Mac OS X 10.5.4 problems

Well there is a bug fix release for OS X. Here are the things to watch out for:

Mac OS X 10.5.4 (#4): Spotlight problems; random shutdowns; poor performance; more – MacFixIt

Spotlight problems Some users have reported Spotlight problems after updating to Mac OS X 10.5.4, a relatively common occurrence with major system updates.

One reader writes:

“The update to 10.5.4 results in loss of application indexing in spotlight. Had to rebuild spotlight index”

The first procedure you should try in the case of general Spotlight issues after a major system update is the following:

* Download the utility “Spotless”:
* Use the tool to erase the Spotlig
* Restart your Mac.

Others have had random shutdowns. You have to reset the SMC as noted for the “MacBook and MacBook Pro”:

BTW most folks think that installed standalone vs. using the Software Update tool is a better way to prevent run away processes, etc.

As an aside it is a pretty minor update but does fix a problem with Adobe CS3 corrupting files on remote servers. But it does have a bunch of iCal fixes as well.

There is a safe installation procedure that takes a while but is more reliable:

Mac OS X 10.5.4 released; fixes Adobe CS3 save issue; update recommendations – MacFixIt

# When an update is available in Software Update, do not press the Install button in the Software Update window. Instead, download any desired update packages individually and without actually performing the installation. Software Update allows you to do so, but this feature is not at all obvious, so here are instructions:

1. Make sure there is a checkmark at the left of all and only the packages you want to download.
2. Choose Update > Download Only. After performing the download(s), note the location, on your hard drive, of the downloaded material.

# [Note: Alternatively, go to and click the download link for the desired package. In the case of major system updates, this is the way to obtain the full “combo update”, which is often better than the incremental update offered by Software Update.] Restart into Safe mode, by holding down the Shift key from the moment you hear the startup “bong” to the moment the “spinning gear” appears. Expect this startup to take longer than usual. Don’t be alarmed if the fans whir loudly during the “spinning gear” display. Eventually you will be presented with the Safe Boot login screen. Log in as the administrator.
# Without launching any other applications, double-click one installer package and perform the installation. Do nothing else; just sit there and wait until the installation is complete.
# Repeat step 3 after every installation. Finally, restart normally. This, too, may take longer than usual, and you may experience a “double-restart.” Be patient!

Airport Firmware 7.3.2 Problems

Apple just release “7.3.2”: which is an update for the firmware and the airport utility running on Macs and Windows. Not clear what it has besides bug fixes.

As with most Airport Extreme and Time Capsule fixes, it isn’t seemless. “Pokrface”: has problems with it hanging the access points. Going back to 7.3.1 fixed that problem, but the issue appears to be with locking the Ethernet WAN port to 1000/full. The default is autodetect which should work most of the time. This causes the Airport Utility to hang while reading configuration.

“Yves Nadon and others”: also reports that his Airport Utility refuses to recognize his Airport Extreme. It also hangs with a “Reading Configuration” message and you get an flashing amber light. So a reset and return to 7.3.1 if you have this issue. Also many times, you have to manual power cycle (that is pull the plug and have it start again after you upgrade the firmware). As with the note agove me7486 has figured out this has to do with the WAN or uplink connection. RJW365 reports that he manually uninstalled the utility on his Mac and this seemed to work. Some had to factory rest their Airport Extreme. You do this by disconneciton power and pushing in the tiny reset button on the back when you connect the power cord and keep holdin it until the light flashes fast.

Here is how you reset at Apple – Support – Discussions – Problems with 7.3.2 …

Start Airport Utility, select your airport (do not double click) and press the button labeled in the main window. After “Reading airport configuration” the summary page should show. Go to the menubar and select the menu item named “Base Station”, select “Upload Firmware” from the menu list. A window showing Current version (7.3.2) and Upload Version (7.3.2) should appear. If you have the 7.3.1 firmware stored on your airport you can just select it from the pop-up list and press “ok”. If not you’ll have to select “Check for updates” from the “Airport Utility” menu while pressing the key (on windows, the key). This will allow you to download an earlier firmware version. I’d recommend that you use a wired connection to the airport when performing this.

