What Jessie Did Next...

...being the inane ramblings of a mundane Yorkshire bird.

Tag: apple (page 1 of 2)

My calendar has been a mess for a while – or rather, the organisation of calendars. For years I’ve had several devices and keeping them in synchronisation was a nightmare – from my original Palm Vx handheld right up to the iPad and iPhone I now use it’s been tricky, not helped by absence of decent CalDAV software or support for calendar servers on the devices I’ve used. Add into the mix almost 20 years of historic calendar data (where sometimes I do need to find the last time I saw a particular client for instance) and it’s a recipe for disaster.

When Apple released MobileMe it got a bit better. Around 2004ish I managed to export my calendar from the Palm software using Missing Sync and into iCal, and thus into MobileMe. Through that I frigged it to talk to my phone at the time, a Nokia E70 (I think). Then when iCloud came along I ported it and my iPad, iPhone, Mac and the web stuff was all integrated. Hoorah.

Then this week it all went tits-up. I decided to merge two work calendars so Nicky could share them, by exporting both calendars as ICS files and then importing them into a new calendar. Of course, connectivity at a client’s this week has been very flakey as they’re moving offices and iCloud seemed not to like this when it attempted to sync the new entries which manifested itself as the iCal client app giving me 403 errors (“UID already exists”). No amount of Googling and buggering about with Apple Support would fix it so I took matters into my own hands.

Problem 1 – Getting the calendar entries in without having to retype 20 years of historical data: the ICS ‘UID’ field on iCloud is unique to the group of calendars it seems, which are grouped under one username. The solution was to export the ICS file (without connectivity, so iCloud didn’t attempt to be clever) and run a small perl script which would append “JFIX-” to the UID and then re-import. This then gave me a new calendar with new entries, which I could then sync with iCloud (it took about an hour for it to stop ‘Updating…’). So far so good, but after an hour I discovered…

Problem 2 – events appearing in iCloud and iCal don’t propogate to iPad or iPhone: Turns out that UID needs to be hexadecimal for it to work properly, so I re-ran my perl script to append ‘ABCD-‘ instead. This createdanother set of UIDs which I could import into a new calendar. This worked fine, and has propagated to all my iDevices.

In Googling this by the way I found a series of touted solutions, one of which was to use grep to remove UID lines altogether. iCloud really hates this and goes on a duplication fest, adding in events sometimes up to 15 times (but most likely adding between 5 and 10). I also worked out after a while that the easiest way of finding out what’s really in iCloud is to look on the web client, as this is what gets sent to the phones, iPads, etc. If it’s not there, it’s not going to propagate or be visible.

Lesson learned though is: (a) be prepared for a nightmare if you want to en-masse move events from one calendar to another, and (b) make sure your connectivity is rock-solid and don’t be impatient.

You might have noticed over the years but I take a lot of photographs, and like many photographers I keep them in a catalogue on a computer: this catalogue allows me to find photos quickly and easily, and also apply retouching, colour changes, and all that sort of thing. The application I use is called Adobe Lightroom and I’ve been a user since version 2 back in 2009. Now with over 110,000 photographs in the catalogue spanning 34 years you might say I’m a power-user.

When Lightroom 4 was released in Spring 2012 I pre-ordered it, but as with critical applications within my workflow I wanted a few days to get my head around it before using it ‘in anger’. I’m glad I did, because quite quickly it became apparent there were major problems with it – principally, the speed of the software. It’d lag for 30 seconds switching between modules, and using the sliders to alter an image was almost impossible. I reverted back to Lightroom 3.6 which worked perfectly, as did everything else on my laptop.

Sidenote: for the benefit of the hardware nerds out there my main machine is a MacBook Pro Core i7 2.66GHz model (MacBookPro6,1), with a 512GB SSD, 8G RAM, running (at the moment) OS X 10.7.4. It’s not the most recent MacBook Pro, but it’s a 2010 model which with updates has no problems with anything else.

