May 05

The hard drives in the new 2018 Mac mini are PCIe which means they are very fast, but also expensive. Unlike previous models, you cannot upgrade the internal hard drive. It is soldered in. But thanks to the USB-C interface on the new Mac Mini, an external SSD drive is now a good option. I chose to buy the smaller (and cheaper) 250GB Mac Mini and supplement it with a 500GB external SSD drive.

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Mar 31

Apple have a number of free repair programs for faulty devices. Apple don’t communicate this directly to users of the affected devices so it’s good to occasionally go to their website and check your Apple devices. The repair programs do not run indefinitely.

The list includes the SSD drive and battery on some 13 inch macbook pros, the faulty butterfly keyboards on some new macbook pros, the iPhone 8 logic board, iPhone 7 coverage issues, battery replacement for iPhone 6s, the Beats Pill XL Speaker and more.

To see if your device is affected you can go to Apple’s repair program website and type in your serial number.

https://www.apple.com/support/exchange_repair/


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Jan 08
ben Q monitor

You can use any monitor with the new Mac mini 2018. (Except for an Apple one because they don’t make them any more!) The Mac mini has a HDMI port for a display, but you can also plug a monitor into any of the 4 USB-C ports. My strong advice it try to get a monitor that comes with a HDMI cable or a USB-C cable – don’t rely on Apple’s Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter.

If you have a choice go for a monitor with a HDMI cable so as to leave the 4 USB-C ports free. There are a wide variety of monitors available. I went down to the local computer shop and tried a few out and the ones that stood out to me were LG, BenQ, Samsung and Dell. I’ve also read good reviews on Acer and HP. But be aware that all of these brands make low quality monitors as well. So it’s more important to look at the quality of the monitor than the brand. e.g. Check out the contrast ratio, colour reproduction and resolution.

Don’t just look at the monitor in demo mode in the store. Make sure you plug it into a computer and have a look at some text on the screen. Take your own laptop in or ask the store for a demo plugged into a MAcintosh computer. The demo modes on the monitors are made to look crystal clear and sharp, but when you plug it into you computer and display plain text some monitors can be fuzzy or blurry or even look washed out. Read more to find out what monitor I ended up buying!

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Dec 12
Network attached storage

This article is about how to get your large files off your main computer hard drive and onto some external network storage that is more reliable, longer-term, and doesn’t take up precious space on your laptop or desktop computer. Apple don’t make an external storage solution but I found Synology have some great devices.

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Aug 09

prod_merc-legacy-pro

This article was originally written in 2015 but it is still relevant.  I have just updated it given that SSD prices have dropped dramatically in the last 3 years. Upgrading the boot drive on my Mac Mini to an SSD drive was by far the biggest speed enhancement I’ve experienced on any computer! The speed increase is incredible – almost hard to believe. Boot time went from 60 seconds to under 30 seconds, and applications launch instantly – no bouncing dock icon. In terms of bang for dollar, upgrading to an SSD drive is by far the best upgrade you can do.

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Oct 26

Back in December I wrote this article about how Apple no longer sell any displays. Since then Apple have started selling a nice LG display that works with MacBooks. This has been designed in conjunction with Apple so that you can control the display’s volume and brightness from the Apple computer. It essentially functions as an Apple display but with an LG badge. On their website Apple describe it as: “A perfect complement to your MacBook or MacBook Pro.” The monitor plugs into the USB-C port on the new MacBooks. But the new LG monitors that Apple are selling don’t plug directly into to older Macs. What Apple’s website doesn’t say is that they sell an adapter that will allow this monitor to work with some non USB-C Macs.

UPDATE January 2019: Please disregard this article. The USB-C to Thunderbolt Cable is not as functional as it sounds. Foe example it would not let me hook a thunderbolt display to the USB-C port on my new 2018 Mac Mini, despite it’s claims of being bi-directional. So if you are thinking of buying the thunderbolt to USC-C adapter go into an Apple store first and make sure it will do what you want it to do.

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Sep 04

If you use your macbook to listen to music, here’s a great tip. You can use your Apple remote (that comes with Apple TV or that you can buy separately on the Apple store) to turn the volume up and down and also to skip, pause etc. But firstly you need to pair the remote to your laptop. Here’s how.

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Aug 24

The home button is the button on the bottom of your iPhone that takes you back to the home screen. It requires a hard press to make it ‘click’. You can turn on a ‘soft’ equivalent button that appears on your screen. I can think of 3 reasons that you might want a ‘soft’ home button on your iPhone home screen:

  1. The home button on your iPad or iPhone has broken. (This is a common problem).
  2. You get sore thumbs from pressing the iPhone home button.
  3. You have switched from Android and prefer a ‘soft’ home button.

Here’s how to turn on a ‘soft’ home button on your screen.

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