Category Archives: Mac OS X

WWDC 2017 in San Jose: Places to Eat & Visit

Apple made a big splash when they announced that WWDC would be in San Jose, CA in 2017 for the first time since 2002. I just finished a 6-year gig in San Pedro Square which is 4 city blocks from the McEnery Convention Center. What follows are a my thoughts on downtown San Jose. This list of places to eat isn’t exhaustive. These are some of my go-to’s. YMMV. I’ve also included some sights.

San Jose has seen a boom in housing recently. Two new apartment towers have opened in the last few years with more on the way. This is helping the restaurant/bar scene have more customers after dark. San Jose may never shake its reputation of being a sleepy town but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a fantastic time.

Stones Throw from McEnery

Original Joe’s. You’ve just stepped into a 1950’s eatery and expect Frank Sinatra to start singing at any moment. Must have starter: sautéed spinach with bacon.

Pizza My Heart. Local chain that has thin crust pizza by the slice, salad and drink down cold.

Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery. Open during business hours only. A chain but I always find good stuff here.

Scott’s SeafoodMorton’s Steakhouse and McCormick and Schmick’s are also some anchors in the area.

Tandoori Oven

Lots of people like Il Fornaio. However I’m not a fan.

Psycho Donuts if that’s your thing.

Philz Coffee

Gordon Biersch Brewery

La Victoria Taqueria  Often a go-to for late night eats and they have a surprising number locations around downtown. This location open until 3am!

Venues: City National Civic (Cap. 2,850); The Frank Lloyd Wright designed Center for the Performing Arts (Cap. 2,677); the California Theater (Cap. 1,119) is where Apple announced the 4th Gen iPad and iPad mini in 2012; and the Tech Museum of Innovation with IMAX domed theater. I expect things to happen here.

Walking Distance (> 3 blocks north of McEnery)

This starts to be where I have the most experience.

San Pedro Sq Market – just a few years old (but restored from the turn of the last century) and a true gem. Think food court with indoor and outdoor seating. All local businesses. Something for everyone. Includes a barber shop! Great coffee at B2. I highly expect events to take place here.

Firehouse No 1 is my old stomping ground with great food and just a bar after 10pm. SP2 is another great spot just outside the Market. Olla Cocina and the Farmers Union are notable too. We also have a gamers lounge called AFK. A local pub to try out is O’Flaherty’s and Five Points.

Togo’s has a long history in the Valley. Check them out if you want to know what it was like in the 70’s to have lunch in the Valley. They used to be everywhere and often served alcohol for those 2-hour lunches.

La Victoria Taqueria  Various locations downtown. This location is open until midnight; 3am Thur, Fri, & Sat.

Back A Yard – Caribbean cuisine

Long Walk

Freshly Baked – Hole-in-the-wall, only open for lunch but worth the walk. Cash only. Maybe consider splitting sandwiches with a friend.

There is some speculation the keynote will be at SAP Center at San Jose (capacity 19,000). Just a block from there is our newest Whole Foods Market which has an onsite brewery and outdoor seating area. A littler further down is Chipotle, Five Guys and two local hot spots: the small and intimate Zona Rosa and Tee Nee Thai.

Nearby (a drive) 

Falafel Drive In.  This hole-in-the-wall is worth the drive. The special is a falafel and banana shake. My go-to is the gyro salad, humus and banana shake.

Lincoln Ave in Willow Glenn, an upscale neighborhood in San Jose is a tree lined street with great places to check out. Bill’s Cafe for breakfast (a local institution) and Crepevine too but they are also open much later. The Table in San Jose recently expanded and has a must-see neon sign. Aqui Cal-Mex is always popular – in part because of their slushy machine serves alcohol. Powell’s Sweet Shoppe for all your candy needs. Willow Glen Creamery for ice cream (all kinds); including Dole Whip if you need a Disneyland fix.  There is another Pizza My Heart here too. I’ve really just scratched the surface of what’s here. Oh, and check out the “must see” Hicklebee’s books store – be sure to find the “author signature” covered walls in the back.

There are two big malls near by. Valley Fair contains the Apple Store and has a large food court. It’s your typical upscale Westfield shopping mall (fun fact. It’s half in San Jose and half in Santa Clara). It’s currently undergoing an expansion so a bit of a mess. Bazille restaurant inside Nordstrom is a hidden gem. There is a Cheese Cake Factory if that’s your thing.

