Category Archives: mac life

A week

Okay, not quite yet, but it has felt like one. Maybe, two.

MacBook Air has been acquired. His name is “Airy,” because. Lightning fast. Pretty much out of the box, since the Apple Store folks took care of porting over the contents of the MacBook. A few Mail glitches, but other than that, all good.

15 hours battery life is doable if I stay away from internet (surfing okay, but videos not so much), music, and turn down the keyboard backlighting. It is as light, if not lighter than, my 1st gen iPad. I really didn’t want to spend the money now, but I had no choice and as far as the system is concerned, I think I made the right choice. Really liking the quiet and speed of the solid state drive.

Not to be outdone, Kuro-the-Forester decided on Friday that he wanted some attention, too. Noticed weird smells emanating from under the hood after visit to Apple Store–not gas/oil, but lighter chemical smells. No leaks, smoke, drips, red lights on dash. Still, I worried about things like, oh, brake fluid, and made an appointment at the garage. Verdict–torn axle boot. Smell was due to leaking grease hitting the exhaust and burning. Front boots replaced, for an amount not as bad as, say, a head gasket, but still. Kuro is happynowIhope. Now hoping that House doesn’t take it into its pointy little head to make it a three-fer.

Gaby had an infected toe a few weeks ago that required antibiotics and painkillers, so I think she’s good wrt Crisis of the Day for another month or two. I hope.

::fingers crossed::

Lost a small tree during the recent round of t-storms. It needed to come down anyway because it was an accidental tree, not an I-planted-you-here on-purpose, tree. Too close to the back fence and up in the power lines. I’m lucky wires didn’t come down when it fell…well, actually, it bent. Still needs to be cut. I shall add it to the list.

There was a robin in my garage, but I think it’s out now. It had been in there for a while, clattering about the eaves, leaving dropping everywhere. I was concerned that it had built a nest, but I think it was just frazzled by the enclosure and the storms. Hoping, anyway. I will keep an eye out in case it comes back.

Backyard has taken on a primeval aspect thanks to the heat and rain. Really need to cut the grass, but there’s too much standing water.

In other news, BLACKHAWKS!! I love the moment when the guys pass around the Cup, the speculation as to whom the captain will hand it off first. In 2010, Toews handed the Cup off to Marian Hossa, who had tried to win it with so many other teams and come up short. This year, he handed it to Michal Handzus, who played for, iirc, 14 years w/o playing on a championship team. Handzus them passed it to Jamal Mayers, who had played 15 17 years. Mayer then passed it to Michal Rozsival, the last of the old timers. Then Rozsival passed it to Dave Bolland, who scored the winning goal.

Hockey. I think preseason starts in a couple months….

Thursday drive-by

Spam has been negligible ever since I closed posts to comments after a couple of days. I still get some attaching to photos like ticks to a dog, and I haven’t figured out a way to stop that. But 2 spam messages in a week as opposed to, say, 200 in a day? Not that big an ish. Besides, I don’t want to shut down comments completely. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Moved up retirement to 31 July because I ran the numbers and saw that I could. I wanted to enjoy some summer months. So, I am taking the plunge. 40 more days, give or take a few hours. Not that I’m counting….

Came home to find laptop, an 5yo MacBook, displaying Gray Screen of Death. Second kernel panic in a week and a half. I rebooted with no issues. External hardware is sometimes the reason, and I have a new cable modem that needs to be installed b/c old one is out of date, but I won’t have time to do that for at least a week, so. Activated Dropbox to save wips every ten minutes. Backed up everything after the first panic attack. And I have the 9yo iBook as back-up in case the MacBook fails.

I suspect a new laptop may be in my future, tho damned if I want the expense right now. A new Apple laptop=new countertops/backsplash in kitchen. I may check Small Dog for rebuilts. Not enough of a gadgeteer to care whether I have the latest and greatest or not.

Retiring in 40 days–did I mention?

Time to cut the lawn.

Midweek muddlings

Spam has increased over the last week, I assume because of trolling for holiday shoppers. Lots of designer knock-offs and sports jerseys. Does anyone ever really click on those links?

Thanking the internetz for Akismet. Again.

Went a little nuts over the last 24 hours looking for my most recent royalty statement. I mean, I remembered sitting at the kitchen table and reading the thing a couple of weeks ago. Remembered setting it aside because I didn’t want to file it with the tax stuff.

There were three places it could have been–office, kitchen, filebox, and I tore the whole lot of them apart last night, then again over lunch and a third time after I got home from work tonight. Had I left the statement folded in the agency’s distinctively-colored envelope, or had I trashed said envelope? Had the statement gotten mixed up with three months’ worth of puppy medical records? It got to the point that I cleaned out the spare room so that I would be able to set stacks of docs on the bed and hunt through them page by page. Half a dozen blankets and comforters got lugged downstairs to the basement. Two brand-new pairs of running shoes were moved to my closet. Clothes were consigned to the laundry basket.

