Sep 27

Sometimes when I’m in a Zoom meeting I am a little far from my camera and wish that I could zoom in closer to my face without having to move the computer. I haven’t found a way to zoom or pan the built-in MacBook camera when you are using it as a camera in the Zoom meeting app. There are no settings in Zoom itself to control the level of zoom on your MacBook built-in camera. The good news is that there is a way to do it. You can zoom your camera by using a ‘virtual camera’. Here’s how.

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Apr 06

When I unboxed my new MacBook Pro I booted it up and followed the prompts to connect my old MacBook Air to transfer my old files across. For some reason it did not recognise my old MacBook Air. I used the USB-C cable that came with my new MacBook Pro to connect the two computers together. It didn’t work.

The next day I tried again, this time with a different cable, and it worked. The USB-C cable that is supplied with new MacBook Pro is NOT a thunderbolt cable. So you cannot use it to transfer data. Apple saved themselves some $$$ by throwing in a cheaper cable that you can only use to charge. Read on and I’ll explain the differences.

A not thunderbolt cable.

This is NOT a Thunderbolt cable. It’s very similar to a thunderbolt cable. Some of Apple’s cables USB-C cables are Thunderbolt and some are not. The cable looks the same shape, but the Thunderbolt cables made by apple have a thunderbolt symbol on one side. This cable will charge your computer, but not transfer data.

Have a look at these 2 items in the Apple Store:

These cables are both USB-C. (That refers to the shape of the connector on the end). But one is a ‘Charge Cable’ and one is a ‘Thunderbolt Cable’. If you look very closely you can see the Thunderbolt symbol on one side of the connector of the Thunderbolt cable.

The one on the left will charge your computer. That is all it will do. The one one the right will charge your computer and it will also allow you to connect to another computer, or a SSD drive, iPad or any other Thunderbolt device. Guess which one Apple included when you purchased your new MacBook Pro? The cheaper one. They will both charge your computer. But the cheaper one will not transfer data from your old MacBook to your new one.

I have no problem with Apple including the cheaper charge cable, but it would have bene nice to have a note about this, or option to upgrade at the time of purchase.

Here’s a screenshot from Apple’s support pages:

Source: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT207443

It gets even more confusing if you head down to JB HiFi and but another USB-C cable because it’s possible to get a USB-C data cable that has a slower charging rate!

When you buy a USB-C cable you can get ones that charge fast, charge slowly, transfer data fast, transfer data slowly, or don’t transfer data at all. Apple’s charging cable does not transfer data at all.

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Apr 29

I wanted to order a cable to connect my old KORG Midi controller to my new MacBook Pro. One end needed to be USB-C, and the other end needed to be an older USB connector that I wasn’t sure of the name of.

Here’s a great chart from RS-components in Australia that names all the USB connectors to help you easily find the one you need.

https://au.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=ideas-and-advice/usb-cable-guide
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Nov 30

If you don’t yet have an SSD in your Mac, it’s time to upgrade!

By far the biggest speed boost on a Mac comes with upgrading the Hard Disk to an SSD. A faster processor (i7 etc) will improve the speed of some tasks, more RAM can avoid a slowdown, but a faster SSD improves the speed of everything. If you still have an old Hard Disk I can’t say how strongly I suggest upgrading.

a faster SSD improves the speed of everything

I received an email today from Amazon telling me that 240GB SSD drives are AU$42.19. I just checked the US store and you can get a 1TB Crucial MX500 drive for $94.99. These prices are ridiculously cheap.

This article back in August 2018 is about how to upgrade to an SSD drive. But back then a 480GB drive was $1579.99!

If you are running a 2012 MacBook with an old SATA drive, or even a 2018 iMac without an SSD, grab one, and install it. It’s not complicated.

There are good instructions at macfixit.

How to pull apart an iMac

How to pull apart a macbook

How to pull apart a Mac mini

Check out your Mac first to see if the Hard disk is upgradable.

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Sep 08

I recently purchased a new Mac mini and it does not have a FireWire or Thunderbolt port. You will also have the same problem if you have purchased a very recent model MacBook Pro or iMac. The problem is I have quite a nice 3CCD Panasonic video camera that has a FireWire port on it. I need a Firewire to USB-C adapter but Apple don’t make one. They are changing ports faster than they can make new adapters.

Thankfully, as I found out today, you can plug your FireWire cable into a ‘FireWire to thunderbolt’ adapter and then you can plug this adapter into a ‘Thunderbolt to USB- C’ adapter. IT looks a mess but it works.

On the left you can see a USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter, in the middle is my Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, and on the right is the FireWire lead going to my digital video camera.

It may not be pretty, but the signal gets through. My computer was able to control the video camera and the video was able to import into QuickTime.

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May 05

The hard drives in the new 2018 Mac mini are PCIe which means they are very fast, but also expensive. Unlike previous models, you cannot upgrade the internal hard drive. It is soldered in. But thanks to the USB-C interface on the new Mac Mini, an external SSD drive is now a good option. I chose to buy the smaller (and cheaper) 250GB Mac Mini and supplement it with a 500GB external SSD drive.

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Mar 31

Apple have a number of free repair programs for faulty devices. Apple don’t communicate this directly to users of the affected devices so it’s good to occasionally go to their website and check your Apple devices. The repair programs do not run indefinitely.

The list includes the SSD drive and battery on some 13 inch macbook pros, the faulty butterfly keyboards on some new macbook pros, the iPhone 8 logic board, iPhone 7 coverage issues, battery replacement for iPhone 6s, the Beats Pill XL Speaker and more.

To see if your device is affected you can go to Apple’s repair program website and type in your serial number.

https://www.apple.com/support/exchange_repair/


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Jan 08
ben Q monitor

You can use any monitor with the new Mac mini 2018. (Except for an Apple one because they don’t make them any more!) The Mac mini has a HDMI port for a display, but you can also plug a monitor into any of the 4 USB-C ports. My strong advice it try to get a monitor that comes with a HDMI cable or a USB-C cable – don’t rely on Apple’s Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter.

If you have a choice go for a monitor with a HDMI cable so as to leave the 4 USB-C ports free. There are a wide variety of monitors available. I went down to the local computer shop and tried a few out and the ones that stood out to me were LG, BenQ, Samsung and Dell. I’ve also read good reviews on Acer and HP. But be aware that all of these brands make low quality monitors as well. So it’s more important to look at the quality of the monitor than the brand. e.g. Check out the contrast ratio, colour reproduction and resolution.

Don’t just look at the monitor in demo mode in the store. Make sure you plug it into a computer and have a look at some text on the screen. Take your own laptop in or ask the store for a demo plugged into a MAcintosh computer. The demo modes on the monitors are made to look crystal clear and sharp, but when you plug it into you computer and display plain text some monitors can be fuzzy or blurry or even look washed out. Read more to find out what monitor I ended up buying!

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