Category Archives: apple

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.

I keep getting Calendar spam notifications…

If you use Apple’s Calendar app you may have been getting iCal invitations which are obviously spam, I have and so have many others including BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones.

The result is that your calendar starts to fill with invitations that are obviously spam, trying to sell you stuff!

The problem arises twofold:

Firstly you are unable to actually block these notifications, so can’t stop them coming in.

Secondly you are unable to delete the notifications, if you decline the notification then the spammer will get a receipt that your calendar is authentic, so you get a lot more spam notifications.

This all means that very soon the calendar becomes unmanageable and unusable.

The first thing to do is to set up your Calendar app to ensure all notifications of events come as e-mails and not as notifications in your calendar inbox. This is not as simple as it sounds as you can’t do this in the Mac or the iOS application, you need to do this on the web.

So go to iCloud.com in a web browser, this needs to be on a computer and not on your iPhone or iPad.

icalscreen01

Select Calendar and then click the cog in the bottom left hand corner and select Preferences…

set Calendar invites to go to your email instead.

In the Preferences window select Advanced.

set Calendar invites to go to your email instead.

Under Invitations change Receive event invitations as:  from the default In-app notifications to Email youremail@icloud.com. Though the dialogue says Use this option if your primary calendar is not iCloud you can also do this even if your primary calendar is iCloud!

There are two options for getting rid of the spam notifications.

You can create a special spam calendar that you can then add the spam notifications to, and then delete the calendar.

Create the new calendar and the tap on the spam invitation and tap calendar and select your new spam calendar. You can after doing this delete the new spam calendar along with all the spam notifications.

The method I used (which was before I knew about the previous method) was to decline the spam invitation (I was lucky that I only had two or three) and then delete that calendar merging the events with an existing (or you could create a new) calendar.

Hopefully Apple will release a fix for this in the near future.

So how do I do that then…

One of the issues when using a new laptop or a new operating system, is remembering how to turn on everything you use regularly or sometimes turning them off.

I download images from my Flickr collection quite a bit, probably more so than using Photos or iPhoto. With a new Mac laptop I was getting very slightly annoyed that after downloading the images, they would open in Preview. I knew on my iMac I had turned this off, but could I remember how, no I couldn’t. I had done it a fair few years ago now, as I had migrated my settings to the new iMac (and I think I even did it before that one too).

I did do a quick Google search and saw that it wasn’t a Preview setting, but was a preferences setting in Safari. I was using search terms such as stop Preview opening downloaded images but I suspect a better search term would have been  stop Safari from opening downloads.

So from the menu, Safari -> Preferences.

Click the General tab if isn’t showing already.

Preferences

At the bottom is a check box, which says: Open “safe” files after downloading. “Safe” files include movies, pictures, sounds, PDF and text documents and archives.

I do like how Apple puts safe as “safe” which means they should be safe, but should be treated as “safe”.

Uncheck the box and Safari will no longer open files automatically.

Preferences

What I usually do is if I do want to open them, say a PDF, is I drag the file from the Downloads folder onto Preview in the Dock.

4G’ing it

iphone 6s plus Photo credit: Yanki01 via Visual Hunt / CC BY

I have now been on Three for nearly six months and I am still pleased with the speed of the connection and reliability of the service.

In some areas I am getting nearly 50Mb download speeds.

Download speeds

There are some days when the connection appears to stall, but this is short lived.

I am on an unlimited data contract with Three. This appears to be a full unlimited contract with no “artificial” limits or throttling.

On my previous original T-Mobile (now EE) contract I would usually use less than 2GB. This was partly down to the speed of the 3G connection. On the Three connection I am now using on average 35GB of data. In at least one month I used in excess of 50GB.

As my home broadband is rather slow, I am now using my iPhone connected to the TV via an HDMI adapter for services such as iPlayer, Netflix and other on demand services (well the ones that work through the adapter). As the connection is quite fast, I am able to stream HD video, which probably explains the high data usage!

Nov – 30GB
Dec – 22GB
Jan – 50GB
Feb – 41GB
Mar – 35GB

Checking the bills I used over 7GB on the 7th January, no idea what was happening that day.

There are some aspects that I find frustrating, however these are more down to limitations imposed by others. For example Apple don’t allow you to download software updates, large app updates, movies and TV shows over mobile data, you have to use WiFi. However as my internet contract is much slower compared to the potential speeds I can get on 4G this means that it can be frustrating when I need to download large files.

In terms of signal, one of the reasons I chose Three was the coverage they have for my home address and over Bristol. In other places it has been somewhat sketchy, but was pleased to get a decent signal in Dublin for a conference (and no roaming charges) other places I wasn’t surprised as it was rather rural.

I will say I wasn’t disappointed with the signal of T-Mobile, especially when they merged with Orange. However the lack of an unlimited data contract on 4G meant that I didn’t see it as an option. Though 3G was okay, I do appreciate the faster speeds you get with 4G.

Photo credit: Yanki01 via Visual Hunt / CC BY

20 years later…

Back in the mid 1990s Apple released this video about their vision for the future and included a tablet that is reminiscent not just of the iPad, but also the iPad Pro.

There are a couple of things to note, the drag and drop planning, the sharing of content and ideas and using mobile devices to capture stuff (today we’re using mobile phones and tablets for this).

I like watching these videos to see how far we haven’t come and how far we have.