Time to retire that old iMac 2008 Spontaneous Reboots and Hangs

Well the thing has been super trustyworthy but lately there have been two problems:

  1. Graphics driver crash. The screen locks up and you can see blocks of pixels flashing. Feels like an nVidia driver crash in Sierra. I’ve heard that the increased use of the GPU can cause crashes in old hardware. Sigh. I’ve tried keeping the temperature down with SMCFanControl and that seemed to help a little bit. Read that somewhere
  2. Spontaneous reboots. You can just stare at the thing and it will reboot itself. Looking at the console’s system.log I see that there is n0o special message. It says “logd: Flusing contents to disk due to sleep event” and then “com.apple.xpc.launchd: Service exited with abnormal code: 75”. The confusing thing is that I have the thing running at never sleep. Ryan seems to have a similar problem and it never returns with a Panic happened message.

Editing Date, Time and Location of a Mac Photo

I used to use Geotag and then Picasa or iPhoto to make these kind of EXIF changes, but each has sadly died. Geotag doesn’t work anymore. Picasa was cancelled as was iPhoto, so there go the free options.

The only one I’ve found that works reliably is Adobe Lightroom, but it’s a little complicated:

  1. Import your photos into Lightroom
  2. Select the Photos and in the Library tab, choose Metadata/Edit Capture Time. One of the convenient options here is to shift time zones (the usual problem).
  3. Go to the Maps tab and type in the location of the photos, or get close and then you can drag and drop groups of photos onto the Map
  4. Now the data is correct in Lightroom’s internal database, so now you update the actual data in the photos themselves by going back to the Library tab and choosing all the photos and Metadata/Save Metadata to File

Bluetooth Headphones

With phones dropping the 3.5mm jack its time once again to look at wireless headphones. 

One sad thing is the Amazon reviews are pretty worthless. They are filled with fake reviews (I sure hope someone over there is working on this problem). 

The review sites are equally useless. Even wirecutter doesn’t do such a great job. Their favorite jaybirds seem unreliable. 

I’ve found the best sites are the user forums like head-fi.org. There is always someone who really cares.

IMore iBfree. For just $59 you almost have to give it a try. Wirecutter likes the x2 but amazon users find it unreliable. These are in the ear so of course fit is the issue. 

Pendulumic Stance S1+. I just love these small manufacturers. At $199 this is a relative audiophile bargain. These are around the ear so bulkier but easier fitting. 

V-Moda Crossfades wireless. These are relatively cheap at $270 but have great sound quality. As an aside the wired M-100 at $184 is dearly loved by audiophiles and Amazon reviewers alike for sound quality. 

Sony MDR-1000x. These are supposed to be even better than the Boss for noise cancellation. Expensive at $400 but now Amazon is offering 15% off with their store card through this December 10 so that’s quite a deal $340. 

Finally if there are headphone you love there are two high quality adapters that are Bluetooth on one side and a 3.5mm adapter on the other. I have a few of these $25 adapters but these are an audiophiles delight. They use Bluetooth with all the bells and whistles and then a very good dac and amplifier:

A&K XB10. Yes it’s $180 but super high quality.

Noble BTS. This is a tiny 10 gram thing that can fit in your pocket.  

Stocking stuffers for geeks

Well it sure does look like someone is doing Christmas shopping now and taking notes. Here are some great ones for geeks with a hat tip to 9to5toys.com and to wirecutter.com for the USB-C things as well as Nathan at Google’s recommendations

  • Aukey Dual Port 2.4A Car charger. These are $12 with a coupon. They are flush with the 12V port so they actually look nice.
  • Sugru moldable glue. This let’s you make hooks or anything else and then it hardens for $15.
  • Aukey USB-C to USB/A USB 3.0 adapters. These are little numbies that fit perfectly in a MacBook Pro case. They are 2 for $5.
  • Cablematters USB-C to DisplayPort 4K 60 Hertz adapter. This is the only one which supports full 60 Hertz and is locking. It’s available December 14th, so close if you are interested in getting it for christmas
  • JScreate USB-C to USB-C JUX-01. (B&H) Note you want the JUX01 not the JUX03 which is *not* compatible
  • iFixit Toolkit. Really the best set of screwdrivers for taking apart anything electronic cost $48 but worth every penny
  • LED bias lighting. These are small lights you connect to your USB outlets of your flat panel. Makes blacks look deeper
  • USB DAC. As a true geek you want to use your own digital to analog converter. The best ones cost just $99

Cast iron skillets

Cooks Illustrated has a great guide. They recommend the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. This not expensive and compared with enameled pans they won’t chip and get destroyed. Available at

  •  Amazon  (make sure to click through JetBlue to get 3x miles and use the 5% off Amazon store card)
  • Walmart (make sure to use the visa checkout discount and click through cashbackmonitor.com). It’s an incredible deal right now  half the Amazon price and free shipping over $50

Ear protection for kids

Some kids are really sensitive to loud noises. So what’s a parent to do. Well there are nose headphones and ear plugs but what if the sensitivity is super high.

