Monday March 10, 2014
The Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS) built into 2005 and later Mac notebooks can protect the hard drive from sudden and catastrophic events, such as the laptop slipping through your fingers and crashing to the ground.
The SMS system in a portable Mac is turned on by default. That's a good thing for most Mac users, but it may present a problem for some of you, depending on how you use your Mac.
The SMS system is very helpful for hard drives, but not so much for Macs equipped only with an SSD, because SSDs don't have moving parts that can be damaged by a sudden impact. So, having your Mac detect an impending impact and shut down the drive is mostly a waste of time. In some cases, it can have an effect on performance, causing stalls and spinning beach balls while your Mac suspends writes and reads from the drive as it waits on the SMS to say it's OK to proceed.
Even if your Mac is using a hard drive, there may still be times when turning off the SMS system is advantageous. To find out more, and to learn how to enable or disable the SMS system, take a look at:
How to Manage Your Mac's Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS)
Sunday March 9, 2014
Those of you who are looking for a desktop Mac will be glad to see that the Apple refurb store not only has iMacs in stock, but also Mac minis and Mac Pros. The Mac minis are always popular and they tend not to last too long in the store, so if you've been waiting to buy one, I suggest you snap it up quickly.
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.
Best Deals of the Week **
This week's outstanding deal is a 2012 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The Apple refurb store lists this desirable notebook for $1,059.00, a savings of over $440.00 off its original retail price.
Apple Refurbished Store
Quantities are limited, so if any of these tickle your fancy, be fast on the trigger to make a purchase.
- 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $849.00
- 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $1,019.00
- 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $929.00
- 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $1,099.00
- 2012 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.5 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $1,059.00 **
- 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.0 GHz Intel Dual-Core i7 with 256 GB SSD and Intel Iris Pro Graphics: $1,669.00
- 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.3 GHz Intel Dual-Core i7 with 512 GB SSD and Intel Iris Pro Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics: $2,19.00
- 2012 Mac mini (Review) 2.3 GHz Quad-Core i7 with 1 TB hard drive and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $679.00
- 2012 Mac mini (Review) 2.3 GHz Quad-Core i7 with dual 1 TB hard drive, OS X Server and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $849.00
- 2012 21.5-inch iMac (Review) 2.9 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics: $1,199.00
- 2012 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.2 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX: $1,549.00**
- 2013 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.2 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775MX: $1,529.00
- 2013 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.4 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775MX: $1,699.00
- 2012 Mac Pro (Review) 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Xeon with 1 TB hard drive and ATI Radeon HD5770 graphics: $2,139.00
- 27-inch Thunderbolt Display 2560x1440 resolution: $799.00
- 27-inch Apple Cinema Display 2560x1440 resolution: $799.00
- 2013 AirPort Extreme with simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $169.00
- 2013 AirPort Time Capsule with 2 TB drive and simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $255.00
iPad - Fourth Generation (Review)
- 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad 4 $529.00
- 128 GB Wi-Fi iPad 4 $619.00
- 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $479.00
- 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $559.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $649.00
- 128 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad 4 $729.00
iPad mini (Review)
- 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad mini $419.00
- 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $359.00
- 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $449.00
- 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $529.00
Want to find out more about Apple refurbished Macs? Take a look at the process my wife and I experienced when we took the Apple refurbished store for a spin.
Saturday March 8, 2014
SeisMac from Suitable Systems can turn a 2005 or later PowerBook, MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air into a portable seismograph. SeisMac makes use of the Sudden Motion Sensor that Apple built into Mac notebooks from 2005 on. The sensor was originally devised as a method of protecting a portable Mac's drive from drops and bumps, but developers quickly made use of the sensors for apps that Apple never dreamed of. One of those apps is SeisMac, your own personal seismograph and cat detector (more on the cat detector part later).
SeisMac uses a moving strip graph to display the three-axis accelerometer's output in real time. If you combine SeisMac with SeisMaCalibrate, a free calibration app, you end up with a more accurate seismograph, one that would make an excellent educational tool, or a fun app to show your friends.
As for the bit about SeisMac also being a cat detector, once I calibrated SeisMac, I left it running on a table by a window. When I went back to look at the graph data, there were quite a few readings that looked like something kept bumping into it. I knew SeisMac would easily detect me walking nearby, but I never thought it would also detect our 15-lb cat as he sauntered around the house.
So, if you're in an active earthquake area, live near a volcano, or have cats, dogs, or kids, turn your Mac into a seismograph and have some fun.
SeisMac is free.
See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.
Friday March 7, 2014
This weekend's Mac DIY guide is all about making space; free space on your drive, that is. One of the most common problems I hear about is a Mac that has started running a bit more slowly.
Courtesy of Apple
At first it's just a bit of sluggishness, sometimes only when starting an app or booting up the Mac. After it progresses a bit, the slowness can turn to outright stalls and spinning beach balls.
There are many possible culprits, but if I had to put one of them at the top of the list, it would be free drive space, or more accurately, the lack of it. The Mac needs free space on its startup drive; the more, the merrier. Keeping files that you haven't used in years, apps that you forgot were installed, or pictures that you have three copies of isn't really helping you or your Mac.
That's why this weekend's Mac DIY is all about how to get rid of files you don't need, as well as why to get rid of them.
Let's start with the why:
Mac Performance Tips - Keep Plenty of Free Disk Space
That's the easy part. The "how" can be very time consuming; it's also a lot of work. You can go through the drive folder by folder, paying particular attention to the /Applications folder and your user account's home folder, routing out the unneeded files. My biggest source of glut tends to be in the Downloads folder, but you may find your Pictures, Music, or Movies folder to be equally stuffed.
There are a number of apps that can help you find files that are taking up space. Over the years, I've added a few of these apps to Tom's Mac Software Picks. You may find some of them helpful for cleaning up your drive.
DaisyDisk: Tom's Mac Software Pick
OmniDiskSweeper: Tom's Mac Software Pick
WhatSize: Tom's Budget Software Pick
CleanMyMac: Tom's Budget Software Pick
CleanApp 3: Tom's Budget Software Pick