Like the character Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, I have a designated spot in my living room. I often do online shopping from my couch and my default device is a MacBook Pro that I have had for a very long time. This is the 2010 model and it still has a working battery since most of its lifetime has been spent plugged in. This MacBook was replaced with a new MacBook Pro 16 last year. Both of these laptops are near and dear to me and represent a significant investment, so I want to protect them and keep them for a long time.
The most immediate danger is to the MacBook Pro that I use in the living room. There is a curious and very needy dog that lives in our house and he considers the living room his domain. In order to protect my Apple laptop from his paws, I decided to try and skin my laptops. Unlike a hard cover, a skin is more like a protective thin layer that you can apply to the top and bottom of your laptop. It won’t overheat your laptop and it is removable in case you want to sell your laptop or go back to its original look. Skins can be applied to all areas of your laptop, but overall the best benefit is to to the top and bottom of your closed laptop. This will protect the outer shell from scratches and may even prevent a dent. Another benefit, is that you can easily wipe off dust, hot sauce, cookie crumbs, and other things you might happen to spill on your closed laptop.
There are multiple websites that specialize in skinning. Almost all of theses skins are made from the same material and they are not exactly cheap. For the MacBook, I visited the forums on Macrumours.com and did a search for skins and found multiple threads on skinning your Apple devices. I tried three different skins, and found that ColorWare to have the better quality product. You may find a cheaper seller.
Once you get the skin, you can watch a couple of youtube videos that show you how to install the skin. You will need a hair dryer if you end up wanting to remove the skin. Lining up the skin perfectly will take some trial and error and you will want to be careful. Stretching the skin can rip it or deform it so that the end result will not look good. One skin I tried ended up ripping, so I do think ColorWare had better results due to it being a slightly better product. If you do purchase skins for the sides or other areas of your laptop, I think there is minimal return for the time that you put in. I would recommend just doing the top and bottom. Removing the skin is very easy to do, just use a hair dryer on low and a plastic tool (plastic credit cards or guitar picks will work as well).
After you have your laptop skin, you can rest assure that your laptop is a bit more protected from curious pets and your own carelessness at times.
Over the Summer I got a new MacBook Pro 16 to replace my current MacBook Pro from 2010. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, I had to start working from home full time, so my home office has had to go through a lot of changes to accommodate this change. This has meant, that my new MacBook has been sitting in a box for a couple of months while my desk has been taken over by my work laptop. The other hesitation has been Apple; they have been focused on iOS 14 and product launches around it, that MacOS 11, otherwise known as macOS Big Sur was released in the Fall instead of late Summer. Now with macOS Big Sur 11.1 installed, I have been slowly moving over to the new MacBook.
The first real problem I have encountered has been with my Lexmark E260dn monochrome laser printer. Lexmark no longer provides updates for this printer and since the printer still works fine and I use it sparingly throughout the year; I see no reason to replace it. The E260dn replaced a similar Lexmark printer, which died a few years ago, unexpectedly on the day I needed to print some tax documents. I suspect a power surge or electrical short killed the board. Upon downloading the printer drivers for MacOS X from Lexmark, running the installer, and adding the printer in System Preferences – Printers & Scanners, and then attempting to print an email, I got a Filter Error in the Printer Status.
After researching the problem, I was able to to fix the issue.
Reset Printing System
First open up System Preferences – Printers & Scanners. Hold down the Control key and drag your pointer over the Printers area. The option to Reset Printing System will appear. Go ahead and click on the option.
Download Lexmark Drivers
You will need to get the last updated drivers from Lexmark. Here is the direct link to the download page: Print Driver for 10.6.8 and later Mac OS. Once you agree to the download, open the installer and run through the installation process.
Add Lexmark Printer
In System Preferences – Printers & Scanners, click the plus sign and add your printer. It should come up and you should see it added. If you try to print something, it should result in the Filter Error.
Use the Go to Folder… option under the Go menu to open the following location: /Library/Printers/Lexmark/filter/
Next you will need to edit the file psoptionreroute with a text editor. I recommend using BBEdit, as it will let you modify system files easily. Right Click on the file and choose Open With – Other and choose BBEdit. In the file psoptionreroute, look for the line:
use POSIX qw(tmpnam);
Comment this line out by adding a pound sign in front of it and then directly underneath add the text below:
use File::Temp qw(tmpnam);
File and Save and close the file. At this point, go ahead and attempt to print something and the error will no longer appear and you should hear your printer turning on and spitting out a page or two. Further discussion on this issue can be found on the Apple Support Forums.
