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How do I set a MacBook Pro back to zero?

Backups, Hard Drive, How To, Laptops & Notebooks, MacBook Pro, PowerMax / Comments Off

I’m thinking about sending in a 2011 MacBook Pro to PowerMax as a trade in. How do I erase all my stuff on the the hard drive so that when PowerMax turns it on, it is on the same start up screen as a new MacBook Pro?

On Macintosh machines running 10.7 and later, there is a hidden recovery partition. You can access this partition by powering the computer completely down then powering it back up while holding down the Command key and the letter “R”. You’ll then enter the recovery section. Once you’ve picked the applicable language, it will allow you access to the utilities. There is one called “Disk Utility”. Use this to erase the main boot partition. If you plan to send it on trade, don’t worry about re-installing OS X, as that will tie the installation to your AppleID.


Apple MacBook Buying Advice

Backups, Batteries, Compatibility, iOS, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X, MacBook, Migration Assistant, Software Update, Trackpad, Transfers / Comments Off

I’m helping out a friend who has a Early 2008 13″ MacBook (W88340KK0P2). The track pad stopped working. Since she is very dependent on this machine, and the fact that running Quicken (under Rosetta) is very important to her, I thought I’d get her set up with the newest replacement machine possible that is just like her old one. I’ll then look into fixing her original which could then become her warm spare.

I’ve got a bootable copy of her system using SuperDuper. She’s currently running 10.5.8 (9L30). The goal would be to simply restore her system to the replacement machine.

We’re looking at the newer 13″ MacBooks. I was thinking a mid 2009 would be a safe choice for the latest possible machine, since the original OS was 10.5.7. If I understand this article it seems like I shouldn’t have any problems since her current OS is newer than what the mid-2009 shipped with.

Sound reasonable?

First thing, I’d pull the battery from the 2008 MacBook and see if the trackpad resumes working. I’ve had a number of calls lately resulting from a swollen battery pressing up against the trackpad mechanism. If the issue is a swollen battery then it may be as easy as replacing the battery and she can resume working again. As for a potential replacement unit, you can use your duplicate drive image. Instead of “duping” back to a new unit, use the Migration assistant. This way, you can go up to 10.6.8 and still retain rosetta functionality. An entire system duplicated may lack some of the support for newer hardware and video chipsets. I hope this has been helpful for you.


Lost audio on a G4 PowerBook

G4, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X, Troubleshooting / 0 Comments

Our Apple laptop (a Mac OS X, processor 1.67 GHz Power PC G4; memory 1.5 DDR SDRAM) has lost sound and we cannot figure our how to restore it.

Can you help?

With the G4/1.67, there were two different models. One has a standard analog audio port (headphone jack), and one has the Combination Analog/Digital Optical port. It’s possible that the the sensor that detects a headphone connection may be tripped. This would cause the notebook’s speakers to be silent. One way to determine this, is to plug in headphones, and see if you get sound through those. Also, if you go into System Preferences, then to Sound, and check “Output”. It should list which devices are providing sound output. Does it list “Line out/headphones” or internal speakers? Let me know what the results of these are, and we can go to the next step of restoring sound for you.

Dennis Beaman
PowerMax Support

Back light on G3 PowerBook only stays on after warm-up

Displays, G3, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, PowerBooks, Repair, Troubleshooting / 0 Comments

I have an older G3 Mac 13″ laptop that I am having issues with the display. If I open my display up too far the lights will go out on it. I then have to close the laptop, and wait for it to go back to sleep, and then open it very slowly to have the lights come on the display. And even then it does not do it all the time. Now once the lights do come on, the display can not be fully opened for a while (What I like to call a warm up) once it is warmed up I can then open it all the way, Is this a Videocard issue or the Ribbon for the display issue?

The G3 and G4 notebook computers have several cables that pass through the hinge mechanism. Repeated opening and closing of the hinge may have worn one of the cables that passes power through to the backlight of the display. Depending on what model of notebook, the cables may be considered as part of the display unit, and should be replaced.

I hope this information has been helpful for you.

Dennis Beaman
PowerMax Support

Can Mac OSX and OS 9 run on the same system?

Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS 9 / Classic / 1 Comment

I have bought one of the original tangerine 300 Clamshells so that my grandchildren can play some of the old Mac programmes I have such as “Grandma and Me”. However, the laptop has OSX installed and will not accept the programme because I cannot turn it on to Classic mode without installing OS9.

Is it possible to install OS9 alongside the current operating system or would I have to do a clean install and thus lose all the programmes which are already on the Clamshell?

Thank you,

OS 9 can be installed onto the same hard-drive as OS X. OS 9 does not share any files with OS X so there is not an issue with files being over written.

One thing to keep in mind though, after you install OS 9, the computer will start booting up into OS 9. You will need to use the Startup Disk control panel under the Apple menu to switch back to OS X. Depending on the OS version installed, you may need to run software update to get a version of that control panel that will let you boot OS X.

Also, some later grey labeled OS 9 Installers, could install OS 9 Classic through a OS X installer, making it very simple to upgrade.

Hope that helps,

My refurbished MacBook Pro battery won’t old a charge.

Batteries, Laptops & Notebooks, MacBook / 0 Comments

I recently replaced my refurbished MacBook Pro battery and the computer shuts down about one minute after unplugging it from the power supply. Pressing the battery check button on back of laptop indicates full charge with all green led lights lit.

Plugging in the power supply and pushing the on button reboots the computer with chime sounding and the web paige I was on reappears and all is good.

What to do?
- Gary

Macbook Pro BatteryIt sounds as if your battery is not working properly. Either is is not truly being charged fully and it is misreporting that info, or it is discharging fully in seconds not hours. Is the battery an Apple branded battery or can you contact the manufacturer to see about getting a replacement unit?

I do not think it is a problem with your refurbished MacBook Pro. I would suspect a error in the battery itself.

Hope this helps

My little, used PowerBook is maxed out. Or is it?

Laptops & Notebooks, PowerBooks, Upgrades / 0 Comments

I have an old 12 inch 1.33GHz PowerBook with maxed out 1.25GB ram and a 5400rpm 80GB hard drive. I love this thing as it was the first computer I bought and cant fathom selling it (especially since it runs OS 9 baby! BAM!), but it is showing its age.

I’m wondering what I can do to increase it’s power to at least watch YouTube videos or video podcasts without jittery playback. Right now I simply use it for email, project timing and anything non video related (iCal, iTunes, web articles, etc), which it does fine (also a great companion on road trips) but would like to increase it’s usefulness with better video and Flash performance.

Would it be worth it to upgrade the HD to a SSD? Is there a way to upgrade the graphics card? Anything else I might want to try? Any help is greatly appreciated.

- Tyler

Used PowerBookThe only thing left for you to do to that little well-used Mac would be upgrade the hard drive to a faster unit, but even that will not change your Flash video playback performance.

To get a performance upgrade for YouTube, you are going to have to move to an Intel Mac. That does not mean you need to retire your PowerBook, but it is doing all that it can now.

- Jacob

Is $100 a decent price to pay for a MacBook with a broken screen?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, MacBook, Repair / 0 Comments

I have the opportunity to buy a 13inch MacBook for $100. It is only a couple of years old but the screen is damaged. You can see only about a 1/4th of what’s on the screen in the upper left corner. A friend’s son had it at school and his friend threw a pop can at him, accidently hitting the monitor.

What would it cost to replace the screen? Would the cost be less if third party parts were used? If it were to be fixed at a reasonable cost, would I be able to sync it up with my G5 desktop?

Would I be able to get a third party power supply?

Thanks for helping me out.
- Dave

White MacBookIt is a good purchase for $100 because you can use it with an external display and keyboard if you do not get the screen fixed. It is like buying a $100 Mac Mini. Repairing the display will be pricy if you work though Apple Service, but if you are good with your hands you can get parts from or use their mail-in repair service.

You can move your data off of your G5, to this MacBook, using Migration Assistant, which is located in modern Mac’s Utilities folder.

There are not any third party MageSafe Power Adapters, you will have to get an Apple branded unit.

Hope this helps,
- Jacob

Which replacement Superdrive would you recommend for my MacBook?

Hard Drive, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, MacBook, Repair / 0 Comments

Hello Jacob,
The Superdrive on my first gen MacBook died and I am looking to replace it. Unfortunately I’m having trouble finding the exact model number I will need. Can you help?

- Kati

MCE DriveI often recommend the MCE replacement drives, like this MCE Internal 8x SuperDrive Upgrade for MacBook and MacBook Pro 15-inch.

Hope this helps
- Jacob

Do Macbook Pros keyboards have issues with the Option key?

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hi Jacob,
I have a 2006-era MacBook Pro, on which many of the keys on the built-in keyboard have never worked, such as volume, mute, etc. all of a sudden, my option key no longer works to toggle thru startup disks…any solutions? I had the keyboard replaced along with the logic board at its one year birthday, but the keys continued to not function properly…no pun intended!

- Sue

MacBook ProI would assume it is not a hardware issue because of the replacement of the keyboard and most times all buttons stop working with hardware failure. It could be a settings issue that is set to ignore special function values by default. In the Macbook Pro System Preferences, Select the “Keyboard” option. Under the Keyboard Tab look to see if there is a checkmark in the checkbox for “Use all F1, F2 etc. keys as standard function keys.” Remove the Checkmark if it is in that checkbox.

In that same Preference window is a [Modifier Keys..] button, click on that button. Then check to make sure that your [Option] key was not remapped to another function.

Hope this helps,
- Jacob

If all I really do is email which Apple notebook will do?

Laptops & Notebooks, MacBook / 0 Comments

I’m planning on purchasing a new computer to replace my 13 year old G4. I primarily use this G4 for sending lots of emails, sometimes with pix attached.

Is there an Apple notebook I should consider? or do I need the full size MacBook Pro? Any help you can offer would be appreciated. I run a small business and my business is all conducted by email.

- Doug

I would have to say that the best value Mac laptop is the white polycarbonate MacBook. It is a great system, and the latest version now has a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. For a little more you get a Aluminum finish and more RAM in the 13″ MacBook Pro.

These machines are fairly similar and should serve you well for another ten years. Hope this helps.

- Jacob

Does my MacBook Pro need a fan to boot properly?

Laptops & Notebooks, Repair / 0 Comments

Dear Jacob,

My Macbook Pro’s (15″ inch; 2.4ghz, 2008) left fan was making a lot of noise. I am out of warranty, so I opened the laptop to see what was wrong. The fan died and has lost all the blades (computer is still taken apart right now).

Until I buy a new fan, can I disconnect the cable that powers the fan and run my computer without it – does my MacBook Pro need a fan or will that prevent the Macbook Pro from powering on or prevent anything else in the computer from running correctly? I understand it will heat up on that side, but I wouldn’t mind that if it were the only thing that would happen since it doesn’t have the blades anyways, and its only making noise right now.

Thank you for your help.


Does my MacBook need a fan?The MacBook Pro will boot up without the fan connected. The temperature sensors on your system will keep an eye on the temp and shut you down if it gets dangerous for the components. Just save often and keep an eye on the heat. If you let the heat rise to much it may shorten the life of your MacBook Pro Battery and hard drive, not to mention the remaining fan will spin full speed to compensate.

Good luck

Is there a way to fix a MacBook Pro power supply?

Laptops & Notebooks, Power Supply / 0 Comments

Hey Jacob,

Is there any way of fixing an original apple power supply?

Yesterday my 17″ MBP crashed out of the blue. I have to add, a few days before the battery went dead. Perfect timing! To be sure it wasn’t a internal hardware issue I used the power supply of a 15″ MacBook Pro and everything was fine. So instead of buying a new battery and a power supply maybe I can save some money by DIY.

Do you have any advise for me?

All the best,


MacBook Pro Power SupplyI am sure that there is a way to fix an MacBook Pro power supply but I would not advise it.

I am the same type of person you seem to be. I will bust out a soldering iron instead of my wallet most times. Occasionally though, I just do not want to risk potential damage from a DIY project. For example when maintaining my car, I will not work on my own tires or breaks. This is because I value professional and inspected work when it comes to keeping me on the road, and stopping when I need to.

Just like tires, the computer’s Power Supply is where the “Rubber Meets the Road.” It is where the outside world connects to your computer and, just like a bad break job, errors in the repair can be costly. In general you will probably be able to make the repair and get a working power supply, but it is possible that a safety device will not get fixed and a power spike could damage your equipment.

In this case I would encourage you to buy a suitable replacement. To be honest I would not know how to advice you, as I have never attempted that repair before.

Hope this helps.
- Jacob

Laptop vs Desktop – What are the drawback of only using a laptop?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I’m a graphic designer and am still happy with my G5 tower (yes, G5). I don’t upgrade often because I like to underconsume as much as possible and upgrade
only when necessary.

However, I’m facing an upgrade soon and would like to have a laptop for some uses but don’t want to spend the money on both a new desktop as well as a laptop.

Are there drawbacks to having a laptop vs desktop as your sole computer? What are some laptop vs desktop pros and cons? What things would I need to consider if I were to go that route? I would keep my 21″ monitor for my main display.

Thank you,

Desktop vs Laptop? Go with the 15" MacBook Pro.I think if you look at the 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro you can safely replace a desktop system with an Apple laptop. The dedicated video RAM and bigger GPU in those models makes it a viable desktop replacement. I personally use the 15″ MacBook Pro with an external display for my work machine and have never looked back.

