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by Tom Nelson

There are many features of the Mac that are often overlooked by new users, or simply forgotten about by those who have been using Macs for a while. In some cases, the feature is used once when setting up a Mac, and then vanishes from memory; other times, the feature is never stumbled upon. No matter the reason, this collection of six “forgettable” Mac tips deserves to be remembered.

Customize Icons
Icons, those little images that represent apps, documents, folders, drives, and a few other items, are used extensively throughout the Mac’s interface. They’re most prominent in the Dock, in the Finder, and on the Desktop.

Personalizing your Mac by using custom icons can add a bit of flair as well as allow you to better organize your Mac’s file system. Apple already provides custom folder icons for the Applications folder, Documents folder, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures, and a few others, but most of the folders on your Mac will use generic folder icons. The same is true for storage devices mounted on your desktop, and files on your Mac.

You can replace a file, folder, or drive icon with one of your own making, or one acquired from the many websites that specialize in Mac and Window icons, many of which are free.

The thumbnail icon displayed in the Get Info window can be used to copy a favorite icon, or to replace it with a new one. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

One of the simplest ways to change an icon is to copy/paste an icon using this tip:

Right-click or control-click on the icon you wish to copy, and then select Get Info from the popup menu that appears.

In the Get Info window that opens (the window will be in the upper left corner of your display and may be hidden by other windows), you’ll see a thumbnail icon in the top left corner.

Click or tap once to select the thumbnail, then select Copy from the File menu or hit the command + C keys on your keyboard.

The icon will be copied to the Mac’s built-in clipboard.

Find the file, folder, or drive icon you wish change.

Right-click or control-click on the icon.

In the Get Info window that opens, click or tap the thumbnail icon to select it, then use Paste from the File menu, or command + V on the keyboard, to paste the icon from the clipboard onto the selected item.

That’s the easy way to copy/paste icons from one source to a new destination. But what if you want to create a custom icon from scratch?

We’ve got you covered with Create Your Own Custom Icons.

Other World Computing also has a webpage full of drive icons you’re welcome to use. You’ll find them at: Custom Drive Icons.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

When asked what browser they use on their Mac, most people will respond with Google Chrome or Apple Safari. Some will mention Firefox and Opera as alternatives to the big two.

It seems each browser has its advocates, with browser features, speed, and user interface being the most often named reasons for a preference. It would be difficult to try to measure the benefits of a browser’s features, or its user interface, but we can test a browser’s speed, and who doesn’t enjoy a good race?

So, let’s line up the competitors and see who gets to the finish line the fastest.

The Browsers
The four most popular Mac browsers are included in our benchmark testing, along with Safari Technology Preview (STP), a browser in beta form designed to showcase new technology that will likely make its way into Safari at some future date. We’re including it just to provide a sneak peek at what will be coming down the line.

Chrome: Google Chrome has become the most used desktop browser, with an estimated 68% share of the desktop market (2018). It was first released in 2008, and made use of the WebKit rendering engine, the same one used by Safari. In 2013, the Chromium project was announced; it included the new Blink rendering engine. Blink was a fork of the WebKit code, and since the two have parted ways, each rendering engine has seen a frantic pace in its development.

Firefox: Could be considered one of the oldest browsers available. Firefox can trace its heritage back to Netscape Navigator, one of the first widely available web browsers. Firefox may have a long history, but it is, in all respects, a modern browser. It includes the newest version of the Quantum rendering engine, designed to bring new technologies to Firefox by building on the foundation of the older, but very stable, Gecko engine.

Opera: Another browser that can follow its heritage back into the dim beginnings of the world wide web. Although Opera has been around for a very long time, its technology is quite new; it’s based on the same Blink rendering engine used in Chrome.

Safari: Apple’s Safari web browser has been the default browser app since 2003 and the release of OS X Panther. Safari makes use of WebKit as its rendering engine.

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by Tom Nelson

Safari Technology Preview, often referred to as STP, is a web browser for the Mac. STP was designed as a testbed to evaluate new browser technology that Apple is considering using in future releases of Safari. Think of it as a public beta for the next generation of the Safari browser, but with a few important differences over conventional beta software.

