Another new way to connect a Mac to a monitor, another adapter for the collection

According to Apple news website Mac Rumors, Apple’s forthcoming range of hardware include monitors that connect via the recently-introduced Thunderbolt connector.

When I gave a lecture earlier this year in Oxford, the venue technician asked if I had a Mac and produced a box of adapters. “Mac? One of these should fit it”. There were five adapters inside. Mini-VGA, DVI, mini-DVI, micro-DVI, and Mini Display Port. I wonder if the Thunderbolt connector will replace Mini DisplayPort on future Macs? Then folk can add a sixth adapter to their collection…

Find out more about the wonderful world of Apple displays and their connectors on Wikipedia.

Apple DVI/VGA Adapter

Mini-DVI to DVI Adapter

Apple Reviews

Nine months with an Apple Magic Trackpad

As of this week, Apple will be offering customers of new desktop Macs the choice of either a Magic Trackpad or a Magic Mouse for no extra cost. Multitouch is here to stay.

Since I first saw a multitouch device, the original iPhone, I have always wanted to see more multitouch technology find its way onto desktop computers. When Apple first released the Magic Trackpad in July 2010, I was curious to see how well it would work as a primary pointing device (read: mouse replacement). I tried one out at an Apple Store, and I read the mixed reviews on the numerous review sites. It wasn’t long before I bought one.

My Magic Trackpad, which has replaced my mouse for the last 9 months.

When I started using it, I kept my mouse close at hand. I was cautious, but I liked the Magic Trackpad straight away. I had been getting an aching arm from using my mouse, despite careful positioning of my iMac, keyboard and mouse, with attention to posture. One of the first things that I noticed was the slight change in position of my arm through using a large trackpad had made the numb ache disappear.

Within a fortnight, I had put the mouse away in a drawer. It has, for the large part, stayed there. The Magic Trackpad is just a joy to use, so much so that I find myself blogging about it. The trackpad surface is smooth, positioning accurate, and the multitouch gestures are incredibly useful. My mouse only comes out when I have any complex 3D modelling to do, but even then, only for long complex modelling sessions.


Aside from two-finger scrolling and panning, the gestures that I have found that I use the most are a swipe of four fingers up to reveal the desktop, and four down to activate Exposé. The least useful are pinch to zoom and the two-finger rotate – I’ve switched these off, as occasionally when clicking with my thumb with a finger still on the pad, as had unintended consequences.

I have enabled the right-click in System Preferences, and clicks register with a nice physical ‘clunk’, so despite the multitouch capability, there is still tactile feedback where it counts.

To really unlock the multitouch potential of the Magic Trackpad, or indeed, of the Magic Mouse, you will need to download the free MagicPrefs app. You can configure your own swipes and tap combinations, as well as play with the realtime multitouch visualisation. I have mine set up to use a three-finger swipe to use Spaces in OSX, a feature I hardly ever used until now.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

We know that Apple are taking lessons learned in iOS and bringing some of those features to the Mac. This will include many more multitouch features which will make a Magic Trackpad even more useful. The following video, of a beta of OS X 10.7, gives a good example of why multitouch is here to stay:

So if you’ve been sitting on the fence wondering whether to buy a Magic Trackpad, I heartily recommend them! If you’re in the UK, it is work looking for them on Amazon as they can be much cheaper (£48 from Amazon [disclaimer: affiliate link], vs £59 from Apple).


Why the Apple Tablet will be the ‘Computer for the rest of us’

Amongst all of the speculation about the rumoured forthcoming ‘Apple Tablet’ computer, I came across an excellent article entitled Why The Tablet Will Finally Be Steve Jobs’ “Computer For the Rest of Us” on Cult of Mac.

It sums up what was important about the iPhone – hiding the complexity of the workings of the phone with a beautiful interface, and make it joyfully simple to use, with software that you know will work properly and safely. Apply the same paradigm to a (tablet) computer, and you have a true ‘computer for the rest of us’.

It’s worth a read.

Link: Why The Tablet Will Finally Be Steve Jobs’ “Computer For the Rest of Us” (Cult of Mac)

Apple humour

For Apple users, a bit of fun from The Simpsons

“Flay him with your earbuds!”

This rather sharp parody of Apple hardware, gadget lust, ‘worship’ of Steve Jobs, and Apple fanboy behaviour, is truly brilliant!

Apple Software

iMovie ’08 on a 1.8GHz single processor G5

According to the system requirements for Apple’s newest incarnation of iLife (iLife ’08), iMovie ’08 shouldn’t work on my machine (an ‘original’ 2003 1.8GHz SP G5 with 1GB RAM).

The installer runs a system check before it installs iLife (as it did on my G4 laptop) to see if your system meets the minimum requirements (a dual 2GHz G5 PowerMac or a 1.9GHz iMac). If you don’t meet them, it won’t install iMovie, and you’re stuck with the old (but oddly, better featured) iMovie HD.

That is, unless you own on the of the original 1.8GHz single processor G5s from 2003. I installed iLife ’08 last week, just for the upgrades to Garageband and iPhoto, but miraculously, iMovie ’08 installed as well.

And it works rather well. Playback is smooth enough for me, scrubbing through frames works well, as do the transitions and titles. And I didn’t even need to perform any of the dodgy hacks that have been going round to make it work on my system.

