diglloyd Mac Performance Guide
Up to 960GB of Storage!
Up to 960GB of Storage!

SSDStorageMemory

Mac Performance Guide

Photography Blog and Publications
Photography Blog and Publications

Tested: OWC 240GB USB3 Thumb Drive

OWC has a new thumb drive about to debut. MPG tested a 240GB production copy, as shown below. Other capacities smaller and larger (480GB) will be available.

With those sorts of capacities, MPG ponders why iPhone and similar devices are stuck around 128GB in a much larger form factor, and why there is not some sort of secure pairing standard for storage extension. Because with up to 480GB in such a small device, it could make a nifty adjunct to any digital device needing overflow storage.

As shown, the OWC thumb drive offers very high read and write speed for compressible data (“Zeroes”). This is performance that even two years ago was considered excellent for a fast full-size SSD.

With incompressible data (artificial worst case scenario), performance is lower, but still remains as fast or faster than the fastest hard drive for reads (reads are much more common than writes). In short, this is a high performance device.

OWC indicates that the drive is smart in that it “thermal regulates” for reliability; thumb drives are not really designed for taking a beating as with this continous test. Still, there was no sign of any performance deviation using DiskTester fill-volume across the entire 240GB capacity (writes ~240GB, then read ~240GB with no pauses or breaks).

MPG will be field testing the OWC 240GB thumb drive on a photography trip shortly, more to follow.

OWC 240GB USB thumb drive, sustained transfer speed

OS X and Malware

Well worth a read.

Mac OS X Isn’t Safe Anymore: The Crapware / Malware Epidemic Has Begun

A few simple rules:

  • Many of the risks today involve the web browser. The best advice is to not install extensions of any kind, and to never ever install software that promises to improve your browser.
  • Do not download anything unless absolutely necessary and its provenance is absolutely clear.
  • Never download “free” software you just read about.
  • Never download anything a friend sent you, take a dim view of links in emails.
  • Disable java in the web browser (note: java is NOT javascript; virtually every site today needs javascript to function properly, including this site).
  • Don’t eat candy strangers give you at random.

diglloydTools Updated to version 2.2.11

diglloydTools

diglloydTools has been updated to version 2.2.11, , see the diglloydTools release notes page and download page.

Purchase diglloydTools.

There is only one change in this release:

  • During the read phase of fill-volume, MB/sec is is now also shown for the last 1/10/30 files as trailing averages (not just total average). This yields insight into any anomalous drive behavior while the test is running without needing to wait for the entire read phase to complete.

Some of the capabilities in diglloydTools

Aside from testing hard drive or SSD or RAID performance and reliability with DiskTester, data integrity with IntegrityChecker is a must-have workflow tool for anyone with important data:

diglloydTools graphing template
diglloydTools graphing template

OWC Weekend Specials

By reader request, this weekend’s OWC Weekend specials. See last week’s specials.

Which Mac to Get? How to Backup? Planning for Growth.

By engaging me in consulting, I can help in the following ways—

  • Evaluating the backup protocol and the risks to user data.
  • Choosing just the right machine for your needs: CPU speed and cores.
  • Determining the right amount of memory.
  • Assessing whether more advanced solutions (such as multiple solid state drives) can actually help with a performance issue.
  • Deciding on the best solution for performance, reliability and fault-tolerance.
  • Planning for needs 6 months / 1 year / 2 years ahead, not just right now.
  • Evaluating whether a “faster” video card is faster, or just a waste of $200 or more.
  • Workflow, display, peripheral issues.
  • Tips on saving money when buying a machine and its add-ons.

Hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world.

Reader Question: Photoshop and Large Files — Best Way to Optimize

Joe S writes:

It's time for me to upgrade my boot drive, as I am in running into limits working with HUGE files in PS with my current OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 240GB SSD drive in my 2010 Mac Pro.

I don't really have anything on the boot drive other than the OS and my Applications which are a lot - FCP, Adobe CS suite (CS5 and 6), Logic, DaVinci, etc.

MPG: The boot volume per se has nothing to do with Photoshop scratch space, since Photoshop can be configured to use any volume(s) for working scratch space. Thus capacity of the boot drive is a separate and orthogonal issue separate from speed with Photoshop—any fast SSD will do as a scratch volume, the fastest option in the pre-2013 Mac Pro being the OWC Mercury Accelsior (or a striped pair of them). The same SSD can be used for other purposes too (e.g., as the boot volume).

SSDs have come well down in price, so the upgrade cost is relatively low now.

See also the Optimizing Photoshop pages.

The first and most important factor in Photoshop performance is to avoid use of the scratch disk in the first place: install adequate memory so that the scratch volume is never needed; it is always faster to not have to use the scratch volume at all*. With enough memory, Photoshop will usually* not waste time with the scratch volume. OWC sells a 128GB memory kit for the 2013 Mac Pro for users with unusual memory requirements.

diglloydTools
BUY NOW

Assuming memory has been maxed-out, the Photoshop scratch volume should be the fastest drive (avoid hard drives, even striped): a fast SSD, the boot drive or other SSD, whichever is fastest. DiglloydTools DiskTester can prove out which performs best.

