Speed To Create, Capacity To Dream
Storage Wishlist…

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock: 13 Ports that Solve the Compatibility Headaches with the 2016 MacBook Pro

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is starting to ship according to OWC (“pre orders expected to ship in late April). Order the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

See also Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Infographic and OWC Now Has Thunderbolt 3 Cables.

Continues below...

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout

When desktop usage is the scenario (AC power is available), the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock solves most of the compatibility headaches: see 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Five (5) USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, including one high-power port
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • SD card reader
  • Audio in/out
  • S/PDIF pro-grade digital audio for lossless signal transfer
  • Mini DisplayPort for attaching a display.
  • Firewire 800
  • Should be possible to plug in 5K display to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is available for pre-order.

There are a few limitations.

  • This is a desktop device that requires AC power.
  • To use a Thunderbolt 2 device, the Apple Thunderbolt 3 Male to Thunderbolt 2 Female Adapter will need to be plugged into the Thunderbolt 3 port on the Dock. But since Thunderbolt 2 can be daisy chained, a number of devices can hang off that one port, leaving the other port free.
  • The USB ports are Gen 1 (5 Gb/sec just like on all current Macs), not Gen 2 (10 Gb/sec). According to OWC, Gen 2 ports would have raised the cost substantially. However, it should be possible to plug in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Hub (when available) off one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports (see for example Expanding USB3 Ports: TRIPP LITE 7+1 USB3 with iPad Charging).

Continues below.

Description:

With the 13 ports you need, OWC’s new Thunderbolt 3 Dock brings unbelievable connectivity to your laptop through an included Thunderbolt 3 cable, and, delivers charging power to your laptop and other devices, all at the fastest speeds possible.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock delivers more connectivity, more power, and charging capability than ever before all at the fastest speed available today so all your connected devices perform at their maximum. Drive two 4K displays, connect and charge up to six USB devices, work with legacy FireWire storage, enjoy pristine audio, wired networks, and read SD cards, all at twice the speed of Thunderbolt 2 and all through a single cable. The possibilities are endless.

Because Thunderbolt 3 delivers phenomenal bandwidth up to 40Gb/s, Thunderbolt 3 Dock can be the foundation of your perfect custom display setup. Add two ultra HD 4K displays, or a combination of 4K, HD and other displays with the mini DisplayPort port and additional Thunderbolt 3 port.

If you’re a pro working in the creative industries, you probably have a highly specialized workflow complete with specialized and legacy ports like FireWire and optical audio. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock supports FW800 and S/PDIF optical audio, as well as an SD card reader and analog stereo audio.

2 Year OWC Limited Warranty

The best warranty is one you never have to use, but should the need occur — OWC is proud to provide a superior level of support and warranty coverage to our customers. Even when not used, we understand the peace of mind afforded by a longer warranty period. OWC's industry leading coverage is a testament to our confidence in the reliability of the solutions that we offer. OWC connectivity solutions are engineered to demanding quality standards in order to deliver the most reliable, highest performance available on the market.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, front view with SD card slot and headphone jack and USB port
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, rear ports
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, in situ

SSD Speed Anyone?

In case you need serious speed, OWC will be showing something at NAB that hits speeds that were reserved for RAM not that long ago.

See the OWC Viper with Thunderbolt 3.

 
OWC Mercury Viper
 
State of the art SSD speed using dual Thunderbolt 3 channels: OWC Mercury Viper
Cycling

New Thunderbolt 3 Products from OWC

Cool stuff from OWC.

The OWC Mercury Viper with Thunderbolt 3 and OWC Thunderbay 6 deliver unprecedented performance and functionality, as do the other new products.

OWC will exhibit a full line-up of pioneering new products at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. Known as the largest annual digital media conference and exhibit for industry experts specializing in the creation and distribution of all facets of entertainment, NAB 2017 commences Saturday, April 22, with exhibits open Monday, April 24 through Thursday, April 27.