Since my system was only around for a few months before being discontinued back in 2003, maybe they’ve forgotten to put it in the ‘exclude’ list, who knows?

Apple iPod

iPod woes

Recently, my 2 year old 4G iPod broke. I was listening to a podcast whilst walking to work when the audio froze. I took it out of my pocket and found that everything had frozen – the UI as well as playback.

I tried to reset it on the move, but nothing could unfreeze it. I had to wait until the battery ran down, which took nearly a day in its paraplegic state.

Upon connecting to the mains adapter after it had finally ran out of power, the iPod restarted, but a sad face stared out from me, and nothing could get rid of it. I restarted it again, tried to force it into disk mode, but all to no avail. Just a new icon saying things really were up the creek and I needed to take my iPod to someone to have it fixed.


So it’s sat on my desk for a couple of weeks, waiting for me to have time to take it to the Apple Store in Southampton. Until today. For some reason, while shopping for food, an idea occurred. Tehmina‘s iPod (a trusty 2G iPod still going strong) dates from the time when Firewire was the only option, and iPods were Mac only (oh those were the days!). I have been using the supplied USB connection on my iPod thus far. It shouldn’t make any difference, but since I had nothing to lose, I thought I’d give it a go.

Whilst I’m typing this, my ‘broken’ iPod is syncing with iTunes.

When I plugged it in with a Firewire lead, it mounted on the desktop straight away, iTunes launched, and told me that I needed to restore my iPod. One click of the “Restore” button, one iPod reboot, and all seems back to normal.

So, if you’re reading this because you’re having trouble with your iPod, try connecting it to your Mac with a Firewire lead, if you’re lucky enough to know someone who has one.

I’ll be trying to source my own iPod Firewire lead – not only has it ‘fixed’ my iPod, but the sync is happening much much faster.

Mac Uncategorized

17″ Apple PowerBook screen problems

[Update] The line is back, despite after disappearing temporarily after a reboot. See the photo below.
[Update 2: 2nd May] A second line has appeared 6 pixels to the left of the first one 🙁
[Update 3: 10th May]A third line, this time magenta, is now flickering on and off 495px in from the left. I’m going to need to get a new display.
[Update4: 8th June]I’ve now got 6 lines, cyan, magenta, and yellow. One right down the middle of my screen. I’ve now found a website dedicated to getting Apple to recognise this defect.

My 17″ PowerBook is now 2 years old. It’s been used every day since I’ve had it, and been my workhorse. Even though the new Intel MacBooks are out there I have had no (well, ok, a few) urges to upgrade, until today.

Just an hour ago, a vertical cyan line appeared running down the height of the screen on the right hand side. It would flash on and off randomly, as if the row of pixels were stuck. A quick Google revealed that I was not alone. Some afflicted PowerBook owners often reported that once you have had one line appear, you’ll probably get more. There are photos of some rather extreme examples at

I’ve just rebooted, and the line has gone away. Maybe it was a glitch, maybe it’ll return. If it does, I’ll take a photo and submit it to Crosspond’s “Bridget Riley” website.

Since I’m in the UK, and if the problem persists, I should be able to get Apple to replace the screen (under the Sale of Goods Act 1979), but I’m not sure. I’ll keep posting about it here, in case others with the same problem pop by.


[tags]apple, powerbook, screen defect, 17″ PowerBook G4, hardware[/tags]



This is just a quick test post to see if WordPressDash, a widget for OSX’s Dashboard, still works with WordPress 2.1.x

I should also be able to use tags from this widget, thanks to Ultimate Tag Warrior‘s ability to find embedded tags within the post itself.

Well, if you’re reading this, and there are tags listed, it worked..
[tags]WordPressDash, widgets, dashboard, osx, apple, blogging[/tags]


Apple’s iPhone will be a closed platform?

I’ve been a Mac user for over 3 years now, and like most Mac users, I was excited when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at Macworld San Francisco on Tuesday. Apart from the device looking utterly amazing in every way, it was revealed that it actually runs a version of OSX. Wow. Or so I thought.

I’m sure I’m not alone in first thinking “Wow! A pocket Mac!”. David Pogue’s blog reveals further disappointments. It won’t run iChat, it doesn’t have GPS (despite having a Google Maps app), and the web browser doesn’t run Flash. I thought it was meant to be an “internet communicator”, Mr Jobs!

As reported by Macrumors, the iPhone will not be an open platform. Apple want to control everything that runs on the phone. An article in the New York Times, where Steve Jobs is interviewed about the iPhone, states him as saying:

“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

I disagree. I used to have a Nokia 6600, which ran the Symbian OS, on which I ran lots of 3rd party applications and none of them ever prevented me from making a call. Ever. Is the ‘OSX Lite’ that runs on the iPhone really that flaky?

Or, more likely, maybe it’s because of Apple’s obligations to Cingular. Because of the iPhone’s built-in WiFi, 3rd party applications could be developed to use the device for VoIP, which could damage Cingular’s revenue from voice and data calls. Who knows.

Still, it’s easy to be cynical before the device is released, and there’s still 6 months to go. Maybe once it’s on general release, people will find a way around things, or Apple will add some more features. I’m sure that it will do what it does very well indeed, just without the flexibility to do things your way…