Aluminum Macbooks unstable after 3rd party RAM upgrade

Aluminum Macbook and Macbook Pro

Back in October I wrote a post about how you could save over $500 by buying 3rd party RAM instead of buying Apple’s incredibly overpriced RAM. That was good advise for the previous generation of Macbooks and Macbooks Pros, but it may not be the best thing to do for the new (late 2008) Aluminum Macbooks / Pros.

According to this article at TUAW, A lot of people are experiencing significant problems after attempting to use 3rd party RAM with the new laptops. It’s worth checking out if you’re about to buy one of the new machines.

Fortunately, when Apple introduced these new Aluminum models, they also dropped the price of their own RAM by several hundred dollars. It’s not so painful to just by the RAM from Apple now.

Apple’s new high-quality earbuds now available… as a suppository?

Apples high-quality earbuds

Those new Apple earbuds that Steve Jobs announced back in September are finally available for order on the Apple Store. I am actually interested in getting these. I’ve never been happy with the quality or the fit of Apple’s standard earbuds. These have 2 sound drivers for higher fidelity and come with 3 sizes of silicon tips, for best fit. They also have an inline remote and microphone.

The new earbuds retail for $79 and are currently listed as shipping in 7-10 business days. As of this morning the product page still says, “Coming Soon”, but if you click the Coming Soon button in the lower right of the page you are taken to the store.

Right now the new earbuds are only listed as being compatible with iPods, and not iPhones. This seems like a big oversight, and I’m hoping that changes with the next iPhone update. It’s been suggested that most of the remote functions will probably work with iPhones right now, but Apple typically doesn’t say things like, “mostly compatible”. I’ll probably wait until the first reviews show up online before I grab a pair.

On a side-note, Anne Marie saw me looking at the image above and said, “I don’t like that packaging… it looks like a diagram of a uterus and a suppository.” :)

via AppleInsider

UPDATE (12/08/2008): Here’s more info about compatibility with various iPod/iPhone models.

UPDATE (12/15/2008): AppleInsider has published a glowing review.

Emeryville Ikea will recycle your electronics for free on Jan. 19th and 20th

I meant to write about this earlier but it totally snuck up on me.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and you have some electronics you’ve been meaning to get rid of, here’s your chance to do it responsibly. This weekend (January 19th and 20th, 2008) the Ikea store in Emeryville will be taking in electronic waste and recycling it for free…

“Bring your Electronic Waste to IKEA Emeryville on January 19th & 20th from 9am – 3pm and Recycle it for FREE!

Don’t let these items clutter up your home or end up in the land fill…

Televisions Monitors, Computer systems, Copy machines, Fax Machines, Printers, MP3 Players, Scanners, Video Game Consoles, Video Games, Cellular Phones (batteries can be included), Household phones, Stereo Equipment, Miscellaneous wiring, CD’s (players and discs), DVD’s (players and discs), Computer components ( i.e. keyboards, mice, internet devices etc.)”

If you live near an Ikea you should check to see if your store is doing the same thing.

Macworld 2008 followup: Where’s my Freakin ToDos?

Macbook Air introduction at Macworld 2008

I’ve been pretty swamped this week but I thought it was about time I got to a followup post to my Macworld predictions. I didn’t do so well this year. Most of my predictions were actually wrong. And, in all honesty, what was announced left me slightly disappointed.

Macbook Air (aka Rich Guy Toy)

As we all know by now, the big announcement this year was Apple’s new ultra-slim laptop, the Macbook Air. The new Macbook Air is, in a word, stunning. It’s also an engineering marvel, and we should all praise Apple (and Intel) for this accomplishment. But, as cool as the Macbook Air is, I honestly can’t see myself buying one anytime soon.

In my opinion, the Macbook Air is totally inappropriate as a primary machine. And, with a price tag ranging from $1799 to $3098 for the base models, it’s an extremely expensive secondary machine. The technical specs on this computer by no means justify its price tag. You’re really just paying for the wow factor. On a side-note to this, I think it’s kind of sad that the largest hard drive available for the Macbook Air has LESS capacity than what’s available in the iPod (Classic).

