New Mac

My MacBook Air (Mid 2012) was getting a bit long in the tooth. Leastways, that’s my excuse. So earlier this week I caved in and bought one of these:

MacBook Pro in a box

In the past when I’ve bought a new Mac, I’ve used Migration Assistant as part of the setup process. This time I decided to start from scratch and set it up “as new”, installing applications and configuring settings such as email “longhand”.  It has taken a bit longer but the MBP is now exactly how I want it and it isn’t bogged down with the inevitable residual cruft you get from previous upgrades (which it would have if I’d migrated from a backup of the MBA).

First impressions: Design, like it. Smaller than my MBA. Keyboard is very different, I expected that from trying it out at the Apple Store. Display – Retina – is a huge improvement over my MBA. The Touch Bar looks to be useful, although I am still mostly using the keyboard shortcuts I’ve built into my memory over the years. I’ll let you know more as I use it. One thing I am missing is the MagSafe connector for the power cable, I really think that’s a retrograde step.

Anyway…

Next step: installing GSAK. !

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

IT Crowd - Roy

Yosemite has been playing nicely on my MacBook Air so I decided it was time to upgrade the iMac.

After doing all the usual safety procedures and testing the backups it was time to upgrade. The iMac has had a few OS X upgrades since I bought it – it came with 10.6 Snow Leopard – and I did consider doing a clean install. However the “normal” upgrade route has had good reports so I opted for that.

The upgrade proceeded smoothly to begin with and I left it to get on with it, however when I returned some time later it seemed to have stuck on the last install screen at 50% complete. I left it for about half an hour and nothing had changed so I did what any highly trained Mac technician would do.

I powered it off and on again.

That did the trick and the iMac booted happily. I had been pretty sure it had got stuck at the reboot stage of the process so turning it off and on again forced the reboot it should have done by itself. Just to be on the safe side I then restarted it up in Safe (or Single User) Mode (Cmd + S) and ran /sbin/fsck -fy. Next, I booted from the Recovery Partition (Cmd + R) and used Disk Utility to repair permissions on the iMac’s startup disk.

Since then it has been fine and I’m now in the process of reorganising my data files to take advantage of iCloud Drive.

Battery drain

Today my MacBook Air’s battery went from fully charged to 27% in a matter of a few hours, most of which was spent in sleep mode. Not good!

So I launched Activity Monitor and had a look at the Energy Impact readings. Wow! It reported Google Drive running at over 100. That was definitely not a good thing. So I closed the App down and re-launched it. This time Google Drive’s energy impact was at around 2.5. Much better!

I found that this issue has been reported in Mac discussion forums but not in any great numbers. So for now I’ll keep an eye on it, if the issue persists then I can always bin GD. Anyway, when Yosemite drops I will be able to try out the full iDrive experience. And if that’s as good as it’s cracked up to be, GD’s days will be numbered for me anyway.

Stickers

There’s been a disturbance in the (Apple) force recently, due to Apple’s current Ad which seems to go against everything they’ve stood for in the past. Namely, giving owners “permission” to decorate their Apple products. For some, it seems a sacrilege to adorn one’s Mac with stickers, now here is Apple acknowledging that people like to personalise their Macs.

I love my MacBook Air, it’s my favourite bit of Apple kit after my iPhone. I like its clean lines, the unadulterated curve of the aluminium and would never adorn it with a sticker or (worse) a neon wrap. Still, plenty of people do. It’s a free country.

I just wonder if Steve Jobs is turning in his grave.

 

Meanwhile…

So, Mavericks is now on 2 of the Macs. I like the changes; pleased to see the back of the “faux” leather on the calendar app, etc., although I haven’t yet formed an opinion on the changes to Pages or Numbers. I’ve also held off setting up Keychain on iCloud. Call me old fashioned, I still find it somewhat unsettling to store all my logon credentials on someone else’s server.

I haven’t been out geocaching much. Whenever there’s been a day of decent weather it has coincided with some other activity. In fact my last find was about 10 days ago and that was mainly because it was a new cache very close to home and Skye needed a decent walk.

Meanwhile… emboldened by my success with tiling the kitchen floor, I have embarked on the next stage of the project – tiling the walls. This, as they say, is why we drink.

10.8.5

After updating my MacBook Air to 10.8.5, I read some interesting stuff on MacWorld about the update. Turns out it included the MacBook Air Software Update 1.0 – which was released on 18 July but was only available for Mid-2013 MBAs. This update included a fix for “an issue that in rare instances may cause an intermittent loss in wireless connectivity”. And that of course is the issue I had on my Mid 2012 MBA. Better late than never, I guess.

