Changing computer name in Mac OS

How do you change your Mac computer name, if you so want?

There are several sites on the Internet, which suggest that you go to System Preferences, Sharing and edit the computer name in one of the selections there, like File Sharing or Remote Management, right at the top there.

Well, unfortunately this is NOT true. It just doesn’t work that way.

I recently copied the system disk, from one of my Macs, to another one and installed the new disk in a Mac Mini 2012 I just got. So I went in System Preferences, Sharing and changed the computer name. However, when I tried to edit the settings from the ChronoAgent, I noticed that the old computer name was shown. I contacted Econ Technologies (the makers of ChronoSync and ChronoAgent) and they were puzzled too. They had me take screen grabs of my settings and send them to their engineers. They just couldn’t figure out. They even created a new version of ChronoAgent, with more reporting capabilities, in order to figure that out. Well, I didn’t even had to use the new version, running console, it was evident that the computer was still using the old computer name instead of the new one I had entered in Sharing.

This bug affects both El Capitan and Sierra (latest versions).

So what’s the solution to this problem (changing your Mac computer name)?

Simple! Open a terminal window and enter the following command:

sudo scutil –set HostName YourNewComputerName

Immediately, the host name is changed to the new one and your computer is now rebaptized.

I hope this helps someone!

Ebay has deteriorated?

For several years now, I’ve been using eBay (ebay.co.uk), to buy things I needed and which were too expensive or didn’t even exist in Greece. I also had sold a few things I no longer needed on eBay. My experience has been good, I was paying the proper attention, of course. Like check seller’s reputation etc.

Lately however, my experience with eBay has shown that the famous on-line market place has started deteriorating. Let me explain to you what I mean:

1. You order something you will need in say twenty days. So, you make sure you order it from a UK seller, counting that air mail from UK to Greece never takes more than one week, so you think you will have your item before you need it. Well, not so fast! UK sellers have started using some strange shipping methods. For example, one I used shipped the item via PostNL (what’s wrong with Royal Mail, guys?). Now, I expect PostNL to be used when I buy something from Netherlands, but from UK? Well, that item took more than a month to arrive. Here goes my plan to use that item when I needed it.

2. You buy something from eBay (UK again) and you are given an estimated delivery date. The time passes and the item is not delivered. You contact the seller and ask what the hell is wrong and the options you get are to either ask for a refund or have the seller resend you the item. That’s good except that you do not have the item you wanted!!! And the seller doesn’t get punished for that, so other folks have no idea that either he didn’t bother sending you the item you ordered or that he shipped it in a different manner. Again, the only one affected is the buyer. I had an item bought, never delivered, asked for a refund and it was issued the same day. So what do you make out of it? Who issues a refund immediately, unless he knows that he never shipped the item?!?!

What I want to say, with all the above is that eBay’s protection towards the buyer, ends up with a refund. That’s it folks. It doesn’t matter that you planned some work counting on the item you ordered, get your money back and be happy. Well, thank you very much, but that doesn’t help me much, does it? First, the seller had my money in his bank account, from the day I ordered until I complained and got a refund (if you collect several such orders, the interest on the money you got can be significant) and second I can no longer count on eBay sellers for time-critical things.

In the past, it was Chinese sellers that you should avoid, if you needed your item by a specific date. Never reliable on that, because of the way their post service works. We all knew about this problem, that’s why I avoided Chinese sellers, if I wanted my item to arrive quickly. But lately, it’s UK sellers who are unreliable and I do not see eBay doing anything about it.

Updating your El Capitan OS-X system disk to the latest version 10.11.2

In a previous post, I have described how to install OS-X El Capitan to your 2006-2007 MacPro. Here is a link to that post. The link will open in a new browser window.

Yesterday, Apple released version 10.11.2 of El Capitan, so below you will find the steps you need to follow, in order to update your system to the latest version. Please keep in mind that you need to have a backup copy of your system disk, in order to do that. In my case, I have an internal SSD as my system disk, let’s call that MacSSD and an external SSD disk, let’s call that one Mac_Ext. Make sure that your external (or internal) backup copy of your system disk is an exact copy of your system disk, before you begin.

First step is to boot from MacSSD (or whatever disk is your system disk) and run your App Store application. Select Updates from the top links and allow the installation of El Capitan update. There will also be an El Capitan Recovery Update, you can update that too. When the installation is finished allow the program to restart your computer. Most probably, your MacPro will NOT start, so use your power button to restart it again, and when the … boot sound plays, hold down your Option key. You will see all the disks from which you can start up your system, namely MacSSD and Mac_Ext. Select Mac_Ext (or whatever is the name of your backup disk) to boot from. Obviously, your system will boot in El Capitan 10.11.1 (or whatever version of El Capitan you had already in your system disk and your backup disk). Allow the system to boot fully, and then open Terminal. All lines starting with a – below, are commands you will type in the terminal window.

– su

The system will ask you for your root password, enter it.

– cd /Volumes/MacSSD/System/Library/CoreServices

This will take you to the first place where the boot.efi needs to be replaced.

