Author: Jason

The End Of The Saga?

I’m almost afraid to post this, but we seem to have reached a conclusion to the saga of the washing machines that don’t do laundry.  We had our new Kenmore Elite washing machine delivered and installed yesterday, and we’ve run a few successful loads of laundry through it.

My fellow Americans, our long laundry nightmare is over.

Lion Spotlight Doesn’t Like External Hard Drives

I think I’ve narrowed down the external hard drive problem that I wrote about yesterday in my post about Mac OS X Lion.  There’s something failing in the Spotlight indexing process that’s causing the external hard drive to unmount.  When I tell Spotlight to ignore the external hard drive partitions, then the OS will keep the hard drive mounted normally.

SpotlightChecking the system.log through Console, I’m seeing these errors:

Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in store_stream_init:store_stream_init err:2
Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in indexPrepareForSyncBulk:indexPrepareForSync error: 2, 0.
Jul 22 13:39:06 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in _CISyncContextSync:indexPrepareForSyncBulk error:2
Jul 22 13:49:02 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Warning) IndexGeneral in _SIOpenIndex:datastore clean, reverse store dirty
Jul 22 13:53:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in indexPrepareForSyncBulk:indexPrepareForSync error: -1, 0.
Jul 22 13:53:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Error) IndexCI in _CISyncContextSync:indexPrepareForSyncBulk error:-1
Jul 22 14:08:59 Jason-Nassis-MacBook-Air mds[44]: (/Volumes/iTunes/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V2/98C64515-4F23-400B-8608-B8D79F12A34D)(Warning) IndexGeneral in _SIOpenIndex:datastore clean, reverse store dirty

Not sure what else I should do to debug this, other than just leave Spotlight ignoring the external drives.  Any suggestions, Mac experts?

First Impressions of OS X Lion

I Iz Upgrading Yor Makbuk

I upgraded my MacBook Air today to OS X Lion, and I thought I’d share my first impressions of Apple’s new operating system.

Download and Install

Lion is the first Mac OS to only be available as a download through the App Store, which is perfect for the MacBook Air.  The Air doesn’t have an on-board DVD drive — although you can use an external drive via USB connection — and with Apple pushing out a new model of the MacBook Air, you know they want everyone to go electronic copy only, no discs to ship or sell at the retail stores.

The download took about 20 minutes on my home network, and then the install process took another 30 minutes or so.  My immediate thought after the install started was, “Man, I probably should’ve done this on another computer first and not the work computer… oh well, too late now!”

Launch Pad

The first thing that shows up in the Dock after the install is the new Launch Pad feature.  It’s basically the iOS finder, where you can re-arrange your applications, group them, create new pages for the application lists, etc.  In other words, an entirely useless feature for the Mac.  I have the Dock already for my most-used apps; I have the Applications folder shortcut in the Dock for the less-common apps.  But, really, if you’re a power user on a Mac nowadays, you’re already using something like Spotlight, Quicksilver, or Alfred (my personal favorite).

Mission Control

Pretty much ruins my habits for using Expose and Spaces.  I had six Spaces pre-defined in Snow Leopard, with all of my common apps pinned to one of those Spaces (or all of them, in the case of iTunes).  After the upgrade to Lion, I had to reset my hot corners, and the Spaces become Desktops, but it’s an odd transition.  I wound up killing off all six Desktops for now, until I get the hang of Mission Control enough to start using multiple Desktops effectively.

Up/Down Scrolling

Which is natural to you?

This was the most jarring change for me.  Trackpad gestures reversed the movement of up versus down.  It’s like gravity has no meaning anymore!

Prior to Lion, when you used two fingers to gesture down on the trackpad (towards you, away from the keyboard), your app would scroll down.  In Lion, it’s the other way around — you gesture UP on the trackpad (away from you, towards the keyboard), and your app would then scroll down.

It seems completely unnatural to me, in spite of Apple calling that the “natural” scroll direction.  Luckily, you can disable that gesture and revert back to pre-Lion behavior.

I know that the “natural” direction is what’s used by iOS, and I’m completely fine with it on the iPhone and iPad, but it seems daunting to change that habit on the computer after years and years of mouse movements, scroll wheels and trackpad gestures.

iCal

iCal gets a HUGE facelift, looking just like the iPad version of iCal now.  It’s a huge step forward, and I found it very easy to use.  The quick create for events is going to take some time to get used to, but the couple of events I created today for work picked up my syntax perfectly.

Mail

Another daily use application that gets a major UI update.  I love that the 3-pane view is in the core product now.  Previously, I’d used a 3rd-party app to achieve that view, which of course would break on every OS update that touched Mail.  Conversations view is interesting, a little too much with the animation for my taste.  The new search functionality will be a HUGE benefit for me.  One thing to know when you’re first upgrading is that it takes a while to update your mail database, so carve out some time to let your Mac chug through the process before you need to immediately jump into your email.

Miscellaneous Stuff

  • Overall system performance seems a bit sluggish, especially when you’re switching apps.  I’ll have to see if eliminating multiple Desktops has an effect on that.
  • Full-screen mode is going to take a while to catch on, we’ll have to wait for all the 3rd-party apps to adopt it.  So far, the only apps that I use daily that have it are Mail, iCal and iTunes — none of which I’m ever able to stay in from a full-screen perspective.  I’m sure it’d be great for focusing on writing.  Maybe I’ll use Pages to write my next blog post, and go full-screen mode, just as an experiment.  Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 already has that feature, so no big whoop.
  • Time Machine… ugh… every time you do a major OS upgrade, it takes FOREVER to run a Time Machine backup.  30-something GBs were trying to back up over my home wifi today.  I had to cancel it for now since it was clobbering my network performance as well as the computer’s performance.  I’ll let it run overnight, and with the Ethernet USB adapter plugged in.

