Macbook Battery

I bought a new battery for my 13" Black Macbook yesterday from BattDepot. The Apple replacement part goes for $159, I've seen third party replacements in stores for $129, but BattDepot lists theirs for $47.99 plus shipping and handling. After taxes, it comes to just under $60, almost $100 less than Apple's suggested retail price.

It seems that BattDepot is a reseller for Dr. Battery, so when I selected the "Pick up from warehouse" option ($5) I was given the address of the Richmond warehouse of Dr. Battery. The battery fits nicely, and is a good though not perfect match for color and texture. It is reported by System Profiler as a 5125 mAh battery at 12566 mV, once fully charged.

Apple notebook power adaptor hack

This has got to be one of the simplest little hardware hacks I've done, but perhaps also one of the most effective.

The problem:

I've owned four generations of Mac notebooks, and several other Apple products besides, all featuring variants of the same basic power adaptor design: the squarish, rounded white brick with flip-out wings for wrapping the low-voltage line for storage. Many of these power adaptors have not stood up well to everyday use - though to be fair, I do mean I use them pretty solidly every day. One of the early adaptors for my iBook developed a short on the 120/240v side. The magsafe adaptor on my latest laptop, a Macbook Pro, had the low-voltage line pull out of the rubber strain relief sleeve attached to the brick, exposing the internal wiring.

Site migrated to Mac Mini server

Testing that Mac Mini boots OK After the usual amount of sys admin fiddling, I've moved most of my Drupal sites onto a new server: an Apple 1.66 GHz Core Duo Mac Mini. Over the coming weeks I'll be doing some performance tuning and testing to see how it stacks up against the old server, a Dell SC 1425 dual Xeon box.

I wiped the Mac Mini's drive and installed Ubuntu 9.04 server, which took a bit of fussing, but turned out to be pretty easy once I figured it out (more details on that later; basically I had to install 8.04 and do an online upgrade to the newest version)

The box is sitting beside me - tiny, silent, consuming only 23W or so at idle, 110 at full CPU, compared to almost four hundred watts for the old server. Actually, I suspect that these figures are a bit on the high side. I'm planning to actually measure the power consumption, but that's a project for another day. I suspect that the humble Mac Mini has one of the best performance ratings per Watt consumed of any server anywhere. The new (2009) ones are even leaner. I have to say that I'm in awe of this little box.

It's running 'headless' (needs no monitor or keyboard to boot up) thanks to a bit of hardware hackery that I found here. I took photos and documented the (pretty quick and easy to do) assembly of the dongle in this flickr photoset.

Next steps: install a faster, more robust drive (perhaps an SSD?) and get SELinux working. Also web performance benchmarking.

Macbook external drive weirdness

I've spent a good part of the day trying to copy my Macbook's startup disk onto a 160GB Seagate 7200.2 SATA2 160GB 2.5" drive in a StarTech InfoSafe USB 2.0 SATA drive enclosure. I bought the drive (a pair of them actually - one for the laptop, the other as a backup drive) from Generic Technology, definitely my favorite little computer store in Vancouver. They have great prices, actually know what they are talking about (surprisingly rare these days), are always friendly and responsive, and go the extra mile (take returns without a fuss, spend time to help with troubleshooting, call back promptly).

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