Top Ten Blog Posts 2018

Over the last twelve months I have published 19 posts.

The post at number ten was from ten years ago, and contained a (now deleted) YouTube video on the new Skyfire browser for your Windows smartphone or PDA. Skyfire discontinued its Skyfire Web Browser in 2014.

The post at nine was now a rather dated post from ten years ago about how Scrabble’s owners were going to sue Scrabulous.

The eight most popular post was another ten year old post which was about when Apple was offering some free TV shows on iTunes.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at number six was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

The post at number five was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The fourth most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The post at three was about Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

The second post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Tech Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017

Over the last twelve months I have published 26 posts, many of these were about my return to fibre. So it is nice to see that the tenth most popular post on the blog this year was from nearly a year ago.  We will have fibre in “12 months”!  I said back then that according to BT Openreach we would have fibre within twelve months, I was slightly sceptical, but nine months after publishing that post I did get fibre.

new fibre cabinet 25

The ninth post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

The post at number eight was another post about my fibre journey, Still checking… was when the cabinet was activated, but alas wasn’t accepting orders.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at six was about  Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The fifth post was how I don’t like BT FON which was originally published in 2011.

The post at number four was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The third most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi

The post at number two was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars,  Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Not updating yet…

high sierra

So Apple have released their latest operating system, well actually they did it a few weeks ago.

I still have yet to update my iMac (and my MacBook) to the new operating system. The main reason is not that I really like Sierra and don’t want the new features of High Sierra. Nor is it because I have really slow internet and it would take days to download the update, on the contracts, now I have fibre, my download speeds are respectable and it now takes minutes rather than hours or days to download large updates, such an operating system upgrade. It’s just that I have had my fingers burnt before when applications I use on a regular basis suddenly stop working on the new operating system.

The main culprit for my is usually Adobe’s Creative Cloud, however I am hoping now that they have moved to a subscription model that my regular Apps will be updated automatically and quickly. I also heard people were having problems with Microsoft Office, but I have also heard that Microsoft have released updates for these programs as well.

Sometimes it is the smaller software houses and struggle, but part of the issue is me! If a piece of software is working for me, and there is an application upgrade, I really need to justify paying for the upgrade.

So the following packages stopped working for me in the past following operating system upgrades, Screenflow and Parallels. So if I upgrade the operating system, which is free, I then need to spend real money upgrading certain applications. I am expecting Comic Life 2 to stop working with this upgrade, so then needing to upgrade to Comic Life 3.

So having waited a few weeks I think I may do the upgrade soon.

Fusion Drive Failed

Sometimes Apple technology impresses me with it’s reliability and stability and then sometimes it doesn’t…

I have a 2006 Intel iMac, one of their early Intel models and the 250GB HDD is working well today as it did when I first got it. My experiences with other iMacs that I have used at work have been equally impressive. I once did though experience hard drive failure on one of my PowerBooks, but that was because I dropped it….

However when it comes to my home 27” iMacs I have been less lucky.

iMac

My original 2009 27” iMac hard drive failed and was replaced by Applecare, only to fail again a few years later. With this failure I ignored the drive and replaced it with an external drive. Eventually the whole system failed.

My new 27” iMac which I got in late 2014 came with a 3TB Fusion Drive. Fusion Drive is Apple’s name for a hybrid drive, which combines a hard disk drive with a NAND flash storage (solid-state drive of 24 GB or more) and presents it as a single Core Storage managed logical volume with the space of both drives combined.

Last month I came to my iMac I found the prohibitory symbol.

Mac prohibitory symbol

When you see a circle with a slash symbol instead of the Apple logo, it means your Mac couldn’t find a valid System Folder to start up from.

I did try reinstalling OS X by using OS X Recovery, but that failed…

Checking my backups I realised that there were some files missing from the back up disks, so using target disk mode (and another Mac) I attempted to recover the files from the failing hard drive. I managed to get some, but unfortunately I couldn’t get them all.

I was thinking of using DiskWarrior (which had helped with my previous iMac hard drive problems, however version 4 which I have is not compatible with OS Sierra. After a while though it became impossible to mount the drive using target disk mode. Disk Utility also failed to do anything except spin the beachball.

The other symptom I saw was the separation of the SSD from the Fusion Drive, this was not good news.

