Comparing the Apple and Google USB Type-C (USB-C) Power Adapters


With the release of Apple’s newest MacBook and Google’s newest Chromebook Pixel, it seems like the computer industry is beginning to standardize as USB Type-C (USB-C) as a single port for charging, transferring data, and DisplayPort. Apple is ditching the proprietary MagSafe connector in lieu of an industry standard.

For owners of the new MacBook looking to grab another charger, you have a couple options. In the very near future, given that USB-C is a standard, there will be a variety of 3rd party options, but for now, the two main chargers are from Apple and Google.

My wife and I both got the new MacBook, and we decided to get the Google power adapter as an extra charger instead of another Apple adapter. I wanted to verify that charging was truly universal. TL;DR: It is. With Apple, you also get less wattage from the adapter, and you need to buy the charge cable separately. Regarding the wattage, I have not been able to verify if my MacBook actually charges faster with the 60W adapter.

Google’s adapter comes with an extension cable that plugs into the power brick. Apple has traditionally included this with their power adapters, but with the new MacBook, they went the iPad route and did not include an extension cable.

If you don’t count the extension cable, Apple’s cable is actually about 6” longer than the Google cable.

Reasons to buy the Google Adapter:

  • Cheaper
  • Only need to buy one thing instead of two
  • Comes with an extension cable
  • 60W over 29W

Reasons to buy the Apple Adapter:

  • Smaller
  • Detachable USB-C Cable

I hope to do some testing in the near future to see if the Google adapter actually charges the MacBook faster or not. Even if it doesn’t, I recommend that new MacBook owners looking for a second charger grab the Google adapter.

Breathing New Life into a 2007 iMac with an SSD Upgrade

The 2007 iMac is really a funny machine. On the one hand, it’s a relic. It’s nearly 7 years old, and in computer time, that’s an eternity. So many things have changed since 2007. Yet, at the same time, it has a 2.4ghz Core 2 Duo, which is dual core and 64 bit, plenty powerful for most tasks. It also has a beautiful 20” monitor. The disk situation is a different story. The default model came with a 500GB sata drive, and the DVD superdrive is actually connected via PATA. When my dad told me that the iMac was running slowly and needed a tune-up of sorts, my initial instinct was, “Dad, this thing is 7 years old. Let’s get you a new one.” However, when I played around with it, I found slow shutdown, slow bootup, slow opening of programs. This told me that the disk was the weakest link in the machine. I told my dad that I would try to replace it with an SSD to see how that would work. I told him that if it worked, it probably would breathe another couple years of life into the computer, and if it didn’t, I could eBay my recent purchase and he wouldn’t be out much cash for the attempt.

I got a great deal on the 480GB Crucial M500 SSD. I also ordered a bracket that would be used to mount the 2.5” SSD in the place of a standard 3.5” hard drive.

Screenless iMac

Screenless iMac

If you have ever taken apart an iMac, you know that it is a bit daunting. Unlike unscrewing a standard computer case, you have to use a suction cup to ply the screen off. Once you ply the screen off, you then use a torx screwedriver to get the rest of the thing apart. It can be quite stressful if you haven’t taken apart a bunch of electronics before. I finally got the thing pulled apart, though, and then I was able to remove the hard drive.

The good news was that the 2.5” drive fit inside of the 3.5” bracket perfectly, making it an easy replacement mount.





There was one piece of bad news… Take a look at the above picture. While it may appear to be a perfect match, it turns out that the SATA cable in the iMac extends JUST far enough to plug in a standard hard drive, which has the connector lined up completely on the right. My bracket places the SSD right in the center, which moves the connector over a half an inch or so. After trying to stretch the cable carefully to new avail, I resorted to another solution.



I bent one of the pieces of metal that holds the SSD to the bracket and slid the SSD all the way to the right of the bracket. From there, I used the world’s most convenient adhesive, duct tape, to make sure that the SSD was completely secured to the bracket. It worked! As I started rebuilding the machine, though, I couldn’t help think that Steve Jobs wouldn’t exactly have been proud of my solution, as a man who always insisted that the components on the inside be just as beautiful as those on the outside.

Every time I take apart an iMac, I’m always a bit nervous the first time I try to turn it on after reassembling it. I had it all put back together, I pressed the power button, and boom - I got that nice Mac ding, and from there, I used an external drive adaptor to copy the contents of the existing drive to the new SSD.

Once the transfer was done, it felt like a brand new computer. Everything was ultra snappy. Being 7 years old, it of course doesn’t have the most powerful GPU in there so you wouldn’t have to do too much graphically to bring this computer to its knees, but for my parents’ iPhoto / web browsing needs, this machine is perfect. It still runs OS X Mavericks, and thus, it’s not really limited in any way.

In fact, I still have one last upgrade left for this Mac. While it only officially supports 4GB of RAM, it can actually capacitate 6GB. I’ll soon order a 4GB module from OWC, and the machine will get a 50% boost in RAM.

