Friday, February 29, 2008

Liveblogging: the upgrade to OS X Leopard

I always like to think that upgrading one's system software is a piece of cake, but invariably it takes up 8-10 hours at least, and continues to gnaw away your time once you actually get using it. There's a lot that goes into a proper upgrade, mostly because you never really want to upgrade a pro system, you want to start over with a completely fresh install, backing up your vital data and erasing yourself a fresh clean slate to install your latest OS on. With this in mind, here's a summarized version of my upgrade to OS X Leopard, released late October 2007.

Setup: PowerMac G5, dual 1.8 GHz PowerPC processor (late 2003)
2 GB RAM, 2 x 250 GB internal HDs, 1 x 500 GB external HD

Step 1: Download one of the most beautifully simple freeware apps, Carbon Copy Cloner. For a failsafe backup, clone my entire 10.4 Tiger drive to a blank partition of my external HD. The other partition still has the Panther drive I cloned when I upgraded to Tiger in 2005. This HD arrangement is a virtual time machine, enabling me to boot to Panther, Tiger, or Leopard at will, while also using said drives for external storage.

Step 2: Reboot from the cloned external drive to verify it works and data is intact. Launch Disk Utility to erase the internal destination HD. Launch Drive Genius to verify the drive's integrity and defragment it if needed.

Step 3: Reboot from the Leopard install disk. Uncheck all the printer drivers, extra fonts, language translations and X11 to save a good 5 GB. Install to the internal Leopard HD partition.

Step 4: Reboot to the purple nebulaic Leopard Startup Assistant. Start totally fresh, importing no data to avoid software conflicts. Test network connectivity - note that accessing even simple html websites takes agonizingly long. This is a concern, as my laptop had terrible Web connectivity after upgrading to Leopard and I had to downgrade. Apple forums are full of this complaint. Hope a Software Update will resolve.

Step 5: Sync .Mac to get all my calendars, contacts, email accounts and bookmarks.

Step 6: Run Software Update to bring up system software to 10.5.2. Here the problems begin. System hangs after update is downloaded and the "Restart" prompt is approved. Left alone, it doesn't resolve for over and hour. Force shutdown.

Step 7: Boot to setup assistant, which was already completed once. This usually happens only if there is no user account established, which shouldn't be the case. Go through the Setup Assistant three times, each time resulting in it relaunching. Attempt to reboot to external drives - none but the faulty Leopard HD are recognized at the option-boot screen. Unplug all firewire devices - external HD and Digi 003 rack.

Step 8: Reboot from Leopard install disk. Launch Disk Utility. Out of curiosity, repair permissions on internal Leopard drive; process hangs for 5-10 minutes before finishing. Erase Leopard drive. Reinstall Leopard with same specs as before.

Step 9: Reboot to reformatted Leopard HD. Dance to Setup Assistant theme again. Launch Software Update. Click to only update Quicktime and Mac OS X. The 10.5.2 update alone is 341 MB. The update downloads, prompts to reboot and installs normally this time. The machine reboots, then reboots again. The update takes this time.

Step 10: Run Software Update again and there is an additional Mac OS X Graphics Update, plus Front Row and iTunes updates. Run those, reboot. Hook up external drive, it takes minutes to recognize in the FW800 port. Run Disk Utility to find the Tiger HD has an "Incorrect number of Access Control Lists (It should be 0 instead of 1)." Disk Utility fixes it. With the system software up to date, now begins the arduous task of putting the pro software on.

Step 11: There's a full list of downloadable software to run Mac OS X intelligently, and it looks something like this:

Coda (a great HTML editor and FTP software together)
Digi CoreAudio Manager (to power sound through the Digi 003)
Firefox 3.0 beta (for all the sites Safari can't handle)
Flash Player (to enable the wonderful world of Flash content)
Flip4Mac (to watch Windows Media Video files through Quicktime)
iScrobbler (to report iTunes rotation to
Opera & Camino (for multi-browser testing/multi-user login)
Skype (for free Web-based phone calls)
Simplify Media (makes your iTunes a server that you can listen to remotely)
StuffIt Expander (do we actually need this anymore? it seems like every once in awhile)
Todos (may be redundant with the Applications folder in the dock, but handy)

There are many others, but they seem to come at you as you browse the web. Gotta have RealPlayer for this. DivX converter for that. Oh, and I just remembered the drivers for my HP laserjet and Epson inkjet/scanner. And of course, you've gotta have RockNES or Nestopia for your Nintendo fix. SnapzProX for good screen recording, Switch for converting all manners of audio formats, and all your widgets...

Step 12: As I get all into softwarin' up the system, the thought occurs to me that I'm still on Adobe CS1, c. 2003. After some investigatin' I say, screw it, let's download CS3 Web Premium. I don't have Flash, and now that it's integrated into the Creative Suite, I feel like it's fine time. It's only a 3 GB download, and they have a neat upgrade assistant that figures out what you can get with what you got. This leads to a two-hour support call to Time-Warner and Apple when I switch from wireless to ethernet for a more reliable connection and the ISP keeps populating with an invalid IP address. After being transferred to tier 3, they offer a solution I tried before calling, and it works.

Step 13: Research informs me that only Pro Tools HD is ready for Leopard, not Pro Tools LE. It's only four months since Leopard was released, so, no rush DigiDesign. I'm also only on Final Cut Studio 1 — is it time for FCP Studio 2?

