Monday, December 17, 2007

The joys of upgrading, aka, sometimes thing go bad

Today I posted this on BMAC's Q&A listserv regarding my experience upgrading to Leopard, 10.5.

This saga needs a title like, "The trials and tribulations of your everyday user..."

The first thing I did was brilliant - I did not upgrade until I finished my tax course at Bentley College. I kept all my notes and wrote my paper using Word 2007 (Bentley standard) running in VMWare Fusion. I finished the course on Tuesday and on Thursday started upgrading.

The upgrade worked great and I immediately ran the software update and got the system to 10.5.1. I then tried to install bootcamp. Bootcamp could not make a partition. The error message said to backup the hard drive, reformat it and restore.

OK, except I don't have a spare hard drive for the backup. I had been using a 120GB drive for backups and it has my only pre-Leopard backup. I currently have a 160 GB drive in my MacBook and I've used almost 120GB. I've been planning to use Time machine so off I go to Micro Center and buy a new 500GB external drive for approximately $180.

I go home and start to work. First I take an old firewire 20GB drive and reformat and install Leopard so it will be a bootable OS in case of emergency. Second, I partition the 500GB drive so I have one 20GB partition and the rest as a second partition. I take the 20GB partition and also make is a bootable OS - you know, in case of emergency. I test each drive to make sure I can boot from each drive, i.e., change the startup disk and restart. Everything is working great. Then I use one of my favorite apps - Super Duper. I copied my internal Leopard drive to the external 500GB drive, reformat the internal drive and restore.

After the restore nothing works. I get a gray Apple startup screen with a gray spinner...and that's it. It doesn't see the external drives. It's as blind as a bat.

Why? Because I didn't follow the damn directions like I should have. Earlier in the week I knew that Super Duper was not yet Leopard compatible and when it came time to do a copy and restore I forgot and used Super Duper. Now let's be clear - I love Super Duper and this was my fault, Super Duper was innocent.

Hmmm, what to do? Off I go and call Jon Duke...again. We had already chatted about the 500GB drive purchase. We chat and come up with one or two strategies. I didn't tell Jon about using an incompatible version of Super Duper because I hadn't yet realized my boo-boo. I attempt to use Diskwarrior to save the day. Oh wait, I have version 3.0 and you need 4.0 for Intel based Macs. Ok, I'll go online and upgrade. Oops, you can't upgrade online. You can only receive an upgrade via US mail. Fine. I go online and purchase a new full version. I didn't want to go borrow a copy because it’s Sunday and it's snowing and I remember what Thursday's commute from hell was like.

So now I have Diskwarrior almost installed on my G3. First I make a backup of Diskwarrior 3.0 to CD and delete it from the G3. Now I unzip Diskwarrior 4.0. Oh wait. Per the instructions you need to be logged in as an administrator to run it. OK. I go into administrator mode and of course I don't see Diskwarrior any more because it's on another user's desktop. OK, breathe Gary. I struggle and resolve that. Then I startup the Macbook in target disk mode and at least that works. I run Diskwarrior and it almost works. Asking Diskwarrior to attack a 160GB drive from a G3 with a max'd out ram of approximately 640MB is just too much. It tries but comes to a screaming halt. OK, it didn't scream but that's because all the resources were max'd out and the G3 was busy spinning a beachball.

What? I know the Pats game is on. I'll be there in a minute or two. Just as soon as I....Hmmm, what should I do next? OK, let's go with Archive and Install. I visited the Apple store on Saturday and that's what they suggested. It was also strategy number 2 that Jon and I worked out. I run Archive and Install and the Mac likes me again. But I'm not so sure about the archive. As a matter of fact it seems to want to hurt me. I look around and try to compare the new system and what's in the previous system folder. It’s not making sense. Of course I forgot that I was logged in as administrator versus my normal login and so things are going to look different. But I didn't realize that. Instead I attempt to move things around. Another bad idea. Luckily I soon realize that I'm merely going to shoot myself in the foot a few more times if I continue moving stuff around. OK, Gary, try to relax. Have a beer. You better make that at least two.

I decide to fail back to my old pre-Leopard backup. I reformat the internal hard drive...again. I open the sparseimage (Thank you Super Duper) and drag it to the newly reformatted drive. I run Diskwarrior to check things out and clean up any problems. I then upgrade to Leopard for the nth time (I've lost count). Leopard seems happy.

Apparently all my user accounts didn't come over. I set up each user account. Now here's a question - do you remember the short name you gave to each account? You're gonna need it. Luckily I remember and each account is matched up with its home folder. Oh wait. I did this under my normal login name. My normal login name should be a standard account but it's now an administrator account. So now I need to log in and change account settings. OK, that's done.

However, my data is now a few weeks old. I go to the 500GB external drive that has a copy of the original (first) Leopard upgrade that also has my current data. I search through my home folder and take a stab at what's missing and drag in from the external hard drive. What do you mean invalid privileges? Don't you know who I am?! I own you! Breathe Gary. Maybe another beer is in order. Let's see, do a “get info” on each folder and add the appropriate user to the Permissions. Damn, forgot to apply to enclosed items.

