Learning Experience: Attempting to Transfer a Windows 7 Install to Boot Camp (PC to Mac)

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Source System
Lenovo Notebook
SSD Hard Drive
Windows 7

Target System
MacBook Pro (Late 2013, 13.3″ with Retina Display)
SSD Hard Drive
Boot Camp

For the more literal folks, I apologize. I realize that a Mac is actually a PC but for the sake of simplicity I added it to the title so everyone would understand what I was trying to do.

I recently needed to transfer a Windows 7 install from a Lenovo notebook over to a MacBook Pro Bootcamp partition. I need to make it clear that this project was not a success. However, I have learned a few things that others will find useful. In addition, had I followed some advice available in a blog post it’s possible that it would have worked. After all, I did succeed in migrating the partition over and it did attempt to boot…

This particular transfer was a bit more challenging due to the fact that both systems use SSD drives. As a result, I couldn’t simply pull a drive and execute more direct partition clones.

Should you be considering such a move then a good place to begin is a blog post by twocanoes titled Migrating a Real PC to Boot Camp with Winclone 4. Basically, this is the advice I did not follow. Now, my reason for not following it wasn’t irrational. I was very concerned that I’d run Sysprep before cloning, only to then discover that it simply wouldn’t work. Perhaps if I hadn’t been trying to do this quickly I could have attempted this while also having a good fallback clone of the partition made BEFORE running Sysprep or any other changes (and it did not turn out quickly – I spent more time trying to make this work than I did simply starting with a fresh Windows 7 Bootcamp install).

So, once again, I’m confident that I could have succeeded in this endeavor had I followed the advice from twocanoes. However, even though I wasted a lot of time I did learn a few valuable things along the way.

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Service Battery Notifications and Trackpad Problems (13-inch Macbook Pro, Mid-2010 Model)

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The first problem began with an apparent inability to charge my wife’s 13-inch Macbook Pro (Mid-2010 model). She began receiving battery status warnings as well. At the time I only suspected a software problem so I reset the SMC, which appeared to have resolved the problem.

Several weeks later my wife starting having problems with her Trackpad again, but this was a new problem. In addition to the Trackpad not responding properly, the right side was visibly raised and the ability to ‘click’ the Trackpad simply wasn’t possible.

I powered off the system, removed the bottom screws, and immediately discovered the problem:
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OS X Mavericks Affecting Trackpad/Keyboard on Older MacBook Pros?

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I’ve read a few articles at different tech sites, along with some Apple support forum postings, discussing a problem with keyboard and trackpad issues on new MacBook Pro Retina systems. Apple even has a support article titled MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013): Keyboard and Multi-Touch trackpad may become unresponsive.

I don’t think this issue is limited only to newer MacBook Pro Retina systems. A day after upgrading my wife’s 13″ MacBook Pro, which is a 2010 or 2011 model (and doesn’t have a Retina Display), we experienced a similar problem. She was trying to use her laptop but the mouse cursor did not follow the movements on the trackpad. It seemed to stop responding for brief moments and then move off in a slightly different direction when it did work. I witnessed this problem myself and even checked to see if something had gotten on the trackpad that was throwing it off. Nothing had.

Because I had yet to learn of this problem I happened on the solution by accident. My wife had become frustrated so she closed her laptop and let it sleep. I grabbed it, opened the display, but it wouldn’t fully wake up (an issue that itself isn’t exactly rare). Rather than power the laptop off, not knowing what she may have left open and unsaved, I simply closed the lid and waited until the LED pulsed to indicate that the system was sleeping. Then I opened it back up. This time the system woke up properly and, once again, the trackpad behaved normally.

It’s certainly possible that something else was the cause but the problem hasn’t recurred so I doubt it’s a hardware issue. This has never happened before. In addition, a friend of mine mentioned that he also had a similar problem with an older MacBook Pro. So, if you have an older MacBook Pro that behaves this way try the solution for new MacBook Pro systems.

Upgrade Impressions: Replacing MacBook Pro and ASUS Eee PC Hard Drives with Seagate Hybrid Drives

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Early last month I replaced the hard drive in my ASUS home automation PC with a Seagate Hybrid Drive (1 TB, 5,400 RPM, 2.5″). Since then I’ve noticed a slight improvement in performance.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to replace the drive in my work laptop with a Seagate hybrid drive as well. I was so impressed with the performance boost and wake-from-hybernate speed that I decided to purchase two drives for home use (one for my laptop, which is a mid-2012 13″ MacBook Pro and one for my wife’s laptop that is probably a 2010 13″ MacBook Pro).

For the personal laptops I purchase two drives (Seagate Momentus XT 750 GB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 32 MB Cache 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive ST750LX003) from Amazon for around $100 each.

I’m very impressed with these hybrid drives. I never expected to see a noticeable improvement in performance. It’s comparable to the difference experienced when adding a significant amount of RAM to a system. Even my wife’s older MacBook Pro seems a bit faster.