– chflags nouchg boot.efi

The above command will remove the protection from boot.efi file.

– cp /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi .

The above command will copy the proper boot.efi file from your backup disk to your normal system disk.

– chflags uchg boot.efi

This will protect boot.efi again.

While in the CoreServices directory, I then used Property List Editor to edit the file called PlatformSupport.plist . Since not all of the readers have this program, you can also edit the file with your favorite editor. I use vi, so here are the instructions on how to do it. Enter the following command:

vi PlatformSupport.plist

Move your cursor down, until it is on the line saying “<array>”. Then press the letter “o”. A new empty line will open below the line your cursor was on. In the new line, enter the following (that’s for a 2006 MacPro 1,1. If you have a different Mac, you need to find your proper board ID):

<string>Mac-F4208DC8</string>

Press Esc (the Esc button) and then enter:

:wq

This will save the file and take you back to the prompt. Now enter:

– cd ../../../usr/standalone/i386

This will take you to the second location, where you need to copy the boot.efi file. Just enter the following command:

– cp /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi .

This will copy the proper boot.efi to the second location.

Practically, you are now ready to boot your system from your normal system disk, MacSSD. Do so now. After your system boots, make sure you are running El Capitan 10.11.2, by clicking on the small apple, on the top left corner. If you did everything correctly, you should be running 10.11.2, but you are not done yet. Your Recovery partition needs to be patched in order to work on your Mac.

To do so, boot from your backup disk again, not from MacSSD and open a terminal window and enter:

– diskutil list

This will show you all the partitions on all your disks. Find a partition called “Apple_Boot Recovery HD” which is on the MacSSD disk. Notice the last word in that line, something like “disk1s3″. Now issue the following command:

– diskutil mount /dev/disk1s3

The program will tell you that the disk is mounted. Enter this command to verify that:

– ls -l /Volumes

You should see a “Recovery HD” disk there. Issue the following commands:

– cd /Volumes/Recovery\ HD

This will take you into the Recovery HD disk. Issue:

– cd com.apple.recovery.boot
– ls -l

In the directory, you will see a boot.efi file. You need to replace it with the patched one, so issue:

– cp /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi .

Then edit the PlatformSupport.plist file found in that same directory, following the instructions above.

You can now restart your computer and try booting from the Recovery HD. If you have done everything OK, you should be able to boot from the Recovery Partition of MacSSD without a problem.

 

P.S.: Upgrading from 10.11.4 to 10.11.5 will also replace the boot.efi and PlatformSupport.plist files. So it is advisable to have a backup of your system disk, to apply the procedure outlined above, after you do the upgrade.

Living with Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

I’ve been an amateur photographer since my teen age, when film was the only medium. Eventually, I …. grew up to digital and thank God I currently have a quite capable set of Nikons and Nikkors with which I practice my hobby. Unfortunately, none of my cameras is video-enabled. SWMBO has informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I should add video creation to my interests.

So, being a good husband, I decided to oblige. I started reading about video and cameras that are capable of recording video. Soon I understood that this was a whole new world, of which I knew nothing about. My investigation led me to the following conclusions:

  • The current state of video is FHD (1080p) with 4K being the emerging standard (and we all know how temporary standards are in technology). So if I was to acquire a new camera, it’d better support 4K.
  • There are several 4K enabled camcorders in the market, but a few picture-taking cameras with support of 4K video. And I wanted a camera which would be able to cover both roles, that of a still-pictures taking camera and that of a video camera.
  • 4K video enabled devices are NOT cheap.

What I had in mind was to sell one of my existing Nikons (the D300 together with my sole APS-C lens, the 18-200mm VR) to fund a new camera, which could be used for both photography and 4K video recording. It should be small enough to replace the D300 with the 18-200mm lens, and cheap enough to be funded by the money I would get from the sale of the D300 and lens. Tough proposition? Indeed!

Eventually, I selected the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 as my new camera.

fz1000I thought that this camera could become my “go-to camera”, when I didn’t want to carry the camera bag with the D700 and all the Nikkors (*).

What follows is a recording of my first impressions about the new camera, after using it for about a month. I won’t bother posting here the camera specifications, they can easily be found on the network or just follow this link. What you will read below, is my personal opinion about the camera. Since this is a personal opinion, and everyone is entitled to his, do not shoot me if it doesn’t exactly match your personal opinion, just live with it.

First approach

To start with, let me just say that this is NOT a camera for the casual, not educated user. While it has many features which will allow a novice to shoot beautiful pictures and videos, it takes an expert to make full use of it. Panasonic has gone to the extremes to make the menus easy to understand, but the combination of the camera’s capabilities together with its specs and customization options, make this camera quite complicated. There are mutually exclusive settings, which do not make much sense to the uninitiated (or even the experienced) photo/videographer. However, the FZ1000 is the only camera you can buy at this moment, which supports 4K video (in reality it’s not real 4K, which is 4096 x 2160 pixels, but UHD which is 3840 x 2160 pixels) together with FHD (1080p), HD (720p) and VGA (480p) video, 20Mpixels still pictures, and which costs less than US$ 1,000. Being on a tight budget, but needing the features of this camera, it was an easy selection for me.

