Category Archives: Macintosh

MacBook — it’s been nice knowing you?

My 7 year old 13″ Macbook, which is on it’ second battery, will no longer take a charge.  Not – at – all. Totally dependent on power chord now.

If I weren’t in the middle of a bathroom remodel and still need to buy an expensive shower door and a new crapper, I would be on my way for the replacement about…right…now.

Maybe in a couple of months. For now, the Chromebook, iPod Touch will let me get by.

More MacBook flickering screen

So as you longtime readers know, when I originally got a MacBook the screen had a nasty flicker/noise problem. I took it back the next day, and the Apple store replaced it. This MacBook that I’m typing on now has worked pretty well.

However, for that last couple of month’s I’ve notice a minor screen flickering when it is running on battery power. Sometimes it is quite noticeable. Like right now. It isn’t the same problem that the first MacBook had. That was kind of a screen static/noise thing.  This is more like the brightness level goes up and down slightly.

This is a a bummer, because I like Apple products a lot. I would like to say after several years of using this computer I am “delighted” with it. But this screen thing — errrr — well, it makes me un-delighted. It makes me question whether I’d replace this computer with another MacBook. Not sure what else I’d get, but after having 2 apple monitor crap out on me with extreme prejudice in my computer-using past I just don’t have confidence that Apple can do monitors right.

Frankly, I’m not sure this problem is even the monitor. I suspect there is some kind of power management issue, since it only happens on battery power. Still, it sucks.

On the other hand, the Dell laptop my wife had a few years ago lasted only two years before it took it’s final dump and had to be replaced.

Oh well. This is pretty high up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, so I guess I’ll stop complaining.

MacBook WiFi problem/solution

Last year my MacBook started having very, very slow WiFi connectivity. So slow, in fact, I almost abandoned the thing. My wife’s MacBook was fine. But my WiFi connection just crawled. Then I read about some MacBook Pros, the new ones with the metal case, having a similar problem.

I was sitting right next to our WiFi router getting super slow connectivity. So I decided to remove the transparent plastic case I’d bought for the machine. It sure did look cool.

As soon as I removed the case (which is made specifically for MacBooks and costs about $30), my WiFi connection improved by about 1000%. In fact, it became normal. No more problem.

So if you have a plastic case on your MacBook, and your WiFi sucks, take the case off.  Amazingly, 2 millimeters of plastic is enough to ruin your signal.

Disk Warrior

Yes, another Mac software post.

Last night before going to see Beowulf with my friend Matt down at Northpark Mall, I stopped by the Apple Store. I got one of the good folks there — a fellow skateboarder — to show me the new Leopard OS. Pretty slick. Amazingly slick no less. It will be a bummer to go back to my Gateway PC at work tomorrow after seeing the beauty that is Leopard.

Did I buy it? No. Right now I feel like my current OS (10.4.10) is working just fine. All my software runs, and I don’t have any crashes really. So I will wait until I really need an upgrade to get Leopard or whatever replaces it.

Of course, about half of the demo was on one of those giant Apple studio monitors, which make everything look like magic. Too bad they’re too big to have in your lap. I’m really enjoying just doing my web stuff from my chair in the Chill Zone with my MacBook. I spend enough time sitting at a desk.

I did, however, purchase DiskWarrior, by Alsoft. It is a utility for repairing damage files, optimizing you hard drive, etc, etc. My brother-in-law does tech support for them, so I figure I can get help if I need it. I ran the program this morning, and it found a few things to clean up that cleared up a little hard drive space on my MacBook.

I also backed up all my files to my external hard drive this morning. I’m using iBackup, which works pretty well. I’d really like to find a “smart backup” utility that only backs up the files that have changed — for a faster backup. I’ll have to look into that.

Beowulf was pretty cool. I liked it a lot.

Importing problem with iPhoto and Canon SD750

I just noticed that someone found this blog using the following search string:
iphoto powershot sd750 trouble importing

If that person is still reading, I recently had a problem importing AVI videos from my camera into iPhoto too.  Every time I tried to import the videos, the iPhoto application would crash. Found the following item on the MacFixitforums.com:i might have found a solution: i deleted AviImporter-r7 (Intel).component from /library/quicktime and uninstalled flip4mac. i dont know which of the two caused the problem, but now i can import videos from my camera into iphoto. 
 