I was all for Apple moving into the sub-notebook market, but unfortunately they chose to enter through a route that will be out of reach for most people, myself included. Apple’s clearly targeting consumers that require very little form their computer, and are willing to pay top dollar for it.


Apple made some significant usability improvements to the Google Maps application. I was really glad to see that. If you haven’t seen these features, there’s a guided tour available on the Apple site.

Apple also gave us the ability to add web-clippings to the home screen, and rearrange the home screen icons. I find this moderately useful.

I just have one question for Apple regarding the iPhone… Where’s my freakin ToDos? The ability to sync iCal ToDos should have been part of iPhone software 1.0. After 3 updates they still haven’t added this feature. What the hell? I don’t understand why this is so difficult. Can you tell I’m pissed about this? Please, Apple… give us ToDos!

Time Capsule

Time Capsule is Apple’s new hardware companion for Leopard’s built-in backup feature, Time Machine. It’s basically an Airport Extreme base station with a built-in hard drive, allowing you to wirelessly backup all of the Macs on your local network. They come in 500GB ($299) and 1TB ($499) capacities. For what you get, these prices aren’t bad. In fact, it’s more than likely that I’ll be buying one of these… partially because I was planning on buying a new Airport Extreme anyway to replace my aging NetGear router that has become a little flakey.

Apple now offers 3 Airport base stations… Airport Express, Airport Extreme, and Time Capsule. If you’ve been considering buying one, but you’re not sure what the difference between them is, Apple’s broken it down on this comparison chart.

iTunes Movie Rentals

Not much to say about this. It is what it sounds like. You can now rent movies through iTunes. They cost $2.99 for library titles, $3.99 for new releases, and $4.99 for HD. Initial selections are a bit small (especially for HD), but all major studios are on board.

Apple TV Take 2

Well, Apple didn’t come out with an actual television like I predicted, but they did make some significant updates to their Apple TV set-top box. The biggest news is you no longer require a computer to use it for viewing iTunes store content. The Apple TV can now access the store directly. You can also access Podcasts, photos on .Mac and Flickr, and YouTube videos. Apple also lowered the price to $299 for the 40GB model and $329 for the 160GB model.

No New Displays?

The one thing that really stunned me this year was no new Cinema Displays. I would have bet money on this one. At very least I expected built-in iSights. After all, it’s been quite a while since they quietly stopped selling the stand-alone versions.

One interesting side-note about this is if you go to the Apple site, and click on the store, Displays aren’t even pictured. They’re listed under accessories. It’s as if they’ve become second class products.

My Macworld 2008 Predictions

Steve Jobs at Macworld

Photo Credit: wahaha_wu

We’re only a couple of days from the Macworld 2008 keynote so I thought it was about time to post my predictions. After all, what’s Macworld without predictions?

As we all know by now, the banners that went up over at Moscone Center read, “There’s something in the air”. Like most people, the first thing I asked myself when I saw this was, what’s in the air?

Now, this might sound kind of crazy, but the first thing that jumped into my mind was, “Spring is in the air” (ya, I know, it’s still Winter). And, what happens in spring… people get out and do things. In other words, they become more mobile. Follow me so far? I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but that banner could mean that this keynote will be all about mobility. I do have one other interpretation that I’ll cover later in the post.

Banner interpretations aside, here’s my predictions…

Ultra-portable Macbook (mini?)

Like everyone else, I’m pretty confident that Apple will be releasing a sub-notebook computer. Laptops account for most of Apple’s computer sales, and I think they’ll be doing everything they can to continue that trend. It’s also entirely possible that this new machine will have an optional docking station, suggested by the patent recently awarded to Apple.

Many people seem to think that this new Macbook Mini will be 13 inches wide, but ultra thin. I personally think that’s just too big. I’m betting that it will be somewhere between 8 and 10 inches wide. I would doubt it would be bigger unless Apple plans on discontinuing the Macbook.


