Written: December 12, 2016
I’ve been using an Apple MacBook Pro brand of laptop computer for three generations now, however there is a myth that Apple laptops are more reliable than PC laptops. On my 17″ MacBook Pro laptop the keyboard started having keys that no longer work, so I’ve got an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar today to probably have the keyboard replaced. As a work-around I’ve added a wireless keyboard so that I can continue my work.
As a backup for my 17″ MacBook Pro I have a 2nd computer, a 15″ MacBook Pro, so I took it off the shelf and placed it on my table, however it wouldn’t sit on the table flat, it wobbled instead. Hmm, what would cause my laptop to no longer sit flat? I opened the laptop up only to be horrified to see that the trackpad had been destroyed. What would cause a trackpad to be pushed out from the inside?
I took the bottom of my 15″ MacBook Pro apart to see what was going on, and look what I found, a bulging battery had pushed the trackpad to crack and moved the bottom of the case. Doing a Google search for “MacBook Pro battery bulging” I found that this is a known problem with many people reporting the same issue. I’ve got an 11:55AM appointment at the Genius Bar, so I will bring them two broken MacBook Pros, one with a bad keyboard and the other with a bad battery, broken trackpad and bulged case. Wish me luck.
Oh, and Apple laptop hardware is not more reliable than PC hardware, both brands will have failures.Tags: Apple, broken keys, bulged battery, MacBook Pro
My MacBook Pro prompted me to upgrade to the latest OS, now named macOS Sierra, so I said OK and have been playing with the new features today. The installation process took maybe 30 minutes or so, and while that was happening I was able to watch some Netflix series on my iPad.
Users of iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone have long been able to chat with their devices to ask questions or control apps, so now we have that useful feature on the desktop. I first asked about the weather, but then quickly discovered that I hadn’t setup my location:
Oddly enough the icon for Siri is supposed to be in my Menu Bar, but it isn’t showing up, instead I have to find it in my Dock instead. The hotkey to invoke Siri is “command shift”, however that is already defined to be the Spotlight feature. Oops, Apple duplicated their own hotkey sequences and failed to notice that gaffe.
This nifty feature allows you to copy from one device, say the MacBook Pro, then paste into an iPad. Sadly for me this feature requires that my MacBook Pro be a 2012 or later model, but I’m using the 2011 model so this doesn’t work at all, ugh.
This trick requires that you purchase an Apple Watch, then it will unlock your MacBook Pro. I’m not going to buy a watch just to do this task, but I understand how wearables could impact my laptop.
You can be shopping on your Safari browser on the desktop, click the Apple Pay button, then use your iPhone or Apple Watch to make the payment. Since I own the iPad Air, this doesn’t work, it requires an iPad Air2 device.
Memories will arrange your photos into collections that are grouped by people, events and location. Worked OK on my MacBook Pro, but I couldn’t find it on my iPad device.
I can use the Messages app and add fun emoji. Most of my contacts use Facebook Messenger or regular text messaging.
Works across all my devices like iPad and MacBook Pro, kind of like Apple’s version of DropBox.
Clever feature to move infrequent files from my Mac into iCloud, leaving more space on my Mac. Haven’t tried it, but it does make sense should I run out of space.
Picture in Picture
In iTunes or some web sites on Safari you can start playing a video, then float that video to a corner of your screen while you work on other things. The only streaming that I do is on Netflix, so I haven’t tried this yet.
Apps like Maps can have multiple tabs, just like in a web browser. I’m a Google Maps user, so seldom play with Apple Maps.
For how I use my MacBook Pro this latest OS is mostly eye-candy, so really won’t change my daily work and entertainment routines. It was free, so thank you AppleTags: MacBook Pro, maxOS Sierra
Over the past few decades I’ve owned laptops from Zenith Data Systems, Toshiba, Dell, HP and Apple. I’ve known that the reliability of laptops in particular is quite low because of how tightly packed the components are, leading quite often to heat-related failures in the CPU, GPU, DRAM or other chips mounted on the logic board. Last week my 2011 MacBook Pro with 17″ display decided to flake out and stop working after annoying graphical glitches and constant freezes and reboots.
