How I upgraded my MacBook Pro

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It’s not unusal for me to go a couple of years without upgrading my main notebook, the MacBook Pro. As a matter of fact before getting the latest 15″ unibody, I had skipped the last two revs. The updates just weren’t significant enough for me to go through the hassle of upgrading. This time I timed it right and I love my “Late 2008 15″ MacBook Pro.” Granted there’s the Glossy Display debate, but I’ve gotten used to it and have no problem with it. Seeing how I will probably be using this computer for at least another 18 months (unless some major breakthroughs happen), I wanted to max it out. When I got it, it came with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB 7200 RPM drive. Although I knew that I would eventually want more hard drive space, I wanted to wait until the 500GB hard drives came in a 7200 RPM model instead of 5400 RPMs. Well that day is today!

Seagate 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5″ Drive and MORE RAM!

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I checked with my good friends over at OWC and the NEW Seagate 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5″ Momentus drives were readily available. I thought the price was reasonable enough, so I ordered one. Since I was already going to be under the hood, I also wanted to take this opportunity to upgrade the RAM. Although Apple originally sold this MacBook Pro with a max of 4GB of RAM, it can actually address 6GB of RAM (the 17″ and the early 2009 models can do 8GB of RAM). I originally had two 2GB DIMMs installed, so this would mean replacing one of them with a 4GB DIMM to get to 6GB of RAM, which again is the max that this MacBook Pro will address. So I orded the 4GB DIMM also.

My installation procedure

I have 2-3 utilities that I rely on when it comes to upgrading to a new hard drive. If I’m upgrading to a faster drive of the same capacity or larger capacity, but not partioned I use CopyCatX. CopyCatX “duplicates” the drive to the new drive sector by sector. This is much faster than traditional cloning and creates an EXACT duplicate of the drive. The app has the technology to expand the duplicate to take into account the space available on a larger drive. However, if the original drive is partitioned AND the new drive is larger, you’ll end up with the difference in space as an unusable partition. So in my case since I have a BootCamp (Windows XP) partition AND I was going to a larger drive, using CopyCatX was out of the question.

I installed the new drive and the RAM

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I took the cover off the bottom of my MacBook Pro and there it was! The battery and the hard drive are right there in plain sight. Asside from the original MacBook, this has got to be the most drive accessible notebook that Apple has ever created. All my previous drive upgrades were a pain in the neck. I was able to easily figure out how to take the drive out. It was actually only one very small phillips screw holding the bracket in place. I then had to remove the 4 pins from the drive itself that Apple uses to hold the drive in securely. These require a very small torx screw driver. Luckily, I had the necessary tools.

What I didn’t see was the RAM! Apple usually does it the other way around. Usually the RAM is in plain sight and the hard drive is buried. However, this time the RAM was no where to be found. Rather than guess at the location, I remembered seeing installation videos on the OWC site. So I went to another computer and watched the short clip to discover the the RAM was under the main cover which was held in place by 8 screws. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was did it matter if the new 4GB DIMM was in the lower slot or the upper slot. I didn’t think it would matter, so I put the 4GB DIMM in place of the 2GB DIMM that was in the upper slot. I then put it all back together.

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SuperDuper! was next

I took the original 320GB drive and put it in an external OWC Mercury On-The-Go Firewire 800 case and connected it. I also had my bootable backup drive. I decided that it would be cleaner to boot from the backup drive and clone the original drive to the new one. Since the 15″ MacBook Pro only has one Firewire 800 port, I had to daisy chain the two externa drives. Just to be on the safe side I plugged the OWC drive into the AC outlet to make sure there was enough power to run both external drives. I then ran Disk Utility from the backup drive to format the new internal drive. Next it was time to clone over the Mac partition onto the new drive. I fired up SuperDuper! and cloned over my Mac partition on my original 320GB drive (the drive I just took out) onto the new drive. This clone took about 3.5 hours for close to 240GB of data. I then booted from the New drive and everything was working so far.

