So frustrating Mac Mail Search fails may need to delete all Spotlight indices

This is the first time I’ve had this problem, but basically Spotlight indexing is working, but Mac Mail doesn’t seem to ever find anything. I’m not the first person with this problem. But the fix doesn’t seem to work. Doing a rebuild and then deleting the index doesn’t help.

I also tried just deleting all the data in ~/Library/Mail/V4 which forces a complete reload, but that doesn’t work either. Argh!

Another suggestion was to sign in and out of iCloud?!

Or you can rebuild your entire Spotlight index since Mac Mail uses it (although this feels like a Mac Mail bug since Spotlight works fine). Now that this actually generated an error saying that it could not remove the entire disk. This looks like a terrible error:

Privacy List Error (null)

Looks like a bug and now typing the terminal line mdutil -E / returns a /: No Index Yikes!

Now it looks like there is something really wrong with Spotlight, so I tried the draconian sudo rm -rf ./Spotlight-V100 but amazing, this doesn’t change any indexing and I still get no index messages. Argh!

What’s needed is an actual reboot (which they don’t mention). But after reboot, I do get the indexing message at the Spotlight icon. I don’t know if this will help but worth a try.

And Eureka it works. Looks like net, net, Spotlight somehow got confused. I’m not sure if I had to do a complete reindex, but the fact I was getting (null) messages is not a good sign

Random thoughts on 4K Gaming and monster rigs and drones

Ok, some projects for this year;

55″ Gaming Monitor and nVidia 1080Ti.

Last year, we discovered thanks to that televisions are great displays. Ended up buying 40″ 4K Samsung monitors for $600 that are just awesome for showing 4 or even six full windows of code. This year, the discovery is the curved displays and 55″ monitors are going to be amazing for gaming. We used to use multiple screens, but with the modern nVidia processors, a single 4K display is really all you need. recommends the LG 2017 OLEDs if you can afford it. 55″ is $1800. But the Sony X900E is just $1200 (ok everything relative) for an incredible full screen display. Imagine it one foot from your nose playing Call of Duty!

The friend here is an nVidia 1080Ti. That is a monster $700 card that is 2x the 1080 and handles 4K gaming well at 60fps. Of course the coming frontier is going to be 8K monitors and 4K120 monitors, so the race never ends, but this isn’t a bad stop.

Hackintosh Lives for Professional Video and Image Editing

The Hackintosh is alive and well (as long as you use Tony’s hardware and installation guide) and with Apple basically giving up on Mac Pro’s and MacBook Pros, what’s someone to do who uses an all Apple workflow. The answer for right now seems to dual boot your Windows gaming machine (see above).

But the basic idea is to take advantage of the new nVidia Pascal drivers and run your machine. You do need to use the older Z170 motherboards, but that isn’t too much of a problem as the Z270 and Kaby Lake  are pretty marginal upgrades anyway. Then you use Unibeast to create a bootable MacOS on your hardware. You will get a strange error about a volume mounted so you need to look at /Volumes for the errant volume, but it works otherwise. Then you load Multibeast to get the drivers that you need after you do your initial boot.

You then need to twiddle your BIOS settings so that the this USB will boot. Boot your new hardware with the USB key in and hopefully the boot loader called Clover will start. You then add your device drivers and you are done!

Life is not complete without a Drone and VR rig

Well, how can life be complete without being on the bleeding edge. I bought a DJI Phantom 3 more than a year ago and it stopped working and I never fixed it. It needs a huge case and where was I going to put it. Looking at the best drones of 2017 (or, or best drones review and,

It’s pretty clear we are reaching an inflection point where the software is maturing (yeah collision avoidance) and prices are crashing. The main thing I would love:

  • Collision avoidance. These things really do crash a lot and so if you are taking photos, losing the drone is just terrible.
  • Water safe to have is something that makes it safe to use over water. Like these gigantic floats. After all losing a $1K is kind of a bummer.
  • Photo quality. The whole point is amazing photos and videos and being able to get close for the shots.
  • Portability. Having something small makes a big difference.

Mavic Pro. The winner at least for this year seems to be the DJI Mavic Pro which fits in a water bottle and has a 4K camera. It’s basically at that magic $1K price point (actually $1.3K with all the accessories from Amazon). It has front facing cameras for collisions and infrared sensors that point below. It’s so small and portable that it can fit into a backpack.

