Jump to content


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Sergei

  • Rank
    Mac Geek In Training

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    New York
  1. Starting with iTunes 11 without any reason Apple removed gapless playback check box under track Options. Apple claimed that iTunes would now automatically determine if the album needs gapless playback which judging from numerous posts never worked reliably if at all. Allegedly albums that were previously marked for gapless playback in earlier versions of iTunes would continue to work. I upgraded to iTunes 12 a couple of days ago and it appears that now gapless playback is completely broken. I tried to experiment. I imported one of my CDs on older iMac with iTunes 10.7 and OS X 10.6 and I marked it as gapless. I then copied imported AAC files to my retina MacBook with iTunes 12 and gapless playback no longer works. I poked around trying to figure out how iTunes determines if the album is gapless and it appears it is getting this information from iTunes Music Library.xml file located under iTunes folder in user's home folder. If a track is a part of gapless album, there is a string that marks the track as part of gapless album: <key>Part Of Gapless Album</key><true/> Correct me if I am wrong, but the gapless flag must be contained within AAC tag and iTunes 12 appears to be parsing the tag and adding this information to iTunes Music Library.xml file, but it doesn't seem to pay any attention to it during playback. I synced freshly imported gapless album to my old 5th gen iPod and on the iPod the album plays perfectly. I am not sure if it's bug in iTunes or Apple decided to abandon gapless playback completely, but it would be very unfortunate. It's a very useful feature and it's a shame that Apple decided to just arbitrarily remove it from iTunes. P.S. I placed a call to AppleCare and they told me that gapless playback was removed from iTunes 12 completely and suggested using product feedback page at http://www.apple.com/feedback/ to request to put the feature back into iTunes. Perhaps if enough of us do it we'll get gapless playback back. In the meantime, stick with iTunes 10.7 if you can. It was the last version of iTunes that supported it.
  2. Sergei

    Serial Terminal app

    Yes, I do the same thing, except I prefer iTerm for all the bookmarks and tabs: http://iterm.sourceforge.net/download.shtml I just had some strange glitches with both Z-term and C-kermit, but now I am thinking it may be the problem with USB-Serial dongle driver. Yesterday I found driver update, but I haven't had a chance to reinstall yet. Btw, which USB-serial dongle do you use? I agree about Cisco gear. The latest generation of routers even comes with USB ports, so I don't even bother with TFTP or SFTP for IOS upgrades unless it needs to be done remotely. The problem is that I have a lot of legacy non-Cisco gear in my network, so TFTP server is the only choice for the time being. I did some more digging and found tftp-hpa which is an enhanced version of BSD TFTP client and server: http://www.macports.org/ports.php?by=name&...substr=tftp-hpa I just installed it, but I haven't had a chance to try it. As far as Fabrizio La Rosa's TFTP server GUI, I seem to have trouble with permissions. I recently reinstalled my MacBook Pro and I put new version of that software, but it doesn't work. Strangly I can copy files to it,but not from it.
  3. Sergei

    Serial Terminal app

    Yes, it's the other way around. I need to connect to a router's serial console port to set it up before I can use Terminal.app or iTerm for IP connectivity. Minicom works, although I prefer C-kermit if I have to take this route. Basically I was looking for some alternative to Z-term, but it appears there is none. As far as TFTP, there is a lot of older network gear out there that only supports TFTP for saving/loading config files and upgrading firmware.
  4. Sergei

    Serial Terminal app

    Terminal.app is only good for telnet or ssh session, not for serial port communication.
  5. Sergei

