One word

and it’s not Avengers, it’s Battletech.

The new Battletech from Paradox (also available through Steam) is excellent.

And personally the best news, its ON THE IMAC as well. So I can play it.

And its really interesting and really well done.

 

I’ll do a longer review with pics in a bit. But if you’ve ever been a table top player, then I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Deed is done.

The decision was made, the transaction complete.

The iMac has been replaced with….

…..

….

 

..

 

another 27″ iMac.

Well I bet that was a surprise.

IMG_2720
Can you tell which is which???  (ok the default wallpaper and the smaller keyboard give it away)

Went out yesterday and bought it from the Apple Store. Using education prices I got a discount and also a set of wireless Beats headphones. JB Hifi could beat the Apple Store prices, but not by much (about $50) but couldn’t throw in the headphones. I didn’t particularly want the headphones but since they are free and worth $400 (retail), why miss out on it. I figure I could use them with the iMac when trying to ignore the Mrs watching her shows on the PC next to me……

I picked up the base 27″ which means a 1TB Hybrid HDD and a basic i5, with a Radeon 570 card. A massive step up in performance when compared to my late 2009 iMac. Not going to win any races, but fine for me. Heck, now I have the first 4K (well 5K) display in the house (our TVs are full HD, not 4K). As long as I can study and I can run videos at full screen, I will be happy (actually I haven’t tested that yet).

First impression was – it’s lighter – I discovered as I picked it up to walk out of the store. Eventually, when getting it home my first impression was the screen is really nice. Initially the brightness was right up, but it was actually the fineness of text and lines of dialog and windows that made the biggest impression on me. When I eventually connected the Dell 27″ 1440 monitor I had with the older iMac, yes, the screen is much nicer in the new iMac.

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Here it is, all set up as dual screen. The Beats are on the desk to the left of the iMac. This shot really hides the difference between the Dell and the iMac.

The next impression is speed. It’s certainly quicker than the older model. I have decided that once its all up and running and I can confirm that everything I want is either moved or backed up, I am intending to wipe and restore the older one. I’m sure it used to be quicker than it is these days.

I decided not to do a restore from the Time Machine. I thought, its time for a bit of a spring clean. So I’ve moved email and photo archives and my current study over and very little else. The rest is available either from backup, NAS or the cloud.

Several hours later I realised that I forgot to copy the iTunes folder and set that up on the to connect to the store on the NAS. Of course, this is after I packed away the old iMac. So now I have all my music downloaded from Apple Music and stored on this iMac, and a big folder on the NAS with nothing pointing to it. Might have to work through that in the next few days. However, I did learn about browsing my Team Machine backup so the old iMac can sit away getting dust as everything I would need is here on the backup disk…. Time Machine scores YET again (really, its one of THE BEST THINGS about OSX).

Of course, in the middle of all of this, one of the NAS drives has died, so I don’t want to do too much copying and working on the NAS until I replace the drive. Got a couple inbound at the moment. Half think I bought an extra last time, but can’t think where I stored it if I did.

Overall, its like the old one has just been refreshed. I don’t think Mrs has even realised, and probably won’t, until she spots the box from the new one under the stairs.

 

Not the right colour :(

My iMac has been showing symptoms that I think may be terminal, or at least probably very expensive.

In the past couple of weeks there has been the occasional flashes of pink/orange/green squares appearing randomly on the screen. This Sunday, when I returned from Sydney, the screen was covered in them. And the iMac seemed to be running slowly.

I am fairly confident in diagnosing a graphics cards in its last days. There are always other possibilities, but that is the most likely. The iMac is about 5 years old and the card is pretty tight in there. Yes the aluminium unibody would act as a heat sink, but it still gets warm. Running a second screen (also 1440 27″) may have hastened it’s demise.

So I’m struggling to export and back up. That’s to add to the 2 other backups I have of course. Perhaps I am being a little paranoid, but there is the possibility that I won’t return to a Mac at the end of this. So stuff has be available in a format that Windows can also use.

A couple of hiccups in the copy have me doing some direct shell work on my NAS. Seems the most reliable way to delete things from the server (there are some duplicates of the iPhoto Library I’m trying to get rid of).

It is also screwing up my study. I have an essay due this week and I’m not looking forward to having to sort it out without a computer!

Apple why you don’t like NAS??????

Argh, Apple, what have you got against NAS? Many may be aware that Apple has released its latest version of OSX, called Mavericks. As part of the update they have given iMovie and iPhoto a makeover.

