Leopards Ate My Baby!

October 26, 2007

Well, not so much leopards as OS X Leopard.

And by my baby, I mean my MacBook Pro.

And by ate, I mean trashed my hard drive.

But other than that, yeah – Leopards ate my baby!

I did the preorder from the Apple Store, and the Fed Ex guy dutifully brought it by at about 8:40 this morning. Apple had marked it “signature required”, so I got a chance to ask the guy whether he had seen a lot of them; he told me that he had at least 300 on his truck alone, and wondered what it was, so I ‘splained.

The early arrival gave me a couple of hours to play with it before I had to run off to a meeting, so I threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a whirl.

My initial plan was to do a clean install of Leopard on an external drive, boot off of it, and slowly move essential apps over. This would give me a chance to do some housecleaning, and get away from an install that I’ve been carting around since Panther.

Unfortunately, Leopard was having no part of this — it would only install on the internal drive; not sure why this is the case.

When I said I was throwing caution to the wind, that’s a pretty mild breeze – I have two backups that are done automatically overnight, including a bootable clone, so I wasn’t overly worried.

That being the case, I decided to go ahead and upgrade the install on my internal drive.

After starting the install, it went through an interminable “consistency check” of the DVD. I let this run about 20 minutes and hit the skip button, and started installing.

The installer ran for about five minutes, and failed claiming that it had a problem copying one file, and that I needed to reboot and try again.

Attempting to reboot back to the internal drive failed spectacularly — it would attempt to start up, and then shut back down again.

Booting the Leopard DVD again, I attempted another install, and it indicated that there was a problem with the internal drive, so I started up Disk Utility off the Leopard disk, and tried a verify. That failed, so I tried a repair. That failed, so I dropped the partition and created a new one, and went back to trying to install. It failed again, in the same place.

Switching my startup disk to my clone backup, I booted off the backup, and tried Disk Utility from Tiger. It was also unable to verify or repair the internal drive, so I erased it, and it looked okay.

At this point I figured that the Leopard DVD was actually corrupted, so I tried it again, and this time let it complete the entire (45 minute) consistency check of the DVD.

No problem. So I decided to try the install again, and it completed about an hour and twenty minutes later, with no problem. I let it transfer my stuff from the backup drive (another 2 hours), and I’m now running Leopard.

I have no idea at all what happened; my best guess is that there was a formatting error on the internal drive, but if so, this does not seem to be a terribly robust way of handling it. After spending 45 minutes verifying the DVD, it might have been nice to verify the target drive too before trashing it in this manner.

The moral of the story is that BEFORE you do something like installing Leopard, be absolutely sure that you have a good, current backup. This isn’t the first time it’s saved my ass, and every time I become more of a believer. “Time Machine” is doing its backup at the moment, but I’ll still be doing a clone backup overnight, just on general principles.


October 16, 2007

1983 was a million years ago. Since Diem and Turner set the US cross-country driving record of 32 hours, 7 minutes, police technology has improved just like everything else.

Even more to the point, since 2001, the tolerance of US law enforcement for the Deeply Weird has taken a decided turn for the worse.

They don’t come much more Deeply Weird than Alex Roy.

Roy – a bizarre mutant cross between a Formula One driver and Doctor Evil – has been tearing up the various cross-country and cross-continent rally circuit for the last few years with a talent for competition and a comic schtick that includes cars and outfits done up in the livery of a long defunct German police unit, which led to this hysterical piece of Gumball Rally silliness a couple years ago:

For the past few years, Roy has set his sites on breaking the Diem/Turner “Cannonball” record — whatever it takes. The whole thing has been filmed for an upcoming documentary release, and Wired has all the details.

“White lines scroll through the windshield and mile markers tick past the tires as Roy flips a series of toggles on the center console, killing the brake lights (to prevent telltale flashes if he needs to slow for sudden radar), then flips a few more to illuminate the cockpit with night-vision-friendly red LEDs. The cockpit glows like a submarine at battle stations. Now Roy punches up the digital codes corresponding to the New Jersey State Police on the police scanner. The car fills with the coded squawk of emergency dispatchers, speeding motorcycles, and domestic quarrels.

“OK, scanner is live,” Roy says. He hits another switch under the dash and a light goes green on his steering wheel display. It means that the vehicle is now traveling in a sort of force field of infrared light, a bubble that deforms the bandwidth of incoming police laser spotters. “Jammers are active,” Roy says. “Now let’s have the radar.””

Lots of great Alex Roy weirdness on YouTube

Official 32 Hours 7 Minutes site.