    Serial Terminal app

    Hey MacGeeks! I work with network equipment in my day job and I need to use serial terminal application to connect to various management consoles. When I first got my MacBook Pro, to my surprise I found that Apple not only didn't have any serial terminal app such as HyperTerm in Windows, but also removed any serial port support in OS X. I managed to find serial-to-USB dongle with drivers that worked under OS X, but I haven't found any decent serial terminal app for OS X. I tried 3 apps. Z-term, QuickTerm and also C-kermit, which I installed under MacPorts. All of them have issues or bugs and all of them lack elegance one would expect from OS X apps. I am curious if anybody found any other serial terminal app? P.S. There is the same trouble with TFTP-server. It's available as part of OS X, but there is a bug of maximum 32 Mb file size limit and the need to tinker with plist files. I can certainly do it, but I was wondering if there is a better way.
  6. Thank you ganbustein!!! That was exactly the point of my post. Yes, there are nice GUI tools, but built-in command line tools can be just as if not more powerful. When I first needed a backup in a rush, I was totally new to the OS X and CCC didn't work for me right away despite being GUI tool. Figuring it out was indeed a hassle. I wasn't sure why my backup wasn't bootable. May be I did something wrong or may be it didn't work because CCC was originally written for PowerPC and I had Intel Mac. At that point I didn't know. On the other hand using asr was totally transparent and worked right away. Btw, the very first time I didn't even use OS X DVD. I just connected my USB drive, opened Terminal app, typed one command and couple hours later it was done.
  7. That's good to know. I will give SuperDuper a try.
  8. Well, it's certainly the matter of personal preference which tool to use. Some people like GUI, some people prefer command line. This is just another way to clone your disk for free without needing to download or buy any extra tools. Sometimes other tools may not be available or as it happened with Super Duper, not immediately compatible with the latest release of OS X. I remember Adam mentioned recently that his Super Duper backup didn't work when his Mac mini hard drive died. It may not be total point and click solution, but it works very well and I though it was just cool that Mac OS X has the capability to clone disks out of the box unlike some other OSes. I made my very first backup attempt with CCC, it did the backup, but it wasn't bootable. I didn't feel like spending a lot of time trying and buying different software. I use dd frequently for disk/partition duplication in my day job with Solaris and Linux systems, so I thought of command line way. In the worst case scenario if your internal hard drive died and you want to restore from your backup made with asr, you don't need any extra software or even OS X DVD to get to your data. You simply boot from your cloned drive by holding Option key at startup and choosing external drive as boot drive. That's it. You are up and running. I don't know about backups made with CCC and Super Duper, but I can use my asr cloned disk with another Mac while my primary Mac is being serviced. It took Apple several weeks to fix my iMac. I was lucky to have MacBook Pro as my work laptop. I simply connected my cloned iMac drive to it and booted from it on my MacBook Pro, continuing to download podcasts, photos from my digital camera and do whatever I usually need to do with my iMac. When my iMac finally came back, I cloned external drive contents back to iMac's internal drive without missing a bit. Making typing mistake can be easily addressed by putting 2 commands that I mentioned into shell or Apple script and making it a point and click solution.
  9. True. I just got a kick out of the fact that the cloning functionality was available within Mac OS and it wasn't hard to use either.
  10. Hey Mac Geeks! How about cloning/ backing up your hard drive with just two commands in Mac OS X? Yes, I know, you can use CCCloner or SuperDuper, but would it be cool just to use Mac OS X and not to pay for extra piece of software? For me it all started back in 2006 when I got my first intel based 20 inch iMac at home and first generation MacBook Pro at work. As frequently happens with ver.1 products and early adopters, I ran into some bad hardware quality issues which required sending my iMac and MacBook Pro multiple times back to Apple for either exchange or repair. I never felt comfortable trusting my personal data to anyone. As Adam suggested in the last episode of Maccast, I wanted to do full backup, wipe the drive clean, do fresh install of Mac OS X and only then send it to Apple for repair. I figured there had to be some sort of cloning software for Mac just like there was Norton Ghost for PC. Quick Google search revealed two options that everybody always talks