Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘MacBook’

My First Macintosh

In late 2006 I purchased a base model MacBook with a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 512MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive.

Apple made a big deal about how upgradable these machines were — the memory slots and hard drive were accessible behind a metal plate inside the battery compartment. I upgraded the hard drive and memory myself, ending up with 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive.

I still have the machine today, albeit with a replacement battery, new keyboard, and top case. I actually had the machine out a few days ago after finding it in my office closet — I’ve been reorganize and cleaning up the home office while on parental leave.

The MacBook still boots, but I have no idea if the battery will hold a charge at all. I only booted it up for a minute or two to see if it would still run. It hasn’t seen any regular use in over a decade. I think the last time it would have been used was as a backup machine for my wife when her MacBook Air needed repairs.

As for my use of the machine, it was my primary computer until I bought an iMac in 2008. I continued using the MacBook as my portable machine until it was replaced by an 11-inch MacBook Air in 2011.

I’ve been on a kick of configuring old machines with new uses — most recently setting up a 2014 Mac Mini as family computer in the basement. I might end up installing Linux on the MacBook or a fresh copy of Lion, which is the most recent version of macOS that it supports. I have no idea what I’d use it for, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

The machine is significantly thicker and heavier than any of the laptops I’ve used since then. The plastic casing is prone to cracking and the trackpad has a dedicated button below it for clicking — this was prior to the integrated button built into the trackpad in later MacBooks.

But despite all of that, I still have a great deal of nostalgia for this era of Macs. I feel like the design language of Apple’s software was at its peak and the hardware had a much healthier balance of elegance and upgradability.

The latter of those two seems like we’re continuing to move further away from. The transition to Apple Silicon has all but solidified a future full of Macs that offer zero upgradability. Sure you can still buy a Mac Pro, but you can’t add a graphics card, you can’t upgrade your system’s memory, and you can’t install a new CPU. It’s a lame duck product and everyone knows it.

I still hold out hope for a brighter future in that regard, though. Even if you can’t replace the integrated components it would be rad if you could add new components to augment the system. For example, imagine being able to twist off the bottom of a new Mac Mini to reveal a single M.2 slot. You could use it for additional storage, as a new or alternative boot drive, or as a quick and dirty Time Machine drive.

There’s definitely enough room in the Mac Mini’s chassis for this and I’m willing to bet other machines could offer similar upgradability without having to sacrifice the lineup’s existing form factors.

But that’s all a pipe dream. If you want real upgradability, you’ll have to get used to running Windows or Linux.

Mac Menu Bar and the Notch ➝

I was a Bartender user long before Apple started shipping laptops with a notch in their display. Because of this, I haven’t really run into the issue of Menu Bar icons disappearing behind the notch. I’ve also started using Top Notch to make my menu bar black, effectively making the notch invisible.

Between these two apps, I often forget the notch even exists. The only time it rears its ugly head is when I use Thunderbird, which has enough menus along the left side of the Menu Bar that the notch causes a gap among the menu titles.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Larger Apple Notebooks ➝

Josh Ginter, while discussing his first impressions of the 16-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro:

I hadn’t realized how often I move my MacBook between workstations until I threw a 16-inch MacBook Pro into the mix. I take the notebook home every evening with me. I move it between my office and the conference room about once a day. I’ve taken it on a family holiday. This MacBook gets moved around a lot more than I originally thought, and I pay the price each time I pickup this 16-inch beast.

Not only is the 16-inch larger both on a footprint basis and on a weight basis, but it’s also thicker than the 14-inch Pro. Why, I’m unsure. But this notebook is bigger in every dimension and you can sure feel it.

This is what has always steered me away from larger MacBooks — I’ve almost always opted for the smallest Apple notebook available. It doesn’t sound like it would matter that much, but I move around a lot throughout the workday.

I work from my desk, the dining room table, the back deck, the living room couch. And, often, I’ll end up at all of these locations at some point during a given day. I like moving around to help break things up and the different environments help keep me energized. When you’re doing this a few times each day, though, having the lightest and thinnest notebook available makes a big difference.

➝ Source: thenewsprint.co

Why I Stopped Using an External Monitor ➝

I’ve tried, on many occasions, to use an external display, but I always end up just going back to using my MacBook’s built-in display. For me, it’s all about focus. I find it very difficult to stay on the task at hand with a 27-inch display in front of me. A 13-inch display feels like the perfect balance.

➝ Source: bt.ht

The Case for MacBooks Without a Webcam ➝

Riccardo Mori:

From a design standpoint, removing the notch and the webcam would be a win both in the looks and functionality departments. MacBook Pros’ displays would have cleaner lines again; bezels could be made even thinner (you bezels-obsessed folks are already gasping in excitement, I know) and displays a bit larger without making the laptop physically bigger. I bet most MacBook Pro users would accept this kind of trade-off. Overall, I consider the idea of removing the webcam from MacBook Pros less crazy than slapping a notch in the top centre of the display.

It probably wouldn’t be a wise idea to remove webcams from MacBooks, but the notch can’t survive long term. It’s ugly. It really is.

I’m sure everyone gets used to the notch eventually, but if you had the option remove it and keep the small bezels and your webcam, wouldn’t you?