Taking the iMac to the Genius Bar, they were unable to enter diagnostic mode and using a network startup drive, were able to check that the iMac was working fine, and that the problem was with the Fusion Drive.

I had considered using a data recovery firm, but in the end with the majority of the data in my backups I let the Genius Bar attempt to re-build the Fusion Drive, which didn’t work, so they had to replace the drive with a new one.

The next step is to re-build the iMac from scratch, which is nice to do now and again, but is a bit if pain if you have really slow broadband. Really looking forward to getting fibre back in the next two months!

I know I have some missing data, but I think I have the important stuff. One thing I am now considering is getting some cloud based backup which has got a lot cheaper since I last checked it out.

I am slightly disappointed that the Fusion Drive failed after just over two years. For a variety of reasons I didn’t have AppleCare with this iMac, and it is something I will certainly consider for future iMac purchases.

Slow, but sure

iMac

I am finally getting my iMac working again after the system crash. Though I do have backups, there was some recent data that I wanted to retrieve, and as I do manual backups of the data (I know)my preference was to restore the drive as is, rather than rebuild from scratch. The simple way would have been format and then resinstall my apps and data.

Initially I was able to get the drive to “appear” using Firewire Target Disk Mode using another Mac. So my first approach was to “fix” the drive using the OS X Drive Utiity. This failed and the error message wasn’t that helpful, which was format and reinstall! I could mount the drive and read the files on the iMac, but couldn’t write to the drive or delete files.

My second approach was then to clone the drive onto an external Firewire drive, however this just didn’t work, in the main as I have a large full 1TB hard drive. So I went with manually copying over the files, but as I was copying from Firewire to Firewire through an old Mac, this was slow. When Finder said it was going to take 720 days (yes days not hours) to coop over 200GB of data, I knew that this approach wasn’t going to work.

So I created a boot drive using a spare external Firewire drive and installed OS X onto that. I then booted the iMac using the external Firewire drive as the startup drive. Success, however, though when using another Mac I could see the internal drive, when booting the iMac from an external drive the OS wouldn’t let me mount or see the internal drive.

Using the Google I searched on the Disk Utility Error Messages and the response across the web was to use DiskWarrior. I was a little hesitant as I suspected now that the drive problem wasn’t file system or OS based, but was a hardware problem (based on my previous experience).

In the end I did decide to buy DiskWarrior and once installed I got it going to let it do its work.

It took a fair few minutes to get going, but alas it couldn’t fix the directory problems and confirmed that there was a hardware issue with the drive and it would need to be replaced. However it also created a temporary file structure, which allowed me to copy files off the drive onto the replacement external hard drive and importantly do this quite quickly.

I was unable to clone the drive, but as I could copy files I was able to confirm I had the most recent copies, as well as checking system files.

So at the moment I am using an external drive, I will be taking the iMac to the Apple Store as I am disappointed that the replacement drive didn’t last very long, even though I am out of AppleCare.

It’s crashed, it’s crashed…

Well maybe I should have been expecting it to do that, but my four year old iMac last night decided to throw a wobbly and fail to restart after crashing out.

Despite some attempts to start in safe mode, reset the PRAM, in the end I started it off in Firewire Target Disk Mode and connected it to another Mac. The result it looks like the hard drive is on the edge of failure. This is annoying as this was only recently replaced under AppleCare. My iMac is now out of AppleCare, so I am not sure what to do. The SuperDrive has also stopped working properly, well maybe it stopped working ages ago, I rarely use it, so perhaps I didn’t notice.

I am not sure what to do next, I do want to still use the iMac, but should I repair the drive or look to replace it. I would like to probably upgrade it to an SDD and then replace the SuperDrive with a standard HDD, but not sure if there is someone who can do that for me, or how easy it is to do myself.

Safari Crashing

Safari Crashing

Over the last few weeks I have had an annoying bug when using Safari on my iMac running Lion. Now and then when I add a new tab (to paste in an URL, or opening a link or image in a new tab) Safari just quits.

If I restart Safari it “kindly” re-opens all the pages I had open, not always convenient if I was logged into an e-mail service or my blog.

It must be a bug with Safari as more often than not I am opening a blank tab, not clicking on a particular link or something similar.

