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Durable and fast, up to 1800MB/s

OWC Savings on *Factory Sealed* Apple iMac 5K

See also my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

Kid going to college or high school? Mine are.

These are great machines at a terrific price for a college student.

Don’t wreck your kid’s neck with a laptop (hunching over, terrible ergonomics)—get a desktop with a big screen (or a desktop and a laptop).

OWC sells a wide variety of used and factory sealed Macs.

OWC Hard Drive and SSD Savings

See also my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

Save up to 78% on internal, external, portable drives and more. Deals end May 30.

Many more items discounted than those shown below.

Terrific for external storage on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 are the Envoy Pro EX series SSDs.

MPG has two key recommendtions about hard drives:

  • Buy hard drives the next size up than need seems to call for, because larger hard drives are faster as they fill up (not an issue for SSDs).
  • Consider a drive a disaster waiting to happen at 4+ years because the chances of failure rise dramatically—better to replace it with a newer (and much faster) drive.

For myself, I retire drives at 3 years if they have not already become too small. Retiring a drive can mean making it into one of several backups.

Separately, B&H has many excellent choices for laptops for a student:


Using an old Apple 30-inch Cinema Display on an iMac Pro

Martin W writes:

Some time ago you published some information about driving an old Apple 30-inch Cinema display from a modern Mac.

I've recently retired my early 2009 Mac Pro and wanted to use my "Apple 30-inch Cinema display" as a second monitor on my new iMac Pro. I found a reasonable and workable solution as follows:

  1. Purchased a UPTab USB-C (Type C) to Mini DisplayPort Adapter, 4K@60Hz - Silver, SKU UP-USBC1009 for $35 (note - as of April 2018 ago the silver version had newer guts than the black version) .
  2. Purchased a Monoprice 6904 Mini DisplayPort 1.1 + USB to Dual-Link DVI Adapter for $60
  3. With the computer off, plugged the "USB-C (Type C) to Mini DisplayPort Adapter" into a USB-C port on my iMac Pro; plugged the "Mini DisplayPort 1.1 + USB to Dual-Link DVI Adapter" into the "USB-C (Type C) to Mini DisplayPort Adapter" AND into a USB 3 port on the iMac Pro; plugged the "Apple 30-inch Cinema display" into the "Mini DisplayPort 1.1 + USB to Dual-Link DVI Adapter". Booted the computer.
  4. It worked only intermittently. Fortunately a quick call to UPTab technical support resolved the problem. Apparently the security features of High Sierra will not allow a device first plugged into an "off" computer to be recognized at boot. The solution was simple, unplug the adapters, boot the computer, then plug in the adapters. From that time forward the computer easily recognized my second display and drove it at full resolution.
  5. Turned out that with the adapters connected and the "Apple 30-inch Cinema display" turned off, the iMac curser would go off the iMac's display into nothing. Found another easy fix, just unplug the "Mini DisplayPort 1.1 + USB to Dual-Link DVI Adapter's" USB 3 cable from the iMac. OK, I have to do two things when I want to use the dual display setup (1) power-on the display and (2) plug in a USB cable. Not too big a price to pay for getting all those extra pixels.

Final comment. The calibrated "Apple 30-inch Cinema display" looks like grainy crap compared to the calibrated iMac Pro's 27" beautiful 5k display — but it's still useful ;-) Feel free to share as you see fit.

My next project is to remove the two M.2 SATA blades from the 960GB OWC Mercury Accelsior E2 PCI Express High-Performance SSD with eSATA Expansion Ports PCIe card currently in my old Mac Pro and find a small external enclosure for them with USB-C connectivity to my iMac Pro. The fun never ends…

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OWC announces mission with Splash to bring clean water to children

I take clean safe drinking water for granted—well, not all the time and I almost never drink from the tap, which tastes bad, being full of chloramine.

OWC wants to make a difference. Together with Splash, a highly reputable international clean water charity, OWC is looking to make a lasting impact on the lives of kids, their families, and the larger community. OWC's goal of raising $250,000, and commitment to match funds up to $125,000, OWC aims to make clean water, clean hands, and clean toilets a reality for kids living in some of the biggest, toughest cities in the world.

Today, over 1.8 billion people lack consistent access to clean water and 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. The urban water crisis affects everyone, but with a much harsher impact on kids. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Splash ensures clean water flows from taps, teaches kids the importance of washing their hands with soap, and provides students with access to safe and sanitary restrooms. Join OWC and Splash to empower kids to hold their futures in their own, clean hands, and end the deadly impact of water borne-diseases and viruses. Will you help us bring clean water to kids? Every donation helps to make a Splash! Learn more at
When you make a donation $50 and above, you'll receive an exclusive coupon code via email for your next order on OWC's e-commerce site, $50 - $499 donation - $10 off $500 > donation - $50 off


OWC is celebrating its 30th year of service by partnering with Splash to raise funds to help a great cause. OWC was founded with the drive to provide solutions for the needs of our customers. After learning about the work Splash is doing to help kids and communities, we knew that this was not just a great cause, but a true solution for one of the most basic needs of all: access to clean water and sanitation. With access to clean water, the lives and health of children and the communities they live in are improved dramatically. Clean water empowers independence and the opportunity to pursue one’s potential. Supporting this cause isn’t a one day “feel-good” event, it’s a solution that has a positive effect for generations.