So let me start by giving you a user description of the FZ1000. The camera is not small, actually its size is about the same as the entry-level DSLRs from Nikon or Canon and it is about the same weight with these cameras with the kit lens attached. So if you are looking for a pocket camera with the above capabilities, this is not the camera for you. The Panasonic LX-100 is a better alternative for you.

Against

A lot of reviewers are bothered by the fact that the camera is made of plastic instead of metal. However, I do not find this a restrictive factor, it allows the camera to be lighter while not compromising its durability, the plastic it is made of, is of high quality. A lot of reviewers also fault the camera for having the memory card slot, in the same compartment at the bottom of the camera, thus requiring you to remove the camera from a tripod (if you are using one).

panasonic-fz1000-3074Again, for me, that’s not a serious issue, since I do not plan to use the camera on a tripod (perhaps I can see a monopod in my future, but again that won’t always be the way I’ll use the camera).

The other issue about which a lot of reviewers complain, is about the size of the FZ1000 battery. And I’ll have to agree with this criticism, the battery doesn’t have enough capacity to cover a day’s shooting, especially if you shoot a lot of videos. So carrying two or three batteries with you is mandatory.

Finally, let me add a couple more points that bother me about this camera. First, the minimum aperture of its (excellent 25-400mm equivalent) lens is f8 (or f16 in full frame equivalent). I would prefer if it went down to f16, two extra stops would allow you to shoot in bright daylight without using ND filters (something the camera doesn’t have, so you’ll have to buy one or more of them).

The second issue (which has been mentioned by some reviewers) is the noise the camera produces, when it is turned on. This noise is quite strong and it is usually picked up my the camera’s microphones, during video recording. First time I switched the camera on, I was in a quiet room and as soon as I got over the excitement of my new toy, I tried to figure out what were the kids doing, which produced that hamming noise. You can hear it yourself in the following video:

This issue is the most serious issue I can find with the FZ1000. It’s easily solved though, if you are willing to invest in an external microphone, like this RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro.

2Or this one, again from RØDE.

1So, if you are serious about your video sound, consider this a necessary investment for the FZ1000.

What I liked

With these out of the way, the camera performance, when shooting pictures is excellent. Below, you can see some of the pictures I shot, during a short trip to Kastoria, a city in Northern Greece, in November 2015.

Cosmote Advertisement in KastoriaShot at 320mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8, 1/1300″.

Cosmote Advertisement in Kastoria SHOT at 400mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8, 1/640″.

Cosmote Advertisement in Kastoria Shot at 70mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8, 1/200″.

Cosmote Advertisement in KastoriaShot at 25mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8, 1/320″.

Cosmote Advertisement in Kastoria Shot at 75mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f7.1, 1/100″, +2.5 ev exposure compensation.

Cosmote Advertisement in KastoriaShot at 164mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8, 1/400″.

Cosmote Advertisement in Kastoria

Shot at 255mm (35mm equiv), ISO 200, f8 at 1/100″.

Cosmote Advertisement in KastoriaShot at 165mm (35mm equiv), ISO 125, f8 at 1/400″.

As you can see, the Leica-designed 25-400mm lens is excellent (at least in my eyes, I never pixel-peep) in all focal lengths. So, as far as still picture shooting is concerned, the FZ1000 is a keeper.

Coming to video recording, here is a very short clip I shot yesterday at at 1080p.

If you listen carefully, you will hear the hissing noise the camera produces and is captured in the audio. An external microphone is necessary for any serious work.

The camera is quite capable video-wise, being able to capture UHD at 25 and 24p, FHD at 50 and 25p, HD at 25p and VGA at 25p. A special option, called by Panasonic “High speed video” allows you to capture FHD at 100p, HD at 200p and VGA at 300p, for those who want slow-motion video. I tried the FHD option, and it works just fine. However, the settings for the slow-motion video, are hidden at the Camera-M option of the mode selector wheel (which is typically reserved for 4K video), one of the irrational choices made by Panasonic in the camera’s menus. In order to activate the High Speed video option, for whatever resolution you want to use, you set the mode dial to Camera-M, the go to “Rec Quality”. Select the recording quality you want to use (4K/25p, 4K/24p, FHD/50p, FHD, 25p, HD/25p or VGA/25p), don’t worry about the 25p or 50p or 24p, just select the resolution that  you want and the bit rate you want. Then save it and scroll further down in the Motion Picture menu, to turn High Speed Video on. Oh, in order for that to work, you have to set the 4K Photo option to Off!

How I’ve set up the FZ1000

The Panasonic FZ1000 allows you to customize it, to an unbelievable degree. So much so, that I decided to …. leave most things the way they were. Being used to the Nikkors, I set the lens ring to act as the zoom control, while I set the secondary (or primary?) zoom control lever, around the shutter release button, to act as the exposure compensation dial. Due also to the way my Nikons are set up, I also set the AF/AE Lock button to act as an AF-On. In that way, the focus initiation and lock is done by this button, while the exposure measurement is done by slightly pressing the shutter release (just like on my D700).

