eXtensions - Sunday 25 December 2016

Cassandra: Unsuitable Speed Test apps from the App Store

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I am experimenting with the new 13" MacBook Pro I have and bought an adapter as an experiment to run the Mac with an Ethernet (LAN) connection from a port on the back of the Apple Airport router I have.

USB-C to Ethernet

I connected the cable to the connector. When I connected the adapter to the Mac, I saw a couple of green lights on the adapter, which I took as a positive sign. A panel appeared: a 10/100/100 connection had been detected, but if I wanted to use this, I would have to set it up in Network Preferences.

Ethernet I unlocked the panel and clicked on the + icon at the bottom of the connections section. Several types of links were offered and I selected the USB 10/100/1000 LAN option and gave it a name. Nothing happened until I clicked on the Apply button and then we were up and running. I turned off the WiFi to gauge the performance.

Using Activity Monitor I noted the Data received and Data sent statistics, but these do not really convey the real speed of the connection. I had tested this on the iPhone and AppleTV recently following an upgrade to my router by True and respectable figures just under 30MB/sec for downloads were shown (5MB/s uploads).

A look in the Mac App Store showed me a couple of possible examples and I started with Speedtest by Ookla, which also has an online test. This put an icon in the menu bar, which I like, and had a clean interface. Speeds tested using a local server were on par with what I was expecting, but when I tried to change the server, I was only offered destinations within Asia.

When using other apps, I have tried servers in the USA, as a lot of the data I use (including Apple software) comes from there. In also noted that although the app was running, it was not shown in the Dock. I could see no way to quit this.

Speed Test I also tried Speed Test, by the developer Big White Planet. When downloaded it also installed a menu bar icon the first time I ran it. Results were similar, but I could see no way easily to change the server: only Bangkok was shown.

Having checked and seen the figures, I was not keen to keep these so tried to move them to Trash. Speed Test went without a struggle after I entered the Admin password (I work in a user account), but the Ookla app declined as it was still running. Pressing the menu bar icon, only displayed the working panel for the app, so with nothing in the Dock, I looked in Force Quit. There was nothing shown there either.

I object to an app that runs in the background with no warning when installed and I object even more when it is impossible to quit, hides and sends data back to Google analytics (thank you Little Snitch).

Speed Test I opened Activity Monitor, but could not see this recalcitrant app, until I clicked on the menu bar icon and it was shown in the listing. I highlighted it immediately to make sure I did not lose it again and pressed the Force Quit icon at the top of the panel. This time it went, but it still resisted going into the trash. I dragged it a couple of times to the Trash icon at the top of the Finder panel and each time it slid back to the Applications list. I managed eventually by dragging it to the main Trash at the bottom right of the screen.

End of story? Not quite as I had a look on the Ookla site. There is a speedtest there, and there is a Change Server option, initially limited to local sites. A search panel allowed me to Enter San Francisco and I was given a list of suitable servers; I also tried with London. Speeds were a little lower than for servers in Asia.

Browser Speed Test

I did try to post a query about the app on the website, but Contact Us just sent me back to a Search panel, so the answers I wanted, about deleting and about server options using the app, were not going to be answered.

Delete. Empty Trash. Happy new year.

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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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