OWC Founder and CEO Larry O’Connor said “OWC has been committed to green practices since our inception, and as we celebrate 30 years in business, we renew that commitment by supporting Splash, who are bringing clean water and improved sanitation to children across the globe. These solutions will have lasting impact for generations, and empower independence and better living opportunities.”

All funds raised go directly to water, sanitation, and hygiene projects to support kids living in urban poverty. Keep an eye out for exclusive updates on how your donations are being used and the communities we’ve helped.

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Apple Core Rot: File System Performance Problems, Thunderbolt 3 Performance Problems, Thunderbolt 3 Disconnect Problems, etc.

Apple software usablity is plummeting in every area, with Apple Core Rot now hitting a key layer of the operating system, the file system layer.

Sebastian B writes:

A question about diglloydTools IntegrityChecker. I recently switched from a 2012 to a 2017 MacBook Pro (and thus from macOS 10.9 to 10.13). I promptly noticed that, on basically the same data set, the 2017 machine is much slower at enumerating files when ic update is run (on the internal SSD, /Users folder).


Any idea what could be causing the slow reads? Perhaps an APFS bug? Bad code in 10.13? I'd have expected the 2017 SSD to be at least no slower than the 2012 one (or an HDD, for that matter). It's not a big problem, but I also wouldn't be too unhappy if there were something I could do about it.

MPG: this performance issue arose somewhere around macOS 10.13.3, around the time of the Spectre and Meltdown fixes (or ealier, Apple inserted changes before the public announcements of those issues). The file system performance issues might or might not be related and in only some cases.

Worst of all are indeed major speed losses in enumerating files. I have seen losses as high as 10X, with the result that the Java version of IntegrityChecker usually runs faster than the native version! But this issues are not confined to IntegrityChecker; they are general and severe and surely due to yet more Apple quality control failures.

There could be as many as three issues involved, which affect APFS and macOS Extended both:

  • Major speed losses in enumerating files (up to 10X slower).
  • A serious bug that causes up up to a 3X variation in speed on the same test on the same drive within minutes. I saw this repeatedly on the iMac Pro when testing back in January of this year. I saw it on both Thunderbolt 3 and on internal SSDs.
  • POSIX APIs, carbon APIs, Java APIs, even Finder copy all show severe performance hits at times, making it impossible to optimize speed.

APFS has its own serious performance problems of its own that macOS Extended does not have (I do not run APFS, not even for my boot drive because APFS has such erratic performance; see Upgrading to macOS High Sierra Without the Forcible “Upgrade” to APFS).

Apple has made a serious hash out of Disk Utilty also and in general besides committing cardinal sins of exposing user passwords has shipped garbage software to users last fall. Is it any surprise that file system performance might also be debased?

Since last autumn when I tested them, I have seen losses as large as 1000 MB/sec (down from 2700 MB/sec to 1700 MB/sec) for large transfers on two Thunderbolt 3 drives (LaCie Bolt 2TB SSD, TekQ Rapid 500GB SSD. The losses range from 33% to 45%, depending on whether it is reads or writes. I do not yet know if this is a Thunderbolt 3 thing only, but very recently I’ve seen the new 1TB OWC Envoy Pro EX (also Thunderbolt 3) perform at just 55% of rated speed. And that's with multiple programs, not just DiskTester: DiskTester, BlackMagic, Finder (unbelievably slow), . And that’s on both APFS and macOS Extended.

Then there are the Thunderbolt 3 disconnect problems, which might even be a hardware bug that neither Apple nor Intel will publicly acknowledge. It’s a dirty secret business and shameful at that.

There might also be Thunderbolt 3 cabling issues that reduce performance for cables over 0.5 meter, so if you are not getting the performance you expect, play with cabling and keep it short and use only the best quality Thunderbolt 3 cables capable of 40 Gb/sec.

I don’t currently have the hardware or time to ferret out all the issues; the causes are not obvious other than I am all but certain they all arose within the past 6 months, as Apple greatly damaged performance system-wide.

Upgrading to macOS High Sierra Without the Forcible “Upgrade” to APFS

See the MPG Mac wish list and MPG wishlists for computer gear at OWC.

[this is a re-run from Nov 25, 2017]


Anecdote: my father complained that after upgrading to macOS HighSierra, he was seeing rainbow beachball delays just using Microsoft Excel. These never happened before. I suspect APFS as the culprit. When file copying can be 100 times slower, you know that APFS is a science fair project.


The has some excellent tips for upgrading to macOS High Sierra without the forcible “upgrade” to APFS in Is It Possible Not to Convert to APFS When Upgrading to High Sierra?.

With either of these methods, install High Sierra on the same machine it is to be used on, because Apple rolls in firmware updates into the installer.

Safest way to upgrade to macOS High Sierra without APFS

The way that I strongly suggest doing this is the safest and easiest. Safest because if something goes awry, the upgrade can be dropped without changing what you already have:

  1. Clone the boot drive to any spare external drive.
  2. Boot off the spare/clone.
  3. Upgrade the spare/clone. The updater will leave the file system alone—it won’t be converted to APFS.
  4. Boot off the now updated spare/clone. Check things out and verify that things are working to your satisfaction—and don’t rush this. Make sure everything is acting right and that everything you normally do is OK as well.
  5. Satisfied? Clone the now updated external to the original boot drive.
  6. Boot from the original boot drive (now updated).