Originally I wasn’t convinced that Apple would be doing anything to the Macbook. But, I was reading a prediction on another site (I can’t remember which one) that talked about the Macbook being incased in Aluminum. That actually makes total sense. After all, Apple seems to be purging white plastic from their lineup. The iMac recently went through this transformation, as did the iPod, iPod shuffle, and iPod nano. I think it’s entirely possible that Apple will apply this new look to the Macbook as well. I would also like to see them give the Macbook the new backlit LED displays, like the ones being used in the 15″ Macbook Pros, but I’m not sure if that will happen. Another point in favor of this prediction is aluminum cases are better on the environment than molded plastic, and Apple has been trying to become more environmentally responsible.

On a quick side note, I think it’s a bit ironic that Apple still uses the iconic white iPod in it’s advertising, even though Apple no longer sells a white iPod.

Macbook Pro

I think we’ll be seeing new Macbook Pros as well, mostly because the current design has been around for quite some time now. I think one of the biggest changes will be in the keyboard. Apple has made their Macbook and standalone keyboard use very similar keys and there’s no reason for them not to transition the Macbook Pro to this same style as well. I also think there’s an outside chance that Apple will introduce a new 20″ model.

iTunes Movie Rentals

I think most people are in agreement that this will happen. As with TV shows and movies for purchase it will be a handful of studios to start, adding more later.


  • Native iPhone applications! This is a no-brainer. Apple announced back in October that an iPhone / iPod Touch SDK (Software Development Kit) would be available in February 2008. I’m sure Steve will demo a few of the new apps created by 3rd party developers who were hand picked to get a preview release of the new SDK.
  • iPhone software update adding lots of new features, including access to the new iTunes movie rental service.
  • 16GB iPhone. I personally think they’ve had 16GB iPhones sitting in boxes since the day they announced the price drop and elimination of the 4GB model. At the last minute they decided not to introduce the 16GB model, as they knew they would be crucified (more than they were) for putting out a new model just 2 months after product introduction.
  • No 3G. I don’t think Apple will introduce a 3G iPhone until later this year, at the earliest.

Apple TV

I think we’ll see a major upgrade to the Apple TV. Or, it may get dropped all together. My other interpretation of the banners hanging at Moscone relate to this, so I’ll address it later in this post. If the Apple TV does get upgraded, I’m not sure if it will reach a true DVR status, but it will definitely be able to interact directly with the iTunes store (and new rental service) without requiring a computer or iTunes (but it will still pull from those if available).

Leopard 10.5.2

Not much to say about this. Mostly bug fixes and slight enhancements. But, I think it will finally allow Time Machine backups to Airport attached storage (probably with a software update for the Airport base station as well).


I don’t think they’ll be anything radically different, but they will incorporate a built-in iSight. I think it’s also possible that Apple will begin offering an option for the glossy display, since according to Steve Jobs, everybody loves those. I would like to see them get the new backlit LED technology, but everything I’ve heard says that’s still too expensive for larger screens.

One more thing…

So, I mentioned that I had another interpretation for, “There’s something in the air”. TV is in the air… as in the broadcast signal. My breakout prediction is that Apple drops the Apple TV in favor of, well… an Apple TV… I mean a real TV. The kind you watch.

Before you call me crazy, consider one thing… by February 17th, 2009 all US TV stations will cease to broadcast analog TV signals in favor of digital TV (DTV). 2008 and 2009 are going to be huge years for TV sales. Apple, along with most computer makers, have been tryng for years to get from your office into your living room. It makes a lot of sense for Apple to capitalize on this surge in TV sales to break into the market. The current version of the Apple TV was just a stepping stone… a way to test the market. Now they’re ready to bring out the real thing.

It goes without saying that the new Apple TV will have full access to the iTunes store, and its new movie rental service, in addition to broadcast television.

Think this sounds crazy? Netflix, the king of online DVD rentals, would disagree. They are basically trying to do the same thing. They’re in talks with TV manufactures to incorporate their movie on demand service directly into TVs.

Now, Apple could follow the Netflix model and try to get TV manufacturers to connect to iTunes, but we all know how Apple likes to control the hardware too, so I personally think it makes total sense for them to make their own TV.

Well, those are my predictions. We’ll see on Tuesday what really comes out. Unfortunately I have a meeting Tuesday morning, so won’t know until later that morning how close I was.