Across the street is Santana Row which is where the Tesla Store is. European style outside mall: housing/offices above the first floor. First floor stores and restaurants. Tends to be where the cool kids go. Downtown businesses were very frustrated Santana Row didn’t happen downtown – one of the main reasons is parking is free at Santana Row. Too many food places to mention but here are some: Tacolicious, Village California Bistro, Pizza Antica, Maggiano’s, Left Bank, LB Steak, Fogo De Chao, The Counter, Consuelo’s Mexican Bistro, Blowfish Sushi, Amber India. (I may have only mentioned half the restaurants)

Fixing an iPhoto Beach Ball

I had a frustrating experience with iPhoto 9.2.1 under Mac OS X 10.6.8. iPhoto got into a state where it would beach ball shortly after launching regardless of the state of the OS (fresh boot, fresh image, etc.). Turns out the problem involved movies from a Canon SD870 IS camera. Here’s what to do if this problem befalls you.

  1. In the Finder, move the photos off the memory stick and into the movies directory. Delete the *.thm files.
  2. Force Quit iPhoto
  3. In your ~\Library directory search for iPhoto in the “Library” directory (not “This Mac”) in the “Filename” (not the “Contents”). Delete iPhoto from the caches directory and the 1 or 2 plist files in the Preferences directory.
  4. Empty the trash
  5. Reboot. The reboot is important. Something remains in memory otherwise, it’s not clear what. You can tell the difference by what happens when you launch iPhoto after step 3. If you don’t see iPhoto first-run activity (welcome to iPhoto) then you know something didn’t get removed. I consistently saw first-run activity after a reboot.

App Store Purchases Don’t Work When Running From Another Mac’s Backup

My two year old MacBook Pro’s hard drive failed and I took it in to the Apple Store to get it fixed. I’m now running off a backup of my MacBook Pro on the family’s new MacBook Air. All is working as you would expect. But applications purchased from the App Store do not work.

When I attempt to launch an App Store purchase, I am presented with the dialog, “Sign in to use this application on this computer”. Nothing further happens after entering my credentials. Now, every time I click on an App Store purchased app on the dock I get a single bounce and then nothing.

I spoke with Apple support and was escalated one level to no avail. It would seem this is an unsupported configuration although I tend to doubt it’s a driver issue support was hinting at. I stopped them when they wanted to migrate the image to the MacBook Air. This is temporary situation until my production computer is fixed and that exceeds the amount of work I wanted to put into resolving this issue.

Interestingly, App Store purchases downloaded to the MacBook Air’s drive work when launched while booted from my external MacBook Pro drive. Presumably Apple is tattooing the applications with an identifier (Serial Number? Hardware UUID?) from the physical computer that allows me to run the “MacBook Air installed Apps” on my booted MacBook Pro image running the MacBook Air. In the end, not sure if this is a feature or a bug. Support clearly doesn’t understand the mechanics involved. I suspect only an App Store engineer does.

Minutia: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 (11C74). When this MacBook Air is booted normally it is attached to the same Apple ID and purchases work.

Use VLC to Open Files with QCP File Extension

Occasionally you’ll have a technical problem and a Google search fails to provide you a fix.  In this case a lot of the information was too old.

I was forwarded a voice mail from a Driod Incredible (a .qcp file).  I needed to play it in Mac OS X.  My google search offered:

  • Windows Media Player will play it natively (No in 9 and No in 11)
  • Quicktime (No)
  • Qualcomm has a player (it has been pulled from their site for legal reasons)
  • Various downloads to try on my PC but none panned out (should have done this testing in a VM so I could have easily rolled back the changes).

In the end, I tried it in VLC (Version 1.0.5 Goldeneye (Intel 32bit)) on the Mac and it worked.  I wasn’t able to drag and drop the file but was able to use the Open dialog.  Worked in VLC on the PC too.  Is this a harbinger of things to come?  Having to work with qcp files?

iPhone App Too Large To Update

I downloaded the updated TomTom U.S. & Canada v1.3 app from the iTunes store and expected it to be updated on my iPhone 3G v3.1.3  – just like every application before it.  But it didn’t work.  I was presented with a dialog “The application “US – Canada” was not installed on the iPhone “iPhone” because not enough free space was available.”  Huh?  It’s already on the phone. How could there not be enough space for it?  Is the new version that much bigger than the prior version?

