Norah Jones is great, but…

No Beatles at the rock ‘n’ roll event today. Norah is many things, but rocknroll ain’t one of ’em.

 Welcome back, Steve. Guess you didn’t want to be upstaged by Paul & Ringo, as epic as that would have been.

 Still, glad to see new iTunes and iPhone versions, and I like the new nano-cum-camera, even if it’s obvious they didn’t want to pull sales from the iPhone by giving the Touch a camera.

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iTunes 9 fixed a Genius problem

I had one music library that Apple wouldn’t deliver Genius results for. One forum said it was because of screwy characters in the track info. I did examine the XML file, and found a bunch of characters with diacritical marks, but it wasn’t worth the time to try to find and replace them all.
I just installed iTunes 9 on that Mac, and it brought Genius down lickety split.

I’m running home now to get iPhone 3.1 and iTunes 9 on my own machines.

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Norah Jones is great, but…

No Beatles at the rock ‘n’ roll event today. Norah is many things, but rocknroll ain’t one of ’em.

 Welcome back, Steve. Guess you didn’t want to be upstaged by Paul & Ringo, as epic as that would have been.

 Still, glad to see new iTunes and iPhone versions, and I like the new nano-cum-camera, even if it’s obvious they didn’t want to pull sales from the iPhone by giving the Touch a camera.

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So far, Snow good: 10.6 in brief

I like it. I like the speed. I like the sturdiness. I like that I can finally put the muthaflippin date in the slipper-lickin menu bar.

Big and small changes have made upgrading to 10.6 worth my effort. The assessments I’m most in line with say that Apple has dug in the closet for all the projects they’ve put off in the decade of OS X’s existence, and even some ― like date-next-to-time ― that have lingered since the 1984 Mac.

Before I go farther, I want to restate our official recommendation to clients: If you don’t have a compelling reason to upgrade, please wait to install Snow Leopard. Let Apple release at least the 10.6.1 or 10.6.2 update, to ensure that you don’t get bit by any of the bigger bugs. And please make sure you have complete backups before you install. Also, there are a couple of additional installers at the end that you may need.

Since the arrival of 10.6, I have listened to some maligning of 10.5. But our experience with the penultimate system was really smooth. So for me, Apple really didn’t have that far to go. Still, onward and upward.

I’m not going to list the little glitches and speedbumps I’ve encountered, as they are almost all quite picayune; I’ll venture that most non-power users who get into 10.6 early will have a very good experience. That said, problem-havers are always the loudest voices, on the Internet as elsewhere, and sites such as detail the issues many are having. The one I’ll mention, which is pretty specific, is that many of the system hacks and tweaks I have come to rely on, especially SafariStand, don’t work reliably in Snow Leopard, because Apple has deprecated the InputManager API. Developers will hopefully be able to find a way around that, because I need my Safari AdBlock, bad!

Finally, I’m very happy to report that I have Snow Leopard Server running on my network, and am similarly very pleased with its smoothness. It was a nice excuse to clean out the cobwebs and the failed experiments. So far, network homes and portable homes work great, and no issues with permissions or file sharing. I haven’t gotten Address Book or Calendar Servers up, but I’ve barely tried. iChat Server is logging something weird that I can’t find a fix for in the forums. 

Nu? Between iPhone 3.0 and OS X 10.6, it looks like 2009 is a much better year for Apple rollouts than what we saw with iPhone 2 or 10.5. What a relief!

Less than briefly,
Your Humble

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Fully Posterized

Big props to Alan Weinkrantz for pushing me to properly prepare Posterous! What a lovely system. Now I’ve got my personal stuff going to, and consequently to my Twitter page and Facebook, while my tech musings flow to the blog, my Facebook business page, and my new j2mactexas Twitter feed. This is way more fluid, and nicely separates personal lifeblogging from the geeky stuff. Solid!

