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Shielding Resolves USB 3.0 Conflict with Bluetooth

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 | Author:

We’ve spoken quite a bit about the benefits of USB 3.0 in recent months. Its high rate of data transfer, backward compatibility with previous versions, and overall low cost are still very compelling arguments for the interface. However, many Mac mini 2012 users (and, to a considerably lesser extent, other 2012 Mac users) using USB 3.0 devices have experienced random dropouts or even outright loss of the use of Bluetooth mice and keyboards.

The cause of this is somewhat technical. For those so inclined, you can peruse this white paper written by the USB Implementers Forum for the full details, but the practical upshot is that the signal from USB 3.0 devices can interfere with the 2.4GHz frequency of Bluetooth. The unfortunate result is dropped or lost signals at distances as near as five feet, compared to the normal 20-30 foot reception range of Bluetooth devices. This interference increases the further away from the computer the Bluetooth device is located. At the same time, it was noticed that the further away from the Bluetooth antenna the USB 3.0 device is, the less severe the interference.

Unfortunately, this is the direct inverse of how many Mac mini users are using their computers. Many users have their USB 3.0 devices immediately next to or stacked on top of their minis, taking advantage of the Mac mini’s small form factor. While this may be problematic enough for desktop use, those using their Mac minis in home theater setups will likely have their keyboards and/or mice across the room from the mini’s location, exacerbating the Bluetooth problem.

As the Newer Technology miniStack is designed to for use with the Mac mini, this has obviously caught our attention. We set out to find a resolution to the problem – one that fixes things not just for the miniStack, but for all USB 3.0 drives used with a Mac mini. Article Continues…

Category: Tech Tips

OWC Unveils Turnkey Repair Program for Apple iPad 2 Tablet Computers

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 | Author:

Other World Computing announced today its new OWC Turnkey Repair Program for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad 2 tablet computers. The program enables iPad 2 owners to have OWC’s Apple Certified Technicians provide expert diagnostic analysis of their iPad’s operating condition and perform services required to return the tablet to proper operating condition. OWC’s services include corner damage repair, and replacement of the glass/digitizer, LCD, headphone jack, front/rear camera, battery, and/or function controls. The new professional installation service program offers multiple repair options to US-based iPad 2 owners starting at $49.00 with a 48 business hours or less service turnaround. Article Continues…

Category: Press Releases

Resolve Random Mac Pro Memory Slot Utility Window Pop-Up

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 | Author:

Recently, we’ve seen an increase in calls from bewildered Mac Pro users wondering why the Memory Slot Utility keeps appearing at start-up, even if they haven’t upgraded their memory.

Normally, this dialog box only shows up after you’ve changed the memory configuration in your Mac Pro. Apple has been silent as to the reason(s) why some users have this dialog pop up every time they restart, while the vast majority of users do not.

Until Apple releases a fix, we’ve identified two methods to keep this message from appearing each time the computer boots.

Method 1:  Removing the Property list.

  1. In the Finder, open a new window.
  2. Either hit Command-Shift-G or select “Go to Folder…” from the Go menu in the menu bar.
  3. In the box that pops up on the Finder window, type in: /System/Library/CoreServices/
  4. Locate “Memory Slot Utility.app”, right-click on it and select “Show Package Contents”.
  5. In the new window, open the Contents folder and move the “Info.plist” and the “version.plist” files to another location, such as the Desktop.
  6. Close all the open windows and reboot the computer.

In effect, this disables the Memory Slot Utility until an OS update is run. At that time ,the update will most likely rewrite both files and the message may reappear. If it does, simply repeat the steps.

Method 2:  Booting with Root User activated.

This method is the preferred way to go, as it does not disable the Memory Slot Utility, but many users are not enthusiastic about activating a Root User account. As long as these instructions are followed to the letter, there is little chance that any problem could arise.

  1. Select “System Preferences” from the Apple menu.
  2. In 10.7 and later, choose “Users & Groups”; for 10.6.x and earlier, choose “Accounts”.
  3. Click the lock in the lower left corner and authenticate with an “Administrator” username and password.
  4. Select “Login Options.”
  5. Click the “Edit” or “Join” button next to “Network Account Server” (it may be one or the other, depending on your system’s setup).
  6. Click the “Open Directory Utility” button in the lower left of the dropdown window.
  7. The Directory Utility window will open. If the lock in the lower left corner is closed, click on it to open and enter an administrator account name and password to unlock.
  8. Go to the Edit menu and choose “Enable Root User.”
  9. Enter the root password you wish to use in both the Password and Verify fields, click “OK”.
  10. Restart the computer and log into the newly created Root user just one time. The message may or may not appear, if it does click OK.  In OS 10.8 you will see an option for “Other” at the login screen.  Select this, the user name will be root and the password is what you chose earlier
  11. Restart the computer and log into your normal user account and you shouldn’t see the message any more.

At this point, you can disable the Root user account. Go through the same steps above, except that for Step 8, select “Disable Root User” instead.

Once you’ve done that, your Mac Pro will be ready to use without the annoying pop-up!

Category: Tech Tips

Sometimes, “Recommendations” Are Actually “Requirements”

Friday, October 14th, 2011 | Author:

About a month ago, we talked about how MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.2 “secretly” resolved problems that 2011 MacBook Pros were having with 6.0Gb/s SATA performance.

Since we posted about the fix, we’ve been hearing from customers that some firmware updates are not fully completing… even though it appears that it is. These failed updates offered no indication that the update didn’t complete.

So a bit of sleuthing on our behalf turned up the culprit. When installing the update using Software Update, the installer informs you that it is recommended that you plug in your MacBook Pro to working power source while installing. This makes sense – the one time you don’t want your battery to go out is when running a firmware update.

However, if you download the update via its Apple KnowledgeBase page, though, the description there states that you must have your MacBook Pro connected to the power connector for installation.

From all the reports we’ve seen, it would appear that the KnowledgeBase instructions are the more accurate or at least more specific. Connecting the power supply while updating your firmware isn’t a recommendation; it’s a requirement.

Taking that requirement mindset even further is that when installing any firmware update on any Mac notebook, make sure you have it connected to its wall outlet power adapter before you start the update. Then, after running the updater, check the Hardware Overview screen in System Profiler and see if the the correct new Boot ROM or SMC version number for the update you’re running is present. If you still have the old version, then you will need to run the update again.

Naturally, this connect to power requirement is already solved for desktop machine users. But if you can think of a way to update a desktop machine like an iMac, Mac Pro, or mini without being connected to power, we’d like to hear about it!

Category: Tech Tips

10.6.7 Font Problem Follow-Up

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 | Author:

You may recall a few weeks ago when we reported a widespread problem in Mac OS X 10.6.7, where documents with OpenType fonts in them did not print or view correctly. At the time, our recommendation was to roll back to 10.6.6 and wait for a fix. Unfortunately for some, this may have caused problems with other OS patches, resulting in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Late yesterday, Apple released a patch to 10.6.7 to address this problem. According to the update’s release notes:

The Snow Leopard Font Update addresses issues displaying and printing certain OpenType fonts and is recommended for all Mac OS X v10.6.7 users.

If you’re running 10.6.7, you can get the patch via Software Update or download it from Apple’s support site.

Category: Tech Tips