Saturday, December 30, 2006

M$ Laptop Giveaway - Bribery or Feedback?

Microsoft Says No Favorable Coverage Expected In Laptop Giveaway:

Microsoft and Advanced Micro Devices sent expensive laptops as gifts to select bloggers who review technology as part of an effort to solicit "valuable feedback" from the influential writers in the blogosphere, not to encourage favorable coverage, Microsoft says.

If that's true then why not give the laptops to Vista beta testers? Simple. Because bloggers have more influence on public opinion. If Microsoft would just make a quality (original) OS, they wouldn't need to rely on bribery for positive press.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

The dichotomy of iTune's success

Clearly, Apple has garnered many enemies over the last several years. At one time (around 1996 or 97), Apple was written off as a company soon to perish. However, Steve Jobs regained control of the company he founded and turned it around. Out were the old beige systems and in came the colorful iMacs--a great-selling hit. Then came the innovative OS X, grounded in the UNIX-based NeXT OS that Jobs once touted as the NeXT CEO. Daring, new systems and laptops appeared--some bombed and some took off. Then came the iPod, which together with iTunes (and its eventual sidekick, iTMS) revolutionized the way consumers bought music, regardless of the bitterness expressed by the old-guard, clueless record corporations.

Microsoft and others were left reeling; no longer could the competition continue to merely copy Apple, because the innovations were coming as fast as lightening-quick sucker punches. Vista is already being described as a bomb; and surprise, its graphics borrow heavily from the GUI of OS X, which has been around since 2000. Microsoft is truly an example of a giant that went to sleep after it made good business decisions; it has never made good technology decisions.

A few weeks ago, several news articles appeared that described "plummeting" sales on iTMS. The press has long had this obsession with harming Apple (link: Apple Death Knell Counter), for some reason:

Apple iTunes Sales Take a Nose Dive

Apple iTunes sales plummet 65%

Apple ITunes Sales Slid in First Half, Forrester Says

Apple responded immediately:

Apple Dismisses 'iTunes Slump' as Silly Claims

Now (as I can personally attest to the Christmas day sluggishness), we see this story:

Holiday demand overwhelms iTunes' ability to download

So which is it, media? The press has its enemies, and its tech enemy is Apple for some bizarre reason.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Windows chief: 'I would buy a Mac if I didn't work for Microsoft'

Windows development chief: 'I would buy a Mac if I didn't work for Microsoft':

Longtime Windows development chief James Allchin wrote in a January 2004 e-mail to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and company co-founder Bill Gates that the software vendor had "lost sight" of customers' needs and said he would buy a Mac if he wasn't working for Microsoft.

In the same article, Allchin tells MS employees to dump incriminating emails. This proves what Mac users have known about MS all along: it's a monopolistic giant that seeks to bury competition instead of compete on the basis of product strength. They can't compete on product strength, because their products suck. Even this senior MS chief here wants a MACINTOSH!!!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

See what the Installer will install

Macworld has a great tip on how to see what a developer installs on your system if they use the Apple installer.

Quite simply, just hit Command-I at the main dialog to see a list, or use the File menu.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Good Blogger troubleshooting stuff...

Every now and then, something weird will happen to my blog. For instance, the other day I added a post to a blog and the sidebar immediately dropped to the bottom of the page. This sort of thing has transpired before, but the fixes I had previously identified were ineffective.

So I did some digging around through Blogger's Help function and found some great resources that helped me solve the problem.

The Google Group for Blogger Help is really great. This group led me to another great help site -> The Real Blogger Status.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Make auto-login somewhat secure

Here's a great security tip for those who enjoy auto-login on their Mac. Use the screen saver password feature in a new way.

Macworld: Mac OS X Hints: Make auto-login somewhat secure


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A nice, tight font panel

A nice and tight font panel is a blog entry that gave me a simple piece of information I had lacked on making the font panel smaller for your work space.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Password Autocomplete Always On!

It's really quite annoying that some web sites circumvent Safari's integrated (very secure) access to encrypted keychains. What I'm specifically referring to is the tactic of preventing your browser from remembering web site login information and entering it the next time for you automatically, provided the keychain itself is unlocked.

It makes sense not to store your login information for banking and credit card sites, but even this doesn't really make much sense if you're a Mac user and enjoy the encrypted goodness of your keychain using Keychain Access--which lets you access tons of password and other critical information with ONE password.

However, certain sites, such as Yahoo, shouldn't have this ridiculous block. It's frustrating and annoying.

There is a way around it in most cases, though I have one particular site I visit that is extremely annoying (http://nextcat.com - is a social networking site) in its method of preventing one from storing login information. All the work-arounds I've looked at so far are ineffective for this site, so they must be using another method of blocking.

Autocomplete Always On! is a little Applescript application that will do some hacking for you of the Webcore engine, allowing you to store login information for MOST sites (except sites like Nextcat). You can handle this hack yourself using the instructions here, but I chose to use the AAO app above. Make sure you back up your Webcore too with the Applescript, just in case (you won't really need to, but I'm a worry-wart).

There are some other methods for doing this, using a Python script run through Pith Helmet's Machete function. One must remember to save the script as a plain text file with the ".py" extension and then make it executable, which can be done simply through the Terminal using instructions here.

But the method described earlier using the AAO Applescript seemed like a quick, global fix for my personal situation.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Slow keyboard performance when using Word 2004 for Mac

If you experience slow keyboard response in Word 2004, here is a potential fix for you to nix the sluggishness. It worked for me!

1. Start Word 2004.
2. Click Tools, point to Macros, and then click Macros.
3. In the Macro name box, type ToolsAdvancedSettings.
4. Click Run.

Note: If Run remains unavailable, click Word Commands in the Macros in list.

5. In the Advanced Settings dialog box, click Microsoft Word in the Categories list.
6. In the Option box, type CACHESIZE.

Note: Make sure that you type CACHESIZE in all capital letters because this setting is case sensitive.

7. In the Setting box, type 1024.
8. Click Set.
9. Click OK.
10. Quit and then restart Word 2004.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Applejack: Getting New Features

Applejack, the command line troubleshooting utility for Mac OS X, is undergoing prerelease testing now for version 1.4.3rc3, which adds a new experimental expert mode. From the read me:
+ Experimental expert mode exists, but is currently hidden until it can be tested further. (see Appendix B). The only well-tested options at this point are the memory test using the included Memtest utility, and the option to disable auto login.
This is great, because among other neat features, it adds the memtest utility as well, which will save you the $1 download charge from its developer.

Memtest and Applejack are must-have utilities, IMHO. Memtest saved my butt on bad memory (via the GUI version in the form of rembr), whereas Tech Tool Pro told me my memory was fine. Wrong! Changed it out and my numerous problems went bye-bye!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nix Yojimbo: Journler plus Keychain Access

Yojim-blows:

I tried to make Yojimbo work for me, but there were just too many problems with .Mac syncing. So, I moved all passwords and secure notes to Keychain Access that comes with OS X. I started a new keychain to store my stuff, and it syncs perfectly with .Mac since Tiger.

