Just another day in Spain

To give you a sense of life in Andalucia Spain, I present to you the short journey from my office in Marbella, to the small restaurant where I frequently have lunch.

We begin with the city employee doing some trimming. As we all know, safety equipment—i.e. a face shield and ear protection—are best left sitting off in the distance somewhere.

You can also see that the weed-whacker has no shield itself, so I feel fortunate to have made it past without having my life brought to a sudden end with a stone shot through my forehead.

(What’s actually surprising about this photo, is that there’s not five other city employees watching this guy do his job. My guess is that they’re around the corner somewhere on break.)

Now it’s time to cross the road. But as you can see, the driver of the Spa Experts van felt the zebra pedestrian crossing made an excellent parking place instead. (BTW, this van is parked here nearly every day.)

One last obstacle before arriving at the restaurant—the Mapfre driver evidently forgot what the purpose of a sidewalk is for.

All in all, just another day in Spain.

Need to remove PGP Whole Disk Encryption from a Mac

In dire frustration, I just posted the following to the Symantec forums:


I have a mid-2011 iMac, with an SSD startup drive. At some point during the lifetime of this Mac, I installed—and thought I uninstalled—PGP Whole Disk Encryption. Certainly the startup drive has not been encrypted for years.

It’s now 2015, and I can’t upgrade this Mac to OS X 10.11. When I try to reboot the machine after an upgrade, the strike-through circle is shown, indicating that there’s no OS installed. The problem, I’m discovered, is related to this:

Apparently, the startup partition is of a scheme type:

com_pgp_wde_GUIDPartitionScheme_v2

Trying a clean install, I’ve determined that no combination of disk formatting or re-partitioning using Apple’s Disk Uitilities can fix this. It seems the disk is instrumented with WDE in a way that simply can’t be removed.

Trying to get this solved through Symantec support is a nightmare — the support portals have been migrated so many times since 2011, that the account information I see when logging in makes no sense. And just like the work-flow for posting in this forum—PGP for Mac isn’t listed, and I have no idea what “community” to choose—all of Symantec seems designed for large corporation IT departments, rather than individual consumers.

The last PGP product I owned, was licensed back in 2011.

I’m hoping with this post, that someone here might be able to help me figure out how to get PGP definitely off this drive, so that I can upgrade the operating system. Thanks so much in advance.

Best regards,

Matt Henderson


Update — Symantec support on Twitter hooked me up with a great support engineer at Symantec named Mike Ankeny. His suggestion was:

  1. Boot to the OS X installer.
  2. Open the terminal utility.
  3. Run the following command in terminal: fdisk -u /dev/disk0
  4. Install OS X or restore from backup.
  5. Boot the system.

Can clarified that the reason for doing this was:

That command is actually going to rewrite the entire boot sector. The partition showing as com_pgp_wde_GUIDPartitionScheme_v2 is a false positive. The actual issue comes from an incomplete uninstall of PGP. The boot partition still retains some PGP flags, which try to redicrect the boot to the PGP configuration files, which no longer exist, so no operating system is found. Even though new boot information is written to the disk, the PGP data stuck in there gets in the way. A standard reinstall of OS X does not clear the boot partition first. After clearing the boot sector and reinstalling OS X, you should be back to a normal partition scheme.

I tried this, and ran into an error:

Could not open MBR file /usr/standalone/i386/boot0: 
No such file or directory. Do you wish to write new MBR? [n]

I answered the second with “y”, hit return, and was returned to the prompt. Running the fdisk command again resulted in the same thing. All my data remained on the disk, and so it seems nothing was done to the disk.

So I’m waiting for Mike to follow up.

Poor user experience design at CapitalOne

During the past few years, the financial institution CapitalOne hinted at the importance they give to design, through the acquisition of design companies Adaptive Path in 2014 and Monsoon in 2015.

My guess is that they’ve been focusing their efforts on the recently-released CapitalOne mobile app, which I have to say reflects some wonderful design work.

My hope is that in the future, they’ll turn their attention to the website, which still suffers some usability problems like the following.

Curious whether my credit card auto-pay is properly configured, I visited the CapitalOne.com website today, and clicked on “Manage Auto-Pay”. Here’s where that led:

I was almost certain that I already had auto-pay setup, but it looks like I don’t. In that case, let’s click “Get Started” to set it up…

The red alert—cognitively communicating that I did something wrong and, furthermore, am attempting to do something disallowed (adding more than one AutoPay to an account)—reveals that in fact I did already have auto-pay setup, and so all my confusion and frustration was unnecessary.

QuickBooks Online and the un-dismissable guide

A while back I switched from using QuickBooks for Mac 2012, to using QuickBooks Online. The online service includes a Mac app, which is little more than an HTML wrapper. As such, it suffers horribly from caching issues, but that’s for another article. For today’s rant, let’s look at what’s permanently pinned to the bottom of the Mac app’s window:

This is a “Show Me How” guide, that includes three tutorials in which the app will walk you through the process of creating an invoice, customizing a report and adding a user.

I already know how to do all that, so I’d simply like to dismiss this window, since even when collapsed, the “Show Me How” label obscures controls like the “Reconcile” button.

Chatting with the friendly Twitter people @QBCares, I’ve learned that you actually have to go through the tutorials before the guide is dismissable.

Unlike every other product I’ve used that offered a guide, there’s no option to simply “skip” it!

Auto-creation of albums in Flickr uploader for Mac

For years, my photo management workflow has involved:

  1. Importing my photos into whatever Mac application I was using at the time—beginning with iPhoto, then later Aperture, most recently, Photos.

  2. Organizing those imports into a chronological folder structure of events.

  3. For those really special events, selecting a sub-set of edited photos (usually less than 30) and uploading those into a new album at Flickr.

<

p>And so Flickr was the place that contained our family’s collection of publicly accessible, carefully curated photo albums.

Recently Flickr rolled out a new auto-uploader utility for Mac. Like many people, I decided to take advantage of the free terabyte of data Flickr now offer, and use the uploader to monitor and upload all photos from my Photos library. By default, all uploaded photos are marked private, and so I figured this system would serve as a good backup of my photo library.

After uploading some 30,000 images, however, I discovered a huge problem: The Flickr uploader created a new Flickr Album for every single folder of photos I’ve ever created in the above-listed Step 2.

So now, instead of a carefully curated set of perhaps 100 albums at Flickr, I now have over 1,400!

The situation is made worse:

  1. There’s no way to select multiple albums for batch-deletion.
  2. There’s no way to auto-arrange albums alphabetically in Flickr. So I now have albums with names like “1998 Nepal” listed ahead of albums like “2010 Trip to San Francisco”, and the only way to correct this is to manually drag the album around within the “Organizr” interface.

I recognize the convenience in auto-creating albums, and so I can’t really complain that Flickr chose to do that. But for goodness sake, Flickr, please improve album management, so that I can reasonably clean-up the particular mess I’ve found myself in.