The Tone of the WWDC Keynote

One thing I wanted to mention in my post about WWDC last night… did anyone feel that the tone of the overall keynote was different? It felt a little more relaxed and fun. It seems like Tim Cook has encouraged his staff to be more relaxed and at ease with what they are doing. There was more humor and more open honesty.

I think Tim is trying to strike a keen balance between old school Apple secrecy and a new humane approach to the work they are doing. I think he’s listening to the consumers about how things should be (iCloud Drive is a likely example of that).

I like Tim Cook. I like where he’s taking the company. All of you who keep crying about Apple’s lack of innovation need to look back at Microsoft’s record the past 20 years. Give Apple some time and they will surprise you. They like to lay a lot of foundation work before they spring a surprise on anyone. This WWDC was foundational. I expect a lot of interesting things this fall.

OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 Thoughts

I should be at WWDC 2014 this year, but I’m not. I work for a Microsoft-centric shoppe right now and they just don’t see the value in it. Nevertheless, I put my name in for the lottery and I didn’t win anyway.

I watched most of the keynote from afar and parts of the State of the Union address. All of it is ultra exciting. If they get Continuity, iCloud Drive (FINALLY OMG) and Messages right, this will be a killer OS combo with iPhones, iPads and Macs.

There’s a plethora of articles out there explaining what’s up. I highly recommend Anandtech write-ups in almost every scenario.

Also, I’m really interested in Swift – this new programming language. It seems quite daft. Too bad I’m not as proficient with Obj-C as I wanna be yet. When they announced the new language, my first thought was all the people who are groaning about the iOS and Mac programming courses that they have to remake… or, more likely, how excited they are that they can make another round of these things and a windfall of cash.

There’s great things to come in the world of Apple. I’m looking forward to seeing where the home automation stuff goes too.

Who cares about an iWatch and TV? Whatever.

Owies

I’ve had a challenging few weeks.

It started off with a typical sinus infection… or allergies, I’m not sure which exactly. All I know is that I had a sore throat, stuffy nose and semi-regular headaches. I managed it with cold medicine and nose spray the best I could. I continued my normal workout regimen because usually, working out actually helps with congestion. This wasn’t the case this time around.

The problems hung out for a few days. It started to clear up on Friday around my birthday. On Sunday, we decided to go on an 8.5 mile bike ride. It felt great to be out in the sun and spring air. When we got home however, my right ear instantly filled up. It’s like someone poured glue in my ear. It started a high-pitched squeal.

The worst part was the pain. The pain was epic. I’ve never had pain in my ear like that before. It was so brutal that I would try anything to get rid of it. I tried all kinds of home remedies. Nothing worked. A few days later I finally went to the doctor and he confirmed it was just a massive ear infection. They gave me a shot of some plant spores in my ass and sent me on my way.

A day or two later we were sparring in Tae Kwon Do class. I was fighting one of my classmates and decided to do a regular, clean roundhouse kick with my right leg. I brought it up. So did he. We kicked at the same time. Our shins met and clacked like swords. The pain was instant and terrifying.

The bruise was even worse. Fifteen minutes after sustaining the hit my leg was already bruising.

IMG 2216

The pain subsided a little bit. I suppose it was adrenaline kicking in or something. Who knows. It really didn’t feel that bad. Then I got home and noticed my leg was burning. I looked down and discovered that it was pissed.

IMG 2218

This really wasn’t turning out to be my week.

I forgot the best part. While this fantastically shitty week was going on… I was working from home because of how awful I felt and the fact that I was deaf in my right ear. I just wasn’t fit to be around people. I had absolutely zero joy to share with the world. I was working along on and then decided to take a break. I went downstairs to grab a drink or a snack or something. I don’t remember. I came back upstairs and my Macbook Pro was completely black. The fans were running… loud. This wasn’t good. This usually only happens when I’m booted into Windows 8.1.

I pressed a key. Nothing.

I powered it off. I waited a few minutes. I pressed the button once more to turn it back on. I was confident this was all going to be okay.

IMG 2212

Nope.

Yeah, that’s my Macbook Pro with a blue screen of death.

I made a genius appointment. They took it in and held on to it for a few days. They contacted me back around three days later and proclaimed that the Data Doubler part I had put in to run the secondary SSD was faulty. As soon as they unplugged it from the logic board everything was fine. “Weird,” said I, since this had been running fine for three years. I picked the laptop back up. I turned it on. Sure enough, it was fine.

Fifteen minutes or so later, it died again.

thanks apple

I made another genius bar appointment and brought it back. This time I had replace all of the original parts in the MBP.

During this time I worked off my iPad as the primary machine for a few days and then switched to my 2008 Mac Pro. This was fine because I wanted to work from home anyway, thanks to my medical challenges.

On Saturday that week they returned the MBP with a brand new logic board. It’s been working fine ever since. This time, I thank Apple… without the sarcasm.

My leg and my hearing were still bad. At this point I’m in week two of a nightmarish way to start my 43rd year. I was having trouble walking for sure and my leg developed hematomas all over the place from the injury down to the bottom of my foot. I was icing it regularly and doing my best to keep the swelling down. The swelling is what was hurting the most. The injury itself wasn’t that bad.

