Saturday, November 13, 2010

iPhone Taking Forever to Back Up?

So I'm finally taking the plunge and upgrading my iPhone to OS 4.1. As I've mentioned here before, I very rarely plug my iPhone into iTunes. I just charge it from the wall or car charger, rarely sync it. Mostly because it takes so damn long to back up.

But this time, since I'm doing an OS upgrade, I figured I'd better let the backup run. Several hours after kicking it off, the backup progress meter has hardly moved. I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow, so I don't have time for Apple crapware shenanigans, so I start doing some reading.

It turns out that there's an obscure setting that gets defaulted to 'true' that has your device send it's usage data and crash reports to Apple every time it sync's. You have to queue up to upload that data alongside everyone else on the planet that's currently synching. When I found my crashdump folder it had over 60 dumps in it. Goddammit Apple!  Get your garbage off my computer!

This forum posting has instructions for how to reset that setting. It's not easy, you won't find it by poking around.
The Idiots Guide to Making your Iphone Backup fast

In case that forum thread ever vanishes, here it is in a nutshell.

1. Start a sync, but cancel it, so you have your device listed in iTunes, but not currently locked up.
2. Right-click and select "Reset Warnings" from the context menu.
3. Next time you sync, you should see a dialog box like the following.
4. Click "No Thanks".  That'll get you out of the queue for crashdump reporting on every sync.

I'll drop an update later as to how the upgrade goes and the backup situation.  Don't get me started on the fun of moving an iTunes Library from computer to NAS drive . . . which is what I spent the first half of the weekend doing.  

Friday, June 04, 2010

Seeker, Spartacus, and The Hobbit

Sam Raimi's Legend of the Seeker series is done now. His team are now filming Spartacus in New Zealand (in fact I hear one of the guys I used to play rugby with has a gladiator part!). So I wonder with the recent news of Guillermo Del Toro leaving The Hobbit, if they might grab Sam Raimi to pick up the pieces? I heard he was very keen to be involved when they were first talking about it, and he definitely doesn't seem to mind spending half his time in NZ!

In any case, I just finished watching the Season 2 Finale of Legend of the Seeker. They definitely got their mileage out of the North Island Bethells Beach shooting locations in these last couple episodes. They were travelling up and down the black sand dunes, and they finally brought in the recognizable landmarks on the main beach itself. Cool to see places you know transformed like that!

Bethells Beach

Superdune - The Dunes

Monday, May 31, 2010

New Zealand Music Month

May was New Zealand Music Month. It's been a bit tougher to keep track of Kiwi music now that I'm back in the states. But some of my favorite artists have just released new stuff, so there's no trouble rounding up enough for a post at the moment.

Evermore have just released an album intended to be their U.S. debut. I'll have to keep an eye out for it in stores over here.

Evermore, Underground.

OpShop, Pins and Needles. I've seen these guys a few times, always a great show.

Dane Rumble, Don't Know What To Do. Kel, Claire, and I went to see these guys in Auckland. We were the oldest fans in the crowd, but it was a great show.

Ladyhawke, Magic. I've heard this used as background music in a couple of promo things for CW shows. Great 80's sound.

Tiki Taane and Antiform, Got to be You. I like Tiki Taane's collaborations, especially the dance music. If you like this, check out last years post with Tiki and Bulletproof.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boundary Waters, May 2010

I've often wished I could remember all the places I've been in the Boundary Waters. So this time I'm writing it down. :-)

A couple weeks ago, we took a trip in via Entry Point #9, just west of Ely. We were staying only two nights, and there were only two campsites within a days range of the entry (both on the same lake), so we planned on just setting up base camp. The distance looked fairly short on the maps, and none of the portages were long, so we decided to haul in the good stuff (cast iron cookware, steaks on ice, etc).

Dinner DoneThe distance turned out to be a bit longer than it looked, due to the meanderings of the rivers, but it was still worth it for the food. :-)

The first day was an upstream paddle up the Little Indian Sioux River to the Little Pony River to Bootleg Lake. The Little Indian Sioux was fairly wide and deep, but the Little Pony was quite narrow, meandering, shallow, and obstructed with quite a few beaver dams. That first day in was about 15km, we paddled from about 11am to 6pm or so.

Beaver Dam Mini-Portage

Our campsite on Bootleg was fantastic. Perfect spot for a layover day. Nice landing for the canoes, good hammock trees in the site, nice flat tent spaces for three tents, and a good branch for a bear rope. We had plenty of firewood (thankfully no burning ban), no bugs, and perfect weather.

