Happy New Year 2018! Mac SSD Upgrade failure. Good Tech Support and it’s cold!

2018: A New Year

So yeah, it’s a new year! Another one! So Happy New Year and I hope that 2018 brings you everything you want it to! I spend it quietly at home, sleeping by the time midnight rolled around. It’s really just another day for me, not really having any magical meaning other than having to remember to use the new year for dates. I’d say for writing checks, but I only write one or two a year now – the bank writes most of them for me and has done for many years now.

I think the biggest thing I like about the new year, is I can work on my taxes. I have so many expenses for the farm house this year that I needed to prepare as much as I could. I’ve organized things so far, and now I’m just awaiting various documentation to arrive. Will see what Turbo Tax Home & Business will do for me before heading out to see a real professional. If Turbo indicates a possible audit, then I’ll definitely see professional help and get someone to help me with my taxes too.

Replacement 1TB SSD drive for Mac Pro a No Go!

This week, I decided to buy a new SSD to replace my upgrade that I did about a year ago (see image on the left on the old upgrade). I went from a 256 GB drive to a 1 TB drive. Of course this is for my Mac Pro  (Late 2013, looks like a can) system. Apples new Mac OS High Sierra isn’t compatible with my upgraded SSD so after some research I decided to just get one that is compatible. Going to a good place, MacSales (OWC) and place my order for an “open box” unit that still was close to $600. It arrived yesterday so i decided today would be a good day to install it. I was not wrong, but it’s not as easy as the little over 2 minute video indicated.

Apparently, the drive I received was dead on arrival. Not sure if you could call it a drive, because it looks like flat stick with a couple of chips on it. I didn’t know that at first, but after installing it and trying to boot, it wouldn’t recognize it in order to restore to it. But that wasn’t the first thing I had to do, nope. I had to put in the original drive, and update to the latest version of the Mac OS. I had saved that so it wasn’t a big deal. I removed the old upgrade, a square fat thing that isn’t sexy at all, but it was 1TB in disk space and was hidden, so a year ago when I bought it (~$900), it was an investment worth the price, little did I know (and the manufacturers) would know that it couldn’t be used by the new Mac OS.

So, I put the old, original 256GB SDD in, and updated the OS. It took about an hour or so. Once it was up and running, I attempted the swap I mentioned above. to use the new SSD. But, as stated, my system couldn’t see it. I said, well, shit, that sucks (or words similar to that). Anyway, I decided to pull the new drive out and insert the older 1TB upgrade SSD back in. I could now install the MacOS on it, because apparently the biggest issue was the EFI (some firmware) that is installed. That’s put into the hardware so I could then safely (?) install the MacOS onto the Older, 1TB SSD. It worked, things seem to be going well with it, however, about 2 hours of running it, the system stopped responding.

I did everything I could think of and couldn’t get it to respond enough (the caps lock light would toggle, but no screen image, not other beeps or responses). I did what a normal tech support would do and powered it off. After a few moments I hit the power again and it started coming up, slowly. But when the screen appeared, it was the restore screen and not the normal login I’m used to. So OK. I take a look.

In the disk utility I found the disk but it was not showing as it’s full size, but a 240 GB drive instead, and was not initialized. Bummer. No problem, I put the original 256GB SSD in the slot, and started installing all over again. But my Time Machine backups had too much data to fit the smaller drive. I had a 1TB drive after all, but only about ~460 GB used, but it’s still too much for the smaller hard drive. I’m now doing a “migration” type restore after clean install of the OS and then I had to tell it to skip some folders. Not a huge deal since I know I have copies of everything – perhaps now is a good time to clean up and get rid of those applications I no longer use or need.

Of course at some point in doing this I submitted a support request to OWC and I’m awaiting their response. The best would be for them to send me another drive (at the same price, since this was appears to be dead) or just allow me to return it for a refund. I was hoping to send the old upgrade 1TB back to them for a $300 rebate which would bring the whole costs down a bit. Not sure if that is going to happen if I don’t get a new swapped drive. We’ll have to wait and see the results of that. At least I have my Mac Pro up and running again and have plenty of external storage, albeit slower, to keep my digital things.

