Friday, April 30, 2004

Resolving OS X slowdowns following an update

Apple - Discussions - The latest Mac OS X update runs slowly...: "This new update is too slow !

Hi !

From time to time, users post on the forum asking why the latest Mac OS update caused their computers to run slower... At the same time, other users post to describe the amazing speed improvements that this update provided...

This FAQ explains why a small number of users may experience a slowdown after having installed an OS update and provides some troubleshooting tips.

You may also want to follow these steps to boost the speed of your current installation, especially if you write and compile applications on your computer.

I - What may cause this slowdown ?

The previous installation wasn't stable Your previous installation may have encountered minor issues. Installing an update on an installation that already experiences problems is unlikely to solve them and may in fact cause some of them to be more visible. That's why is is important to solve any issues before applying any upgrade.

The installation wasn't optimized Before the 'Installer' quits, Mac OS X optimizes the update. That means that it makes sure that all the files are linked together and prepares them to be used efficiently and quickly. Would this process be interrupted, the installation won't run at full speed.

II - What should I do ?

The first thing to do would be to perform a few maintenance tasks.

1. Backup your data

2. Boot from the 'Mac OS X Install CD 1' and use the 'Installer' menu in order to open the 'Disk Utility'. Then, click on 'First Aid' and repair the hard drive.

3. Restart your computer and use the 'Disk Utility' located in your 'Utilities' folder in order to repair the permissions on the Mac OS X partition.

4. Disconnect your computer from the internet and follow the steps described in the Knowledge Base article n�107388

5. Restart your computer

III - This is still not working !

In that case, you may want to 'optimize' your installation. It is a good idea to do so if your installation wasn't optimized or if you have used lots of third-party installers.

1. Backup your data

2. Disconnect your computer from the internet

3. Open the 'Terminal' located in your 'Utilities' folder

4. Type sudo update_prebinding -root / -force

5. Hit Return

6. Type your administrator password and hit return again

7. Wait until the process completes

8. Restart your computer

You should then notice a speed improvement. Of course, do not hesitate to post on these forums. We would all be very glad to help you ! "

iTunes 4.5 troubleshooting guide | MacNN News

iTunes 4.5 troubleshooting guide | MacNN News: " has published a free iTunes 4.5 guide (119KB PDF) that provides answers and suggestions for 15 problems users have reported with iTunes 4.5, QuickTime, and updating their iPod. "

fix for iTunes update causes iPod to fail to mount

iPod does not appear in iPod Updater or iTunes in Mac OS X

Downgrading from iTunes 4.5

MacInTouch Home Page: "[Mathew] I upgraded to iTunes 4.5, and discovered that it would no longer connect to my jukebox machine, which has my entire music collection on it. The machine is a Linux box running the open source daapd software, which implements the daap protocol iTunes uses. The server also broadcasts via Rendezvous, so it works exactly like a Mac sharing via iTunes.
  Fortunately I had purchased iLife, so I had the iTunes 4.2 installer on CD. I tried to downgrade, and discovered that the iLife installer wouldn't let me, even if I trashed iTunes from the hard drive. The solution to that problem was to go to /Library/Receipts and remove the iTunes.pkg and iTunes4.pkg directories using sudo rm -rf iTunes*.pkg in terminal; having done that, I was able to install iTunes.
  The next snag was that iTunes 4.5 had silently upgraded my music library and iTunes 4.2 wouldn't read it any more. Luckily, since I keep all my music on a central server, I didn't need the local library, and I just trashed it. There was a file called 'iTunes 4 Music Library (Old)', perhaps that was a copy of the old version?
  So, it seems that iTunes 4.5 once again makes an unannounced change to MP3 sharing. For me at least, iTunes 4.5 is a no-go until someone fixes the incompatibility with daapd.
  While I'm writing, my biggest gripe with iTunes is that I can't make playlists of shared music tracks.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Beyond Megapixels: great series on digital photography

TheTechLounge - Beyond Megapixels - Part I
This is the first of a three part series of editorial articles examining current digital photography hardware, as well as the author’s views of what is to come. Keep in mind that as this is an editorial, it does contain some opinion and bias, but I have attempted to be as fair and objective as possible.