It explains why my WiFi has been robust since the update, anyway.

WiFi Woes

In my last post I mentioned that I’d been experiencing the WiFi dropouts which have been plaguing users of OS X 10.8.4. And that I thought I’d fixed it. Seems I spoke too soon; periodically I’ve found my MBA dropping the connection. In fact it has been getting bloody annoying. The Apple discussion forums have loads of threads on the subject, seems it’s an issue with 10.8.4 that  Apple has know about since June. Apparently it is affecting various Mac models but I’d only had it on my current MBA (the others were fine).

Anyway, I found some very promising fixes (see osxdaily.com) and was reading through these when System Update announced an OS X update. While it didn’t explicitly mention “my” bug, there were numerous bug fixes, including some WiFi ones so I thought maybe do the update first and see what happens. So I did that. And after a while the connection dropped again.

Now, (as you know) Mountain Lion has done away with the old way of installing updates, nowadays everything is done through the App Store (like Software Update but even more “nanny state”). Pre-App Store/Lion/Mountain Lion, installing the Combo version of an update would often cure all ills. Now, IT Admins with many Macs to update need the facility to download once and update many, don’t they? So the old school Combo Update method must still be available, huh?

So I went to Apple’s download site and found the Combo Update for 10.8.5 and, after saving a copy externally, doing the usual backups, permission repairs etc. I ran the update – it was just like the old days.

And so far it seems to have worked. Whatever the fix was, running the Combo seems to have made it stick. I’m still watching that fan icon for now. 😉

This week I has been mainly doing…

I swapped the diesel-guzzling Rang Rover Sport for my Freelander. Despite the fun I had driving the RRS it was a joy to get my own LR back.

On Wednesday evening they tested the new Buncefield Siren which is designed to warn the local populace of imminent catastrophe. Unfortunately we were out so we missed it. I hope it was suitably loud.

In a moment of madness I decided to tart up the woodwork on the rear elevation of our house. Not completed it yet. I hate DIY.

I’ve had an intermittent problem with my MacBook Air dropping its Wifi connection. According to  Apple discussions,  it’s something to do with the latest version of Mountain Lion (10.8.4). While we all wait for Apple to fix that, I decided to delete all the known networks from System Prefs and Keychain, I also renamed  ~/library/preferences/com.apple.systempreferences.plist (to force OS X to create a new one). Made no difference. A suggestion on the forum was to reset the SMC but I couldn’t see how that would help. Instead I reset the PRAM. That seems to have cured it.

And I haven’t yet been geocaching in September.

An eclectic week.

Moving Time Machine files

My Macs use Time Machine for backups. The external disk I use to back up my MacBook Air was full up. What Time Machine does when this happens is to delete the oldest backups to make room for new ones. It does this automatically and is alright as far as it goes. The thing is, I didn’t want to loose my older backups just yet so I needed a bigger disk. As it happens, the disk I was using was actually a partition of a bigger disk, so all I had to do was re-partition the disk from two to one. Simples!

Well no, actually. Partitioning destroys the data on the disk, so I needed to copy the existing backup elsewhere first, repartition the disk and copy it back. Luckily I had another external disk with a free partition that was just big enough to take the existing backup. Apple says you can just copy the Backups.backupdb file using Finder. Opinion is divided on this, Apple says you can. I says you can’t.

I tried. The copy took many hours (which I expected) but stopped dead with about 10GB to go. I left it overnight, just in case it decided to finish in its own good time, but the following morning it was still the same. So I dug out Carbon Copy Cloner (my weapon of choice for cloning tasks) to do a block-by-block copy of the old disk to the temporary one. Better! Now I’m not one to take things like this on trust so I pointed Time Machine at the temporary disk and restored a really old file. Tick.

That left me free to re-partition the “real” backup disk and copy the backup back (huh?) Just for the hell of it, this time I tried Apple’s method on the newly partitioned disk. It worked but it didn’t. Back in Time Machine I could see files in the backup library but they would’t restore. That wasn’t much use! So, back to CCC and a block-copy back again. This time when I pointed Time Machine at the volume I was able to test restore several files from random points in the past. So I have a working backup which I can restore from, with plenty of capacity for future Time Machine backups. Incidentally, none of the foregoing was difficult, it just took a bit of time.

Job done.