- Jacob

What’s the best dual hard drive option for a Macbook Pro?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

My late-2008 vintage Macbook pro, 2.4 GHz core duo w/2 GB ddr3 ram with a 7200 RPM Hitachi 250GB hard drive is so much better than my “main” home 2004 vintage G5 1.8 Ghz, 2 GB Ram, but it DOES have 2 internal hard drives – I use one for system/software, one for data…

I do lots of audio and video editing using final cut and logic. Projects often are 16 channel audio mixing, or 2-3 camera video compositing, DVD authoring

Firewire drives for external backup/storage are fine, but I wonder what’s the best/fastest dual hard drive option (express card slot??), or should I stop spinning my wheels because the performance improvement over using the single 7200 internal drive would be insignificant. Thanks in advance!

- Live Sound Reinforcement
- Live Recording on Location
- Lighting


The best two drive option is to replace your optical drive with a 2nd hard drive. MCE Tech makes an optical drive replacement bay, called an OptiBay that can house a second hard drive. You would need to use a external optical drive but USB is a fine connection for an optical drive.

We can order and install any MCE parts but this is a special order item so call in to talk to a sales person if you are interested. Otherwise a this Caldigit eSATA card combined with a good eSATA drive is the next best thing.

Hope that helps
- Jacob

Does my Powerbook need a new battery?

G4, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I haven’t been using my Powerbook G4 1.5 ghz 15-inch for a while since buying a new iMac. I powered it up recently (with adapter) and noticed that the battery isn’t charging. Date and Time required updating. I opened up Date and Time and fixed that. I launched G4 Updater and the program keeps quitting. I then reset the PRAM and PMU as mentioned in a recent letter to no effect. When the computer is plugged into the adapter it works fine.

Do I just need a new battery? The notebook is roughly four years old with a second battery. The original was recalled a year later after purchasing.

Thank you.
- Joel

A new battery would probably be the next step after resetting the PMU without success. But before you plop down some big cash, does the PowerBook retain date and time if you remove the battery and power supply from the laptop? If it still looses the time, you could have a faulty backup battery that should be replaced. In rare cases, a dead
backup battery will block a main battery from charging. This battery is internal and takes some technical skill to replace.

You can buy the part from We Love Macs if you want to attempt the repair yourself.

Another consideration should be your Power Adapter. Make sure you are using the proper Wattage power supply for your PowerBook. You need a 65W adapter for your PowerBook but some earlier models used 45 Watt and some replacement adapters don’t provide a full 65 Watts. An underpowered adapter will not charge your battery.

Otherwise you can get a replacement PowerBook battery and that should fix your issue.
- Jacob

Do the new MacBooks have an accelerometer to protect the hard drive?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hey Jacob,
I am planning to buy a MacBook, and I was wondering does it have one of those hard drive motion sensors which keeps your hard drive safe in case of sudden movements.

- Abdel

Yes all Intel Mac Laptops have accelerometers in them that can “Park” the hard drive heads, in the event of a drop. For the best shock protection, consider a Solid State Drive (SSD). They do not have any moving parts in them to get damaged in an impact accident, and a SSD will operate your Apple computer at lightning fast speeds.

- Jacob

Can you charge a standard MacBook with a MacBook Air charger?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hi Jacob,
Hope you can clarify whether it is possible to charge the MacBook using the 45w power adapter (for Macbook Air)? I want to share my mate’s 45w power adapter. Any downside in using the lower wattage adapter?

Please advise.

Thanks and regards,

The lower wattage of the MacBook Air power adapter will let your Unibody MacBookrun. It will not recharge the battery with the MacBook running though.

Your MacBook has a 45-watt battery and that 45 watt MacBook Air adapter will just provide enough power replace the power that would have come from the battery, but that is it. To charge the battery you will need to have the proper 60 watt adapter or, completely shut down the system so all power can be used to charge the battery.

- Jacob

Can you put a fully configured hard drive from a MacBook into a MacBook Pro?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 1 Comment

I just replaced a MacBook with a MacBook Pro. Is it possible to swap the fully configured hard drive from the MacBook and put it into the Pro? I ask this because it is faster than the one that comes in the Pro (7200 vs 5400 rpm), it is the same size, and it already has a Bootcamp partition that I’d hate to have to start over with. I know I can use Winclone, but I thought this might be a convenient solution. What do you think?

- Michael

You should be able to swap that SATA hard drive between MacBooks. Make sure that you have the latest OS installed on the MacBook’s hard drive before you install it on the MacBook Pro, and be prepared to use the OS X install disk that came with the MBP. You probably will not need them but you can always do an Archive and Install if you experience any issues. Both the MacBooks, and the Unibody MacBook Pros, make it a trivial job to swap out hard drives.

Do not be too surprised if Windows needs some driver updates after the swap though. The Mac OS is portable but Windows often chokes on a hardware transplant. Have the Mac Boot Camp drivers handy.

- Jacob

My G4 Powerbook processor is failing, I think…

G4, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hi Jacob,
I have a 4 yr old Powerbook G4 1.5ghz. It seems like the processor might be going. It’s stalling frequently. Big spinning beach ball. It’ll eventually catch up but it’s pretty annoying to pause a song in iTunes and it takes 30-120 seconds for it to actually pause. I have 1.25g of ram. I think that’s the max I can have in it. I’ve done a ton of maintenance as recommended by I can’t even find a replacement processor anywhere.

Any suggestions (besides a new mac)?
- Ruston

In general Apple laptops can not get replacement processors or even upgrade processors. In a portable PC or Mac, the processor is often soldered to the logic board.

Early PowerBooks used daughter cards for the RAM and Processor, consequently that made them upgradable, but the G4 Powerbooks never used that design. The good news is that you processor may be slower than you like but it is not physically failing, at least not by what you describe. You can have a total of 2 GB of RAM in that computer so I would recommend that you buy another 1GB stick and remove the 256 MB stick. Also replacing your hard drive with a faster unit could be a good way to boost speed. You can get a 2.5″ 7200 RPM drive for your laptop and greatly increase your file access speeds. Also if you have not done so in a while, backup your data and erase your hard drive. Then install a clean version of OS X and pull your data back over.

Starting fresh can provide a amazing boost to your overall system performance.

- Jacob

Is it possible to efficiently edit HD footage on a laptop?

Laptops & Notebooks, Media Center / 1 Comment

Really Jacob… they go together? Is it possible to edit HD video on a laptop… Even if the specs match won’t it be painfully slow.

Thanks, Dee

Really it is true, I know many video professionals who use a MacBook Pro to edit HD video. This is particularly true now that they support 8 GB RAM in the 17″ MacBook Pro models. Where you may feel the difference is in large rendering and capture. In those instances having more cores and faster drives available will be a benefit. Most video pros will own a Mac Pro if they just have one system but the second system is often a MacBook Pro for mobile work and assembly of the footage.

- Jacob

Can I repair a broken iBook Firewire port?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

1. What is the best way to repair a broken Firewire 400 jack on my iBook G4 laptop?
2. Without Firewire, is there any way to connect an external disk drive to control my laptop?

- Ken

The FIrewire port is part of your logic-board, so replacing the logic-board would be the standard way to fix that problem. At this point the repair would cost more than your Apple computer is worth. You still have a USB port on your iBook and USB 2.0 is a fine way to connect external drives. Many drives are available with USB 2.0 connections. Lacie USB drives are very popular and would fit the bill.

- Jacob

I can’t get my Powerbook to accept the reinstall disk, help!

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I initialized the hard drive on my Powerbook G4 with “Drive Genius” and now I can’t get it to accept the reinstall disc that came with the computer.
Any suggestions? The alert notice that pops up says I can’t install this software on this computer.

- Ray

You may be facing a issue that has more to do with software version you have, verses the limit of the drive format. If you are trying to just reinstall the OS, you will need to do an Archive and Install of the OS.

If you are trying to reformat the drive and remove all data from it, you will need to repartition it with the Disk Utility that is on the OS X install media. You will have to boot up the disc and then open Disk Utility and use the Partition tab to create one new partition on your Apple computer hard drive..

- Jacob

What is a good water-resistant neoprene Macbook sleeve?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

My college-age daughter had an accident with a leaking nalgene & a Macbook in her backpack. Looks like the Macbook survived (it’s a white one, 13″, I think) this time but we are now in the market for a sleeve which is waterproof/water-resistant. (Along with a new policy of no water bottles inside the backpack…) What is your recommendation in terms of such a sleeve (neoprene perhaps?)?


Well there are many option to protect your child’s Apple laptop. I used to work for the Evergreen State College and have seen first hand the dangers a laptop faces in that environment. Well if a Mac computer can survive on the battlefield, I am sure you can find something fitting to protect your daughter’s computer. On the extreme side of mobile protection there is are hard side laptop cases. They can be water, dust, and crush resistant but often let you use the laptop without removing it from the case.

These may be more than you were looking for but I would consider it top-shelf protection with style. Beyond that many of the neoprene laptops sleeves will protect a MacBook from light spills. The seams will let water in so if it is sitting in a puddle than water will get in. Here are some water repelling options you may be interested in.

Thin and protective solution, the RadTech Sleevz for Macbook. Hope this helps with the process but there is also a “Style” issue with the selection of a case, so your daughter may want to look at some of the colorful neoprene cases.

- Jacob

How can I use my 50″ HDTV as a monitor for my MacBook?

Displays, Laptops & Notebooks / 1 Comment

Hello Jacob!

I have a Black MacBook and a 50” HDTV. I would like to put them together so I can watch movies and surf the web and basically use my TV as a monitor. Is that ridiculous? I would like to purchase a wireless mighty mouse and keyboard to keep by my couch, and leave the MacBook closed and hooked up to the TV. How, if at all, can I accomplish this? I realize I’m not going to get HD quality out of my Mac, I just want to be able to read webpages, and watch movies in standard definition.

On a side note, If this works well enough… I’m planning on purchasing a new Mac Mini to replace my MacBook on the entertainment center.


Your Mac computer should connect just fine to your HD TV and kick-out a full HD signal. I have an old PowerBook G4 connected to my HDTV at home. I mostly play standard definition TV from my EyeTV archive upstairs but we have played HD shows on the TV though the Mac. The PowerBook G4 has trouble keeping up with decoding the HD signal, your Intel Mac should have no problem with HD shows. You will need three cables to connect to your TV through HDMI. Your TV will need to support HDMI with an RCA audio connection for this to work.

Here is the list.
• The Mini DVI to DVI cable to get DVI from your MacBook.
• A DVI to HDMI cable.
• Then an audio cable for the, uh, audio.

Wireless Adesso Keyboard

Later when you move to the Mac Mini, you can reuse these cables. Most web pages are very readable and recorded TV looks great. Consider also getting an EyeTV system to record HDTV and this Adesso Keyboard / Trackpad combo (note it is Windows keyed but works on a Mac).

- Jacob

Is the new 17″ MacBook Pro RAM user upgradable?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hi Jacob,

It’s been a while since I have been in the market for a new Mac laptop. In fact my old trusty 12″ PowerBook G4 has served me well for four years now, but I think it’s showing me signs that it’s ready to be retired. I am looking at the new Unibody MacBook Pro, the 17 inch model, in particular and would like to know if the RAM is user
upgradeable, without voiding any mfr. warranties. Also is it the same for the internal hard drive (I might want to install SSD later)? I want to purchase the model with the fastest processor, but would like to hold off on the RAM until they become a little more reasonably priced.

Thanks in advance.

- Mary Ann

You can upgrade your memory and hard drive yourself. Here is a link to Apple’s MacBook Pro RAM installation page.

The hard drive is just as easy, as you can see by Apple’s instructions on how to install a replacement hard drive.

If you use a none Apple drive in the computer, you will have to deal directly with the maker of the hard drive for drive warranty issues and most Apple service centers will want you to have a Apple hard drive installed for testing. For that reason it may be a good idea to keep the pulled Apple hard drive safely stored in a static bag, until you are out of the Apple warranty period.

- Jacob

How can I move my iTunes library from one machine to another?

iPod / iTunes, Laptops & Notebooks, Media Center / 0 Comments

I just got a MacBook Pro (&) I want to upload massive numbers of ripped lossless CDs onto a terabyte HD, then connect my MacBook to a stereo receiver and use the MacBook as a CD server. I’ve been told I’ll have to set up a wifi network to accomplish this because iTunes won’t see the external HD.

What’s the most elegant way to solve this problem?

There are probably many ways to accomplish your digital Jukebox project. You certainly can use your MacBook to play all your iTunes directly to a stereo. All you would need is a 1/8th inch to RCA cable like this one. Connect the line out from your Mac computer to the stereo.

Then you would just need to move your iTunes Library to the external drive by following these instructions from Apple regarding Moving your iTunes Music folder.
This would require you to keep your Mac connected to both the stereo and the hard drive, in-order for you to play the music. If that sounds OK to you then it is a fairly easy setup. Otherwise you may want to look at some wireless streaming options.

A truly slick option would be to use the cable above attached to an Airport Express. The Airport Express could be connected to the Wireless network in your house. Your router at home, that hosts the wireless network, would then have a LaCie network drive attached to an ethernet port. The LaCie 1 TB Drive would have your Music stored on it and then shared by the iTunes-compliant server component of the LaCie drive. All your MacBook Pro would need to do is play the music from the drive over to the Express, all wirelessly.

- Jacob

My PowerBook is struggling to load the OS – what can I do?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments


I am having a problem with my 12″ / 867mhz Powerbook that I am hoping you could help me figure out.