Thankfully, I’ve been watching the Apple forums and heard about an official program dubbed, “MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video Issues“. It turns out that the graphics chip is attached to the logic board with lead-free solder, and that if not applied properly will eventually begin to fail after so many heat and cool cycles.
Related – A Brief History of the Apple MacBook Pro
I did a quick Google search for, “lead free solder failures” and it returned some 940,000 results, so this is a big topic not just limited to Apple’s MacBook Pro product.
Some related articles about lead-free solder failure:
Prior to the Apple repair program you had a few choices:
Apple is wisely offering to repair at no cost to the owner affected MacBook Pro laptops that were sold from February 2011 and December 2013:
To see if your MacBook Pro qualifies, see what year your laptop is by clicking on: Apple> About This Mac
I was able to phone my local Apple store at Bridgeport Village, confirm my serial number, then make an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar to drop off the laptop. Since I wanted to keep working while my 17″ MacBook Pro was being repaired, I decided to buy a used 15″ MacBook Pro from a local Craigslist listing. After just five days of use my 15″ MacBook Pro died this morning in the same manner as my 17″ in for repair, so today was not a fun day for me. I traveled to my Apple store with the dead 15″ MacBook Pro and the Genius Bar guy noted, “Oh, your 17″ is back from repair”. Now that was perfect timing, so I’m typing this blog on my recently repaired 17″ MacBook Pro, and waiting for my backup 15″ laptop to be repaired in about a week for the same failure mechanism.
I’m not sure of the exact economic cost to Apple for implementing this MacBook Pro repair program, but online there was a petition started to recall these failing MacBook Pro computers and over 38,000 people had signed it. In California and Canada class action lawsuits have also been filed to address this consumer product failure. Let’s take a guess and say that up to 100,00 MacBook Pro owners have this work done and that it costs Apple $500 to repair each unit, that would make the cost about $50 Million, and maybe it will also stop the two class-action lawsuits.
The one Apple person that I spoke to on the phone about my failing laptop wanted to know if my machine was stock or had been modified. I admitted that I had replaced the hard disk drive with a Samsung 500 GB SSD, and upgraded the DRAM to 16 GB. At first he wanted me to return all components to stock, but I pushed back and pointed out that my SSD used less power than a hard disk drive, and actually made my laptop run cooler, plus the DRAM was testing OK and was not causing these failures. He finally relented, and said that he was making an exception for me. Uh huh.
Related – A Brief History of the Apple iPod
The good news is that Apple is the largest consumer electronics company in the world, and they finally decided to help out distressed MacBook Pro owners like myself by admitting that there was a reliability issue, then offering a free repair program. I’m still undecided if I will continue to buy Apple products because it has been such a hassle for me to have two failing MacBook Pro laptops plus an iPad 2.
My iPad 2 was out of the 2 year Apple Care warranty period, and it continued to freeze and reboot sporadically. Maybe I just have to wait long enough for Apple to have a free repair program my iPad 2, just like the MacBook Pro.Tags: Apple, GPU, MacBook Pro
I enjoy using a MacBook Pro laptop in my business because of the unique ability to run both OS X and Windows 8 apps, side by side. This ability allows me to view a web page in both Internet Explorer on Windows 8, plus Safari on OS X. All is well when the laptop is operating properly, but this week that pleasant reality was quickly shaken when my laptop started rebooting.
At first I thought that the rebooting was caused by Google Chrome, so instead I started using Safari for web browsing, but the reboots kept happening even with Safari. After each reboot I had to use the Disk Utility to do repairs on the hard drive, and sometimes I could go for an hour or two before rebooting. Eventually my backup hard drive became broken, and my Windows 8 with Parallels would no longer work.