While the upgrade to Mavericks went without any trouble, the iMovie update has not gone so well. The previous iMovie didn’t support NAS, though eventually with some searching across the internet I found this

defaults write -app iMovie allowNV -bool true

which when typed into Terminal (OSX command line interface – very powerful) fixed it.

The new iMovie broke the link again. The command hasn’t worked on it, so now I’m stuck (like many other people) with a load of iMovie projects that I can’t load into iMovie without copying back onto my iMac’s HDD. Now we’re talking about gigabytes of stuff and you might recall I have had a disk space issue with just my iTunes Library. There’s no way I can keep all my iMovie projects on the HDD!

My frustration is increased as I did spend a little bit of money (not a big amount, but about $500-$800)  on setting up the NAS. It’s still working fine as my iTunes Library by the way. Anyway I spent the money and it isn’t able to be used as much as I had hoped because of strange limitations that are in other applications.

So I considered moving up to Final Cut, Apple’s higher specification video editing program (aimed at professionals), but some brief research tells me it has exactly the same limitation. I wonder if iPhoto and Aperture (Apple’s photo programs) do as well – though I’ve kept the iPhoto Library on the iMac. Come on, even lowly little me has gigabytes of video, imagine a pro! And they want it all to fit on the 1TB HDD that comes standard. Someone commented that they might want us to move to Thunderbolt instead of Ethernet, but I read that Thunderbolt solutions don’t work either!

Now I’m looking into totally avoiding the problem and moving to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I’m just doing some research about costs and whether it can use a NAS when on OSX.

The advantages are that I would be able to use all of Adobe’s Creative programs (Photoshop, Premiere and Dreamweaver and many others) on two computers even different OS, and get lifetime upgrades. For a cost that would save me money for a few years. It looks promising.

NAS. Hiccup

Discovered a problem with my setup. Not really the NAS fault as far as I can tell either.

When I download a rental from iTunes, it won’t play. The AppleTV says the computer isn’t authourised, iTunes says the file is quicktime and iTunes doesn’t support that. It won’t move it to an iOS device and there is no picture displayed, just the blank, I don’t have any cover art, image.

Now remember, the whole rest of the library works, and I’m not trying to play some ancient file I dug up somewhere, this is a rental I downloaded maybe two days ago.

Net research suggests its not limited to my setup, but that most who use NAS have this problem and there were varied suggestions to fix it.

The first suggestions I didn’t like as it mostly involved moving my library. Deleting files seemed problematic for a rental as then I would have to rent it again.

Let me describe the delete solution to show you, and it will show how ridiculous the error is

1. Find the file on you hard disk

2. Copy it somewhere else – like the Desktop

3. Delete the original

4. Reimport the copy (easy as dragging it from the desktop into iTunes)

5. Wait a minute or so for the copy to complete (and behind the scenes its being copied to exactly where you copied it from!)

6. Play movie and enjoy.

Wait what! You didn’t do anything to the file!

Nope. And I found out you don’t even need to do step three. So it works for rentals.

So its some stupid iTunes quirk with using a NAS. Or rather some stupid iTunes Store quirk with using a NAS.

There’s nothing wrong with my NAS – its iTunes.

NAS. Life is Good.

Success. I have moved my iTunes library onto the NAS and Time Machine is happily backing up to it as well. I’m not sure that the PC has access to anything, but to be honest, not sure that’s a problem – the PC isn’t used for much apart from keeping the rest of the family happy with facebook, streaming TV etc. I’ve never bothered doing a backup of it as there’s nothing on it that can be reinstalled or redownloaded. A hassle yes, but not going to lose family photos or anything.

Moving iTunes has cleared about 550G off the iMac, correspondingly the backup is significantly smaller. I’ve also freed up a USB port, which is always helpful.

The only drawback I’ve noticed is that the NAS isn’t as quiet as the iMac, must be the fans, and it does create a noticeable lag in my system. I suspect that is the trade off, noise reduction and sleeping drives in the NAS vs instant response in iTunes. I’ll fiddle with the settings as I use it to find the sweet spot for me.

Overall I’m happy with what’s happened. I’m not 100% sure I know why it started to work yesterday and that worries me a little. But I backups that I can restore to if required.

And later if I wanted to I could turn the server in a cloud, an ftp, a web server or whatever as well. But not at the moment.

NAS. I am.

