The time has come.

In 2018 I bought what has to be the most disappointing Mac I ever owned, a 2017 base model 13-in MacBook Pro. It was to replace a used 2014 ex-Apple executive 11-in MacBook Air that suffered water damage.
The Air had a 1.7 GHz i7 processor with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB storage. The only reason I didn’t buy another Air was it lacked a Retina screen.
What made the MBP disappointing was the horrible keyboard and the fact that accidental damage necessitated the replacement of the two Thunderbolt ports plus the entire top case (which included battery, keyboard and trackpad. Also the battery was due for replacement anyway. Repairs came to over ⅓ the cost of a new Mac of the same specification. This was March 2020, before the arrival or announcement of the M1 series of Macs.
But now both of the Thunderbolt ports have failed making the thing unusable as it can’t he charged.
My computing needs are modest and would be completely covered by a “binned GPU” M1 MacBook Air (7-core GPU/8-core CPU). An Apple Refurbished Mac of those specs is around 10% less than the cost of a new one with the same warranty & new battery. The only real difference is it comes in a plain white box. I shall probably buy one next week.


Just thinking about various digital cameras I’ve had over the years. My first one was a 2 MP HP piece of junk, soon sold to an associate. This was replaced by a Ricoh Caplio RR30 3.34 MP device. This was joined by an interesting Olympus C-750 UZ - a 4 MP camera with 3 x digital zoom & a 10 x optical zoom Carl Zeiss lens.

Then I managed to spill a cup of tea over the Ricoh, prompting the purchase of the Canon IXUS 95 IS (aka PowerShot SD1200 IS). But I was still missing certain features of the tea-soaked Ricoh so I bought a Ricoh R10 10 MP camera to regain those features. The next purchase was a Nikon D 5100 DSLR now equipped with four lenses & a spare battery.

There have been a number of Apple mobile devices with cameras over the years, starting with a 5th gen iPod Nano, with a 720 p VGA video-only camera. This was followed by a used iPhone 3GS, iPad 3, iPad Mini, iPhone 4S, iPad Mini 3, Nokia 1020 (Windows phone with 41 MP sensor & Zeiss lens), iPad 5, iPhone SE, Nokia 1520 Windows Phone, Nokia 7.1 Android phone; iPhone SE 2, iPad Mini 5 (raffle prize), iPad 8 & now an iPhone 13 Mini! Plus 5th, 6th & 7th gen iPod Touches.

Most of those Apple devices have been used as trade-ins on new Apple gear, I currently have a 7th gen iPod Touch, iPad Mini 5, iPad 8 & iPhone 13 Mini. The original SE wasn’t worth anything but still worked, so it was donated to the Men’s Shed group to be used mainly as a wireless hotspot for the Shed’s new 27-in iMac a year ago.

I sold the iPhone 3GS & iPad Mini 3 to friends in the Mac User Group.

Trade-ins: iPad 3 & original iPad Mini funded most of the cost of the iPad Mini 3. The iPhone 4S contributed $100 to the cost of the iPhone SE. The iPad 5 saved $275 on the price of the iPad 8 & just in the last few days, the iPhone SE 2 shaved $255 off the 13 Mini’s cost.

Digital cameras I own that are still working: Olympus C-750 UZ (Ultra Zoom); iPod Nano 5; Canon IXUS 95 IS; Ricoh R10; Nokia 1020; Nikon D5100 DSLR; 7th gen iPod Touch; iPad 8; iPad Mini 5 & iPhone 13 Mini.

Charged Up

I recently bought an iPhone 13 Mini and wanted some way to charge the phone in the car without having to remove the phone’s case.

My previous phone had a case with thin steel plates attached to align with dashboard-mounted magnets. It was charged normally via a sync cable. Initially I was using the same process with the new phone but that’s wasting the MagSafe charging potential.

MagSafe is Apple-speak for induction charging with magnets in the back of the phone aligning with a magnetic ring in the chargers which hold the device securely and in the right position for the optimum charge.

MagSafe for the iPhone 13 Mini can deliver up to 12 Watts but only 7.5 Watts if used with a generic Qi wireless induction charger.

Put off by Apple’s Magsafe charger & case prices, I shopped around and settled on a car charger/mount combination which was compatible with MagSafe components but only charging at 7.5 Watts. This would suggest it’s a Qi charger even though it uses magnets to align the phone.

The device I bought is an ESR Halolock dashboard mount & I also got one of their silicone cases which incorporates the ring things to work with MagSafe.

The all-up cost of the Halolock gear was line-ball with the price Apple charges for the MagSafe charger alone.

The ESR case is cross-compatible with MagSafe & Halolock wireless charging systems.

Testing Times

I have been isolating pending the result of a Covid 19 test since Wednesday afternoon. On Saturday, between 10am & 3 pm, a confirmed Covid case attended a supermarket. I attended that same venue between 2:01 & 2:15pm. This made me a Tier 2 contact of the positive case. I had to isolate, get tested & isolate again pending notification of test results. I made a point of pre-registering for the test.

