Aug 21 2016

Finally, Sierra

Adel Gabot

 

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11:25AM

I finally took the plunge and installed the latest beta of macOS 10.12 Sierra on my main machine.

About time, I figured. Apple just released the 6th version, and they’re getting pretty close to the Golden Master and the official release date, so I guess it’s as free from major bugs as it’s going to get. I’ve been (uncharacteristically) holding off installing since they began the beta program because I had the feeling they hadn’t really gotten their act together yet.

Trial installs of the earliest versions on other systems (my MacBook Pro, for one) have proven catastrophic. Creating a partition on my main system and installing Sierra there has also led me to a not-very-good experience. But now the time seems right. Besides, I’ve been itching to upgrade and fix my iTunes setup.

Since the disastrous screw-up and reinstall of 10.11 a few days ago, I’ve oddly lost the ability to update my iDevices on iTunes because the damn thing won’t log on to my account. I’ve had to resort to updating them to iCloud, and everybody knows how antsy that makes me. Also, I had lost my Photo library and have had to reconstitute it from the existing files. (You can see why this present setup made me uneasy.)

So, waking up extremely early and with nothing really to do today, I decided on taking a chance on beta version 6.

The install went well, if a little slow. After taking some time to download version 6 (I wasn’t even quite sure I’d be able to install 6 right away—I thought I might have go through 1 to 5, but thankfully it downloaded 6 right away), I was ready to go.

I installed Sierra right on top of my existing El Capitan system. Damn thing took nearly two hours, would you believe that? I actually thought the install had hanged a couple of times, but I’ve long learned to be patient with Macs, and finally the thing booted up.

The usual problems cropped up, like various apps and things asking for permission to connect (you can thank Little Snitch for that) and there was that previous version of Java asking to be installed for some of the older programs, but nothing out of the ordinary, and the install generally went well. A couple of programs went belly-up, but that’s to be expected with a new operating system, and we just have to wait for the updated versions.

The new version of iTunes took in my account without any problem, and I was able to restore the old backup settings of the iDevices again. I haven’t fully given in to Sierra and I haven’t connected my backup drive to the system yet, because once Time Machine backs the system up, there’ll be no going back to the old one. Maybe I’ll hold off attaching the drive until tomorrow, just to be sure. You can never tell.

But everything’s fine, and once again, I’m struck by how much the same everything is. Everything’s just as it was yesterday. Outwardly, only Siri and the Feedback Assistant icons are new on the desktop. Everything’s the same.

Brave new world? More like same old same old.


Aug 8 2016

You remember that thing about restoring my system…

Adel Gabot

12:45PM

It’s been a week, and I realize I have to talk about it eventually.

Remember me writing about how my iMac system screwed up a week ago, and how I set about restoring it successfully? Well, not quite.

It screwed up again, and I’ve been busily trying to restore it for days, which is why I haven’t been blogging the past week. Doing a four hour re-install cycle is exhausting, and I’ve had to do it repeatedly this week trying to repair the errors. To tell you the truth, this is the first time my Mac setup has screwed up royally in the years I’ve been using it.

The system just refuses to keep my external drives mounted, and drops them after an hour or two. Still does, after repeated re-installs, and I’ve just about given up trying after a week.

Additionally, iTunes refuses to sign on, resulting in me being locked out of my own account and disabling updates to my apps and device backups. I’ve had to transfer my backups to iCloud and update the apps directly from the devices themselves. Thank God podcasts still download, and I can access and play the library on the Apple TV.

My Photos account refuses to rebuild its library, telling me something messed up and it cannot be restored. I’ve had to recreate the library from scratch. iMessages didn’t register any of my text messages the entire week, and I’ve only managed to correct the problem just this morning. Plex Media Server now acts wonkily, most likely because it can’t consistently access the movie libraries I’ve spread out across my various external drives. The carefully managed file catalog is gone, and the poster icons and file names have been messed up. The list goes on and on.

Jeez, it’s been hell.

Now, a week later, I’ve resigned to not mounting the external drives anymore, and turned off Plex Media Server and just turn it on when needed. The iMac is finally running as usual, but without the frills I’m accustomed to. My libraries—reading materials, software repository, documents, and various and sundry files—aren’t readily available, and I have to go through a bunch of loops to get them online and access them.

But it’s all good; I just have to learn to live with it for now. It’s gonna be tedious, but I’ll survive. I think.

I can’t wait for macOS Sierra to be officially available, and finally get a chance to correct (hopefully) all these problems.

Sheesh.

 


Aug 2 2016

Two extra Remotes!

Adel Gabot

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1:43PM

Apple finally released a dedicated software app to specifically emulate the Siri Remote of their latest Apple TV on the iPhone today.

It ain’t any earthshaking thang, of course. But it’s always nice to have other options to control the fourth-gen Apple TV, seeing as it’s totally dependent on the remote for all the options and controls, and there’s no way to operate the thing without it.

Besides, I’m always anxious I’m going to lose the remote at some point. It’s so small it’s easy to let slip into the side seam of your couch, or simply get misplaced. And getting a replacement is damned expensive! The 32GB Apple TV and the remote costs P7,500 at the store, but a replacement remote costs P4,200—more than half the cost of a full ATV set!

