A weekend of Mac Repair and Upgrades

I was a “computer repair guy” this weekend. First up for repair was my son’s iMac, which had a hard drive go bad. Getting to the hard drive in the iMac was fairly easy, but certainly a lot harder than cracking open a PC.

Next up after the iMac repair was upgrading my Macbook Pro with an SSD drive. Working on the MBP was super easy. Took less than 10 minutes to install the new drive. What a difference the SSD makes! Boots in about 8 seconds and launches apps instantly without any bouncing icons in the dock.

Witopia: Great VPN Service for Mac

Since I got my new nifty Macbook Pro I have decided to visit Panera bread more often to work on some of my web sites and also get some blogging done. Working remotely offers a refreshing change from my home office.

Since I will be working off public wifi in these situations, I needed to have a VPN solution to protect myself from possible traffic sniffers and other nasty things that can happen on open wifi.

After a decent amount of research, I found Witopia and their PersonalVPN service. PersonalVPN uses SSL-VPN (via OpenVPN) which is more secure than other methods such as PPTP.

When using the VPN service, I haven’t noticed any network speed difference. I have had one issue though pertaining to the tunnelblick vpn software client they use. If the client is left running when shutting down, my macbook takes about a minute and a half or so to shut down. Not a big deal, but it was a little frustrating not knowing why it took so shutdown OS X.

If you are working remotely and rely of free wifi access, you need to protect yourself and your data. I highly recommend Witopia. Witopia is for BOTH Mac and Windows, but I can only comment on their Mac service.

For a Witopia discount code use shxpt to save 10%, bringing the cost down to only $36 for the year!

Update: Wiptopia’s PersonalVPN cost has been raised to $59.99 a year. Still, it’s a great bargain if you plan on using it a lot. The discount code above still works, saving you $6 off the registration cost, bringing it to $53.99

Speed up Mouse Tracking on Mac OS X

One of my gripes when I switched to using a Mac full time was that I could never get my mouse to track fast enough. Here is a  solution that worked for me.

  1. Open a Terminal Window
  2. Enter the following command to see what your current setting is:
    defaults read -g com.apple.mouse.scaling
  3. This will return a numeric value. To speed up (or slow down) your mouse tracking, you can simply change this number accordingly by typing the following command, replacing the “your_mouse_speed” with a new number such as 5.0. Notice that read has been changed to write:
    defaults write -g com.apple.mouse.scaling your_mouse_speed
  4. The maximum mouse speed on mac desktops is 3.0 (when maxed out in system preferences). I changed my speed to 5.0 for my 24″ iMac and it was noticeably better.
    defaults write -g com.apple.mouse.scaling  5.0
  5. You may need to restart your mac to see the changes take effect.

Update Jan 2010 :  This method also works with the new magic mouse as well.