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#740: Troubleshooting Kernel Panics, How To Banish Flash, TotW: How To Rename Bluetooth Devices


Happy Tuesday,

Much of Vermont woke up this morning to sleet and freezing rain, and for the first time this year I started my car a few minutes before driving to work. I drive down a short but very steep hill on my commute, and was alarmed at first to see a car overturned near the bottom of the hill. Thankfully, the driver was just fine and patiently waiting for a tow truck. He mentioned his anxiousness and extremely fast heartbeat were keeping him warm.

I always stop and try to help motorists with disabled vehicles, and if a major storm is brewing, I’ll even throw a chainsaw in the trunk if I think of it. Last winter, while taking the back way home from a friend’s place in East Middlebury, I had the opportunity to clear a tree from the Lincoln-Ripton Road. It’s a rarely-traveled dirt road, but I had plenty of help loading the tree into the pickup truck of one of the passers by. Something tells me that tree is keeping him warm on these cold nights.

I really like stick season—buildings, lakes, and land features otherwise hidden behind the leaves are visible for a short time before the snow comes. Hunting season hasn’t begun yet, but it won’t stop Owen and me from exploring the woods next weekend in bright orange, just in case.

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


  Troubleshooting Kernel Panics after Migration  

Last week, I performed a major upgrade for a corporation in Burlington. A design department was having all of their Macs upgraded to Snow Leopard, CS5, and Office 2011. A few users also had hardware upgrades. One of those users was moving from a first generation Mac mini running 10.5.8 to a brand new 2.4Ghz Quad-Core Mac Pro.

The first step was to transfer the user’s data to the new Mac Pro. I used the built-in Migration Assistant that comes up right in the initial Setup Assistant, as I usually find this is a great and easy way to transfer data. Unfortunately, right at the end of the migration the machine kernel panicked (KP). I shut the Mac Pro down, disconnected the Mac mini, reset PRAM and reboot the Mac Pro. It KP’d once again. My next step was to boot to the install disc, open Disk Utility and repair the volume; no repairs were needed. Then I reinstalled the operating system, which in Snow Leopard is equivalent to the “Archive and Install” option, meaning no data was lost.

After the reinstall, the Mac Pro still kernel panicked. I decided to start from square one by performing and Erase and Install and re-migrating the data. This time, I first created a test account and then used Migration Assistant from /Applications/Utilities. I also chose not to transfer network settings, thinking it could have run into an odd driver issue. As the migration proceeded, I busied myself around the office performing the rest of the installs that needed to be done.

Much to my chagrin, after the migration completed the Mac Pro once again boot to KP. Crap. It was clear that I was going to have to dig deeper. I reboot in single user mode and once again ran an fsck (file system check), which found nothing. I did a little research and found other users were having the same problem due to items in their startup folders. With the Mac Pro in target disk mode, I connected it to my MacBook Pro and deleted the contents of /Library/StartupItems but that had no effect.

I then boot in safe mode (hold down the ‘shift’ key while booting), which worked successfully. I disabled all of the user startup items, but a reboot found the issue was still not resolved. I reboot once again into safe mode. From safe mode I was able to check the Console logs and that’s when the lightbulb turned on; the kernel panics were referencing Parallels drivers. I was already kicking myself that I hadn’t just checked the Console logs hours before. I get a slap on the wrist for that one.

Now that I was able to pin-point the issue to Parallels, I found several other instances of people running into the same specific problem after migration. Using the instructions in this Parallels Kbase article I fully uninstalled Parallels (which does not delete virtual machines) and, sure enough, the machine reboot just fine. This particular user was getting an upgrade to Parallels 6 anyway and after installing that, her virtual machines opened just fine. Problem solved!

  How to Banish Flash  

Do embedded flash movies and other items ruin your browsing experience? Do you find flash as contemptible as Enron? Do you want to stop Flash from loading during a browsing session, or from running down your battery? Well, welcome into your computing experience ClickToFlash. I found ClickToFlash on a whim while reading through blogs and forums about negative browsing experiences.

Am I anti-Flash? No, but most websites I frequent do not use significant amounts of Flash, if any, at any point. With all the buzz about Flash being a closed, proprietary Adobe product that does not play well with open source products, there is a growing number of groups looking to exclude Flash from their content.

I downloaded ClickToFlash to a new user account on my machine to make sure that installation would not adversely affect my primary user account. Installation was through the standard Apple installation/software installer routine. After installation I jumped in and found that the Flash items loaded without any difference. You need to restart the computer after installation to enable the plugin. After restarting, the loading time of web pages with Flash was much quicker since Flash is disabled until you actively click it.

The preferences for ClickToFlash can be entered by Control- (or Right-) clicking on the Flash window. From the contextual menu that pops up, you can select to load that specific Flash item on that one page, all Flash images on the page in question, and add the page you are on to the Flash whitelist.

On the main settings page, the options are laid out in a straightforward manner with the most important button of all: Uninstall ClickToFlash.

Normal Flash performance was seen in the behavior of the browser after allowing it to load. My testing was done in Safari 5.0.2. This is a worthwhile tool to add to your utilities to improve your browsing and computing experience.

Download ClickToFlash here.

  Tip of the Week: How To Rename Bluetooth Devices  

Whenever you connect a new iPod or wireless device to your Mac you get the option to name the device. Many times when I get a new device, I like to come up with a funny name for it. For example, my new little pink iPod shuffle is called “Little bubblegum shuffle” (don’t judge!).

However, when I plugged my shuffle into my computer today, I realized how stupid that nickname is. I had never actually changed the name of a Bluetooth device, so I had to play around for a little bit until I realized how to do it.

You want to go to System Preferences from the Apple menu at the upper left corner of your screen. In the System Preferences window, go to the third column down, and then select the “Bluetooth” icon (third icon in).

You will see a column on the left side that shows your connected Bluetooth devices. Click on the device that you would like to rename. Click the little gearshift icon towards the bottom of that column and you will see the option to rename the device. Select Rename and there will be a pop up window that will allow you to rename your Bluetooth device to whatever you desire.

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