* Unfortunately, Photoshop sometimes uses the scratch volume significantly even when it has many gigabytes of memory it could use (bug). So a fast SSD scratch volume can still matter when such bugs are triggered.

Example

As shown further below, Photoshop is using 40.29GB of real memory, the limit of how it has been configured, ~70% of system memory (the system has 64GB total). Other apps need memory, as does OS X itself, so a general rule of thumb is to configure Photoshop to use up to 70% of system memory.

Photoshop CC 2014 memory configuration: 70% good for most, up to 85% for 64GB machines

With larger memory configurations, configuring Photoshop to use 75% to 85% of memory generally works well (assuming no large memory requirements by other apps). In this case of a 64GB Mac Pro, configuring for 85% would add another ~9.6GB or so for Photoshop to use, which would encourage it to not bother with the scratch volume.

Quitting other applications will free up their memory and thus reduce total memory pressure and thus allow Photoshop to use more memory.

Photoshop CC 2014 using ~40GB of real memory

An Example of When More CPU Cores Mean Responsive vs Sluggish

Here’s a practical example of when more CPU cores can really help, assuming it’s of value to be able to use the machine for other purposes while backing up.

But the idea applies in general to any situation in which there is work to be done while some background activity is in progress.

I had gotten a bit behind on backups, so I powered on an OWC Thunderbay 4 with 4 backup volumes, and initiated some cloning operations using Carbon Copy Cloner.

As shown below, on a 4-CPU-core Mac, nearly all the CPU cores are utilized (400%). On the 8-core Mac Pro this is no issue at all; 4 CPU cores remain available for other work. On a 6-core machine it will also be quite reasonable.

But on a 4-core machine (iMac, MacBook Pro, 4-core Mac Pro), nearly all the CPU power is being used; any kind of interactive use for other purposes is not going to go fast or smoothly.

OWC Weekend Specials

The Thunderbay 4 is a favorite at MPG (Lloyd bought 5 of them).

See also RAID-5 Can be Partitioned to Suit, and there is no requirement to use RAID-5 of course; it is software and completely flexible).

The Toshiba 5TB hard drive is perfect for the Thunderbay 4, and very fast. So get 4 of them, and one cold spare (five drives total).

The Intel 600GB SSD has not been tested here at MPG, but $195 for 600GB is an appealing deal.

View all OWC Weekend Specials

Adware = Malware (Lenovo and https)

This stuff is hardly to be believed. According to the EFF:

Lenovo Is Breaking HTTPS Security on its Recent Laptops

News broke last night that Lenovo has been shipping laptops with a horrifically dangerous piece of software called Superfish, which tampers with Windows' cryptographic security to perform man-in-the-middle attacks against the user's browsing. This is done in order to inject advertising into secure HTTPS pages, a feature most users don't want implemented in the most insecure possible way.

Lenovo has not just injected ads in a wildly inappropriate manner, but engineered a massive security catastrophe for its users. The use of a single certificate for all of the MITM attacks means that all HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken. If you access your webmail from such a laptop, any network attacker can read your mail as well or steal your password. If you log into your online banking account, any network attacker can pilfer your credentials. All an attacker needs in order to perform these attacks is a copy of the Superfish MITM private key. There is (apparently) a copy of that key inside every Superfish install on every affected Lenovo laptop, which has now been extracted and posted online.

In MPG’s view, this should permanently exclude Lenovo from anyone’s consideration, for any product. Lifetime blacklist. For that matter, any vendor pre-installing adware should be blacklisted also. Finally, this ought to be dealt with severely; an immediate import ban on all Lenovo products in the USA and EU seems appropriate.

See also How to Remove Superfish Adware From Your Lenovo Computer.

Is Nothing Safe Any More? Cellular Phones Compromised En Masse

You can't make this stuff up. Are there any mirrors in the NSA building?

THE GREAT SIM HEIST: HOW SPIES STOLE THE KEYS TO THE ENCRYPTION CASTLE

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

...

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

...

Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”

Wow. Anyway, your hard drive could be compromised already too.

The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

My Mac Consulting Can Save You Money and Protect Your Data

Backup can be the most imporant thing of all when developing a professional computing platform.

By engaging me in consulting, I can help in the following ways—

  • Evaluating the backup protocol and the risks to user data.
  • Choosing just the right machine for your needs: CPU speed and cores.
  • Determining the right amount of memory.
  • Assessing whether more advanced solutions (such as multiple solid state drives) can actually help with a performance issue.
  • Deciding on the best solution for performance, reliability and fault-tolerance.
  • Planning for needs 6 months / 1 year / 2 years ahead, not just right now.
  • Evaluating whether a “faster” video card is faster, or just a waste of $200 or more.
  • Workflow, display, peripheral issues.
  • Tips on saving money when buying a machine and its add-ons.

Hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world.

Apple Watch for Sports — What About ANT?