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The Missing Key

Can’t believe it took me this long, but I finally learned where the forward Delete key is on Mac laptops. It’s <fn>+<delete>. Of course, this also works on the new little wireless keyboards that lack a number pad. 

This is a fine time to mention a couple of the keyboard shortcuts that I use for text editing on the Mac:

I use the arrow keys all the time. Fairly obviously, the left and right go one character at a time, while up and down move one line vertically. But if you add either the <option> key to those directions, you skip whole words or whole paragraphs at a time. The <command> key goes further: command-left takes you to the front of the line, command-right to the end, command-up goes all the way to the top of the document, and command-down goes all the way down.

Okay, that’s totally useful, but now you should try adding the <shift> key — the key that selects — to all of those maneuvers: shift + arrow keys highlights character by character, but add option or command to shift, and you start selecting whole words, or grafs, or the entire body of text, easy like pie!

Finally, you can also add option or command to the delete key, or the fn-delete, to delete whole words or lines at a time.

I almost never use the mouse when I’m editing text, but sometimes I’ll employ a double-click or triple-click, to select a word or a paragraph, respectively.

(Thanks to Georgianne for deciding that “fn” should be pronounced “effin’.”)

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Upgraded Drobo capacity

After my Snow Leopard Server install, my Drobo gave me a start, showing that it was much closer to running out of space than before. I think it was a coincidence, but I ordered 2 1TB drives — thank you, Amazon Prime! — and now I’ve got another 500GB or so to play with.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Getting Ready for Snow Leopard

Note that I didn’t say “whether.”

Apple has announced that their new system for the Mac — Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” — will become available this Friday, 08.26.09.

Apple typically delivers big with their upgrades. Since I started watching more closely in 1993, each new major version of their OS [operating system] has been a massive improvement, and inevitably a must-have. Indeed, since any new Mac will come with the latest system, you have to spend effort to avoid it.

This OS X 10.6, however, was not designed the way most big revisions are. It has been promoted as a “performance” upgrade. Much like the latest iPhone model, Apple has focused not on bells and whistles, but on the need for speed. It purports to make a Mac “faster, more reliable, and easier to use.” The reports that have come since 10.6 was in released to software developers, and reviews in the media this week, have been stellar, affirming that Snow Leopard is slicker, smoother, snappier, and more stable.

Well, sign me up! Right?

SHORT ANSWER: Hang tight, McCoy. Don’t buy Snow Leopard on Friday. Wait two or three months, and then ask around, check MacFixIt, or call me.

Also, if you’re one of our clients, we respectfully request that you read the following before buying 10.6, installing it, then calling us to say, “Help, it’s not working!”

Now, the proper answer:

I’m not going to delve into the specific improvements Apple has made. Their OS X page spells out the big stuff, highlighting the refinements,” the geeky details of the underlying technologies, promising additions for those with disabilities, and the new compatibility with Microsoft Exchange services. That last, if it works, could be huge for shoehorning the Mac deeper into the workplace.

For a more thorough digest, Wired has “6 Things You Need to Know About Mac OS X Snow Leopard” and I really dug on some of the little features on page 2 of this ComputerWorld article.

So, the nut: When should you, dear reader, consider the switch?

Consideration 1: Hardware. Snow Leopard will work on any Mac with an Intel processor, which includes most Macs purchased since January 2006. If you have a pre-2006 Mac, please review “my standard spiel” in this post. If you buy a new Mac, it’ll come installed with Snow Leopard.

While Apple officially requires 1 GB RAM, we always recommend that you put as much RAM in your Mac as budget and specifications allow. Any Mac purchased since 2007 should have at least 4 GB RAM.

Snow Leopard significantly reduces the hard disk space taken up by the operating system, the “footprint.” You’ll need 5 GB of available space on your startup disk, down from Leopard’s 9. Shweet! Note that you won’t reclaim the savings until after installation; in other words, the install has to complete before you learn what will get deleted. But word up, yo: if you don’t have at least 10 GB free on your drive at all times, you’re playing with fire. I peg my upper tolerance at 90% full.