Time passed and I bought a new camera: a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. This wasn’t supported by Lightroom 3! Indeed, it took Adobe until version 4.1 before Lightroom could read its RAW files so I suppose you could say I was forced to upgrade. I bit the bullet, installed the software and predictably the speed problems returned: a photoshoot which I would have previously been able to sort in a lunchtime would take me 4 or 5 hours simply because of the lag when picking images to retouch (the ‘triage’ stage of sorting a shoot). The whole experience became incredibly frustrating and a solution was needed. Adobe released a beta of Lightroom 4.2 which made no difference.

Googling around led to plenty of other people with the same problems, and even Adobe acknowledging there was a problem but there was no solution. I got naffed off, and decided to do some investigating of my own. So here’s what I did, and what it fixed (touch wood, so far):

A Solution Of Sorts
The first thing I did was try and blitz the Preferences files. This has been known to work for Windows users, but of course the Mac version is different – at least that bit is. I’ll save you some time and tell you now that it didn’t do a dicky bird other than freak my copy of Lightroom out, so I ended up reinstating the plist files.

Then a friend suggested recreating the catalogue (cheers Gaz!). My LR4 catalogue came via a port from LR2 to LR3 over the past few updates. First thing I did was create a new catalogue and import everything from the old catalogue in to the new one via File -> Import From Another Catalog. It took a while but gave me a clean catalogue which sorta worked a bit better – still not massively fast, but faster.

The real paydirt came with Time Machine though. In common with a lot of Mac users I have a small external disk which I use to keep backups, handled by the OS. In addition to that there’s a sort-of journalling system which handles versions and Time Machine when the external disk isn’t connected (and incidentally will explain disk space discrepancies – you can read more about the phenomenon here).When I added ~/Library/Caches to the backup exclusions, LR4 was back to the speed I’d have expected.

To do this, click on your Time Machine icon (on the menubar, it’s the little clock with the arrow going backwards), and thenOptions on your Time Machine screen. It’ll allow you to exclude particular directories from the backup.

I can’t think of any particular downside to this as cache files are usually temporary, but I’m sure another Mac fanboi will correct me in the comments if this isn’t the case. As it is, it seems to have fixed it for me so far and I’ve been using Lightroom heavily for the past day or so. Whether it gets slower in time I don’t know and I’ll post an update if it does so. But I do hope this helps other frustrated Mac photogs out there!

I’ve got a new MacBook Pro – one of the Intel i7 ones, 17″, nice piece of kit. I’ve also re-evaluated my external disk requirements on my desktop and bought a dual eSATA/USB RAID0+1 array for storing my Lightroom library.

Sick of running it on USB (and I’m running out of USB ports anyway) I purchased a LaCie SATA II ExpressCard 34 adaptor via Amazon. Today’s been the first chance I’ve had to switch it over as I’m working from home, and installed the drivers as per the instructions. I plugged the card in… instant kernel panic on Snow Leopard. Oops.

No problems, reboot. Except it won’t – not at all. A reboot of the machine hit a kernel panic within a few seconds, not even enough for it to bring up the OS tail. The error is: “thread wants credential but has no BSD process” – a completely unusable system.

I eventually got it down to out-of-date drivers supplied with the CD accompanying the card. The correct drivers are here, and you will not be able to boot your system unless you do the following:

  1. Reboot holiding down the shift key, so you enter ‘safe boot mode’. This will take a while to boot so you might want to make a cuppa.
  2. Download the drivers from here.
  3. Install the drivers and immediately reboot.

I haven’t had any problems since.

(Apparently this is to do with the SIS chipset not addressing 64-bit memory space correctly, but booting into 32-bit compatibility mode doesn’t work either.)

It’s been a month or so since release, there’s a .1 version out and the wounds of being an early adopter have healed somewhat so (gulp) I’ve taken the plunge and installed Snow Leopard on my Macbook Pro 2.33GHz Core II Duo laptop.

