Google & FaceBook spoil Xmas surprises.

This is annoying. As one of Santa’s helpers I am tasked with doing research on some swell presents. The problem is that as soon as I search for something on the Internet, Google and FaceBook start posting ads with the exact items I’ve been researching. I realize that Google and FaceBook need to make a buck, but Santa is going to be pissed when he finds out that the secret is out!

Common guys! Use your technology for  good! Show us ads for Goats in 3rd world countries or a new well for a community that has no access to clean water! I you ask me, you are being EVIL.

In the meantime I’m covering my tracks with searches for Buckets of Steam and Sky Hooks.

Replacing End of Life Xserve Internal Drives

After much head scratching and buying 2 different 1TB SATA Hard drives, I solved the problem of a dead Xserve drive. My server reported that the drive in Bay 2 was unresponsive and my Apple hardware RAID was in degraded mode. The original configuration used 3 Western Digital drives.

So I had a 1TB Seagate SATA drive, and put it into the drive chassis and slid it in. No luck! Disk Utility couldn’t see the drive. Worried that the server would fail, I plugged the Seagate drive into a USB port and started to clone the system drive. I then order a new Western Digital Black drive with similar specs to the original drives. A couple of days later the drive arrived and still no luck. (I even used an older sled from another server.)

Then I found the answer, the speed of the SATA interface in the Xserve is designed for SATA-150. I grabbed a jumper from an old drive, after checking the WD site for the jumper configuration. I popped the drive into the server. Initially it the drive didn’t show up. So I gave up, rebooted the server and walked away.

A while later, I checked again and the RAID Utility could see the drive running at the slower speed. So I marked it as a “Spare” and the RAID started to rebuild.

Mountain Lion Server MySQL Install Weirdness

I’ve been using mySQL on Macs since I was running debian linux on a Quadra 700 in the late nineties. So you can say that I’ve had to deal with every curve that Apple throws at us with respect to web services. After debian, I ran darwin until Apple released Mac OX Beta in 1999.

The latest challenge was while upgrading my Intel Nahalan Xserve to Mountain Lion Server, 10.8.2. Lo and behold there is no mysql installed. So gleefully I went over the to get the latest installer dmg ( Once I tried to run “mysql” on the command line to test, I kept getting the age old “Cannot connect to /var/mysql/mysql.sock” error. No biggie, just check that the file is there or create a symbolic link to /tmp/mysql.sock…

However no matter what I tried, I kept getting the error… so I needed to dig deeper. Some sage user suggested checking the error log inside /var/mysql/data – by looking for a file matching your hostname and ending with .err . So I set up a tail and ran the mysql startUpItem script by hand and watched the log. (/Library/StartupItems.MySQLCOM/MySQLCOM start). Sure enough it would start and then immediately abort and shutdown.

Turns out the mySQL configuration file was wrong (/etc/my.cnf). I’m not sure where mine came from, possibly an older installer. You may not run into this problem, since Lion and Mountain Lion don’t come with mySQL installed. So the error I saw first was “unknown option skip-locking”. I commented that out (backing up the my.cnf before starting) and ran the start command again. I also had to comment out “table_cache=512” and “skip-thread-priority”. Afterwards mysql started up like it should. So I’m putting this out there, in case it helps the next poor sap.


Strombo Show App Buffering Issue – solved

We’ve uncovered the problem with the excessive buffering of the show. Turns out there was a bad router between the server and App. Now that we have a better route  to stream the shows the buffering is practically gone. (You may still expect some buffering if you on 3G and driving around , etc. “Your mileage may vary”)

Last night we had temporarily moved the show files to another server while we remedied the buffering issues. BTW the shows are also available on – if you’d like to listen to them offline.

Let us know if you experience problems streaming the shows.

Device Tracker bug in iOS 6 – fixed

We have just been informed of a bug in iOS 6. Some users have reported that importing data records seems to crash the app.

There was a bug which was a result of adding Location grouping. In version 1.40 when a user edits a record or adds a photo and then the “back” or “Device List” button, the list of devices updates incorrectly and hides the record. The fix has been uploaded to Apple in version 1.41 (it should be available around November 4, 2012.)


iPhone 5 or iOS 6 switching iTunes store – Fail

My shiny new iPhone 5 running iOS 6 would not update previously purchased apps. (Previously purchased on my older iPhone 4S.) Every time I tried it would say that I was not authorized to purchase items on the US Apple Store and that I would need to switch to the Canadian Store. Surprisingly, for Apple, it did not offer a method for switching stores. (Fail?)

Switching to Apple’s Discussions forums, the leading opinion is that you need to switch you country store in iTunes on your computer. Been there done that (we have several iOS devices all connected to the Canadian Store already.) Dead End.

Obviously some setting did not get set up properly. Maybe because I didn’t connect to my Apple ID when I set up the iOS device. Well, I’m sure I’m not alone in my predicament. I have two Apple ID’s – one for business and one for personal purchases – as advised by Apple. Persons working in Apple’s channels are supposed to keep their ID’s separate. So having one Apple ID per phone is not feasible. Also many of us started out with an iTunes account and a different iCloud (Mobile Me) account. Apple will NOT let us merge our Apple IDs and we will lose all of our purchases if we do. That means giving up thousands of dollars of purchases or losing the ability to sync contacts and calendars.

