Posts Tagged ‘MacOSX/Apple’

Upgrading to OS X 10.8 and a new MacBook Air

Yesterday I unboxed my new MacBook Air 13″ (full-spec) laptop. I used a USB3 disk to backup via Time Machine the old laptop (which maxed out at USB2), and then did a restore using USB3 last night and today it seems that the laptop is ready to use. This is my first experience with OS X 10.8.2 as well – I was previously on 10.7.5. What did I have to change?

  1. I had to re-login to Dropbox, but at least it didn’t have to perform a full sync (there was some data exchanged, but it wasn’t the entire Dropbox folder).
  2. I had to re-login to Google Drive. This required a full sync as the old folder was not recognised as an original.
  3. I had to make sure settings for iCloud were sane again (as there was a popup).
  4. I was asked to re-download MsgFiler and login to the App Store.
  5. I had to change the caps lock key to become a control key manually again.
  6. The version changed and it has to reimport/reindex messages again (this takes some 1 hour 15 minutes on my machine with 33GB of mail).
  7. The F4 key for some absurdity goes to an application called Launchpad (that makes it look like an iOS device). I used to have Dashboard on F4 and I much prefer that. It seems the only way without a third party app like Functionflip is to press Fn+F4 to get my Dashboard. I think this is rather silly of Apple – changing muscle memory is difficult.
  8. My scroll continued to work from the old settings (I’m no fan of a natural scroll).
  9. Time Machine allows you to “inherit backup history”, thus using the same drive that brought you over to be the new backup drive.
  10. There now exists a Notification Centre. A little odd thinking that iOS styled notifications have made it here. Do I still need Growl which constantly reminds me that there is a (paid) update waiting?
  11. Seems the screensaver and the lock after it has been enabled needs to be re-enabled.
  12. CrashPlan would not work as you need Java SE 6 so you’d have to install it – seems odd that Apple decided to drop this rather significant piece of software. Then again, considering who drives ownership, and the recent security scares…
  13. sudo tmutil disablelocal – the local backups were enabled again, and I only want Time Machine to have backups to an external disk.
  14. I couldn’t print as there needed to be new printer drivers. Many apps had to be updated in the App Store. Gasp.
  15. Turn off most notifications with Notification Centre. I really don’t want to be “beeped” when mail comes in.

Initial impressions of the laptop? The machine is fast. It has a lot to do with the SSD disk, as well as the 4-core i7 processor. Out of the box, the battery capacity is meant to be 6700 mAh, though I’m getting 6669 mAh. Battery life is one of the strongest reasons why I picked up a 13″ over a 11″ – I just didn’t want to have to deal with flaky batteries a few years down the road… 7 hours brought down to say 5 is manageable, but 5 hours brought down to say 3 is annoying.

Another reason is resolution. Using a 15″ MacBook Pro to a 13″ MacBook Air has no change in resolution for me either – its all 1440×900. It seems 512MB of virtual RAM is reserved for the Intel graphics card (so I guess this Air won’t suffer the same fate as the first ever MacBook Air which was dog slow in terms of graphics).

Its good to note that the Thunderbolt port is also MiniDisplay compatible – all my old cables work. The only catch is that it is no longer on the left side of the laptop but the right side.

Time Machine making mount_hfs & syslogd use CPU resources

Time Machine decided to misbehave. I’m still running OS X 10.7.5. 

mount_hfs & syslogd were consuming close to 100% CPU time (on this machine with 2 cores), so it was clearly grinding the system to a halt. I couldn’t kill the mount_hfs process (kill -9), but I could kill syslogd though it would repeatedly restart.

Problem was only solved via power cycling. There was advice from Macworld titled: One fix for a runaway syslogd process, but nothing from that was useful.

Root cause seems to be another external disk going wonky. Yes, I’ve seen 2 disks die being Time Machine backups in a span of what, 3.5 years? Worrying trend. 

root 30064 88.0 0.0 2434804 776 ?? R 10:40am 2:45.62 /sbin/mount_hfs -u 99 -g 99 -m 755 -o nodev -o noowners -o nosuid -o owners /dev/disk1s2 /Volumes/Expansion Drive

Why do Mac & Linux users pay more for things?

I just purchased The Humble eBook Bundle. I primarily use a Mac OSX based laptop (my MacBook Pro), and secondarily use Linux in various flavours (a Lenovo ThinkPad runs Ubuntu, various boxes run a combination of that and Fedora & CentOS, and virtual machines are growing).

It seems not only with regards to Orbitz showing better, more expensive, hotels to Mac users, even when it comes to the Humble Bundle, Mac and Linux users pay more. Are we just conditioned to pay more than Microsoft Windows users?

I’m glad to support DRM-free e-books & great content. Who knows, I might discover something new.

Messenger apps revisited

Over a year ago, I wrote about Messenger apps, disrupting text messages (SMS). During that time, Apple launched another service called iMessage (standard with iOS 5 and greater). Send unlimited text messages via WiFi or 3G, and pick up where you left off across devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).

I was desperately looking for a BBM desktop client. I’ve since stopped using BBM much due to the fact that most of my friends on the service have ditched the BlackBerry in favour of Android and iOS devices. So now we only keep in touch via WhatsApp. And more recently, KakaoTalk. Makes me wonder which came first — WhatsApp or KakaoTalk.

