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January, 2008:

First Apple 'Genius' Experience

If it was up to me, i’d just replace the cracked topcase on my Macbook myself. I’ve got the Macbook service manual (one that gets issued to the Official Apple Service Centre places) and it’s just as straight forward as I thought. However when I asked the Genius at my local Apple store if I can just get the topcase part to take out, it’s a no can do – you have to be trained to do it. It was with a little roll of the eyes as to say “what do you know about it” which annoyed me. When you make a reservation, they really should ask for a gauge of your technical competence. Even if the self-appraisal is taken with a pinch of salt, I’d rather not be talked to at length as if i’ve never used a computer before.

Not to be completely down on my visit there, although they don’t have the part in stock so I need to go back when they do, my problem was dealt with quickly and efficiently.
As soon as I mentioned the cracked topcase, before even getting the Macbook out of my bag, he acknowledged it was a known issue and started checking stock. He also agreed that it was unusual for a late 2007 model to show this problem as they ‘should’ have fixed it by then.

Like I said, it was dealt with very quickly, in and out within about 15 minutes – although granted i’ve got to go back to the store again when they have the part in. I don’t, however, understand why he asked for my admin account password, I declined to give it to him purely on the basis that there is a lot of stuff on here that is under NDA. I got a little huff out of him for that one even though I offered to turn on the ‘Guest’ account access if they need to test out functionality. I’m going to run a clean install of Leopard today anyway, due to the repeated shutdown and screen lock problems i’m having, i’ll just leave all of that stuff off for the moment until they’ve been able to do their thing.

Apple Macbook – Build quality continued

In the short time since my previous post about my cracked Macbook i’ve been doing a bit of research and have found identical issues.

Here is a pic with the same problem in the same place, via this thread on Macrumours:


Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

There’s even a Flickr group for this problem and an old Engadget post. Maybe I just lucked out and got one of the older ‘faulty’ shells packed with the newer hardware..

I’ve got an appointment at the Genius bar tomorrow so hopefully I can get this sorted.

[tags]Apple, Macbook, crack, build quality[/tags]

Post MWSF Keynote shopping list

Definitely want to pick up the 1TB Time Capsule, much easier than remembering to connect up my external drive every night!

Also, i’m considering picking up an Apple TV to replace the old Mac Mini I have under my TV at the moment (Which i’m going to relocate to the music room to use as a DAS).

I’m not bothered with the Macbook Air, seems to be a bit of a stop gap between something better – as in it’s a bit underspec’d to be taken seriously – Only 80GB storage and only the 1.8ghz CD.  Nice idea though and you can see the Eco touch coming from the Apple board.

Not as groundbreaking as last years iPhone by any margin but still cool.

OS X: Finder won't quit (WindowServer process?)

My last post mentioned that I was having some intermittant issues with my Macbook after resuming from sleep, in that after entering my password I just got a blank screen.  Key presses result in an error tone and I have to close the lid and reopen it to gain access to OS X.

It just happened again, so after closing and reopening the lid (i.e ‘sleeping it’), I opened Activity Monitor.  When I try to lock the screen, the process WindowServer flashes up to the top of the CPU list momentarily.  I decided to kill that process off, which killed my session and kicked me back out to the login screen again.  Logging in this time, i’m able to lock the screen so it looks like it could be something funny with the WindowServer process.

In the WindowServer log (/var/logs/) the first entries are:

Jan 15 16:27:08  [112] kCGErrorIllegalArgument: CGXSetWindowListTags: Operation on a window 0x6 not owned by caller loginwindow
Jan 15 16:29:37  [112] kCGErrorFailure: CGXDisableUpdate: UI updates were forcibly disabled by application “Finder” for over 1 second. Server has re-enabled them.

They corralate with the following entry in the system.log:

ScreenSaverEngine[1591]: Screen saver is running in blackout mode.

Other than there there doesn’t seem to be much awry in the logs..

I’m still investigating but Google is not my friend in this case 🙁

[tags]OS X, Can’t reboot, Can’t lock screen, Lock up, WindowServer[/tags]

OS X: Finder won't quit – Logout Timeout

I’ve noticed a few problems with OS X on my Macbook over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve got added ‘Keychain Access’ to my menubar (or toolbar – the one up the top anyway) so that I can just hit ‘Lock Screen’ when I step away from my machine at work. In general it’s been working like a champ but over the last couple of weeks something seems to have gone awry.

On occasions, it just doesn’t work. No errors to the screen, nothing. It just doesn’t do _anything_. This message is added to the system.log:

loginwindow[34]: ERROR | WSActivateApp | SetFrontProcess({0, 3978187}) returned error -600. Unable to activate process.

Additionally, when this problem manifests, I can’t restart OS X either. Choosing Restart from the Apple menu just restarts Finder. After about 2 minutes it throws up a dialogue saying (I’ll Skitch this next time to get the complete error) along the lines of “Logout Timeout. Restart failed because Finder failed to quit, try using Force Quit..”.

Using Force Quit to restart Finder doesn’t fix it, still the same problem.

This is added to the system.log:

com.apple.launchd[238] ([0x0-0x3cd3cd].com.apple.finder[7004]): Stray process with PGID equal to this dead job: PID 7006 PPID 1 smbclient

I have to do a hard shutdown using the power button and then restart – which seems to fix whatever the problem was. So much for all the “At least you don’t have to reboot OS X all the time” comments.

I’ve not installed nor changed anything recently that I can think would have any bearing here and I’ve also quit EVERY running application that I can to see if something is locking Finder up.

This thread “Finder Won’t Quit” on the Apple Support Forums, this thread on Yahoo Questions and this one on MacTalk shows i’m not the only one. No one seems to have come up with a definitive fix or RCA yet. I’m considering trying to log a defect with Apple, if I can find out how. I don’t have the time to piss about with the ‘Genius Bar’ crap though.

Renaming folders/tags in Google Reader

I can’t believe that there isn’t a built in way to rename tags within the Google Reader UI!  Shocking.

Quickest way I’ve found is to export your feeds (Settings | Import / Export), edit the XML by hand (fortunately my 100 or so feeds are organised within ~12 folders), delete all of your subs from GReader and reimport your edited XML list.

I wonder if the GReader UX guys are having trouble deciding between Folder and Tag for classification.