On the way out we hit the water a little after 9am. We decided to take the long portage out at the far end of Bootleg Lake to take us directly back into the Little Indian Sioux River. We did that partially to avoid the Little Pony River, and partly just to see some new scenery for at least part of the way. In any case, the way back was about 24km and we pulled out of the water around 4:30. The downstream current didn't seem to contribute much. ;-)

Notes for next time: The only thing I'd have done differently is to bring one spare Duluth pack for the cooler and grill. Even if we pulled them back out at every portage to repack them in the canoes, it would make for much easier portaging to put those two items on our backs instead of carrying by the handles.

That said, I think next time is going to be a light-and-fast long distance trip. Those are fun too in their own way.

BWCA - May 2010

Template Upgrade

Since Google announced the Blogger Template Designer I've been meaning to rework my site. There was a fair amount of hackish stuff in my template HTML, including a bunch of monkeying around to make my main post column wider yet still use the rounded corners on the old table based layout.

The new template I picked out is much simpler and cleaner looking. Amazingly, pretty much everything came over with no effort on my part. I did end up spending some time reworking the color schemes of my Tumblr and Flickr widgets. And I cleaned up some minor CSS and Icon annoyances.

I also took a look out at Flickr to see if they've upgraded their Badge Widget generator anytime recently. They have not, so my Flickr badge generator is still valuable. Looking at it again after all these years, it basically just hides the default Flickr table, draws my 2x5 table, then uses some script to pull the InnerHTML of the the Flickr cells containing 10 random images, and poke them into my cells. Like so:

<td class="robCell"><div id="rob1"></div></td>

. . .

= document.getElementById("flickr_badge_image1").innerHTML;

I'm sure there are much more elegant ways to do this (one of these days I'll get off my ass and finish learning JQuery and/or Prototype), but for now, this is still working. No need to fiddle with it now that I've updated the colors and fixed the margin/padding/border issues that were bugging me.

The Tumblr Badge was even easier, that was just a few color tweaks, though again I messed with the margin/padding/border settings to bring things in a bit tighter.

/* Rob Styles*/
width: 125px;
height: auto;
float: right;
margin: 3px;
padding: 0px;
border: 3px #444444 solid;

float: left;
margin: 0px;
padding: 0px;
margin-left: -10px;

font-size: x-small;
list-style-type: none;
width: 215px;
margin: 0px;
padding: 0px;
margin-top: 5px;
margin-bottom: 5px;
overflow: hidden;
border: thin black outset;
background-color: #222222;
padding: 2px;
margin: 2px;

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Minnesota River Valley Trail Recon

Now that I've set my mind to it, I'm making good progress on settling in. I've just found an apartment in the Highland neighborhood of St. Paul. It's a bit busier than I would have liked, and I'll miss having trees right off my balcony, but it's a great location.

It's 4.5 miles to work, straight down Highway 5. But even better, that neighborhood is right at a nexus of the major trail systems in the Twin Cities. I can take the River Road north on either side of the Mississippi, cross the river and take the Minnehaha Creek parkway west to the lakes, go east down Shepard road nearly all the way to my brother's place, or cross Highway 5 on the bridge and drop into the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Speaking of the rivers, I'm right over the confluence of the Mississipi and Minnesota rivers at Pike Island, so once I have a car that can haul my kayaks, I'll be heading down there as often as possible. I've found a place to store kayaks and bikes as well, just down 7th, so hopefully no more big drives to my parents place to pick up the boat before paddling expeditions.

Weather was pretty nice today, and the flood waters are down a bit, so I finally got myself motivated to get out for a recon expedition into the River Valley trails. The objective of this one was to find the link between the Wildlife Refuge that surrounds the building I work in, and Ft. Snelling State Park. I know from camping in Ft. Snelling for the Mississippi River Challenge that you can get onto the Highway 5 bridge footpath from the Fort. So if I could find a way into the park, I can run or bike from my new apartment to work using only trails. :-)

It turned out to be much much easier than I expected. I ran from Ceridian to the NWR Visitor Centre on the road, from there I followed the road to the western side of the 494 bridge over the Minnesota River. At that point there was a little path beaten down the hillside under the bridge. That was slightly dodgy . . . I had to laugh at the two taggers who suddenly decided to causally saunter away from their open cans of housepaint, rollers and spray cans in their hoodies and huge backpacks.

