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Mac

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.

VMWare Fusion and network bridging

** UPDATED MARCH 12 2010:  I just posted my solution to this problem here **

I’ve had VMWare Fusion running an image of my work laptop, on my Macbook, for nearly three weeks now. I’ve had no problems at all, running over both NAT and via network bridge.

Until this week.

Now, when I try to use the image over network bridge I get the error “The network bridge on device /dev/vmnet0 is not running”. It still works over NAT but i’m perplexed as to where this problem has come from. No software updates, no network config changes, nothing that I can think would affect this at all.

I started to wonder if it was something to do with being assigned a bridged DHCP on my home lan (10.0.0.X), suspending and being brought up on the work lan under a different subnet completely. Maybe something was going majorly wrong with the bridge device.

I couldn’t/can’t find anything logged anywhere other than the error message above in the vmware.log within the VM image folder.

Running the following command restarts all the vmnet related services:

/Library/Application\ Support/VMWare\ Fusion/boot.sh –restart

You’ll need to sudo that command.

I haven’t found anything on the VMWare community forums to indicate that this has been bugged for fix in a later release so i’m still not entirely sure of the cause…

Quicksilver roadmap at the end

In an earlier post, I mentioned how i’d been an admirer of the Quicksilver application and its workflow. Having finally picked up a Mac for full time use (work & play), it was I think the 2nd application I installed. It’s definately a great productivity tool. I’m not keen on the way OS X has all of it’s apps in one folder – I hate scrolling using a track pad, even with Apples two finger “gesture” method – and the Stacks feature of OS X Leopard doesn’t cut it for me.

So, with all that, I was gutted to read today that it is almost certainly in it’s final state – certainly from the developers POV according to this interview on Lifehacker.
Hopefully there is a community out there that will pick up the Open Source project and take it on.
I’m still looking for a decent Dictionary plug-in that works with Leopard…

Shortcuts and Quicksilver

I’ve always preferred to use the keyboard more than the mouse so i’ve been intrigued by QuickSilver for a long time. It was almost a weekly subject on the LifeHacker RSS feed for a while earlier this year. Being a Mac only app, I was pretty jealous, but was fine with the CTRL + R shortcut to bring up the Run box in Windows…

I’ve been using QuickSilver for a couple of weeks now and haven’t really scratched the surface of it. I only use it to open apps quickly (Terminal, Eclipse, Textmate) and haven’t gotten around to seeing what the right hand box can offer just yet. It certainly beats having a massive Dock or trawling through the Applications folder.

On another but related note, what’s the deal with Firefox (Mac), Safari and webpage check boxes?
I’m used to being able to tab down a web form and submitting without having to use the mouse at all. However on my Mac, neither browser will tab to the checkbox. It’s so much quick to tab to it and hit space than to muck about with the mouse/trackpad.

Is this just a config thing or is it really by design? To me, it seems a bit of a usability issue. Of course i’m no expert on that subject really.

Laptop consolidation

Continuing my “Switch To Mac” project, i’ve been trying to work out how far I can go in replacing my work laptop with my own Macbook.
Now, my work laptop is a real bone of contention. It’s a piece of crap Dell Latitude D600. In the past 9 months, the HD has gone three times, a memory module has bust and it has had to be re-imaged by the internal IS&T team 4 times in total. Each time it is re-imaged is two days of almost 100% downtime.
Unfortunately this re-imaging can’t be done myself as our VPN solution requires a specific AD tied RSA token and without AD domain admin style access I can’t generate a new token and assign it to my account.
I was checking out the ‘Black Friday’ sale that Apple ran for the UK yesterday (30th November) as i’d decided to pick up a license for iWork ’08 whilst it was on sale, when I saw VMWare Fusion on there also at a discounted rate. (more…)

RadRails – Unable to detect ruby install on OS X Leopard

I installed the RadRails plugin for Eclipse and Aptana today.
On first start, it complains that it is “Unable to detect ruby install” on my Leopard macbook.

Now, I know ruby is installed and working so had to try and figure out the path to the ruby installation.

Took me a while to work it out, I thought it would be under /usr/.. but it’s actually here:

/System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr

After adding a new RubyVM with this path everything was good again.

Incidentally, although Aptana is available on it’s own as an IDE (built with the Eclipse framework), I decided to use it as a plugin for a native Eclipse IDE. That way I just have one IDE for Java, C++ as well as RoR. Made sense to me.

I’ve only had a quick play with it but it already beats the bejesus out of my Notepad and command line setup on XP. 🙂

[tags]OS X, Mac, Eclipse, RadRails, Aptana, Ruby on Rails[/tags]

Skitch

Taking screenshots on XP was always a bit of a pain in the ass. ALT+PrtSc, paste into MS Paint (I don’t get Photoshop at work and I never really got to grips with GiMP), crop, resize, save as jpg (unless XP had gone up the spout in which case it was a bmp), email to QA/Dev or add to the defect tracking system… <yawn>

A good few months ago, I read about a startup called Skitch. At the time I was a 99% XP user and they haven’t got a Windows version just yet.

