macramupgrade

Boosting Performace of Older Macs

Older MacBook Pro computers made between 2009 and 2012 are routinely retired because they seem slow or will not hold a charge.  These models can have several more useful years with some simple and inexpensive upgrades.  The newer models – like the mid 2012 has a CPU almost as fast as the 2015 models.  Apple has made major improvements in battery life and the beautiful retina display however the perceived speed hasn’t changed much.  If you bought your son or daughter a shiny new Mac when they started college in 2012, that computer, with a few upgrades would be a perfect computer for their high school sibling.  

3 Simple Upgrades for about $250 can save you from buying a new $1,800 Mac.

Number 1   Battery

After four years of frequent use a MacBook Pro battery may need to be replaced.  Symptoms of a bad battery are short operating times after a full charge or erratic battery level readings.  There are several things you can do to get the most out of a new battery but a bad battery needs to be replaced.  There are two approaches to replacing a Mac battery, buy an original Apple battery or buy a third party or OEM battery.  The Apple battery will probably work well and will certainly cost a great deal.  An OEM battery may or may not work well and will cost a lot less.  

Apple stopped making the battery user replaceable around 2009.  To get an original Apple replacement battery that is not  used or new but old, you need to have Apple do the work.

These Mac notebooks have built-in batteries:
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009) and later 
All MacBook Air computers
All MacBook Pro computers with Retina display
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009) and later; MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009) and later 
 
There are a handful of reputable OEM suppliers of replacement batteries and battery replacement is not difficult.  My preference is to use an OEM battery that has a one year warranty.  These sell for around $40 and if they perform well you will have saved well over $100.  If they have problems you will know within a month or two.  Order a replacement under warranty and try again.  Carefully reading reviews can help find suppliers with a good track record, but no one is perfect.  
 
Sites such as https://www.ifixit.com/ have easy to follow step by step guides. The battery replacement procedure for a mid 2012 MacBook Pro can be found here  (forget the video and just use the photos and instructions). 

Number 2 Memory

Older MacBook Pros shipped with 2 or 4 GB  (gigabytes) of memory, or RAM.  Software has gotten bigger with more features and people tend to open several applications at once which can really slow down a Mac without enough RAM.  Replacing the memory in a MacBook Pro is very easy and replacing the existing memory with 2  4 GB sticks for 8 GB costs about $40.  13 inch MacBook Pros made in 2010 or later can take up to 16 GB in 2 sticks of 8 GB and costs about $70.  For most high school students, 8 is enough.
 
Crucial.com has an excellent tool on their website to find what type of memory your specific model uses. Crucial memory is available direct or from Amazon and others however be sure to order the exact model if using the Crucial.com tool of make sure the memory is Mac compatible.  

Number 3 Hard Disk or SSD

  • Upgrade your hard disk to a higher performance drive.
  • Upgrade your disk to an SSD.

Most older MacBook Pro laptops shipped with 5400 rpm hard drives.  Switching the old drive ou for a 7200 rpm drive of larger capacity is an an inexpensive upgrade for better performance and capacity.  A 1 TB 7200 rpm drive costs about $70 (8/16/16).  Swapping out drives is relatively easy with step by step instructions at sites such as https://www.ifixit.com.   If you have a larger budget and can make due with less capacity, an SSD drive will provide a substantial performance boost and longer battery life.  The ADATA Premier SP550 480 GB 2.5 Inch SATA III SSD sells for $115 at B&H (8/16/16).

Most of the time to replace these parts is spent removing the back cover so it’s a good idea to do them all at once.  Once your computer is back together you will need to either reinstall the software from your old drive or do a fresh install.  I recommend a fresh install which will provide the latest software and eliminate lots of old software and other junk that accumulates over time.  A fresh install will also improve performance.  For more about how to do a fresh install read my article How to Create an OS/X USB Thumb-Drive Installer.

Questions?  use the contact form to get in touch.

 

install_osx

How to Create an OS/X USB Thumb-Drive Installer

Apple makes keeping your Mac software up-to-date a snap with the Updates feature of the Apple App Store App.  While upgrading from one version of OS/X to the next is usually successful, performance on older Macs that have had several updates can suffer.  A fresh install can provide the latest version of software without the downsides of multiple updates.  Another advantage of a fresh install is the oportunity to restore only the programs and data you really want.
A fresh install will involve completely erasing your existing hard disk or SSD so having at least 2 backups is critical.  A current Time Machine backup can be used to restore programs and data and can be used as the 1st backup.  For the 2nd backup you can make a second Time Machine backup to a different drive, backup to another computer onyour network that has enough free space or upgrade your hard disk with a faster 7200 rpm drive or a very fast SSD drive.  See my article on Boosting Performace of Older Macs.  The old disk can be kept as an archive backup.
 