But not to digress, Apple has done a one-up. They’re providing iMessage support in Mountain Lion. And this is a killer feature because now you can chat on your iPhone, move to an iPad if you’re lying on your couch, and go straight to continue messaging on your MacBook Air when you’re on your desk. You also have group chat with iMessage. This is an extreme productivity booster when you need to keep in touch with groups (i.e. don’t only chat on the go, but chat at your desk too).

The only limitation of iMessage? All users need to have an iOS device. I’d hope Apple would open it all up so other people can built against the iMessages API, but thats probably a pipe dream. This limitation is basically similar to the once popular BBM.

With two major platforms, Android (Google Talk) and iOS (iMessage), you’ll go where your friends are.

AirPlay and the AppleTV

The announcement for Mountain Lion came quite a while ago so I’m definitely late to the game. However one feature that excites me the most is AirPlay to an AppleTV. You can already do this AirPlay mirroring with an iPad (which I’ve not tested before). But why is this big for laptops?

Every respectable hotel I stay at has an iPod/iPhone dock. It may be from Bose or from some third party, but whatever it is, there is a dock. It started as an iPod dock, and now its pretty ubiquitous since many folk have iPhones. Solves the carrying a charger problem as well.

Many hotels I go to now have a DVD player. Some even have a BluRay player. I never use these devices. I watch TV sure, but I don’t carry physical media with me.

Imagine if every hotel room has an AppleTV? No more watching crappy Pay TV but mirroring my screen with some streaming video. Or just watching stuff off VLC (I hope AirPlay works with VLC).

You’ll say that no hotel will want this. But no hotel wanted to provide fast Internet either (long distance calling killed by Skype, Pay TV killed by streaming movies, etc.). It becomes a necessity after a while. In fact many hotels now give you a free Pay TV movie per stay if you’re so inclined.

I wonder if Apple will go into the projector making space? Or if AirPlay technology will be licensed to projector makers. After all, imagine seamless sync of your video out via AirPlay to a projector, with no cables whatsoever? Great for presentations, and one dongle less to carry.

Upgrade to Lion

It seemed like only a year ago, I upgraded my laptop to run Snow Leopard. And now I’ve gone on to getting Lion (didn’t take almost a year to upgrade — good sign?).

I’ve found some issues (and I’ve only used it for less than a day), and here are a few notes:

  • First time I’m installing an OS in OS X via the Mac AppStore. It feels very much like doing an “apt-get dist-upgrade”. All 3.5GB of it.
  • Immediately running Software Update will lead you to an error. It seems that just waiting it out (maybe after Spotlight finishes?) is the solution because this is an error I cannot repeat any longer. As always there are updates awaiting.
  • I’m a big fan of Spaces. In Lion, they’ve created something called Mission Control. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but you can create spaces, as well as assign apps to spaces. Spaces (workspaces) are key to how I work — I’ve been doing them on all my Linux desktop, so its crucial it works. The best article for you to acclimatize yourself is Using Spaces on OSX Lion by Matt Legend Gemmell.
  • System Preferences -> Trackpad -> Scroll & Zoom. Untick “Scroll direction: natural”. I don’t see how this was a smart default because it’s not natural in any way, shape or form.
  • I was typing in OmniOutliner and I realized that OSX was trying to correct my spelling. It reminded me too much of using a mobile phone because it wasn’t my spelling that was off — it was picking on names. Best way is to turn off auto correct for spelling.
  • XCode goes away. You have to get it for free via the Mac AppStore (over 3GB download). And when you download tools from the AppStore you still have to manually install it from the /Applications folder. This is where Linux/BSD package management gets it done right.
  • Homebrew just continued to work out of the box after XCode/GCC/etc. came back.
  • MsgFiler now only works if you grab it via the Mac AppStore. Crucial for filing messages and archiving if you use Apple Mail.
  • Apple Mail took ages to convert my database. The new look is definitely not something I am accustomed to, but they allow a Classic View (Mail -> Preferences -> Viewing – Use classic layout). I hope this option never goes away.
  • The ability to bounce a message has disappeared. There is a guide on how to bring bounce back, using Automator and AppleScript. I think I’ve got to edit that script to ensure that after a bounce it also moves the message to the trash.
  • I like the status updates I get from Terminal (like when it’s running big operations, waiting to connect to the server via SSH, etc.)
  • Things generally seem snappy. Waking up from sleep seems better. All this using spinning disk on the MBP (though I do have 8GB of RAM).
  • Scroll bars have disappeared until you actually scroll. I wonder if this is a good UI change. Or are people naturally expected to just scroll? I can see this impacting web design more, in future…

Annoyances I haven’t fixed yet?

NetAuthAgentSome have said this is a Time Machine problem and it will go away after Time Machine runs. It seems to go away when Time Machine is running but when I disconnect the external disk, it comes back intermittently. Some claim its an AirDrop issue. Some claim its due to the fact that Time Machine does snapshots via something called Mobile Time Machine. I can assure you unmounting /Volume/MobileBackups does not fix the issue (I know, I did).