In the first few paragraphs it's obvious this is a cut above 90% of the writing about digital photography technologies either on the web or in periodicals.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Gmail - First impressions - offsite backups and file transfers and much more .... It's not really email

Gmail - All Mail

Google opened the next level of the Gmail beta to blogger customers. So, I've got mine.

Very impressive. The UI is far snappier than any webmail I've used, faster in some ways than Eudora 6 (which is, admittedly, abysmally slow for a desktop app). Lots of JavaScript. Runs fine in FireFox. Very simple UI of course, but elegant. Very Googleish.

It will come in very handy. I may set up some of my email systems to routinely copy messages to gmail, providing an accessible archive of my email. It will also be heavily used for file transfers. If I want to move a file from one system to another, I'll just sent it to myself. Unlike conventional email, when I send a message to myself via gmail only ONE message is created (not a send and receive message). So Gmail will be a highly efficient mechanism for file transfer and for quick offsite backups.

This is exciting. I'm finding many uses for Gmail in combination with Google's usenet postings and blogger postings. I routinely bcc items to gmail, which is becoming a kind of router for files and messages between services. Everything sits in my inbox, where I can search and sort.

Gmail represents a hard data lock though -- Google owns all the data. If there's anything I do that I don't want to lose, I copy it to my own machines. Increasingly, however, I'm throwing data out in one form or another.

Once Google starts integrating GMail (really threaded messaging > traditional email) with RSS feeds (blogger, blogines) ... Well, it's great to have an exciting and innovative company other than Apple in the world. For all his wealth and power, I wonder if seeing brilliance in other places somehow bugs Bill Gates ... probably not :-).

It's not really email. It's more of a message oriented file system. There's really one container -- the "ALL" container. Instead of "folders" you have "labels" -- which are categories for items. Items can be messages or files with message metadata. Threading provides a secondary way to traverse the file system. Searches are combined with "labels". The quick keys provide a UNIX like experience -- Google's UI paradigm is a cross between UNIX command line and GUI across all their applications.

Very subversive.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Project Planning & Scheduling Software -- Project KickStart

Project Planning & Scheduling Software -- Project KickStart

KickStart integrates with Outlook -- sort of. KS projects become Outlook task categories, and KS tasks become Outlook tasks. There's no synchronization -- KS is always the source of truth and it overwrites the Outlook categories. Without Outlook that tasks must be treated as "read only" or moved out of the KS categories.

I'm going to experiment with this a bit. I'll preface each KS project with the prefix ks_ so I know not to touch those tasks in Outlook. They will also display on my Palm (unfortunately, due to PalmOne's failures, Palm synchronization is not what it used to be ...).


Wednesday, April 21, 2004 and mangled advertisements

Digital Cameras News - is a largescale news aggregator. I prefer Google's front page, but Topix has a very large ontology (knowledge structure) of news topics. That's not evident from the front page, but if you search on a topic you can quickly get long lists of topic domains -- about 250,000 according to an NPR show.

This is their topic collection for digital cameras. They do some kind of limited RSS feed as well. I'll experiment with this and probably link from my news page to very specific domains -- such as digital photography.

They seem to use the targeted advertising business model, which could be a great fit to these focal domains. It doesn't work so well when searching on domains that aren't in their ontology. Here's an ad associated with results from a search on "plague":
Buy Plague Products
We link to merchants which offer Plague products for sale.

PC Magazine: Top 100 Lesser Known Web Sites

PC Magazine: Top 100 Web Sites

PCMagazine (I fondly remember the original ZDNet BBS ...) has a list of 100 web sites -- but it's not the usual list. These are "lesser known gems" divided into 12 categories (lifestyle, photography, etc). At the top right side of each page there's a short list of the entires, so you don't have to navigate the entire page. I may comment here on the one's I end up liking, but they're worth a review. Many, but not all, are familiar to me.

The persistent URL for this page may also be:

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Monday, April 19, 2004

The New York Times > Movies > Scanning at 4000 lines per frame

The New York Times > Movies > 600 Macs, 4,000 Lines, One Giant Leap for DVD's
Engineers calculate that 4,000 lines of data would be needed to reproduce all the visual information in a frame of [35mm movie] film ...

