Adware Removal on Mac Computers

More and more people are being infected by Adware lately, especially since its creators have now expanded into the Apple universe. Adware is basically software that gets installed on your computer’s browser. In the best case scenario it causes endless popup menus to show up on every page that you open; in the worst case you are unable to browse the internet. This type of malware is often packaged together with other software installers. So if you notice that you are suddenly being bombarded with unwanted advertising and pop windows you were likely infected by software that you recently installed sometimes inadvertently.

Since Adware is not officially malware, most virus removal tools can’t detect and remove it. Luckily people have devised ways to remove it. I recently became infected with Downlite adware on a Macbook Pro and a Macbook Air and this is my story.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Background

You may have heard a lot these days about Solid State Drives or SSD’s as they are commonly referred to as. The interest has arisen as a result of the popularity of tablets and smart phones which invariably use these devices for storage. Many computer manufacturers are now incorporating them in their laptops to reduce their size and increase battery life, Apple was one of the first companies to make their use more widespread with the introduction of the MacBook Air in 2008.

SSD’s perform much the same function as traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), one thing that they do not have in common with HDD’s is moving parts. Instead of storing data on spinning platters, a SSD reads and writes data to and from nonvolatile flash memory. As a result they are less susceptible to physical shock and are thus ideal for mobile computing devices. Other advantages are they are much quieter, consume less energy and have faster access times, in some cases up to 10 times faster. The one major disadvantage that keeps them from being used in all computing devices is their cost, they presently cost about 10 times as much as HDD’s of the same size. For example a good SSD with 256 GB of memory will cost about $200 – 250, while for this price you could probably buy a HDD with 2-3 TB of memory. This price difference will continue to narrow as they are being used in more and more devices, they are now close to 1/3 of the cost they were in 2009.

Making a decision on a new laptop

So should you get a SSD instead of a HDD? The answer to this question varies depending on a number of factors. If you are buying a laptop computer and want a super light computer and don’t need a lot of hard drive space then you should get a computer with a SDD, an ultra thin MacBook Air or a new HP or Dell Ultrabook. If you do need a lot of storage space and don’t care about the extra seconds it will take to boot, then you could probably save yourself some money a get a regular laptop with a conventional hard drive. Some manufacturers allow you to get the best of both worlds with hybrid drives that include a small SDD that has enough space for your operating system so that you can enjoy super fast boot and response times, and a HDD, to store all of your data.

Installing a SSD on a desktop computer

If you already have a desktop computer you can also enjoy the benefits of an SSD by installing one on your device, this is probably the most cost effective way of improving the performance of your computer. Before you go out and buy a SDD you should open up your computer and see if it can be added. The first thing you need to check is if there are extra bays, most computers have space so that additional hard drives can be installed. Regular HDD’s are 3.5 inches wide while SDD’s are 2.5 inches, there are conversion kits that can be purchased. The SDD will have to be connected to the computer motherboard, this is done through a SATA data connector, there are 3 versions, SATA 1, 2 or 3 which support transfer rates of 1.5, 3 or 6 Gbps respectively. If your computer is relatively new (i.e. 2 years or newer), you will likely have SATA 3 connectors, you can check the manual that came with your motherboard to check. If your computer only has SATA 1 or 2 connectors, you don’t need to worry as SSD’s are backwards compatible, you will just not be able to enjoy the faster speeds of the SATA 3 SSD’s. Finally the SSD needs power, there are usually extra power cables on your computer’s power supply.

If you have checked the interior of computer and have found that it can handle a SSD then go ahead and start shopping for one at your local computer or electronics store. The size that you ultimately purchase will likely depend on your budget since they are quite expensive, the current sweet spot 256 GB, there are 512 GB SSD’s available but they can run upwards of $500.

If you are able to afford a large enough SDD to store all of the data on your computer then the setup will involve a simple transfer or mirroring of your HDD onto to the SDD (some SDD’s include software to do this, Acronis True Image can also perform this function). If you have too much data on your existing HDD, you will have to install your OS on the SDD, your computer will then use the SDD to run Windows and it will access other applications and data from the HDD. Later if you want to increase the speed of your applications you would have to re-install them on the SDD. Once you have installed the OS on the SSD you will have to enter the Bios and make the SSD the main boot device. A detailed step by step guide to the installation of SSDś is described in the PC Advisor article sourced at the end of this blog.