It turned out that AviImporter was the culprit in my case. I deleted all the AviImporter stuff from the library, and the problem was solved. Movies imported just fine again.

I also noticed that I’m still getting a lot of hits from the search string “macbook flickering screen” or similar searches. Amazing that there are STILL bad Macbooks being sold out there. It has been several months since I got mine and posted about the problem on this blog. To those people, I can only say take/send the thing back — there are good ones out there.

Just how kick ass is the MacBook?

It’s really kickass. It has the property of kicking ass.

Sitting here surfing the web while downloading some music from iTunes. I wonder about the proper pronunciation of the word heterogeneous. I click the dictionary icon in the side dock, and find out. I wonder what the local temp is, click the dashboard and find out. I want to edit my blog — which I’m doing now. Check the dates of some upcoming events using iCal. I want to edit video or photos — it is all right here. Easy like.

It just kicks ass.

MacBook update

So far, my MacBook has not experienced the screen-static/flickering screen that the first one I brought home did. So I’m pretty happy about that. Fingers still crossed. I’ve had the computer for about 3 weeks.

Apparently a lot of people are getting bum MacBooks. This WordPress blog includes a “statistics” page that tells me what keyword searches are getting people to this site. Every day I get at least 4 or 5 people coming to bibliosk8 based on the following sort of search strings:

down hill longboarding             1
riding a Longboard                   1
macbook problems 2007         1
macbook screen flickering       1
“Macbook Flickering”              1
macbook flickering screen       1

Pretty interesting. And this is just for today. It is like this every day. With these kind of searches hitting bibliosk8, I’m still a bit worried that my machine might develop a problem.

But aside from that issue, I’m still super happy with the computer.

Enthusiasm returning for MacBook

After a rocky start with my MacBook experience, my enthusiasm is returning.

My previous computer was a 1999 G4, the first one they released, running some version of the 9.X.X operating system. Of course, for at least a couple of years it has been impossible to upgrade any software on it. So its nice to have the new OS.

The MacBook is very fast, and it isn’t even the “Pro” version. I got the 2 GHz, 13″ white machine. Everything runs fast. Connecting to our Canon digital camera, the iPhoto application quickly recognized the camera and downloaded 100 images very, very fast. Faster than our Dell Inspiron laptop, and tons faster than the old G4.

On thing I really love, however, is that it boots up and shuts down really quickly.

There’s a lot of really nice, free software available on the Apple site. One of the first things I needed was a good FTP program, for transferring large files to my various sites. I downloaded and tried Transmit. Like all the other software I’ve checked out, it has a clean and elegant user interface and works like a charm. I’m also going to check out Interarchy 8.5.

For the whole tagging/social-bookmarking thing, there’s an app called Socialist that I’m going to try. There are lots of RSS readers/aggregators available.

A few words about the customer experience: Assuming you get a machine without any little problems, Apple has created a very smoooooooth customer experience with the MacBook. When you boot the machine up for the first time, it gives you a really cool looking and sounding “welcome” message, and then guides you easily through some initial setup functions, where you enter your name and other information, create an account on the computer, etc. At this point the system introduces you to the built-in camera at the top of the screen, allowing you to take your picture for your account profile.

Blended into the process is a pitch for Apple’s online services — called “.mac” .mac provides email accounts, disk backup service, remote storage space, blog/website hosting, and some other stuff. It’s actually really cool, but it does cost about $100 year, so I did not sign up. My point here is that the whole experience of starting with these computers is so warm and cozy that you almost just want to sign up.

Anyway, I’ve really just started to explore the software the system comes with. iPhoto is really cool for managing your digital images. GarageBand looks like it will be fun, but there will be a learning curve.

So as long as the MacBook keeps working correctly, I think I’m going to like it.

More on my MacBook

So far, so good. A couple of days and no flickering. Very cool software and nice machine.

Funny. Yesterday I wrote about no really getting a sincere “We’re sorry” from the Apple Store. That same day, Seth Godin wrote this blog entry about the failure of companies to apologize for screwups. Maybe I’m not that unreasonable.

