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#760: Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.6.7, iPad 2 Setup Issues, Activity Monitor, Heat, and Battery Life


Happy Tuesday,

I’m writing from our Manchester, NH store today, which is brimming with customers eager to try out an iPad 2, get help and training at our Help Desk, or just touch and feel some of the hottest products on the planet. While you can’t really get an iPad 2 anywhere, they are trickling in, and we’ve been able to fill quite a few orders. Like so many others, we’re excited for supply to meet demand. It certainly seems that iPad 2 is the most sought-after Apple product in quite some time.

Dan Warren, the lead technician in Manchester, has a new member of his family. Dexter Owen Warren was born over the weekend, and Dan will be on leave for a while. If you’ve ever been to the Manchester store or called for support, there’s a very good chance you spoke with Dan. We wish him well during this joyous time.

What would you like covered in Tech Tails? You can reply to this message, or feel free to email me directly.

As always, thanks for reading.


  Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.6.7  

This Monday, Apple released the seventh major revision of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The maintenance update, which is the first since January, includes several bug fixes and subtle performance enhancements. Additionally, Apple has bundled numerous security improvements into the update—a full list can be viewed here. Though the update includes more enhancements and refinements than new features, it is still a welcome release and a suggested update for all Snow Leopard users. Some of the top-billed features of the release include fixes that:

  • Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac
  • Resolve an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers
  • Address various minor Mac App Store issues

A complete list of all additional non-security improvements can be viewed here.

The update is available via Software Update or by direct download. As always, we recommend users back up their data prior to installing operating system updates.

Additionally, Apple has released a unique build of Mac OS X v10.6.7 specifically for early 2011 MacBook Pro models. Supplementing the aforementioned fixes, this release addresses minor FaceTime performance issues and improves graphics stability and external display compatibility. Users of the new MacBook Pro are advised to obtain the update through Software Update in order to ensure they receive the proper version. However, a direct link can be found here.

Direct Links

  Repair of the Week: iPad 2 Setup Issues  

Repair of the Week: iPad 2 Setup Issues

iPad 2 is here! Most of what we’ve heard from our customers is very positive, and people absolutely love their new toy. As with any new device, however, we occasionally get a call from someone who can’t get their iPad to work with their computer. Most of the time, the issue falls into one of the following categories.

USB port: iPad, as with other recent devices, requires connection to a USB 2.0 port to sync with iTunes. If your system has legacy USB 1.x ports, iTunes won’t see the device. If you’re not sure, check System Profiler (Mac) or Device Manager (Windows). Another thing to watch for is if you’re plugging the device into an unpowered USB hub; the device will turn on and show the Connect to iTunes graphic, but it won’t appear under Devices in iTunes. Plug it directly into the computer to ensure there is enough power to detect the device.

Non-current version of iTunes: All current iDevices require iTunes 10, but for iPad 2 you must have at least 10.2. If you use a Windows system, click Help -> About iTunes to find out if you’re up to date. On a Mac, click iTunes -> About iTunes. If you have an earlier version than 10.2.1, check that same menu for a Check for Updates selection and see if a new version is available. If so, download and install it, then try your device again.

Your system doesn’t support iTunes 10: Depending on the version of the OS you have, you may not be able to install iTunes 10. Your only option here is to upgrade your operating system. For Windows, you must have XP Service Pack 3. For Mac OS X, you need 10.5.8 or higher. Also keep in mind that iTunes 10 may need more memory than your system has installed – you can get by with 512MB RAM, but to take full advantage of the content, you should have 1GB or more.

For extensive troubleshooting information, give us a call or check out Apple’s iPad support page

  Activity Monitor, Heat, and Battery Life  

My MacBook Pro was acting strange last week: slow application launch times, incessant beach-balling, fans at full speed all the time, hot to the touch, and miserable battery life.

This group of symptoms screams software, not hardware. Excessive heat generation and fan activity can be a symptom of hardware abnormality, but it is most often caused by a runaway process. The additional symptom of abysmal battery life is the real clue. When a program on your computer encounters a situation it doesn’t know how to deal with, it can often consume a huge percentage of the computer’s processing power (and battery) to figure it out. This turned out the be the case in my situation.

If you find yourself with these symptoms, instead of fretting or just dealing with it, fire up Activity Monitor from your Utilities folder. You’ll see a list of all the processes running on your machine. This will show you not only the programs you use every day, like Safari and iPhoto, but also the behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps Mac OS X running. There are several columns in the window, but this first installment of the Activity Monitor focuses on the CPU column. By clicking on the CPU column header, you can view the processes by the amount of processor capacity they’re using, in ascending or descending order.

I sorted this column and noticed that SystemUIServer was pegged at 91%. This accounted for all the problems I was having. By clicking on SystemUIServer in this window and then clicking on the big red Quit Process button on the top left of the window, this process was forced to restart itself. With this completed, and SystemUIServer hovering at a very reasonable 0.1%, the fans spun down, the laptop cooled off, and the estimated battery life remaining jumped up almost an hour.

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