Located in Booth #SL8905, OWC is proud to continue our tradition of engineering and producing exciting technological products that help users engage and create with limitless possibilities. OWC will showcase the newest product offerings and technology concepts in the OWC product line, and in addition will preview upcoming products, and host guest speakers and editors throughout the show. Some of the new and prototype products to be featured in the booth include:

OWC Thunderbay 6
Thunderbolt 3 (late 2017)

THUNDERBAY 6

SIX BAYS OF UNBEATABLE PERFORMANCE, POWERED BY SOFTRAID

A groundbreaking new six-bay RAID powered by SoftRAID and designed to deliver the fastest performance possible with Thunderbolt 3 - up to 40Gb/s. Coming in late 2017.

[MPG: this should mean capacities from 6TB to 60TB]

OWC Mercury Viper

Introducing the cutting-edge OWC Viper. This Portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD offers groundbreaking data transfer speeds along with the versatility of daisy-chain expansion and a compact form factor.

 
State of the art SSD speed using dual Thunderbolt 3 cables: OWC Mercury VIper

Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows, the dock’s litany of ports provides a compelling solution for creative professionals seeking to unite a multitude of peripherals for ultimate connectivity. Like the Thunderbolt 2 Dock, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock offers convenience and flexibility with its 13 ports, now including a high-power USB 3.1 Gen 1 port for fast mobile device charging, a mini DisplayPort with support for a hi-res display up to 4K at 60Hz, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

With the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 technology, the new OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock can support two incredible ultra hi-res 5K displays at 60Hz, extensive daisy-chain connectivity and power delivery, creating an even more streamlined workflow.

Envoy Pro EX with Thunderbolt 3

OWC Envoy Pro EX with Thunderbolt 3

POCKET-SIZED THUNDERBOLT 3 SSD Thunderbolt 3 interface with speeds up to 40Gb/s Desktop-class SSD performance in a portable design Fully bus-powered Capacities starting at 240GB.

Concurrent with the Thunderbolt 3 Dock, OWC is pleased to announce that the award-winning Envoy Pro EX will be one of the first external storage solutions to integrate Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, making the aesthetically sleek enclosure faster and more powerful than ever before. Elegant and ultra portable, the newest OWC Envoy Pro EX with Thunderbolt 3 leaps into next-generation performance with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and high-capacity PCIe 3.0 SSD. OWC takes our award-winning product design into the high-capacity, blazing-fast, professional performance realm with storage up to 2TB and data speeds up to 1GB/s.

[MPG: with capacity up to 2TB, this is first class solution for desktop or laptop users].

HELIOS FX

THE EXTERNAL GPU POWERED BY THUNDERBOLT 3

Add high powered graphics cards to any Thunderbolt 3 system for an amazing capability boost.

OWC Helios FX for external GPU via Thunderbo

Mercury Helios 3

OWC Helios FX for external GPU via Thunderbo

The next generation in the OWC Mercury Helios lineup, Mercury Helios 3 is the new frontier for powerful high-speed expansion cards, defying the current limits of conventional Macs.

Accommodating a double-width, half-length x16 PCIe card, Helios 3 is hot-pluggable, powers on and off with a computer and is great for hi-res video ingest cards and other PCIe connectivity solutions needed to ensure seamless productivity. Built from a rugged aluminum chassis with a dedicated cooling fan, the PCIe expansion chassis features two Thunderbolt 3 ports for optimal performance. It also features a mini DisplayPort to allow the support of up to a single 5K or 4K display or a second HD display as professional office needs expand.

The OWC DEC

OWC will be debuting the latest iteration of its DEC expansion concept for the 2016 MacBook Pro. The DEC will attach completely flush to the bottom of the 2016 MacBook Pro and provide additional flash storage and connectivity. With the OWC DEC, users will get an enhancement path for their 2016 MacBook Pro, keeping their system upgradeable for the long term in a clean and integrated fashion. On top of the core functional benefits, the OWC DEC also touts a sleek design. When installed, the OWC DEC and 2016 MacBook Pro will be as thin as a 2012 MacBook Pro, allowing this advanced solution to retain the attractive lightweight design that users favor.

This patented solution offers a range of features, including:

  • Up to 4TB of additional Flash/SSD storage (for a maximum of 6TB, including factory capacity)
  • SD Card Slot/Multi-Media card slot
  • USB Type A Ports for standard USB cabled devices
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Additional features are under development
OWC DEC expansion chassis for 2016 MacBook pro

Deals at OWC / MacSales.com

OWC / MacSales.com has some great weekender deals.

