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.

Happy Birthday Mac

Today is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Apple Mac, so Happy Birthday Mac.

My first Mac was in 2002, and it was a Titanium G4 PowerBook. I was Director of the Western Colleges Consortium in Avon, and one of the partner colleges was not happy about the support they were getting in using the shared VLE and online learning content on their Macs they used. They were using G4 PowerMacs, so in order to support them better I decided to order the “cheapest” G4 Mac I could and that was the Titanium G4 PowerBook.

Titanium G4 PowerBook

I remember thinking that if I was going to really understand the needs of the users of these strange devices I had better use it as my main device for a few weeks.

Within a week, it had become my main computer and I soon upgraded it with an Airport 802.11b wireless card so it was more useful. I remember how much I liked the fact that you shut the lid, and when you opened it, it came back on almost immediately.

It was a dual boot machine running OS 9 and OS X 10.1 Puma. It had a 500MHz G4 chip, a 10GB hard disk drive, 128MB of RAM and a DVD Drive.

It was a very different experience to the Windows 2000 PCs I was use to, and the user interface was in many ways a combination of “easy” and “challenging”. It took me a few months to work out how to drag and drop.

It lasted a few years and was eventually replaced with an Aluminium G4 Powerbook a few years later.

Since then I have had and used many Macs, including the G5 PowerMac which was an amazing computer, very powerful, various incarnations of the iMac, most recently a 27” model. With the move to Intel, I used a range of MacBooks, I really liked the MacBook Pro Retina and I am currently typing this article on an 11” MacBook Air.

Osfoora for Mac

I have been a fan of Osfoora for iPhone and iPad and it is my default client for iOS.

On the Mac however I have either been constrained to the web interface or more usually the free official Twitter app.

There is now a new Osfoora app for the Mac.

Osfoora is a powerful Twitter client with a clean and intuitive user interface. You’ll enjoy a wide set of powerful features such as Muting users, Read Later, Message Conversations, Multiple Accounts, and more.

This is not a free app and is £2.99 which considering what it does compared to the free Twitter app is in my mind a little expensive. However for the price of a venti coffee from a certain chain, I didn’t worry about it too much.

One feature that you may like (and probably worth £2.99) is the functionality to mute a contact.

This isn’t blocking, this merely means that the person’s tweets “disappear” from your timeline. In the preferences you can unmute them and once more you will be able to read their tweets. This can be useful if someone is at a conference and is “flooding” your stream.

I quite like the interface and the way it looks. I don’t think it handles multiple accounts very well, certainly I prefer how the official Twitter app does that.

In the end I bought this app as I like the iOS versions, I think it looks good, it lacks some of the functionality of the other apps, but I suspect that will come in future versions.

Get Osfoora for Mac in the Mac App Store.

My thoughts – Apple announce OS X Mountain Lion 10.8

It was only in July last year that OS X Lion was released, today Apple announced a sneak peek at OS X Mountain Lion, 10.8 the next release of OS X.

The first thing that strikes you is the iOSification of OS X. In Mountain Lion you will find Messages, Reminders, Notes, Notifications, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, Game Centre and AirPlay Mirroring. Looking at the new features you may have mistaken that you were looking at iOS rather than OS X. The Sneak Peek page does say “Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac.

I do think some of the features in OS X Mountain Lion are much needed if you have and reply on an iOS infrastructure. If your friends and colleagues have iPads and iPhones and you have a Mac, you will have wanted some iOS features on your Mac. With Mountain Lion it looks like we’ll be getting them.

Mountain Lion is all about communication and sharing, it’s about connecting with friends and colleagues and sharing images and content. It’s about making the Mac more like the iPad and the iPhone and merging the experience. The back end means you can still run regular apps you do now, but the essence of the operating system will be familar to those people currently using the iPad.

If you think about it, that does make sense for Apple. Most people using the iPhone are Windows users, the same can be said for most iPad users. In order for them to move to the Mac, they are going to want to have a similar experience and feel moving from iOS to OS X. I know many people who are very happy with the iPhone and the iPad, but either don’t feel comfortable with OS X or are wary of moving to what they view as an alien and very different operating system. You can imagine how these iPhone and iPad users would feel if the Mac they saw in the Apple Store looked and worked like the iOS device in their hand.

This is emphasised in the sneak peek video which emphasises how similar OS X Mountain Lion experiences are to the experiences on the iPhone and the iPad.

From a marketing perspective if you want to convert iPad and iPhone users to Mac then making OS X to be similar to iOS is the way to do it.

So what about these new features for Mountain Lion?

Even though there are other messaging tools out there, such as Skype, the fact that Messages will allow communication with iOS devices has to be a plus, as it is built into the mobile operating system. The problem with Skype is that it requires you to open the Skype app and as that can “drain battery” I guess most people don’t have Skype on as a default and I suspect that the same can be said for other messaging apps. Messages on iOS integrates well with SMS so if you are use to SMS you will feel right at home with Messages. I also like the idea of sending images and video straight from my Mac, I can see it replacing e-mail for a lot of communication.

One of the reasons I’ve not used Reminders on the iPad or the iPhone was the lack of integration with OS X, so I am pleased to see that there may be a simple, yet useful, to do list app that works across all my devices.
For similar reasons I don’t use Notes on the iPad or iPhone either. Somehow I don’t think I will swap, as Evernote has much more flexibility than the Notes app, I like how I can add audio and image notes. For many people though the Notes app will be just what they needed.

I do like the idea of Share Sheets, it is one feature of using iOS that I repeatedly miss in OS X and falling back on copy and paste isn’t that bad I know, but once you get use to that “share” button in iOS you do miss it in OS X. In case you don’t know what Share Sheets means, it’s a simple button that allows you to quickly share links, content, images and stuff to places like Twitter, e-mail or Messages.

What the sneak peek does show is how Apple are betting on Twitter over Facebook. You see Twitter integration mentioned all over the place, but not a mention of Facebook. That issue with Ping and Facebook must still be a real issue!

I use AirPlay a fair bit from my iPad, earlier I wrote about how useful I found it with my Apple TV.

Adding this feature to OS X Mountain Lion will certainly be useful to me, especially with web based video that isn’t available on the iPad. Of course there is an assumption that Flash will be available for OS X Mountain Lion and that isn’t a given. I can quite easily imagine Adobe deciding not to make a version of Flash for Mountain Lion.

My over riding impression of Mountain Lion, combined with my experiences of using Lion on a MacBook is that we are seeing the end of the mouse more than anything. The use of the laptop trackpad and the Magic Trackpad in the Mountain Lion video demonstrates that Apple see the future of the human interaction with a Mac through gestures and a trackpad and not a mouse.

We of course haven’t seen any sign in the sneak peek of Siri for Mountain Lion, and I guess that either may arrive later or this is something that isn’t going to happen and I can’t see that happening; much more likely it will appear in the final release in the summer.

So will you be upgrading? My iMac is still running Snow Leopard due to legacy apps, somehow I don’t see me changing my OS just yet… on the laptop, more than likely as it already has Lion.

Overall what we are going to get with Mountain Lion is an iOSification of the Mac operating system, the upgrade is much more about new apps and a few subtle changes, rather than fundamental changes to the operating system.