mac

Figuring out why an external USB hard drive won't spin down on my Mac

I am using a 2011 Mac mini as a backup server for all the data I store on iCloud, and for the first few days while I was setting up the Mac, I noticed the 4 TB and 2 TB external USB drives I had plugged in would spin down after a few minutes, and I would have blissful silence as long as there wasn't an active operation on that Mac (which should be fairly rare; just hourly Time Machine backups and periodic SSD activity since the iCloud libraries are all on SSD).

However, after a few weeks, I noticed that at least one of the two hard drives runs continously, 24x7. Something on the Mac mini must keep hitting the drive and preventing it from spinning down.

To see what was happening, I used sudo fs_usage | grep VOLUME (in my case, VOLUME is 4\ TB\ Utility) to monitor what processes were accessing the drive, and what files they were accessing. After a few minutes watching (and doing nothing else on the computer, to make sure I wasn't causing any extra filesystem seeks), there were a couple regular culprits:

Fix macOS Screen Sharing frequent pauses or freezes

Ever since upgrading my Macs to macOS Sierra, there have been one or two times when using Screen Sharing (as part of Back to My Mac) when the session would freeze up, or intermittently pause. It seemed that every 5 or 10 seconds, there would be 10 seconds where the shared screen would stay frozen.

I could enter keystrokes, but things like pasting or clicking was hit-or-miss. This made it extremely annoying to work on one of my headless Macs (without a monitor plugged in), because I could only do work in brief spurts!

I opened up the Console app (in Applications > Utilities) to see what was happening, and quickly found that the following three errors were logged any time the screen would freeze:

Converting a batch of Dashcam videos into a timelapse

I recently took a family vacation from St. Louis, MO to Branson, MO, and as it was the first time driving with my new Mobius Action Cam Mini dashcam installed on our Toyota Sienna (see a full writeup and review here), I wanted to see if I could quickly whip up a time lapse video of the entire drive.

Driving in St. Louis - dashcam loop gif
A tiny snippet of the final time-lapse video of my STL to Branson drive.

How I record my own conference presentations

At this year's php[tek] conference, I decided to record my own sessions (one on a cluster of Raspberry Pis, and another on tips for successfully working from home). Over the years, I've tried a bunch of different methods of recording my own presentations, and I've settled on a pretty good method to get very clear audio and visuals, so I figured I'd document my method here in case you want to do the same.

SSH into a Raspberry Pi with only a network cable using OS X's 'Internet Sharing'

Recently, I found myself in a situation where I had to connect to a Raspberry Pi to set it up for a presentation, but I did not have:

  • A keyboard and/or other input device to use to type anything into the Pi
  • An HDMI cable to connect the Pi to a display so I could view anything on the Pi
  • A microSD card reader so I could modify the contents of the Pi's microSD card

Because of this, none of the standard methods of setting a static IP address, reconfiguring the Pi's WiFi configuration, or logging in on the Pi itself to find it's IP address or set things up so I could connect over a local network would work.

I remembered that Mac OS X handily includes an 'Internet Sharing' feature, which sets up a bridged network interface so your Mac is effectively a router and DHCP server to any devices connected to the shared interface.

Mounting a Raspberry Pi's ext4 SD card on Ubuntu 14.04 inside VirtualBox on Mac OS X

Since I'm running a Mac, and don't have a spare linux-running machine that can mount ext4-formatted partitions (like those used by default for official Raspberry Pi distributions like Raspbian on SD cards), I don't have a simple way to mount the boot partition on my Mac to tweak files on the Pi; this is a necessity if, for example, you break some critical configuration and the Pi no longer boots cleanly.

To mount an ext4-formatted SD or microSD card on a Mac, the easiest option is to use VirtualBox (and, in my case, Vagrant with one of Midwestern Mac's Ubuntu boxes). Boot a new linux VM (any kind will do, as long as it's modern enough to support ext4), shut it down, go into Settings for the VM inside VirtualBox and enable USB, then reboot.