Apple Thunderbolt Cable (Using an iMac as an External Display for a MacBook Pro)

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I finally dropped the cash for an Apple Thunderbolt cable. It’s not every day that I decide to spend $50 for one cable but it does add some functionality that I will find useful. In my case I purchased it so I could use my iMac as an external display with my MacBook Pro.

From time to time I need to be able to do some work that is more efficient when using two displays. This occasional setup will also save me the trouble of needing to setup a spare monitor somewhere else in the house (such as the dining room table).

Note that I’m connecting from a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt to an iMac (also with Thunderbolt). If you’re trying to mix Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort connections it probably won’t work though I haven’t tested this extensively.

There isn’t much more to write about the cable. It costs $50 and seems to work with my gear. I didn’t notice any problems involving flickering, refresh oddities, or graphic artifacts.

To use the iMac as an external display just hit Command + F2 to set it to Target Display Mode.

One note, for those using gfxCardStatus you will need to make sure you’re MacBook Pro is using “Discrete” graphics. It will not work with the integrated graphics, just as the Mini DisplayPort adapters also won’t work in that mode.

Updated 07/18/2013: This setup works fine though I haven’t really used it, or the cable, since this post. I’ve been very disappointed with the implementation of Thunderbolt in general. Thunderbolt devices are still prohibitively expensive and I’m frustrated that there doesn’t appear to be any kind of USB 3.0 adapter available short of some very expensive docks (many of which have bad reviews).

Superdrive Failure After Upgrading From Snow Leopard To Lion

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A few days ago my wife’s MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2010) suddenly couldn’t read CDs or DVDs. Inserting a disc results in the drive spinning up and down a few times and then ejecting the disc after a moment. We quickly realized this was the first time she had tried to use a disc since I upgraded her computer to Lion.

So far, I haven’t been able to fix the problem. I’ve tried several different suggestions, but I haven’t hit on the correct one. My assumption is that one of two problems have occurred: (1) The Snow Leopard to Lion upgrade resulted in a software problem that affects the Superdrive or (2) it’s purely a coincidence and the Superdrive has simply suffered from a hardware failure.

In the worst case, the MacBook Pro is still well within the AppleCare warranty period so we can have it repaired, if necessary. I’ll try some additional tips as I come across them before we resort to sending it off or visiting an Apple Store.

This doesn’t seem to be an uncommon problem. Quick searches turn up numerous complains from individuals using different configurations who upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion and ran into the same problem. I’m including a few related links. If I find a solution that fixes our problem I’ll add an update to this post.

Updated 11/11/2011: The fact that this problem just started after upgrading to Lion may be a coincidence. I went through some additional diagnostics this evening. The one step I did that has convinced me that this probably is a hardware failure was an attempt to boot from a CD. My assumption is that if the drive issues were caused by a software problem then it wouldn’t appear before booting into Lion.

While it’s true that my wife hadn’t tried to use the drive since we upgraded to Lion, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that the hardware failed sometime before or after the upgrade. In addition, I have noticed signs indicating that the body area where the drive is located isn’t well reinforced. On more than one occasion, and with other models with similar body designs, that when one holds the laptop in a way that puts pressure in that area that it seems to transfer into the drive itself. In my opinion it’s very possible that the drive can be damaged if one has a disc in the drive while putting any kind of pressure on that area of the frame.

It looks like we’ll need to take the MacBook Pro to an Apple Store for repair.

Updated 11/12/2011: The nearest Apple Store is a long drive from our house so we opted to call Apple support and mail the system back for repair. The initial call was painless. It didn’t take much to convince the Apple tech to enter a ticket to have the drive fixed. I updated him on what I’ve done and when I mentioned it wouldn’t boot from a CD he agreed that the drive was most likely bad. It was a good experience overall. I didn’t have to go through the troubleshooting steps again – the tech accepted my conclusions without forcing me to follow a script.

Updated 12/12/2011: The weekend after my wife submitted the support ticket she received the box to ship the laptop on Tuesday. Her laptop was repaired and back in her hands by the Thursday of the same week.

Monoprice Flexible Keyboard

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My friends are well aware that I like to purchase computer and A/V cables from Monoprice, along with the occasional device or odd item. Well, this purchase was certainly an impulse buy. Part of the reason I tossed it into the cart was so I wouldn’t end up with the shipping cost being more than the cost of the items I was ordering. In addition, it may actually be useful at some point.

This week I bought a Monoprice Deluxe Ultra-Slim Flexible Keyboard (a hell of a title considering it’s just a flexible USB keyboard). I thought it might be practical at some point, if a friend asks me to work on a computer. I wouldn’t need their keyboard as well (and I already have a couple of monitors and mice). Perhaps it would be handy in some kind of emergency (“Quick! Does anyone have a keyboard in their car!?!”).

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