Is The White MacBook Still Useful?

I wrote this white macbook review a few years ago. I asked my wife what she thought about this computer.

She said: I like the size, it is small enough to take with me in our apartment. I also like the looks and the operating system: OS X. it is much easier to use compared to Windows, and the dock, dont forget the dock!

using-the-white-macbook

Ok she said: I cant see anything on the screen if i am outside in the sunshine and the DVD reader doesn’t work.

(The DVD player is a hardware issue, and we havent really bothered fixing it because we almost never use CDs or DVDs anyway.)

So I asked her again, anything else you dislike and want me to write? Her answer: No. Are you sure? yes!

What you get with this machine is not just some piece of good looking plastic hardware. You get a system that is tailor made to work seamlessly with the provided software. For me much of the value lies in just that.

White MacBook

She use her laptop for almost anything except gaming.

  • Image editing in iPhoto.
  • Websurfing.
  • Writing and taking notes.
  • Communication.
  • Updates her own blog.
  • Music & Youtube.
  • Planning our finances and more

And everything is done on the computer you see above. The tasks mentioned above isn’t really that demanding. Almost any computer today would handle those well.

You cant buy this computer anymore, Apple have discontinued it. The MacBook Air would be a better choice if you want to buy something new. Or you could buy it used.

Increase The Computers Lifespan

If you feel this computer is getting slow here are some tips that will do wonders for your computer. If you follow them it will feel like a new computer.

  • Max out your RAM
  • Buy an SSD!
  • Reinstall the newest OSX that works for your model. The latest OS X from Apple is free.

Here Are Some Office For Mac Alternatives, Free Ones Too

So the built in textedit.app isn’t good enough for you eh? If you need to write some basic text its good enough but when you need more features or want to keep track of your finances in a spreadsheet, using some kind of office suite is useful.

Here are some office for mac alternatives you could take a look at.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

word-mac-2011-iconWhere I work we have a mixed environment with mostly Windows clients. If you want the best compatibility with your Microsoft colleagues I recommend that you opt for the well known Microsoft Office. I use the Mac version myself at work and it generally works okay. Then again, my employer pays the license. Some of the alternatives listed further below on this page also at some degree works with Microsoft docs depending on how complicated the documents you have are. Get your own at Amazon: Office Mac Home and Student 2011 – 1PC/1User [Download]

Apple iWork

iwork-numbers-iconApple had their own suite as well and it was called iWork. I am using it myself for our budget spreadsheet at home. It looks nice and is easy to use. Apple also provide a lot of templates you can use as a starting point.

You don’t have to buy the whole suite (and it doesn’t really exist anymore). Numbers (Spreasheet), Pages (Writing) and Keynote (Powerpoint alternative) can be bought seperatly through the App Store. I only use Numbers because I don’t need the other ones. Thus saving money.

Apples “suite” works with files from Microsoft office and if it encounters any compatibility problems with the files you use it will tell you what the problem is so you can fix it.

The Free Alternatives

While Microsoft makes the most known and used software for office tasks you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to. Saving money is important and you can do that by using some of the good open source alternatives out there.

Apace OpenOffice

openoffice-iconOpenOffice is a well known and constantly in development office suite. It is entirely developed by volunteers with a huge amount of talent and knowledge. It is developed over 20 years so its an reliable package. You get 5 different type of tools:

  • Writer (word processor)
  • Calc (spreadsheets)
  • Draw (Image application)
  • Math (Mathematical equations)

Living on a budget is hard but OpenOffice makes it easier. Download it here.

Google Docs

google-docs-iconGoogle docs also have all the basic office tools you need like spreadsheets, writing, presentations, drawing and e-mail (gmail of course). Storing all your documents using the Google Drive. It integrates well with other tools from Google.

Uploading Microsoft documents and editing those is usually no problem.

Even More!

You can also check out these. NeoOffice is quite nice and it supports retina displays if you have one of those computers.

Paid software is getting some serious competition from the open source alternatives. In one end you have Microsoft and in the other the biggest one is Apache OpenOffice.

