Category Archives: apple

QUICK FIX : MacOS Freezing at Login – how to resolve quickly

After upgrading to macOS 10.12.1 my 2010 MBP would freeze after the first login. Searching the internet I discovered some similar issues and potential resolutions. Most revolved around rebuilding the LaunchServices database – using Onyx I tried that and it sometimes worked, but I still had the issue recur.

I would also occasionally get the message :

"The version of HandsOff.kext is not compatible with your version of OSX. Please contact the developer for updates."

I used to have HandsOff installed but had uninstalled it a while back. Frustrated I was not able to enjoy a stable OS environment, I figured the best way would be to backtrack and remove all the errors and see if anything made a difference – and removing this offending kext file seemed a good start.

Most kext files are found in the /System/Library/Extensions folder – however I could not find the HandsOff file, either in this or any other location.

To resolve the issue, I installed EasyFind and searched for “HandsOff” and found some other files (plist was certainly one file type) and deleted them directly from EasyFinder. I then re-ran Onyx to rebuild the LaunchServices, rebooted and hey-presto! No more login freezes!

UPDATE:
I ran a Malwarebytes scan and found a few nasties - removing those also seemed to help with the smoothness of things
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MacBook running hot after installing OSX Lion – Fix here

After installing OSX Mountain Lion I noticed that my Mac Book Pro was getting extremely hot and battery life was poor at best. Seems I was not alone.

After googling (if that’s a verb), I discovered one of several solutions:

  1. You’ve got a Citrix type client installed which is running in the background (see this thread)
  2. You have Office 2008 or 2011 and Spotlight is having an issue with indexing (see this thread)
  3. You need to reset your SMC (see this Apple KB item) – this is not as likely as the others.

I have gone through all three and so far it seems to have cooled the laptop. I’ve also noticed that Flash/Shockwave sometimes hangs with high CPU – with the new changes I need to evaluate if that’s still a problem, but figured in the meantime I’d share how to potentially fix your Lion woes.

Update 1: After performing steps 1-3 I noticed improvement in battery life – until I started to use Chrome with a site using Flash and suddenly Shockwave was going crazy with CPU and memory usage. Again, it’s not just me. If anyone has ideas please comment below.

Technology is great until it fails! How to back up your pictures and other files

In this age where almost everyone has some form of capturing the moment digitally; whether you have a full-on Digital SLR camera, point and click, iPod, iPhone, Android, etc. at some point you’re going to amass lots of pictures and videos.

So what would happen if the device they were on right now failed? Would you lose all your treasured files? What options do you have to backup?

Backing up your PC / Mac

There are so many options here to consider; here’s a brief run-down of the main ones:

Data Transfer Speed Cost to Implement Typically Stored Risk of Failure Comments
Optical Media (CD/DVD) Slow $ On Site Low Long term storage option; Size limitations per Disc (e.g. Single Layer DVD is 4.7GB)
Attached Portable Disk Fast $ On Site Moderate Good for quick archival; risk of disk failure
(in unit) RAID array (non-NAS) Fast $$ On Site Low Provides protection, but risk to data if the entire unit is affected
Single NAS drive Medium * $ On Site Moderate Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk of single disk failure
RAID NAS Drive Medium * $$ On Site Low Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk should the location catch fire, etc.
Free Cloud Offerings Medium * Cloud Low Space is typically limited; very little options in syncing files
Paid Cloud Offerings Medium * $$$ Cloud Low Best compromise  of accessibility, speed, risk and flexibility; Most expensive option long term

Some terminology while we’re here:

NAS = Network Attached Storage; think of it like a portable hard drive that you can put in your home network and anyone on your network can see it

RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks; most home PCs have one hard drive. if that fails then it’s game over. Some PCs are configured to allow other hard drives to be added which mirror the main hard drive. This doesn’t increase your hard drive space – instead, if the main hard drive fails, you have at least one disk with a backup of your data which you can run from. To read more about RAID, check this wiki article out.

Backing up isn’t just once and done

Backups typically are one of three types. When you are looking to backup your files, you might want to think about using backup software to help automate it, and so you’ll need to consider the following

  • Full – A complete backup of all files is taken each time
  • Incremental – A full backup is taken and then only changes are backed up after that point, resulting in multiple incremental sets of backups
  • Differential – A full backup is taken and then only changes are taken; each time a backup occurs it overwrites the last differential backup and takes all files updated since the full backup. This results in only two backup files being present at any one time.

Many backup services offer a variety of these. To me, differential seems the one I’d pick because in the event of a disk failure, I’m only having to work with two files, otherwise I’m maintaining many files with incremental (unless I’m on the ball with when I do a full backup).

