El Crap-itan


In the comments from yesterday’s post, Jonathan Roden mentioned the release of El Capitan. At that point, I hadn’t even heard about it. :) Being the naive idiot I am, I jumped head long into it.

The download was about 3G, which didn’t take too long. The upgrade itself took quite a while. That included one failure. During the installation, the system rebooted, as it said it would, and I thought it was over, but it was still running Yosemite. I manually started the upgrade again by running the installer, which was sitting in the Applications folder. The second time it completed.

The first snag was my external monitor didn’t work. A bit of Googling and it seems this is not uncommon. Some people said they couldn’t get the HDMI connection to work, so I switched to a display port connection. No luck there. The “Detect Displays” button is hidden these days, but it shows up if you hold the “Options” key (see here). Apparently, this happened in a previous release, but I’ve obviously not needed it up until now. :) Anyway, that didn’t help. I just kept switching between cables, each time with a hard reboot. Eventually, it noticed the monitor on the HDMI cable and all was working fine. This does of course make me worry what is going to happen when I plug this laptop into a projector. Am I going to need several hard reboots each time before it notices the new display? :(

During the repeated reboots, I noticed how long it takes to do a hard reboot under El Capitan. I know some fanboys whould have you believe you never have to reboot an Apple device, but that it clearly not true. This is running on a 8 month old i7, with 16G RAM and a 512G flash card. It was crazy fast to reboot under Yosemite. Not so much under El Capitan. Once it’s started, I can’t tell a performance difference (at the moment), but bootup time is shocking. Much worse than Windows 7 on my crappy i5 PC at work. Some of the folks on the interwebs are claiming general performance sucks since the upgrade, even on new gear. We shall see.

Since the upgrade, the laptop doesn’t seem to turn the screen off when it’s been inactive for a while. I woke up this morning to find it had been on all night. My first thought was I had left Caffeine running, but I hadn’t. As far as I could see, there was nothing running that would cause this. I didn’t have time to figure out why. I’m marking this as a fail, because I’m forced to investigate something that was working fine before.

During my Googling for solutions to my issues, it seems lots of people are complaining about poor battery life since switching to El Capitan. My laptop is permanently plugged in when I am at home. It will be interesting to see how it copes when I travel. I won’t give this a fail yet, as I don’t have any personal experience of it, but you might want to think twice if you are a battery user. :)

Visually, I’ve not been able to tell the last few releases apart. There are allegedly new features in this release, but I’m not sure I will ever notice them. I don’t care about new eye candy that much, but I don’t see the point of giving this a new name and all that, when it feels like a minor patch.

Overall, I’m giving El Capitan a resounding fail at this point. Hopefully, Apple will take note of the complaints on the net and fix this shit soon. If you are trying to decide to switch, or not, I would say wait a while and see what Apple do in the coming weeks. Maybe you will have a different experience. Maybe not. :)




MacBook Prod 15″ Retina : Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter


I mentioned in my recent post about Riga Dev Day 2015 I had some trouble with my VGA adapter and had to borrow one from Andrejs. It seemed to be working fine before I left. I was going to buy a cheap replacement from Amazon, but after reading a few reviews I bought another £25 adapter from Apple. Both the new one and the old one seem to be working fine…

The Apple website says the “Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter” will work with either a Mini DisplayPort, like I had on my old 13” MBP, or a thunderbolt connector, like I have on the new MBP.

I did a bit of hunting on the net and it seems there are a lot of people out there having trouble with the retina MBPs when connecting to some projectors. Currently I have the native HDMI connector, which I’m using to connect to a second monitor. I also have 2 VGA adapters and a DVI adapter. I feel like that should cover all the bases, but I still feel like I should be taking my old laptop with me, just in case…

If anyone else out there has a recent 15″ MBP Retina with only thunderbolt connectors, I would be interested to hear your experiences with projectors on your travels. Should I be worried? :)



PS. Macs just work… Sometimes…

OS X Mavericks on MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)


After getting back from the OTN Nordic Tour 2013, I figured it was time to give OS X Mavericks a go.

I’m currently using a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009). It’s a little long in the tooth, but it has 8G RAM and a 256G SSD, so it still performs pretty well. At least well enough for me not to replace it just yet. :)

The download took about 30 minutes. I guess I’m a little behind the curve here because lots of people complained about the download times. It pays to hold off for a few days. The installation took about the same amount of time too, so after about an hour I had Mavericks up and running.

