Understanding the limitations of a Mac's microphone

Reader Ross Andrus is seeking greater fidelity from his MacBook Air. He writes:

I have a MacBook Air and I’m trying to record me singing and playing guitar with it but it sounds pretty bad. Is there anything I can do to improve its sound?

Yes. At the risk of sounding harsh, you should get a real microphone (or two).

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Treating a processor-hogging Chrome browser

A reader who wishes to be known as Frustrated in Frisco has an issue with Chrome. The frustrated one writes:

The past couple of weeks, my MacBook Pro’s fan has been going crazy: Coming on suddenly and roaring like a jet taking off. I opened Activity Monitor to learn what was giving my CPU such a workout and Google Chrome Helper processes were consuming 50 percent or more of my CPU resources. Is there anything I can do about this?

You mean other than switching to a different browser? I wish there was a silver-bullet solution but this is a problem for a number of Chrome users and ultimately the solution will have to come from Google’s Chrome team. Should this public shaming not cure the problem overnight, here are a few things you can try.

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How to connect an Apple TV to analog speakers

Reader Glen Lanier has two devices that seem to have difficulty communicating. He writes:

I just put a small TV and Apple TV in my bedroom and connected them with an HDMI cable. The problem is that the sound from the TV’s speakers is really poor. I have a pair of powered speakers, though. Is there some way to connect the Apple TV to them?

I understand your difficulty. The Apple TV has a digital audio output and your powered speakers have an analog audio input. You can’t simply string a cable between the two and expect sound to come out the other end.

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A cure for too many contacts

Reader Frank Wu knows way too many people. He writes:

I have about 18,000 contacts and neither the Address Book or Contacts app have synced in the last three years, when I had about 10,000 contacts. What is the maximum number of contacts these apps can hold? And if I’m past the maximum, what should I do?

I don’t believe there is a practical limit. Contacts (and Address Book before it) uses an SQL database to hold this information and, as far as I know, it’s unlimited for this kind of use. However, there may be only so many contacts that syncing services can manage.

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Finding yourself when your Mac can't

Reader Chris Jenkins is searching for himself. He writes:

I have an older Mac Pro running OS X Mavericks. When I launch the Maps app the Location icon is grayed out so I can’t ask Maps to pinpoint my location. How can I get this to work?

I’m afraid you can’t with your Mac's current hardware configuration. Early Mac Pros shipped without an AirPort card (you could add one as a build-to-order option) and Maps depends on a Wi-Fi connection to tell it where it is. You could always add a Wi-Fi connection by either ordering and installing the original AirPort Extreme Card or you could purchase a USB Wi-Fi adapter. With one of these on board your Mac Pro will use Wi-Fi triangulation to approximate its location and pass that information along to Maps.

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How to set up a replacement iPhone

Reader Stephanie Johnson has a question regarding an old and new iPhone and the apps they hold. She writes:

I have a 64GB iPhone 5, and there’s a recall to fix a fault sleep/wake button. Apple says it will give you a 16GB loner for the few days it takes to repair. What’s the best way to create a temporary, scaled-down version of your phone to use on the loaner, while keeping your app organization structure intact when you revert to your original phone again?

As you’re assuredly aware, the difficulty you face is that your 64GB phone likely has more stuff stored on it than a smaller-capacity phone can handle so you can’t simply back up your current phone and then restore it to this new device. Although you could approach this by setting up the loaner phone with your Apple ID and retrieving just those apps you need, I'm going to suggest instead that you use a tethered iTunes connection as you can more easily get to your existing data and apps. The result will be a phone that has the apps and data you need in the short-term, but not a fully restored copy of your old phone.

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Mavericks and the ancient AirPort base station

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous has a simple question about Mavericks and an older version of Apple’s AirPort Utility. That question reads:

Now that the older AirPort Utility doesn't work in Mavericks, how do people administer their older AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express base stations?

I answered a question similar to this in regard to old base stations and Mountain Lion and that technique still works—provided you’re running Mountain Lion. With Mavericks, nuh uh.

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