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What Happens When a Mac Battery Goes Bad.

June 19, 2019 Comments off

While at the Clinic Monday night, we looked at a 2010 MacBook Pro (Core2 Duo) whose battery had gone bad – literally blown up, in fact. In the process it destroyed the trackpad and other parts inside.

The problem with swelling in 13″ MacBook Pros last year (without the trackbar) caused Apple to agree to replace the batteries for free. Apple claimed it was a component issue that – upon going bad – would cause the battery to swell.


UPDATE: MacWorld reports “Apple on Thursday (June 20) announced a voluntary recall for owners of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. If you bought such a laptop between September 2015 and February 2017, it could have a battery that is at risk of overheating. Apple will replace the battery in these laptops for free.”


But clearly the problem of a swelling lithium ion battery is not new. We have seen many over the years at theMacRecycleclinic.

Here are a few photos to show just how bad this problem can be (again on an older Mac in this example.)

The inside of the 2010 MacBook Pro shows there’s extensive damage to the trackpad.

The good news is that it can be repaired – but it can be costly if you take it to Apple or other Mac shop. When MRC does it, we have to take parts from another non-working laptop of the same generation and switch out the affected parts. If Apple or another company did the repair, it would likely use new OEM parts – a costly endever. In fact, it might be better to just get a new laptop (which is usually what is recommended).

But if you see a swelling in your Mac laptop under the trackpad and the computer is not acting properly, look at the battery as a possible culprit. In that case, make sure you have a backup of your data and unplug it from the wall until you can get it to the Apple store (or the Mac Recycle Clinic if you’re in the DMV) or third party repair facility.

What has your experience been with swelling batteries – and did you have the laptop repaired or just replaced? Let us know in comments!

REPAIR UPDATE – June 24, 2019

Given what this MacBook Pro looked like, it was hard to imagine it would be worth the repair effort. But repaired it has been. It is what MacRecycleClinic does!

WHAT WE DID

  • Replaced the battery
  • Replaced appropriate cables and hinges
  • Replaced the trackpad

And yes – it took two to three OTHER MB Pros to make this one whole again. But whole it is… and now it’s ready to go back out into the world and help a family or student who might not have access to a computer!

Early i7 MacBook Pro Graphic Problems & Solutions

June 17, 2019 Comments off
It doesn’t take much searching to find lots of articles about graphic problems on a 2011-2013 MacBook Pro.

We get questions. Good ones, in fact, about all sorts of Mac problems.

Recently, the owner of an early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro with an i7 processor was experiencing some disastrous graphics issues.

These machines (15″ and 17″) offered two graphics processing units (GPUs). One is the graphics processor that’s part of the Intel CPU. The second graphics chip is made by either AMD or NVIDIA and was designed to provide an additional graphics performance boost for the laptop.

The problem is that the AMD/NVIDIA GPU has what Adam Barscheski of Realmacmods says is a “tragic defect” that causes that i7 to either have lost its video or soon will.

As our MacRecycleClinic laptop Guru explains, “The supplemental video chip was incorrectly soldered to the motherboard and when the cold solder connections separate, boink goes your video.”

As he wrote the owner, “There are some specialty shops that will try resoldering the video chip.  Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t last very long. The clinic has lots of i7 machines with your new woes.”

Solutions

There are frankly no good solutions to this problem, but here’s what MRC is recommending:

  • Search the web for sites that claim to resolder the
    video chip.  Good ones insist on removing the
    motherboard, removing the chip and reinstalling;
  • Go to the MacMedics website and see what they say
    about the problem;
  • Realmacmods offers one possible way to fix the video issue by disabling the AMD/NVIDIA GPU so that only the Intel GPU is used;
  • Find an older i5 (2013-2015) machine with retina display if your work does not require intensive graphics/video support. This series of machines does not have supplemental video problems.
  • Look for a newer i7 on Craigslist or eBay that did not experience these problems.

A Crazier Solution…

A quick search on YouTube found this video from HotshotTec – who basically took the MacBook apart and COOKED the motherboard. It worked for him, but it’s not something you should consider unless you are very comfortable taking apart – and putting back together – a Mac laptop. But the process is certainly interesting:

If you’ve had this problem – and found a solution – let us know and we’ll share it here!