Oh alright, I confess I’ve not been brave enough to splat the install – instead I acquired a 500GB laptop drive and I’ve been running it on a USB adaptor. That way I haven’t blasted my 10.5 install, and can run away if need be; in short, I’m playing the safe option given all the reports of incompatibility and weirdness.

So, quick bullet points on verdict:

  • Install seemed to go OK, although I mis-remembered my .Me account name/password and it wouldn’t give me an opportunity to skip that bit of the installer. I don’t want a .me account, so please don’t force me to have one Mr Jobs.
  • It does seem a little faster (certainly when fiddling with Lightroom).
  • Adobe CS3, Lightroom 2, all the usual stuff looks to work just dandy.
  • Largely seems to work OK although there’s been an odd incident where my second display didn’t come back after a screensaver (it looked like OS X had put a big black window over the screen, you could just about see the windows behind it in a 2-pixel bleed either side).
  • Some oddness with ‘Save As’ dialogs having black blocks and the odd bit of screen corruption too.

So not so bad yet, although I’ve only given it a day of hammer.

What else? I updated Logic Pro 9 and my copy of the B4 plugin has stopped working; also Novation’s V-station thinks it’s unlicensed if you don’t update to version 1.5.1 – this threw me for ten minutes until I googled a solution. I’ve not found a solution to the B4 issue yet. Logic 9 itself seems stable enough and the CPU load is noticeably smaller when playing complex songs (I tested with one which had 97 tracks, lots of audio and software instruments).

I’ve also dumped Parallels after nightmares with their support in the past and turned to VMware Fusion. If all goes according to plan I’ll register the copy come payday.

I gave up on Safari yonks ago on my Mac and I’ve been a bit of a Firefox bitch for years, although I’ve heard good things about the Safari 4 Beta which came out the other day. It’s hardly going to ride roughshod over an installation I already use so I thought I’d give it a go.

Installation nice and smooth, although really why did I need to reboot? Am I running Windows on this thing? No. There is no need. Come on, Apple – stop being daft.

Truthful verdict on the app itself? It’s quite nifty. Blindingly fast on my Macbook, at least in comparison to Firefox; the really very fast Javascript engine will help a lot with my $dayjob work on webapps too. Rendering seems OK but I’ve not tried to do any of the more interesting stuff yet (book hotel rooms, upload content, all that foo).

One big annoyance – the positioning of the tabs right at the top. Thanks to Hitch, this can be sorted on the command line with:

defaults write com.apple.Safari DebugSafari4TabBarIsOnTop -bool NO

…which will shift them back below the location bar after an app restart. More undocumented UI fiddles here.

One minor annoyance – because of the preinstalled RSS feeds, it fills your “popular sites” shizzle with CNet, Youtube, Amazon et al. Easily sorted tho.

So far so good – I’ll try it in preference to Firefox for a few days (although probably longer if I can find a way of importing my stored security stuff, bookmarks, and stuff).

I installed a replacement 2.5″ SATA drive in my MacBook yesterday, and connected the old disk via USB to run Apple Migration Assistant and transfer all my stuff over. All went well and in 3 hours I was back up and running.

One big weirdie was with Parallels 3 (this was build 5600) which suddenly couldn’t find any network interfaces and wouldn’t let me put it in Shared Networking Mode. This seems to be because the startup service isn’t “there” any more (AMA didn’t transfer it for some reason), and a reinstall of Parallels over the top didn’t work.

Solution was to deinstall Parallels (use the “Uninstall” script which comes with the download) and then install it again. Worked fine, although it re-IP’d my virtual network interface.

Still, very impressed with the Migration Assistant – it even did the apps I’d forgotten about leaving me with a fully working system in a short space of time.

Edit: Something else that doesn’t transfer properly is the 3G software for the Vodafone 3G dongle. Re-run it and it’ll reinstall the modem and network devices, and set itself up properly.

As documented recently, my Macbook Pro had a bit of an accident with a glass of beer the other week and I’m awaiting a replacement keyboard. The MacBook itself is out of warranty and I can do the switch myself for roughly £50. However, at the same time I thought I’d upgrade the internal drive, so I bought a larger SATA drive to fit.