Time to run the BootCamp Assistant and Winclone

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Now that I was booted from the new drive it was time to partition it again for BootCamp. I fired up the BootCamp Assistant and partitioned the drive slightly larger than the old partition I had (64GBs for the new one). Now in order to get my old Windows XP partiton over to the new partition I had to make an image of it first using Winclone. Winclone is a Mac app that lets you backup and restore a Windows partition. Since I had plenty of room on my new internal drive, I fired up Winclone and imaged my old partition (from the now external 320GB drive). The compressed image was only 24.51 GBs. I’ll move it another drive when I’m done as a backup. Once the image was completed, I click right over to the restore tab and restored it to the NEW BootCamp partition that I had created earlier.

The Bottom Line

You can never have too much RAM and too much storage. If you’re going to use your existing computer for a while, then having more room and the capacity to run more/larger apps is always welcomed. Also since we’re going to see more and more 64 bit apps coming in the future, going beyond 4GB of RAM is going to be worth it. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 every day and it’s already 64 bit enabled. All I had to do was do a Get Info on it and turn off the “Open in 32bit mode” checkbox. I feel that this upgrade was worth the time and money.

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The upgrades cost:

500GB 2.5″ 7200 RPM Seagate Momentus Drive: $157.99

4GB DIMM $329.99.

If you need an external drive case to put your old drive in, this is the Firewire 800 one I used. I already had it, so I didn’t have to buy it for this job.  It’s $79.99. If you don’t care about Firewire 800, they make both Firewire 400 ($49.99) and USB 2.0 ($27.95) cases that cost less. They also sell the drive and cases as bundles. So you might save a few bucks buying them together.

Also if you don’t have the tools, you can get this installation tool kit for $17.95

I’ve dealt with OWC for years and never had a problem. Great company!

My favorite blogs

I frequent a lot of websites and blogs on the continuous quest for information and technology snippets. I truly do learn something new every single day! Although I visit a lot of websites in a week’s time, there are some that I visit almost every day. They are the blogs of my friends, colleagues and industry experts. So I thought I would share them with you! Actually I’ve been sharing them with you all along, but you may not have noticed. So I’m going to call them out today!

My Favorite Blogs

Actually if you just scroll down this very page near the bottom left, you’ll not only find the links to my favorite blogs, but also my favorite websites too. By the way, be sure to check out my buddy Larry Becker’s New Blog. He and I talk tech all the time and I’ve gaind several insights from him throughout the years. Most of these folks also have Twitter accounts, so I invite you to follow them on Twitter too for more up to the minute thoughts and discoveries.

Adobe updates Premiere Pro CS4 to 4.1

If you’re into video editing you should check out the latest enhancements in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.1. One of the main things that I love about Premiere Pro CS4 (PR) is that it can edit the AVCHD footage from my Canon VIXIA HF10 camcorder natively! That’s right! No transcoding (converting to another format first). As far as I can tell, Premiere Pro CS4 is the only native AVCHD editor on the Mac and one of only a couple on Windows. The whole advantage of going tapeless with your camera is so that you can have immediate access to the footage. Well if you have to convert the footage first (sometimes taking longer than real-time) then you’ve lost the advantage of the tapeless workflow. Now not only can you edit all the most popular video formats out there, you can even edit footage right off a video DVD with the new .VOB file support! If you’re a Final Cut Pro or AVID user, no worries. You can bring your projects right into Premiere Pro CS4.

