Upgrading a Mid-2012 MacBook Pro to meet today’s standards

2012 was a while ago, even so I decided to go back to Macs and I purchased a mid 2012 MacBook Pro.

My last Apple computer was a late 2006 MacBook. So when my MacBook Pro arrived I was very excited.

Specs before the upgrade:

As you can tell, the above specs are not ideal for the needs of today. There were a few things I wanted to change...

Upgrade to an SSD

To start with, Hard drives are good for storing things. They aren’t as good as they used to be either. I, therefore, made the decision to swap the hard drive for an SSD. The SSD in question was the Goodram C40 240GB SSD. Yes, I know you may have never heard of the brand. But I have been using the brand for my storage devices for years!

Add a Hard Drive for storage

Wait what? Yes, you heard correctly! I added a second storage drive. This can be achieved by taking the CD drive out, purchasing a special caddy and connecting a second hard drive to it. Like the one below…

Hard Drive Caddy for MacBook Pro

As you can tell, I purchased a 1TB Seagate Barracuda drive.

Checkout my article on how I achieved this life hack…

Upgrade the RAM to 8GB’s

4 GB isn’t that much these days. In reality, you need a minimum of 8 GB to run smoothly. I have therefore decided to upgrade the RAM to 8GB’s.

Install MacOS Mojave

The upgrade wouldn’t be much of an upgrade without installing the latest version of MacOS would it?

Specs after the upgrade:

A guide to creating a Windows 10 installation USB

You’re most likely here because you need to install Windows 10. You’re in the right place! In this article, I will show you how to create a Windows 10 installation stick.

You could be here due to a number of reasons. Such as an upgrade, or because you build your own PC. Please bear in mind that you will need to purchase a license.

If you don’t feel confident installing Operating Systems, please take your PC to a PC repair shop. I am not responsible for and damage or data loss caused. You are following this guide at your own risk!

You will need:

  • A USB stick with at least 8 GB
  • An internet connection
  • Windows 10 Licence

1 . Format your USB Stick.

Please bear in mind that this step will wipe your USB drive meaning that you will lose your data.

To format your USB

  1. Insert your USB drive
  2. Backup any data
  3. Go to Computer
  4. Carefully select your USB drive
  5. Right click and select Format
  6. Click “Restore device defaults”
  7. Click “Start”

2. Download the Media Creation Tool

Available here

The tool will do all the work for you, you just need to follow the steps

3. Follow instructions until you get to the “What do you want to do” step

Select “Create installation media”.

4. Select your language, edition and architecture

5. Select “USB Flash drive”

6. Select the correct drive

7. Wait for the download and installation to complete

Once the installation is complete your USB drive is ready!

A Beginner’s Guide to Ubuntu

So, you’re interested in Ubuntu? You have come to the right place! In this article, I will explain the basics you need to know to get started!

So what is Ubuntu?

Well, Ubuntu is an open-source Linux operating system based on Debian. You’re probably thinking what that means right? Well, open-source means that it’s free to use, download and modify. Debian, on the other hand, is another free Linux Operating System. Ubuntu is also one of the most popular Linux Distributions.

What do I mean by free?

Yes! You heard correctly! It’s free. But it’s not only free to use and download, but you can also modify it to suit your needs.

What about security?

Since it’s free you may have security concerns. Ok, yes it’s a free system, which users can modify as they please. But actually, Ubuntu can be considered as a more secure system. How have I worked that one out? Well, the Linux architecture does not allow viruses and malware to penetrate the system easily. This limits the need to run posh anti-virus software. In fact, many users might say you don’t need antivirus software on Ubuntu, I would still recommend a basic virus scanner, especially when you use and share files between other operating systems. Ubuntu also receives regular updates that provide firm security. These updates are not aggressive, meaning that you can choose a suitable time to install them. If you’re a Windows user, you may face the issue with constant and aggressive updates. These updates are a good thing, but since Windows is one of the most popular systems out there, these updates are essential.

So what about the hardware compatibility?

Ubuntu is very well designed, most drivers are included as standard. I have been using it for years and I only ever had 1 driver issue on an old laptop, where the WiFi card was not supported. The fix was easy, all I did was purchase a USB WiFi adapter for under £15 and it solved it.

What if I get stuck and need support?

Ubuntu has a huge community of pro’s who are always ready to help you out with any situation you may have.

What is Linux?

Linux is a kernel, no not the army one. It’s actually the core component of an Operating system and it allows the software to connect with the hardware. It’s important to note that a kernel on its own is just a set of instructions.

