Marines with Jetpacks

Last September I blogged about how the Great North Air Ambulance Service as testing out a jet pack from Gravity Industries.

Now the Royal Marines are doing the same. The Royal Marines are testing out a jet suit, made by Gravity Industries, to assist in Maritime Boarding Operations.

Ten Amazing Summer Zoom and Teams Backgrounds

Despite the easing of restrictions, think many of us will still be attending Zoom or Teams meetings over the next few months. So to get you in a summer mood here are ten amazing summer Zoom and Teams backgrounds to brighten your meetings.

Right click the images to download the images.

waves
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Summer
Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay
Sunflowers
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay
dunes
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
beach
Image by Sathish kumar Periyasamy from Pixabay
street
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay




forest
Image by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay
dandelions
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
cafe
Image by analogicus from Pixabay
wheat field
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

 

Working well

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had to migrate the data off the defunct drive, fix it, format it and migrate the data back again.

Well having now used it for a few days it appears to be working fine, I think it might be working even better than it was before.

However as with any drive, I will be making a regular backup of the data.

Just in case.

Really?

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had tried to repair the drive and reinstall Mac OS X. In the end I bought a new external hard drive and decided a new approach and in my last blog post I discussed how I was using the migration assistant to copy files and settings from the defunct drive to the new external drive, and how I had to wait….

Having left my iMac overnight I came down the following morning, slightly apprehensive I looked in on the iMac, pressed the space bar, and I was rather downhearted to see the prohibitory symbol.

Mac prohibitory symbol

Oh no, this reminded me of 2017 when the fusion drive had failed.

It looked like the whole process hadn’t worked.

So I went to make coffee, but when I came back it had gone and I saw the Migration Assistant back in full flow finalising the migration. Maybe it had worked.

Once the migration process had finished I rebooted the iMac using the external drive and everything was working now.

Well not quite, though all my data was on the external hard drive, the settings needed to be updated and various applications needed passwords and all manner of things.

So my plan for the day was to work from the external hard drive and then later reformat the iMac hard drive and migrate the data back.

To be honest I got so fed up with the spinning beachball that I started the Migration Assistant just before lunch. I took the decision not to migrate some of the user accounts, as yes I wanted to retain the data, but didn’t need it on the main machine.

So I formatted the internal iMac fusion drive, checked the health of the drive and installed a fresh copy of OS X on there. I then started the Migration Assistant, taking the data and settings from the external drive and putting it back on the internal drive.

What was interesting was how much faster this process was from external hard drive to the internal drive compared to the other way round.

It was also interesting to note that once I had completed the migration, that unlike working from the external drive, as well as no spinning beachballs, most things were working just as they were before the crash.

So, so far, all seems to be working fine.

So I waited….

So last week the hard drive on my iMac stopped working. I had tried to repair the drive and reinstall Mac OS X. In the end I bought a new external hard drive and decided a new approach.

I took the decision that I would install Mac OS X on the external drive and then from there retrieve the files from the iMac hard drive.

I could then either reformat the iMac HDD and reinstall OS X or use the external drive as the main drive. Less keen on the latter option as the drive would be significantly slower than the fusion drive on the iMac.

I am hoping that it is a software issue with the drive and not a physical problem. Regardless I did want to take off the data and try a fresh install.

If that didn’t work, then it might be a trip to the Apple Genius Bar, but I didn’t fancy spending £300 on a replacement fusion drive, especially as the computer is now eight years old and having done this already before.

So I connected the drive to the iMac by the included USB-C to USB 3.0 cable and started the iMac off in recovery mode. I did try and install OS X onto the drive, but that wasn’t going to work as the default file structure on the drive when it shipped was FAT. So I started Disk Utility and formatted the drive to APFS ready for installing Mac OS X. This all worked and went to install OS X. 

This also worked and I was feeling quite pleased, however the real challenge was going to be was moving the data and documents over from the iMac hard drive to the external drive.

However I had forgotten about the Migration Assistant, a tool I had never used. Usually when I buy a new Mac I like to start from scratch and only install the apps I know I am going to use.

However this time I thought the Migration Assistant would be a better choice.

So I said yes in the OS X install screen and selected the internal iMac drive and selected all the files I wanted migrated and then waited….

As I was told it was going to take fifteen hours…

So I waited…

Got the drive

Well I collected the drive I had ordered. It is smaller than I thought it would be for a 4TB drive, well that’s nice.

I have always liked Lacie drives as they are reliable and look great. I also like the fact that they come with the cables you need. This one came with the USB-C to USB 3.0 cable I needed, and to think I nearly bought a cable, so glad I checked the details about the drive.

I did consider buying the Apple UBS-C to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, but at nearly £50 was expensive, for what would really be a single job for the speed advantage.

I then started to think about how I would extract my data and then reinstall Mac OS X on the iMac.

What should I do?

I started thinking about what I should do with my iMac now that it wouldn’t start and I couldn’t reinstall OS X onto it.

I knew I could copy files off it, so thought about whether I should start that. However that would mean using multiple drives and using another Mac. I knew that this would take time, as moving files from one mobile drive (well the iMac in disk mode) to another takes much longer than moving them from the internal HDD to an external HDD. The Mac mini I was using to connect to the iMac only had a small SDD so wasn’t an option.

In the end I decided that I would buy a new external hard drive. 

I went with the LaCie STHG4000400 External Hard Disk Drive. I went with the 4TB version in silver.