I tried to get tested yesterday at a drive-through centre in a local recreation reserve. This was the only local testing station of three in the area that takes people who have pre-registered. They were temporarily closed, with a three-hour wait. I checked on the iPhone for more venues, in the next two nearest suburbs they were not accepting pre-registrations, so I looked further afield. Literally. About 30 minutes away (due to roadworks-incurred delays) was a big recreation reserve called Casey Fields. [Not to be confused with a former local airfield called Casey Field, where ex-pilot & Australian Governor General Richard Lord Casey kept a small plane for his own use.]

I tried that site. They had a 2-hour queue but at least they were open. I arrived at 10:40, having missed the entrance because the original one was no longer in use, they had a dedicated road leading to the venue. A section of gravel overflow parking leading to a huge marquee was full of cars, later estimated by Google Maps to be 4 acres/1.6 hectares in total area.

I was tested at 12.26 pm, told to go home & isolate until the result was known. At 11:26 am today, 23 hours after being tested I received this SMS message:
"Test on 23/09/2021
Test performed by Aust Clinical Labs."

Words of Wisdom

  1. When one door closes and another door opens, you are probably in prison.

  2. To me, "drink responsibly" means don't spill it.

  3. Age 60 might be the new 40, but 9:00 pm is the new midnight.

  4. It's the start of a brand new day, and I'm off like a herd of turtles.

  5. The older I get, the earlier it gets late.

  6. When I say, "The other day," I could be referring to any time between yesterday and 15 years ago.

  7. I remember being able to get up without making sound effects.

  8. I had my patience tested. I'm negative.

  9. Remember, if you lose a sock in the dryer, it comes back as a Tupperware lid that doesn't fit any of your containers.

  10. If you're sitting in public and a stranger takes the seat next to you, just stare straight ahead and say, "Did you bring the money?"

  11. When you ask me what I am doing today, and I say "nothing," it does not mean I am free. It means I am doing nothing.

  12. I finally got eight hours of sleep. It took me three days, but whatever.

  13. I run like the winded.

  14. I hate when a couple argues in public, and I missed the beginning and don't know whose side I'm on.

  15. When someone asks what I did over the weekend, I squint and ask, "Why, what did you hear?"

  16. When you do squats, are your knees supposed to sound like a goat chewing on an aluminium can stuffed with celery?

  17. I don't mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.

  18. When I ask for directions, please don't use words like "east."

  19. Don't bother walking a mile in my shoes. That would be boring. Spend 30 seconds in my head. That'Il freak you right out.

  20. Sometimes, someone unexpected comes into your life out of nowhere, makes your heart race, and changes you forever. We call those people cops.

  21. My luck is like a bald guy who just won a comb.

World Sepsis Day

Three years ago I acquired pneumonia. My immune system overreacted and sepsis set in. I went to my doctor feeling light-headed & shivering violently. He tried to check my blood pressure, it was not discernible. He then called an ambulance which arrived within three minutes. This was the start of highly professional medical treatment.

Many cases of sepsis are either not diagnosed or mis-diagnosed, these patients ultimately die from the condition which leads to organ failure. In my case I actually had severe sepsis causing complete loss of kidney function. Regardless of the level of treatment 50% of patients with severe sepsis DO NOT SURVIVE. The treatment involves continuous IV intake of antibiotics & fluid. This was done over the first 12 hours while my condition stabilised enough for my transfer to the ICU of another nearby major hospital. I was in the ICU for another 18 hours before being sent out into a general ward to begin my recovery.

In total I was away from the GP's clinic for just over three days and in the later process of researching sepsis learned several things. With the sort of kidney damage sepsis had caused, there are usually three outcomes each with about a 30 to 35% chance of occurrence. These are full recovery; temporary dialysis while regaining function or awaiting a kidney transplant or death. In the case of severe sepsis where organ failure has started survival is at best a 50:50 chance even with the best treatment. My GP said a month later that had I delayed my visit to him by only six more hours we wouldn't be having this conversation.

World Sepsis Day is September 13th each year, in 2018 it was the day before my discharge from that larger hospital. This URL is to a YouTube video explaining sepsis in three minutes. Up to 11 million people die from sepsis worldwide every year, I was very nearly one of them.

Sound Advice.

I have four Apple HomePods, both set up as stereo pairs. One pair is of the just-discontinued original big HomePod type & is used as the default audio output for my 4k Apple TV. The other pair are HomePod Minis, in my bedroom with one speaker on each side of the bed on separate storage units. These can be selected in the official Apple Podcast, Music & TV apps and work very well. The stereo pair can also be accessed by my iPhone, iPod Touch or iPads as the audio output but there are times I wish they could be selected in the Safari app for YouTube & other video streaming services.