The Team Polizei Blog.

The Next Iron Chef Episode 2 Scorecard

October 16, 2007

· The Chairman just phones it in: +20 points
· Tons of shiny gadgetry: +30 points
· 7 Chefs intimidated by said gadgetry: +20 points
· Extremely brief glimpse of judging: -25 points
· Alton nearly has to whack a chef for failing to stop at time out: +15 points
· The last woman chef bites the dust (secret ingredient for the rest of the season: Sausage!): -10 points

Total: +50 Points
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The Next Iron Chef Scorecard

October 9, 2007

I don’t know why I’ve got a weak spot for TV chef “reality” shows. I’ve watched Hell’s Kitchen (both the US and UK versions — the UK is much better, btw), The F-Word (UK), Top Chef, and I’m a big fan of Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

I also watch Iron Chef every now and again, mostly because I enjoy Alton Brown, but it’s about my least favorite “cooking reality” show.

On Sunday, the Food Network served up their newest effort, “The Next Iron Chef”. The format is roughly akin to Top Chef’s (short early challenge, which gets the winner an advantage in the main challenge), albeit with the usual Iron Chef ingredient goofiness.

As a seasoned Iron Viewer, here’s my scorecard:

  • Airing a new show in lo-def when they’ve got a hi-def channel: -20 points
  • Hosted by Alton Brown instead of Padma Lakshmi or a cardboard US version of Gordon Ramsey: +30 points
  • No “Glad Family of Bags” or other in-your-face product placement: +20 points
  • No contestant as hot as Casey Thompson: -15 points
  • No contestant as annoying as Marcel Vigneron: +15 points
    (may be revisited as we get to know the contestants more)
  • Michael Ruhlman as a celebrity judge: +10 points
  • No Tony Bourdain as a celebrity judge: -15 points
  • Lack of profanity: -10 points
  • Lack of excessive bleeping: +15 points
  • Lack of (so far) off-the-wall challenges such as cooking on a hot rock while hopping on one foot: +15 points
  • Lack of Big Brother-esqe induced drama: +15 points
  • Apparent lack of restaurant-skills challenges: 0 points

+60 points, at least thus far.

Not bad.

(spoiler warning, for those who haven’t seen the first episode)

Read more

iPhone mini-rant

October 9, 2007

Before I get started, don’t get me wrong — the iPhone is still the best phone I’ve ever used, at least for the purposes for which I use a phone.

Doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have a few problems.

Also, I’m not talking about unlocking, jailbreaking, installing third party apps or using my own ringtones. Not that I’m not interested in all of the above, it’s just that until the firmware quits being a moving target (which obviously won’t be until Leopard is out, at the very least), it’s a game for those who are in it for the chase — anyone who’s looking for a stable solution to this at the moment is deluding themselves.

No, my not-so-big but increasingly annoying problem is in using the thing just as Cap’n Jobso intended.

Every so often, I’ll put the phone in the sync/charge cradle (which I do almost any time I’m at my desk), and iTunes will suddenly pop up an error along the lines of “The iPhone “YourNameHere” cannot be synced because there is not enough free space to hold all of the items in the selected playlists (X.XX GB required, YYY.Y MB available).”

Looking at the phone, all of my contact, appointments, mail and photos are available, but there’s no audio or video in the iPod section. iTunes claims that the entire phone is occupied by “X.XX” GB (6.33 GB, at the moment), of “other” data.

The only fix is to “Restore” the phone. This works fine, except:

A) It takes nearly an hour to add my 7ish GB of crap back to the phone.
B) I have to re-pair bluetooth to my car’s hands-free unit and my headset.
C) It’s happening way too often.

This happened again on Sunday (not quite 48 hours ago). Now it’s Tuesday morning. A couple of hours ago I was listening to music on the thing while going through my morning routine, and suddenly it’s back to no media and can’t sync.

This is the reason I’m not chasing any of the third party apps and ringtone stuff, btw — outside of the re-pairing, the fix process is all pretty much hands-off. If I were coloring outside the lines, I’d have to redo that each time, too.

This isn’t a major big deal, and I’m not the only person suffering from it, but every time it happens it pisses me off to think that Apple is spending so much time putting out updates designed to foil those blackhearted rogues that are trying to extend the phone’s functionality, instead of fixing it to work the way it’s supposed to work out of the box.


Going down…

October 1, 2007

We hear a lot about oil prices going up, but that’s largely a matter of perspective…

Obviously, I’ve got to get me some European clients…