Saturday, August 13, 2011

What started the fan on my 13" MacBook Air 2011?

Here I am, have got myself a new 2011 Apple MacBook Air.  I like it.  The build is solid; the weight is just nice for me; the thin case is easy to carry with just one hand.  And it's so quick to close the lid and re-open it to continue whatever work I have been doing.  The battery also lasts about 4 to 5 hours based on my usage.

But with this, I still could not leave without certain features that I miss from Windows.  First of all, Microsoft Money.  This is the only piece of software ever that I have most often used in the past, err, 10 years?  Microsoft no longer develops this software but they have included a "sunset" edition for free to users of all the earlier versions.  The next one is a ActiveX, which runs only in Internet Explorer.  ActiveX is used on a couple of websites that I use almost every day and there are no other web browsers that support ActiveX.  Lastly, the Encrypted Files System, EFS, in Windows 7 that I use on my USB flash drive to store some personal files.  I find no solution in Mac OS X Lion that lets me use a certificate-based EFS on the flash drive.

Wait, I'm supposed to stick to the topic of what started my MacBook Air fan.  The MacBook Air runs so quietly most of the time except when the fan starts to run at full speed.  I can feel the warm breeze from the left side of the system, near the power connector.  I figure these may be the reasons the fan start.  You see, the sole reason a fan starts is to reduce the temperature of certain components in the system when a thermal sensor measures that its temperature reaches a certain level.  I guess it's mainly the CPU that runs the hottest when it's stressed to perform to 100%.   Back to the possible reasons that trigger the fan in my case:

1) VMware Fusion - this virtualization software runs my Windows 7 Operating Systems so that I can run Microsoft Money and IE.   I notice that whenever I started this, surely a couple of minutes later, the fan started into full spin.  Even though I have only assigned 1GB of memory to it.  I think I will try to put this OS on a diet by disabling some services

2) Adobe Flash Play - occasionally I play some Flash games.  This also kick-starts the fan.  I vaguely remember Steve Jobs complaining how Flash Player behaves badly.  Oh well.  Hopefully this HTML5/Adobe Edge may supersede Adobe Flash and behave better

Seems to me that the fan noise also affects many others who stated their comments in the Apple Support forum

18-Aug-2011 I found one article by VMware.  Not all of the things are applicable when we use Windows 7 in a MacBook.  View that article at VMware View Optimization Guide for Windows 7.   By doing some of the suggestions, I am able to reduce the idle memory usage of Windows 7 Professional to about 320MB.  The general idea is that whatever things the HOST/VMware Fusion will do, we disable the similar functions available in the guest OS - i.e. Windows 7.

03-Oct-2011 Using coconutBattery 2.7, I measured the "Battery power usage" to be about 24 watt when I was running a Flash game in Facebook, compared with just about 8 watt without it running

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