Source: PC World, Computer World, Wikipedia, Storage Reviews, PC Advisor

Apple announces enhancements and price drops for MacBook Pro and Air models

Apple today announced some enhancements and price reductions to its MacBook line of computers. This is coming just a day after Tim Cook’s speech at the Goldman Sachs conference where he said that Apple would accept lower profit margins to build up products for strategic reasons. Well I guess the MacBook computer and in particular the MacBook Pro, which has been seeing declining sales lately, seems to fit the bill.

Starting on February 13, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display with 128 GB of flash memory will be $1,499 (previously $1,699.99). As well a 13-inch model with a new 2.6 GHz processor and 256 GB of flash memory will be $1,699, the previous model with a 2.5 GHz processor sold for $1,999.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display now has a faster 2.4 GHz processor, bumped up from 2.3 GHz. The higher end 15-inch model now comes with a 2.7 GHz processor and 16 GB of RAM, previously it had a 2.6 GHz processor and 8 GB RAM. Prices for these models stay the same at $2,199 and $2,799 respectively, despite the improvements.

A welcome announcement for prospective MacBook Air purchasers was a $100 drop in the price of a 13-inch Air with 256 GB of flash memory, now at $1,399.

The new models and prices are available from the Apple store immediately. Electronic retailers such as The Future Shop and Best Buy are expected to follow shortly although you could probably get them to price match with Apple.

Source: Engadget and The Verge

iTunes and other Apple magic on sales this week at the Future Shop

Starting today (August 10) you can get a iTunes $60 Multipack Gift Card for only $48 at the Future Shop, saving you money on apps, music, TV shows and Movies at the iTunes store.  Following suit with the discounts offered by Sprint and Apple in the US, the 16 GB iPhone 4S is now only $99.99 (on a 3 year contract), $60 off the regular price.  The Future Shop also has all MacBooks and iMacs on sale, some examples of the savings are:

  • 13.3″ 3rd generation Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro now $1,179.99 (save $50);
  • 13.3″ 2nd generation Intel Core i5 MacBook Air now $1,179.99 (save $50); and
  • 21.5″ Intel Core i5 iMac now $1,149.99 (save $50).

Remember you can get the same deals at Best Buy and Staples since all these retailers have price matching policies.

Source: iPhone in Canada and Future Shop

 

Thunderbolt to Firewire Adapter now available in Apple’s On-line Store

Even though it was announced at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in June, the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter was not available for purchase until now.  The adapter allows older Firewire devices to be connected to the newer MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (retina display) through their Thunderbolt connections.  Although not an elegant solution it does the job, it retails for $29.

Source: iPhone in Canada

AirPlay/Mirroring requires mid-2011 or newer Mac

Ever since AirPlay/Mirroring came to the iPad and iPhone, Mac users have been looking forward to the having the same capabilities for their computers.  In fact, when AirPlay was announced for Mountain Lion, it became one of the most anticipated features in the upgrade.  Now that the new OS has actually been launched there are reports of many frustrated users as they realize that AirPlay requires a mid 2011 or newer computer. Although this requirement was listed in the footnotes (that pesky fine print) on the OS’s “What’s New” page and in the specifications notes of “Feature Specific Requirements”, it is clear that most people did not see these caveats.  Apparently the older models don’t have the hardware to transmit video fast enough to an external screen without excessive heat buildup in the device.  If you have a pre-2011 Mac and you want to stream your computer’s display to a Apple TV you can use AirParrot, an app that mimics AirPlay/Mirroring.

Source: iPhone in Canada

Free Mountain Lion upgrade to recent Mac purchasers (Update)

Update:  For those who qualify you will have to be a bit patient as Apple is now promising to get validation codes to users within 72 hours.  I just received mine after a 48 hour wait.  You will receive 2 emails from Apple, one has a PDF file that contains the content code which is password protected, the other email contains the password required to open the PDF file.  The download itself took 1 hour on a 15 Mbps connection, the installation process took another hour.

Just a reminder to those of you who purchased a new Mac on or after June 11, 2012, that you qualify for a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion.  According to Apple’s website, customers will have 30 days from the day the new OS becomes available which is expected to be July 25 (see earlier post).  To obtain your promo code users need to enter their date of purchase, address and serial number into Apple’s Up-to-Date website.  Once Mountain Lion becomes available, you would submit this promo code to the Mac App Store allowing you to download the upgrade for free.  For those who don’t qualify for a free version, can purchase the new OS for $19.99.

Source: iPhone in Canada