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Mac mini 2018 RAM upgrade service

One pleasant surprise about the 2018 Mac mini is that the RAM* is once again upgradeable and you can fit up to 64GB RAM. This makes it potentially a good choice of machine for musicians, programmers and anyone else needing oodles of RAM.

However the price Apple are charging for Build To Order RAM upgrades are frankly shocking. In August 2019 a 32GB upgrade was priced at £540, which is astonishing considering you can currently buy compatible RAM from quality vendors for £130. Even if you factor in our charge to fit the RAM for you, Apple are demanding a ~300% mark up.

It’s not even that difficult to replace the RAM yourself. You just need to be very careful when dismantling, especially around the WiFi antennae. Also wear protective gloves – when pushing the logic board out of the case you have to use quite a bit of controlled force, so as it releases the board shoots forward and can trap a finger against the sharp edges of the case.

Do a quick boot test before final reassembly to ensure the RAM is recognised, and then after complete reassembly run a RAM test for 24hrs or so as a “soak test”. After that you can be pretty confident there are no compatibility issues going forward.

You should be aware that if the machine needs to be repaired under warranty you would need to refit the original RAM. However in my experience the Macmini has been one of the very few Mac products in the last 10 years that has basically been bombproof. IMHO it’s a small but acceptable risk, especially when balanced against the huge cost savings to be made.

Have a 2018 Macmini? Need more RAM but want to save some money? Give us a call on 01380 830224 to discuss options, pricing and turn-around time.

*  The hard drive is unfortunately soldered to the motherboard, ruling out future SSD upgrades. I’m not sure how many people really need T2 enforced hardware disk encryption as FileVault should be secure enough for everyone but the most security obsessed. Of course it does mean Apple can maintain their astonishingly high SSD pricing, but I’m sure that has nothing to with it…

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MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboard repair

One of the more common problems we encounter is Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros with faulty keyboards, and almost without exception it’s because of liquid getting spilled on the keyboard. This typically means replacing the entire top case assembly, which can be very costly…

What should you do if you spill liquid on your Macbook?

Accidents happen, so as soon as you get any liquid on the keyboard or trackpad, immediately pull out the charger, shut the computer down and flip the computer over so the keyboard is facing downwards. This might stop liquid getting deeper into the computer and destroying the logic board or worse your hard drive.

Run to get some paper towels and then try to soak up the worst of the liquid. Pay particular attention to around the screen hinges and the trackpad. Whilst you’re doing this try to keep the computer upside down. Once the worst of the liquid has been absorbed, turn it upside down with the keyboard facing down and place paper towels between a flat surface and keyboard. Leave it like that for 30mins or so. Replace the paper towels if necessary. Finally whack it in a airing cupboard for a couple of days with the display open to try to evaporate any further moisture. Ideally you’d take the bottom case off and gently heat it from underneath.

If it starts up normally, carefully try all of keys and the trackpad. If every key works, immediately take a Time Machine backup. If the machine doesn’t start up, or some of the keys are faulty, things are unfortunately going to get costly.

How much does it cost to replace a damaged MacBook keyboard?

Any Macbook with an aluminium body and black keys are complete nightmare to replace just the keyboard mechanism. The keyboard  is riveted into the top case with dozens of tiny rivets. Some of the Macbook Pros even have the battery glued into place, making things worse. So the only practical thing to do is replace the topcase assembly as a whole. But this as a new part costs at minimum £250+VAT. However buying a refurbished or recycled part can be hugely cheaper, so even with labour costs it can still be an economic repair to make.

I’ve found that you might also need to budget for a replacement microphone when replacing the top case. They are very delicate and glued to the top case with very strong adhesive. Even when gently heating them to soften the glue before removal, sometimes the microphone quality leaves something to desire when refitted.

Where can I get my Macbook repaired?

Have a damaged Macbook, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro that needs repairing? Want an honest opinion on whether it’s actually economic to repair your Macbook, or if you’d be better off taking a punt on a comparable 2nd hand machine and flogging your dead one for parts? Give us a call on 01380 830224 to talk through your options.

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Macbook trackpad won’t click, respond or is broken? Beware…

A customer from Devizes recently gave me a MacBook Pro with a broken trackpad that now wouldn’t start up. Alarms bells immediately go off when I see a trackpad that won’t click, or is becoming increasingly hard to click…

When Li-ion batteries get old and knackered, some have a habit of swelling up, putting pressure on the trackpad and the bottom case – in this case shattering the trackpad.

The trackpad repair cost can vary quite considerably depending on the model. The 2012 and earlier MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are the easiest to do and cheapest to source parts for. Later Apple laptops have the battery glued into them, which make the repair much more time consuming and expensive. There’s a very high price to pay for that thinness…

If you find your trackpad won’t click down, tracks your finger erratically or has just stopped working completely, replacing it is a sensible option, but checking whether it’s caused by a failing battery is a must. Failing Li-Ion batteries can cause varying degrees of collateral damage when they fail, in rare cases catching fire.

So if you find your MacBook’s  trackpad is behaving strangely or you’ve noticed your battery life has gone to pot recently, you really should get someone to look at it.

Need an out-of-warranty repair your Apple iMac, MacBook, Macmini or MacPro and are in Bath, Wiltshire or Somerset? Give us a call on 1380 830224. We’ll give you a candid assessment of whether it’s an economic repair, and suggest alternatives if it’s not.