The powerbook is having a hard time loading the OS. What happens is that when I boot the cd and the installer comes up it works fine until I get to the “pick a destination” screen. At that point there is no harddrive to select. So, I open disk utility up and it lists the harddrive, but it will not let me erase or format the HD, it will give me a error message. So, my assumption was that the hard drive is bad (this was the orginal HD), so I open it up and replace the HD with a different one – then boot it up and the same thing happens. So, I have been going crazy with this. I have pulled them several times to see if they are in there wrong, but I have not noticed anything. I have put the HD’s in an enclosure and I then checked them on another machine, they check out fine that way. So, I don’t think it is the hard drive.

I have also tried diffrent OS disks and it is always the same. Is there some hardware issue that would cause this? Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

- Todd Layton

Other than making sure you are using a retail copy of the Mac OS released after the PowerBook was produced, 10.3 or higher, it would probably be a hardware issue. The problem is most likely with the cable or logic board. A replacement PowerBook hard drive cable will be cheap enough for you to test with it. I think this is the right cable for your computer but double check.

If that fails to work for you, then it probably is a logic board issue and you will need to weigh the cost of the repair against just upgrading your Mac.

Please let me know what the outcome is.
- Jacob

Can I upgrade my MacBook Pro Memory from 4 GB to 8 GB DDR3?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 2 Comments

Hi Jacob,

Can I upgrade my Mac Pro Memory from 4 GB to 8 GB DDR3?

I have below Specs in my laptop:
Hardware Overview:

Model Name: MacBook Pro
Model Identifier: MacBookPro5, 1
Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 2.53 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 2
L2 Cache: 6 MB
Memory: 4 GB
Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
Boot ROM Version: MBP51.0074.B01
SMC Version: 1.33f8

Many reports I have seen say that you can go over 4GB of RAM in your Mac Pro but not to 8GB. People who have attempted putting 8 GBs in their MacBook Pros have had stability problems. 6GB seems to be stable. I would perhaps wait and see if there is an Apple firmware update for the Unibody 15″ MacBook Pro, allowing it to support a full 8 GB of RAM like the 17″ Macbook Pros can.


Should I replace my MacBook Pro hard drive with a larger one?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 1 Comment

Hi Jacob:
I get the Bolt newsletter. I have a first iteration Macbook Pro 17-inch, 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with a 120GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM. I find that the size of that drive is proving a little small. I’d like to replace it with a larger drive, say something in the 250GB to 320 GB size. I’ve talked to some local Apple authorized shops (one being the Mac Store in the U District here in Seattle where I originally bought the machine) and they say it’s not a good idea to replace the hard drive with a larger drive.

So I’d like to know:
1) is it possible;

(2) if it is possible, what drives would be my best options;

(3) is there any risk in doing so? I would NOT be doing the replacement myself, but would take the laptop to a place that can do such work (such as the aforementioned Mac Store). If it’s not a good idea to replace the drive, would there be a good external drive option? I do a lot of graphics work with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, plus some webwork with Dreamweaver (all Adobe CS3).

Thank you very much!


When you are in Apple warranty it is probably a bad idea to upgrade the internal hard drive in an Apple laptop because you will have to put the original Apple drive back into it before you can mail it in for service. Swapping out the drive in MacBooks and new 15″ MacBook Pros are fairly fast, so warranty is less of an issue there. It takes a considerable amount of work to swap out your drive in the 17″ MacBook Pro.

Outside of warranty, replacing the drive is a great upgrade option. Often you can get better speed out of a new drive, in addition to the increased storage space. The 320GB drive will cost you about $200, and a 250GB should be around $50 less. Both of those should be 5400RPM drives, the same drive speed as you already have from the Apple drive. Priced in between the two drives is the faster, and smaller, 200GB 7200RPM drive. The faster drives are better for reading and writing large files but there is a concern with heat. A 7200RPM drive can generate more heat than the 17″ MacBook Pro was designed to handle. If you go to the faster drive you will get better system performance, but you will constantly need to monitor the heat of the unit and not let it overheat.

If increased drive space is what you are after, I think the 250GB drive should be a good fit for you. I was born and raised in Seattle, so consequently I know those Seattle Mac Store people well and send my family there for service. They should treat you well.

Hope that helps,


iBook battery light went out, what gives?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

All of a sudden yesterday I had a black screen and could not shut the computer down (it made the no “shut-down” noise). The little white light in front was on. Today, I unplugged it, and soon that little light went out. Is it the battery? If so, is it possible to recharge it? I bought the iBook in ’05.

The battery on your iBook should constantly be recharging when you have it connected to the power adapter. The ring on the outside of the adapter turns amber or orange when it charges. If your computer turns off when you pull the power plug from the wall, then something is wrong with your iBook’s power management system. You should start troubleshooting your system with a PMU reset. Then after you reset the PMU, restart your iBook and see if the battery will charge. Let it charge overnight and then remove the power cord and see how long the iBook will run. If it only runs for a very short time, you will probably need a new 14″ iBook battery or 12″ iBook battery.

There is also a potential for the iBook to have more serious problems with the internal components that handle the power management of your iBook. Consider bringing in the laptop to an Authorized Apple Service center for a full checkup.

Hope that helps,


My PowerBook won’t come out of sleep mode…

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Help! I purchased a certified pre-owned PowerBook 14″ aluminum in July from PowerMax. Yesterday I let it go into sleep mode and now cannot get it to come out of sleep mode. It won’t restart or anything else. I’ve tried using the power button, various key combinations, the touch pad, and I even removed the battery. Even with the battery out, the slowly pulsing light on the latch button for the display continues to pulse. Is my machine already useless? Please let me know if there is anything I can do to get it out of this condition, and then how to prevent it in the future. Thanks.

In most cases holding down the power button for a continued time will force your Apple Mac to shutdown. It is not good to do often, but this procedure is intended to be an emergency off option. If that fails to work, then your only other option would be to remove the battery and power cord and repeat the power off option of holding down the power-button until the sleep light on the front stops glowing. Because the power button is in the upper right hand corner and it is not always certain that the button is fully depressed, try pinching the button down. Use your right thumb to press the button and have your right pointer finger underneath the laptop, directly below your right thumb. This way you will be able to maintain the button press and signal the shut down. After it is shut down you should follow the linked procedure for a PMU reset and then power-up the computer again.

Hopefully the PMU reset should prevent you from suffering through this problem again.


2.4GHz or 2.0GHz MacBook – Which is a better value?

Laptops & Notebooks, New To Macs / 0 Comments

I’m getting my first Mac for college work. I’m planning on going into graphic design, and my parents have offered $1600 towards the cost. If I get the new Mac with 2.4GHz, my final cost comes to just over $1900; but if I go with the 2.0GHz its just over $1700. That’s a fairly big difference. My question is, is there a noticeable difference between the two processor speeds? And will it have a big impact on my computing? As I said, I’m going into graphic design, and I plan to do some gaming. Which should I go with?

The processor speeds are not going to impact your graphics performance like the MacBook’s integrated GeForce 9400M video chipset will. This is a substantial improvement over the previous generation MacBook’s video capabilities but may fall short of the 3D rendering power most games demand. If you are at all interested in the previous generation of MacBook Pro, then you should look at this 2.4GHz MacBook Pro for $1,599.

This may not have the sexy and rugged design of the new Unibody Mac laptops, but this is at its heart the power you need for gaming and graphic design. If though, you are after the latest and greatest then the 2.4GHz Unibody MacBook is in your budget.

Use your money to buy the best processor-equipped laptop now, and upgrade the hard drive and RAM later. You can always upgrade those things later but it is almost impossible to upgrade a processor in a MacBook after you get it home.

Hope that helps,

Which is better; the 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I’ve been debating between purchasing the 15” or 17” MacBook Pro, and I’m hoping that you can help me come to peace with this.

So I’ve always been more keen to buy the 17” because I’ve always thought bigger is better. I’m a web developer, and so I do both coding and graphic work, and I always thought the higher screen resolution would be better for my development. Whenever I look at the pros though who use MacBook Pro’s, they all have the 15”. Whenever I look at laptop reviews, they always say that the 15” is top notch, and the 17” isn’t.

So why is the 15” “better” then the 17″? For someone who does web development, which one would you suggest?

The 15″ vs. 17″ MacBook Pro debate is an interesting one and it is similar to the SUV Vs. sedan debate. In each case it boils down to space verses mobility. Just like the automotive analogy, both laptops can go the same places but the bigger units are harder to maneuver in tight spaces. It takes more energy to move the 17″ around and operate it than the 15″ MacBook Pro. The main advantage to the 17″ MacBook Pro was the screen size, until recently. Now it has screen size and the availability of an Antiglare (AKA matte) screen.

If you want the larger screen real estate, and do not care about hauling around a few extra pounds and inches of computer, the 17″ MacBook is a good choice. If you want a new MacBook Pro with an Antiglare screen, then the 17″ is your only choice.

I have a 15″ system at work and at home, my lap is just not big enough for the 17″ Mac laptops. For my money I think the Unibody MacBook Pro is better than all previous models of MacBook.

Damaged MacBook CD/DVD Drive

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

My Macbook fell this morning — it works but the CD/DVD drive seems to be physically damaged – I can’t even insert a CD in it…. Is that a part that can be easily changed? Can I do it myself? How much time would the repair take? And finally, can you recommend any drives to look for?

The White MacBook

The White MacBook

You can replace the MacBook’s drive yourself but it would be better to have an Apple Authorized Service center do it for you. The replacement part will likely cost you $200 to $300 but should only take a half of an hour to replace it. Using a Service center will also give the tech a chance to see if the drop did more damage than just the Optical Drive.

If price is overly concerning to you, Searching Google by the drive model number will bring up some budget options. You can also go with an external USB Super drive until you want to fully replace the drive you have. Eventually there could be a Blu-Ray drive upgrade for your MacBook. That way you will get more for your upgrade dollars.

Are Mac laptops good for video editing?

Laptops & Notebooks / 3 Comments

I do video editing and graphic design. I have an older G3 right now. I am looking at the new Macbook Pro and I also looked at a G5 or a Mac Pro for home. I need a lot of power. I need to be able to run Final Cut Pro as well as Sony Vegas through Parallels since it is not Mac compatible. I would also like to run the Adobe Creative Suite. I will be heavily utilizing an external hard drive to store projects, but I need a system that will not sacrifice my speed. Do you recommend not editing on a laptop? I have heard most people say that, but I have done it before on a non-Mac and I have seen a professional do some editing on a MacBook. Please advise. I don’t necessarily need a new unit. If you have something used that could accommodate my needs I could look at that. Also, if I wanted to start with a used unit to get started and then upgrade in 3 months, what would you suggest?

I asked someone more experienced with Video Production needs to contact you but the basic answer to you question is that yes an Apple laptop
is fine to use for editing video, but having a powerful tower, probably new or used Mac Pro, would be best for importing off of high-end video equipment. You need PCI-e expansion and higher bandwidth, as well as fast scratch drives. If you are just dealing with FireWire sources, then the newest MacBook Pro is perfect for your needs on the editing and importing front.

Was the PowerBook design flawed?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Just over 3 years ago my workplace got a 17” Powerbook G4.

It’s been a rotten Apple from the start, first requiring a keyboard replacement, developing some strange screen flicker, the battery going belly up and the various and numerous connection cord inconveniences. However the latest, and last, is the Video chip, which has completely fried. Needless to say, it was just out of extended warranty. Our IT guy says “bad design.”

Was this just a bad crop of Apples or was mine particularly afflicted? If I were to buy a used motherboard, would my risk be as great? Has the design been changed in later Powerbooks?

That is an unfortunate history with that PowerBook 17″ computer. I never saw an epidemic of problems from the 17″ PowerBook line, but I do remember some issues with USB / Display backlight problems. I think you would probably be at a risk buying any used parts. If you have the work done at an Apple Computer Authorized Service Center, there is often a 90-day warranty on the replacement parts. That would be the safest repair process for you.

For your money, investing that repair money in a newer Apple computer system would be a good idea. I like the design changes made to the MacBook Pros, so if you can stand a 15″ screen I would steer you to that computer as a replacement. It is the most substantial change to the Apple laptop design since the retirement of the Titanium PowerBook.

The previous used MacBook Pros are well designed on the inside and I think you could get one without the fears of a repeat of your PowerBook experience.

How can I charge my G4 Laptop battery from my automobile?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Is it possible to charge my G4 Laptop battery from my automobile? Where do I find such a device?
The best way to charge your laptop battery is inside of your laptop, so what you really need is an outlet in your car. To get a house-style 115-120V AC plug into your 12V DC car, you’ll need a DC to AC inverter.

This 375 Watt Tripp Lite PowerVerter would be a great choice to charge your laptop and other devices.

As a used of G4 apple laptops“>Apple laptops you could also make due with this smaller Tripp Lite PowerVerter 150-Watt Ultra-Compact as well.

iBook LCD screen has gone grey, help!

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I bought a used iBook G4 that worked on arrival. After installing a fresh System 10.4.11 the screen faded out (white or grey out) and the Apple logo disappeared.

After that the screen did not display anything at all. On starting the iBook, the screen turns on and is white or gray depending on the brightness setting which still works. But there is no logo or rotating wheel.

An external monitor still works. All attempts to get the LCD screen back to life failed. Tried ATI Displays, Pram reset etc, nothing.

Any suggestions?

To rule out any hardware issues you should boot up your Mac computer in Target disk mode. You do that by starting the computer while holding down the [T] key. Make sure you get a blue screen with the FireWire symbol moving around on the screen. If you see the blue screen then it is most likely a OS / Driver issue and it may be worth the effort to reinstall the OS. You should also try a PMU reset to make sure that there are not any corrupt settings affecting the operation of the screen. Here are Apple’s PowerBook / iBook PMU reset instructions.