➝ Source: morrick.me

Comparing Mac and Windows Laptops ➝

Jack Wellborn:

Wirecutter’s exclusion of MacBooks from a category that is effectively “best laptop” is the latest bit of evidence in a recent trend I’ve noticed wherein reviewers have inexplicably stopped comparing Wintel laptops to Apple’s MacBooks. Compare ArsTechnica’s review of the Surface Laptop Go 2 from this month to their review of the Surface Book 2 from 2017. The current review only includes other Wintel laptops in benchmarks whereas the one from 2017 included that year’s MacBook.

I have two hunches on why this is happening:

  • The butterfly keyboards were so unbelievably bad that they tarnished Apple’s reputation with reviewers.
  • You can’t use Boot Camp to install Windows on Apple Silicon.

I think these two factors alone has pushed Apple out of the “general laptop” category and into its own category where you’re only comparing Apple laptops to other Apple laptops.

➝ Source: wormsandviruses.com

OpenCore Legacy Patcher

MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011) running macOS Big Sur

I recently saw Brad Taunt mention that he was installing Monterey on an unsupported Mac using OpenCore Legacy Patcher. This piqued my interest. My mid-2011 11-inch MacBook Air has been floating around my office unused for a while and I thought it was a good opportunity to give it a try.

I was aware of similar patchers in the past, but never bothered to use them. Instead, I was happy enough to install whatever Linux distribution caught my eye when I wanted to tinker. But in reality, I never really used them beyond the first week or two after setting up the system.

The problem is that I’m too invested in the Apple ecosystem. Despite my best efforts — moving to Fastmail for contacts syncing and using almost entirely third-party apps on iOS and the Mac — there’s still some system-level integrations that I rely on. The most prominent being iCloud Drive and Messages.

If I could install a more recent version of macOS on my trusty 11-inch MacBook Air, I could have access to those system-level features, I’d be able to work with software I’m a bit more familiar with, and get some more use out of hardware that’s over a decade old.

The OpenCore Legacy Patcher makes the process pretty straightforward. You use the app to download the upgrade, create a bootable installer, and then install OpenCore. You can then boot from the installer disk and install macOS as you would normally.

After installation, you’ll have to run the patcher app again to get the system to a state where it runs seamlessly — without displaying a boot picker, for example. But from that point forward it mostly runs without intervention. I haven’t had to touch the patcher app since I first installed it and I’ve been running it on my MacBook Air for a week or two.

The experience running Big Sur on such an old machine is a lot better than you might expect. It’s not perfect, of course, only having access to 4GB of memory is the biggest bottleneck, but I don’t have much trouble running a handful of apps at a time as long as I’m not pushing things too hard.

The system does run a bit warm and the battery life isn’t great — only about three hours or so when I’m using it as I normally would. But that was the case even when the laptop was brand new. This machine was from an era just before Apple made some pretty significant strides in battery life and even with a relatively new battery with just a few dozen cycles on it, it’s no where near the all day battery life that Apple offers on MacBooks of today.

For those that want a basis for comparison from a performance standpoint, I ran Geekbench 5 and received the following scores:

Single-Core Score: 476
Multi-Core Score: 969

Those aren’t particularly impressive, but are plenty for web browsing, email, listening to podcasts, and some occasional text editing and other productivity tasks.

But I wasn’t excited about installing Big Sur on this machine because of the performance. I was excited because of the form factor.

Apple just doesn’t make laptops like this anymore. It weighs just 2.38 pounds — about a third of a pound lighter than the M2 MacBook Air, which is the lightest laptop in Apple’s current lineup. Carrying around the 11-inch MacBook Air feels like nothing when compared to my 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The depth of the machine is also something I really miss. I know that everyone seems to like taller displays lately — Apple’s laptops are 16:10 and I remember seeing a lot of people raving about the Framework laptop’s 3:2 display. But I kind of miss a 16:9 display. It just allows for a much more compact footprint and I don’t really feel like I need more vertical screen real estate.

It is incredible that this little MacBook Air has some life remaining, though. Even after eleven years I can still get use out of it. I’ve replaced the battery and the trackpad, but everything has held up incredibly well. The hinge isn’t as tight as it used to be, but it’s still a lot better than most Windows laptops I come across.

If you have an old MacBook laying around and are looking for a good weekend project, I’d suggest giving OpenCore Legacy Patcher a try. At the very least, it’ll be a fun nostalgia kick, but you also might find that you can repurpose an old machine and get some more years of use out of it.

Three Years Later, the 12-Inch MacBook Is Still Missed ➝

Stephen Hackett:

In the lead up to Apple silicon there was a lot of conjecture — including by me — that the 12-inch MacBook would make a great candidate to lead the processor transition. So far, the MacBook hasn’t made a return, but I know a bunch of folks would like to see the line resurrected one more time.

I never used a 12-inch MacBook beyond the brief moments toying around with one in a retail store, but I’m a massive fan of the 11-inch MacBook Air. I used my 2011 model as my primary Mac up until 2018 and still use it occasionally today — I just recently used OpenCore Patcher to install Big Sur on the machine.

Despite my affinity for the 13-inch MacBooks, I still miss using an ultra-portable in the 11- or 12-inch range. My 11-inch Air is just so darn light and the smaller display never really feels like a hinderance to me. If Apple brought back the 12-inch MacBook — with a good keyboard this time — there’s a good chance I’d order one to use as my primary work laptop.

➝ Source: 512pixels.net