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)


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!

Life without a Mac

Apple iMacLife without a Mac – not something I anticipated any time in the past. However, when my daughter started sixth form I decided to donate my lovely MacBook Pro to her as my previous donation was now on its last legs. So, I got a new one for myself to replace it – well actually, no. I decided that as my iPhone 4S works really well as a substitute for carrying around a somewhat bulky laptop that instead this time I would get another iMac.

Dilemma – new iMacs were in the wings so I didn’t want to buy one and then find myself frustrated that Apple had just brought out a new line. So, here I am having spend the last couple of months using a PC laptop for my day job and my iPhone as a replacement for my Mac laptop.

So, how has it been? Well, surprisingly (to me certainly) I have not really missed my MacBook Pro as much as I thought I would. I am writing this post on a PC laptop, which though its nowhere as pleasant to use it does suffice for most tasks and certainly copes with writing documents for work, emails and blog posts etc. Of course, browsing the web these days is pretty much the same what OS you use.

I am using Windows 7 and its an improvement on XP but only just. I doubt I will upgrade the PC to Windows 8 anytime soon though. iOS 6 works great on my iPhone and I can do much of what I need to do day to day on it when out and about.The rest of the time I use the PC laptop. In fact, the only time I use my (daughter’s) MacBook Pro is to open documents that I haven’t copied to my Dropbox folder or the odd program that does something none of my PC ones can do.

I guess all this goes to prove how close the two operating environments are these days and that’s a good thing. Both can provide what is needed for most tasks you would need to do in everyday situations. However, I am hooked on the Apple way fo doing things and I love the reliability and sheer design perfection of Macs so I can’t wait to get a shiny new 27-inch iMac. All I need to do is find a way of financing it!


Steve Jobs & Apple – personal reflections

The Macintosh Classic, Apple's early 1990s bud...

Image via Wikipedia

I have been a Mac user since 1992 (though I didn’t own one until 1995 – I was an Amiga owner, an A500). It was whilst working at Oasis Trust that I first fell in love with them, We had several Macs as they allowed us to do our own DTP. That was the real ‘killer app’ that helped the Mac become established in the creative industry. With a basic Mac equipped with Aldus Pagemaker and a LaserWriter it was possible to produce our own publicity in-house. The colour separations would be sent off to the printers for the final printing. We used the Apple Macintosh Plus and eventually acquired some Classic, LC, II, Quadra, Performa, and Centris models as money allowed.

We had an in-house graphic designer but the nature of the charity world is that everyone wears several hats. Although I was responsible for setting up a health project for individuals affected by homelessness, I was responsible for a lot of the design work as Erol, our graphics designer was kept busy on lots of other stuff.

My very own first Mac was actually a clone, at least initially. It was made by Power Computing. However, it failed to work properly, and after much correspondence it was replaced with a genuine Mac, a  PowerMC 7600/120. It still works too, amazing after nearly 16 years! Here a list of its features:


High performance
  • 120-MHz PowerPC 604 processor, user-upgradable to faster processor when available (up to 200 MHz)
  • Built-in floating-point processor and 32K cache
  • 256K level 2 cache
  • Built in graphic acceleration
Communications and multimedia
  • 64-bit VRAM graphics subsystem
  • Two high-speed serial ports compatible with GeoPort and LocalTalk cables
  • Quadruple-speed CD-ROM drive
  • 16-bit stereo audio input and output
  • 24-bit composite and S-video input
  • Support for speech-recognition and text-to-speech capabilities
  • Optimized for QuickTime Conferencing software
  • Three industry-standard PCI expansion slots
  • SCSI connector for hard disks, CD-ROM drives, and other SCSI devices
  • Internal expansion bay for additional hard disk drive
  • Includes 10BASE-T and AAUI Ethernet connectors
  • Supports Open Transport networking software (TCP/IP and AppleTalk)
  • Runs most 680×0 Macintosh applications as well as applications accelerated for Power Macintosh computers
  • Reads Mac OS, Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, and ProDOS floppy disk formats
  • Runs MS-DOS and Windows applications via optional PC Compatibility Cards
  • Comes with all of the software required for Internet access
System 7.5 software
  • Makes working with different applications consistent, so they’re easier to learn and use
  • Allows easy customization of your Macintosh to reflect the way you work
  • Provides active assistance in learning new features with Apple Guide

