Friday, December 15, 2017

"Initial" Utility Support For APFS
Is Here!

--


Kudos to Micromat for being the first file system repair utility to be compatible with Apple's (as yet unfinished) APFS, Apple File System for SSDs (solid state drives) running macOS 10.13.x High Sierra! Well done chaps!

You can read about APFS compatibility added to TechTool Pro v9.6 here


Please note that this is only 'initial' support for APFS. But for now, IMHO this is sufficient support for APFS. Micromat states:
Trust us when we say that there is a lot going on with this new file system, so this is just *initial* support. Techtool Pro can now test and repair these disks, even eDrives on them, but we're still hard at work exploring the depths of this file system. Some more advanced features will be coming down the road. 
I've been using Micromat utilities for a couple decades and have never had troubles with their software. Some users have complained about the upgrade fee from TechTool Pro v9 to v9.5. The addition of APFS repair functionality in v9.6 makes the upgrade cost worthwhile.

Still on my radar are APFS repair compatibility in Alsoft's DiskWarrior and Prosoft Engineering's Drive Genius. I'm specifically interested in utilities being able to repair APFS drives. That's what I consider to be critical.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Meanwhile, there is not-a-sign of Apple progressing with APFS functionality on either hard drives or Fusion drives. There has been no explanation of why, despite there having been Fusion drive compatibility in the first High Sierra beta release. Also, there has been no workaround for the inability of HFS+ drives to access APFS drives. That's bad.

As such I continue to NOT recommend upgrading to macOS 10.13.x High Sierra UNLESS you're only working with SSD Macs. If any HD or Fusion drives are on your network, you're thoroughly stiffed, stung and stalled if you want them to access High Sierra SSD Macs. As such, I consider High Sierra to be an unfinished beta OS, not ready for prime time.

 It's time for the Apple Prod®™. Get moving Apple!!!




 --

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mac Professionals:
Wait to upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra

--

For Mac professionals, I highly recommend NOT YET updating to macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

Only today, the release date of High Sierra, has Apple let developers know the APFS standard has been finalized. All developers whose software must directly interact with the Mac file system have been waiting until this specific day of standardization until beginning to recode and adapt their software.

As such, it is going to take some time for critical software to catch up with APFS and macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

Therefore, IMHO, waiting to update may be critically important.

Also keep in mind that APFS is specifically designed to work at this time with SSD Macs and NOT Fusion Drive Macs. Please read through this article for further information:

Apple File System in macOS High Sierra won’t work with Fusion Drives
At least not at launch.

IOW: APFS is NOT actually finished, despite Apple’s finalized standard.

You can read developer information about APFS here:

https://developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/FileManagement/Conceptual/APFS_Guide/Introduction/Introduction.html

--

Monday, August 28, 2017

Disk Utilities vs macOS 10.13 High Sierra: Updates Required
(+ Addendum)

--

There is zero indication that any current disk repair and recovery utilities with which I'm acquainted are going to be compatible with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. Instead, I'm reading reports that they're throwing errors when run on 10.13 beta.


Therefore!


I personally suggest holding onto your money before buying or upgrading ANY disk utility application. Within a month from now we'll know what's going on, so it's no big wait. Blowing dough on current disk utility software is likely to be a total waste.


The situation is that macOS 10.13 High Sierra formally introduces a new file system called Apple File System (APFS). It is foreign to ALL current disk utilities. As such, I'd count on them not working with the new OS.


Disk Repair and Recovery Utilities I've checked:

  • Alsoft DiskWarrior: No mention of 10.13 High Sierra on their website.*
  • Micromat TechTool Pro: No mention of 10.13 High Sierra on their website.
  • Prosoft Engineering Drive Genius and DataRescue: No mention of 10.13 High Sierra on their website.
  • 508 Software (CleverFiles) Disk Drill (Pro): They very kindly have provided a webpage describing their current work on updating their software for High Sierra HERE. Thank you!
  • MacWare DiskTools Pro: Abandonware. I'd personally advise tossing it into the trash.



Other Disk Utilities?


I expect there are going to be compatibility updates for a lot of other disk related utilities. Off the top of my head, I can imagine updates to such utilities as:


CCleaner

Cocktail
DaisyDisk
Deeper
EtreCheck
GrandPerspective
MacPilot
Maintenance
Onyx
Yasu

It's possible Apple will provide an API layer to help these higher level utilities to continue to work on 10.13 High Sierra.


I have access via AppleSeed to macOS 10.13 betas, but I've avoided it due to my concern about being able to repair disk problems that may arise. Otherwise, I'd have tested all these apps directly. If readers have conducted disk utility tests on 10.13 and would like to share results, please post!




*My sympathies and best wishes to Alsoft, who were affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. 😿


--

ADDENDUM

I've received a reply comment from Christianp at Micromat regarding both TechTool Pro and MacCheck:
[TechTool Pro] 9.5.2 is a maintenance update, while 10.13 compatibility will arrive in a future update. We never release an update with new OS compatibility until *after* the OS update is released, as Apple sometimes makes last minute changes.


Also, note that APFS is still in development, and Apple has yet to release a spec to developers, which will delay full APFS support from third-party utility makers. Nonetheless, basic APFS support in MacCheck should be available shortly after 10.13 is officially released.

Hopefully this helps.
I’ve verified that this is indeed the case, as per Apple’s statements at their developer website:

Important: This documentation contains preliminary information about an API or technology in development. This information is subject to change, and software implemented according to this documentation should be tested with final operating system software.
IOW: For a number of weeks after the official release of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, the ONLY disk utility we’re going have to repair 10.13 volumes is Apple’s own Disk Utility. I find that to be of considerable concern. It’s a motivator to WAIT to upgrade Macs to 10.13, IMHO.


--

Monday, June 26, 2017

Missing Emoji: 2017

--


Thanks to ease and simplicity of PopChar X, now at version 8, I've enjoyed playing with emoji. 

Years back I used to run a server of impossible-to-get music that included techno from Japan. As such, I was introduced to the Japanese versions of 'smilies', called emoticons. I still use a few of them as I prefer their linear design and find them very useful. My favorites are:


(0_o)(o_0) - craziness

(-_-) - sleeping

(^_^) - glee

(^_^)/ - waving

\(^_^)/ - manic glee

There are plenty more.

Then emoji evolved out of the Asian emoticon scene into the font scene. Emoji are in a state of evolution thanks to the expansion of the Unicode Technical Standard (UTS). As a result, there has been an explosion of available emoji as well as a decline in emoticons and smilies. I personally have no trouble mixing them together.


Recently, it has been announced that a collection of new emoji are being officially released and will be coming to the Mac and iOS probably this fall.


Final 2017 Emoji List
Unicode 10.0 is expected to be released in June 2017, and is required for many of the new emojis listed in Emoji 5.0.
The 69 new emoji include magical creatures, steam room, meditation, craziness, shhh, character censored obscenity, monocle face, exploding head, a full range of ages from child to adult, breast feeding, climbing, I Love You hand gesture, brain, winter clothing and sports, new animals, new vegetable, meat, lunch and snack stuff, chopsticks (at long last!), new flags, UFO, yet another heart color and of course vomit.

And yet, despite the already existent, mind boggling collection of now over 600 emoji, there are still many that I consider to be missing. I originally posted most of this list an Apple news website, who chose to censor it. They offered no explanation. I suspect it was my use of humor or my erroneous inclusion of chop sticks. (At last! We have chopsticks!) So I dumped the website from my bookmarks and email, then decided to publish here my list of Missing Emoji: 2017. Please add your own missing emoji in the comments.


My list of still missing emoji, 2017-06-23


Coffee cup, steaming (classic, every coder has one!)

Hula girl (classic)
Grand piano (for dropping, music)
Anvil (for dropping, for blacksmiths)
The rest of the planets. (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) (Yes, Pluto)
Groundhog (Groundhog's Day)
Mole (living in the dark)
Skunk (smelly)
Nuclear explosion (controversial or obvious? You decide. My 6th grade teacher used them as quiz icons)
Donkey (to go with the elephant, of course).
Ice
Ice bucket (challenges)
Infinity ribbon symbol 
Ribbons in campaign colors
Wristbands / Bracelet in campaign colors
Mail humans (mailman & mailwoman)
Blimp / Dirigible (advertising, steampunk, Hindenburg disaster)
Goggles (both steampunk and dieselpunk)
Flying car (ever-promised and never delivered futurist icon)
Fan (air cooling and for the things that hit them, such as the poop emoji)
Acorn (the standard nut)
Candy cane (xmas candy)
Cross-eyed face
Chewing (gum, an idea, a victim's brain, whatever)
Broken glass / mirror (bad luck, accident, crash)
Gravestone (the end)
Wreath (for holidays and graves)
White wine glass (to go with the red wine glass)
Cigar, stogie (to go with the equally addictive cigarette)
Vinyl record (because some people still like them, I have no idea why)
International traffic symbols: Stop, Yield, Slow, Corner, Hill, Intersection, children at play, deaf or blind child, etc.