Consideration 2: Price. OS X 10.6 will cost a very affordable $29 for any Mac with Leopard 10.5, or $49 for a “Family Pack” of five licenses. Apple’s previous updates have retailed at a standard $129. Thirty dollars says that Apple believes that everyone currently running 10.5 will benefit from this upgrade. That’s a bold and generous move, considering the pain and expense that Microsoft has put their users through with the much-maligned Vista, and the imminent, costly Windows 7.

If you purchased a Mac after June 7, you qualify for Apple’s $9.95 Up-to-Date program.

Consideration 3: Compatibility, or Will It Work? Probably, yes, but if you’re in a production environment, using apps such as Adobe Creative Suite, you will want to wait until all the reports are in. (Adobe guarantees nothing about CS3, but supports CS4 as 10.6-friendly.) If you have any kind of specialized hardware or software, you will really want to test it out in Snow Leopard, running from a separate hard drive, or on a machine that no one else is using.

This guy has a too pessimistic but nonetheless practical view of how compatible new releases typically are.

Consideration 4: Process.

!!!!! For the love of Mike, please backup Backup BACKUP all your stuff. Run both your daily incremental Users backup and your weekly HD clone. !!!!!

Lifehacker has a nice rundown about how to go about the upgrade. And Engadget reports that the Archive and Install that I have previously recommended may be moot.


Consideration 5: Trust. Early adoption is fun, but early adoption can also be an adventure, and any good adventure involves risk, exhilaration, sweat, swearing, glee, despair.

Your Humble was one of the fools who bought an iPhone 3G on day one. !@#!@*$&#(%&#$)$*$*T#&R(*$#$#@!$!#@$&(!#@$!!!!!!!! Similarly, I remember too painfully how Leopard Server completely chewed up Apple File Sharing, all the way through version 10.5.2. Like a freakin’ sushi chef who can’t cook rice. Sheesh.

On the other hand, Leopard client itself was pretty smooth, and iPhone 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS were nearly flawless.

Mac users typically see reward for sticking with the platform, but we don’t need anything screwing up productivity in our profit centers. Therefore, my official recommendation to our clients is to wait until at least 10.6.2 before you start rolling out Snow Leopard, especially to non-geek family members or co-workers who would have a hard time working around problems.

I can think of several options to offset the risk of trusting Apple: Maybe you have a second workstation to can test 10.6 on. I am going to clone my server to an external drive, and do a fresh install, because servers have so far always wanted that. I could also run a completely separate test copy on a cheap external hard drive.


You can guess that I can’t wait to put the new system on my second MacBook Pro, and on my Server. I’m gonna like poking around and discovering all the new goodies, and the finessed details. I know, that, in the short or the long term, it will do well by our Macs, and by our trust.

Y’all enjoy!

Transfer an iPhoto book project to another Mac

My son is working on an iPhoto book of his trip to Belgium in May. It’s a great project for him, laying out text and pictures. He’s working on my iMac with my iPhoto Library. If he doesn’t finish before we go on vacation this week, is there any way to transfer the project to my MacBook?

To move a book project, you gotta transfer the entire iPhoto library to your MacBook, which just means that there has to be enough room. You can tell iPhoto to switch libraries by holding down the option key when you first start iPhoto (i.e. it has to not be running first). You’ll see a window like this:


If one ever needed to get fancier, one can download the $20 iPhoto Libary Manager.

This Apple thread has some more discussion.

At that point, I would consider the libary on your iMac to be off-limits until you get back home. That way, if you also choose to do any work in iPhoto once you’ve got it on your laptop, you can copy everything back to the iMac. Please make a discrete backup of the original library to your external hard drive, perhaps calling it “iPhoto Library old.” I realize Time Machine stores versions of your library, but it will start to delete older versions after a while, and I would prefer that you didn’t take the chance.