Having issues updating Google Chrome on OS X?

Is your Google Chrome on OS X not updating? When you select “About Chrome” from the Chrome menu, do you see an error 12?

If you do, try this fix:

  • Quit Chrome
  • Open your boot drive in the Finder (typically “Macintosh HD”)
  • Open the Library folder
  • Delete the Google folder (You may be asked to enter your admin password)
  • Launch Chrome
  • Open “About Chrome” from the Chrome menu to ensure an update is happening

You may see another error 12. If so, click the “Allow automatic updates for all users” button. Enter your admin password when OS X asks you to, and Chrome may then update properly.

This appears to be some issue with Google’s updater and code signing. If the updater has not been authorized to update all users, OS X shuts the updater down.

An example of how Apple and Microsoft are different

Update: Joel Bernstein (@castirony) points out that this paragraph works perfectly with “Apple Watch” instead of HoloLens. Damn you, Joel! But he is right. However, I think Apple Watch is an exception for Apple whereas Microsoft does this much more often.


On using the Microsoft HoloLens, Engadget writes:

“Does it work? Yes, it works. Is it any good? That’s a much harder question to answer. In its current state, HoloLens is a series of demos with varying levels of polish, meant to demonstrate the possibility of the device. More clearly: in its current state, HoloLens is far from ready for public consumption. It’s an impressive demo in need of longterm investment, which Microsoft says is happening. All that baggage aside, what’s it like using HoloLens?

I believe this is a great example of how differently Apple and Microsoft operate. You would never read:

“Does it work? Yes, it works. Is it any good? That’s a much harder question to answer. In its current state, iPhone is a series of demos with varying levels of polish, meant to demonstrate the possibility of the device. More clearly: in its current state, iPhone is far from ready for public consumption. It’s an impressive demo in need of longterm investment, which Apple says is happening. All that baggage aside, what’s it like using iPhone?”


Why erase and restore your Mac?

I am a power user. I develop iOS and Mac software. I run betas of my firewall, my operating system, and my applications. I have developer tools installed. I am bound to have problems.

I am not alone though. OS X, over time, can become crufty. Old extensions,old files, or even improper installations. Third party installers often corrupt permissions or install older components.

System crashes (kernel panics) and OS bugs can lead to disk corruption that most do not catch until it is too late. The operating system does a poor job on alerting you if there are file system issues.

Running Disk Utility to repair these issues may seem successful, but sometimes are not. You may notice a “lost + found” folder on the root level of your hard drive. If you find a “iNode” file within that folder, things are not good.

My Late 2013 MacBook Pro is a little over a year old and has gone through many betas, many system crashes, but according to Disk Utility, all was well. I had had disk corruption that needed fixing by booting from the recovery partition, but Disk Utility fixed it.

Come Christmas, I bought a new monitor for myself, a new Razr Naga Mouse (which has its own drivers) and a new USB dock. The computer started to complain.

At first, it was spinning beachballs of death. Then it was strange kernel panics in the file system and in the graphics drivers. Finally I had had enough.

As members of PMUG know, I have many backups. I backup via Time Machine to a drive on my OS X server, to a local WD Passport drive, and to a drive at work. I also have several clones made with Carbon Copy Cloner. One is in the bank, one is at home, one is at work. All are encrypted.

I figured that if i was having all of these issues, I had better restore, because backing up corruption is not good. So I did what I have not done in a very long time.

I erased the disk and started over.

I began by booting from the recovery partition. This is easy, just reboot and hold down COMMAND R. Hold these keys down until the booting process starts, which is a black screen for OS X 10.10 (Yosemite).

Once the recovery tools had booted, I chose Disk Utility and erased my hard drive. Gulp. It was nice knowing you! Because I use FileVault, I had to first unlock the volume by selecting it and choosing Unlock from the File menu. Then I erased it as a normal journaled disk (not encrypted!)

I then quit Disk Utility and used the recovery menu to reinstall OS X Yosemite. This took about 35 minutes to download and install.