In With the Coming of the Apple Watch, Digital Monitoring is the Next Big Thing, I suggested that Apple Watch would be a Really Big Deal. After watching :; the Apple videos, it seems that the fitness aspect alone could do millions a world of good. At least the slick presentation makes it appear that Apple has hit the nail on the head in making a fitness device that is light years ahead of previous efforts. It looks exceptionally well done in its mass market get-off-the-couch motivational potential (at least for a few weeks of use!).

And yet I was deeply disappointed in what was shown, or at least what was not mentioned, because Apple Watch appears to lack a critical thing: ANT support. As a cyclist with measured exertion of 7000 to 10,000 kilojoules per week (multiply by 0.956 for kilocalories* aka “calories”), I care about what it can do for me on my bike. Moreover, you must carry the iPhone (for its GPS) if you want things like speed and distance (but GPS performs poorly under trees and on twists and turns and switchbacks and many other places). AFAIK, the iPhone does not support ANT either and never has.

* The 0.956 conversion factor relates kilojoules (watts of power) as measured on the bike to 1% accuracy to an efficiency factor for the human body in converting chemical energy to work (muscles) for a highly trained athlete.

Thus if 1000 kilojoules of work are produced on the bike, 956 kilocalories of food must be eaten to produce that resulting mechanical work (most of the energy is wasted as heat, which is why exercise makes us hot). Hence the conversion factor between kilojoules/kilocalories is not 0.239 <=> 4.187 when calculating caloric intake vs measured work (exercise).

The generally accepted range of human body efficiency in converting chemical energy (glucose, fat, protein) to work (physical movement) ranges from 18% for an untrained non-athlete to 24% for a highly trained athlete. So one kilojoule on the bike (as measured) is roughly one kilocalorie of food for a highly trained athlete at steady effort, e.g., 0.2390 X (1/.240) = 0.995.

Having tracked caloric intake to the gram for years as part of training, I should probably raise my efficiency factor to 0.24; food and training logs suggest that my 0.956 figure is too low (e.g. I have high efficiency). But post-workout there are caloric needs for recovery and repair and growth, thermic losses during digestion (TEF), and also exercise intensity varies the metabolic efficiency (type of energy source), so I deem it more useful to stick with 0.956. Simply digesting and converting food to usable energy takes from 5% (fat, certain types of carbohydrates) to 30% (protein) of the calories consumed (thermic losses aka specific dynamic action (SDA)). So five years of weight/calorie/excercise data tells me that 0.956 is a highly accurate number for my own food and exercise habits.

ANT wireless data transmission

ANT is the wireless standard for sending/receiving instrument data to a “head unit” like an SRM PC7 or Garmin Edge or dozens of others (and, one would have hoped, Apple Watch Sport).

When I cycle there are seven (7) data streams to be recorded: heart rate from a band I wear around my chest, power and cadence from the SRM DA9000 power meter, speed and distance accurate to 0.1% from a carefully calibrated per-revolution wheel sensor. And elevation and temperature. All of which are transmitted via ANT. [Long and varied experience over years also proved to me that GPS is far too often way off for elevation and ascent, so it that too is garbage from my training perspective].

So unless the Apple Watch can record these data streams, it’s useless for my cycling purposes. It’s all good that millions of fair weather cyclists and runners and etc are to be served, but I sure hope that my disappointment is only due to an omission by Apple of stating ANT support.

That Apple has any intention of supporting this kind of data collection seems like a crackpot idea given the way Apple thinks—and yet millions of serious athletes would surely like to be able to use an Apple Watch Sport to make it happen.

3248 kilojoule extensive endurance cycling workout
64 miles + 6538 ft elevation gain @ 217 watts, 133 bpm, 4+ hours

How to Prioritize Network Interfaces for Peak Performance

How to Prioritize Network Interfaces for Peak Performance

One reason I looked into this issue is that OS X Yosemite caused me to eat up half a gigabyte of bandwidth from my iPhone since (yet another bug) it does not prioritize gigabit ethernet over wireless. But it’s a general performance and reliability issue for networking.

mpg
Four networking services simultaneously active

Lockdown: The Coming War on General Computing

Written in 2011, this exceptionally well written article remains more relevant than ever.

Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing by Cory Doctorow

The shape of the copyright wars clues us into an upcoming fight over the destiny of the general-purpose computer itself.

...

In one famous incident—a gift to people who share this hypothesis—Sony loaded covert rootkit installers on 6 million audio CDs, which secretly executed programs that watched for attempts to read the sound files on CDs and terminated them. It also hid the rootkit's existence by causing the computer operating system's kernel to lie about which processes were running, and which files were present on the drive.

...

I have made peace with the fact that I will require a hearing aid long before I die. It won't be a hearing aid, though; it will really be a computer. So when I get into a car—a computer that I put my body into—with my hearing aid—a computer I put inside my body—I want to know that these technologies are not designed to keep secrets from me, or to prevent me from terminating processes on them that work against my interests.

...