I had some spare time last weekend so wanted to do the reinstall while life is a little quieter. However, the keyboard hadn’t arrived and I didn’t want to have to pull the MBP apart twice. I thus hit upon the idea of using the SATA drive with an external interface (this one from Maplin).

I connected it up to the MacBook (running 10.5.4) and it detected fine. Partitioned it for system installation and commenced a Leopard install from DVD media. So far so good. Once completed, I installed iWork ’08 and Logic Pro (the latter taking 6 hours to install – it does come on 7 DVDs!). Then came Apple System Update which attempted to install lots of things including the combo 10.5.4 update. Bear in mind the drive is running on USB still.

Reboot time. It sits, spinning its cog and showing the grey apple for, ooh, 3 hours. No response from the disk. Must have done something wrong, so I disconnect and reboot back to the internal disk. I download the 10.5.4 combo update and install manually to the SATA drive (still on USB, still recognising from my MacBook Pro running 10.5.4).

Reboot. Sits spinning again.

I start it into verbose mode (command-V on boot), which shows me that it ‘forgets’ the USB interface a little way into the boot sequence. Bugger. So it seems I have found a bug in 10.5.4 which happens only when booting from an external USB drive (if I plug it in when it’s booted from the internal disk it’s fine, and I can do what I want to the disk!).

There’s images documenting it here. If anyone with a little more Apple boot-fu than I have can offer advice that would be good. I’ve attempted without any other USB devices present and still get the same effect. I’ve not tried the disk internally yet, although it does check out fine under Disk Utility.

Nicky’s 15″ MacBook Pro has been exhibiting some signs of weirdness recently – coloured spinner just sticking on, fans going at full rev. A quick look at Apple Hardware Test (comes on the bundled install DVD) said quite helpfully “error 4SNS/1/40000000:TGOD”. A brief Google search suggested that it’s the logic board that’s gone, so it becomes a warranty repair.

Colin recommended an Apple-accredited repair centre in Armley (Leeds) called Clockwork Creative – a quick phone call and they suggested I bring the machine up. Half an hour later and they’ve got the Mac, suggest it’ll be a few days, and they’ll give me a call depending on parts – it’s a nice small place, seem clued-up and very hands-on.

Now we see how good, and given past support nightmares with other larger companies don’t expect me to remain silent on it 😛

Mm, I took advantage of an offer at 7dayshop.com the other week and upgraded my Mac’s RAM to the maximum it’ll take – 3GB! Nicky got the same and it only cost us £34 (including the postage!) for a 2G 667 RAM clip each.

Makes a hell of a difference (even just upgrading from 2GB to 3GB) – $contract right now involves me throwing around huge amount of data (tables of 30 million rows or more) and merging them – the coloured spinner is coming up less, although now it sounds like a 747 taking off when the fans start up. Mmmm, toasty.

With the prices being that low, you’d be daft to not take advantage of it – especially since Leopard is so memory-hungry.

With the installation of Logic Pro 8, Apple’s ‘Spotlight’ feature is required: without it weird things happen such as files not being found when loading sounds! You end up having to manually go digging for files (which, when they’re 6 levels down is a pain in the arse).

So, I’d not actually realised Spotlight wasn’t working on my install of 10.5.2 – it’s not something I use that much but suddenly it became crucial. I dug around a bit and found that it was crashing like thus:

Apr 12 18:51:28 trixie ReportCrash[14588]: Formulating crash report for process Spotlight[147]
Apr 12 18:51:29 trixie com.apple.launchd[139] (com.apple.Spotlight[147]): Exited abnormally: Bus error
Apr 12 18:51:34 trixie ReportCrash[14588]: Saved crashreport to /Users/joel/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/Spotlight_2008-04-12-185121_trixie.crash using uid: 501 gid: 20, euid: 501 egid: 20

Bus error – sounds like a memory issue. Sadly not, it was a little more complex than that!

