Mac Mini despair
#262 Henry, 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.

No comments
Backblaze issues
#261 Henry, 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.

No comments
Clean install of Yosemite on Mac Mini
#260 Henry, 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.

No comments
MacMini death spiral
#259 Henry, 16 May 2015 2:44 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini)

The Mac Mini has been getting crazier and crazier. I use it as my Media Server supporting the Apple TV. I've been watching Breaking Bad, complete seasons. I find that I can watch two episodes, and then the Apple TV can't connect to the Mac Mini any more. I go in and look at the screen and it shows this:

Mac Mini death spiral

Some kernel_task is consuming most of the CPU, it's unresponsive. I can't ssh in, I can't open a terminal, I can't open the Finder, I can't kill processes, the little whirling circle is there and that's all that I can do - move that whirling circle around. I have to power the Mac Mini down, and reboot it. It's good for a couple more episodes of Breaking Bad, and then it needs rebooting. If I leave it overnight, I will have to reboot in the morning.

Since I started the Backblaze backups, it stays alive a little longer, but it still locks up. This is not satisfactory. I've searched Apple forums, I've tried asking questions, I cannot get any resolution. I've run the Apple hardware diagnostic tests, both short and long, and it gets a clean bill of health. I think the hardware is okay but the software is not. If I can't get a fix for this, I am going to abandon Apple for my media center.

I have one other problem with the Mac Mini. The App Store says I have 7 upgrades available. I upgrade them. Five minutes later, it says I have 7 upgrades available, and they are for the same items and the same new version numbers. They do get installed, and if I run them they have the new version numbers. But I cannot get the App Store to recognise that they have been upgraded.

This Mac Mini is not working right, and I think it's the installation. This might require drastic surgery.

No comments
Backblaze for cloud backups
#258 Henry, 14 May 2015 9:18 PM (Category: Gadgets)
(Tags: backblaze backup)

I was thinking about my backups. My desktop is now backed up to the Drobo. That's good. It's not perfect but it's good. I've been thinking about cloud backups.

Doug uses Backblaze for his backups. He's been using them for a few years. Costs him $50 a year and he has unlimited backups into the cloud.

I downloaded the software, installed it on my Mac and it started backup up EVERYTHING. 10 terabytes. Oh no, I did not want this. I got into the settings and limited what it was doing. I would prefer not to back up my Macintosh HD at all, but I can't turn that off. I limited it to just the copy of my Linux desktop on the Drobo, not the music or movies or TV. But still, even after I had limited it, it said it was going to back up about 800,000 files. WTF? Why so many? Photos. And clipart. And a whole mess of stuff. All sorts of temporary files and and junk. I need to go through everything and clean it out. I shouldn't have 800,000 files and 1 terabyte of data. That's just stupid.

The initial backup will take days. After that it will keep it in sync. So I will keep my desktop in sync with the Drobo, and the Drobo will sync up to Backblaze. If I lose everything in a fire, I can get the whole lot put on a hard disk and mailed to me.

So it was working out okay, so I signed up and paid for my first year's subscription of $50. They say it's unlimited, and I could probably back up the whole 10 terabytes, but I don't want that. I'm going to keep cutting my data back and cleaning things up.

No comments