For everything else (i.e., PDFs, notes, scribbles, pictures, etc.), I went with Journler...a great, free (donation-ware) application that can also be used for your blogging needs in many instances. I gave the developer $10 for his work--very much worth every penny. It still has some problems, bugs, glitches, and quirks, but it's hard to beat the price.

Now, Journler has no .Mac syncing function. However, it's easy to use an Applescript or syncing application to keep your Journler items synced between computers, and it has a lot of features that Yojim-blow lacks. I'm sure the developer will add .Mac syncing later.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yojimbo 1.2 Quick Input Panel Crap (and .Mac syncing)

MacUpdate: Yojimbo Reviews: I like the app, but the Quick Input F-key keeps saying:

'Yojimbo could not communicate with the Quick Input Helper.'

Nothing I've tried seems to fix the error. (9/30/2006, Version: 1.2)

1 Reply To Review:

I finally fixed this problem. Solution: Close Yojimbo, move ~/Library/Application Support/Yojimbo to Desktop, reopen Yojimbo, close it again, return the above folder to its original position.

Now Quick Input Panel works again...go figure.

However, .Mac syncing hasn't worked. I'm hoping this will fix it too.

(10/10/2006, Version: 1.2)

Google Software Downloads for the Mac

Google Software Downloads for the Mac: "All kinds of great Google goodies for the Macintosh!"

Memory = the source of many problems!


For the last several months, I had numerous problems with my old G4 AGP dual 1.2, which has been as upgraded just about as far as it can go. The problems included recurrent program crashes (especially Safari) and random kernel panics.

I used a little utility called Rember and discovered that a few memory sticks I had were bad. Tech Tool Pro (grumble, grumble) did not catch these errors, so if you think you're having memory issues, please run another utility (apparently, the hardware test disc Apple ships with newer Macs can catch these problems too). You can also run Memtest (which is really the command-line basis of Rember); the author charges $1 to download it (very reasonable given that you can boot in single-user to test MOST of your RAM).

In my case, Memtest wasn't necessary. Rember caught the defective RAM right away, and I narrowed it down to 2 sticks by pulling them one at a time, restarting, and testing with Rember until the errors were gone.

I had 2 bad DIMMs--one at 128 MB and another at 512 MB. So I ordered 2 new 512 MB sticks from OWC (with lifetime warranty). The new memory checked out fine with Rember, and I've had no kernel panics or other major issues since installing it. The old Mac is rock-solid!

Now, how did this happen? I think a Tiger update somewhere down the line didn't agree with those two older RAM sticks. The lesson is to suspect bad RAM (or other hardware) if you're having weird crashes and random panics suddenly.

Yojimbo sync stynk

Apple - Support - Discussions - Yojimbo sync problems ...:

Michael Lafferty over at Apple Support Discussions may have found a trick to help users through problems with Yojimbo syncing. In my own experience, I finally got most of.Mac syncing to work with Tiger 10.4.7, but Yojimbo was the exception. My Powerbook would never update its database using the info from my other Mac.

"Has anyone at Bare Bones Software explained how to reset the Sync Services framework?You can do so by launching iSync, opening the Preferences pane and pressing the Reset Sync History button.

What this does is simply reinitialize the truth, leaving your data intact, all sync clients registered, and creating a condition in which the next synchronization event is considered the first you have ever performed.

Doing that will often clear up what appear to be stalled or incomplete synchronization tasks on the part of any registered client.Here is a link to a document which explains how this 'hidden' framework operates: http://developer.apple.com/macosx/syncservices.html "

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tweaked Firefox - Surf Anonymously

Tweaked Firefox Lets You Surf Internet Without a Trace:

"A tweaked version of Firefox that makes Web browsing anonymous has been released by a group of privacy-minded coders."

If you're a paranoid privacy type, this just might be for you.

Text Encoding: Question mark inside a diamond

Text Encoding: Question mark inside a diamond [Archive] - OSCR Help Forums:

If you encounter this issue with UTF-8 text encoding (or other encoding), adjust your preferences to Western (ISO Latin 1).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ATPM 11.08 - How To: Is Your Memory Failing?

ATPM 11.08 - How To: Is Your Memory Failing?:

Great information on testing your Mac's memory in single-user mode. Memory failure is a common kernel panic problem.

Here's another great link on the same subject at Macworld:

http://www.macworld.com/2006/02/features/speedmemory/index.php

inessential.com: Flash Crash? WebKit Crash? Both?

inessential.com: Flash Crash? WebKit Crash? Both?:

"2   ...romedia.Flash Player.plugin  
0x06b14140 Flash_EnforceLocalSecurity + 47880"

I've had recurring Safari crashes that are quite annoying. Most of them appear related to the Flash Player plug (both version 8 and 9 for OS X); they all appear similar to the crash report line above.

Apparently, it's a bug in Webkit, FLash, or some synergistic malfunction. Safari crashes about 5 or more times a day. And it's weird, because though it says it has crashed I still have to force quit Safari.

Macworld: Mac 911: Auto-changing iPhoto 6 desktop pictures

Macworld: Mac 911: Auto-changing iPhoto 6 desktop pictures: If you run into this issue, there are a couple of easy workarounds to rotate iPhoto pics.

First, use iPhoto, select an album, then hit the Desktop button in iPhoto. This will open System Prefs, allowing you to randomize your iPhoto selection. However, this does not seem to work for mulitple monitors (only the main), and the selection is not auto-updating. You'll have to repeat the process if you add other photos you want rotated.

The other way is a little more complicated and requires some .plist hacking. See the link above. Using this method, multiple monitors should be able to use the same photos.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Missing iCal animated alarm clock

Restore a missing iCal animated alarm clock : If you find that your animated alarm clock is missing from the iCal reminder dialog, you'll need to go into Quicktime prefs and select to allow Flash under the Advanced tab.

The iCal scheduler application will need restarting by logging out and back in again.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Quickly set "Always Open With"

Macworld: Mac OS X Hints: Quickly set Always Open With app:

"Proceed as if you were going to open the document using the contextual menu, but don’t select Open With just yet. Instead, press and hold the Option key down. Just as with the top-level menus, holding down the Option key reveals choices that aren’t normally visible. In this case, Open With changes to read Always Open With. So that’s it—select Always Open With, scroll down to find the application you’d like to use, and release the mouse. Bingo! You’ve now set the Always Open With application for the selected document (or documents, if you highlight more than one)."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Open VISE get Script Editor?

This was a new one for me. Double-clicking a VISE Installer application opened the Script Editor. I did a quick Google search and found this Mac NN:

Installer VISE Installers?

None of their suggestions worked for me, but I discovered something simple. I just added the extension ".app" to the file using Get Info from the Finder! Problem solved.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Can't hide .app in application bundle?

Why is ".app" in the filename? [Archive] - MacNN Forums: ""

If you run into this problem, check to see if there are extra "." in the filename other than the one preceding "app." This can cause the Finder not to hide the .app extension.

