Tech Note:

How should I protect my Mac?

 The two most expensive kinds of damage I see are spills and drops. Even Apple’s extended Applecare service doesn’t cover “customer damage” so when this most common occurrence happens to you, will you be ready? 

 Many small spills won’t get down to the fragile interior parts if you have a keyboard cover*. These are cheaper than having me open your Mac, say nothing of having to replace parts. 

 A laptop case may help for small drops (not setting Mac down softly), as long as it’s not when it falls (falls are bad for Mac). The neoprene cases* are nice and protective, but usually are taken off when in use. The hard shell cases* are fun and colorful, but don’t help much when your Mac hits the floor (nothing does). 

You should also check your (or your parent’s) homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it covers accidental damage to laptops. Often damage is done to the logic board, which cost almost as much to replace as buying a whole new Mac. If your deductible is close to the price of a new Mac, it won’t do you much good either. 

 An alternative if the homeowners option isn’t available to you is a SquareTrade warrantee. This is typically around $160 to cover equipment up to $1200. See details at, and read reviews before buying.

 Next time, we’ll talk about what to do immediately if a spill happens to minimize damage.

 -Ark Lemal
Vermont’s On-Demand IT Department
Apple Certified Technical Coordinator  • Apple Consultants Network

*Keyboard covers, Neoprene Cases and Hard Shell Cases are sold in the College Bookstore located next to Apple Desk in a variety of colors.



Recalibrate Your Battery to Hold a Full Charge!

Want to give your Mac a longer life-span? Tired of your computer battery not holding a full charge? Here is what you can do to remedy that!

First completely charge your battery- it is ok to use your computer while your battery is charging at this point. Another possibility would be to charge it overnight. Then, completely drain your battery until your Mac shuts down, by using it without charging it and leaving it on. Now, completely charge your battery again this time WITHOUT using your Mac while it is charging. This recalibrates the chip in the battery so the battery will again hold a full charge.

Backing up to Middfiles!

Here is a very important link to save.

This brings you to the instructions on using Middfiles to back up files- your mid-term papers, finals, and theses that you do not want to lose in case of laptop failure.  Follow the instructions to connect to the file server. When you have the Middfiles folder up and can see the title as Middfiles, drag the icon over near (but not into) the trash in your dock.  You can connect to Middfiles and save data with a click now.  Follow the instructions on the page on the link above to save data you want saved.

Using Mini-Displayport – HDMI to hook HDTV to Mac

Getting Audio to work as well as video

The fix is fairly simple, but it might take a few times. What you need to do are flush out your Mac’s PRAM and SMC, resetting them.

Resetting your PRAM is easy:

1) Shut down your Mac totally.

2) Locate (but don’t press) the following keys on your Mac’s keyboard: COmmand, Option, P and R. Put your fingers over them, but don’t press them yet.

3) Turn on your computer.

4) Immediately after turning on your computer, hold down Command+Option+P+R. This must be done before you see the gray boot up screen.

5) Hold down the keys. If you do this correctly, your Mac will restart and you’ll hear the startup sound a second time.

6) Release the keys.

Congrats, your PRAM’s reset! Now let’s reset the SMC for good measure. The instructions on doing this vary from computer to computer, but Apple’s got a great support document that explains how to reset the SMC on any Mac you own.

Once you’ve flushed both the SMC and PRAM, allow your Mac to boot properly. Plug in your Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter, make sure that HDMI is selected as your Sound output in System Preferences and give your Mac a whirl. Your sound should now hopefully be working through HDMI under OS X Lion. Hoorah!

Using the above steps, I got HDMI sound working on my MacBook Air as well as my girlfriend’s MacBook. How’d it work for you? Let us know in the comments.

By John Brownlee

Tech Notes

Tech Notes

The Mac Corner:

Stop right now and ask yourself these two questions:

1) Is there anything on my Mac that would be a bummer to lose?

2) Is everything backed up and easily recoverable?

Almost every week and sometimes more than once in a week, one of you is coming to me with a Mac whose hard drive has suddenly & unexpectedly become completely unreadable. MOST of you do not have the things you care most for on there backed up and easily recoverable.

This is sad. I hate to give bad news. I hate to watch you crying at my desk having just lost your thesis, or worse, your questionably acquired gigantic music collection.

This is especially sad because, contrary to popular belief, it’s not expensive, hard, complicated, or a chore to backup.

I have a couple of suggestions. Do these right now, and there will be no more crying at my desk.

If you don’t have a backup hard drive, go get one. It’ll be around $100-$150.  Get one that’s bigger than your internal drive. For example, if you have a 250GB internal, get at least a 500GB backup drive. This leaves room for archival data, meaning you can go back and get something from last month, not just last night. Since Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) Time Machine backup software has been free and already installed.

Just plug in the drive and when asked “Do you want to use this drive with Time Machine?”

Say yes. That’s it.

Keep it plugged in as often as you can. If there’s a place you plug in for the night, keep the drive there and plug it in.

Remember to eject it before disconnecting.

I have another idea.

Go right now to and sign up for a free 2GB account. All you need is an email address and a password. Make up a good one. There’s a cute cartoon tutorial on the site and they’ll give you extra space if you watch it through. How nice. Download the app and install it. Now you have a folder in your home folder (right next to Documents) and anything you put in there immediately and with no interaction from you gets backed up to the web! No futzing!

It gets better. Refer a friend, get more free space.

It gets better. Download the app on your iPhone or Android, and you get all your files (that you save in the Dropbox) on your phone. Think PDF of travel itinerary: it’s on you. Nothing to print.

It gets better still. Share a folder from your Dropbox with a friend, colleague, workgroup, class, etc. It doesn’t matter whether they have Mac, PC, iPad, android. They open a file and make a change, bam. You have it already. No need to email it, keep track of versions & revisions. Everyone has the most recent copy. Two people open and change the same file at the same time? It could happen. Dropbox saves both. One, the usual way, and the other as “conflicted copy” with the date, so it can be sorted out.

It gets better still yet and again. From the web, you can revert to previous versions, or undelete a file up to 30 days after it was deleted from your Dropbox.

Pretty sweet. Did I remember to say free? Yes, free.

Right now, move your Middlebury homework folder into your new Dropbox folder. Really. For someone reading this article, this will be the last day their hard drive works. Tomorrow they will turn it on and see only a flashing question mark in a folder, and an ugly click-click-click from under the right hand palm rest. The question is, will they be crying? Or will they walk up to my desk and say, “Here’s my Mac. It’s OK. I’ve got all my work available from any other computer.”

Ark Lemal

Apple Authorized Technician

Coming Next: Instructions for using iCloud and Middfiles to back up your Mac!