First off, STP is amazingly stable, which is a pretty amazing thing to say for an app that is, at its heart, a framework for Apple to plug in modules to test out various concepts. At any time, STP may be running an updated version of WebKit, the rendering engine that powers Safari. It could also have a new or updated JavaScript engine, updated CSS technology, new features, developer tools, and security measures. With all these new or updated components, you would think STP would be prone to errors and crashes, but in actual use, Safari Technology Preview remains very stable, a testament to the developers and the testing process being used with this beta browser.

Second, frequent updates ensure that bugs, once found, are quickly fixed. Likewise, new technologies that are being developed are likely going to be first publicly seen in STP, at least for Mac users, and updated frequently with each STP release.

What Are STP’s Features?
A better question would be, what are the recent features since STP is updated so frequently. In the two most recent updates (STP 71 and STP 72), Safari Technology Preview has seen new additions to its list of experimental features:

Web animation can be used to bring life to a web page, or simply to animate a galaxy of swirling points of lights. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

  • Web animation: STP gained support for Web animation, part of the W3C standard. In addition, STP can translate older CSS animation to the newer and faster web animation standard.
  • Web authentication using USB security devices: This set of programming APIs allows USB-based security devices to be used for authenticating login credentials. Apple is testing the Client-to-Authenticator protocol part of the FIDO2 standard that would allow a hardware key, in this case in the form of a USB stick, to be used in place of passwords as a login credential for web services.
  • Dark Mode support: Safari gained support for Dark Mode in Mojave.
  • WebGPU: A future standard, still being worked on, that allows a computer’s GPU to be used to accelerate rendering of both 2D and 3D graphics images within the browser.
  • WebMetal: Similar to WebGPU but specific to the Metal-enabled GPUs used in some Macs (mostly 2012 and later models).
  • WebRTC: Web Real-Time Communication is an open-source standard that allows audio and video communications to work within a web page using direct peer-to-peer communications.

Safari Technology Preview contains many additional features and capabilities, way too many to list here. You can discover more by stopping by the Safari Technology Preview developer’s page (developer membership is not required).

General features of STP include:

  • It allows you to try out the latest web technology.
  • If you’re a web developer, STP contains a wide collection of developer tools.
  • Independent of the standard version of Safari, you can run STB and Safari side-by-side, with no interaction between them.
  • STP Bug Reporter not only allows you to report bugs you encounter, but you can also make enhancement and feature requests.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

The release of macOS Mojave on Sept. 24, 2018, marked the 15th major release of the OS X/macOS operating system. Mojave is the first version of macOS that doesn’t have its moniker based in the mountains of California; instead, it’s one of the hot deserts of California that lends its name to the OS.

It’s been roughly three months since the release of Mojave, and in that time, Apple has delivered two minor updates and is working on the beta of the third update.

September 24, 2018: Public release of macOS 10.14.0
Apple originally announced macOS Mojave at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) on June 4, which was quickly followed by the original developers release. The public beta of Mojave was made available in July, followed by the public release of macOS 10.14.0 on Sept. 24, 2018.

Unlike macOS High Sierra and Sierra, which shared equivalent minimum requirements, Mojave made changes that meant many Macs older than 2012 would not be compatible. The exception being the 2010 and 2012 models of the Mac Pro, which could be upgraded with a Metal-compatible GPU that would allow Mojave to be successfully installed, and put both Macs on an even footing with the 2013 Mac Pro.

Mojave brought significant changes and improvements, including new security and privacy protections, improvements to the Safari web browser, and UI changes, such as Stacks on the Desktop and Dark Mode.

Improved security and privacy are one of the many improvements in macOS Mojave.  Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Mojave introduced many new features, but it also removed or disabled some features users have been enjoying for quite a while. Additionally, Mojave marks the last version of the Mac OS that will allow 32-bit apps to run.

Although 10.14.0 has seemed to be remarkably free of major bugs, there have been a number of complaints about installation, performance, and app compatibility. We’ll look at those issues a bit later, after the Mojave overview.