AOL Offers 5 GB of Free Storage - Yahoo! News

AOL Offers 5 GB of Free Storage - Yahoo! News:

AOL is going to offer 5 GB of free online storage to anyone with an AOL screenname as part of its move towards an ad-supported business model. This is good news for us normal folk!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Get your iPod stuff in the right order

Copy to Play Order to control iPod song order :

Here's a great tip for getting your iPod tunes in the correct order. Control-click the playlist in iTunes and select "Copy to Play Order."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

.Mac outages

MacNN | Apple's .Mac outages anger users:

Apple's .Mac suite of internet/Web services has been suffering several outages recently, and some users have began to lash out against Apple. According to CNET News.com, users are claiming these outages are unacceptable"

Follow up on my own .Mac syncing problems as of 8/2/06:

With the release of OS 10.4.7, my .Mac syncing woes mostly went away. Bookmarks finally started syncing as intended--about 5 months after I joined and paid for dotmac. Apple graciously granted me extra iDisk space in return for my trouble, which I accepted. However, every now and then something will stop syncing and I'll have to do a reset to get it back. It's not perfect, but I'm happier than when I started with my paid service. As you can see by the article above, I haven't been the only one upset with Apple over dotmac.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bonjour suddenly M.I.A. (no network machines)

If you click on the Network icon in your left sidebar and do not see your other machines (if you have a local network), try restarting all the machines first. Next, disable and re-enable file sharing via System Prefs Sharing prefpane. This might get Bonjour back to snooping your network the way Apple intended.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crashing Finder on Find

If you discover the Finder crashing when you type in the little search box in the upper right corner of any Finder dialog box, it likely means you need to rebuild your Launch Services database, which is separate for each user. In most cases, Spotlight still functions, but Finder finding doesn't.

Notice lines 2-5 in the crash report: Exception: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (0x0001) Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS (0x0001) at 0x70586e60 Thread 0 Crashed: 0 ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore 0x90b99530 CSStoreGetUnit + 56 1 com.apple.LaunchServices 0x91936754 _LSBindingListGetEntryWithClass + 44 2 com.apple.LaunchServices 0x9193667c _UTTypeSearchConformsToTypesCore + 92 3 com.apple.LaunchServices 0x919365ec _UTTypeSearchConformsToTypes + 64 4 com.apple.LaunchServices 0x91936588 _UTTypeConformsTo + 56 5 com.apple.LaunchServices 0x9193ee80 UTTypeConformsTo + 228 6 com.apple.finder 0x002734fc dyld_stub_OpenADefaultComponent + 504460 7 com.apple.finder 0x001c9398 0x1000 + 1868696 8 com.apple.finder 0x001cab64 0x1000 + 1874788

DamagedFiles, Recovered files, and lost+found: huh?

It's really important to treat a DamagedFiles folder that shows up after a crash and disk repair with respect. Research what each file or folder is by using the symlink to go to its original. Replace those files from a backup and repair permissions! There has been data loss.

Macworld: News: Inside Mac OS X 10.4.2:

"Next, the new Disk Management repair code creates a folder named DamagedFiles at the root level of the disk in question, and creates a real Unix symbolic link (not a Mac OS alias of any kind) for each of the affected files, named with the original CNID and the file name. In our example, if your Safari Bookmarks file had the file ID 45892 and the picture that overlapped an extent with it had file ID 81834, the DamagedFiles folder would contain two symbolic links, one named "45892 Bookmarks.plist" and one named something like "81834 DSCN0001.JPG", depending on the image's original filename. As noted, only one of these files can even possibly contain correct data, and they may both be corrupted. Thanks to the symbolic links, you can easily find them, and determine which newly untangled files to keep and which to replace.

Utilities like DiskWarrior have long repaired overlapping extents with similar procedures, but it's great to have this built into the operating system, if for no other reason than that Mac OS X uses this code to verify and repair your file system during startup when the computer wasn't properly shut down. If you see a DamagedFiles directory show up on the root level of your hard drive, stop what you're doing and look at the files within it. See which of the files are damaged, and either replace them from backup or recreate them. Then run DiskWarrior if you have it, or boot into single-user mode and run fsck so it can verify there are no more problems with your disk. (You can boot from your Tiger installation disk and run Disk Utility, but since it doesn't contain the Mac OS X 10.4.2 version of this code, it won't do as well with overlapping extents, so we recommend single-user mode first.)"

More info can be found here as well.

Also keep in mind you might see orphaned files stuck in a folder at the root called "lost+found":

MacDevCenter.com -- Top Ten Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks: "lost+foundThis directory stores orphaned files discovered by fsck."

If you find a Recovered Files folder in your trash when starting up, Apple has the explanation here. Basically, OS X is cleaning up after applications that either crashed or did bad housekeeping:

Mac OS X 10.4 Help: A folder called Recovered Files appears in my Trash: "One or more Recovered Files folder may appear in your Trash after restarting your computer."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

PMU problems? Hope not.

I've started seeing this message:

Jul 27 17:45:09 localhost kernel[0]: ApplePMU::PMU forced 
shutdown, cause = -122

I'd like to think it's a faux pas, but I think I'm reaching the physical and technical limits of what my old G4 can do. Tiger will be the last OS installment on this machine until I can replace it.

I've added a new video card (that powers 2 monitors), several hard drives, an firewire audio interface, a USB 2.0 card, and a processor upgrade. So I'm not surprised to see all these problems cropping up.

I'm also having a lot more kernel panics, freezes, and various application crashes. Not sure what to do next.

iPods have 4-year life, says Apple???

Macworld UK - iPods have 4-year life, says Apple: " 

Macworld Daily News Thursday - July 27, 2006 By Macworld staff

Though some iPods do develop faults, Apple builds them to last at least four years, the company claims. A Chicago Tribune report weighs up the cacophony of complaints regarding Apple's music players"

This is frustrating for me personally. I have two iPods, and this means one is nearing its life-expectancy. I know stuff can't last forever, but dang it...iPods and computers aren't cheap. They need to last longer than 4 years! My G4 (where I'm typing this) is still strong after 6 years now!

Update 7/29/06 - now, they're backtracking with claims of being misquoted, which I wouldn't put past the media:

MacNN | Apple clarifies: iPod lasts "for years" The report quoted Kerris as saying that Apple's iPod is designed to last "four years," but Kerris said she told the reporter that the iPod was designed to last "for years." 

AlphaBaby 1.51 - MacUpdate

AlphaBaby 1.51 - MacUpdate:

DESCRIPTION

AlphaBaby lets even infants and toddlers have fun playing with the computer. My kids love to play with the computer. Unfortunately, they also have the habit of renaming my hard drive to 'axlfkaj'. So, I wrote AlphaBaby so they could safely use the Mac without inflicting too much damage! Every time a key is pressed or the mouse is clicked, a letter or shape is drawn. Sounds can be played every time something is drawn.

