It was the PRAM

Last week I bought another Kingston 96GB SSD drive from Newegg. This was my second SSD from Kingston. I’ve had a great experience with the first one so I figured why not get another, plus the price was good… pretty much $1 per GB.

Anyway, I had a nightmare getting this installed on my new 2011 MBP 15”. First I tried to clone the old HDD with the new SSD using the Acronis utility software that came with my first SSD. That didn’t work because it didn’t recognize the OS X partition. Then I tried to use Disk Utility to do a restore. Found out it won’t work because the original drive is 500GB while the SSD is only 96GB. So I get an error that says it won’t work because there’s not enough room. Then I tried to do a clean install onto the SSD after I installed it on my MBP, I kept getting an error.

error

It reminds of the errors I’d get using Windows. You know, the short and sweet ones that don’t explain anything.

The next thing I did was I put the SSD into a USB enclosure then plugged it into my iMac. I was able to install Lion 10.7 on there so that tells me the DVD isn’t messed up and the SSD drive is working. With Lion finally installed, I installed the SSD back on my MBP and it ran weird and slow. I tried to do a clean install again, and again the error (There was a problem installing “Mac OS X”. Try reinstalling.).

I finally Googled the error and found people resetting their PRAM (hold Option+Command+P+R while your Mac boots up… let go once it restarts). This fixed the issue and I was able to do a clean install… finally.

I have installed Lion using a DVD and a pen drive. The DVD install took 30-40 minutes while the USB pen drive took 1.5 hours. It’s weird but that’s what I got. Maybe my pen drive sucks. My guess was the USB install would’ve been quicker but I was wrong.

Now my 2nd Gen i7 with 8GB of ram is using SSD (SATA2 – 3Gbps). It’s running great. Once the SATA3 SSDs become more affordable, I may upgrade again.

My new iMac 27″ i7 MC814LL

My work was kind enough to replace my aging 24” iMac (MA456LL) with a new 27” iMac (MC814LL). It’s a huge difference, not just screen size but performance as well. I’m coming from a Core 2 Duo processor to Intel’s i7 Quad Core Sandy Bridge. This has Hyper Threading so I get up to 8 threads. It’s very nice and fast. I’ve been able to run multiple Virtualbox VMs without slowing down.

front view

This is the latest version of the Apple iMac line (Spring 2011) and comes with 2 Thunderbolt ports – which I don’t have any compatible devices to play with. The have removed support for Firewire 400 which I thought was not a good move. I still have devices using that port. I can still use it with a Firewire 400 to 800 cable. They should have at least added USB3.0 support but of course Apple doesn’t like using mainstream ports (also no support for eSATA or Bluray). Oh well, that’s Apple for you. I also have to replace my mini DV cable if I want to use a secondary monitor. An SDHC card reader available on the right side. This is a great addition, consider my Macbook Pro 13” has it, it’s another way to transfer files between devices. It’s also convenient pulling images off my camera if needed.

back view

Here’s a screenshot of the About this Mac.

about this mac

As you can see, it comes with an 8GB ram running at 1333. My desktop at home (PC clone) with the same CPU is running 16GB at 1600MHz. I’m not sure if it will recognize the 1600MHz, but the great thing about my desktop at home is I can overclock the ram and CPU if i choose to – which is one of the limitations of Apple hardware.

Here is a screenshot of the details on the ram. As you can see, there are 4 total slots and can go as high as 16GB.

ram

This iMac comes with an AMD Radeon 6970M 1GB video card. Based on the System Profiler, it’s running on the x16 slot and has a maximum resolution of 2560×1440. As with all iMac design, it isn’t something that can be replaced and upgraded. Notice the “M” on the model number. That stands for Mobile which is the same type of card you’ll find on laptops and is embedded on the motherboard.

ram

The iMac is configured to have a 1TB hard drive. It’s a Western Digital 7200RPM. Based on the model number it’s a Caviar Black with 32MB cache. Not bad at all. The System Profiler also reveals that the max speed supported is 6Gbps – so it can use SATAIII drives. The drive it currently has is SATAII – 3Gbps.

hdd

I don’t know much about the the Thunderbolt ports nor do I have any devices I can plug in it. So I’ll just post the screenshot of its section in the System Profiler.

hdd

Using Geekbench I got a score of 11809. The free version only runs in 32bit. I’m not sure if there’s a big difference if it’s running in 64bit. You can check the details here…http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/426677. I also ran Geekbench on my old iMac and got a score of 3210. It’s almost 4x faster but keep in mind, it’s a Core 2 Duo with no Hyper Threading and 4GB ram plus it’s slower ram. You can check out the details here… http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/426690.

Snow Leopard upgrade surprise

My work recently ordered our Snow Leopard DVD so we can upgrade our iMacs. I did my usual Time Machine backup and upgraded. I didn’t worry much about compatibility since my personal 13” MBP has been running SL for a few months now and it had the same apps installed – no problems at all.

