Nov 16 2016

Apple depository

Adel Gabot



With today’s launching of the horridly expensive (US$300 for the large edition!) coffee table book Designed by Apple in California, I was moved to take stock of how many Apple products we have in the house.

Plenty, as it turns out:

  • 27″ iMac
  • 13″ MacBook Pro
  • 11″ MacBook Air
  • Apple //+
  • Apple //e
  • Macintosh (original)
  • iPad 2
  • iPad 3
  • iPad mini 1st gen
  • iPhone 1st gen
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPod 5th gen
  • iPod nano 6th gen (2 units)
  • iPod shuffle 2nd gen
  • iPod shuffle 3rd gen
  • Apple TV 3rd gen
  • Apple TV 4th gen
  • Apple Quicktake 200
  • Apple Newton Messagepad

This is not to mention the many Apple-made power adaptors, assorted dongles, extra headsets, rechargeable batteries and chargers, thunderbolt and lightning cables, mice (mouses?), trackpads and keyboards I also have.

Take note, this is just the current things I have. This isn’t counting the many number of other previous products I used to own, like that orange iBook or Titanium MacBook or desktop monitor or older Mac desktops, all dating back to that Apple //+ that started it all.

Gosh darn. I’m more of an Apple nut than I realize.



Nov 13 2016

Reconsidering the MacBook Air

Adel Gabot



You know, I’ve been thinking I shortchanged having a MacBook Air all these years.

I had one years before. My second, actually. But before that I had the original Apple release of the Air and used it for years until the battery bloated like a balloon and I had to give up on it. I would have other MacBooks after that, but I got my second Air later in life when I felt I needed one again.

Then a year later I hemmed and hawed on having an Air because of the duplication of function with my then-iPad, so I sold it to my brother for a pittance. I got along fine for a while until I got a job where I felt like I needed a laptop again, so I decided to get me a 13″ MacBook Pro, and it was fine.

Then, last week, I got this old mid-2011 11″ MacBook Air with just the originally supplied 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM. It looked great, worked perfectly and the battery was still good at 82% capacity, even after five years of use. I was planning to sell it because I didn’t think I needed one.

But I inadvertently busted it up cleaning it, shorting out the keyboard with my damp cloth, so I had to pony up for repairs (dammit). Since I got it back, I installed Sierra on it, and on a whim, before selling it, I wanted to see if I could install just the barest minimum software on it, just the stuff I actually, truly needed and used and see if I could do actually do it.

So I pared my software to the barest essentials, and came up with a 25GB complete setup. Imagine that. 25GB! All I needed to survive in this world, electronically at least, whittled down to a small system. I didn’t really scrimp on anything, just discarded the self-indulgent flotsam and jetsam. I even added a small library of songs, videos and reading material on there. And it all works, amazingly.

I’ve been using it constantly ever since I installed it, and the convenience and economy of it all floored me. After all that sturm und drang, this was all I needed to survive. All of it housed in a tiny, slim, unbelievably light package that you could slip in an envelop.

I didn’t need those fancy new processors and those big Retina and 4K displays. I didn’t really need that Touch Bar and those USB-C ports, that haptic-enhanced pseudo trackpad and thin bezels.

All I needed was this old, entry-level 11″ MacBook Air. Again.

Of course, in real life I would still need my external drives and all the other peripherals I’ve put together all these years, and all of the accumulated, archived data of my life. And of course I can’t live without my media library. But the point is, my central system can be made this small and compact and I could still survive.


Perhaps I don’t really need a 27″ iMac, 13″ MacBook Pro and iPad mini. (Well, not the MacBook Pro and the iPad mini, at least; I think my self-indulgent side couldn’t let go of my tricked-out iMac.)

But I could do with the MacBook Air for my mobile needs, at least. Why didn’t I realize this before?

Hmm. More food for thought.

Nov 11 2016

The Mac is back

Adel Gabot


I got the MacBook Air back from the shop this morning, good as new.

I even got them to lower the price a little more (a tribute to my haggling skills). I would’ve also spent an hour shooting the breeze with the proprietor and the technicians, who are old friends and chatty as hell, but I had another appointment elsewhere and had to split.