A good thing just got better

Adobe just released updates to Premiere Pro CS4 4.1 (Mac | Win), After Effects CS4 9.0.2 (Mac | Win)and the Adobe Media Encoder CS4 4.1 (the direct update link wasn’t available yet, but this update should install via your Adobe Updater app):

  • Additional support for REDCODE (please visit RED support for additional details).
  • Performance improvements to project load time.
  • Improvements to AVCHD support.
  • Performance enhancements for DV/HDV playback.
  • Support for Avid captured DV or IMX footage. (Please see www.adobe.com/go/kb409079 for additional information).
  • Export media to a still format now bypasses the AME render queue.
  • Enabled .VOB extension support. (yes this means editing the footage right off a Video DVD!)
  • Third-party support

The New Adobe Media Encoder CS4 4.1 – once you’re done editing your master piece, you’ll be happy to know that the update to the Adobe Media Encoder renders out your final video about twice as fast (in my testing) than the 4.0.2 version did. Also there are new presets for YouTube HD Widescreen for sharing your video on social networking sites.

See it Live! If you’re in Michigan, see me demo the new enhancements to the Adobe Production Premium CS4 suite at the next MIVA meeting on June 3rd.

Can’t make it to my demo? If you’re not going to be in the Michigan area on June 3rd, my buddy Dave Helmly recorded an extensive video showing the new features off. You can view it here now or you can grab it from my Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast to view it later:
[flv:http://media.libsyn.com/media/cspodcast/podcast-PR-Premiere4.1.mp4 625 353]

Buy or Upgrade to Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 Today!

Premiere Pro CS4 for Mac | Premiere Pro CS4 for Windows

Premiere Pro CS4 Upgrade for Mac | Premiere Pro CS4 Upgrade for Windows

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium for Mac | Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium for Windows

Adobe CS4 Production Premium for Mac Upgrade | Adobe CS4 Production Premium for Windows Upgrade

iPhone App of the Week – Midway

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Last week I put out a request for an app that I thought would be great to have. My idea was to have an app called “Meet me halfway”. The app would figure out where you are and then let you choose a contact from your list and figure out the midpoint between you both and propose a restaurant, bar, park, etc. to meet at. Just as suspected, one reader of this blog came through again! Blog reader “Brian” pointed me towards “Midway.”

Just what I was looking for

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Midway does just what I was looking for and even takes it up a notch. You can either turn on the Location Services feature to figure out where you are or simply use the Contacts in your list. Once you choose two Contacts or your location and a Contact, you then choose what type of place you want to meet at. Your choices are Restaurant, Bar, Hotel, or Cinema. There is an Add.. feature that lets you key in your own category.

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Since the feature uses the built-in Google Maps app for the results, chances are you can have a broad list of categories. I added “Park” and it worked fine.

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Midway takes it up a notch by doing one thing that I hadn’t even considered. It lets you choose multiple contacts. This way if you and a few of your friends were meeting up, you can pick a place that’s in the middle of all of you. This way you can all travel as equal of a distance as possible to make it fair. Once you pick a spot you can get directions to that spot for yourself and you can share that location with everyone else via email. Perfect!

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The Bottom Line

This is a great app! If you need to pick meeting locations for friend get togethers or eBay/Craig’s List transaction completions, this is your app. Speaking of eBay/Craig’s List. My only feature request (which I’ve already contacted the developer about) would be to have a feature that lets you also key in an address manually. I love being able to use the addresses in my Contacts, but I would also like to key in an address for the person that I’m only going to meet that one time or if I’m meeting a friend/relative and they aren’t coming from home/work. Otherwise, this app rocks! Midway is $1.99 and you can download it here from the App Store. Thanks Brian for the great find!

Shooting tethered to an HDTV

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As many of you know, when I’m in the studio I’m almost always shooting tethered to my laptop right into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Although I’ve got it down to a science, there is still a lag of a few seconds (doesn’t sound like a long time I know, but wait until you’re the one waiting) from the time I press the shutter until the RAW file is transferred via USB 2 to a folder (via Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2) and then imported into Lightroom and rendered on screen at nice large size. It’s actually pretty amazing that all that happens in just a few seconds.

See my laptop set up here.

However, nothing is faster than plugging your camera up to a TV monitor and shooting. You see the shots instantly! You see them nice and big because chances are the TV screen is going to be much larger than your laptop screen (unless you’re using a desktop computer and larger display).