Also make sure that the resolution of your screen is set to the native resolution for the built-in LCD, 1024 x 768.

Is striping on MacBook Pro screens common?

Displays, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I was wondering if you had any information on the intermittent striping of MacBook Pro screens (for the Penryn MBPs). The best way to describe it is that the LEDs at the bottom of the screen don’t all turn on, so every other LED turns on, resulting in bright columns of the screen alternating with darker columns. Apple has a listed fix for it on their website, but the general consensus is that the fix doesn’t work. Have you encountered this?
I have not encountered this before, so I ran back to the service department to see if they had seen this before. A few Mac computer techs had seen the zebra stripes before and in each case it took the replacement of the screen to resolve the issue. It could be that your issue may not be as severe as what we have had here, but it would probably warrant a trip to an Apple Authorized Service Center to have it examined.

Best MacBook Specs for Audio Processing

Laptops & Notebooks, Software, System Settings / 0 Comments

Currently, I am a PC user with years of endless desktop computer headaches, and I’m looking at switching over to a MacBook Pro. I am wanting to get into instrument recording, sound effects, and composing, and believe that Garageband could be the simplest most-streamlined route to go (rather than putting Pro Tools, Logic Express, and composing software separately, on an inevitably unreliable PC). The portability of a laptop makes the best sense for what I now need.

If I start with Garageband, and possibly add Logic at a later date, can you recommend what size of MacBook would best suit the job (GHz, RAM, HD)? I have heard there have been complications with trying to do too much with demanding software, with a computer that is just not fast or big enough. My understanding is that Garageband has been around for some number of years, and presumably there has always been enough speed and space on these computer models to adequately do the job, but I thought it would be wise to ask your opinion and any suggestions or recommendations.

I’ve also read that iLife 08 has been plagued with problems – particularly iMovie and iWeb, with iPhoto getting complaints as well. Do you know if there are ways around this, or if Apple has plans to upgrade or update this software to eliminate these problems?

I am glad to help you move over to the Mac computer community. In general, GarageBand will run perfectly on any of the Intel Macs with at least 1GB of RAM. Although GarageBand is a good application, it is geared to simplicity and may leave you wanting more musical options. It is still powerful and you can start with GarageBand and upgrade your projects to Logic Express later.

Depending on what kind of equipment you plan on buying you could get by with a MacBook and not the MacBook Pro. Any of the plastic-cased MacBooks would work for what you are doing, but stay away from the Aluminum MacBooks as they lack FireWire and that is a good interface for studio equipment.

If your budget can afford it, the new Unibody MacBook Pro is an easy choice. In my opinion it is one of the best designs laptops Apple has ever made.

The basic specs of this unit are more than enough power for your audio work at any level, even studio work.

Playing DVDs on the TV with my Macbook

Laptops & Notebooks, Media Center / 0 Comments

I want to hook my MacBook up to my TV so I can play a DVD. What part do I need to buy to do that?
It depends greatly on what TV you have, If it is a HDTV then you would want to use these two cables; Apple Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter and Digital Video Cable – 1 x DVI-D – 1 x HDMI – 6ft – Black.

For standard definition TV you would want to use Apple’s Mini-DVI to Video Adapter.

Regardless of your TV’s video connection you will need the 6ft Startech audio cable to transfer the Audio to the TV. You can always use the MacBook speakers, but those may not have high enough output for you.

What do I need to connect my Macbook to a projector?

Laptops & Notebooks, Media Center / 1 Comment

I purchased a MacBook from PowerMax and when I go to hotels and try to hook up to data projectors, the AV folks tell me I need to have a connector (aka Dongle) and that I need to get my own because they are specific to each type of Mac.

What is it that I need to successfully connect to a Data Projector?

There are two types of adapter cables that work for connecting MacBooks to an external monitor. The type of adapter you will need varies depending on what display connector your monitor or projector uses. Most new displays can use the all-digital signal of a DVI connection with a DVI to mini-DVI cable adapter. Older or less detailed displays use the analog Apple Mini-DVI to VGA adapter.

There is also a third adapter, called an Apple Mini-DVI to Video adapter, that allows you to connect your Mac to your television. If you travel often, it may benefit you to buy both monitor cables and the TV cable, so you can always connect your MacBook.

PowerBook G3 Screen Going Dark After Startup

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

The PowerBook G3 Series I bought from PowerMax a while ago developed dark screen on startup when the desktop starts. You can light it back up by pressing the screen brightness button after a minute or two. If it goes to sleep it will not awake without a restart.

It had hinges replaced and that seemed to be the start of issue. I checked all the preferences and cannot find any problem.

The machine works OK otherwise. I have all the modules for it and would hate to give it up – but maybe It’s time to find a G4?

It is difficult to be certain, but what you describe sounds like a Backup / PRAM Battery issue. The same issue would also manifest in your clock being reset after you remove all power sources from your computer. Newer Technology makes a replacement battery for your system, part number NWTBATPG3WS. Consider replacing this battery as part of the troubleshooting process.

The other possibility is the sleep reed switch magnet, that indicates that the lid is closed, was not installed properly after the hinges were replaced. This is less likely but it is possible. Damage to the sleep reed switch, or misalignment, could cause a variety of sleeping issues.

Macbook Pro Wireless Connections

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Networking, Wireless / 0 Comments

I recently purchased an upgraded wireless card from PowerMax for my MacBook Pro. The new card only has two antenna connections with no identifying marks correlating with the three connections in the laptop, while the old airport card had three that are clearly labeled. The spacing between the two connections on the new card would suggest use of the middle connection is not required, but this is an assumption. We all know what “assumption” stands for. Can you shed any light on this?

I assume (ha!) you are using the Mac Pro wireless upgrade kit to add 802.11n to your pre-N MacBook Pro. In that case there is sometimes an “extra” antenna cable. There are two things to remember when dropping one antenna from a three-cable wire harness. The first is that you want to cap the metal end of the unused antenna cable. The second is that you want to use the black and blue cables with the new card, and cap the grey cable. If the cables are not color coded, the middle cable is the right one to cap.

TV Tuner For A Macbook Pro

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Media Center / 0 Comments

Do you have a recommendation for a TV tuner (digital) for my Macbook Pro? Would you recommend a TV tuner for my computer over just a portable digital TV?

I am a big proponent of using your Mac for TV watching and recording. Most times I recommend the EyeTV 250 Plus because it has a hardware encoder for recording analog video. In your case you want to watch TV on the road, (figuratively; not when driving I hope), and for that I would recommend using the ultra portable EyeTV Hybrid. It has many of the same features as the 250 Plus but is about the size of a pack of gum. You will not have the internal hardware encoder but the EyeTV Hybrid is USB powered and would work in many remote places.

Both units ship with the EyeTV software, which makes all the EyeTV products shine in the Mac TV market. Both units will need a cable connection or an external antenna. Most TV antenna will work for Digital TV over the Air signals with the EyeTV system but you should look for one that will travel well.

Is there no disk drive in the Macbook Air?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I just got a Mac Air, and am I right to believe that there is no disk drive?

If so, I have another question: How are you supposed to import CDs with no disk drive? I understand that you can “share” things by using you other computer, but does it stay on your computer afterwards?

There is no internal disk drive for the MacBook Air but you can get a Macbook Air SuperDrive.The other option is to use the disc-sharing feature to “borrow” the optical drive of a computer on your network. The data does not stay on the computer with the optical drive but instead gets relayed over the network to the MacBook Air. It is a cool feature and works well. Macs that are going to share their drive have to enable “DVD or CD Sharing” in the Sharing section of System Preferences. After that, the MacBook Air can request to use that computer’s optical drive.

Preventing MacBook Sleep

Laptops & Notebooks, Software, System Settings / 0 Comments

When I close the lid of my MacBook (The current white model) which I just purchased, it disconnects the wireless card which logs me off of Yahoo and closes out any citrix apps I might have open and so on. I close then lid when moving from my cubicle to a meeting and back. Unlike Windows, I cannot find the "lid actions".

There are software packages that can prevent your system from sleeping, even when the lid is closed. Two common ones I have know people to use are InsomniaX and SleepLess

Always use caution with this kind of modification as it can affect the stability of your system.

My Powerbook G4 display went black, what now?

Displays, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I keep records for the church on a Mac Powerbook G4 and I recently encountered a problem where the display window is black. I did not inherit an operating manual, and I am sure it’s something simple. How do I get the display on?

Well the display blacking out could be a few things. The system could have gone to sleep; you can wake it by pressing the space bar. The battery could have run out of charge. Press the button on the bottom of the battery to check the charge indication lights. If only one light flashes than it is not charged up. You could have also turned the display brightness down. Turn the brightness back up via the larger of the two “Sun” keys. The big and small suns will be printed on two of the function keys.

It could also be a failed backlight in the display, which is a big problem. You can test that by shining a flashlight on the display and seeing if you can see items on the display but darkened.

I’ve got MacBook with a broken screen, what are my options?

Displays, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Currently I am in Iraq so my resources are very limited, I have a 2.4 GHz MacBook with the 160GB hard drive. I dropped the laptop and the screen broke. I want to get a MacBook Pro but I want to get all my pics and iTunes music off the old hard drive. I know it works, I put it in a friends computer. My question is, do they make an external hard drive case I could put the drive in? Or do you know any other way to do this? Also, do you know if I can get back all the music I purchased from iTunes?

You do not have to be in a war zone to have lost a laptop screen to an accidental drop. Most often, I hear about this happening with systems used in schools, but this scenario can bite anyone. There are several positives in regards to Macs with broken screens. In most cases your computer can still be turned on into what is known as Target Disk mode. Hold down the “T” key when you start up the computer. After 30 seconds or so you can let go of the key. After that, you just need to connect your damaged Mac to a working Mac via a FireWire cable. In a way, the Target disk mode turns every modern Mac into an external hard drive.The good news is that when you start a new Mac, you are given instructions on putting your old Mac into Target Disk mode. Once the computers are hooked together, it will automatically move all your old data over and setup the new system just like your old one. Even if your computer can’t boot into Target Disk mode, you can put the drive into an external drive enclosure, or another similar Mac, and move the data over as if it were on your used Mac. I have done this many times and it makes switching Macs as easy as changing a shirt.The other nice feature of your MacBook is that even with a broken screen you can use it with an external keyboard, mouse, and display. This will turn your laptop into a desktop, which is still better than tossing it away. Your MacBook will need an adapter cable to work with a display, and the cable you use depends on the connection on the display. Typically DVI displays are better and they use a Mini DVI cable adapter. Another option is a VGA display adapter.You can use any USB keyboard and mouse you like. I personal like the new Apple Aluminum keyboard and a Logitech wheel mouse.

Malfunctioning OS9 iBook

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS 9 / Classic / 0 Comments

I recently bought an iBook G4 from the web. I needed a computer that works in Classic 9, that runs software and hardware used in a middle school classroom. It worked for about an hour (long enough for me to do a migration from one computer to another). Since that time, however, it stalls and the message you need to restart your computer keeps appearing. I’ve been told that the logic board is shot. Unfortunately, I missed the 30-day return period. Is this something that can be fixed without spending an arm and a leg? Is there something I can do to get the machine up and running?

Unfortunately, if the diagnosis is correct and your logic-board is no longer working correctly, then it is an extremely expensive repair.

Sometimes even faulty equipment can still work under light loads. I have my father’s old iMac on life support just for his writing and emailing. He uses his much newer MacBook for all his big projects.

It may be a good idea to get your iBook reinstalled from the factory-restore DVDs. Then use the iBook for only classroom work. If you do not migrate data, it may continue to work. You may also want to get a second opinion about the logic board. Just like with medicine, fails-positives happen.

And, um, next time… buy a used Mac from PowerMax… we provide a 90-day warranty and more (including answers to questions). But I’m guessing you’ve kinda figured that out by now.

Macbook Pro burning problems

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

My Macbook Pro Failed to calibrate laser power level for cd media. What do I do ?

That MacBook Pro disk burning error message can cover a few problems. The “Failed to calibrate laser power level” message was meant to indicate that your CD/DVD burner was unable to find the right settings for the blank media you are using. So the first thing to try is different blank media. Do not test with other disks from the same group or spindle, but instead try different brands of CD-R banks. Borrow or trade some blank discs with friends for a good crosscheck of media. See if your blank discs work in your friends’ computers and see if theirs work in your MacBook Pro. If you fail to burn any CDs in your MacBook Pro, regardless of how many different brand discs you use, it is probably is a drive or driver issue.

Some people who upgraded to Leopard have reported burning issues like yours. Also, some people just upgrading to 10.4.11 from another version of Tiger have had an unsolved problem where they get the error message “Failed to calibrate laser power level.” It is not a common occurrence so I would not jump to the conclusion that this is an Apple update problem. Just consider it as a possibility. To see if this your problem, you should try an Archive and Install from your original gray OS X install discs. If it is a driver issue, then Archive and Install should fix it.

The last possibility is that the hardware has failed and the optical drive may need to be replaced. If you determine that the two possible culprits above are not to blame, take your MacBook Pro to a local Apple Authorized Service Center.

Recovering music files from an iPod

Hardware, iPod / iTunes, Laptops & Notebooks, Networking, Software / 0 Comments

How can I transfer tunes from my iPod (30 gb) back to my G4 computer? I have erased them from my computer by accident… but have them all still on my iPod … I am afraid if I try to sync the iPod it will remove them.