Another thing I changed from the way the camera is set up when it comes from the factory, is to set AutoFocus to Off in the Movie menu. The reason for that is, because I found that the camera is “hunting” for a new focus point, as soon as you move your subject off the center of your screen. Admittedly this may happen only if you have AF-S selected, like I did, perhaps AF-C is a better choice when shooting video, but I didn’t have the time to test it.

Another thing I want to try out, is to disable the video recording button. This button allows you to initiate video recording, while being in P, A, S or M mode. This can be confusing, because the Movie menu settings can be different from the Movie menu settings you have set in the Camera-M mode. I prefer to have only one set of adjustments to worry about, so by turning the Video Recording button off, I can only shoot video when the mode dial is set to Camera-M and I have only the options for that mode to worry about.

 What I wish for

Basically, there are quite a few things I would wish to appear in a new firmware version of this camera. These are:

  1. A clean-up and rationalization of the Movie menu, so that the user doesn’t have to spend hours trying to figure out how to activate high speed video, or to remember which video settings are active, when one selects A or S or P on the mode dial.
  2. The ability to use its excellent 5-axis image stabilization system (Power OIS, as Panasonic calls it) in 4K video.
  3. As it is now, the camera allows you to review the picture you’ve just shot, through its EVF. I like that feature very much, but I would like it to be extended. I would love to be able to see the picture I shot for (let’s say 3 seconds) through the viewfinder, but at the same time, I would love to see the picture I shot at the rear LCD. Actually, the picture shown in the LCD should stay there, until the next picture is shot or until the Menu button is pressed. In that way, the user can have a quick preview of the picture shot through the EVF, but if he wants to better check it, he can just move the camera away from his eye and have the shot picture appear on the LCD.

Of course, no camera is complete without some accessories. And here are the things I ordered for the FZ1000.

1. A variable ND filter. Something the FZ1000 doesn’t have and which is absolutely necessary. In video shooting, you usually use a very low shutter speed, 1/50″ is normal. According to the f/16 rule, with the minimum ISO of 100, means that you need at least f/22 to shoot video on a sunny day. Unfortunatelly, the FZ1000 lens goes only up to f/16, so the ND filter is a necessity.

2. Having used the FZ1000 for some time, I decided that I needed several batteries for this camera. So I ordered two more (in addition to the one which came with the camera, and the spare one I bought with it).

3. Having watched some filming of one of my sons for an advertisement he participated in, by a professional crew, I noticed a little device that was attached at the rear of the camera (I think it was a RED camera), and which allows you to view the LCD better. Searching the internet, showed me that those things go for at least $120. And then luck helped me. I found a used one, sold by a Canadian on eBay for something like $45. The seller had clearly indicated that the latch holding the hood down was faulty. I knew I could repair that problem, so I ordered it. I had the hood latch repaired in less than two hours (the time it took for the patty I used to repair it to dry) and that was the best thing I’ve ever bought for a camera. This viewfinder is made by Kamerar and it is excellent.

4. I soon decided that I also needed a Circular polarizer filter. I do have one for my Nikkor primes, but not for my Nikkor zooms. Some investigation proved that I needed a 77mm Circular polarizer and some step-up rings (a 62mm to 77mm for the Panasonic and my Nikkor 70-300mm lenses and a 72mm to 77mm for my other Nikkor zooms), if I was to use the filter with all my lenses. These were ordered but still haven’t arrived. To add to the complexity, the ND filter I’ve ordered was a 62mm one, but at the front end, it has a 67mm thread. So I decided to dump it and get a 77mm variable ND filter too. Oh and being the crazy person I am, I also ordered a Coking filter set in 77mm diameter! And a rubber lens shade in 77mm too! These last few items have still not arrived. Oh yes, I dug up a 77mm Nikon lens cap I had in stock, to complete the setup.

5. While the FZ1000 does have a build in flash, and I also own three more flashes I can use with the camera (two Nikon SB-800s and an old, manual, Vivitar flash), none of these is useful when shooting video. So I ordered an 160 LED video light panel, in case I need to add some light in my videos.The panel I selected uses AA batteries, which I prefer, most of these lights require a video camera battery (and the corresponding charger).

6. The first time I sat in my room to try the camera, I noticed a very weird hissing sound. I thought it was my kids viewing some stupid video on their phones, so I yelled them to shut it off. Then the thought occured to me, that the kids were not at home! The bloody FZ1000 was making that noise! After some internet research, I learned that it was …. normal. Yes, all FZ1000s make that noise. The suggestion on the net was to use an external microphone, placed as far away from the camera as possible, to capture audio. So a Rode Videomic was ordered too, together with some brackets which would allow the mic to stay at some distance from the camera body, to avoid recording the noise it produces.

7. Finally, I ordered a cheap monopod, which allows you to hold the camera steady, by anchoring the monopod to your belt.

