Mac OS X

I made a successful upgrade to Snow Leopard recently on my Macbook Pro, and while 99% of it was positive, there are some strange things which just “don’t work” anymore.

One example is the ability to browse Windows shares and shared printers on windows computers. This worked fine on Leopard, but is no longer working with SL.

In looking around I found a work around which, while not elegant, kind of makes sense and I’ll use for now. Basically what was happening was that SL can see the Samba share, but can’t resolve the IP address. So by adding in the computer name and IP address to /etc/hosts you can fix the problem.

For example:
192.168.1.x hostname

Hint taken from

So out of the blue the display stopped working on my 15″ Macbook Pro. The computer would come out of sleep, but no display, nothing. Total blackness. I was also unable to get anything on the external display as well. After a bit of research everyone seemed to agree (from what I’d read) that it was the logic board, and that since it was out of warranty it would cost a pretty penny. I decided to try my luck and give Apple Care a call. To their credit, they at least talked to me even though I was out of warranty. Their “fix” was for me to go into the nearest Apple store and get service there. I was also quoted at $1100 for a new display. Now, I also explained the entire situation (computer is on, can get to it in target mode, just no displays), and he felt it was a motherboard problem. That made no sense to me.

I gave up for a bit to get some work done, and then late in the evening I decided to look on the net one more time. Lo and behold something interesting appeared. Evidently this nVidia thing where you get a black screen after waking up from sleep is common. So common that they are reimbursing any repairs that involved the nVidia cards on these MacBooks.  

So I printed that out and took it with me to the “Genius” bar. It must be common because they had a special device to check for the nVidia failure. And there it was… So the repair is free, but I’m out the laptop for 10 days+. The plus being related to something strange. We were all finished when the “genius” asked me for my username and password “So they can do tests and stuff”. Well, there was no way that I was giving my username and password out, and that was pretty much the only admin account on there. Since I had just made a backup with Super Duper I had them wipe the drive, but I thought the whole thing was bizarre. Can’t they do the tests from a disk in single user mode?

At any rate, I’m happy that it’s a free repair, but confused why the Apple Care guy didn’t at least acknowledge that this could be the problem, and why they needed my username and password. 

Well, it’s good to purge once in a while I suppose…

I had been having trouble upgrading to the latest ipython (0.9.1) through macports. In fact, at this point I can’t even access the site, so I’m not sure what’s up. At any rate, the upgrade would fail only because the file ipython-0.9.1.tar.gz couldn’t be downloaded (well, I guess the source file is somewhat important!). So to get it to work I kind of had to brute force it by manually downloading the file (I googled it) and putting it in /opt/local/var/macports/distfiles/python.

Then I ran:

sudo port upgrade py25-ipython

and it went just fine.

At this point just a small update to say that since the activation fiasco, I have not used Matlab at all. Everything that I have done for the last four presentations has been done with R and Python, and I am both the happier and wiser for it.

I have been playing with JMP a bit, but honestly, it’s a bit too “high level” and while it’s neat for data exploration, it really made me nuts that two weeks after I got a license, they were *offering* me a special deal on the impending upgrade. Nothing like dropping a bundle on instantly outdated software. Way to go guys.

So for me, it’s been a pleasure to use R, Python (with iPython of course), and ferret on my Mac Pro. If I ever take a break from playing on the computer I’ll post up what I installed on the new Mac in terms of scientific software.

I’ts been a while since I posted something, but that’s just because I’ve been swamped at work. One of the main reason that I even post here is so that I can remember how I did something later on down the line. Here’s a perfect example. A while back I wanted to make a quarterly average of a 2d time series (i.e. average a 2d field every three months). You can make climatologies in ferret, but here I wanted a subset to average over, not the entire time range. One thing that seems to work here is to just do a 3 month average from the middle month that you want in the range. An example below is to make a three month average of a SeaWiFS chlorophyll-a field for October – December 1997:

let swseas = CHLA[l=3:200:3@AVE]

This starts at month 3 in the time series (Nov 1997 in SeaWiFS) and goes to the end of the series (yes 200 is too many but it’s OK) and then averages every three months.

It almost seems to make more sense to start at October and go forward every three months, but that doesn’t work as it must average on the center node…


yes? list CHLA[x=190,y=35,l=2:4]
VARIABLE : Chlorophyll-a Concentration (Milligrams per cubic meter)
FILENAME : chla-SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla
FILEPATH : las-FDS/LAS/SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla/
SUBSET : 3 points (TIME)
18-OCT-1997 / 2: 0.1265
17-NOV-1997 / 3: 0.1700
18-DEC-1997 / 4: 0.2466

Average is 0.181033

yes? list CHLA[x=190,y=35,l=2:4:3@AVE]
VARIABLE : Chlorophyll-a Concentration (Milligrams per cubic meter)
regrid: 2192 hour on T@AVE
FILENAME : chla-SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla
FILEPATH : las-FDS/LAS/SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla/
TIME : 18-OCT-1997 06:30

yes? list CHLA[x=190,y=35,l=3:5:3@AVE]
VARIABLE : Chlorophyll-a Concentration (Milligrams per cubic meter)
regrid: 2192 hour on T@AVE
FILENAME : chla-SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla
FILEPATH : las-FDS/LAS/SeaWiFS_Monthly_Chla/
TIME : 17-NOV-1997 17:00


I broke down and jailbroke my phone last night. Partially it was just to try it, but also because I was getting sick of the subpar 3rd party apps that were inundating the App Store. After following the instructions via Lifehacker to install Cydia, I was able to install OpenSSH as well as other cool things, like Python.

Then I saw that you could install iPython on the iPhone so I thought, let’s try it.

So hard was it? With the python package installed it was

easy_install ipython


To lay it out in terms of steps…

1. Install Cydia (The only caveat here is that I got a different SHASUM when I checked the pwnage tool from the macgeekblog site, I then redownloaded from the pwnage mirrors)
2. Follow the instructions to get openSSH up and running.
3. Go into Cydia and under “sections” got to “scripting”. There they have Python (among others).
4. I also installed a terminal
5. Now you can either go in through the terminal on the iPhone(touch) or SSH in from a differnet computer. Either way, su to root and then you can
6. easy_install ipython

Next of course would be to install Numpy and do folding at home (I’m kidding!), but this just shows some serious possibilities.

Did I also mention that I installed the NES frontend which can use all the public domain ROMs that are out there? Someone mentioned ROM world and The Old Computer but I haven’t checked them out yet.

Cool stuff.

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A funny thing happened on the way to forum. I fired up my virtual XP machine yesterday for the first time in a while, and I was prompted to upgrade to build 5608. OK. No problem. So I hit update, downloaded the 88 MB dmg package and waited for it to upgrade. Nothing. Bupkiss. Actually, Parallels just hung, bad. I had to force quit it and try to open the dmg package. No dice, the file was corrupt. I seemed to remember this happening the last time that I went for an automatic updare so I manually downloaded 5608, opened the dmg package and installed the update.

Then the fun began. Not only did Parallels hang when I tried to start the virtual machine, I got the grey screen of death! “YOU MUST REBOOT YOUR COMPUTER NOW!” Crap.

Well, looking up the problem in the “Knowledge base” I found that “Errors occur when you try to install or update Parallels Desktop, create or open virtual machines, load the required drivers to the guest OS” The handy solution? Reboot. Repair disk permissions. Reinstall. Why? Because evidently “Working in Mac OS for long periods of time without restart may lead to some minor glitches to appear in the system as a whole.”

Yup, feels like XP!

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