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New Macbook Pros from Apple

Filed Under Apple | 2008-02-25, 18:04

The internet blogs are awash in chatter about what Apple is announcing tomorrow. It seems like many are guessing that it will be new upgraded Macbook Pros (but there are also rumors now that it’s just new Macbooks, guess we’ll see tomorrow). Having just bought a Macbook Pro last month, one would think I’d be pissed off with the possible upgrade happening so soon, but in reality I’m not. Most people are speculating that it’s just a slight bump up in processors and multi-touch functionality on the trackpad. If so, the processor bumps are not going to break any records (otherwise Apple would be announcing them in a keynote) and the multi-touch functionality will most likely be available to older machines via an update since it’s functionality is in the software. So I won’t be too upset to see new machines come out. Like others have said, if I keep waiting for the latest version to come out, I’ll never actually buy one. About the only thing that would upset me is a huge price drop, a blu-ray drive, and the inclusion of a griddle to cook bacon while my processor is nice and toasty.

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Post to Twitter when you post to your blog

Filed Under Twitter, Wordpress | 2008-02-25, 12:15

I don’t like doing things manually when I can have software do my bidding. Usually I’ll send a twitter when I have a new blog post on here that I think people are interested in. (I recognize not everyone has my RSS feed in their feed reader…yet) But it’s a manual process and an extra step, so I went out and found Alex King’s Twitter Tools plugin. Alex King is a name forever associated in my head with WordPress, primarily for his help in finding themes back in the early days of WP. This plugin is pretty full-featured:

  • Archive your Twitter tweets (downloaded every 15 minutes)
  • Create a blog post from each of your tweets
  • Create a daily digest post of your tweets
  • Create a tweet on Twitter whenever you post in your blog, with a link to the blog post
  • Post a tweet from your sidebar
  • Post a tweet from the WP Admin screens
  • Pass your tweets along to another service (via API hook)

I’ve currently got it set up to send to twitter when a post goes live on here. So in theory, when this post went live, it should have shown on my Twitter page.

UPDATE: Looks like Twitter Tools will post any edits to a posts if that blog post has not been twittered yet. Sorry for the twitter flood when I removed the “Uncategorized” category from a couple old posts. I’m going to look into manually adding the “twittered” metadata to all my posts so it doesn’t happen again.

UPDATE 2: Threw together a quick little php script to update the database so old posts aren’t twittered when they’re edited. YMMV, User beware, no warranty, etc. You’ll want to make a backup of your databases, then fill in your username, password, and database_name and then run this either from command line or via the browser.

/*--------code start--------*/
mysql_connect(localhost, "db_username", "db_password");
$res1 = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM wp_posts p WHERE (p.post_status LIKE \"publish\")");
while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($res1, MYSQL_ASSOC)) {
	//find out if the TwitterTools metadata has already been written
	$sql2 = "SELECT * FROM wp_postmeta WHERE (post_id = ".$row['ID'].") && (meta_key LIKE \"aktt_tweeted\") && (meta_value LIKE \"1\")";
        print "Post ID: ".$row['ID']."  
\n"; if (!mysql_numrows(mysql_query($sql2))) { //metadata not found, let's fake it without twittering $sql = "INSERT INTO wp_postmeta (post_id, meta_key, meta_value) VALUES (".$row['ID'].",\"aktt_tweeted\",1)"; mysql_query($sql); print " -- added metadata to fake it.
\n"; } else { print " -- already been twittered.
\n"; } } /*--------code end--------*/


Make my Macbook Pro Hibernate

Filed Under Apple | 2008-02-25, 08:41

Bunki suspends to RAM to enable quick startup

I don’t like to waste battery life, especially when traveling. I love the Hibernate feature in Windows, and have all of my laptops set to hibernate when the lid is closed. The few extra seconds it takes to wake up is worth the saved battery life in my eyes. For those that don’t know here are the different states of the Macbook Pro:

  • On – Computer is awake, screen is on, battery is being consumed based on your power settings
  • Off – Computer is using no power from the battery
  • Sleep – Computer has turned off the screen and has suspended the operating system to RAM (volatile memory).
  • Hibernation – Computer has turned off most hardware and has suspended the operating system to the harddrive

Usually when you close the lid of your MBP, it will be put to sleep, and wake up quite quickly when you open the lid again. While it’s sleeping it’s still consuming battery power, albeit a small amount compared to normal usage. When the battery reaches a certain low level, the MBP will automatically switch to hibernation mode and basically shut off so you don’t lose any of your work. Sleep is great for when you’re actively using your computer, but when you want to stretch out battery life for as long as possible, you want to hibernate. Also to note is that it appears that the newer Macbook Pros also write information to the harddrive when sleeping so that when the battery drops to dangerous levels it can jump instantly into hibernation. Apple calls this “Safe Sleep”. (More info on all the technical stuff here)

A few examples of why you would want to hibernate with your laptop:

  • You’re about to head to the airport on an international flight and you want to use your machine during the flight but still leave enough juice to be able to pull up a map/email/info when you get to your destination.
  • You toss your laptop in a bag and may or may not use it on a weekend trip but don’t want to worry about charging it.
  • You want to conserve every little bit of power you can.

