macos

Git 2.20.1 is super slow on macOS Mojave on my work Mac

Update: I just upgraded my personal mac to 2.20.1, and am experiencing none of the slowdown I had on my work Mac. So something else is afoot. Maybe some of the 'spyware-ish' software that's installed on the work mark is making calls like lstat() super slow? Looks like I might be profiling some things on that machine anyways :)

I regularly use Homebrew to switch to more recent versions of CLI utilities and other packages I use in my day-to-day software and infrastructure development. In the past, it was necessary to use Homebrew to get a much newer version of Git than was available at the time on macOS. But as Apple's evolved macOS, they've done a pretty good job of keeping the system versions relatively up-to-date, and unless you need bleeding edge features, the version of Git that's installed on macOS Mojave (2.17.x) is probably adequate for now.

But back to Homebrew—recently I ran brew upgrade to upgrade a bunch of packages, and it happened to upgrade Git to 2.20.1.

External display waking up? Disable notifications when your screen is off

Since a week or so ago, I noticed that even when my Mac's display was put to sleep, my external display would sometimes turn on and remain on for long periods of time if I had a calendar reminder or some other type of non-dismissible notification. It would even come on (and turn off shortly thereafter) for quick notifications.

This was highly annoying, especially when I'd come to my computer in the morning and realize the external monitor had been on displaying a notification all night!

Apparently macOS 10.12.2 includes a new feature called Enhanced notifications, and they can wake up internal or external displays to show notifications. Annoyingly, this new feature is enabled by default. To disable it, you need to go into the Notifications System Preference, and inside the 'Do Not Disturb' section, and check the "When the display is sleeping" option under "Do Not Disturb":

MetaZ - Alternative to MetaX and iDentify 2 for tagging video content in iTunes

For many years, I've ripped all my DVDs, Blu-Rays, and HD-DVDs into my computer, and it's great to be able to watch any of my digital content on any of my devices whenever and wherever I want, without having to have a huge stack of discs laying somewhere accessible (I store them all in a box in my basement).

For almost as long, I've used iDentify for this purpose, but it looks like the developer behind the app gave up on the iTunes/macOS ecosystem entirely in the past year or so, and the app stopped working on macOS Sierra 10.12.

I looked around for alternatives, and found mentions of iFlicks (didn't seem as fully featured), Vidalin (no longer developed), MetaX (no longer developed?), and Subler. I tried a couple of these and didn't find them as pleasant as iDentify, but then I also found MetaZ, tagged as "Two letters better than MetaX".

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:

I made the switch from Aperture to Photos

Aperture to Photos macOS Sierra upgrade and migrate library using iCloud

tl;dr: ~600 GB photo library, took ~3 weeks to migrate, some things are awesome (access to all my photos everywhere, on any device), some things less so (faces don't get synced, no loupe, no five-star rating system, no pro-level editing/batch workflows). All-in-all, I wish Apple didn't ditch Aperture... but it's not the end of the world moving to Photos.

There are many, many photographers who were disappointed Apple decided to discontinue Aperture development. Aperture was by far my favorite tool for both organizing and manipulating RAW photos taken with my DSLRs. It was fast, it had tons of great organizational features, and was highly adaptable.

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:

Remapping the Caps Lock key to Escape in macOS Sierra

Update: As of macOS Sierra 10.12.1, the Caps Lock -> Escape remapping can be done natively in the Keyboard System Preferences pane! To remap without any 3rd party software, do the following:

  1. Open System Preferences and click on 'Keyboard'
  2. Click on 'Modifier Keys...'
  3. For 'Caps Lock (⇪) Key', choose '⎋ Escape'
  4. Click 'OK'

(See screenshot for reference).

For the past three years, I've used the Mac Development Ansible Playbook to automatically configure all my Macs, so they have the same applications, utilities, and preferences at all times. One of the most important tweaks I use is the combination of Karabiner and Seil to remap a few keys and to increase the key repeat rate.

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