Well time to go to the web and find out how the pros do it. First off how are these things measured. They use NRR or Noise reduction rating. The math is a little obtuse. Basically every 3dB is half the energy or level.

So if you are trying to protect Again fireworks. They sounds to me like a jet plane takeoff  close or 120dB and want to get to say a quiet room which is 40dB then you need over 80dB of reduction.

Now you would think that an NRR of 33 would result in 33dB reduction but it’s much less. The actual reduction is (NRR-7)/2 or it allows 33-7=26 and then divide by 2 to get 13dB. So that takes 120-13=107dB

So the next step is to use earplugs with earmuffs. Then the math is the (maximum NRR-7)/2 + 5dB. This doesn’t seem quite right because it doesn’t factor the earplugs but it’s roughly right. So in the above example wearing earplugs gets you to 102dB not super close to 40dB.

Now in terms of choices here are the big ones

  1. Active ear muffs. These use AA batteries and you can hear normally but when there is a big noise it actively cancels them. Kind of like sometimes Boss Comfort phones.
  2. Passive ear muffs. Just lots of padding. The main thing is fit for a small head.
  3. Earplugs. These are less comfortable but they are equally effective.

The shooting review and wearplug has a good list as well as a concert tuned list.

  1. Howard Leigh R-01902. This provides an NRR of 30 and major noise reduction at 82dB. Not quite sure what that is but sounds like a good idea.
  2. Clear Armor 141001. This has a high NRR of 34

Earplugs are actually incredibly effective given how small they are

  1. Macks shooters ear seals. 27NRR
  2. Ear defense high fidelity earplugs. 27 NRR
  3. LiveMusic Hearsafe. With the white filters you net 29 NRR and they also have a lower one. $18 at Amazon
  4. Decibullz Custom molded. These are 31 NRR and mold by putting them in water. Good ratings at Amazon.$24.

Then there are baby oriented products with about 20dB

  1. Pro Ears Revo. These are for teens with 25 NRR but they fit smaller heads. $42 for passive and $82 for active but you can get from Amazon for $33

JetBlue with Family Pooling and Amazon Triple Miles

I don’t know if this is true or not but Amazon is supposedly offering a deal for triple jetBlue trueBlue points if you click through the jetBlue site via a special https://trueblue.jetblue.com/group/amazonOffer. jetBlue points are worth 1.5 cents, so this is like getting an additional 4.5% rebate on Amazon purchases!

As another aside, jetBlue also let’s you family pool your points, so it is easier to accumulate them. You are allowed two people over 21 and up to three under 21.

Finally, those points do not expire, but you probably want to manage them by setting up family accounts at awardwallet.com. This service tracks when points expire (so you don’t lose 20K points like I did on Virgin America last month!).

Home storage either a NAS or a USB driver

Well, if you laptop fills up with stuff, what’s the easiest way to handle the overflow? Well, for most folks, the simplest thing remains some that is physical. That is, a USB drive. Now a USB flash drive is nice but a little scary in terms of reliability but is better than nothing, the more reliable solutions is to get:

  • USB 3.x to SATA cable. This is about $20. This is a 5GBps solution. If you are lucky enough to USB 3.1 then you have a 10GBps.
  • 1TB SSD. This is going to be nice and fast but remember they need to have power applied 1-2 times a year or they will lose all the data stored there.
  • 4TB Hard disk for true archival. These are about $80. They are vulnerable to bumps, but they are very stable. You can put them on the shelf for years and they should still work.

Finally, if you want some thing that accessible to more people, then the next solution is a NAS (network attached storage). This requires setup and user names and passwords, so it is harder to get working. Fortunately, the hardware is pretty easy:

  • Synology DS214SE. I’ve been using Synology for their software is pretty good and most importantly reliable. The unit costs $200 and then you need a pair of SSDs (for redundancy). A nice solution because with RAID1, if one drive fails, you still have your data.