Old gear winding down
#264 Henry, Sunday, 24 May 2015 4:10 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macbook)

I woke up this morning and went to use my ancient white MacBook, 2006 vintage. Oh no, it starts to boot and then the hard disk gives a tick-tick-tick and that's it. Well, crap. Everything else seems good, just the hard disk has gone bad. I've replaced that hard disk once already, so replacing it again is no big deal. I'll order the hard disk soon.

Oh rats. I have a item on my to-do list - back up the tax file on my MacBook. Now I wish I had done that. All I had to do was copy the file to Dropbox or ownCloud and I would have no problems. Oh well, when I finish my taxes, I print a full copy of it and store that so I can easily recreate the electronic version if I have to.

I brought home my metal MacBookPro of 2006 vintage and set it up as the temporary replacement. It's working nicely right now.

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To the Genius Bar
#263 Henry, Saturday, 23 May 2015 1:54 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini genius)

I have one month left on the one-year warranty on the Mac Mini. I better do something while I still can.

I tried using the Apple website to book an appointment at the Genius Bar. Using Linux to do that proved difficult. No, not difficult, impossible. I pulled up the App Store app on my phone and had an appointment within seconds. That was neat.

I took the Mac Mini in this morning, checked in, and waited. Right on time, I saw one of the Geniuses come out with a monitor. Hah, I bet that's for me and the Mac Mini. And sure enough, she was. I had a diagram showing how the Mac Mini fit into the system, I had a timeline showing when the problems started, and when they occurred, and when I did a clean install. She looked in the Console and saw the history of kernel panics. I felt better, there was evidence and not just me making stuff up. She ran the standard Apple hardware tests, no problems found. She did a network connect and ran a series of inhouse special tests. No problems found.

She said she suspected the memory, or the motherboard. No, she really suspected the motherboard but wanted to test the memory first to eliminate that. She wanted to keep the Mac Mini for 3 or 4 days, run tests, replace the motherboard, run more tests. Okay, fine with me. I signed the order for the new motherboard, a little shocked at the $480 price tag. I balked at first, asking if I had to pay that. No, I didn't have to pay anything, the final price at the bottom was $0. That was probably designed to make me appreciate what I was getting. She took it away and now I wait for the result.

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Mac Mini despair
#262 Henry, Monday, 18 May 2015 6:47 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini)

When I got up this morning, the Mac Mini was humming along, no problems. I felt great relief. I left it backing up.

When I got home I went to check on the Backblaze backup status on the Mac Mini. The Backblaze website showed that no more files had been uploaded since this morning. I went to ssh into the Mac Mini and got nothing. Oh crap.

Turned on the monitor and saw a grey screen. The Mac Mini was hot. I powered it down, let it cool, and then rebooted. Since then it's been okay, but I no longer trust it.

I've had Mac Minis since they were first released. They have been super reliable all these years. This one is a lemon. This one completely sucks. I don't know if it's hardware or software. I have 6 weeks left on the one year warranty. I am going to take it back to Apple and see if they can find anything wrong with it.

But no more. I am going to move away from Apple. It's been great, but it's not so great any more. I like the iPhone and I like the iPads, but I am beginning to dislike the Macs. They are pretty but I don't use much of them. I use them as a media server to serve up to the Apple TV. I use them to host the Drobo. But that changes now. I am going to move away for the media server. First, I'll find something like a Drobo that I can use with Linux. Then I'll set up Plex and move to a Roku. Sure, I'll miss some things that Apple provides, but what I am looking for is stability. I want a server that will stay running for more than 12 hours. I want a server that will run for years. I get that with Linux, I used to get that with Apple, but I'm not getting it any more. So I will shift. Might take me a year, but it's going to happen.

Means I'll be giving up Backblaze too, as it doesn't run on Linux.

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Backblaze issues
#261 Henry, Sunday, 17 May 2015 11:41 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini backblaze)

I had done a clean install on my Mac Mini. I put Backblaze back on and wanted to get the backup going again. Uh-oh. The clean install means this is a new machine. My $50 license was for a machine that doesn't exist any more. I sighed a lot at this point, considering a session of working through Customer Service and trying to get things changed.

But wait. Surely in the backup game this is a common occurrence. They must get this all the time. I checked the website and sure enough, they do, and they have specific instructions on how to handle this scenario.

I logged onto the Backblaze website and went to my account Overview. Sure enough, at the bottom of the page are a number of options, including "How do I transfer a license to a different computer?". That was my scenario. They instructed me to switch to the Account page, and delete the old computer. That left me with an unused license. By this time, Backblaze on my Mac Mini was doing a free trial backup so the new computer was showing on my Account page. I applied the unused license to the new one, and it took, and all was well.

So now Backblaze is busy backing up my Drobo again.

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Clean install of Yosemite on Mac Mini
#260 Henry, Sunday, 17 May 2015 3:30 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini)

The Mac Mini situation got worse and worse overnight and today. Constant freezes and hard power downs. I had enough. As a last resort, I wanted to do a clean install of the OS on the Mac Mini. I had to research this, as OS X now comes as a download upgrade, there is no CD or BluRay to install from.

I found a good write-up on Mashable.

I downloaded the Yosemite upgrade from Apple. Then I downloaded and installed DiskMaker X. I had a spare 80 gig USB drive handy. They recommended an 8 gig USB stick, but I wasn't sure I had one that would be bootable, but I knew the little external HDD would work. I let Diskmaker X run and it opened the Yosemite download and created a bootable installable partition on the external HDD.

It took a little time to complete. When it was all done, I rebooted my Mac Mini and when it restarted I held down the Option key. Actually I held down the wrong key and had to shutdown and reboot again. This time it came up with an option of where to boot from, and one of those was my external HDD with Yosemite on it. I selected that, and then it booted and gave me more options. I chose Utilities, then Disk Utility, and then I formatted the hard drive in the Mac Mini. Then I installed Yosemite on it.

The installation went well. It finished, I rebooted. Took a little to configure things. I did not install much software on it. I wanted it as close to pristine as I could get. So I installed the Drobo Dashboard, to get access to my Drobo, and Backblaze went on so I could backup the Drobo. Serve To Me went on so I could serve media out to my iPads. Firefox also, because I cannot like Safari. And that was it.

I loaded up iTunes with all the music and movies on the Drobo, set up home sharing and I was back in business. I went back to binge-watching Breaking Bad. The Mac Mini caused me no problems. I hope it stays that way.

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