We have two staff picks that will do the job and recover your lost tunes.

First there is iPod Access:

and then we have iPodRip:

Both should help you out but give them each a try and see which one you want to keep around… for the next time you need it.

Cleaning the outside of a laptop

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

What is the best way to clean a laptop screen and the laptop itself?

Cleaning a Mac laptop’s screen, or any LCD screen, requires some special care. You do not want to use a harsh chemical as the screen can spot with the wrong chemicals. Water is often the best liquid for light cleaning. It is important to use a soft cotton or micro fiber cloth, and not a paper product. Then you should soak the towel and wring it drip dry. Wipe in one direction with soft pressure. If water does not cut it, you can use a special cleaner like this one.

Cleaning the outer case of any Mac can be safely done with your favorite household cleaner. We use Formula 409 for many of those jobs. The cleaner should be applied to a rag or paper towel and not directly to a case. Liquid of any type in the wrong place can ruin your Mac. When the cleaner is on a cloth, you have the ability to place it where you want.

Playing HD DVDs on Your Mac

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I might be getting a for Christmas this year and am not real concerned about this subject, but was just wondering if the MacBook will play HD DVDs?

It’s wonderful that you might get a MacBook for Christmas. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray/HD-DVD playback on computers is still in turmoil. The problem is that most movie studios believe that putting their movies on a computer-readable format will open the door for massive piracy. So although there are HD-DVD and Blu-ray drives for computers, those are restricted to data discs only. You can’t get store-bought High Definition movies to play on your Mac.

Apple has yet to include a Blu-ray or HD-DVD drive in any of their standard Macs. These drives are obtainable however. PowerMax can install them in the Mac Pro and some drive makers sell Blu-ray upgrades for Macs. Apple may have skipped the High Definition disc issue because computer companies are only allowed to support the data formats of these new discs. If it becomes possible for movie studios to be comfortable with Mac playback of HD movies, then perhaps Apple will start to include those drives.

New 802.11n on my MacBook Pro?

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks, Networking, Wireless / 0 Comments

I purchased a 17" MacBook Pro from you folks (core duo processor) a while back and was wondering if there is a new Airport card that will bring it up to the new 802.11n speeds for wireless Ethernet. I haven’t seen any info on this so I don’t know if it’s possible. I’m thinking of getting the new Airport Extreme and of course would like to be able to get the maximum speed out of the thing.

I currently have a Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL wired router with 8 ports, and the network currently consists of a PowerMac G5 (dual 2GHz), a Mac mini G4 and my Intel 17" MacBook Pro (2.16 GHz, core duo).

I’m not concerned so much about file transfers between the laptop and the rest of the computers, but mainly want the speed for the laptop for Internet browsing.

According to Apple the only computers that support 802.11n connections are Core 2 Duo and Xeon based Macs, which of course is true for those Macs with Airport already installed from Apple. However, there is an unsanctioned upgrade option using Apple parts. We have performed some tests in the PowerMax lab and verified that you can replace the wireless card on older Intel Macs with the Apple 802.11n card. We used the Mac Pro wireless upgrade kit to replace the older 802.11b/g cards in MacBooks and Macbook Pros. It’s not easy work to open your MacBook Pro and exchange the wireless cards but it is a clean upgrade without the need for bulky cards hanging out of the computer.

The larger question is whether the 802.11n functionality is necessary for what you do. The 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station is definitely worth the money even for non-802.11n Mac owners. It has printer/drive sharing and other cool features, but the best benefit is even without 802.11n clients on the network it offers extended range. The truth is that your cable or DSL modem is serving up an internet connection slower than even 802.11b speeds, so you really will not get any internet browsing speed bump with 802.11n connectivity. Also, when you have 802.11g and 802.11n clients on the same network, everyone’s connection speed decreases. All your computers would have to be 802.11n-enabled to get the expanded network speeds. I do recommend the new base station for all Mac users, but not primarily for its network speed.

Will the aluminum PowerBook case degrade Wi-Fi reception?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Wireless / 0 Comments

I would like to buy a aluminum PowerBook 15″. I have just heard that the aluminum casing ruins the wi-fi capability. I don’t mind a small amount of loss like ten percent, but in your opinion, is it much worse?

All metal degrades wireless signals, that’s why your microwave oven does not cook you when it’s cooking your dinner. The wireless signal of 802.11b/g is the same type of signal as what is used in your microwave oven, and the oven has a metal housing to keep the cooking contained in the box. Apple knows this of course and has placed the wireless antennas behind rubber and not aluminum. I have an Aluminum G4 and find the wireless range to be exceptional, even compared to my plastic G4 iBook. Hope that helps!

Will my iBook suffer a performance hit if I only use an external monitor?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am using an iBook G3 600. It has display problem. I have to set the lid in a precarious position otherwise it goes away. It doesn’t black out but it is like having the display set to lowest level. That is I can still see the icons but really dark. It is really a pain in the neck to maintain the lid in a workable position.

While at home I connected to my old HP monitor and it works well and is much more comfortable to work that way.

I am sure the problem is with the connectors inside. It will easily cost me $200 plus to get it fixed by a Pro. I thought I will buy a LCD monitor that is available around $150-200 and use this iBook as a desktop. Will this arrangement cause any problem to the performance of this iBook? Can you suggest any type of monitor?

You are correct in your assumption that it is an internal connection causing the display to dim. What you describe is a faulty backlight connection or cable. Inside every LCD are florescent tubes that shine light through the changing pixels of the LCD. Most times there are only two wires that connect those lights to the main housing. Those wires run through the hinge and can be pulled loose from years of opening and closing the laptop’s lid. It may not be a difficult fix to check the connection of those cables, but if the cables need to be replaced then it can get expensive.

Using an external monitor is a fine low-cost solution with no ill effects. You will basically be turning your iBook into a Mac Mini. The one limitation with using a LCD on an iBook is that it will not display a higher resolution than what you were able to get on the built-in display. So you do not need to spend your money on a display with a higher resolution than 1024 X 768. I have always liked Planar displays and the 17″ PL 1700 would be a good option for you.

The only other thing you will need is a good keyboard and mouse. That way you can type directly in front of the display.

What Mac should I buy to move away from a PC laptop?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am retired from (over six years) print shop prep-department. I used the latest versions of Mac and software to do my work, and I loved working with them. Since then I have been using a Dell laptop and hating how hard everything is to use. Lately I have gotten into digital photography and find the Dell a real pain in the neck compared to the Mac I used at work. My question is, what kind of Mac should I be looking for (remember I am retired)? Will I be able to run software I have for the Dell? Do they have built in Flash Card ports? Will I be able to get my jpeg photos off the CDs I burned with the Dell? I was thinking of getting a cut down version of Print Shop will this run on any Mac? Will my older HP printer with USB run with the Mac or do I have to update that also? We still have dial-up, and will have for a while, does the Mac have a built in modem or do I/can I get an add on. I am sure I missed something important to ask, if so what was it?

You have quite a few questions that can take you in many different directions. If cost were not a concern I would recommend a MacBook, which could run your old PC software through Parallels and still keep you doing most of your work in the Mac OS. You would particularly enjoy using iPhoto or Aperture for your photography. However, price is almost always a concern for people, so a Refurbished or Previously Owned G4 laptop would be a great option. The entry level MacBook could be in your budget so it is worth a look, but otherwise focus on any G4 portable with a processor over 1.25 GHz.

Moving over your photos and other files will be easy and should not pose any compatibility problems. Your photo CDs will be read just fine and other data files are going to be compatible. Your old programs will not work on a G4 Mac so you may have to buy Mac versions of the same program, but often a Mac will come preinstalled with replacement software that works better than what you have on the Dell. Your HP USB printer should work fine on the Mac and may even have built-in support. Most older Macs will come with dialup modems, but the new Intel Macs require you to buy a USB modem. I would recommend buying an AirPort Extreme wireless base station instead. It will allow you to connect to the internet with your dialup connection, but your laptop will not have to be tethered to a phone cable when online. Other computers will be able to use the same dialup connection at the same time as you and your USB printer can connect directly to the base station. That would let you print from any room in your house, wirelessly.

That should get you back to the Mac.

Need advice with purchasing a used laptop.

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am making a transition from 9-5 to freelance graphics and would like a laptop, but I’m on a budget. My desktop machine is a mirror door G4, 1 gig dual processor with 1 gig of RAM, running OS 10.4. I’m using mostly Creative Suite 2, and frankly, that Mac is doing the job, but is no speed demon. I would like something comparable in a laptop, I’m afraid anything less will not run InDesign and Photoshop. I’d like wi-fi, to check email and surf the net on the run and I’d like to be able to run CS2, not for heavy duty work, but just to be able to work on the fly, make small changes at a customer’s office, show pdfs etc. and painting in Painter 9 on lunch breaks or vacations would be a definite plus. I’ve been looking at your certified pre-owned list. What is the minimum machine you’d recommend for me?

I would recommend the last generation of iBook G4 for a cost effective portable G4. In addition both a 1 GHz or 1.2 GHz iBook G4 would run your Adobe applications and they are inexpensive durable portables. A listing can be found here, but you can also call in for other available deals. The screen is going to be small but this is more a portable portfolio for you than a desktop replacement. The iBook can connect to external projectors for demonstrations with the client and allow you to make edits as needed. If you look at spending any more than what an iBook would cost, you would be close enough to a MacBook price to just buy it new. The MacBook’s glossy screen presents outstanding color.

Hope that narrows your choices a bit.

Why is my external monitor’s resolution limited when running in mirror mode on a PowerBook?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I have a PowerBook G4 that has a ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 Graphics Card. I am wondering why I can run it on a dual display with a 24 in. widescreen monitor, but when I try to mirror the monitor it will only run at 1280 X 854. Is there something that I am doing wrong, or do I just need a bigger graphics card.

Mirror mode is probably the most problematic mode to run dual displays in. When you are in mirror mode, the screen resolution has a maximum of the highest resolution available on the smaller display. In your case, that is the PowerBook’s display. Even if you had two different video cards, running each display, Mirror mode would keep the resolution capped at 1280 X 854.

What many laptop owners do, when they want to use a bigger monitor without using the built-in display, is close the lid to the laptop. As soon as you plug in an external display, USB keyboard and mouse, the computer will wake up and use the full resolution of the display. Then your laptop will basically be the equivalent of a Mac mini, until you open the lid again.

How to charge a MacBook on Mount Everest.

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am a mountain guide working on Mount Everest this spring and just bought a MacBook. I also have a Brunton Solaris 26 solar panel to charge it up. But I can’t find an adaptor that will work that is a 12 volt vehicle adaptor. Any ideas?

This Magsafe 12V issue has been a big problem for Intel Mac owners. Apple makes a Magsafe Airline Adapter that will connect to the lighter plug on cars and planes. However, the Airline Adapter will not charge a MacBook from the 12 V current that all cars put out. The MacBooks need more power than what a car’s lighter can produce. Those same low power concerns apply to your solar charger. The Brunton Solaris 26 can only put out 26 Watts, and the MacBook Power adapter is rated at 60 Watts. The power adapter just will not be getting enough juice. A work-around could be to use a power inverter (like a Targus Inverter) with the Solaris 26 and charge the MacBook via its own adapter when it is powered off. Charging the battery when the MacBook is off should have a much lower power draw. You could try the same procedure without a power inverter but you will want to test it before you head up the mountain.

Difference between Aluminum and Titanium?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Could you please explain to me the difference between:Certified Pre-Owned Aluminum PowerBook G4andCertified Pre-Owned Titanium PowerBook G4

The differences between Aluminum and Titanium PowerBooks are not night and day, but do represent a significant change in Apple laptops. Titanium G4 Powerbooks can boot into OS 9 and have a slim case design. They range in speeds of 400 MHz to 1 GHz. The Aluminum line replaced the Titanium models with three screen sizes, 12″ 15.2″, and 17″. They have faster wireless networking, faster processor speeds and, bluetooth, but will not boot into OS 9.Hope that differentiates them a bit better.

Why do my batteries drain so fast?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Got a question for you- I am having some trouble with 2 different batteries- one that was a recent (3 months ago) purchase and one that was an Apple replacement. They both drain incredibly quickly even with all the power saving stuff I can think of (dimmed screen, all Internet apps off, no Bluetooth- in the time I have written this email it went from 28% to 16% and dropping) and they take incredibly long to recharge – like more than 8 hours to go from 1% to 100%. I am using a MacAlly power supply which I suspect might be the problem, as I found a Battery Utility especially for my Aluminum 15″ but it wont run unless I’m plugged in to an Apple power supply which I no longer own. Any ideas? Was Apple sending out old bad batteries in the recall? I appreciate your thoughts.

Your suspicion about the charger is probably correct. When it comes to replacing the power adapter for your PowerBook or iBook, you have to pay special attention to the wattage. Many of the G3 iBooks and the Titanium PowerBooks use 45 watt power adapters. Although the adapter’s plug is the same for newer iBooks and PowerBooks, those computers need a full 65 watt adapter. Most 45 watt power adapters will say that they work on iBooks and PowerBooks but their packaging is outdated. That might have been true when there was only 45 watt Apple portables, but new adapters are all 65 watts. For your computer, 45 watts will not provide enough juice to both power the computer and charge the battery. This is bad for the battery and can cause the power adapter to overheat, possibly breaking out in a ball of fire. For your PowerBook, you have to have a 65 Watt adapter and better yet you probably should get a Apple power adapter (Apple AC Adapter). Apple only makes 65 watt adapters now and they will work on 45 watt and 65 watt computers. Hope that fixes it but there could be additional battery damage that occurred from an under-powered adapter.