OWC Weekend Specials

Thunderbay 4 Mini for $298, certified used Macs, discounted memory kits, SoftRAID 5 for $138, Elgato Thunderbolt Dock for $128, Accelsior PCIe 480GB SSD (fast!) for $499.

Weekend deals

With the Coming of the Apple Watch, Digital Monitoring is the Next Big Thing

I rather dismissed the Apple Watch (surprisingly poor naming*) as something I had no desire for, at least in terms of time, tweets and such, but what really intrigues me now is its potential to radically change the “personal health metrics” game.

* 'Watch' is such a closed way to describe a device worn on the wrist which might be chosen for 1000 other reasons.

In my view, the Apple 'Watch' goes far beyond the iPhone in potential, because it’s an entirely new category applicable to nearly 100% of the population. It’s not a watch (though it can tell time surely), but rather a personal digital monitor even though at its debut it will likely be deemed a communications device. But the revolution will come not in duplicating what an iPhone can do, but in in opening up an entirely new playing field (personal digital monitoring).

Consider for example being able to monitor and continuously record blood sugar, sleep rhythms, heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen levels, blood alcohol, control of medical implants, all that stuff and more than can hardly be envisioned (sensors required for some of that). These are not just medical applications, but intriguing for sports use training and racing, for monitoring status of pilots and truck drivers and soldiers, and so on. And that’s just for starters. It’s a product that has far more meat to its reason for existence than an iPhone, because it spans every aspect of life, not just communications, and grandma or little Joey might have to have one (medically) unlike an iMac or iPhone. And it can be worn on the wrist.

So the Apple Watch intrigues me for its data recording and monitoring capabilities (albeit with some sensors required)—not at all for its communications aspects (mail, tweets, web, etc, though for some those things will clearly be a huge plus). It would be nifty if it supported wireless ANT heart rate, power, speed, cadence right out of the box, for cyclists and other sports.

I could see using the Apple Watch far more than my iPhone, if it were done right. I could see buying more than one if done really right, and configuring each for different things: customizing and “locking down” the Watch to as few as one specific function could be important to grow its market acceptance in dozens of smaller but not small market areas.

Hacking and personal data concerns are going to plumb interesting new crossover areas in the law.

On health

Some recent health-related posts on my cycling site:

Our Toaster Failed, and we want another one just like it

Our Dualit 4-Slice Toaster, Chrome failed after about 15 years of heavy use. We’re having it repaired for about 40% of the cost of a new one, because It Just Works. It’s unclear what failed, probably the timer dial, which has seen heavy use (kids go through a lot of toast!)

It’s designed right visually, it’s designed right functionally and it proved itself all these years. Even getting crumbs out is done the right way (the tray just pulls out at the bottom).

It won’t connect to the internet, won’t tell you what time it is, won’t notify your iWatch or tweet “toast is ready” or even beep when your toast is done. But it’s timer does have a pleasingly simple mechanical dial sound that also clicks lightly when done. You don’t have to update its firmware or read a manual to figure it out. It’s built solidly to last with direct-manipulation of all necessary and quite sufficient controls. It’s vented properly and has rugged feet on the bottom. Old school design, so rare today.

Our older model is even simpler than this photo. Now look at all the variety of toasters. Most are not only plastic but try too hard and end up being lame: beepers and timers and dials and even dual dials and dual LED displays and dual sliders, Charlie Foxtrot designs, many more parts to fail, confusion to arise. (That is exactly how both OS X and iOS now feel to me these days). Guess how many of those toasters will be working even 2 years from now with a family making toast every day of the year.

I want OS X Toaster and iOS Toaster.

Product designers out there: think Dualit toaster when designing any product.

Get Dualit 4-Slice Toaster at Amazon.

Dualit Classic 4-Slice Toaster, Chrome

Reader Comment: Apple Core Rot

More about Apple Core Rot.

Reader Andrea D writes:

I wanted to write you about the Apple Core Rot. My opinion is quite simple and not an original one. I once read that in Engineering there are three factors:

  • Quality
  • Features
  • Time

And in a project you never can have all three. At most two.

If you want Quality and Time (e.g. delivery date) then you have to forget (reduce) Features. By my limited knowledge about Steve Jobs I'm sure he always seeked Quality + Features rather than Time. He waited years of prototypes before introducing the iPad for example. So the equation is quite simple.

It seems Apple is now seeking Time + Features, believing naively (or on purpose) that also Quality can be archived (or is unimportant). It's just not possible. Also, Managers aren't much aware of the fact that there is nothing worse than letting entropy grow in code, which is inevitable if you are under time stress (instead of quality stress). It makes developers unhappy too. On long term those are really bad decisions.

Since OS upgrades are free I'm sure that Apple would get a much better feedback if they focus on Quality+Features or at least on Quality+Time (if you are eager to show many upgrades frequently). For various reasons I really disagree with fixed delivery dates, especially so short (a year is nothing for development).

