Adding Reliable USB Ports To a MacBook Retina

November 25th, 2014 No Comments »

We all have figured out that the two built in USB 3 ports on our Macbook Retina’s are quite inadequate.  If we could add a USB hub to the system that actually worked it would not be a problem.  My experience is that almost anything I try to add to my USB Hub does not work and from what I read on the forums, I’m not alone.  It cost me about $150 on amazon but now I’ve got 3 more super reliable USB ports thanks to the addition of this belkin docking stations.


My setup is as follows:

  • Macbook Retina (when docked)
  • Thunderbolt #1 –> Belkin Thunderbolt –>  Lacie Hard Drive –> Monitor #1 (1280×1024)
  • Thunderbolt #2 –> Monitor #2 (2560×1600)
  • HDMI –> Asus 4K Monitor

From The Belkin Thunderbolt Dock

  • USB Poscaster Microphone
  • Jabra PRO Headset
  • Gig Ethernet (built in)
  • Lowcost USB Host –> Mouse and Keyboard

VMWare Fusion Woes and Repairs

April 27th, 2013 No Comments »

I’ve been using VMWare Fusion and OS X 10.8.3 for a while now.  I’ve got the big Retina (768GB SSD, 16GB Ram, 2.6Ghz).  Still, with two cores set to windows 8 pro, I get hanging when I try and go back and forth between the VM (full screen, two monitors) and OS X.

I’ve had a VMWare support call going for about 2 weeks now. They have looked at my logs, tried a bunch of stuff but nothing helps. It still gets these 5 to 10 second pauses about 10 times a day at least (I usually stay on the windows side but I still get pauses sometimes there).

I recently took my Retina to a mac store to have them run diag’s. Who knows, maybe it was broken.  They ran there in store diags and discovered the camera was broken but no errors on anything else.

They suggested I part with my Retina for 3 to 7 days and they would send it to the repair center (free of course) and the repair center would replace the broken camera as well as run better diags on the components.

So, I bought a new Retina on Craigs List (2.8GHz, 500GB, 16GBRam) so I could keep my work life going (can’t be without a main computer and I do everything on my Retina).  One nice thing is that I could test whether my WinClone bootcamp partition backup was really working (yes it does).

Four days later, I get it back from Apple.  They replaced the screen, all the memory and the motherboard.

Still though, same problem with VMWare Fusion hanging.

At least my camera works now (and time to sell the 1 week old faster Retina, but I have to say I could not tell a difference in the speed.  I certainly did miss the hard disk size though).

Where Did My Menu Go?

April 25th, 2012 No Comments »


When I first got my MacBook Pro, the first thing that confused me was the location of the menu.  In windows, since Windows 95 a long time ago, pretty much every application puts it’s menu on the top of the frame the program runs in.  That is while you are running the program, you get to your menu by looking at the top of the frame the program is running in.  Below is a screen shot of what I mean by that with arrows pointing to those menus (in Windows 8, which happens to be running in VMWare’s Fusion on my MacBook Pro).




On the Mac (OSX 11.7 Lion), there is only one menu bar and it is at the top of which ever screen you want it to be (it does not move unless you go into preferences / display / Arrangement and from there you can drag and drop the little white sliver to which ever screen you would like it on (see screen shot below).  In my case, I have my 27” thunderbolt monitor, my second HDMI 24” monitor running off the displayport converted, then the laptop monitor.  Since I sit in front of the Thunderbolt monitor, that is the one that I put my menu on.




So, in other words, below is a screen shot showing my Mac screen. Because the program Microsoft Word is in focus, that menu is showing and the other menu’s are hidden. You can see that from the screen shot that follows.





Personally, I like the Windows model better. Even though it takes more space on the screen, I find it annoying that I have to move my mouse all the way to the top of my screen when I want to do something on the menu.  That is, I could be far away in an app (even on a distant monitor) and then have to send my mouse on what feels like a long journey to get the menu.

Adding a Second Drive to a MacBook Pro 15 or 17 (Late 2011 Models)

April 11th, 2012 No Comments »

I’ve become totally addicted to Solid State Drives over the past year or so and would not go back to rotating media unless it was a life or death emergency.  It is pretty costly though so having just one SSD in your computer big enough for all your data is pretty much out of the question.  Last I checked, the biggest ones were about 500GB and that would barely be enough for me (and probably not enough). 

So, that means 2 drives in my MacBook Pro.  Luckily, there is a way to replace the built in DVD drive on both the MacBook Pro 15 and 17 with a second hard drive.  In my case, I bought the OCZ 240GB SSD and I have a 750GB 7200RPM drive also.

Question 1 – Which drive goes where?

An apple genius (yes, that is what we call them) told me that the DVD drive connector does not support the auto stop on big g-force spin down so it is best to put the rotating media there.  He also said that the DVD drive does not support power management which means the rotating media does not shut off when it is not needed.  Therefore, put the the SSD in the DVD slot and put the rotating media where the original drive was.  I suppose that should have worked, but my SSD is 6GB/sec (SATA 3) and it refused to work in the DVD slot.  Oh well.

Question 2 – How hard is it?

Well, it’s not trivial.  There are bunches of 14 year olds that have recorded videos showing you all the steps.  Let me just say, there are many many tiny little screws that are easy to drop and some wiring you have to move very carefully and still risk breaking.  I did it, but did not enjoy it.

Question 3 – Does it void my warranty?

Yes, but the Apple genius told me that normally Apple does not enforce that (and even gave me a screw that I lost in the process.

Question 4 – How do I do it?

Go to the internet, search for “MacBook Pro second hard drive catty” and you will find tons of information and videos.

Question 5 – How much does it cost?

About $50 to $100 for the drive catty to replace your DVD and about 2 hours of your time.

Getting That Second Non-Thunderbolt Monitor to Work on your MacBook Pro

April 8th, 2012 25 Comments »

The Problem

So, you know you want a second monitor on your MacBook Pro, you already have the beautiful 27” Thunderbolt monitor working, but when you daisy chain from that first Thunderbolt monitor to your own DisplayPort monitor it does not work (or at least very well).  In my case, it would come up 1 out of 10 times correctly, and the other times, it would come up in some kind of funky power saving mode. So, since I’m pretty new to the apple world, I decided to call for Mac Support team and explain my dilemma.  I got a very nice person who did some research and came back and told me that a Thunderbolt port is not meant to work with DisplayPort, just other Thunderbolt ports.  This means I can buy another 27” $1000 Thunderbolt monitor from apple, but my HDMI $150 monitor with the $10 DisplayPort to HDMI adapter will just not work.  Here is the article she sent me to: There is a huge thread about this issue already in the apple forums that you can read here titled “ThunderBolt + External Monitor = Mounds of Who”.

A Solution

While I was at a local Apple Store yesterday, I noticed they had a new Seagate adapter call the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter that had two DisplayPort Connectors on it.  Someplace in the above thread I think I read that if you put a device between your real ThunderBolt monitor and your DisplayPort monitor that things will work as expected.  So, I put down my $189 for this  GoFlex adapter and it worked!!!

It’s hard to find online, but it was at the store. I now have two monitors working on my desktop with this cool little device, and when I purchase a Seagate GoFlex drive, I’ll be able to  have fast external storage as well.  Very cool

Other Points

I’m guessing any ThunderBolt device with two ports will do the job.  This one just seemed like it was almost affortable so I bought it.  BTW, don’t forget the $50 cable (like I did).  This dock does not come with anything but a power cord.