I’ve always wanted to start using an HDTV instead, especially since both my Nikon D300 and Nikon D700 DSLR cameras have HDMI outputs built right in. However, the question has always been “WHICH HDTV DO I BUY?” I’ve experimented with some smaller models and the problem has always been, what I see on the HDTV doesn’t match closely enough to the actual image. In some cases the color can be way off. In other cases the image on screen is much crisper than the actual photo. All of this can lure you into a false sense of security that your final image will look like this, good or bad. That’s why shooting into Lightroom has always been where I’ve been most comfortable because I know what I see in Lightroom is what I actually shot. After all, it’s in the computer and being shown on the display that I’ll be using from that point on to review, adjust and retouch the photos.

JVC introduces a New HDTV targeted specifically at photographers

The New 42″ XIVIEW LCD TV is a 1080p set that has one thing that most HDTV’s don’t have and that is the Adobe RGB color gamut. It also has 52 manual picture quality adjustments, which means that you stand a much better chance at getting an image on screen that looks like the image that will ultimately wind up on your computer display. Here’s what JVC has to say about it:

But here’s what truly distinguishes the LT-42WX70: Its color gamut is capable of encompassing 100% of the sRGB color space and offers a coverage rate of 96% for Adobe RGB, making it possible to faithfully reproduce, as an industry first, the striking colors, subtle nuances and unique ambience of D-SLR photographs on a 42″ Class screen. The monitor also offers a selection from one of the six preset modes that are most suitable for the source such as Photo PRO and Theater.

OK, now what?

Sounds great! However, here are a couple of things that keep from running out and getting one today. First of all the list price on this baby is $2,399.95. That’s a sizable investment for a guy who only does this as a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a gearhead and I have no problem spending on the gear that will make a difference, but ouch, that’s a lot of coin to shave “seconds” off my workflow. Yeah, I know that the seconds add up, but again this is a hobby. The second thing is that I would want the option of rotating this display in either a portrait or landscape orientation. That means that I either need to find a special mount or build it myself. Ideally I’d want this on a table or cart that can be wheeled around. I could wall mount it, but that would be just too limiting. So I would need to find or make the right setup for it first.

The Bottom Line: This is a huge step in the right direction! I’d like to see some smaller options too. I actually don’t need a 42″ display. Ideally a 32″ or even a 22″ would be fine. Will this display be near the top of my wishlist? Absolutely! Now that JVC has created the HDTV photographers want, will someone step up and finish it by creating the stands, tables, wallmounts, etc. that rotate and have cable management. While we’re at it and while I’m assigning a list of things to do (manufacturer/invent), how about some wireless tethered shooting methods that are fast enough to handle RAW files and are built-in or easily added to DSLRs? I can only dream…

My favorite USB Flash Drive is back and better!

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Just about everyone in the computer field carries around some sort of USB thumb drive. They’re great for transferring files back and forth and sometimes more convenient or faster than setting up a network share or emailing attachments. Before getting my USBCard a few years back, I used to always run into a situation where I needed a USB thumb drive, but wouldn’t have one handy. It would be on my key chain and my keys wouldn’t be nearby. I’d have one in my computer bag, which would just so happen to be back in my hotel room. The one thing I almost always have with me is my wallet! So when I ran across the USBCard by Freecom.com. I knew that this was the one for me. I’ve had it in my wallet ever since.

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People are always amazed when I pull it out of my wallet

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Whenever I go to use my USBCard people are always amazed by the size of it. I end up doing a 2 minute demo/show and tell every time. Of course being a gadget guy I’d want to recommend this solution to everyone that was interested. However, the problem was that they were out of stock for months. Well the good news is that not only are they back in stock, they also come in larger capacities. I have the 2GB model. Now they come in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB models. They also now come in both Black and White. As you might have guessed, I’ve already ordered the 8GB model to replace my 2GB model (you can never have too much space). There is no telling how long these will be in stock this time around. So if you’re interested, I’d suggest ordering one today.