See all Weekender Specials.zzz

A few callouts:

Apple factory refurbished iMac 5K deals at MacSales.com
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Lloyd at Photoshop World Apr 19/20/21

Stop by and say hello if attending Photoshop World 2017, in Orlando, Florida.

I’ll be at the Other World Computing / MacSales.com booth demoing/showing how I use OWC products in my work and photography.

USB-C Dock for MacBook

4 USB3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, audio ports, HDMK 4K port!

Getting Your Devices and Data Over the U.S. Border

Tidits' Geoff Duncan has an excellent article that every international traveler should read:

Getting Your Devices and Data Over the U.S. Border

Imagine a border agent asks you to activate or unlock the device, or provide a code or password to do so? It’s surprisingly common. Maybe the agent wants your Facebook or Twitter password so they can examine everything about your social media presence, not just what’s public. Maybe they want your passwords to WhatsApp, iCloud, Dropbox, or your bank. Maybe these aren’t requests: maybe they’re orders.

Now things get tricky.

  • If you agree, border agents can scrutinize and copy your information. 
  • If you refuse, border agents can seize your devices and even detain you. The CBP cannot refuse to let a U.S. citizen into the country; however, they don’t have to make it easy, quick, or pleasant. The CBP can refuse entry to both foreign nationals and lawful permanent residents. All of this increases pressure to comply.
  • If you lie to border agents — “Uh, I forgot my password! That’s not my phone!” — you’ve committed a crime carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.

The last point is perhaps most critical, and far from self evident (at least for that type of lie). Note also that foreign countries may have other laws, more severe and nasty laws, so the key point is to minimize data that is on the laptop or phone or device.

Suggestions, a few ideas to prompt thinking

None of this is legal advice. My own point of view is that the government has no business demanding electronic data particularly the potentially huge damage that revealing a password would cause and its ethical and professional implications, and that the courts are recreant in not recognizing these major distinctions. But that is irrelevant since the law is what it is.

Some of these ideas are simple and relatively easy; others are not worth the hassle for most people. But for those with professional or ethical concerns, they may be worth the bother.

MPG has some suggestions that may be of some worth in defusing the hassle, none of which are dishonest. It’s not your problem to make it easy or obvious, it is only your problem to comply with the law.

As far as I know, Apple does not offer “clean” two-factor login in macOS (username/password + some hardware device), meaning that it ties iCloud to a device (cross contamination in MPG’s view). Still, it may be a good precaution for some. Then the problem would be simple: encrypt the laptop, and leave the device behind (or send ahead) that allows the laptop to be unlocked, it being impossible to unlock it without that device. This ought to be standard-issue for all corporations and government officials, but AFAIK it is not. Problem is, who wants to leave their phone behind? Moreover, SMS messages pop up in plain view.

#0 Disable all auto-login features

This ought to be obvious but perhaps not: do not use any auto-login features in any web browser or anything else! Once logged in, anyone could access all such logins with no effort.

Dispense with multiple kinds of login: do not allow login via iCloud for example; this is tying a computer to an acount, a very bad cross contamination idea that compromises both.

Do not use fingerprint login: use a passcode. You could be physically forced to use your finger—it’s not just the USA and even the USA is hardly a bastion of liberty these days.

#1 Dummy login

This one offers no protection for any computer-savvy person (“ls /Users”), but it might work:

  1. Create a dummy non-admin account on your laptop—one that looks real but has no sensitive data. Modify a few things so it doesn’t look 100% generic, browse apple.com and a few web sites, add a few innocuous photos to Photos.app, and then leave it alone. Obviously, do not connect to iCloud or similar.
  2. Enable File Vault (encryption) on the primary login account with sensitive data (the sensitive login account).
  3. Set Users & Groups so that it prompts for username and password (so that it does not show accounts to choose from).

If asked to login, login to the dummy account since the “request” is not likely to be more specific than that. That might be enough to satisfy. MPG cannot advise on what to say if asked about the existence of accounts other than what has already been said on not violating the law.

Dummy login user "L Chambers"

#2 Wipe all free space and extraneous data before traveling

The best approach of all is to not have sensitive data in the first place. If sensitive data is stored in the cloud (Facebook, Google, iCloud), there’s only one step between revealing all that is there—your login. Bad Idea.