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Moving and copying Magento product reviews

When running an ecommerce business, you’ll often find yourself having to create a new product when an essentially identical product is released with an updated SKU, or when switching from a Grouped to Configurable product. But what happens to the reviews you have accumulated on the old product? They’ll get lost, unless you move the reviews from the old product to the new, or you duplicate them…

Magento provides no easy way of doing this within the Admin UI, and as per usual the review’s data is strewn across multiple tables. However it’s not too painful to brew some custom SQL to do the job…

Move all Magento Product reviews from one product to another product

SET @old_id = 1694;
SET @new_id = 1751;
UPDATE m4g3_review SET `entity_pk_value` = @new_id WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_review_entity_summary SET `entity_pk_value` = @new_id WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_rating_option_vote SET entity_pk_value = @new_id WHERE entity_pk_value = @old_id;
UPDATE m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated SET entity_pk_value = @new_id WHERE entity_pk_value = @old_id;

Copy all Magento Product reviews from one product to another product

SET @old_id = 1634;
SET @new_id = 1637;
INSERT INTO m4g3_review ( `created_at`, `entity_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `status_id` ) (
SELECT `created_at`, `entity_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `status_id` FROM `m4g3_review` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id

INSERT INTO m4g3_review_entity_summary ( `entity_pk_value`, `entity_type`, `reviews_count`, `rating_summary`, `store_id` ) (
SELECT @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `entity_type`, `reviews_count`, `rating_summary`, `store_id` FROM `m4g3_review_entity_summary` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id

INSERT INTO m4g3_rating_option_vote ( `option_id`, `remote_ip`, `remote_ip_long`, `customer_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `rating_id`, `review_id`, `percent`, `value` ) (
SELECT `option_id`, `remote_ip`, `remote_ip_long`, `customer_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `rating_id`, `review_id`, `percent`, `value` FROM `m4g3_rating_option_vote` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id

INSERT INTO m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated ( `rating_id`, `entity_pk_value`, `vote_count`, `vote_value_sum`, `percent`, `percent_approved`, `store_id` ) (
SELECT `rating_id`, @new_id AS `entity_pk_value`, `vote_count`, `vote_value_sum`, `percent`, `percent_approved`, `store_id` FROM `m4g3_rating_option_vote_aggregated` WHERE `entity_pk_value` = @old_id

Need some help managing your Magento ecommerce store? Give us a call on 01380 830224 and we’ll see what we can do to ease your pain… 

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Can a Hackintosh really replace an Apple Mac?

You’re probably aware that Apple computers are built using the same standard parts that are used to create Windows PCs. You might not be aware that a standard PC can run the macOS, a so called ‘Hackintosh‘. An increasingly popular option for video editors, musicians and the somewhat geeky is to create a custom macOS compatible computer, tailored exactly to their needs.

What are the pros and cons of a Hackintosh?

The main pros are cost and choice. You can often built a dirt cheap Hackintosh for significantly less than Apple’s cheapest option, or built a more powerful and expandable computer than Apple currently offers. With a Hackintosh, everything is modular, so you can easily upgrade the RAM, hard drive, video card and processor.

The main con is the time you will spend specifying the components, building the computer and getting a working and stable Mac OS installed. A Hackintosh will work best when you carefully select the parts you are going to use so that they mirror the parts Apple use. Out of the box pretty much everything will just work as expected with minimal effort. However there are still significant pain points getting Sleep, WiFi, Bluetooth, NVMe SSDs, Thunderbolt and video cards to work cleanly. I lost track of the time spent trying to get sleep working on my Hackintosh with 3 monitors, to the extent that I basically stopped bothering and just shut it down at night. Swapping for the NVidia video card for a AMD RX480 instantly solved that problem, which illustrates the point about choosing parts carefully.

Who should consider a Hackintosh?

If you’re a bit of a masochist, an experienced computer builder, a video or music professional it might be worth considering. When you factor in buying good quality components, your own time and the software niggles, the sums generally don’t add up for everyone else.  If you need a laptop I wouldn’t even dream of it.

But for a small (and growing) number of professional Mac users, the frustration with Apple’s increasingly locked down and sealed designs is sufficient for them to go down the Hackintosh route. Even the newly announced iMac Pro, whilst on paper a monstrously powerful machine, is a completely sealed unit!

I personally cannot bring myself to buy a computer that I cannot upgrade the RAM or the hard drive. My 2011 MacBook Pro is still going strong, but sadly might be the last Apple laptop I buy from new, simply because I can’t bring myself to spend that amount of money on what I considered to be deliberately hobbled machinery.

Could a Hackintosh replace my Apple Mac?

Short answer –  yes, without question. Longer answer – once you have your initial hardware built, configured and tested, there’s very little difference in day to day use between a Hackintosh and an Apple Mac. Fundamentally what makes a Mac a Mac is the software, not the hardware. However getting to that point where you have a stable, cleanly running machine, and keeping it there after software updates can be a challenge.

Why do Hackintoshes  exist?

Until such time as Apple reintroduce computers aimed at high end or experienced creative professionals, with upgradable RAM, hard drives and ideally video cards, the slow haemorrhaging of creative users over to Windows or Hackintoshes will continue. Computers, unlike phones, are not short lived and disposable assets. In my experience, most people replace a computer every 4-6 years. During that time they may need more RAM, larger and faster hard drives, or want a more powerful video card. Apple have explicitly denied owners any upgrading opportunities, thus massively reducing the useful lifespan of the Apple computers they buy, whilst simultaneously increasingly the asking price. It’s this “double whammy” that’s driving people towards non-Apple solutions, be it Windows or a Hackintosh.

Here’s hoping that the mythical 2018 modular Mac Pro starts the reversal of the ( sadly industry-wide ) trend towards sealed, disposable computing than Apple themselves started…

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