 To be fair, I think the first person I talked to at the Apple Store may have said “sorry about that” or somesuch thing. The manager, however, did not. Weird.

My new MacBook – problem – solution?

As I wrote in a previous post and then deleted, I just got a new MacBook. Why did I delete that part of the post?

Well, I as soon as I fired the MacBook up, I noticed that the screen had a weird flicker to it. Sort of a horizontal static that would show up. It didn’t render the computer unusable, but it was very noticeable. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed. Not good.

Being a librarian, I quickly researched the problem with a very complicated search string on Yahoo! — “macbook flickering screen“. It seems that lots of MacBooks have come down with this problem. It may be some kind of issue related to the logic board or something. Whatever. I was disappointed and pissed, and considered just going and getting a refund.  But, I really wanted a laptop. And I wanted a Mac. So my choices were limited. I decided to try an exchange, and see how a different machine worked out.

The next day I went back to the store and was there when they opened the doors. I’m sure they love to see a guy with a box and a frown on his face waiting for them to open the doors.

The Apple Store is at Northpark Mall, in Dallas. Northpark is the rich, snooty mall with the high-end stores, and lots of plastic surgery victims walking around. The Apple Store is located near the Nordstrom department store, if that means anything to you. To me it means that they probably get a lot of wealthy but computer-illiterate people coming in to get Macs and iPods, and they have no way of knowing (other than my Independent Trucks tshirt, beat-up jeans,  and worn out skate shoes) that I’m not one of those people. Maybe my wife’s stylish leather jacket confused their social-class identifier program, or maybe I don’t look as young, hip, and cool as I think I do.

So I walked in and was greeted by a friendly 20-something. I said “I bought this yesterday, and I’m very disappointed and dissatisfied.” I explained the flickering screen. I could see in his body language that “Oh boy, an old guy who thinks his computer is broken” look. It may also have been, to some extent, the “It’s Sunday, we just opened, and my first customer is mad. Maybe I should go home sick” look. Anyway, he got the manager on duty, and she assigned another employee to examine the computer with me to see what was going on.

Now of course, the flickering wasn’t constant. The light in the store is really weird. Sort of a low, warm light, probably designed to make the giant Apple monitors look just fricking amazing — which they do — but it made it hard to see my little MacBook screen’s problem. I stood there with this young guy, activating applications and putting a load on the CPU, trying to get the effect. Nothing. I started feeling like an idiot. But my wife and I both new, for sure, that there was serious defect. A couple of minutes passed, then I could see him react. Yes — he saw it. Something was not right. The manager walked by and he gave her a subtle nod to indicate that yes, it was in fact fucked-up.

I talked to the manager, and agreed that I’d like to just exchange the machine and try a new one. The operating system is cool. The user interface is elegant. It is fast. I want the machine — but I want one that works correctly.

They quickly did the exchange. I appreciate their help. I guess my only gripe about the service was that there was really no “We’re really sorry you had a problem” acknowledgement that I had gotten a bum computer and my stoke had been harshed. They did the exchange quietly, efficiently, but I guess as a customer I didn’t feel quite like my ass had been kissed enough. It was efficient customer service, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I was king. What would make me feel better? I think if you buy an expensive piece of equipment and have to bring it back the next day because it is clearly defective, the retailer/manufacturer should, as a sign of goodwill and confidence in their product, throw in an extra year of warranty. In this case, “Apple Care”. Or how about even “Sorry for your trouble, here’s a laptop case. We hope you enjoy the machine”.

It was kind of a strange experience. After doing my online research on the flickering screen phenomenon, I knew it is pretty wide-spread. Apple has to know about it. I understand the need to control the image of your brand. But when something like this happens, why not just recall the affected computers before they are purchased, fix them, and send them on their merry way again. Oh well.

The new machine, so far, seems fine. No flickering screen thus far. I will be putting it through hell in the next two weeks to really test it before the “return by” date is reached. I’m really hopeful that it will work out. It is a nice machine.

I have to say, however, that my initial huge and enthusiastic stoke for the machine was really beat-down by this experience. I still like the machine, but the stoke has been replaced by feeling of apprehension — wondering if the problem will happen to this machine. At this point I couldn’t recommend to a friend that they buy a MacBook — not with total enthusiasm.