October 30, 2018: macOS 10.14.1 released
When macOS 10.14.1 was released, it included support for Group FaceTime, a new video conferencing capability that allows up to 32 participants to take part in a secure, encrypted video messaging system. Group FaceTime was demonstrated at WWDC in June, but disappeared as a Mojave feature during the beta process, and did not appear in the official release version.

Along with the theme of upgrades to communications, 10.14.1 added over 70 new emojis that can be used in Mail, Messages, or with just about any app that has some form of text entry.

Mojave 10.14.1 added lots of new emojis to help you express yourself. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Mojave 10.14.1 also includes a number of security updates in various Mac OS core components, as well as apps, such as Safari.

APFS also saw an update, bumping the version from 945.200.129 to 945.220.38. Apple provided no documentation on the changes to APFS, though we should note there have been no widespread issues reported with APFS in Mojave 10.14.0. So, the changes may be the result of routine maintenance to the APFS system, and not the result of bug fixes.

APFS is not the only app or service that was updated; Mail and Safari received updates that bumped up their version numbers; there may also have been changes to other apps and core services that were not noted in public documents.

There was also a supplemental update of 10.14.1 that was created specifically for the MacBook Pro, to support the Vega GPUs that are now available.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

RAM upgrades can be both the simplest and least expensive ways to extend the productive life of your Mac. They can also improve general performance by allowing you to have more windows open, have more “stuff” on your desktop, and run more apps concurrently, without taxing your Mac significantly.

Increasing memory can also be advantageous to specific apps that are either known as memory hogs or simply will perform better with more memory available to them. Video editing apps, such as Final Cut Pro, as well as image editing tools, such as Photoshop, are good examples of how adding more memory can affect an app’s performance. By default, Photoshop will use up to 70% of available RAM. There are many tricks to make the best use of available RAM, such as closing unused windows, decreasing the number of patterns and brushes loaded by Photoshop, and preventing the loading of fonts that aren’t needed, all tricks to keep the app’s performance up with available RAM.

Increasing the installed RAM in Photoshop will not only process images faster, but let you load more brushes, fonts, and add-ons to allow you to more effectively work with your images.

Video editing apps generally do well with additional RAM to allow for larger frame buffers, to help increase real-time editing performance, or to move some cache files from disk to RAM for better performance.

And it’s not just pro tools like Photoshop that benefit from additional RAM. Apps such as GarageBandPhotos, web browsers, and mail apps can all benefit from more memory if the apps load a lot of libraries, plug-ins, or add-ons. Even your word processor could be slowing down if you’re working with large documents, images, and a few add-ons.

Apps like Photoshop can perform poorly when available RAM is limited. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Even if you’re not using an app that needs lots of RAM, you may benefit from additional memory if you’re the type of user who likes to leave apps and windows open as you flit from one task to another. Or perhaps you’ve toned down the visual effects your Mac uses or refrained from using some of the new Mojave features, such as dynamic desktop because you often run low on free memory. These are all good reasons to consider increasing the amount of RAM installed on your Mac.

How to Know When Your Mac Needs More RAM
There are a number of ways to tell when more RAM is needed; one of the most common is the sluggish performance you encounter as free RAM space becomes smaller and smaller. This can show up as spinning cursors, jumpy scrolling, jumpy cursors, and tasks taking a longer time than usual to perform.

You can also use one of the many performance and troubleshooting utilities available to actually see how RAM is being used. You can view not only how much memory is in use, but also which apps or services are using the most RAM. This can help you see how the amount of RAM in your Mac is affecting performance.

Activity Monitor can show not only which apps are using RAM, but also how much memory compression is occurring. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

You can use Activity Monitor, a utility that comes with your Mac, to monitor your Mac’s performance, including how memory is being used. I highly recommend keeping the Activity Monitor app open as you use your Mac during a typical day. You can find details about using Activity Monitor, as well as other memory monitoring tools, in the Rocket Yard guide: Tech Tip: How to Monitor Your Mac’s Memory Usage.