Now it’s about three weeks later and my hearing has gotten better. I ended up visiting an ENT thanks to a friend of mine who works there. I had been prescribed another round of antibiotics from my regular doctor.

He also put me on blood pressure medicine.

Out of all of the maladies, this was the most crushing I think. I felt like I had failed. Three years ago this doctor had told me to lose weight or face high blood pressure and diabetes. I lost 80 lbs. over the past three years and I’ve managed to keep most of it off. I was putting weight back on this week because… this week. I wasn’t given a choice on the blood pressure medicine. This saddened me for a few days, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was a good idea. We’ll see.

Overall it’s been a really tough week. I’m getting through it. I’ve not really worked out in 2-3 weeks and that’s been tough. I hate feeling like I’m a lazy bastard. I hope the worst is behind me and it’s nothing but up from this point forward. I probably needed a break anyway.

Boot Camp 5 is out with 10.8.3… but beware the Windows 8 Support

I still have a 2008 Mac Pro (3,1) and it’s still running strong. I’ve invested a lot of money in keeping that thing running. I probably won’t do that again for a machine such as this, but for now I intend to keep it afloat for a few more years. Yeah, I know, it’s 5 years old already. Still, it’s a beast. 8 processors with 32gb of RAM and multi-terabytes of hard drive space can last me a little longer.

I was excited to learn that Apple intended to release official Windows 8 drivers for Boot Camp 5 with OS X 10.8.3. I had already installed Windows 8 on a separate partition and it runs pretty nicely. I had to manually add the NVidia video and Realtek audio drivers, but that solved just about every major noticeable issue. Aside from that, it would be nice to have to Boot Camp utility in the systray to boot to the other OS when I wanted and some official HFS+ read support on the Windows OS. I was excited.

10.8.3 dropped yesterday… finally. I hastily ran out to pick it up, install it and launch the Boot Camp utility to download Windows Support. The first irritant was the notice that it would no longer download to a folder of my choice. Now they enforce you to download the WindowsSupport files to a USB disk or MS-DOS FAT drive. Whatevs. I hooked up a USB disk. About midway through the download, it stopped and said, “Oh, hey, by the way… this Mac will only support Windows 7. You okay with that?”

Uhm. Hell no, I’m not okay with that.

I’m not sure if there actually is a component in this Mac that lacks a Windows 8 driver or Apple is just being lazy. I suspect it’s the latter, since a lot of these drivers are stock on Windows 8 or they download when you install the it anyway (one of the nicer new features of Windows 8 – the driver download stuff actually works).

Over on MacRumors I found a forum post that linked out to a support article. Looks like I’m “officially” SOL. However, there’s a way to download the Windows Support drivers without having to go through Boot Camp, which I just did. I’m going to see if I can force feed them to the Mac’s Windows 8 install. We’ll see how far I get. I would prefer to install the drivers individually and just install components that need the drivers. There aren’t many. Mainly, I just want that HFS+ and Boot Camp app support.

The Realtek and NVidia drivers are already out there. That’s why I suspect Apple is being lazy.

If you’re curious, check back later for the results.

UPDATE: It mostly works, but there is some driver in there that makes Windows 8 mad. It bombs with a KERNEL_SECURITY_CHECK_FAILURE. I suspect an “sfc /scannow” will fix that, but I will have to try that later.

Oracle releases v11 fix for zero-day Java security flaw | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Java update is out there to fix the zero-day vulnerability.

Cheers… until the next one.

Oracle releases v11 fix for zero-day Java security flaw | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Mac Productivity Tip: Tagging Files

Here’s a little productivity tip for those of you who may need it. In OS X, one of the features that I find is vastly underused is Spotlight comments. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a way to tag your files quickly and easily with say… a “TODO” tag or something so you could easily find them and remember to work on something?

Using Automator, you can do this very quickly. Open up Automator and build out a Service that looks like this:

Automator TODO

Like I said, you did this as a Service. So Save it. Now, anytime you have a file selected, the Service to tag this will become available in the top menu bar.

This is useful, but let’s make it more useful. Let’s assign a keyboard shortcut. Go to System Preferences/Keyboard and select Keyboard Shortcuts. Choose “Services” on the left-hand side and scroll down to your new Service. Tick the checkbox and assign it a keystroke. For me, I assigned it CTRL-CMD-T.

Now, when you select a file, hit your keyboard shortcut and the file will automatically be tagged.

That’s neat, but let’s make it EVEN NEATER.

Now go to Finder and make a new Smart Folder. Tell it you want to display files that meet criteria of a Spotlight comment containing “TODO”. You’ll end up with a view like this:

Finder TODO

See the comments field? Now you can see the tag there. If you really wanted to get fancy, you could make Services with other tags and carve out smart folders for them. Good stuff.

Lion Finally Installed (…and Here’s Why It Was Failing)

After a tremendous ordeal of trying to install OS X Lion on my January 2008 Mac Pro, I finally had a breakthrough. I discovered what appears to be a hardware incompatibility.

To properly tell this story we’ll have to go back in time.