As you can understand from the above, the dream of having to carry only a small camera instead of a large camera bag is not going to materialize. The FZ1000 bag is indeed much smaller than my Nikon bag, but still I need a bag to carry all those things with me.

So let’s move on to living with the new camera, or shall I say shooting?

The FZ1000 is a very nice camera to have. First of all it features a non-removable 25-400mm f/2.8-4 lens, designed by none other than Leica, which can cover most of a user needs! It is a bridge camera by design, featuring a large 1″ sensor (large, compared to the sensors used by most similar cameras, with such huge lenses). It has a 5-axis stabilization system, which allows you to shoot pictures with low shytter speeds, without worrying about camera shake (the stabilization system is not available when shooting 4K video though). Its lens is fast enough to allow you to use it in dim light situations. So photography-wise, it covers my needs. Video-wise though, is where this camera excells! It allows you to shoot Full High Definition (FHD) video in addition to 4K, with all the right tools to do it. It features zebra stripes (to show you which parts of your image are overexposed), focus peaking, slow motion video shooting (up to 120 fps), plus, it allows you to capture 8 Mpixel still pictures from your 4K video. It also allows you to use an external recorder/monitor, where the camera can output a clean HDMI signal, which is a major issue for professional videographers.

With the accessories I fit on the FZ1000, it became a very easy to use camera. Of course, a few things needed improving. For example, the base pad of the Kamerar viewfinder, when fitted on the camera, didn’t allow you to open the small hatch under which the battery and the memory card exist. That meant that changing the battery or the memory card (more about which later), required you to remove the viewfinder. Not good. I spend some time trimming the base pad enough to allow the hatch to open, so you can change cards and batteries without removing the viewfinder. I also trimmed another part of the viewfinder mounting system, in order to allow more room for my thumb, to press the AF-On button at the rear of the camera.

Coming to memory cards, if you are to shoot 4K video and record it on the camera’s SD card, you need to have very fast SD cards. I had several Sandisk Extreme Pro cards, from my Fuji X-100 camera (sold) rated at 45 MB/sec. Forget these, they can’t be used for 4K. You need at least cards capable to go up to 95 MB/sec in order to record 4K video internally. So be prepared to order some of these.

Is the FZ1000 the perfect camera? No, of course not. There is no such a thing as “the perfect anything”. This is a great camera, but not without its shortcomings. Like everything in life, you have to first specify what you need and then find the product that fits your needs. The FZ1000 is just a camera which cover my particular needs, mine. That doesn’t mean it is the appropriate camera for yours. What are some of the shortcomings I’ve found? Well, here we go:

There are several inconsistencies in the camera adjustments. For example, if you use one of the P, A, S modes to shoot FHD video, all shooting parameters, aperture, shutter, ISO are shown in your viewfinder. If you want to shoot 4K though (when you have to set the top dial to the camera icon), then the parameter set by the camera, is not shown. For example, if you are shooting 4K video using shutter priority, the shutter speed and the exposure compensation are shown, but the aperture selected by the camera is not. Same thing if you are in aperture priority mode, the aperture you have selected is shown in the finder, but the shutter speed set by the camera is not. If you are shooting 4K video in P mode, then neither the shutter speed nor the aperture set by the camera is shown. That’s a major omission on behalf of Panasonic, which I hope will be corrected in a future firmware update. Another thing I do not like about the FZ is that its focusing ability is severely limited in low light situations.

There are several other things like that, which can really make you climb on the nearest wall. But what matters for me, is the quality of the pictures the camera takes and the quality of the video. I am willing to forgive those stupidities, if I get the output I want from the camera.

Until the next post about the FZ1000!
 

(*) My current Nikon inventory includes a D700 with the battery pack, and the following Nikkors: 18-35mm, 24-85mm, 70-300mm, 20mm/2.8, 35mm/2, 50mm/1.4, 85mm/1.8, 105mm/2.5 AI, two SB-800 flashes etc.

Installing Mac OS-X El Capitan 10.11.1 in a 2006 MacPro 1,1

Here is a little write-up on how I installed El Capitan on my 2006 MacPro 1,1.

Before reading any further, please keep in mind that all my attempts to create a bootable USB stick, with the El Capitan installer, failed miserably. So I had to follow a different path to do it, which requires access to a Mac computer, which natively supports El Capitan. In my particular case, I used my early 2009 iMac. If you do not have access to a Mac which can natively support El Capitan, this method is NOT for you.

With this disclaimer out of the way, a quick description of the issue of installing El Capitan on those old Macs.

The 2006 and 2007 MacPros were extremely powerful computers for their time. They were the top of the line, professional machines from Apple and they still are quite capable. Unfortunately, even though most of their hardware is 64-bit, their firmware is only 32 bit. At some point in time Apple decided to no longer provide their OS-X with 32-bit firmware support (I do not exactly remember what was the OS-X version that broke it). As a result, those MacPros couldn’t use the latest releases of OS-X. Thank to some enterprising souls on the Internet, patches were developed, which allowed the use of later OS-X versions on those Macs. And those patches were easy to implement, my 2006 MacPro 1,1 was running Yosemite, before I decided to upgrade it to El Capitan. While some people are quite happy running OS-X 10.6 on their MacPros, I wanted to run the latest and greatest (or so they say) of OS-X, which is El Capitan or 10.11.1.