Access Podcasts from iTunes or Your Apple Device

June 10, 2019 Comments off
Image result for podcast free graphics
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay.com. (Labeled for noncommercial use.)

Readers: I was recently asked about how to find and subscribe to Podcasts. Having written this tutorial for one of our MacRecycleClinic patrons, I decided to share it with you as well with a little editing.

First off: Podcasts (both audio and video) are easy to use and to watch or listen to! Apple has a great resource page for you here.

iPhone or iPad Podcast Players

Apple’s Podcasts App is part of the programs you get with a new or refurbished iPhone and is worth checking out.

That said, there are also a ton of third party Podcast players for your iDevice. Just check out the iOS App Store. As for me, I use Overcast – a free download. But because many of you have your own favorites, just let me know and I’ll be happy to include them here.

Podcasts on iTunes

If you want to access Podcasts from your Mac, then iTunes is the way to go:

Open iTunes:

From the menu on the left (“Music” is there by default) – choose “Podcasts” from the dropdown menu. (Note we will focus on AUDIO Podcasts here but videos are similar.)

If this is our first time, you’ll see:

Click “Continue” to get to the subscribe/download page (This is what mine looks like – yours might be different.)

Choose “Store” to get to the Podcast store (don’t worry – they are virtually all free).

Focus on Podcasts:

Look through the latest Podcast selections or go to the Search Box look for Podcasts you might like. As an example, let’s look for Freakonomics:

As you can see – there are a number of choices but the one we want is the first one – Freakonomics Radio. Choose that (click on the graphic) to see the FR page all by itself.

Note you can cursor down though each selection, choose it,  and a play button will automatically appear on the left. It can be played there immediately with a click.

If you want to subscribe, just click on the “Subscribe” button on the left under the program logo. That means iTunes will download all the old episodes and any new ones as well as they are posted. You can delete any or all of them later, download only a few, etc. as we’ll see.

If you want to download the Podcast to play later, just choose  “Get” on the right side to download that particular Podcast. We’ll choose the second one Once you’ve chosen “Get” – you’ll see a small download icon on the top right showing your progress – it’s pretty quick. 

Choosing “Unplayed” at the top menu will show all the Podcasts that are downloaded but yet to be played.

OR choose “Library” from the top menu (under the Apple logo), select the downloaded podcast and play. Note it also says “Not Subscribed” in this case (as I am not going to subscribe at this point).

See that gear icon on the right? It will let you choose to subscribe to the Podcasts (from this page) as well if you like, and make other settings…

Note the blue circle with the three dots at the top right- you can click on it for a dropdown box to subscribe as well.

OR if you highlight one of the Podcasts, you’ll also see three dots where the time listing was on the right. If also gives you many choices as to what to do with the Podcast.

You should make sure to subscribe if you like the program. Looks like a lot but it goes pretty quickly once you decide what you’d like to listen to. 

Podcasts are a growing part of the online experience and cover just about every interest. Like listening to the radio, you can listen anywhere at anytime. And there are lots of Podcasts for kids too – a great help on long vacation trips!

There Are Many Solutions To Remembering Passwords

January 12, 2019 Comments off

A password manager is something you must have these days to help remember all the passwords you accumulate with Apps and websites. This is true whether you have an older Mac/PC or a brand new one. It’s really a matter of protecting yourself and all your data.

There are other Apps that will work for both Macs and PCs and can be synced across all platforms, including mobile devices. On my Mac, phone and tablet, I use a program called Wallet by Acrylic Software ($).

Wallet Password App for Mac

But a quick Google search offers many more suggestions.

Note that most WILL cost you some money to purchase…

IF you don’t want to use an App, Amazon (as an example) offers a number of alternatives, including a separate “password vault” electronic device separate from your computer/phone:

Electronic Password Vault.

Prefer paper?

Password (paper) Book Organizer.

Your browser will also be more than happy to save passwords for you as well and automatically fill in the information for you. If you are squeemish about that, just turn it off:

Turn Off Autofill in Your Browser.

Hope this helps. Our world is so full of the need to keep things secure (as much as we can!) so having a secure App to help along the way is a good thing.

