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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Apple MiniDisplayPort to VGA Adapter Firmware Fix

In my last tech tip I talked about a problem connecting the late 2008 MacBook to a VGA projector and that you need to buy a direct Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter.

It turns out that this adapter has a problem of its own in that it can cause flickering with certain displays - not what you want to find out when are starting a presentation to a client. Apple has issued a fix for this that updates the firmware in the adapter. Who knew that adapters had firmware? I just assumed it was just wires crossing over in the right way!?

But there's a problem... actually several...

1: The update is not included in the regular Apple Software Update process unless you use that adapter and a live monitor as your main machine. If you use a DVI monitor like me then you'll never know about it unless you read an article like this. Fail.

2: The instructions for installing the fix require that you not only have the adapter plugged into your Mac but you have to have a live VGA monitor plugged into it. What are you supposed to do if you don't have one? Ask you client if they wouldn't mind waiting a few minutes while you plug into their projector and do a firmware update? Double Fail.

3: Those instructions raise the possibility that your VGA monitor may not work with this adapter. Again, I'm only going to find this out in a conference room at one of my clients. Fail.

I'm sure there are important technical reasons for all this but this not what I expect from Apple. It's an adapter - it should just work.

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