Follow these steps once the VM is booted, to mount the flash drive:

Sync a Shared Google Calendar with macOS, OS X, or iOS (iPhone, iPad)

Someone shared a Google Calendar with me recently, and it showed up at calendar.google.com just fine. However, I could not see the shared events on my Mac (using Calendar) or on my iPhone or iPad (using the Calendar app).

To fix this, I had to visit https://www.google.com/calendar/syncselect directly, and check the shared calendar, then save the settings.

I'm posting this here because after spending an hour or so digging around all the Google Calendar settings online and settings on my Mac and iPhone, I finally found that link in some random forum post (nowhere to be found in Google's help docs!), and I don't want to forget how to manage shared calendar sync! Even using the iCal feed for the shared calendar didn't work.

Remove Tower's .git folder association in Mac OS X's Finder

I use Tower from time to time to do some git operations that require a little more attention or a better visual overview than what I can get via the CLI and built-in tools. However, I noticed that Tower likes to take over any folder with .git, and make Mac OS X's finder turn it into a 'Tower' package, so double-clicking the folder (which now behaves like a mini app or file) opens Tower.

I don't like that behavior, because I have some [example].git folders that I want to browse in the Finder or in other Mac apps without having to 'Show Package Contents'. Apparently GitX has the same issue, and I'm not the only one annoyed by this behavior.

The fix, for me, was simple:

Ansible Playbooks for Drupal 8 Testing and Mac Dev

Lately, I've been working a lot with Ansible, a simple but powerful infrastructure management platform. I now use Ansible playbooks and ad-hoc commands to manage all of Midwestern Mac's infrastructure (this site, Hosted Apache Solr, Server Check.in, and many ancillary servers), and as a result, I've started using Ansible for pretty much any kind of work I need to do in development—including configuring my own Mac, and developing with Drupal 8.

Meet Ansible

Ansible Logo - Black transparent

For those who haven't heard of Ansible before, it's often described as being a little like Puppet or Chef, used for configuration management. You define the configuration of a server, and Ansible makes sure the server is configured as defined. But Ansible goes quite a bit further—it's also great for deploying applications (especially in tandem with tools like Jenkins), running commands on servers, and day-to-day management of a few, hundreds, or even thousands, of servers—it's an end-to-end configuration management tool. Ansible also has a great, and rapidly-growing community, building it up and making it markedly better every release.

Ansible uses YAML to define configuration (just like Drupal 8!), and is relatively easy to pick up, especially if you already have some experience on the command line. You can read more about it in a book I'm writing, Ansible for DevOps, and hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more about Ansible in person at DrupalCon Austin—I've submitted a session titled DevOps for Humans: Ansible for Drupal Deployment Victory! (please leave a comment and let me know what you want to hear!).

Drupal development VM (Vagrant + Ansible)

I used to use MAMP (a simple-to-install Apache + MySQL + PHP setup for Macs) for all my development, which made adding virtual hosts to Apache relatively simple. However, there are many downsides to developing with MAMP—I could never configure things like drush, APC, the version of PHP, MySQL, or auxiliary tools like XDebug and Solr, exactly how I wanted or needed them.

Connect to IRC via Adium when connected through an LTE hotspot

When I'm on the go, I like to use my iPhone 5s as a hotspot, as I get 10-20 Mbps up and down (much better than any public WiFi I've used), and it's a more secure connection than a public, unsecured hotspot.

However, when I open Adium, I'm greeted with:

Notice -- You need to identify via SASL to use this server

To fix this, I forward port 6667 on my Mac to one of my remote servers using SSH, then tell Adium to use that server's connection with my Mac as a SOCKS5 proxy. If you need to do this, you can do the following:

  1. We need to forward port 6667 from your local Mac to a remote server ('example.com') to which you have SSH access. In Terminal, enter: ssh -D 6667 username@example.com
  2. In Adium, go to the IRC connection settings, and under Proxy, check the 'Connect using proxy' checkbox, choose 'SOCKS5' for Type, enter 'localhost' for Server, and '6667' for Port (see screenshot below).

Adium SOCKS5 proxy settings for IRC tunnel on port 6667

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - mac