Aug 262009

Well, I rejoiced too soon. After a day of working normally, the Mac crashed again. According to the Apple tech, the drive is damaged in such a way that excessive heat is causing it to fail. The reason it worked the next morning was because it had cooled off. After the call, I put it in front of a fan for about 10 minutes and it booted right up again. Off to the Apple store for repairs.

Aug 262009

I’ve been fighting with Mac problems ever since shortly after I moved it from Troy to Ann Arbor. The 10.5.8 patch I tried to install after getting it set up froze during install and, after waiting a good half hour, I gave up and shut it down.

 Big mistake #1.

 Something got screwed up so badly by doing that, it couldn’t even find the OS during bootup. After five failed attempts at restoring from Time Machine backup, three format-and-reinstalls, two calls to Apple, and one dire threat from Aaron to send it to the Apple store, it finally seemed to be behaving normally, if still lagging a bit during disk operations. Spotlight seemed to be the last culprit, endlessly indexing my hard drive and backup drive, until I forced it to stop and rebuild the index from scratch. It was much better, but still didn’t feel quite stable.

 Then, last night, I was trying to update WoW addons and ran into permission errors. I used Privilege Fix, which had worked perfectly at mass-correcting my file permissions after restoring from backup (bless you, whoever made this program), on my entire Applications directory. It was chugging along fine until it got about halfway through the 217,000 files, then froze. I waited about a half hour while it did nothing, then gave up and shut it down.

 Big mistake #2.

 When I turned it back on, I got the dreaded grey circle-slash of "no OS found". I booted from the install disk, ran Disk Utility, and finally saw the message that validated what I’d suspected from the very beginning of all my troubles with this: 


This drive has reported a fatal hardware error to Disk Utility.

 If the drive has not failed completely, back up as much data as you can and then replace it with a working drive.


 Glorious. Well, now at least I could call Apple, show them proof of hardware failure (I took a pic of the screen), and get a new drive. I shut it down and went to bed. I got up early this morning, hoping to prep and ride Stormshadow to work, but got rained out. Just for the hell of it, I flipped on the iMac to confirm it was still dead.


It booted.


Not only did it boot, it booted flawlessly, with none of the delays I’d been experiencing for the last three weeks. Every program set to run automatically ran normally. Every program I started manually started immediately, without bouncing in the dock for 30 seconds first. It finally feels stable, with none of the split-second delays and hesitations that, taken together, told me something was wrong.

 I’m totally floored. I have no idea how it could have gone from "fatal hardware error" to perfect operation, overnight, while shut off.

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from Ryan’s posterous

Oct 062008

*Emperor voice*

Soon my collection will be complete, and you will witness the power of this fully armed and operational iMac!

AppleCare box showed up on Saturday, backup drive and VMware arrived today. Mac, memory, and WinXP on Wednesday! Oh yeah, I had to buy another new copy of XP because somebody accidentally threw away the one I bought a couple months ago, thinking it was an old copy of NT. X-(
On the upside, this one has SP3 already on the disk, saving download time.

Oct 032008

Turns out the computer isn’t arriving Monday: the box for the extended support contract is. The copy of VMware Fusion and the external hard drive should arrive as well.

The computer should be here Thursday, which gives me time to clear my desk off, make a list of things that need to be transferred from the old PC, and create an XP install disc that has all the updates and service packs pre-installed.

Oh, and we upgraded our cable internet service from 6mb down/.6 up, to 15mb down/2mb up. We got bumped up to 8mb/1mb immediately after merely rebooting the current cable modem, but they’re mailing us a special high-speed modem to get to the 15mb speed. Astoundingly, this upgrade will cost $11 LESS than what we’re paying now. I swear, the cable companies must determine their rates using the same dart board the airlines use, but in this case I’m not complaining.

 Posted by at 7:00 am  Tagged with:
Oct 022008

*James Earl Jones voice*

My journey to the Dark Side will soon be complete!

I just finished ordering the following. Now I will spend every day of the next week running to the door every time I hear a truck engine, screaming, “IS IT HERE YET? HOW ABOUT NOW? NOW?!

* 24″ iMac (refurbished, which saved me $300)
3.06 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
500 GB hard drive
nVidia 8800 GS vid card

* WD MyBook Studio Edition 1 TB Drive (external Firewire 800 backup drive)

* VMWare Fusion 2.0 (for running Windows and/or Windows apps within Mac OSX)

* 4 GB RAM kit (cuz running those Windows apps within Mac OSX eats memory)


*spins around in chair, cackling madly*

 Posted by at 1:43 pm  Tagged with:
May 292008

Mom's 20" iMac arrived yesterday at around 5:15pm. Both of us were as giddy as little kids on Christmas; practically literally bouncing up and down at the front door waiting for the (cute!) FedEx guy to show up. Scheduled delivery was supposed to be by 4:30, but because he had to deliver to Grosse Ile first, he was delayed. We set the box aside and relaxed, trying to finish the Panera salads I'd picked up. I scarfed mine down, while Mom gave up and took hers upstairs to the sewing room where we set it up.