I installed this to my Macbook a couple of days ago, it’s fricken ace. Not only is it quick and easy to grab screens, you can overlay text or other simple graphics (arrows, boxs etc..), export to pretty much any filetype and even upload to your own space hosted on their site. It’s brilliantly productive, infinitely better than anything i’ve used before.

Here’s a video that explains it all in less than 3 mins. I don’t know if the beta is public yet but my account says I have some invites if anyone wants to give it a test drive.

[tags]Skitch, OS X, Productivity, Switch To Mac[/tags]

Ruby on Rails, mySQL, Mongrel and OS X Leopard

For the majority of my RoR development, i’ve used a Windows machine running Instant Rails. Apparently, the Mac is the so-called “favoured platform” for Ruby on Rails development so i’ve been looking forward to getting rolling with this on my shiny Macbook. However, i’ve spent a couple of days scouring Google and Groups trying to find the optimum way to get everything set up and running. There isn’t much information where Leopard is concerned, most of the posts and articles are geared toward Tiger and involve building and compiling Ruby from source with XCode.

Well, i’ve got mine environment up and running so hopefully this will save someone else a bit of time. Of course, that does assume that i’ve done this all in the correct manner! Any corrections or updates welcome! 🙂 (more…)

Switching to Mac

After months of contemplation i’ve finally taken the plunge and picked up one of the new Santa Rosa based 13″ Macbook (2.2GHz C2D). I was tempted to go for the black one but TBH, it seemed a little excessive to spunk an extra £120 for just an extra 40GB and the blackness.
I was also a bit surprised at the cost of upgrading the RAM, they want £539.99 to increase from 1GB to 4GB! I’ve just ordered 2x2GB sticks from Crucial for <£90 delivered. Mental!

I’ve not really stumbled across any major problems TBH, except that it took me a while to work out the keyboard shortcuts for Copy (Apple+c) and Paste (Apple+v). I’m still stuck in the world of Ctrl+..!

Although my work laptop is going to have to stay, i’m going to start trying to use the MB at work more and just rely on XP for email (I prefer Outlook to Entourage).
Does anyone have any recommendations regarding iWork vs MS Office Mac? What about Open Office?

Any tips for a switcher greatfully received. 🙂

Remote Mac access, without VNC

As previously mentioned, I use a Mac Mini as a nice little media box for music and HD related goodness.
I’ve always struggled with remote managing it and ended up buying the wireless ‘Mighty’ mouse and keyboard combo so that I didn’t have to sit 2 ft from the TV if I needed to, for example, retag something in iTunes.
VNC always seems to be hit and miss.  I’ve tried RealVNC and TightVNC, both have their flaws and are too keen to drop the connection.  Even when i’m on the couch, 5ft away.

I’ve not even been able to set-up VNC for proper remote access, despite opening the firewall (both the HW firewall and the OS X firewall set to “allow all * to *”) and router to everything.  Looking at the firewall in real time I can see the packets being sent from the external interface through to the Mac IP internally but they never seemed to reach the Mini.  On the other hand, MSRDP has never failed me before coming through the same set up.
Then, don’t get me started on the enforced corporate VPN policy that effectively means I have to re-IP my network just to access device in my house when the VPN is active..

Anyway.  I’ve used the LogMeIn service to access Windows machines previously.  Last week (or maybe the week before) I saw a post somewhere (I thought i’d starred it in GReader but I can’t find it now) that mentioned a Beta version of the same technology for OS X.   BRILLIANT! 🙂

LogMeIn Free version for Mac (Preview)

As with most OS X apps, installation was SO easy;  Download, install, done.
It did a little auto-update once the install was finished (no reboot) and was ready to go.  No configuration needed other than specifying your LogMeIn username/password credentials.

I fired up a browser on my XP lappy (again, on the couch.  5ft away) and logged in.
After clicking the Remote Access button, it took about 20 secs to flash up a nice rendition of my OS X desktop in an IE browser window.
Security wise, it runs over HTTPS in the same manner as the PC versions.  LMI make quite a big deal about it being secure and easy.

The performance here is excellent.  By the looks of it, the connection is direct from my IE client window (There are a couple of ActiveX controls displayed through the add-ins menu in IE7) to the Mini, very much in the style of Webex.  Typing into finder via the LMI window sufferes only a marginally noticable delay.

Whether or not they’ve leveraged the Open Source angle of VNC to code their own flavour, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it is great, right down to the little details.
For example, using RealVNC or similar clients, a right click of a mouse on my XP machine whilst in a VNC session would bring up the Widgets layer – which over VNC, was slow as hell to render IN and then slow as hell to render OUT.
With LMI, a right click does EXACTLY what i’d expect it to, it brings up the context menu for the target.  Whilst bringing up the Widgets layer (when I want, using F12 🙂 ) in LMI it isn’t exactly lightening quick and smooth, it renders up in a 4 part mosaic, clockwise motion but it is infinitely quicker and better.

The better test will be tomorrow at work when I can give it a proper trial over the internet.  Hopefully it will be a bit quicker and easier to just FTP something from home to work via the UI than via SSH.

At the moment, for my needs at home it is a perfect replacement for VNC.