You can always try it out and see what you like but this page lists the most popular choices out there and it is ultimately up to you what you want to use.

Good Games for Macs, Yes They Exist

Sure! Games for Macs is not something non existent. In fact the Mac is gaining more and more support from game developers. As more people use products from Apple, the market for mac os x games obviously increases.

It is true that Windows have much more games available and if you just want to play games and nothing more then maybe buying a Mac isn’t the right choice for you… If you only want to play games you will probably get more performance out of your money if you decide to buy a PC instead. However if you only play the occasional game the Mac computer games base is large enough to keep you occupied for a long time.

Finding Mac Games

Nowadays you buy your games online. I have a few favorite places I use when buying games and here they are:

1. Apple App Store

App Store Games

If you have used the iPhone or iPad I am sure you are used to the App Store. Its the same thing on the Mac. It contains apps for your Mac and also a lot of games for macs.

You should be able to find some gems here and a good tip is to click on top charts in the app store and then select games. Again, you cant expect to find the newest hottest game here. That is what we have Windows for.

2. Steam for Mac

Steam for Mac

Steam is the name of Valves online game delivery platform and online shop. Think of it like the App Store, but for games. It has existed for Windows users since 2003. At the moment there are more than 1 100 games available. Not all of them are available for Mac users however the catalog grows larger each week. In practice you buy a game through the Steam client, the client downloads game files to your computer and you can start playing after the game has downloaded.

The good part about this is the following: consider you have a desktop gaming PC at home, with Windows installed. You download a game through the steam client on your Windows computer. Then you can also download it to your Mac (if the game is available for Mac of course). It will sync your settings so you can play the game just where you left off. You don’t have to pay twice.

You can download the Steam client here: Steam Download

GOG (Good Old Games)

gog

GoG (Good Old Games) specialize in releasing older classic games for new modern operating systems and they also release some of  them for OSX. You have a lot of game history there and if you are like me over 30+ you will probably find something you recognize.

Here is their GOG Mac Catalog

Personal Experience

Although my time for playing games is not that high anymore I try to keep up to date. One game developer among many that always have been true to the Mac platform is Blizzard. This is a good thing for us that love games.

StarCraft 1

Apple MacBook Pro 15 Inch, The Best Windows Laptop

Building this website is done mostly by using the Apple MacBook Pro 15 Inch. Apple knows how to build a high performing and durable laptop. It is expensive but you also get high quality components and hardware inside. Not to forget, OS X.

This also makes this a good laptop to run Windows on! The MacBook Pro occasionally “win” contests where they are trying to find the best Windows laptop. I also know that some people actually buy this computer to only run Windows on it. Because they want the Apple build quality and hardware. If you are going that route make sure you have a small partition for OSX. Maybe 10 – 15GB so you can download updates. Especially when Apple updates the firmware, it has to be done in OSX. You can set it to automatically boot to Windows by default anyway.

Unfortunately Apple decided to stop producing this laptop when they released the second refresh of the retina 15 Inch. If you want it you have to get a refurbished version somewhere or used.

apple macbook pro 15

Apples price on their hardware is usually in the premium segment and you can get another computer with better hardware specs cheaper. That is certainly true and you have to decide if you think it is worth paying more for this computer. Or you could consider financing your Mac. It will be more expensive but you can have it now.

Apple also had the 17 Inch MBP but decided to dump it when they released the retina model.

Useful Accessories For Your Mac

Some of you set an wallpaper as the first thing you do when you startup. However to personalize your computer even more you could get a physical wallpaper or decals in your nearest apple shop…

If you buy this computer I assume you travel a little bit? Then you should consider some cheap but really smart car charging solutions.

MacBook Pro Retina Vs Non-Retina

MacBook Pro Retina Mid 2012

It is easier to suggest what to choose now when Apple discontinued their regular 15 Inch model.

The selling point of the MacBook Pro Retina is without doubt the display. The 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 ppi makes everything razor sharp. You have to see the display yourself to believe it. I had this computer myself for a while and I really liked it even though it had some issues (they are solved now).