Your own sounds and pictures can also be used. AlphaBaby helps kids to learn letters, plus provides a s"

This seems like a great idea for you Mac folks out there with a baby or toddler (like I have) who is dying to play with your computer!

iPods have 4-year life, says Apple???

Macworld UK - iPods have 4-year life, says Apple: "


Macworld Daily News

Thursday - July 27, 2006
By Macworld staff

Though some iPods do develop faults, Apple builds them to last at least four years, the company claims. A Chicago Tribune report weighs up the cacophony of complaints regarding Apple's music players"

This is frustrating for me personally. I have two iPods, and this means one is nearing its life-expectancy. I know stuff can't last forever, but dang it...iPods and computers aren't cheap. They need to last longer than 4 years! My G4 (where I'm typing this) is still strong after 6 years now!

Update 7/29/06 - now, they're backtracking with claims of being misquoted, which I wouldn't put past the media:

MacNN | Apple clarifies: iPod lasts "for years" The report quoted Kerris as saying that Apple's iPod is designed to last "four years," but Kerris said she told the reporter that the iPod was designed to last "for years."

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Missing login items (suddenly)

Weird thing today. Had a kernel panic while exploring my new Focusrite Saffire audio interface (I'm occasionally getting a digital pop out of the left channel). When I rebooted, none of my login items showed up.

Luckily I had a backup of the file:

 ~/Library/Preferences/loginwindow.plist

You are backing up daily, right? Anyway, restoring this file quickly restored my login items.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Poot, spark, sputter - ATI Rage 128 PCI

I was all excited when my new Focusrite Saffire firewire audio interface showed up. Until I realized that any significant movement on my second monitor (attached to an old ATI Rage 128 PCI card) caused popping, crackling, and resetting on the interface. Unacceptable. So, I bought (on eBay) a flashed PC version of the ATI Radeon 9200 to run both monitors. It’s a PCI card (for PC) that was professionally flashed to be an AGP Mac version, so it replaced my Rage 128 Pro AGP and the Rage 128 PCI (freeing up a slot for me too). It’s working great and no more pops and crap on my audio interface. Plus, I can see all the neat Quartz Extreme stuff I was missing; note: NO CORE IMAGE support though. The new problem: I couldn’t sleep my Mac anymore. But I remedied this by playing with the ATI Displays utility settings. I turned off a bunch of features that didn’t seem necessary (not sure which did the trick) and my computer would sleep again. Yeah! NOTE: Even though it sleeps again (I also reapplied all the latest ROM and software updates from ATI), occasionally it goes to sleep with a high-pitched whirling sound (I’m assuming this is the fan on the card). Doesn’t do this all the time, but what they hey...this is card is a hack.

Checking out widgets before you buy

Here’s a neat way to check out a widget before loading it on your system: hold down command-option at the load widget dialog and the default button changes to RUN. From Macworld!

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Unlock-a D' Folder

I just had a unique issue pop-up regarding locked folders. A folder inside my applications folder was suddenly locked for some inexplicable reason. I only discovered this when SuperDuper was trying to back it up to a sparseimage and failed with an error at that folder. So I did what most people do when they have any of a plethora of OS X problems that aren’t covered by the usual troubleshooting tricks--go to Google. This led me to Apple’s Support site, where I found this article and attempted these steps below: If the item you are trying to unlock is a folder,use these steps:         1.        Open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities).         2.        Type this, followed by a space: sudo chflags nouchg         3.        Drag the folder you would like to unlock into the Terminal window.         4.        Press Return.         5.        Enter your password and press Return. If you have attempted to unlock a file in the Finder but it is still locked, follow these steps to remove the system immutable bit from affected files, which can cause this issue. Mac OS X 10.4 or later 1. Start in single-user mode 2. Type this, followed by Return: mount -uw / 3. Type this, followed by Return: 
/usr/libexec/register_mach_bootstrap_servers /etc/mach_init.d 4. Type this, followed by Return: autodiskmount 5. Type this, followed by Return: 
find / -flags schg -exec chflags noschg {} \; 6. Once this is finished, type this followed by Return: reboot Of course, the first set of instructions designed for a folder didn’t do the trick. But I booted single-user and typed in the long commands for fixing files, and this did do the trick!

Monday, May 15, 2006

iStynk and .Mac Stync

Of all the things I love about OS X and Tiger (and the list is great), I can't say I'm very fond of the syncing architecture. It's fairly lame damn it. I recently bought a .Mac membership ($99 annually) to take care of my email, web hosting, and syncing for multiple Macs. The only problem is that the syncing part is stynking. And considering I'm not getting what I paid for, it's really ticking me off!

.Mac Support has been working on my bookmark syncing problems since April 24, 2006--it's now May 15, 2006; their most recent response to my latest inquiry was:

Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve this issue.

.Mac Support engineers are still hard at work seeking a resolution for the issue you have reported. Currently, they are reviewing the logs and your account configuration. We appreciate your patience as we strive to make your experience with .Mac a more enjoyable one. Rest assured we have flagged your request for follow up and will contact you immediately once we have more information for you.

So I've tried some other 'fixits' while I wait for their lightning-fast customer support; You can view the entire procedure here at the Apple Discussion forums. Here's my summary:

1. I unregistered all my computers via Sys Prefs.
2. I turned off sync via the web interface for Address Book and Bookmarks. Then I deleted all the Contacts and Bookmark (the generic Apple bookmarks) entries via the web interface.
3. I deleted all .Mac keychain entries from the Keychain app.
4. Deleted "PendingNotifications.plist" and "conflicts" via my /Library/Application Support/ directory. I left "clientdata" alone this time (I tried deleting it last time and it didn't do anything).
5. I reset my phone and resynced it via iSync. My calendars came across, but for some reason my contacts won't go over now (on the phone).
6. Before syncing with .Mac, I went to my iDisk and checked the Bookmark.xml file. It was still there at 84 KB. I could actually open it with BBEdit and see that it's still the generic Apple URLs. I couldn't delete the file though.
7. I went to Sys Prefs at the Sync tab and turned on just Bookmarks. It was already set to "Manually" sync. When given the option, I selected "Replace data on .Mac". It seemed to sync and gave the green check mark, but then it gave me the "There was a problem with the sync operation. .Mac login failed." message. I went ahead and resynced the bookmarks again without error this time.
8. I went back to mac.com and turned on bookmark syncing and selected merge. Now my bookmarks are completely empty again online - at least the generic Apple bookmarks are gone. I went to Sys Prefs and selected reset sync data to try again. The bookmark.xml file on my iDisk is now 1 KB in size.
9. So I went ahead and tried syncing everything else again. My online contacts will not sync now. Don't know why. I'm assuming this means nothing else is syncing.