Technical Specifications

Upgradable microprocessor
  • PowerPC 604 microprocessor running at 120 MHz, upgradable to a higher-speed processor when available (up to 200 MHz)
  • Integrated floating-point unit and 32K cache
  • High-speed system bus (up to 50 MHz)
  • 16MB of RAM, expandable to 512MB via 8 DIMM sockets
  • 4MB of ROM
  • 256K level 2 cache
Disk drives
  • Internal 1.2GB SCSI hard disk
  • Internal Apple SuperDrivefloppy disk drive
    • Accepts high-density 1.4MB disks and 800K disks
    • Reads, writes, and formats Macintosh, Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, and ProDOS disks
  • Internal AppleCD 600i quadruple-speed CD-ROM drive
  • Expansion bay for additional 3.5-inch hard disk
  • Three PCI expansion slots compatible with PCI 2.0-compliant cards
  • Two high-speed DMA serial (RS-232/RS-422) ports compatible with LocalTalk and GeoPort cables
  • 10BASE-T and AAUI-15 Ethernet connectors; optional PC Compatibility Cards provide multinode support for simultaneous network connections
  • Internal Fast SCSI bus (up to 10MB/s)
  • External SCSI bus (up to 5MB/s)
  • Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) expansion port
  • RCA phono jacks for line-level stereo audio input and output
  • Mini jacks for stereo audio input and output
  • All sound ports support 16-bit audio and up to 44.1-kHz sampling rate
  • DB-15 connector for monitor
  • Composite connectors (RCA phono jacks) for composite video input
  • S-video input connector
  • Internal digital audio/video (DAV) connector for video compression/decompression cards 24-bit video input
  • Real-time video playthrough of up to 640 by 480 pixels with NTSC; 768 by 576 pixels with PAL and SECAM
  • Up to 320- by 240-pixel capture up to 15 frames per second with NTSC
  • Maximum capture size of 640 by 480 pixels with NTSC
Graphics support
  • 2MB of VRAM, expandable to 4MB
  • Fast 64-bit data path to VRAM
  • Support for display resolutions of up to 1,280 by 1,024 pixels
  • 24-bit color up to 1,152- by 870-pixel resolution
  • Refresh rate of up to 75 Hz
GeoPort telephony *
  • 14.4-Kbit/s modem support
  • V.17 fax support
  • GeoPort Fax and GeoPort Telephony software included
  • Speakerphone and answering-machine capability
  • Custom integrated circuit with long-life battery
Keyboard and mouse
  • Supports ADB keyboards with numeric keypads
  • Comes with an ADB Mouse II
Electrical requirements and compliance
  • Line voltage: 100 to 240 V AC, RMS single phase
  • Frequency: 50 to 60 Hz, single phase
  • Power: 150 W maximum, not including display
ADB power requirements
  • Maximum current draw for all devices: 500 mA (a maximum of three ADB devices is recommended)
  • Mouse draws 10 mA
  • Keyboard draws 25 to 80 mA (varies with keyboard used)
Size and weight
  • Height: 6.15 in. (15.6 cm)
  • Width: 14.37 in. (36.5 cm)
  • Depth: 16.93 in. (43.0 cm)
  • Weight: 22 lb. (9.97 kg)
Environmental requirements
  • Operating temperature: 50° to 104° F (10° to 40° C)
  • Storage temperature: -40° to 116° F (-40° to 47° C)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
  • Maximum altitude: 10,000 ft. (3,048 m)

Cutting edge for its day!  It helped me with getting familiar with the internet (very basic then indeed!) and I used it to help me with all sorts of things, from learning about databases (FileMaker) to writing fundraising proposals.

