4.5.09

I didn't want Apple flashing me anyway!

For those that don't know, let me set the stage:

The new uni-body MacBooks do not have DVI-I ports on them as MacBooks of past. Instead they come with a Mini DisplayPort. The up shot of this is two fold; one is a much smaller port allowing for a thinner body and more ports along a side, the other is lower cost with a higher potential resolution. The down side is you now need even more adapters to use external displays on a new MacBook.

When I got my 13" MacBook in October of 2008 I picked up a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter for $30. I thought it was a little costly, but I honestly don't know what's inside the little box so who am I to know? I got it mostly so I can use my 32" Sony Bravia XBR4 as a second display. I used it for that during the Presidential election to have a real time polling map. Of course, because of an issue that Apple didn't seem to want to publicly acknowlage, every five to fifteen minutes the picture would go black for a few seconds.

I was not the only one... a little searching will show a large number of people who were having the same problem. A lot of speculation was afoot about the cause, but it was my feeling that the issue was with the video driver (turns out I wasn't too far off); Apple, in normal Apple fashion, wasn't talking. At home it wasn't too much of an issue. I could deal with the brief blank screen as it always came back very quickly, at least at home. I did, though, have one occasion where it was a problem. In the episode of Hak5 in which I covered using PHP to batch change the IP settings of a Windows computer you can see a very brief moment of black just as Paul switched to my MacBook's display because it chose that moment to blank out. Sure it was a minor problem, but still for something I had to pay extra for to do something I can do with even some of the cheapest of netbooks, even a minor problem is too big.

So just over six months after the adapter came out there is a firmware update to the adapter which fixes this issue. No idea why it was released with this flaw, no idea why Apple didn't just come out and say "Yes, we know it's broke, but we're working on it.", no idea why it took over six months after release to fix, but the update is out, and I've been running it for over an hour now with no problems at all.

Thanks Apple, for finally fixing something that there was no excuse for ever having been broken to start with.