MacBook Pro with XP

29 06 2006

Well since my article regarding BootCamp and the future of Apple I’ve been itching to try installing Windows XP on my Mac, so once my MacBook Pro was returned in working order I decided to go ahead and install BootCamp.

Note: Apple states that BootCamp is preview software and as such may become unstable, so make sure you have an up to date backup and are willing to risk potential reinstallation of Mac OS X if the startup disk becomes corrupted.

Anyway, disclaimer aside, I downloaded the BootCamp disk image and ensured my machine was running the latest Firmware and Software Updates. Once BootCamp is installed, you simply run the application which you will find inside Utilities.

BootCamp will offer to burn a CD contained Macintosh Drivers, so unless you already have one, you will need to proceed with that step. Once complete, you can adjust the partitioning scheme that BootCamp will use. This is accomplished by dragging a slider to represent how much disk space each operating system will use. Since I only want to use Windows for a couple of network-able games, I chose to give it 12GB, leaving the rest for OS X.

The partitioning takes a few moments, but not too long, and then asks you to insert your copy of Windows XP with SP2 and click ‘Restart’.

From there on in, the installation proceeds exactly as a standard Windows installation, which I have plenty of experience with working as a Systems Administrator during my industrial placement.

Windows installed in less than half an hour and was up and running. Now the first minor problem – the eject key doesn’t work in Windows so you have to go into My Computer, select the CD drive and choose Eject from the sidebar tasks. Nothing major really remembering that BootCamp is essentially beta software.

After ejecting the disk you can then insert the Macintosh drivers CD you created earlier which should autorun and proceed through installation of all the required drivers which will activate things such as the AirPort card, Bluetooth, built in graphics accelerator and so on.

This proceeded without hitch and had everything up and running in just a few minutes, which is definitely better than the usual routine of installing each driver separately.

I play the game EVE Online and one main reason I want Windows on my portable Mac is so that I can play EVE on the move, as there is no native OS X client for it. Installation was no problem, and as soon as I entered the Wireless network settings into XP, my Internet connection was visible and the EVE client was able to connect.

I was able to set the graphics at full settings running at the native resolution of my MacBook Pro, which is 1440×900 and the notebook was able to cope perfectly fine; so far so good.

The ultimate test would be to install a more demanding game, which I will be doing soon so that I can play LAN games without having to cart around my desktop PC. As soon as I do that I’ll get some more accurate results up to see just how powerful this MacBook Pro really is.


MacBook’s Back!

28 06 2006

Well…the more perceptive of my readers (if there are any left) may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last post. Well I’ve had a lot of problems with getting my MacBook repaired properly, in fact it went back in for repair a total of three times before it was repaired properly!

1st Repair – two weeks
Well the initial problem was that the screen latch had begun to jam and therefore I couldn’t open the screen unless I jiggled it about a bit… I had also spotted a slight noise emanating from the screen unless it was set at either 0% or 100% brightness. Other than that there was nothing wrong with it.

After receiving the call to say it was back in for repair I went to collect it, and then took it home, however as soon as I woke it from sleep, it Kernel panicked. So I rebooted it and it did the same thing again, in fact it did it about 7 or 8 times in the space of half an hour, so I decided that since the main logic board had been replaced, I would reinstall Mac OS X.

After doing that and updating to the latest firmware and software patches, I was up and running, but the Kernel Panics still occasionally struck. Additionally the unit now ran staggeringly hot, which wasn’t an issue before – the base of the notebook literally became too hot to touch, and the palm-rest was quite warm also. Finally I noticed a very loud and irritating hi-frequency noise coming from the middle of the case, as well as the screen buzzing which hadn’t been fixed.

So the only thing that had been fixed was the screen latch, the other issue I mentioned had been ignored and more problems had been created!!!

2nd Repair – one week
After taking the notebook back to the Apple Store and explaining my frustrations, it was taken in for repair once again. This time when it came back, the heat problem had been solved and the notebook was back to its usual operating temperature, however the screen buzzing and hi-frequency noise were still there.

Now the screen buzz I could live with, as I usually have the screen set to 100% brightness, which makes it go silent, but the hi-frequency one was very irritating, and seemed to change the pattern it made depending on what you were running at the time.

In fact I found the only way I could make it stop completely was to run PhotoBooth and then minimize it to the dock. Not the best way to extend your battery life, but a quick fix nontheless. The hi-frequency noise was so irritating it stopped you using the computer, it gave me a headache and was just not acceptable, so I decided to take the notebook in for repair once again.

AppleCare has a policy that after three unsuccessful repairs, they will replace the item with a new one, so I thought what do I have to lose, and agreed to be without the computer for another week.

3rd Repair – four days
This time when I took the unit in, I had some trouble convincing the staff there to repair the notebook for the third time. Apparently the whining noise I was experiencing was being caused by the fans and was “within specification”. I was a little taken aback that I was basically being told to live with it, especially with how much a MacBook Pro costs.

After about 20 minutes or so of my arguing about it, demanding it be repaired or refunded, they sent me about 3 or 4 different staff members until finally one of them agreed to have it taken in for repair again. Whether or not it would come back repaired was irrelevant since I could have it replaced for a new one that hopefully would be perfect.

About 4 days later, I received a call, and fingers crossed I went to the store to pick it up. Checking the notebook in the store I couldn’t hear anything coming from it, which was good, even in the busy store I had been able to hear a slight whining beforehand, so I thanked the assistant and took it home for further examination.

I can now report (fingers crossed it stays this way) that the notebook is now silent apart from the expected fan noise which is barely audible anyway! Not only that but it is running even cooler than it had been initially, I’m very impressed with it!

So basically I finally have the MacBook Pro working as it should have, but I am very disappointed in Apple for it having taken so long to fix. Many of my friends who were tempted to switch to an Apple Mac after seeing my positive experience have been a little put off by it, and myself as an enthusiastic Apple customer has been left feeling extremely frustrated and disappointed, but I can at least say that they got it right the third time!

AppleCare Experience

1 06 2006

Well bad news I’m afraid, my MacBook Pro, which is around a month old developed a fault – the latch on the screen began to stick on the right hand side, preventing the screen from openeing without some ‘jigging’ about. Now naturally that sort of thing should not happen on any laptop, let alone the ‘flagship’ of the Apple notebook line.

So, I’ve taken it into my local Apple Store for a repair. Entering the store I went to any of the Macs they have on display there and clicked the desktop shrotcut to ‘Concierge’. This allows you to enter your name and book yourself into the Genius Bar. You can always just turn up and wait, but this allows you to get a time to come back and be seen to straight away.

After a 15 minute wait, my Mac was inspected briefly by one of the Geniuses, who logged the problem using my AppleCare ID, and took the machine in for repair. Since I had also spotted a slight buzzing sound coming from the screen, unless it was set to full brightness, the notebook is being sent away for repair, so I’m back to using my desktop Windows PC for my day to day things.

So far I’m impressed with the whole Genius Bar setup, its nice to go into a shop and speak to people who actually know the products they are selling, and know what they’re talking about. Unlike many shops I’ve dealt with who become extremely suspicious of you when you try to get a repair authorised, I was listened to, the faults I were describing were noted in detail and the repair forms printed out and signed, very quickly.

I’m expecting a call from them any day now to let me know its ready to collect, so I’ll post an update as soon as I can check the quality of the work.