mac

If you're having trouble formatting a new SSD in a Mac, it could be the cable

tl;dr: If you see weird errors when using or formatting a drive internally on a Mac (especially after upgrading to a newer and/or faster SATA hard drive), it could mean the SATA cable needs to be replaced.

Mac mini mid-2011 lower SATA hard drive cable with connector
Who would've thought such a tiny cable could cause so many problems?

I have an older Mac mini (mid-2011 i5 model), and I use it as a general media server and network backup. It handles Time Machine backups for two other Macs, it has about 20 TB of external storage connected, and I also use it as a 'home base' to store all my Dropbox, iCloud, and Photos content locally, and store an extra Time Machine backup of all that. I'm a little nutty about backups... but I haven't lost a file in two decades and I don't want to start now ;-).

Trying out CRC (Code Ready Containers) to run OpenShift 4.x locally

I've been working a bit with Red Hat lately, and one of the products that has intrigued me is their OpenShift Kubernetes platform; it's kind of like Kubernetes, but made to be more palatable and UI-driven... at least that's my initial take after taking it for a spin both using Minishift (which works with OpenShift 3.x), and CRC (which works with OpenShift 4.x).

Because it took me a bit of time to figure out a few details in testing things with OpenShift 4.1 and CRC, I thought I'd write up a blog post detailing my learning process. It might help someone else who wants to get things going locally!

CRC System Requirements

First things first, you need a decent workstation to run OpenShift 4. The minimum requirements are 4 vCPUs, 8 GB RAM, and 35 GB disk space. And even with that, I constantly saw HyperKit (the VM backend CRC uses) consuming 100-200% CPU and 12+ GB of RAM (sheesh!).

AirPods get stuck in low-quality 16 kHz audio mode when starting a VM

I always love when I find a really dumb solution that works reliably to fix a problem that should never really be a problem in the first place. But having worked with audio devices before—though nothing nearly as complex as the AirPods—I am willing to cut Apple some slack in building a seamless aural experience with using AirPods across phone calls, VOIP, iOS devices, Macs, music, and Apple TVs... it's hard to execute perfectly, and as I said in my review of the AirPods two years ago, these little earbuds are as close to perfection when it comes to a wireless sound solution for someone like me.

Anyways, here's the problem:

Sometimes (maybe 10% of the time) when I run vagrant up to build a local development environment for one of my software projects, and I'm listening to music, my AirPods suddenly switch into super-low-quality audio mode. It sounds like you're listening to a song played through a long subway tunnel or something.

Review: AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard Blue Switch with RGB Backlighting

This is a review of the AUKEY 'Blue Switch' mechanical keyboard, available for a little over $50 on Amazon.

AUKEY closeup of RGB blue keycap mechanical gaming keyboard

For years, I've used the various versions of Apple's USB and Bluetooth keyboards, mostly because they lasted forever (I still have a couple spares that have most of the home row letters worn off), and they're pretty comfortable for my typing style. Also, they're pretty quiet. And the switches are robust. And the body is sturdy aluminum so there's no flexing while typing (a lot of plasticky keyboards have that problem).

Fixing Safari's 'can't establish a secure connection' when updating a self-signed certificate

I do a lot of local development, and since almost everything web-related is supposed to use SSL these days, and since I like to make local match production as closely as possible, I generate a lot of self-signed certificates using OpenSSL (usually using Ansible's openssl_* modules).

This presents a problem, though, since I use Safari. Every time I rebuild an environment using my automation, and generate a new certificate for a domain that's protected with HSTS, I end up getting this fun error page:

Safari Can't Open the Page - Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server servername.

Safari Can't Open the Page – Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server 'servername'.

Fixing a 2011 MacBook Pro booting to a Grey Screen - AMD Radeon Video Glitch

I've been a Mac user for years, and I've repaired hundreds of different Macs, from the early II series to the latest 2015 and 2016 model MacBook Pros, iMacs (and other Apple hardware to boot!), and there is almost never a hardware situation where I've thrown in the towel and told someone to ditch their Mac.

The 2011 MacBook Pro has, for almost a decade, been the exception to that rule. There was a major flaw in the AMD Radeon GPUs included with that model year's logic board which seemed to cause GPU failure either due to overheating, internal chip problems, BGA solder joints getting broken, or a combination of the above. The problem was so rampant, Apple was forced to set up a free repair program for affected MacBook Pros—though the 2011 model has since been dropped from that program. I've handled three 2011 MacBook Pros (none of them my own—I had an Air back then), and all three of them were scrapped because of the GPU issue.

Mount a Raspberry Pi SD card on a Mac (read-only) with osxfuse and ext4fuse

So you're telling me I can read files from a Raspberry Pi microSD card?

For my Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse App, I find myself having to either copy hundreds (or thousands!) of 3+ MB image files, or a 1-2 GB video file from a Raspberry Pi Zero W to my Mac.

Copying over the WiFi network works, but it's extremely slow (usually topping out around 5 Mbps... which means it could take a couple hours to copy). So I decided to finally try to mount the Raspberry Pi's drive directly on my MacBook Pro (running macOS Sierra 10.12). This is normally a bit tricky, because the Raspberry Pi uses the Linux ext4 filesystem—which is not compatible with either macOS or Windows!

AirPort Extreme showing 'Device Not Found'? Here's a fix

If you've had an AirPort Extreme for a while, and recently (within the past year or two) had it go missing from your network (when you open AirPort Utility you get 'Device Not Found'), there's a good chance you ran into the same issue I did. Basically, everything was running great, then one day around August 2016, my Extreme disappeared from the network—even though it was routing Internet traffic for all the devices in my house just as good as ever!

The fix?

  1. Open AirPort utility (it will likely show "Device Not Found").
  2. Unplug your AirPort Extreme, and wait 10 seconds.
  3. Plug it back in, and connect to the WiFi network as soon as possible, then immediately go to the AirPort Utility.
  4. The AirPort should appear and be manageable (by clicking on it) for a brief period—quickly click on it, click Edit, then clear out any Apple IDs in the 'Back to My Mac' section.

AirPort Extreme Back to My Mac Apple ID listing

How to make Safari accept Google search strings in the Location bar quickly

A few months ago, I switched to Safari after having used Google Chrome exclusively for the past four years (before that it was a mix of Safari and FireFox). Safari is lean and fast, but the one thing that really bothered me was the fact that I would often try searching for something by entering keywords in the location/address bar, then hit enter, and nothing would happen.

I quickly realized that if I did this and nothing happened, I could jump back into the location bar (⌘-L), press the left arrow key to get my cursor in the beginning of the string, then hit space and enter to perform the search.

Until today, I've begrudgingly used that workaround. But then I was checking Safari's preferences to see if I might be missing something obvious, when I decided to uncheck some options and see if it made a difference. And it did!

Safari Search Preferences

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