Mavericks issue solved

A while back I posted I was having issues with Mavericks. I am happy to say that these are now resolved. The solution that finally resolved the remaining issues left unresolved by updates to Mavericks was to remove two hard drives from my Mac Pro. I had hoped that the two hard drives in question, which were somewhat long in the tooth would be suitable for using with Parallels for the Windows side of things. Alas, it was not to be. For whatever reason they were causing problems with the Mac side of things and had to go. Since I took them out things have vastly improved. Maybe it was because they were formatted as NTFS as I wanted to use them as backup for data on the Windows side of things. Maybe it was an issue with Paragon’s NTFS for Mac. Who really knows? Certainly, as the actual need for them was minimal I decided it was simpler to remove them. Now my Mac boots up in 10 seconds and all apps run without trouble (most of the time)!

So I guess the moral of this story is, if you are going to add extra drives to the bays of your Mac Pro (pre-2013 version that is) it’s probably best to install brand-new ones. In the meantime, I wish all my readers a very Happy New Year!

Parallels Desktop for Mac

Parallels Desktop for Mac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OS X Mavericks behaving badly (like a maverick!)

OS X Mavericks is a Stupid Name

OS X Mavericks is a Stupid Name (Photo credit: swanksalot)

Since I bought my new Mac Pro (old version – 2009 4.1) I have had a mixed experience. Soon after its arrival I upgraded to Os X Mavericks and right away started having various problems, mainly with iWork apps not starting up, or at least taking 3 or more minutes to start up. Very frustrating. After a support call to Apple, and after deleting start-up apps things improved a little. An update to Mavericks via Software Update also seemed to help. However, I had other issues with misbehaving my Magic Mouse and frequent Finder crashes. Although things have improved further after an upgrade to a brand-new SSD things aren’t entirely going smoothly as I would like.

Ironically, I have Parallels installed and am running the latest evaluation version of Windows 8.1 (the free version – at least for 30 days). I have to say that although the interface leaves me stone cold unimpressed, I am running WoT very effectively with no issues to speak of. Shame that my Mac apps don’t run as smoothly at times!

So, for now I am somewhat dissatisfied with Mavericks and hope Apple get on top of the issues. I am not alone in having problems and the issue over Google Drive is another example of how things can go so easily wrong with an update to the OS. Maybe next time I will a little bit longer before diving in and updating to the latest version.

New Mac Pro (the old one!)

Mac Pro unboxing photos, batch 1 #technopr0n

In case you are confused, I have recently purchased a Mac Pro, but its not the new one (its not out yet so how cool would that be!). No, its a Mac Pro 4.1 (aka the early 2009 Quad Core 2.66 GHz one). It came with just 3GB of RAM, 640GB HD and the rather old NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 graphics card. I managed to get a great deal on it from Albion Computers. Once it arrived I wasted little time in installing an old PC graphics card – the Radeon 4870. I had to first order 2 power cables on eBay (came the very next day – great job there 7systems!) before I could install it. Once it was installed and the external monitor was connected I fired it up and waited anxiously to see if it worked…. and it did! No need to install drivers or flash the card before-hand (it being a PC card and therefore not a specific Apple model).

As the RAM is a measly 3GB I decided to upgrade the RAM and after some research and online price comparisons I discovered it was cheaper to buy 16GB from the US than here in the UK. I also managed to get a deal on the latest version of Parallels and still save money, even after I pay the VAT once it arrives in UK at Customs. How mad is that! My only mistake was not to carefully check shipping times as I choose to ship via the USPS. I later discovered that this means my RAM etc may take up to 45 days to arrive! That’s the worst-case scenario according to the MacSales representative I had an online chat with to query why my order had yet to arrive. So far its been 10 days and counting. I’ll let you know when it arrives.