And personally the look of Yosemite is horrible, I would say "without character". For years I loved the quality and uniqueness of the Apple Icons. Yosemite looks to be a clone of a recent mobile trend instead of proposing it's own view. Also, if you change completely your own look, it means that you don't believe anymore in the existing one, you admit it. Instead I loved the consistency of OS X maintained for years opposite to the many Windows OS revolutions. Puah. Double Puah.

MPG: models like this drill down on reality, and I would agree in general, having been a professional software engineer and manager for 25 years in my “previous life”.

Fixed delivery dates are the worst possible choice, because what always happens is that poor managerial judgment ends up being the norm: the pressure to deliver what was promised, on time, with a hopper-full of promises to out of the gate. And what manager wants to ever say “we didn’t get it done in time” or be dissed as the one that says “we can’t get it done on that schedule with quality”. Might as well beat your head on a brick wall.

Moreover, more features inherently means more bugs and it’s a non-linear growth rate in bugs as modules combine. So the more there is, the more bugs, the more security holes, etc. Less is almost always more. Or at least fewer features, but very well thought out ones that always help and never hinder. But when selling to millions, you hype and you sell. And what sells today is constant changes (visuals in particular), with each rev “better” only because it fed the ego of the latest designer not because some hard metrics proved that it works better.

I want my iPhone to be more like a toaster.

Kevin B writes:

I heard yesterday that Apple is developing an electric vehicle... One that may be driver-less no less. Well.

This comes at the exact same time that not only are you reporting widespread rot, but as of about a month ago my own 2013 iMac cannot safely eject either one of my two Thunderbolt external backup drives without crashing... 100% of the time. (After contacting tech support, they are aware of this issue and "hope" to have a fix with one of the next OS updates.)

I personally could list other firsthand issues (rot) but what you are cataloging on you site will definitely suffice.

Could it be Apple is spreading itself a little too thin? Or is Apple simply not taking seriously the products it already sells/features, i.e. rather than concerned with hardware/software stability it's endlessly focusing attention on the next shiny new thing? (Rhetorical questions all.)

Given the increasing rot, I wouldn't dare get into the new electric -- driver-less or not.

MPG’s guess is that the best and brightest (speaking in percentages) have long since been pulled off the OS X team, leaving less than a critical mass of experienced and talented engineers, with a corresponding reduction in good judgment, along with donut-holes in the knowledge base.

Apple Aperture: Taking It No Further

Details.

Apple Aperture messaging juxtaposition
“When Photos for OS X is available this spring,
Aperture will no longer be available for purchase from the Mac App Store.”

Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC Digital Camera Storage Card

How fast do the fastest digital camera storage cards go? Your author reviews and uses many brands of cameras; some camera use CompactFlash and some use SDXC and some have dual slots, one of each kind.

For the latest cameras producing big files, a fast SDXC card can make a noticeable difference in responsiveness, assuming the camera supports the latest protocols (older cameras not likely to benefit).

The most reliable and fastest CompactFlash card I’ve used is the Toshiba Exceria Pro—not one glitch ever.

I hugely prefer high-capacity cards (64GB) because in the field there is no need to erase them, thus they are an additional backup over and above downloading the day’s shoot (and backing that up too). Aside from cost, I’d be buying 128GB or larger cards for that resason, but for now 64GB serves me amply for most of my trips (not filling up).

The graph below from DiskTester data used the supplied USB3 reader with the Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card. It shows that the card is capable of sustaining very high write speeds, and even higher read speeds (a very fast hard drive might do 220 MB/sec).

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC Digital Camera Storage Card using supplied card reader

Drives Unmounting After Sleep in OS X Yosemite?

When I received this note, my thought was “with Apple Core Rot worsening, and with OS X Yosemite the buggiest OS X release ever, this might be a real issue rather than an isolated incident”.

Andreas writes:

Have you run into the new bug where Yosemite shits the bed if it goes to sleep with a USB HD attached? Upon wake, Yosemite displays a warning that the drive was unplugged without being safely unmounted. The drive icon is still on the desktop and the entry in /Volumes. But no amount of dragging the icon to the trash, command-line tricks, or Finder restarts can remove the icon.

The real fun happens when you try to reboot the computer—it hangs after quitting the running apps. The only option is then to power-cycle the machine.

I'm getting this on my work machine, a refurb Late-2013 rMPB purchased last month. Searching turned up a couple threads about this on Apple's own discussion forums.

MPG: yes this is happening to me too, every day now for 3 days on a 2012 MacBook Pro 9,1 (after overnight sleep), but also once while in use so that raises a question mark. On this system, the drive is the 480GB OWC Envoy Pro EX direct-connected to the USB3 port of the laptop. It’s hard to believe that a drive that has worked flawlessly for nearly two years is now bad.

I’ve swapped the cable and drive to see if this repeats. And I’ve put the 480GB Envoy Pro EX on a late 2013 MBP Retina as another test. Monitoring both now.

Michael writes:

Apple replaced my iMac due to this issue, 6 weeks of going back and forth. I had two OWC Mini Stacks and two Buffalo Drive Station DDR (HD-GDU3) drives attached and after numerous events the Buffalo drives became unmountable.

