When I got the 2016 Touch Bar 15″ MacBook Pro, it was only about a month after I’d done an involuntary nuke and pave on my 2013 MacBook Pro. For those unfamiliar with the term nuke and pave, that’s when you erase everything, including the operating system, and then install everything from scratch. You can drag your documents over from a backup or another Mac, but you don’t bring over network settings or license files or any customizations you’ve made.
I have lauded the benefits of a nuke and pave over the years on the podcast and I’m a huge believer in doing it around once a year. It’s painful and time consuming (think days before everything is back to “just so”) but the advantages of speed and freed up disk space are enormous. Your Mac will feel like it did when it was new.
One of the things I was really looking forward to with macOS Sierra and watchOS 3 was the ability to unlock my Mac with my Apple Watch. I know it’s a small thing but typing that silly password 20 times a day gets on my nerves. I’m not as crazy as George from Tulsa thinks I am, as I didn’t upgrade my podcasting Mac, but I did upgrade my MacBook to Sierra and I upgraded my Watch right away to watchOS 3, so I really wanted to test this feature out.
It turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than I expected. I’ll explain why as we go through all of the steps. If you’d rather just jump right in and do it yourself, of course I did a full tutorial so you can skip ahead:
I figured the place to turn this feature on would be in System Preferences, Security & Privacy where you originally enable a password to unlock the Mac. I guessed right because just below that was a section that said “Allow Apple Watch to unlock your Mac” and right below that it showed my original Apple Watch (which is still paired to my account) and my new Series 2 Apple Watch. I happily clicked the checkbox to allow my Watch to open the Mac.
I’ve got a cool little utility that may or may not solve a problem for you. Typeeto from mac.eltima.com/… lets you use a Mac as a Bluetooth keyboard for your iOS devices, including the AppleTV. Before I walk you through it, let’s set up a couple of problems it might solve.
The AppleTV is the most obvious problem – typing (even with the new remote) is a nightmare. If you have voice recognition in your country for the Apple remote, that actually works surprisingly well, especially for passwords. But most of the time we end up scrolling right/left/up/down and doing a lot of swearing when we try to type on the AppleTV. Using a Bluetooth keyboard with the AppleTV can make you happier, and if you’re watching TV with a laptop right near you, why not use its keyboard instead of that aggravating remote?
Many people wonder if there’s something they can do with old Macs and PCs when they’ve become too slow for the latest operating system, or have been abandoned by the OS vendors. With PCs it’s pretty common to put Linux on them but older Mac hardware often has problems with Linux. Maybe a network card doesn’t work, or the camera; something always seems to be a problem. If you do succeed, it’s a bit of a learning curve to get proficient at Linux.
Barry Fulk was the guest on Chit Chat Across the Pond this week to talk Mobile Device Management (which is way more interesting than it sounds!) I also got to be on the SMR Podcast with Chris Ashley to talk about Apple and the FBI. I go on a rant about Apple pushing a bad update that blocks their own Ethernet driver. I’ll talk about the fun Pat Dengler and I had tearing apart two MacBook Airs to make one working machine. We’ll talk to Arkamys about their 360 degree audio for immersive video, then I’ll explain why Photos made me buy a hub. We’ll talk to MagTarget about their iPhone mount/charger and I’ll explain how once again the answer to a problem is 2.4GHz separation. Finally we’ll talk to new Matter about their MOD-t 3D Printer.
Last July I told you the story of my neighbor’s 2012 MacBook Air that suffered an early death when her baby daughter knocked a glass of water over into the keyboard. The power key was shorted out such that shortly after the Mac successfully booted up, it would shut itself down. I tore that thing down to the bare metal and couldn’t fix it because you can’t disassemble the keyboard from what they call the top case. It’s an odd name, but it’s the top half of the bottom half of a laptop. At the time, prices for a replacement top case were so high it wasn’t worth fixing the Mac. It was only a 128GB model and an i5 so not worth too much. My neighbors said they had a friend who would sell it for parts for them so I gave it back, but it really bugged me that I had to give up on it. Continue reading “Frankenstein MacBook Air”
Allison interviews Arika Bunfill from Suitable Technologies about their new Beam Smart Presence system. Beam allows you to interact with remote locations by coupling high-end video and audio with the freedom of motion to move about a space. The Beam App connects you to all of your Beams, wherever they are, to call into and drive any Beam. The BeamPro (shown here) and the Beam+ are available for purchase now. The setting is the CES 2016 show floor in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Hello Allison and NosillaCastaways. Allister here again from New Zealand with a short review of a product recommended to me by another NosillaCastaway.
