Tag Archives: Apple

MacBook Pro cannot see WiFi router – change wifi channel

Apple MacBook Pros stacked to show size comparison.  Neat, aren't they?
Apple MacBook Pros stacked to show size comparison. Neat, aren’t they?

I have more kit than you can shake a stick at – MacPro, iPad, iPod Touch, a couple of Sony tablets, an HP laptop, iMac – all of which have no problem connecting to my Wifi network (Zyxel router).  Add to that list any visitors’ equipment and you have a wide portfolio of machines that function seamlessly with the network.

So why on earth wouldn’t my early-2011 MacBook Pro always see the network?  It had no problem seeing the fifteen other networks in my building and the restaurant in the basement, and sometimes it would see my router, but 95% of the time it just wouldn’t appear in the network list.

I had hoped that upgrading the OS from Lion through Mountain Lion and Mavericks to Yosemite would sort it out, but sadly not.  System diagnostics showed everything hunky dory.

Searching t’internet produced the usual troubleshooting guides such as that at http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202068 but they were all generic and didn’t address the specific issue with the MacBook Pro.  Why the problem with that specific machine and no other?


The answer was, it turned out, simple.  Log on to the router as administrator and change the wifi channel.  This is often recommended for slow or dropping connections – it avoids interference between routers using the same channel.  It solved my problem, anyway.  The MacBook Pro sees the router 100% of the time (so far) and I face no problem with any of my other kit.

It doesn’t explain why that particular machine had a problem, mind.

LG 34UM95 monitor USB hub draws too much power; use Thunderbolt

Simple, robust and bloody fast:  Apple Thunderbolt cable
Simple, robust and bloody fast: Apple Thunderbolt cable

When I started using my LG 34UM95 monitor it was effectively a secondary display, my principal one being an Apple Thunderbolt 27”.  I have been sufficiently pleased with the LG to promote it to a primary role to make use of all that glorious screen real estate.  I used the supplied HDMI cable to connect monitor and computer.

The LG provides three USB ports (one 3.0, two 2.0) and I not unreasonably wanted to connect my keyboard (why Apple doesn’t offer a wireless keyboard with numeric keypad is beyond me) and Apple DVD drive using the LG’s ports.  That’s when the problem started.

I connected one of the Mac Pro’s USB ports to the LG’s USB up port, but my keyboard just would not work through the LG and after a short while I observed a dialogue advising me that a USB device was drawing too much power.

The answer was simple, though.  I dived off to my friendly Apple supplier and got a Thunderbolt cable.  I connected up and bingo, USB ports all working, monitor and Thunderbolt connection recognised and automatically configured.

Mind you, I thought thirty-five quid for a 2 m cable was a bit steep, but Thunderbolt cables are not exactly ubiquitous.  Imagine my surprise when I saw on the Apple Store an optical Thunderbolt cable at the bargain price of just a quid short of a grand.

A grand's worth of optic fibre:  Corning Thunderbolt cable
A grand’s worth of optic fibre: Corning Thunderbolt cable

That’s right, £999.  It is 60 m of the finest optical connection, to be fair, but I would love to know how many of those get sold each week.

The Importance of design to value

Having a good product or service just isn’t enough.  If you want to be chosen before a competitor, or command a premium, the whole package has to be right.

I am lucky enough to have a 2014 Mac Pro.  Lovely piece of kit.  When I got it the only Thunderbolt display on the market was from Apple, I was not prepared to move to a resolution lower than that of my iMac and I balked at the crazy price (three grand) for a 4K Sharp display.  Apple Thunderbolt display it was, then.

Fortunately the LG 34UM95 34″ 21:9 Ultrawide monitor has arrived and it’s great.  It has the same vertical resolution as the Apple display (1,440 pixels) but it’s much wider (3,440 v 2,560).  It’s a lovely piece of kit, with good connectivity (it’s the only Thunderbolt display other than the Apple and has HDMI) and display quality that is the match of the Apple’s.  And that width means the display can be used as two split screens.

So the LG is a new model, 34% bigger real estate and better connectivity, yet it sells for about the same price as what is now quite an old Apple model.  There are a number of reasons Apple kit commands a premium, but I’d like to look at something simple; packaging.

Apple’s Jobs-inspired design focus is legendary and that even extends to packaging.  Take a look at these two photos:

Apple Thunderbolt display box
Apple Thunderbolt display box
LG 34UM95 monitor box
LG 34UM95 monitor box

A greater contrast in styles is difficult to imagine.  The Apple box is practical (see the neat carrying handle) but relies on nothing more than a picture of the monitor.

The LG box by contrast is brash and packed full of features but just lacks class.  It does give Advanced Viewing Pleasure, but I’m not sure I need it shouted at me from the packaging.

It would be crazy for LG to try to out-Apple Apple, but that difference in design is an important element in the brands’ identities and that translates into pounds and pence.