After monitoring your memory use, you may come to the conclusion that adding memory is just the thing to do to see an increase in performance and productivity, which brings us to the next question:

Which Macs Support User Upgradeable RAM?
In the early days of the Mac, most models had memory slots that allowed users to upgrade RAM as needed. This allowed buyers to bypass the more expensive RAM prices Apple charged, and purchase a Mac with the minimum memory installed. You could then upgrade the RAM yourself, at a considerable discount.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

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by Tom Nelson

Are you getting ready to install macOS Mojave? Or perhaps you’ve already finished the upgrade and have started exploring the new Mojave system. In either case, you may discover that some of your favorite apps have stopped working, or are exhibiting problems that may be anything from a small annoyance to an outright showstopper.

In many cases, the apps you’re having problems with may only need to be updated to the most recent version. Likewise, you should also check that your copy of Mojave is up to date. Even if you just installed Mojave, you could be a minor revision behind.

After making sure you’re up to date, you may still have some apps with issues. To help, here is the Rocket Yard list of apps that are currently (as of November 24th, 2018) either not working or having known issues.

At the end of the list, I’ve included instructions on fixing one of the most common issues for an app not to work in Mojave. And as always, if you have a problem with an app, let us know by leaving a comment, below. If you had a problem with an app and figured out a workaround, please let us know how you did it.

In many cases, upgrading to the most current version of an Adobe app will get it working with macOS Mojave. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Adobe Apps
Some Adobe suites are still using 32-bit components, which can result in a warning message about an app not being optimized for use with your Mac. For the most part, these warning messages will not prevent the app from running.

  • Photoshop CS5 may display errors when launched, or when you quit the app. Some users have been able to get around the launch crashes using the technique outlined below, in the “How to Fix Apps That Crash in Mojave” section. If you rely on Photoshop, it’s a good idea to upgrade to a newer version.
  • Photoshop CC has a number of compatibility issues, and Adobe recommends upgrading to Photoshop CC 2019 and Mojave 10.14.1 or later.
  • Illustrator CS6 or newer should run under Mojave though there may be minor issues with using Illustrator with Mojave’s Dark Mode.
  • InDesign CS5 and CS6 are both 32-bit apps, and users have reported multiple issues with using them under Mojave. The most common problems cited are a minor issue with Dark Mode, as well as an error when quitting the application that doesn’t seem to impact any of the documents created.
  • Acrobat Pro DC and Acrobat Reader DC have numerous issues with both Mojave and High Sierra. Updating to the latest versions will correct most issues, though a few issues remain, involving printing, and converting a doc to PDF. Adobe is working to remedy the remaining issues in a future release.
  • Dreamweaver has a few issues with Mojave; most are due to Dreamweaver’s reliance on the use of other apps, such as Terminal and Finder, to perform some of its functions. Check the “How to Fix Apps That Crash in Mojave” section, below, for possible workarounds.
  • Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC have been known to crash when used with Mojave’s Dark Mode.
  • Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC have minor issues with Mojave, including Dark Mode support, and attempts to access other computer components, such as the microphone and camera. Check the “How to Fix Apps That Crash in Mojave” section for possible workarounds.

Apple Apps
I would like to see Apple let us know which of their apps need to be updated before installing a new OS, but for now, Apple apps are just like everyone else’s, and may need to be updated to work correctly.

  • Aperture 3 still runs but there have been reports of minor issues, even occasional crashes. Versions earlier than Aperture 3 will not run under Mojave. And since Aperture is no longer supported, you should be looking for a new photo management app to use anyway.
  • iWork (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) versions older than 2013 are 32-bit apps, and will likely not run under Mojave, or if they do, will have various issues. Later versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are 64-bit apps and should run without issue. However, it’s best to update this collection of apps to the most recent version for use with Mojave.
  • Final Cut Pro’s older versions and their components, including Final Cut Studio Pro and Soundtrack Pro, will not run in Mojave.
  • Final Cut Pro X and its related apps, Motion and Compressor, should all be updated to the latest version to ensure compatibility with Mojave. The most recent version is 10.4.4 (November 15, 2018).
  • Logic Pro X should be updated to the latest version, 10.4.2 (September 28, 2018), for use with Mojave.
  • MainStage should be updated to the latest version, 3.4.1 (November 8, 2018).
  • Grab, the screenshot utility included with macOS High Sierra and earlier, has been replaced by the newer macOS Mojave Screenshot app.