Next up was telling OS X that I wanted to restore from a Time Machine backup. I chose my WD Passport as I had just backed up to it and being a USB 3 drive, this was about as fast an option I had. The restoration took about 2.5 hours.

When all was said and done, I got about 30 gigabytes of my drive back. I am hoping this is due to all of the caches, sleep images, and other operating system artifacts, but I am not certain. A quick perusal though my file system seems to have everything I expected.

I suppose that some of my used space was because of previous disk corruptions, or the worst case scenario is that corruption caused some files to never be backed up, or overwritten. Time will tell.

This is why it is also import to archive. An archive is a backup that you then put away forever. Once a year I take one of my external Time Machine drives and label it as an archive. It goes into the bank and then I buy a new 1TB drive.

With this system, if I notice years down the road that I am missing a file I really want, I can go back to an archive and see if it is there.

Both backups and archives are important.

In the end, all spinning beachballs have disappeared. All kernel panics have disappeared. The system is fast and stable. Something was bad, and it seems that only a complete restore was the answer.

TL;DR If you are having very weird Mac problems, consider not just reinstalling OS X, but also erasing the entire machine and doing a full restore from backup.

Using 1Password with Windows

As my friends will tell you, I love the password manager 1Password from AgileBits. I won’t go into why, but if you use passwords (which you do), and you don’t manage them, you need something like 1Password.

I recently set up an older MacBook Pro as a Windows machine via BootCamp to play games. I needed some passwords on the machine for various accounts I will need access to, but I did not feel comfortable syncing my entire set of passwords to the Windows machine.

I do not feel comfortable mainly because I do not fully understand how easily the machine can be compromised. I did buy Norton Internet Security for it (Thanks, Matt!), but still, 1Password has my entire life in it. I want to be prudent in protecting that information.

Dropbox is secure, but I don’t want people getting the encrypted files if I can prevent it. Also, Windows seems more likely to get a key logger, so I really did not want to deal with a hacker getting my one password that encrypts all other passwords. All of this is over paranoid, but why take the risk if there is a solution?

Fortunately, the awesome 1Password supports multiple vaults. You can create a secondary vault easily, as explained here. Thanks to the awesome support via the @1password twitter account for the link.

Creating a second vault has its own password, but it is also accessible via the primary vault’s master password. I do not plan to ever use that master password on the Windows machine.

Now I have a second vault, what next? I want access to some passwords, not all. I also do not want to manage two sets of passwords. I really just want read-only access to the passwords I need.

1Password allows you to copy entries from one vault to another. You can copy an entry by right clicking the entry, going to the Share contextual menu, selecting your secondary vault and selecting copy. If you choose copy a second time, it replaces the destination entirely. Using this feature, I can manually keep my windows vault in sync with my primary vault on the Mac. Sweet!

Now I need a way to remember which passwords I want synced to the Windows vault. Enter the awesome tags feature. I love tags. You can edit any entry in 1Password, a login, a secure note, etc, and give it tags. Tags are just words that you will use later to find. I used the tag “Windows” on all of the entries I want to sync.

Now comes the part that was not intuitive with 1password in beta, but now is awesome! – Creating a smart folder of tags. A smart folder is a folder whose contents are generated via criteria, such as ‘all entries whose tag is “Windows”‘ This folder updates itself automatically, which is awesome.

First, choose “New smart folder” from the File menu. You will be presented with a pane that includes search criteria:

Smart Folder UI with no settings

Now change the settings to find all tags that are “Windows:”

1Password smart folder dialog tag is windows

Click “Save” in the upper right corner of the pane.

Every time that you add the tag “Windows” to an item, it will show up in this folder! All that is left to do is sync. You can sync all of these items by selecting the smart folder, then clicking one of them in the list and pressing Command-A (or Select All), then right click the selected list, select Share, then your vault, then copy. 1Password will replace all entries!

Note: It would be nice if I could right click the Smart Folder to share all items, AgileBits 🙂

This method will not remove any entries that you removed the “Windows” tag from. You will have to do that manually.