To make up the cost of the repair, I sold off several of my old PS4 games this morning, games which were just gathering dust in the room, and the amount they sold for made up for exactly the cost of the repair, so zero balance.

I’m typing this entry on the Air now, to test it out.

Hmm. Having an eminently portable computer that wasn’t an iPod or a heavy MacBook Pro is extremely nice, actually. Food for thought. Hmm again. Am now seriously considering actually keeping it.

What do you guys think?

Nov 10 2016

Clean MacBook Air—not!

Adel Gabot




I recently got a reasonably old MacBook Air—an 11″ Mid-2011 model, with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD—and I was planning to sell it.

It worked perfectly, save for a couple of keys that had the lettering on them almost rubbed off. The battery, which was five years old, still had 83% of its functionality, which was exceptionally good. It even had the original packaging. It should be a hit at the online store where I go to sell some of my stuff sometimes.

Thing was, it was grimy as hell.

So I went about giving it a good cleaning. That involved delicately “washing” it down with a barely damp toothbrush and cloth, using baby shampoo or dish cleaning fluid and a bit of water, then drying it with a lint-free cloth and allowing it to air out for a couple of hours before turning it on. That’s very important, because you have to allow every bit of moisture to dry up before you do.

Thing of it is, that particular kind of MBA has its power button integrated into the main keyboard, located where the backspace key normally would be, on the upper right corner. Also, the unit has the battery also integrated into its thin body; there’s no way to remove it, so there’s always a chance you could power up the thing without intending to.

As I was cleaning the keyboard and rubbing the keys with my barely damp toothbrush, I accidently hit the power button, and the damned thing powered up. I hit it again quickly to shut it down, but the damage was done.  The thing turned on, and unbeknownst to me, some circuits in the power key and a few others had shorted.

By the time the MBA was dry and I tried to turn it on, it was dead as a doornail. Didn’t even power up briefly to show it me it was still alive.


So yesterday morning, I brought it to the shop to see what could be done. There, they gave me the bad news.

A normal repair would involve replacing the whole top case, which was essentially the full innards of the MBA, and would cost an estimated P15k. Considering that amount was more than half of the selling price of the whole thing, that was out of the question.

The repairman told me he could try replacing just the keyboard and see if that would work, but he had to source one from other customers first, and it could cost around P5k. And it just might work, but it wasn’t a sure thing.

That’s better than the alternative. So I told him to go for it.

This morning he texted me the good news. It worked. He was still testing the thing, but it was apparently good to go.

The bad news was, it was going to cost me P6k. P5k for the keyboard, and P1k for the shop. Wowza. Still expensive. I told him to haggle with the owner of the keyboard first, maybe he’d agree to a lower price. (Of course I knew the shop was inflating the cost so they could get some extra for themselves, but they weren’t going to pull that one on me.)

We finally settled on P3K for the replacement keyboard. Plus the shop fee, I owed a total of P4k. Still a goodly amount, but I figured I’m escaping by the skin of my teeth. (The only bright spot of the whole thing is, those two rubbed-off keys are brand new again.)

I’m picking it up in the morning.

All for a desire to have a clean computer to sell. And this is the the thanks I get?


Oct 31 2016

A new OLED Keyboard for my old iMac?

Adel Gabot



I absolutely adore Apple‘s new MacBook Pro model, mostly for that little OLED strip on top of the keyboard that replaces the function keys, the one that’s been called a little piece of an iPad grafted onto an MBP. It’s the one thing that might get me to finally spring for a new laptop, if not for the inordinately prohibitive cost of one. (We’ll see how much when it comes out, and if I could afford it.)

But I got a better idea in the meantime.

If only Apple would come out with a Bluetooth keyboard with the same technology—now that’s a winner! It would revive my aging iMac, that’s for sure. As for the cost, it would be a pretty penny, that’s for sure, but nowhere near the projected cost of a new computer.

It would just take a relatively small tweak of the Sierra OS to enable it, and millions of current users would be able to enjoy the latest technology with their old computers. In fact, there are already rumors of this happening soon, and I for one welcome it.

So what, Apple, are looking at an OLED keyboard anytime soon?