A great computer

If you read my Tesla review, you might think that I desire newer, faster, better everything.

That’s not always true.

The 2011 Macbook ProMy early 2011 Macbook Pro is still humming along gracefully. Five years is a long time in computer years. (According to this website, my computer is 92 human years old.)

But it still works great. I’ve changed its battery once, added more memory (wish I could do that for me!) and swapped out the spinning hard drive for a smaller-capacity flash drive.

It’s running the latest operating system – Apple keeps supporting this old machine.

The strangest thing is that I have no burning desire for a newer Mac. Yes, I do like the newer Macbook Pros (and think the new Macbook is a thing of beauty). But the functionality of a newer Mac isn’t different enough that I’d go through the hassle and expense of upgrading. Plus, my old Mac has a CD/DVD drive – I can add music from that old fossil media source without an external drive. (However, I wouldn’t really miss that capability if mine ever died.)

Also interesting – Apple still sells my same basic computer brand-new (though it has a newer brain).

Finally, if you’re ever in the market for a Mac, I’d recommend buying a factory refurb direct from Apple. Those computers have the same warranty as all-new versions. And often, you can get the latest models as refurbs.


A way to speed up your Mac

Firewire 800 portThis post is only for Mac users. Sorry, rest of the world.

If you have a Mac with a Firewire 800 port (see pic), you can save some of that frustrating “spin-up” time when your external hard drive awakens.

This applies if you are using Time Machine. (If you are not, please start right away! It may save your day – as it has for me, many times.)

Anyhow, do not use a USB 2.0 external drive for your Time Machine disk. Instead, buy a Firewire 800 drive, like the Iomega* I recently bought. It will save you maybe 2 minutes a day of waiting on your hard drive. That’s 8 hours a year.

If your Time Machine backup drive is not plugged in all the time, this post won’t apply to you. But the benefits of having access to lost data makes always-on Time Machine worth it for me. Particularly with a FW 800 drive.

* Not an affiliate link.


Mac Christmas

snow-l-2If the Mac user in your life has not upgraded to Snow Leopard, now is the time!

Quite simply, this was the easiest and fastest upgrade of any operating system I have ever done.

If they are going to do it:

1. Make sure they have a current Time Machine backup. (They will need an external hard drive – here’s my choice.)

2. Make sure they first run SnowChecker, the free application that will tell them which applications they have will need to upgrade. (Download the installer for each application and then install them after Snow Leopard is live.)

As of this writing, you can buy Snow Leopard for $25 from Amazon. (Add four pencils to get free shipping.) You can get a family 5-pack for $43 (with free shipping) or the Box Set that includes the latest versions of iLife and iWork for $138 (also with free shipping).

That Mac-user you know and love will hug you! As the reviews have said, it is indeed zippier than the previous operating system, (regular) Leopard.

Disclaimer: Your results may vary. And if a lawyer were sitting in the room with me, they would say that I cannot be held liable for any lost data or system failures.


Why Mac, part 237


If a program exists called “Decrapifier” – then something is wrong with the system.

Macs just don’t get automatically slowed-down by malware, spyware, spamware, etc.

Bear with me – my wife uses a Windows computer, so I am speaking from experience. Her computer is always getting slower and slower. If it were easy to do, she might reinstall her software every week, just to keep things running smoothly.

I’m not saying this to create a division in the ranks – I’m just asking that if you are considering a new computer, please look at Macs. Be sure to go with an Apple factory refurb – full warranty and you save 15-20%.


Apple vs. Office Depot

apple-st-09-sepHave you ever tried to use a computer at an Office Depot (or Office Max, Best Buy or Staples)? They have them locked up with some marketing screen saver. Even if you can start to use it, most of the time they are not connected to the internet.

Go to an Apple Store. Aaahh! Any computer is ready for you to – well – actually use it. If you scout around the store, you will probably find a model that has your favorite program already loaded on. (Well, sorry to say – none will have Windows Movie Maker or Real Player loaded.)

Just more evidence that Apple means for humans to use their computers.


Stupid Mac thing


This may be a first, in my entire blogging history – me saying something bad about anything Apple.

Time Machine is an excellent part of Mac OS Leopard. It has saved my rear many times. (This is a backup feature whereby it transparently backs up your internal hard drive to an external drive, so that you can grab a file you deleted a month ago – or get yesterday’s version of that file you changed a lot. Or go into your email program and retrieve that email you deleted.)

The bad thing? When you are done retrieving that file, the way to exit Time Machine and return to normal life is by hitting the “Cancel” button. That’s stupid. It sounds like you will undo the file retrieval – when you just want to exit.

Apple: change the wording to “Exit” please.


Things of beauty


There’s a whole shop window filled with old Mac towers. It’s Denver’s Mac Outlet.

I used to work on one of those. I say “on” – as I took it apart to add memory, put a new hard drive in, add a video card, etc. I learned a lot about hardware that way. In comparison, changing out the hard drive to my MacBook Pro was like brain surgery. I remember how easy it was to just pop the side off, do the deed, and put it back together. No more.

I am reminded of growing up. We had a series of Volkswagens. My dad was always working on them. His bedside reading was How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. He let me and my brother “help”. That is something I have struggled with as a dad. Thankfully, car repairs have been minimal, but house repairs (or projects) seem to be an on-going part of life. Our house was built in 1965 or so, and things just wear out.

So my challenge has been to teach my boys how to do repairs. I usually take the lazy way out and do it myself. Bad me! Laziness is rarely the best way forward. As you know.