Though I went with the USB-C interface, I knew that included was a UBS-C to USB 3.0 cable I could use with the iMac.

Having ordered that with next day delivery I turned the iMac off and left it alone.

Failure to install

Yesterday I tried to reinstall Mac OS X on my iMac which had failed to start. As I was ill I actually didn’t get back to the computer until this morning.

Alas the install process was still on the progress bar, which I knew wasn’t quite right.

Well I tried again to reinstall Mac OS X on the iMac which failed again.

I then put the iMac into disk mode and using another Mac viewed the drive, and I could see the files and documents.

I actually wasn’t too concerned about loss of data, as most of my working files are in the cloud in Dropbox and OneDrive, whilst all my images are currently backed up to Amazon Drive, as well as physical storage.

I suspected there might be a few files that I only had a single copy of, so decided not to reformat the drive and install a fresh copy of OS X.

Still feeling ill, I turned it off and went back to bed to watch Netflix.

Mac Fusion Drive failed again…

Well it had to happen didn’t it with my luck with the hard drive on my iMac.

The computer had slept the night before and I had woken up not very well so didn’t go to the computer in the morning. Though I was off work sick, I did need to start a Zoom meeting for an external consultant, but when I went to the computer pressing the space bar didn’t wake the computer.

I pressed the power button, counted to ten and pressed the power button again.

In the meantime I started Zoom on the iPad so I could do that before focusing on the iMac.

I was slightly annoyed that the iMac was now stuck on the Apple logo and progress bar.

Hmmm

Quick Google search, said to start in safe mode and identify the issue.

So turned the iMac off and attempted to restart it in Safe Mode.

Well that didn’t work.

So then tried Recovery Mode to repair the disk using Disk Utility. This did launch successfully, which was slightly reassuring that maybe it wasn’t a physical problem with the disk, but a software issue with the disk.

I ran Disk Utility, that indicated a few errors, so decided to reinstall Mac OS on the drive. I started this and left it to it.

Better meetings

meeting
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Even though all my meetings these days are online meetings I found this article by Atlassian on better meetings useful and interesting.

Running effective meetings isn’t simply a matter of doing the obvious things like sharing the agenda and starting on time. While those things are important, they’re just table stakes. The real key to running a great meeting is organizing and running them with a human touch – not like some corporate management automaton.

They have a useful flow chart as well.

When it comes to meetings the article also says

Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information – that’s what email, chat, and company intranets are for.

I have been reflecting on meetings at my place of work and how they could be better.

We have meetings, however rather than focus just on making meetings more effective, it helps to understand the purpose and objective of what needs to be done, and then understand if a meeting is the best way to achieve this.

We clarify and agree the objectives of what we are trying to achieve and then identify the best practice to achieve these. We make better use of asynchronous tools for communication and collaboration and use live synchronous tools to achieve objectives which may require a meeting. We should not ignore the social aspect of people coming together and that may be an aim which can be satisfied by meeting (either on Teams or in-person).

We may want to abandon the concept of the regular meeting and only meet when there is a business need or problem that needs to be resolved.

We may want to take time to inform each other via other platforms and channels and each will need to take responsibility to access those platforms.

Meeting
Image by Ronald Carreño from Pixabay

If we are to have meetings then it is important to plan and prepare for that meeting. This isn’t just about having an agenda.

Any meeting should be planned to ensure that the following is in place:

  • Inform
  • What is being discussed
  • Why it is being discussed
  • What you hope to achieve
  • Anticipate information and people

What is the point of the meeting?

  • Do you need to have a meeting?
  • Keep the meetings on target
  • They are not about problem solving
  • Prepare ahead of time, not during the meeting
  • Meetings should be short
  • Don’t wait, if it says 9:30am, then start at 9:30am
  • Have rules about who speaks and when
  • Focus on the meeting, don’t do other stuff during the meeting

Catch-up meetings (stand up)

  • What did you do since the last meeting? 
    • Team members comment on whether or not their commitments from the previous meeting were met.
  • What will you do next? 
    • Team members explain what they’re working on today and will have done by the next meeting.
  • What issues do you have? 
    • Team members explain where they are running into trouble with certain aspects of the project, work, etc…

One important thing to note is that for the meetings to be effective, problems can’t be solved during the meetings. These issues may not affect the whole team. As a result, spending an excessive amount of time discussing these issues with everyone is not a productive use of team time. After the meeting, schedule a problem-solving session with the individuals who these effect. Such an approach will allow for targeted resolution.

Meetings should be followed up by some kind of list of actions with responsibilities and timeframes (SMART). There isn’t always a need for detailed minutes, but a clear list of actions should be shared and reviewed.

Zoom
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

I also liked this section from the Atlassian article on the differences between effective and efficient.

It’s important to distinguish between effective and efficient.

An efficient meeting starts promptly, stays on track due to good time management, includes as few people as possible, and achieves the stated objective. Job done, right? Wrong. Efficiency is a superficial quality. It says nothing about whether the right people were in the room for the right reasons, or whether the meeting generated any value for the business.

An effective meeting brings a thoughtfully selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result: a decision, a plan, a list of great ideas to pursue, a shared understanding of the work ahead. Not only that, but the result is then shared with others whose work may be affected.

Though a lot of these principles apply to both online and in-person meetings, the current situation which means we have to always default to the online meeting, means even more importantly that we need to do better meetings.

Could write more, but I have to go to a meeting!