posts tagged with the keyword ‘macbook’

2015.11.15

Oops!

Last week was a bad week for hardware… On Saturday I opened up my MacBook Pro to wake it from sleep and start using it (which I do multiple times per day) and it was a no go. It did not wake up. I restarted it and got the old blinking system folder, as if the drive was gone, or corrupt, or something. It was a hard drive I didn’t fully trust, and even though I thought about replacing it just weeks ago, I didn’t.

The first thing I did was assumed the drive was shot, and got on Amazon to order a replacement hard drive. I ordered on Saturday and it arrived about 24 hours later… on a Sunday. (Thanks, Amazon!)

Meanwhile, I pulled the drive out of the MacBook and put it in an external case. It worked fine. Damn. This told me it was probably a hardware issue with the MacBook, not the drive. I’ve been through this one before… twice actually, and I’m really wishing Apple would make better hardware!

I ran from the external drive until Wednesday, when I took it to the Apple Store. Oh, in the meantime I had put a replacement drive in the MacBook after I installed a fresh version of 10.9 onto it. (I figured I had to show the Apple Store the issue and I really don’t like them having access to my data.)

They fixed it the same night, and it was all good. (Replaced the hard drive cable/bracket assembly.) We booted it up in the store, it worked, so I went home and I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up at 6am, and swapped in my original hard drive. This is where things went to shit. Did you notice I forgot to shut it down? Yes… I highly recommend you do not try to hot swap the hard drive in your MacBook Pro while it is in sleep mode.

When I opened the Mac to start it (and it was already on) it showed the desktop from the drive I pulled out… probably not a good sign. A reboot later everything was gone. No good on the drive. But like we all know, even if you can’t see your data, it’s probably still there.

A quick Google search for destroyed partition table mac brought me to the blog post Repair a Mac OS X HFS+ Partition table.

I pretty much did everything [PERR0_HUNTER] suggested, and BAM! just like that my partition table was back, and the drive was as it was before I completely screwed it up. I immediately used the ‘Donate’ link on the site to send [PERR0_HUNTER] some money.

The rest of the story is pretty boring, involving running restores and more backups and going through eight hard drives I have in the office. But hey, I’m back up and running… All good. Thanks, [PERR0_HUNTER]!

And the lesson is, don’t swap your hard drive before 8am.

2011.12.15

RepRap Cat

I’ve already talked about the Top 5 Places Kitten was, but since kitten (who is now a cat, and sometimes referred to as RepRap Cat) spends a lot of time in the office with me, I thought it was time for a new list…

The top 4 Macs kitten has sat upon:

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
  3. G4 PowerBook
  4. Mac Pro

She also spends a lot of time on the printer, which isn’t a Mac, but has a lot of buttons to press.

The only Mac missing is the iMac, and that’s because she hasn’t figured out how to sit on top of that one… yet.

Update: I snapped this picture less than two hours after posting this.

2011.06.08

In my Photo Booth post I talked about using a Logitech C910 instead of the built-in iSight camera on a 2007 iMac. I wasn’t happy with the quality and ended up using a Logitech HD Pro USB Webcam C910. The Logitech camera worked much better on the iMac, so I figured I’d compare it to the built-in iSight on my 2009 13″ MacBook Pro.

iSight - Color
MacBook iSight – Color

Logitech - Color
Logitech C910 – Color

Comparing the two images you can definitely see the difference in color temperature. The iSight leans more towards red/yellow while the Logitech leans the other way. (Note that the Logitech has a slightly wider field of view as well, so you may have to move in closer.) The only light in this room was a CFL bulb with a lampshade over it, and the glow of 3 monitors. Besides the color, the sharpness of the image is what really stands out. The Logitech is way sharper.

iSight - Black and White
MacBook iSight – Black & White

Logitech - Black and White
Logitech C910 – Black & White

Taking color out of the comparison, and just looking at a greyscale images, the sharpness of the Logitech over the iSight seems even more noticeable. As I’ve said before, the iSight is a tiny little camera, with a tiny little lens, and a tiny little sensor. It’s great that every MacBook contains a camera, and for general video chat, etc. it’ll do just fine, but if you need better image quality, it’s nice to know you can get it for a reasonable price.

The Logitech also has the advantage of being able to view things on the other side of the Mac, and be placed a short distance from the Mac itself. The images on the 2XL Networks Photo Booth site were taken with the Logitech, and we’ll be testing it out with Make: Live as well…

2011.06.07

iMac

While at PhotoCamp, Kevin was kind enough to let me see his Cr-48, which is a Linux laptop from Google which relies on The Cloud™ to do its magic.

For some reason, one of the features he showed off was the ability to boot up really quickly. In fact, he counted while he booted up. I wasn’t too impressed.