Google have their own proposed emoji for the purpose of reducing gender inequality. You can find them by clicking on either of the missing female emoji symbols on this page.


:-Derek


--

Friday, October 17, 2014

No Safari Title Bar
In OS X 10.10 Yosemite?!?!
--> A Quick Workaround

--

Apple has allowed me to be an AppleSeed beta tester for a couple years so far. I offered some bug reports and suggestions regarding OS X 10.10 Yosemite. But Apple has ignored feedback about one really odd change that breaks an eternal Mac standard: Apple removed the Title Bar from several application windows. I totally do NOT understand. This isn't a universal change in OS X. It's mixed into a few different standard applications and is an option for third party developers. Needless to say, my advice to developers is: DON'T DO THAT! 

My favorite example is the mess that has resulted using Safari version 8. I've complained to Apple, as have others! But Apple hasn't listened, so far.

This may not be an issue for casual Safari users. Many may find enough space up there where the Title Bar is supposed to be to grab Safari windows and move them around just fine. But for we fanatical power users, this is a BFD! Removing the simple, wonderful, eternal Mac Title Bar has created havoc.


Check this out:



(Click images on this page to see BIG versions)

Where, exactly, am I supposed to grab this Safari window in order to move it? Tell me! OMG, what hath Apple wrought?!

So I made a workaround.


Concept: Stuff a bunch of 'Flexible Space' items into the area where the Title Bar is supposed to be. This provides a nicely reliable, reasonably sized area for grabbing and moving Safari windows.


I) Right-Click (CTRL-Click) on the Toolbar (where the Title Bar used to be).




Up pops the "Customize Toolbar..." button. Click it.


II) Down drops the Toolbar pallet where you can drag and drop items into the Toolbar. 




We're going to drag in lots of 'Flexible Space' items. We need to put a lot of them in because they are indeed flexible down to a very minimal size of a few pixels. Because we have a traffic jam going on in the Toolbar and no Title Bar, we have to stuff lots of these minimal spaces somewhere in order to create a usable space for grabbing the Safari window.


My choice: I drag in four extra Flexible Spaces to the right of the Address and Search item. Add as many as you like. Pull some out later if you wish. It can be slightly tricky dragging flexible spaces to exactly where you want them. Practice and patience makes perfect.




III) Click the 'Done' button and away goes the Toolbar pallet. Now you can check out your work by trying to grab and drag around the Safari window. Play with adding or removing flexible spaces as you find useful. This is how mine turned out:




The space I created is fine for my utility. My new space is not going to move. It's going to stay exactly that size unless I remove Toolbar items, at which point it will flexibly expand.


Postscript: 


I know someone's going to whine about filling up the Toolbar with too much junk. Shut up. I like all that stuff in my toolbar and I use all it. The entire Safari traffic jam problem is due to Apple's decisions, NOT mine. Go blame them. Got it? Good.


It is my fervent hope that Apple sees the error of their ways and stops the madness. Title bars are a Mac mainstay and should NEVER EVER be removed. That's not a Luddite opinion. It's a UTILITARIAN opinion. Usefulness wins. Get back to useful Apple!



--

Monday, September 1, 2014

Skype: Ready For The Grave

--

Skype version 6.19.0.450 was released today. It comes with a surprise. Below is an essay on the subject I've been posting around the net:


└┌┘┐└┌┘┐└┌┘┐└┌┘┐



This POS crapware is to be avoided. It has been turned into a Microsoft product, with the usual crapification. Here is the supreme crapification:

Version 6.19.blah has the following LISTED and wrong system requirements:
All you need to get started is Mac OS X 10.5.8 or above, a webcam for video calls and a microphone.
And yet v6.19.blah requires OS X 10.9.x. FSCK -U Microsoft.

Earlier this week there was a lot of blahblah about Skype only working on 64-bit Macs in the future. And yet, here I am on a 64-bit Mac running 10.7.5 (the highest it will run) and the morons at Microsoft managed to screw up their '64-bit' rhetoric and screw over thousands of 64-bit Mac users. FSCK -U Microsoft.

If you and your friends and relatives use Skype, STOP. Use something else, such as CryptoCat or Apple's Facetime.