With OS X Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, or Mavericks, you can use a USB flash drive or other removable media as a startup disk from which to install OS X.  
 
Download the OS X installer from the Mac App Store.
Quit the installer if it opens automatically after downloading.
The installer will be in your Applications folder.
 
Mount your USB flash drive. 
Open the Terminal app, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
Use the command diskutil list to find the name of the USB drive.
 
Use the createinstallmedia command in Terminal to create the bootable installer.
Make sure that the appropriate Install OS X app is in your Applications folder.
 
The following examples assume that the OS X installer is in your Applications folder and the name of your USB flash drive or other volume is MyVolume: replace the name MyVolume with the name of your USB drive.
 
Example for Sierra:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app
 
 
Example for El Capitan:
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app
 
Example for Yosemite:
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/MyVolume –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Yosemite.app
 
Note – El Capitain requires the following Mac hardware:
 
iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or newer), (15-inch, Mid / Late 2007 or newer), (17-inch, Late 2007 or newer)
MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
 

Questions?  use the contact form to get in touch.

 
mac-virus-trojan

Protecting Macs from Viruses and Malware

March 11, 2016

For many years, computer viruses and malware were mostly the concern of Windows users.  Mac users faced very few threats. This has been atributed to the Mac’s sibgle digit market share and, some have argued, a more secure product.  One common misconception was that Macs were somehow imune from viruses and malware.  While the number of threats may pale in comparrisln to Windows, Macs are indeed suseptible to attack and more and more are appearing.  The time has come for Mac users to make secutity a priority.   

In the last few weeks, researchers have found the first Mac Ransomware malware in circulation.  Ransomware is software that encrypts the files on a computer making them unuseable to the owner.  The person controllling the malware then demnads a ransom to unencrypt the files.  In most cases, the victim has only 72 hours to pay or the ransom or the malware author threatens to eraswe the key that is needed to restore the files.  Regardless of the size of your business, the loss of data can be davastatiung.  

Add these new threats to hardware failures and theft and the need for a well thought out and executed computer protection plan is more important then ever.

You can find my Mac security recomendations here.

 

 

women_coders

Women write better code, study suggests

BBC Online

Computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than that written by men – but only if their gender is not identifiable, new research suggests.
 
The US researchers analysed nearly 1.4 million users of the open source program-sharing service Github.
 
They found that pull requests – or suggested code changes – made on the service by women were more likely to be accepted than those by men.
 
The paper is awaiting peer review.  Read more …..
 

 

Rarely Patched Software Bugs in Home Routers Cripple Security

 
 
By JENNIFER VALENTINO-DEVRIES WSJ
Jan. 18, 2016 11:58 a.m. ET
 
In late 2014, a small Massachusetts software company got an ominous email: A computer-security researcher said a flaw in one of its programs put millions world-wide at risk of being hacked.
 
Engineers at the company, Allegro Software Development Corp., analyzed the flaw in the program, which can help users access the controls of home Internet routers. They quickly realized something strange: They had fixed this bug nearly 10 years earlier. But it lived on, even in new devices.  Read the article at WSJ

library_congress

Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses

The new rules for exemptions to copyright’s DRM-circumvention laws were issued today, and the Librarian of Congress has granted much of what EFF asked for over the course of months of extensive briefs and hearings. The exemptions we requested—ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars—have each been accepted, subject to some important caveats.

The exemptions are needed thanks to a fundamentally flawed law that forbids users from breaking DRM, even if the purpose is a clearly lawful fair use. As software has become ubiquitous, so has DRM. Users often have to circumvent that DRM to make full use of their devices, from DVDs to games to smartphones and cars.

The law allows users to request exemptions for such lawful uses—but it doesn’t make it easy. Exemptions are granted through an elaborate rulemaking process that takes place every three years and places a heavy burden on EFF and the many other requesters who take part. Every exemption must be argued anew, even if it was previously granted, and even if there is no opposition. The exemptions that emerge are limited in scope. What is worse, they only apply to end users—the people who are actually doing the ripping, tinkering, jailbreaking, or research—and not to the people who make the tools that facilitate those lawful activities.

Read more …..