The OS Quest Trail Log #24: Hardware and Software Updates Edition

Another busy week on the OS Quest but a lot of it felt like running in place due to the continued onslaught of software updates. The big updates, at least based on size and time, were OS X 10.5.2 and the follow-up Leopard Graphics Update. There were two other big updates, based on the software and features delivered, Aperture 2 and Apple TV Take 2. There were also the minor updates – Microsoft Patch Tuesday, a minor update for Yojimbo, and iLife ’08 update.

In among these updates I moved my dormant Spam Chronicles site to be hosted as a WordPress.com blog and had my first full week with my new inkjet printer.

Canon Pixma iP3500 Photo Printer

I’ve been running the Canon Pixma iP3500 Photo Printer for a little over a week. I bought it at Amazon for $57 delivered so I can’t complain about the price. That’s barely more than the cost of the included ink, which may say more about ink prices than the printer price. It’s a basic printer in every sense of the word. There’s no card slots or networking connections.

One feature I really like is the two paper feeds. There’s a rear feed that folds out from the printer and can handle any paper type. There’s also a front feed that’s just below the output. The front feed can only be used with plain/regular paper because the paper path has to bend around a roller. I set the driver to print from the front whenever plain paper is selected and keep about 80 sheets in the feed (the manual says 100 sheets can be fit there). In rare cases where I want another paper type I can put it in the rear feed and still have plain paper available.

Another nice feature is the auto on/off. The printer will power itself on when a print job is sent and will power off after 5 minutes of inactivity. The power off timer is configurable as 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

Because the printer is not within reach of my desk I really appreciate these two features.

When the printer is actually printing it’s pretty quiet, but it’s noisy when the paper is first fed into the printer or when it’s charging the ink. There is a quiet mode but a didn’t notice a difference when it was enabled. Print speed is very good.

Some people complained about jamming but I haven’t experienced any problems yet, with my largest document topping out at 12 pages.

I would call the print quality very good for a general purpose printer. The test photos I printed weren’t a good as the output from my Epson, but this printer is a fraction of the cost. The printer uses four inks, black, cyan, magenta and yellow. CNet has a full review and rates the printer a “7.4 – very good”

Software Updates

Since getting all my Macs on OS X 10.5.2 things have been a bit more stable. In the end I had to recreate the local iDisk on each of my Macs just like I had to on my iMac.

I did have a problem with SuperDuper on my iMac after the 10.5.2 upgrade. The scheduled updates were failing when it got to one of my WHS shares (which it had always correctly ignored in the past). But then there were other problems, such as not being able to change the target or source drives. The solution to the last one was to reboot my iMac and then I could do a manual clone. By the time a scheduled update rolled around I had rebuilt my Windows Home Server so it’s hard to say whether the reboot or the rebuild fixed the original problem.

Apple TV Take 2 still seems nice. I like the way both the content on my iMac and content local to the Apple TV is mixed together in the menus. I did notice some slowness in Apple TV performance in the menus. Sometimes it’s a bit slow organizing the podcasts or tv shows which can be confusing as things appear multiple times until they’re organized. Scrolling though content can also be slow at times as it tries to load the preview picture. This causes missed clicks which can be annoying. They also seem to put store content ahead of my own content (in menus) which struck me as a bit self-serving at first. But the more I thought about it maybe it may make sense for the way people will use the device – to find rentals and online content.

I haven’t installed Aperture 2 yet but I’m looking forward to diving into it. I’m thinking of starting over with an empty library and going through Apple’s video tutorials. Since I never really got into the old Aperture it’s not a lot of rework.

Frustrations

My main frustration this week was with my Windows Home Server. I was having two very annoying problems:

  1. It would power itself off randomly. Nothing in the event logs other than the typical “Previous shutdown was unexpected” message. It happened occasionally for the last couple of weeks. Never when I was using it and usually overnight. Then it recently became more common with two occurrences on Saturday alone.
  2. My Macs were having problems connecting using IDs/Passwords saved in the keychain. I actually considered this more of a OS X keychain problem introduced by by 10.5.2 but there’s a slight chance it was WHS.

Possibly related to the second problem, the WHS name matched my .Mac ID. While I don’t really think this would cause any problems renaming the WHS would eliminate it as a potential problem. It would also allow me to use a less confusing, more appropriate server name.

So I Saturday I did a factory reset on my HP EX475 Windows Home Server. This wiped out everything (user IDs, data, etc…) on the server. I didn’t have much unique data on it so saving the data wasn’t a problem. Rather than take half-steps to troubleshoot the problem I went right to the “rebuild everything” solution. I’m considering upgrading the memory (to allow more add-ins) which will probably void the warranty (at least complicate things) so if there are hardware problems I want to identify them now and HP will probably require a factory reset before replacing the box. This wasn’t too bad, it took about 90 minutes to do the rebuild, excluding the time needed to copy my 150GB media library back to the server.

The Upcoming Week & Beyond

The aforementioned Windows Home Server upgrade will hopefully take place next weekend if the parts arrive. I’ve ordered memory and two 500GB hard drives to max out the internal bays. I’m also trying to figure out how to re-organize the ever growing size of my files and still have good backups. My 500GB iMac disk is over 80% full and it’s growing.

I hope to get back on track building the Ubuntu server but I just haven’t had a block of time big enough to concentrate on it. Didn’t I say this last week?

That’s all for this week’s Trail Log.