At the moment it is annoying and a search of the internet tubes seems that I am not alone. However there doesn’t appear to be a solution either.

Hmmm, too hot?

Having done some further research on my kernel panicing iMac I am wondering if it is getting too hot?

I had the hard disk replaced recently under Applecare and there are a few posts on the Apple Discussions Forums that show a few people are having a similar problem to me. Alas there is no simple or easy solution, which is frustrating.

I am now trying to work out what is causing the iMac to work too hard so it gets too hot and it appears that Flash may be part of the problem.

I am not sure what to do next, I think I might see if I can improve the airflow around the iMac, and also if there is a way to force the on board fans to start running at a lower temperature, ie before it gets too hot and then crashes.

Longer term I might replace the hard drive, 1TB is too small anyhow, so I would put in a bigger disk, tempted to put in a small SSD and then replace the DVD-R drive with a traditional hard drive. Might lengthen the life of the iMac for another couple of years. It is an i7 with 8GB of RAM so it is still very powerful.

Blue Screen of Death on a Mac

iMac

I am getting very annoyed with my iMac at the moment. It is on a too regular basis having a kernel panic and freezing.

The symptoms are that though I can still move the mouse cursor, everything else is frozen, can’t click, right click or use the keyboard.

Generally it happens without me doing anything, though it did happen this morning for the first time with me in front of the computer. I was just scrolling through Safari.

The only solution at the moment is to power down and reboot. The Lion OS does then restore all my applications, but sometimes it corrupts the iPhoto library and this has to be rebuilt.

I actually thought it might be a problem with iPhoto or iTunes, but the most recent episode happened when those two applications weren’t running.

I have done a PRAM reset, and that doesn’t appear to have resolved the issue.

It has only been happening since I upgraded to Lion, but it is happening much more now, five times in the last three days, whereas before it was about once a week.

I am not sure if this is a hardware issue or a software issue. Doesn’t help (typically) that the iMac is now just over three years old and is out of AppleCare.

I am not sure where to go next. I am thinking about upgrading to Mountain Lion to see if that makes a difference, or go back to Snow Leopard.

By the way why is the title of the blog “Blue Screen of Death on a Mac” well when I once tried to sleep the Mac and then moved the mouse to wake it, the result was a blue screen!

Blue Screen on an iMac

Not quite one of those days, but nearly…

iMac

Got slightly annoyed with my iMac the other day. Came home from a day out, switched the iMac on and it just stuck there on the grey startup screen with the grey apple and the grey swirly thingymajig!

I was reminded of my iMac problem in May when attempting to upgrade to Lion, my hard drive failed…

I tried to start in safe mode… and that didn’t work.

I did manage to get into recover mode and verify and repair disk permissions.

I did try a few other things and none of them worked… it wasn’t helping that I couldn’t access apple.com through my broadband connection. No idea why that wasn’t working.

The only real option left, according to what I was reading was to reinstall Lion. In theory I could do that with Internet Recovery, however with the ADSL connection I am now on, downloading 4GB of Lion install file reliably wasn’t really an option. I do have the Lion install on a DVD, but even that didn’t work…

In the end I decided that, as I am still covered by Applecare, that I would take it the Genius Bar at my local Apple store; so I made an appointment for the following morning. I then put the iMac into Firewire Target Disk Mode and backed up my important files. Not too bad in some respects as I had done a full backup back in May, and incremental since then, so not too many files to sort out. This time though I did do a backup of the Home Library folder. I forgot to do that last time and lost a few important files as a result as the data was stored there rather than the Documents folder!

The following morning, I needed to drop my car off for a MOT, so after checking the files had backed up, I (for some reason) decided to restart the Mac and leaving the grey swirly thingymajig to swirl I drove off to the garage. Having dropped the car off, grabbed some breakfast and got a lift home, I decided I had better pack the iMac before heading off to the Apple store. I was therefore quite surprised to see that it had booted properly and I could see my desktop. I decided to check that it was working as it should and restarted the system…. it started correctly!

Hmmm, not sure exactly what the initial problem was then. I suspect that there was something that wasn’t working correctly from a software perspective and leaving the Mac to reboot for an hour or so was what it needed to sort itself out. Still a little concerned though.

I cancelled the Genius Bar appointment and have since then put the iMac through its paces without any problems.

The car passed the MOT too…