Then I realized what iTunes 9.1 is doing.  It’s copying the new app to the iPhone; verifying the copy was successful; then deleting the old app and putting the updated app in its place.  Most apps are small so you’ve probably never noticed this before.  But because the TomTom app is so large (1.55GB) this didn’t work (although I’m not sure why, my iPhone is reporting 2.2GB free).

Clicking on the “More Information” link on the dialog takes you to an Apple web page with a laundry list of things that could be wrong.  While the most salient thing to do is under the section titled “Reinstall the application” this has you do more than you really need to.  Here are my instructions if you find yourself in this situation.

First, download the updated application into iTunes. (You’ve probably already done this. That is why you’re here, right?)

To remove the application from your iPhone:

  1. Touch and hold any application icon on the Home screen until the icons start to wiggle.
  2. Tap the “x” in the corner of the application you want to delete.
  3. Tap Delete to remove the application and all of its data from your iPhone or iPod touch. (This is what makes this process a bug. What if I didn’t want to loose my data? If you have user data associated with your app, contact the app seller to find out how to archive your data.)
  4. Press the Home button to save your arrangement.

To re-add the application to your iPhone:

  1. In iTunes, select your iPhone under devices on the left side bar
  2. Click on the Apps tab and re-select the app you want to add back in.
  3. Use the iPhone pane on the right to put the app back where the original was.
  4. Click the “Sync” button in the lower right-hand corner.

iTunes should solve this problem by alerting the user that it will need to perform a critical update and to not disconnect the phone until done (similar to the warning you get when trying to install software updates on battery power).  Otherwise, the process I’ve outlined will cause all the app’s data to be deleted.  In my case it didn’t matter.  But if it matters in your situation, you would need a way to do an in-place update when space is at a premium on your iPhone.

Snow Leopard’s New Time Machine Behavior After Logic Board Replacement

My MacBook Pro had it’s logic board replaced and I dreaded what the resulting new MAC address would do to some of the installed software.  Time Machine is one of the applications that cares.  The machine’s MAC address is used, in part, to identify itself with Time Capsule.  I was so concerned that I made a Genius Bar appointment to pickup my repair and talk about this issue with a tech.  The tech printed out a tech note entitled “10.5: Repair Time Machine after logic board charges”.

But after I got home I was pleasantly surprised to discover Snow Leopard knows about this problem and has a solution.  My first backup with the new logic board resulted in the following dialog:  “Would you like to reuse the backup “/Volumes/Data/Nemo.sparsebundle” with this computer?  The backup was created on a different computer.  If you reuse this backup it can no longer be used by the original computer.”  The options were “Do Not Backup Now”, “Create New Backup”, and “Reuse Backup”.  Clicking on “Reuse Backup” does all the MAC address fix-up while clicking “Create New Backup” will result in a new Time Machine database being created.

Reuse Backup Dialog

Time Machine Thinks All Iomega Drives Are The Same

A colleague purchased two Iomega 500GB eGo portable hard drives at the Apple Store to use with his new MacBook Pro 15″.  He set up one drive to be a Time Machine backup drive (Backup) and the other as external data storage (Datastore).  The problem was whenever he plugged in Datastore the MacBook Pro treated it like Backup and would proceed to backup to Datastore – the incorrect disk.  I tried some draconian methods – deleting the, .fseventsd, and the sparsebundle, but Time Machine kept using Datastore every time I plugged it in.  This is in addition to Time Machine using Backup every time it was plugged in.

I fixed the problem by deleting the partition with Disk Utility and recreating the disk partition.  I believe Iomega has made a mistake in the way they make this product the “Mac Edition”.  My theory is they are imaging the drive with the same blank image.  This image contains the token Time Machine uses to identify “what drive is this?” (Time Machine doesn’t use volume name).  This results in Time Machine seeing every drive in this product line as the same drive.  When you make a new partition, the drive’s identity token is deleted and a new one created – problem solved.


  • Iomega 500GB eGo FireWire/USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive, Mac Edition
  • Apple’s web site says “Mfr. Part No.: 34629” but the underside of the unit says Model No: RPHD-TG.
  • Mac OS X 10.5.8
  • Iomega creates the partition with Apple Partition Map.  When I recreated the partition I used GUID Partition Table
  • The USB Serial Number as shown in Disk Utility was different for each drive when plugged in so this isn’t the token.
  • These units also can connect via Firewire 800 which we were doing.  Firewire devices have a Connect ID in Disk Utility.
  • Having one drive plugged in via Firewire and one plugged in via USB had no affect on this problem – it failed just the same.

