Browsing Tag: apple


    The Curious Relationship Between an iMac and an Electrical Outlet

    March 9, 2022

    About a month ago, my iMac’s hard drive died (or so I thought).

    I was working in my office when all of a sudden I heard a pretty loud zap-zap sound from the iMac. A moment later, it shut down. Dark screen. Totally off. A moment after that, it restarted itself, but during the startup process, the iMac went into “recovery” mode. Shit.

    Recovery mode is basically where the iMac says, I’m dead. We need to start from scratch. It asks whether you want to reinstall the operating system fresh, or if you want to reinstall from a backup of your data.

    I’m a pretty reliable backup guy, and I knew I had a complete backup from earlier that day, so I tell it I want to reinstall from a Time Machine backup.


    Then it shows me a list of backups on the Time Machine/backup drive. I identify the most recent one from that morning, but when it asks where I want to install it … nothing. The cursor just spins and spins. It can’t find a hard drive to install on. This happened to me before with my Mac Minis, so I assume the hard drive is dead. Same thing that happened back then.

    To the Repair Shop

    So, I take my iMac to our only local Apple-authorized repair shop. I tell them the whole story with the zap-zap, the attempt to reinstall the backup, and how it couldn’t find a hard drive to do the reinstall.

    They call me the next day and tell me the iMac started right up on their workbench. No recovery mode. No problems.

    WTF, right?

    I tell them I want a new HD anyway because I don’t trust that it will work here at home. So they take out the pre-installed hard drive and replace it with a faster/better SSD (I think?) drive.

    This is Where it Gets Weird

    A couple weeks later, the same thing happens in the middle of my workday — zap-zap, iMac dies, reboots into recovery mode, can’t find the hard drive, etc. Exactly like what happened before.

    I resigned myself to another trip to the repair shop, but then I remembered that the iMac worked for them in their shop. They couldn’t replicate the recovery/startup problem I had where the hard drive wasn’t found.

    I thought, What if I just move the iMac somewhere else in the house? Crazy, right? But it’ll only take five minutes and if it still doesn’t work, then I can remove the idea that my office is the problem.

    So I unplug everything from my office and set up the iMac in our dining room. IT STARTS UP JUST FINE. How is that even possible???? A moment earlier in my office, the iMac was acting like its hard drive was fried and now it’s working perfectly.

    The only thing I can think to do is try a different outlet. So I rejig my office a bit. I connect the surge protector that the iMac uses to a different outlet about three feet away — an outlet that’s on a different electrical circuit than the outlet I’d been using.


    In other words, when the iMac gets power from one outlet, it’s basically dead — can’t startup, can’t find a hard drive where I can reinstall a backup, nothing. (By the way, this outlet currently has my turntable and an Amazon Echo plugged in, neither of which has ever had any problems.) But when the iMac gets power from a different outlet three feet away, everything works perfectly.

    It’s been about 2-3 weeks since this discovery. At the risk of jinxing myself, everything is working perfectly. And I continue to be totally mystified about the curious relationship between my iMac and this particular electrical outlet.


    New AppleTV: Cool Because Of Its Potential, Not So Much Its Reality

    November 13, 2015

    appletv-300pxI ordered the new AppleTV (4th generation) as soon as it was offered for sale last month, and I’ve had it installed in my office for about two weeks now.

    Two-sentence summary: I think it’s going to be huge, and it’s going to define the TV experience in much the same the iPhone has defined the smartphone experience. The new AppleTV is really cool, but that’s mainly because I see its potential.

    Its reality today is nice, but not fantastic — probably much like early iPhone users described that device back in 2007-08. Today, there aren’t many apps available and the existing ones are hard to find. Sure, Apple lists the most popular free and paid apps right in the AppleTV interface, and they’re starting to categorize apps as more are added … but that hints at one of the problems. As far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to find out what new apps are available. There are no websites covering AppleTV apps and nothing else (at least none I know of), and I’m not seeing much coverage of new apps from Apple websites. There are few enough apps right now that, if there are 10-20 new apps added in a given day or week, I’d like to know about them.