Found the printer manual–go me!

I found other papers I needed over the course of the search, but no royalty statement. After yet another go at the kitchen table, I went back to the filebox, which I keep by the living room desk. The top of the desk was pretty clean, relatively speaking–atomic clock, small lamp, box of envelopes…

…and tucked beneath said box, a distinctively-colored envelope that I completely missed seeing each of the 4-5 times I went to the desk to hunt through the filebox. Was it? Was it?

Yes! Statement!! Bloody thing.

It was actually a good thing that I cleaned out the spare room. Still need to get way too many messenger bags and handbags off the floor.

Amazing how a hunt for something chews up the evening.

In other news, back-ups. I had been using Time Machine since June. But I use it with an Extreme Base Station, and it’s my understanding that Apple doesn’t support that arrangement–I should be using Time Capsule, but I’ve read that they fail after a couple of years. There’s also the fact that TM seems to be one hell of a resource hog. Maybe my poor 5 yo Macbook is to blame, but these past 5 months on TM have been filled with hard drive racing and system stalling and crashing if I tried to open up Mail or a browser while TM was running.

I set up a Dropbox account months ago, and was also thinking of looking into Carbonite or something similar. But I use Intego Antivirus, and realized that one of the features is a Personal Backup system. I’d been staring at the little life preserver in the Macbook dock for a couple of years, but never opened it because I didn’t need it. Last night, I decided to give it a try.

It’s like a throwback to my late lamented .Mac Backup. Very simple set-up–I specify the files I want to save, the place I want to save them, and how often. I set up the wip to save to Dropbox every 2 hours, and it zipped through the process without racing or stalling. Most important files saved off site, and everything else left alone.

I will still perform full system backups every so often using TM. But I’ll use Personal Backup for everyday.

In other news

It’s raining. Gonna rain most all the weekend. We do need it. The Lake is down 14″ to the lowest level since the mid-60s while closer to home–as in, my basement–the sump pump well has been so dry so long that it has become quite the spiderarium. But the lawn has thinned enough in spots that the pups track muddy footprints when they return from bathroom breaks, and chilly&soggy is just my least favorite weather condition ever. Which makes one wonder why in hell it’s my dream to move to the PacNorWet.

All I can say is that mountains trump chilly&soggy. Portland&Seattle trump chilly&soggy.

Weekend point to ponder–am I the only person who has absolutely no issues using both Macs and PCs? I switched from PCs to Macs in the early 00’s in order to avoid infestations, and had no difficulty making the OS transition. Used PCs at the day job, and never felt a speedbump. OK, the backspace keyless MacBook keyboard trips me up every so often. When I return to PC-ville, I lose half a sentence before I remember where I am, but I think that the deletion of the MacBook Backspace key was done for space-saving reasons rather than to accommodate differences in language.

Anyway, I know some people have Definite Views–no need to restate them here. Mine have faded over time. In the interest of economy, I would even buy a PC laptop as a back-up system if I decided to return to Word or write purely in rtf or found some other word processing program that worked seamlessly between Mac and PC. I like working in Scrivener, but I’m not 100% committed to it.

Question–backup systems/programs/whatevers

Are all auto-backup systems–Carbonite, Dropbox, etc–resource hogs? Currently using Time Machine to wirelessly back up to external HD, and at times the MacBook comes to a complete stop while the backup proceeds. I can’t open Chrome. I can’t open Mail. A few times, things stalled to the point that the MacBook stopped responding and I needed to shut down/restart. I was trying to open Chrome at these times.

Granted, the issue is dependent upon the size of the back-up required–MacBook is currently backing up 225MB–and the initial indexing seems to be what takes up the most resources. Some small intermediate backups take place w/o my even realizing. But every couple of days I get a stall, and I just wondered whether all back-up systems behave the same way.

Okey dokey

Came home from Ravinia–Joshua Bell, wonderful as always–played with pups, did dishes, had a piece of toast. Opened up the laptop. Time Machine kicked in as I was phutzing around…

…and it’s telling me it can’t find the Airport Extreme Base Station. I can go online, and everything–the external HD, the Base Station, the laptop–is functioning.

So I go online and find out that Apple doesn’t support Time Machine with Airport Extreme. People use the set-up, but it isn’t reliable and data can become corrupted and I may not even know it.


If that’s the case, I don’t feel comfortable using it anymore. What’s the point? So what’s the best way to save works-in-progress? Save directly to an external HD with a hardwire connection? DropBox? I can’t use iCloud because it doesn’t work with Scrivener.

(A few minutes pass)

Okay, I unplugged the external HD, waited a few seconds, and plugged it back in. External HD woke up, AEBS read it, everything is talking to everything else again. I did see that sometimes TM/AEBS can’t wake up a sleeping HD, and the connection fails. But the fact remains that this is an unsupported, unreliable set-up.

