Should I restart my Mac each day?

I transport my MacBook Air daily between home and the office—closing the lid to put it to sleep, and opening the lid to wake it. Twice per day, every day.

I’ve always hoped that the Mac OS is designed to handle these interrupts gracefully, but I’m beginning to wonder. It seems that each time I restart my Mac, I see evidence that things are getting suspended or stuck—Carbon Copy Cloner alerts me to the fact that my backups haven’t run in a while, HazelHelper starts posting literally thousands of notifications, OmniFocus alerts me to 900 items that need archiving, and even the visual appearance of icons on the desktop change.

So I’m beginning to wonder whether I should get in the habit of just restarting the machine every day.

Initial impressions of the Overcast podcast app

Since starting to listen to podcasts a few years ago, I’ve always used the Instacast app. Recently, though, I decided to check out Overcast, by Marco Arment. Having used Overcast for about a week now, I’ve collected some observations and initial impressions.

Continue reading Initial impressions of the Overcast podcast app

Search for the elusive, perfect file & screenshot sharing tool

In my daily work, as well as the maintenance of three blogs, I frequently need a tool that allows me to conveniently share files and screenshots. This article discusses my search for that elusive perfect app.

Continue reading Search for the elusive, perfect file & screenshot sharing tool

Why I switched from DreamPress to GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting

I recently switched from DreamHost’s DreamPress to GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting service. This article explains why, and discusses my experience so far. [Update: Since writing this article, I’ve switched away from GoDaddy, and now host my blog in a VPS at DigitalOcean. You can read about that switch, here.]

Continue reading Why I switched from DreamPress to GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting

Using Tresorit to manage and share confidential data on a Mac

Earlier this year, I described how I used a combination of Espionage and Dropbox to share confidential documents among our family’s Macs. Unfortunately, that approach proved too problematic and I’ve since had to switch to a new approach—based on the Tresorit service—which, while not a perfect solution, does represent an improvement.

Continue reading Using Tresorit to manage and share confidential data on a Mac

How to secure Mac and iOS devices with the Cloak or PIA VPN

A while back, I ran across an article (which for the life of me I can’t find now) in which the author meets with a computer hacker at a public location—a Starbucks coffee shop—and demonstrates the surprising amount of information he can collect by intercepting the traffic between the Starbucks public wifi and the locally connected customers. It is truly scary!

Continue reading How to secure Mac and iOS devices with the Cloak or PIA VPN

How to setup a WordPress site on a Mac mini running OS X Server Yosemite

I have an internet-hosted Mac mini running OS X Server, and recently decided to figure out how to host websites on it, and in particular, WordPress websites. After a few struggles and speed bumps, I finally got a site up and running, and wanted to document the process here, pulling together the various bits of information I compiled along the way.

Continue reading How to setup a WordPress site on a Mac mini running OS X Server Yosemite

iTunes Match lost all my music (and then I got it all back)

For more than a decade, I’ve been accumulating music and curating playlists in iTunes, all of which has physically been located on the SSD of my MacBook Air. And for the past couple of years, I’ve been sharing that library with other devices—computers, Apple TV, iOS devices—via iTunes Match.

Continue reading iTunes Match lost all my music (and then I got it all back)

Rego is a great alternative to Pin Drop

About a month ago, a notice was posted to the Pin Drop blog announcing that the app would be shutting down. Even though we make a competitor app called Rego, it was sad to read this news. There’s plenty of room in the location bookmarking space for a couple good apps, and Pin Drop was definitely one of the few we admired.

Continue reading Rego is a great alternative to Pin Drop

The Odyssey of getting my data into Amazon Glacier

For years, I’ve been accumulating an archive of files at home on an external drive connected to a Mac mini. These are files that I do not expect to need in the future, but at the same time wouldn’t really be happy about losing—for example, snapshots of filesystems of computers I’ve retired, some source media, etc. All in all, the drive contains some 300 GB of data.

Continue reading The Odyssey of getting my data into Amazon Glacier

Simpler method of getting message-linked todos into OmniFocus 2

A couple of days ago, I posted an article detailing how to use Keyboard Maestro to create todos in OmniFocus 2 that are linked to original messages in Mail.app. Security-conscious Ben Brooks thought the idea was neat, but couldn’t give it a try, as it relies on the use of the OmniSync Server.

That got me thinking, and I came up with a simpler way to achieve the same thing—directly, without having to generate and send messages to the OmniSync Server Mail Drop. Continue reading Simpler method of getting message-linked todos into OmniFocus 2

Using Keyboard Maestro to create todos in OmniFocus 2 that are linked to original messages in Mail

About a year ago, I switched from OmniFocus to Things, in part because of a dislike of the OmniFocus Mac app. Today, I’m switching back to OmniFocus for two reasons. Continue reading Using Keyboard Maestro to create todos in OmniFocus 2 that are linked to original messages in Mail

Junk mail mystery — Nearly every message in Mail.app is being marked as spam

As I wrote about in the past, I host my email on a Mac mini with OS X Server, and on which I run Mail.app and SpamSieve together to provide a server-side spam filtering and rules-processing solution. While this setup works great for remote spam filtering and management, it is somehow causing a separate, irritating and confusing problem. Continue reading Junk mail mystery — Nearly every message in Mail.app is being marked as spam

How to share confidential documents using Dropbox and Espionage for Mac

I have a MacBook Air, and my wife has an iMac. The challenge is to have shared access to our family’s documents, while securing those which are confidential. This article describes our solution.