The Need for Speed

When you’re backing up gigabytes of files you want it to happen fairly quickly – if you’re using something like a DVD or slow internet connection it’s going to take a while. That could be a PITA.

What’s the best option for me?

Generally using Cloud for backups is the best compromise – if all you’re doing is backing up and don’t want others to have access to the files. Otherwise, a NAS RAID drive might suit better. Both have pros and cons – think about speed, access, cost and finally – if you’re house were to catch on fire, would you save your RAID NAS drive?

Here’s a comparison of Cloud services to consider. Carbonite, Mozy and Backblaze are typically the most popular premium services, so also check out this.

What about my cell / mobile phone backups?

iPhones have iCloud and iTunes to help with that. You can sync your files to either / both and take care of it.

Android has a slightly different set of options; You can sync your contacts and pictures with Google directly (including Google Picassa) or you can buy some of the apps out there for it. TechHive has a great article on this very topic.

Conclusion

We all need to consider our backup strategy – and have one in place. It also goes hand in hand with being able to organise your files so that if you need to refer back to them, you can. How many times have you seen the folder “DCIM” with image names such as “IMAGE0012.JPG”? Technology still has to solve the ability to catalogue digital images effectively!

So, what do you use for backups?

The State of the Smart Phone Union – iPhone 5, HTC, Motorola, Samsung et al

The iPhone 5 is launched 21 September 2012. It is anticipated to out-sell the iPhone 4S, yet reading the netisphere there’s some negative press out there about the launch – somehow, despite the leaking of multiple parts ahead of time, it wasn’t revolutionary enough.

Whilst it didn’t blow away the competition, it did provide enough reason for some to upgrade their phones – faster processor, widescreen, better construction and updated camera to name the main ones (IOS6 is a given and available for other models). Consequently the general reaction from Apple Fanbois was to either cry in their latte, blindly accept their given lot, or to critique the product for not being evolutionary enough (e.g. missing NFC). Droidbois meanwhile were laughing in their Mountain Dew because the hardware specs are a little underwhelming compared to many of their handsets.

To me this was all somewhat irrelevant. In my opinion, we’ve reached a plateau in smart phone hardware. It’s not a roadblock, just a natural pause in the way of tech things that let’s the market stabilise and then move on.

The Differentiator

The difference here is the software implementation – the iPhone 5 hardware is comparative enough with its’ Android competitors (namely Samsung Galaxy SIII, HTC OneX and Motorola Razr) to not really care. Without getting into a debate about the Apple custom processor vs OOTB Snapdragon et al., the software is going to be the thing that makes the difference for many.

When you look at the comparison of IOS vs Droid apps, there’s very little difference – there are some outliers (for example, iPhone has Hipstamatic and Siri whilst Droid has Swype and a swathe of apps that let you customize your android experience – to name but a few). It’s these differences that will drive consumers to the platform – and they’re looking for integration both at an app level, but also to their life. I’ve seen some beautiful apps but their function is limited (Solar for example), and to be honest, I’d rather have something a little more intuitive that could give me more insight into the weather and what it means for me.

So whilst the debate will rage on about IOS vs Android, i’m looking to the app developers to really push each platform and bring true value. In turn they will also push the limits of the hardware which will drive the handset manufacturers to go to the next evolution (or revolution – Google Glasses anyone?). That in turn will put pressure on the batteries, cameras, building materials,etc to go to that next level.

So when is iPhone 5S out again? 🙂

Review of HTC OneX (AT&T USA)

A potentially great phone let down by under performing battery performance and lacklustre camera.

HTC OneXWhen HTC announced the OneX, it was with much anticipation. A sumptious screen, contemporary profile, enhanced audio and a dedicated image processor for taking great pictures. It says here.

A large but friendly giant

HTC have delivered on some fronts. From an ergonomic perspective, the OneX works pretty well. It fits comfortably in the hand and can be slipped into a gentleman’s trousers (pants for the colonials) without being annoying.

It’s rather generous dimensions work well from a viewing perspective – 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~312 ppi pixel density). Comparing the display against an iPhone Retina showed little difference in definition. However when it comes to screen brightness, it does not quite measure up to the iPhone – and when diagnosing battery issues (later), the screen was the biggest cause of battery drain.

Camera – Disappointing

My first foray into using the camera was an outside location (evening light); the result of the camera left high red tones, particularly on people. We had a DroidX also taking photos, which turned out fine. After adjusting the white balance from “Auto” it helped resolve the problems somewhat, but they still weren’t as expected. If you want to see how the issue appeared, click here. Clearly picked up the red dress and overcompensated.

