Monthly Archives: May 2007

Upgrading Memory on a MacBook

When I bought my MacBook, I went with the most basic specifications. Mainly because of the cost, and also because the basic system was more than enough for my needs. After using it for the last while, I felt it was time to throw some more memory into the system.

The original specification included 512MB of memory, so I was considering upgrading to 1GB, just to add some pizazz. I checked out the Crucial UK website, and they had 2 x 512MB chips for €41.11 including VAT. 2 x 1GB chips would cost just €86.94. As that kind of price point, I figured that it was worth going the whole hog and putting in the full 2GB that the system could handle. With next day delivery via UPS, the entire cost came to just over €90.

I used to do tech support for Dell laptops, so replacing memory is a job I’ve done many times before. Usually it’s just a matter of powering off the machine, earthing yourself, slipping out the old chip if required and putting in the new one.

Putting memory in a MacBook is pretty much the same. In this case the memory slots are located under the battery, so you’ll have to use a coin to remove the battery and then a small philips screwdriver to remove the L-shaped slot cover. There are 3 screws and they do not separate from the slot cover, so you can’t lose them. If you have butter fingers like me, this will save you hours on your hands and knees looking for any tiny screws that you may have dropped!

Each memory slot has a lever used to release the memory chip. Once it’s out you can insert the new memory. Like all memory chips, the slots are “keyed” so that the chips can only be inserted one way. With the now empty battery cover closest too you, and the open memory slots facing towards you, the notch on the memory chip should be on the left. One thing that I did notice is that it takes a bit of force to get the chip seated properly. You’ll know it’s seated properly because the lever will retract towards the main body of the laptop and will tighten.

After that it’s just a matter of replacing the slot cover and the battery and switching on the computer. If you’ve installed the memory correctly, then your MacBook should start normally. Once you’ve reached the desktop, you can check that the memory is being detected properly by going to the Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> More Info. This will open the System Profiler. On the left hand side, under Hardware is the Memory section. Clicking this will give you details of the memory in each slot.

And that’s it. I haven’t really had a chance to fully test my new memory, but I have noticed that opening certain programs has speeded up considerably, though for some reason Firefox takes just as long as ever to open up.

Online Lectures

Microsoft are due to sign a deal with the organisation representing all the Irish 3rd Level institutions to stream lectures online or to record them and provide online access. The agreement with CHEST will see Microsoft working with the universities to implement the technology to improve teaching methods, and to introduce technology when and where requested.

Microsoft’s education and business manager stated that would be working to allow access at any time, at any place and on any device. Based on Microsoft’s previous strategies, it seems likely that any technologies introduced will be proprietary and Windows only, leaving students using other OS’s out in the cold. Though only time will tell.

Microsoft Update Breaks Windows – Again

Patch Tuesday has rolled around again, and once more the latest patches are causing problems. Last month the issue was with the Realtek HD Audio Control Panel, this month users have been reporting problems with system slow downs and CPU usage.

Apparently an update to Internet Explorer is causing issues with a file called svchost.exe. This file is in fact a generic name for any service that runs from a DLL instead of an EXE. At the moment, the exact cause is not known, but Outlook users have been hardest hit, while the issue also affects users of Windows Server Update Services.

No official fix has been released as of yet, but some people have reported that another hotfix available from Microsoft seems to resolve the problem, although it has not worked for everyone. The hotfix is available for download from Microsoft.

Another Way to Subvert Windows

Symantec have released details of another possible way to subvert Windows, more specifically through the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).

BITS is used by Windows Update to automatically download updates in the background and by Microsoft Messenger to transfer files. The fault lies in the fact that BITS bypasses any installed firewalls, and does not require any suspicious actions to start the download. By using BITS, an attacker could automatically download whatever they wanted to your computer, including password/ credit card logging software, remote access control software, the possibilities are endless.

While there are no major infections using this method, it is just a matter of time before one does come along. Hopefully, Microsoft will have addressed the issue before that happens.

Hubble Successor Revealed

The Hubble Space Telescope has provided scientists with an extra-ordinary insight into our universe. When NASA announced recently that there were to be no more missions to maintain the aging telescope, there was an outcry. Now NASA have revealed the successor to Hubble – The James Webb Space Telescope.

With a mirror 6.5 meters across and a sun-shield the size of a tennis court, it promises to bring us pictures of the furthest reaches of the Universe and help answer questions about the Bing Bang and planetary formation.

The James Webb Telescope will be launched in 2013, until which time, Hubble will continue it’s mission.

When Big Stars Go Bang

Stars have a finite lifespan, and when they die, they can do so with a whimper, or more rarely, in a spectacular supernova. Supernovae are important events, they’re believed to be the method by which heavier elements are distributed across the galaxy, elements which are necessary for life to develop.

Now scientists have found a supernova that was truly enormous – an explosion that was 5 times brighter than any supernova ever seen. It was so bright that it is estimated that the star that exploded was about 150 times as big as our own Sun. This particular star was over 240 million light years away, so it wouldn’t be really noticed here on Earth. Though there may be another one coming that will be noticeable. There’s a star in our own galaxy, about 7,500 light years away that could go supernova in the same manner. According to scientists, if this “local” star explodes in the same way, it will be bright enough to be seen during the day and even read a book by it’s light at night.

Here’s looking forward to the light show!

When Windows File Associations Go Awry

You’re sitting in front of your computer and you’re bored. You’ve been to all your favourite websites, you’ve done the online crossword and a couple of games of Sudoku but you still have time to waste, so you decide to mess around with Windows for a while. You’re clicking buttons, opening dialog boxes and just generally trying to educate yourself on the finer points of the operating system.

Then you remember that you’re actually supposed to be responding to an urgent email you received about 6 hours ago. You try to open the mail, and instead of launching your email client it opens in your text editor instead. The email is no longer readable and is just gibberish. At the back of your mind, you have a hazy memory of doing something with an email saved on your desktop. You can’t remember exactly what you did, but you know it was one of those “A-ha, that’s funny” moments. For the life of you, though, you can’t remember what exactly you did.

Chances are that you’ve changed the program associated with the file extension for your email. Unlike the various flavours of Linux and Unix, Windows uses file extensions to decide what type of file it is dealing with. A file ending in .exe is an executable, ending in .txt and it’s a text file, ending in .doc and it’s a Word document, and so on. You can if you wish change these associations, and if you do this inadvertently you will probably end up with problems.

To change the association, you first of all need to locate one of the files showing the problem.

  • Then hold down the shift key and right click on the file. On the context menu, you should see an “Open with…” sub-menu.
  • On this sub-menu you’ll see a “Choose Program” option.
  • Click on this and you’ll be presented with a dialog box displaying list of programs that you can use to open the file.
  • Select the correct program from the list. If you cannot find your program listed, then click the “Browse” button to locate the program file.
  • Directly under the list of programs is a “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” tick box. Place a tick in the box and click “Ok”.

Now any file with the same extension as the file you right clicked on will open in this new program.