Continue reading How to share confidential documents using Dropbox and Espionage for Mac

Reflections on my first few weeks of listening to podcasts

A few weeks ago, and way late to the game, I started listening to podcasts. Of the several I’ve heard so far, the ones I enjoyed have included Horace Dediu’s “The Critical Path“, Benedict Evans’s “Cubed“, Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess’s “Technical Difficulties” and Shawn Blanc’s “The Weekly Briefly“. The ones I’ve disliked have included John Gruber’s “The Talk Show” and Marco Arment’s “Accidental Tech“.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on why I liked some and disliked others. This is mostly for my own benefit, since going through this exercise will likely reveal my motivations for listening to podcasts in the first place. Continue reading Reflections on my first few weeks of listening to podcasts

Keyboard Maestro macro to get URL to selected message in Mail.app

While waiting for version 4 to be released, I’ve had to temporarily uninstall the MailTags plug-in from Mail.app in OS X Mavericks. One of the most-used features of MailTags for me was its ability to copy the selected message’s URL to the clipboard.

A “message URL”? That’s correct. Mail supports URLs to individual messages, that when accessed open the particular message in Mail.app. This is what one looks like:

message://%[email protected]%3e

I often use message URLs to provide myself with reference to conversations, important decisions or tasks that are captured in emails.

Without MailTags installed, though, I’ve been really missing this feature. My friend, Stefan Seiz (@seiz), however, was kind enough to email me an AppleScript that provides this same functionality. From that, I created a Keyboard Maestro macro, and assigned it to a keystroke.

If you use Keyboard Maestro, feel free to download the macro here.

How to setup a roaming wifi network over ethernet with an Airport Extreme and Airport Express

In the past, all the devices in my home operated over a single wifi network—including four Macs, an AppleTV and several iOS devices. I’ve long suspected I was probably overtaxing the wifi, and listening to the recent “taming wifi” episode of the Technical Difficulties podcast inspired me to do something about it.

Continue reading How to setup a roaming wifi network over ethernet with an Airport Extreme and Airport Express

Fixed — Stopped the tccd process in Mac OS X Mavericks from consuming CPU and memory

For the past few days, the CPU on my 11″ MacBook Air, running OS X Mavericks 10.9.1 has looked like this:

Periodically—and frequently—a process called, “tccd”, would momentarily ramp up its CPU usage to around 50%. At the same time, the process’s memory would grow and grow. When I checked this morning, it had grown to 1.3GB.

In this post on the Apple Support Communities forum, a user reports high memory usage of the tccd process, but there are no solutions proposed.

In another post someone mentions that the tccd process manages which applications have access to your contacts. That appears to be correct—after I deleted the TCC.db database, the OS started popping up lots of dialogs asking permission if this app or another could have access to my contacts.

But resetting the TCC.db database unfortunately didn’t solve my problem with the tccd process using lots of CPU and memory.

Watching the Activity Monitor for a while, I noticed that Hazel’s “hazelworker” process sometimes ramped up around the same time as the tccd process—you can see this in the screenshot above, in fact—so I started poking around there.

What I found is that several of my Hazel rules involved moving files to a folder which no longer existed (I had moved it a few days ago). After fixing those rules, to my amazement, the problem with the tccd process completely disappeared.

So, somehow, the root of my tccd problem was the existence of broken Hazel rules.

How to keep your data safe with Espionage for Mac OS X

If someone stole my MacBook Air, the computer’s data should be fairly safe, due to my use of Apple’s FileVault 2 whole-disk encryption. But what if someone got access to my computer while I’m still logged in? Or what if someone got hold of my login password?

Certain data, like website passwords, are already encrypted via applications like Apple’s Keychain and AgileBits’s 1Password. But how can we secure non-encrypted documents like bank statements, contracts, etc.?

In the past, I considered using applications like Knox, which make it slightly less cumbersome to deal with encrypted disk images than dealing with them directly. But, unfortunately, Knox didn’t go far enough in the area of usability—it basically makes you deal with Finder-mounted volumes—to convince me to use it.

Recently, though, I discovered a product that did — and it’s called, Espionage.

Continue reading How to keep your data safe with Espionage for Mac OS X

Disable iCloud Keychain to fix icbaccountsd problems

Update 2014-03-12: OS X 10.9.2 seems to have fixed this. A few days ago, I re-enabled iCloud Keychain on my Mac, and since haven’t experienced these issues any longer.

Original problem…

For a while now, the CPU profile on my MacBook Air (running OS X 10.9.1) has looked like this—quiet, with periodic high-load bursts from a process called, ‘icbaccountsd’:

Looking in the Console.app, I found my logs flooded with messages from this process:

  • icbaccountsd: [ICBLocalDictionary getIdMapping:] Mapping Error detected
  • icbaccountsd: [ICBLocalDictionary discoverLocalIAAccounts:] Unknown high level account
  • icbaccountsd: [ICBSyncOperation mergeLocalChanges:] Account not found
  • icbaccountsd: [ICBSyncOperation mergeLocalChanges:] Looking for UUID: (null) from remote key

This article on the Apple Support Communities pointed to another article which hinted that the root problem is related to iCloud Keychain.

I disabled iCloud Keychain on the Mac, restarted, and have seen no further logged messages from icbaccountsd. A pity—as iCloud Keychain is a concept I’d found very useful.