So, until it arrives I have been keeping myself busy trying out a few old PC hard drives in the 3 free drive bays. Two of them worked ok and I have formatted them as NTFS in readiness for installing Windows once my copy of Parallels arrives. I have also been busy plugging in old Mac ext drives to access my back catalogue of files created on earlier models of Macs (5 at least!). I am very happy to be back on a Mac (having donated my last MacBook Pro to my daughter for her college studies) and very glad (to say the least) not to have to work constantly on the HP laptop I use in my day job. All that time wasted with security updates, scans and trouble-shooting Windows issues.  I know I said I am installing Parallels (as soon as it arrives that is) but I will be g;ad to be using Windows on a Mac to be honest – it makes more sense than using a Windows laptop – believe me I know form experience!

Once I have the RAM installed and Windows (courtesy of Parallels) installed I will get to grips with Creative Cloud on the Mac. Having run it for a year on a PC laptop I am looking forward to getting back to the Mac way of doing things, I can tell you. I am also looking forward to Phase 2 of my grand plan – to install an SSD RAID to run Maverick from!

Waiting patiently for news of Mac Pro refresh!

English: Side view of a Power Mac G5 (left) an...

English: Side view of a Power Mac G5 (left) and an Mac Pro (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its been a long time since we had a refresh to the Mac Pro range of workstations (leaving aside the minor tweak in 2012). many professionals working with video or 3d graphics have already deserted Apple and bought into workstations from the likes of HP and Scan. Who can blame them.
As it did with Xserve and some of its high-end applications, Apple seems to have treated the professional with a fair degree of disdain. If it wasn’t for Tim Cook saying that a new Mac Pro was in the wings I doubt anyone would be waiting with bated breath fro an announcement at the forthcoming WWDC.
So, will we see a new Mac Pro, made in the USA and if so, what form will it take? Will it be a full tower or some sort of mini-towers as some have been speculating. Here, for its worth, are my hopes (as I hope to be the proud owner of one at some point in the near future).

  1. Multi-core (x4, x8, x12)
  2. Upgradeable graphics
  3. Multiple Thunderbolt ports (at least two) and USB 3
  4. Multi-drive slots so that RAID can be internal on a high-speed bus

Other than that it doesn’t really matter what it looks like or what else it comes with. It needs to be fast and its needs to be upgradeable, otherwise what is the point? Price-wise it would be good if the cheapest model came in below the most expensive iMac so that buyers would have the option of a powerful Mac with a built-in screen or choose to use their own existing ones or just to have the option of specifying something more suited to their needs. This is especially relevant for video-editors and the like.
Will we actually see this announced at the WWDC? if not then there had better be something said about when we will see a refresh or all hell will be let loose, that I can guarantee.

Something weird is happening with my Mac!

Sometimes one finds oneself starting to believe in conspiracy theories. Just lately my Mac has been doing strange things and I find myself starting to wonder if there is something suspicious going on. I mean, these weird things started happening just after Mountain Lion was released. Now I am still using Lion as I always wait for others to discover the bugs as I can’t afford to have things go wrong in a major way.

The weird things include Preview screwing things up when I try to convert an image. For example, I have just bought a Samsung NX11 and as I prefer to shoot RAW and convert later to jpg after getting the max out of my images, I have been using Preview to convert my Samsung RAW images to Tiffs. This works but not every time. Also, when opening the image as a Tiff and then saving out as a JPEG, for example, it totally screws the image content up so its unusable. here are two examples of images screwed up by Preview:

Mono image screwed up by Preview

Another Preview disaster!

As you can see these images are totally screwed up! However, mn (ore than half of the images I worked on in this way were ok so I am not sure what is going on. I am tempted to start believing Apple is messing with me in an effort to get me to upgrade to Mountain Lion. I know this sounds crazy but other weird stuff ahs been happening and all of it only since Mountain Lion became available. Make of it what you will. For the time being I have given up on Preview for editing. Instead I am using Pixelmator or even my PC!

The other big issue I have is with Mail. Recently it started crashing badly and since Mountain Lion became available it has got unusable. Despite the usual troubleshooting (deleting preference files and using Applejack to do a deep clean of my system files) nothing seems to work. I have now given up and use Gmail in Chrome or Firefox to read me mail or use my iPhone, which is more convenient to be honest. Apple has neglected Mail so much in recent years I suspect they intend to kill it off soon once iCloud is finished taking over the world!