Same exact issue: come out of sleep and the drive was either missing (icon and all) or was not available even though it should up in disc utility. Apple sent me a thunderbolt LaCie 3 TB drive as reparation, and then after weeks more they replaced the 2012 iMac with a new 2013 5K. It isn’t affecting my Thunderbolt drives and I keep the USB3 drives offline until I need them.

To date I have not had resolution from apple, this all started with in a week of upgrading to 10.10.

MPG: A little birdie tells me that OS X 10.10 has introduced subtle new issues into Thunderbolt (bugs). It would hardly be surprising that USB3 is also damaged by the same Apple incompetence in QA (quality assurance and regression testing). Ten months ago the file system was broken in one ugly way (and more), and that’s stuff that worked for a decade or more. More Apple Core Rot.

Steffen K writes:

It’s not only USB-Harddrives that get unmounted. I have a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Drive connected to a late 2009 iMac (iMac11,1) by Firewire800 as Time Machine drive. It’s a 2.5“ drive that gets powered by Firewire.

Exactly the same thing happens form time to time after waking the machine up. The system then tells me that the drive was unmounted incorrectly.

What makes this quite interesting is the fact that the drive has worked fine prior to 10.10. And that the drive makes clicking noises after such an unmount. It’s almost like the drive has a short power failure when Yosemite is waking up.

MPG: sounds like a threading/timing error newly introduced at some common level in the I/O kit layer. But it could relate to power also.

Apple Core Rot and Safari Issues

More Apple Core Rot. This has been a problem in both Yosemite and its predecessor on and off, but it’s becoming a daily problem in Yosemite 10.10.2.

Shown below are Apple Safari and Google Chrome and 'ping', all accessing the same site (diglloyd.com, sister site to this one).

  • Server logs show that Safari isn’t even getting to the site. Safari cannot load even one page; it stays blank. A minute or two later, it works fine.
  • Chrome is fully operational; click on any page at diglloyd.com and the site loads instantly.
  • Also shown is a live 'ping' to diglloyd.com, working fine simulataneously with the Safari failure.
  • (not shown) Apple Remote Desktop is also working fine to diglloyd.com, fine simulataneously with the Safari failure.
  • It’s not just diglloyd.com; other sites on the *same server* respond just fine.

A reboot or logout fixes it (for a while). Ditto for my other sites. Wait a few minutes and things work again. And it’s not confined to my sites.

Maybe this failure is related to the broken DNS reported by Ars Technica. These days, Apple Pie is the made of what we used to call “horse apples” or “cow pies” back in Wisconsin.

SoftRAID 5.0.6 Released With Important Fixes

SoftRAID 5.0.6 has been released.

Key notes:

  • Support for RAID 4, 5 and 1+0 volumes. Macs can use any SoftRAID volume as a startup volume.
  • Complete support for high resolution displays.
  • Improved volume validation which will optionally fix parity or mirror data during the validation operation.
  • Improved error reporting.
  • Improved the predicted disk failure feature to provide more detailed information about how a disk is failing.
  • Up to 30% improvement in read/write performance for mirror volumes.
  • Numerous bug fixes in the SoftRAID application.
  • A SoftRAID status indicator which is always displayed in the menu bar.
  • Full support for the new kernel security features introduced in Mavericks (Mac OS X 10.9).

Important Note

There was a data corruption bug which was inadvertently introduced in SoftRAID version 5.0.5. This bug caused data corruption in RAID 4 and 5 volumes when a user replaced a failing disk with a new disk. This same bug could cause the data on mirror (RAID 1) and RAID 1+0 secondary disks to be incorrect.

If you have been using SoftRAID 5.0.5, you should upgrade to version 5.0.6 immediately and validate all of your SoftRAID volumes to ensure that all redundant volume data and parity information is correct.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade to SoftRAID version 5.0.6 or later which fixes this bug.

MPG: always keep backups. In particular, RAID is not a backup.

ArsTechnica: Why DNS in OS X 10.10 is broken, and what you can do to fix it

More Apple Core Rot.

ArsTechnica: Why DNS in OS X 10.10 is broken, and what you can do to fix it:

But there's another category of bug—glaring, perplexing bugs that couldn't possibly have escaped the attention of the software engineers in question, let alone the quality assurance department. Such issues exist, and sometimes they go unfixed for months. Or years. Or ever. Hopefully, the set of network issues with OS X 10.10 described below won't fall into this column, but they do raise an obvious question: why?

MPG: I sometimes have to reboot my Mac Pro to fix what almost certainly are DNS problems (very frustrating to have to tear down a slew of active work).

Yet another computer on the same local LAN going to the same gigabit switch going to the same router can reach the same site instantly, even as the Mac Pro hangs trying to reach that same site (Safari), and even while a simultaneous ssh connection and Apple Remote Desktop session on the problem mac continue to work just fine! Why, why, why?

Apple needs to make a full stop on OS X, and fix about 1000 bugs for the next OS release, and do nothing else. Call it OS X Bedrock.

MacWorld: Wi-Fi issues continue to hamper OS X users despite updates

More Apple Core Rot.