Problem!

I use an external Western Digital hard drive to store my iTunes media and my iPhoto library, and it has to be connected anytime I want to A) use iTunes or iPhoto, and B) sync my iPhone or iPad.  Since the update to Lion, though, I’m finding that the external hard drive is unexpectedly being ejected.  I haven’t found any reports on the Internet about that being a problem with Lion yet, and I did a Disk Utility verify and repair, no problems found.  This could be a serious issue for me, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

The Streak Is Broken

Yes, again, my blogging streak is broken.  I was going to write something Tuesday night, but I wound up spending the evening out with April and her boss, and there was simply no energy left to write by the time we got home.  Then Wednesday night, I went to the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner — my mother is the Chamber’s Executive Director — and again, by the time I got home……

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  I’m going to make up for it, though!  Today you’ll get THREE blog posts from me, instead of my usual single post.

Stay tuned, more to come shortly.

Planes, Trains, or Automobiles

Today’s Daily Post suggestion was:

Planes, trains or automobiles? What is your favorite way to travel 500 miles?

First, a tangent… did you see that Bears game last week?

Ironically, it’s about 520 miles from my house to the hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard, and I’ve done the drive to Vegas on more than one occasion.  It takes about 8 and a half hours, a full day’s worth of driving.  Usually when I’ve done the trip by car, it’s when I’m taking a longer vacation in Vegas, 5 days or so, affording me the time to decompress in the car and leave my cares behind on my way to Nevada.  The biggest problem with doing that?  You still have to drive home after you’re done!

Of course, flying those 500 miles takes about 90 minutes, plus all the time spent in the airports.  You save a ton of time that way, and it’s not like I’m going to be driving around once I get to the casinos.  That’s what taxis are for!

A 500 mile trip is just far enough away that driving is not a good use of time… unless you’re definitely going to need a car once you get there.  The price of a rental car plus airfare might be prohibitive.

I haven’t taken a train for more than 40 miles (Mountain View to San Francisco on CalTrain) in a very long time, so I cannot comment on that experience.

But, really, the best way to travel 500 miles?  Walk!

Red Sox Nation by Keith Knight

 

Passed over to me from Jessica C.:The comic artist is Keith Knight, who I’d frankly forgotten existed… but I actually have a few signed books of his comic strips hidden away somewhere in the house.  I had come across him at WonderCon several years ago, and really enjoyed his stuff.  Now I can add him to my Google Reader list, so I won’t forget about him again!

 

 

Cake Or Death

I tried to post this last night, but the iPhone app for WordPress refuses to let me upload a photo. So, I’m going to consider this a post for Saturday, July 16, and I’m going to backdate the publish date. No reason for me to have my daily post streak ended because of a technical glitch!

Here’s me and April at Shoreline Ampitheater, waiting for the Eddie Izzard show to start:

Welcome to America, Spotify!

If you’ve been even remotely connected to the Internet over the past 48 hours, you’ve heard by now that Spotify is now available in the United States.  April’s friend Fayza did a good writeup introducing Spotify.  Of course, I only saw the article after I’d already received an invite to Spotify (thanks @slippytoad!).

I’m still feeling my way around Spotify, but I already like what I see enough to cough up the $9.99 per month for a Premium account.  My iTunes library is pretty extensive already, and now I can play those files through Spotify, as well as discover new music and listen to that one earworm song all the way through without having to purchase it.  I can’t wait to sift through all the links that Lifehacker posted as The Essential Spotify Tools.  And I’m really, really looking forward to more of my friends popping up on the service as more invites are available — it’ll be what iTunes Ping could’ve been for me, but fell completely flat.  Hearing what my friends are listening to is how my own music discoveries are influenced.

If you’re on Spotify already, but not linked with my on Facebook, you can add me on Spotify at “jnassi”.

And if you don’t have Spotify already… I have some invites available 🙂

The First 100 Pages

From a recent Plinky prompt:

Do you feel obligated to finish all books you start reading?

I have a rule of thumb when it comes to the books I start reading.  If I get through the first 100 pages, then I have to finish.  I’m pot-committed after 100 pages.

Only problem with this is the Kindle (device or app), since not all books that I have through Amazon are sporting page numbers.

A Visit From The Goon Squad

I just finished reading A Visit From The Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.  Between the book having just won the Pulitzer Prize, and a recommendation from my brother Mark, I figured I’d check it out.

I definitely enjoyed it.  Egan’s storytelling technique, the very structure of the novel, was what I found most entertaining.  Each chapter features a different character, and there isn’t a chronological progression from chapter to chapter.  Each character is somehow related to another character, leading to an overlap from chapter to chapter… but only a small overlap, most of the time.  With the shifting timeline as well, you never know where the flow of the writing is going to take you.  There’s no past, present, or future if each chapter comes from a completely different perspective, despite the chapters bouncing around a timeline that spans over forty years.  There are threads that tie everything together; in my head, I envision one of those criminal investigation bulletin boards showing all the ties for organized crime, like in The Wire.

Music is another thread throughout the book, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a music geek to enjoy it.  This isn’t High Fidelity.

Something you need to know if you’re going to read this book — don’t try to read it on a Kindle.  One of the most unique chapters is presented as a PowerPoint slide deck, and the reviews of the book on Amazon say that it’s very hard to view the slides on the Kindle.  I’m glad I picked up the paperback instead, since this wound up being one of my favorite chapters of the book.  If only my presentations conveyed as much in slides as this chapter, I’d have a whole new line of work in front of me!