By contrast, most DVD's these days — good as many look — begin with a compromise: they're scanned at just 1,080 lines, at most 2,000 (sometimes as few as 480), and the source is almost always not the original negative but a copy.

Neat story, makes me think again of the digital vs. 35 mm discussion.

If a 35 mm film were square, and a "line" was a pixel, this would be the equivalent of a scanning 8000x8000 pixels, or 64 megapixels. I think that a 35mm still image has resolution within a factor of 2-3 of this number, so it's not so far off.

In practice 12-16 megapixel CCDs seem to produce images of equal sharpness to 35 mm negatives. Given advances in technology (such as in-camera variable tonal range adjustment) and a straightforward extrapolation of today's sensors we should equal the effective resolution and color capture of consumer-grade 35mm still cameras within 2 years. With appropriate use of JPEG2000 compression the images should be manageable.

I'd love to read an article that explored these numbers in more depth.

Northern Softworks: Panther Cache Cleaner is essential?

Northern Softworks

The current version of OS X runs very well indeed -- but it does have problems with corrupted cache files. This $10 utility has been highly recommended.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

VIA Strengths Scale - a cut above the usual web survey

VIA Strengths Scale - Welcome

It takes about 30-40 minutes to do the 200 question survey, but it is a serious psych analysis. A Guardian journalist speaks well of it as a self-discovery tool.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

More solutions for iPhoto's 'Not enough Disk Space' error

macosxhints - A solution for iPhoto's 'Not enough Disk Space' error
Recently, I tried to export 800 images (<1G) from iPhoto 4.0.1 and got the message that I had insufficient disk space to complete the operation despite having 20G free on my HD.

I checked the internet to look for others with this problem. There were several comments about iPhoto remembering the size of the original HD on which it was installed and several workaround solutions but no solution till now...

Turns out the solution is easier than the workarounds (e.g export to alternative HD etc). All you have to do is to erase the iPhoto preference file ~/Library -> Preferences -> and all is good again

One of many fixes for what appears to be several problems. See thread for other fixes, or see my postings. As of May 04 I used Panther Cache Cleaner's most extensive cache cleaning function to resolve a recurrence of this problem.

Macintouch: fixing cache corruption

Mac OS X Panther (10.3.3)

Macon Shibut
Regarding Amir 'CG' Caspi's missing CD/DVD System Preference Pane icon [Apr. 14], this has indeed happened to others before. I had the same experience. By Googling around on the web, I found several references to it by others. The problem is a corrupted cache file. Quitting System Preference and deleting the file from the folder ~/Library/Caches will take care of it. I'm not sure how or if Caspi's using VirtualPC played in the matter.

Nigel Cartwright
Duplicate or missing preference panes are caused by cache corruption. To resolve this:

1. Quit System Preferences.
2. Trash the file in your Home > Library > Caches folder
3. Empty Trash

Launch System Preferences and all should be well.
OS X should include more cache cleanup in its regular maintenance scripts.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Microosft MVPS.ORG resource

Welcome to the MVPS.ORG home page!

The MVPs show up in Microsoft's usenet forums. They appear to be microsoft-related small businesses. This is a central respository for them. If it's maintained will be an interesting set of resources.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

BBC World Service: Great expansion of their radio service

BBC World Radio Player

The BBC has reconfigured their online radio services. The new link shows an awesome array of material. It wasn't working with the OS X REAL Audio client (no error, simply wouldn't play), but for some mysterious reason the RA eventually client recognized it needed a new Codec and downloaded it. Now it's working again.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

What I want in my next digital camera: An improved Canon G2

John's Digital Photography Page

I was thinking again about what I want to replace my G2. Turns out, not all that much! It's all technically possible, but I fear "market failure" (the bane of my existence) will rear its head and divert the market in other directions.

Basically I want an improved G2 for about $500 to $600 US. Including:

1. JPEG2000 rather than JPEG. (Better color range, better edges with fewer artifacts at higher compression.)

2. 6 megapixel is fine.

