macbook pro

Apple's Photos for macOS taking forever to scan photos for People?

I recently migrated around ~50,000 photos and videos from Aperture to Photos (see my blog post on the process), and have also in a short amount of time upgraded my personal and work Mac laptops (both from older MacBook Airs to newer MacBook Pros).

On both of my new laptops—which were at least 3x faster than my older Airs—I noticed that Photos started completely fresh in its photo analysis for the 'People' album that shows everyone's faces. And after three weeks of seeing one of my CPUs stick around 100% all day every day (while plugged in), I started getting sick of this.

I would leave the Mac on all night, and check in the morning, and only 20-30 new faces would be recognized.

macOS Sierra Photos - People Scanned slow and stuck
Some days it seemed it would take forever...

I returned my 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

tl;dr: After two weeks of use, I returned my 2016 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and bought one with Function Keys instead. Read on for detailed Battery stress tests, performance tests, and an exploration of how Apple's botched this year's Pro lineup.

I've owned almost every generation of Mac desktop and laptop computers, and have survived many transitions: 680x0 to PowerPC, Classic Mac OS to OS X, to the PowerPC to Intel switch. I've also owned almost every generation of iPhone and iPad. I even maintain a huge list of all the Macs I've owned! I could justifiably be labeled an 'Apple fanatic'.

I use a Mac as my daily driver, and have rarely made a tech-related purchase I regretted. And I've never returned a Mac, until today.

Review: AUKEY USB-C Hub for New MacBook Pro

I have a 2016 MacBook Pro (without TouchBar), and for this Mac, or for a 12" MacBook, a hub/adapter with power delivery is absolutely essential for desk use, due to the limited number of USB-C/ThunderBolt 3 ports.

Eventually, I'd like to plug one ThunderBolt 3 cable into my MacBook Pro and get 4K video at 60Hz (through either USB-C, DisplayPort, or HDMI 1.2+), USB 3.0 for my existing USB 3 devices, and a power pass-through so I can get the full 61W of charge out of my Apple AC adapter.

AUKEY USB-C Hub - 3x USB 3.0 ports

Removing Sticker Residue from a MacBook Air (or another laptop)

I like putting stickers on my laptops, to make them a little more personal. But I hate removing the inevitable sticker residue after peeling off stickers before I sell or pass on my old laptop.

In this video, I'll show you my current best technique for getting residue off most metal and hard plastic surfaces:

Let me know if you know of any better ways that won't mar the surface or take hours!

A Tale of Two Apples: AirPods and the Touch Bar

Yesterday UPS delivered a BTO 2016 MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar (to replace my 2013 11" MacBook Air), and a set of AirPods (to replace three different headsets I use daily in my work as a remote employee).

AirPods on 2016 MacBook Pro 13" Touch Bar Safari address bar in Charging Case

The two products tell a different story about the company that makes them:

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

The MacBook Pro fails to 'thrill' in a way that no other Apple device I've made the conscious decision to purchase has.

Upgrading from a 2013 MacBook Air 11" (portability is king to me, but I needed more performance), the only major external difference is the retina display—something most other 'pro' Mac users have been enjoying since 2012. The Touch Bar itself is mostly useless to me for two reasons:

Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away — the Escape key

In Apple's 10.12.1 macOS update, the file 'ApplePaySplashSA.tiff' seems to spilled the beans on Apple's new MacBook Pro's (and possibly other laptops') contextual function row key replacement. I'm guessing this change won't make it's way to Apple's Magic Keyboard for some time... but for users of Apple's laptops, having a 'software-defined' escape key might be a pill that's hard to swallow.

Macbook Pro Escape Key missing OLED contextual keys

Replacing the hard drive in a (non-unibody) MacBook Pro

A friend of mine had an older 2008 MacBook Pro (the kind that does not have the modern 'unibody' construction), and he noticed it was getting slower. He upgraded the RAM to max it out at 4 GB (I think it might be able to go to 6 or 8 GB if needed). But a lot of things took a long time to do, even though the Mac had a 1.86 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor (not a slouch by any means).

He asked me to replace the hard drive with an SSD, so I did. I followed this iFixIt guide, and put in a new OCZ Agility 256GB SSD, which is way faster (especially for random access, like when you boot the computer or launch an app) than the old disk drive that I removed from the MacBook Pro.

Glitchy Video and Freezes on MacBook Pros

I've had a few friends report strange issues with their MacBook Pro laptops. Often they would report that the video signal on either an internal or external display becomes 'glitchy' or 'jumpy'. I initially thought it could be a connection issue, as I've seen many a VGA cable that becomes loose cause weird sync issues. However, they also reported that the cursor continued to work normally, moving around when they were moving the mouse/trackpad.

MacBook Pro Graphics Glitch
Doesn't look too nice...

I typically recommend people take these sorts of issues to the Genius Bar at an Apple Store, especially since the problem isn't easy to replicate when I take a minute or two to look at the laptop—often the problem only happens after constantly using the computer for more than half an hour.

However, I finally got to experience the problem first-hand, when my sister brought me her laptop and I used it for an evening of blogging and browsing. After half an hour or so, the screen started getting quite jittery (click through to view video and read more):

Computers are amazing

In a break from the typical kind of writing I do here, I'd like to mention a few thoughts I've had after reading some opinion pieces on the reparability (or lack thereof) of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Early PCs and Macs

The first computer I owned was a scrap-parts 386 DOS-based PC. I found a working 386 processor from a broken computer, scrounged 1MB of RAM from a couple dead motherboards, found a small hard drive and floppy drive, and slapped it all together inside a huge metal case. It ran great, except when one of the components failed—which seemed to happen on a monthly basis.

My First 386 PC - Gutted
My first PC - and all the tools necessary for PC repair!

While using early PCs, I had to deal with IRQ addresses, serial port driver conflicts, floppy drive cables malfunctioning, hard drive errors, and power supply fuses breaking... not to mention the myriad software incompatibilities with various bits of hardware (and I couldn't just Google "<device name> + <windows 3.1>"!).

I even spent quite a bit of time hardware hacking with the first few Macs I owned (a Mac IIci, a PowerBook 180c, and then a few other Mac desktops and towers—more history here).

Throughout high school and college, I helped a few hundred people repair or upgrade their computers, first through 'Jeff's Computer Service' (as a side/hobby job), and then through Midwestern Mac, LLC (this site's company). I loved working on computers, and still do! From the earliest computers until the past five or so years, most computers required some level of technical knowledge to be used effectively, and required repairs and upgrades at least once or twice a year.

But times have changed; I've since dropped 'computer repair' from the services I provide, because the only service requests are for Windows users who have found some way to clutter up their computer with strange search toolbars and other junkware.

Tips for Using a MacBook (Air, Pro) in Clamshell Mode

On this page, I will compile all the knowledge, tips and tricks I have for using a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air as a desktop replacement, in clamshell mode.

I've used a variety of Mac laptops in the past few years (starting with a PowerBook 100, moving on to a 190, then a 1400, a 5300c, a G3 Wallstreet, an iBook G3, iBook G4, PowerBook G4, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and back again to a MacBook Pro. With all of these laptops, I tended to use them most often at my desk. And what better way to sit at a desk on a computer than with a huge 20"+ display and a full keyboard and mouse?

Along the way, though, I've learned a lot about effectively using these Macs while their open next to the main monitor, and while they're closed—in 'clamshell' mode.

Convenience and Stands

One of the great advantages of having a laptop is being able to take it with you on a moment's notice for some mobile computing. However, many of the stands and I've used to help me get the most out of my laptop while at my desk made it very hard to grab the laptop and go.

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