Phantom 4 Pro has got your number if you are shooting for quality , it is way larger, but has cameras at the front and back that look for obstacles and avoid them plus a really great 4K camera with 4K60, F/2.8 Lense and 12 stops of dynamic range. It’s $1800 with the remote. You can also get a backpack so you can carry your drone on the plane or get a hard case and check it in if you dare.

Inspire 2. For true lust, this has a 5.2K camera that writes RAW to an onboard SSD. Drool, drool, drool. $3K worth of drone.

Some runners up are:

The Yuneec Typhoon H UHD ($1300 at Amazon but $1800 with collision avoidance in the Pro version) is pretty cool given it’s Intel Realsense collision avoidance. I guess I’m sensitive to two things, collisions and water 🙂 so it’s a little cooler technology wise, but the DJI Phantom 4 Pro has the advantage with popularity.

Forgot pin for a nexus 5

With an Apple phone you can recover through iCloud, by with Google Nexus 5 (as well as Pixel) you can still Go through the debug sequence. Which at its base involves turn the phone on with the sequence by holding volume down while pressing power. This will put you into debug mode. Select the right option the volume up and down and select is the power button. 

You want to get down to recovery mode. This gets you to yet another screen and the magic sequence is hold the volume up key and press power so to enter another menu system. And look for wipe data and then go to reboot. 

Advice for the average home

It seems like once a month, I get asked what to install in typical home (that is where nerds to do not live 🙂 so here is the advice:

  1. Make sure you have a great access point. There is such a temptation to just get a $50 router, but with all the wifi signals out in the world, you really need something that is going to have great coverage. I’ve been buying Unifi AC LRs ($95 from Amazon) if the houses are large and Unify AC Lite is actually much cheaper, but doesn’t use standard POE, so I sometime get that if there is price pressure. The line is confusing, but it is {Lite, LR, Pro, HD} where each has more power. The main drawback is that these things are hard to configure because they use a PC or Mac client to program them, but the advantage is that you can manage them all remotely. Really handy if you have to manage a remote house. Mainly though, the Unifi APs just seem to work and work. So super reliable.
  2. Get a great router. If you have lots of traffic, then these cheap routers will just lock up and hang. There are lots of choice on routers, but if you do care about traffic, then I’ve tried the small business class routers like the Linksys LRT and the Ubiquiti Edgerouter PoE ($160 from Amazon) is a POE router which makes it a good match to the Unify AC LR. If you want a budget version, then the right combination is the Unify AC Lite ($77 from Amazon) and Edgerouter X ($50 from Amazon). The main drawback here is that you do have to program it.
  3. Get a good Internet access, most of the time, no one will have much of a choice, it will be either Comcast or whatever, nothing much you can do about that. One nice feature of the Edgerouter is that you can have two providers, so you could have Comcast and safe Qwest as a backup if you really have trouble. Another option is to get one of those unlimited data plans from say T-Mobile and get a cellular modem. Make sure you do buy your own cable modem as this will save you dollars.
  4. Get a good VPN for some privacy. Private Internet Access I can say does work.
  5. Finally, you want a place where you can back things up. I’ve used Synology quite a bit and they have a very broad product line for the simplest case which is a two disk NAS. They make a huge variety of this. The DS216j ($160 from Amazon) is the cheapest but does not hot swap. You do have to swap drives out. The DS216 is the middle market ($223 from Amazon) and then the DS216+ II which is an Intel processor with hardware encryption ($299 from Amazon). For most folks, I’d recommend a techie geek set it up and then deliver it.
  6. Finally you want a good and reliable set of drives. Backblaze does a nice job of looking at the reliability of consumer drives, you definitely do not want the cheapest ones, so typically a NAS drive is a good compromise. Not as much as an enterprise drive and not as unreliable is a consumer drive. The main point is the HGST drives tend to be more reliable. You really want one with a five year warranty, so in this case the 7K4000 ($170 from Amazon) while their NAS is just three years. In this case, I’d advise you use and then buy from Newegg, they have the best reviews. I’ve used the Seagate Constellation (now called Enterprise Capacity) pretty effectively. They are $175 at Newegg which seems expensive but is super reliable and has that five year warranty).


