Dear Lazyweb: Mac Terminal Question

I like to use the Bitstream Vera Sans Mono font at 14 points in my Terminal. It’s the right size and is easy on my eyes. (Rhyme.)

I also like an 80 x 24 terminal. Many programs I use agree.

When I maximize the terminal with the little green button, and then minimize it again, it goes to 79 x 24 instead. This sets off my compulsive brain and I need to manually resize it. Plus, some software will bitch and say “need 80 columns at least!” or just look crummy.

I can change fonts or resize and the problem goes away. But I don’t WANT to change fonts or resize.

Do any Mac wizards out there have a solution?

I remain always your faithful servant &c. &c.

Two semi-whiny mac questions for the Group Mind

1) Is there any way to keep applications from egregiously stealing focus, sometimes in damaging and annoying ways? It’s bad enough that some noncritical program can just barge in and hide your work and demand a click, but sometimes it also steals your keyboard input immediately or even worse steals the foreground but doesn’t give you mouse or keyboard focus, and then you have to flail and swear.

2) How much, roughly, does it cost to replace a Macbook Pro keyboard? I’ve typed mine to pieces and no AppleCare/warranty/wife/horse/mustache is available.


There’s a sweet little desktop app for OSX called Huevos.

It’s tiny and free, and it’s a search helper. You pick a search site, type in your search, and your browser of choice fires up and searches. I recommend it!

You can drop in your own searches, so I took out the ones I didn’t need and put in somei new ones. In case anyone is interested, my new ones were:



Google Video:



Dear Lazyweb: My new Macbook Pro…

…is beautiful, and fast, and useful. However, it has a tiresome bug. Frequently the Airport wireless connection will drop, and on reconnecting it will fail to hand out an IP address. This is true whether my base station is set to act as a dhcp server itself or whether it is bridging to my linux box for dhcp. The Macbook just sit there with its dhcp default address asking for an IP.

When the server side is the Linux box, i can see it trying to hand out an address without any success, showing that the request is being heard. Somehow the response back to the Macbook falls on deaf ears.

This is especially true if the machine has been sitting for a while or comes back from sleep. It will work for a few minutes and then the wireless connection will totally drop, down to zero, and nothing works on reconnection.

The only fix is to power down the Macbook and come back up. This is suboptimal.

I am going to scour the usual help sites and the apple message boards, but anything the Group Mind has to contribute would be great.

apple blues

The hard drive on my 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4 is clearly defective and has been for some time. It likes to hang and say “disk0s3: I/O error” into the logs at times when certain files are touched. The Disk Utility thinks the drive is fine and so does the “SMART” status. Maybe a cable is loose in there. The voice of authority in the form of dr_strych9, who knows, told me to get it replaced but I didn’t.

Now of course it’s worse. An unknown number of my music files now make this thing happen, and the new iTunes insists on doing a “gapless music analysis” on each file on startup each time that can’t be disabled and keeps hitting the problem. I remove a file and it “finds” another. Plus, the update prebindings thing that installers like to do sets it off. My computer is becoming less and less usable.

I realized that I haven’t fixed this mainly because I hate dealing with AppleCare and the Apple Store. The last couple of times I went to the Genius Bar, the Genius gave me the third degree. Well sir we might have a K key to replace this broken one, we have some in the back, but if we don’t you’ll have to pay for a new keyboard. Yes I know you have AppleCare but the wear & tear, sir. Pointing to the spots where the sweat from my wrists had pitted the aluminum and talking about “moisture corrosion damage issues,” looking for anything that meant I had been using the thing to hammer nails, etc.

They’ve clearly been told to be hardasses and refuse AppleCare to anyone they can, especially laptop owners. I understand that they’re plagued with people who pour a Coke on their computers and try to get a new one, but being treated like a criminal isn’t fun. Considering the expense of the computer and the AppleCare plan itself, I’m aggrieved to find myself having used car lot conversations with a supercilious geek every time I need help.

Plus, of course, I put in my own memory which invalidates everything because Apple wants to insist on selling RAM at a huge markup over retail.

It’s hard not to see the whole thing as a scam, and it makes me angry, and I don’t like being angry. It’s particularly humiliating to have to defend my computer maintenance skills in public to someone who’s just going to win if he wants to and has poor enough social skills that he’s going to push all my buttons.

So I guess I’ll just buy a new hard drive with cash and try to transfer the data over somehow. I’m not sure I’d buy a new Apple now, though, and I’m certainly not very jazzed about AppleCare. It has been useful before when undeniable problems happened early in hardware ownership, but I don’t any longer think it’s better than another computer vendor’s warranty.

I needed native x86 and Windows for radio stuff so I ordered a cheap-ass low-end Dell this week. I paid for the accidental destruction coverage on it. Maybe Apple should offer that separately from the service at a higher rate, instead of making us fight with their employees about whether we’re good stewards every time something goes wrong.

