Tag: Apple

For my daily computing activities, my MacBook does an excellent job. With the 250 GB hard drive and extra 2 GB RAM, it has enough power for me to edit websites, make movies, and play the occasional game.

But every once in a while I find that I need more power, and I start to wonder what new Apple product would cause me to sell my MacBook immediately and purchase a new machine. This got me thinking about what gaps exist in Apple’s product line.

The MacBook Pro-sumer

Even though I didn’t have a computer when it came out, I really like the 12″ PowerBook G4. Unlike the MacBook Air, it didn’t sacrifice things like the DVD drive and ethernet port, but still used a fantastic 12″ aluminum shell (check out this classic ad).

What I am looking for in a laptop is a machine that is as powerful as a MacBook Pro, in a case the size of a MacBook, and with dedicated graphics. The graphics capability of the MacBook is the biggest gripe I have against the machine. I was playing a Windows game in Boot Camp (NHL 2005 if you must know), and even with the graphics turned way down, it couldn’t manage more than a few FPS. The laptop sounded as if it was ready to take off, and the resolution was down at 640×480. It was disappointing to say the least.

I know the MacBook isn’t meant to be a regular gaming machine, but it should at least be able to handle a 3 year old game.

Dream specs

  • Aluminum case
  • 13.3″ glossy screen
  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • MacBook-style upgradability
  • Backlit keyboard
  • SuperDrive
  • Ethernet port
  • Dedicated graphics
  • iSight camera

The MacBook Air was supposed to satisfy this area of the market, but it makes too many compromises to be my main machine.

iMac Mini

If there is a crevice in Apple’s notebook lineup, there is a continental divide in the desktop lineup.

With the Mac Mini, Apple takes the switchers on directly because the package does not have a display, keyboard or mouse. It’s diminutive size makes it great as a second machine or a server, but forces it to sacrifice power by using laptop components. The iMac includes a beautiful display, as well as a keyboard and mouse, but does not enable future upgrades due to the closed construction. The Mac Pro has mind-bending power and speed, along with a nearly unlimited upgrade path, but all that power comes at an elevated price.

As you can see, there is a rather large gap between the iMac and Mac Pro. There is a need for a powerful, upgradeable box that looks behaves more like a Windows machine. Imagine the upgrade path of a Mac Pro, power of an iMac in a package slightly larger than a Mac Mini. Macworld acknowledged this gap once too, in a story that dubbed the machine the Mythical, Midrange Mac Minitower. It could satisfy such a wide range of consumers, but still wouldn’t sacrifice sales of the other lines. People with Mac Pro-sized needs would still purchase the flagship machine, those who want power with limited upgradeability would still get the iMac. It could be the perfect Mac desktop.

Dream specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • User-accessible components
  • Scalability with hard drives and memory
  • Dedicated graphics
  • Smaller power and space footprint

While personally I wouldn’t have a large need for a machine like this, it could easy satisfy a niche that currently remains unclaimed.

[tags]Apple, Mac OS X, laptop, desktop, computers[/tags]

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If you run a home server, use file sharing on your network or use BitTorrent, you’ll know how inconvenient a dynamic IP address can be. Rather than memorizing a single address for each computer, you need to constantly look up each system. The solution is to set up your router to use static IP addresses. The problem — if you use an Apple Airport base station — is that the setting is often hidden among the advanced features, and even then it can be hard to identify.

I found the solution while browsing around the Airport Utility after my Internet went down. The setting is hidden in the Internet tab, under DHCP. There you’ll find a list that says IP Reservations, which is Apple’s way of saying these computers will each get a dedicated address.

To set up a computer, click the + icon and start the assistant. The key to successfully setting up the entire system is knowing a computer’s MAC address, which can be found from the Airport Utility under logs and statistics (like the picture below). This code of letters and numbers uniquely identifies each computer on your network, so you’ll need to make a note of it and enter it into the Reserved IP assistant.

With the assistant complete, you need to update the settings on the Airport and wait for the computer’s IP lease to reset. Once that is done, you’ll be able to use the reserved IP whenever you access the computer.

[tags]Airport, Apple, OS X, networking[/tags]

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After writing my last post about picking a new Mac, I decided to create a page to take some of the thinking out of the process. The Mac Chooser is a small form that evaluates the data given to it, and returns a recommendation for a new computer. It is by no means the last word, but it does a good job at processing common tasks.

If there is an activity missing in the form, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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After trying repeatedly to get a job with our local Apple store (unsuccessfully), I’ve decided that I will be sharing information normally given to new customers with readers of this blog. A natural first step is to explain the differences between the different Apple models, and how each one is best suited for a particular user.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what you plan on doing with your new computer. While each model is surprisingly powerful for doing a wide range of computing tasks, some do them better than others. By knowing this going in, it makes choosing the system much easier.

The second question — generally decided by the answer to the first one — is whether you want a laptop or a desktop. Laptops have greater portability, but often lack high powered components, and sometimes come at a higher price. Desktops generally come at lower prices, but at the expense of portability.
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This is part 2 of a 2 part series on upgrading your MacBook. Part 1 is exchanging the hard drive.

After you upgrade your MacBook’s hard drive, you’re stuck with a computer that likely has no data on it. This, of course, is impossible to boot, so you’re left with a very nice looking paperweight. With a few pieces of software, you can be back up and running in no time.
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