  1. Empty all browser caches and reset all browsers.
  2. Remove all caches. For command line nerds: sudo rm -rf ~/Library/Caches
  3. Delete all unnecessary data. If your trip is done and you have the data at home or office, wipe out everything (see next step). A hassle, but it sidesteps the data issue.
  4. (do this last of all) Wipe all free space before traveling, using for example diglloydTools dgl wipe and wipeFree command.

#3 Get the data off the laptop

You’ll still want to follow the previous suggestions as per caching and wiping. A few ideas:

  • Put sensitive data on an encrypted external drive. At the least, it now requires finding and connecting the drive before the “gimme the password” demand is made (never store it or a backup in the same bag as a laptop, sensitive or not). Leaving the connecting cable separate would be one more minor hurdle.
  • FedEx data ahead before traveling and/or put it on some obscure place online. Obviously the encryption must be strong and with a strong passphrase.

#4 Password vaults

Users of software like 1Password have a particularly thorny problem: revealing that master password would disclose one’s entire life: logins and all passwords to them, including financial accounts. And the government could retain that data. Very nasty. I would be prepared to forfeit my laptop permanently rather than do so. So it may be wise to not use 1Password for international travel. At the least, take precautions to use a master password that you cannot remember—find some other means—so you can truthfully say you do not know the password to the vault.

Full hassle example: print out a very long and complex password, but leave a chunk of it behind with someone you trust. Upon arrival, they can read you the missing characters. You don’t have the full password, neither do they, nor does an eavesdropper, and you can truthfully say you do not have the full password.

Minimize: create another vault, retaining only the strictly necessary logins and passwords. Do not travel with the full vault.

On the flip side there is a certain protection with 1Password: I can truthfully answer that I do not know the passwords to most of my accounts, since they are buried inside my 1Password vault and are random gibberish. And if I remove the vault before travel, it’s impossible for me to get at the passwords. I could, for example, send a strongly encrypted vault to a friend or co-worker, or put it onto some obscure online service, then download it upon arrival.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OWC Accelsior Pro Q vs Accelsior: Real World Throughput

Get OWC Accelsior Pro Q and OWC Helios and OWC SSD at MacSales.com.

For 3+ years my scratch volume for Photoshop and other programs has been a pair of 960GB OWC Mercuy Accesior PCIe SSD cards in an OWC Helios 2 enclosure via Thunderbolt.

With the OWC Accelsior Pro Q offering nearly double the speed of the original Accelsior, I wondered how much faste IntegrityChecker would run with the higher available bandwidth, particularly using a striped pair of both cards as a RAID-0 stripe.

CPU utilization and throughput was considerably higher with the Accelsior Pro Q, showing that for certain real world tasks, I/O performance can make a considerable difference in performance.

4TB Accelsior Pro Q as 2 X 2TB stripe: 6.3 CPU cores, 2009 MiB/sec = 2106 MB/sec
    2TB Accelsior as 2 X 960GB stripe: 3.7 CPU cores, 1127 iMB/sec = 1182 MB/sec

- OWC Accelsior PCIe SSD cards in single OWC Helios 2 enclosure*.
- OWC Accelsior Pro Q PCIe SSD cards in two OWC Helios enclosures on 2 Thunderbolt busses.

- I/O size tested up to 128MB transfers; speed was the same with 8/64/128MB transfers, presumably since IntegrityChecker uses sophisticated I/O techniques.

* Accelsior performance would not likely be faster in dual enclosures on dual busses, since the read speed is about 250 MB/sec below what the Thunderbolt bus can handle.

Integrity Checker verify MB/sec: 2TB OWC Accelsior Pro Q RAID-0 vs 960GB Accelsior RAID-0
Integrity Checker verify CPU usage and throughput with 2 X 2TB OWC Accelsior Pro Q RAID-0 stripe

Which is faster for RAW File Conversion, CPU or GPU?

A few months ago, I wrote The GPU remains a Science Fair Project. While I freely acknowledge that the GPU can be essential for some work (hugely faster), the fact of the matter is that using the GPU is not necessarily a win, and GPU-based processing can cause all sorts of glitches and crashes and weird behaviors*. I suspect the GPU is involved in the latest weird behavior I am seeing.

* That the GPU is problematic is a fact encoded right into the mouse-over help in the Photoshop GPU preferences: “if such and such happens, disable this option”.