I think that's just about enough of the liveblogging feature. The upgrade is up and running, though now I've got to figure out how soon to upgrade my old flatscreen iMac and the MacBook. Oddly enough, the real impetus to upgrade to Leopard was the new Back To My Mac feature of .Mac that lets you remotely control your home desktop from your laptop. And I haven't really thought much about that yet. But now when I'm fiending for something on the road that I know is on my home computer, it's on like Tron.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New album Tuesday: "For Mature Audiences Only"

Okay team, for awhile I've been dropping hints about a new concept album coming up, and the proud day has arrived when I can offer you: an album for and about senior citizens.

I know what you're thinking, "But how can I get a copy of this if I'm not a senior citizen?" Fear not, we aren't discriminating against who can buy the album, nor against who can enjoy the album. But it was commissioned by a senior citizen, Executive Producer Judith McKelvey, and her intent was to make some quality tunes for the baby boom. (Aside from Beyoncé.)

My new album, "For Mature Audiences Only" is released February 12. It was recorded by Emmy-winner Jerome Maffeo in Baltimore and mixed by Grammy-winner Dan Gellert in LA. It features my friends Janessa Gans on violin and vocals, Suzanne Waters on vocals, Miles Decastro on sax, Christian Valiente on bass, and Jerome Maffeo on drums. I play a few instruments, including banjo and kazoo. The hardcopy booklet insert also features 12 pages of lyrics in fashionable period graphic design.

As this is my first project composed and produced on someone else's dime, I'd love it if you picked up a copy. It's a pure concept album, and you can listen to the whole album at iTunes, or CD Baby, read lyrics and linear notes at my website, or buy a hardcopy from me with Paypal by clicking on the image below:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Here's a press release that will generate no buzz

I came across this news item in one of my many feeds:

"AOL Launches New Website In Australia"

Is it a radical subsidiary or dynamic new style? Some new social network that nobody's seen before? No, it's just an Australian version of AOL's regular website.
The site offers AOL's suite of communications products, advanced video search, media player, and content focused on information and entertainment. users will also have access to a search engine powered by Google, the Internet's leading search engine.
AOL has been around as a BBS since 1989, and they're just now launching an Australian website? They don't even have to translate a language to do this. MySpace was launched in 2003, and they have multilingual sites all over the world. I feel bad for AOL — they were the first face of the net as many knew it, and they are undoubtedly now the last.

Perhaps it's that new media doesn't play well with old media. It sure was interesting to watch Time-Warner move AOL right to the front of AOL-Time-Warner, and then later dispose of the AOL and go back to Time-Warner. It's like they were proud of their new toy, and when they figured out they didn't know how to work it, they put it in the closet. Huge mergers rarely signal that a company is doing its best innovation. It seems like when any multinational corporation arranges a merger, it's really for lack of anything better to do.

Which brings us to Microsoft's bid for Yahoo. While Microsoft is tech, they feel more like old media because they can't think quickly, they can't adapt to the times fluently. Their mandate now is to buy out others who can. I can only fathom that Microsoft would pick up Yahoo, absorb their services somewhat, and then Yahoo would just become as slow as Microsoft to adapt to change.

That said, I hate reading blogs and op-eds intoning that Microsoft's $60 billion gross last year proves they're obsolete. Microsoft is a powerhouse, and so are the major media companies, and wherever they sit on the bell curve of relevance, it's a big bell curve. They're a cash trust and an asset bank. So let's get real.

No matter how much one envisions a world run on OS X or Linux, the tech monoliths and media monopolies are firmly ensconced. Maintaining a huge market share is really just a matter of choosing what flavor of vanilla. Provided they don't aggressively drive consumers away with blunders like Beacon, they'll stick around. At least until the next aimless merger.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Relentlessly comical"

This is a few weeks old, but it's my quote of the day from the BBC, on why clowns are terrifying to kids:
It is the fear of the mask, the fact that it doesn't change and is relentlessly comical.

Just that description of why it's terrifying sort of terrifies me. The fear of the mask... it doesn't change... relentless comical... *dies gripping bike horn*

"Relentlessly Comical" should be the title for Zach Galifianakis' autobiography. Not that I'm calling him a clown.

(via John Aboud)

Apple's new Feist: Yael Naim

In the event that anyone is wondering who that earnest, hopeful voice is on the new MacBook Air ads, here's the artist herself. I see Apple seeking to duplicate their success with Feist, not so much on behalf of the artist, but to maintain their own ouevre as cultural même providers beyond the tech industry. I'd say they did a bang-up job in selecting Yael Naim's "New Soul".

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lyrical blueprint for 2008 RPM Challenge

I've stepped up to the 2008 RPM Challenge.

To help me visualize the project as it develops from scraps and rags, I've written all my lyrics on a page, overlapping and blending according to their arrangement on the album. Most of this is stream of consciousness based on loose titles I assigned according to the sound of a riff or chord progression. I wrote most of these over the weekend on a plane to Boston, a train to New York City, and a plane back to LA.

This is step one. The album will be called "t3h pwn".

Frozen Foods in the Boston Phoenix

Writer Ben Westhoff covers some Frozen Food projects old and new in the Boston Phoenix this week, including a photo by our St. Louis friend Benjamin Shepard:

Retro tech lust: unopened Apple //c

Via BoingBoing, here's a Flickr set of a guy opening an unopened Apple //c he won off eBay. This was my first computer too, so I can't help but have a retro tech lust for this pristine bit of computing history. We played everything from Tapper and Lady Tut to Castle Wolfenstein, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and the text-based Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy on that machine. To say nothing of writing innovative BASIC scripts like:

40 GOTO 10

Looking at the list of games, I'm kind of impressed that all of that was available for those old machines. Look at that brilliant packaging. The polychrome Apple logo. It'd still be as sexy now if they offered it as a brand new product. Over a MacBook Air? Maybe.

Probably not. But maybe.