And when you would want to stick with sleep:

  • Your laptop isn’t running off battery power
  • You will be opening and closing your lid quite often
  • You’re running around but actively using your laptop (conferences, meetings, etc.)

Basically you sacrifice the speed of restoring your machine to gain a little bit of battery power or vice versa. Personally I like to get every last bit of electricity that I can.

After some searching I came across a post that explained how to basically force your MBP into hibernation when the lid is closed. It requires a quick bit of work in terminal, but is painfully simple.

In Terminal/iTerm/etc run the following command to determine your current sleep mode:
pmset -g | grep hibernate

This should return one of the following:

  • 0 – Legacy sleep mode. It will save everything to RAM upon sleeping but does not support “Safe Sleep”. Very fast sleep.
  • 1 – Legacy “Safe Sleep”. This is the “Safe Sleep”. Everything your laptop goes into sleep, it will save everything to harddisk. Slow on Sleep and Startup.
  • 3 – Default. As described above, when sleeping, contents are saved to RAM. When battery runs out, hibernate occurs.
  • 5 – Behaves as 1 but applicable only for modern Mac that uses “Secure virtual memory”.
  • 7 – Behaves as 3 but applicable only for modern Mac that uses “Secure virtual memory”.

Now edit and save your /Users/username/.bash_profile file with the following lines:

alias hibernateon="sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 5"
alias hibernateoff="sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0"

hibernateon and hibernateoff can be any text you want, you just need to remember what you used

Execute the following:

source .bash_profile

Now you have a handy little command that will let you enable and disable instant hibernation on a whim. Whenever you want your machine to hibernate when you close the lid, just drop to a terminal window and type “hibernateon”. When you’d prefer your laptop to just sleep, type “hibernateoff”.


Trying the Switch: My Macbook Pro Experience

Filed Under Apple | 2008-02-24, 16:53

Macbook Pro

I grew up on Apple computers. Starting with my first computer (a Macintosh Classic) when I was 5 years old, I solely used Apple products until I was 15 and was then able to convince my dad to buy a PC so that I could play games. After that I only interacted with Apple products through work, and chose to use PCs as my primary machines, rotating through various operating systems including all the Windows, a few different flavors of Linux, and even BeOS. In the last few months I noticed that a large portion of my friends were using Apple machines and since I tend to respect their opinions figured maybe it was time for me to give Apple another shot. Towards the end of 2007 I was ready to buy a Macbook Pro, but then heard the rumors of a more portable Apple laptop. Wanting to match the weight and size and functionality of my portable Toshiba (U205-S5057) I held off on buying anything. Then, to my disappointment, Apple dropped the absolutely worthless-to-me Macbook Air.

An Apple machine is intended to be the replacement for my old Toshiba laptop for everyday usage. Here are some of the tasks I need my laptop to be able to perform with very little room for compromise:

  • Web development (usually via a powerful text editor and not through software like Dreamweaver), management, and troubleshooting. This is key as most of my time on the computer is spent working on a dozen different web projects that are not only a hobby, but a source of income for me.
  • Play video files/music/DVDs/etc.
  • Browse the web/instant messaging/etc.
  • Edit, store, organize, and work with my digital photos
  • Play a game once in a blue moon (right now it’s Portal)
  • Interface with other machines in my house (multimedia server, linux machine, XBMC, etc)

On January 22nd, I decided to go ahead with the Macbook Pro, and bought one from the Apple store on Stockton St, here in San Francisco. Here are the specs on the machine I picked up:

  • Model Name: MacBook Pro
  • Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB
  • Harddrive: 160GB; 5400 rpm
  • Screen: 15″ (matte finish)
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT (256mb RAM)

Generally my reasonable price point for a new machine is around $1200 and usually replace it after a year. I knew that Apple was expensive, like really expensive. I ended up spending around $3000 for the 15″ Macbook Pro with Apple Care. By my calculations this laptop should last me 2.5 years and still be a worthy machine. From what I hear from many Apple users is that this should hold true. I went with a higher end machine because I wanted to give Apple a good chance, but I stayed away from the 17″ for the sake of portability.

Once I had the Macbook Pro (MBP) in my hands I basically committed myself to using it as my sole machine, and I’ve done that save for a few things here and there which I’ll go into. The beginning of my “switch” was incredibly frustrating, and many things still are now. I’m going to be posting several of the things I’ve run into with trying to incorporate my MBP into my computing life. Some of these posts will be raves, and some will be rants. I’ll be honest, I’m much more apt to post rants since that’s what gets me worked up. But I’m not posting these rants to complain, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find some solutions, and in turn share those solutions with others. I’m not looking to argue over whether the Macbook Pro and OS X is superior to a PC laptop with Windows/Linux/whatever. There are different solutions to different needs. I’m just looking for the solution that meets my needs and wants. But I am very interested in hearing feedback and thoughts from people.

That all said, I am still not completely sold on this machine but I’m not ready to give up on it. The Macbook has at least 60 days to win me over, and I’m 30 days in.