This upgrade experience made me realize what great value there is left in these older iMacs. You can pick them up pretty cheap on eBay, and if you don’t mind swapping out the hard disk for an SSD and upgrading the RAM, you can have a VERY fast family web browsing machine on the cheap. Consider that Apple STILL sells machines with only 4GB of RAM. My hope is that this machine will actually be able to run the NEXT version of OS X, Syrah, as well. I feel like the only reason it wouldn’t be able to is if Apple were to put a GPU requirement on the new version, as the rest of the specs stack up decently with modern computers that Apple sells.

How To: Set up Time Machine for Multiple Macs on FreeNAS (

FreeNAS is awesome. Also, FreeNAS is hard... I recently switched from a Synology device, and while I am already appreciating the increase in functionality and power, it's certainly not as easy to do some basic tasks. One of those tasks is setting up a Time Machine share where all of my household Macs can back up. Between reading the tutorials and giving some trial and error myself, I think I have come up with a good solution. And before I get started with the step by step guide, let me reiterate one thing: Permissions, Permissions, Permissions! If you ever find yourself banging your head against a wall because something in FreeNAS isn't working as you expect it to, the likely culprit is permissions. Once you wrap your brain around them, though, things become more simple. Hopefully this guide helps put a foundation around that.

The Default FreeNAS Home Screen

This article assumes that you have FreeNAS already up and running on your network and that you're able to connect to the main home screen with your web browser. I recommend setting it a static IP, as well. Our first step will be to create a group / user for Time Machine backups.


Under the "Account" section on the left, click "Groups," and then click "Add Group."


You don't need to change the default value for the group ID, and put something like "time-machine" for the group name. Leave everything as default and click OK.

The next step is to create a ZFS dataset where we're going to put the Time Machine backups. The dataset must be on a ZFS volume. I'm assuming you have already created a ZFS volume with your disks here, but if you haven't stop reading this guide and go read the FreeNAS ZFS documentation here. If you have already created the volume, create a dataset. Datasets can be nested inside of other datasets so I actually have one dataset called "Backup" and inside of that one, I have one callled "Time-Machine" ~ it really just depends on how you want things set up.


After you enter the name, "Time-Machine", leave all of the default values alone. The below screenshot shows how I have "Time-Machine" nested inside of my Backup dataset.


So now we have a dataset. This is going to be where all of our Time Machine backups get saved. The next step is the most important and the one that has bitten me before... so don't forget it. We need to change the permissions on the "Time-Machine" dataset. Recall that we initially created a group called "time-machine" - we are now going to set things up such that any user in the "time-machine" group can write to the "Time-Machine" dataset. Click on the "Time-Machine" dataset and then click on the icon with a key on it to change its permissions.


When you click that, a permissions dialog box will pop up.


I chose not to change the default user owner of "root." However, definitely change the group owner. In the drop down box, the "time-machine" group that we previously created should be selectable. Click that and then make sure to have the boxes checked as I have in the image above. We want any user in the group to have read / write / execute privileges.

Click the "Change" button to have the new permissions take effect. Now it's time to create a user for the Time Machine backup. I believe it is best to create a separate user for each computer (and I'll explain why at the end of the post) so just create users that reflect that computer. For example, the user I'm creating is called "kevinmacbookair."


Once again, you navigate over to the left column to create a new user. Leave the "User ID" field as the default. Give your username a simple lowercase name like mine. Uncheck the box about creating a new primary group for the user. Instead, go to the drop down list and select "time-machine" in there. In the full name, put a descriptive name. Type in a password, and then you're good to go.

So what we've done so far is created a group called "time-machine" which has full access to the "Time Machine" dataset. Next we added a user that is part of the "time-machine" group. Easy! The last thing we need to do is create an AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) share that will broadcast this over the network so your Mac can see it. To do this, click the "Sharing" link on the column on the far left and click the button to create a new AFP share.


Name your share something you like, and then use the file browser to make sure that the "Path" is set to the ZFS dataset that we created for our Time Machine backups. Next, for the "Allow List" and "Read-write Access" fields, we want to put the group that we created, "time-machine" ~ however, because it's a group and not a user, we need to put the "@" symbol in front of it: "@time-machine". Next make, sure the "Time Machine" box is checked. Finally, take a look at those check boxes of privileges and make sure they match what's listed above. Then click OK. At this point, we're done with everything on the FreeNAS system. It's now time to set up Time Machine on the Mac!


On the Mac, just open up the Time Machine preferences, and if you go to select a disk, you should find the one we created there! It will ask you for a username / password, and you want to make sure you enter the machine-specific one we created in FreeNAS, not your OS X username / password.


You should be golden! If you want to add more than one computer, you don't need to add any new AFP shares or anything like that. Just create new users for each machine, and make sure that each user is part of the "time-machine" group that we created earlier. The final improvement to make this work even better would be for us to cap how much space each computer has to back up. For example, my MacBook Air has 256GB of space, and anything on my MacBook Air is also on my other machines so I really wouldn't want to give it more than 300GB of usable space for historical backups. Time Machine will automatically delete the older ones if it runs out of room. On the contrary, my MacBook Pro is loaded up with all of my important data and I might want to give it 2x the space of its SSD. Right now there isn't a great way to do this for multiple Macs in FreeNAS, but a feature is coming soon that will make it easy! This feature is per-user quotas. This will allow us to specify the maximum amount of space each user is allowed.

I hope this guide was useful!