8.15.2011

Upgrading early 2008 MacBook Pro with SSD

My early 2008 (non-unibody) Mac Book Pro came off of Apple Care support this summer. Normally I would buy a new machine, and retire the three year old workhorse to the family depot. A European vacation and my daughter leaving for university have put a pinch on the budget, so I opted for an upgrade instead.

I’ve installed a Crucial 256GB m4 SSD to replace the 200MB original SATA drive. I will install an MCE Optibay drive in place of my existing SuperDrive (DVD), and put the SuperDrive into an external housing for the infrequent times I need to use it. The Opti-Bay will let me run a local time machine and store my various and sundry VMWare images and other encrypted DMG’s housing various working files.

Invaluable were Damieng’s blog covering his experience, and iFixit’s replacement guide showing how to do it. Also required is either Mac OS X 10.6.8 or the new Lion (10.7) release of Mac OS X, coupled with Oskar Groth’s TRIM Enabler 1.2. TRIM enabler patches 10.6.8 or 10.7 to enable the SSD TRIM commands, which are essential for maintaining efficient performance of the SSD. Mac OS X 10.6.8 and 10.7 support TRIM, but only for recognized Apple SSD’s. TRIM enabler removes the restriction and promises long and happy life for your SSD.

Results
Boot times are significantly faster and launch times for apps seem almost instantaneous. Whereas Lotus Notes used to take up to 2 minutes to mount its data drive (encrypted sparse bundle) and launch the app. Its ready to rock in less than 10 seconds now. Login is instantaneous, and Safari seems significantly snappier then when it was using a hard drive for caching. Low latency seems like no latency in comparison. I can’t imagine getting a new Mac without and SSD as its primary drive.

Its important if not useful to note that the Crucial M4 is probably overkill for this machine. Its second generation SATA II native interface at 6Gb/s is 4 times faster than my early 2008 MacBook Pro’s SATA 1 interface that runs at a measly 1.5Gb/s. Nonetheless, my already snappy if old MacBook Pro now seems lightning fast. It’s cooler, lighter, quieter, and less power hungry than the stock 200GB drive.

Bottom line
Upgrading to SSD was a good investment to extend the life of my MacBook Pro, and create a computing environment more suited to my current needs. If I get another 2 years our of this machine, I’ll consider it an excellent investment.

I’m now running OS X Lion (10.7) - the jury’s still out. It seems grayer and more stoic than the previous felines it succeeds.

Tools
Make sure you have the proper tools for the job. The non-unibody Mac’s have a confounding array of screws in different sizes, both Torx and Phillips head. And the drive replacement requires the use of a ‘spudger’ to gently separate a delicate ribbon cable from the drive on which it’s glued. You need a spudger, a jeweler’s phillips head screwdriver, and a torx driver. I got mine from Amazon. I also recommend having 5 small cups handy into which you'll put the various types of screws as you’re following iFixit’s directions. Guessing which go where during reassembly will be a bear otherwise.

Manifest
  1. Crucial SSD
  2. MCE Optibay
  3. Tools
  4. Trim Enabler 1.2
  5. Mac OS X Lion
How To Sites
PS - DO Read Damien Guard’s blogs for additional performance enhancing tips for SSD use!

Cheers!

~r

5.26.2011

Conservative Constitutionalist - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It is with no small amount of trepidation, of which I’ll explain shortly, I find myself siding with one of the most ‘liberal’ justice’s conservative defense of the 4th amendment in ‘Kentucky v. King,’ decided in this week’s Supreme Court docket.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with whom I couldn’t imagine myself agreeing, this week issued the sole dissent to the Court’s landmark decision concerning warrantless searches pursuant to the doctrine of ‘exigent circumstances.’

Ginsburg cited Brigham City v Stuart, 547 U. S. 398, 403 (2006) which defines “exigent’ circumstances [as] “when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury, or danger that evidence will be immediately destroyed, or that a suspect will escape.”

The majority opinion hinged on the ‘danger that evidence will be immediately destroyed’ and the extent to which the officers in the case ‘caused’ the circumstances by loudly banging on the door of the residence.

If the police had probable cause and could convince a judge of the same, prudence suggests they wait and make sure they have the warrant before provoking ‘exigent’ circumstances. The evidence suggests they could have done so, but failed to do so.

The 4th amendment declares our right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. The court, in favoring law enforcement against what after the fact were shown to be criminals, has given the state yet more power against all individuals, diminishing the rights of all in order to prevail against a few.

Justice Ginsburg’s well reasoned dissent from the majority opinion is the conservative opinion - conserving the principle embodied in the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights of protecting the individual against the overwhelming power for the state.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a conservative constitutionalist. Who woulda thunk it?

3.15.2011

Is anyone listenting?

If you watch British programming, and you pay attention - you’ll note that rarely do the characters interrupt each other.

We Americans, on the other hand, don’t think we’re communicating if we’re not interrupting. Count how many times within a 10 minute period during your next business meeting somebody interrupt or talks over someone else. You may be surprised.

My mother was English. I don’t remember ever interrupting either my mother or father at the dinner table. (Then again I don’t remember many of the conversations.) But I do remember the driving need to say something, alas, at the expense of someone who hadn’t completed their thought. Its astonishing the amount of ‘over-speaking’ that occurs in every day business meetings. I regret to say that while I’m learning (still) to wait my turn - I interrupt more than, well, more than I like.

So what?

Ever wonder why we like to text, SMS, chat, or zing one another? Walking my dog Kairo this evening, I realized that I text because I can complete a thought, a message, a word - without interruption. I call someone on the phone when I want to elicit some information - when I ask a question and let the respondent riff, guided by a prod here and there, to get what I ‘came’ for. But if I call to share some happening or idea, actually having a conversation with someone is attended by the risk that I will be interrupted. If I want to convey a particular idea - the fascist in me wants to put it all out there without interruption - without having to navigate a conversational cadence that isn’t conducive to my objective. But maybe I'm missing the point.

I sometimes wish that I were more British. Raised in public school with public school manners. Everyone speaking their turn, completing their thought - everyone knowing they’d be heard. I think they call it ‘active listening.’ Most people just call it the art of conversation.

We text and email so we can be heard without it, without interruption. What I might like is largely irrelevant. But apparently I am an American - and we seem to do interruption best.

Is anyone listening?

~r