How-to: Upgrade to OS X El Capitan GM from a beta build

Apple has just released OS X 10.11 El Capitan GM, but users and developers running beta builds will not be able to upgrade directly from the App Store. In order to upgrade from a El Capitan beta build, for example, seed 15A278b to the El Capitan GM release 15A282b, you’ll need to jump through a few minor hoops first.

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How to downgrade Chrome from Beta or Dev to Stable on OS X without losing profile data

As the years go by, I find that I growingly have less and less patience for dealing with experimental or beta software, and have come to appreciate more and more the value of having stable, reliable, and consistent products that get their job done and keep out of the way. I find it hard to fathom that only a few short years ago, during the days of Longhorn beta, I would derive immense pleasure from formatting and reinstalling up to three or four times a day — these days, I find setting up a PC for use after a format to be a task I shy away from even once every two or three years.

When Chrome first came out, I was quick to switch to the beta channel and later, the dev/canary channels too. Now, I just want to go back to having a browser that I can actually expect to load pages correctly, keep my keyboard shortcuts intact, and not suddenly put my data at risk due to broken back button behavior.

Switching to a more unstable build with Chrome is ridiculously easy: just download the installer for either the beta, dev, or canary Chrome channel releases and it’ll automatically upgrade your profile to the latest version and pull updates on a more-frequent schedule, on Mac, Windows, and Linux alike.

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OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 finally unifies iMessage messaging

iMessage fragmentation across devices has been a common complaint ever since iMessage was first released, and although Apple has taken steps to mitigate the issue, it hasn’t yet been truly solved. The problem was exacerbated with the release of Mountain Lion which brought iMessage to the desktop (or to the laptop, depending on what you use), where users of OS X would be allowed to join in the iMessaging fun – but with a very important caveat: the iChat (now rechristened “Messages”)  messaging software would only register with the iMessage email account, so iMessages sent to your phone number would not be received.

This meant that users would have to explicitly take care to send and receive messages from their iMessage-enabled email addresses; but while you can always select where and how you initiate conversations, you can’t very well choose how and where perfectly random strangers will choose to contact you. This limitation also applied to the iPad, however iOS 6 beta seeds included a fix for that, adding the option to initiate and receive messages from the phone number associated with your iMessage account.

It pleases us to inform you that with Mountain Lion 10.8.2 (as of the latest developer seed, 12C50) this feature has been extended to Messages on OS X, and in the future, your iMessages will be synchronized across all platforms. Here is a screenshot of how your iMessage account looks in iMessage on 10.8.2:

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OS X 10.7 Lion Adds TRIM Support, But Not For All

I just happened to upgrade the firmware on my Crucial C300 256GB SSD drive in my MacBook Pro (13″ Unibody, Late 2008) on the same day that I upgraded to OS X 10.7 Lion. In my previous post, I touched briefly on the fact that 10.7 in the renamed “System Information” app under the “Serial-ATA” section does not detect my SSD as having TRIM support.

This is one of the very top SSD models out there in terms of performance and size, and it’s been proven in multiple benchmarks (though with the C400 coming out, things are set to change once more); and has proven to be a popular choice for MacBook owners due to the large size and incredible performance even without TRIM in previous versions of OS X.

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C300 Negotiated Link Speed on OS X

This is just a quick note for anyone using the most wonderful Crucial C300 on OS X.

If in the “System Profiler” (now renamed to the more apt “System Information” in OS X 10.7 Lion), you see:

Link Speed: 3 Gigabit

Negotiated Link Speed: 1.5 Gigabit

And are wondering where your remaining 1.5 (or 4.5 if you have a 6 Gbps SATA controller) gigabits went, then you need to upgrade the C300 to the latest firmware. This appears to be an issue with the 0002 firmware that is resolved in 0006. Unfortunately, this does not seem to make OS X 10.7 aware that the C300 supports TRIM.

Also a tip: if after upgrading to revision 0006, your OS X will hang at boot, re-run the upgrade. It won’t actually upgrade it again (and will finish instantly), but it appears to fix something important.