It’s Time To Add Antivirus Software To Protect Your Mac

July 6, 2018 Comments off

Title

(Silver Spring, Md.)  It’s been a long time coming, but it is now time for you to seriously consider adding antivirus software for your Mac.

The reason is actually very simple. Our Macs have been around for a long time, grown in popularity and numbers and hackers have taken notice. Over the past few years, there have been increasing reports of vulnerabilities in the Mac OS (that Apple may or may not fix), security issues, ransomware and much more.

So we’re at a point here at MacRecycleClinic where we’ve decided to add a free version of Avast (rated as the best free antivirus software for the Mac by MacWorld) to every machine we refurbish for donation.  I would strongly recommend you read their article (or search online – there are many more) and make a decision for yourself. As you’ll see, the best paid programs offer everything from malware protection to ransomware monitoring and much more.

Macworld author Glenn Fleishman notes that “antivirus software should be able to neutralize a threat before it can begin wreaking havoc. That means preventing the download, installation, or execution of malicious software.”

For our purposes, Avast will do a fine job as freeware on our refurbished Macs. If the user (the person or family to whom we donate a machine) wants more protection, they can either move to the paid version of Avast or try one of the other companies that sell antivirus software (Avast Pro is $59.99 per year.)

I will note that the U.S. Government has banned one company selling antivirus software – Kaspersky Labs – because of “fears of Russian intelligence.”

Read more…

Must-Read Articles

October 5, 2017 Comments off

From time-to-time, we’ll post links to articles in this file you will likely find of particular interest. Send us a link (in comments)  if there’s something you feel our readers need to know about!

 

Keranger: the first “in-the-wild” ransomware for Macs. But certainly not the last.

Macworld.com

“Keranger was the first – but now experts see ransomware-as-a-service that enables interested ‘customers’ to purchase Mac-hostile ransomware.”

KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerabilities and the Mac OS/iOS Universe

MacRumors.com

“Apple has already patched serious vulnerabilities in the WPA2 Wi-Fi standard that protects many modern Wi-Fi networks, the company told iMore’s Rene Ritchie this morning.“

Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense (Kaspersky Labs)
Wall Street Journal

The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab…

Critical Code in Millions of Macs Isn’t Getting Apple’s Updates
Wired

Researchers dug into the deep-seated, arcane code in Apple machines known as EFI, and found it’s often dangerously neglected. Read the full story

Testing Your Mac’s Hardware & RAM

October 2, 2017 Comments off

screen-shot-2017-09-30-at-10-51-28-am1.png

Photo: Public Domain via Google Search.

Updated Oct. 3, 2017 to include Micromat’s Atomic software:

SILVER SPRING, Md. (Sept. 29) We’ve been looking at ways to test computer RAM from the Macs we get donated to MacRecycleClinic.

Most of the time, we turn on the machine to see if it works. If there’s a problem (and many times there are any number of issues), we pull the memory and plug it into a new Mac of the same vintage and hope it works. Sometimes the Mac will flash it’s “on-off” light on the front to say something was not quite right (sometimes you have to insert the same memory in pairs). But how can you actually test RAM? There are three basic ways to do that – the expensive way, the 3rd party software way and the inexpensive (Apple provided) way.

    1. You can go with a hardware solution – purchasing a RAM testbed that will check out the memory chips and provide a robust report. But the solution is expensive – and requires the purchase of additional plug-in “cards” that are designed to work with the machine – each plug-in is designed for a specific kind of long, or short RAM. The costs can run upwards of $1000.00! One example: See this YouTube video about the Ramcheck LX
    2. Micromat sells a software suite called Atomic – which they bill as “The most comprehensive memory tester for the Mac.” We haven’t been able to try it out yet – so if any of you have – please give us some comments below about the program. By the way – it works with OS X 10.9 or greater, including macOS 10.12 ‘Sierra’ (and we’ll assume 10.13 – High Sierra now). Cost is $29.99 unless you are a previous Micromat customer, in which case, the cost is $19.99. NOTE: TechTool Pro 9 also includes a memory test as part of it’s software offerings.
    3. Use the Mac’s built-in software Hardware Test Suite. Macs, going back to machines from 2000 or so, have built-in hardward diagnostics that offers a more cost-effective solution (as in, free!). We MRC volunteers approve of that! 🙂

    Using the Hardware Test Suite

    Unlike Disk Utility, the hardware test is not an app per se, but requires you to restart your machine and press the “D” key during startup. In some instances, I’ve seen tutorials call for Option + D – but just “D” may be enough in most instances.