The following paragraphs describe how I managed to install El Capitan on my MacPro 1,1 and give you some troubleshooting guide on issues you may face after the installation. Please keep in mind that I can not be blamed if something breaks in your computer, by following the instructions below. Always have a backup of your data before doing anything dangerous to your system, and the instructions below are definitely not for those who do not know their way around the Mac OS-X.

OK, let’s start, here is a description of my systems:

1. MacPro 1,1 already running Yosemite (MP for short, from now on).
2. iMac early 2009, also running Yosemite and Server.app

All lines starting with a – are commands you should enter in a terminal window. Do not enter the “- “, only what follows it.

My MP boot disk is an SSD which is twice a day backed up to an external SSD disk, for security reasons. So I got this second SSD disk, let’s call it SSD_Ext, and move it to the iMac. I run App Store on the iMac and downloaded El Capitan installer. However, I didn’t allow it to install on the iMac internal disk. Instead I asked it to install the new software to the SSD_Ext disk, which was now connected to the iMac.

The installer went through it process and ended up by upgrading the SSD_Ext disk to El Capitan. I verified that by allowing the iMac to boot from SSD_Ext. I then changed the System Properties, instructing the iMac to boot from its internal disk (which I remind you has Yosemite installed) and removed the SSD_Ext from it.

I took the SDD_Ext disk to my MP (still running Yosemite). I opened a terminal window and issued the following commands.

– su

The system will ask you for your root password, enter it.

– cd /Volumes/SSD_Ext/System/Library/CoreServices

This will take you to the first place where the boot.efi needs to be replaced.

– chflags nouchg boot.efi

The above command will remove the protection from boot.efi

At this moment, I visited the following URL and downloaded the patched boot.efi needed to have the MacPro run El Capitan:

http://piker-alpha.github.io/macosxbootloader/

Scroll down until you find the “Download” paragraph and download either of the two boot.efi’s mentioned there. One is for a black background with a white apple and the other is for a white background with a black apple. Pick your choice, both work. I saved the boot.efi on my Desktop folder. I then went back to terminal and issued the following commands:

– cp /Users/john/Desktop/boot.efi .

That will copy the new boot.efi to CoreServices, overwriting the standard one. I then issued:

– chflags uchg boot.efi

This will protect boot.efi again.

While in the CoreServices directory, I then used Property List Editor to edit the file called PlatformSupport.plist . Since not all of the readers have this program, you can also edit the file with your favorite editor. I use vi, so here are the instructions on how to do it. Enter the following command:

– vi PlatformSupport.plist

Move your cursor down, until it is on the line saying “<array>”. Then press the letter “o”. A new empty line will open below the line your cursor was on. In the new line, enter the following:

<string>Mac-F4208DC8</string>

Press Esc (the Esc button) and then enter:

:wq

This will save the file and take you back to the prompt. Now enter:

– cd ../../../usr/standalone/i386

This will take you to the second location, where you need to copy the boot.efi file. Just enter the following command:

– cp /Users/john/Desktop/boot.efi .

You are all done now. All that remains is to reboot your system from the SSD_Ext disk, to have El Capitan running. To do that, go to your System Preferences, Startup Disk and select the SSD_Ext as your boot disk. You may need to enter your administrator password two or three times, but that’s OK. Then click on the small apple sign, on the top left corner of your screen and your computer will restart.

There is an alternative way to select what disk to boot from. You simply restart your computer and when the boot sound is heard, press and hold the Option key on your keyboard, until a gray screen appears with all your bootable drives. Select the SSD_Ext (or whatever your external disk is called) using your mouse or your arrow keys and press Enter. The system will boot from that disk, in El Capitan.

Some remarks regarding El Capitan on your MacPro 1,1.

1. It is possible that some of your Internet Accounts are not copied correctly. So please check them out in your System Preferences. In my case, a CardDav account didn’t survive the upgrade, but that was easily fixable.

2. Most probably, you will not be able to boot from your Recovery Partition, which the installer has created on your SSD_Ext drive. The reason is that the boot.efi file installed in it, is the standard one, not the patched one. You can change that (and gain access to the Recovery Partition) by following these instructions.

Boot from your internal disk again, not from SSD_Ext. Open a terminal window and enter:

– diskutil list

This will show you all the partitions on all your disks. Find a partition called “Apple_Boot Recovery HD” which is on the SSD_Ext disk. Notice the last word in that line, something like “disk1s3”. Now issue the following command:

– diskutil mount /dev/disk1s3

The program will tell you that the disk is mounted. Enter this command to verify that:

– ls -l /Volumes

You should see a “Recovery HD” disk there. Issue the following commands:

– cd /Volumes/Recovery\ HD

This will take you into the Recovery HD disk. Issue:

– cd com.apple.recovery.boot
– ls -l

In the directory, you will see a boot.efi file. You need to replace it with the patched one, so issue the following commands:

– chflags nouchg boot.efi
– cp /Users/john/Desktop/boot.efi .
– chflags uchg boot.efi

These will unprotect the boot.efi from the directory you are in, replace it with the patched one and protect the file again (just like we did above).