So finally I dove into Settings App on the iPhone 5. In iOS 6 the preference pane is called iTunes and App Store (aka Store in iOS 5.) Then I tapped on my Apple ID. This opens a modal view that lets you choose View Apple ID. My Apple ID was correct and so was my Country/Region. So what could it be?

Payment Information! Of course the almighty buck! Tapping on Payment Information and confirming my credit card info did the trick. Without any fanfare I was now connected to the correct store. Glad to see that Apple has it’s priorities straight! (Show me the money!)

Of course I got a notice via email that the change had been made. In reality nothing had been “changed” except that Apple was able to validate my payment information. Which begs the question – Why didn’t the original message offer me a hint that was the problem or offer me any insight as to where to look?

Ok! I’ve changed my mind. It’s a FAIL.

No control over Alarm Snooze in Mountain Lion 10.8

Wait! If you are like me and you’ve bought into the iCal and To Do’s in Mac OS X, be warned that there is only ONE 15 minute SNOOZE option in Alarms. Apple has brought over the alarm routines from iOS, where you can only really acknowledge an alarm event.

There never really was much finesse in Alarm controls in iCal. The pre-mountain lion standard snooze; 5 min, 15 min, 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hour, 1 day and 2 day, are now gone. In Apple’s latest OS 10.8, you have only one 15 minute snooze.

So that kills the idea of a $19 upgrade deal. You will need to spend $49 on BusyCal or $200 on Microsoft Office (Outlook) to get any decent functionality.

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You’re Damn Right – Your Mac does need antivirus software – recess is over!

I began to write a response to an article entitled Holy Cow! Yet Another App To Find Viruses On Your Mac (and they want money) by  when it dawned on me that I should post my response here.

I do agree with the general gist of his article, however there’s more to the issue than whether we Mac users need Anti-Virus software and whether we should pay for it. Notwithstanding all the years we have suffered through Norton et al, virus tools which would disruptively scanning any foreign media we interested into our Macs in the Classic days. They were simply blocking to people’s productivity and many dupes paid big bucks annually to maintain a virus definitions subscription. That along with the pricey subscription Windows users must pay. (Many more of them would dismiss the dialog to stop the virus scan.)

The real problem is that with a Windows PC you can contract a virus simply by turning the computer on and using it (or so it seems.) In 25 years of support Macs and PCs,  it has become clear that Mac users have had practically nothing to worry about. (It got so bad that we don’t support Windows at all any more.) In the years I’ve been around, there have been around three to five actual threats. (I will see if I can list them at the end.)

With the sleepy time experience of using Macs, many users don’t even know their computers password – even worse many users have nothing entered in their password field. They blindly hit the “Enter” key (aka the “Whatever” key) and accept any annoying authentication box that opens up. So the latest barrage of exploits are taking advantage of many Mac users trusting nature. I would argue that even products like MacKeeper are exploiting users as we speak – promising to fix your unbroken Mac.

Hey mac users!  – If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.

Hey Window’s users! – By all means possible, install that update, fix your firewall and maintain your virus definitions.

Sorry, I’m back…

So Yes, Virginia – you can share an contagious email with your defenseless Windows colleagues. Yes, you can accidentally install malware by clicking on an installer and entering your password. (That’s how 700,000 Macs got infected recently. The users had to authenticate the installation. Later it was discovered that users with loose (default) Java settings could get infected without approving the installation.)

If you don’t know your admin password – you need to run antivirus software on your Mac.
If you don’t know what your email password is because it “just works“, then you need to run antivirus software.
If you don’t know what your DNS settings are – your need to run antivirus software (and run the DNS check ).
If you don’t know how software is installed;
If you  don’t know how to install and run a script;
if you don’t know your SSID or WPA2 password;
if you don’t know how to configure a wireless printer;

You need to be running AntiVirus Software.

And you should pay for it! Paying for software will keep the developers fed and interested in helping you. Even if you paid $100 per year. You’re not going to like my bill if I have to come and fix your Mac. A Good Mac technician will cost you $100 to $300 per hour and it’s going to take several hours (days) to fix your Mac. You can find most Mac antivirus apps on the app store – and you can install it on all your own Macs. C’mon Apple made that part easier for everyone.

OK Kids! Recess is over.

Recommended Solutions

On a regular Mac:
VirusBarrier Plus (there is a free version)
Mac’s do have ClamAV installed and there is a free client app… but it’s rocket science if you don’t understand (sorry NASA)

On a Server Mac:
VirusBarrier Mac





Backdoor Man: Hackers emailing Mac and iOS users with infected zip files.

According to Kaspersky Labs:

Cyberthreats targeting the Mac OS X platform continue to appear in various types of attacks and techniques. On June 27, 2012, Kaspersky Lab’s experts intercepted a new wave of Mac OS X attacks targeting Uyghur activists that were part of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) campaign.

The APT attackers were sending customized emails to a select number of Uyghur activists who were presumed Mac users. The targeted emails included ZIP attachments inside them, which contain a malicious Mac OS X backdoor. To disguise the malware, the ZIP file showed a JPEG photo together with the malicious application.


Read more here: