iMac 27″ – fixing a slow boot up time

Im pretty sure on the default system image and setup of these machines – someone forgot to set the default boot drive. Every time you install the OS or image an OS on to the drive – you have to ‘Bless’ the main drive. If you don’t, this can cause slow boot ups, especially if you have other drives attached, since the boot loader must search the disks for valid boot disks before moving on.

Under System Preferences, select ‘Startup Disk’, then ‘Macintosh HD’ (or whatever your default boot volume is), and hit restart. Thats it!

This is a super easy fix, and easily cut my 1.5 minute boot time into about 25 seconds.

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Odd popping noise with 24″ iMac with external speakers

I noticed recently this odd popping noise coming from my speakers over the weekend, right before any audio was played. I’m not sure how long this had been going on, because when I use the iMac, I almost always have music playing. But on Sunday when I only had iChat running for a bit – every few minutes when someone would sign on or off, the speakers would pop and then play the audio.

After doing a little bit of research, I found that a few other people had this problem, but no one could ever find the final cause. Here are some of the fixes that I found:

  • Doing a OS update (either with the Combo updater or some other updaters). This is mainly because often you are replacing the audio drivers
  • Zap PRAM
  • Remove some of your sound preferences.

Since we are so close to 10.6.3 coming out, I decided to not do another update right now. My plan of attack ended up just zapping the PRAM (hold down Command, Option, P, and R when booting, you will hear the chimes, it will reboot again, once you see the Apple logo, let go – the same way its been since even Classic Mac OS) and removing the following

  • ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.soundpref.plist
  • /Library/Preferences/com.apple.soundpref.plist
  • /Library/Preferences/com.apple.audio.DeviceSettings.plist

Not all four existed on my system, but this is the list I put together from other sites so far.

After a reboot, things seem to be better, but not 100% fixed just  yet. I have noticed my tests no longer replicate the issue, but when I come home from work and play audio for the first time (which would leave the machine sitting idle for ~10 hours), it still pops. Also, the audio system does ‘sleep’ when not in use, and possibly the above methods just reset whatever that timer was.

Quick way to resize images on the Mac through command line – SIPS

For one of my sites, I had a folder full of various sized images that I needed to go through and re-size. But I had other things to do, so I didn’t want to use a Photoshop Macro and all the overhead associated with it. So after searching, I found SIPS (Scriptable Image Processing System). As far as I know, this is only available on the Mac (or more detailed, Darwin), and is part of Leopard. The manual is dated April 2008, and I don’t have a Tiger or below machine to test this on.

Browsing through the manual, you can see SIPS has a ton of uses. Everything from converting formats, resizing, work with ColorSync profiles, and more. All I needed it for was just to re-size a bunch of images (which were already in JPG format).

  1. Made a backup of my original folder
  2. Opened up a Terminal.app window (This is under your /Applications/Utilities/ folder.
  3. Moved to the image directory (‘cd ~/Desktop/origImages/’)
  4. Called SIPS to re-size everything (‘sips –resampleHeightWidth 120 160 *.jpg’).

This command is just saying ‘re-size everything to 120 x 160 pixels with a file name ending in .jpg. If everything was in mixed formats (but still images), you could change *.jpg to *.*, which means ‘all file names and all extensions’.

The best part about SIPS is that it has very little overhead, but quite powerful at the same time. While running on our Core2Duo iMac (2.2Ghz, 3GB of RAM), It only took a few seconds for a couple hundered images. You can also easily create BASH scripts. You could easily write a script (and create a cronjob for it) to resize all images in a watch folder, then copy them to another folder, etc.

Finally, SIPS is easily integrated into AppleScript, without having to much ‘command line’ detail. You can reach most of its functionality from the Image Events parts of AppleScript.

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What’s been going on!

Sometimes I feel like I write too many of these, not posting for a few days/weeks, and then just creating a list of whats been going on. I would prefer to rather cover new things, go into more detail, etc. Looks like a few things may be changing soon, to give me a little more time to focus on things like this 🙂

  • July 4th came and went. My stepbrother showed up early and surprised everyone after his 28 hour drive directly from Texas. I have a few pics up from out family cookout here. We also went and watched the fireworks at Genworth the night before.
  • Checked out the Hanover Tomato Festival as well. The weather wasn’t the best, but still a good time. Took a few random pictures.
  • We also got a chance to run down to VA Beach for a day at the end of June. It was great to get out, and pretty much just run right into the water!
  • I’m writing this in Chicago. Im back up here for the 2008 GeoDomain conference, which I have presented at twice. More on that later.
  • While I don’t get as much time as I would LIKE on this blog, I still want to do MORE. Once time frees more up at work (as its slowly starting to do), I plan to start doing a few things, which may include getting away from wordpress.com, and going back to a hosted service. With the traffic I see on this blog per day (and not doing much to it), I could probably host a few ads to cover hosting costs now!
  • That fancy iPhone 3G thing got released yesterday. I want one, pretty bad. Other than Apple’s inability to keep things up and running (and AT&T’s flawed process), I haven’t really heard ALL that much on the new phone. Though it looks like engadget answered my main question – the Maps application does not give turn by turn routes, just a direction from your currently location from GPS to your destination. It still works – you can watch yourselve move on the screen, and if you do veer off course, could recalculate. While I would LOVE this feature, its just not going to happen…yet.