By doing it this way, there is no change to the existing boot drive until you explicitly choose to clone back over it with the updated system.

See also How to upgrade your system/boot drive and How to Safely Transfer Data or Verify Backups (IntegrityChecker).

Upgrading to macOS High Sierra without APFS (less ideal)

This is less good, because if anything goes awry, you’ve been operating directly on the existing boot drive. The method above preserves that boot drive and lets you assess High Sierra first.

1. Let the High Sierra installer download, but when it launches, quit it. This will leave the installer in the /Applications directory.

Open a Terminal window

2. Paste in the following command, including the quotes:

"/Applications/Install macOS High" --converttoapfs NO

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Siri Knowledge: an Oxymoron?

UPDATE June 3: see the fix at bottom of this post.


I can’t seem to ever get dictionary definitions any more when I right click “Look up...”. Instead I get random crap, and never a definition.

Here is some wonderful Siri knowledge (I have Siri turned OFF).

Maybe someone out there can tell me how “pedigree” becomes “Facebuster”? Makes me think that exposing user passwords and system crashes and serious Thunderbolt 3 performance problems are all part and parcel of the sloppiest work in Apple’s entire history.

Apple Core Rot: how does “pedigree” become “Facebuster”?

Reader Stefan B suggested reconfiguring Spotlight, but I still get “Facebuster” when looking up “pedigree”. If “Allow Spotlight Suggestions in Look up” is unchecked, then one gets nothing (“no results found” when looking up “pedigree”). — It takes a real Apple genius to understand this I guess.

Little bugs matter—hundreds of ’em mean an awful user experience.

Configure Spotlight for “Look up...”

Nothing works properly: can’t I just get a definition? I don’t need to know about robotics here!

Brain-dead broken lookup feature in macOS

Thanks to reader Max at for writing:

Make sure the sources (dictionaries) you want Look Up to reference are enabled in Dictionary app's Preferences.

I don’t know why the dictionary went missing; some other bug I guess.

macOS: dictionary gone missing
macOS: Dictionary app preferences
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Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

OWC May Hard Drive and SSD Savings

See also my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

Many more items discounted than those shown below.

Terrific for external storage on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 are the Envoy Pro EX series SSDs.

MPG has two key recommendtions about hard drives:

  • Buy hard drives the next size up than need seems to call for, because larger hard drives are faster as they fill up (not an issue for SSDs).
  • Consider a drive a goner at 4+ years because the chances of failure rise dramatically—better to replace it with a newer (and much faster) drive.
OWC May Drive Savings

My Recommended iMac 5K for Photographers is now $400 Off

See my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

My recommended iMac 5K is now $400 off through May 25. One caveat: for my own needs I need a 2TB SSD and that one is not on sale. But most users will find a 1TB SSD more than adequate plus many high performance external Thunderbolt 3 SSDs are now available. Add 64GB OWC memory, and this is as good as any iMac Pro for most photographic tasks, and sometimes faster.

The 2017 iMac 5K that Lloyd works on every day as his main machine (with 64GB and 2TB SSD)

For iMac Pro deals, 32GB memory and 1TB SSD will serve most users very well, and 8 cores are the sweet spot for price/performance.

For 2017 MacBook Pro deals, I recommend no less than a 512GB SSD (1TB for photographers), but for some users 256GB is enough, and OWC has a very nice and relatively inexpensive 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD for under $500.

With the 13-inch MacBook Pro, I prefer it without the trackbar nuisance. An 8GB / 256GB model is fine for school use, and a bargain at $1099.


The Internet of Things (IoT) Poses Huge Numbers of Worldwide Security Risks, Large and Small

When I started coding nearly 40 years ago, other than basic passwords on Unix, security was an afterthought. Regrettably that history carried forward well past the year 2000 and even until today, with negligence far from uncommon.

One core issue is simply not raising risks that need not exist; see my commentary at in Sony’s Camera Firmware Updater is a Major Security Risk, Expert Warns. In that case, Sony’s updater requires kernel-level access. Rather than doing firmware updates of cameras the right way (all in-camera), Sony chooses to instead create a kernel extension so that the most critical of security protections is thus bypassed. Thus millions of users take on the risk of comprised computers should Sony’s code ever by compromised (remember, a kernel extension can be signed after it has been compromised!). Perhaps Sony cameras cannot update firmware in-camera (Nikon and Canon and Fujifilm can); if so that is a major design flaw IMO.

Another major issue are many millions of devices that have either poor security or no security. It’s no laughing matter that a dam might be remotely controlled to open all floodgates and kill thousands. Or a power plant or chemical plant to self destruct in various ways, and so on.

Water could do damage in other places too; see Hackers can take over Car Wash, trap you and smash your vehicle. For numerous other examples, see IoT Hall-of-Shame.

Who is at fault? Many, many companies for whom security was just a nuisance and an extra cost, so why bother. That age is seemingly over, we can hope.

It is a invariant fact that security flaws always exist and always will. Remember that when buying anything electronic.

What you can do

First of all, be careful with sex toys as some of them can be hacked:

The database pertaining to all customers data was accessible via internet in such a way that explicit images, chat logs, sexual orientation, email addresses and passwords in clear text were compromised.

I used this example for a reason: remote control of anything is in many cases IMO a very bad idea because most of the time it adds little or no value, and yet it incurs yet one more vector into your home or business network.