Now that you have copied entires into the secondary vault, go to the Finder and open your Dropbox folder. Create a new folder for the secondary vault. Back in 1Password, switch to the secondary vault (Via the 1Password application menu) and open preferences. Select the Sync tab, and choose to sync via Folder. Select the folder you just created in your Dropbox folder.

On Windows, when you install Dropbox, choose to not select everything. This will allow you to not sync your 1Password folder, but will let you sync your folder you made for the secondary vault. Once Dropbox is installed, it will copy your newly made secondary vault to your windows machine.

To access the passwords, you can either buy 1Password for Windows, or if you just need simple access, AgileBits has includes the awesome 1Password Anywhere HTML file. Simply open your Dropbox folder, open your secondary vault folder, open the 1Password agile keychain, then open the 1Password.html file with Firefox (it won’t work with Chrome, and certainly do not use Internet Explorer)

Type in your secondary vault password and have access to all of your data. If I need to create/update logins, I will do that on the Mac, re-sync everything to the secondary vault, and access on Windows.

It seems like a lot of work, but in practice it takes 10 seconds once set up, and gives me the peace of mind knowing that most of my data is not on the Windows machine.

I’d like to repeat that this may be overkill, but because I am not a Windows expert, I do not want to make it easier than necessary for others to access my data. If I can limit the amount of data I keep on a computer that I do not use very often, I will feel better about it.

One may point out that the 1Password anywhere file is accessible via Dropbox.com also, which is true! You do not even need to install Dropbox on the computer. Simply log into Dropbox.com, and navigate to the secondary vault folder. I would not access my primary vault this way, again because of the off chance that a key logger has slipped past Norton.

Evening eye strain? Try Flux

Do you use a Mac laptop at night?  Is your lighting usually dimmer than the screen?  Do you turn the screen brightness down?

If you answered yes to any of these, you might want to try Flux.  Flux changes the color of your screen to a warm yellow at night.  It looks weird and broken at first, but after using it for a month, I can attest that it does reduce eyestrain.

If you are watching a movie or working on something color sensitive, you can easily disable or quit Flux via it’s menubar item.  But for the rest of the time spent surfing the web, I have found that my eyes are a lot less tired after several hours of being on the computer.

Check out Flux.

SuperDrive in i7 MacBook Pro works!

The SuperDrive in my late 2008 MacBook Pro rarely worked. I would get medium sense errors, or read errors, all sorts of issues.

Since Apple replaced the machine with an i7, I’ve been testing things out and this machine is fantastic.

I just burned a 1.7gb folder of movies to the exact same media batch that would constantly fail on the old machine.

Good times.

10.6.4 is out

Seems to fix some of my WoW kernel panics. Been testing for months, includes fixes for Time Machine address book issues and other improvements, including the included notes:

The 10.6.4 Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard. It includes Safari 5 and general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including fixes that:

  • resolve an issue that causes the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive resolve an issue that may prevent some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
  • address issues copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB file servers
  • improve reliability of VPN connections
  • resolve a playback issue in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
  • resolve an issue editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture in full screen view
  • improve compatibility with some braille displays

Try out the new iPad gmail UI in Safari

If you use Safari1, you can easily tell gmail that you are on an iPad and see the new gmail user interface for iPad.

  1. In Safari Preferences, navigate to the Advanced tab and check “Show Develop menu in the menu bar”
  2. Load gmail.com in a new tab or window.
  3. In the Develop menu, navigate to the “Other” option at the bottom of the User Agent sub-menu
  4. Enter “Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU iPad OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7E18 Safari/528.16”
  5. Refresh the gmail.com page
  6. Enjoy!

1. You can do this with any HTML 5 capable browser.

Reuse Time machine backups in Snow Leopard!

Apple fixed Time Machine in Snow Leopard!

Elizabeth’s laptop died. She had been using our Time Capsule under Leopard. After receiving the new Snow Leopard based machine, I used the migration assistant to restore her machine.

Now she is on Snow Leopard. After awhile, the Mac asked her if she wanted to reuse her existing backup! Before, you’d have to make an all new Time Machine backup, thus wasting space.

The dialog informed us that if she reused the backup, she’d no longer be able to access it from the old machine, which is fine.