MacWorld reports in Wi-Fi issues continue to hamper OS X users despite updates:

Apple’s efforts this week to remedy the Wi-Fi connectivity issues plaguing many OS X users produced mediocre results, judging by comments left in Apple’s support forum.

Immediately following the Oct. 16 public release of Mac OS X Yosemite, an undetermined but substantial number of users took to discussion forums and social media to report that the OS crippled and in some cases disabled their machine’s Wi-Fi capabilities. As of Thursday, the thread “OSX Yosemite Wifi issues” on Apple’s support forum had 709,855 views and 2,261 comments.

MPG’s view is that OS X Yosemite is the buggiest, most ill-conceived and poorly executed OS release yet. Apple’s fanatical switch to calendar-based releases replete with ill considered if not downright productivity killing “features” instead of quality and reliability driven releases is a fundamental tactical and strategic error.

Apple’s latest Airport Extreme wireless (two of them at home) worked great initially but have been less and less reliable; erratic. I cannot explain it, since they sit where I put them over a year ago. I would like to take them both back and get refund. If Apple quality is so good why isn’t there a 3-year or 5-year warranty and/or “bring it back within a year for a full refund” policy? Stores like REI and The North Face have terrific policies in this regard.

The following window is from NetSpot. A NetSpot representative says that the “100%” figure for noise is something new (a change in behavior) in OS X 10.2.2 Yosemite (these networks are working normally and do not have 100% noise).

Signal strength with Airport Extreme networks llcE1 and llcE2
llcE2 is less than 2 meters from the laptop with only air in-between

Art B writes:

After many phone calls to my Internet cable supplier and Apple, due to Wi-Fi stalling out. I had a good call to Apple. They put me on the line with a router expert. After some interrogation, he recommended that I change my channels to 9 and 161.

This has worked for about a month with no problems for Mac Book Pro, two iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad all are running Apple's latest OSX and iOS. My router is Airport Extreme n version, not the newest. My Mac Book Pro is set to run on 5 GHz.

MPG: Thanks to Art for a good tip. For those with time on their hands. In 3 months something might change and then which channels? I wire everything into gigabit ethernet that I can: zero problems and far higher performance.

When I buy an appliance (e.g an Airport), I want to plug it in and have it work at its optimal speeds, figuring it out automatically on its own. I want it to be like a toaster.

Configuring channels with Apple Airport

Charles L writes:

I’ve seen issues where a change in channel fixed the WiFi issue because of interference by other WiFi networks in the neighborhood on the same channel. For example, at my office there are over a dozen visible networks, and a limited number of usable channels. In fact, unless you are at least 3 channels apart, you can experience interference from what I understand.

I also understand that using channel 1, 6 or 11 is preferred, as the intervening channels will be overlapped by adjoining channels.

Why Channels 1, 6, and 11? MetaGeek.com

How to boost your WiFi speed by choosing the right channel | ExtremeTech

Apple Lightning Cables (for iPhone, etc)

My kids are good at wrecking these cables. Good to have some on hand.

BTW, want a workhorse Mac Pro for $799? Wow.

How Fast Can Eight (8) SSDs go: Speed vs I/O Transfer Size

Details:

Outrageous Speed with 8 SSDs in Dual Thunderbay 4 Minis: Speed vs Transfer Size

Write/read speed, plus hashing throughput with IntegrityChecker, RAID-0 vs RAID-4 vs RAID-5
Speed MB/sec vs transfer size with 8 SSDs in dual Thunderbay 4 Minis on 2013 Mac Pro

How Fast Can Eight (8) SSDs go: SoftRAID RAID 1+0 vs RAID 5

RAID 1+0 adds somewhat more fault tolerance over RAID-4 or RAID-5. Results now incorporated:

Outrageous Speed with 8 SSDs in Dual Thunderbay 4 Minis

Write/read speed, plus hashing throughput with IntegrityChecker, RAID-0 vs RAID-4 vs RAID-5
RAID-5 vs RAID-1+0 with 8 SSDs in Dual Thunderbay 4 Minis on 2013 Mac Pro

How Fast Can Eight (8) SSDs go in Dual OWC Thunderbay Minis on Thunderbolt 2?

Read more including RAID-4 and RAID-5 results:

Outrageous Speed with 8 SSDs in Dual Thunderbay 4 Minis

Even MPG feels sated at 2400 MB/sec (2.4 gigabytes per second).

Write/read speed, plus hashing throughput with IntegrityChecker, RAID-0 vs RAID-4 vs RAID-5
RAID-0 stripe with 8 SSDs in Dual Thunderbay 4 Minis on 2013 Mac Pro

960GB Micron/Crucial M500 SSD for $325

SanDisk had a bad quarter, and OWC scored a deal on SanDisk 960GB SSDs.

While I prefer the OWC Envoy Pro EX for travel and OWC Electra 6G 960GB, it’s darn hard to approach this SanDisk blowout price:

$325 for 960GB Crucial / Micron M500 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s 7mm SSD

You could, for example, put four of them into the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini. Or install in the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini.

