mysterious file/disk suck on my powerbook

I get disk I/O errors, which are the computer equivalent of coughing up blood; ominous.

They only happen with certain files. I notice it when syncing to my iPod or listening to music, for example. One music file will be a DEVIL FILE and cause the system to throw the I/O errors into the log after hanging up really badly (slow UI, processes crash, etc).

If I delete that one file then no problems for a while until another DEVIL FILE shows up.

I’m trying to figure out if maybe the iTunes-LAME script I use so I can use the LAME MP3 encoder might be contributing to this, or maybe LAME itself, but I can’t see how. Maybe something is messed up with 10.4.3?


I helped my mom buy a new Mac. She’s on a 350 MHz blue G3 right now.

Refurbished Mac Minis from the Apple web site are going for $400 right now, no joke! Good time to get a Mac if you haven’t before because of price.

We got her a Mac Mini, a 23″ flat panel display, Applecare, and an HP color printer/scanner/everything box all for $2,136 with tax, shipped free.

I swear my mom gets more use out of less money than anyone I know in computing. She’s bought a total of three computers since 1994 and still has the same laserprinter we bought that year.

Technical victories

First, I finally got my Powerbook to stop miscellaneously slowing to a crawl several times an hour, and also got it to stop hanging on “Open” dialogs. The solutions were 1) completely and utterly disable Spotlight and 2) turn off syncing the iDisk. So I had to disable two useful features of my operating system because they were buggy and painful, but at least I’m not swearing at top volume every 15 minutes.

Second, Jeff Eaton was kind enough to post on his blog the solution to a horrible Photoshop problem I’d been having. All my pictures would look lovely in Photoshop and then get washed out and crappy as soon as I saved them as web-optimized jpegs to put on Flickr, etc. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was happening, and it was making me something something. Turns out there was a bad preference in the “view” menu in Photoshop under “proofing”. End of problem.

Man, it’s like taking a rock out of each shoe.

The Bootup Kids

The local rich kids all showed up at once and began staring at this laptop, giving me the opportunity to create my own D.I.Y. Apple ad. I’m not sure whether “Think Different” or “The Power To Crush The Other Kids” would be the best slogan to use. Maybe a new slogan for emo kids with lots of cash?

The Bootup Kids

mac tech question

Mac heads –

My shiny new Powerbook is a delight, but it does something that I hadn’t noticed previously. I’ll be working along typing or browsing and suddenly it will just grind to a halt doing something like updating articles in netnewswire or starting a program or copying files. I get the beach ball in that app, whatever it is, and nothing happens for quite a while, maybe 15 to 30 seconds. If I can see load it’s normal, and the machine has enough RAM, and doesn’t appear to be obviously I/O bound (no disk grinding).

Any ideas what’s causing this periodic hangup? It’s so frustrating, especially since the machine itself is so fast and everything else about it is great.


Watching the iDisk sync on my Mac, i’m alarmed to see it syncing “item 27 of 26”.

Later on, I’m still more alarmed to see it syncing “item 1 of 0”.

This is about the dark matter that makes up the unseen universe, isn’t it?

Tiny automator app for syncing your iDisk

I got really sick of the fact that a 0.3 second failure of my wireless caused my iDisk to go offline completely, requiring restarting the Finder and waving a chicken to get it to wake up again. You can fix this, it turns out, by sending an alarm signal to the mirroring agent program.

Since many of you do not want to open the terminal or find out about the killall command or any of that crap, I made a very small Automator app that prompts you to make sure this is what you wanted and then forces the mirror agent to fire up and sync the disk. After that it will show as online just fine.

Nice bug, Apple. Real nice.