Microsoft Apps
Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 and all of its components, including:

  • Word 2011
  • Excel 2011
  • PowerPoint 2011
  • Outlook 2011

are all 32-bit apps and are no longer supported by Microsoft. There are mixed results for Office 2011 running under Mojave, although for the most part, the Office 2011 apps should be considered unreliable for serious work. It may be a good idea to plan to upgrade to a current version.

  • Office 2016 version 16.16.2 or later fully supports Mojave.
  • Office 365 and Office 2019 version 16.17.0 or later fully support Mojave.

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by Tom Nelson

If you’ve just purchased a new Mac, or upgraded your current model to run macOS Mojave, you may be wondering what apps and utilities come with the new OS.

You’re likely already familiar with many of the more common apps included, such as Mail, Safari, FaceTime, Calendar, Contacts, and many more. Less well known, but deserving of a look, are the included utilities that can be used to assist in troubleshooting problems, expand the capabilities of existing services, or help in managing or executing routine tasks.

Five Utilities Included with macOS Mojave
We’re going to concentrate on just five of the many utilities included with macOS Mojave. Some of the utilities predate Mojave, and have been around for quite some time, while others are new to Mojave. The five utilities were chosen as representative of the type of tasks you may need to undertake, but didn’t know that macOS could give you a hand with them.

You may want to take a look at: New to Mac? Here are 5 High Sierra Utilities You Should Know About to see some of the utilities we have highlighted in the past. But for now, let’s move on with our utility roundup for macOS Mojave.

Text Expansion
Unbeknownst to many is a simple text expansion capability built into the Mac. Text expansion allows you to define a phrase, abbreviation, or any other collection of easy-to-remember text, and have your Mac expand the text shortcut into a longer phrase. This can be as simple as using the text shortcut “Myem” to automatically expand to become your full email address. You can also use text expansion to add special characters, such as the copyright symbol, by typing a simple shortcut instead of searching through the Character Viewer (another useful utility) to copy/paste the copyright symbol (©) into a document you’re working on.

Use the Text option in the Keyboard preference pane to create your own custom text expansion items. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

You can find the text expansion utility by launching System Preferences, which can be found as an icon in the Dock, or by accessing the Apple menu and selecting System Preferences.

Once the System Preferences window is open, select the Keyboard preference pane.

Select the Text button along the top of the Keyboard preference pane window to open the text expansion and spell checking services built into your Mac.

You should see a number of example text expansions already included, such as the copyright symbol expansion and email address expansion mentioned earlier.

To edit an existing item, double-click or tap the text you wish to change, such as the example email address in the email expansion item. Once selected, you can replace the default My@EmailAddress.comtext with your actual email address.

To add a new text expansion item, click or tap the plus (+) sign, then enter the shortcut text you wish to use for the expansion. It’s a good idea to use a shortcut that you’re not likely to type in normal everyday use. One trick is to precede the shortcut with a character you rarely use, such as the left or right bracket. As an example, if you wished to have a shortcut to enter your home address, you could use ]home instead of the very common word home.

To complete adding a new text expansion, double-click or tap the “With” column for the text expansion you’re adding, and enter the full text you wish to have replace the shortcut text.

To delete an existing text expansion, select the expansion and click the minus (-) button.

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by Tom Nelson

Once a popular option in the early days of the Mac, RAM disks, which were used to speed up the performance of a Mac, have fallen by the wayside.

Conceptually, RAM disks are a simple idea: a chunk of RAM set aside that looks, to the Mac system, like just another storage drive. The system, as well as any installed apps, can write files to or read files from the RAM disk, just as if it really were another storage drive mounted on your Mac.

But unlike any storage drive, a RAM disk can operate at the speed of RAM, which is usually many times faster than most drive storage systems.

RAM Disk History
RAM disks existed before the Macintosh ever hit the market, but we’re going to predominantly explore how RAM disks were used with the Mac.

The Mac Plus, released in 1986, had quite a few new features, including the use of SIM (Single Inline Memory) modules that users could easily upgrade. The Mac Plus shipped with 1 MB of RAM, but users could increase the memory size to 4 MB. That was an amazing amount of RAM in 1986, and begged the question: What can I do with all this memory space?