Will Vista work on an Intel MacBook?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Software / 0 Comments

I am contemplating purchasing an Intel MacBook. Being that I work mainly with PCs which will be upgraded to Vista when it comes out, I’d like to know if Vista will work on it or not.

Yes Intel Mac hardware is great for Windows Vista. People have been running Vista through Boot Camp and Parallels with a great deal of success. However, I wouldn’t recommend running the Vista eye-candy “Aero Glass” in Parallels on any Mac. Aero Glass should work well on Pro level Macs and iMacs in Boot Camp, but on Macs with integrated graphic processors, like the MacBook, you should nix the Aero Glass.

Copy files to a CD with an iBook G4

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X / 0 Comments

I bought a used, under warranty iBook G4 from you last July. It has a combo drive. When I try to copy something to the drive, I get an error message saying it cannot find the program. Since I didn’t receive any program disks with the purchase, what am I missing and/or what do I need in order to copy to a CD?

Modern Mac computers support “Desktop Burning” for the creation of data CDs. No additional software is required. With Desktop Burning you just need to insert a blank disc. The system should ask if you want to open it in the Finder, iTunes, or Disk Utility. For data discs choose “Open in Finder.” If you do not get this option you can set it in System Preferences in the “CDs & DVDs” section. Change both the “When you insert a blank CD:” and “When you insert a blank DVD:” pull down menus to “Ask what to do.” When you have opened a blank disc in the finder you will be able to copy files to that disc icon. Then you just need to drag the disc to the trash. The trash basket will turn into a black and yellow burn symbol. Sometimes there is a problem with the OS X burn engine. This could be part of your problem. If when you attempt to burn you get the error you listed above, it could be a corrupted or missing part of the OS. One fix would be to install a Combo update of your OS, which could replace the offending OS component. It is important that you use a Combo update.If that does not help let me know what exactly the error says and when in the process it appears.

Is upgrading MacBook video processor hard?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

How hard is it to upgrade the video on a 13″ MacBook & would it then be comparable to the MacBook pro?

It is not possible to upgrade the video processor on MacBooks or Mac minis. MacBook Pros and iMacs can have the video RAM increased but only at the factory. Mac Pros and 24″ iMacs can have their video cards upgrade at any time in the computer’s life, as long as cards are available.Even at peak performance, a MacBook will not have the same video processing power that a MacBook Pro has. The good news for 13″ MacBook and Mac mini owners is that both of these computers have integrated graphics chips. That means the graphics processor shares the system memory instead of having dedicated video memory. So upgrading the total volume of RAM on your MacBook will improve your computer’s overall performance. Adding RAM to a MacBook is an easy procedure that most Mac users will have no difficulty performing.

Using iSight Mac for video conferencing with external cameras

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X, Networking / 0 Comments

Well, I ordered my new MacBook (Duoprocessor, not Duo 2 ) from you guys and just thought of 2 quick questions:

1) Since the new MacBook has a built-in iSight camera, will I still be able to use my “external” camera so that I can aim it manually at my kids when my parents want to see them playing, etc.? Or does the internal camera override?

2) Will I now be able to have a multi-person iChat session with my brother & parents if I start the session (based on a standard DSL connection)? Or do I need a faster connection? (Is a cable connection faster?)

Thanks so much! I really appreciated your help with my previous question re: hard drive & RAM size to order.

You can use a FireWire-based iSight camera with Macs that have a camera built-in. To switch from one to the other is an option found under the iChat Video preferences. Although you may be able to switch cameras mid-chat, I would not recommend it. In most cases just leave your FireWire iSight as the primary camera. All Intel-based Macs can host video conference (multi-user) chats so you can start those for your family and friends as long as they have at least a 1GHz G4, dual 800 MHz G4, or any G5 / Intel Mac. Although you can host these chats over a wireless connection, you will get the best performance from a direct ethernet connection to your DSL modem.

DLS is often fast enough for four-way video chats but it will have slower data speeds the further you are from your phone company’s main office. Cable internet speeds can be faster than DSL because of that DSL distance issue. Get friendly with your neighbors and see what speeds they get from their cable internet connections. Switch if you find that they are outpacing your DSL connection.Hope that helps.

Aluminum PowerBook Memory installed, but missing

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I have a 1.23 GHZ PowerBook 15″ I got from PowerMax in June ’04. It runs fine. I just noticed my memory indicator showed only 256MB and I thought I had 512MB. So I looked inside where there were 2 256MB cards. But the computer was recognizing only one, indicating the bottom slot was empty. I switched the two cards and it still indicated top full bottom empty.Now the weird part.. (to me)I removed the top card and it then indicated lower full top empty.I replaced the top card (both cards now in) so it was the same as when I started and it again indicated lower empty, top full.So both cards seem to be functional and both slots are able to recognize a card at certain times. I would like to upgrade/repair memory to at least a useable 512 and am not sure how to proceed.Any help would be appreciated.

This weird memory error is a not too uncommon failure of some 15″ Aluminum PowerBooks. In one particular version of the G4 PowerBook, a problem like yours occurred enough times that Apple has a repair extension program for it (Apple Tech Article).. Although this repair extension does not cover your 1.25 GHz PowerBook, you can read through the symptoms and see that it is very similar to the problem your PowerBook developed.The solution to the problem is to replace the logic board. That is an expensive repair and not the most appealing option you would hope for.. The most cost effective solution would be to buy a single RAM chip in the total size you want and install it in the good RAM slot. A 1 GB stick could be a good combo upgrade and repair for you. It would cost much less than replacing the logic board.Hope that clears up the weirdness.

MacBook Pro Hard Drive Is Too Loud

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I purchased a Mac Book Pro 15″ 2GHz Intel Core Duo from you a few months ago. The MaacBook Pro hard drive made noise from the day I received it. I took it to the Apple store and they said it was normal to make noise. Now it is very loud making crackling sounds most of the time. It seems to be getting louder and more frequent recently. I am very concerned for my data should it fail. Have you had any experience with this sort of complaint?Vincent DonileThanks for your help

Drive noise is a problematic area when diagnosing problems. All MacBook Pro hard drives make a certain amount of noise and Mac laptops have been getting thinner. That means that the sound barrier between the user and the drive is also thinning, so new computers sometimes sound louder when it is actually less sound shielding. That being said, an increase in drive noise is not a good sign because it is indicating a change in the drive’s functionality. If you are not backing up now, please start. Use blank CDs to get your documents, pictures and purchased music saved. The next step would be to buy a FireWire hard drive 160GB or bigger. Use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable mirror copy of your MacBook Pro’s hard drive (Carbon Copy Cloner).With all your data saved you need to take the MacBook Pro in for service.. I would recommend going to an Apple Authorized Service Center and not an Apple store. Many service centers like the one here at PowerMax have been fixing Macs for over ten years and are willing to do this type of service work without hesitation. The replacement drive and labor will be covered under your warranty. When you get your computer back it will be like it was when it was new, so during the setup it asks you if there is data from an old Mac that you want to move over. You should say yes and connect that backup FireWire drive. It will then set you up just as you where before the drive was replaced.Good luck and do not wait to long before getting this taken care of.

Any modem in the new MacBooks?

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks, Networking / 0 Comments

I am going to buy a MacBook. One last thing I am worried about it is that whether I can access the internet without any USB modem. I am little confused whether it has a built-in modem to catch internet signals or not. Can I access the internet without any wire via my wireless router.? Thank you

The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros do not offer a built in 56k modem for Dial-up internet connections (Apple USB External Modem). You can use Apple’s USB modem with those laptops if you only have a Dial up ISP account. If you have a DSL or Cable Broadband internet connection then you can use the built-in ethernet port or built-in Wi-Fi (AKA AirPort) connections. For a wireless connection you also need a Wi-Fi router to connect to your broadband modem.Another option if you have a dial-up internet connection would be the Airport Extreme Base Station (Airport Extreme Base Station). That has a built-in 56k modem that will connect to your ISP and send that signal wirelessly to your new MacBook.That should get you connected. Good luck

What version are my iBook G4 1.2 boot disks?

Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X / 0 Comments

I have a used iBook G4 with OSX version 10.3.2. On the computer is a disc version 10.3.3 because I bought a replacement set. The problem is the disc one install does not let me install on restart.. When I restart and press the c key it brings me to a grey screen with an greyer apple in the center. There is never a spinner or directions on how to reinstall. It is a screen with no actions allowed. Is this because the disc set is older than the version already on the computer? Or maybe because the disc is defective? I wanted to reset all passwords on the computer and this is how they tell you to do that.

Finding the right boot discs that originally shipped with your computer can be difficult. Macs need to have specific boot discs and even little differences will cause the problem you are having. PowerMax sells boot discs but we only do it over the phone because we have to get detailed info about your computer in order to find the right version. Another option you may want to consider is buying a full copy of OS 10.4 Tiger ( That will give you a disc to boot up off of to change your passwords and a useful OS upgrade.Hope that solves it.

Powering MacBook Pro through a car’s lighter plug

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Do you have anything in stock that would power a 15″ MacBook Pro through a car’s lighter? I have not seen a product that can do that yet.Thanks very much, I really appreciate your help.

I have yet to find any MagSafe auto adapter for the MacBook or MacBook Pro that I would trust. However I have a better solution for you. I use a DC to AC power inverter for my mobile travel needs (Mobile Inverter). This will turn a standard lighter plug into a three pronged house outlet that will accept your original Apple power adapter. It will also power all your other plug-in devices that you may need to bring along in the car. Most power inverters will work well, but remember you will want one with over 85W of output.. It is a versatile solution that will outlive your MacBook Pro. I have had the same inverter for many different laptops.

MacBook Pro – hating the glossy screen – what to do?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I just got a 17″ MacBook Pro. I’m totally regretting getting a glossy screen because it is so shiny. It’s more like glassy, rather than glossy.. I had to move my desk just for that and I’m still getting some glare from the lights. I don’t have my own office, so the choice is limited.Is there anything I can do other than exchanging it, like adding a filter?

I think the solution for you would be The 3M Notebook Privacy screen for 17″ wide screen laptops. This screen is designed for data security, but should have a dimming effect on your screen. The screen works by blocking light traveling in any direction except for straight forward. This also will block light in the opposite direction from hitting the screen.. So window glare and the overhead lights will no longer reach the glossy Mac Book Pro screen. This is a special order item so call into the PowerMax sales line and ask them about PN H68119 (Vendor # PF17.0W).Let me know how this works for you..

Tablet + Mac + Projector

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Is it possible to hook the Adesso 12×9 Graphics Tablet up to a Mac laptop and also hook to a projector so that while teaching one could annotate PowerPoint presentations?

Yes, that tablet would work well for your presentations, but if you have Bluetooth in your laptop, look at the Wacom BT tablet.Wacom BT TabletThis would let you walk around and even stand up front when working with the presentation. You will be able to do things with any tablet that you could do with a mouse. It just turns the mouse input into pen input, so any extra notations you do is a function of the software.. Accordingly, test with your mouse in the software first..Good luck!

Upgrading G4 Titanium PowerBook to USB2?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am going to make a long story short: Is it possible to upgrade my USB ports on my Titanium PowerBook to USB2?

I will fight my nature to make a short answer long and just say yes. You need a PCMCIA (AKA PC Card) USB 2.0 card for your laptop. I would recommend the D-Link card, just remember USB 2.0 cards only work in Mac OS X.

Hope that works for you.

Water in the Keyboard!

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Help – one of my roommates spilled water on my powerbook laptop-unit is turning on but keyboard is not responding-what should I do?

First thing, you need to turn off the PowerBook until you’re sure that it’s dry. Remove the battery and the power cord. To help it dry faster it’s OK to use a hair dryer on low, or a fan. You will want to make certain it’s dry before turning it on again. It may be that the keyboard was still wet and that is why it is not working. If after the extensive dry-out it still doesn’t let you type, then you probably will need a new keyboard. That work should be done by an authorized Apple service center. It should cost you under $100 for the repair.Good luck. I hope the hair dryer does it.

Virus and Spyware protection for my iBook G4

Laptops & Notebooks, Software / 0 Comments

I recently purchased an iBook G4 from you. Where do I go to download virus and spy ware protection? Do I need it?

There are a few sources for anti virus software for the Mac but I would not recommend that you use any of them. I once told people that “If it makes you feel better then go ahead and use it” but I now advise against it. In my experience it causes problems on the Mac and provides protection from a non-existent threat. Not only did you buy a computer that is not a target of Spyware or viruses, but you bought one that uses the PowerPC processor. That chip works differently than the new Intel Mac processors, so any future attacks will pass you by and there are no current exploits. If you want to err on the safe side of this subject, then all you will need to do is check for updates every day and never use any Microsoft software on your computer. That’s overkill, but other than that you are safe as can be. Enjoy your Mac!

Can I use my new nano with USB 1.1?

Hardware, iPod / iTunes, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I’m interested in buying the new iPod nano that was announced yesterday. I see that it requires USB 2.0 and my iBook G3 has USB 1.1. I think USB 1.1 will work, only slower than 2.0, also will I have to get any type of adapter to make it work?

