AMITIAE - Sunday 13 May 2012
Notes on the OS X Update to 10.7.4 and Time Machine Cable Problems
By Graham K. Rogers
BackgroundI don't hold with the idea that the problems some people report are down to luck (or bad luck in their cases) particularly when the majority who have installed a specific update are OK. As one of my police driving instructors used to say, "You make your own luck"; and preparation is part of the key.
I did not update to OS X 10.7.4 immediately as I am on vacation. Not that I am lazy: the hard disk that I use for Time Machine backups was in my office and that is an essential part of making luck. Without a recent backup, even though Lion OS X, 10.7, does make certain backups to the Mac's hard disk, it could be a case of Sodt's Law: this would be the one to go wrong.
I had to break the vacation on Thursday as there was an unscheduled visit by some representatives of a South Korean university and the Faculty presentation is on my iPad (under development). If the iPad goes, I go.
PreparationIt was not until Sunday morning that I had time to make the update. In the interim I had made a couple of days of backups, so was confident I could recover in a worst case situation. I had also read about some of the problems that had been reported by Topher Kessler on the MacFixit site of CNET. One referred to the MacPro (I kept that in mind); another was on SMC console errors. I checked after the update and that is not affecting my Mac.
Just before I was ready to make the update, a message panel warned me about removing a disk. I saw that the two images for the backup disk were no longer on the desktop. I pulled the cable out and reinserted it, tried different ports on the Mac and the disk, but nothing would make the disk(s) reappear. I carried on, thinking I would come back to this later.
InstallationI restarted the Mac after closing most applications. The one I did not shut down was Safari as I have many pages open and wanted them to reappear after the update. When the Mac had restarted, I entered the Admin account and used Disk Utility to repair permissions. Some say this is not necessary, but as it had not been done in a while, it may be a precaution. When that was finished I clicked on the disk image and then the package that opened.
The installation progressed as normal, until the panel informed me that there was "About one minute" remaining. I know Apple time is an estimated figure, but this "one minute" lasted almost 15, which is the longest Apple minute I have experienced for a while.
After the restart that finishes the installation, I again went into the Admin account and repaired permissions one more time, noting that the disk space had dropped by several Gigabytes. I restarted again and went back to the User account, waiting for a while as startup applications and Safari reappeared. I then started some of the apps I had shut down.
AnalysisWhen everything seemed to be OK, I connected the LaCie 500GB disk I use for Time Machine backups. This still did not appear. I tried all the ports again on both disk and computer, and Force Quit the Finder. I tried another (USB only) hard disk which appeared fine with all 3 partitions displayed: this is a rescue disk.
While the LaCie disk also has ports for Firewire 400 and eSATA (which I never use) my usual method of connection is the FW800 cable that came with the disk which I picked up in San Francisco about 3 years ago. I had a spare FW800 cable in my bag and tried that. Immediately, the light on the disk began to change and the icons appeared on the desktop. The original cable was the problem.
As an experiment, after the disk had backed up a couple of times, I removed the spare cable and tried the original one: no go. However, when I reversed the normal connection, so that the end I usually connect to the computer was inserted into a port on the disk, the computer recognised it. One of the connectors is faulty. The disk has two ports and both work the same with either cable. It could also be that the port on the Mac is not a perfect fit and the newer cable makes a better connection.
OS X seems to be fine so far. Time Machine is backing up with the old cable (now reversed), but this will be replaced. You have to make your own luck.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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