Tag Archive: Mac

VirtualBox High CPU Usage on OSX

I noticed the fan was constantly making a lot of racket in my MacBook Air lately (running Yosemite 10.10). VirtualBox appears to be the culprit, even when my Windows 7 guest is idling (showing as 100%+ in Activity Monitor).

After reducing the number of assigned processors to 2 (was previously 4) everything seems to be back to normal. I also set the max usage to 75% (although this had no impact when set to 4 processors, so i’m not sure if it actually helps).

Looking forward to the increased battery life more than anything.

Mountain Lion Install

Everything went pretty smoothly- although it took a little longer than expected (probably due to the external dvd drive I was installing from).

I referred back to an old post for a list of applications I needed to install https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/fresh-osx-lion-installation/ – fortunately with my recently upgraded FTTC 80/20 broadband I was able to re-download all the free stuff in no time at all (ensuring that I had the latest versions).

A few little things I’ve noticed so far. File copy progress indicator in finder:

By default only packages from "identified developers" can be installed:

This is easily fixed in System Preferences, Security and privacy- unlock to allow changes then change "Allow applications downloaded from:" to "Anywhere":

One of the features I’d been waiting for- Airplay Mirroring:

That’s my 50" TV (top) about 10ft away then my 15" MacBook Pro (bottom) on my lap. It seems to work pretty well even playing 1080p video- unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any audio at the moment? Though a bit of googling highlighted a product called AirParrot which I might have to investigate.

The dictation feature seems to work pretty well too:

Although at the moment I think it relies on your caret being in the right place- I was quote hoping to be able to give it commands (Siri style)- a bit of a novelty maybe.

That’s about it for now. I might try installing on ESX later.

*EDIT* Now it would be nice to get some actual notifications in notification centre (gmail? outlook? facebook? imessage?)

Oh yeah- and software update is now part of the App Store.


Busy busy busy

Unfortunately I’ve been very busy with work so little time for blogging. Just a few little bits:

Problem Steps Recorder

A colleague told me about this recently. A new tool available in Windows 7 designed to record steps to recreate problems- you can then send the output to support desks etc who can analyse the output.

You can access PSR (Problem Steps Recorder) by typing psr into the start menu and clicking the top result (highlighted above).

The tool is very straight forward- I’ve only used it a few times to date, but essentially it records screenshots and describes each "action"- for example clicking, dragging, user input etc. The output file is then a zipped, self-contained html type structure. See example: http://tickett.net/downloads/ip_address.zip (I have to admit I’m a little puzzled as I recorded the steps to launch a command prompt and run ipconfig to determine your ipaddress but the keyboard input doesn’t appear to’ve been captured- I think I need to play a bit more).

The beauty of the tool is that it could quite easily be used to simplify the process of creating documentation and user guides as well as the intended purpose of recording problem steps (currently we often create documentation but taking numerous screenshots and manually pasting into word with annotations- this automates that process somewhat).

Lock Screen in OS X

I did a google a while back as I’ve started to use my laptop in the office a lot more and never like leaving the screen unlocked. In windows I’m sure we all know ctrl-alt-del allows us to lock the workstation, but I’d yet to find an option/keyboard shortcut in OS X. My search didn’t turn up much- and the first item I tried didn’t work at all.

The next day a colleague showed me the "hot corners" option available in the system preferences under displays / screen savers. This works pretty well but my ideal solution would be a keyboard shortcut.

I resorted to trusty stackexchange and was informed that shift-ctrl-eject which actually puts the display to sleep but effectively achieves the desired result of locking the screen (as once awoken the password is requiring to resume).

Ubiquiti AirVision / AirCam Update

I have finished permanent installation of my 3rd Ubiquiti AirCam but have been experiencing increasing problems with the AirVision and NVR software.

For example the above screenshot- you can see the Back Garden feed is blank. These increasingly problems in addition to the rather cpu/memory hungry windows processes spurred me on to give the linux software a go.

I diverted a little from the linux installation guide on the forum: http://forum.ubnt.com/showthread.php?t=44098

Here are my steps:

  • Install Ubuntu server edition checking only the OpenSSH option
  • SSH into the ubuntu server and escalate to root: sudo su
  • Modify the apt-get sources file: nano /etc/apt-get/sources.list
  • Add at bottom of file: deb-src http://extras.ubuntu.com/ubuntu natty main
  • Add at bottom of file: deb http://www.ubnt.com/downloads/airvision/apt natty ubiquiti
  • Quit and save changes: ctrl-x
  • Update apt-get: apt-get update
  • Install AirVision and all dependencies: apt-get install airvision
  • Install AirVision NVR and all dependencies: apt-get install airvision-nvr
  • Ensure everything is up to date: apt-get upgrade

You should now be good to go! Try an browse to https://server-ip-or-hostname:7443 and you should be presented with the configuration/setup wizard.