After I upgrade my work’s iMac, there were problems. I kept getting errors from my Symantec antivirus (I had to install it, work policy even though it isn’t necessary). I reinstalled it and it warned me to install Rosetta. I thought that would be the “aha” so I installed it. It looks like it fixed that problem, but now my Adobe CS3 apps crashes when I launch them. I Googled and it turns out there is an existing compatibility issue with CS3 and SL. It’s weird though since my MBP runs CS3 without a problem.

So now I got another external firewire hard drive. What I’m going to do is restore a backup that I made in Time Machine before upgrade onto an external hard drive. This way I can make sure that’s a clean copy before formatting and restoring it onto my iMac’s hard drive. This is why I love using Macs. When running into problems, I have several options to restore without losing data – as long as you back up data.

Once this is complete and I’m satisfied with the restored data, I will restore the backup onto the iMac. Then I’ll format the external drive and install a clean copy of SL and migrate my Leopard over to see if it’s SL or just my iMac configurations.

Our new iPads

I stood in line in front of Best Buy to try and get myself and Abby an iPad. I had already planned on getting the 32GB model while she gets the 16GB. Why didn’t I pre-order it or go to Apple you ask? Because of Best Buy’s reward zone points plus Best Buy has no interest for 18 months, that’s why. There were about 20 people in line right before they opened. The manager came out and said that they normally handed out tickets but for the amount of people in line, they will have plenty – plus another truck arrived minutes before with more. So much for worrying about getting one but I was excited to get ours so I didn’t mind standing in line for 30 minutes. I was in 4th and the guy in front said he has been there for 3 hours haha.

Anyway, we got our iPads and it’s better than I thought it would be. First off, I have a 13” Macbook Pro, a Compaq Mini netbook, a HTC MyTouch 3G phone – so why would I want or need an iPad? What can I do with it that I can’t already do now with my portable devices? And finally, many have made fun of the iPad asking “What is it for?”. Well here is how I look at an iPad device and how I would use it.

  • Instant start up. The iPad powers on with a touch of a button and is useable right away. No waiting for boot up. I do leave my Macbook Pro on and sleeping most of the time but the battery drains – slowly but surely.
  • Size. It is the right size for what it can do. It’s smaller than my laptop and netbook (weight) and it can do the common things like surf on the internet, check emails, read files, and some word processing – I say some because of the virtual keyboard, it can get tiring typing on it. You can however use a bluetooth keyboard if you don’t mind carrying another item. It is larger than my phone but my browsing experience is better on the iPad because it’s larger.
  • iPhone OS. I just love the iPhone OS. I had the first gen iPod touch and iPhone 3G and I missed the user experience after I got rid of them. The functionality and ease of use, no one has been able to match – although Google Android is getting there. But I’m a Mac user and I guess I expect to have a similar experience on other devices other than my computers.
  • Apps and games. Similar to the iPhone OS experience, there aren’t many apps or games you can use/play on mobile devices that give the same experience as they do in the iPhone OS.
  • Ebook reader. This is one that I didn’t care too much for but I’m glad it’s there. There are other ebook readers out there like the Amazon’s Kindle that do a good job. But the iPad not only can do what other ebook readers can do, it can do more , it can be more.
  • Portable video player. It is an excellent portable video player. You can play videos purchased from iTunes, videos encoded with Handbrake or other software, portable formats that come free when you buy the Blu-ray or DVD version, online videos from apps created by ABC network, Netflix (subscription fee), Youtube, etc. And I’m betting more to come, it’s just a great platform for developers to develop on.
  • Battery life. It last longer than my other portable devices even when watching video.

There’s so many things you can do with the iPad even if you already have other portable devices. Many compare it to the iPhone and iPod touch – but just a bigger version. It’s more than that. Yes it’s bigger so your internet surfing experience is better – close to being on a computer… still no Flash support. With HTML5 standards coming soon, this shouldn’t be a problem in the future. Also, the iPad comes with a more powerful processor. Typing on it is a lot more smoother than my iPhone 3G. Apps and games load quicker and more responsive.

I definitely recommend getting one.

iPhone 3G tethering with MyWi

I recently jailbroke my iPhone 3G running OS 3.1.2. Then I installed MyWi to check out the tethering capabilities for the iPhone. With this app you can tether using USB, bluetooth and wifi.

Here is the speed test results.

The latency is pretty high but the connection seems consistent. I used to run a Verizon V740 internet card and was getting higher speeds – close to 2x faster download. I’m also getting a full signal on AT&T 3G – surprisingly.

Anyways, my Verizon contract is up and I terminated the service. I hardly found use for it. With MyWi, $10 seems like a good deal. Hopefully, AT&T doesn’t pull a “switch” to somehow disable this app.