3. ISO 800 with minimal noise.

4. Faster cycle time, image throughput, etc. (16 bit internal bus, faster internal storage, faster image acquisition, firewire or usb 2.0 etc)

5. Image quality (color, etc) as good as the G2. Favor lens quality over increased zoom.

6. Fix the minor bugs and usability problems I put on the page I reference here.

7. Image stabilization for handheld shooting at 1/15 sec.

8. Fix the built-in flash's defective exposure control -- but keep the hot shoe!

9. Comparable quality, reliability, and ruggedness.

None of this is demanding. All of these things appear in today's cameras -- indeed they already offer more megapixels than I'm asking for. I DON'T want an SLR. They're too big, have dust problems, too expensive, I like the swivel LCD on the G2, etc.

The question is -- will the market deliver what I want? I fear it will deliver both far more, and, critically, far less.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Apple - Discussions - Altec inMotion speakers & iPod resets

Apple - Discussions - Altec inMotion speakers & iPod resets: "I'm very concerned that the Altec inMotion cradle is damaging iPods. I too am having increasingly curious behavior associated with inMotion use. It goes something like this:

1. Insert into cradle.
2. Remove from cradle.
3. iPod seems fully charged.
4. iPod goes to sleep abruptly, (resets?).
5. Wake up iPod, battery is totally drained.

PS. If you do use the inMotion, the manufacturer's recommended insert/removal procedure includes directions to UNPLUG the darned thing -- not just turn it off.

Given the odd recommendations from Altec about insertion/removal, and these crashing behaviors, I strongly recommend against purchase of this device unless we hear some definitive commentary from Apple or Altec."

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Review: Shuttle ST62K XPC Zen - including build experience

Review: Shuttle ST62K XPC ZenWhat makes this special is he describes the barebones system AND how he built it. If I were to buy another XP machine, this would probably be it.

HeadRoom | Headphone info by gurus

HeadRoom | Home
Very professional layout and great content from serious users.

Dan's Data - PC hardware reviews and tutorials!

Dan's Data - PC hardware reviews and tutorials!
Fun, and educational.

Mirra - personal server

Is Mirra for me » Mirra. The first Personal Server: "With the release of Mirra Personal Server 1.1, Mirra just got even better -- easier set up, thumbnails for improved photosharing over the Internet, better performance, and much more."
This is clever. I presume it's a Linux box with some big drives. They bundle some custom software for backup/versioning and some tunneling software so you can server images and access files form inside a software using an external Mira Proxy. (Probably a Linux VPN solution.)

Nice packaging of hardware and software. This is very innovative use of basic technology.

The drawback of the backup is that it appears to be on-site only. There's no reason they couldn't setup a companion off-site service for an extra fee, that may come later.

Usenet posting on Acrobat 6 JPEG 2000 compresion - poor results with grayscale images

From: (John Faughnan)
Subject: JPEG2000 and grayscale image size growth
Message-ID: <>

I did some initial testing using the most extreme (low quality) JPEG
2000 image compression settings with Distiller 6. (JPEG2000 is new in
Acrobat 6. A primary potential application is scanning color documents
including maps.)

I first scanned a sample document at 200x200 16 bit color, producing a

10MB tiff (lzw compressed) file. The JPEG 2000 PDF of this image was
only 160K. The text in the 160K file was quite readable. I considered
this to be a very good result, almost a 70 fold compression with
preserved text readability. In my past experience JPEG compression of
a scanned text image makes the text unreadable due to jpeg artifact
even with moderate (10 fold) compression. This is a qualitative
improvement over JPEG. (For reference, past experience using B/W
images scanned with CCITT 4 compression produces typically a 40K image
of the same test document.)

I then scanned the same document at 200x200 gray scale. This resulted
in a 3.6MB TIFF (lossless compression). The JPEG2000 compressed PDF,
however, was 1.77MB! A JPEG PDF of the same file was only 300K (and
was quite readable). Something's wrong here - I expected a JPEG2000
maximally compessed PDF of this grayscale image to come in at about
60-80K. I suspect a bug in Distiller's handling of JPEG2000 compressed
grayscale images. I wonder if Distiller is not honoring the
compression setting for grayscale images.