In January of 2008 when this model of Mac Pro was available (version 3.1) it was definitely the cat’s meow. I bought a true boss of a system too. I picked up an 8-core 2.8ghz Mac Pro with 4gb of RAM. Later, I bought some third party RAM from Crucial to stuff it to the brim with 32gb.

I also visited Newegg.com to pick up three more hard drives. That was an easy decision. I picked up 3 more 750gb hard drives, all of them Seagate. When I was a PC guy Seagates or Maxtors were the only drives to buy.

I also picked up a Drobo. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know what happened with the Drobo. To replace the Drobo I eventually purchased a Promise DS4600 and 4 Seagate ST31000340AS 1 terabyte drives.

The Promise unit had issues. It was finicky and liked to drop drives out of the array for no discernible reason. Oddly enough, the drive that failed out of the array most often was whatever drive was in bay 4. It didn’t have to be the same drive. You could literally swap the drives in and out of bay 4 and eventually it would fail. It was really bizarre. I opened numerous cases with Promise.

Promise finally came back with the information that this particular model of Seagate drives were not certified to work with the DS4600. Okie, I can handle that. No problem. I reviewed the compatibility list provided by Promise and selected a set of Hitachi 2TB drives.

I then moved on to fight the DS4600 again to make it work over eSATA. Only this weekend did that finally get resolved. But that’s another story for another day. If you want to hear it, let me know and I’ll be happy to tell it.

Anyway, back to the Seagate drives. After all of that drama and switching around, I now had a set of Seagate ST31000340AS 1tb drives… four of them to be exact. During this time I was also experiencing regular S.M.A.R.T. failures in the 750gb drives in the chassis of the Mac Pro. Those drives were being sent off and replaced on a fairly regular basis.

As these drives were replaced and rolled around, I decided that maybe I should move the 1tb drives into the Mac Pro and get 250gb of extra space. That’s kind of a no-brainer decision, right? I ended up with the original 750gb drive that shipped from Apple and three ST31000340AS drives in the other bays. I had the bright idea of creating a RAID-0 and installing Lion on it. I just knew it was going to scream.

…except that Lion wouldn’t install.

The install would always start off just fine. It would write files and then reboot. Then, somewhere in the next storage of the install it would just die. An error message popped up claiming that there was a problem and Lion couldn’t be installed.

how can this be? thought I. There’s no way Apple would release an operating system that has an incompatibility of this nature with a 2008 Mac Pro. this is insane.

I lost many countless hours of sleep to install attempts. I would try to install. I would watch it fail. I would research a little more. I’ve spent weeks trying to get through this. Nothing… and I mean NOTHING would get through with the install…

…until one time, it did.

Immediately, my trust level of the whole installation was suspect of course. Why would it fail to install so many times and then just out of the blue… it would work? It didn’t make sense. I had tried reseating hardware. I had tried pulling out the BlackMagic Intensity Card. I had tried pulling out the eSATA cards. I tried putting the stock RAM back in place. I tried everything. Nothing worked… until this time it did. Weird. It didn’t make sense.

I ran with Lion on the RAID-0 for a few days and happily thought I would go about the installation of Carbon Copy Cloner so I could set up clone tasks for the operating system disk.

cue music. It started to happen. Everything segfaulted. I could literally open the Console application and watch the crash reports roll in like a riot was going on in the Grid and reporters were on the air. No program was safe. Every one of them blew up. Sync your iPhone? Bam. iTunes died. Sync your iPod? SLAM. VTPCDecoder (or something) explodes. yeah, this OS is suspect.

I decided to whack the RAID-0 and try the install again on a single ST31000340AS drive. Guess what? The install failed… again and again.

I booked a Genius Bar appointment. Obviously, my logic board was bad.

I’m not sure what made me think to try it, but I did. One of the 1tb drives had died at some point and I received a replacement that was a completely different model. Also I ran across information on the net that a lot of people were having problems with ST31000340AS drives and certain versions of firmware. Those versions were SD1A and SD15. I looked over the drives I had. All of them had one of those two firmware revisions.

interesting.

I took one of the drives Seagate sent back that was a different model number. For the record, the drive was model ST31000528AS. I slapped it in the chassis and formatted it with HFS+. I fired up the Lion installer and hit go. I asked it to give me a full, fresh install of Lion on this disk. It worked the first time.

Not only did it work, it has been rock solid. Nothing is crashing like it was before on the other drives. Lion has become a joy to use the past two days. I stored away the Snow Leopard volume and kept it for emergencies.

I cancelled the Genius Bar appointment.

By now I think you can figure out what my conclusion. There’s something wrong with ST31000340AS Seagate drives. Don’t try to use them with Lion. Something about the kernel in Lion disagrees strongly with that model of drive. If you read around on the net you will find many, many horror stories with those drives.

Beware.

WWDC Sold Out in Six Hours!?

Guess who didn’t get a ticket? There’s absolutely no way I will ever be able to purchase a ticket through my corporation if the windows is down to the hour. No way. I was going to be lucky to pull a purchase within 48 hours.

Apple needs to expand this conference and offer paid developer accounts a first right of refusal.