There wasn't a whole lot in the box, and everything was packed tightly and efficiently: iMac, power cord, keyboard, mouse, two small booklets (Everything Mac and Everything Else), two backup DVDs, and a mouse-cleaning cloth. Setup was incredibly easy: I put the iMac on the desk, plugged in the power, ethernet, printer, and keyboard cords, then plugged the mouse cord into the keyboard. Done.

I parked Mom in front of it for The Great On-Turning and she fired it up. After the short but pretty "Welcome to Leopard" intro movie, Mom entered her Apple ID and personal information, registered for her free 60-day trial of .Mac (no credit card required, so you don't get billed automatically when the trial is up), then used the built-in camera to take her picture for her account photo, after multiple posing attempts.

She was so nervous about breaking anything or doing something wrong that every time I stopped her to suggest or explain something, she jumped. It was cute, but I felt kinda bad for scaring her. I kept reassuring her she couldn't hurt anything, and she eventually relaxed. I activated the right mouse button, which was off by default, then walked her through the basics of getting around in the OS: how the Dock works; that the menu bar for programs is always at the top of the desktop, and changes to reflect whichever program is active at the moment; identifying running apps by the blue dot under them on the Dock; how to quit a program instead of just minimizing it, and so on.

I went downstairs to her old computer to put her old stuff onto a thumb drive, and by the time I came back, she'd already mostly figured out how to create an appointment in iCal. I showed her the rest of the process and she made an all-day event spanning my and Aaron's trip to Alaska. Luckily she didn't have much to transfer from her old computer; just pictures, documents, and bookmarks, to the tune of about 688 MB. Transferring them to their appropriate folders was easy enough, but I got stuck at getting her pics to appear in iPhoto. I'd bought her a copy of Missing Manual: Mac OS X Leopard so she'll have a reference for figuring out how to do things while we're gone to Alaska, so I downloaded the iLife crash course PDF from the Missing Manual site and that told me how to import the photos, which turned out to be so easy I would have figured it out on my own if I'd had a bit more patience. In a bit of an ego boost, Mom remarked that she was amazed at how well I knew my way around a Mac based purely on book learning, having never owned one myself. Yet.

We also set up the Mail app for Gmail, which was just a matter of creating a new mailbox and entering her Gmail address and password. Done. It automatically started importing all her email from Gmail which, after the first 800 messages, we decided might not be such a great idea after all, and stopped it. I also discovered that Apple and Yahoo don't play well at all together. You can't import Yahoo mail into Mail, and you can't add a Yahoo account (which is what Mom uses) to iChat.

This lead to the first install of a third-party app: the Adium multi-service chat program (like Trillian for Windows). I downloaded the adium.dmg (disk image) file, which automatically opened up a little window displaying a cartoon depiction of picking up the Adium duck mascot and dragging it to the Applications folder. I did that right inside the window in question, and Adium was installed instantly. While trying to drag it from the Applications folder to the Dock to create an alias (shortcut), I accidentally dropped it on the desktop, which removed it from the Apps folder. Thinking it was an alias, I deleted it, which uninstalled the program. To get it back, I just dragged the icon from the trash back into the Apps folder, then dragged it properly to the Dock to make a shortcut.

Merely reading about how easy it is to install and remove Mac apps just doesn't prepare you for how amazing it is in practice, coming from 15+ years of Windows use. There's no lengthy installation or removal process, and no registry entries to worry about. The entire program and all of its support files are contained in a single package represented by its icon. Unlike in Windows, you can drag that icon into any folder on any drive and it will still run when you click it.

After getting her set up in Safari and iTunes (she has NO music files at all, and only a couple CDs!), and some more general poking around, I ran the software updater to get the small patches installed, prior to the big 10.5.3 patch which was released yesterday. Mom asked me to run that before I left so she would be forced to finish the quilt she was commissioned to make. I didn't get to show her the Spotlight search function, or see if her new printer/scanner would work properly when turned on (waited til after the 10.5.3 install for that), but I'm sure she can figure it out from the book. Heh, for the next week, she'll have to!

Her old computer is ready for the dumpster once I return and wipe or destroy the hard drive. It's a 10+ year old Gateway tower with 384 MB of RAM and a 15 GB hard drive, with Ubuntu Linux generously installed on it by my friend Alex over Christmas, after the Microsoft police caught up to her borrowed copy of XP. It's been adequate for her until the last couple of years, but even her modest computer needs have finally exceeded its horsepower. Even with Ubuntu's small overhead, it's dog slow, and Ubuntu's lack of drivers prevented her from using the scanner function of her printer. Firefox under Ubuntu also wouldn't properly load certain websites, and even IE under WINE emulation didn't work for every site, like her bank's online services. I do worry that she may have the same problem with Safari or Firefox on the Mac, which may require Windows and Parallels or Fusion just to run IE, but I'll cross that bridge when I'm forced to at gunpoint.

Mom and I were just totally enthralled by the whole thing, and I haven't been this excited about a new computer since building my gaming rig in 2003, and by an operating system, of all things, since the first release of Win95 and then WinXP. Although honestly, since the Mac hardware and software are effectively one entity, there's little distinction between the hardware and the OS. All in all, as corny as it sounds, it was a great experience, and I can't wait to get my own.

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