Problems with Facebook and Safari 3.1

Sunday afternoon I ran Software Update on our iMac running 10.5.2, since some security updates, iLife updates, and Safari updates were needed. Like usual, things went VERY smoothly, and I have actually noticed Safari being MUCH faster on our iMac.

One thing I did notice was problems on a few sites that had quite a bit of AJAX, especially Facebook. I could no longer use the search, menus, or any other ‘buttons’ on the pages. I searched around online, and quite a few people were claiming that ‘you need to reinstall Safari because there was a known issue’. I find this hard to believe, because if it was ‘that’ bad, we really would have heard something.

Well, in just doing some maintenance on our machine,  I cleared Safari’s cache. This solved the problem! Im not sure what caused it in the first place, but if you are noticing issues with Safari 3.1 and Facebook, make sure you empty your cache. Safari makes this VERY easy, just select “Empty Cache” from the Safari menu!

No only if WordPress.com could get their act together with their TinyMCE install on not removing all formatting from posts in Safari!

Listening To: ‘Still Alive’ by Jonathan Coulton and GLaDOS

NewsGator products now free, why should I stick to Google Reader?

Note – I started this post last week. Since then, due to some other circumstances, I switched back to Google Reader. This posts outlines my experience over the last week, and why I went back!

Last week, the teams at NewsGator announced that instead of charging a few bucks for their news readers, everything was now freely available. Some of these readers, including NetNewsWire for the Mac and FeedDemon for the PC are really the top readers available. Other than my desire to always find free and/or open source ways of doing things on the computer, I would have easily paid the money to use either one of these applications.

I posted over a year ago my about my move to Google Reader. It was a move I was very happy with, and used MULTIPLE times a day, every day, over the last year. One of the main reasons that I went to an online reader was because I used multiple machines. I didn’t want to have to read posts in one place, and then re-read (or mark as read) the ones I had already seen. I even wanted to work on the source code of my preferred feed reader at the time (it was an open source C# reader) to allow it to read the sync’d information from NewsGator.

Right after I heard all the products were now free, I immediately downloaded NetNewsWire on the Mac and FeedDemon on the PC. Google Reader (like most all other readers) let me export my OLPC file to import into the other reader. I set up a News Gator account, and I was in RSS-syncing heaven.

I love Google products, and really, I would have never thought about switching. The only thing that made me even want to try was because of the speed. Google cache’s feeds, depending on their popularity. So if you have custom feeds, like your Facebook friends status updates, that only gets updated every few hours. Other more popular feeds, like Digg, get updated a few times every hour. For the most part this is great, but its really annoying when I do use particular websites, like Facebook, and the status updates are even up to 5 hours behind!

Ive enjoyed using NetNewsWire. It’s one of the perfect Mac programs, everything works the way its supposed to. The interface is really clean, the UI is very easy to use, and it has a feature that I didn’t even know was important to me – something called ‘River of News’. When I read my news, I prefer just to have a long list of items, rather than reading through each feed or each category individually. I quickly browse through my 200+ feeds, and open up those that strike my interest. If im on my cellphone, I would just start particular feeds and read them at home.

On the other hand, I really didnt like FeedDemon. It was slow. First of it all, it doesnt have this River of News flow, and that really slows down my reading. It was also very sluggish on my pretty speedy laptop, and was confusing to use at times. There were plenty of times I just wanted to give up this whole trial because of this application.

I never got to try out the Windows Mobile feed reader from News Gator. This is mainly due to me being really busy over the last week, but also because Debs and I switched cell phone providers last night. Therefore I can’t really review the program, which is ashame, because I did have high hopes for it. Now that I have a blackberry (more on that later), I notice they have a blackberry client. Looking at the screenshots, I dont think Im going to be very happy to use it, it looks closer to the Windows client than the Mac. Combined with my dislike for the Windows client, I’m not going to even waste my time installing this one on my blackberry unless I hear rave reviews on it.

Overall I was happy with this switch for a while. I have always liked NetNewsWire. I used NetNewsWire Lite at my old job to track most feeds as well as custom internal feeds we used at work. If there was a program like it that would sync on the PC, I would never touch Google Reader again. But with my complete dislike for the Windows client (slowness, hard to use, and it just took me too long to read my feeds), Im going to have to leave this mix of clients.

Time to go mark my 2000+ ‘unread items’ as read, and get back to how things were! I noticed I have a few more friends in my Google Talk list now sharing items, as well as hearing that Google Reader got some updates while I was gone!

For those considering the switch – either way – Lifehacker had a great post before I started my experiment about the pro’s and con’s of both! I suggest that you check it out!

Listening To: ‘When Your Gone’ by The Cranberries

Picasa coming to the Mac?

TechCrunch is running a story on a shirt someone saw at MacWorld. If you look at it, the Picasa logo appears. After someone talked to a google employee at the show, they said that Picasa for Mac is under development, and will be launched this year!

While iPhoto is awesome, I really cant stand the new ‘events’ workflow. If you dont like sorting your pictures into events, you are screwed. I still keep my photos sorted in events, but I also usually have ‘themed’ sets, or just random stuff collected, and to always see the events is just annoying.