Anything in your home or business that can get to the internet in any way should be replaced if its security cannot be ensured (and in some cases, even without the internet). Because if it can get to the internet, it is probably through your home or business WiFi or similar, thus it becomes an unlocked door into the building.

Don’t even get me started on internet-connected cars, a feature I’d pay to remove. Sometime in the future (especially with self-driving cars), it is very likely that people will be killed (murdered) by cars getting hacked. From across the world.

Maybe someone out there really does need milk and TV-dinners and pickles delivered when the TV finds too few remaining, but internet-connected refrigerators seemed an idiotic idea to me years ago, and still do. They solve no real problem, add cost and things to break and debug and update and patch (do you really want to update your refrigerator like Apple’s iOS nuisance?).

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Adding Features/Functionality Always Decreases Security, Never Underestimate the Power of the Dark Side: Siri and Alexa et al Exploits

When new functionality is added, it not only adds its own features, but intercouples with other areas, leading to bugs and more security risks. A very good example of this is described in Researchers Demonstrate Subliminal Smart Device Commands That Have Potential for Malicious Attacks.

Researchers in the United States and China have been performing tests in an effort to demonstrate that "hidden" commands, or those undetectable to human ears, can reach AI assistants like Siri and force them to perform actions their owners never intended. The research was highlighted in a piece today by The New York Times, suggesting that these subliminal commands can dial phone numbers, open websites, and more potentially malicious actions if placed in the wrong hands.

What if 10,000 people in Time’s Square carrying smart phones all dial 911 at the same time, via an exploit from some loudspeaker system. Chaos could result in that and any number of imaginable scenarios. Sure would be a good way to make money driving phone calls to numbers that charge for the call.

Privacy is closely related to security; it demands strong security. It seems to me that a core premise of privacy is not breaking security, which makes Tim Cook’s comments on privacy nice for tea and crumpets and MSNBC interviews, but off target: there is no privacy if Apple breaks your security nor does giving in to government pressure inspire confidence in his or Apple’s comittment and integrity to principle; to use an analogy, you either believe stealing is wrong each and every time, or you don’t. It’s that simple, though in this muddled day and age, rationalizations abound for attacking principled stances in all sorts of vicious ways.

I turn Apple’s Siri OFF, but Apple disrespects my choice (in my reality, off is OFF, I want the cord unplugged so to speak). Yet Siri kicks in even when turned off. It did so just yesterday while in my pocket for no apparent reason, and I had not touched the phone for 5 hours. Ditto for being out fishing high in the mountains, and having music start to play at some random time.

A strong distrust of technology is your best first line of defense—disable every feature you don’t absolutely need, that is, if it is even possible to do so (not with Siri, not completely).

The foregoing should raise alarm bells given the article above, and with smart phones starting to tie into locks, alarms, bank accounts, cryptocurrency, etc. Or... what if the subliminal command is set up to send tell Siri (or Alexa et all) to send email to a known terrorist or child porn site, say, to black mail someone? Seems like something useful for political operatives prior to an election to smear an opponent.

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

How to Fix Apple Remote Desktop that was Broken by Apple’s Recent Security Update: Reinstall RemoteDesktopClient 3.9.3 on Client Machines Using SSH

Apple’s recent security update broke Apple Remote Desktop client machines (machines being remotely managed). Installing it on those machines corrupts the setup somehow, making the machine unreachable by the management application.

The problem is particularly egregious when physical access to the machine is not available. For me that would mean a bare minimum of 5 hours with security checks with an escort into a server room accompanied by a representative from my ISP—not exactly the way I would want to spend my day, nor easy to arrange quickly.

Why a security update by Apple would not also install the required RemoteDesktopClient software is best explained by failure to test the update properly—standard practice at Apple these days—witness recent macOS releases and security bugs of the worst kind (exposing passwords). The software testing and release process at Apple has set new lows in quality metrics in the recent 6 months.

Installing RemoteDesktopClient remotely via ssh

It’s actually quite simple once the hours are spent on the internet searching for the solution.

Fix the problem by updating RemoteDesktopClient to version 3.9.3. Lacking physical access to the machine, that means using ssh into the Mac for a remote shell. You did enable ssh didn’t you?

Definition: the “client machine” is the machine being managed remotely by Apple Remote Desktop. Use ssh to get a shell on this machine.

#1 see what software is available. In this case, RemoteDesktopClient must be reinstalled, and version 3.9.3 is what is needed.

# see what software is available
diglloyd $ sudo softwareupdate -l
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2015 Apple Inc.
Finding available software
Software Update found the following new or updated software:
* RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.3
Remote Desktop Client Update (3.9.3), 8587K [recommended]
* iTunesX-12.7.4
iTunes (12.7.4), 272816K [recommended]

#2 Install the update.

diglloyd $ sudo softwareupdate -i RemoteDesktopClient-3.9.3
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2015 Apple Inc.
Downloading Remote Desktop Client Update
Downloaded Remote Desktop Client Update
Installing Remote Desktop Client Update
Done with Remote Desktop Client Update
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Apple Core Rot: It’s Big Things, and Hundreds of Little Ones, that Together Add up to Chaos

See Apple Core Rot. MPG is the original source of this term, and first to report on the growing trend, starting back in 2013. The press at large is still in a murky state on this matter, barely grasping its importance or even its existence.

