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#687: Hot Time Capsules, Keychains & Password Reset, Apple TV 3.0, DVD Issues


Happy Tuesday,

I walked outside on Saturday all bundled up, assuming it was in the low-to-mid thirties, and was pleasantly surprised when a gentle sixty-something degree breeze greeted me. Back inside for shorts and a t-shirt! This year I was able to swim in the river earlier—and later—in the year than ever before.

The new Macs are on display in our retail locations and most everything is shipping in one to three days. While the latest and greatest is just that, there is plenty of last-generation gear in stock at killer prices. Of particular note is a 20-inch iMac at only $999. This iMac has plenty of power for the vast majority of users, and is a very affordable way to get into a Mac if you or someone you know is on the fence about switching to the better team.

We also have 500GB Time Capsules lovingly refurbished by Small Dog technicians. At $149.99, they’re less than an AirPort Extreme, offer all the same features, and include a Time Machine-ready internal hard drive. If you’re adventurous, you could even turn these into 2TB models!

As always, thanks for reading and keep in touch.


  My Time Capsule Gets Hot!  

I can honestly say that Time Capsule is one of my favorite Apple products. I have a 1TB Time Capsule at home that holds backups for three of my machines. It’s a beautiful thing when I come home from a long day at work, open up my MacBook Pro and see the Time Machine wheel start spinning as it automatically starts my backup. Despite my personal adoration for the Time Capsule, it’s been getting some flack on the internet because “it gets hot.”

One thing to remember about the Time Capsule is that it houses a 3.5” server-grade hard drive. A hard drive is comprised of spinning platters and they do get hot; not hot enough to melt their plastic housing, or injure someone, but fairly warm nonetheless. The Time Capsule also has an internal fan and temperature sensors that monitor the internal temperature to ensure the device is performing within the proper temperature range.

Despite those features, we do occasionally get returns from people who are afraid their Time Capsule is running too hot. Nine out of ten times we stress-test the Time Capsules and never find anything wrong with them. But this is what I found on that “10th” time:

I have to say my jaw dropped when I saw AirPort Utility open and display this error. I had never seen it before! I walked over to the Time Capsule and found that the fan was running on high and it truly was unusually hot. I also noticed there was a physical separation in the case around the rear left ports. Out of curiosity, I disassembled the Time Capsule and found that the case was dented around the power supply.

While the power supply did not actually look swollen, I had to believe that the damage was somehow related to it due to the proximity. It still remains a mystery, but I was happy to find that Apple had programed the Time Capsule to give the end user such a clear message in the event that the Time Capsule really was overheating.

If you ever get this message at home, the best thing to do is ensure that there’s nothing blocking the airflow around the device. If the Time Capsule has breathing room and is still reporting issues overheating, unplug the device and bring it to your nearest Apple Authorized Service Provider for support.

  From the Archives: Keychains & Password Reset  

I am all about making computers work for their users. I maintain that while getting the most out of your Mac requires a bit of effort, it should be fun and not make you want to toss the thing out of the closest window.

That said, there are a couple of simple things that one can do to make managing your Mac easier. One of those things is understanding the way Keychains work. Keychain Access is the program that keeps your passwords saved so you’re not prompted every time you access a secure resource like your email.

However, Keychains can be tricky unless you understand these features:

1. You create an administrative password when you first set up your Mac. That means you should either write it down in a safe place (you will need this password every so often), or make it blank (many computer users do not want or need to password protect their computers anyway; it’s just a feature that newer operating systems have to keep your data safe). If you identify with the latter, leaving your password blank is a great option because there’s nothing to remember.

2. If you do forget your password, it can be reset by using the disks that came with your computer. Instructions can be found here. However, when you restart you’ll be plagued by constant requests to enter the login password. Keychain doesn’t know that you’ve reset your administrator password, so constantly asks for it. You’ll need to delete the login keychain by selecting “Delete keychain ‘login’” from the file menu, and then clicking the “Delete References and Files” button.

One of the nice refinements in Snow Leopard is that on first restart after a password reset, Mac OS X will ask if you’d like to reset the keychains, negating the need to do so manually in Keychain Access.

Updated from “Keychain Smeechain” featured in Tech Tails 576.

  Apple TV 3.0 + iTunes Update  

Earlier this week, Apple introduced a semi-major free update to the software that drives Apple TV. Now called Apple TV 3.0, the update centers around a completely redesigned main menu that aims to make content simpler and faster to navigate, especially when used with the Apple Remote.

