Extended lease of life for old Macs

I have a 2010 Mac Book Pro (MBP) that I’d upgraded for every new release of OSX. Never had I done a fresh install until late last year. While it did help it’s performance it didn’t make a huge improvement. The PC was still sluggish.

A little bit of history. After only a short length of ownership I’d previously upgraded the ram to 8GB from 4GB (thanks to OWC). It had a fast for it’s time i7 2.66 GHz processor and a 7200 rpm 500GB hard drive. At the time I bought it, I’d never had a faster PC.

When I started looking at prices for a new Mac Book Pro I couldn’t justify spending almost $4000 for less storage then I currently had (256GB). Even more so when the current i7 chips in the MBP’s are over 2 years old. We still seem to be hanging out for Skylake i7’s.


So I started researching SSD drives and found the Crucial BX200 offered good value and performance from PBTech clocking in at 480GB for NZ$250. SSD storage has never been as cheap at under $2 per GB mark. Importantly the Crucial drive includes a spacer to pad out the drive in the Mac Books body.

I’d previously got a screwdriver to fit the Mac from the OWC ram upgrade a Phillips #00. You will also need a T6 Torx screwdriver also, I got mine from Bunnings for $6. Follow the guide on the Crucial support site as it walks you through step by step with images. It’s a easy install taking less than 30 minutes.

Once installed I suggest you do a clean install of El Capitan. I followed the Mashable guide and created a USB installer.

After a month the drive has given my MBP a new lease on life. It’s faster than it’s ever been, and the battery lasts longer now. Getting another hour, for a total of 5 hours compared to 4 previously.

If you have an old Mac without an SSD I’d recommend you install one, well worth the upgrade price.

The iPad whats it good for?

Recently I had to ask the question, what is an iPad good for? Can I get serious work done on it? While it’s easy to use can it do all the things I need to do as a designer, developer and blogger?

I’ve found the iPad good for watching Netflix or reading comics. To me it is a consumption device. It’s slightly easier banging out an email or blog post than on a phone. But not better than a MacBook.

For my line of work the iPad just doesn’t cut it. OSX is far superior for development and design than iOS and its current apps. I can’t imagine how convoluted it would be to run a web dev environment locally let alone possible.

My own iPad sits now on our coffee table wiped of my personal stuff ready for one of my kids to paw over.

The iPad as it currently is, just isn’t for me. Let’s see what Apple can do to sway me that the iPad is worth my attention.

Update 22/Mar/2016: After watching the event Apple had nothing new that would bring me back to the iPad. Software more like OSX or and approach like Windows 10 that doubles as a desktop and tablet OS would be the only thing that I believe could sway me.

Replacement “Duck Heads”

I got my replacement “duck heads” from the local Apple reseller today. Seven in total.They are still flying out the door as quick as they come in. Suggest you call first before turning up.

Was surprised to see that they are smaller than the original which will make plugging in to a wall socket easier than the previous round head ones.

Apple NZ replacement plug head
Apple NZ replacement plug head

Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the two prong Apple AC wall plug adapters designed for use in Continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Argentina and Brazil may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched.

It’s impressive to see Apple making safety a priority and redesigning a safer plug for its customers way back to 2003.

If you have any of the plug “duck heads” I suggest you call your local Apple Reseller or Apple themselves to get yours replaced.

More info here about the recall.

Setting up a NAS

For a long time I’ve wanted a NAS (Networked Attached Storage) but put off buying one due to the cost. For those that don’t know what a NAS is it is a small box that either plugs into your network/router via cable or wifi. It’s a hard drive that you can access on your network to copy or read files to, very much like a shared folder in your office. Some can even download torrents or act as a email server.

Network Attached Server (NAS) is a file-level computer data storage server connected to a computer network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients.

With the move to only laptops and mobile devices in our house, more storage is always in high demand. But I don’t want to manage another computer just to serve files.

So after being fed up with my Plex server needing a restart again as the old laptop it lived on is getting pretty creaky, I thought there must be a better way to manage media on our home network. Then it clicked, the router we’ve had for quite some time has the abilty to act as a basic NAS.

Plex organizes video, music and photos from personal media libraries and streams them to smart TVs, streaming boxes and mobile devices. It is a media player system and software suite consisting of many player applications for 10-foot user interfaces and an associated media server that organizes personal media stored on local devices.


When we switched to Vodafone they supplied a smart looking router in white with a LCD screen called a Vodafone Station. It has two USB ports and supports up to a 2 TB hard drive (which luckily I had previously attached to the old Plex server PC). I simply plugged it in to the router and fired up the settings page.


Go to the Sharing tab and make sure the Share All switch is green. If you click the downward facing arrow with the name of the Hard Drive it will show you the SMB share path. Now if you jump on your Mac from the Finder menu > Go > Connect to Server option you can type in the address shown. On a Windows machine open an explorer window and simply type address in.


So now you can connect to the drive and see it’s existing media and should be able to view, copy, delete and upload files to the NAS disk. To further make your NAS available by other servers I recommend you enable FTP as well.