No professional can trust Apple any more not to break key tools at will, without a care in the world (at Apple) as the impact. Extreme engineering sloppiness (this has to be called incompetence at this point) has produced the worst possible kinds of security bugs in a steady stream: exposing cleartext passwords in (if I’m counting right) in at least 4 different ways in just 6 months such as this most recent fiasco.

The problems are not confined to big things. Little things, hundreds of them act together to make daily use of macOS anything from a headache to a chore.

I do not refer to the dilettante uses of a Mac where a user can just put up with garbage design for playing music and similar ( iTunes is truly a horrible design ranking right up there with Windows XP). Still even that is problematic. I for example listen to recorded books and I regularly (by mistake) touch the Shuffle button. Who in their right mind would want to shuffle the in-seriatum tracks of a audiobook? It is mighty irritating to go find track 37 on disk 23 again, particularly when it means pulling off the freeway. But seemingly no one at Apple must bother to consider such things (or has for a decade). Yet deem such things obvious to any intelligent mind developing software. I guess my 25 years of software development has made me too keenly aware of incompetence at all levels. Now I just get the stuff from Apple’s fan.

Speaking to professional use: I use Apple Remote Access to get to my servers. With the recent macOS security update, Apple Remote Desktop simply stopped working. Obviously, Apple did not bother to test how components interact (not the first and it won’t be the last time sloppy work will be foisted on customers). It cost me 3 hours to finally find a solution (reinstall the ARA 3.9.6 client software on the remote server, and do so in Terminal at the command line since I had no physical access to the server).

Do 99.9% of users care? Of course not, they do not use ARA. Does every server administrator naive enough to use an Apple product care? Heck yes. So this was a Big Thing that fortunately I was able to fix. I wish I could bill Apple for my time.

Then there are the little things. For example, reading mail in Apple Mail. I travel a lot and connections are often slow, so it matters a lot to me to know whether my mail has been downloaded and/or whether it is proceeding apace. In the screen shot below, the number might be "2" or "73" or "248" or whatever—I’ve seen it all. In every case, the actual number is zero (0) remaining, and this happens every day. A little thing? Not to me, but it is probably 3 levels down in priority on Apple’s fix list, if it is even on the list. Past experience of seeing up to 6 weeks pass before a bug report even gets an initial response make me unwilling to waste my time reporting—it will not get fixed. Bugs are to be added with each release, but rarely fixed.

Don’t get me started on how AppleMail destroys all my POP account configuration nearly every system release, and is so buggy that a special protocol to reconfigure is required, which fails 90% of the time—it can take hours repeating the process to restore functionality.

Apple Mail: consistently fails to report status correctly when downloading email

In MPG’s view, these operational issues speak to a company in decline. While it will take years, chickens do come home to roost.

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Are Smart Phones an IQ and Creativity Downgrade, with Anti-Social Bonus Points?

Get Thunderbolt 2 cables and Thunderbolt 3 cables at

See also: Thunderbolt on OS X: Spontaneous Drive Disconnect and 2013 Apple Mac Pro: Cables and Rotating Chassis.

Heroin is addictive. The iPhone and other smart phones maybe more so, in the active sense of having people so detached from the world that they get themselves killed while texting “I farted” and similar useful revelations. I’ve met people who need the next 'fix' so badly that they cannot take their eyes off the phone for more than 10 seconds, and that goes on without respite. It is stunningly scary (and sad) to observe it. Unable to have a human conversation, they strike me as worse off than heroin addicts. As a cyclist out on a gorgeous glorious day, I see other cyclists pulled over, texting, oblivious that life is passing them by. But each to his/her own.

The worst decision I ever made was to get my kids iPad/iPhone. Try taking away an iPhone from a teenager for one hour, and for extra credit, an entire day. Gold medal for a week. Kudos if you succeed without coming to blows, verbally or otherwise.

Personally, I think smart phones should be banned for anyone under 21 though in legal terms I would never support any such government mandate or anything like it, on principle. Still, developing brains are being stunted in many ways, and perhaps permanently, but Government Schools ensure that anyway.

To be sure, smart phones have very useful features—I use one and consider it essential. But having had a varied and stimulating woodsy upbringing, I feel pretty much immune to it—it’s a tool like a hammer and when there are no nails to be pounded, I forget about it, leaving it on DND most of the time. If you pound nails a lot, use the tool. Otherwise, put the thing away. It’s a nuisance most of the time due to robocalls to my do-not-call-listed phone number (I’m starting to support the idea of a mandatory 20 years in federal prison for robocallers). I mainly use it for (1) phone calls, (2) built-in flashlight, (3) alarm and timers, (4) handy grab shots to document stuff. Other than that, I despise the thing.

Am I “full of it”? I don’t think so—my views as stated above were already gelling 7 or 8 years ago and have only firmed up to granite. The hardest thing to see is the obvious, and a bubble is invisible to those inside it. MPG has long advised staying away from Facebook and its ilk, such things being psychological toxins for the most part, with little redeeming value in most all cases. You are the product, and the product is an addict.

The science

The Wall Street Journal in How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds summarizes the science of just how damaging smart phones are to intelligence and creativity, not to mention the anti-mindfulness and anti-social ramifications. When I had my recent concussion, I hardly used my phone at all except for maps (driving) and an occassional phone call. I wonder how damaging it is to recover from a concussion with a smart phone addiction hard-wired in?