Actually, I think my comments were along the lines of “Yeah, it takes my MacBook longer to boot up, and boy, that sure annoys me every 4 to 6 weeks…”

Honestly, I rarely shut down my MacBook, and instead just put it to sleep. Waking up from sleep takes a few seconds at most. Still… I thought I should test things by shutting down and booting it up again. To get to the login screen from a cold boot took about 1 minute. Logging in took about 1 minute. Launching Firefox (and loading 4 tabs) took less than a minute. So in total, it was probably under 3 minutes to boot up.

Believe me, I know boot time is important. The RED ONE boots fairly slowly. in fact it’s been said that when booting up the RED, it’s the longest 90 seconds of your life.

Besides all that, the Cr-48 looks like a fairly nice little laptop, despite the fact that it’s all hobbled in what it can actually do in the world of media creation and hacking…

2011.05.19

Last year I was invited to a co-worker’s wedding. And, since so many weddings nowadays involve being creative on a budget, they had a photo booth there that they set up themselves using Sparkbooth, a great little Adobe AIR-based application. A few weeks later we were having our annual work party, and I was tasked with making a photo booth a reality. Since then I’ve been working on building a better photo booth experience.

NOTE: Need a button? Now you can buy one! Visit our store or Etsy.

For the first one I set up, I used my MacBook Pro. We connected a Sony PD-150 video camera via FireWire and selected it in Sparkbooth rather than using the built-in iSight camera. (The iSight is a small camera, with a tiny lens, so the video camera ended up providing a better image.) We also put a little sticker on the space bar that said “PRESS HERE TO TAKE PHOTOS” and hoped for the best. It worked, but there were just too many moving parts to deal with, like the camera on a tripod behind the MacBook, and a light clamped onto the tripod. It wasn’t elegant.

The Sparkbooth software is great and provides a ton of features, including the ability to upload photos to Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, or a dozen other sites. There are some optional features that would require a keyboard—if you prompt people to enter their name, email, a comment, or choose if they want the image uploaded or not—but the main interaction is through pressing the space bar to start the picture-taking process.

If you need a space bar, you may need a keyboard… unless you build something that can emulate a space bar. When I saw The AWESOME Button on Make, I knew what I had to do. I had to build a button.

Ready for Pushing
The Button

The button is simple, and built into a metal case. It should stand up to abuse that a normal keyboard might not, and it’s pretty simple. You can’t really press the wrong button, there’s only one.

Once I had the button, I set about getting my old iMac set up as the photo booth machine. Not being happy with the built-in iSight (the iMac is about 4 years old, and it’s definitely not as good as the latest round of iSight cameras), I ended up taking the Canon ZR800 from Time Lapse Bot and using that. It worked OK but wasn’t ideal. I didn’t want to have to deal with a tripod and more cables, etc. (I even ended up testing a floor-mount camera holder I built which took pictures of shoes for a specific event—don’t ask!)

Ultimately I settled on using a Logitech HD Pro USB Webcam C910. Its image quality is much better than the iSight, and there’s just one cable to plug in. Just one problem… while it worked fine with my MacBook, no matter what I tried, I could not select it in Sparkbooth on the iMac. I tried everything, including different versions of Adobe AIR, different versions of Mac OS X, reformatting the drive, a clean install… nothing would work. I ended up disconnecting the built-in iSight thanks to some help from iFixIt.

The Photo Booth
The Completed Photo Booth

So I now had the button and the camera. I then needed something to hold it all together. I wanted a stand to put the iMac on that was about the right height for a “typical human being,” and by that I mean: about my height. (You can also easily adjust the camera by just tilting the iMac a bit.) I ended up building a simple pedestal out of plywood and painting it white. I used thin plywood to save on weight since it needs to be somewhat portable. You can’t see it in the photo but the back has been left open, and there’s an internal shelf for the keyboard and mouse. I keep those handy in case of trouble, or if I need to change any settings in the software. The shelf actually helps structurally as well.

For the light, I used a small IKEA clamp light (you’d be amazed how hard it is to find a small, good-looking clamp light.) There’s an L-shaped piece of plywood behind the iMac that’s held onto the stand with a c-clamp. It works for now. I may upgrade the light in the future.

Booth Photos
Photos from the Booth

Here’s a selection of photos from the first official use of the Photo Booth. (Yes, there are two Munchkins on the back wall—it was a “Wizard of Oz” themed party.) I’m asking for a bit of forgiveness in calling this a “Photo Booth” at this point because, while it does take photos, there isn’t an actual booth yet… I need to save something for Phase II of this project…

Stay Tuned!

NOTE: Need a button? Now you can buy one! Visit our store or Etsy.

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