I searched the Apple support forums and found that others were having rebooting issues, but their solutions didn’t really work or apply to my situation. Finally, this morning I found one useful suggestion – try testing the RAM (Random Access Memory). According to Apple there was something called the Apple Hardware Test, where I could reboot my laptop and press the D key to get some hardware diagnostics running. Oddly enough, pressing D while rebooting did nothing.
Ready for Plan B, I found a wonderful little free App called EtreCheck that quickly identified that my RAM chipset was defective.
I was excited to finally identify the cause of my reboots, but then again I was saddened that my 16GB of RAM had already failed after only a few years of use. How could RAM go bad so easily?
Jumping into the car I made my way to Fry’s in Wilsonville and purchased 16GB of replacement for $159.99, returned home and installed it. The good news is that when I reran the memory test, it now passed everything with a clean bill of health:
The moral of my story – do a RAM test if your computer is randomly rebooting. My 2011 MacBook Pro still allows me to change my own RAM, however starting in 2012 Apple decided to solder the RAM to the motherboard, so this repair would not be possible with the newer MacBook Pro laptops – which is a big mistake on Apple’s part.Tags: Fry's, MacBook Pro, RAM failure, rebooting
Today the one-time brilliant marketing department at Apple made a major stumble.
What was it you ask?
Well, for the past 9 years I’ve enjoyed using a 17″ laptop every single work day (and play day). Once I found out how useful and productive the big screen was I vowed to never go back to a tiny 15″ or 13″ display.
Today, Apple announced brand new MacBook Pro laptops in only 13″ and 15″ sizes, no 17″ size. Somehow they forgot that the pricing on the 17″ laptop was higher than the 15″ and 13″ models and therefore had the most margin, and they have no 17″ laptop in their product line.
Yes, I do like the Retina display because my iPad 3 (aka New iPad) has it, however I would never downgrade from a 17″ to a 15″ display, never.
Apple, if you are listening, then please make at least one 17″ MacBook Pro prototype with the new Retina display and I promise to be your very, very best beta tester ever on the earth, so send one my way up here in Tualatin.Tags: Apple, MacBook Pro
Today I read an article about Nokia, the one-time world leader in cellphones and how they are now rated as “Junk” by the financial world, and it got me interested in Microsoft because their OS runs on the newer Nokia phones. Apple has two operating systems iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS X for laptop and desktop, while Microsoft has merged their mobile (Metro) and desktop OS (Windows) into the upcoming Windows 8.
My first step was to double check that I could run Windows 8 Beta on my MacBook Pro using the Parallels virtualization software. Yes, according to Parallels this can be done.
From Parallels I went to my Virtual Machines list, then clicked the + button to add a new virtual machine, then clicked the Windows 8 choice in the lower-right corner. The 3.3GB download said about 4 hours of waiting. At the end of the download was a lengthy “Validating” phase, followed by “Your download is corrupt, try again.”
My second download ended in exactly the same state as first, failure.
Since the Parallels auto-install wasn’t working I just looked in my download directory, located the 3.3GB file, renamed it windows8.iso, then asked Parallels to install from an ISO file. Installation was straight forward after that. A bit of Microsoft humor shows up in the install because this is a Beta release they used a beta fish icon:
While waiting for the Windows 8 install to complete there’s an animated swirl of five stars to mesmerize you into a hypnotic state and forget about time passing.
The background color scheme can be selected among a dozen earthy choices:
The opening Metro screen uses tiles instead of icons, and you can make them wider, narrower, re-arrange, or un-pin them.