So I lost my online contacts and my phone contacts--very important--more so than bookmarks on .Mac! So I found this online solution thanks to Josh Blander. I just deleted my entire ~/Library/Application Support/SyncServices directory and restarted. My phone was back and my .Mac contacts synced again after that. My bookmarks, however, were still in the toilet--no syncing permitted. I have no clue why they won't sync. They'll sync if I create a new OS X account and add a trial .Mac account. But not with my PAID account.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mac mini death

The other day, my Mac Mini beeped three times and refused to start. Following the advice of others on the net, I tried reseating the memory card, but that didn’t do the trick. It’s dead and has to go back to Apple.

This is the first Apple product I’ve had to send back in 13 years of using Apple stuff.

.Mac Woes

I just purchased my first .Mac membership. The marketing all sounds great, but it has some problems.

1. Mail continues to show up in my “Draft” mailbox after I’ve already sent it. Very weird.
2. My bookmarks won’t sync no matter what. I’m stuck with the default Apple bookmarks that come with Safari. Everything else seems to sync okay.
3. Using iDisk through the Finder is impossibly slow. Don’t even try it. Get Transmit instead.

I’m hoping to get most of the functionality I paid for soon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Recovering space on a sparseimage file

If you’re like me and use sparseimage files for backing up your hard drive, you’ll notice that the disk can expand and shrink. But the cost is that, while the content on the image shrinks, the sparseimage file itself doesn’t, and you’re left with an ever-expanding image file.

The solution is to use hdiutil compact in the Terminal to reclaim the empty space:

localuser$ hdiutil compact /Volumes/HardDiskName/DiskFileName.sparseimage

Better yet, set up a script that runs as a cron job to do this automatically for you periodically!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Windows on an Intel Mac? It's here!

I never thought I’d see the day Apple first adopted Intel as its processor supplier, and I definitely didn’t see Apple opening up to let the Mac boot/run Windows. But that’s finally happened.

This should allow Apple to eventually control more of the home computer/notebook market share and compete heavily with other PC manufacturers, such as Dell. It also makes Intel and Microsoft happy! Bottom line is that Apple, MS, and Intel will all go on growing and cooperating to a certain extent, which is great for the computer user (and especially the Mac user).

More can be found here. Apple apparently will support dual booting, but 3rd party developers will have to save the day to allow simultaneous operation of both systems with a small performance hit. Either way this will solve many compatibility problems that plague Mac users, and this could even grow interest in Apple’s OS, as more PC users will be drawn to the Mac now.

Good business move Apple! And to think of the numerous reports of Apple’s demise over the years (check out Mac Observer’s Apple Death Knell Counter).

10.4.6 Update Problem and Fix

When I applied the 10.4.6 Combo updater for Tiger I couldn’t boot up again. The first symptom something was wrong was when I hit the restart button after installation; the thing hung up so I had to do a hard reboot. Afterwards, it would hang once the progress bar of the “Welcome to Macintosh” dialog went all the way across, or in other cases the desktop and cursor would appear and nothing else (no menu bar, dock, etc.).

Running the Applejack suite did nothing to fix the issue (in single-user mode), and I couldn’t boot up in safe mode. Reinstalling the update from another partition didn’t work either.

So while booted in the other partition, I deleted the cache files. The next reboot was fine, and it has been fine since.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Mysterious Library Alias

Many of you in Tiger may have noticed the problem discussed here.

Specifically, a new generic file alias shows up in under Network in the Finder. Apparently it has something to do with NFS. A user on the above forum wrote:

The network Library contains items that are available to all users on your network. It has been around since at least 10.1. You would only use this folder if you part of a network being managed with OS X Server.

From Mac OS X Server Administrator’s Guide:

"Adding System Resources to the Network Library Folder

This Library folder in the Network globe is included in the system search path. This gives you the ability to make available, from the network, any type of system resource that resides in the local Library folder. These resources could include fonts, application preferences, ColorSync profiles, desktop pictures, and so forth. Mac OS X accesses the network Library folder before the local Library folder, so network resources with the same name take precedence. You can use this capability to customize your managed client environment."

So just ignore it. It represents network services that aren't available to you.

Anyway, the important point is how to fix it from another user:

>>>When I click on the Network icon in the Sidebar the window shows "Servers" and an alias called Library. If I click on it the system tells me the alias is broken. I don't know what this file is for.

I deleted the file but I had to log in as root to do it. After that I could login to and user on my Mac and the file was gone. After I did a restart it came back again. Anybody know what this file is?<<<

To prevent it from comming back, edit "/System/Library/StartupItems/NFS/NFS" and place a # in front of the line:

ln -s /automount/Library /Network/Library

As shown below....

nfsd ${arguments}
fi
##
# Start the automounter
##
if [ "${AUTOMOUNT:=-YES-}" = "-YES-" ]; then
automount -m /Network -nsl -mnt ${AUTOMOUNTDIR}
# ln -s /automount/Library /Network/Library
automount -m /automount/Servers -fstab -mnt /private/Network/Servers -m /automount/static -static -mnt
${AUTOMOUNTDIR}
ln -s /automount/Servers /Network/Servers
#
# Hint that the name /Network should be localized:
#
ln -s . /Network/.localized
fi
#
# Leave a mark upon completion of the automounter startup:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sharing iTunes and iPhoto on One Machine

This must be one of the biggest pains in the world. I don’t know why Apple doesn’t address this better.

Sharing a single iTunes (or iPhoto) Library is very tough, because of separate user accounts and permissions issues. If you do a search on Google, there are about 8-gajillion methods for achieving this; most of them are too hard and many of them don’t work. The one I had previously used under Panther required setting up a new group with NetInfo Manager.

Even Apple’s current support document on the issue isn’t 100% right. However, (as usual) digging through the discussion board (where Apple plays no official part) I was able to find a key omission in Apple’s version. The original can be found here, but I’ve summarized it below:

Holding down the command key & select the iTunes Music folder and drag it to a shared folder along with a copy of the iTunes Library file from your iTunes folder... leave the original Library file where it is... set your iTunes pref. > advanced tab Location is Shared folder.

Set correct permissions on the Shared folder ...

To set preferences using BatChmod is very easy... This compact GUI will perform the same tasks as a 'command line in Terminal ' drag the complete Shared folder with libraries and iTunes Music folder inside to the BatChmod Icon and drop.... check path is correct.... tick if not already.... Owner=R W , Group=R W, Others=R W, then tick 'Apply ownership and priviledges'... 'Unlock' & click Apply... provide password... all done very quick...

The next time you login to the other A/C replace the iTunes Library file in the iTunes folder with the copy in the Shared folder and check the name is iTunes Library without 'copy' added.... start iTunes and set the pref. the same as above.... if you make major changes to library you can swap the library file to the other user A/C the same way.

This didn’t work for my situation, because I want to share our ENTIRE library among users, including playlists and so on. So I eventually pieced together advice from various different sources such as these:

Symbolic links Sharing iTunes and iPhoto Libraries with entire family Using ACL under Tiger (I did not go this route)

A probable avenue for doing this pain free was seen here, but the developer has no demo version available (this software was once donationware). Sounds nice but I won’t pay even $5 for something if I don’t know it will work. And there’s a shareware app called Sandbox that might work as well for doing ACL, but I didn’t try it.