Mountain Lion Roars!

Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8)

Apple has announced details of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), with Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing saying that “The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better.”

The developer preview of Mountain Lion has just been released to developers and has over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system, according to Apple.

These features include:

  1. iCloud – In OS X Mountain Lion, sign in once with your Apple ID and iCloud is automatically set up across your Mac.
  2. Messages – Messages does everything iChat does, and so much more. For starters, it comes with iMessage. And just like iMessage in iOS, it lets you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.
  3. Reminders – Make as many lists as you need and easily add to them. Set due dates and you’ll get alerts as deadlines approach. Check items off your lists as you go and keep track of what you’ve completed. And to be sure you don’t forget anything, iCloud keeps your reminders up to date on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
  4. Notes – Notes in OS X Mountain Lion is designed for whatever’s on your mind. Think it up. Jot it down. Make it even more noteworthy with photos, images, and attachments. You can add, delete, and flip through your notes or do a quick search. Use the Share button to send your notes to friends or colleagues with Mail or Messages. Pin important notes to your desktop so they’re easy to get to. And take them with you everywhere. Notes works with iCloud, so when you create or edit a note on your Mac, it automatically updates on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
  5. Notification Center  – Notification banners appear on your desktop and disappear quickly so they don’t interrupt what you’re doing. Swipe to the left, and you’ll see all your notifications in a simple, ordered list. So you’ll always know what’s up as soon as it comes up.
  6. Share Sheets – You’ll find the Share button in many OS X Mountain Lion apps. It’s the new, easy way to spread the word — links, photos, and videos, too. Send links from Safari. Send your notes via Mail and Messages. Post photos to Flickr. Send videos to Vimeo. And tweet just about anything.
  7. Twitter – Tweet links and photos directly from Safari, iPhoto, or Photo Booth with the new Tweet Sheet. Tweet comments and add locations. And when someone mentions you in a tweet or sends you a direct message, you’ll get a Twitter notification right then and there.
  8. Game Center – Friends will find you fast, and you’ll track them down easily. Get a multiplayer game started or go up against people you don’t know. Check out leader-boards and see how your high score ranks against opponents’ scores around the world. And discover new games based on the ones you and your friends already play.
  9. AirPlay Mirroring – With AirPlay Mirroring, you can stream what’s on your Mac to your HDTV via Apple TV. Show web pages and videos to friends on the couch. Share lessons with a classroom. Present to a conference room. It’s a big deal for your Mac. And for everyone around it.
  10. Gatekeeper – Gatekeeper in OS X Mountain Lion makes the Mac safer than ever. It helps prevent you from unknowingly downloading and installing malicious software. And it gives you control over which applications to download and run on your Mac.

There is a Beta of Messages available for download from the Apple site but when I tried there was a message stating that due to some issues with the application that downloads were suspended for the time being. No information was given as to the actual problem so I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

As to when we can expect to get our hands on Mountain Lion, we are looking at late summer this year. Price TBC.

MacBook Pro update sneaks in under radar


MacBook Pro at the desktop.

Apple has quietly sneaked in some updates to its MacBook range of laptops. Processors were update by miniscule amounts; just 0.1 and 0.2 GHz (yes, I’m afraid its not 1 and 2 GHz!). Hard drives were updated by 180GB and 250GB and the graphic cards have also been given a boost.

Here are the details:

  • 13″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.4 GHz processor and 500 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.3 GHz and 320 GB.
  • 13″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.8 GHz processor and 750 GB hard drive, boosted from 2.7 GHz and 500 GB.
  • 15″ MacBook Pro base model has a 2.2 GHz processor, up from 2.0 GHz. The 500 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6750M with 512MB VRAM (up from a 6490M/256).
  • 15″ MacBook Pro high-end model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 2.3 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive remains unchanged. The AMD GPU is now a 6770M with 1GB of VRAM.
  • 17″ MacBook Pro model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive has not changed. Its AMD GPU is also a 6770M with 1 GB VRAM (up from the 6750M).

Prices remain unchanged s although this isn’t a major update its nevertheless a welcome one.