The following brief excerpts ought to scare anyone, even if only half of it holds water. I believe based on personal observatioin for years that the research is only the tip of the iceberg and that there are many other even more serious issues that will emerge.

Emphasis added. Basically, using a smart phone pushes you towards being a mediocrity relative to your potential. Some particularly strong individuals will be minimally affected, but they are a tiny fraction of humanity. Augmented intelligence is an oxymoron until it really is so—and smart phones are not it. So... spend that $1200 on the next iPhone X as your investment in aspiring to be... a moron. It might in part explain the dismal detachment from reality of most students at American universities.

How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds

Research suggests that as the brain grows dependent on phone technology, the intellect weakens.

...when people’s phones beep or buzz while they’re in the middle of a challenging task, their focus wavers, and their work gets sloppier—whether they check the phone or not.

...when people hear their phone ring but are unable to answer it, their blood pressure spikes, their pulse quickens, and their problem-solving skills decline

...subjects whose phones were in view posted the worst scores, while those who left their phones in a different room did the best. The students who kept their phones in their pockets or bags came out in the middle. As the phone’s proximity increased, brainpower decreased.

...the more heavily students relied on their phones in their everyday lives, the greater the cognitive penalty they suffered.

...Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking.

...students who didn’t bring their phones to the classroom scored a full letter-grade higher on a test of the material presented than those who brought their phones. It didn’t matter whether the students who had their phones used them or not: All of them scored equally poorly.

...when schools ban smartphones, students’ examination scores go up substantially, with the weakest students benefiting the most.

...Social skills and relationships seem to suffer as well. Because smartphones serve as constant reminders of all the friends we could be chatting with electronically, they pull at our minds when we’re talking with people in person, leaving our conversations shallower and less satisfying. [MPG: ersonally experienced with 'heroin'-like smart-phone addicts]

... “The mere presence of mobile phones,” the researchers reported in 2013 in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, “inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust” and diminished “the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners.” The downsides were strongest when “a personally meaningful topic” was being discussed.

...Those who believed that the facts had been recorded in the computer demonstrated much weaker recall than those who assumed the facts wouldn’t be stored.

...when people call up information through their devices, they often end up suffering from delusions of intelligence. They feel as though “their own mental capacities” had generated the information, not their devices.

Now consider the dismal state of politics in this country—is it any wonder that intellectual and physical violence is the preferred method of discourse today?

I’d like a response from Tim Cook on the WSJ article. But what could it be other than bromides? Apple builds a product that is addictive; it is the business model.

Matt writes:

Oh boy, you really hit on a sore spot. My 4 kids are ages 9-15 and I regret the iPad/iPhone invading our home. My wife and I are planning on a 1 week total device fast for the kids next week and then going to a limited 4-5pm usage for the summer. I appreciate you confirming the dangers.

MPG: the best laid plans of mice and men often go iWry.

John G writes:

Couldn’t agree more with your essay on the addictive properties of smartphones. I see with my children, to the extent that their use patterns and propensities have caused my wife and I to create and implement some family policies for smartphone use, one of which is all devices must be turned off during family meals.

I also see it my colleagues. It’s become a major peeve of mine that when I’m in the midst of a conversation in a business setting and the colleague mindlessly and automatically is drawn to his/her phone in response to some notification. And, with no sense of social decorum or courtesy, begins (equally mindlessly) tapping away on the damn thing as if I’m not even there. What the hell? Of course it’s beyond rude and unprofessional. But it’s more than this; it’s deeply disturbing. Smart phones have further engendered a pervasive narcissism that runs deep within Western culture. Social media, instant dating sites, and immediate access to information are symptoms of a society about to implode.

MPG: or explode.

Jeff M writes:

I was reading your comments about use of smart phones and couldn’t agree more. As well, we are just beginning to understand the impacts of EMF on physiology from the continuous use of these devices as suggested by Jack Kruse and others in the medical community. This is especially important for children. Perhaps this would be an idea for an article on your site in the future.

MPG: we are surrounded by EMF (electromagnetic fields). I personally use a PEMF device for recovery from athletic workouts. Any household electronic device emits EMF as does the sun, or a car or a hair dryer (I wonder if electric cars are intense localized bubbles of EMF or are they shielded?) Go to high altitude or far north or take a plane flight, and you’ll get a ton more EMF, including some real nasties, like cosmic rays.

That said, it is the intensity that is of field and the unknowns of the frequency combined with that intensity. A cell phone held next to the ear has high intensity. Is it a coincidence that my left ear frequently suffers from fluid buildup, but that my right ear does not? Maybe, but I always hold the phone at my left ear, the same one with the problem and the right ear almost never has any issue. When it comes to children, rapidly growing tissue could be particularly sensitive to disruption. And yet such children generally do not hold the phone close to their ears. Still, I carry mine in my pocket and kids have it glued to their hands.

It’s a valid question, and remember that about 80 years ago, nuclear explosion radiation was pretty much harmless, so the soldiers were told. I am open to science, good science confirmed by multiple independent studies, but I would agree that prolonged exposure at very close range to the frequencies of a cell phone bears a good hard look. Trillions of dollars of business are arrayed against doing this science in depth; do we see Apple and Samsung making generous grants to check it out?