GPU vs CPU performance

In the past month or so, I’ve spent a lot of time preparing work from the raw files for the Hasselblad X1D (uncompressed raw) and the Fujifilm GFX (compressed lossless raw).

The Fujifilm compressed lossless raw files offer huge space savings of 30% to 60% so I favor them, but GFX raw files are glacially and painfully slow in the Photoshop/ACR window even on the fastest Mac you can’t even buy from Apple (3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro with D700 GPUs). So slow that my work efficiency is seriously impaired—the X1D files are a joy to work with by comparison, albeit about double the size (both cameras have identical image resolution).

There is a false premise out there that a fast GPU solves most performance problems. But this is untrue in a significant number of real-world cases. Anyway, what matters is what actually happens in the real world, for the work one actually does.

I wondered how fast CPU vs GPU would be on my 3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro. This test was prompted by the painfully slow response time in the Photoshop/ACR window. That the time (below) is only 1.34 seconds per file is impressive, but it is far slower than that due to poor software design (and bugs) in the Photoshop/ACR window—and that window is my gating factor for getting work done (previewing, choosing, changing processing settings, etc).

While the GPU-enabled results are slightly and consistently faster, the processing time difference is 2% or less, which is meaningless within the margin of error and meaningless in a workflow. The CPU-based approach is just as fast as the fastest *dual* GPU option Apple offers* (D700 GPUs). A 4-core or 6-core Mac Pro or 4-core iMac might be a bit slower, but the D700 GPUs are the fastest GPUs Apple offers and yet they have nothing to offer in this workflow challenge. Worse, most users do not order the D700 GPUs (fastest) but instead have the slower D300 or D500 GPUs.

Curiously, the Hasselblad X1D files take significantly longer to process, whereas in the Photoshop ACR window, they are much more responsive to work with.

* I don’t know if Photoshop uses both GPUs or not.

System config: 2013 Mac Pro 8-core 3.3 GHz with D700 GPUs, macOS 10.12.4, Photoshop CC 2017.0308.r.207.

Seconds to convert 123 Fujifilm raw RAF (lossless compressed) to TIF

Mike H writes that the Adobe web site states that “Camera Raw currently doesn't take advantage of more than one graphics processor. Using two video adapters does not enhance Camera Raw's performance” and also that

For ACR specifically, I don't think export operations are accelerated though I'm not 100% sure.  I think only some editing options in ACR are accelerated.  I think your nearly identical results might support this.

DIGLOYD: both points make makes sense since little difference is seen. If anything, it argues strongly to a point I’ve made for years about assessing one’s own specific workflow for whether paying for a faster GPU is worthwhile. The GPU of course may be helpful in Photoshop and Lightroom in other areas, so it all gets down to what one’s actual workflow involves.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

My Plain Text Editor of Choice: TextWrangler / BBEdit

I edit a lot of plain text in the course of my work: source code, HTML, etc. I also regularly use regular expressions to massage plain text and HTML into shape, search/replace, etc. Thus a good plain text editor is essential for what I do.

My plain-text editor of choice is TextWrangler which is a simplified version of BBEdit. They are among my most-used tools, every day, day in and day out. Both have a free 30 day trial. And for real geeks, they even have optional command line tools in addition to the superbly useful app.

I have tended to prefer the free TextWrangler for its simplicity even though I bought a license to BBEdit, wishing to support BareBonesSoftware. However, TextWrangler is being sunsetted in favor of BBEdit which is better in that it has even more power, without losing much simplicity.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Caution on Photoshop CC 2017 Update: Missing/Black Windows and Palettes Require Quitting Photoshop

System config: dual screen setup, 2013 Mac Pro 8-core 3.3 GHz, macOS 10.12.4, Photoshop CC 2017.0308.r.207.

Update 10 April: I have determined that the bug is NOT related to scripting. I just opened a single raw file via ACR in Photoshop, and upon clicking the Open button, nothing appeared, and all other windows disappeared (but are still listed in the Windows menu).

This bug is provoked in ways I don’t fully understand, but it happens with some javascript image preparation scripts I have used for many years now. It might happen in other cases as well; I am not sure since it comes as a surprise each time. It might involve full screen mode, but of that I am also unsure.