More 960GB SSD options.

Continuing Performance Issues in Apple OS X Yosemite, Particularly in Photoshop

Grant G writes in reference to OS X Yosemite: Severe Performance Issues with File Open Dialog:

Just want to say we are experiencing the extremely slow animations/redraw
for open/save dialog boxes across all Apps.

Extremely frustrating when using Adobe Creative Cloud apps, the jerky slow animations just is bewildering, especially when we are using the Latest Mac Pro 2013's 6-Core,1TB, 32GB RAM, Dual D500's. How can the animations possibly be slow on such machines?

Yosemite needs major performance optimizations or new GPU drivers,
unbelievable.

Thanks for posting your experience, at least we know its not just our
machines or installations. Many thanks for you website.

MPG: “how can it be?” That’s an easy one: Apple incompetence (Apple Core Rot).

But that ain’t the half of it. Due to various GPU-related problems including truly awful blurred fit-to-window behavior (single or dual display), I have little choice but to disable the GPU for my work—and yet this is only one of several other show-stopper bugs related to dual displays. But disabling the GPU has the time-wasting and intensely frustrating side effect of massively slow operation if the Preview checkbox is checked (enabled) in the Levels or Curves or similar dialogs. This is new behavior, never seen prior to late 2014. It’s unclear if this is Adobe or Apple is alone responsible, or whether it is some kind of interaction. I’ve directly (by phone) reported some of the issues to Adobe testing team, but no fixes so far. And I still cannot use a 4K display in a dual display setup as a main screen, due to Apple breaking display scaling support information in OS X Yosemite.

OS X Yosemite is a stinking cesspool of problems. There are just too many issue to document—I have real work to do, so I work around the things as best I can.

See also Apple Core Rot: More Views.

Francesco G writes:

Rulers on: zooming and panning with the hand tool is super slow and laggy. Clone and healing brush almost unusable for the delay.

Rulers off: everything works just fine.
Just toggling on and off the rulers, instantly make the problem appear and disappear.

Today's Photoshop update (2014.2.2) did not solved the problem.

MPG: tip of the iceberg, and possibly a useful tip for some.

Apple OS X 10.10.2: Many Bug Fixes Along with Fresh Manure

Apple: About the OS X Yosemite v10.10.2 Update

Apple has fixed numerous security bugs in OS X 10.10.2 (kudos).

But (more Apple Core Rot)— shoveled in new manure: when my dual-display System boots, there is no login dialog—just two blank gray screens! Only by unplugging one display does a login dialog appear. I can then login, then plug the display back in (alternately, turning one display off, logging in, then turning the display back on). I know the system is up even though there is no login dialog, because I can connect to it via file sharing.

Through end of January: One Hour Consulting for 1 Bitcoin

One hour consulting for 1.0 Bitcoin (returning clients and/or past the first hour, 0.7 Bitcoin).

Use coinbase.com/diglloyd.

The easiest way to get Bitcoin and handle it securely is to create an account at Coinbase.com. (MPG strongly suggests using two-factor authentication via Authy, which runs on your iPhone or similar). Like Paypal and banks, you have to be verified, etc. See also Bitcoin price and volume graphs.

Hard Drive Reliability

MPG has been recommending Hitachi hard drives for several years, based on several solid reasons, including using 25 or so of them over the past 5 years (4TB and 5TB and now 6TB modes.

Two articles on the topic:

Favorite MPG hard drives, such as for use in the OWC Thunderbay 4 or OWC Mercury Elite Pro. Note that Toshiba is part of Hitachi.

Apple Core Rot: More Views

To MPG’s knowledge, MPG was the first to seriously raise the Apple Core Rot issue a year ago.

Some new coverage on Apple Core Rot on the web:

What’s worse than a worm in an Apple? Half a worm!
What’s worse than a worm in an Apple?
Half a worm!

See also:

Waiter, there is a fly in every serving of Apple kitchen-sink soup these days, well actually in every ingredient that goes into Apple soup. Big complex operating systems with more and more superfluous eye candy lead to more and more security bugs and usability problems. It’s the the way software works: more complexity = more bugs, period.

Virtually all of these issues persist months after OS X Yosemite was released. And no doubt will never be fixed, or perhaps will be replaced by new bugs as Apple arbitrarily breaks things and rips out good useful features by inreeasingly disprectful-to-users judgment. A few of these issues are very serious (security), and inexcusable.

There are dozens of other problems MPG can’t afford the time to document, many of which degrade usability each and every day, including severe performance issues in Photoshop, 4K display support issues, complete failing to support technologies available for years (10-bit color), and a general crapware approach to the system (and iOS). No ordinary user can now use a Mac in more than a basic way without needing an expert helper. Even using an iPhone via iTunes befuddles your author; it’s a kitchen-sink disaster of a user interface. It’s a sad commentary on the company which once rightly carried the standard of usability in computing.


Get Up To 64GB of Memory!
Get Up To 64GB of Memory!

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