Apple’s MacBook Pro DVI to Video adapter is Mac Only

So my younger brother has a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, one of the earlier models. Anyway for a while he wanted Apple’s DVI to Composite/S-Video adapter. This year he put it on his Christmas list but, he still ended up without it. But a few weeks ago I was at MicroCenter and saw one as an open-box return. So I picked it up for him at about $5 off and he was very happy about it. It worked great with his Mac, allowing him to hook up his Mac to be displayed on the old TV in his dorm.

Now this made me wonder, can I use this on my PC? I have an Intel Quad Core PC with dual ATI 4670 graphics cards. The only thing I dislike about them is that the only port on them is DVI. There is no option for S-Video or Composite output, although I can hook the PC up to my TV via an HDMI to DVI cable I have. But I would like the option for S-Video out. Why? Besides the fact that I have a little obsession with S-Video, the main reason is that my DVD Recorder has S-Video input, therefore if I want to record what is on the screen on my PC I can do so. I do this with my Mac – it’s great for recording live streaming video events, or difficult to capture videos that are online in a pinch.

So I plugged in the adapter to the PC and ran a composite video cable to the TV set… what I got wasn’t pretty. Just a few black and gray bars. It seems that this adapter may as well be Mac-only. This was disappointing. I tried many different resolutions and video modes, but the adapter failed to display anything but some black and gray bars. So I suppose this adapter is only made for MacBook Pro machines. It may have to do with the type of DVI connector, if Apple’s MacBook Pro has a certain pins dedicated to TV-compatible video out – that would explain the issue. But, for now I’m stuck with using an old VGA to Composite/S-Video adapter I picked up at last year’s Trenton Computer Festival last year. The only bad thing is it needs a big power brick and it can be kind of bulky. No where as nice as a simple adapter. Oh well. Who knows, maybe the adapter just didn’t like my PC’s graphics card. Maybe it’s compatible with other graphics cards or adapters? I might try to see if I get any signal from my iMac. If I try a Mini-DVI to DVI adapter and then attache the Composite/S-Video adapter to that… although I doubt that’ll work. (Update: No, that does not work, it formats the screen for a TV but the output doesn’t seem to send a proper signal) Plus it’s useless considering I have a Mini-DVI to Composite/S-Video adapter. Oh well! It was worth a try. 😛

Telling the difference between a Mac OS X Restore Disc and a Retail Install Disc (Archive)

Note: This article was transferred from my original blog.

A lot more people have Macs today, which leads to a lot more people with a lot more questions. One frequent mix-up comes when a user needs to re-install Mac OS X or when someone wants to upgrade their copy of Mac OS X. Either they lose their discs or they decide to use one from a friend and they discover it just doesn’t work. They wonder why, that’s because not all discs will work with all Macs.

This happens because there are two common types of Mac OS X install discs. Three if you want to be specific. The first type is a Restore disc. These are gray-covered discs that come with your Mac when you buy it new. Usually there are two DVDs included, one has the Mac OS X software and the other has additional programs such as iLife. These discs will only work with that specific Mac model it was included with. For example a restore disc that came bundled with a MacBook will not work on an iMac. Or even a newer (2008) or older (2006) MacBook restore disc, may not work with your 2007 MacBook model.

The second type of a install disc is a Retail Install Disc. This is the type of disc you will buy from Apple. This is a full install disc and will work on any Mac that supports the minimum system requirements. It will install on an iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, etc. This version however does not include some bundled software that originally would of came with your Mac, such as iLife and some additional applications.

The third type of install disc is a variant of the Retail Install Disc, this is a Retail Upgrade Disc. These discs are usually received through Apple’s Up-To-Date program. You would receive this disc if you bought a Mac with the older software pre-installed on the system right after Apple has started shipping a newer version. For example if Mac OS X 10.5 came installed on your iMac and Apple released Mac OS X 10.6 a few days earlier, your iMac gets an upgrade. There may be a small charge to receive the updated discs. These discs will only install if it detects the older version of Mac OS X installed. For example it will not work on a Mac with no version of Mac OS X installed, or a version older then the previous version.