The behavior is all-new (never seen before) and extremely destructive to my workflow because the only fix is to quit Photoshop when it occurs—a serious hit to productivity.

What happens:

  1. All windows disappear completely, including all palettes. They are shown in the Windows menu, but choosing a window does nothing.
  2. Switching to another app and then back to Photoshop results in all-black or all white content area of windows which do not zoom or close or do anything properly. Nor does clicking on a window bring Photoshop to the foreground (if it is in the background). Windows can be tiled or stacked via the Windows menu, but they remain black.

As shown below, some commands show a portion of the image, but the main window remains unusable. I’ve emailed my Adobe quality assurance contact and I hope to hear back this week.

Black unresponsive window bug in Photoshop CC 2017
White unresponsive window bug in Photoshop CC 2017
Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

How to Disable All Push Notification Requests in Apple Safari

See also How-To Guides.

Push notifications from web sites have long annoyed me—I regularly reset Safari for various reasons (including testing), and some sites pop up alerts demanding my attention as to whether I want push notifications. IMO this kind of obnoxious design is a good reason to de-bookmark a web site.

At long last I figured out how to configure Safari to block all push notifications permanently. Or rather, to never ask me about them. Somehow I had missed it before due to its ill-considered UI design, being out of sight way down at the bottom.

Uncheck that box at very bottom, and those annoying popup dialogs stop appearing.

Disable all push notification alerts in Safari
OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

Solution for sudo hang problem in macOS 10.12.4

See Caution on macOS 10.12.4: sudo is broken, sudo hangs before password for nearly 5 minutes.

The sudo hang problem literally cost me days of wasted time. I had to laboriously revert my 2013 Mac Pro to 10.12.3, no trivial thing given the data loss of losing email, since Apple mangles mail as part of “upgrading” in a minor release. I spent many more hours doing a complete manual erase/reinstall/restore data/apps/config on my MacBook Pro.

I could not find a solution prior to leaving on a weeklong trip, but I have now returned and finally narrowed down the cause to a single line in in /etc/sudoers. How that line got there I do not know (I never added it). Perhaps a remnant from bygone days. The fix confirms my original theory of it being some configuration issue.

The fix

This fix worked for the iMac 5K and the Mac Pro, so it is not machine-specific.

For security reasons it is a bad idea to just paste some replacement /etc/sudoers file without understanding it in full, so I did not want to do that. Instead I went sleuthing, commenting out lines until I found the problem line or lines.

It turns out that one line in /etc/sudoers was causing sudo to hang on the 2015 iMac 5K and 2015 MacBook Pro:

%users ALL= NOPASSWD: /sbin/kextload, /sbin/kextunload <=== responsible for sudo hang

Comment it out like this, and all is well:

# %users ALL= NOPASSWD: /sbin/kextload, /sbin/kextunload <== comment out and all is well

Why was that line there? I don’t know, and I do not recall ever adding it. That this problematic line was there as long ago as July 2013 (nearly 4 years ago!) can be see in Extending the 'sudo' Timeout. So clearly Apple changed and broke something, since nothing had gone wrong until 10.12.4.

As a precaution, since the presence of that line is odd, I validated all my kernel extensions. I found one or two not code signed (printer drivers, old Accelsior driver), but nothing amiss. Look for "signed" to find unsigned kext in the output from this command in Terminal:

kextutil -entZ /System/Library/Extensions/*.kext /Library/Extensions/*.kext

Fresh 'stock' sudoers file

I highly recommend TextWrangler and BBEdit (free 30 day trial), they are among my most-used tools. I actually prefer the free TextWrangler for its greater simplicity, but it is being sunsetted in favor of BBEdit.

This file is an unmodified version of what macOS 10.12.4 installs on a fresh erase/install. To use it, open /etc/sudoers using TextWrangler (it shows hidden files in its Open dialog), and then select-all / delete / paste this file and save.

Copy this text and paste into a plain-text window first (in order to make sure nothing is added or lost or changed after copying from this web page). Lines that begin with a # are harmless comments.

