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#779: Boot Camp, Making Launchpad "Better", Protect Your MagSafe Adapter


Happy Tuesday,

It’s vacation season, and more customers than ever are dropping off their computers for repair while they’re away. I’m a firm believer that one should be disconnected while on vacation, and every year around this time I smile that so many of you, our valued customers, are enjoying time away from email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and the like to be with family, friends or your own thoughts to recharge during this beautiful time of year.

With the new school year approaching quickly, consider bringing your Mac to us for a checkup. We’ll run diagnostics on your computer and can install any type of upgrade—even Lion—for you. If you don’t have a backup system in place, we’d be happy to recommend and set up a solution for you. Remember, it’s a matter of when, not if, your hard drive will fail, taking all of your photos, documents and other files with it.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.


  Boot Camp  

When Apple switched from PowerPC processors to Intel Core Duo, they gave their systems the ability to run Microsoft Windows as well as Mac OS X. This was considered to be a big deal—people who were still on the fence about switching, or those who were still dependent on custom Windows applications, could have the best of both worlds. Almost immediately, two companies released products that could let you run Windows inside of OS X: Parallels and VMware. However, Apple gave its users a third option at no extra charge. Boot Camp allows you to create a partition on your hard drive and install Windows, just as you could on a Dell or HP machine.

Inside the Utilities folder (under Applications) there is a program called Boot Camp Assistant. With it, you can download the driver disc to support your hardware, then create a partition on your hard drive for Windows. Boot Camp Assistant will then prompt you for the Windows DVD and reboot your system to start Windows Setup. Once Windows is installed, you will be prompted for the driver disc, so all the features of your Mac—Bluetooth, AirPort, iSight, etc.—will now work in Windows as well. Once this is done, you can use your Mac to run Windows applications just as you would on any other Windows system.

In order to do this, there are a few things that you need to know. First, and foremost, make sure you have the latest version of all Mac software, including firmware and Boot Camp support. These will be downloaded automatically when you run Software Update. Second, make sure you have a licensed copy of Windows that is capable of running on your system—early model Intel Mac systems can run Windows XP or Vista, but if you have a more recent system you will need Windows 7. Some systems, like the MacBook Air or any system running OS X 10.7 “Lion,” will only support Windows 7; there is no driver support for XP and Vista. Third, remember that until you have the Windows drivers installed, some of your hardware features will not work. This includes Bluetooth, so if you have a wireless mouse and keyboard, they will not work during the Windows installation phase.

You will need a USB keyboard and mouse to install Windows; once the drivers are in place for Bluetooth support, you can use your keyboard and mouse. This also means that the eject button on your keyboard won’t work, so when you’re prompted for the driver disc, you won’t be able to eject the Windows disc. Simply reboot your system and hold down the Option key until you get a boot menu. Now you can hit eject to remove the Windows DVD, then select the Windows volume (it may be called WINDOWS, BOOTCAMP, or “Untitled”) to reload Windows so you can insert the driver disc. Once the drivers are installed, the eject button and everything else about your Mac will work.

For more details, as well as troubleshooting information in case you run into problems, go to Apple’s Boot Camp Support page here. As always, we recommend you perform a full backup of your hard drive prior to installing a new OS.

  Making Launchpad "Better"  

I have been a long-time lover of organizing my apps by folder and putting them in my dock to access them more quickly. With the advent of Launchpad in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” (you don’t get it if you’re on an earlier version of OS X), I no longer need to clutter my dock with ten or more folders. The downside to Launchpad is that every application on your Mac ends up there. If you use Parallels, this is going to include all the useless Windows apps as well; this has been a huge source of irritation to me until now.

Thanks to the Redmond Pie blog, I’ve been introduced to a preference pane called Launchpad-Control, which will allow you to decide which applications show in Launchpad. Without this preference pane, you would have to delete an application from the computer to get it out of Launchpad. What the preference pane will do is give you a list of all the apps as well as the folders you’ve organized them into. In the preference pane, you can check or uncheck apps and folders; any apps and folders you uncheck won’t appear in Launchpad. In the case of the Windows applications, I moved them all into the folders, unchecked them in the preference pane and poof… no more pointless applications in Launchpad. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Launchpad and the other iOS-like features of 10.7 are the way of the future. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Apple eventually merges iOS and OS X into a new operating system. It’s nice that third-party developers are making free applications that improve on Apple’s already solid operating system.

  Properly Protect Your MagSafe Adapter  

One of the most common things we see in our shop is MagSafe power adapters with damaged wire insulation and/or fraying where the thin cord meets either the power brick or the actual MagSafe tip. While many consider this the result of a design flaw (coupled with the fact that Apple does offer free replacement in some situations), the simple fact is that these conditions are completely avoidable.

It is my opinion that Apple’s offer to replace these damaged cords is more a customer service measure than a reaction to any design or build quality issue. I have three 85 watt adapters from the original MacBook Pro; they are the larger variety, about four years old, and in fine condition. The logical solution to fraying is to not let there be tension at the two crucial points of the cord.

Most commonly, fraying at the power brick end is the result of wrapping the thin cord too tightly when the adapter isn’t in use. Wrap it more loosely, and wrap it such that the cord remains perpendicular to the power brick. This eliminates the strain. The same principle applies for the MagSafe tip end: keep it perpendicular to the computer to eliminate strain, but also never pull on the cord to remove the plug from the power port.

Replacement adapters are $79.99.

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