For me, the Mac was so much easier to get along with than the PC and Windows was a veritable dog’s dinner by comparison. Windows 3.11  and Windows 95 were inferior to System 7 (IMHO) and the Mac was also much more stable, with hardly any crashes or system freezes, compared to the almost daily (often several times a day) BSOD crashes.

Steve Jobs and the team at Apple certainly did a great job of providing a greats et of tools and the combination of hardware and software was unbeatable. Even when Apple was in the doldrums and Steve Jobs had been forced out, the actual hardware and software was great. yes, it had its problems but so did Windows and Microsoft just didn’t seem to ‘get it’ when it came to usability and providing elegant solutions to the end-users needs. That’s why it never made great inroads into the creative and education sectors.

I have never regretted my decision to stick with Apple all these years. Even though I have bought PCs (even built a few) I have never been without a Mac. As well as the Power Computing clone, my PowerPC 7600/120 I have also owned a G3, a G4, an iMac (with he swivel screen – beautiful), the original 15-inch MacBook Pro and now a MacBook Pro unibody model (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo). I have Win XP installed on my Mac (under Parallels) but hardly ever use it as I can do 99.9% of everything I need to do on my Mac.

So, finally, I just want to finish by saying that I am very grateful to Steve Jobs and everyone at Apple for all my Mac, the software and for making it possible to do so many things with them that would have otherwise been all but impossible.

Google Chrome Canary for Mac available

If you are a fan of Google’s Chrome Browser than you will be interested in Google latest incarnation for the Mac – Chrome Canary. It is now available from Google’s Chrome Canary download site.

Google Chrome Canary

Canary is a developer version of Google Chrome, not unlike Chromium. However, Canary comes with some extras. Windows users have had the option to download Canary, essentially an experimental build of the Chrome browser, for some time now. Now, at least, Mac users get the same access to these developer versions and the great thing about them is they don’t overwrite your existing installation of Chrome.

To get Chrome Canary for Mac, head to the download page or check out some of the other more stable releases on the Chromium Early Access Release Channels page.

ScreenFlow available for free!

Create Amazing Screencasts on Your Mac

Yes, its true. If you buy the MacLegion Spring Bundle for $49.99 you will effectively get ScreenFlow for free as the value of all the other applications in the bundle comes to almost $500!

With Telestream ScreenFlow screencasting software, you can capture the contents of your entire monitor at the same time as you capture your video camera, microphone and computer’s audio. Simple but powerful editing tools enable you to create incredible screencasts in no time.The finished result is a QuickTime or Windows Media movie, ready for publishing to your Web site or blog.

Here is the feature highlights:

  • Record desktop, video and audio simultaneously
  • Full screen HD capture
  • Keynote and PowerPoint support
  • Highlight areas of the screen (mouse, foreground window)
  • Optimized for top quality and speed
  • Powerful edit::
    ◊ Drag and drop media to timeline
    ◊ Trim clips in timeline, adjust speed of clips
    ◊  Add advanced effects and transition
  • High quality QT and WMV (using Flip4Mac) export
  • Export to YouTube
Normally retailing for $99, you can purchase it now for only $49.99 as part of the MacLegion Spring Bundle. Hurry though as there is just over 15 days left before the promotion ends and only the first 9,000 purchasers get HDRtist Pro!

Skype 5.0 Beta for Mac now available

Skype 5 Beta for Mac now availableThis version of Skype now incorporates everything into a single window, enhancing usability. It also integrates your address book to make searching for contacts easier than before. Another feature is the new call control bar, so you can manage calls etc whilst working on other stuff, such as browsing the web. The control bar sits on top of other windows, a bit like the minimised iTunes control bar.

You can also now hold a group video call with family, friends or colleagues. For the group video call everyone on the call needs Skype 5.0 Beta for Mac or Windows for group video to work.

You can download the new version from

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