First, the problem to be solved. I just bought myself a brand new 27″ Retina 5K iMac. It is a beautiful machine and I am very pleased with it. No, that’s not a problem in itself, but if I look around the back of this beast, I see only one 3.5mm audio jack and it’s marked with a headphone symbol. It turns out it will support a headset with microphone, but that’s not really going to cut it for recording high quality audio.
I had a HUGE problem with my MacBook this week. A lot of people mock the MacBook because it only has the one USB-C port and for a while there I thought they might have been right. For Christmas Steve got me a new USB-C dongle that would give me an SD card reader and 3 standard USB ports. It’s a nice form fitting device that just sticks to the side of the laptop instead of dangling off the side like my old one. We celebrated Christmas at Lindsay’s house and I was super excited to give it a try.
When I plugged it in, disaster struck. The screen on my MacBook went black. It was weird because the light came on on the dongle, and sometimes the keyboard would light up, but the Mac display was dead. I was so sad! I finally closed the MacBook up and took it into the other room for a time out.
A few hours later I opened it up, and it worked just fine! Yay! Forget that new dongle, I plugged in my old dongle to bring in some photos from an SD card…and the screen went black again. I fiddled with it like crazy, shut it down, reset the SMC (system management controller that controls power stuff), even did an NVRAM reset but no joy. Again I closed it up in the other room and when I opened it back up later it was fine.
I was afraid that now the USB-C port itself had gotten damaged, but the MacBook charged just fine overnight via USB-C.
We drove back home and I wrote a couple of blog posts while in the car and had no problems at all. We got on the road again the day after Christmas to go to Steve’s sister Linda’s house and again I used the MacBook in the car to do a bunch of writing and nothing went wrong.
At Linda’s house I had planned to record a few segments with Bart. My plan was to use my ATR-2100 Mic plugged into one of the dongles to record while sitting in a back room next to her router to get good speeds. I plugged everything in and just as I got Bart on Skype…the screen went black again!
Well the Sheridans are not without a backup plan, right? Steve had his MacBook Air with him and so he let me borrow it to Skype with Bart. Steve didn’t say anything but I know he believes this single USB-C port thing is just silly so he was probably happy that his multi-port MacBook Air would be there to save the day. No dongle needed, I plugged the ATR-2100 into the MacBook Air and called Bart. Everything was fine, and then I slightly moved the MacBook Air…and the screen went black!!!
Seriously. There’s nothing in common between these failures at all, other than ME! I briefly got the MacBook Air to come back up and again I moved it slightly and again it went black. Unbelievable!
As you’ll hear in Dumb Question Corner and the other segments we recorded, I ended up having to do the calls with Skype on my iPhone using Apple earbuds (even though I had plugged in my ATR2100 to the phone using a USB to 9pin adapter it didn’t recognize the mic). In addition I used my iPad Pro to read the shownotes Bart had put together. We managed to muddle through but it wasn’t what I had in mind!
On the way home in the car, again I was able to use my MacBook with no problems of the screen going black. When I got home I decided I’d better get a genius bar appointment right away because I really need my MacBook when I go to CES the second week in January. Right before setting the appointment I thought maybe I should take a gander at the Apple discussion forums to see if there are any reports of this black screen problem.
I found a thread started by alexmac27 that sounded like the exact same symptom. He later posted that he figured out what went wrong and it fixed my problem. Believe it or not, he and I were both putting the laptops on top of a sleeve case that had a magnetic closure on the short side! I tested it out and it’s 100% repeatable. I can move my MacBook or Steve’s MacBook Air so that the charger port is near the magnet and instantly the screen goes black. Move it away and it comes right back. Can you believe that???
Since I was sitting on the bed when I was trying to record, I had used my Incase sleeve to stabilize both of the Macs on the bedspread. You should have seen me dancing around the house after reading alexmac27’s explanation!
I had just recently gotten the Incase sleeve but Steve had one for ages that he always put under his Mac when on travel so I wondered why his didn’t cause the same problem. Turns out the magnet on the 13″ sleeve is on the long edge in the middle which doesn’t affect the Mac at all. By the way, these sleeves are fantastic and I wouldn’t get rid of mine for anything. They fit super snug but give great protection on all four corners and have really nice soft padding inside. I just won’t ever set my Macs on it again! They’re called ICON sleeves from Incase and you can get them for all sizes of MacBooks for around $70 on Amazon or direct from Incase.
One more tidbit. During the débâcle at Lindsay’s house, when my MacBook wouldn’t wake up, I resorted to using my iPad Pro with the Apple keyboard but even THAT stopped working. Since the iPad Pro has a magnetic attachment for the keyboard AND a magnet to put it to sleep, it looks like the keyboard doesn’t like the magnet in the sleeve either.
I love this story because it was so weird and then having the solution be 100% repeatable makes me giggle with delight.
If you want to see this in action, Steve and I put together a video showing the repeatable effect of the magnetic closure on the MacBook.