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#894: Mavericks Installation Options, Hands On Lesson From A Customer Interaction, Changing Default Time Machine Backups


Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, as well as the start of Hanukkah, and then the holiday season will be in full swing toward Christmas and the new year. We made a conscious decision to keep our stores closed on Thanksgiving Day — unlike many larger chains — because we feel that it’s important for everyone to spend time with family and friends. Each year it seems like stores open earlier and earlier, and it’s a trend we don’t care to follow.

We’ll be ready to go the morning after with some deep discounts on the hottest gifts and brands (Apple, Beats By Dre, Belkin, Seagate and more) on your list. With all the product releases this year between iPhones, iPads, new Mac laptops and video game systems, there is a lot to choose from!

The power of all the new iOS devices is really starting to get to me lately. I purchased an iPhone 5 and a iPad mini before these releases (with the 64-Bit A7 processor), so now I am jealous of all the speeds I see when I help or sell one of these to a customer. The iPad Air is so light and pretty, too!

We have some great articles for you this week. Make sure you have a safe and amazing holiday!


  Mavericks Installation Options  

If you’d like to install Mavericks without going the upgrade route, there is an option. The “Install OS X” installer can be turned into a USB thumb drive installer by any computer running 10.6.8 through 10.9.

Early on, there were Terminal commands that could be used to create this disk, but now the disk can be created with a handy installer called DiskMaker X. This is a freeware application that can create a 10.7, 10.8, or 10.9 USB installer. All that’s needed is a thumb drive or other external drive you don’t mind erasing, and the installer app from the app store for the desired version of the OS.

The final product is not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing, with icons and a Finder window background to match. This 10.9 installer works well, and it is what we use in service. The release of Mavericks has seen quite a few glitches for users who are upgrading their operating system.

Glitches most commonly seen in our South Burlington service department often stem from one of two issues: a failed installation or a failing hard disk. The failed installation could be the result of a corrupted operating system installer, or just failure to run an underlying operation during the install. This is easily fixed by booting off a bootable Mavericks installer and reinstalling over the existing system without wiping.

The hard disk issue is more complicated, whereby the hard disk is already close to failing, and it gets pushed over the edge with the stress of rewriting the first ten gigabytes of the drive. The hard disk reads like a record in reverse, from inside to out. The first chunk of it is always the area that the operating system files have been installed to. This area is used the most, so when the Mavericks installer overwrites the entire section that’s already been heavily worn, it can cause serious failures.

Even with a well-made USB drive, there’s a troubling installer glitch with any Mavericks installer. “This copy of the Install OS X Mavericks application can’t be verified. It may have been corrupted or tampered with during downloading.” The way around this is to open Terminal when booted from the installer, and manually change the system date. The command is “date 110915302013”. This breaks down to “date [month][date][hour(24)][minute][year]”.

After this, the error will be resolved and the installer will continue normally. The Mavericks system date/time appears to be corrupted and needs to be rewritten.

Have any issues not mentioned here or want to share your feedback about going to Mavericks? Email me!

  Hands On Lesson From A Customer Interaction  

The other day, a customer drove over an hour to visit me in Waitsfield and to show me that her computer was being a jerk: Mail, TextEdit, Preview, and some other native applications were crashing before could even load. She had just upgraded to Mavericks and restored data from an older Time Machine backup.

I repaired permissions in Disk Utility, cleared cache files, and then started canning .plist files in her user library. I usually like to go a step further and get rid of everything in ~/library/“Saved Application State” as well as everything in the “Containers” folder.

The problem persisted. It seemed likely the OS would need to be reinstalled, but my pride wasn’t gonna have that. After many frustrating minutes passed, I began to investigate the issue and discovered this solution online: launch Terminal, execute ‘cd /var/folders’ then ‘sudo rm -rf ./*’ enter an administrator (or root) password, reboot, and voila — problem solved!

We can’t repeat enough: back up your information before attempting a procedure like this in Terminal, simple though it may be. Whenever a “sudo” (short for “super user do,” and no, I’m not clever enough to have made that up) command is invoked, you’re playing with fire, especially if you’ve got a typing deficiency. This particular execution clears all user-generated caches in /private/var which is, itself, an upper-level directory purposely hidden from users in the GUI. Apple thought doing this would lessen the chances of a naïve user unwittingly rendering their launch daemons — or worse, the file system itself — a vegetable. In Unix-speak, “var” stands for “variable,” so this directory contains dynamic files like .db (databases) and .log (logs) file extensions.

You can safely execute the command on a healthy system and see what’s lurking in this, one of the most important of your hidden directories, by changing the flag ‘-rf’ to ‘-rfv.’ Here, “v” makes the process run verbose. Of course, if you or someone you love is experiencing the aforementioned computer ailment and none of this works, you can either stop using computers or bring it into the closest Small Dog retail store for service.

  Changing Default Time Machine Backups  

By default, Time Machine backs up your system every hour if you leave your backup drive plugged in. If you are creating a lot of new data, this is a great system as it allows you to be able to have a consistent backup of all your information.

However, If you don’t need to have data backed up that frequently, or if you want to change it to back up more often, it is possible to change the default frequency for backups with this simple Terminal command.

Sudo defaults write /System/Library/Launch Daemons/ StartInterval -int 900

The number at the end of the command is how many seconds it will be until the next backup occurs. In the example, I used 900, which is 15 minutes. If you want to change to a backup interval of 2 hours, you would use the same code and change the number to 7200.

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