Why Can’t Paste be “Paste as Plain Text”?

I no longer use the Paste command (Cmd+V). Paste has become utterly useless to me in the last decade. If I use Paste in an email then the rest of my email has a different font and a different formatting. If I use paste in a word processor it invariably messes the document up in some way – non-matching format and/or different font. When I use the Paste command I want just the text – not the formatting.

That brings me to the Paste Special command. Unfortunately it’s so cumbersome to use it’s infuriating. I have to do a four finger salute. Four! Shift+Option+Cmd+V. And I have to grok another dialog which asks which of 2+ formats I want. Why can’t Paste be “Paste as Plain Text” and Paste Special be “Paste with Formatting”? Cmd+V – that simple key sequence you learned the first week you used the computer. Paste has been overtaken by feature creep and I want it back!

A Windows “Feature” I Wish Apple Hadn’t Copied For Snow Leopard

In Microsoft Windows (all versions), I always found it annoying and disconcerting to see generic icons in Windows Explorer one moment replaced by official/pretty icons the next when starting up or first opening an Explorer window.  It just enforced the “lipstick on a pig” feeling you sometimes got in Windows.

Well, Snow Leopard 10.6.0 is doing it now.  And does it a lot.  At first I thought it was a caching issue but it’s not. And in the screenshot accompanying this post two of the icons never switched over (Address and until I went to a different directory and came back to /Applications.  This must be a side affect of rewriting the Finder.  It’s sloppy and doesn’t give me a “rock solid” feel like 10.5.x (and before) where you never saw this happen.

Icon Redraw in Snow Leaopard

Snow Leopard Changes Preview’s “Combine PDF” Behavior

One of the great features of Preview Version 4.2 (469.5) in Mac OS X 10.5.x was the ability to create one PDF out of many.  Here’s how the feature worked (using single page PDFs – this is important as I’ll discuss in a minute).

  1. Open a PDF.
  2. Expose the Sidebar.
  3. Drag the PDFs you want to include in the Sidebar area.
    Note A: Each of the PDFs become page 2, page 3, and so on.
  4. Save or Save As the PDF.  Voilà – one PDF.

For Snow Leopard 10.6.0, Apple changed the way this feature works in Preview Version 5.0 (501) and made it more cumbersome.  Here’s how it’s done in Snow Leopard:

  1. Open a PDF.
  2. Expose the Sidebar.
  3. Drag the PDFs you want to include in the Sidebar area.
    Note B: The PDFs all retain their name in the Sidebar (contrast with Note A)
  4. Select all but one of the PDFs in the Sidebar.
  5. Drag and drop the selection into the unselected PDF recipient.
    Note C: You only get one chance at this or you’ll need to start over.  You can only drop one set of PDFs onto the recipient.
    Note D: After doing so, the recipient icon changes to include a Binding Comb on the left edge.  Moving the arrow cursor over the combined PDF exposes a circle-left-turn arrow on the right edge.
  6. Save or Save As the PDF.  Voilà – one PDF.

Digging Deeper

Examining the problem further I’ve realized Apple has changed the Sidebar behavior even more.  If you open a multi-page PDF, the first page has the Binding Comb with a clear cover page opened and a circle-right-turn arrow with all the subsequent pages on display below.  Clicking the circle-right-turn arrow rolls up all the pages and closes the clear cover in a nice animation.  It appears they’re trying out a bookshelf metaphor and I’m not sure why.

Other observations:

  • My Note C is a little disingenuous.  When a mutli-page PDF is open you can drag and drop more pages into it.  But why didn’t they automatically expand it when I did it earlier?  That might have given me a clue as to what was going on.  Especially since I was used to the old behavior.
  • When a book is open, there is nothing visually tying the pages together.  There is no indentation.  There is no gray rectangle around all the pages.  You only get that sense if you more pages around or add a PDF not in the document.
  • You can change the order in the Sidebar of books/pages (files) but I don’t understand why – you can’t save this view of the Sidebar.

Update 12/9 This procedure will not work if the creator of the PDF has password protected the document.