Several people reported really slow performance after the upgrade. So far it looks pretty much the same to me.

I had already read Jason Arneil‘s article about VirtualBox 4.3 on OS X Mavericks, which saved me a lot of time. I can’t live without VirtualBox, so any OS that can’t run it is out of the Window for me. I had similar issues to those he saw and fixed them in the same way. Thanks Jason!

So now everything is running as normal. If anything scary jumps out I will report… :)




MacBook Pro Mid 2009 : Replacing hard drive with SSD…


I’ve had my 13″ MacBook Pro since the mid 2009 refresh and it’s been really reliable. Apart from one brief visit to Apple to replace a noisy fan, I’ve had no worries. A few years ago I upgraded from 4G  to 8G RAM, so I’m not stranger to taking the back off it.

Even though it’s quite old by computer geek standards, I really don’t have any performance problems. I do demos with a couple of Linux VMs running Oracle and it works OK. Despite this, I was bored the other night and decided to buy an SSD to replace the internal hard drive. It arrived yesterday, so during last nights insomnia, I decided to fit the hard drive, rather than stare at the ceiling.

The actual hard drive replacement is pretty simple. You can see an example of it here. It takes about 5 minutes.

The transfer of the data proved a little more tricky than I expected though…

Attempt 1:

I use Time Machine for backups, so I slapped in the new hard drive, booted from the CD and expected to just restore from Time Machine. It turns out my Time Machine backups weren’t as complete as I thought. :(

Attempt 2:

No worries. I connected my old hard drive using a USB cable, booted from the CD and used the Disk Utility to restore the old hard drive to the new SSD. That would have been fine, except the new hard drive was fractionally smaller than the old one. That would have been fine for a Time Machine backup, since the old drive was not completely full, but for an image restore it’s a big no-no. Now I was starting to get worried. I could always replace the old drive, but I was starting to think I might have wasted my money.

Attempt 3:

So finally I bit the bullet and re-installed Snow Leopard (the most recent media I had), upgraded to Lion, then Mountain Lion through the App Store. Once that was done I dragged my apps and data from the old drive across to the new drive. Job’s a good’un!

So it got solved in the end, but it wasn’t quite the blissful experience I expected. :)



Update: Thanks to Luis Marques for reminding me about TRIM, with this Twitter comment, “Tim, don’t forget to enable TRIM on SSD (if it supports it) using this http://chameleon.alessandroboschini.it/index.php  or http://www.groths.org/trim-enabler/

UltraEdit for Linux/Mac v4.0 Beta II


Hot on the heels of the recent UltraEdit v19 release for Windows, comes the UltraEdit v4 Beta II release for Linux/Mac.

I’ve just started using it and so far so good. They usually progress through the betas pretty quick. I didn’t have time to install the beta I before this one dropped. :)



Thank heavens for Time Machine…


I was running through my demos for the OTN Tour of Central America and my laptop completely died!

<assorted expletives removed for fear of offending readers>

I ran through the disk repair utility and it found (and fixed) a number of problems, but still the laptop wouldn’t boot. Time for drastic measures!

Next I started a full restore of the hard disk from Time Machine. I left it running over night and woke up this morning to find a fully functioning laptop. :)

I’m going to record all my live demos so if something bad happens during the tour I can present from a memory stick.

Not exactly what you want the week before you go away…



AntiVirus Software and Apple Macs…


After a number of recent press stories, especially this one, I finally decided to install antivirus software on my MacBook Pro. I went for the Mac version of Sophos, which is free for home use.

My MacBook Pro is a couple of years old, has traveled the world and been on countless networks during that time. With that in mind, a virus scan revealed a grant total of zero viruses. I doubt I would be able to say that for a Windows laptop with no AV used in similar circumstances.

Although Macs are still a small percentage of the total PC market, I guess the rise in iDevices and the lack of people running AV software on Macs makes them an attractive target. Time will tell if they become the attack vectors everyone is predicting.



iOS 5 on my iPad1…


I’ve just put iOS 5 on my iPad, who wants to touch me?

It took about 30 minutes in total, but I’ve heard some on Twitter saying it took them 3 hours. The update does a full backup and restore, so I guess the more stuff you have on your iPad or iPhone, the longer it takes.

What has changed? Still hasn’t turned it into a white iPad 2… :)

For the casual user like me it seems pretty much the same. I only use the browser and play the odd little game, so I guess I’m not the person to ask about the life-changing nature of iOS 5. :)