With the introduction of the Fifth Generation iPods, Apple officially dropped FireWire support for iPods and made the iPod a USB 2.0 device. Fortunately the iPods do support data transfers at the slower speed of USB 1.1 and you can use it with your iBook. The problem you will encounter is that USB 1.1 will not charge your iPod nano. USB 2.0 provides more power than 1.1, and there are no upgrades you can do to your laptop to change that. The best solution is to buy a USB wall charger. ( Charge your iPod before you connect it to the computer so it does not lose power when updating. Other than adding the charger to your order, you will be ready to get that new iPod.Enjoy your nano. I love mine.

Trouble with 5300cs display might be my power connector?

Displays, Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Recently bought a 5300cs PowerBook with a wobbly power connector. We think we fixed the connector and all was OK but now the machine has developed a problem with the screen. When we boot up the screen comes on but with no image on it. It’s as if the brightness and contrast need adjusting – but that doesn’t work. We can tell the computer itself is working because we can hear the sounds – eg when we press the power key to shut down we hear the sound we recorded.We’re wondering if the problem is related to the fixing of the power connector or if is is something new.

It is certainly possible that poor or excessive power could have created your display problem. What you describe is symptomatic of a LCD backlight failure. It could be that the power adapter damaged the LCD’s power inverter. A damaged inverter will prevent a backlight from turning on and make the screen constantly look dim. You may be able to reset the power manager and fix your problem. First zap you PRAM repeatedly. Do this by restarting the computer holding down the Apple, Option, P, an R keys. Let the computer chime four times. Next locate the reset button on the back of the computer near the connection ports. With the battery out and power unplugged, press the button. Plug the power cable back in and press the button one more time. Now press the power button and see if the video comes back. If not you are probably out of luck because there are no replacement parts for the 5300cs outside of perhaps eBay.

Clicking iBook, very hot!

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

After a couple of hours of use I hear a clicking sound and the iBook freezes for a minute every five minutes. The iBook gets hot during this problem.Thanks for any ideas you have, I love my iBook that we got from you.

There are very few components of a computer that can make a clicking noise. The usual suspect for random clicking is the hard drive. The clicking noise is caused by the drive’s internal read head smacking against the side of the drive’s case. This is a precursor to total drive failure, so back up your important data right now even if you think it could be something else. One way to check the health of your hard drive is to go into Disk Utility and look at the “S.M.A.R.T. Status” of your drive. Big problems will be identified by the S.M.A.R.T. on-drive diagnostics, but you may need to use the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) included with the iBook Restore discs.If your hard drive passes the tests then you will need to use your ears to narrow your search. Wait until your iBook starts clicking and then put your ear to the iBook. If the clicking is under the left palm rest, it’s coming from the hard drive. Clicking coming from under the right hand side of the keyboard is caused by the optical drive. An optical drive will fail much like a hard drive and make the same type of clicking noise.Another possibility that your iBook’s fan is causing the clicking; the fan is located by the display hinge. There is also the outside chance that the clicking is caused by the system freezing and not the other way around. In that case it could be a problem with the RAM, or software conflicts. Try removing the extra RAM from your iBook and see if the problem goes away. To test software, reboot with the “Shift” key held down to boot into a Safe Boot mode.Good luck and I hope this narrows the troubleshooting.

Combining two networks into one using AirPort

Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X, Networking, Wireless / 0 Comments

I am hoping you can give me a couple of pointers. I currently have two networks in the house, one is for the internet (Apple Network a70325) and the other is for printing (The Printer Zone). I’m using:iBook G4 with OS X (10.4.7) Airport Extreme Base Station (apple network a70325) running the internet from a cable modem. Airport Express Station (The Printer Zone), hooked up to an HP All in one Officejet 7310. Goal: to just have one network where I can print and get the internet, without having to switch back and forth in the taskbar. Is this goal possible?I’m also expecting that once the two stations are set up, the Printer zone should just disappear?

Having a single wireless network comprised of multiple base-stations is one of the things that sets Apple wireless products apart from the rest. What you will want to do is set up “WDS” in your network. WDS stands for Wireless Distribution System and it’s what allows one base station to act as the primary connection to the internet, and every other base station in range to act as a repeater. With the latest version of Airport Admin Utility, connect to the Extreme base station. Click on the WDS tab. Check the checkbox next to “Enable this base station as a WDS” and set it to be the “main base station.” Next, select the “+” button to add your Express base station. It will have to be within 150 feet for this to work. Select your Express and then click the Update button. After everything resets, your two base stations will act as one network and each base station can support a printer. This is the best way to setup multiple base stations and you can keep adding Express base stations to the network as your needs grow.Have fun.Jacob Loeb

Is the MacBook Pro 2GB really worth it?

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hey I am thinking about getting a MacBook Pro. Just wondering if it’s worth getting 2 GB of ram instead of 1. Also I heard that not all programs work with the duo core. I heard two other things too, 1. That the MacBook Pros get really hot when they’ve been running for a long time, 2. That they have a glitch that it says it’s sleeping but it’s not or something.

One gigabyte of memory is plenty for most work you are going to do on a MacBook Pro. If you are working with big files or editing video, then I would say it’s worth the price to upgrade to 2 GB. Otherwise you can wait. However, an additional criterion for upgrading the RAM would be if you plan on running Windows XP through Parallels or through whatever Leopard brings us. In that case. you would be in effect running two operating systems and both would want to have 1 GB of memory. Not every program runs on Intel-based Macs but most do, and more are being updated every day. Most of your older applications will run on the MacBook Pro through Rosetta, and the rest will need to be upgraded. However, none of your OS 9 Applications will work. Many people have expressed concern over the heat generated from the MacBook (Pro) but it is only slightly more than the G4 models. Heat is always going to be an issue with a fast processor in a thin laptop.As for glitches and design mistakes, there have been a few. It is no more prevalent in Intel Macs than in other new Mac models. I think people are a little gun shy with the Intel switch than in previous upgrades. Apple’s newfound popularity also is responsible: it’s somewhat a case of over-reporting; that’s why it seems like the MacBook Pros are problematic. I have not found a single issue that affects more then a handful of units. The best advice that I would have for you is to buy a new unit and add AppleCare to it to cover any of these potential design problems. That way you are covered.Hope that helps and you are going to love the MacBook Pro.Jacob Loeb

MacBook issues with AVI files & Word Processing

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks, Mac OS X, Software / 0 Comments

Hi Jacob,I recently purchased a 13″ MacBook and I like the speed of it but I have several issues with it. I can’t get it to play my AVI files. When I open the file, quicktime opens and the slide bar moves as though it is playing but there is no picture and no sound. I’ve already tried downloading flip2mac and windows media player for Mac. Neither of these work.Also, I can’t seem to adjust the sound on my Mac to an audible level. I have it turned all the way up but it’s still very quiet.This last issue hasn’t caused any problems but it’s still annoying. When I press the “TAB” key, instead of tabbing, the key comes disconnected on one side and pops up. Pressing it again makes it go back into the keyboard where it belongs, and pressing it a third time will finally give the desired result of tabbing.Another question I have is, is it possible to do any word processing on a Mac? I can’t seem to find any application on mine that would allow typing, editing, or printing of any documents. I really had wanted to move to a Mac and dispose of my PC, but it appears I will have to keep the PC in order to be able to use these vital functions. Your advice is much appreciated.

The program you want to use for your AVI files is the versatile and free VLC ( It is a cross-platform “Swiss Arm Knife” media player. Give VLC a try and see if it solves your playback problems. Your keyboard, on the other hand, may need a trip to the service center see if the key is properly installed and if needed, get replaced.For word processing you have many options. You already have TextEdit in your applications folder. As a basic word processor TextEdit can type formatted text and spell check for you. If you want to use MS Word it is available for the Mac and has long been a standard of the business world. Apple’s own Pages is also a very good word processor, without some of the complications and hitches Word has. There are also less expensive yet capable word processors like Mariner Write ( Try some of those options; you truly don’t need your PC any longer.Jacob Loeb

mini-DVDs with a PowerBook?

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Can you use the mini-DVDs in a G4 Powerbook? I didn’t want to stick one in the driver and get it stuck.

I am glad you asked the question before putting the disc in your PowerBook. We have had to break down many a computer to remove those mini CDs and DVDs. They do get stuck in the drive and sometimes damage a drive beyond repair. With slot loading optical drives like the ones in the G4 and Intel laptops, you should never put any disc in it other than a standard sized disc (12 cm). This is also true for slot loading iMacs and XServes. You just saved yourself a world of trouble by checking first.Jacob Loeb

No USB 2.0 on 12″ PowerBook

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Dear Jacob: I just bought a used 12″ power book from Powermax. After the purchase I noticed this comp has the older 1.1 usb ports. What are the ways to upgrade to 2.0 usb.

Unfortunately the first generation of 12″ PowerBooks did not come with USB 2.0 and without a PCMCIA card slot on the 12″ model it is impossible upgrade anything but the RAM and hard drive. Most items that require USB 2.0 will often work on USB 1.1 connections but just at a lower speed. USB 1.1 delivers less power than USB 2.0 so you are probably going to want to use a powered hub in between the computer and USB 2.0 devices.Sorry for the bad news but I hope you enjoy everything else about your PowerBook.Jacob Loeb

Over-ambitious PowerBook Fan

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Dear Jacob,I have an old TiBook 667 which I have babied for years. I’ve increased its hard drive and added another gig of RAM. I’ve probably spent too much on it and should have just upgraded, but…Anyway, in the past couple of days the fan has been running pretty much continuously. After a minute or so of launching Safari, Mail, etc., the fan starts.As far as I know my software and firmware are up to date. The laptop is sitting on the kitchen table – bare, without any suffocating tablecloth, etc. – and the air conditioning is always on. It’s hot down here! But the house stays at around 79 degrees plus or minus 2 or 3 degrees.Any suggestions besides trading it in?

Any upgrades you do to a Mac can offset the cooling balance within the case. A larger hard drive that spins faster than the original drive will generate more heat and trigger the fans to come on more often. That being said, any good engineer builds in some padding to his numbers, and you do not sound like you are over-tasking this computer so there may be another culprit. In the Utilities folder within the Applications folder is a program called Activity Monitor. This program will show you what is running on your system and help identify what could be causing this problem. In Activity Monitor’s window, make sure you are viewing “All Processes” and not just “My Processes.” Then click on the column labeled “%CPU” to see what is eating up the most system resources. Make sure no process is marked in red or is using more then 30% of the CPU for long periods of time. Look at your “Disk Activity” and see if that corresponds to your fan use. It could be that everything looks normal in the Activity Monitor. If that is the case try changing your Energy Saver settings in the System Preferences. Allow your hard drive to go to sleep whenever possible and in the “Options” section make sure that your processor settings are set to “Automatic.”As a last ditch effort you could do an archive and install of the OS and see if the software-based fan controller is corrupted.Good luck and let me know what you find out.Jacob Loeb

Running MacBook Pro with lid closed?

Hardware, Intel Macs, Laptops & Notebooks, System Settings / 0 Comments

Hey Jacob.I’ve got a G5 at home that runs Logic Express and ProTools. I want to purchase a new Mac Book Pro to use on the road to record live audio from a firewire device. My road case is fairly complex, with no room to set my (not yet purchased) Mac Book Pro. Can I run Logic Express in record mode (or any application really) with the lid on my machine closed? Plug in the Mac, hit the record button, close the lid, slide the Mac into a padded drawer, and let it roll. Is this do-able?

Both the PowerBook and MacBook Pro have the ability to operate with the lid closed. In most cases this feature is used for docking a laptop to a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If you connect an external keyboard to the laptop with its lid closed and press a key it will wake from sleep. The problem you will encounter is that when you shut the lid to put it away the MacBook Pro will go to the sleep power saving mode. You would have to keep a small USB keyboard connected to it so that you could wake it up and continue to record.Another option to consider is using a small LCD display connected as the primary monitor when inside the case. You can get 7″ VGA displays that would work as a simple Logic Express status indicator. These 7″ LCDs are made for in-car entertainment systems but will work mounted to the top of your recording rig. That, combined with a mini USB keyboard and travel mouse, would let you keep an eye on your recordings. As you know there is nothing worse than finding out that you missed a live recording because your equipment needed you to click another button.Let me know what you end up using and send pictures when you get it set up. I would like to put them up online.Jacob Loeb

My PowerBook got soaked!

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hi, my name is Lisa and I own a Powerbook G4. I got my laptop just a few months ago in Christmas 2005; I use it for a little graphic design.Last month I moved to a new house; and my computer was ruined by my roommates haywire sprinkler system; the water damaged my casing and the logic board and I’m looking at a repair cost of $1,250.The question that I have is this – if I agree to let Apple repair my computer (an out of pocket cost to me of $500, as my insurance company will pay the remainder) – will the water damage continue to erode away in my laptop? Apple guarantees their repair for 90 days after, but since I’m using this for work that I am sending to clients and friends – I’d hate to lose it…Is there a better way?

Lisa, Sorry to hear about your computer.Getting liquids into your computer is never a good thing, especially when it is powered on. I hear countless tales of people who accidentally dowse their computer but are able to just dry them off without any damage. However, that’s really only possible if the computer was powered off when the liquid hit. When the computer is turned on you get the kind of catastrophic damage you are describing. Repairing the computer is a decent solution. During the repair any moisture left in the computer will be dried out. Nothing should continue to erode or become further damaged. The problem you face is that you have no idea what was weakened, but not destroyed, by the water. The repair quote is only for what they know does not work. Any failure beyond those replaced components are not covered and they could fail at any time. The good news is that the majority of what can fail will be replaced during the service work, and most people who I have known in your position did not have any further problems after it was fixed.However, one thing to check on is whether your insurance company will cut you a check for the repair and then you can take that money and some of your own and get yourself a MacBook to replace your PowerBook. At the very least you will have more confidence in a new computer. In addition, a PowerMax pre-owned PowerBook can actually cost less than your repair, depending on the level PowerBook you had. You might want to check out that option as well, which will give you the same 90 day warranty without the water damage concern and risk.Hope that helpsJacob Loeb

EVDO in Intel Macs

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks, Networking / 0 Comments

Since the new MacBooks don’t have PCMCIA slots, is there a solution to using Verizon’s or any other wireless broadband service on these Apple models?