Post usage USB C cable recommendations and accessories

OK with a few months now of Nexus 5X, MacBook Pro (late 2016) and the new Logitech Brio, here’s a recommendations based on the longer article on long term cords to get in this conversion to USB C connectors for your every day carry (EDC), with the goal being to have two of everything with the smallest redundancy:

  1. JUC–01. Yes it is expensive at $40, but it has it all with full 100 watts, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps speeds. It is solid and all made, but the main issue is that it is only a meter long.
  2. Apple charging cable. At $20, this is long enough for all needs and supports the full 100 watts, most “phone charges” only support 15 watt maximums, so beware. With this one, you don’t need that cheap cable, you got with your phone. I normally bring the 1 and 2 the meter in my bag.
  3. Apple USB C to Lightening cable. I carry just one and can get a second set from the adapters below

The next set of cables to carry are the USB A cables. these are for compatibility mode charging:

  1. Apple USB A to lightening. Everyone makes these, but the Apple ones do work the best long term.
  2. USB A to USB C adapter. There are lots flavors of this, but the third party Anker cables are nice in 1-meter, so you can always charge your phone at least with it or the laptop at a very low rate.

Adapters to carry

  1. USB C from USB-A. /this let’s any old USB cable like the two above convert to USB C. I use this for back from my old cables.

Lens Rentals and great telephoto setups

It’s been a few years since I’ve really had to shoot a big event, but next month, I do need some neat gear. (they are having a 10% discount if you order for the summer)  has been a great site for getting things like sport telephotos


Shooting Canon (and Sony too) is something of a trick, but you can actually get a complete Canon setup for long range outdoor shooting which looks like:

  • Canon 5DS R. 50MP and super fine detail. Many sports need speed, but the nice thing about outdoor sports like sailing is the light is good but the dinghies are far, far, far away.
  • Canon 400MM F2.8L IS II. This is a monster $10K Lense that you can rent for $400 a week, which is a great way to try things and get some wonderful shots.
  • Canon 600MM F4L IS II. This is another monster that is even longer and gives you in effect 20x zoom. Moreover, with 50MP and an effective 38MP resolution, you can zoom in and still get a great shot with effective 40x.
  • Canon Teleconverter. Assuming that it is really bright, a 1.4x teleconverter will make your 600MM, an 800MM although you need lots of light. It’s not a bad choice.
  • Wemberly Sidekick. Assuming you already have a sturdy tripod (Gitzo!) and a great ballhead (Q20), then you need the Sidekick to convert it to a smooth gimbal. The 400MM also needs a 6 inch Arca-Swiss plate to mount it.

One of the nice things about this setup is that if you already have some Canon lenses you can shoot short as well.  Also, if you want to see how well Sony A7R II does, then you can just get a Metabones converter. These things sometimes work well and sometimes don’t, but then this let’s you have a short range. body:

  • Sony A7R II. The model III is about to be announced but this is still an incredible 40MP camera.
  • Sony 85MM GM. This is the grand master 85MM for portraits. Can’t wait to try this one.
  • Sony 55MM F/1.8. This is a general purpose lense and super sharp.
  • Metabones Canon EF to Sony E. This converts the big lenses above.

Finally, for really the best quality, the Nikon setup is in many ways even cooler because the 200M Lense is incredible:

  • Nikon D810. 40MP that is at the state of the art still after quite a few years.
  • Nikon 200MM F/2 Nikkor. I still dream about how good the shots are from this Lense. The 1.4 teleconverter is a great thing to add. You can even shoot this handheld on a dinghy.
  • Nikon 400MM F/2.8. This is still an amazing Lense and goes to 600MM with the teleconverter.

The Details

So here are what I remember from previous reviews, then an update as lots has happened since 2015 for DxOMark:

  1. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm F/2G. (Image Resources, DxOMark 44) With a Nikon D810, this thing was kind of a miracle. It was crystal clear with 33p-Mp effective resolution (against a 36Mp sensor according to DxOMark you get in effect 33 megapixel of resolution) and that made a real difference. Even with a 1.4x teleconverter. The main thing is that it isn’t quite a long so was great for near shots. The main thing was the light transmission was just awesome.
  2. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F/2.8G (DxOMark 39) with an even better 33p-MP on the D800E. I haven’t tried this, but it could be a very good choice particularly with a 1.4x teleconverter.
  3. Canon 400mm f2.8L IS II . (Image Resources, DxOMark 38, The Digital Picture) This was a monster of a lense and with a 2x teleconverter, it was a great tool to try to shoot at the Columbia River Gorge where you need to make things 2 miles away look up close and personal. DxOmark says that on a 5D2, it has a 14MP effective (compared with a 20MP sensor). I actually found the sample I had much less sharp than that. You can see the difference in quality by noting that a Canon 5DS (50MP sensor) gets only an effective 29MP with this Lense. Still it has an amazing DxOMark. And with a 1.4x teleconverter you have a 600mm Lense set.
  4. Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II. (DxOMark 32) Even paired with a Canon 5DS R, I was surprised how much sharper the 200mm F/2G Nikkor seemed. DxOMark says this is 45MP sharp combination, but with 1.4x teleconverter it felt much softer.
  5. Canon 600mm F/4L IS. (Image Resources, DxOMark 32, The Digital Picture,). This sounds like a much lower score than the 400mm, but in fact this is all due to the transmission. It is a F/4 Lense, in fact, it is just as sharp as the 400mm, so perfect for shooting really, really long.