Microsoft has you login with your LiveID, so that it can remember your preferences in the cloud:
You can customize the lock screen with some beautiful photography included:
With the Parallels software on my MacBook Pro I now have many Operating System choices including Windows 8:
Just like Windows 7 you will find that Microsoft has many updates it wants to install, and with Windows 8 Beta I get failures to update for an HP Laserjet printer (never been attached, so unsure why it thinks that I need it at all):
As you setup accounts in Windows 8 the Metro UI becomes more personalized to your tastes and habits:
I setup accounts for:
I downloaded the SkyDrive app for Mac then added photos from a weekend trip, and my profile photo:
I found that the background color is constantly changing in Metro. The first time you visit the background is a style pattern and solid color, then in SkyDrive the background is white, but when looking at Photos on SkyDrive the background changes to black. Thank you Microsoft for the very liberal free storage capacity of 25GB for me, that is just wonderful.
In Metro you will notice that Apps need to be updated with a number inside of a circle, clicking Store shows you:
Once you’re in an App and using a Mouse/Keyboard it’s not real intuitive how to get back to Metro, so after a Google search I discovered that I had to move my mouse to the far right side and select Start:
Once in the App called Store you can scroll horizontally to the right to see lots of App categories and suggestions. I added the free Kindle App and it looked just like what I use on the PC or Mac:
Windows 8 adds every App and Program on your computer to the Metro start page, so it’s a hassle when I downloaded the Kindle App because it gets added to the farthest right of the screen, causing my to scroll about 8 pages to even find it. I would prefer that new Apps are pinned to the Start screen on the far left with now scrolling, not the far right. On the Android when I add a new App it gets added alphabetically, while on iOS new Apps get added to the farthest right screen (still don’t like it, too much scrolling).
From the Start screen you click Desktop and see something that looks just like the Windows 7 desktop.
The marketing folks at Microsoft want you to believe that Metro and Windows are now merged however I don’t drink that Kool-Aide because clearly these are two totally separate Operating Systems glued together, there is simply nothing merged about it. You are either working with the Metro UI or the old familiar Windows 7 UI. Honestly I am underwhelmed, but have no choice but to learn and use Windows 8 because my clients will be using it.
Microsoft documentation tells me to click the Windows button on my keyboard to switch back to Metro from the Desktop or App, however on my MacBook Pro the equivalent key is the right-hand Command button.
Yes, the Microsoft folks went a little crazy for this App and provided maximum eye candy, charts, numbers, facts and figures:
Microsoft will certainly continue to extract their OS upgrade tax moving Windows 7 users into Windows 8. I’ve really just scratched the surface of what Windows 8 will do however I can say that this OS does have a learning curve, works OK with a mouse, and the Metro UI should work OK as a touch-based UI. Windows 8 works fast enough for me as a virtual OS under Parallels on a MacBook Pro, at least as fast as Windows 7 did.
Will your life forever be changed for the good after buying and using Windows 8? Uh, no.
Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview here, I would recommend on a PC to add a new partition and keep it separate from Windows 7, on a Mac get Parallels which will keep it separate from your other OSes.Tags: Android, iOS, MacBook Pro, Metro UI, Parallels, Windows 8
Last evening I returned from the office, setup the laptop at home and pushed the power button. Uh oh. My MacBook Pro screen just showed a startup but never progressed even after minutes of waiting:
No problem, I’ll just reboot again using Command+R and plugin my backup hard drive. Then I could see the utility screen:
In the Disk Utility I clicked Repair Disk however it returned this ominous error:
Invalid B-Tree node size
A Google search told me that this meant that my 500GB hard drive was damaged. Wow, that drive was less than two years old.
This morning I drove to Fry’s in Wilsonville because they open at 8AM, while I really preferred to shop at Best Buy in Tualatin because they were much closer to my office in Tualatin however they open later at 10AM.
The tech guy at Fry’s showed me the laptop hard drive choices available and when I told him that I had a MacBook Pro he said, “Well, I wouldn’t use the 7200 RPM drives in that because Apple didn’t design it to remove the heat fast enough, stick with the 5400 RPM drive instead.”
