Tag Archives: Apple

How To Speed Up a MacBook Pro

My 2010 MacBook Pro is getting a little long in the tooth, so I’ve been working on a few ways to speed up its performance. There’s a level of wear that can’t easily be corrected for, but there are a few tricks you can perform to stretch a little more life out of the system.

Naturally, my first reaction is to add some more RAM–especially since I don’t have the maximum amount compatible with my logic board. You can see how to do that in a previous article and how-to video.

Meanwhile, if you’re still having hiccoughs and spinning beach balls of death, there’s a few software tools to help improve performance. First off, start the system in Safe Mode (yes, Mac has a Safe Mode). To access Safe Mode, shut down the MacBook and wait at least 10 seconds. Turn the MacBook back on, then press and hold the Shift key as soon as possible after the startup tone plays. Release the Shift key once the Apple logo and progress indicator appear.

Once you’ve booted into Safe Mode, open the Disk Utility located in the Utilities folder of the Launchpad. Select the startup disk in the panel on the left and click “First Aid”. If the utility indicates that the disk is about to fail, you’ll need to backup the disk and replace it. Otherwise, click “Verify Disk” to see if there are any reparable problems.

If all else fails, you can attempt to reset the System Management Controller (SMC). To reset the SMC, shut down the computer and attach the power supply. Hold Shift-Control-Option on the left-hand side of the keyboard and press the power button once. Release all the keys, then press the power button to boot the computer.

How To Upgrade RAM in a MacBook Pro

Atari shows you how to properly replace RAM in a MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro Memory Specifications:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201165

How To Rip a DVD on a Mac

Despite the plethora of freeware available to rip DVDs on a Windows or Linux machine, Mac users have been somewhat cast aside for one reason or another. Most search results direct a user to expensive software that doesn’t even allow for a proper trial before use. Handbrake is a popular freeware video conversion application for Mac (and Windows and Ubuntu) that can also be used to decode and record DVD titles as soft video files with just a little bit of tweaking.

First thing to do is install the latest version of Handbrake. Download the Mac disc image, mount it, and copy the app to your applications folder like you would any other. Launch Handbrake and insert a DVD into your optical drive (assuming you actually have one still). Due to licensing restrictions, Handbrake doesn’t include the proper DVD codecs stock, but will prompt you to download the open-source libdvdcss library. Download and run the package installer, then restart Handbrake.

Now you can open your DVD in Handbrake, choose the title you wish to rip, choose the appropriate settings, and click the “start” button!

If you run into problems, the DVD probably contains some level of copy-protection that will have to be circumvented. A word of warning here: the DMCA specifically prohibits breaking copy-protection, but as a freedom-loving American, I believe that once recorded media is legitimately obtained in any format, then it is within the rights of the owner of that media to convert it to any other format for personal consumption. For more information on the moral and legal implications of the Digital Millennium Copyright Atrocity, click here. In this case, open the DVD Player app, then navigate through the menus until the title you wish to rip is playing. In the menu bar, select “Go”, then “Title”, and note the title with the check mark next to it. Back in Handbrake, select “File” and “Open Source (Title Specific)”. Select your DVD, then enter the title number in the dialog before clicking the “Open Title” button.

There are a lot more settings that drill down into the fine details for each video file to be encoded, but I will leave their explanations to the fine folks at MacWorld who wrote the article on which this tutorial is based. You can read the full article here.

Lunch at 1 Infinite Loop. Yes, I drank apple juice.

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Obligatory “Where’s Atari?” selfie post

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TV a la carte? I’ll Buy That For A Dollar!

According to anonymous sources via The Wall Street Journal, Apple is possibly in the process of wooing at least CBS and Disney into a subscription service for streaming television.  The basic rundown is that the customer could subscribe to a program stream without having to deal with those messy, customer-unfriendly cable companies that everyone I know loathes and despises in a vein similar to their affections for Terrorists and Nazi Zombies.

I, for one, am ecstatic about the prospect of only having to pay for the small handful of channels I watch (when I actually sit down and watch television).  If I want The Military History Channel, I don’t want to have to purchase Golf TV, BET, Lifetime, etc. when I will practically never find myself actively watching such tripe.  Of course, this is something we’ve all been subjected to since the advent and explosion of the format since the 1980’s.  I remember talk during the late 90’s about the FCC kicking around the idea of “TV a la carte” wherein, thanks to programmable receivers, consumers would be able to purchase subscriptions only for networks they actually watch.  Lobbies representing the cable providers (namely Comcast and Verizon, if memory serves correctly) immediately went into action championing the plight of the niche-market TV networks–small, usually locally-oriented, stations that have little to no widespread appeal (think low-power UHF stations of old)–saying they would inevitably be destroyed if no one had the opportunity to stumble upon them.  Thankfully, we now have Web 2.0.  With its proliferation of on-demand services such as RSS, YouTube, Twitter, etc., the “no one will ever see this” excuse is practically eliminated.

I think this is certainly the start of something new and necessary for the growth of entertainment, information, and technology.  With seemingly limitless options provided by the Interweb, television doesn’t have to be held hostage to timeslots…or location-specific receivers, for that matter.  My only concern is the fact that Apple might keep a stranglehold on the market–is there a way to make sure that the receiver software stays open?  I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes just to keep up with 24 or Doctor Who.  Frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes, period, but that’s a subject for another time.

In the meantime:  Streaming media to your set-top box, laptop, or phone?  Yes, please.