At the same time, many users were asking how they could speed up their Macs. And while many users were happy to just max out the RAM, and enjoy the performance gain of having more memory, which let them run more applications concurrently, some users discovered the joys of using a RAM disk to speed up the system and apps. Other users discovered that a RAM disk could be used to create an amazingly fast storage system. Remember, back then, most Mac Plus users were getting by with a single 800 KB floppy drive, while those who felt like splurging could add an additional external floppy drive. If you really had cash to burn, you could hook up a 20MB SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) hard drive, which would likely set you back well over $1,200.

The first prominent use of a RAM disk was to copy the Mac’s slow ROM (Read Only Memory), which contained many of the system’s core components, along with the operating system, which was stored on a floppy drive, and move them both to a RAM disk where they could operate at the speed of RAM; many, many times faster than either the floppy disk or the ROM.

The performance increase was amazing, and was achieved for just the cost of a RAM disk utility app.

The second common use of a RAM disk back in the Mac Plus days was to create a tiered storage system. Floppy drives weren’t fast enough for professionals or avid amateurs to work with new rich media editing systems, such as audio editors, image editors, or page layout apps. SCSI drives could meet the needs of image editing and page layout, but audio editing was at best iffy, with most SCSI drives being too slow to provide the needed bandwidth for audio or other real-time editing.

RAM disks, on the other hand, were very fast, and could easily meet the needs of real-time editing with their ability to write or read files as quickly as the RAM could be accessed, without the mechanical latency inherent in SCSI or floppy disks.

RAM disks can be very fast. In my case, over 10x faster than my Mac’s startup drive. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The only disadvantage to RAM disks was that the data stored in them was lost every time you turned your Mac off, or the power went out. You had to remember to copy the content of the RAM disk to your main storage system or your work would be lost.

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by Tom Nelson

The process of securely wiping a drive, that is, removing every bit of the data it contains and scrambling its content enough to protect the information stored on the drive from prying eyes, is fairly well understood for old-fashioned spinning hard drives. SSDs, on the other hand, can be affected poorly by the same techniques used on hard drives: overwriting data locations multiple times with random data or specific data patterns.

To make matters worse, at least from a security standpoint, even after overwriting data on an SSD, it’s possible that some of the original information is still present on the drive.

Which brings us to the question: Can you securely erase an SSD without damaging the drive, and make sure that all of the information is no longer recoverable?

Disk Utility’s Security Options for erasing a drive may not be present when used on an SSD. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

It may be a good idea to review how Disk Utility can be used to erase and protect information in the article: How to Securely Wipe the Data Stored on a Drive in macOS High Sierra.

We originally looked at the changes High Sierra brought to performing a secure wipe. In this Rocket Yard article, we’re going to further explore how to securely wipe an SSD.

SSD Architecture
As we said above, the process of securely wiping a hard drive is fairly well understood. The linear nature of data storage on a spinning drive, along with the ability to access and read, write, and erase data at all active storage locations make the sanitation process pretty easy, though sometimes time-consuming. Essentially, you need to erase the volume and partition maps, and then overwrite each data location using a random or specific data pattern.

The number of times data is written, and the data pattern used for the secure wipe, allows the sanitation process to meet specific security requirements, including those set forth by the DOD or other government agencies.

SSDs, on the other hand, don’t use a linear storage convention, nor are the storage locations directly addressable. Instead, SSDs use a number of mapping layers that hide the physical layout of the flash-based memory, as well as help in managing how flash memory data integrity and lifetime are managed. Collectively, these layers are referred to as the flash translation layer (FTL).

The OWC Aura Pro X is 7% overprovisioned to optimize performance and ensure the FTL has plenty of free blocks to work with. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

SSDs are also overprovisioned; they contain a bit more flash memory than what they’re rated for. This extra memory is used internally by the FTL as empty data blocks, used when data needs to be rewritten, and as out-of-band sections for use in the logical to physical mapping.

The mapping layers, and how the flash controller manages memory allocation, pretty much ensure that either erasing or performing a conventional hard drive type of secure erase won’t ensure all data is overwritten, or even erased at all.