The huge drawback here is that the upgradeability is near zero. Want to upgrade more RAM in a few years? Nope! Want to upgrade the hard drive in a few years? Almost – Nope. (The SSD can be unscrewed though). DVD / CD Drive? Nope. But who use that today anyway?

Realize that you have to let go of some upgradeability if you decide to get the retina model. And thats the only one you get if you are going to buy a new computer.

It is smaller compared to the one above but the performance is really high. Video editing, image editing even some occasional gaming is no problem. Ultimately you have to decide if you are getting the apple macbook pro 15 inch or the macbook pro retina. They are both fine candidates.

Check out the MacBook Pro Retina Review if you want more in-depth information about that computer.

Considering Apple Computer Financing?

Use Apple Computer Financing if you don’t have the cash you need to pay for a new Apple product upfront. Remember that you often pay a lot more for the product in the end if you use financing and you should take that into consideration. There are other options for you to consider if you are willing to check it out. You could consider buying a used computer or a refurbished one directly from Apple for example.

If you have set your mind on buying a new shiny Mac and want to use financing anyway there are a few things you could do. MacMall have a few financing and even leasing options for you to consider. They also often have good deals on older models so well worth checking out.

Apple Store also offer their own apple computer financing option. They have the Barclaycard Financing Visa Card where you can down-pay in 6 or 12 months without interest. You Apply for the card directly at Apple and when they have processed your application you can use the card to buy any product in the Apple Store.

apple-computer-financing

Just a little side note.. remember that in the computer world things are in fast constant development. I wouldn’t pay off a computer for more than one year. When something new comes out the value on your current computer hits the floor. With that said Macs generally hold their value longer compared to a regular Windows PC. However the Mac is in no way immune to this effect.

We live in a world today where it is easy to get credit. I made some bad credit choices earlier in my life which I regret today. Make sure you know exactly how much you are going to pay during the period and make sure you are aware of the fact that your Mac is going to be even more expensive if using credit to buy it!

Classic Starcraft Mac (for macOS and Above)

Update 27 march 2017: StarCraft Remastered Coming to a Mac near You

Starcraft Mac OS version was released in 1999, almost exactly a year after the Windows release. It is one of the best selling games for the PC. in 2007 it had sold in over 9 million copies worldwide. The game was released for Windows in 1998 and  the Mac (PowerPC) version following one year later.

Unfortunately Blizzard never bothered to update Starcraft so it works on modern Macs. That is why it is necessary to use virtualisation software such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels. With that said, Starcraft 1 is not power hungry, so it should work fine virtualised on most modern macs. Just make sure you have enough RAM. 8GB+ is preferred. Another option is to install bootcamp and make a small Windows partition, but then you have to reboot. 

With all this said: It looks like blizzard have changed directions now and have an intent of making HD remakes of their older games and Classic Starcraft is obviously one of them.

At least according to a job listing from Blizzard (Quote):

Compelling stories. Intense multiplayer. Endless replayability. Qualities that made StarCraft, Warcraft III, and Diablo II the titans of their day. Evolving operating systems, hardware, and online services have made them more difficult to be experienced by their loyal followers or reaching a new generation.

We’re restoring them to glory, and we need your engineering talents, your passion, and your ability to get tough jobs done.

Now, we wait!

Starcraft is a RTS game which stands for Real Time Strategy. The game is set in a sci-fi world somewhere around the 26th century where the Terrans, Zerg and Protoss struggle for dominance.

Many known journalists have said it is one of the best and important video game of all time. In South Korea the game is extremely popular where pro gamers and teams engage in battles with each other, earn sponsorships and compete in tournaments broadcasted on TV. Now Starcraft 2 is taking over this role.

starcraft mac 1

It is easy to say what makes it so addictive, the game play! in the beginning there was problems, like balance between different races, as time progressed Blizzard released new patches along the way. By doing this they also improved the game play, adjusted the balance and perfected the game as much as possible. The latest patch when this article was written (1.161) sometime in 2009, that tells us how dedicated Blizzard is to its ten year old game.