#-------------------- use contents below --------------------
#
# Sample /etc/sudoers file.
#
# This file MUST be edited with the 'visudo' command as root.
#
# See the sudoers man page for the details on how to write a sudoers file.
## # Override built-in defaults ## Defaults env_reset,timestamp_timeout=120 Defaults env_keep += "BLOCKSIZE" Defaults env_keep += "COLORFGBG COLORTERM" Defaults env_keep += "__CF_USER_TEXT_ENCODING" Defaults env_keep += "CHARSET LANG LANGUAGE LC_ALL LC_COLLATE LC_CTYPE" Defaults env_keep += "LC_MESSAGES LC_MONETARY LC_NUMERIC LC_TIME" Defaults env_keep += "LINES COLUMNS" Defaults env_keep += "LSCOLORS" Defaults env_keep += "SSH_AUTH_SOCK" Defaults env_keep += "TZ" Defaults env_keep += "DISPLAY XAUTHORIZATION XAUTHORITY" Defaults env_keep += "EDITOR VISUAL" Defaults env_keep += "HOME MAIL"

Defaults lecture_file = "/etc/sudo_lecture" ## # User alias specification ## # User_Alias FULLTIMERS = millert, mikef, dowdy

## # Runas alias specification ## # Runas_Alias OP = root, operator

## # Host alias specification ## # Host_Alias CUNETS = 128.138.0.0/255.255.0.0 # Host_Alias CSNETS = 128.138.243.0, 128.138.204.0/24, 128.138.242.0 # Host_Alias SERVERS = master, mail, www, ns # Host_Alias CDROM = orion, perseus, hercules

## # Cmnd alias specification ## # Cmnd_Alias PAGERS = /usr/bin/more, /usr/bin/pg, /usr/bin/less

## # User specification ##

# root and users in group wheel can run anything on any machine as any user root ALL = (ALL) ALL %admin ALL = (ALL) ALL

## Read drop-in files from /private/etc/sudoers.d ## (the '#' here does not indicate a comment) #includedir /private/etc/sudoers.d #-------------------- use contents above --------------------
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Desired Features for 2018/2019 Mac Pro

With Apple’s unprecedented public promise to develop an expandable high-end Mac Pro, what might we look for?

The late 2013 Mac Pro was a major changeover, favoring a tightly integrated whisper-quiet and diminutive form factor by eliminating nearly all the things that made a Mac Pro “pro”.

Many former Mac Pro users have considered the late 2015 iMac 5K as a viable alternative, but it still has serious limits even if CPU/GPU/memory are otherwise adequate: cooling and cleaning of an iMac rule it out for demanding workloads, and cat owners would be wise to take care for dander buildup internally.

It seems likely that a late 2017 iMac 5K or 8K might well out-pro the 2013 Mac Pro, bringing memory parity, GPU superiority, Thundebolt 3 (2 busses perhaps?) and so on. It will be a curious state of affairs until a real 'pro' Mac Pro finally appears.

Technology has moved ahead, and here are the top things a future Mac Pro ought to have, if Apple wants to impress real pro users, not just tech journalists using laptops or iMacs, few of whom have any conception of what a pro machine really is:

  • Dual CPU support still matters for many tasks, particularly server loads. Given the stalled-all performance of single CPU cores today and the continuing instability of GPU-based software, dual CPUs would be a welcome, and are needed for server type workloads.
  • It’s all about bandwidth, or CPUs and GPUs can stall: solid state storage, ample memory, PCIe slots, multiple Thunderbolt 3 busses, 10 gigabit networking.
  • Internal SSD or Optane drive options up to 8TB, option for 2nd SSD with same capacity options.
  • Support for GPU of choice, and more than one GPU.
  • At least 8 memory slots supporting at leat 128GB memory, preferably 12 slots for up to 384GB.
  • At least eight Thunderbolt 3 ports, on 4 busses. And not crammed tightly together.
  • Support for maximum speed PCIe cards, with at least two available slots.
  • Support for at least one 8K display, three 5K or two 6K displays, along with HDMI 2.0 or later.
  • Space for at least two internal hard drives, thus allowing 20TB internally in addition to the SSDs.
  • Don’t make me dangle dongles: 4 USB 3.1 higih speed ports and SD card reader slot.

To do these things, the form factor will have to be much larger than the 2013 Mac Pro, one way or another. Apple might be able to engineer a modular system to cut down the size, say via expansion boxes connecting directly to the PCIe bus. Some kind of stacked design might do the trick, one on which CPU and memory and default GPU are in one sub-unit, with PCIe slots and cards in another.