This can sound a bit confusing, but there is a simple way to tell the discs apart. A Restore disc has a gray cover and will say the model of the Mac it is for on the front along with a version number and a date. A Retail install disc will have a pretty graphic on the front and not mention a model such as iMac or MacBook. A Retail upgrade disc will look very similar to the Retail install disc, but it may say “CPU Drop-in DVD”, “Upgrade Disc” or “Update Disc” on it. This signifies that the install disc will check for a previous (and existing) installation of Mac OS X before it can install the updated version of the software, and will not work on a Mac that has no software on it.

So if you bought a new hard drive for your Mac and it’s blank, you will need a Retail install disc or the appropriate Restore disc for your Mac. An Upgrade disc will not work in this situation. Above is a graphic showing the difference between a restore disc and a retail install disc. I hope this helps with some confusion about the different Mac OS X install discs. Happy installing!!


AirPort Legacy Wireless (Archive)

Note: This article was transferred from my original blog.

Note: The older application ‘AirPort Utility for Graphite and Snow’ is not compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”.

So months ago I upgraded to a new D-Link Wireless N router. Finally with everything setup, things worked great. One problem though, I setup my new router using a WPA encryption code instead of WEP in order to use the 802.11n standard as told to me by the manual.

So what few older devices that didn’t support WPA and only WEP could no longer connect to the internet. This didn’t seem like much of a problem… at first. I soon discovered the two devices that couldn’t go online anymore… my TiVo and my first generation Nintendo DS. The TiVo saw the network with my Linksys USB 802.11g adapter, but yelled at me to buy a TiVo Wireless brand adapter to use WPA encrypted signals. I kid you not!

As for the Nintendo DS, unlike the Wii, it only supports WEP encryption. The same with the Nintendo DS Lite, now the new Nintendo DSi fixes this issue and supports WPA… but ONLY on new games that support WPA. That’s right, older titles work work through a WPA standard even though the system supports it. God that’s just plain stupid.

So anyway I had a problem, the TiVo and DS couldn’t connect. Up until recently I’ve been running an extra long ethernet cord to the TiVo every 2 weeks to update it’s TV programing guide and listings. Well now that I got the AC adapter for this old Apple AirPort router (Graphite 802.11b) I’m back in business. So I setup the old Graphite AirPort station, I plugged it into my Mac and tried to connect to it wirelessly, but it’s old info was still on there and it was locked with a password. So I reset the router with a paper clip in the reset hole for 30 seconds and I was good to go. The only problem is configuring the device, according to Apple online you need to use a crossover ethernet cable, or have your Mac and the AirPort connected both to a hub or a switch (even a hub or a switch of a router) via regular ethernet cables. Apparently it won’t work wirelessly. But, to do this I needed to download an older version of the Apple AirPort Utility (called ‘AirPort Admin Utility for Graphite and Snow’, Wow, what a mouth full…).

So I downloaded that from Apple here. I was then able to see the AirPort, but I kept getting errors when trying to configure it. So I was about ready to think the AirPort base station was busted, I mean after all spending $3 in total for it, not too bad if it’s just broken.

BUT! Then I did a little googling. It turns out, if you’re using an Intel-based Mac and running Mac OS X “Leopard” 10.5.2 or later, you MUST run the Apple AirPort Utility in Rosetta mode! (Apple article here) So I selected the ‘AirPort Admin Utility for Graphite and Snow’ in the Utilities folder of my Applications folder, selected Get Info and checked the ‘Open using Rosetta’ box. Boom, worked perfectly! I would of NEVER of guessed to check that. (Warning!: This version of the AirPort Utility is not compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, it will not launch!)

After this things ran very smoothly. I updated the firmware on the base station to the latest version, and I set it up to work with my old router, the two are connected through an ethernet cable. Now my little Graphite AirPort base station is being put to good use, and is sending out compatible wireless signals to the “outdated” devices in my house. Yay!