Here’s what I did (basically):

  1. Moved /User/Music/iTunes/ directory to /Users/Shared/
  2. Changed permissions to allow RWE for all users in that folder
  3. Made a symbolic link to the library in each user’s /Music/ folder pointing to the shared folder; note: Path Finder makes doing the above tasks easier
  4. Repeated steps 1-3 for iPhoto library as well

It’s working as of now, but we’ll see if I run into any ‘gotchas’. I created a test playlist from one user’s account and then deleted it from another account, so it seems to be working. I can play music from either account. iPhoto is working as well.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Current system.log error messages

What follows are recurring error messages I’m seeing in the system.log, though my current 10.4.5 system seems to be running fine. I’m hoping to address each of these issues over time.

Here are some issues I’m seeing at shutdown:

Mar 10 21:38:28 Studio-Mac-G4 loginwindow[84]: sendQuitEventToApp (LAServer): AESendMessage returned error -609
Mar 10 21:38:31 Studio-Mac-G4 SystemStarter[2988]: authentication service (3008) did not complete successfully
Mar 10 21:38:31 Studio-Mac-G4 kernel[0]: at_obdev_KUC: sf_attach denied! already terminatingat_obdev_KUC
Mar 10 21:38:33 Studio-Mac-G4 SystemStarter[2988]: The following StartupItems failed to properly start:
Mar 10 21:38:33 Studio-Mac-G4 SystemStarter[2988]: /System/Library/StartupItems/AuthServer

Here are some issues I’m seeing at startup:

Mar 11 06:00:43 localhost kernel[0]: WARNING: ATA Drive claims FLUSH CACHE EXT feature support but does not claim Extended LBA feature support
Mar 11 06:00:44 localhost 152109056: cupsd's bootstrap server port not found

Friday, March 10, 2006

Motorola v265 and iSync - Apple Typo

Here’s the fix for the issue where iSync stopped recognizing my Motorola v265 upon upgrade to Tiger.

Locate the following file by right-clicking the iSync application and choosing “Show Package Contents” (only do this if you are moderately technically savvy):

/Contents/PlugIns/ApplePhoneConduit.syncdevice/Contents/
PlugIns/ PhoneModelsSync.phoneplugin/
Contents/Resources/MetaClasses.plist

Open the file using a .plist editor, BBEdit, or some other text editor you are familiar with. Once you have the file open, locate the following Identification key entry:

<string>Motorola CE, Copyright 2000+Motorola V265 Phone</string>

Change the entry simply by adding “m” to “V265”:

<string>Motorola CE, Copyright 2000+Motorola V265m Phone</string>

Save and close. You should now be able to add the device in iSync. Obviously, someone made a simple typo at Apple that needs to be addressed so that it will recognize the phone as it’s supposed to do. More thorough background on how I found this fix can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Motorola v265 and Tiger 10.4.5 - no workee

Okay, so I solved one problem in my upgrade to Tiger only to face a new problem:

iSync no longer recognizes my Motorola v265 cell phone (yes, it’s supported via USB). Apparently, according to macfixit.com, I have to do some major hacking using Xcode Tools’ USB Prober and a text editor to get iSync to work again the way it did with Panther. My phone is being seen by Tiger (as per the System Profiler), so it’s definitely a software issue.

Does anyone besides me think this is a problem? I shouldn’t have to hack an Apple product just to get it to work the way it’s supposed to work according to Apple.

This is the kind of stuff that pisses me off as a loyal Apple user since 1986.

Acard 6280M and Tiger = BOOM!

I have solved my hanging gray Apple screen of death issue referenced earlier many times on this blog (most recently here - follow the trail yourself back to Jan 9, 2006 when I tried to upgrade from Panther to Tiger 10.4.4 on my relatively old, but heavily upgraded, G4 AGP.

In my last post, I had discovered on the Apple discussion boards information about the Acard PCI Adapter interfering with versions of Tiger after 10.4.2. I figured this was likely my problem as well, as I have that very PCI card and was attempting to boot Tiger off of a drive connected to that Acard adapter.

It so happened that I had a fairly large 120 GB drive still attached to the main ATA bus on the system, so I duplicated my Tiger partition over to that drive. I’ve been cruising along fine since in Tiger 10.4.5. I also emailed Acard the following regarding this issue:

Dear Acard,

I have recently upgraded from Panther to Tiger (10.4.5) and may be having issues with my Acard 6280M. I have loaded the most recent drivers, but the problem still remains.

If I do any system maintenance (cache deletion) or add any new kernel extension, I will get stuck at the Apple gray startup screen. I have to do a safe-boot and then delete the following folder to be able to boot again:

/System/Library/Cache/com.apple.kernelcache/

I perused the file inside that directory and found a line referencing the 6280M. Are there any issues with the current driver and Tiger 10.4.5?

Thank you...

Shane Hendricks

Acard hasn’t yet responded and they may never respond; the current broken driver is version 1.5.7. This driver should work fine with 10.4.2 and below. They did answer some folks on the Apple discussion regarding this topic, which you can read for yourself. They basically passed the buck to Apple, which is bogus. It’s Acard’s responsibility (as a peripheral maker) to support Apple, not the other way around damn it. In another answer, they recommended doing a complete new reinstall and AVOIDING MIGRATING OR UPGRADING from Panther, which is crap for those of us with a nice running Panther system.

Anyway, this problem is solved for me, and my system seems to be running much better under Tiger. Good luck to others with this problem.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

More on SystemStarter and gray Apple screen

The plot thickens. Reference, of course, my previous posts on this subject here.

I had narrowed the culprit down specifically to /System/Library/Caches/, which seems to somehow become corrupt after some major system maintenance or modification (i.e., install of a new kernel extension or cache clean up) on my old G4 AGP (Sawtooth).

Some others on the Apple forums had suggested it could possibly be due to my Acard 6280M IDE PCI adapter, which I MAY have ruled out by updating to the latest driver (version 1.5.7.); I’m not 100% sure. I did have some troubles updating to the new Acard driver, but I eventually got it working as well as the previous version of the Acard driver I was using.

However, after reinstalling (once again) Tiger 10.4.5 from the backup I had made and migrating (again, avoiding the root files and folders--which I no longer believe is related to the problem), I installed Applejack and proceeded to clean all the caches in single-user mode to test for problem reproducibility. The system rebooted fine after the Applejack session, but I immediately rebooted again from the Finder and experienced the hang at the gray Apple screen.

Since I had narrowed the problem to /System/Library/Caches/, I decided to go through the contents systematically to find the culprit file or folder. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the very last folder I deleted (after many reboots, gray screens, and safe boots to delete files) was this folder:

/System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kernelcaches/

After deleting this folder, the system booted normally, so I may need to delete this folder after every kernel extension install or system maintenance that involves cache cleaning.

