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  • Roundup of Mac News

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    This topic contains 15 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by

     Nathan Parker 1 week, 1 day ago.

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    • #1872857 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Another round of Mac-related news hit today. Apple killed off the 12″ MacBook, as well as revised the MacBook Air. There’s even a deeper discount for students. The MacBook Pro also received upgrades, but the bad news is all MacBook Pros now offer the infamous touch bar. The MacBook Air also received the keyboard update, but it is still of the butterfly variety.

      Back to student discounts, the Back to School promo has launched, including six months of free Apple Music for students. Mac storage upgrades have also seen cost reductions for everyone as well.

      Bad news for Mac users is a vulnerability with the Zoom meeting app (which my school uses) but will be patched coming up. And for a little Google news, Google and Amazon have finally made up, and there are some excellent Google privacy tips in this article.

      Nathan Parker

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    • #1872912 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Nathan Parker, Concerning the new MacBook Pros, this new set of changes, as you seem to imply, is something of a mix-bag, so I hope there are some real improvements in there. There is one thing closely related to this I would like to see discussed as well, either here or, even better, in a dedicated thread (if you agree, you might consider starting this new thread and moving my comment there as well), and this thing is the 5-year support of the hardware by Apple, counting from the day a particular generation of hardware came out, after which new batteries or any other parts that fail are not supposed to be available for replacement, or at least not replaced by getting them from Apple. Same goes for repairs:

      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624

      But now Apple has under way a “pilot program” (I think it is called) to prolong that hardware support by another two years.:

      https://www.macrumors.com/2018/08/29/apple-expanding-vintage-mac-repair-pilot-program/

      It is incremental, so new types of products are included at each new stage. For example, my MacBook Pro is ca. mid-2015 and, absent its timely inclusion in this incremental plan, it would become “Vintage”, and no longer have hardware support, some time next year (software support, on the other hand, can go on for much longer than that).

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    • #1872971 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Thanks for the comment. These updates do seem to be rather incremental, in some cases better and some cases not as good for some (such as those who want a MacBook Pro without a touch bar).

      In terms of support, it is true about Apple’s official parts for hardware not being available after 5-7 years (depending on the product), although there are a few other tidbits I’ll mention here. 1. After Apple devices become obsolete/vintage, sometimes they’re also unable to receive major OS releases, although they sometimes are able to receive minor security updates. 2. There are places to still get Apple devices repaired after becoming obsolete/vintage. There’s a local repair shop within walking distance from me who can repair some older Apple gear. There are also websites such as iFixit and OWC who sells parts that can repair, and in some cases upgrade, older Apple devices.

      I hope that Apple does extend the vintage/obsolete period to at least seven years, and I even wish there were ways I could extend AppleCare on devices maybe at least a couple of years after it expires (likely not going to happen), but the good news is there are places to look for to find ways to repair some Apple gear once it becomes obsolete/vintage, although some gear is getting harder to repair for sure.

      Once Apple gear does reach the end of the road, at least Apple does have a solid recycling program with GiveBack.

      Nathan Parker

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    • #1873004 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks for your informative reply. After reading it I did a search with “apple”, “vintage”, “macbook pro”, “repairs” and the name of my state as keywords, limited it to “last year” hits, and got a good number of those for different shops that fix Macs in my local area (a suburb of a large city). Maybe none of them are Apple representatives or Apple-approved, I suppose, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they?

      In any case, other than for the (in)famous butterfly keyboard in my Mac laptop, with which I am writing this, I doubt much else can go bad in the four or five years left of what is, in my experience, the normal useful life-span for machines like mine (laptops), that I bought still new, from Apple, in mid-2017, when it was already a two-year old model.

      And a bad keyboard can always be bypassed by connecting an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard. Those are quite cheap, even the good ones. Not an ideal solution for people that truly need to move around constantly and, or also to travel often while carrying a laptop (although Apple external keyboards are rather small and light), but not an issue in my case. My laptop gets to be used mostly on top of my living-room table.

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      • #1873060 Reply

        willygirl
        AskWoody Plus

        Bluetooth keyboard. Those are quite cheap, even the good ones

        The Logitech Bluetooth keyboard I have is very good and didn’t break the bank. Light as a feather and fits nicely into an 11 inch sleeve, use it for long winded writing and for the iPad sometimes. Otherwise I’m on the butterfly keyboard, not crazy about the latter but it’s fine for Photoshop projects and research.

        Win7 SP1 Home 64-bit; Office 2010; GrpA, when all is said, done and fixed, Mac OSX to help me sleep at night.

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    • #1873045 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Some Apple authorized service providers may possibly still be able to perform replacements on vintage/obsolete Apple products, although they may have to turn to third-party parts if Apple doesn’t offer the parts, but then at least you would get a place who is fully Apple-trained.

      Even non Apple-authorized places I’ve had good experience with here at least, sometimes they’re even more gentle than Apple’s own service facilities.

      Nathan Parker

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    • #1873281 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      And a bad keyboard can always be bypassed by connecting an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard.

      Keyboard Service Program for MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro

      Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will service eligible MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge.

      The program covers eligible MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

      https://support.apple.com/keyboard-service-program-for-mac-notebooks

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      • #1873507 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Perhaps it is worth mentioning: I just discovered, to my delight and shame, that my mid-2015, 15-inch MacBook Pro does not have a “butterfly” keyboard after all, because it predates its introduction the same as even older models, and not as I wrote earlier in error that it had one. I stand corrected:

        https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/07/apple-to-stop-selling-2015-macbook-pro-with-old-style-keyboard-legacy-ports/

        Beloved by many, the 2015 MacBook Pro had a number of features that have since been changed or have disappeared entirely from new MacBook Pro models. Arguably the most polarizing among these tweaks is the butterfly keyboard—the 2015 MacBook Pro predates that mechanism, making its traditional keyboard a preferred alternative for many users.

