Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Month: April 2006

MacBook Pro Temperature Sensors

Just as an update of my MacBook Pro situation…I picked up a 2Ghz MacBook Pro at the Apple Store in Grand Rapids yesterday. So far, this model is an order of magnitude better than my last machine. Only a single noise problem still exists, and it is so much lower in volume that I don’t think it will be an issue at all. Furthermore, physically the machine feels like it’s built better. The trackpad button feels a lot nicer, and it takes more effort to move the screen on it’s hinge, which results in a much nicer feel. I’m a happy customer. 🙂

I came across a somewhat unfortunate hint when looking at the recently posted Developer Note of the MacBook Pro machines on Apple’s site. It looks like Apple no longer controls thermal profiles from the OS, so it’s unlikely that apps like XRG or Dash Monitors will ever be able to capture temperatures or fan speeds on these models. Here’s a quote from the Developer Note:

System Management Controller The MacBook Pro uses an advanced system management controller (SMC) to manage thermal and power conditions, while keeping the acoustic noise to a minimum. The SMC is fully independent of the operating system.

Making the SMC completely independent of the OS is a very good thing. Without OS independence, thermal drivers for Windows XP, Linux, or any other OS you want to run on Intel machines would have to be written. This code can be fairly difficult to write, so really the SMC will make things much easier in that respect.

However, it would be nice if Apple provided a way to monitor what the SMC is doing…let the SMC do it’s job, but give me a way to find out how my machine is feeling.

Update: James Conolly and Cryptonome (from the source, InCrew) both mentioned SpeedIt in the comments, which made the news a few days after I wrote this post. I have yet to look into the full details of the implementation, but it looks like there might be MacBook Pro temperature monitor support in XRG afterall. While it probably wouldn’t make sense to include SpeedIt directly with XRG, if a user has SpeedIt installed, it should be fairly easy for XRG to pick up the temperatures and display them. Yet another feature to add to the next release. Thanks go out to the InCrew folks for making this possible.


Yesterday was my birthday…and now I’m 28…that means I can no longer stretch 27 to mean in my “mid-twenties.” I’m now in my late 20s, no way around that. In all seriousness though, I really don’t mind getting older. I got some pretty nifty gifts (techies always get the great gifts), and Katrina threw me a surprise dinner with a few friends last night. It was pretty cool. 🙂

Anyway, I realize I haven’t posted here in awhile, so I thought I would give an update of everything going on here. Gaucho Software is going well, I’m finishing up the second beta of Seasonality 1.3 and hope to send that out soon. Unfortunately development got put on hold for a week while I sent my MacBook Pro in for repair.

So what happened to my MacBook Pro? Well, many early buyers were experiencing buzzing sounds coming from their laptops under certain conditions. Mine never really bugged me that much, since I’m used to computers making some noise, and you could only really hear it if you were in a very quiet room. Finally though, awhile back I woke up the display to find the left third of it not being backlit. It went away after about 10 minutes, so I thought it might be a fluke. I held off on it for a day or two to see if it was a lasting problem. Ended up being a definitive problem, so I called Apple and sent it in for repair. They got it back to me within 5 business days (including shipping), which was great, but unfortunately even after swapping the MBP’s motherboard the same problems were all there. The noise was the same, and the screen wasn’t backlit correctly. I called them back, all they could tell me was to send it back in…they couldn’t send me a loaner while mine was being fixed, and they wouldn’t replace it. Going another week without my MBP wasn’t an option because I really need to finish porting my apps to Intel, plus I felt that they already had a chance to fix it, so I shouldn’t have to send it back in again because they messed up (and who knows if the second fix would even work).

I ended up calling Apple’s customer relations number, and after talking with a few different people they offered to take it back for a full refund. Not only that, I have up to 30 days to send the defective unit back to them and they are paying for shipping. This way, I can go buy a new MacBook Pro and transfer all my data to the new machine before sending the old one back. Apple really came through in this situation, and I’m stoked to get a new MBP out of it. This time, I’m going to upgrade to the 2Ghz model. One benefit is that I’ll go from 1.5Gb to 2Gb of memory, which is an upgrade I was thinking of making anyway. Another is that after installing Windows with BootCamp, the 80Gb drive was getting a bit small. The 2Ghz model comes with 100Gb drive which should improve things there. The upgraded CPU and graphics chip memory are good bonuses as well.

So I’ll be heading down to the Apple Store today to pick up my new MBP. I’m pretty excited about it, and hopefully I won’t get another lemon this time. 🙂

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