It was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991.

Why Ubuntu?

What a great question right? Here are some reasons…

  • You don’t have to be an expert to use it.
  • It’s Free!
  • You can try it out before installing
  • It has a stylish interface, just bear in mind that the true beauty is in the terminal 😉
  • It works well with older and low spec computers
  • You can customise it to suit your needs!
  • It’s fast and most importantly of all stable
  • It’s supported!
  • Say goodbye to the blue screen of death!
  • It has good security
  • Don’t like the style, there are tons of flavours to choose from
  • Tons of free software in the Software Center
  • The Terminal

The Desktop Releases

Ubuntu currently comes as two releases.

LTS

This is the latest version with long-term support. It usually means about five years. It will give you free security and maintenance updates.

Latest version

If you feel experimental, The latest version comes with 9 months worth of support, you later update to the next latest version.

How do I try it out?

Easy! All you need is a USB drive and the Ubuntu Iso file.

  1. Download Rufus, Available here
  2. Download the Ubuntu Desktop, Available here
  3. Run Rufus
  4. Insert your USB drive. Please bear in mind that your USB drive will be wiped!
  5. Select USB drive under Device – Choose carefully as choosing the wrong one may lead to data loss!
  6. Select FreeDOS under boot selection, press Select and browse for the Ubuntu ISO file
  7. Select Start
  8. If the Download required box appears click Yes to continue
  9. Once complete boot from your USB drive.
  10. Select Trial Mode. Please note that if you press install you might wipe your current Operating System causing data loss!

Also Checkout…

A Guide to installing Ubuntu

What is life like using a Chromebook as your main PC?

Chromebooks are those cheap laptops you find online and in stores usually for under £300. You may be thinking; What good will such a cheap laptop do for me? In this article, I will discuss how powerful a Chromebook can actually be and my experience with using a Chromebook as my everyday laptop at University.

To begin with, I don’t like to carry many things around with me that might either be heavy or unnecessary to me, so since I was in the market for a new laptop I decided that this new laptop should be small and lightweight. I looked at many laptops, including netbooks running on Windows 10 and Chromebooks running on Chrome OS, but the netbooks seemed to be slow, whereas the Chromebooks seemed to be up and running in no time.

Before I purchased my Chromebook, I have done some research into what types of web apps there are, I already knew about Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online. There turned out to be thousands of online web apps which work on Chrome OS and that’s not mentioning the browser apps that can be downloaded from the Chrome web store.

I also found that some Chromebooks support Linux, this meant that I could have a fully functioning Linux operating system. The only issue I found was that Chrome OS runs in the background.

I found a decent device on Amazon, it was the Lenovo N22. It was perfect for what I wanted it to do, it even had a carrying handle so that I can carry it like a mini suitcase, which I thought was useless. I did manage to install a run down version of Ubuntu which I used for basic programming tasks and local usage using the pre-installed Libre Office. In terms of performance, I didn’t expect much, especially when considering the price I paid but actually, I was in for a surprise as I didn’t get any lag or performance issues. This particular Chromebook also came with free cloud storage space for Google Drive.

Differences worth considering

If your like me and used to systems like Windows or Mac it can take time to get used to it, it didn’t take me long to get used to it, but hey we’re all different! In fact, from using it every day, I didn’t find it much different from the other systems. Obviously, you don’t need to purchase software for it, unless you are wanting to subscribe to Office 365, which on a Chromebook is only good if you want the 1TB cloud storage or if you are an organisation, but that’s a different story. The other major difference is the fact that it’s technically a web browser unless you purchase one with Android app support, but once again, that’s a different story! The fact that it’s only a web browser means that there is no reason for users to have performance issues unless you are carrying out heavy tasks like photo editing using one of many wonderful online tools.

So are Chromebooks suitable for everyday use?

The short answer is YES! however, there is a but! and that’s the fact that I would not recommend them if you are a heavy user. It’s a simple as that! They are perfect for basic tasks but tend to get complicated when it comes to the more demanding tasks. The only trouble is that they rely on an internet connection, although it is possible to use them offline, it depends on whether the Chrome plugin can be used offline. On the other hand, if you are using Linux then they are fine!

Want to try Chrome OS before you buy? Try it with Cloud Ready!

 

 

Test: is it worth purchasing a second-hand laptop?

Laptops can be expensive right? The question is, is it worth purchasing a second hand one? Well, I decided to purchase one and put it to the test. This article will cover my recommendations, what you need to know and most importantly of all the test.