Started work on the NAS yesterday. I started by adding the two new HDDs and ripping the other two out of the PC (I will have to go back and make sure the RAID is properly deactivated there).

Then using the downloaded CD I booted the PC (not the NAS as it doesn’t have an optical drive) into the NAS4Free. This allowed me to use the CD to install the OS onto the USB that would act as the system drive. Done.

Next step was to attach the NAS to a screen, ethernet and keyboard so I could boot. Actually, the next step was to fire up the PC and make sure it was still working properly with 2 HDD missing and having been NAS4Free temporarily!

The NAS booted without any problem and I ensured the IP was configured and static. From now on, I should only need to use the web interface (just like you can with your modem router).

Got the NAS into its permanent abode, and logged in. Created the RAID pool, and started on getting the shares set up.

This is where I’m up to. I can get the PC to find one of the shares, the iMac will find it if I explicitly tell it the share. And they can both write to the share. So it’s almost working right. I’d like to able to browse to the share on the Mac. That will make it easier when using the drive in applications (like iTunes). Neither can see the other share though.

Well the dawn of another day, and I hope to get some chances to work on it today or tomorrow.

NAS is coming

hp-micro-g7-n54l

My iMac hard drive is rapidly filling up, a combination of ripping the DVDs I have around the house and the raw footage for my YouTube videos seems to be the culprit.

So it’s time to move ahead with the plans I made when I upgraded my PC. At the time I bought a couple of extra HDD with the idea that when I eventually needed a more storage I could use them as the base.

After looking about at the options (like buying a off the shelf one, building one from scratch) a good option seemed to be this little beauty. HP Proliant N54L Microserver. The Proliant series are HP (nee Compaq) range of servers, usually large and often rack mounted. This is a little 20 x 20 x 30 cm 4 bay server, running a little AMD Turion II. Not going to win any award for processing power, but its small and quiet. Perfect to be a NAS and sit quietly in the room getting about its business.

And for me that business will be storage. Using NAS4Free running off an internal USB stick, I have 4 2TB HDD to give me about 6TB of storage (running RAID 5 on ZFS). NAS4Free is an open source BSD based OS tailored for NAS. While you can add a bunch of other services to it, I plan to simply use it as storage. And I would hope that 6TB lasts me a few years.

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Running over the Gb Ethernet, I think that it should be responsive enough.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get it set up this weekend.

Gimme my DVD back!

Well after a bit of a heart attack everything seems fine again. I have been slowly importing my DVDs so that I can have them in iTunes and subsequently can watch them on my iPad or (more importantly) have them available to the Apple TV in the lounge. Just minutes ago I threw a DVD in and started a Handbrake encode.

Nothing happened and the DVD wasn’t showing in Finder.

Eject didn’t work and neither did the Terminal command (drutil eject)

Now most of the Apple family use slot loading DVDs. This means that the handy little pinhole that you can insert an paperclip to physically eject the media just isn’t around, so unless you open up the thing and physically get in there, a command is the only way to do eject the dvd.

So I can’t do it that way, and I’ve tried the only commands that I’ve found.

With my heart racing its back to the internet.

I tried a method suggested using CMD OPTION O F at boot. I think that’s an old firmware code (the article was about 2005). Eventually I have one last try with a method, hold the mouse button down whilst booting.

Simple? Well, no, I have two mouse connected to my Mac. Mouse one is the Bluetooth Apple Magic Mouse. Is BT going to be up and running that early in the boot process (I’m assuming this trick is very early in the boot, likely before many of the services are up and running). The other is a Razer Naga (awesome mouse btw). Its USB, so the connection is physical. But its not Apple, will there be some mysterious Apple ID problem. I didn’t even think about if they conflict during boot until now… there’s another risk.

I decided to go with the Razer and eventually the DVD does pop out the side. My heart rate slows to normal and as I’ve been typing this I’ve tested a different one with complete success. I guess the Apple mouse may have worked.

Remember, Apples, like any technology, aren’t infallible. But you guys probably knew that already.

OSX to the rescue

Well another medal awarded to Time Machine for saving the day once again. After a little bit of research I found the correct files to restore and Time Machine (normally an unnoticed little symbol next to the clock) does its magic. And behold my local backups of all of my blog is restored. Now I just have to get them into this new blog.

In the year since I changed over to the iMac, Time Machine has probably been the single most helpful feature, I think its saved my day about a dozen times from lost files, other programs getting stuck in loops to a painless complete rebuild of the iMac.