Category Archives: Mac

Um, apple what’s up?

The wife has been on me to fix a problem on her computer for a while now.  She’s barraged by near constant prompts to enter a password for the dozens of processes that need access to the Local Items keychain.  Somehow, on her computer the password for that keychain got changed (it starts off the same as your login password, and you really have to go out of your way to change that) and we don’t know it.

Googling around I found some recipes for how to fix it.  Basically just resetting keychain stuff back to factory fresh.  The easy way, using the Reset My Default Keychain button in Keychain Access, did nothing except breaker her normal login.  Being paranoid, I added another admin account on her computer just for this occasion.  Glad I did.

The next recipe was more drastic.  Delete the borked keychain on the command line. The theory was that it’ll just give you a shiny new keychain at next login.  I just moved it out of the way.  My theory was that if things are worse after the reboot, I can always move it back into place from other admin account.

Another reboot later, and her login doesn’t work, again.  Not sure why, the login password probably not stored in the keychain (more like /etc/password, right?)  Went to log in with my other admin account to reset the password, and the login screen is broken?

Specifically, I pick my user icon and the text field where you enter your password is in focus for a microsecond then blurred.  Clicking the mouse in the field did nothing.  Fearing the wrath of wife for bricking her computer I moved over the my mac to google this new problem and suddenly my machine won’t connect to the internet.  I think its a non-related DNS problem, but why now? ugh.

While demonstrating the problem to wife, I randomly found the fix for the login problem. Just hit tab; while you can’t click in the password field, you can tab into it.  Thankfully my password still works and I was able to reset hers for the umpteenth time today.  After she was in, iCloud said it wanted  her to authenticated.  We did that and things seem to better now (as in not prompting her passwords constantly.)  But, if I moved the original keychain directory out of the way, home come all her original keychains and keys still show up in keychain access, wat?

Problem sort of fixed, not gonna mess with that any more today.  I’m pretty might next corrective action will be drop her machine down the stairs.

On to the bonus round for other things that annoy me routinely on my own mac:

  1. If mac is closed, asleep, and an external display is connected, I should be able to wake it with an external keyboard, right?  Nope.  It does wake up from the external trackpad reliably though.
  2. After eventually waking up with external display connected, about half the time the colors are borked.  Desktop background and some windows look like they’re running in a low color mode.  Some are fine.  Only way I’ve stumbled on to recover this is to open and shut the mac itself, which takes way 5 seconds to change to dual screen mode and another 5 seconds to change back to just external display.
  3. Was coding away this week and noticed that my screen was flashing whenever a bell fired in my terminal program.  Oh, that’s a feature in iTerm, let me go turn off.  Um, wait, its not turned on.  Hmm, wait, its not just my terminal program its happening OS wide (like when new iMessages arrive.)  Hmm, that seems to be an accessibility feature that I turned on my mistake.  Ah, yes, there is feature for that.  But, wait, its not turned on.  A restart (for a different problem) seemed to clear this up.

Apple, I wanna love you, but you’re making it real hard these days.  Getting pretty close to saying forget it, and going back to Linux.

Vox Music Player

Whoa, how did I not know about the Vox music player on mac?


Easy on the eyes, lightweight, plays FLAC, and scrobbles. Nice.

In case you’re wondering why I don’t have nearly as many scrobbles as I used to (because inquiring minds need to know), the plugin for Audacious (my preferred player on Ubuntu at work) has been broken for a while and I haven’t had the time or ambition to fix it.

Oh, that can’t be good

After getting most of programs reinstalled, I wanted to copy my iPhoto library to the new drive my external back up disk.  So, I jacked it in, and powered it up.  And waited, and waited, and waited for it to show in Finder.

After 10 minutes, I figured something must have gone awry.  It wasn’t obvious where to figure out what was going on at first, then the light bulb flashed and I tried disk utility.  Unable to mount disk, please run verify operation.

Ok, lets give that a shot.  Chug chug chug.  Kaboom.  Disk has problems, verification process ended.  Please run repair operation.  Well, fiddle dee dee.  Lets give it a try.

Chug chug chug.  Kaboom.  File system on disk is damaged and can’t be fixed.  Please copy whatever you can off the disk and reformat it.

Oh. crap.

At this point, I wonder if I just confused the disk utility program by trying to run verify and/or repair while it was already trying to do something else (I’d hope OSX would be smart enough to not let you do something like that, but who knows?)  If the disk is toast, its not really gonna matter if I just yank it out now.

So, I did that, gave it a few seconds and jacked it back in.  Chug, chug, chug.  Blip, there’s the drive in Finder.


All the irreplaceable files on the drive do exist in at least one other place, so if the drive did actually fail, I wouldn’t lose anything important, but I wouldn’t much look forward to trying copy a terabyte of stuff back on to a new drive from my other backups.  That being said, its probably time to add another backup copy rotation into my back up system.

The 60Gb iPhoto library copy just finished.  Hopefully everything made the trip as expected.

Take it off Baby

Santa Claus was very nice to me this year and brought me a shiny new Samsung 250Gb SSD for my aging Macbook Pro.

Hardware-wise, swapping harddrives in my generation of MBP (Early 2011) is super simple.  Especially if you consult the related Ifixit guide.  Basically you take off the bottom (about 12 screws), disconnect the battery, take off a little bracket that holds in the drive, and take the mounting studs off the old drive.  Then just reverse the process.  Only took about 10 minutes.

For the inexperienced, here’s the general lay of the land inside a 13″ Macbook Pro.


And a close up of the new SSD, seated in its new digs.


Having both drives in hand, the SSD weighs nothing compared to the old spinner that it replaced.  Unfortunately, the weight savings isn’t really noticeable when everything is put back together (now it ways a fraction less than the 5lbs that it weighed previously.)

I did my homework on reinstalling Mavericks on a brand new disk (since OS install disks seem to be a relic of the past.)  You need to download the Recovery Disk Assistant tool and ‘burn’ it to a USB key to boot off and reinstall the rest of OSX.

For me, it booted fine, but when I clicked the install Mavericks icon, it got the verifying the computer is eligible step, and bombed out with a can’t continue, please restart error. Of course, when you restart, it just does the same thing over again.

I looked at the handy ‘install log’ and didn’t really have anything terribly useful in it.  But I noticed the time stamps were all wonky (something in 2009).  I think I noticed this last time I reinstalled OSX from scratch.  After fumbling around with the arguments to the date utility on the command line, I was able to get the clock reset.  After that, the reset of the reinstall process went pretty smooth.  About 90 minutes later, my fresh Mavericks install was complete.

Onward and upward, now on to reinstalling all of my programs.