Ian McShane Rotating Header Image


Cisco VPN Client on OSX

I’ve had a few problems with the Cisco VPN Client for Mac OS X  (release 4.9.01 (100) ) recently.
I’d get intermittent “Error 51: Unable to contact the VPN subsystem” when opening the VPNClient appliaction.
Some times a reboot would fix it, sometimes it wouldn’t.
I can’t reliably reproduce it either, sometimes coming out of sleep breaks it, sometimes restarting breaks it.

I think I’ve worked out how to resolve this now from a command line:

Firstly take the fw0 interface down and bring it up again:
Sudo ifconfig fw0 down
Sudo ifconfig fw0 up

Then restart the VPN SS:
Sudo /System/Library/StartupItems/CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN restart

That has resolved it for me the last 5 times it happened, without needing to reboot again.

Hope that helps someone else out.

Has OS X 10.5.2 reset some security settings?

I’m pretty sure it has, I certainly haven’t turned this off.


Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

The release notes for the update mentions “Improves stability and performance during log in.”.

Anyone else seen the same or worse?

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.

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.

Project Euler

I came across Project Euler this evening via this post.

Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.

The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

I thought this would be a good way to get my hands dirty with Xcode and ObjC.

I’ve just completed the first problem (Add all the natural numbers below 1000 that are multiples of 3 or 5), which has elevated my Genius level to the dizzy heights of 1! 🙂

Whilst some of them are pretty simple mathematic manipulation type problems, some of them are proper head scratchers!

I’m quite tempted to post my solutions to them here somewhere so I can get some code feedback – i’m probably making a right mess when it could be done in a much simpler fashion!

Free Trac and SVN hosting

I’ve been getting really pissed off trying to install Trac to my Dreamhost shared server, to the extent that i’m contemplating moving hosts.

In the interim, DevJaVu have just started to offer free Personal accounts that include integrate Trac and SVN.
All you need to do is sign up using the referal code johnny5. I don’t know how long that code is valid for so get on it.

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…