Before making a purchase

It is important to research into what you are purchasing, for example, Many second-hand laptops don’t come with hard drives. This is a perfectly normal thing for a seller to do, it’s usually done to protect the seller’s data. If the laptop doesn’t come with a hard drive, it’s very likely that the laptop won’t come with an operating system unless the laptop comes with an installation disk. On the other hand, if the laptop does come with a hard drive and an operating system it is important to know which one you are purchasing. If you are purchasing a laptop with Windows XP or Vista, you need to know that Microsoft has discontinued support for these systems. This means that they will no longer get any essential security updates. Many software vendors have also stopped support for these systems meaning that the latest versions of the programs can’t be installed.

 

My Purchase

The internet is full of interesting websites that sell second-hand laptops, I decided to look on eBay. There were loads to choose from my and my budget for the entire project was £250, that’s for the laptop itself and any parts. Below is the laptop that I decided to purchase:

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 2310M 2.10GHz x2
  • RAM: No Ram included
  • Storage: No Storage device included
  • OS: No OS included

Price: £90 – sold as spares and repair

Please Note!

If you do not feel confident opening up a laptop or computer, please take it to a PC repair shop! The software (Operating System) and components purchased for this laptop may not work on yours! It is important to research compatibility. Purchasing laptops that are labelled as faulty or spares and repairs can be very risky if you don’t have enough information about the product.

As you can tell, the above laptop was sold as spares and repair. Like I mentioned above, it can be risky buying laptops for spares and repairs, However, the auction did state that the laptop was in full working order with the exception of the RAM and hard drive being removed by the seller. The seller has also included a 3-month warranty. So having spent £90 on the laptop, I needed to acquire a storage device, RAM and an operating system. I decided to purchase a hard drive. Normally in these situations, I would recommend an SSD since they can improve speeds. However, the laptop will be used for tasks which require a lot of storage space. Since the laptop is second hand, I did consider to purchase the required components second-hand too, however, hard drives are so cheap these days that I decided to purchase a new 1TB hard drive instead. However the RAM was purchased second-hand, it was an 8GB stick. Last, of all, I purchased Windows 10 Home for £74.

Money Spent on making the laptop work:

  • Hard drive: (Toshiba 1TB): £42
  • RAM (Kingston 8GB): £34.99
  • OS (Windows 10 Home): £74

Total spent: £240.99

I spent £240.99 all together on this laptop. Which is a lot cheaper compared to new laptops of similar spec. There were laptops available at a cheaper price with a hard drive and RAM included, but they had a small amount of storage space and a low amount of RAM.

Tips for purchasing a second-hand laptop

  • If purchasing a spares and repairs laptop, make sure you are confident enough to purchase it and that the seller accepts returns.
  • Make sure that a power adapter is included
  • Make sure that the operating system is still supported
  • It’s always good if the seller has a good feedback rating
  • If unsure, ask the seller or forums
  • If you don’t feel confident rebuilding a laptop or computer buy one in working order!

After 1 Week of usage

In order to make the test fair, I used this laptop as my main PC for a week. In fact, I’m writing this very article on this laptop. While conducting basic tasks such as browsing the internet, playing basic games and basic PhotoShop I had no performance issues. In fact, considering the fact that it has an old processor I was quite surprised at the speed of the laptop. I was able to use Photoshop and conduct more demanding tasks too.

So I have any issues?

Some might say that buying a second-hand laptop can give you more problems then it’s worth and that can be true! That is the exact reason that you need to be careful when purchasing second-hand goods. A good thing to look out for is whether the laptop or computer comes with a warranty. This can be a lifesaver when something goes wrong. If you don’t feel confident rebuilding a laptop or computer buy one in working order! I have been building and re-building computers for years if you are new to this, please be aware that you may face a lot more issues, which might lead to spending more money.

So to answer this question, No I did not have any issues with this laptop. However, that’s not to say that I won’t face issues if I decide to buy another second-hand PC.

The outcome of the test

I am very happy with the purchase. The laptop will be used as a test PC for testing various operating systems. However since it doesn’t have a new processor, it will struggle with the more demanding tasks. The Core i3 wasn’t intended for the heavier tasks in the first place and comparing it to other processors that were on the market during it’s time you can see that similar processors have a better overall benchmark.

CPU Benchmark:

Available here: http://cpuboss.com/cpu/Intel-Core-i3-2310M

When purchasing a PC, it is very important to consider what you will be using it for. Heavier tasks such as photo editing, programming or even gaming require more resources. You can find my test results below:

 

 

 

 

Project: Raspberry Pi NAS Server

Do you have more than one PC at home? A NAS server is your solution for storing and accessing your files in one place. This article will cover my mini project…

NAS servers can be expensive right? so why overpay? It’s more fun building your own! I decided to do just that, using a Raspberry Pi.

