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#675: Reader Feedback, Keychain Corruption, Repair of the Week, Happy Birthday, Woz!


Happy Tuesday,

It’s hard for many to believe just how dog-friendly our workplace is. Many customers ask on the phone or in person whether we really have dogs running around all day, and I reply with a straight face and unwavering voice that we do. At our Waitsfield headquarters there are usually ten or eleven dogs spread around the company, and sometimes even fifteen or sixteen when Laika, Molly, Arlo, BJ, or Buddy spend the day.

Rebecca, Small Dog technician, consultant and frequent Tech Tails contributor, made videos of the dogs in action and posted them on YouTube using her iPhone 3GS over the past few weeks.

See them here!

Vermont’s semi-traditional Tax Holiday is fast approaching. You can buy up to $2,000 in goods and save up to 7% in sales tax on August 22nd. We are taking pre-orders that can be paid for and picked up on the 22nd both over the phone and in our stores. With great bundles, printer rebates, and other specials, there simply is no better time to switch to Mac or upgrade your older one. (By the way, if your order ships outside of Vermont, it’s always tax-free.)

If your PowerPC Mac came with Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) installed from the factory, this will be your last chance to trade it in. Of course, all Intel-based Macs qualify for trade-in as well. For more information visit or email

Enjoy this issue and keep in touch,


  Reader Feedback: Dealing with Skunks  

I wrote last week about Owen’s skunking. Unfortunately, he’s not the only dog around here that’s been sprayed—Hapy’s dog Magnus and Damian’s dog Ernie both got it in the last week. Owen was even worse off after his second spraying in a 3-day span, but without the feedback of Tech Tails readers, I would’ve just kept using Nature’s Miracle, which is not really miraculous.

About forty of you wrote to me with the answer: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a little dish soap. I used this formula after the second spraying and it worked wonders. Almost immediately, the skunk smell dissipated from Owen when I applied the mixture. I tested a hidden section of carpet at home with this, but it had a bleaching effect so at this point it’s just Nature’s Miracle on the carpets until the smell goes away.

I love getting mail from readers—let me know of your ideas for a future article!

  Tip of the Week: Keychain Corruption  

I wrote a few weeks ago about my fondness for Keychains in Mac OS X. While I remain fond of the system and still rely heavily on it, there have been times when the passwords it used were not correct, or my system would lock up when the keychain was accessed. In these cases there are two things to try—both are super easy but only one is nondestructive.

The first (nondestructive) method is Keychain First Aid. If you notice systemic weirdness when your computer is accessing a keychain, this is step one. From the Keychain Access menu on the top-left of your screen, select Keychain First Aid. Enter the account password, and then select Verify or Repair. Repair is what you want in most cases.

If that doesn’t find anything wrong, you’ll want to reset your Keychain entirely. Beware: this will wipe out all of your stored passwords, so proceed with caution. I’m not a magician and can’t recover them once they’re gone! From the File menu select Delete Keychain “login” and then click Delete References and Files. As you rebuild your keychain from that point on, you’ll undoubtedly notice that your original password-based problem has been resolved.

  Repair of the Week: MacBook Air  

A longtime customer came in with her MacBook Air, which she uses daily both in the office and in her very frequent travels. She uses the QuickerTek Charger/Backup Battery Pack for MacBook Air and is thrilled that it allows her to fly across the country or the Atlantic and work the whole time. Recently, though, she began to notice that the computer was getting much warmer than usual, even with light use. She reported the fan had been overactive and that battery life isn’t what it used to be, even with the QuickerTek.

There are two real clues in these symptoms. More heat is created the harder a computer is working, and the harder a computer is working, the less time it’ll function off of battery power. Immediately I knew this was a software issue, not a hardware issue.

I also noticed that I couldn’t pull down the Date and Time menu in the Menu Bar: any time I’d place the mouse pointer over that item, the pointer would change into the spinning beach ball. I knew that a background process called systemuiserver is responsible for this menu bar item, so I went into Activity Monitor to see if that process was taking up more processing power than necessary.

Sure enough, systemuiserver was consuming almost all the processing resources the Air had to offer. I used Activity Monitor to quit the process, and set the computer on a table. In a few minutes it was noticeably cooler and the estimated battery life jumped from 45 minutes to over two hours—and I could pull down the Date and Time menu.

I knew from the beginning the cause of this problem, but for those of you without quite so much troubleshooting experience the Activity Monitor application is a great first stop in all overheating and battery life issues. Just look for something consuming a lot of CPU resources.

  Old Friend, New Home  

Around this time last week, the venerable forums at went read-only as they were integrated into the forums at MacFixit moderators and nearly all of the most prolific contributors moved to their new home at instead of moving to, so the online troubleshooting community can continue to thrive.

FineTunedMac is wholly supported by contributions from the moderators and the generosity of a few very dedicated contributors. I’m happy the community will live on as the old forums merge with the sprawling, and the technical services team at Small Dog will continue to use and contribute to the effort.

You can sign up for a free account at right now!

  Happy Birthday, Woz!  

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is 59 today. Here are some highlights from his 59 years:

April 1, 1976: Wozniak and Steve Jobs found Apple (Happy April Fool’s Day!)
1976: Apple releases the Apple I, designed and built by Wozniak
1977: Apple releases the Apple II
1980: Apple goes public
1981: Wozniak is involved in an aircraft accident (he was the pilot), after which he developed amnesia
1982-1986: Woz leaves his day-to-day duties at Apple and attends UC Berkeley
1985: Receives a National Medal of Technology from then president Ronald Reagan
1985: Woz founds CL 9, a universal remote control company
1987: Woz officially ends his employment at Apple, though still receives a paycheck
1987: The first official universal remote is developed and released through CL 9
1989: Receives an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder
2000: Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
2001: Wozniak founds Wheels of Zeus a company that designed wireless hardware for location devices
2005: Awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Kettering University
2006: Wrote his autobiography iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
2007: Appeared on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, with then-girlfriend Kathy Griffin
2009: Became a contestant on the TV show Dancing With The Stars

Read why Steve and Steve priced the Apple I at $666.66.
Watch Steve Wozniak present the Apple Historical Museum here.
Watch Steve compete on Dancing With the Stars!
Visit Steve Wozniak’s website.

Anything missing? Share it here.

Source: Wikipedia

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