So, I bought a Seagate 500GB hard drive, the 5400 RPM version and went back to my office to replace the dead 500GB hard drive. Sure enough, my dead drive was the 7200 RPM version from Seagate. Lesson learned, don’t exceed Apple specs in your MacBook Pro.
Replacing the hard drive was straight forward, with my small screwdriver set I unscrewed the phillips screws on the bottom of the case. Remove two screws on the hard drive assembly, popped out my old drive, inserted the new drive, the powered up. Uh oh, the new drive had nothing on it, so the MacBook couldn’t boot.
I powered off, the powered on while holding the Command+R button and did a reboot from my backup drive. Back to the familiar Mac OS X Utilities menu. Under Disk Utility I had to first Partition the new drive, then choose Restore from Time Machine. Now it’s telling me that a restore will take 4 hours and 23 minutes, hmm. I’ll let you know how the story ends.
This is not the first time that my MacBook Pro has given me woes:
After Lunch Update
Just before I left for lunch the Restore dialog told me that I had less than 1 hour to complete, so I felt excited to finish lunch and come back to a restored laptop. Not so. After lunch I entered my office to find that the laptop display was off, so I clicked the mouse but it didn’t wake the display. Hmm. Next I clicked the power button but it only showed me the start screen and never booted to the desktop.
I re-powered and pressed the Command+R key to boot from my backup drive but now that wouldn’t work. I’m going backwards here.
Jump in the car, drive home and fetch the old Snow Leopard OS which came on DVD, unlike Lion which has no DVD and requires that your laptop be healthy enough to boot up. Now I am starting my second Restore from backup and the dialog says 5 hours and 43 minutes…
The only thing that allows me to do any work today is my backup HP laptop running Windows 7 and accessing my email accounts through webmail. Now, why did I leave HP in the first place?
No go, the second restore will not boot.
At the Apple store now and Tony thinks it is an OS issue so he is loading Lion on my new hard drive. Success, my MacBook Pro will now boot after the corrupt Lion OS was re-installed. Tony is a genius, many thanks you found the issue and got my laptop back to life again.
When I returned from the Apple store I still had to do a recovery from Time Machine to get back my user accounts, programs and documents.
My MacBook Pro would not boot because the OS was corrupted and the Time Machine backup doesn’t include the OS, so my attempts to restore from backup didn’t solve anything. I still don’t know exactly what caused the OS to become corrupt.
In three years of owning MacBook Pro laptops I can say that they are as unreliable as any PC that I’ve owned for the past 30 years. So much for the fabled superiority of Apple over PC when it comes to running a business because I don’t see Apple as being more reliable than PC (HP, Dell, Toshiba).Tags: Mac OS X, MacBook Pro
This morning I turned on my trusty MacBook Pro and read some emails (battery very low), then dashed off to walk my youngest son to the bus stop. Returning home I closed the lid and headed into the office.
At the office I opened the lid and hit the power button. Uh oh. My LCD was dim and I could barely make out the windows. No problem I thought, then pushed the Power button to restart my laptop. When the laptop restarted I saw the familiar Apple logo and the swirling icon:
After several minutes and no login prompt I knew that something was wrong. Probably the Hard Drive, so let’s try rebooting with Command+R:
Then I choose Disk Utility and clicked both Verify Permissions and Verify Disk, followed by Repair Permissions and Repair Disk:
Tried to reboot but my laptop was still stuck at the Apple logo, no login.
Well, time to try and restore Lion from the Internet, so another reboot with Command+R then tried Reinstall Mac OS X:
A dialog asks for my AppleID:
I lookup my AppleID in an Excel spreadsheet but it isn’t accepted. I click Forgot Password and wait for an email confirmation, none comes. I try a second AppleID, that also is rejected. Finally, I try a new AppleID which is accepted however it tells me that the new AppleID wasn’t the one used to originally buy Lion.
I phone Apple Care and spend 58 minutes on the phone (very nice tech support guy who helped in spite of the fact I don’t even own AppleCare):
I try several things the tech support guy offers, none of them fix the broken login.
