 15″ MacBook Pro notebooks. The new OWC Mercury SuperDrives offer faster burn speeds than factory – up to 8X DVD, 6X DVD-DL (Dual-Layer 8.5GB), 5X DVD-RAM, and 24X CD burn speeds with support for DVD+/-R/RW, DVD+/-R DL (Dual-Layer), DVD-RAM, and CD-R/RW media.
    The new SuperDrive Internal Upgrade Kits for MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks available immediately:
    OWC Mercury SuperDrive Dual-Layer Internal Drive Kit for the 13″ MacBook and 15″ MacBook Pro(Non-”Unibody”) features up to 8X DVD+/-R burn, 6X DVD-R DL burn, 5X DVD-RAM, 24X CD-R burn, and 1 year OWC warranty and is priced at US$147.99.
    The “Value Bundle” of this same SuperDrive Kit, priced at US$159.99, also includes 10 pieces of 8X DVD-R media in jewel cases, Prosoft Data Backup 3 software, and NTI DragonBurn CD/DVD authoring software.

    TechTool Pro 5.0.4 Released

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, April 20th, 2009, 07:59
    Category: Software

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    Over the weekend, Micromat released version 5.0.4 of TechTool Pro, its best-selling utility software for the Mac. The new version offers features and changes such as the eDrive, which allows users to create an emergency startup partition that includes TechTool Pro on one of your hard drives without the need to reinitialize your hard drive.
    Note: Users can download the version 5.0.3 updater here (courtesy of MacUpdate) but will need to use the software’s built-in update feature to access version 5.0.4.
    TechTool Pro 5.0.4 retails for US$98 and requires a Mac with a G4, G5 or Intel-based processor running Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to install and run.

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    How-To: Work Around Delays, Hangs in Time Machine

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    Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 09:23
    Category: How-To

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    Let’s face it, Time Machine is a spiffy and useful thing as well as one of the main bells and whistles of Mac OS X 10.5. This isn’t to say it’s without its bugs and despite Apple’s best efforts, there are times where backups appear to hang or stall out sans warning.
    You may be familiar with the situation, as described by poster “PaulArthurUK” in the Apple Discussion forums:

    “When time machine starts to back up my machine, it hangs (the clock icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen spins, but the backup disk is not being accessed and currently Time Machine shows no backup in the last five days). Once it has hung, various applications start to behave oddly and generally I am unable to shut them down, even via force quit.”

    Per MacFixIt, there are a variety of reasons why this could happen. The most common is when the backup daemon is doing a “Deep Traversal” of the source drive to ensure its catalog of changed files correctly reflects the status of the source disk. When this happens, Time Machine will stick at “Preparing…,”. This can take a long time, depending on the size of the node being traversed, but usually speeds up once the deep traversal is completed.
    To easily check out Time Machine logs and track down problems and exactly what Time Machine is doing, download the “Time Machine Buddy” widget, which will display the TM logs in the dashboard.
    Time Machine’s hanging may affect other chunks of the operating system, causing widespread slowdown. This type of behavior usually indicates the system resources are not accessible to the system when the system is expecting them to be.
    Other scenarios that may cause a slowdown include the following:

    Drive malfunction: If the drive is making clicking sounds, or doesn’t appear properly either on the Desktop or in Disk Utility, then there may be a problem with the drive. For external drives, low power to the drive can cause the system to hang.
    Volume corruption: While the disk may be fine, if the formatting or partitioning of the drive has problems, then the drive will not be properly accessible by the system.
    Drives being put to sleep: The energy-saver setting to put drives to sleep whenever possible can cause them to go into a state where they won’t wake up properly. This depends on the drive itself, but while the system waits for the drive, you can experience a hang.

    User can try running Disk Utility to check for and repair errors on the drive or perform these tasks more thoroughly with a third-party disk utility software such as “Disk Warrior,” “Drive Genius,” “Disk Tools Pro,” or “Tech Tool Pro.” Checking both the boot drive and the Time Machine drive for errors is recommended.
    Beyond drive-specific issues, there can be incompatibilities both with other system resources and third-party applications, which can cause Time Machine slowdowns. Antiviral software can interfere with Time Machine’s functions, especially if you have live scanning or “on-access” scanning enabled. Turning off these settings in the antivirus software may help this situation. Additionally, if you have Spotlight enabled for the Time Machine drive (it is enabled by default), this can sometimes endlessly try to index the drive. As such, you can try adding the Time Machine drive to Spotlight’s privacy list, and then remove it to restart indexing.
    A similar trick can also be performed via Mac OS X’s Terminal application, which will ensure the spotlight stores are deleted and started anew via the following steps:

    Open Terminal
    Type the following command and include a space after the command:
    mdutil -E -i off
    Drag the Time Machine disk to the Terminal window to enter the full path to the disk, such as the following:
    mdutil -E -i off /Volumes/TMDisk/
    Ensuring a space is between the “off” and the drive path, press enter
    Repeat this command, changing the “off” to “on” in order to enable spotlight on the drive again.