No gamer should have missed this game, but if you have. Grab your copy today and experience a game like no other.

You can digitally download your copy directly from Blizzard: Starcraft Mac: Blizzards Webshop

starcraft mac 2

OS X Issues With Classic Starcraft Mac

I got a question not so long ago from a reader in Russia. He wanted to play this classic game on his MacBook Air and stumbled across some problems. Here is the question from the reader and my answer:

QUESTION: I’ve recently bought a MacBook Air (mid 2011) which ships with Lion. I thought it would be cool to play one of my favorite classic games, StarCraft.

As it turns out, StarCraft Mac only exists in a PowerPC version, and Lion removes Rosetta and thus PowerPC apps support.

I’ve tried to launch a Windows version of StarCraft with Crossover Games, but it runs painfully slow when installed with default settings. The Crossover StarCraft recipe (which enables OpenGL rendering), on the other hand, leaves me with a screen full of graphic noise.

Do you by any chance have any experience with StarCraft on Lion? Can you suggest something apart from installing Windows via Bootcamp (I’m somewhat reluctant to have a dual-boot system just for Star- Craft)? Is VMware going to run StarCraft well?

ANSWER: Good question! I happen to be a StarCraft fan myself and played the original version a lot a few years after it came out. Not pro gaming though but still. Yes, I know that OS X Lion makes it hard to play this game and Blizzard have told us that they wont make it playable for Intel based Macs and its a shame.

Personally I would use a solution you suggest. Vmware or Parallels leaning against Parallels because it gets higher scores in game benchmarks. I have used it myself and it works alright. I haven’t tried it with StarCraft though but it should work just fine. Starcraft doesn’t need 3D acceleration but you can actually run some 3D games with Parallels too. The drawback is that you need to offer a few GB for the Windows installation but you wont have to reboot.

Go for Parallels, it will work. They have a trial version you can download and try before buying it.

The Discontinued MacBook Pro 17 Inch

MacBook Pro 17 Inch, With Retina?

Apple MacBook Pro 17

When Apple released the 15 Inch ”Retina” MBP in june 2012 they stopped producing the MacBook Pro 17 Inch. Meaning it is no longer available to get it directly from the Apple Store. If you really want it you can still get it from the refurbished store and surely other places like eBay etc.

The 17 inch was for you wanting access to a portable Mac with a big display (1920×1200) with mostly the same internal configuration as the 15 Inch. The latest model released came with an core i7 CPU from Intel.

The main difference was one extra usb port on the 17 Inch making it a total of three and it also featured the ExpressCard/34 slot instead of an built-in SD slot. (if you miss the expresscard slot there are thunderbolt adapters available now)

A lot of people buying this computer used it for music production or video editing.

With the built in battery Apple claimed up to 7 hours with one charge. In tests I have read they actually came up with around 7 hours and in some cases a bit above.

Because of the built-in battery they didn’t need to include space-consuming mechanisms, brackets and housings that standard removable batteries need. This is also some of the reasons they got this long battery time in the first place. Making the battery internal they could have more room for the actual battery pack, thus longer battery time. 7 Hours on a 17 inch laptop.

For me, the MacBook Pro 17 Inch was too large to consider buying. Now, the bigger display real-estate is dwarfed by the retina models from Apple.

Still, the actual physical display size is smaller on the 15″ rMBP. Who would like an 17 Inch rMBP..? With 4k res perhaps? Do you?

Yes please.

A Brief History of OSX

Here you have a little short history of OS X and the different releases during the years. This is a brief history where you learn about the major milestones with every release.

Mac OS X Public Beta

10-beta

Released September 13, 2000. This version allowed people to get a preview of the next big operating system from Apple. Also at the same time developers could start developing applications before it was released as a final version.

Mac OS X 10.0 – Cheetah

10-0

Released March 24, 2001. This was the first big release of Apple¥s operating system. A big change compared to the older classic operating system. This version got some criticism due to missing features and issues regarding performance. Still it was given good reviews when taking into account that this was a completely new operating system.

