macOS 10.12.5: Needed further testing, Apple

Apple released its latest slew of updates for macOS, tvOS, iOS and watchOS earlier this week, one can only be grateful for unlimited internet quotas these days as it all adds up.

Whilst my iPhone, Apple Watch Nike+ and Apple TV all updated without problem, my MacBook Pro 15″ with TouchBar has started to exhibit a few problems in the past day or two. About two days after I’d installed the update I was swiping back from ‘Space 3’ which had Mail to ‘Space 1’ only to be greeted with a lovely red bar where all my desktop icons should have been. This kind of graphics tearing had appeared when these new MacBook Pros were initially released as drivers were immature at the time, thankfully by the time my own machine arrived Apple had just two days beforehand updated macOS to resolve the issue.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.48.32 amThis issue is a tad annoying, though more annoying I cannot see others reporting the issue, am I alone in experiencing this issue? Then today I put my MacBook Pro to sleep as I went shopping and have this evening opened to surf the web etc, however upon opening the lid it booted up displaying the Apple logo. Initially I had thought I’d shut the Mac down and just forgotten doing so, however the dialogs displayed alerting me to the fact that there’d been a kernel panic related to CPU interrupts.

I have to say that 10.12.5 is really turning out to be a bad release for me and my MacBook Pro, I really do hope that 10.12.6 comes along quickly to resolve. Whilst talking of wishes, I certainly do hope that 10.13 brings greater stability than we’ve seen with 10.12, I would much rather see Apple focus more on quality code rather than banging it out, stop focussing on yearly releases and focus instead on doing a better job than you’ve done in the past few releases, quality has certainly suffered.

MacBook Pro migration

After a 3.5 week wait the new MacBook Pro 2016 with touch bar finally arrived this afternoon. In preparation for its arrival I went to back up my MacBook Air yesterday with time machine and promptly hit a snag, the latest upgrade to macOS, version 10.12.2, had introduced an old bug related to USB external drives and just kept ejecting the drive after a few minutes. 

So that threw a particularly large spanner in the works, I would now have to migrate my MacBook Air via a different method. Thankfully Apple provides a migration assistant and this allows several methods of migration other than using the time machine drive, wifi networks and use of Ethernet or thunderbolt cables is also possible. 

Never was I more grateful to have bought the USB C to thunderbolt adaptor from Apple than I was at this point, for now I had an alternate means of migration; wifi just wasn’t going to be considered with nearly 300GB to transfer. 

In unpackaging my new machine I have to say I had but one gripe, the power supply, and no I am not one of those tools complaining about the battery. Indeed I talk here about the power brick and the USB C cable, the cable is not at all long, I feel short changed having gone from a particularly long cable on all previous Apple computers to this miserly thing, and I’ve paid a lot more for this machine than any of the others. 

The machine looks fantastic, looking forward to having a play once the migration completes. 

Time Machine: macOS Sierra and Sophos, there’s a block

Since upgrading to macOS Sierra I haven’t been able to complete a time machine backup on my MacBook Air, though until now I hadn’t known what the reason might be. A search on my trusty pal Google revealed other users of Sophos anti-virus were similarly facing the same problem, users spraying their forums with complaints. It would seem that by disabling Sophos time machine backups manage to complete, something Sophos themselves acknowledge on their forums. 

I gave this a try today before heading off on my next (short) holiday, and sure enough, the second I disabled it the backup got underway and progressed as expected. It’s a tad frustrating to have to disable something that’s meant to be protecting your machine, hopefully 10.12.1 will bring with it solutions as Sophos seems quiet at their end. 

macOS 10.12: A few quirks

It’s been a busy time recently with upgrades, what with updates to my Adobe Creative Cloud apps that were preparing for macOS, then the arrival of iOS 10, and a week later macOS Sierra (10.12). It is as well we have an unlimited download internet account at home as both Jodie and I need updating our Macs, at 4.77GB per update it all adds up.

