Apple Hardware

How to upgrade a cheap (like, $100) MacBook Pro to modern standards in 2019

(April 10, 2019) Buying an older computer might seem stupid, but you can save a lot of money, and have that warm fuzzy feeling inside of helping the planet. An "old" (2009?) computer in 2019 might seem a rubbish idea, but there are two simple upgrades that are a cheap and easy to give that old computer a new lease on life. For most of us the older computers are still powerful enough, especially with upgraded parts inside. If you really and truly need high end graphics -- like you're editing video all the time -- skip this posting, because it's not for you. But most of us are just browsing the web and writing documents, and will be perfectly served by an old computer at a fraction of the cost. For this posting I'll look at a couple eBay postings for the cheapest MacBook Pro's and evaluate what kind of upgrade can be done.

Apple 2009 Mac Pro back to the future for 2019 Modular Mac Pro, one hopes

(March 7, 2019)

Apple has promised the next Mac Pro, due during 2019, would be modular without explaining what they mean. As I've been documenting on TechSparx, Apple's current design style is unrepairable unmodifiable machines. The sort of Pro users who would want a Mac Pro, however, want upgradeability for example to swap in new graphics cards or max out the memory. In short, the design ethos Apple should follow is precisely the 2009/2010 Mac Pro design.

Upgrade 2012 MacBook Pro to potentially equal later Retina MacBook Pros

(November 27, 2018)

Why spend megabucks for the latest Mac when you can save a lot by buying an older machine? With a few simple upgrades (maxing-out the memory, using SSD) an older machine can perform similarly to the latest models. I am typing this on a 2012 MacBook Pro with 16 GB memory and a 500GB SSD, plus a 750GB HDD, that is satisfying all my needs from writing articles to heavy-duty software development. Just because the manufacturer wants you to buy the latest, doesn't mean you must do so.

Apple 2018 Mac Mini reviews

(November 12, 2018)

In October, Apple finally released the upgraded Mac Mini and early reviews suggest it is a powerhouse. Computationally, that is, thanks to a 6 core Core i7 CPU, but graphics-wise it isn't so hot. While the graphics chip is perfectly usable for every day use, it isn't enough for those with high-end graphics needs such as videographers. But, the port selection on the back of the 2018 Mac Mini means you can integrate an external GPU (eGPU) unit to drive high-end graphics cards.

Apple lied about 2018 Mac Mini upgradeability

(November 8, 2018)

In October, Apple finally released the upgraded Mac Mini and one leading feature is that we can again upgrade the memory. That we cannot upgrade the storage is sad, but at least we can upgrade the memory. However the picture Apple showed - that we can easily get in and change the memory - is a lie. The innards (once you open the case) look nothing like this, and upgrading the memory requires a near-complete disassembly.

2018 Apple Mac Mini Pro cannot run/boot Linux

(November 6, 2018)

Many of us like Apple's hardware but not the operating system, and prefer to run Linux or even Windows. Yeah, it's a little crazy to pay a premium price for the hardware just to run some other operating system, that's how good Apple's hardware is. It's been discovered the 2018 Mac Mini has hardware to prohibit booting unapproved operating systems.

Apple's big upgrade to the Mac Mini still isn't what it should be

(October 30, 2018)

Last week Apple unveiled a second round of updated machines, including the long-awaited update to the Mac Mini. While the upgrade is much appreciated, and one can easily upgrade memory, and it has a huge bump in processor capability, the 2018 Mac Mini simply is not what Apple needed to deliver. Intel's NUC is still far and away a better implementation of what the Mac Mini should be. Plus the Intel NUC is less than half the cost.

How to add internal wireless charging to an iPhone 7

(August 24, 2018)

Apple does not make an iPhone with internal wireless charging support. Scotty of Strange Parts found a guy in China who developed a kit to add wireless charging capability inside an iPhone 7. It is a slim circuit including Wireless Charging antenna and a connector which slips into an iPhone 7 connector. It requires replacing the back, so there is a port-hole through which wireless charging signals can get into the phone.

The video attached here is a fascinating look at not only getting into an iPhone 7 and making modifications, but the hardware development environment in the Chinese electronics markets. We get to see Scotty taking apart and reassembling an iPhone 7 several times, testing and debugging, and finally getting the thing to work. Plus, we get to see Scotty negotiating with Chinese hardware developers.

The big result is that Scotty is making available kits at http://strangeparts.com/wireless

Apple's unnecessarily complex SSD upgrade process for Mac Mini 2014/2015

(July 13, 2018)

The 2014/2015 Mac Mini is still, in 2018, the "current" Mac Mini model, and its biggest problem is the great difficulty to upgrade the device. While it is impossible to replace the memory it is possible to replace the hard drive, so long as you bought the upgradeable Mac Mini. Namely the version sold with an HDD. The other, with PCIe SSD, does not support upgrading the disk. You can save some money by purchasing the HDD version and upgrading to SSD on your own, however performance is higher with the PCIe version. The videos attached to this post document the overly unnecessarily difficult process for upgrading such Mac Mini's to have an SSD. You have to remove everything just to swap the disk? And you can't change the memory? The Intel NUC is in the same class of machine, and does not require this kind of over-the-top surgery.

