Tag: troubleshooting

I’d been struggling valiantly with a blog that refused to save properly without giving an error (plug: www.ryersonformulasae.com, check it out!) until earlier today I decided to try modifying the settings until something changed. After deactivating the first plugin–which happened to be of my own creation–the problem was solved.

So now I know the solution, and would like to share it with others: if your WordPress installation is messed up, try deactivating your plugins one at a time and maybe your problem will work itself out.

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No matter how stable, awesome or bulletproof your operating system may seem, there may come a time when you need to start over. This may not happen with Mac OS X very often, but it can be real annoying when it needs to be done. I was asked recently what’s the best method for getting OS X clean on your computer, and the answer really depends on how fresh you want to start. You need to choose if you want to retain your current information or have a completely empty computer.

With that in mind, here is a small guide for installing OS X properly.


  1. Upgrade
  2. Archive and Install
  3. Erase and Install

The procedure for all of these operations is the same. Once you have booted from the Install disk, fill out the necessary options for customizing your installation and choose Options from the install location panel (where you pick which disk to install on). This window gives you an option to do any of the 3 procedures outlined here.


The fastest and simplest method for starting with a new operating system, Upgrade simply overwrites the system folder with a fresh one. If the Install DVD is older than your current system, it will revert to that number (ie. OS X 10.5.4 goes back to 10.5.0). This will not impact your personal data at all, and can be done in as little as 20 minutes (if you customize the install). When you receive a new OS from retail, this is typically the default method.

Though you should back up regularly regardless, it is especially important to back up before upgrading in this manner because there is slightly more risk involved than other methods.

Archive and Install

A popular method for Apple Geniuses to heal sick computers, archive and install means installing a new system folder overtop the old, but also moving that old folder into a safe place on your hard drive for backup. With this method, all your original documents, settings and applications are safe, as long as you select Preserve network settings and users, like the above picture. It offers more safety than the standard Upgrade procedure because it makes a single overwriting operation into two safer ones.

Erase and Install

Erase and install will wipe your drive clean and start fresh with a brand new system. Your documents, settings and applications will all be deleted for good, and you will not be able to access them unless you’ve backed them up before to a separate drive. This method shouldn’t be used unless you believe your computer needs to be cleared of everything in order to work properly. If you’re selling your computer, this is how you should prepare it.

If you choose to erase your drive completely but still wish to retain your data, all hope is not lost. In a case like that, you could clone your hard drive to an external drive, and use the Migration Assistant to transfer your files. The MA appears as the option Would you like to transfer files from another Mac? when you prepare your computer initially. Make the selection for Transfer from another partition on this Mac and choose the external drive. Wait for the files to transfer and you’ll be productive again in no time.

Apple makes installing their operating system very easy. With a little preparation you can reinstall OS X quickly and efficiently so you can get back to your work.

[tags]OS X, Apple, Mac, MacBook, installation, tutorial[/tags]

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If you run a home server, use file sharing on your network or use BitTorrent, you’ll know how inconvenient a dynamic IP address can be. Rather than memorizing a single address for each computer, you need to constantly look up each system. The solution is to set up your router to use static IP addresses. The problem — if you use an Apple Airport base station — is that the setting is often hidden among the advanced features, and even then it can be hard to identify.

I found the solution while browsing around the Airport Utility after my Internet went down. The setting is hidden in the Internet tab, under DHCP. There you’ll find a list that says IP Reservations, which is Apple’s way of saying these computers will each get a dedicated address.

To set up a computer, click the + icon and start the assistant. The key to successfully setting up the entire system is knowing a computer’s MAC address, which can be found from the Airport Utility under logs and statistics (like the picture below). This code of letters and numbers uniquely identifies each computer on your network, so you’ll need to make a note of it and enter it into the Reserved IP assistant.

With the assistant complete, you need to update the settings on the Airport and wait for the computer’s IP lease to reset. Once that is done, you’ll be able to use the reserved IP whenever you access the computer.

[tags]Airport, Apple, OS X, networking[/tags]

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Front Row was a great addition to the iMac G5 when it was introduced in 2005. It gave a home theatre-like interface to some of the excellent applications that make up the iLife suite — iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband and iWeb. Using the included Apple Remote, users can sit on a couch and view movies, movie trailers, photos and listen to songs that are stored on the computer.

If you’re using an iMac, there’s no problem because the screen is likely large enough to view media nicely. But what if you’re using a MacBook or MacBook Pro and have it connected to a nice big HDTV? The problem is that Front Row only shows on the primary display, and if you’re using the portable in extended desktop mode, the interface will default to the internal screen.

The solution is to only use the external monitor. How? Simply close your MacBook to put it to sleep and use the remote to wake the computer. If you have a password to exit the screensaver you’ll need to open the laptop to type that in, but once you close it again, the computer only uses the external display.

Press any button on the remote, or even use an external keyboard while the computer is asleep and you’ll be able to enjoy Front Row in beautiful high definition on your big TV. Couple that with 5.1 surround sound and you’ve got a complete theatre experience.

[tags]MacBook, Leopard, Front Row, HDTV[/tags]

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I’ve been frustrated recently because external hard drives connected to my MacBook have refused to unmount. After resorting to restarting before trying again, I posted my problem to a number of online forums.

Knowledgeable member of the Macworld forums oddlot answered my question with a Unix command called hdiutil that can force eject a drive.

I took this command and wrote a quick Applescript that displays a list of the connected drives and force ejects the one you choose.

tell application "Finder"
  set startupDisk to "Macintosh HD"
  --suppress errors if there are no other drives connected
    set allDrives to the name of every disk whose name does not contain startupDisk
  on error
    display dialog "There are no other drives to unmount"
  end try
  set selectedDrive to "Cookie Monster"
  --create the list of drives to unmount
  set selectedDrive to {choose from list allDrives with prompt "Choose the drive to unmount:"} as text
  --remove spaces from disk names
  set OldDelims to AppleScript's AppleScript's text item delimiters
  set AppleScript's AppleScript's text item delimiters to " "
  set newText to text items of selectedDrive
  set AppleScript's AppleScript's text item delimiters to "" & space
  set theText to newText as text
  set AppleScript's AppleScript's text item delimiters to OldDelims
    --shell script that force ejects the selected hard drive
    do shell script "hdiutil eject -force /Volumes/" & theText
  end try

end tell

I linked this up to a Butler trigger, so now if a drive is uncooperative, I can activate this script with one key combination.

If you wish to use this script as a simple application, copy the code listed into a Script Editor window (found in /Applications/Applescript). You’ll likely not need to change anything, but if your startup disk is anything other than Macintosh HD, you need to change the beginning variable startupDisk. Choose Save As from the File menu and pick Application from the dropdown menu. This will create an application that you can easily double click whenever you need it.

UPDATE: I realized after I posted this that the functionality is broken when the disk contains spaces in the name. The code posted here has been corrected.
[tags]Applescript, Automator, programming[/tags]

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