Apple has a long history with computer networking, from AppleTalk to today’s Internet connected world. However, it is Windows networking that still causes all kinds of headaches for Mac OS X users. It seems that with every release of Mac OS X, Apple seems to have recurring issues with Windows shares. Some of Apple’s defenders will state that Apple adopts industry standards as is, and it is Microsoft and others who publish specs, but don’t actually follow them, so when Apple does follow the specs, it seems to just end up breaking things. SMB is the networking protocol that Microsoft uses for Windows networking. It is what allows Windows network file shares to work across the network. With the latest versions of Mac OS X, Apple abandoned the open source SAMBA package that most Linux distros use to connect to Windows, and wrote their own SMB2 software. This makes Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks connect faster and better to Windows servers. Well that is when it works!
SMB Connections Fail
There is one Windows 2012 Essentials server with multiple shares. There are two Macs on the local network. One iMac is connected over Wireless N and one MacBook Pro is using a wired ethernet 1Gb connection. When using the Connect to Server… option the iMac connects fine and has no issues. The MacBook Pro opens the share and then never displays any files, it just spins in the lower left hand corner of the window that opens. Both computers are running Mac OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks.
Connecting via CIFS instead of SMB seems to work for the MacBook, but it is slower.
The solution ended up modifying the Windows 2012 Essentials server. There are two registry keys that need to be added in order to fix the problem for the MacBook.
Under this Registry Key:
Add these DWORD values:
- Smb2CreditsMin – make this 768
- Smb2CreditsMax – make this 16384
Once you made the changes restart the Windows Server and then the Macintosh clients. It should now fix the problem.
Microsoft provides the following information on these registry keys:
The defaults are 512 and 8192, respectively. These parameters allow the server to throttle client operation concurrency dynamically within the specified boundaries. Some clients might achieve increased throughput with higher concurrency limits, for example, copying files over high-bandwidth, high-latency links.
After upgrading to Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, I started to experience problems with Safari 6 and some HTTPS connections. For example I could no longer log into Amazon or even browse forums who used SSL connections. Ironically, I found a post on Apple’s forums that described some of my symptoms, but since the support forums are HTTPS, I could not use Safari. Luckily Firefox still worked. The problem on Apple’s forum went on about SSL Certificate issues and the solution is described on this blog posting, but this problem was specific to Mac OS X 10.7.4 Lion. There is also a bug that has to do with specifying a proxy in Mountain Lion. This seemed more plausible to me, since I use pfSense with Squid Proxy in transparent mode at home, however this also would not explain why only SSL connections had issues and regular HTTP sites worked fine.
After much research, it seems the simplest solutions work best. I had to manually specify my MTU setting from 1500 to 1492 in System Preferences – Network – Advanced… – Hardware – MTU. This immediately resolved my Amazon logging in issue.
With the release of Safari 6, the default font settings preferences have been removed. If you still want to set default fonts without using a custom style sheet you can still use Terminal commands to set them. Another workaround is to use the Quickstyle Safari Extension.
Below are some example commands for Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2StandardFontFamily 'Lucida Grande'
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2DefaultFontSize 16
Fixed Width Font:
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2FixedFontFamily Monaco
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2DefaultFixedFontSize 12
For some reason, Apple has stopped supporting iTunes on Windows 2003 and changed their MSI installer to fail. However if you still prefer to run iTunes on your Windows 2003 Server, you can still modify the iTunes installer by using installer tools such as Microsoft Orca (see Microsoft’s Tutorial on how to modify MSI files) or InstEd. Using InstEd, I was able to install iTunes 9 on my Windows 2003 machine.
- First download the iTunes installer from http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/.
- Next use WinZip or WinRar to extract the contents of iTunesSetup.exe to a folder.
- Now comes the difficult part, you will need to check each of the .MSI files with InstEd or Orca. Open each file one at a time and look for the LaunchCondition settings. You will need to remove this parameter and its value: ((VersionNT=501 And ServicePackLevel>=2) OR VersionNT>501). Once you do that just Save and Exit.
- With the modified MSI files, now start installing them one at at time. Leave the iTunes.msi for last though. The SetupAdmin.exe can be ignored. You do not need to run that one.
If this was a perfect world, you would now be able to launch iTunes 9 on your machine, but since it is far from perfect, you might be staring at this error message:
The iPod Service service failed to start due to the following error: The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.
To complete the install, leave the error up on the screen and go launch Services.msc, find the iPod Service and open its properties. You will need to add an account with admin rights and then save the changes. Now click Retry on the error and see if it works.
The easy fix that works, is to right click on the iTunes installer and choose Properties. Then go to the Compatibility tab and check “Run this program in compatibility mode for” and choose Windows XP from the pulldown list.