Canon XT 350D Parameter settings and correct ISO settings

I’ve had this camera for two years now and am still finding a new thing or two. One thing to watch out for is the Parameter settings. These are like Picture Styles in the newer Canon XTi (400D) and XSi (450D)

Canon Digital Rebel XT review EOS-350D

There are 2 pre-set parameter sets with Parameter 1 as the default setting. The latter has higher contrast, saturation and sharpness while Parameter 2 has neutral settings and is perhaps more useful for portraits or skin tones.

I personally like using Parameter 2, but for most other folks who want it to look like a point and shoot, the default works. DCViews has some good comparisons:

!! Parameter 1 is more “punchy”. I think many reviewers showed that it was inaccurate as did “”:–Performance.htm on colors because they left in Parameter 1.

!! Parameter 2 is more neutral or lifelike and probably better if you are going to use post processing and want the image to be as true as possible.


MacBook Air SuperDrive jammed and will not eject so shake it!

Hat tip to “TUAW”: apparently, “Tnkgrl”: has figured out how to open up a Superdrive, replace a part and thus make it universally compatible with all computers. Great geekout. OTOH, why go to all the trouble :-)? The “photos”: are really useful so you can disassemble it. The short version is the black bottom comes out if you slip a credit card in the seam. Then you can look the LEDs and see if the drive is lighting up. (Mine was). In the end, I shook it enough that it seemed to unjam the drive. So give that a try before returning.

Some other tricks are noted below that are software related

The short story is that although some folks think it is incompatible with other computers because it needs more current (1 amp is needed to burn, although much less to read). There isn’t specail firmware either. You can take apart the SuperDrive and mount it into a PC and it works fine. What happened is Apple hacked into the IDE-to-USB bridge and make special firmware. The slime!

“Apple Discussions”: has other frustrated people with the same problem. Apple – Support – Discussions – Disc stuck into superdrive AND won’t …

I have just bought a MBA. I managed to install windows ans other software through the superdrive. Now I’ve just put a DVD into it to watch a movie and it got stuck into the superdrive. I browsed on the forum, tried to reboot while holding the trackpad button but the disc is still stuck… at rebooting the superdrives “becomes alive” but it looks like it has no force to eject it (and I have tried rebooting both with and without the power cable connected to MBA)

There is a rumor that holding the mouse button down while it reboots will work. Also that holding down the “C” key when booting might help.

Now here is what I think it happening, it is trying to eject (you can hear the drive spinning and it trying to hiccup). Apple – Support – Discussions – Disc stuck into superdrive AND won’t …

Does it sound Like it’s trying to eject? These new SDs are so thin that it is common for them to get out of alignment. The DVD rubs against the top of the case and stops ejecting. It happens often on the MacBooks and maybe this is the case with the USB drive.

With the aluminum MacBook Pros Apple ships a spatula to adjust the case. It’s under warranty so you should take it back in any case.

As an aside one strange thing is the drive doesn’t appear at all in the “System Profiler”: and they also suggest resetting your “PRAM”: or “PMU”: Most folks are just replacing the SuperDrives though on MacBook Pros as this example shows.

Windows Boot Drive Crash

Even when on vacation, you find computers everywhere. Someone asked me, “what do I do? when I try to start my computer, I get a boot drive not found”.

“Microsoft”: has a good discussion about what happens if you get Operating System Not Found or Missing operating system. The long and short of it is that you use Windows XP Recovery Console and then the fixmbr to update the master boot record if that is the problem.

There is also a good (finally!) discussion about all the “startup”: problems you can have.

This has got to be the scariest message ever created. What it means normally is that (best case), the boot all the way to your hard drive has failed. The later happens quite a bit with notebooks, but let’s hope for the best. “”: has the best explanation of what is going on. In short, it is normally that the startup files have been corrupted.

If you have a floppy drive (an ancient machine!), then you can create a boot disk

I’m such an idiot

I jammed a superdrive back in April. Forgot about not leaving a DVD in there and now Microsoft Office 2008 is stuck in there and it won’t come out. I can actually hear the drive spinup and try to access and then stop. Once I even got the CD icon for a second. Looks to me like leaving a DVD in the Superdrive and then sticking it into your backpack causes the DVD to move around and then the Superdrive gives up. How frustrating. Oh well, I guess I have to return to Apple.

Amazingly dumb there is no mechanical switch. And yes, that mouse button down during boot doesn’t work and there is not little reset switch that releases the mechanism. Apple is great but not perfect 🙁

The most frustrating thing though is that Tongfamily is the first hit for a Superdrive jam. Sigh.

