AMITIAE - Monday 26 August 2013

Cassandra: Backups, Security and a Forgotten Firmware Password (1) - Withdrawal Symptoms

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


There are times when, despite a fair amount of experience, we make mistakes. One of my worst was a failure to backup my data a few years back. My house was burgled and my PowerBook was among the items I lost, along with all its data. From various sources I retrieved a fair amount, but lost many of my photographs. This weekend another error has given me some problems and I am in the process of papering over some cracks.

When the PowerBook was lost I already had the Firmware Password in use and with Undercover installed, managed to track the computer for a while. It was last seen in Ireland and I still have screenshots from a spreadsheet with Thai text entered.

The PowerBook was replaced with a 15" MacBook Pro which gave me excellent service until I moved on to the i7 MacBook Pro a year or two back. I expect to replace this real soon now.

Along with the 2007 MacBook Pro, I bought a LaCie hard disk and backed up with Lacie's own Silverkeeper as well as Time Machine. I upgraded the first LaCie disk to a larger 500 MB disk and a few months ago moved up again to a WD MyBook with 1TB capacity. So far it has used up about 670 MB.

I take this type of security seriously and after a recent series of updates, made sure that the backing up was done more often; and I decided to change the Firmware Password.

Over the weekend I packed up a spare 13" MacBook Pro I have and sent it a friend in Chiang Rai after he had a disaster with his old HP notebook (I also visited another friend in Bangkok on Saturday evening whose G5 iMac has just given up the ghost). On Saturday it became clear to me that I needed to run some maintenance on the 15" MacBook Pro. When I tried to access the Repair partition (Command + R at start), I was faced with the Firmware Password box.

After a few attempts using what I thought had been the password (and some variations of the characters), it was clear to me that I had the wrong one. I had changed it but now could not remember. After looking for somewhere I might have written it down, I had to admit defeat.

With the 2007 MacBook Pro, I had done a similar thing, so took it to Maccenter at Fortune Town where the technician was able to solve my problem within a few minutes. On Saturday, therefore, with the Mac in my backpack, I went to Maccenter in Siam Discovery Center, but was told that with the newer Macs, the same procedure was not possible and it might have to be sent away.

I was also given the location of another service center in Amarin Plaza that the staff thought might be able to help me more quickly. On Sunday morning I tried there. This is run by Copperwired who also have shops at Thonglor, Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery (among others). Instead of iBeat or iStudio, the designation of this Applecare outlet is "iServe".

The premises on Floor 3 of Amarin Plaza is fairly large, with lots of seats, a couple of large tables and a bar-like area for customer staff contact. Behind the bar is a big sheet of semi-translucent orange glass. I could see the workshop area inside.

After some discussion, I had to face the fact that the computer would have to stay at the workshop for 2 or 3 days. I was asked three times by the technician if I had a backup. I do. Several.

I returned home and for the first time in years, there was no Mac for me to work on. My options are limited for a couple of days to iPhone, iPad and the iMac at work, although as that has a stripped down installation, it will not be much use: I keep it for text and internet use at work, although the advent of iWork for iCloud is going to help greatly.

The text here was produced on the iPad using the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. The feel (on my knees) is not the same as the MAcBook Pro, so I am making more mistakes. Speeds are improving. The main problem is turning this text into a web page and then loading that up to my website.

I wrote this in WriteRoom which I find useful as the app syncs automatically between the iPad, iPhone, iMac and MacBook Pro, so I have access to the information on any of the devices I use. There are shortcomings, especially as I am writing for a page that really needs to be in html and conversion is not so easy to confirm.

There are a couple of alternatives I can consider, like the new app Editorial that (among others) Federico Viticci of MacStories reviewed recently. I need some time to get to grips with this. A solution did present itself when I was searching for an FTP app for the iPad.

There were several to choose from and I decided to try iFTP. There are two versions: iFTP and iFTP Free. The full version is only $0.99 and users can upgrade but as a quick look I downloaded the free version which as well as FTP features allows me to edit HTML in the app. I copied the file from WriteRoom and it displayed neatly in FTP Free. Now all I have to do is to find the password for FTP uploads to the site.

If you are reading this, I succeeded.

See Also:

Cassandra: Backups, Security and a Forgotten Firmware Password (2) - Connection with iFTP Pro

Cassandra: Backups, Security and a Forgotten Firmware Password (3) - iFTP Pro and Images

Cassandra: Backups, Security and a Forgotten Firmware Password (4) - iFTP Pro from the iPhone

Cassandra: Backups, Security and a Forgotten Firmware Password (5) - Tidying up and Final Comments

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.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page