Don’t do it!

November 19, 2006

I tried out a trick making the rounds on many of the Mac news sites. Supposedly, it is possible to enable Apple’s Front Row on the MacPro.

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This sounded like a great idea. I’d love use my Mac Pro as a media machine but for some reason Apple chose not to include an IR remote with the Mac Pro. The hack seemed easy enough. Just modify the AppleHIDMouse extension to allow the mighty mouse to control Front Row.  So I backed up my file and applied the hack. I then tried to install Front row from my installer CD but got the usual error. So I downloaded the updated installer from Apple. This time it claimed to install the package, but I couldn’t find the application anywhere on my machine. So, I gave up and pretended nothing happened.

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Well, my Mac wasn’t going along with that decision. Within a few hours I was having kernel panics just about every hour. For no particular reason. Sometimes when I was using iTunes. Sometimes in Safari. No specific cause.

I tried to just replace the modified extension and delete the cache files. This, of course, required me to rebuild my privileges as well. No good. I was starting to think that I would have to do a new system install. I finally resorted to running Onyx, restarting, and then running Applejack. Everything seems fine now. No kernel panic for the past hour. I’ve been pushing it with Safari, Aperture, Devonthink, and now Ecto.

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The wonders of Apple Hardware Test and Console

November 19, 2006

It seems that Disk Warrior is not going forward to support Intel macs. It’s pretty disappointing because I was a big fan of this software for the PPC macs. Unlike the Windows world, there are few system diagnostic tools for the mac. Maybe that’s because there are fewer issues with incompatible third party hardware. However, sh*t happens and sometimes you need more than Apple’s disk utility program to figure it out.

As I mentioned previously, I had some serious issues with kernel panics on my Mac Pro. Coincidentally I had installed a third set of 512MB ram cards just a few days earlier, bringing me to a grand total of 3GB (Aperture is finally feeling a little more peppy). I was concerned that the new chip was the origin of my problems.

Luckily, Apple includes a Hardware Test application on my system install CD. I only had to restart my machine with the “D” key held down. The Mac Pro booted right into a diagnostics program. Ran the extended diagnostics which took about 12 minutes. It tests the RAM, CPU and motherboard. It also provides some info about the machine.

Since it is not possible to do a screen capture from the hardware test, I’ve added a link to a larger camera shot.

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Feeding the Aperture needs

November 12, 2006

My Mac Pro received another 1GB RAM upgrade tonight. That puts it at 3GB total. Apple’s Aperture just sucks up the RAM. Especially when dealing with the NEF (RAW) files from the Nikon D80.

The extra RAM has made a considerable difference. Aperture is snappier and I can listen to music while I play with my photos.

Doing a self-install of the RAM was a snap. Here’s the instructions:

1) Power down the Mac Pro

2) Open the side panel

3) Pull out the top RAM riser

4) install two 512K RAM chips (from Apple)

5) Put the memory riser back, close the side panel and power-up

Done.

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More keyboard surfing

October 14, 2006

Just a quick link today. This one is for the list of keyboard shortcuts from Apple. It’s really meant to discourage programmers from using these standard key combos for their applications.

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The best (and worst) of both worlds

October 4, 2006

The latest revision of Parallels Desktop for the Mac is running butter smooth on my Mac Pro with 2GB of RAM. No hangs or crashes. In fact, right now, I’m using Ecto for Mac to write this post while watching DL.TV Episode 100 and installing software updates on Windows XP.

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To be more specific, the update is for my Sandisk 4GB flash drive. I can’t recommend this drive enough. It is fast, small and holds a ton of data. It also came with U3 Cruzer security software that allows me to carry sensitive data from my day job home totally encrypted. The down side is that the software is Windows only. But now that I have Parallels on my Mac, I have access to the secure data any time I want. While getting the Cruzer software installed and running under Windows was pretty quick, the Windows update that I performed on my system was another story entirely.

Check out the number of updates in this set. 59!!! Has Apple even had 59 updates ever? This seems pretty crazy, but I went ahead with the updates. I don’t want to get any of the Windows nasty little bugs in my Parallels install.

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Some quality time

September 29, 2006

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Parallels has just released RC2 of Desktop for Mac. While the Mac Pro received some love a few weeks back with a beta release, Parallels has put some real quality into this release candidate. Not only is it compatible with Vista and developer builds of Leopard, but there is no longer a RAM restriction. Parallels was only recognizing 3GB before.

I have to ask myself though, are there people out there with $2K of RAM in their Mac Pro that do not have a PC sitting under their desk to run windows on?

Here’s the FAQ sheet for this release:

No RAM limitations

No hardware reconfigurations

while using Windows and it’s critical applications on new 64-bit Mac Pro towers and iMacs.

Other improvements & fixes that make Parallels Desktop even easier to use:

New! Compatibility with developer build of Mac OS X 10.5, code-named “Leopard”

New! Experimental support for Windows Vista

Solaris guest OS no longer hangs after suspend/resume

An improved Parallels Tools package

Full support for OpenBSD 3.8 as a guest operating system

G4U hard disk cloning tool now works in virtual machines

Better video output improvement and acceleration

Added multi interface USB devices support (including Windows Mobile 2005 devices)

Added isochronous USB devices support (including WebCam devices)

Keyboard support improvement: Eject CD key support, left/right Shift/Ctrl/Alt (Option)/Windows keys difference support

Added virtual disk cache policy option: Mac OS X performance optimized or guest OS performance optimized

Image Tool fixes

Optimized disk cache policy for Suspend/Resume feature

Windows ME Suspend/Resume fix

Shared Folders first time access acceleration

Clipboard synchronization tool fixes (unreadable symbols sometimes added during copy and paste)

Sound playback and recording improvement

“Unable to allocate virtual memory” during virtual machine power on fix

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New firmware for the Mac Pro

September 23, 2006

Apple’s been working away patching the Mac Pro firm ware again. I just installed the firmware patch they had from earlier this week and now today I get this:

New firmware

I’m not sure what these provide yet. Here is what the installer says:
“The SMC Firmware Update adjusts fan behavior in the Mac Pro. The updater application will be installed in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Please follow the instructions in the updater application to complete the process”.

The security update seems to be for the airport, which I never installed.

Update: This appears to be the same update from earlier in the week. The strange thing is that I already applied that update and received the comforting message telling me my Mac Pro firmware was up to date. This one, however, was applied without having to hold down the power button on the front. It was a smooth auto install. So maybe they are slightly different. I don’t care enough to check and my machine is running exactly the same anyway.

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