The iOS 10 update has gone relatively well, though that was itself update with a 56MB 10.0.2 update the other day, pretty recent to the main release which is unusual. I really like this update, though there’s a few things I would change to do with notifications connecting to their apps as existed in previous releases.

macOS Sierra feels like a minor release to me, the biggest change came in its renaming and adding Siri, which I have to say is just a total gimmick as it doesn’t work well by comparison to its iOS namesake. Attempting to use Siri to do certain tasks like opening applications can be hit and miss, my first attempt was to open Photoshop, it failed badly, first go it did a web search; second go it loaded Adobe Fireworks, at least it got the correct vendor, just wrong application. One of the touted features of being able to search the web for photos I have not been able to replicate, I don’t use the Photos app as I am a Lightroom user and just don’t need Photos, thus if this is required I am prevented from exploring that functionality. I also find Siri in macOS doesn’t understand as well, and I use that term loosely, as in iOS, perhaps this comes down to microphone technology within the iPhone?

Sadly another feature it offers to offload used storage to the cloud and free up your hard drive for other files isn’t truly viable yet for most in Australia, we’re a bit bloody backwards over here and still awaiting the release of internet fast enough to take advantage of this; for most of us this is still anywhere between 1-4 years away and a failure of our country.

Today I whipped out my backup drive to have Time Machine bring itself up-to-date only to discover the Sierra has a Time Machine bug, and sadly it looks like we’ll have to wait for Apple to get around to releasing an update to macOS for it to be fixed. It’s a tad annoying for a company that makes both sides of the coin (hardware and o/s) that it cannot get something like this working fully at release.

One major item coming for Sierra in Q1 next year is a major update to our filesystem, the current one has been in use for several decades now and is looking long in the tooth. The Apple File System will be used across all Apple products and is optimised for solid state storage which didn’t exist when the current HFS+ file system was created.

In general I like macOS, though I find it hard to notice much difference between 10.11 and 10.12. I do like the name change though.

 

Time Machine: Slow backups

As soon as Apple released Time Machine for OS X (now macOS) I was a convert, the ability to simply back up your machine and easily recover files was fantastic. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to delve back in time at home and at work where I’ve inadvertently deleted a file, or saved something over a current version unintentionally. Having Time Machine has saved my bacon, literally.

The several times that I have migrated from one machine to another Time Machine has also been a godsend. Where the process of setting up a new machine within the Windows environment used to be a 6 hour marathon for me, with Time Machine setting up a new Mac with my old environment and files was roughly 1.5 to 2 hours and no work on my part.

To say that Time Machine is painless though is perhaps a falsehood, I have had my fair share of problems with it over the years. On my first Mac, a MacBook Aluminum (2009) I used to have problems when plugging in a USB-based Time Machine drive, the drive would just stop backing up after a time. Eventually I gave up and moved to a Firewire 800 based drive, it made all the difference, for some reason Time Machine didn’t like USB.

Now, two Macs later (MacBook Air 2013 now), I am again using a USB-based drive as my Time Machine drive, although this drive is actually a 512GB solid state drive that was once in my previous MacBook Pro. Backups on this drive are a dream, usually.

Today I went to backup in preparation for migrating to macOS given it was launch day by Apple, as I had backed up only a week ago I didn’t have a large amount of data for Time Machine to get through, just 15GB. After 1.5 hours this morning my Mac still hadn’t finished, I just couldn’t understand what was going on, it never takes this long. I abandoned this attempt as I had to head off to work, yet my subsequent attempt upon returning from work also went super slow.

Frustrated, I hit Dr Google for solutions and initially went to Apple’s Support website, its solutions didn’t have any effect whatsoever. Another link on Google did however have an effect which sent Time Machine’s speed into warp territory, going into terminal and typing the following:

sudo sysctl debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0

Thank heavens for Dr Google, I now have a solution and my backup was completed within a matter of a minute and a half.