NB: HTTPS. I made the mistake of trying to browse to http://server-ip:7443 and wondered why it wasn’t working :)

So far performance seems better and resource usage seems a little lighter. Fingers crossed.


Mac OS X Lion on ESXi 5

After countless failed attempts I’ve finally managed to get Mac OS X Lion running in ESXi 5.

I used Donk’s ESXi 5 Mac OS X Unlocker: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?s=&showtopic=267296&view=findpost&p=1745191

Unfortunately when you try and boot from the Lion installation DVD the Virtual Machine hangs on the apple logo. Pressing F8 or configuring the VM to force entry into the BIOS on next boot allows you to select EFI Internal Shell

And boot verbosely by issuing the command: boot –v

We now see the boot is hanging at the PCI configuration stage:

Issuing the command: boot –v npci=0x2000

Allows us to get past the PCI configuration step but now hangs looking for the installation media (still waiting for root device):

This appears to be because the IDE controller is unsupported. Attaching an external USB DVD ROM, enabling pass-through:

Then attaching the USB controller to the VM:

And voila- the Lion installation begins!

The next obstacle came when trying to select the target disk for the installation. The virtual disk wasn’t listed and attempting to partition/format the disk resulted in an error: Unable to write to the last block of the device

I found a few suggestions: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3226425?start=0&tstart=0

Launching Terminal and issuing: diskutil list
Allowed me to identify the disk: /dev/disk0
And issue: diskutil eraseVolume jhfs+ "OSX" /dev/disk0
Which also failed but back in the disk utility I was now able to partition & format the disk ready for the installation!

Everything went smoothly from here. Installing VMWare tools v5.0.0: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=267339 went smoothly but after rebooting I couldn’t login to (the password seemed to be being rejected). I rebooted the VM in safe mode (hold the shift key whilst during boot) and was able to login.

Performance is pretty poor (I think this is due to the lack of graphics acceleration) so I went straight in and enabled remote management so I could now use Apple Remote Desktop to administer the server.

Good luck!


*EDIT* One important thing to note the VM cannot be powered on from vCenter (error: Failed to find a host for powering on the virtual machine. The following faults explain why the registered host is not compatible. The guest operating system ‘darwin10_64guest’ is not supported). Simply logging directly into the host allows you to power on the VM.

Fresh OSX Lion Installation

I’ve just got a new SSD for my MacBook Pro (official apple- toshiba 256GB) and decided to install OS X Lion and all my apps from scratch. This is basically a list of said apps for me to reflect on at a later date :)

OS X Lion
Citrix Receiver
Photoshop CS5
Office 2011

Not noticed many differences in Lion yet… other than the scrolling works in the opposite direction to previous version (two-finger down scrolls up and two-finger up scrolls down… seemed odd at first but got used to it before i even bothered finding the setting to change it!).


I have recently started using Time Machine to backup my Mac and love knowing that I can, not only do a full system restore, but a full system restore to almost any point in time!

Time Machine fairly intelligently takes a full copy of your system the first time you perform a backup and then incrementally adds new/modified files on each subsequent run.

The first thing I noticed was my incremental backups were rather large 20GB+. Which, over wireless takes a really long time and will soon fill up my fileserver. Surely I’ve not added/modified 20GB worth of data in an hour? Well, no- I haven’t but I run VirtualBox which reads/writes to a virtual hard disk image of roughly 20GB- so even a single 1KB file modification will cause Time Machine to backup the entire virtual hard disk.

This is easily fixed- by opening up Time Machine preferences, clicking options and adding ~/VirtualBox Vms to the exclusions list. I also chose to exclude a few more paths after a little more research:

My incremental backups are now normally under 100MB and I use a different backup tool on my virtual machines.

I may decide to add my outlook mailbox to the exclusion list going forward as I’m connected to an exchange server (all the data is stored on the server). Time Machine backs up the entire mailbox every time as it is stored in a single file.

And finally, the default behaviour of Time Machine backing up once every hour seems a little excessive (although I’m often travelling and not connected to my network so the backups are skipped anyway). I was quite surprised not to find any configuration options within the Time Machine preferences but google showed plenty of tutorials- I used http://blog.fosketts.net/2010/05/28/tune-apple-time-machine-frequently/

The article explains how to alter the desired /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.backupd-auto.plist using Vi but I’m more familiar with nano:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. sudo nano /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.backupd-auto.plist
  3. Locate <key>StartInterval</key> (you will see the value below 3600 (this is in seconds which equates to 1hour)
  4. Enter the new value in seconds- say 36000 for every 10hours
  5. Press Ctrl-X to exit
  6. When prompted to save changes press Y and enter


I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to try and create a script (if no-one beat me to it) to automate the process of configuring a samba share to be used with Time Machine. I’ve had a go…

Here is the automator script: http://www.tickett.net/downloads/setup_samba_for_time_machine.zip

There are still a few steps required but it removes the need to open the terminal and lookup your computer name, mac address etc

1. Mount your samba share
2. Right click the setup_samba_for_time_machine automator script (downloaded above) and select Open With, Automator Runner

3. Select your samba share mount point, click choose

4. Wait a minute and you should see a message similar to above. Now launch Time Machine and point at the samba share!

I’ve never used Automator before so I expect the script can be improved considerably… I expect there are currently a few limitations:

  • The .sparsebundle file must not already exist
  • Your computer name must not contain any spaces
  • Others?