    But that’ll eventually change, I think. I think TV apps is the future. I love the experience of turning on my AppleTV and being able to immediately load and play Asphalt 8: Airborne, a super cool car racing game. It’s an infinitely smoother experience because the game/app is loaded right in the AppleTV, unlike … say … the Playstation 3 out in the living room, which runs off of CD/DVD-based games. If I want to play Madden 16 on the PS3, after I turn it on, I have to check if the Madden disc is in the machine. It’s probably not, because my son might’ve been playing NBA 2K16 or Call Of Duty or something else. So I have to go find the Madden disc, eject whatever’s in there, put Madden in, wait for it to load, etc., etc. It’s not smooth. AppleTV apps are smooth.

    I love the idea of having all (or most) of my favorite iPhone and iPad apps available on my TV. Clash of Clans on a 42-inch HDTV screen? Yes, please. Tweetbot, Kayak travel search, Blab video chats … even Facebook (!) on my AppleTV? Yes, please.

    One of my favorite apps is already available for AppleTV. Well, several are … but the one I’m talking about here is Periscope. I do the occasional live video stream on Periscope, but I mostly use it to consume video, primarily from U2 fans streaming the concerts they’re attending. It’s very cool to watch and listen to a live U2 show on my office TV.


    The audio and video quality is impacted by the fact that connectivity in large arenas is usually terrible, but that’s not AppleTV’s fault. A normal Periscope stream from some non-crowded event looks and sounds great.

    But the Periscope app itself still has plenty of room for improvement, too. You can’t login to your Periscope account, for example, which means there’s no easy way to find and watch live streams from the Periscope users that you follow. And there’s no way to search for streams by keyword or hashtag. Instead, the app shows anywhere from 5-10 popular live streams from various cities around the world — Rome, Paris, New York and so forth. If you’re into watching random live streams from people you don’t know, it’s great. But most times, I’m not into that.

    Fortunately, this week I’ve been able to easily find U2 concert streams among those popular/random options.


    In so many ways, the Periscope app experience is emblematic of the overall AppleTV experience: filled with more potential than current greatness. Here’s hoping both the app and AppleTV itself continue to move from “pretty cool” to “great.” I’m confident they will.


    Apple: Tops in Tech Support

    May 14, 2010

    I’m really loving Consumer Reports magazine; we’ll definitely be renewing when the current subscription ends. The most recent issues is all about computers, and as an Apple fan I just have to post this chart ranking computer makers on their tech support. Apple is so far out in front it’s not funny.


    I should also mention that Apple had the highest-ranked computer in every category where it had an entry; that includes all sizes of laptops, all desktop models, etc.

    Yay Apple!


    Random Thoughts: Apple, Tablets, etc.

    January 26, 2010

    MeccaRight before starting this post, I read my first article about the Apple tablet-thingy that’s apparently being announced tomorrow. I’ve seen lots of headlines about it in recent weeks, but have skipped all the articles for one big reason: I don’t need a tablet-thingy.

    Rewind: For Christmas, a good friend finally got an iPod Touch (you know, the iPhone but without the phone) and immediately emails me to say, How did I live without this? This same friend is not an Apple fanboy by any means; very much a PC guy, though now he’s considering a full switch.

    Back to now: The article I just read is this short piece in which the guy credited with creating the idea of a laptop computer had this to say to Steve Jobs when Jobs showed him the iPhone years ago:

    “Make the screen five inches by eight inches, and you’ll rule the world.”

    And this occurred to me: Just like now with the tablet-thingy, I didn’t get wrapped up in the iPod hype years ago. I didn’t buy an iPod when it first came out, nor when the 2nd or 3rd versions came out. I didn’t buy the first iPhone, either. And yet today my reaction is the same as my friend’s — how did I ever live without these things?

    Here’s what I think will happen next: I won’t buy the tablet-thingy; I’ll wait for version 2 (like you should almost always do with Apple products). And then I’ll buy it, and I’ll wonder how I ever lived without it.


    Coolest. Coasters. Ever.

    February 17, 2009

    coastersThese make me wish we drank a lot more beverages outside the kitchen than we do, and/or that we hosted parties and friends at our house more often.

    A company called Meninos (from Brazil, I think) is selling this set of 16 coasters with icons from the iPhone.

    How cool is that!??!

    Only problem is that the whole set runs $60, and shipping is another $15. OUCH. Not even this Apple fanboy can justify that expense for a set of coasters that won’t get used much around our house.

    (photo courtesy veroyama via Creative Commons)