Mac OS X 10.1 – Puma

10-1

Released September 25, 2001. The second major release of Mac OS X featuring some improvements like performance enhancements. DVD playback support, better OpenGL performance and many other fixes. This version also got some criticism because of lacking features and bugs.

Mac OS X 10.2 – Jaguar

10-2

Released 23 August, 2002. The third major release of Mac OS X where it got some good reviews re- garding better stability and speed. But not everything was fine, some still experienced issues with the user interface being slow and a pain to work with. This version also introduced iChat. Adaptive spam filter in Mail.app amongst many other new features and fixes.

Mac OS X 10.3 – Panther

10-3

Released October 24, 2003. Fourth major release of Mac OS X featuring new applications like iChat AV. Now you can use iChat with audio and video conferencing. Panther also introduced the new web browser Safari. And not to forget: Expose. There was also some improvements to Xcode providing faster compile times, increased PDF rendering with Preview to name a few of the 150+ new features.

Mac OS X 10.4 – Tiger

10-4

Released 29 April, 2005. This was the fifth major release of Mac OS X where it introduced many new features like Spotlight, a system you can use to search for files fast. Dashboard providing you with mini- applications called widgets. Automator to help you create workflows that does repetitive tasks automatically. Many other features and improvements. According to Apple Tiger was the most successful operating system in the history of Mac OS X.

Mac OS X 10.5 – Leopard

10-5

Released 26 October 2007. The sixth major release of Mac OS X providing even more features, fixes and improvements. For example Boot Camp, a software that will assist you in installing other operating systems on your Mac. Easy and automatic backup system with Time Machine. Spaces, where you can create virtual desktops. Quick Look that makes you able to preview a document without having to open it. This was justa a tiny bit of some of the new features in Mac OS X Leopard.

Mac OS X 10.6 – Snow Leopard

10-6

Snow Leopard was announced on WWDC June 9, 2008. This version mostly focus on improving per- formance, and reducing the size while maintaining and increasing the performance. There are some new interesting features like Open CL where developers can take advantage of dual core CPUs and GPUs. Being able to code applications to take advantage of the Graphics Processing Units without actually having to code a graphical application. Grand Central Dispatch is also one of the new nice features. Making it easier for developers to make their applications take full advantage of multi-core CPUs.

Mac OS X 10.7 – Lion

10-7

Lion was released July 20 2011, first time the OS is mainly distributed via the Internet. This release borrow a few ideas and some design from iOS. It is now possible to use applications in full screen mode. Launchpad is something they borrowed from the iPad. It is an interface for all of your apps. Mission Control is a new kind of exposÈ. The mail application is redesigned and lets you work in full screen mode. There is no longer a specific server version. You just buy the server app for $49.99 and you get all server features.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

10-8

Mountain Lion was released on July 25 2012, one year after the previous version. As the one before this version is also distributed via App Store. Getting more features from iOS like iMessages replacing the iChat client. Airplay mirroring that enables you to mirror your comuter screen to an Apple TV. Gatekeeper giving a new layer of security just to name a few of the new features.

The ”Mac” is removed from the operating system naming scheme. It is called OS X now.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks

10-9

“Mavericks” is a new naming scheme for the OS X version released in 2013. Apple did run out of cats eventually and they had to change the name.

This release introduces tabs in the finder. Something a lot of people was waiting for. Many new energy saving features.

Tagging of files, making them easy to find no matter where they are stored. New calendar, syncing passwords with iCloud and many other new features.

Read and Write to NTFS for Mac in OS X, Or Use ExFAT Instead

Learn how you can use NTFS for Mac with an formatted Windows drive.

If you recently switched from Windows to Mac OS X you may have a NTFS drive with some files lying around. We have several solutions available for making the drive work in Mac OS X with full read / write support.

Make sure you have ejected the NTFS drive from your Windows computer correctly before removing the USB / FW cable. It can be done by right clicking the drive in My Computer and select eject. If the drive is an external one.

Get back to your Mac OS X computer where you first have to download and install MacFUSE. This application will allow Mac OS X to extend the supported filesystems with 3rd party drivers.