I have also seen an error when trying to backup one of my Macs that the image isn’t big enough even though it is set to the same size as the hard disk drive? (Should we be making the .sparsebundle image larger than the hdd size?)

Feel free to modify the script and please feedback and changes/comments etc- I will most likely blog later about the way the script works (I found it quite hard using google to solve issues such as: How do I determine the size of the hard disk drive? How do I display a simple message/popup/dialog?)


*Update* I have written a script to automate the process

*Update* I recommend considering ways to avoid wasting space with your backups

This is an update on my earlier post after finding another article: http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php/topic/18462-getting-mac-backups-to-work/

1. Configure a share on the server ensuring you have credentials for a user with read+write permission
2. Make a note of your ethernet mac address (found in network utility). Regardless of the interface you will be using for the backup this must be your ethernet mac address!

and your computer name (found in sharing)

3. From the terminal execute the following command:
defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
4. From Disk Utility click new image (select custom size and enter your hard disk size in GB, replace YYY with your computer name (from above) and ZZZ with your mac address (from above, dropping the separator- e.g. C82A140BCAF2), format = mac os extended (journaled), encryption = none, partitions = single partition – apple partition map, image format = sparse bundle disk image):

5. Mount your samba share from finder (Connect To Server from the Go menu)

6. Copy the .sparsebundle file you just created from the desktop to your samba share
7. Launch Time Machine, click Select Disk and choose the samba share. The backup should start in 120s!

There is talk of a company called Orbital Technologies creating an add-in to do this automatically http://www.wegotserved.com/2011/02/21/windows-home-server-2011-support-time-machine-backups-addin/

Paul also mentioned in a comment on his article that someone is in the process of writing a script to automate the process- I’ve asked about said script and depending on the response may decide to write a script of my own.


*UPDATE* There is an update to this article here: https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/time-machine-backup-with-windows-home-server-2011-update/

I’ve never used Time Machine before but after some recent hardware issues and the introduction of my new fileserver I felt it time to give it a try.

I read some articles suggesting WHS 2011 was going to support Time Machine out of the box- it doesn’t, damn! I found two very good articles on how to get it working:

I stumbled on a few steps so thought I’d blog what worked for me (I expect this same process works for any samba fileserver and is not limited to WHS 2011):

1. Configure a share on the server ensuring you have credentials for a user with read+write permission
2. Make a note of your ethernet mac address (found in network utility)

and your computer name (found in sharing)

3. From the terminal execute the following commands (replacing XXX with your mac hard disk size in GB, YYY with your computer name (from above) and ZZZ with your mac address (from above):
defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
sudo hdiutil create -size XXXg -type SPARSEBUNDLE -nospotlight -volname “Backup of YYY” -fs “Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+” -verbose ~/Desktop/YYY_ZZZ.sparsebundle
4. Mount your samba share from finder (Connect To Server from the Go menu)

5. From the terminal copy the .sparsebundle file you just created to the newly mounted share (I found trying to do this using drag & drop generated an error)- replace /Volumes/AAA with the mount point of your samba share:
sudo cp ~/Desktop/YYY_ZZZ.sparsebundle /Volumes/AAA
6. Launch Time Machine and click Select Disk, choose the samba share and the backup should start in 120s!

There is talk of a company called Orbital Technologies creating an add-in to do this automatically http://www.wegotserved.com/2011/02/21/windows-home-server-2011-support-time-machine-backups-addin/

Paul also mentioned in a comment on his article that someone is in the process of writing a script to automate the process- I’ve asked about said script and depending on the response may decide to write a script of my own.


Lack of recent updates… will try and push a load through today! Starting with a quick one as I’ve done this 2 or 3 times now and always have to search for hours to find the solution…

Outlook 2011 on the Mac doesn’t connect to exchange in the usual manner (and I don’t think it can connect to exchange pre-2007 at all). For 4smartphone (exchange server 2007) outlook 2011 uses a web connection and is configured as in the screenshot below:

So all you need are:
-Your e-mail address
-Your password
-Your server number (amend the following address to match yours)


I hope this helps someone!


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