AMITIAE - Saturday 13 December 2014

Back to the iMac with a Time Machine Backup - A Quart in a Pint Pot

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I took my late 2013 13" MacBook Pro in for checks after a series of Kernel Panics (KP) that I was unable to solve. I tried to run with iPhone and iPad, but after a day or so, took my spare iMac home and restored that using a Time Machine backup for the MacBook Pro.

Although I was game to run with just the iOS devices - as I had done on an earlier occasion - after a couple of days trying to work to my usual patterns had me pulling my hair out at the roots. I was particularly foxed by editing and managing files for my website.

Separately, the components worked fairly well, but when I tried to run with my usual workflow of text, photographs and screenshots, then incorporating them as web-ready content, I had to admit some shortcomings: as much in myself as anything else.

I brought the iMac home and installed the most recent Time Machine backup from the MacBook Pro. I was aware that putting software and content from a 2013 computer, running with a relatively fast processor and 16 GB RAM, onto an iMac some 6 years older with 2 GB RAM would have shortcomings. The British expression, "putting a quart into a pint pot" springs to mind.

That the iMac is still running (and still looks good), is testament to its initial construction. In the years since I bought it, a hard disk died, but I was able to recover the data and the disk was easily replaced.


I was right to identify that there would be difficulties with this latest change, but some of the quirks were surprising.

Although it was an installation from a Time Machine backup, these are never total clones and certain things need to be reset. I have used Time Machine for this purpose several times and there are always minor points: a digital crossing of Ts and dotting of Is.

While the Wi-Fi was recognised with no intervention from me, I had to re-pair the trackpad. Logging into my user account (all accounts had been correctly recreated), I was asked to enter details for my iCloud account. I was also asked for the nth time to agree to the four different licences: something that always annoys me.

Most users in this country are native speakers of Thai. I set my computers up with the Thai location, but English language. Of the licences - OS X Software, Privacy, iCloud Terms & Conditions, and Game Center Terms & Conditions - only the first is in English. The others are in Thai.

This is inconvenient and language alternatives for a country should be provided: after all, not all Thais have the sophistication needed to read the OS X Software agreement; and I certainly do not have the Thai competence to read the others. Users must agree to something they may not understand or the computer cannot be used: at least not until the most pedantic could access a version online. I was asked to confirm passwords for FaceTime and iCloud as well as linking the Time Machine backup to the iMac from now on. When the MacBook Pro returns, I will reverse the process.

I am aware that, because of the age of the iMac, some features (for example, Handoff) will not work. I approved the use of the iCloud account from my iPhone and that authorisation opened lots of doors with synchronised password access.

Oh, but the speed. It is like wading through molasses; like trying to swim against a strong tide; eating a dozen hard-boiled eggs. I was also reminded of when I had been a young policeman in Britain and the teletype system used to send reports from outlying stations to headquarters: the character typed, would not appear on the paper until the following character was entered, so for some of us the entire message was entered in a state of confusion.

I expected applications like Aperture to be slow with the amount of data they carry; but even a lightweight text editor would crawl, depending on what processes were also being carried out in the background. The trackpad and Dock were less responsive than the task switcher (Command + Tab), and any action which might have been almost instant on the MacBook Pro, needed patience.


Knowing that 2 GB of RAM was not really going to suffice, I asked at the office on Friday about replacement. We examined the RAM installed (2 x 1 GB modules) and found some units online. Using the ever-helpful Mactracker - available for Mac and iOS - I confirmed that the model I had needed 667 MGHz RAM and could support a maximum of 6 GB, not that I had ever seen 3 GB modules.


I made one of my rare trips to Phantip Plaza in Bangkok which seems to be rapidly contracting. There were several vacant stores on all levels. I did find one helpful man who had just what I wanted, but only a single module. In many other stores, the staff were patronising and slow: no wonder the place is dying. When I asked for the specific units, some looked at me as if I were an idiot. In the end I gave up.

There was one problem overnight, which is probably related, although I am not totally sure. When I accessed Mail on Saturday morning, I had a problem with Google asking me for verification of the account: itself not a real surprise. Every time I answered the questions, I was returned to the start. I quit Mail and messages arrived with the information that my access had been blocked as a possible spurious login had been detected during the night.

As the iPhone stays on, such late night logins are expected, but a map showed locations of Chonburi and Bangkok. Another showed a Windows computer in China. I thought it prudent to change the password, but avoided the links within the email, in case these were phishing attempts.

I opened a fresh browser page and logged in, then changed the password in the Accounts section. Of course I then had the runaround of putting the new password on all the devices I use, but I may well be safe now.

As for Time Machine backups: connect the disk and walk away. Do something useful.

See also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2014