The very best resolution according to DxO is still the 200mm and 400mm lenses with the Nikon D810. These are still the best choices for resolution. Canon is just one step behind One interesting thing to try is the Sony A7R II which has a nice Metabones adapter, so you can use it with the Canon. Nikon is harder of course because of its autofocus design.

As a comparison, the older zoom lenses are much less sharp, for instance:

  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM ($1600 list in 1998) is a 10 year old lense but with a Canon 5DS R (a 50MP sensor), it manages just 14MP effective, so you are losing ? of the bits. This is fundamental optics, as a Canon 5D Mark II with it’s 21MP sensor resolves 11MP, so zoom’s aren’t great, but the older ones get way worse with today’s high resolution sensors. The later mark II version is much better resolving 24MP on a 50MP sensor
  • Canon 70-200 F/2.8L IS USM. ($2200 list in 2002, DxOMark 29) is another good example, it resolves 18MP from a 50MP Canon 5DS R, but with the Canon 5D Mark II, it resolves 14MP. The newer Mark II version of this lense is DxOMark 32, but resolves 33MP, so nearly 1.5x the resolution.

Then for ordinary shooting we have again quite a spread of lenses against different bodies. It’s interesting to see 3 of the top 5 are with the Sony A7R II, so quite different compared with the super telephotos:

  1. Sigma 85mm mm (DxOMark 48) for Nikon. This art Lense is really the best in the world.
  2. Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar (DxOMark 48). On the Sony A7R II this gets you to 41MP.
  3. Carl Zeiss APO Sonnar T* 2/135 (DxOMark 48). This is another portrait Lense that is incredibly sharp on the Canon 5DS R.
  4. Sony FE 90mm. (DxOMark 47)
  5. Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 on Nikon D810 (DxOMark 46).
  6. Carl Zeiss Batis 25mm on Sony A7R II (DxOMark 46).

iCloud Photo Library out of sync and Mac Photos stuck on updating

Well, I don’t know how well Apple has really debugged their iCloud Photo Library but here is what I see:

  1. Even though I have several phones, iPads and MacBooks set to iCloud Photo Library, they all show different versions of files store on top.
  2. When you get to a particular system, for instance my main Mac, it will hang on the “updating” screen as it tries to figure out what is going on in the cloud.

This is normally after I do some heavy editing and removing of files, so I think the synchronization is really busted. There is a post that suggests deleted the directory but this doesn’t seem to work. The best fix seems to be to just delete the entire library in your Pictures/Photo Library. Note that at least with Mac Sierra, this is three steps:

  • Go to your home directory and delete Pictures/Photo Library
  • Start Mac Photos and it will say it can’t find it and ask if you want to Create Other
  • Close Mac Photos and restart it, so it sees this new library and the “System Library’

As an aside, this is yet another reminder that you shouldn’t trust tools like iCloud or even Adobe Lightroom, backup to the regular files system early and often because you definitely do not want your photos trapped in someones database. Make sure to set Mac Photos to not copy photos into its library otherwise this will happen and it is really hard to recover.

Argh Photos confused about iCloud Photo Library size

We’ve had this bug on several Macs so far, but the symptoms are, the Mac refuses to synchronize up to iCloud, it says you need gobs and gobs of space, but when you look at the photos, there are not nearly that many .

Even if you completely deleted everything out of Photos and get rid of all the Recently deleted, you still have a problem.

This seems to be a bug in Photos, if you look at Pictures/Photo Library you will see a massive file, I’ve seen one that takes up 40GB, but there is literally nothing in Photos.

The fix is:

  1. Backup all your photos somewhere by exporting them.
  2. Close Photos
  3. Go to Finder and manually delete Pictures/Photo Library
  4. Restart Photos and it will say it can’t find the Photo Library and click on Create New
  5. Exit Photos (because it is now confused about this new library being the special System Library)
  6. Restart Photos and then go to Preferences/iCloud Photo Library and you can now restart and the sync begins again.