about: CCCloner and SuperDuper. It appeared a lot of people prefer SuperDuper for better interface. I was also aware that Mac OS X is based on Unix and as many Unix sys admins would point out, there is a way to clone disks using Unix dd command. So before I pulled out my credit card to get a copy of SuperDuper I decided to try to clone my drive the Unix way. Out of curiosity I did another Google search just to check if anybody already did it successfully, but surprisingly didn't get any hits on using dd with OS X. However, I discovered that Mac OS X had another tool called asr which stands for Apple Software Restore. The man page pointed out that "...asr is the backend for the Mac OS X Software Restore application that shipped on Macintosh computers as well as the Scan and Restore functionality in Disk Utility". One other interesting Google search result was a hint from macosxhints.com about how to boot OS X from an iPod. So, after reading the iPod hint and the man page for asr I came up with this simple procedure. Chances are I am not the first, but so far I haven't ran across any other posts suggesting cloning hard disk this way. For me it works great every time as a full bootable backup solution. So, if you are not afraid of a little bit of command line kung fu, read on. Before you start you will need the following: 1) Mac OS X DVD. 2) External USB or firewire hard drive of the same capacity as your internal drive formatted with Apple Partition Map scheme. Correct me if I am wrong, but booting from USB drives only works for intel Macs. You would need firewire drive for PowerPC Macs. Cloning procedure 1) Format your external drive with Apple Partition Map scheme and name it, for example, backup. 2) Boot from Mac OS X DVD. First prompt will be to choose installation language. Choose English or whatever language you prefer. 3) Next Welcome screen will come up. DO NOT click Continue. Instead, go to Utilities menu and start Terminal application. 4) Once it's open, issue mount command to check that disks are recognized and mounted. Here is sample output from my iMac which was booted from Tiger DVD: -bash-2.05b# mount /dev/disk1s3 on / (local, read-only) devfs on /dev (local) fdesc on /dev (union) <volfs> on /.vol /dev/disk3 on /Volumes (asynchronous, local, union) /dev/disk4 on /private/var/tmp (asynchronous, local, union) /dev/disk5 on /private/var/run (asynchronous, local, union) /dev/disk2s3 on /Volumes/backup (local, journaled) /dev/disk0s2 on /Volumes/Macintosh HD (local, journaled) -bash-2.05b# Here you can see my internal hard drive listed as /dev/disk0s2 which is mounted under /Volumes/Macintosh HD and my external hard drive that I named backup listed as /dev/disk2s3 and mounted under /Volumes/backup. 5) Issue following command to start your backup. Note of caution!!! You don't want to make mistake with source and destination drive. You will lose all your data if you do. That's why I named my backup drive backup, so it's very clear which one is which. asr -source /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/ -target /Volumes/backup -erase -noprompt -erase option tells asr to automatically erase destination volume and -noprompt option tells asr not to ask for confirmation. You are free not to use these options. Btw, asr has a lot of options. Man page goes into great detail about all of them. 6) Once backup is complete which in my case took a couple of hours for over 200 Gb of data on 320 Gb hard drive, issue bless command to make backup volume bootable. Note that since -erase option was specified asr renames backup volume into Macintosh\ HD\ 1 volume. bless -folder /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD\ 1/System/Library/CoreServices 7) Once this was done, exit Terminal app and reboot you Mac from external drive to verify that backup worked. Hold Option key at startup and choose external drive as the one to boot from. On a side note, it is also possible to clone the internal hard drive without Mac OS X DVD, but in this case, backup process will take much longer since asr won't be able to use block copy. Also you would need to add sudo in front of asr and bless commands. If want to do it this way, start Terminal app and issue: sudo asr -source /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/ -target /Volumes/backup -erase -noprompt Mac OS will prompt for admin password and once backup is complete sudo bless -folder /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD\ 1/System/Library/CoreServices I tried this method many times with OS X Tiger. Since I just upgraded to Leopard a couple of days ago, I haven't had a chance to try this with Leopard. It should work the same way. One other thing I tried with this kind of cloned disk is using my iMac clone with MacBook Pro while my iMac was repaired. It worked just a bit slower because I was booting from external drive, but I could continue using my home iMac clone with MacBook Pro.
  11. Sergei

