iTablet iPhone iThingy roundup

Aside from the usual random speculation about Steve Jobs worldchanging release in a few hours time, there have been a few interesting articles recently, namely

I also wonder what the cool feature will be… Mesh networking? Biofeedback? Merging with other nearby devices to form a larger device? Inbuilt projector?
It will also be interesting to see if Apple launches any updates to their 17 inch MacBook Pro as they would probably always have done if they were attending MacWorld this year. Also, I predict an iPhone software update, an iTunes update and a Mac OS X update.
Now, lets sit back and see how wrong we all are…

Apple revises Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, Airport Extreme and Time Capsule

Apple have revised the iMac, Mac Pro and Mac Mini.

The Mac mini now sports FireWire 800 (woohoo!) instead of FireWire 400 and also the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, and is touted as the “World’s most energy efficient desktop computer”, using only 13W when idle (possibly because it doesn’t have a screen? 🙂 It now has a mini DisplayPort and mini DVI connectors, and 5 USB connectors.

The Mac Pro now comes with Intel’s Nehalem processor at 2.93GHz, and Apple’s claiming up to 2.4x performance over the previous 3.2GHz Mac Pro model.

Meanwhile, Airport networking is now supported in 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously on Airport Extreme and Time Capsule, along with providing a guest networking mode to provide internet to your visitors without having to reveal your password to them.

Airport commandline utility

If you need to connect to an airport wireless network from the commandline you could check out the little known airport command line utility.

It’s hidden at

You can use –help for help and -I for signal strength and ID info

Upgrading to 10.5.3

Well, a full Time Capsule backup in hand I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.5.3.

Unfortunately, after the install the machine seemed hung during the shutdown process.

After a forced shutdown and a restart, it seems that BOINC was running, but that BOINCManager wouldn’t work. Killed that.

Now it seems that CPU is being chewed up by

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/Metadata.framework/Versions/A/Support/mdworker MDSSyncScanWorker

man mdworker says:

mdworker is the metadata server worker process. It is used by mds to scan and index files as a volume is mounted or a file changes.

There are no configurations to mdworker, and users should not run manually.

Which isn’t particularly revealling. I guess I’ll wait and see if it finishes anytime in the near future. On the plus side, the Airport reception seems better.


Choking on Apple’s Time Capsule

So, the first Time Capsule backup over Gigabit Ethernet took about 8 hours to backup an 80 Gb drive. So, the 160Gb drive should take 16 hours? So far it’s  been over 24 hours and we’re stuck at 132.07 of 145.81Gb (There are 2,007,881 files to back up!),  and not  moving. The weird thing is that MenuMeters shows around 600KB/s of outgoing traffic, presumably to the Time Capsule as everything else  has  been quit. At that transfer rate I’m estimating 8 hours left (time for  bed!), but it’s hard to tell as the progress bar doesn’t seem to be moving. Edit- Something like 32-36 hours all up I think.



Time capsule – take one a day

Picked up a 500Gb Time Capsule. Got home and was somewhat in a hurry. Power cable was a bit hard to get pushed in properly, although there was no visible evidence of why this would have been the case in either the plug or the socket.
Ignored the “Install this first” CDs, as usual, and fired up Airport Admin utility under Leopard on the wired LAN and it found the existing Airport Express. Did a “Save As…” to save the config of the existing Airport Express (including passwords). Then unplugged the Airport Express and plugged in the Time Capsule, attached to the network cable that used to be plugged into the airport express. Interestingly the assistant offered me the chance to use the Time Capsule to replace an existing wireless access point, but it wanted me to find it (and I’d just unplugged it :). So I plugged it back in to power and the LAN, but the Assistant couldn’t seem to find it. I gave up at this point, hit the Manual button and just imported the settings from the Airport Express (seemed like a safe bet) into the Time Capsule’s settings. This seemed to work. Changed security to WPA Personal and restarted the Time Capsule.
So, now turn on Time Machine on the Leopard box and get it started. That was at 18:30, and it’s now done 47.3 of 69.44Gb (1,396,130 items from my 80Gb drive) after some 5.75hrs (over Gigabit).
Meanwhile, every other machine had to have its Airport connection changed to WPA Personal, and even though I’m pretty sure I typed the password in several times, it took a while to register and stick (at least I hope it’s stuck now!).
Are network speeds faster? Hard to tell. I haven’t maxed out the speed as currently we need backward compatibility with 802.11g until the next round of upgrades. It offers 802.11n on 2.4 or 5GHz, and 802.11a compatibility as well as 802.11n/b/g.
Other noteworthy things are that the Airport Admin utility displays a set of warnings about the current Time Capsule configuration (ie no DNS, multiple DHCP, etc.).
The Time Capsule also offers to sync with a timeserver, and also flash its light if there’s a software update available. This is much less useful as it’s going to be stuck in a separate room where I’m unlikely to see its flashing light.
There’s also support to “Advertise configuration globally” via Bonjour, or so it seems to make it available globally over the internet. I don’t enable this.
I’d heard rumours of it running hot. Sure, it’s warm, but not really any warmer than my ADSL router, and it’s been doing a lot more work for the past 5 hours. Plus it’s got an internal power supply, so it’ll be warmer from that alone.
The other thing is now there’s an extra shared volume appearing in the Finder. Logging into it reveals a shared disk onto which I can put stuff. Cool. Checking in the Airport Admin shows it’s a guest read-writable volume, which is probably not good by default. Now locked down 🙂
So far, it seems to be behaving pretty much as expected. I could do setup in a hurry without too much pain. It claims to be backing up at a reasonable speed.
Now I just need to test recovery 🙂