I freely admit that my own problems with conflict and my button pushes are at least as much the problem as Apple’s policies, but I’m also tired of bait and switch, and tired of Apple’s denial about actual design flaws like the AC Adapter. They do so much so well, and then the Reality Distortion Field intervenes and says “We’re perfect, and you, the customers, are imagining your problems.”

dot mac: not worth it for me

My .mac membership will renew in 22 days and and I don’t think I’ll keep it. I don’t need the email or the net storage, and the backup was the only thing I really liked. I’d successfully restored my settings more than once after some mishap. But everything else was either redundant for me or just missing. They kept promising all kinds of cool freebies but nothing showed up for about a year. Liars with pants on fire.

Today my daily backup fired off and crashed with the message that my iDisk was full, which is un-possible because I don’t put anything there. Attempts to find out what were filling the disk failed; it was so slow that I couldn’t even find large files or directory sizes on it without timeouts. Meanwhile the attempt made my entire system grind to a halt; other applications stopped receiving clicks, the screen began to update slowly, the whole overload drill. The logs got spammed up with diskarbitrationd explaining in detail that each application was not responding.

I finally managed to unmount the sonofabitch and ran backup again, and manually removed all my backups. Once again everything ground to a halt, no progress bar, nothing, and I lived by faith as the LORD commands. After about fifteen minutes it suddenly finished and there was all my disk space back.

The backup doesn’t clean up after itself and I see no option to fine tune that. I’m not paying annual rent on something less configurable than a product I can buy. Foo on them.

So that’s it for dot mac.


Death of my AC Adapter (again)

The power supply for the Powerbook blows chunks. They fall apart in the same way each time.

For the second time I’ve had one die in flames, literally. This one was sparking and spewing clouds of smoke when I yanked the plug out of the wall.

They won’t replace them because they redefined their crappy design as customer damage.

Typically they’ve brought out a different power adapter for their newer machines but they refuse to acknowledge the problem with the older ones. The worst part is the patronizing way they blame the customer as though we were all swinging our computers around our heads like bullroarers.

$80 for a new one.

Apple store, Applecare, Powerbook, and a near breakup

I took the Powerbook to the Genius Bar at the Newport Beach Apple Store on Sunday. The S key was popping off and clearly broken. This had happened previously to the space bar and they’d just replaced the thing.

My previous experiences there were uneven. There was one hard drive replacement under Applecare that they did beautifully, including additional buff-up repairs I hadn’t requested. The previous keyboard problem was also fixed in seconds. Another time, though, the power supply died on my previous Powerbook quite early in its career with the typical snap-and-short at the laptop end. That time they tried to tell me it was my “abuse” that had caused this, but since this one had been a floor model for a solid year before I got it, that wasn’t going to fly. I had to be really bitchy though. Then, that laptop really lost it; the case flexed and cracked and the hinge popped off so that it wouldn’t hold up the screen. This caused a full operating fight between me and the Genius Bar person because he simply declared that I had broken it and voided AppleCare. I was mad as hell and felt cheated. I did, however, purchase another Powerbook because I wanted both the hardware and the OS. The old one was given to Movie Guy Dan, who made mechanical repairs and continues to use it.

So this time I went in thinking “If they do this right they’re okay, but if they mess with me and try to bully me out of my warranty it will be ugly and I will never buy Apple anything again. I’ll just get a commodity x86 laptop, go back to Linux, and lose all this nice shiny consumer convenience.”

The guy looked at the keyboard and poked around. He told me he’d go in the back and try to find an S key, since they had lots of keycaps they pulled off dead keyboards and stored for this very purpose. “If I can’t find one, though, you’ll have to buy a new keyboard.”

“Oh, I have Applecare.” He looked back at the keyboard now with a more critical eye. He ran his fingers up and down the keys, looked at the bottom of the Powerbook and the outside, and then pointed to the spots to the right and left of the trackpad where my hands rest. “What’s up with this corrosion here?” he said in the tone Colombo might use with a murderer.

“That is due to sweat. From my hands. I sweat with them.” He said “Well I’ll see what I can find here.” I told him that I sincerely hoped he had an S key because otherwise it would be bad. He returned in about ten minutes with one and I was gone.

Dear Apple: Warranty cheats are one of the many reasons everyone hates car dealers. They’re legendary for redefining the warranty to classify failure due to their design errors as abuse. You have already done this with your horribly designed power supply, three of which have died on me at a cost of $80 each. Your currentidea of how to increase revenue and keep customers is to charge $350 for a service plan and then make sure that the service plan is always denied, and in the process insult your customers and force them into public arguments with tech support. This is a bad idea. Hugs, me.