If I use DropBox, does it function as a back-up, or do I save my files directly to DropBox?

See, I miss the old Backup application that worked with Mobile Me. I set up the files I wanted backed up–not the whole damn laptop, but just the writing files–and it backed up on the schedule I set up. Clockwork. Never failed.

Guess I could burn a DVD. Does anyone do that anymore?

Vernian update

So last night I shut down the MacBook. Powered up this morning, and reconnected to the external HD as TM was trying to get its feet under it. TM stopped its attempted save, waited 90 seconds, then started up again, connecting to the external HD without a hitch. They’ve resumed playing together just like they’re supposed to.

I know you’ve all been waiting for news with collective breath bated, so I thought I’d let you know.

Friday night scatter post

Doggy details below. Be warned.

The results of the culture from King’s bladder infection came back today. It’s a stubborn nasty, so he’s been upgraded to the high octane antibiotics. First week in July, we repeat the culture, as well as do a blood test to check the thyroid levels. Depending on the results, we go from there. Best case–the infection was just One Of Those Things, and the thyroid med takes care of the wonky blood test results. Not so best case–we go on to test for Cushings.

I checked the Cushings article over at the Washington State University Vet School page. Damn, but there are too many similarities for comfort. I am hoping for the best, but preparing. At least the damned thing is treatable.

3 1/2 days of antibiotics + levothyroxine do seem to have helped, though. King is livelier in the mornings, and is playing with Gaby again in the evenings. He has become a finicky eater, however. He has gone off his old food completely, including the skin/coat oil and chewable joint meds. That meant I had to switch him to a new food without the usual gradual shift. So far, he seems fine, but it isn’t the preferred way of doing things. At least the new food contains probiotics to help his gut deal with the antibiotics.

In other news. MY ITALIAN TOMATO PLANTS HAVE BUDS!! One of the St Pierre and both Franz-I-Forget-The-Rest are sporting one bud cluster each. The Arkansas Traveler and Black Cherry, not yet, although I do see a promising something or other on the Traveler. The San Marzano is a maybe, but it’s the runt of the litter and still has a ways to go.

Whaddya mean you can't see it!

As you can see, we have a bit of weirdness going on in the raised bed this year.

A few carryovers from last year’s mesclun mix decided to go nuts. The Swiss chard (left) and the reddish leaf lettuce (center) are over three feet high and ready to flower. The red onion (right) has a couple of seed clusters…

…and the curly lettuce is sporting a few purple blossoms. Assuming none of these things are hybrids, I will have plenty of seeds for next year.

In other other news, I don’t understand Time Machine. It worked like proverbial clockwork for a few days in a row. Then I shut down the MacBook and restarted it, which you are supposed to do every so often to let various clean-up programs work. Reconnected to the backup drive like I was supposed to, and damn but TM didn’t work. Couldn’t find the backup drive. Couldn’t find the sparse bundle. I rebooted twice. Reconnected to the external HD repeatedly. No go. By the next day, I had finally decided to bag it and install the backup software that came with the external HD. Checked on a whim, and found that TM has decided to start working again. It’s been fine ever since.

I know my MacBook is old. It’s a late 2007 model, and it’s a coin toss whether I will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion. Right now, it’s Not–this MacBook is just on the wrong side of the cut-off. I will have to buy a new laptop eventually, but between King, car maintenance, and some needed house repairs…I was hoping to put it off for a while.

As an aside, the external HD is a Western Digital with SmartWare backup software. Anyone out there use it? I ask because while I am glad Time Machine is up and running, I have heard it isn’t the end all and be all of backup systems. Any recs for better ones appreciated.

In baking news, much chocolate arrived today from King Arthur Flour. Bittersweet. Semisweet. Guittard’s unsweetened, which may find its way into some brownies this weekend. A chance to compare to Ghirardelli.

Hot today, close to 90F. Mosquitoes are back–I had to dig out the OFF! battery-driven repellant thingie. Stayed outside until the bats and the stars came out.

In other news

Adjusting to Time Machine, which essentially means that I check it every so often to make sure it actually is working, which it is. The external HD’s proprietary software does not work with Tiger OS, but I have not yet determined whether that means I cannot backup my iBook** as long as I use Time Machine and not said proprietary software. Given that I don’t use the iBook for much other than web surfing, it wouldn’t be a great loss. The lettering on the keyboard is wearing out and some of the keys require a harder touch, including the space bar, which means that I’ll type a sentence without looking and find that half the words are run together because space bar didn’t. So it’s definitely a backup machine of last resort, but even so. Still nice to have around Just In Case, which means at some point I will check to see if it works with TM.

