Portable computers

Increasing Storage Space with a Transcend Drive

Last fall it was apparent that my trusty 17” MacBook Pro could no longer meet my needs. While the processor was adequate, I was always low on RAM and my hard drive was perpetually full. The RAM was maxed out and I had simply outgrown the 500 GB drive.

I move my computer all around my home each day. In the morning it travels downstairs from our bedroom to the island in our kitchen. When I head for my office, it moves to my desk. If I am sewing or using my Silhouette Cameo, it is generally on those work tables. If I work on the deck or our front porch, it goes with me. When I move to the family room in the evening, it us usually on my lap or beside me on the couch. When I head back upstairs, it moves again.

Since Apple discontinued all 17” screens, I begrudgingly moved to the 15” MacBook Pro model. I upgraded the processor, maxed out the RAM at 16 GB and added the 1 TB SSD drive. I also upgraded the video card. This new computer is a beast! I do miss the extra screen real estate, but adding an external monitor would mean giving up portability, so I have made changes to my workflow to compensate for the missing pixels.

We took a three week trip to the British Isles, Normandy and Guernsey in the late spring. With two DSLRs and two iPhones being used to take pictures, I quickly noticed that my extra 1/2 TB of drive space was filling up way too fast. I plan on keeping a computer for 2 to 3 years. At the rate I was filling the drive, I would be back to finding ways to trim my files all too soon!

There is one thing about my association with
Bob LeVitus. We share a email address and the world uses that address to reach Bob. So I get to see lots of press releases about new products. The one for Transcend caught my eye. It promised the ability to add a very fast hard drive to my MacBook Pro.

Even better, the drive is tiny and it will fit into the SDXC card slot on my computer


Since the drive is almost flush with the side of my computer when it is installed, my plan was to leave it in place.


I planned to use the drive to store my photo library. However, that plan quickly changed. Although I could use the drive as a backup drive…

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I could not back it up as a part of my normal Time Machine backup routine:

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The Transcend name is grayed out and it looked like there was no way to change that. A trip to Disk Utility found the problem:

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The Transcend is formatted in ExFAT, a Microsoft file system optimized for flash drives. The exFAT format has been adopted by the SD Card Association as the default file system for SDXC cards larger than 32 GB. The format can be used by Mac OS X starting from 10.6.5 onward.

While a Mac computer can read and write files to the drive, Time Machine cannot back up drives that do not include Apple's Apple Filing Protocol (AFP).

If I (you) want to back up files that are stored on a Transcend drive, it needs to be formatted to the Mac OS Extended or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format

For now, I have retained the ExFAT format. My iPhoto Library is around 250 GB, so it is too large to fit the drive. My iTunes Library hovers around 120 GB, so it fits as long as I keep the trash emptied and I don’t go overboard on storing podcasts!

The MSRP on a
Transcend 128 GB drive is $119.00. They are readily available on Amazon for about $80.00. That’s not a bad price for a portable storage device that stores in you MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, making it difficult to loose.

When I bought my
Transcend JetDrive Lite 350 128GB Storage Expansion Card, I was able to gain 128 GB of storage space. The drive is fast enough to play a movie smoothly but small enough to be almost unnoticed. At this time I cannot back up my iTunes Library to Time Machine, but everything stored in it is free (podcasts) or is also stored on one of my other computers or it has been purchased from Apple and I can always download it again. I might loose my playlists, but for me that loss would be insignificant. My Transcend drive is a winner!



Traveling with your Mac

I spent the last week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with our extended family. Seventeen of us spent 7 days at a beautiful beach house. We swam, played on the beach, did some sight-seeing, ate – and we “computed.”

In taking our family to the beach we packed 6 Mac laptops (and two Windows PCs), 6 iPhones (plus 3 Blackberries and 3 assorted cell phones), a Nintendo Wii, 3 Nintendo DS and at least 4 iPods.

While we did not spend our entire week with the “electrons,” our family was certainly “connected!” Add 11 digital cameras to the mix, and our days were well-recorded.

Taking all those electronic devices to the beach and expecting them to work requires a bit of packing. Since six families were involved, there were a few “forgotten cords, cables, and adapters.

Let’s make a quick checklist to help you pack for your next trip.
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Keep your MacBook and MacBook Pro batteries happy and healthy

The latest sales figures from Apple show that more and more people are using a portable computer as their primary machine.

My last four “main” computers have been Apple laptops. I bought a G3 iBook in May of 2001. It was replaced with a 15” PowerBook G4 in the fall of 2003. Then I bought a Core 2 Duo 17” MacBook Pro in late 2006. I recently purchased the new unibody 17” MacBook Pro.

During my years of ownership I have changed from a computer lab environment to being on the road every day and now to working from home.

Each setting required spending at least some time running my computer from the battery instead of from the power adapter. During some days I found myself eeking the last bits of energy out of my battery, so I have learned ways to stretch battery life to its fullest potential.

So how do you make a battery charge last longer? Click here to read more...

What do you keep under your MacBook?

Recently I have taken part in several online discussions about MacBooks and MacBook Pros and just what to set them on.

In each discussion, various objects and surfaces have been suggested as the perfect thing to keep under a portable computer. Notice I did not call them laptops. These days Apple and most other manufacturers call them portables. They get to hot to comfortably rest them on your lap!

There were lots of suggestions for different articles to place under the computer. One gentleman suggested placing the computer directly on a wooden desk and rationalized that the desktop would act as a heat sink. Another woman said she uses her MacBook sleeve, made out of wetsuit material, to protect her legs from the heat. Another person said they use a thick coffee table book. All of these suggestions are BAD ones!…
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