    Apple hardware quality

    I was thinking the same thing about another gig of RAM. I just got one from Crucial and now Parallels really flies. As far as UPS, I was thinking about it too. The power in my area is not very good and the outages are frequent especially in the summer months during thunderstorms. I am wondering if disk problems I experienced with my previous iMac were due to power surges. Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Btw, I really like new aluminum iMac. A lot of problems that I had with generation 1 are gone. The only thing I am not too excited about is glass coating on the screen. There is too much reflection and also it messes up colors. It seems it looks more bluish compare to regular LCD panel on my Mac Book Pro. I tried to run display calibration utility and it looks a bit better, but still not what I had on my old iMac. I wish there was still a choice of LCD without glass coating. Other than that, it's a great Mac.
  12. Sergei

    Apple hardware quality

    Well, I got a followup to my Apple drama (or comedy) today. I got a call from my contact at Cupertino and Apple tried to make it up to me. Instead of shipping replacement iMac to the Apple store and make me wait another week in addition to a month and a half I was without my iMac, they had the store give me the one from their local inventory. This is something they normally don't do. They did it for me because it was their fault that my old iMac was sitting in the store for three weeks instead of being shipped to Apple right away. Obviously they no longer carry first generation early 2006 iMac, so I got latest model 20 inch iMac. Apple Genius at the store said "I guess it worked out alright", but I told him I wasn't so sure. I admit I am excited to get the latest model, but honestly I'd rather still have my old one, than going through multiple failed repair hell and many frustrating phone calls. Now, normally I don't upgrade computers every year, but it sort of happened this time, so I thought I'd share my first impressions comparing latest generation iMac with my first generation Intel iMac. Apart from the design , the speed difference isn't that great, although it always depends what you do with your computer. I'd say CPU speed increase alone wouldn't justify the upgrade, unless you want to have more than 2 Gb of memory or new FireWire 800 port and 802.11n wireless. I got the same amount of RAM. My first iMac I custom ordered with single 1Gb of RAM. Latest iMacs come with 1Gb standard. It's the same type of memory: DDR2-5300. New iMac comes with faster CPU. It's 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo and my previous iMac was 2 GHz Core Duo. The hard drive is slightly bigger: 320 Gb vs 250 Gb in the old one, but that doesn't affect the speed of the computer. New iMac feels about the same, may be a little faster, although I just started running Migration Assistant and haven't reinstalled any applications yet. My biggest slow down with previous iMac was Parallels. It seemed things got slower last time after installing Parallels. Even before running any virtual machines. It installs some kernel extension(s) and virtual network drivers and that slows things down a bit, especially at startup time. One thing I was a bit concerned about once I learned I was getting a new model is the new keyboard. It's a bit annoying to have volume, eject and couple other keys change location. I keep going to the old spot to change the volume. It may be even more annoying to the recent switchers. Being one myself I just got used to the Apple keyboard and I have to adjust again. On the other hand I can see Apple's reasoning behind this change. I recently talked to person who just got the Mac and she kept asking me which function keys activated Dashboard and Expose. It may be easier for new Mac users with the new keyboard. Another concern of mine was the feel. The older keyboard was softer. This one feels more like a laptop keyboard. I think I like the feel so far, although I've been only using it for a couple of hours. Some people expressed the concern that the new keyboard was too flat, but it hasn't been bothering me so far. Another welcome addition is USB2.0 in the secondary USB keyboard port. It's great that I don't have to lean over my iMac to plug in USB 2.0 flash drive every time I need to copy a couple of files. I can't test other advantages of new iMac yet such as 802.11n wireless and FireWire 800. I simply don't have any devices that can take advantage of these new feature, but I am sure time will come, especially with wireless. Yet another difference with original iMac is the glass coating on the LCD. Reflection is the concern. It seems OK at night, but I haven't tested it during the daylight yet. As far as readability, the text does look more crisp. Anyway, these are my impressions so far. I just hope this new iMac will work out for me. Sergei
  13. Sergei