Then edit the PlatformSupport.plist file found in that same directory, following the instructions above.

You can now restart your computer and try booting from the Recovery HD.

3. El Capitan comes with a strange protection scheme called SIP, which is supposed to prevent overwrite of critical system files. That protection however, may prevent you from running certain programs, which may be crucial for you. In my case, the program XtraFinder which I use, couldn’t run due to that protection. To make it work, you need to disable the protection scheme. To do that, you have to boot from your Recovery HD partition, and from the menu on the top, select Utilities and then Terminal. When you are in the terminal window, enter the following command:

– csrutil disable

For the XtraFinder, it is not necessary to disable SIP completely, so you can enter the following command, instead:

– csrutil enable –without debug

4. An interesting side-effect of El Capitan, for those using two monitors connected to your MP, is the fact that now, the log in screen appears on your primary display, instead of the secondary one. For me, that’s a good thing.

5. Something strange I discovered yesterday night, is that the upgrade to El Capitan erased my trusty Airport Utility 5.6.1, which was inside a directory in /Applications/Utilities. So it seems that Apple doesn’t like us using the old but powerful 5.6.1 version. Thank God, it is easily available on the net, together with the Loader required for it to run on recent Mac OS-X versions.

6. I’ve been using the MP with El Capitan for three or four days now, and I haven’t noticed any significant issues. My Chronosynch scheduler has been disabled, after the El Capitan installation, but that was easily fixed. Also, a strange error message appears, from time to time, which is due to SuperDuper!, again nothing serious, google that issues, easily fixable.

I hope you’ll find these guidelines interesting and useful.

Addendum for problems with my second MacPro (December 25th, 2016)

A few days ago, I got my hands on a second MacPro 1,1. Same computer as the MacPro I’ve been using with El Capitan for some months now. The new computer came with OS-X 10.7.5 installed. The initial plan was to just make a copy of the boot disk from my old MacPro (let’s call it MacPro1 from now on) and install it in the new MacPro (let’s call it MacPro2 from now on) and have two similar MacPros.

Unfortunatelly, this didn’t work out as planned. The disk booted MacPro2 fine, but after a while, the computer hanged up. I tried to figure out what the problem was, but no luck. So I tried the next best thing. I had a copy of El Capitan install file saved, so I used that to create a bootable disk. The version of that install file was 10.11.4. Tried that, but that didn’t work either. So I downloaded El Capitan from the App Store again, and created a boot disk. That download was also 10.11.4, so I updated it to 10.11.6. But I asked the program to import all my settings from my MacBook. Well, that disk didn’t work either, so right now, I am in the process of redownloading and reinstalling 10.11.4 again. I’ll update it to 10.11.6 but won’t import the user settings from any computer. I’ll set it up from scratch. Wish me luck! I’ve had better ways to spend Christmas and next day, than playing with a crazy El Capitan!

Addendum of the addendum

Well, am I stupid or not? The MacPro2 came with only 4GB of RAM. Upgrading that to 8GB solved all my problems!

Need new direction for this blog

I guess it’s been long enough that I haven’t posted in here.

I need to get a new direction for this blog, the Fuji X100 has been sold, I got tired of here issues. I also sold my film cameras, a Nikon F2 (sorry to let her go) and a Nikon F5 (never used it much). Film is so nice, but also a big pain in the posterior, I have to send my films to a special lab in Athens to be developed, then I must spend hours scanning the slides in my computer etc. Too much for me right now. I still have my Nikons (D700 and D300) and all my lenses, but I need to get rid of at least one of them, I want to replace it with a camera which will allow me to capture 4K video as well as pictures, but that will be the subject of another post. Right now, I have to figure out what I want this blog to be.

Ideas are certainly appreciated.

Issues with Cydia apps and Apple App Store apps

It’s well known, that when you decide to have that iPhone of yours jaibroken, you are entering some muddy waters. With the latest evasi0n jailbreak of iOS 7.0.4 and lately 7.0.6, I have encountered more problems than I care to remember. However, after the dust has settled, I have eventually an iPhone which works again, as I wanted it to work.

One thing I’ve noticed, is that some Cydia apps, can create havoc with some Apple App Store apps. Before going into details, here is my testing environment.

  1. iPhone 4S running iOS 7.0.6, jailbroken with the latest evasi0n 1.0.6 on a Mac.
  2. iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.6, jailbroken with evasi0n 1.0.6 on a Mac again.

The problems I encountered refer to two App Store apps, namely Skype and AP News. The hack that seemed to influence both, is Eclipse, a hack that allows you to reverse the colors of your apps, so that you are using a dark environment instead of the familiar iOS white one.

