Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Flashing Question Mark

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  • Joanna,

    Bad plan Joanna. You're lying to your kids either way and that won't work as long-term strategy.

    Sorry, I will hoist my "I am very much kidding" flag a little higher next time.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Apple TV could have been the insanely great device that made it easy for people to watch any internet video on their TVs…

    I have an Apple TV and like it despite all its shortcomings, but it is a pain to re-encode video from codecs that aren't Apple-supported. Recently I was turned on to Western Digital's WD TV device. It's a small box that plugs in to your TV via composite video or HDMI, to which you attach a portable drive containing pretty much any format of music, video or photos. Its interface is a little ropey, but the playback is great (including HD), and because the drive is a separate device, you don't have to lug the whole thing with you when it's time to grab more content. Retail price is under $300.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Is a flashing question mark the user friendly Mac equivalent a Blue Screen Of Death? Or of the noted Yugoslavian, Kernel Panic?

    The flashing question mark is the mac equivalent of the PCs: Unable to find HDD, press delete to enter setup.

    The Multilingual screen of death is the mac equivalent of BSOD, but a lot of mac users would go through a whole computer lifetime and never see it, unlike it's regular (less regular now according to my home vista machine) visits to PC users.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    As a side note Russell, your question mark is a problem with the hardware, and you might want it checked out. The permissions is a problem with the content of the drive (uhh, computer confused) and unlikely to be related. Permission problems tend to build up over time with your computer, and eventually one causes your OS to 'get confused', for want of a better word.

    The question mark most likely means your hard drive is working its way towards the trash can, and at the very least you should confirm that your time machine backups are working (and going to an external drive, obviously, Time Machine is only half as useful when it goes to the main hard drive).

    Having got a free warning after all...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    And meanwhile, I still don't know whether Time Machine really works

    I back up my I-mac on an extrnal hard drive, but where can I find out what Time Machine is and what it does?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    I find applejack a handy utility to install in case of disk errors (although obviously it won't help if you can't see your disk at all): http://applejack.sourceforge.net/ Basically, it gives you an easy way to run repair utilities from single-user mode without needing your OS disc.

    Also, ever since an OS upgrade broke my MBP, I've followed advice I read online, and booted into safe mode before applying any OS upgrade.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Sorry. Found Time Machine on-line.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    Apple TV could have been the insanely great device that made it easy for people to watch any internet video on their TVs,

    I love my Apple TV. I had to cheat a bit to get content on it in the early days (ahem, Handbrake) but I've rented a few HD movies from the Store and they look and sound great. I now use it for all the music in the lounge room too. I use it more than Sky.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Apologies Joanna. I did wonder but I'm a bit jumpy as I'm in the middle of learning how to parent a 14-year-old. You start to see all sorts of scenarios that can frighten you.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I have an Apple TV and like it despite all its shortcomings, but it is a pain to re-encode video from codecs that aren't Apple-supported. Recently I was turned on to Western Digital's WD TV device.

    We use the PS3 for most of that -- but I more meant watching streaming video, which the PS3 does, sorta, but it's clunky for such an expensive device.

    With YouTube now offering HD streaming and most broadcaster websites (including TVNZ ondemand) offering a good experience, ordinary folks need a box that very simply bridges their internet video onto their TV.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    How long to download a movie from the store Dan? That always seemed to be the problem to me.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Apologies Joanna. I did wonder but I'm a bit jumpy as I'm in the middle of learning how to parent a 14-year-old. You start to see all sorts of scenarios that can frighten you.

    No worries. And for the record, I've been online since I was 13 and the sexual harrassment on my school's Bulletin Board System and then on IRC never did me any harm...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    How long to download a movie from the store Dan? That always seemed to be the problem to me.

    HD movies take a few hours. You can keep them for a month before you have to watch them though (and then the rental period is 48 hours) so I tend to have a couple set up and ready for when I want to watch something.

    It's not that useful for impulse viewing but I understand that non-HD content is ready to go after about 30 minutes.

    And the 48 hour rental period means I can spread watching a long movie out over three nights if I'm canny.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The question mark most likely means your hard drive is working its way towards the trash can, and at the very least you should confirm that your time machine backups are working (and going to an external drive, obviously, Time Machine is only half as useful when it goes to the main hard drive).

    Of course. The backups all seem to be there on my Maxtor 500GB. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Hmm.... making me feel very jumpy. I think I might spend a few minutes doing a very basic back-up today....

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    I sort of do, yes. I have a very messy file system; some stuff is in my Documents folder, some is in Downloads, other parts are on the Desktop. I'm also constantly doing things to my TeX install and so it turns out that just backing up Documents (which is a mirror of my iDisk) isn't really very useful if I have a catastrophic crash. I also have a very complex but useful versioning system that maintains not one but two rsync-ed copies of the actual core thesis files so it becomes near to impossible for me to lose work. If the Internet dies and there is an EMP pulse that destroys all technology I'm screwed (the one thing I don't have is a paper copy, oddly enough; I might fix that tonight). If we still have the electric on tomorrow I'm fine.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Joanna - ewww and ewww and more ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

    A very common reaction around our way, I think you'll find. But that's why we love her :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    So hit us HORansome - what's the thesis topic?

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    When you're calling someone out, it helps if you spell their name right ...

    Oooops, yes. Indeed. Apologies for the spare 's', Mr Grigg.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories.

    (Which, I can see the claims now, is why I'm paranoid about losing my data.)

    I looking at Conspiracy Theories from the viewpoint of epistemology; what kinds of beliefs about the world are they, what kinds of warrant do they have and is the prima facie suspicion of Conspiracy Theories actually justified.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Steady diet of X-files and Da Vinci code then? Might as well say thanks and goodbye now as you'll probably be bumped off by "them" before you get to publish.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    The X Files gives me gas and the Da Vinci Code...

    (Although I do use the Da Vinci Code as an example in the course I teach on Conspiracy Theories, mostly because the `Holy Blood, Holy Grail' book has some great examples of very wonky thinking).

    Actually, early X Files was quote good. At the moment I'm mostly looking at actual historical incidences of Conspiracies and some of the weird Conspiracism in History because there is a case to be made that claims that Conspiracy Theories are more frequently verified than people like to think.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    your hard drive is working its way towards the trash can

    Something I miss from the olden days is that, on the old PDP-11 I used to work with, you got meaningful reports along the lines of "drive head is 0.00001mm out of alignment". Which then led to it getting adjusted at the next (monthly) PM.

    I guess not having monthly PM is an improvement.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Here's my favorite conspiracy theory...

    The term "conspiracy theory" has been deliberately devalued and codified so that whenever you read or hear it, your brain receives "FALSE conspiracy theory and the nutters who beleive/promote them"...

    This has, of course been done by the "them" who have actual real conspiracies to hide.

    "Their" other trick is to spread and promote false ones, so as to draw attention away from the real ones, and to spread more doubt about any of them....

    I have no idea as to it's validity... I just think it's fun to think about.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Hmmmm, researching conspiracies, fears a simultaneous EMP blast and the takedown of the Internet...
    HE KNOWS SOMETHING! GET HIM!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

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