The list of parts to build your own iPhone 7

(July 11, 2018)

Scotty of Strange Parts has published several in-depth videos on building an iPhone, and building custom iPhones including adding a headphone jack to an iPhone 7. In this video he walks us through the parts required to build an iPhone from parts. This is not just the logic board, screen, battery, and case, but all the parts, as well as hints on which parts to be extra careful aboutl

Installing macOS High Sierra on a MacBook Pro or other Mac that is not supported by High Sierra

(April 12, 2018)

Apple has declared certain older Mac computers unsupported by newer versions of macOS. In my case, I attempted to install macOS High Sierra on a mid-2009 MacBook Pro, but the installer failed in a very strange way. I constructed a USB installer using the normal process to make a macOS installer, then rebooted the computer to run the installation, but instead the screen simply went blank and the computer turned itself off. In other words installing macOS High Sierra on this mid-2009 MacBook Pro failed in a strange way. After a couple dozen macOS installs on different computers under my belt, I'd never seen this behavior. After some duckduckgoing the cause was found to be this screen capture - that the computer was not supported by High Sierra - and fortunately there was a relatively simple solution.

Apple's Mac Mini Pro: What it should be

(April 8, 2018)

As a former Mac Mini owner, and a happy Intel NUC owner, I have one suggestion to Apple regarding the Mac Mini. Make it more like the Intel NUC. Apple should be completely embarrassed that Intel has made a better Mac Mini than the Mac Mini. If Intel can do it to perfection, Apple should be able to do it. But with the direction Apple is taking with its hardware design, an updated Mac Mini is going to be even more locked down than that abomination of a Mac Mini Apple released in 2014.

How to add a headphone jack to iPhone 7

(September 7, 2017)

Apple really screwed up the iPhone design with the iPhone 7 by not putting in a headphone jack. I don't care about their prescriptive ideas about this, we need a headphone jack dammit. This video is from the guy who built his own iPhone from spare parts he bought in Shenzen China. For this video, he'd bought an iPhone 7 in order to record better videos and found himself really wanting a headphone jack. So, he decided to launch into adding such a jack, knowing there are millions of others around the world chafing at Apple's preconcieved notions and wanting a headphone jack on their iPhone 7.

The process took 17 weeks of trial and error. He started with noting there's an empty space where the headphone jack belongs, and that it'd be vaguely possible to add hardware into that space. What took the 17 weeks is designing a custom circuit, on a flexible substrate, learning to solder flexible circuits and work under a microscope, and to learn how to assemble the result without breaking the parts. That last bit was expensive due to the large number of expensive parts he broke. But, he came out the end with success and a vow to release the design files to the public via his website, and a strong plea to Apple to add a dang headphone jack to the iPhone 8.

In China you can build your own iPhone from spare parts

(Apr 12, 2017) This American entrepreneur goes to Shenzen China frequently. As he observed the scene over several months, it came to mind the electronics shops carry enough spare parts one could assemble their own iPhone. From spare parts, plus specific shop workers with the specialized skills for correct assembly. The big time-saver is to buy a working logic board, rather than soldering components onto an unpopulated logic board. But, with perseverance, and the willingness to traverse chaotic crowded markets, the parts are not only available, but it's possible to find iPhone-compatible backs with designs Apple never thought of. The video takes us on the journey, showing us the insides of not only the Shenzen markets but some snippets of electronics disassembly/recycling operations.

Installing MacOSX when the installer says: OS X could not be installed on your computer. No packages were eligible for install.

(2016-10-16 15:41)

A key step for upgrading the disk on a MacBook Pro is to install a new operating system on the new drive, and then use Migration Assistant to copy over the old data. Depending on how you went about the work, installing Mac OS X on the new system may give you a message: OS X could not be installed on your computer. No packages were eligible for install.

This is what it looks like in the installer. Upon seeing this I went "HUH?" because the installation was from a thumb drive I'd used many times to install Mac OS X (El Capitan) successfully.

Steve Wozniak Debunks One of Apple's Biggest Myths

(December 3, 2014) Steve Wozniak takes us on a walk down history lane, retelling how much he loves designing computer hardware, and that he designed the Apple 1 for fun. Then Steve Jobs came along, and turned that hobby into a big business, making several people into multijillionaires. Wozniak says he just wanted to be an engineer at the bottom of the Org Chart, and left Apple in 1987.