Microsoft's DETAILED System Requirements for Skype 6.19.blah, which are WRONG:
Skype for Mac 
1GHz Intel processor. 
Mac OS X 10.5.8+.
100 MB free disk space.
Either USB or regular headset if your Mac does not have a built-in microphone. 
Download drivers if you are using an external webcam.
For voice calls recommend broadband connection with 100 kbps down / 100 kbps up. 
For group video calling everyone on the call needs Skype 5.0 for Windows or Mac or higher plus webcams. For best quality we recommend you use a high-speed broadband connection of 4Mbps down/512kbps up and a computer with a Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz processor. As a minimum you’ll need a high-speed broad connection of 512kbps down/128kbps up and a computer with a 1 GHz processor.

FSCK -U Microsoft.


--

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How To Play M3U Music In Safari:
2014 Edition

--

INTRODUCTION

Back in time, circa the middle of 2010, some terrible things happened to QuickTime. I continue to wonder if Apple's QuickTime wunderkind left the company, leaving people who remained to pick up the pieces when QuickTime was made 64-bit. I recall writing to Apple a few times about what followed. To date, QuickTime 10 remains hobbled compared to QuickTime 7. It has no 'QuickTime Pro' option. It has taken years for Apple to finish updating the QuickTime components to 64-bit. It has literally been an incoherent mess, forcing serious QuickTime users to still use QuickTime 7 for full functionality. Explain that to me Apple, please.


One of the casualties of Apple blundering through the QuickTime 10 update has been the total loss of functionality playing M3U files on the web through Safari. Despite the QuickTime Internet Plugin being 100% capable of playing M3U linked audio files, Apple broke the connection ability in Safari 5 and lazily left it that way. Explain that to me Apple, please.


BORING STUFF TO SKIP

I know someone or other is going to disagree with my assertion above. So here's how you can prove I am correct:

1) Grab any M3U file off a website. Amazon is a great place to find them. They're what Amazon uses to play samples of tunes they sell as MP3s.

2) Drop the M3U file onto TextEdit and view the URL buried within.

3) Copy the M3U URL.

4) Open QuickTime Player 10.

5) Hit Command-L ('Open Location…') to open the URL entry box.

6) Paste in the M3U URL.

7) Click 'Open'. See the linked M3U audio file play perfectly. Shake your head at Apple trying to figure out why they cut access to this functionality out of the QuickTime plug-in. It's beyond comprehension.


BACK ON SUBJECT

When you click on an M3U link in Safari, what you get is an M3U file downloading to your Mac. Double-click the file and it iTunes will open, follow the M4U link and play the tune for you. I find this to be unacceptable. I don't want iTunes running when I'm browsing the Internet, cleaning up after Apple's bungled QuickTime plug-in. I want the tune to play INSIDE Safari, as intended.

So what plug-in can we use instead?

I believe it's still possible to finagle around with RealPlayer plug-in, if you want to bother with it. I don't. I don't know what's the point of RealPlayer any more.

That leaves the Adobe Flash plug-in. Oh no. If you read my Mac-Security blog you know that Flash is the second-most dangerous, insecure plug-in you can use on the Internet, second only to Oracle's awful Java plug-in. But thankfully, some bright and brilliant people at Apple now take OS X security seriously, and have written some excellent plug-in control into Safari. This helps to keep nasty Flash malware off our Macs. But it also means that the old methods for getting Flash to play M3U files has changed. Therefore, here is the new, current, 2014 Edition of…


How To Play M3U Music In Safari

Below, I'm providing a method for setting up Flash to play M3U tunes at Amazon. But this method applies to any website where you encounter M3U files. Simply substitute that website in the first step:

1) Visit an Amazon.com page with MP3s you can sample and buy.

2) Open up Safari Preferences. (Command-comma)

3) Click open the ‘Security’ tab.

4) Go to the bottom and check ON “Internet plug-ins” Allow Plug-ins”.

5) Click the button “Manage Website Settings

6) In the drop-down page, click on “Adobe Flash Player”, likely at the top of the list.

7) On the right of the page, scroll UP to the TOP of the ‘Adobe Flash Player’ sub-window. You should see “Currently Open Websites” as a header with “www.amazon.com” listed below (or other web page from step 1).

8) Click the popup menu and select “Allow”. 
(Please never, ever choose ‘Allow Always’ or ‘Unsafe Mode’ as they invite Flash security exploits. And that's a bad thing).

9) Click the ‘Done’ button.

10) Close the Safari Preferences window.

11) Reload the Amazon page (or other web page from step 1)

Tada! The Amazon play buttons will now actually play music within Safari.

You’ll also see a new header menu above the tunes labeled ‘Samples’ as well as a back button, ‘Preview all songs/Pause’ button, Forward button and volume slider.

M3U functionality restored!

Here are a couple images to help illustrate the instructions. Click to blow them up for viewing:




I hope you find this helpful!

:-Derek