Mac OS X 10.5.2 observations

From the Mac OS X 10.5.2 release notes, here are some of my observations: User Interface:

  • Apple has added a Time Machine icon to the Menu bar (it can be turned on in the Time Machne control panel)
  • The menus are less translucent (who would have thought with everyone complaining that that would have been a problem) and transparency can be turned off in the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane
  • List view is back in the Stacks (presumably they got a lot of complaints), and they have a new grid view background (presumably for better visibility)

It remains to be seen if they’ve added the Size column back to the Spotlight column view though.

Support for new things (ie you may want to try plugging some old stuff that didn’t work in again to see if it does now!):

  • You can now iSync Samsung D600E and D900i phones
  • Airports Express and Extreme now support more printers connected via USB
  • New RAW camera formats supported:
    • Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
    • Canon Powershot G9
    • Hasselblad CF-22
    • Hasselblad CF-39
    • Leaf Aptus 75s
    • Nikon D3
    • Nikon D300
    • Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
  • Supports more 3rd party routers in iChat and Back To My Mac

Interesting bugs fixed:

  • Fixed a problem when ejecting a CD could write to it! (presumably instead of just ejecting it)
  • Fixed a problem where the Leopard Setup Assistant would re-appear (as noted in this TidBITs article by Glenn Fleishman)
  • Mail now automatically disables the (unsupported) third-party plugin GrowlMail version 1.1.2 or earlier to avoid issues.
  • Addresses “accuracy issues” with the web content filter (in Parental Controls) perhaps to now block unboxing porn?
  • The computer will now shut down if an automatic disk repair does not succeed during startup. (Hopefully it tells you why it just shut down?)

MacBook Air released

Today Apple released “The World’s Thinnest Notebook”, the MacBook Air, positioned between the MacBook and MacBook Pro. 0.4 to 1.93 cm (0.16 to 0.76 inches). The thickest part of the MacBook Air is thinner than the Sony TZ. It fits in an envelope and has a 13.3″ widescreen display with an LED backlight, iSight built in, MacBook keyboard (with black keys) but with an ambient light sensor, multi-touch trackpad which uses multi-touch input (to pivot photos, zoom etc.).1.6GHz (US$1799) to 1.8GHz (+US$300) Intel Core 2 Duo Otellini CPU (60% reduced in size!), 1.8 inch 80Gb Hard drive with a 64Gb solid state disk as an option (+US$999). 45W MagSafe power adapter, 1 USB 2 port, Micro-DVI, Audio Out, 802.11n, BlueTooth 2.1/EDR. An external SuperDrive is available. “Remote Disc” software allows the MacBook Air to “borrow” optical drives on a Mac or PC. 5 hours of battery life and 2Gb of memory standard. Shipping in 2 weeks time.
From an environmental perspective the display is mercury and lead free, and the circuit boards are free of BFR (Brominated Fire Retardant), and the retail packaging is 56% smaller than the MacBook.

Apple Announces new iPhone, iPod Touch Applications

For the iPhone a free upgrade gives:

  • Maps with location (based on nearby WiFi base stations)
  • Webclips (Up to 9 web bookmarks on your phone’s home screen)
  • Customised home screens
  • SMS multiple people
  • Chapter and language options in iPod mode, plus Lyrics

For the iPod Touch, a $20 upgrade gives: Mail, Stocks, Notes, Weather and Maps