I first noticed the problem on the iPhone 4S, on which the AP News program stopped working all of a sudden. The program will start and crash after showing the “Contacting the news server” message. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t make it work. I’ve even contacted Associated Press to ask for their assistance. Finally, I gave up on this, since I have other programs to learn the news around the planet.

Then I had a similar issue with Skype on iPhone 5. The program would start and show me the list of my contacts, but as soon as I pressed something (either a name to call someone, or one of the icons at the bottom of the page) the program would crash. I accidentally discovered that Skype would run fine though, if I disabled the Eclipse hack I was using until that moment. That prompted me to add Skype to Eclipse whitelist (a list of apps whose colors shouldn’t be touched by Eclipse). Boom, Skype worked fine with no problems!

I then tried the same trick on the iPhone 4S, I added AP News to Eclipse whitelist and again, AP News started working as it should.What is strange though, is that AP News worked fine in iPhone 5, with Eclipse installed, and Skype was running fine on iPhone 4S with Eclipse installed. So I guess, there is another factor involved, the platform used can affect different programs differently.

So, if you are using Eclipse hack and you find that one of your apps refuses to start, add it to Eclipse whitelist and see what happens.

Why jailbreak developpers lost a friend

It’s well known that I am an avid Apple user. My first Apple device was an iPhone 2, followed by a MacBook, an iMac and several other iPhones until my current iPhone 4S (OK, you can  count my son’s iPhone 5 too). All my iPhones have been jailbroken and several non-Apple programs added from Cydia. My last jailbreak was on iOS 6.1.2, on which I stayed for more than a year, waiting anxiously for the iOS 7 jailbreak to appear.

As the whole iPhone community knows, the jailbreak for iOS 7 appeared a week or so ago. So today, I decided to jailbreak my 4S. What a stupid decision!

It appears that in order to rush the jailbreak to the community, before another hacker comes up with one, the evasion developers shoot themselves to the foot. They came up with a jailbreak, but didn’t comminicate it to the other software developers. As a result, most of Cydia programs do not work with the new jailbreak! So what good is it? I really wonder what good is the jailbreak, if the programs do not work with it!

After spending some hours trying to make my phone behave like it did with iOS 6.1.2, I gave up in disgust and I decided that I’ll no longer jailbreak my phones. It’s pointless.

You rely on some unknown coders, to come up with a jailbreak, which doesn’t even guarantee you that the programs you have purchased from Cydia, and on which you have relied for years, will work. How stupid is this? How stupid is to con the entire iPhone community with your product, if it doesn’t offer the functionality the phone owners need and want? From what we hear, it appears that the developers of the latest jailbreak, were hoping to get one million US$ for it, by some Chinese company, which has been proven to maintain a web site with pirated software. Maybe that’s the reason? I do not know, but I know one thing:

You lost an avid Cydia user you idiots! And I am sure that there are more like me, who do not enjoy being conned by you. Sorry Saurik, I know it’s not your fault, but I can no longer afford to spend hours to fix my phone to the condition it was before the upgrade. No more Cydia for me. So long suckers!

Some thoughts on Nikon latest cameras (revisited?)

I have been monitoring the new Nikon cameras that entered the market this (and the past) year, mainly the D800 and D600. As I have mentioned in other posts here, I currently own two Nikon digital bodies (the D700 and the D300), which were selected very carefully to match my needs.

I have to say, right up front, that I am perfectly satisfied with my existing cameras, so my discussion here, is mostly academic, I do not plan to buy a new camera, but being a Nikon aficionado for years, I do like to keep myself informed about their new offerings. After all, you never know when you’ll win the jackpot (sure thing!!). And what I read makes me both happy and frustrated.

Why I am happy:

It appears that Nikon has a winner with their D800 and D800e cameras. The initial problems with the left-side focusing sensors seems to be resolved and the strange hue on the images shown on the rear LCD appears again to be a resolved issue. So for those looking for a very high resolution, full-frame dSLR, the D800 is the natural choice.

Why I am unhappy?

Well, the reason I am unhappy, is the other full-frame dSLR that Nikon announced lately, the D600. It’s not that this camera is a bad camera, per se. What bothers me, is the way Nikon handles its D600 customers. Ever since the first D600 reached the hands of photographers, a problem was discovered. The camera sensor got quickly covered with “dust spots” at the top left corner, which do not get removed by the sensor cleaning mechanism the camera has. The owner has to either clean the sensor himself or take it to a Nikon service center to have it cleaned. Now, this is a wide-spread issue, but Nikon has failed to (a) recognize it and (b) offer a decent resolution to D600 owners. What usually happens is that Nikon will not charge you for the first time you take the camera to them for a clean-up, but they want to charge you, if the problem persists and appears again. That is totally unacceptable.

Nikon, you know you have an issue with that model. Fix it and stop asking customers to pay for your mistakes. We pay you enough money for those cameras, to expect them to be trouble-free for at least their warranty period. The “dust spots” are not due to us using the cameras in a sand storm, they are generated by the camera itself, so stop treating them as our mistake, it is NOT, it is your mistake and you should fix it without charging the camera owners.

Hear that Nikon?