Support: Go to iTunes and add Lion to your cart.
Me: I only have a PC and iTunes won’t let me buy Lion. Can you just charge me the $29.00 and add Lion to my account?
Support: No, we aren’t allowed to do that. Do you have another Mac?
Me: Yes, at home.
Driving back home I login to my iMac, click the App Store, buy a 2nd copy of Lion, pause the download, then drive back to the office.
In the office I reboot with Command+R, choose Disk Utility, Reinstall Mac OS X, AppleID. Finally, it’s accepted and I wait another 95 minutes for the download to complete, the MacBook Pro reboots, I wait another 35 minutes for the install to complete, then I see the login:
All of my data and apps are in tact, the only things I had to re-install were:
I entered my office at 8:00AM and had a working laptop at 2:30PM. That’s 6.5 hours of character building experience for me today.
I’ve been using software from Parallels to let me run Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro for almost one year now. All has been well until I noticed that my C: drive was getting full.
My first response was to use Google and find out how to increase my C: drive disk space. The first page of search results suggested that I use an App called Image Tool, however I had no such App and started getting upset about not finding it. Finally in a forum the suggest was to Read The Fine Manual (RTFM).
Tough for a guy to do, so once I read the PDF manual I found the gem that I needed:
I’m now a happy camper with more disk space on C:.Tags: MacBook Pro, Parallels, Windows 7
Earlier today I vented about Things a Mac Cannot Do, and I feel much better now.
So, why did I buy a MacBook Pro in the first place?
1) Cross-Platform browser testing
In my web development business I need to make sure that web pages look OK in both PC and Mac. About a year ago I bought an iMac and used it in my home office. Now I’m not using my home office as much, instead I’m in an office space in Tualatin so I didn’t want to lug the 24″ iMac along with me each day. The portability of the MacBook Pro lets me tote it to the office. Most Mac users have Safari so I double check that my client sites look OK on in Safari. The biggest issues right how is that bold fonts in Safari on Mac look about 25% larger than on any other browser.
2) Multi-OS Support
As a backup when my PC dies, I need another computer to work on. With the MacBook Pro I have installed Windows XP and Windows 7 using a virtualization tool from Parallels. Four different attempts at putting Mac OS X on my PC simply failed, so having a MacBook Pro it was very straight forward to get multiple OSes up and running without violating a license agreement.
On the MacBook Pro I have installed two main Windows programs: Outlook 2007 and Quicken 2009. I can restore the two back-up files for these programs and continue working on my MacBook Pro.
3) Better Sound
I love classical music and the built-in speakers for the MacBook Pro simply sound better than the Harmon Kardon speakers on my HP Laptop.
4) LCD Display with Matte Finish
My HP laptop has an annoying glossing finish, so that means that I can see my own reflection in it like a mirror. Talk about distractions. On the MacBook Pro my LCD version has the matte finish, or what they also refer to as anti-glare.
While my HP is in for replacement of the motherboard I’m having them swap out the glossy display for a matte display.
5) Built-in Bluetooth
To get a wireless mouse to work on my HP laptop I had to buy a Logitech mouse with a USB connector and plug that into a free port. I don’t like that little connector hanging out. The MacBook Pro has bluetooth support built-in so no ugly USB connector sticking out of the laptop. My wireless mouse on the Mac is the Magic Mouse, very cool to use the finger motions and it even supports Right-Click – something that all PC users simply have to use.
9) Build Quality
My PC is mostly plastic and nylon, not exactly long lasting materials. The MacBook Pro is aluminum and well built. I’ve upgraded the Hard Drive from 260GB to 500GB and got to open up the case to complete the job. The MacBook Pro is a marvel of modern engineering and styling.
I just read this study from SquareTrade that shows the reliability of Apple laptops to HP laptops is about a factor of 1.5X in favor of Apple.