This is an interesting transition time for EVDO in which most offerings are only PCMCIA components. But Intel Mac users are not without options. One of the best places to go for EVDO information is a partner of PowerMax’s called They are Mac-loving resellers of both Sprint and Verizon EVDO services. If you have a MacBook Pro you can find ExpressCard units for both Verizon and Sprint wireless broadband. As time goes on more of the manufacturers of EVDO cards will make ExpressCard units instead of PCMCIA cards. That does not help MacBook users because like the iBook and 12″ PowerBooks, the Intel MacBooks have no expansion slots. Luckily MacBook users now have an option to get the Sprint EVDO service. There is a new USB EVDO modem made by Franklin that will automatically connect to Intel Macs with 10.4.7 or higher. This new USB modem is due to ship at the end of the month. Apple has built in support for EVDO in Intel Macs and will help with all that Apple will not.That should get you connected.Jacob Loeb

Bikes powering Macs!

Hardware, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

This may be something you haven’t covered yet.I’m an elementary school librarian with an iMac and iBook lab. I’m trying to get the kids to put some of their excess energy to good use by having them ride recumbent bikes and simultaneously generate enough electricity to charge a 12″ iBook (which they’d be using at the time). Right now they put out up to maybe 30 volts or so (no load), which drops to about 25.5 volts when charging two decent-sized (4.5 amp?) 12 volt gel cells, wired in series. I’ve briefly run this, using a cable from a dead Apple charger, into the iBook and get the battery to charge while the computer is being used. Nothing fried thus far! I’m working on a basic voltage regulator circuit to drop this down to the charger’s rated 24 volts, but I was wondering how many volts that a/c adapter/charging port can handle before I have to worry about cooking something. These are the dual-USB port iBooks, if that matters.

John this is a great project and it is the first time I have heard of a school doing this. The adapter’s power outpoint for white G3 iBooks is 45W 24V 1.875A. The power threshold that an iBook will take is hard to determine. Wattage is not an issue because the iBook will only consume the power it needs. You are going to want to keep the charge below 3 Amp. I would suggest using a car fuse to protect the iBooks in addition to the voltage regulator. The specks are the same for G4 iBooks but instead it has a 2.7A output. I have run G3 iBooks with G4 iBook power adapters and have seen no negative effects. So if the output is capped at 2.7A or 3.0A you will probably be in good shape.I hope this helps with your project. Please send me some pictures and updates on the success of your experiment.Jacob Loeb

Installing A Superdrive in my iBook

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I was wondering if it would be possible to upgrade my combo drive in my 12-inch iBook G4 to a Superdrive.

You certainly can have that work done. MCE Technologies makes a variety of Mac optical drive upgrades. The replacement Superdrive drive costs around $150 but there is the additional cost of labor to install it. PowerMax charges $90 an hour for that kind of labor and it will take a full hour. Most mechanically skilled people can upgrade an optical drive in a PowerBook, but with iBooks you need to know what you are doing. Many iBook screws are different sizes and it has to be reassembled in the right order for everything to fit.Upgrades are available but seek the help of a professional.

Replacing the Hard Drive and RAM in an iBook

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I need help replacing the hard drive and adding memory in my white iBook. If you know of any websites that can help me (preferably step by step w/ pictures), please let me know. The stats are G3 400-500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 15 GB HD and OS 9.2.2. I have an 80 GB hard drive and 256 MB RAM to upgrade it, as well as OS upgrade to 10.2.8. Right now, it is freezing randomly; and giving me the message that there are problems with the hard drive. Sometimes, upon start up, I will get a message in effect to this: system error: virtual memory I/O error (something to this effect) and I am asked to restart with the extension turned off. I can get in when I restart with the extensions off, but then I can’t use my printer and it will not allow me to reinstall it. Also, the hard drive makes noises (that indicated to me that there are problems and it needs to be replaced). I have done the usual: run disk first aid; clean installation; zapped p-ram; rebuilt desktop (that’s the extent of my knowledge of troubleshooting). However, once I remove the battery pack for little while, and upon replacing it and restart, I am able to use the iBook for a time w/out any problems. This is my main ‘work’ computer and it is loaded with years of very important data. I don’t want to lose any of it. I have backed up my important files for now. So any assistance from you would be greatly appreciated.

I would like to say first that iBooks are notoriously difficult to take apart. Near every screw is a different size and putting the wrong screw in certain places will destroy your iBook. It will be better to take it to an authorized Apple repair center. RAM is far easier to install. Flip open the keyboard by sliding the two spring loaded latches toward the front of the iBook. The latches are between the keys on the keyboard’s top row. The latches have ridges in the centers. The keyboard should flip open to cover the track pad. The RAM is installed below the Airport card, so remove the Airport card if you have one installed. Now remove the bottom plate of the Airport slot by removing the two screws in the center. You will then be able to see the one and only RAM expansion slot. Make sure the RAM is fully seated in the slot and that the plastic clips are holding it firmly on both sides.

If you are feeling up to the hard drive challenge, here are some links to step-by-step guides.

Multiple Monitors on a G4 PowerBook

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Can I connect more than one monitor to a PowerBook?

I am a writer, so I like to have one monitor for viewing graphics, one for text, and I would like to add one more for Internet research. I can’t afford one large 20-22 inch monitor. Now I have a 17-inch LCD I plug into my laptop, which gives me 2 “desktops.” Can I add “viewable real estate?”

Splitting your VGA monitor connection across two displays is possible. You can also split a DVI connection but it is more difficult and, because of that, is more expensive. A better alternative is to look into buying a PCMCIA video card. VillageTronic has the VTBook graphics card that will give you a second display port. This will allow you to have three displays (including the PowerBook display) without impacting your video performance.

The VTBook provides a DVI port that can support Apple’s 20″ and 23″ displays, along with a large variety of generic PC displays. If you are trying to connect a VGA display, you’ll have to pick up a cheap DVI to VGA adapter. Once you have the PCMCIA video card you should be able to use the built in display-spanning feature to add desktop space.

I hope this gets you the screen real estate you wanted.

PowerBooks and Power Adapters

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Is it OK to use my old 12″ PowerBook power adapter (45 W) with the new 17″ PowerBook (65 W) that I just ordered from PowerMax?

Using that adapter would be bad for your 17″ PowerBook and could create a fire hazard. The reverse of this would be OK to do because a Mac laptop will not use more power than it needs. The Watts (W) of that power adapter is a reference to the maximum power that adapter can provide. Under-powering a PowerBook could cause it not to charge or shorten the life of the battery. In addition to harming the 17″ PowerBook that 45W power adapter will overheat as it tries to give the PowerBook the power it wants. More watts than needed are OK… less is not.

Upgrading PowerBook Hardware

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I’m a web developer for a medium sized company and use my PowerBook on a daily basis testing and working in Flash and HTML. While Macs are hated in my dept. it doesn’t sway choice to use a Mac in any way. I’m addicted to my PowerBook G4 1.5 like its my grown up woobie. I wonder if there will be any processor upgrades for these aluminum PowerBooks in the future? Or are there any tips you can give that I can boost the power here?

PowerBook specs:
Tiger 10.4.4
1.5 GHz
1.5 MB RAM
80 5400 rpm HD
Combo drive
ATI accelerator (application)

We get this question often. The short answer is no, almost all laptop hardware is set in stone. That being said you could squeeze a little more performance out of your RAM and hard drive. If you have the 17″ or 15″ PowerBook, then you should be able to take it to 2 GB of RAM. This will make sure that most everything you are working on is in memory and not coming off the hard drive. Hard drives are the bottleneck of most computers. They run much slower than the rest of the system so having the maximum memory will prevent the system from throwing away data only to get it back from the hard drive seconds later. And if you must use the hard drive, as we all do, then you can get a faster one. Laptop hard drives are now available at 7200-rpm speeds.

OK enough squeezing. The truth is that this is not a good use of your money. The benefit of those improvements will not get you the upgrade you want. This is precisely why PowerMax has a trade-in program. The new MacBook Pro will likely be your next system and you will be able send us you old laptop to help offset the cost. Don’t start feeling sad yet. You still have much time to spend with your old PowerBook. The MacBook Pro is not shipping yet and you still have to wait for all your work programs to be rewritten for Intel before you need to upgrade.

Can You Run a PowerBook in Dual Display Mode?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Is it possible to use one PowerBook to run the display of another PowerBook’s in dual display mode?

The short answer is no you can’t do that, but I have never been the short answer kind of person. Laptop displays are not just thin monitors bolted to a computer but instead are integrated components of a whole computer system. There is no monitor port inside a laptop that you could connect up to from another computer. That is why I say that you cannot use a PowerBook as a second monitor. But I just can’t leave your question alone.

There was once some PC software that could take any two computers and make them act as one system. I saw it once on an old TechTV program called “The Screen Savers,” and after that never heard of it again. I cannot remember the name and I do not think they ever made it into a real product you could buy, but it was exactly what you wanted.

The only other option that came to mind was importing a video feed from your main PowerBook onto your “second display” PowerBook. By connecting the S-Video connection of the main PowerBook to a FireWire Video Converter you could display a TV quality version of your spanned desktop on another computer. The “Second Display” PowerBook would need to be running a viewer application like Video Viewer and be connected to the FireWire Video Converter.

Now, both these ideas are not very useful to you in any practical application. The program I saw was not produced and was made only for Windows and the money you would spend on the FireWire Video Converter could buy you a LCD display. Trust me, you will like the image of a LCD Display better than the TV image on a PowerBook. So my simple recommendation is to buy a second monitor.

I know this was confusing but hopefully fun to read.

Which Mac Notebook is Right for the Kids?

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I am 11 years old. I have Mac mini G4 right now, and I love it. I am considering buying a Macintosh notebook, and was wondering which model would be the best. Also, what is the highest OS you can run on a Lombard PowerBook?

I would recommend an iBook. I bought my 11-year-old daughter a G4 iBook and it has worked perfectly for her. It has survived at least one drop and a great deal of abuse without breaking. Nearly any iBook would work but you may want to get the G4 iBook or wait for an Intel iBook which probably will be out in less than 6 months. That way you will have a computer that will last you a long time. Now if you just want a portable for when you are away from your Mac Mini then find a nice used iBook 600MHz or 700MHz.

The Lombard PowerBook can only run Mac OS X 10.3.9 and it will not run it well. If you are going to use the Lombard with 10.3.9 then make sure the computer has at least 512MB of RAM.

Adding RAM to a 12″ PowerBook

Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

Hello Jacob! Well my question might be a stupid one, but I have been trying to figure it out for a while now. I know that PowerBooks are able to have up to 2 Gigabytes of RAM, but when you buy it the max you can get on a 12″ PowerBooks is about 1.25 Gigabytes. How do you change the internal memory? I know how to change the removable memory but not the internal. I figure that the only way to get 2 GB of memory is to change the internal as well. I bought a 1 GB stick of memory but my PowerBooks only has 1.25 GB’s of ram. How do I get 2 GB?

The 12″ PowerBook is not like the other, larger screened, PowerBooks. It has more in common with an iBook than a PowerBook. 15″ and 17″ PowerBooks can take two gigabytes of RAM because both RAM slots are exposed to the user. iBooks and 12″ PowerBooks have only one RAM slot. The additional RAM is soldered onto the logic board and cannot be removed. Your 1.25 GB of RAM is going to be the most RAM you can have in your 12″ PowerBook. means iBooks can take up to 1.5GB of RAM.

In a strange twist that further complicates the 12″ PowerBooks RAM limitations, iBooks have 512 MB of RAM soldered onto the logic board. That means iBooks can take up to 1.5GB of RAM.

Sorry for the bad news but at least you know why you could not find the second RAM slot.

Running Dual Displays on a PowerBook

Displays, Laptops & Notebooks / 0 Comments

I have a G4 867 MHz Powerbook and I’m trying to use a 17″ LCD cinema display with it but there doesn’t seem to be any way to get the desktop on the Powerbook over to the 17″ cinema. Is there a way to do this?

There are two ways to use external displays on PowerBooks: Mirroring and Spanning. Mirroring is when the laptop screen and the external screen show the same images. Spanning is when each display shows a different section of the desktop. Spanning is often used because it will give you the combination of both the built-in and external monitor’s screen space, allowing you to have more things open. You can even change which monitor your dock and menus are on.

To make adjustments to your displays go to the System Preferences and click on “Displays.” A window will open on each display if you are in Spanning mode. Look for a tab labeled “Arrangement” and click on it. There you will see icons representing your two displays. You can drag the icons around to change their orientation toward one another. To change what display has the menus and dock, just drag the bar at the top of one display icon to the other. This same “Arrangement” preference window will also have the checkbox that allows you to Mirror the two displays.

Technically there is a third way to use an external display with your PowerBook. If you close the lid on your running PowerBook and have an external keyboard and mouse connected you can press the space bar to wake the computer up. The PowerBook will then only use the external display and act like an expensive Mac mini.


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