      1. Restart your Mac and at the chime, press “D” or “Option + D” and wait for your computer to boot.
      2. You’ll be presented with a screen showing a turning globe and drop-down box to select your wireless network. Go ahead and choose the network and plug in the password on the next screen. Continue.
      3. Once that’s done, the “Apple Hardware Test” screen will open. Choose your language of choice (English is highlighted by default.
      4. Move to the next panel to get to the actual test screen. You’re almost there!IMG_5773 2
      5. To perform the hardware test all you have to do is click on the “Test” button or, as the instructions indicate, press the “T” key. Be ready to wait a bit while the tests are performed. Note the box under the progress screen where your results will be displayed. If you have any RAM issues (or other hardware problems) this is where you’ll find the results.IMG_5775 2
      6. If you do have an issue with the RAM, you’ll need to replace the memory since it is not something that’s “fixable.”

    There are a number of good places to purchase memory – but be sure to ask us first as we have a robust collection of RAM that we sell inexpensively. That said, if you want new, choices range from Amazon and Best Buy to Crucial, and many others. But we usually recommend memoryx.com to our MRC Clinic visitors (we’ll help you purchase the correct RAM).

    Remember that in some cases, your Mac will need not one but two memory cards (usually matched) to work correctly. You can get help from your MRC volunteers, on the memoryx website (by computer type and year it was built) or you can use the MacTracker app on you Mac or IOS device.

    • There are many more resources on the web to help you if you’re interested in learning more about the Hardware Test Suite:CNET: How to Test the RAM on Your Mac

      YouTube
      : There are a number of great videos – click on the link and you’ll be at a search screen with a number of choices.
    • Memoryx.com also has helpful videos that explain HOW to install RAM. But if you’re uncomfortable with doing that, bring it in to the MRC most Monday nights and we’ll be happy to help.

Tips to Fix a Slow-Starting Mac

September 5, 2017 Comments off

SILVER SPRING Md. (Sept. 5) – We come across all kinds of issues with older Macs at the MacRecycleClinic. Some are easily fixed. Others want to make you pull your hair out. But as we’ve gained experience in fixing these computers, there seems to be a set of solutions that usually will take care of the problem (short of reformatting the drive and installing a new version of the OS).

So here are some great tips to help you get your Mac loading faster – and hopefully operating in a way that will let you hold on to your hair. 🙂

Let’s start with a couple of old standbys:

  • Repair permissions on your Mac. It’s pretty easy to do if you’re running OSX Yosemite or earlier (Intel):

If you’re running El Capitan (10.11) or Sierra (10.12)  it’s a little more complicated because Apple has removed that capability from Disk Utility. Apple says:

But if you must,  there’s a way around that. (Thanks OSXDaily:)

  • Reset the PRAM (NVRam) (PRAM/NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a small amount of memory that your Mac uses to store certain settings and access them quickly.)


Still having trouble or want to try something else – try these tips from our MRC Guru Lorin Evans:

  • Has the owner added any applications or ‘things’ since receiving the computer from you? If ‘yes’, have him/her download “Malwarebytes” and run it to make sure these new applications/things do not contain questionable stuff. (Video courtesy of Malwarebytes.)

 

 

 

  • Go to Startup Disk in System Preferences.

Be sure that the HD icon is selected. Lock and/or unlock as necessary to gain access to this item.

  • Stay in System Preferences. Go to Users & Groups. Click on “Login Items.” Are there any items there that the system wants to start at “startup”? If ‘yes’, delete the icon for that item.

  • Start Disk Utility (Applications ->Utilities->Disk Utility.app). Select the HD from the left column. Now look at the S.M.A.R.T. status line. Make sure it reads: “Verified”

  • Start the computer in ‘safe’ mode. Give it a minute or two after the desktop appears; then restart normally.

Got your own tips for speeding up a slow Mac? Let us know!

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