    Apple hardware quality

    I just wanted to share my Apple experience as a recent switcher. First a little bit of history. I discovered Maccast in 2005 and became instant fan. I also watched Steve Jobs' keynotes on Tiger and upcoming migration to Intel. It looked so much better than Windows. I went to Apple store to check out recent model of iMac which was G5 at a time, but I decided to wait until the release of Intel Mac. Right after first 20 inch iMac was released, I ordered one. I was really looking forward for its arrival and when it finally arrived week later, I could barely wait to unpack it. I set it up, but and to my greatest disappointment it was a total lemon. Extremely uneven LCD back lighting, clusters of dead pixels, and high pitched noise from speakers were just some of the problems. I called AppleCare and they immediately sent me a replacement. Replacement iMac was better, but not perfect. Keyboard would quit working after 10 minutes, Airport throughput was slower than that of a dial-up modem and there was funny speaker noise again, although not too loud. I was eager to try Mac OS X, so I only requested keyboard replacement from Apple and ignored two other problems for the time being. I started using my iMac and I was very impressed with Mac OS X and iLife. In fact, I was so impressed that I managed to convince IT dept. at my work to give Apple a try and order MacBook Pro to test in our environment and if the test went well, we would order a couple dozen more. Well, the first Mac Book Pro that showed up was no better than my iMac at home. Dead pixels and super-hot operating temperature. After couple of hours of use it locked up because of over heating. Back it went for exchange. Second MacBook Pro did not have any dead pixels, but would run just as hot. I sent it for exchange again. Third one ran hot again! This time I decided to take it to Apple Store for service rather than exchanging it. Every exchange took two weeks I was hoping repair would be shorter. AppleStore replaced logic board and heat pipe. Repaired MacBook Pro ran cooler, but now it developed high pitched sound. I took it for repair a second time and this time again logic board and hard drive got replaced. Finally after two exchanges and two repairs I had a working MacBook Pro. Needless to say, at this point I would have a very hard time convincing my IT department to buy any more Macs. Frustrated with constant repairs and exchanges which would take weeks each time, I wrote a letter to Steve Jobs expressing my concerns about hardware quality. Two weeks later which was in the beginning of August, I received a call from Cupertino from one of Mr. Jobs' assistants. We had a long conversation about my "Apple experience" and he assured me that it was highly unusual and that Apple will rectify the situation. I mentioned that my iMac that still had a list of issues which recently was added by recurring disk errors. I was hoping Apple will simply replace my iMac, but I was told that since it was so long since it was purchased, their policy is to repair it. Apple set up on site call to repair my iMac. The technician replaced logic board, hard drive and two power supplies. After technician left, everything appeared to be working except after about 20 minutes into installation, my iMac would suddenly power down. I tried reinstalling Mac OS X several more times, but it would die every time. I called Mr. Jobs' assistant again and told him that they better give me a new iMac or I will switch back to PC. Again, he insisted on repair and mentioned that other customers have no problems and in general Mac sales are up! Basically, he made it very clear that he (Apple) do not care. A week later another technician came and again replaced everything inside the iMac with exception of LCD panel. This time Mac OS X installed, but soon I would get corrupted video on the screen. I got tired of calling Cupertino and decided to try Apple store again. After they saw my pile of repair receipts, they just said they would replace my iMac. Finally, I thought, I will get my iMac fixed. Well, it has been three weeks since I dropped it off. After checking repair status on Apple web which would say Status Unavailable, and calling Apple store 5 times, I finally learned today that all this time my iMac was sitting in the store because they didn't receive shipping labels to send it back! It just goes on and on and on. I am network engineer by day and I've been working with hardware from pretty much every major computer maker, but I have never seen such poor hardware quality and such poor support. I own multiple iPods and I had to send one for exchange once which went just fine, but when it comes to computers, Apple is consistently letting me down. I will probably keep this iMac if I ever get it back, but I can't bring myself to ever giving Apple another dime. I have a strong feeling that my next Mac is going to be PC. Please don't treat this post as Apple bashing. I still love Mac OS X and honestly, I wish I could run it on generic PC hardware, but at this point it has been over a month and still don't have my Mac. I am curious if anybody else had something like this happen. Regards, Serge