    Finally, if you are backing up over a network (especially a wireless network), backups can be slow by nature. At 54Mb, speeds of most wireless connections, you will run at a maximum of 6MB per second, which translates to 14 hours for a 300GB backup when running at optimal conditions. Given network overhead and other interferences, this can easily double and result in the backup taking a day or two. For the initial backup to a networked device, you might try plugging in the Ethernet connection, which should be at least double the speed, but up to 20 times faster than wireless.
    A final fix for slow backups can be to restart Time Machine on the drive by removing it and re-adding it in the Time Machine preferences. Doing this seems to clear various bottlenecks in Time Machine and start backups running at faster speeds again.

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    Sleep Tips for MacBook, MacBook Pro Notebooks Published

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 09:03
    Category: How-To

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    Albeit generally reliable, putting your MacBook or MacBook Pro notebook to sleep can be a bit of a gamble. When you open the notebook back up, you want to make sure the computer will wake up again or your day just got that much worse.
    Over on the Apple Core, David Morgenstern has offered the following tips in getting his MacBook Pro to wake from sleep under both Mac OS X 10.4 and Mac OS X 10.5.
    Per Mac OS X 10.4:

    1. Before I put the machine to sleep, I unplug anything connected, such as an Ethernet cable, hard drive or mouse.
    2. Next I use the Sleep command under the Apple Menu to put the MacBook to sleep and I wait until the screen actually goes blank before closing the lid. I don’t just close the lid.
    3. When I go to wake the MacBook, I open the machine and make sure that I don’t plug anything into the machine before I wake it.

    Interestingly enough, Mac OS X’s Energy Saver panel allows for multiple types of sleep (“computer sleep,” which is what we commonly think of as sleep, where the system sleeps; “display sleep,” where the screen goes black; and “hard disk” sleep, where the drive spins down).
    The column then mentions that the following types of sleep can be used:

    Sleep, where the Mac saves the state in RAM, which means it can go to sleep and wake up quickly, but could bring trouble if the battery runs down or is removed.
    Hibernate, where the state is written to the hard disk (the safest for your data), but takes the longest time to be put to sleep and to wake up.
    Combination Sleep and Hibernate, which Apple calls Safe Sleep. It may take the longest time to sleep but it also can wake quickly. And if your MacBook supports it, you can swap in a fresh battery.

    For users looking to specify the sleep type used, software developer Patrick Stein’s SmartSleep lets you choose between the modes.
    For users experiencing problems getting their MacBook notebook to sleep, Apple’s “Why Your Mac Might Not Sleep or Stay in Sleep Mode” Knowledge Base article offers the following tips:

    There are reasons why you may want your Mac to stay awake even though you are not using the keyboard or mouse, such as when you are:
    Watching a DVD movie
    Listening to your iTunes music library
    Running an automated backup
    Away from your computer while downloading large files

    The article also mentions that using Bluetooth devices can disrupt a MacBook’s sleep function:

    You can allow Bluetooth devices to wake a sleeping computer by enabling “Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer” in Bluetooth preferences. A bluetooth device paired correctly should not typically prevent a computer from sleeping. However, some Bluetooth mice can interfere with sleep.

    Finally, applications themselves can affect sleep:

    If an application uses a custom font to display text but the font resource is marked purgeable, then at some point the memory manager will purge the font from memory. When the application tries to draw text using that font again, it will be loaded from the hard drive, resetting the sleep timer.
    Applications can be designed to keep the system awake and prevent idle sleep indefinitely. In developer lingo, an application may explicitly prevent system sleep by calling IORegisterForSystemPower(), and calling IOCancelPowerChange() when it receives a power management kIOMessageCanSystemSleep notification.

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    Apple Updates Mac Pro, Mac Mini and iMac Computers

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 14:22
    Category: News

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    Today, Apple updated everything short of your Labradoodle and since I just got back from an hour in the dentist’s chair and rocking out to an hour of their easy listening selection, let’s have at it…
    Mac Mini:
    Apple released a revised Mac mini today, the new systems featuring improved graphics, faster memory and additional enhancements while retaining a US$600 and US$800 price tag depending on features.
    According to Macworld, the new mini still boasts a 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″ footprint but now features two video interfaces on its back (a Mini DisplayPort and a mini-DVI connector) as well as five USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port (which replaces the FireWire 400 interface, gigabit Ethernet, audio line in and audio line out ports.
    The new units now feature 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors with 3MB shared L2 cache as well as Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chipset, the same graphics that are featured on Apple’s MacBook laptop line. Apple claims that this enables the Mac mini to produce 3D graphics at up to five times the rate of the model it’s replacing; the previous-generation Mac mini was the last Apple product to ship with Intel GMA 950 graphics. Both models also feature 8x slot-loading “SuperDrives” capable of burning DVD media and have the usual complement of AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR built in, as well.
    Click the jump for the full story…

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