FTP settings are located in the Advanced > Advanced Sharing tab. The FTP swith is hidden. To find it click on the downward arrow by the disk name and then click on the disk location path e.g. \vodafone.station\a This will show the User priveliges pane where you can enable the FTP setting. So how do we access our media?


Playing Video

Infuse is the player to use if you have iOS devices. Its a great standalone video player that can access shared folders (SMB) on a NAS, grab the metadata and play on device or via Airplay/Chromecast (if you upgrade to the pro version) on your TV. Version 4 has just be released for the new Apple TV app store and can access the shared files directly on your NAS, no need to Airplay. If you don’t have a new Apple TV you can still Airplay to older versions (or to a Google Chromecast).

Backing up Photos

I quickly took up Google Photos when it was released and haven’t looked back for my online photo storage (previously I’d used Flickr. Having access to your entire collection of photos for free with great search is pretty amazing. But there is one downside on the free tier, your photos are compressed (not that you can tell) but none the less you can’t download the proper originals.

So they say you should always have at least two backups, but how without having to sync your phone? Simple use CameraSync on iOS. It doesn’t support SMB shares but it does support FTP which is pretty easy to setup. I have mine set to backup when on wifi when I’m at home (thanks to the background location sync).


So for a pretty minimal outlay in cost for an external hard drive and if your lucky enough to have a router that supports it you too can have a home NAS. For further functionality of the Vodafone Station grab the manual.

Update iOS Sketch 3 Templates

I’ve been using Sketch 3 recently (after a long hiatus) and a great productivity tip for iOS 9 design is to take advantage of a GUI template. A GUI template has all the UI elements painstakingly recreated in Sketch, to help you supplement your own designs.

We have two great choices thanks to Meng To (of Design + Code) and a large group at Facebook. Both provide extensive GUI templates of all the most common UI elements for free.

Meng has create both an iPhone and iPad (including iPad Pro) GUI template in @1x resolution.

Facebook provide an installer for Sketch (DMG) to install the templates with a few clicks. The template comes in @2x resolution.

If you’d like to add these files or any other to the template option it’s as simple as heading to File > New From Template > Reveal in Finder.

Sketch Templates


This will show you the folder in Finder, simply drag your fresh templates into here. Once added you can quickly create a new Sketch file with all these elements available for you to use in your next iOS design.

Sketch Templates in Finder



Getting experience with Swift

The best way I’ve found to learn new programming languages is simply to start using them. So when I had an app idea I wanted to itch I decided to use Swift 2 and jump straight in.

Using the new Xcode 7 you don’t even need a developers license to install your own apps on your phone. Which is great for when you want to make a hobby app or are learning as the near $150 NZ fee was an expensive barrier to iOS development previously.

As a primer to get started I quickly skimmed over the iBooks swift programming guide and Meng To’s great book Design + Code which has great targeted videos and a guide to complete walkthrough of making an app (in Swift).

While I’ve only been using Swift a very short time I’m already loving these things about Swift:

  • Constants are first class citizens – I’m using “let” all the time rarely using “var”.
  • The emphasis on immutable data – not changing values can make some great simple code.
  • Syntax is more like C# and JavaScript – I’m not going to sugar coat it, but Objective C’s syntax is horrible and it never stuck with me. To use a syntax similar to C# and JavaScript is helping me be more productive with Swift sooner.
  • Not having to have header files is a great change, compared to Objective C.

All in all I’m really enjoying the language and finding it easy enough to get started and already feel proficient enough to build something bigger.

Siri Remote Only Available in Eight Launch Countries

This is stupid to say the least. The new remote being bluetooth and having volume control (let alone touch) for the TV is still an improvement over the previous Apple TV version. It looks like I’ll be sourcing an Australian model.

The new Siri Remote will, at launch, only be available in eight countries at launch: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. Apple says that the new Apple TV in all other countries will be packaged with the existing Apple TV Remote.

Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle

Federico Vitticci (@viticci) posted a great article on how the iPhone has helped him achieve a healthier lifestyle after cancer treatment. He outlines the apps that he currently uses to record his steps, calories, sleep patterns and even his coffee consumption.

I previously blogged about “self quantifying” before, and listed a few of apps I’ve used myself. It sure feels like the future when we can measure all these health stats, it will be interesting with the release of the Apple Watch what data we can gather.

Easy iPhone screenshots with OS X Yosemite

A great new feature added to QuickTime player with OS X Yosemite is the ability to record your iPhones screen, simply by plugging it into your Mac with a lightning cable and setting the recording source to your phone.

It’s very easy once your showing the screen on your desktop to take a screenshot.

  1. Simply focus the mouse cursor away from the Quicktime window and press Command-Shift-4 (⌘ + ⇧ + ④).
  2. Highlight the QuickTime window and press the spacebar. This will change the cursor to a camera.
  3. Then click the QuickTime window again to save a screenshot to your desktop.

This will save a nice PNG to your desktop with a tidy version of the status bar (time set to 9:41 AM and the carrier removed).

Screenshot of a clean status bar
A clean status bar with the carrier name removed and the time set to 9:41 am

For further details on capturing your iPhone screen check out the post on iDownloadBlog – How to record your iPhone’s screen and hide its carrier name with OS X Yosemite.