You can get MacFUSE here: http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/ After installing you will have to restart your computer.

After the reboot go here: http://mac.softpedia.com/get/System-Utilities/NTFS-3G.shtml and download the ntfs-3g driver.

Install the driver, and when everything is installed you can plug in your NTFS formatted drive with full read / write support !

You also have a commercial solution here: Paragon NTFS for Mac, I have used it myself and it is really fast and stable. Highly recommend it. 

You should be aware that the above instructions about macfuse and ntfs-3g are beginning to be a bit out of date. As far as I know there is no free NTFS for Mac solution in development.

Know that if you only are going to read from your Windows drive you don’t have to install anything extra. OS X can read from an NTFS drive without any driver. But not WRITE to it.

Consider Using ExFAT Instead

One of the reasons for using NTFS and not FAT is because NTFS can hold files that are larger than 4GB. It is also a more stable filesystem. We have another option though and that is using ExFAT instead of third party software. If you use an up to date Windows 7 / 8 OS or the latest Mac OS X version this would be a good choice if you often move large files between Windows and OSX. This is a partition format that works natively in both Windows and OSX.

To format a drive with exFAT you fire up Disk Utility and select ExFAT in the tab where you create a partition on your disk.

exfat

And it should be read/writable in both os without having to buy or use some third party application.

exFAT Windows 7

Annoying Mac Battery? Try Resetting, Calibrating

Having problems with your Mac Battery?

You know, you have to take care of your MacBook battery, you know that, right? You got to this page somehow and I assume you have some kind of problem with it. This page will try to help you out and tell you how to do a Mac laptop battery reset.

It all depends on what type of problem you have. Earlier it could help if you calibrated your battery, but nowadays with newer Macs that shouldn’t be necessary. With that said, it doesn’t hurt to try. If you have a problem the instructions below could still help you out.

Internal MacBook Battery

Calibrate Using These Instructions:

With a little battery care you can maximize the performance and life of your mac battery. Most of the notebook batteries today are lithium-based which provides the best performance for your device. We see this technology in many products today. Everything from cameras, smartphones, tablets, cars and of course Apple laptops. Compared to nickel – based batteries lithium gives us longer battery life in a lighter package.

First charge:

You will probably notice that your product comes with a little charge in the battery already. Earlier it was said that the first time you use a product you have to fully charge it. This is not the case anymore. Modern batteries actually like being half-charged charged in a spotty way. It is not recommended to keep the device plugged in constantly, lithium batteries like to be drained a bit and charged again. If you use your laptop mainly as a desktop computer it is recommended to discharge and recharge the battery at least once a month. This way you keep the battery in shape even if you seldom move your computer.

Long term storage

If you are planning to take a six or seven month trip around the world and in the same time leave your MacBook at home. It is recommended to store the battery with about 50% charge. If you store the battery fully discharged it could enter a state where it wont charge at all anymore. Also if you store the battery fully charged it could experience a loss of capacity over time. Leaving you with a shorter battery life. Remember, battery care is important to keep it in shape!

Calibrating the Mac battery (MacBook Battery Reset)

If you are experiencing a loss in charge or just feel the battery should perform better you can try to calibrate the battery. It is quite easy to do this MacBook Battery Reset but it takes a little time. What you need to do is the following:

  1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge the laptop until the battery is at 100%
  2. Keep the power adapter plugged in for about two hours, you can still use the computer during this.
  3. Unplug the power adapter and keep using the computer until the computer enters sleep mode. Remember to save important work before the battery runs out!
  4. Turn the computer off, or let it rest for five hours or more.
  5. Connect the power adapter again, let it fully charge without interruption.

Now hopefully you may experience your battery performing better or lasting longer because of your battery care. Results may also depend on how old the battery is and how much it is used. You may have to do this calibration several times. (3 – 5).

If the battery is deformed there is not much you can do software wise. You need to get the battery replaced. It is EXTREMELY important that you dont try to fix it yourself or puncture it. It could explode if you do that.