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.

Design Changes in OS X Yosemite

Apple have released a video demonstrating the new design features of OS X Yosemite.

The new OS X, currently in beta, has a very similar look to iOS 7, it is flatter, cleaner and looks very different to previous versions of OS X.

Climbing the mountain to see the lion

OS X Mountain Lion

Today sees the release of the next incarnation of the Mac operating system, OS X, Mountain Lion 10.8. It was announced back in February and back then I wrote my initial thoughts based on the announcement. As when Snow Leopard replaces Leopard, Mountain Lion in many ways is an incremental update to Lion.

OS X Mountain Lion is the latest release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features to update your Mac into the best computing experience yet. With the new Messages app, you can send text, photos, videos, contacts, web links and documents to anyone using another Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch — you can even start a conversation on one device and continue it on another. The new Share button makes it easy to share files, web pages, photos and videos, as well as tweet straight from the app you’re using. With the Reminders app, you can create to-do lists and alerts that appear in the new Notification Center. With Notes, you can write down all your ideas and even speak your words with Voice Dictation. Play head-to-head games on your Mac with friends on their Macs or iOS devices with Game Center. And with iCloud built in, it’s simple to keep all your mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, to-do lists, music, photos, iWork files, PDFs and more up to date across all your devices.

There are some interesting new features, there is the continued iOSiffication and deeper intergration with iOS devices. Speech to text is now built into the OS, though as with most speech to text you will need a quiet room and I can’t see myself talking to my computer in the office, unless I can shut the door and have the office to myself.

There is also notifications, which if you have been using Growl will realise has a similar functionality, you can configure it to let you know about Twitter responses, and other messages from various applications.

Notifications Center

Finally Safari does what Chrome does and you can use the address field to either enter an URL or a search term. Countless times as I move between Chrome and Safari I have got annoyed with Safari as I type in a search term, only to have a ‘doh’ moment as I realise I have typed it into the address field and not the search. Combining the two has a few issues (for example if you want to search on an URL and not actually go there), but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion.

One aspect of Chrome I like (especially since I got the Nexus 7) is the syncing of tabs and history, when iOS 6 is released this will come to Safari. iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

I do like the Share button, this is a feature I do use on the iPad so it will be nice to have it on the desktop. However having said that, with all the Facebook issues I have read about, I won’t be integrating OS X with Facebook anytime soon (nor will I do that when iOS 6 is released. Hopefully third party apps may take advantage of sharing, and embed it into their applications. I am really thinking about Firefox and Chrome at this point.

Reminders also comes to the Mac and I am thinking I might take advantage of that as it does integrate nicely with iOS. The same has happened with Notes, though I don’t think I will be replacing that with Evernote anytime soon. I like in Evernote how I can add image and audio notes as well as text notes.

There is better iCloud integration, but it still doesn’t work as I would like it to, so I can see myself staying with Dropbox for the foreseeable future.

I am not a great user of messaging services, but I think, again with the better integration with iOS that I may take advantage of it.

One downside for me is the size of the install file, at 4.05GB this is one big download and having recently switched from FTTC back to ADSL this was a very slow download…

As I said at the beginning this is very much an incremental upgrade, so I would be really disappointed to pay £100 for this, the price though is just £13.99 which is incredibly cheap for an OS upgrade compared to what we have paid in the past. Also, as it is on the App Store means that for £13.99 you can download and install it on all the Macs you own or control.

Get OS X Mountain Lion 10.8  in the Mac App Store.

It was one of those days…

I have been meaning to upgrade my home iMac to Lion for a while now, with the end of MobileMe imminent (end of June) and wanting to use some features of iCloud on my iMac I knew that I would need to make the move.

What was key for me was to ensure that the process was as smooth as possible. The first thing I did was back up all my data files. Though I back up on a regular basis, this process was to ensure that all my photographs, video files and documents were transferred to a backup hard drive. Once this was done, the next stage was to run Disk Utility to repair permissions, that went fine.

So the next stage was to start the Lion install process, and at that point disaster struck!

The install routine failed!

Install failed. Mac OS X could not be installed on your computer. Mac OS X Lion couldn’t be installed, because the disk Macintosh HD is damaged and can’t be repaired. Click restart to restart your computer and try installing again.

Yes, tried again same message.

Ah well, I thought, so I then decided to restart back in OS X Snow Leopard… but the OS X Lion installer wouldn’t let me.

Tried Disk Utility to repair the hard drive with no success.

At this point I was glad I had taken a backup of my data.

After looking at Apple Discussions, I tried to use my Snow Leopard install DVD to fix the drive, however this didn’t work. After a couple of hours of trying to repair the drive using various solutions, I decided that I wasn’t going to be successful trying to do that. So made the plunge and decided to format the drive and reinstall.

However… that didn’t work! I kept getting errors with the OS X install routine failing to install on the drive. In the end I just gave up and using the iPad booked a slot at the Genuis Bar at my local Apple Store.

Taking the iMac to the store went very smoothly, they connected it up to their diagnostic software, confirmed that everything was working as it should, except the hard drive.

As I had taken out Applecare on the iMac, the cost of the replacement hard drive and fixing it would be covered, however it would take between 5-7 days!

Hopefully it will all be sorted by then.