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Updating Flash Player Manually on Chrome for OS X

Recently (late November), Adobe finally got around to releasing an update to Flash Player for OS X that comes with the long-awaited hardware-based rendering of H.264-encoded videos. However, for those of us that use Chrome, there is no way to updated to the latest 10.2 beta of Flash; Chrome uses its own copy of Flash that comes built-in and cannot be externally updated. These steps below will guide you through the process of using Flash Player 10.2 with Google Chrome on OS X:

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Software with a (Subtle) Sense of Humor

Every once in a while you come across something in a piece of software that makes you smile. In this case, it was trying to open a 60MB CHM file in BetterZip, the best OS X unzip utility out there. A lot of software out there tries too hard to be funny, and really doesn’t come across as such (I’m look at you, ImgBurn).

But here’s a very serious program that does some very serious stuff. It’s never cracked jokes at me before, and it’s been a dependable creature, all business thus far. But all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy. And so that brings us to the sense of humor – image after the jump:

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Welcome to EasyBCD 2.0!

Hello and welcome to EasyBCD 2.0!

It’s rather hard to believe, but EasyBCD 1.7.2 has been out for over 2 years now, and we’ve been working on Version 2.0 ever since. In that time, a lot has happened. Windows 7 has shipped, ext4fs is the new cool kid on the Linux block, GRUB2 is finally seeing some adoption, VHDs are the new wow, and everyone and their grandmother want a dual-boot between Windows 7 and Windows XP.

Worry not, we haven’t been sitting on our (not-so-proverbial) behinds this whole time. In fact, the entire NeoSmart team – developers, supporters, testers, and all – have been working around the clock to make EasyBCD 2.0 the biggest, coolest, greatest, and awesomest thing ever since the invention of the MBR. And now, over a 150 beta builds later and 2 years in the making, we’re super-pleased to introduce you to EasyBCD 2.0. It’s so incredibly overhauled and improved, so stuffed-to-the-brim with features, so much of a true one-click dual-boot experince, so customizable, so powerful, and so EASY that it took a lot of self-restraint to keep from calling it EasyBCD 10.0!

What’s new, you ask? We’ll get to it. But let’s just first give you the download link, because we know you just can’t wait to get your grubby, geeky paws on it ASAP:

Download EasyBCD 2.0.1 (1337 KiB)

(Yes, it really is 1337 kibibytes in size. And, no, we didn’t do it on purpose. We’re just übercool that way!)

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Our List of Highly-Anticipated Upcoming Games for OS X (2010)

For too long, computer gaming has been a strictly Windows-only business. But that’s slowly but surely changing, as signified by the recent availability of the popular Steam platform for Mac, and soon, Linux. But what’s really exciting is that big game producers aren’t just porting old games to OS X *cough* Quake 4, Halo 1, etc. *cough*, nor is the world of OS X gaming going to be limited to indie publishers and lame (though very much appreciated) games with graphics on-par with those from the 90s on other platforms.

We’ve compiled a list of our top highly-anticipated games for OS X, most of which are actually geared for simultaneous release on Windows and Mac, making it clear that Mac gamers will take a backseat no more. Honestly, we’re not going to bother ranking them or making this a “Top 10 Games for OS X this year” kind of article. This is just a geeky gamers’ list of games to look out for, on a Mac, soon. We’re not including games that were previously available on other platforms, because that’s just sad.

And, without further ado, here’s NeoSmart Technologies’ exclusive list of upcoming Mac OS X games, sorted by expected release date from the ones you can soonest get your grubby paws on to those you’ll have to not-so-patiently wait and pray for:

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The ARM, the PPC, the x86, and the iPad…

Hot on the heels of the iPad release comes news that Apple has just (very likely) purchased another processor design firm (via EDN).  Intrinsity, the chip design company in question, is a designer of RISC-based CPUs and is rumored to have had something to do with the design of Apple’s new A4 processor. The A4 is Apple’s key ingredient for a smooth user experience in the much-hyped iPad.

Those keeping track of Apple’s purchases will remember that, almost exactly 2 years ago to the day, Apple bought California-based CPU designer PA Semiconductors. However, PA Semi specializes in PowerPC-based designs – a platform that Apple abandoned almost 5 years ago now. But Apple’s most recent acquisition is directly applicable to its current needs in the hardware market, and in particular, its forays into the ARM market. In the official iPad video, Apple engineers and executives discuss their need for a custom CPU in order to let them dictate where the ooomph and power will go, and to what purposes the transistors will be biased.

With all these buyouts and different chipsets in question, it’s easy to get confused. So what is the difference between the ARM, the PPC, and the x86, and where does it matter?

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