Later I was using the camera again (inside the house) and felt the camera was again overcompensating and really pushing the yellows. So to settle it once and for all, I took the same photograph with an iPhone 4 and the OneX. The results are here – I think the iPhone naturally tweaks the shot to up the saturation and brightness.. but it worked for me. I also took some other comparison shots – each time the iPhone got the better across the board.

On the plus side the ability to take shots rapidly was amazing – it outperforms many other phones in this perspective – and the ability to take a shot whilst simultaneously recording a video demonstrates the power of the dedicated image processor.

Speaking of video, it actually performed better in the white balance department. Weird.

The battery is so draining

Battery life is a make-or-break-it thing for me. A phone must be able to last a day (or thereabouts) for it to be acceptable. Enabling 4G and GPS on the OneX would eat battery power faster than a large gentleman in a pie shop. There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way HTC have handled 4G – even with full bars on AT&T it would be a massive drain (along with the screen).

As mentioned, when looking at where power was being used, Android reported the screen being the prime consumer – this with brightness turned down, a black wallpaper and some battery management software (and no Live Wallpaper, though it is cool). If this is what it takes to keep battery use down, what’s the point of having such a big screen.

It’s not all bad

Android ICS with HTCs Touch works really well; the widgets work, the live wallpaper idea works well, screen scrolling is smooth, everything works without delay, GPS discovery is very quick and when 4G is enabled, it’s fast enough (but not blindingly fast).

I have a feeling that perhaps I may have had a faulty unit due to the poor battery performance – but also that HTC Touch isn’t quite mature enough and there’s more work to be done. I would be very interested to see how Android Jelly Bean performs on the unit – I have a feeling that natively, it would really exploit the power of the OneX.

In Summary

I could *maybe* forgive the camera, but the battery life is the thing that turned me off. I went to an old iPhone 4 and the difference was night and day. Yes, the iPhone doesn’t have such a powerful processor, 4G, nor the same screen dimension which needs to be powered – but then perhaps that’s why Apple took such a move; you don’t always need the biggest, fastest behemoth. Just the best for the job.

… and yes, I’ll probably get the next-gen iPhone now. Thanks to HTC.

Apple iPad2 is stepping stone to the next Apple iPad (iPad2 HD)

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
Image via Wikipedia

The news has been awash this week with Apple’s announcement that the iPad2 was being released mid-March 2011. As usual the industry press and “fanboi’s” were all over this like bees to a honey pot – and ironically that’s exactly what I believe this product is, in anticipation of the next iPad Apple is surely developing.

There is quite a bit of information here that leads to the conclusion, so for those of you with a shorter attention span, might want to fast-forward to the end of this post.

Steve Jobs’ Mind Control

If you listen to Steve Jobs’ presentations (see iPad2 presentation) you’ll see he’s a clever salesman. Using his stature and choice of words is almost akin to the techniques that Hitler used to incite many German’s. Not that I’m saying that Mr Jobs should be viewed like he is a modern day Hitler; just his technique has parallels, with clearly different intent.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • When we said the iPad was magical, people laughed at us. But it’s turned out to be magical.” – setting the scene; “us against the world”, then reaffirm position
  • They’re taking advantage of this incredible, magical UI.” – Using positive enforcement
  • Fantastic games, a lot of apps for business and vertical markets. The things people are doing here are amazing.” – more positive enforcement, creating a sense of excitement
  • Having built in all this stuff, one of the striking things about the iPad 2 is that’s dramatically thinner. 33% thinner.” – Use of the word “striking” suggests he’s “one of us” looking at the product for the first time
  • The new iPad 2 is thinner than your iPhone 4.” – you DID buy an iPhone, right? You are part of our “inner circle”, right?
  • When you get your hands on one, it feels totally different.” – Once someone picks up a product, their purchasing potential goes way up. This is basically programming people to go to a store… so you will buy one.
  • This has been tried and tested… iPads get 10 hours of battery life.” – doesn’t every product get tried and tested? Yes, but this is a phrase associated with things that we know are true; used to suggest that significant effort has been made. Significant effort = perception of quality.

The reason I mention the delivery of Jobs’ keynote is because of its’ intent. Combine the setting with the person and their persona, the words they use, the means of delivery including attire (you don’t see him wearing a suit on purpose) and the audience participation causes GroupThink excitement. It becomes infectious and makes you want to believe in the Church of Steve.

This is all done to help sales in anticipation of the next generation iPad (yes, you read that right).

Apple’s Product Pattern

Look at the iPhone and the excitement around that; consider each version (iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4) and how each version incrementally delivers new or updated features. Do you remember the anger and frustration that was made by iPhone 3G users when 3GS was launched? No? See how selective our memories become when we’re indoctrinated into believing things through social and media subliminal pressure.