Still, some basic science not warranting any study should be understood first. Light, magnetism, any kind of radiation all obey the inverse square law. Make it 1000 times stronger, and it is still of little relevance—100 feet away it is 1/(100*100) = 10,000 (ten thousand) times weaker than 1 foot away. At 150 feet, it is 22,500 times weaker. So a field 1000 times stronger is only 10 times stronger at 100 feet, and 5 times stronger at 150 feet. Of course if a beam is tightly collimated (focused), this is another matter (think of a flashlight beam)—that is a concern. Indeed hike up to the top of Silver Peak near Bishop, CA and see the danger signs near the microwave towers, which use high power collimated beams. But a cell phone broadcasts in all directions AFAIK, and is not collimated.

Recently I measured the magnetic field of my PEMF device for vascular therapy using the iPhone app Toolbox Pro; among other things, it measures and graphs tesla (or gauss). If anyone needs a demonstration of how quickly the inverse square law applies, it’s compelling and simple enough, although cognitive dissonance would immediately set in immediately for millions of people , who fear cell phones, but have no concept of science or that their own body emits weak EMF.

So the profound ignorance of neighborhood do-gooders protesting cell phone towers nodes is idiotic at best (assuming it’s not a collimated beam going through a house or yard, highly dubious as it would defeat the goal)—having no knowledge or apparently no intellectural capability to understand the inverse square law, or that their own WiFi node or refrigerator or smart phone are far greater factors.

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Thunderbolt Bug: Drives Disconnect at Random and Intermittent Times

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It is bad enough that poor Apple hardware design can toast a $700 optical Thunderbolt 2 cable.

Back in 2016 in Thunderbolt on OS X: Spontaneous Drive Disconnect, I wrote about a frustrating problem of drives going AWOL at random times. Well, it seems that this issue persists with Thunderbolt 3 as well, a situation I’ve been monitoring and investigating for months. I’ve held off to be certain, but it is now time to discuss it, since I am certain it is a real and disturbing low-level bug (hardware or software I cannot say).

Here is what I know:

  • Occurs on 2017 iMac 5K and 2017 iMac Pro. I have no other Thunderbolt 3 Macs to test and since it is so intemittent, testing would require weeks to make sense of things. But since I saw similar issues on Thunderbolt 2 on a 2013 Mac Pro, I very much doubt that it is machine specific—I think it is a fundamental Thunderbolt bug, or (perhaps) yet one more Apple Core Rot bug.
  • I have 'intel' (I can say no more here) that says that this is a real issue that has nothing to do with my machines or my Thunderbolt 3 enclosures. Moreover, it happened with both Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 devices on different machines., and probably a hardware one.
  • Apple and Intel are mum on the issue. It feels like a cover-up to me, perhaps some intractable hardware bug. But maybe not, and maybe it is fixable in software, if Apple can ever get its quality mojo back, when it’s not busy damaging minds of every age with iPhones.
  • It is intermittent. I’ve had no trouble for a week, then it might happen 3 times in a day.
  • It can happen coming out of sleep, or it can happen spontaneously while working actively at the computer.
  • The drives disconnect then immediately reconnect. But the damage is done—this can screw up all sorts of things.

I’m not happy about this at all. I’ve been putting up with it for years, and now it persists with Thunderbolt 3 with all-new hardware and it has been an ongoing problem. I am not the only one seeing this sort of issue.

Drives/disks disappear due to some intermittent Thunderbolt bug
Drives/disks disappear due to some intermittent Thunderbolt bug

Kobi E writes:

Aha, so it wasn't just me. The transition to the 2013 MacPro was almost uniformly bad -- don't get me started on just how poorly the Trash Can served my needs. But what pushed over the brink was having my external SSD and RAID arrays go offline at random times.

I gave up trying to diagnose the issue, and wondered vaguely if the weight of the Thunderbolt cable was pulling it out of the socket enough to cause a glitch. I sold the thing and spent the money on a badass Hackintosh with room to house all my spinners.

I honestly can't say I'm particularly happy with running macOS on unsanctioned hardware, and it's a huge pain to upgrade the software, but my RAID arrays never disappear. I should be grateful for that little mercy, I guess.

MPG: Apple can fix this, but will it happen or not? All great companies decline (have their been any exceptions?!) and suck at some point. Apple started to suck in 2013, notwithstanding the addiction of the iPhone which is making Apple untold billions in profit.

Joshua H writes:

I have the same problem on thunderbolt 3 on a windows laptop for music production. With brand new hardware and brand new cables. Every updated. The computer manufacturer thinks the thunderbolt firmware is to blame. Who knows if he’s right!

MPG: “firmware to blame” seems consistent with the issue.

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Overheating Can Kill Optical Thunderbolt 2 Cables, Root Cause is the Mac Itself (Thermal Dumping)

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I’ve confirmed this information as correct by a well placed source.

In essence, the embedded lasers in a Corning optical cable can become overheated by thermal dumping from the host computer or from peripherals*, particularly the 2013 Mac Pro.

The Thunderbolt 3 specification prohibits this thermal dumping, so Thunderbolt 3 should be unaffected. All thunderbolt 3 cables conduct power and have a full metal jacket on them.

All Thunderbolt 2 non-optical cables are the same. It’s only the optical Thunderbolt 2 cables at issue, none of which had power with them and specification didn’t have the juice to do power over distance, that have this issue.