Has anyone seen anything like this?


meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, jpeg2000, jpeg 2000, pdf, jp2k, lossy
compression, scans, scanner, scanned image, acrobat, adobe acrobat 6,

Mac OS X: Computer Won't Start up After Resetting PRAM

Mac OS X: Computer Won't Start up After Resetting PRAM
If you have a RAID scheme set up, your computer may not start up if you reset parameter RAM (PRAM) when you restart.
Restart your computer while holding down the Option key to select your startup system.
If this doesn't work, restart your computer while holding down the Command, Option, Shift, and Delete keys.
Startup disk info is stored in PRAM, so if a Mac can't find it's startup disk try these methods, then try zapping pram if they fail. I think there's also a key combo that will select classic vs. OS X on dual boot startup.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

BYTE Media Lab 2004 Imaging Awards: Analog to Digital Converters

BYTE Media Lab 2004 Imaging Awards, Part 2
Best Video Product

The Best Video Product goes to Canopus for its $549 ADVC300 analog to digital video converter. Pros and consumers alike have mountains of analog video tapes that need to be converted for both archival and production purposes. We've used a variety of systems to accomplish this task over the years, but the ADVC300 is the best implementation we've seen.

The right way to apply signal and image enhancement corrections to flaky analog signals is on the way in via hardware during the capture stage, but few products give you this option. The ADVC300 cross-references each NTSC frame with the frames immediately preceding and following it, applying digital noise reduction and image stabilization using Line Time Base Correction (LTBC). You can control brightness, contrast, saturation, noise level, and other settings via software. The unit captures to DV tape or disk, and it's compatible with Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress DV and Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as Canopus's EDIUS editing system. It works on both Mac and PC.

I'll be discussing analog video capture in greater depth in an upcoming article, but based on our initial tests, the ADVC300 stands head and shoulders above its competition.

I looked into this a while back. The various alternatives are using a service to burn video to DVD (but what if the priceless original family video is lost or damaged?), using a digital camera in pass-through mode, or using a PVR. It's really, really, tough to find knowledgeable reviews comparing the alternatives.

This is a big vote for the Canopus. I've got a pile of 8mm SuperVHS home video I need to move to digital media, then edit to DVD. Part of the equation is a future Mac (a high end G4 laptop or a G5 server) and FinalCut Pro, but this may be another part of it. Not cheap, so I can wait a while.

Plaxo Opt-Out: That hideous tracking service

Plaxo Opt-Out
I think spamcop blocks Plaxo for me now, but I used to get their tracking service emails all the time. This takes one to the opt out page. Worth keeping handy. - back from the grave?
The death of the original BYTE deserves an essay by itself -- suffice to say many of us suspected Bill's little finger flicked a weakened entity into the grave. Even in its twilight years, BYTE was unrivalled. It's loss hurt.

For sentimental reasons, I paid to subscribe to BYTE online. It was pretty weak and I stopped reading it. I just took another look. It's much stronger now. I'll have to add it back to my reading list.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

shutterbug: a nice digital photography website

shutterbug: Recent Additions
When I was a child, when slide rules were still widely used, Photography Magazines were thicker than PC Magazine in its glory days. They burst with ad pages. Then they all but died out.

Now they're back. Shutterbug has a rather interesting web site. A new addition to my web addiction.

Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes - Make audio files bookmarkable

Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes - Managing Files: "Make Bookmarkable

written by Doug Adams
posted: Mar 1, 2004
downloads: 1341

This script will change the 4-character file type of the selected AAC tracks to 'M4B ', thus making them bookmarkable. (That is, the track will resume playing wherever you left off the last time you played it.) Works on protected and non-protected AACs."
Very handy for my medical CME lectures.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

iPhoto 4 unexpectedly quits when opened, Insufficient disk space in iPhoto 2?

iPhoto 4 unexpectedly quits when opened: "... delete

This fixes:

1. Insufficient disk space when exporting
2. Quit when open

I'd guess it would fix the disk space problem for iPhoto 2 as well. That problem is apparently due to thumbnail corruption.

update: this didn't work for me. I had to use Panther Cache Cleaner to do a deep cache removal. See my posting of 5/1/04.