So it looks like they did indeed change Time Machine to allow backups to be extended from a previous machine. Very nice!

Now will it backup the entire machine, or be smart about it? Only time will tell. I’ll update this post when I find out.


Time Machine did do a complete backup, not matching existing files, but it kept the history of the machine, all the way back to Nov. 2008!

Google DNS breaks local screen sharing

If you set your Mac up to use Google’s new DNS service with IP or, you might find that you can no longer connect to other Macs on your local network with screen sharing.

File sharing works, but screen sharing does not.

Switching back to OpenDNS or Comcast DNS allows screen sharing to work again.

Mac OS X 10.6.2 is shipping

I’ve been using 10.6.2 since 10.6.1 came out as a beta site and I can say this final release of 10.6.2 is very, very good.

I’m sure some will have problems, that is par for the course, but for me:

  • Boot time is much faster
  • I can now run World of Warcraft and 10 other apps in 4gb of ram without severe slowdown
  • RAM usage seems much lower
  • Many, many bug fixes

Get it now from Software Update

Windows 7 Upgrade experience – A tale of woe

I thought I’d post my upgrade experience from XP 32 bit to Windows 7 64 bit.

I had read that I’d need to install over a clean XP, so I formatted a 500MB drive in my Mac pro and installed XP last night. That failed, because the drive was formatted as a Mac volume, and XP only reformatted the partition. My bad.

So I ran the Boot Camp Assistant and let it wipe the drive and prepare it for Windows. That install went fine.

1:30pm Today I receive my Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade from Amazon. On the front of the box, it says “Windows 7 Upgrade designed for Vista.”

Uh, I have XP. Hmm. Ok I look on the back. On the back it says:

“This version of Windows 7 is designed as an upgrade for Windows Vista(r). If you are upgrading from Windows XP, you will need to back up your files and settings, perform a clean install and then re-install your existing files, settings and programs. Visit windows.microsoft.com/upgrade for important information.”

Ok, so I have to perform a clean install. Of what? XP? 7? Can I do a clean install with this version?

Now on the side of the box it reads:

Attention: All editions of Windows XP and Windows Vista qualify you to upgrade. You must accept the enclosed license … go to www.microsoft.com/useterms”

Ok so that is two URLs so far.

Now on the bottom of the box it reads:

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor can help you determine which features and editions of Windows 7 will run on your computer; visit windows.microsoft.com/upgradeadvisor

lol, so three URLS and two having “windows.” has the root and the other having “www.” as the root.

1:50pm So in XP I go to the upgrade advisor, which makes me install an ActiveX control, which in turn makes me install .Net 2.0. I still haven’t opened the box, mind you.

I’d be done installing Snow Leopard by now, for whatever that is worth.

Now the “advisor” is saying that I can only install Windows 7 32 bit. Which is nonsense, because I had used Windows 7 64 bit betas all year. And it says my graphics adaptor, an nVidia 8800GT can’t handle AERO, the Windows UI answer to Apple’s Aqua. But I know it does!

Ok that was a total waste of time and a total failure.

Anyway, forget that, I’ll just stick the disk in and see what it does.

The package comes with two DVDs, one 32 bit, one 64 bit. The DVDs are covered in holograms and includes “Windows Anytime Upgrade” whatever that is.

Let’s try the 64 bit disc, because I need that to access all of my memory.

The instruction manual says if I am upgrading from XP, I need to take special steps and choose Custom (Advanced) upgrade.

So let me get this straight? Most of their user base is still on XP, and they made that upgrade path the hardest?

I insert the 64 bit disc and it says:

This disc isn’t compatible with your version of Windows. For more information, check your computer’s system information. (For what? lol) To install a new copy of windows, restart (boot) your computer using the installation disk and then select Custom (advanced)

Let’s see what happens if I boot off the 64 bit installer DVD.

1:58pm I see a Windows XP screen. Oh it booted into my XP. Sigh.

Am I having fun yet?

Well, it won’t let me boot into 64 bit, when I Windows 7 beta did.

Awesome, now I get to call Microsoft.

