Tag Archives: macbook

SSD Upgrade

Solid State Drives have been replacing Hard Disks on computers lately. Instead of storing data on a rotating magnetic disk, they store data in flash memory: basically silicon chips that keep data even when powered off. They are lighter, use less power, have no moving parts, and most importantly are way faster than hard disks. The problem is that, compared to their rotating counterparts, they are (still) more expensive.

Still, prices have dropped dramatically recently. Shlomit’s computer was feeling a little sluggish so I decided to give it a nice little upgrade.

Crucial M4 SSD

After waiting for a good price on DealMac for a few weeks, I bought a 256 GB Crucial M4 for $180, a very good deal at the time of this writing, to replace the stock 250 GB spinning disk.

The upgrade is reasonably simple, here are the steps:

  1. Copy your Hard Drive contents to the SSD.
    1. I used a borrowed adapter to connect the SSD to the Mac via USB.
    2. Use Disk Utility (it comes with Mac OS X) to format the SSD.
    3. Use Carbon Copy Cloner (donation-ware) to copy the contents of your old hard drive to the new one. This was straightforward and it even created a Recovery Partition on the SSD. But it took a long time: almost 3 hours.
  2. Swap the hard drives. It’s easy, just follow the instructions posted on any of hundreds of YouTube videos. Like this one. But make sure you have the right tools, in my case a Philips #0 and a Torx #6 screwdrivers.
  3. Turn on your Mac and be amazed at how fast it feels now.
  4. Go into System Preferences and make sure you select the SSD as the Startup Disk. Otherwise every time you boot your computer, it’s going to spend ~30 seconds looking for the old drive.
Carbon Copy Cloner doing its thing.
MacBook in mid-transplant. Make sure you don’t misplace a screw.

Really, the speed difference is amazing. Everything is snappy. Opening programs like iPhoto or iTunes happens in less than a second.

If you have a computer that’s 1-2 years old and you want something much faster without buying a new machine, strongly consider upgrading to an SSD. You may have to sacrifice capacity but I think it’s worth it. Just put your pirate movie collection in an external hard drive and/or pay $25 to keep your music on iTunes Match.

If you are buying a new laptop, make sure you get one with an SSD. If it’s too expensive, get a slower processor instead to make up for the difference. You will be surprised at how most slow tasks are dramatically sped up by an SSD. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of a side by side comparison:

MacBook Air

I stopped by the local Apple Store to look at the new MacBook Air. Man it’s so tiny! According to the reviews and to what little I played with it, it seems fast enough for most daily tasks. My only recommendation is to get the one with the bigger 128 GB hard drive. Not a single demo machine at the store had the 64 GB one, they all had the 128 GB drive. And all the demo units had their hard drives already more than half full. You do the math.

iPad announcement summary

Apparently Apple has announced a new product called iPad. It’s like a big iPod touch. Having owned all three iPhone models  I must admit I would probably enjoy owning an iPad, limitations and all.

As it is, I already use my iPhone more than I use my laptop anyway:  when I wake up, I check my email on my iPhone, not on my laptop. When I want to see the weather, I check it on the iPhone, not on my laptop… The list goes on.

When I use my laptop, most of the time I use it to watch video or browse the internet in bed or in the living room couch. The iPad should do all these things more comfortably than my laptop. The only thing it’s really missing for me is a webcam for videoconferencing. I’m not saying that it will replace my laptop… but it may end up being an additional toy.

Computer Detox


It‘s been almost three years since I bought my trusty 12″ Powerbook G4. It still is the best Mac laptop ever released in such a small form factor. That’s why they are still selling for decent prices on eBay.

With both Macworld and the end of my AppleCare extended warranty fast approaching, I decided to sell. The auction ended and I shipped out my computer this morning. My reasoning is that there is a very good chance Apple will introduce a new small Mac laptop (MacBook mini?) and when they do, the resell prices of the 12″ Powerbook G4 will drop harder than Edgar.

What this means for is that, for at least one month, I will not have a laptop at home.

Truth is, I have another machine at home. But there will be no browsing the news (yes – the news) over the internet while in bed; at least for a while.

If they release some super small portable next month, I will be very happy. If they don’t release anything, I will be dissappointed and just buy a 13″ MacBook. Keep those fingers crossed!