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It’s specially made for the iPhone, and very nearly duplicates all the functions of the Siri Remote. It works exactly like the actual remote, up to and including the Touchpad and the Siri functions, as long as you’re on the same wifi network as the ATV you’re using it with.

There have been other emulators, but none this specific to, and specially made for, the ATV. The app also works on the iPad, but as a windowed app, not as a dedicated, native application. (Which is cool by me. I got no complaints.)

So now I got two extra remotes that I can use in addition to the original one—my iPhone and my iPad. Yeah, baby.

The nice part is, it’s free off the App Store. Of course, you have to first own a 4th-gen Apple TV to even use the app, but that’s a given.


Aug 1 2016

August Blues

Adel Gabot

9:02AM

These days, when it isn’t doing anything important or downloading something or other, I normally turn off my iMac for the night and just turn it back on when I get up. It was like that this morning—although the iMac wouldn’t turn on at all. Or rather, to be more specific, it refused to boot up.

Damn. What the hell was going on?

The 27″ iMac has been a loyal and dependable computer ever since I got it some years ago. Nary a problem in all the months and years I’ve been using it. I hardly even turned it off the first couple of years I’ve had it, and the computer soldiered on without a complaint.

Until this morning. This morning, it stayed on the gray bootup screen forever, and refused to start. Great. Bright and early on the first of August, and it does this. Was it trying to tell me something?

I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it. On the off-chance it was a transient problem, I tried starting up again and again, but it just stayed on that gray screen, and I wasted the first hour doing this.

Frustrated, I dug out my bootable USB flash drive of El Capitan, which I have never had to dig out in living memory, and used its Disk Utility to try and repair the hard drive of the iMac. The system had reported errors that prevented bootup when I checked it using the Recovery Drive partition. So I repaired the drive, or so I thought, but still it refused to go. I went and had breakfast and thought over what I was going to do next.

I had no choice.

I had to erase the drive, reinstall the OS and restore from my Time Machine backup. That’s what the TM backup was for, wasn’t it? Granted, I never really had any use for it until today; it was just something rote that I did, and it backed up my system every hour on the hour in case something like this happened. It was on a large, dedicated external USB drive, and that was all it did, backing up the entire system time and again in case something catastrophic happened.

Today was that day. I’m so so glad I kept a backup all this time. I was supposed to go out and pay some bills this morning, but I figured this took precedence. The bills can wait. So I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively), and got to work.

This required a fresh install: I had to bootup from the USB installer, access Disk Utility, erase the iMac’s drive, and then reinstall from there. I did this instead of just recovering the drive (which was a much quicker process) so that I could flush out any additional hidden, budding problems on the hard drive that may have cropped up in the intervening months and years of uninterrupted use.

But this meant it was going to take me the entire goddamn morning. Reinstalling the OS would take a relatively short time, about half an hour, but restoring my old system from the Time Machine backup would take forever. Or at least a few hours.

And so it did. The software estimates three to four hours to completely restore my 350GB system, and it’s doing that now. Which leaves me with nothing to do while it does its thing.

So I dug out my MacBook Pro and am now using that to write this busywork blog entry.

Sigh. But at least I can recover the system. That’s the important thing.

 

 


Jul 29 2016

I caved, Postscript

Adel Gabot

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6:42AM

I tried. I really tried.

But the macOS Sierra beta is still really screwed up.

Most of it’s pretty fine, although it’s more of the same old same old. A bit snappier in some areas, streamlined in others, and on the whole, great job, maintaining the boat.

But no matter what I did, its version of the App Store refused to update the Sierra beta to Version 2, which should be a better deal than Version 1.

I’ve been trying to download the newer version of the beta for two days now. Often, it won’t even register that I started the download—Version 2 and the Sierra Recovery Disk update, around a 1.2GB DL. The few times it did, the download mostly went through, but borked with just a few minutes to go before finishing, whereupon it would restart, and then ultimately hang. Many times over.

I even re-installed Sierra a couple of times, from scratch, on the off-chance it was just a one-off screwup. But no, it still refused to download, no matter what I did. On the remote chance that my original Sierra installer was the one that was screwed up, I re-downloaded it on El Capitan and installed that new one, and still it borked.

And there’s no other way to get the update outside of the Apple App Store, so I guess that’s that.

In addition, Menumeters, a tool I deem essential to my computing experience, also refused to install into Systems Preferences. And a couple of others, notably SizzlingKeys, a utility I use for my alternate mechanical IBM keyboard which I dearly love, also refused to load. Not to mention the many other (still) non-functional components of the new OS.

Dammit. But boy, am I glad I didn’t take the plunge and just install it over my current working system as I normally do! Aside from Siri on the desktop, there isn’t really that much new. Everything’s largely the same.

So I decided to fall back on my original plan: just wait for the official release this fall.

I dutifully reported the problems through the Feedback system Apple provided with the beta, then went back to El Capitan early this morning, used Disk Utility to erase the partition and take back the 100GB space I set aside on my hard drive, and restored my system to its old self.

No harm, right? At least I can say I tried.