What fun! This obviously MUST be related to my hardware setup in some way, but I don’t know which part for the life of me (maybe it is the Acard, but I can’t understand why). I do have these system.log messages (the first of which I always had in Panther but never had any real issues booting):

Mar 5 09:51:04 localhost kernel[0]: WARNING: ATA Drive claims FLUSH CACHE EXT feature support but does not claim Extended LBA feature support

The above message obviously directly involved the Acard adapter.

Mar 5 09:51:04 localhost kernel[0]: Extension "com.apple.driver.PioneerSuperDrive" has no kernel dependency

The next message listed above is a new one for me. No clue...

So there’s obviously some issue with hardware, because my Mac Mini doesn’t behave this way on Tiger (and obviously for most of the Apple world). My old AGP has been so heavily upgraded that it may no longer be capable of running newer OSs (likely issues with either the Acard or my Giga Designs Dual Processor upgrade card).

Anyway, at least I’ve narrowed it down some to a kernel issue with some part of the hardware.

Friday, March 03, 2006

SystemStarter woes continue...

Nope...problem not gone.

Reference my previous posts here and here about this issue I’ve faced upgrading my old G4 AGP to Tiger and getting the weird, unpredictable, hanging gray-Apple-screen-of-frozen-death, which I’ve traced to SystemStarter in the console.

I’ve narrowed the culprit files down to something in the /System/Library/Cache/, as today I decided to delete recommended items stepwise in Safe Boot until I could boot normally again.

First, I tried deleting a few things in /Library/Cache that I thought might be the culprit, going simply by the date of modification/crreation (i.e., today). No help. So then I tried getting rid of Extensions.kextcache alone, but I still faced the screen-of-death.

So finally, I just deleted the entire contents of /System/Library/Cache, and this seems to be the cause (or something in here).

As far as what’s causing this: I’m not sure. I had a crash shortly before this happened and I ran Applejack. Reboot was fine, but a subsequent test restart was not.

BTW, here’s a great site for troubleshooting startup: http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/startupitems.html

Searching the Apple Discussion boards led me to this thread, which might be related to my problems (i.e. the Acard 6280M IDE PCI controller).

To be continued I’m sure...?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stuck at the gray apple screen in Tiger

This is a problem I was having (see previous post) after upgrading to 10.4.3. Well, I’m finally up and running 10.4.5 and seem to have eliminated the issue (so far). I’d like to describe my solution for others having the problem (see my original post for background info).

I believe the problem has to do with using the Migration Assistant--specifically, the option to move over Files and Folders at the root level, so I recommend leaving this option unchecked during your migration. As a matter of fact, leave anything you can absolutely do without unselected to minimize the chance of corrupting your new system during migration.

My solution:

The first thing I did was install and upgrade completely (from 10.4.2. to 10.4.5. using the Combo installer and the Software Update panel to get it all up to speed). Then, after repairing permissions, I manually installed every kernel extension I could think of (i.e., xxx.kext) that I thought I would use; this way, no extensions would be installed via the migration from Panther to Tiger. After getting to this point (with a system that would restart fine every time), I made a backup using SuperDuper just in case I had to go back to square one.

Finally, I proceeded to use Migration Assistant, but I did not migrate root-level files and folders, and I also didn’t migrate my network settings. Everything else migrated fine, and I’ve noticed no major differences so far (except that Tiger is much snappier on my system than Panther was). So far, the dreaded, sneaky gray-Apple-screen-of-death issue has been averted. I don’t know why or exactly how, but for those of you having this problem, you should attempt this fix in the Migration Assistant. Better yet, don’t use it all and start over from the beginning (manually copying over stuff you need).

Again, my issue is different from some others in that I was migrating on the same computer...on old, heavily-upgraded G4 AGP Mac. All seems great right now...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Don't blow it Apple!

I’m the first to espouse the uniqueness and fun of Apple’s products. From the very first Apple product I brought home and unwrapped in 1993 (my Mac Classic II), I’ve always appreciated the elegance of what Apple does, right down to the packaging (yes, I’m talking about the box and wrapping).

Apple has more or less been traveling the road to renewed success and viability since the release of the iMac, OS X, and then the iPod. But there’s a price to success. Companies can get sloppy and greedy...just look at Microsoft for the textbook definition. They’re currently faced with a white elephant in the Windows OS; will they sack it and start over like Apple did with Classic in favor of OS X, or will they continue trying to nurse that bloated sack of crap into some sort of functional tool?

I’m currently looking at buying a new iPod Video to replace my 3G from a few years ago. My 3G came generously with a dock, headphones, AC adapter, firewire cable, a remote, a case, and other various nicknacks. Like many of you, I also bought third-party accessories for it that totaled in dollars as much as the iPod itself.

After I carried my iPod for a while, I noticed its battery surely didn’t last as long as the promised 8 hours, even if I never used the backlight. I could get 4 in the beginning, which rapidly decreased over a year. I also noticed how easily the shiny chrome backing of the iPod scratched, apparently by just taking it in and out of the Apple-supplied case. Apple, why not design a case for the iPod that doesn’t need another case to keep it from scratching? Dumbasses!

Apple found itself reeling, fighting lawsuits and customer dissatisfaction over its sloppiness--from horrible battery life to iPod nano scratches. Apple had to offer costly placation deals, like the iPod battery replacement program, that they could have avoided by being candid and factual in the first place.

Later, we saw instances of Powerbook and iBook battery and screen defects--more sloppiness, more legal haggling, and more expensive Apple service programs to address the public relations damage. I wonder if Apple is just riding the cash cow or if they’re actually paying attention to their customers (not if you read the Discussion boards)? Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for their success, but I’m disappointed with some of the crap they’re letting out the door lately. Don’t release a new iPod generation each year if it’s not freakin’ ready...OKAY??!! QC your products Apple.

As I’ve now come to find out, Apple is releasing the iPod Video without a dock, remote, and AC adapter. All that stuff has to be purchased extra now and totals well over $100. And most of those expensive third-party accessories I bought are no longer utile for the new iPod, because Apple keeps shunning any particular standard and modifying things--important things (like electronic connections)--with each new iteration. And one can only wonder if it’s profit motivated, because it sure isn’t customer motivated!

Well, here’s a new Powerbook audio defect that Apple's currently trying to ignore; Apple’s official, laughable advice is to avoid multitasking. We’ll see if quality gets better or goes down with continued success, just as quality suffered and continues to do so at Microsoft. History has shown quality suffers when a company sees itself as invincible; Steve, don’t become the next Bill Gates! Remember...think different!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sometimes, the Computer Name Screensaver "poofs" into a folder...

This is an odd issue that I had seen before, but it just happened to me again. I can’t remember what fix I found the first time, but this worked now:

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20051106220246962

Bottom line...go through System Preferences app when changing screensavers to see this particular screensaver normally.

Netbarrier X4 (10.4) firstlook

This isn’t working well for me in Panther (10.3.9) at the moment. I keep getting:

“Waiting for OS X initialization”...or something along those lines.

Then followed two successive kernel panics on startup, and each time I had to do a disk repair using Diskwarrior. Oh well...