Amusing, on the cover of the included literature it reads:

Welcome to your PC, simplified. Windows 7

Ok now I am on the phone with Microsoft.

2:17pm Ok wow, just wow. The guy opened a case number for me, didn’t give it to me, transferred me and then it said, and I am not joking, “Oh oh! Received data error!” and hung up!

So now I am calling them back. Now I have someone asking me for my 9 digit installation code? She asks if I am trying to authorize Windows. I say “No, I am trying to install” So then she tells me she’ll connect me to technical support. Sigh. Then she gives me an 800 number to call in case I am disconnected. Oh wait, that number is wrong, she gives me the following number: 866-613-0270 5am-9pm PST

2:28pm Ok, now I am being transferred, again.

2:31pm Now they are figuring out what support I am entitled to, again. This time they took my product key and are validating it. I’m sure someone at Apple is chuckling, or maybe crying, by now, at what Microsoft puts its customers through.

2:39pm Now this person authorized my retail copy of windows, given me yet another 800 number and has transferred me.

2:49pm After explaining 5 times what I am doing, I was put on hold. But while on hold, I figured it out.

I used the Windows Boot Camp Startup Panel to choose the DVD to boot from, and now it is booting off the DVD.

Ok the guy came back and informed me that they don’t support installation onto Macs.

However, he did go ahead and tell me how to complete the install, because it will fail he said.

2:56 pm First, I have to choose custom install. So I did and chose my drive. It warned me a previous Windows existed, and I said ok.

3:04pm Windows reboots. Setting up registry settings. Starting services.

3:07pm Completing installation. It informs me the computer will reboot several times during installation.

3:19pm It is now asking me to enter my user info.

Next, he said when it asks for a product key to skip entering the product key. So I do. I answer a few more questions and it continues.

Next, he said once windows boots, try to install windows a second time and then do a upgrade install (not custom), and then enter the product key, as the product key I have is only for upgrades.

Yow. So he told me how to work around their DRM. Why even have this crap in the first place?

3:28pm At the desktop, second install started, this time an upgrade.

Another amusing anecdote. I just got an email from MS about my case:

It was my pleasure to work with you on your Windows service request XXXXXXXXXXXX. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve your issue. However, I hope that you were happy with the service provided to you.


Back to the second install. Still copying files.

3:39pm Rebooting to finish install.

3:52pm Another reboot, it’s transferring files and settings, I guess from the previous empty install. Maybe it is keeping my user, I don’t know.

4:04pm It’s rebooting again. It had to copy over more settings. Which it had just installed.

4:08pm Entering the product key now. That seemed to have worked ok. Logging in.

4:11pm Finally, I’m at the desktop.

I am not going to install any Boot Camp software, as Apple said support will be coming before the end of the year.

Two Hours, Forty-One minutes. Excellent user experience, Microsoft.

Aero works and I am in 64 bit. So the advisor is a pile of trash. Don’t trust it!

Snow Leopard has one installer. One. It installs both 32 and 64 bit OS and apps. It took 30 minutes to install. It does upgrade or full installs. You can change the kernel with 3-2 and 6-4 at boot time. That’s it.

These experiences are good for me as a Mac user. They truly make me appreciate how much hard work Apple does under the scenes that we take for granted. Macs are not perfect, but they’re no Microsoft OS, either. Count your blessings, Mac users.

Yay for ClickToFlash

ClickToFlash is a great Safari plugin that blocks Flash from automatically loading and playing.

All it takes is a single click to play the Flash. This will cause your pages to load faster, and crash less, if you are one of the many that believe the Flash plugin crashes often.

This wonderful plugin goes even farther, though. If you are on youtube, you can use the gear icon in the upper left of the Flash window to either play H.264 version of the video in QuickTime (without all of that Flash crap on the screen) or download the video directly.

Very nice.

Application of the day: fseventer

Ever wanted to know which files are being opened on your Mac? Try fseventer

You press the play button and it starts recording all fsevents. Press pause and it stops and gives you a tree diagram of all files accessed, renamed, etc. Every fsevent that happened!

You can then filter the results to see what files various applications are accessing.