My new iPod touch

I was surprised to find out the Apple stores started to sell them before September 28th. I called the Victoria Gardens and Brea location and they were sold out. Finally found on in the Manhattan Beach location. So I rushed over there with a co-worker so that we can jump on the carpool lane. 25 minutes and $432 later, I got my new iPod touch. That’s solves my “should I buy an iPhone” question. No iPhone for me thanks. I’ll play with it over the weekend and do a review soon.

ipod touch

Snow Leopard UTD finally arrived

After 6 days since the release of Snow Leopard, my UTD discs finally came in the mail yesterday. I was somewhat upset during launch day when my order status said backordered. It’s puzzling that the company who made the software and distributes it, is backordered. I could’ve gone to the store and bought a full version. I heard they had a ton there.

My co-worker got his full version copy 10am that day. I couldn’t wait so I borrowed it from him after he upgraded his MBP and upgraded my MBP. So far I’ve gotten a few app crashes but it seems after the first crash, they tend to run normal again. I hear 10.6.1 is around the corner so it should fix some stuff.

Anyways, here are some pics I took.

snow leopard osx

snow leopard osx

snow leopard osx

As you can see from the 3rd pic, the UTD (Up to date) discs are upgrade only. The retail $30 ones should be full versions. Another thing I noticed is there is a Optional Install folder now on the disc. It has OS X applications such as Mail, iCal, Address Book, etc. Also has Rosetta. This is great coz in the past, if any of the apps needs to be reinstalled, you can either copy it from another working OS X and fix the permissions or reinstall OS X. Now just pop in the Snow Leopard disc and you can install it anytime.

Here’s a before and after pic of my hard drive on my Mac Mini MB138LL/A. Notice the changes to the hard drive size.

Here’s an article that explains about the capacity change – http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=589.

ExpressCard Adapter for MBP 13″

One of my few gripes about my new Macbook Pro 13” is no ExpressCard slot. Coming from the first gen MBP 15”, I used it for my Verizon V740 internet card. Well I found the solution. Apiotek made a USB to ExpressCard adapter – UB-EC01. I bought mine from Macsales.com. It took only 2 days to arrive.

I had to reinstall the Verizon software before it recognized it and worked. Because it plugs in the a USB port, I lose one port and the device sticks out. I don’t mind much since I use a bluetooth mouse and I got my portable internet device working again. Verizon wanted me to sign a brand new 2 year contract if I wanted to get a new device that plugs in to the USB – hell no! Here are some pics I took.

expresscard adapter

macbook pro mb990lla

My new MBP 13″ MB990LL/A

I finally bought the new Macbook Pro 13” MB990LL/A last Saturday. It’s replacing my first gen Macbook Pro 15” MA464LL/A. It’s 3 years old and still works great but it overheats. I was able to get a free iPod Touch 8GB and a $100 towards a printer – after rebate. I thought I could pull out my old hard drive from my 15” and swap it with the 13” but I was wrong. I’m guessing because the processor is different – Core Duo and Core 2 Duo. It took half of Saturday to transfer my files over but I got it to how I had my old laptop on the new one. With the help of Migration Assistant, the task was simple. It only took longer than I thought because I had a lot of files to transfer over.

I’ve already upgraded the storage with a Seagate 500GB hard drive and I’m planning on upgrading the ram to 4GB. So far, what has impressed me is the battery life compared to my old MBP. Here’s a comparison between my old and new MBP current setup.

MB990LL/A (new) MA464LL/A (old)
Processor: 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
Memory: 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 (Upgradeable to 8GB) 2GB 667MHz DDR2 PC2-5300 (max)
Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 5400rpm 100GB SATA 5400rpm
Grapics Card: Nvidia GeForce 9400m 256MB shared ATI Mobility Radeo X1600 256MB GDD3 dedicated
Display: 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy 1280×800 resolution 15.4-inch TFT 1440×900 resolution
Expansion: One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps), two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps), SD card slot One FireWire 400, two USB 2.0 ports, and ExpressCard/34 slot
Network: Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet (didn’t know it had Gigabit)
Wireless: Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification); built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module Built-in 54-Mbps AirPort Extreme (802.11g standard); built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Weight: 4.5 pounds 5.6 pounds

My old MBP was a work horse so I expect nothing less with the new one. I am however, taking a big hit on the video card being shared but I won’t be doing much video editing as I thought I did in the beginning.

Here is my initial Pros and Cons on the MBP 13” compared to my old MBP 15”.

Pros:

  • Improved battery life
  • Upgrading HDD and ram is painless
  • Runs at a lower temperature
  • Trackpad gestures similar to the iPhone
  • Firewire 800
  • SD Card reader
  • Cheaper
  • Ram is expandable to 8GB
  • Core 2 Duo

Cons:

  • Shared video memory. I noticed a much lower FPS while playing WoW and visit a heavy populated area – while running other programs in the backgroun (ie: iTunes, Firefox, Quicktime, and other apps)
  • No ExpressCard slot
  • No Firewire 400 port
  • Scratches easier
  • Being a pound lighter, it doesn’t feel at all lighter

I’ll probably extend my list more as I continue to use it. So far I’m impressed. It’s a great upgrade for me.

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla