MacBook Pro Graphic Corruption

MacBook Pro Graphic CorruptionThis interesting rainbow effect is what greeted me when I booted my newly Leopardised MacBook Pro this morning. At first I thought it must be a driver issue, but with further investigation the video proved to be in “rainbow mode” when booting from the HDD, Windows and the Tiger DVD. It was even glitching on the Apple logo and swirling loading circle.

Thankfully a call to AppleCare soon had it sorted, by resetting the PROM in the device. Here’s how:

  • Shut the machine down.
  • Turn it on, and immediately hold down Alt + Apple + P + R.
  • Wait for the boot chime, the MBP will reset.
  • Wait for the second chime, then let go and let it boot.

At which point it all looked normal again. A very weird occurance though; I wondered if it were related to the heat the GPU gets to, Mr AppleCare said to keep an eye on it as if it happens again it would need to be looked at by Apple.

I was on hold for 15 minutes to get to talk to someone, he resolved the issue in a fraction of that time.

Installing Leopard from a Disk Image

Apple OS X LeopardMy first generation MacBook Pro steadfastly refuses to read the dual-layer DVD that Leopard comes on. All my Windows machines can read it (or at least the BootCamp partition) and my G5 can read the disk too, but the MacBook Pro won’t boot off it. However, I do have plenty of external drives kicking about so thought I ought to be able to boot off one of those. And yes, I’m only really doing this to get continued Boot Camp support for the Windows XP install I use more than anything else on the MBP. Here’s what I did:

  • Use Disk Utility (on the G5) to create a DMG file.
  • Connect the MacBook Pro and G5 to my gigabit network, and boot the MacBook Pro into Tiger.
  • Connect the USB drive (a self powered 100Gb 2.5″ drive in this case) to the MacBook Pro (I used the right USB port – not sure if it matters which).
  • I erased the (NTFS) partition on the external disk, and created a GUID Apple partition.
  • Select the Restore tab on Disk Utility and drag the DMG file to the source field.
  • Drag the USB partition (the one I just created) to the destination field.
  • Click Restore.
  • After it’s finished, you should be able to open System Preferences and find the USB disk in the Startup Disk pane.
  • Select it and press restart – the MacBook Pro reboots and boots off the external disk.
  • From here on it’s as if you were using the DVD!

The install was pretty swift – without the extra printer drivers, fonts or X11 it took about 10 minutes to install. Since installing Leopard has killed rEFIt the next step is to reinstall Windows and add the Boot Camp 2.0 drivers.

Oh, and the Leopard intro movie is quite pretty, but has really silly music.

Apple support Vista on BootCamp

Apple updated BootCamp today and introduced support for Windows Vista, so it looks like I can spend some time over the weekend doing a fresh install of Vista with supported drivers this time.  Of course it also means I get to have some fun removing the Microsoft Bluetooth stack and replacing it with a fully functional Widcom one, but them’s the breaks.  The new BootCamp introduces lots of updated drivers (including the camera on Vista) and hopefully does something about the power saving and suspend/hibernate issues.  Although they may be more to do with Vista itself rather than the MacBook Pro hardware.  We shall see…

Philosophy majors shouldn't write technology editorials

Richard sent me an email yesterday with a link to this article along with the message “You’ll love this one…”  If you’ve followed the Windows on Mac saga recently go and read it now, if you’re anything like me and Richard you’ll have plenty to say on the subject once you’ve finished reading.

I couldn’t believe that any publication would bother to publish something like that, even as an “opinion” piece in a student paper and even only on their website.  The author, who may be a veritable genius when it comes to philosophy, clearly has no idea what he (she?) is talking about when it comes to technology.  They don’t seem to understand the difference between emulation, virtualisation and dual booting, and have apparently very little grasp of hardware specifics…

When a Mac starts to emulate a Windows platform completely, the computer must provide additional voltage to provide the computing power.

Ignoring the author’s misconception that the Mac is emulating Windows (it is running Windows natively on an X86 chip remember…) what’s this about additional voltage?!  What?!  The intel chip in my MacBook – when running XP – is pulling the same power as when it runs OS X, or the same as the identical chip that runs Windows XP in the latest HP notebook.  Windows XP playing games such as UT2004 on the MacBook causes it to generate as much heat as OS X playing the Universal Binary of UT2004.  It’s hot (really hot), granted, but the idea that Windows is magically making the processor run hotter than OS X will ever allow is false.  It just gets as hot only quicker.

getting a Mac to run PC games will result in heartache – this I can guarantee

The author doesn’t specify exactly what heartache it will result in… My MacBook runs Half Life 2, CountStrike: Source, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Rise of Nations in some cases significantly faster/smoother than my Dell.  What heartache?  Heat-ache maybe, but no worse than OS X causes!

For reiteration, Macs cannot run Windows like PCs can.

Urm, yes.  Yes they can.  That’s rather what all the fuss was about when Apple put Intel chips inside.  INTELx86 chips.  The same instruction set that nearly every PC on the planet uses to run, oh, for example, Windows!  Do you think the author understands the difference between a PPC and an Intel chip, and the reason why a Mac can now run exactly like a PC?

I can’t bring myself to refute the fifth paragraph (“My third point references to the industry.”) as it is so full of misunderstandings of the technology, the businesses involved and the computer industry’s recent history that it’s just not worth it.

Boot Camp crashes and burns?  Hardly.  It’s beta software.  It came with a warning.  Anyone who chose to ignore that warning and install it on a production machine deserves any hassle they get.  That said, my installation of Boot Camp was utterly without problems and I’ve heard lots of other positive reports on various forums.  I’m grateful to Apple for providing Boot Camp and the driver suite – I’d just like some of my minor niggles addressed!

Why my primary Windows XP machine is still a Dell

MacBook ProThe MacBook Pro is great running XP; but has several flaws which mean it probably won’t become my primary machine just yet…


  • No Audio Routing
    If you plug headphones into the headphone socket audio continues to come out of the speakers. This is known (and documented by Apple) but is still irritating. If I’m in the office I quite often listen to mp3s/the radio on headphones. Also, when I play games I nearly always do so with headphones on for the immersive experience…
  • Limited Bluetooth Support
    I use my phone’s Bluetooth headset as a headset in games that support it (UT2004, CounterStrike) and for Skype calls. Either the driver in the MacBook doesn’t support the headset profile, or the hardware doesn’t support it. Either way, it’s an annoying limitation.
  • Heat
    This is the real killer. The MacBook Pro runs hot… Even in OS X – when you push the CPU – it gets very hot. Running in XP though, without the advanced power management, it gets hot quickly. So hot in fact that the grill to the left of the keyboard becomes painful to touch. That’s no good for prolonged periods of typing!
  • The Trackpad
    In OS X there is a tickbox for trackpad settings that “ignored unintended input” – so if you knock it with your wrist while typing it knows to disregard it. Not so for XP. Try typing for any length of time and you find the cursor jumping all over the place as you accidentally click all over your document. Grrr!

I imagine that further updates to the beta will fix some of these niggles, but for now I’m still using the Dell for day to day work and games.

One thing I did manage to do with the MacBook Pro was remap the keyboard. Now \ is in the correct place (next to left shift) as is the back tick (next to the 1 key) and I’ve given myself a right-alt key (the right command key) and a del key (next to the left cursor). So I can hit ctrl-alt-del and I have a right-alt to control MS Virtual Server properly now!

It’s a fantastic games machine; HalfLife 2, UT2004 and RoN all perform flawlessly… I just worry about the heat. I hope Apple issue a BootCamp driver update for APM.