One example of how data gets left behind intact is due to how data is managed in an SSD. When you edit a document and save the changes, the saved changes don’t overwrite the original data (an in-place update). Instead, SSDs write the new content to an empty data block and then update the logical to physical map to point to the new location. This leaves the space the original data occupied on the SSD marked as free, but the actual data is left intact. In time, the data marked as free will be reclaimed by the SSD’s garbage collection system, but until then, the data could be recovered.

A conventional secure erase, as used with hard drives, is unable to access all of the SSD’s memory location, due to the FTL and how an SSD actually writes data, which could lead to intact data being left behind.

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by Tom Nelson

Having issues with Mojave? Seems like it’s a rite of passage to install a new version of the macOS, and then uncover issues we didn’t see in the beta version.

With macOS Mojave, we appear to be seeing a smaller crop of issues than we saw in our previous “what broke” guides:

That may be due to a more rigorous beta cycle, or maybe we just haven’t had enough time to uncover all the possible problems. Either way, here’s our newest guide to what broke and how to fix it in macOS Mojave.

SMS Messages Not Delivered
If you use the Messages app on the Mac to send SMS messages, you may notice a strange timeout error occurring when you send an SMS message to a non-Apple device.

Once you send such a message, you may see a “Not Delivered” error message. While the error message is a bit vexing, it gets stranger. Turns out your message was sent, and likely received, without any problems.

Logging out and back into iCloud may correct the SMS delivery error. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If that was the extent of the issue, you could probably live with it and wait for a fix in one of the subsequent Mojave updates. But as you may have guessed, there’s one more problem associated with the Not Delivered error. Once you see the Not Delivered error message, the recipient will not be able to send you any responses.

At the time of this writing, there’s no fix available for the issue that always works. But I can list a few things that some people have reported as a cure, although just as many said the cure didn’t help them. Since there’s no official fix, this, then, is a best shot approach:

  • Sign out and sign back into Messages: Works for some people, but in most cases, the problem eventually returns.
  • Sign out of iCloud and sign back in: The idea here is to force your Mac’s data to re-sync with all of your other devices via iCloud. If you give this fix a try, be sure to save the iCloud data locally on your Mac, just to ensure you don’t lose any information. You’ll be presented with the option to save the iCloud data locally when you sign out.
  • Stop sending SMS messages to non-Apple devices: This works, but it may be difficult to get all your Android-using friends to switch to Apple.

The SMS error appears to be very erratic, with many people not experiencing the problem at all, yet there’s more than a handful of users who have reported the issue. If you’ve seen this problem, let us know by using the comments section, below.

Weird Fonts
No, not a new set of fonts for the Mac, but fonts you’ve been using for ages now looking weird in Mojave. The usual sign for weird fonts is a bit of blurring or softness along the edges, even the straight horizontal or vertical lines of a letter.

The blurring is seen most often on non-Retina Macs. The cause is Mojave disabling sub-pixel antialiasing, an older font rendering technique that helped fonts appear smoother and less jagged on most displays.

You could solve the problem by upgrading to a Mac with a Retina display, or you can try the following fix:

You may not be afflicted with the problem if you upgraded to Mojave from an earlier OS that had font smoothing enabled. Even then, some users have mentioned the weird fonts even though they upgraded. No matter what the actual sequence of events is needed to disable sub-pixel font rendering, you can turn the feature back on with this simple two-step process:

Launch System Preferences by clicking or tapping the System Preferences icon in the Dock, or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

Select the General preference pane from the System Preferences window.

At the bottom of the General preference pane, make sure there’s a checkmark in the “Use LCD font smoothing when available” box. (It may say “Use font smoothing when available,” depending on the type of display you’re using.)

Use Terminal to enable sub-pixel font smoothing if you are experiencing weird looking fonts. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Even if the font-smoothing box was already checked, you need to continue on to the second part of the fix: using Terminal to force font rendering to be enabled:

Launch Terminal, located at /Applications/Utilities.

At the Terminal prompt, enter the following:

defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

Press enter or return on your keyboard.

You can quit Terminal and close the System Preferences window if it’s still open.

For the change to take effect, you need to restart your Mac.

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