So, I went back to X3 for the time being while Intego sort out the bugs.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

iTunes 6.0.2. goes clandestinely adware with MiniStore

Okay, there’s a lot of hoopla out there about iTunes 6.0.2 software having the new “MiniStore feature,” which, if open, will send info to Apple about what songs you click or listen to in your library and then present songs in the MiniStore pane similar to those songs clicked or listened to in your library.

First of all, you can disable this feature easily by clicking the button below the Mini-Store pane or select Edit > Show MiniStore (↑-⌘-M) to turn it off. No data are sent out once it’s disabled. Remind others who use your computer and have their own accounts to also disable this feature, because it will open for them as well; I’m sure Apple is counting on someone in the household not knowing how to turn the crap off.

The problem with this mess is that Apple doesn’t explicitly state anywhere they’re going to monitor your habits; they’re not forthcoming with information on turning it off; and they have it set to activate automatically when you first open iTunes after upgrading, which means until you figure out what the hell is happening you’re being watched. Regardless of whether you’re staunchly defending Apple (like many of the zealots over at the Apple Discussion boards), Apple has been less than honest by sneaking in this “new feature.”

I’m really not too concerned if Apple knows what I’m listening to (as I’m a faithful customer who has bought many tunes on iTMS--and I own 3 Macs, an Airport Express, and an iPod), but they’re also sending data to some 3rd party company called Omniture, Inc. Apple unofficially has claimed to dispose of data instantly (info used to target the advertisements to you in iTunes), but what does Omniture have to do with it? Why are they also getting the data? Are they also instantly disposing of the data? Something in me says NO!

Others on the net have found that your Apple ID is also sent with this data if you’re logged in, and though Apple may not store any data sent, there are some cookies and other info stored on YOUR computer. So in this regard, it is arguably spyware and at the very least adware. So users be-WARE!

Other reads on the subject:

http://since1968.com/article/154/itunes-update-update

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/01/11/itunes_update_spies_.html

http://www.plasticbag.org/archives/2006/01/cynicism_and_stupidity

http://www.rc3.org/2006/01/spytunes.php

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Belkin's iTrip - Broken?

iTrip is an attachment for iPods that allows transmitting your iPod’s audio output to an FM receiver.

At first, I thought my iTrip was broken, but I realized I had only forgotten how to set it to a certain frequency. One must play the particular frequency file on the iPod (with iTrip attached of course) until the iTrip begins to flash. Once it flashes, hit pause. Then it’s set and ready to go.

It’s still not perfect. It’s best to use it with another power source in your vehicle, as it will drain the iPod battery in no time. And on days when FM propagation is active, you may have to change to other frequencies. Remember, the quality is going to be no better than FM radio stereo reception, which isn’t all that bad really. If you’re a big audiophile, go with a wired connection option for your vehicle.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Gear

It’s nice to talk about what comprises your Apple setup. Here’s what I have:

Hardware Overview (G4 AGP):

Machine Model: Power Mac G4 (AGP graphics) CPU Type: PowerPC G4 (3.3) Number Of CPUs: 2 CPU Speed: 1.2 GHz L2 Cache (per CPU): 256 KB L3 Cache (per CPU): 2 MB Memory: 1.19 GB Bus Speed: 100 MHz Boot ROM Version: 4.2.8f1

Capacity: 9.57 GB Model: QUANTUM FIREBALLP LM10.2

Capacity: 114.5 GB Model: Maxtor 6Y120P0

Capacity: 233.76 GB Manufacturer: ATA Model: Maxtor 6Y250P0

Capacity: 57.27 GB Manufacturer: ATA Model: IC35L060AVV207-0

Capacity: 4.11 GB Manufacturer: PIONEER Model: PIONEER DVD-RW DVR-107D Revision: 1.18 Drive Type: CD-RW/DVD-RW

ACARD,6280M (to allow running the huge 233 GB Maxtor): Name: ACARD,6280M Type: scsi Bus: PCI

ATY,Rage128Pro (driving a MAG Innovision monitor): Type: display Bus: AGP Slot: SLOT-A VRAM (Total): 16 MB

ATY,Rage128 (driving a ViewSonic A75s monitor): Type: display Bus: PCI Slot: SLOT-D VRAM (Total): 16 MB

That’s the studio Macintosh. Our network consists of a Netgear router and an Airport Express. The network has a Mac Mini and Powerbook Aluminum 15. Finally, a nice 3G 20GB iPod to top it off!! Other studio stuff can be seen here.

10.4.4. update is big crash-bang-boom!

I just made the mistake of loading this update via Software Update without backing up first. Let’s this be a lesson to everyone. Don’t do it! Backup, backup, backup!

Remember when I said that a Safe Boot was getting me out of trouble in 10.4.3? Well, I’m stuck at the gray Apple screen of death again, and I can’t Safe Boot or boot into Single-User mode. I can’t even do an Archive and Install...I tried and the stupid thing still doesn’t recognize the file system. All the usual troubleshooting steps were ineffective. The only real option is to blank the drive and start over, and I don’t have the time anymore. I’ve spent a week trying to get running with Tiger and it has been a waste of time.

Sticking with Panther for now, which is rock solid for me at 10.3.9! Maybe Apple with fix this crap eventually instead of breaking it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Upgrading from Panther to Tiger 10.4.3

What a pain in the patootie! My old, trusty G4 AGP 400, which has been heavily updated and modified into a dual G4 1.2 GHz Panther beast, gave me fits when I decided to load Tiger and then update it to 10.4.3. The problem: hanging at the gray Apple screen during startup without any progress indicator (the spinning wheel). I spent the better part of three days troubleshooting this nightmare, to include two separate clean installs and migrations. I discovered lots of folks were having this issue on G4s after the 10.4.3 update around the net, but no one had any solutions (other than using another Mac in target mode to install the 10.4.3 combo updater). There had to be another way.

So, I used a safe boot (⇧ during startup) to drop into safe mode, which would work every time. Single-user mode was a no go (⌘-S); the Mac stubbornly ignored the snag. I perused the Console and kept seeing this:

Jan 9 12:37:23 Studio-Mac SystemStarter[800]: authentication service (815) did not complete successfully
Jan 9 12:37:25 Studio-Mac SystemStarter[800]: The following StartupItems failed to properly start:
Jan 9 12:37:25 Studio-Mac SystemStarter[800]:
/System/Library/StartupItems/AuthServer

After much troubleshooting, I found that I could reboot normally once if I installed something on the machine that modified the extensions. Subsequent reboots would hang, however. The log entries above may or may not have indicated the ultimate problem. I’ll have to watch the system.log to see if they go away. After digging around in the Apple forums and other places, I found a solution for my nettlesome situation.

While in safe mode, I deleted the following files (* means delete directory contents):

/Library/Caches/*
/System/Library/Caches/*
/System/Extensions.kextcache

After rebooting, the problem went away, even for subsequent reboots. I’ll monitor and see if installing new kernel extensions requires repeating the deletion sequence. So far, all is good for now.