By Graham K. Rogers
The UPS man arrived at my office this morning with a couple of items I ordered mid-week (last week) from the online Apple Store for Thailand. I had actually expected the items last Friday, but for some reason they were shipped from Singapore to Shenzhen, China, then back to Changi again, arriving in Bangkok from there. The delivery date was amended from Friday to Monday. Odd that. . . .
Unusual Peripatetic Services
The battery on the new Mac is really good and I can work for much of the day if I leave home in the morning with a 100% charge. Early last week, however, I did have a problem when testing Time Machine. I set up a second disk for the feature.
The disk however used a USB connection and had no power source of its own. Inevitably, the battery emptied quicker than I had hoped and that initial backup (always larger the first time) finished just before the battery did. At home I connected the new charger and all was well.
MagSafe to Magsafe 2 Converter
I do have a charger in the office, but that is an 85w power supply for an older MacBook Pro. I had bought a replacement charger as the plastic covering of the wires was worn and it has seen good service in my office. It saves me the need to carry a charger to work each day.
Old and worn but still in service
The new Mac, however, has a redesigned MagSafe connector and the old one cannot be used, but Apple does have a converter: MagSafe to MagSafe 2. The cost of this was 450 baht online (US price $9.99). It fits into the Mac's own MagSafe 2 port and the power supply connects to that: both connections are magnetic.
MagSafe 2 port and two Thunderbolt ports
The new MacBook Pro 13" comes with 2 Thunderbolt ports, replacing a video connector and the Firewire port that I have on the mid-2007 MacBook Pro 15". Connecting the new Mac to a video source, such as the VGA projectors we have in all classrooms, is not a problem. The old connector fits the Thunderbolt port and the job is done.
Not so easy was the lack of Firewire. A number of devices I have use this type of connector - both FW 400 and FW 800 - particularly hard disks that I use for backup. The newer disks also have USB ports, but this is the micro-USB type that is wholly inadequate for the type of hard use consumers will need for anything more than an occasional link. How the Eurocrats have decided that this is a viable alternative to connectors like Apple's Lightning - in the interests of universality - is quite beyond me: theory over practicality.
Thunderbolt to Firewire Adapter
To compensate for the lack of a Firewire port, I also ordered a Thunderbolt to Firewire connector. This is a short construction with a fairly hefty plastic enclosure at the Firewire port end. Its cost in the Thai online store was 1,090 baht (US price $29).
When VAT (7%) is included, both of these connectors are slightly higher priced in the Thai store than in the US store. As I spent less than 2,000 baht, there was also a shipping fee of 300 baht.
The Magsafe to MagSafe 2 converter is rather small, so I will keep this safely locked in a drawer in my office. The Thunderbolt to Firewire connector has wider use, so it will join the other connectors in my backpack.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.