My Last Apple Computer Upgrade

I just finished upgrading my last Mac. My wife’s early 2011 MacBook Pro was really starting to show its age. The full 320GB hard drive was making this computer inoperable and needed to be replaced.

The Upgrade

To breathe new life into her MacBook Pro, I added a massive 960GB SSD. I wanted to kill two birds with one stone here: triple her total storage and increase her computer’s performance.

Before I started the upgrade, I used this USB 3.0 to SATA cable to setup the SSD. Unfortunately, this cable was not backwards compatible with the USB 2.0 ports on the 2011 MacBook Pro (which was weird). That meant I had to use another Mac to go through the following setup process:

  1. Download the El Capitan installer from the Mac App Store.
  2. Install El Capitan to the SSD (using the mentioned cable to mount the SSD).
  3. After the installation is completed, setup OS X on the SSD. I used the Migration Assistant to move all of the data from the original hard drive to the new SSD.
  4. Replace the old hard drive with the new (now identical) SSD.

To replace the hard drive on the 2011 MacBook Pro I followed the guide from iFixit since it was straightforward and provided a video demonstration:

Anyways, here are the photos to commemorate this upgrade:

After the new SSD was installed into the 2011 MacBook Pro, I booted up the machine to make sure everything was working properly, then immediately enabled TRIM for the new SSD since I wanted this hard drive to perform optimally for the next few years. The guide from OSXDaily provided me with clear instructions on how to do this.

At this point, I was finished with her 2011 MacBook Pro, my last Mac to upgrade.

Why is this my last Mac upgrade?

Mac upgrades have always been a big part of my life. Lots of Macs have seen RAM upgrades (more appropriately: maximizations) by my hands over the years.

But, we are at a turning point. We are coming to the end of the era of (easily) upgradable Macs. Many of the newer Macs do not allow access to internal components like they once did. In most cases RAM and SSDs are soldered directly onto a Mac’s mother board. Combine this with several Apple computers that are difficult to upgrade, and there are now very few Macs that are upgradable by non-professionals.

As the few remaining serviceable Macs are aging, I wonder how much longer these computers will be supported by Apple. Very soon, the components of most Macs (possibly excluding the Mac Pro) will have to last for the entire life of the device.

There is a tradeoff in this new era of non-serviceable Apple computers. No longer will I have to worry about upgrading computers, but at the same time, I will lose the valuable learning experience of servicing a Mac. Not to mention having to pay a premium for the permanent parts of any Apple computers I purchase upfront—I hate to imagine the price of a 960GB laptop SSD in 2011….

This moment is rather melancholy. Although I am excited to bump my wife’s spinning hard drive to a newer solid state drive, I am saddened by the fact that I may have just finished my last Mac upgrade.

Chromebook: Manual for Mac User – 2016

I’ve been exploring the current state of Chromebooks this past week and I wanted to document all of the analogous softwares and workflows I use to be productive on a Chromebook if you are coming from a Mac. From word processing to photo editing, here is my list of recommended software alternatives if you are switching from a Mac to a Chromebook:

Mail

Chromebook: CloudMagic

Mac: Mail

CloudMagic offers similar functionality in terms of adding multiple accounts and sorting emails to their respective inboxes and folders as the Mac Mail client. On my Chromebook I added Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCloud, and Office 365 emails to the CloudMagic app in a couple minutes. So far, I’ve been really pleased with the performance of CloudMagic, not to mention it is a nice looking app to use for reading and writing email.

Calendar

Chromebook: Sunrise Calendar

Mac: Calendar

I needed a way to access my iCloud calendars, Google calendars, and work Exchange calendars from one app on my Chromebook and Sunrise Calendar allows me to easily do this. However, first you need to sync your calendars from another device, and if you need to use iCloud calendars, you have to install the Sunrise Calendar app to an iPhone, iPad or an Android device first (this will not work from the Mac version of Sunrise Calendar). Once, you overcome this syncing hurdle, Sunrise Calendar works well and looks great for organizing meetings and events. Unfortunately, this solution may not be viable in the future as the team behind Sunrise Calendar is now working for Microsoft and does not plan to provide updates to their Sunrise Calendar product in the foreseeable future. For now, it is my recommendation, but be aware it may not be a permanent calendar client solution for Chomebooks.