Apple patents Macbook docking station with integrated monitor

Apple Docking Station

Apple has just patented a new docking station with an integrated display. The idea would be to leave this iMac-looking device on your desktop connected to all of your peripherals, and then you can just slide your laptop in/out without needing to fuss with 10 different cables. It’s very reminiscent of the old Powerbook Duo.

It may be a little clunky for today’s Macbooks, but it would be a perfect fit for that ultra-portable Mac that they’re rumored to announce at Macworld in a couple weeks.

More Patent Images | via Richard’s Notes

CompUSA is closing its doors forever

CompUSA Logo

If you haven’t already heard, compUSA is closing it’s doors forever. Apparently they’ve been losing money for years, and were finally sold to an investment firm which will be liquidating their assets.As of now there is no hard date for closing all 103 stores. They will remain open at least through the holidays. Supposedly they’ll have some pretty steep sales, so you may want to keep an eye on your local store if you’re in the market for electronics on the cheap. Just hope you don’t have to return something.

Review: Altec Lansing Orbit-M

Altec Lansing Orbit-M

The day after Thanksgiving Apple was having their traditional 1-day sale, and I picked up this little travel speaker from Altec Lansing called, Orbit-M.

The Orbit-M was on sale for $28 (normally $39.95). I was a little skeptical of the sound quality of something so small, but I needed a new travel speaker, so I took the risk.

I have to say I am really happy with the quality of this little speaker. Sound is very clear, it has a reasonable amount of base, and considering it’s size it has surprisingly loud volume. I only heard a small amount of distortion when turning the volume to full. I backed it off just a little and everything was fine.

The Orbit-M’s built-in cable wraps neatly around the unit in a special groove, and the plug snaps into its own slot. The plug is small enough to fit into the iPhones headphone jack without the need for an adapter.

The manufacturer claims 24 hours of play on 3 AAA batteries, but I haven’t tested this yet. Since the unit uses AAA batteries, its relatively light, even with the batteries in.

My only real complaint with the Orbit-M is it’s on/off switch. It sticks, rather badly. I don’t want it to move so freely that it comes on in my suitcase, but this is a bit too much. The sticky switch, combined with the fact that there is no light indicating the unit is on, it’s sometimes hard to tell if you actually turned it off or not.

The Orbit-M obviously won’t replace your home stereo, or even a good boombox, but as a travel speaker it’s excellent. It’s more than enough for a hotel room, an outdoor picnic in a relatively quite location (not the beach), or hanging out with a few friends. I recommend this product.

side-note: The Altec Lansing site lists an Orbit-M and an Orbit-MP3. As far as I can tell, they are actually the same product. I think they are in the process of rebranding the M to MP3.

For Sale: Apple 17″ Studio Display

Apple 17 inch Studio Display

Now that I’ve settled into my new Macbook Pro, I’ll be selling off some of my older equipment. First to go is this 17 inch Apple Studio Display. I’ll be listing it on Craig’s List or ebay, but I thought I would put it here first.

I bought this display new from Apple about 4 years ago. It’s in great condition. I’ve never had a single problem with it.

I’m asking $100 (usd), which does NOT include shipping. I’ll ship anywhere in the continental US. I estimate shipping will probably be $30-$50. It will be shipped in it’s original box.

The display has a native resolution of 1280×1024, and 2 usb ports on the back. I’m not positive, but I think the usb ports are usb1.

IMPORTANT: This display uses ADC (Apple Display Connector). If your Mac’s video card doesn’t have an ADC port, you’ll need an ADC to DVI converter.

I actually have 2 of these Studio Displays. I’ll be selling the other one sometime soon. If you’re interested in buying one or both, please leave a comment on this post or use the form on my contact page to send me an email.

In addition to these Studio Displays, I’ll soon be selling a Dual 2.0 GHz G5 Powermac (PPC), and a 12″ 1.33GHz iBook (PPC).

I’m lovin’ my new Macbook Pro

I’ve been using my new Macbook Pro (and Leopard) for about a month now, and I’m totally lovin’ it. Although I haven’t had any serious video jobs since getting it, I think it will hold up nicely. I think I made the right choice going with a portable as my primary machine.

As soon as I make a little time I’ll be posting some specifics on Leopard, apps, and Windows on a Mac (it’s new to me just upgrading from PPC).