OK, let's take a look and if we got everything. Looks alright, but since I'm not sure where everything is stored I really don't know what I've got. Time to jump into the deep end of the pool. I'm going to activate Time Machine and save what I have. The cost? The data on the 500GB drive is the only current backup I have of my data and I'm going to blow it away. I still have the old backup on another drive but it is a few weeks old. Here we go, bye-bye data. I work through the complicated Time Machine settings (read humor) - that's one button to assign the drive and another to turn on Time Machine.

Time to stop. It's now 11:30 PM Sunday. The journey began Thursday night.

The outcome so far:

1. The Mac is basically happy again.

2. Time Machine is working.

3. Email works but I can't delete things. Some kind of IMAP voodoo.

4. iWeb - most of it came back except of the last page that I posted. The page exists on the web but it isn't in iWeb. I'll figure it out.

5. Parallels and VMware Fusion are toast. I'll attempt to uninstall Parallels and re-install Fusion.

6. I now get a bunch of dialog boxes when I restart saying I have a bunch of system extensions improperly installed. Apparently I'm suppose to upgrade the offending product or reinstall it. Unfortunately it doesn't tell me the name of the offfending app. I'll figure it out...somehow.

And by the way, I haven't yet tried to implement bootcamp for the second time. Hostages sound like a good idea.

But before I do that, where's Jon Duke's number....

I hope you enjoyed the saga.

Gary Harding

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How can you be wrong if you do everything right?

You do the right thing and what happens? Well, if you're running for president you're still found to be wrong.

Last year the Boston Globe reported that illegal immigrants were working at Mitt Romney's house in Belmont, MA. The company Romney hired to provide landscaping services had hired illegal immigrants. As reported in today's Boston Globe, Romney discussed the situation with the owner of the landscaping company, "After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions," Romney said in the statement. "They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status. We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter. The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.

"The company's failure to comply with the law is disappointing and inexcusable, and I believe it is important I take this action," Romney said.

Romney's account differs from that of landscape company owner Ricardo Saenz, who said that Romney didn't press the issue of whether his workers were in the country illegally".

I must admit I find Ricardo Saenz's statement hard to believe.

Were Romney's actions wrong? For example, should he or a member of his campaign staff asked for and examined the documents of the workers? NO! Imagine the headlines, "As in the days of Nazi Germany, Romney asks workers for papers". It is the responsibility of the employer to execute the I-9 form and examine the documents. Should Romney have asked to see the I-9 forms? NO! The I-9 contains personal information, namely, a social security number and that is confidential information belonging to the employer.

Got to for the rules regarding the I-9.

Should Romney have terminated the landscaping service immediately back in December 2006? NO! Again, imagine the uproar about how he should have given the firm a second chance to take the appropriate corrective action.

The Globe article states that one of the illegal immigrants told the employer that he was illegal. The worker then later provided the employer with forged documents. As per the I-9 rules, it is not the responsibility of the employer to verify the authenticity of the documents.

So what should have been done?

First, everything was done correctly, unless the employees provided documents that obviously appeared to be fakes. At that point the employees must be suspended until proper documentation can be provided. The employer is at fault if the employer knew that the documents were fake and continued to employ the illegal immigrants.

Second, nothing else should have been done in the past and terminating the landscaper today is the proper action.

The political pundits may have a field day with this. And Romney will suffer for doing everything right.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is Steve Jobs Finally Targeting Businesses?

Today, the above question appeared in the Business Technology blog of the Wall Street Journal. I posted the following response:

Is Apple ready for the corporate market? Large corporations want immediate service and flexibility. The more seamless the solution, the better. Apple Stores are fun and successful but they don’t reflect the needs of big business. Instead, they address the needs of the individual consumer.

I worked in Technical Operations for a billion dollar corporation and I would say that Apple would require an internal mind shift to service the Fortune 1000 world. The idea of a separate division or group would be a requirement.

How will Apple enter the corporate market? Through the back door. Simply put, more and more users are switching to Apple devices and it’s only a matter of time before they enter the corporate mainstream.

Is IT an issue? Absolutely. Why should the department learn to support two platforms when one is already the standard? It ts the grassroots movement of the Mac users that will gradually require the IT departments and data centers to to add the platform to their repertoire.

I’ve been a PC user and a Mac user for decades. The introduction of the iPod and iPhone has exposed literally millions to the quality and innovation of Apple. Add to that the ability to run Windows on a Mac and it’s simply a matter of time before the Mac will finally gain a permanent and growing foothold in the corporate marketplace.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Portland ME school board goes too far

This week the Portland, ME school board approved the distribution of birth control pills in it's middle school where the student ages range from 11 to 13.

This was a hot topic on the Boston airwaves and I sent the following email to Michael Graham at WTKK-FM, 96.9.

I found the decision by the Portland school board very disappointing. According to reports, 5 out of 134 students told the nurse they were sexually active - that's 3.7%.