Office Suite

Chromebook: Google Docs Suite –> Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

Mac: iWork –> Pages, Numbers, & Keynote

My go to office software on my Mac is Pages, Numbers, & Keynote. Although you can use iCloud.com to access these apps, the Google Docs suite loads much faster for me on Chromebook. If you prefer using Microsoft Office, you are also able to use office.com on a Chromebook if you have an Office 365 subsription. However, the Google Docs suite still loads faster for me and benefits from the Google Drive integration that is part of the Chrome operating system. All that to say, you can always export documents, spreadsheets or presentation slides to their most universal formats (.doc, .ppt, .xls) with any of these aforementioned office suites on a Chromebook.

Music

Chromebook: Google Play Music

Mac: iTunes

If you are not already using Spotify (or another music service), I recommend Google Play Music on Chromebook. Before you move from your Mac, use the Google Play Music Manager app to upload all of your iTunes music into Google Play Music. Once complete, you are able to stream all of your music to your Chromebook from music.google.com. As an added benefit, from this point, you will be able to stream your Google Play Music to your Android phone, iPhone, or any computer that can access music.google.com.

Photo Storage

Chromebook: Google Photos

Mac: Photos

Since Chromebooks have very limited amounts of internal storage my suggestion for storing photos is Google Photos. Similar to the process of uploading your music to Google Play Music, there is a way to upload all of your pictures from your Mac before you move to a Chromebook. Use the Google Photos Uploader software to store all of your pictures in Google Photos for free. Once your images are uploaded, you will be able to access them from your Chromebook (or any other computer) using photos.google.com. In fact, this is a great solution to combine your library of photos from all of your computers and mobile devices into one place!

Photo Editor (Simple)

Chromebook: Canva

Mac: Preview

For basic editing beyond what Mac Photos and Google Photos offer, Canva is my recommendation. Canva can be used to alter the pixel dimensions of a photo and is robust enough to be used as an alternative to Photoshop for basic photo editing. Not to mention, Canva is way easier to use than a traditional photo editor. Just be aware Canva requires signing up for an account before you start creating memes and other graphics from your Chromebook!

Slack

Chromebook: Slacky

Mac: Slack

I use Slack at work to instant message my coworkers from my phone or laptop. It is a great alternative or supplement to email when having online conversations. I prefer the Slacky app to the regular Slack app in the Chrome Web store because Slacky displays Slack within its own window. This makes it is easier to separate Slack messages from other work I am doing on my Chromebook since I can minimize Slacky.

Twitter

Chromebook: Tweetdeck

Mac: Twitter & Tweetdeck

Simply add the Tweetdeck app from the Web App store to your Chromebook and you will have similar access to Twitter as you would on your Mac. The only difference is that Tweetdeck on Chromebook is used through the web browser versus its own window like the app that is available on Mac.

Trello

Chromebook: Trello External Window

Mac: Trello Website

Trello has been my main app for tracking of projects and to-do lists for the last year. I recommend using the Trello External Window app on Chromebook for the same reasons I prefer Slacky to the regular Slack app, it has an external window interface. This makes it easier to separate Trello content from other web browser work.

Feedly

Chromebook: Feedly

Mac: Feedly Website

To access RSS news feeds, I have used Feedly for a long time. It keeps me up-to-date with education blogs and technology news outlets I follow. Like with Tweetdeck, add this app to your Chromebook and you are ready to access news the same way you would have on your Mac.

Ending

This list of 10 Chromebook recommendations covers many of my major productivity needs and workflows that I am accustomed to on my Mac. I hope it has been helpful to you! Also, I am happy to continue this list if you are interested in more suggestions, just let me know.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Tran Mau Tri Tam via Unsplash.

WordPress 4.4 and YouTube Video Embeds

Update!

After posting to the WordPress.org forums, I was offered a few solutions on YouTube video embeds with WordPress 4.4:

Two work-arounds offered by Jeremy Herve:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.39.07 AM

These solutions were originally posted on this forum by Jeremy.

Alternatively, you can wait for the Jetpack update and follow the progress here. In the mean time, I will be using the second work-around offered by Jeremy.

Thank you Jetpack developers and Jeremy for all the work you do!