Beyond the all-new interface, Apple TV also supports iTunes Extras and iTunes LP in fullscreen as well as Genius Mixes and the ability to listen Internet radio through your home theater system.

iTunes LP delivers a rich, immersive experience for select albums on the iTunes Store by combining beautiful design with expanded visual features like live performance videos, lyrics, artwork, liner notes, interviews, photos, album credits and more.

iTunes Extras are similar to special features on DVDs, with deleted scenes, interviews and interactive galleries. iTunes LP in fullscreen, as well as listen to Genius Mixes and Internet radio through your home theater system.

The new Apple TV software is available immediately free-of-charge to existing Apple TV owners, and Apple TV with 160GB capacity is available for just $229.

Apple TV boasts the largest selection of on-demand HD movie rentals and purchases, HD TV shows, music and podcasts, all downloaded directly from the iTunes Store.

“The new software for Apple TV features a simpler and faster interface that gives you instant access to your favorite content,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “HD movies and HD TV shows from iTunes have been a huge hit with Apple TV customers, and with Apple TV 3.0 they get great new features including iTunes Extras, Genius Mixes and Internet radio.”

View the Apple TV by clicking here.

Save $10 on Apple TV for the next week when used with coupon code appletv.

To use this coupon, place the Apple TV into your cart and then enter the coupon. If you have trouble using a coupon, please email

  Kali and Ed Live on The Browser Radio Show  

Tomorrow evening at 6pm, Kali and I will be live guests for a full hour on local radio show (and podcast) the browser, hosted by Jonathan Butler in Burlington, Vermont.

The browser is a show about the innovative people who bring the world wide web to Burlington. Conversational in nature, it covers how creative applications of technology and the Internet intertwine in local commerce, art, politics and everyday life.

If you live in the area, tune your radio dials and iPod nanos to 105.9FM WOMM-LP tomorrow, Wednesday 11/03/09 at 6pm. You can also hear the browser online at

We’ll post a link to the podcast when it’s posted!

  Repair of the Week: DVD Issues  

While most machines that come through our shop are pretty straight-forward to diagnose and repair, there is always room for surprises. We had one such surprise last week with a MacBook Pro that was brought in for two distinct reasons: the hard drive wasn’t recognized and the machine would not boot from CD. While that might sound like a hard drive and optical drive replacement, the technician who diagnosed the issue dug a little deeper.

He did verify that the machine would not boot from CD, and he ordered an optical drive for it. He also verified that the hard drive was not recognized; however, when he pulled the drive out of the machine it mounted just fine in a sled attached to another computer. He could clearly see the volume structure, which passed verification in Disk Utility, and he didn’t notice any unusual sounds from the drive. This led to the conclusion that the issue was the SATA bus on the logic board, and a logic board was ordered for the machine.

The next day, I replaced the optical drive and the hard drive. I attempted to boot to a DVD. The optical drive injected the DVD with no problems and I could hear it spinning in the drive. However, the disk was not recognized in the EFI boot manager. Crap. At this point I’m thinking it could be a faulty optical drive cable or a defective replacement logic board or optical drive. My next step was to attempt to netboot the machine; no dice here either. The netboot server was also not recognized in the boot manager and the boot manager froze twice while looking for devices.

Ok, so now I have a machine that won’t boot to disk and won’t netboot, so at this point I’m thinking it really is a bad replacement logic board. However, I’ve seen this symptom before so there was one more thing to try.

I pulled out the hard drive. The machine boot to DVD, no problem, it also netboot without a hitch. I repeated my co-workers test of plugging the drive into an external sled, sure enough it did mount and displayed the volume, but when I attempted to boot to the drive the tester machine that I was using shut down. Eureka! The issue all along was the hard drive. While it was able to perform some functions just fine, as a boot device it was hanging the SATA bus.

The first volume the EFI boot manager looks for is the internal hard drive, and since this internal hard drive was causing the bus to hang, the boot manager wasn’t able to get past it to find the optical drive or the netboot server. Replacing the hard drive resolved all of the issues and we were able to transfer the customer’s data to the new drive successfully!

  SPECIALS | 11/03/09 - 11/09/09  
   MacBook 2.13GHz 2GB/160GB White (mid-2009), 3-year AppleCare plan, Free Sleeve, Free Shipping!
   LaCie 1TB Grand Hard Disk , All New Model, FREE Shipping!
   Apple Time Capsule 1TB Dualband (2009), Free Shipping plus save an additional $5!
   iMac 20in 2.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, 9400M graphics, AppleCare plan, free shipping!
   Belkin CushTop Laptop stand - Orange - Save 20%!
   AppleCare Protection Plan - MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13in - Save $40!
   Mac Pro Quad-Core 2.66GHz 8GB RAM, 640GB + 1TB, GT120 Graphics (w/ Snow Leopard), Free Ship!
   Altec Lansing VS2621 3 Piece Gaming Stereo 2.1 Speaker system - Save $15!