Why Raspberry Pi?

What a good question! When I was planning to build a new NAS, I had two factors that I needed to consider, energy usage and space. My previous NAS Server was built using an old desktop PC which was slowly starting to show it’s age. Not only was it using up a lot of power, but it was also loud and it used up a lot of space. A Raspberry Pi was, therefore, the perfect solution.

The project…

For this project I used:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B+
  • Power Supply
  • Case
  • 16GB Micro SD card
  • Open Media Vault image (Available here)
  • Portable Hard drive

The total price I paid for the above is <strong>£80</strong>, which is a lot cheaper comparing it to off the shelf NAS Servers.

If you are interested in building a server yourself, here are the instructions I used.

Was it worth it?

I have used many NAS Servers in the past and I can definitely confirm that this one is by far the best one for basic file storage. It’s not designed for heavy use but all I wanted it for was to store files so that I can access them on many PCs at once.

Have you ever done a project using a Raspberry Pi? Comment below!

 

Is your laptop running low on storage space? Try this life hack!

Storage space is precious, especially when you don’t have much of it. When it comes to desktop PC’s the solution is easy, all you do is add a second hard drive. But what if it’s a laptop?

Many new laptops come with SSD’s, some of which have less than 240GB of storage space. 15 years ago that amount was amazing, but most computers were running on Windows XP and the system requirements weren’t that heavy. I mean last year I purchased a Lenovo IdeaPad, which had a built-in 120GB SSD which got filled up extremely fast. Most laptops at that price range had them. Luckily this laptop was well designed and had a slot to put a second hard drive in. But not all laptops do.

So, the question is how often do you use your CD drive? Not many people use CD drives these days, would you be willing to give yours up? The reason I’m asking is that you can actually swap out your CD drive with a hard drive enclosure. I have done this with two laptops, both of which are working without issue. The last one I did was for my mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I purchased the hard drive enclosure and a 2.5″ hard drive pictured below….

 

Check out…

Yes, I know CDs are slowly becoming extinct, but can I survive with my new rig not having a CD drive?

 

So where do I start?

Warning!

If you do not feel confident in carrying out such tasks, take your laptop to a computer repair shop and please remember to back up your data before carrying out any maintenance tasks!

To start with, you will need a 2.5″ hard drive. I purchased a 1TB Seagate Baracuda drive and a specifically designed enclosure. Most laptops are SATA, It’s worthwhile to double check what you have before you make the purchase. It’s also good to check the dimensions of the hard drive.

Steps:

  1. Connect and secure the hard drive in the enclosure
  2. Remove the old CD drive from the laptop
  3. Carefully remove the front cover from the old CD drive
  4. Attach the front cover to the enclosure
  5. Connect the enclosure and hard drive into the laptop.

Costs:

  • 1TB Hard Drive: £49.99
  • Enclosure: £9.99
  • Total: £59.98

Check out…

My previous patient was an HP ProBook. I have just upgraded it to an SSD to improve performance. Unfortunately, that came at a cost and that’s the amount of storage space I had.

 

Was it worth it?

Definitely! These hard drive enclosures can be life savers!

Yes, I know CDs are slowly becoming extinct, but can I survive with my new rig not having a CD drive?

Well…

To start with, my previous rig was getting old so I decided to build a new one. When planning out the components I was going to be purchasing, I looked at what I actually need and the first thing that came to mind was whether I actually use the CD drive. To be honest, I don’t think I even used it once this year so I made the decision to buy a case without a shelf for one.

Looking at the way things are going at the moment, CDs don’t seem to be used as often as they used to be. I mean I can’t remember the last time I have seen either Office or Internet Security being sold on CD’s, they usually come on scratch cards. People seem to be using streaming services a lot more compared to buying CDs. If you think about it for that £10 per month it’s like buying all the CD’s out there for the price of 1. But unfortunately, this is where artists miss out.

Do I regret this decision?

No, I don’t regret this decision. I have actually purchased an external DVD drive for £20, so when I need it I just grab it out of my draw. The thing is that in everyday life I don’t find a CD drive useful. There is no point of burning data cd’s as we have other storage devices for that and I don’t tend to listen to CDs any more. I mean, in my opinion, nowadays CD drives are something one would use once in a while but then forget that it even exists. <strong>Most new PC’s don’t even come with a CD drive!