If you look at the iPhone Wiki, you’ll see a new iPhone was launched every year since 2007. The iPad is following the same trait (see iPad Wiki). However, since the original iPhone launch in 2007, consumers are becoming more and more savvy about what to expect for the next incremental product update.

So based off the product cycle information, it’s suggestive that there’s another iPad product being developed already.

Details on the new iPad – iPad2 HD

Well of course there aren’t any – yet. But read on…

Releasing the iPad2 can be viewed as releasing the iPhone 3G; it’s definitely a step up from the original product but it falls short in a number of areas:

  • Screen resolution is still 1024 x 768 – it’s no Retina display and not the best HD movie experience. I suspect they made this choice as existing iPhone apps would look even worse on an iPad Retina display.
  • The rear-facing camera is not going to be great for still photography – 1280 x 720 = 0.92 megapixels. For this to be anywhere near usable there needs to be at least 3MP.
  • Still has 256mb Memory, just like the original iPad

Apple’s product cycle tends to fall in September, which is when we will see the launch of the iPhone 5 (see “leaked iPhone 5 parts surface“)  and then early 2012 we’ll see iPad 2 HD launch. [postscript: Rumour now is that the iPhone 5 will be announced in June 2011, leaving the door open for other products in September]. The A5 processor is really necessary for the Retina display to handle moving things around the screen and this delay gives Apple enough time to work out what to do with the backward compatibility for existing iPhone apps.

Should you buy an iPad2?

Do you have an iPad? Then no.

Otherwise, consider the iPad and the Motorola Xoom and then see what works best for you. Bear in mind that the Moto Xoom is in early product cycle so may fall down against the iPad2 initially in *some* areas, but Google is committed to making the platform successful so you can almost guarantee future updates will also make it a compelling argument. Right now the Xoom not priced at the right level (although some large volume discount retailers are selling it at discount).

Disclaimer

I take a neutral approach to the Mac vs PC; Android vs iOS debates that rage forums etc. Our household has Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices and iPods. All of these devices we enjoy using day in and day out. I do dislike iTunes immensely though!


A trick up Apple’s sleeve? iPod Touch 4th Generation

Apple has released two significant products that have generated a great deal of press; the iPad and the iPhone 4 but has been pretty quiet about their iPod product line of late. Why is this?

The iPod helped Apple make it big

No-one can argue that Apple’s iPod product line was a game changer not just for the MP3 player market but also for Apple’s own image. Of course they were already huge in the creative industry (with the help of Adobe with applications such as Photoshop) and had a “edgy” branding in the tech market, but to make it into everyday people’s homes was the huge leap for them – and the iPod made that possible.

iPod Touch 4th Generation released September 2010!

Well, that’s my guess. Apple has traditionally released a new generation around September and given that the iPhone product can lend its’ set of technology back to the Touch, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this September we’ll also see a new iPod Touch. For Apple to announce that during the furore of iPad and iPhone madness would dilute the message for all the platforms, so I would imagine we’ll see them announce the Touch towards August. In the meantime, existing iPod Touch units can upgrade to iOS4 – if you’ve got a Touch and feel like an upgrade is in order, Apple have an app (well, page) for that.

New Features for the iPod Touch 4G

Here’s the list of potential upgrades I see for the next gen Touch:

  • Camera – For both stills and also video. Because of the iPhone 4G’s video conference capability, it would be great if they could also include this feature for the Touch – but that also blurs the line of what this product is designed to do. I think at best we’ll just see a static camera capability.
  • High Resolution Screen – Using the same technology as the iPhone 4G, the screen resolution will be upped.
  • Longer Battery Life – if the iPhone 4G gets it, why shouldn’t the Touch?
  • Faster Processor – Now Apple manufactures their own processors, as seen in the iPad/iPhone4 products, this could be likely.

Other posts around the webby world suggest they want 3G – I don’ t know this will happen because this starts to make the product a mobile phone like device. Though thinking about it, that could be  the staging of what the Apple product line is headed towards – the vision many have shared that we have a mobile all-in-one device that includes phone, camera, video, media player, games machine…What a bugger it would be if you lose it though… for that to work you would start to need retina scans or finger printing authentication..

Since writing this article Apple did release the iPod Touch which did include the features I suggested; You can also install Skype which gets around the whole 3G/Phone question. The camera isn’t quite up to the iPhone 4 specification but there is a reason for that. In any case the product seems to once again set the standard for mp3 players. I’m sure Microsoft’s Zune will be playing catchup soon…