        No wonder for me it was love at first sight!

        Now, if only — as suggested by something mentioned in Nathan’s posting: the new and improved keyboards of the latest Macs — the recent exciting minimalist design trend started, who knows, to be reversed towards making Mac laptops more boringly useful and a little fatter…

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    • #1873807 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      I’ve used Logitech Bluetooth Keyboards, and they are pretty solid. Right now I just own the keyboards that comes with the iMac and iMac Pro, plus the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard.

      That is true on the Keyboard Service Program, and a nice plus that Butterfly Keyboard owners will likely need.

      The 2015 MacBook Pro doesn’t have the Butterfly Keyboard, which is good news. I still had one of those fail once, so you may not be immune to issues, but they were still better than the Butterfly models. I do hope the regular ones make a comeback. I still love my 12″ PowerBook G4 keyboard. Solid as a rock and never failed once. That’s what I really want back.

      Some other news to mention:

      Apple patched the Zoom vulnerability in its own live update, followed by Zoom patching the update itself.

      There’s also a way to get a “free” Nomad Lightning Cable with a $5 tree donation which looks interesting.

      Nathan Parker

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    • #1873847 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      I just looked at the box of my 2015 MacPro Book, that is apparently welded together in what looks like a seamless, solid metal slab that I have to imagine is hollow and stuffed with electronics inside. From what others have written here some time ago, it is practically impossible to open this box without performing some aggressive major surgery, so I think that when the battery dies, that might be the end of this machine. I truly hope to be wrong about this. I have the laptop plugged to the mains most of the time, so the battery does not discharge very much. It will last longer this way, or so I hope, but not for ever. And when it finally dies, it might leak chemicals that corrode the electronics inside the box. I really hope that Apple’s recycling program is all that is cracked up to be.

      • #1873852 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        Oscar, I believe all the Macbooks can be opened without destroying them.  The only one I know of that cannot be opened without destroying it is the Microsoft Surface Laptop, the only device ever to receive a 0 on the IFixIt repairability index.  Apple doesn’t make it easy, but they haven’t made it that bad either, as far as I know.

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.3).

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        • #1873879 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Ascaris, I think you are right. A really close look at the bottom of the box, with the help of a powerful magnifying glass and looking like Sherlock Holmes, reveals ten tiny screws with unusual head markings (“pentalobe” I remember they are called, and are another example of Apple’s cool things, just like those wacky butterfly keys) placed at regular intervals all around a thin plate they fasten to the rest of the box, so this plate is the bottom and can be removed to open the box from below by unscrewing it. Doing that should be more like watchmaking than basic computer maintenance: I don’t much look forward to it.

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    • #1873884 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      Ascaris, I think you are right. A really close look at the bottom of the box, with the help of a powerful magnifying glass and looking like Sherlock Holmes, reveals ten tiny screws with unusual head markings (“pentalobe” I remember they are called, and are another example of Apple’s cool things, just like those wacky butterfly keys) placed at regular intervals all around a thin plate they fasten to the rest of the box, so this plate is the bottom and can be removed to open the box from below by unscrewing it. Doing that should be more like watchmaking than basic computer maintenance: I don’t much look forward to it.

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      • #1874203 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Hah! I knew it! It’s just like watchmaking! Seriously: Thanks for the video: I really loved it! It it was such a treat to be able to see, for the first time, the intriguingly complex inners of my laptop (or one much like it) in such a clear and detailed way.

        And I also know this now: if I followed the video to dismantle my laptop in order to make some repairs myself (although watching the video with the screen separated from the box and put some safe distance away will be admittedly tricky, but I’m sure I’ll manage) knowing myself I feel pretty sure that afterwards I’ll get some hardware bits and pieces, chips and pentalobe screws, on the working table, entirely for free, that I can keep as spares in case the ones back in the machine need replacing.

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    • #1874161 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      The 2015 MacBook Pros are somewhat easier to repair that other MacBook Pro models. The Pentalobe screwdriver can be purchased from iFixit (I purchased one once when Apple failed to screw my MacBook Pro back together solidly enough during a repair). The entire back comes off, exposing the logic board and components. The unibody design is mainly for the top shell on the keyboard (instead of multiple layers of aluminum, Apple etches the top shell out of a single brick of aluminum, which they’ve done since 2008).

      The battery itself would be somewhat easy for a repair shop to replace. It’d be difficult to do DIY since it’s built-in, but a repair shop could handle it.

      Even if you keep the machine plugged in 99% of the time, it’s a good idea to occasionally run it on battery to “calibrate” the battery and extend the life (I used to take one weekend per month, run it a few hours on battery, then recharge). Ones I’ve had sitting plugged in 100% of the time, I still wound up with battery issues (swollen batteries, etc.).

      The Surface is the one device that is impossible to easily repair, and I’m thankful I’m done using one.

      Macworld did release a good article today on a MacBook buyer’s guide for the latest models:

      https://www.macworld.com/article/3200690/which-macbook-should-you-buy.html

      Nathan Parker

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1874225 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      I’ll get some hardware bits and pieces, chips and pentalobe screws, on the working table, entirely for free, that I can keep as spares in case the ones back in the machine need replacing.

      Except for the stuff that Apple has soldered to the logic board. 🙂

      Nathan Parker

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