On the other side of the bridge there was a bit of trouble picking out trails to get around the fences of the Air Force target range bordering the park. Once the river's back down to lower levels it should be easy, but as it was, I was crossing what appeared to be mud covered gravel roads tracked only by water birds and river otters ahead of me. :-) On the way back, I discovered I can bypass that stretch via Post road along the top of the bluffs for now.

After about a half hour of half-assed running around, I found a way through to the edge of Ft. Snelling State Park. I could see the Mendota Bridge in the distance over Snelling Lake. So that was mission accomplished. I know there are trails from end to end that would bring me back up the bluffs and into the Fort. So discovering whether or not those are above water is another run, probably starting from the other direction.

Next trip I definitely need to remember to bring my little Fuji, I saw so many critters . . . flocks of wild turkeys, and hordes of scraggly looking deer. So next mission is linking my apartment to the north end of this run, and the trip after is linking the Wildlife Refuge trails to Ceridian's little walking path without using any roads. That may have to wait for the flood waters to drop.

iPhone Not Recognized as a Camera

It's not very often that I physically plug my iPhone into my computer. Mostly because when I plug it into my old laptop, it's a hassle to get it recognized, then it takes hours and hours to back up and synch. I've mostly got what I want on it, so I only plug it in if I really have to grab a firmware update, or really want some bit of new music or a large app update that won't come down over 3g.

But every now and then, I do use it as a camera, and there's something I really want from it. I'll dig out the white Apple proprietary USB cable and plug in. Usually I get the 'searching for driver' bit, then a fail. At work, I'd written it off as a big-brother firewall problem at first (blocked driver download). Then I discovered that my cube neighbor's iPhone worked on my machine, and my phone also failed on his machine . . . so much for a driver issue. I figured maybe a phone issue. Anyway, I can't be bothered with troubleshooting USB devices to get one photo, so I'd email it to myself. At home I'd just roll my eyes and fire up iTunes . . . after a few restarts of the Apple Mobile Device Service and a couple unplugs and replugs, maybe a reboot of the phone, it would be recognized as a device, and I could get the pictures out with Picasa.

But now I've got a new laptop. I really don't want to put iTunes on it until I'm ready to retire my old laptop, because I don't want to mess around with having to deauthorize all my former computers in order to authorize my new one (don't get me started on that, that's a whole other topic).

So when I plug the phone into my new laptop and it comes up as 'random usb thing which by the way failed to start' - it's on!

Google's taken all the fun out of low level troubleshooting, but there's no sense spending hours and hours on something that's common knowledge, so I did some searches. I turned up the usual crap from Apple and Apple cultist forums about updating to the latest firmware, rebooting your iPhone, rebooting your PC, updating to latest iTunes, reinstalling iTunes, blah blah blah.

Then I spotted something on a Microsoft site: 'Windows 7 will not recognize my iPhone as a Camera' [1] . That's promising, my exact symptoms, and a Microsoft forum, so it should (one would think) be free of Apple bullshit. So taking a look at it, the first response (which by the way is marked as 'the answer') links to some Apple KB article talking about USB drivers being 'out of date'. What an absolute load of crap, what kind of flakey garbage hanging on the end of the cable is going to have a problem with fresh out of the box Win7 USB drivers, or any drivers for that matter. You're doing something wrong if your hardware is worried about USB driver minor versions on various operating systems.

Just out of curiosity regarding peoples luck with this 'solution' I scrolled down the page . . . where I spotted this:

"There is something wrong with the firmware in the iphone. If you have any photos that are in your photo album within the phone that are there from any source except the phone itself such as an emailed photo or downloaded photo, PC's and Macs will not recognize your phone. You must delete the "foreign pictures" then the Mac or PC will recognize the phone."

Now that sounded more like the Apple crapware I know. I've always had 'foreign pictures' in my Camera Roll. And I know that was not always a problem, as I've used that space to move images from photo collection to photo collection at times. But annoying as it was, it had the sound of the sort of bug Apple would roll out, so I thought I'd give it a try. I did a quick run through and deleted every image that wasn't taken by the iPhone. Lo and behold, plug it in, it pops up as a camera . . . hmm. Figuring I'd repro it, do my bit, and properly report a firmware bug to Apple Dev. . . I pulled down a couple large images from my Flickr, and some PNG files off XKCD, but was unable to reproduce the problem again . . . go figure. *sigh*

How do people that make such terrible software, get their hands on such awesome hardware to defile with their garbage?

Anyway, if your iPhone's not recognized as a camera, try cleaning out your Camera Roll.

I'm gonna go kick a mac.