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The USBCard starts at $16.90 for the 1GB card. The 2GB card is $22.50, the 4GB card is $29.00 and the 8GB card is $45.00.

Order them here.

WD My Passport Studio Portable Hard Drive Review

Here’s another video review. This time I take a look at portable external hard drives. In particular I look at the NEW Western Digital My Passport Studio 500GB Portable Hard Drive and how much of an improvement it is over my older Passport Studio drive.

The WD My Passport Studio drives come preformatted for Mac but will work on Windows PCs too. You can use it as a bootable drive for either Power PC or Intel based Macs. It can also be used with Apple’s Time Machine for backups. This drive is bus powered over Firewire or USB 2 connections.

In this video I mentioned the Synchrotech Firewire 400 to 800 adapter.

The 500GB 5,400 RPM WD My Passport Studio Drive goes for $169.99 at B&H Photo and Video.

I’m starting to see more and more Western Digital drives around my office. So far no failures to date!

CORRECTION: In the video I stated that the OWC On-The-Go drives were not bus powered over USB. I was wrong (working off an old experience). They are!

CORRECTION/UPDATE #2: Blog reader Gary reminded me that this drive is not bootable over Firewire.My primary use for this drive is data transfer and storage, so while I could use it to boot over USB in a pinch, this would not be my drive of choice if I needed to boot over Firewire or needed to use it as a primary drive.

Memorial Day – A Time for Thanks and Remembrance

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women that currently serve or have served in our US Military Service! Your continued sacrifices to protect our freedoms are greatly appreciated. We are able to spend this day with our friends and families because of what you do!

As we observe this solemn day, we must remember all the brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives in the service of our great country.

Again, Thank You!

Terry White

iPhone App of the Week – Mactracker

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This one is definitely going to have more appeal to the Mac users out there than the Windows PC users. However, Windows users stay tuned, I’ve got a reason why you might want this too.

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Mactracker has been a long standing indispensable reference tool on the Mac to look up the specs for all the various Mac hardware that Apple has released over the years. It’s a great tool especially when you’re in the market for a used Mac or selling your Mac and you or your customer wants the specs. Well now that tool comes to your iPhone or iPod touch. Just like the desktop version, Mactracker for the iPhone is organized by category and then by Mac type.

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So lets say you wanted to know the specs on the 20″ iMac G5 with iSight camera. You would first scroll up to Desktops (assuming you had scrolled down to see what was there) and then you’d tap on iMac. There you see every iMac model since the first Bondi Blue introduced back in 1998.

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Once you scrolled down to iMac G5 (20-Inch iSight) and tapped on it, you would then see all the important information. Things like when it was introduced and when it was discontinued. Processor speed, latest Mac OS that it could run, maximum amount of RAM that you could put in it and all the info about Expansion, Ports, Graphics, and even the famous audible “Startup Chime” feature.

Mactracker, it’s not just about Macs

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Let’s say you are a Windows user, but you have an iPhone, iPod, AirPort Base Station, Apple Display, or Apple TV. You guessed it! That stuff is in there too. So if you were selling or buying any other Apple gear, this would be a useful tool to have.

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The Bottom Line

Having Mactracker on my iPhone is GREAT! I love the instant access to the specs about machines that I’ll never remember or care to remember. Although the App works as advertised and best of all it’s FREE, like most things there is some room for improvement. I was actually quite surprised that there was no option to email the specs page of a specific machine. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the desktop app doesn’t have this either, but it seems like such a natural for the iPhone version. I’d also like to see an “I have that” section. This way I could go through the database finding all my gear and mark it as a Favorite or “I have that” and then whenever, I wanted/needed to know the specs of a Mac or piece of Apple gear that I owned I could just go right to that section. Otherwise this app is great! I highly recommend it!

Get Mactracker today from the App Store as a Free download.

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P.S. If you’ve ever wondered about some of the apps Apple features in their iPhone TV ads, they’ve put theme all in one spot for you. Check them out here.

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