I just really wish that my Airport Extreme router had more than one USB port. I mean, it has three Firewire ports, none of which I have ever used. But if I had two USB ports, I could hook up old and new external HDs and MacBook and iBook in one big home network which I would never use to capacity what still what the hell at least I would have done it. Non-techie, me, which means I feel a sense of accomplishment when I manage to muddle through things that techie friends could do in their sleep.

I think old external HD has a firewire cable. Given that it’s ages old, the carton no longer exists, and any other cords and other bits it had were added to the general mess years ago, I don’t know if I could find it even if it did exist. Are FW cables pretty much interchangeable? Because I know I have them. I just don’t remember where they came from.

Beautiful day here–sunny, high of 80F expect. Had breakfast out on the deck, and am now debating whether to set up the deck brollie now or wait until the sun comes up over the oaks.

There is not a cloud in the sky.

Quiet Sunday morning. Hope it stays that way.

**which was named Spike but which I believe I will rename Rip van Winkle or Methuselah

I want this day back

At least 3-4 hours of it, which was the time I spent deciding I needed a new external HD, buying one in haste from the local big box, trying to install it, failing miserably, and driving back to big box to return it.

Yes, Dear Reader, it was a Day of Unintended Tech.

I found the right external HD online and ordered it, so sometime next week I may finally be able to use Time Machine as it was intended. I have an external HD currently, but it’s only 80 GB (only 80 gigs ::shakes head::) and is just about full–I can save individual files and folders, but wholesale backup is no longer possible according to said Time Machine. In addition, the 1 TB unit (1. Terabyte.) I ordered is already formatted for a Mac, which the one I struggled with today wasn’t. Yes, there were instructions for reformatting, but something kept accessing the drive even though I was sure I disabled/turned everything off, and I frankly don’t have the patience + know-how to grapple with something like that at the moment. So back to the store it went and left the store I did, return credit in hand.

What started this little rainbow ball spinning merrily down the mountain was the fact that MobileMe is going away next month and with it my access to Backup, its nifty, straightforward online storage application. I liked Backup. I could configure it to save the files/folders I wanted saved when I wanted them saved. Every night at 730pm, a little brollie appears in my Dock, and all my writing files–PC Word, Works, MacWord, Scrivener–all get backed up within an inch of their little virtual lives.

Starting sometime next month, however, MobileMe will be replaced by iCloud. The issue that served as the first warning pebble in this avalanche of WTF was the fact that iCloud only works with Lion, the new OS which I had yet to download because I kept hearing that there were Issues. Supposedly many of those Issues have been resolved and I was running out of time in any case, so today I took a deep breath and downloaded/installed Lion. I then checked Scrivener to make sure it still worked, which it did. Then I set about setting up my iCloud account.

I did believe at first that I would be able to backup my files as I had before. Not so, Dear Reader. iCloud apparently only works with iWorks and other Mac products, none of which I am using, so backing up my files as before was Right Out. This was when I reevaluated Time Machine, learned that my present external HD was no longer up to the task, and set about finding a replacement. And failing. At least until later in the week, when I SHALL SUCCEED, DAMMIT, AND SPIT IN THE FACES OF ALL THOSE *&^%$#@ WHO REPLACE PROGRAMS THAT MEET MY NEEDS WITH PROGRAMS THAT DON’T.

Don’t mention Dropbox to me. I opened an account today. It doesn’t do what I want, unless I am missing something obvious which is totally possible because I tend to intuit applications instead of reading the instructions. This system usually works reasonably well, to tell the truth, if only because a program that I can intuit is one that I will be able to work with. Like Backup. Which is going away next month, did I mention?

Night is falling. Coffee has been brewed. Some days, there isn’t enough coffee in the world.

At least the brownies came out all right. This recipe, courtesy of the folks at Recchiuti, but without the nuts and marshmallows. My batch actually tasted fairly close to the to-die-for brownies that Recchiuti sells on their website, but there were differences due to, I think, the pan and the butter. I used a glass 8×8 baking pan/dish, and did not remember until too late that you need to bake at a lower temp in glass. As for the butter, I used plain ol’ grocery store unsalted, which I doubt met the 82% butterfat requirement specified in the recipe. So, watery butter and too high a heat meant that the brownies came out slightly overbaked–still moist in the center, but dry around the edges and lacking the flourless chocolate cake density they were intended to have. That said, they’re still the best brownies I have ever made and among the best I have ever eaten. It’s a keeper recipe. I just need to tweak. And get hold of a good metal pan and some boutique butter.

And it’s now dark outside. Chilly day, as it turned out. Rainy morning. Tomorrow, however, we are supposed to set records–I am hearing rumors of triple-digit temps, which would be an almost 40-degree upswing from today. Personally I think those of us north of the city will be cooler, but I guess we’ll see.

Mind’s churning a little bit. Tech has that effect on me. If I were a hard drive, I would be racing.

Backup’s going away next month. Fck.