It can be done but on a needs-basis only, the setting doesn't stick. First select your Mac's Internal Speakers in System Preferences--> Sound, the close Sys Prefs. Now go to your Utilities folder inside the Applications folder & open the Audio MIDI Setup app and choose AirPlay in the left column. Mouse down to the gear icon at the bottom of that column, choosing "Use This Device For Sound Output." Close or hide the Audio MIDI app and you'll now find the paired HomePods are now the default output for the Mac's audio. Especially useful for YouTube or other music streaming services.

With the Audio MIDI Setup app you can create an Aggregate Device using AirPlay & selecting that in Sys Prefs as the default audio but these are no audio level controls available. The sound output is at a fixed (too low) level.


Big Sur issues

In my last blog I showed how to get Big Sur working on a recalcitrant Fusion-drive iMac. The Mac was never the same after this crazy installation process, taking up to five minutes to boot up from cold. Totally unacceptable, it was as though the Fusion drive wasn't recognising its own SSD component at bootup. Once started it was OK but other processes were somewhat slow as well.

I decided to investigate removing the Fusion drive components & fitting an SSD instead. Too big & fiddly a job for one like me who suffers from "Essential Tremors," a condition in which the hands twitch uncontrollably. In fact, if I try to stop the tremors they get worse. Often I cannot hold a cup of tea or coffee that's more than half full without losing its contents should I have to move the cup from a serving area to a chair, for example.

So I contacted a couple of Apple resellers/approved repair localities & settled on one who quoted me AU$430 to install a 500 GB SSD or AU$490 to do the same with a 1 TB SSD. I chose the latter option, dropped off the iMac on a Friday and it was ready for collection on the following Tuesday. It was well worth the cost, the thing is transformed, bootup is quick, apps open after only a few bounces on the dock, a vast difference.

Big Sur at last!

I’d attempted several times to get Big Sur working on my 2017 4k iMac, but each time a different error was encountered. i thought I had it right once, but some unknown process kept consuming all 16 GB of RAM & creating swapfiles to free up said RAM. I gave up when the tally of swapfiles had reached eighteen. I restored from a clone backup on an external SSD & left it at that.

About a week ago I tried a different trick: started from the Recovery partition (⌘ R at startup) and erased the destination drive, using Internet Recovery to download & install Big Sur. The download worked, the installation did not, I was left with a useless empty Fusion drive (other than the Recovery partition). So I restored from a three-week-old Time Machine backup then proceeded to update over 60 apps, import Mail & rebuild the Photos library.

I gave it one final go today.
1: Performed two different Time Machine backups to two different external hard drives.

2: Performed two separate clones of the system onto to different external SSDs.

3: Downloaded the macOS 11.2 installer on the Big Sur MacBook Pro.

4: Connected one of the iMac Clones to the MacBook Pro.

5: Copied the installer to the iMac’s clone on the external SSD.

6: Selected the clone as the startup drive in System Preferences.

7: Restarted the MacBook Pro from the iMac’s Clone.

8: Ran the Big Sur installer on the clone (startup drive).

9: Endured several mini restarts as the new OS was installed on the external SSD.

10: Checked behaviour of successful installation on the external SSD attached to the MacBook Pro.

11: Restarted MacBook Pro normally & checked the performance & directory of the new Big Sur installation using Disk Utility & TechTool Pro apps. Passed with no errors.

12: Connected the SSD to the iMac & restarted it, selected the SSD as the startup drive by holding down the Option key at startup.

13: The iMac booted OK from the new Big Sur installation & Carbon Copy Cloner app offered to take me through the Guided Assist restoration process, having detected that the iMac had been booted from a clone. The first stage of the operation was to erase the Fusion drive.

14: The cloning of the internal Fusion drive from the external SSD was declared successful.

15: Restarted the iMac from its Fusion drive at the startup chime by holding the option key & selecting the internal drive at the prompt.

16: Checked all performance & apps one the imac had rebooed from its new Big Sur installation.

17: Deleted all previous cloning tasks from Carbon Copy Cloner, connected the external SSD with the earlier Catalina clone on it & cloned Big Sur onto the external SSD for a bootable alternative should there be any issues with Big Sur in the future.

18: Commenced two separate Time Machine backups to the two external hard drives previously used to backup Catalina on the iMac.

19: Published the saga here.

screenshot 2021-02-08 at 22.54.57


I have a number of assorted 2.5-in SSDs & HDD doing various backup & archive duties, as well as sitting around idle.
Some irrational decisions had been made, such as using a 256 GB SSD for Time Machine backups of a system occupying 170 GB while a perfectly good 500 GB HDD that came out of a dead laptop was sitting idle.

Or backing up my disk image & compressed files archive to a 200 GB HDD with only 500 MB free space.

So I erased the 256 GB SSD & cloned the content of the 200 GB HDD onto it. Next I set up the 500 GB HDD as a replacement Time Machine backup for the 170 GB installation. There's a couple of HDDs, 200 & 250 GB sitting idle now. They may see use as Time Machine backups for a couple of G4 PowerBooks in my collection of older Macs.