Yourself and a significant number of callers stated that birth control should NOT be given out without parental consent. I can't agree more. Unfortunately, in the case of Portland, ME, the parents already gave their consent. Children cannot go the school clinic without first obtaining parental consent. I would be very interested in knowing the rules regarding parental access to their child's school medical records.

The real issue is does the school health official have the right to step in and act as the parent when either the parent failed to manage their child's behavior or the child, regardless of the parents efforts, decides to be defiant and proceed to have under age sex. The school nurse is NOT a substitute parent. And even though general parental consent was given to use the clinic, birth control pills should NOT be provided to students in middle school.

I'm not even sure if I would agree with giving birth control pills to students under the age of 15. A quick internet search ( indicated that in Maine statutory rape occurs with someone under the age of 14. If you provide 11 to 13 year olds birth control, aren't you enabling and or encouraging them to have sex and break the law? Of course the rebuttal is that the school is merely trying to avoid unwanted pregnancies and not trying to encourage this behavior.

I do not believe that the action of 5 or 10 students justifies this change in policy. It merely indicates the continuing need to have both parents and educators teach children about adult sexual behavior and the ramifications of that behavior. Will this stop every child from having underage sex? Of course not. But isn't it better than opening the flood gates to enabling underage sexual behavior to all who have obtained permission to use the clinic?

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Last Lecture

Yesterday I read an article in the Wall Street Journal (A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime, September 20, 2007; Page D1) about a trend on college campuses - "Last Lecture Series". Top professors are given an opportunity to present what truly matters to them and give a hypothetical final talk.

The article is from Moving On, a column by Jeff Zaslow. A copy of the article appears below. Please take a moment and read it.

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.

They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?
It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you." He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.

Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he'd won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn't need them anymore.

He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. "You'd be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away," he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she'd introduce him: "This is my son. He's a doctor, but not the kind who helps people."

He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice."

Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."

Dr. Pausch's lecture, in the same way, became a call to his colleagues and students to go on without him and do great things. But he was also addressing those closer to his heart.
Near the end of his talk, he had a cake brought out for his wife, whose birthday was the day before. As she cried and they embraced on stage, the audience sang "Happy Birthday," many wiping away their own tears.

Dr. Pausch's speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they're older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: "This was for my kids." Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Nothing is cooler than the iPhone!

The date of this post is 7/2/07 which means that the iPhone was released last Friday. On Sunday I visited the Apple Store at the Burlington Mall in Burlington, MA and got to play with one. The first thing to hit me was the size. I have a 15GB iPod. the iPhone appears a little longer, not as wide and about 1/3 thinner! And it's light. The screen is amazing - vivid color. The interface is very intuitive, however, I kept looking for a close or back button. It appears that you simply hit the home button to leave an application. I was able to send an email and make a telephone call. The keyboard is a little awkward at first. I assume my fingers would easily get used to it. The pop-up nature of the keyboard letters does help with typing. Surfing on the web is incredible. It's amazing to see full web pages and then just tap and zoom. Surfing is a bit slow but very usable. I would expect this to improve as data services improve. As I said before, I'm waiting for the second generation of this device. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to go to an Apple Store and take the iPhone for a test drive. You won't be disappointed.

I'm Back!

Greetings! Well the last post was at the start of tax season and it's now July 2nd. Needless to say, I was too busy during tax season to post anything. I have many things to report. Patti and I have scheduled a number of concerts. We already attended the Martina McBride concert and the Brad Paisley concert. I'll comment on those in a later post. We'll vacation in Newport, RI for a week and then we will be attending the following summer concerts: Kenny G, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett. In the fall we be attending Phil Vassar and Lonestar.

In other news, I'll be returning the Bentley College in the fall to attend the Graduate Certificate in Taxation program. It's a four course program with the option of continuing on for 6 courses and obtaining a Masters in Taxation.

In May I purchased a Nikon S50 Coolpix digital camera. I have been spending a great deal of time testing it out and preparing a section in my web site demonstrating the functionality. I hope to have the website section up soon and I'll be posting a review on this blog.

In the interim, I got a look at the iPhone. My comments about it are the next post...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iPhone - Cooler than the Newton

I predict another winner. What makes this product so cool? Why is it better than a Blackberry or a Treo? The interface. It's designed to do many things elegantly but not do all things.

Notice the one thing they left out - handwriting recognition. It's not a note taking device. Instead, they make it highly efficient in the areas where it was intended - phone, web, and mail.

What about music? It does have iPod functionality however, it's not big enough. I use a old 15 GB iPod and I have filled it. I want most of my music collection with me, not just the top x%. I plan on replacing my iPod with a 60 or 80 GB version. I would love the iPhone if it didn't have music, however, when they come out with a 60 or 80 GB version I'll be in heaven.

Will I get one? Absolutely. The question is will I be patient enough to wait for version 2 . I hate being a pioneer.

One more thing, 1 billion downloads on iTunes? Am I the only person left who still buys CDs?