* Beware of Thunderbolt2 devices with no metal around the port since plastic is a heat insulator.

This note from reader Ed H captures the issue:

Just wanted to let you know about an experience I’m having with the Corning Optical Thunderbolt cables (10M length). And I believe that Corning OEM’s the optical cables for OWC. In fact, I think Corning might be the only optical thunderbolt cable manufacturer right now. This is a bit long, but have patience and you might be able to give some good info to your readers from my experience.

Optical Thunderbolt 2 Cables from Corning can experience thermal issues leading to decreased operating life when connected to Mac Pros, Mac Mini’s, and possibly other hosts — especially if operating 24x7 and transmitting a lot of data (such as to a RAID array and/or always on display) constantly.

Corning had/has confusing warranty replacement policy and support information, which they are in the process of updating. Optical Thunderbolt 3 Cables *should* not be affected, but time will tell.

Full story—

I have a setup with a Mac Mini (late 2012) is in a rack in a closet, connected with the Corning Optical Thunderbolt 2 Cable (10M) to a sonnet Echo 15 drive dock (populated with two HDDs and BluRay player), then daisy chained to (in various orders that changed with testing when the problem arose) an OWC dual external drive dock, an LG 34” Ultrawide Thunderbolt Monitor, and a Lexar workflow professional HR2 with two SSDs and 2 SD readers.

At first, the cable performed flawlessly, but then the monitor started exhibiting random intermittent signal drops from the Mac Mini. Then the disks in the OWC drive dock and the Echo 15 started disconnecting (though I didn’t realize it yet). Then the monitor problems became more frequent to the point where the setup was unusable. At first, I thought it might be the monitor, or the Mac Mini’s graphics card, or who knows what else… but through step by step testing, I managed to isolate the problem to the optical cable.

Well, on top of this, I had purchased the cable from Safe Harbor Computing through Amazon (who are actually listed as an authorized Corning Optical Cable Dealer), but the Corning website said warranty returns had to be processed through an Authorized dealer rather than Corning Directly.

So I contacted Safe Harbor (and then Amazon themselves, eventually) to inquire about a warranty return. To Safe Harbor’s credit, they went into full research mode because this seemed to be an unusual situation for a warranty return, because industry standard practice is that the MFR usually handles the return. They got at least three or more different answers from their various Corning contacts, most of them unhelpful, but they continued to research and update me. And also let me know that some of their other customers had experienced similar issues.

Finally, I managed to find a phone number for Corning in a very obscure page on a different Corning Optical support page since all the other support info on Corning’s website said to contact the reseller. Eventually after some back and forth with the Corning rep, I received a response from a Sales Development Manager at Corning, who informed me that they’ve had issues with the Thunderbolt 2 version of the Optical cable where the host is thermally dumping excess heat into the connector connected to the host, which has the two 10 gig lasers in it. They’ve seen it with the Mac Pro and also the Mac Mini. This excess heat elevates the internal temperature of the lasers shortening their operating life. Here’s an excerpt from the email:

“The typical damage we see is from the Host computers thermally dumping heat into the Corning Optical cable that has 2 x 10 gig lasers in them. This tends to elevate the internal temperature past the safe operating range of the lasers which reduces the life.

This typically happens more with the Mac Pro, but I have had some customers report your issue with the Mini. There are two or three things you can do to extend the life of the replacement cable being sent to you.

1) If possible, blow some air (doesn’t need to be very high volume) over the interface between the Mac mini and Thunderbolt interface.

2) Plug the Thunderbolt display into a power strip, and at the end of the work day shut the Thunderbolt monitor AC power off. The optical cable plugged into the back of the display will turn off and signal the other end of the optical link (on your Mini) to go into a low power sleep state (much lower internal heating temps!).

3) I have not tested this on the Mac Mini, but running the Mini internal Fan Speed on high on the Mac Pro helps move heat away from the Thunderbolt interface (not sure about its effectiveness on a Mini). Macs Fan control v1.4.2.

Let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. We are currently working on a white paper outlining this potential long term issue and typical lifetime of laser based products in general. The good news is that the Thunderbolt 3 specification will mandate that no thermal dumping into any active assembly is allowed. This requirement was not specified in the initial development of Thunderbolt when only the Macbook (thick version with optical drive) was the only host to test with.”

That makes sense to me with what I’ve seen from other optical transceivers in fiber optic networking cables. I wished that the transceivers on the Optical Thunderbolt Cables were replaceable without having to replace the whole cable, but that would probably discourage the users that the cables are marketed to.

Corning are also switching to handling warranty returns themselves and changing their website to reflect that.

Not related but worth knowing: LEDs can have drastically shortened lifespan if overheated. That’s why the Lupine cycling lights and flashlights and headlamps I use have temperature regulation, cutting output when too hot.

Darren K writes:

Happened to mine, but Corning swapped it out. Kernel panic crashes and the like without any solution messed with me for months. Apple even had the MacPro for 3 weeks to test it. Couldn’t believe it when I got the new cable. Will likely happen again since not much has changed in my setup. Maybe I can run a 10’ TB cable.

MPG: well, doesn’t the Mac look nice and pretty in a photo? I see it as another Apple distraction of form over function—please Apple, spend the time engineering robust operation first and foremost—everything else follows.

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