Original Post

WordPress 4.4 “Clifford” has just been released! I am very excited about it, but I wanted to take a moment and document an issue I am experiencing with YouTube video embed shortcodes:


A simple YouTube video embed uses the video URL in a WordPress Post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24_gZA6tsuQ

Yields (Working):


Alternatively, you can use the embed shortcode to embed a YouTube video:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 1.48.03 PM

Yields (Working):


However, using YouTube video embed shortcodes does not seem to be working:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.13.04 AM

Yields (Not originally working):

Update!

There are two work-arounds to make this work. Please see the beginning Update! section of this blog post for more information!


I am a heavy user of YouTube video embed shortcodes since they allow me to customize the video player to match my WordPress theme and disable the suggested videos that normally appear when a video ends. Thus, I am hoping this will be remedied in a future update!

Don’t get me wrong. I am very excited about WordPress 4.4! With this update comes the notable additions of REST API and the ability to embed WordPress posts:

New Embeds Feature in WordPress 4.4

Both of these features are extremely important additions to WordPress. With the recent release of the Calypso App from WordPress.com the development of WordPress, as a whole, has been phenomenal in the last few months!

This WordPress future looks extremely bright!

Easiest API Ever

Using the “Simple API” from Unsplash, I am able to present random images ever time this page loads.

Go on, refresh the page to see the Simple API in action! 🙂

The Best Part

You can add this Simple API to your websites using the following HTML text:

<img src="https://source.unsplash.com/random" />

And variations of this link can be used to change the parameters of the Simple API. For example, Unsplash photos from specific users, like erondu, can be acquired using the modified HTML text:

<img src="https://source.unsplash.com/user/erondu" />

Or specifying Unsplash photos from a certain category, like Nature, can be obtained from the following HTML text:

<img src="https://source.unsplash.com/category/nature" />

The Simple API is much more robust than I am depicting with these few examples. So, I suggest exploring more at source.unsplash.com to get a better idea of the affordances and potential it possesses.

Increasing Reachability

The beauty of the Simple API comes down to making APIs easier to use for the general populous. Distributing API content using (the familiar technology) hyperlinks allows more people to take advantage of this technology since they do not need the background knowledge required to use a traditional API.

In other words, lowing the required-knowledge barrier will increase the usage and reachability of the API.

Of course Unsplash offers the full JSON API for those that are interested, but being able to use source.unsplash.com without needing to know how to use a traditional API is a fantastic alternative!

I Am Writing This Post On A $50 Smartphone

Time to break down one of my favorite mobile device workflows!

Text

To write this post, I am using the WordPress app. You can download this for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, or Windows Phone.

With this app, you can create an entire website on your phone in a matter of seconds through WordPress.com. However, I am using the self-hosted version of WordPress. This means, my WordPress website is on a server that I administer myself. I am not going to get into the specifics of these differences, so here is a video that can provide some helpful insights:

(OU Create is the program at the University of Oklahoma that is providing me with the web server and web domain required for the self-hosted version of WordPress. My Uni is giving me (and all OU personnel) this online space because they believe I should be controlling my digital identity. And I agree!)

Video

Anyways, the video you see before the previous paragraph is from YouTube. Within the WordPress app, I pasted the link to the video where I wanted it to appear in the text. WordPress detected the video link and automatically formatted it for viewing. If you want some specific information about this process, check out this official support page.

Generally, for a WordPress website, you should plan on streaming video content through another service such as YouTube. In other words, do not upload video directly to your WordPress site (because video files are too large).

Images

Images on the other hand, can be uploaded to your WordPress site.

The featured image for this blog post was taken from the public domain image website Unsplash. Once I found an image from Unsplash, I downloaded it to this phone and uploaded it through the WordPress app. Whether you are blogging on a mobile device or not, you should check out Unsplash:

image

The screenshot I just included was captured on this $50 smartphone and also uploaded within the WordPress app. (Remember you can include images taken directly from the camera of your mobile device as well.)

Support Materials

If you are interested in learning more about mobile devices and blogging, head over to the Mobile Blogging & Scholarship website for more information and ideas.

In addition to that website, (if you are an OU student, faculty, or staff member) I suggest downloading the Lynda.com app for your respective device and learn more about WordPress. To get you started, here are several Lynda.com playlists.

Closing

Publishing web content from a smartphone or tablet is easier than ever! This entire blog post was produced from start to finish using the $50 BLU Advance 4.0L Smartphone. With apps like WordPress, anyone can create and manage an entire website, and with mobile devices, this can be done from anywhere.