Looking back, the original “cheese grater” Mac Pro was a design of true excellence: superb function in an attractive if bulky form. But much of its bulk came from housing hard drives and CD/DVD drives internally—that need is gone; all of those things can hang off the Thunderbolt 3 bus. Accordingly, a new design can focus on housing just memory, flash storage, GPU, simplifying the design. PCIe slots could be delivered via an add-on box that direct connects to the PCIe bus. A very powerful and well cooled tower design should be possible in about 1/2 to 2/3 the space of the old model.

Apple’s Promised Mac Pro Powerhouse

From the sounds of it, the concerns expressed in Will the next Apple Mac Pro (if any) be the Final Straw that Puts the Nail in the 'Pro' Coffin? may well evaporate by 2019, or 2018 if we’re lucky. What’s a year or so to a working professional anyway?

I give Apple kudos for finally acknowledging that the 2013 Mac Pro was in some ways a failure, albeit with first class 'spin': taking 3+ years to figure out that a waffle cone with chocolate ice cream isn’t the only flavor people like is simply not a credible cover story. Hence the groomed and prepped executive staff and carefully picked cheerleader attendees and no demo of any kind. Still, a willingness to discuss future plans at any level is a welcome advance that was a jaw-dropping first.

Thought problem: is it a sign of weakness or strength to ignore outspoken critics?

Here’s the way the game works: cheerleaders ask no tough questions that might make executives sweat a little, and cheerleaders don’t actually need or use pro machines and so feel no pain, which keeps things convivial for the next event. Not very daring, and smoke-free.

I burst out laughing at the bromides in the BuzzFeed article. After 3+ years? Scott Adams could have a field day. Consider this jewel: “Since the Mac Pro is a modular system, we are also doing a pro display”. Imagine that—a computer with an external display! Can’t innovate, my ass.

Specs of the new 2018 or 2019 Mac Pro

It’s the end result I care about, so giving Apple the benefit of the doubt is only fair. And I do.

But I would feel a lot more comfortable were I reading past tense instead of present participle (“rethinking”, team “told to take its time”). Should not the thinking part should be just about all done by now, the staff having been hard at work for the past two years or so? Late 2018 or seems to be the time frame, though Apple is quite vague there. The adjustments to the current model imply at least a year from now, and that seems highly optimistic. I just get the feeling that a decision was made only last week to make a new Mac Pro.

Still, better late than never and there may be a big benefit to the delay: just enough time for more recent technology including Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Intel Optane drives, 8K display support, perhaps a new type of memory (8 slots please), and next-generation of GPU support. All good stuff if the pros who need such things now can hold on.

I do think that Apple will deliver something impressive, if only because a revised iMac (iMac 8K?) with dual Thunderbolt 3 busses all but demands an industrial grade Mac Pro, or what would be the point?

Software

Ominously absent from the dicussion of a new Mac Pro was the fact that a robust machine needs a robust operating system. With macOS becoming increasingly troubled by more and more bugs that hit pro users, the casual nature of software changes in macOS driven on a calendar release system needs adult supervision. This bug already has cost me 8 hours to fix one machine, and probably another 8 to fix my other two because the only fix involves a total erase-reinstall-reconfigure. And never before has networking become effectively unusable.

See also:

macOS 10.12.4: File Sharing Running at a few kilobytes per second

See also Caution on macOS 10.12.4: sudo is broken.

Today, home from a trip, I needed to transfer 40GB or so of image files between my travel laptop (2015 MacBook Pro running 10.12.4) and my home computer (2013 Mac Pro running 10.12.3).

First, I connect to the Mac Pro, and started copying to the Mac Pro from the MacBook Pro (Mac Pro acting as the server). Data rates over gigabit ethernet were around 2 kilobyte per second, eventually resulting in an I/O error (-36).

Next I tried copying to the Mac Pro from the MacBook Pro (MacBook Pro acting as the server). Same deal—a few kilobytes per second.

Both machines had been freshly booted and otherwise show normal network speed. Never before have I see such broken network behavior.

In the end, I was forced to copy the files to a drive, then move the drive to the Mac Pro and copy the files to it—file sharing is unusable between the two.

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
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