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#730: Tip of the Week: Create Font Reports, Apple Security Update, Repair of the Week: Kernel Panicking Mac Pro


Happy Tuesday,

Apple is expected to announce some new or updated products tomorrow at its now-traditional September event in San Francisco. It’s amazing that the first iPod was introduced over eight years ago.

Revolutionary in a time of 128 megabyte flash-based players, the first iPod’s 5 gigabyte hard drive was a huge leap forward. By today’s standards, the first iPod—the size and approximate weight of a deck of cards—is laughably bulky. I can’t imagine buying an iPod these days that holds only 1,000 songs.

Of course, today’s iPods, except the shuffle, all hold more than the original did. Something tells me we’re going to see some awesome new stuff from Apple tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.


  Tip of the Week: Create Font Reports  

A new feature in Leopard’s Font Book is the ability to print out three different reports about all your fonts. They’re very useful for everyone from professional designers to the casual user creating newsletters in Pages.

First, of course, launch Font Book. It’s in your Applications folder. Then, choose the fonts you want to report on (you can select consecutive fonts in the list with the shift key, and nonconsecutive items with the command key). You can select all by choosing Select All from the Edit menu if you want to report on all of your fonts, but be aware that a full report on my MacBook Pro was over 500 pages. It’s a good thing I saved the document as a PDF instead of printing a physical copy!

With the fonts selected in the Font column, select Print from the File Menu. In the print box, look for the pull down menu next to Report Type, and you’ll see three available reports: Catalog, Repertoire, and Waterfall.

Selecting Catalog will print sample text for each font selected, and you can specify the size of the text in the print dialog box by dragging the Sample Size slider. Repertoire will print out each and every glyph available for the fonts selected, and again you can drag the Size slider to specify how large you want each glyph to print out. Finally, Waterfall prints a line of sample text at various sizes on a single page. You can still select the sizes for the sample text in the print dialog box just as long as they fit on the same page.

  Apple Releases OS X Security Update  

Apple released an important security update for Mac OS 10.5 and 10.6 users. This security update, dubbed 2010-005, carries a host of important patches as well as a series of preemptive bug fixes. Among the many items addressed in the update is a revision to Apple Type Services or ATS.

Similar to the recent PDF exploit uncovered in Apple’s mobile iOS platform, a malicious font within a document could lead to arbitrary code execution on a user’s machine. Apple has also remedied an issue in CoreGraphics which appears to be the Mac OS X equivalent of the iOS4 PDF bug.

This important update also carries fixes to PHP and Samba, and improves user security from middleman based network attacks. Apple urges users of Leopard and Snow Leopard client and server editions to install the update. Users of 10.6 Client can download the update manually here, or find it by running software update from the “Apple Menu.”

All versions of the security update can be seen here, though the page will update over time. As always, we recommend that you run a quick Time Machine backup prior to any updates.

Image Credit: Master Lock

  Repair of the Week: Kernel Panicking Mac Pro  

The Mac Pro has always been a beast of a computer, and even the first-generation examples remain so. Their reliability is second-to-none amongst the Apple product line, but with some approaching three years old, we are beginning to see more failures.

This week’s repair is on an 8-core 3.0 GHz unit outfitted with a fibre channel card normally connected to an Xserve RAID, 16GB of RAM, a super high-end Kona video card, and four 2TB hard drives set up in RAID 5.

Needless to say, this is a computer our customer desperately needed back up and running as fast as possible.

Because he bought AppleCare and the computer from Small Dog, he enjoyed a free loaner computer during the repair. But because we need the entire machine—fibre channel card, RAM, and all the hard drives—to properly diagnose, he had to make do with a more-or-less stock Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro came in for random kernel panics during Time Machine backups of the startup partition to a FireWire 800 LaCie external drive. First step was to swap the the RAM with known-good chips, and the kernel panics persisted. We then booted the computer from an external drive with a known-good operating system, and the kernel panics persisted. Then, the internal drives were unplugged and the machine booted again off the external drive. No luck.

Component isolation is where you strip a computer down to its minimal configuration and unplug every nonessential component; then plug them back in one-by-one until the problem reappears. When it does, you can be fairly certain the component just reinstalled is the culprit. In its minimal state and not showing symptoms, the optical drives were plugged in one by one with no luck. It can only be called good luck that the second component swapped in, the Bluetooth card, brought the kernel panics back. Swapping in a good one fixed the problem.

This was an easy one, but some of the harder Mac Pro diagnoses can take a very long time and are often a combination of software and hardware. More common failures are of hard drives, processors, logic boards, RAM, and RAM riser cards. Logic boards and processors are very expensive (but covered by AppleCare), so this customer was very lucky!

  Garage Sale: This Friday, 9/3  

This Friday, our Famous Garage Sale commences for the second time this year. What did you do to deserve two in one year? Well, let’s just say that we have been lucky enough to see a large amount of products go through our warehouse, we’re on top of organization, and hey, we thought it would be fun!

We have lots of ink cartridges, cases for iPhone 3G, nano 4Gs and 5Gs, and overall, dozens of iPod accessories at over 50% – 90% off most items (and lots under our cost), with many items under $5!

Orders will be taken online only via our website, and there are no phone orders permitted. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

Check our blog, Barkings! for more details and see the Garage Sale page here.

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