Next step was to find out how to reindex Spotlight. I found quite a few references on Apple’s support website here which referred to mdutil, but sadly this did odd things too giving me a ‘No index found for volume (-107)’.

Right, the gloves are off. Let’s drop the whole damn spotlight system by:

  • Running ‘Fix Permissions’ on the root disk – you never know, something odd might be prodding it.
  • Dropping the Spotlight preferences (they might be corrupt) by deleting /Users/joel/Library/Preferences/com.apple.spotlight.plist.
  • Killing anything cached by deleting /.Spotlight-V100. This actually gave an error but some stuff disappeared. That’ll do anyway.

At that point I thought ‘hang on – maybe something else is upsetting it?’. Just to be sure, I prevented Spotlight indexing anything to do with Parallels – and therein was the root cause. The damn thing was indexing the virtual disk for Parallels, which would send it into a tailspin. Sodding Windows again, eh?

A reboot later and it’s reindexing, and I’ll try the Logic Pro instruments again. We’ll see how it goes anyway 😀

Update: It’s worked. Bed now.

I’ve been using 10.5.2 for a couple of weeks now, and maybe I’m alone in this but I’m finding it more unstable than any of the other 10.5 “Leopard” versions:

  • Weird Finder bugs when using two monitors, reproducable by dragging/dropping where it ‘locks’ the destination window. Depending on which screen has the focus window in it, the Finder window ‘slides’ back and forth across the desktop.
  • Frequently my MacBook Pro fails to wake from sleep or – even worse – doesn’t properly go to sleep leaving the fans going while it’s in my bag (since then I’ve learned to check for this).
  • Application switching is a lot slower, there’s a lot more of the coloured ‘please wait’ spinner even when I’ve just got a couple of low-memory applications loaded such as Terminal and Address Book.
  • Occasional keyboard failure, still – all seems to be happening in the USB bits of the kernel (com.apple.iokit.IOUSBFamily or com.apple.iokit.IOHIDFamily).

For a machine that’s got 2G RAM and a reasonable CPU (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.3GHz) it seems Apple is still walking backwards. If it wasn’t for Coverflow/Preview I’d probably sod off back to 10.4 this weekend.

A rather amusing look at the Apple product cycle. Seems to tick all the boxes 😛

After a long wait, Mac OS X 10.5.2 is out and available in Software Update.

My MacBook Pro took 3 reboots I think before it was back to the desktop, and then a “Leopard Graphics Update” appeared! I’ll give it a bit of hammer today and see how it performs, but I’m already pleased with the ‘list view’ in Stacks – I can have a sort-of ‘start button’ to list all my applications again, something I really miss in OS X.

Software update just popped up this:

This update addresses a responsiveness issue on MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook computers. Some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems may occasionally experience a temporary suspension of keyboard input which can last a minute or longer. The Mac OS X 10.5.1 update is required before installing the MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.1.

It’s installing now. I guess we see if it works. Also it appears 10.5.2 is seeding to developers for a rumoured January update (presumably to support new hardware being announced at MacWorld or whatever it is).

More Google-fodder for folks who might have the same problem. The keyboard and trackpad ‘disappearing’ under OS X 10.5.1 causes the following to appear in /var/log/system.log:

Dec 16 12:23:01 trixie kernel[0]: USBF: 31305.811 [0x3fa0000] The IOUSBFamily is having trouble enumerating a USB device that has been plugged in. It will keep retrying. (Port 2 of hub @ location: 0x1d000000)
Dec 16 12:23:05 trixie kernel[0]: USBF: 31309.651 [0x3fa0000] The IOUSBFamily was not able to enumerate a device.
Dec 16 12:23:50 trixie com.apple.launchd[1] (com.apple.dyld): Throttling respawn: Will start in 60 seconds

Seems that it ‘forgets’ the internal USB hub for the keyboard and mouse. The external keyboard/mouse work fine.

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