MacBook Air SuperDrive jam |

Hey watch out, I haven’t used the superdrive much, but when I left a DVD in there and on the airplane tried to play it, the DVD just grinded and stuck.

No Compact Camera for a prosumer? GX200, DP1, G9, SD950 compared

Well, been looking for a high end compact camera. When I was on film, used a Yashica which was compact, but had a great fixed focus lense and excellent quality. There really isn’t a good answer yet for digital. What do you need for a prosumer that is different from a point-and-shoot. Well, the ideal list is pocketable since the whole point is that you don’t have your point and shoot, good quality blowups to say 11×17 (which is to say 8MP or so), high ISO and low noise which usually comes from a big AP-sized sensor, full manual controls for aperture and shutter priority, RAW output so you can tweak, great optics even if it means less (or no) zoom and finally image stabilization to get those really low light shots. The low light is important because no compact. In short, no camera has all this, but here are the current choices:

* “Ricoh GX200”: is sort of with RAW and full manual, but it isn’t fast enough only good to ISO 200 because it uses a tiny sensor.
* “Sigma DP1”: has all the features and a huge sensor so it has great image quality and low noise, but terribly slow from shot to shot so pretty unusable if you have to wait 7 seconds between shots.
* “Canon G9”: which has full manual modes, but still has a small sensor and is really too big. It shoots RAW and really “best quality”: is at ISO 200. Above ISO 100, the noise reduction in JPEG is really big, so you want to shoot RAW. And with a small sensor, its exposure latitude is small.
* “Canon SD950 IS”: but it doesn’t have manual controls although it does have image “stabilization”: It is really more of the top end of the point-and-shoot family. For instance it has “face detection”: It is noisy above ISO 200 which is common for these small sensor (usually about 0.5″).

Three years ago settled on the Fuji F10 (and “F11”: which were only 6MP but had excellent low light performance. Great photos at ISO 400 which is pretty much impossible for most point and shoot today. Low light performance is really important because the flashes on small cameras just looks so bad and the lenses are slow. This camera is big and now obsolete, so what is a person to do.

The prosumer point and shoot has only a few choices with enough manual controls like aperture priority and low noise to be useful. The Canon Sureshot G9 is good but is kinda big. The Canon IS 890 is 12MP and decent quality at ISO 200. The “Sigma DP1”: has terrific image quality and low noise up to ISO 400 is amazing, but it takes 7 seconds to shoot a single RAW image. It does use a Foveon image sensor, so it is nominally 5MP, but they market it as 14MP. With these small cameras megapixels aren’t nearly as important as low noise and a good lense. In this case Sigma is a fixed 24mm equivalent, so a little limited. But like my old Yashica which also has a fixed lense, really worth it. The tiny zooms are really amazing technological achievements, but I’d rather have a fast fixed focus for a compact camera.

The “Ricoh GX200”: doesn’t come to mind as a mainstream model. But it does do RAW and is now 12MP. Also has an electronic view finder option. Also has anti-shake too. The main drawback is that it is only good quality to ISO 200. It actually produces DNG files which is pretty cool. Also is has a 24-72mm effective lense, so it can take decent wide angle (more important than you think).

The sad thing is that it uses a standard sensor (the Fuji F10 does not nor does the Sigma DP1). You really want a big sensor to take care of noise. I really the Sigma DP1 was decent. Main issue with that camera is that it is simply so slow in taking photos.

Lamp-free DLP

Another example of why buying a projector now is hard. The big news is that projectors are moving to LEDs which means no more bulbs and lots less power. If you can hang on until this fall, I’d suggest waiting for next generation of projectors that are all solid-state.

(Sad to say this is the same recommendation as for notebooks which are also going all solid state)

TI shows protoype Lamp-Free DLP projector

Texas Instruments has introduced the industry’s first Home Theater lamp-free projector, utilizing a PhlatLight LED light source and a BrilliantColor DLP. In addition to expanded color and contrast performance, the illumination system has an incredibly long life and offers up to 30% lower power usage and, most significantly, hundreds of dollars in savings from lamp purchases. Several manufactures have plans to develop DLP lamp-free LED-based projectors with units expected to ship in late 2008