Friday, April 18, 2008

MacBook Pro as Thinkpad upgrade - thanks to Techshell

I recently had to upgrade my laptop. I have been using a PowerBook G4 for the last 4+ years and it has done me proud but I was running out of disk space and having problems with my display. Since this is my only machine a MacBook Pro was the replacement. Plenty of disk space and loads of memory. It is a joy to use. Unfortunately, at work the company standard is Windows (XP) and I have an IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad. I get so frustrated with it! I have given up trying to guess whether it will resume or reboot when it is popped back in to the desktop cradle on my desk. Don't you just love Windows! I find I can be so much more productive with my Macbook. I can use Citrix over Verizon's cellular network using my Blackberry as a bluetooth modem. That is so convenient. I also have VMWare Fusion and have cloned my Windows laptop on to my MacBook Pro. Running it does slow down the rest of the machine but that is a small price to pay and is probably something I can tune in time. The latest neat little touch in creating my Faux Thinkpad. In fact it is not so much a Faux Thinkpad as a much upgraded Thinkpad. I found that Techshell sell a protective case for the MacBook Pro. They make the case in many different colors but the one that caught my eye is a version of the Techshell in a black rubberized finish. Now all I need is to buy an IBM Thinkpad logo off ebay to stick on the corner of he case and I am good to go. There is only one drawback with the Techshell case. I had seen this reported but purchased the case anyway. The issue is that when the case is installed you can't connect the DVI-VGA connector. Unfortunately I need to do this to use projectors for presentations. I was thinking about this and thought that there must be a work around. I looked online to see if there was an alternate connector. There are plenty but they all look like they may have similar problems. Don't despair - there is a solution. All you need is a stanley knife and the mental strength to mutilate Apple's beautifully designed DVI adapter. This is how you do it:
  • Take the DVI connector and place the connector so the Monitor icon is visible.
  • Looking at the DVI connector Starting at the case joint on the right hand side score the plastic around to the other joint. 
  • The scoring needs to be about 1mm in from the end of the moulding, just enough to remove the plastic lip and expose the metal of the connector.
  • You will need to gradually increase the depth of the scoring until you can break off the plastic lip.
  • When you reach the case joint on the left side keep going until you score around the bottom of the DVI connector until you are directly below the left hand thumb screw.
Here are some pictures after the crude surgery:
After this minor surgical operation you should still have most of the bottom plastic lip in place. This will prevent the DVI connector falling apart. However, you should find that you can now insert the DVI connector on to your MacBook Pro with the Techshell in place. This crude but simple fix with an exacto or stanley knife is in the same vein as my fix to allow noise canceling headphones to be used on your iPhone. Anyway, after that little fix I have a fabulous upgrade to the Thinkpad. One that runs Mac OS X and yet passes at first glance for a Thinkpad at work.