Das Keyboard – Great Customer Support from this Austin, TX Company

One of my favorite purchases this past year was from January. This is a “clicking” keyboard with a USB 3.0 hub and I’ve used it a lot while working at home. It’s an awesome keyboard that costs me about ~$160.00 when I bought it. The only problem is that it came with a 2 meter (about 6 feet) long USB cord to plug it into the computer. Not only did that cord connect the keyboard and the USB 3.0 2 port Hub, but apparently it was a very tasty thing for Lacie, my youngest cat. She’s chewed the cable and now if it is turned in certain ways, it cause a short, which cause the laptop to disable to USB port it’s plugged into.

I did some searching online and I wasn’t able to find a replacement cord. So I asked myself, what if we submitted a request to their tech support asking for some advice. I was honest and told them what happened. I sent along with the request a copy of my Amazon order (invoice), the sticker showing the information from the bottom of the unit and the damaged cord. My main question was how we could proceed in getting a new usb cord (hard wired in the keyboard). I asked if it was something I could do or if I could send it in for repair.

Within less than an hour of submitting my “ticket”, Jared M. responded with a similar story about his beagle. He said he could feel my pain. If I would provide a shipping address, he would find a cable and send it my way. At no point did he mention charging me for the cord or for shipping it to me. Another hour or so of getting my address to him (via the online support system), he’s told me he’s prepared it for shipping and I should be getting it within 5 to 10 days. That was awesome and those are the kinds of stories one want to have when working with customer or technical support teams.

Friggin’ Cold

So, it’s been cold this week. Including in SC where they got some snow. The farm house air handler’s motor burned up and stopped warming the house. Fortunately, it’s under warranty so it only cost the labor and a new breaker. Thankfully it wasn’t all that, I need a break for a while on Farm house expenses! Here in Maryland, it’s been in the teens and below freezing for over a week. There is ice and snow on the ground, but it’s not too bad.

Lots of New stuff at Work this past week.

Yeah, as I said in the title of the post. Lots of changes for work this past week. New phone, new email system, new mobile email system, new security access to corporate data.

I’ve been upgraded on my iPhone from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 8 Plus (64GB). I only had 64 GB on my 6 so it’s not a huge deal. We could either go with a regular 8 with more memory or a larger device with better camera for only 64GB memory. I chose the Plus because of reasons. (Images shown here are from Apple’s online store.)

The new phone is taking some getting used to because of it’s size and I had to get a case within a couple of days because it is very slick. I went with a case from Apple’s store but it’s made by Otterbox. Not a bad looking case, but about twice the costs of something I could have found (and may still look into) on Amazon. I’m still debating on whether I should try a folio or wallet case or simply something good and protective.

Also this past week, I’ve moved from IBM “Lotus” Notes email to Outlook and Exchange. I and a coworker were the first in R&S Americas to do this. With that change we also had to go away from the Blackberry secure contain “Good For Enterprise” and move to their “Blackberry UEM” and Blackberry Dynamics apps (BB Work is the primary one for email/calendar/contacts). So that’s another new thing to get used to. Not bad, and much better than Good FE, but still somewhat of a pain for the sake of security.

We’re moving to a new authentication as well for accessing things. Soft Tokens are used in combination of a personal PIN along with a generated PIN to access things like corporate email and other internal resources. We were using a smart card which required hardware devices to read. The soft-token is an app available from the online App stores (iTunes, Android Market, etc.). It’s more convenient because one may very rarely forget the phone, but much more often forget the smart card (and external readers when necessary). That also opens up the hardware options for laptops. No longer limited to have devices that have the card readers built in.

The farm house has pretty much been finished for a Month

Although there are a few bits here and there that need to be patched, adjusted or painted, the house is pretty much finished. I need to get back down there to take some more final photos but here is a quick before and after shot.

Farm house in August 2014 when we were looking to buy it.
The house in July 2017 after a lot of work had gone into it. As seen from the front.

I need to get some more of the same angles for best before and after, but these two will provide a bit of the changes. The first image above is from August 2014.  The second image is where we left it about a month ago, with the new “front” look. The black shutters help to break the white up quite well, I think.

After all was said and done, I think we put about $125,000 of repair and improvements. The insurance paid to have 1/3 of the house replaced (from the ground up) and I added another $30,000 to make it better. Time for a re-appraisel as I’m sure the house has increased in value (hoping for another 50%). We bought the place at an appraised value of $110,000. With our improvements and 1/3 rebuild, it’s got to be worth $150,000 or more.

The Farm House Update (quick)

This past weekend I spent some time down “on the farm” reviewing the status of the farm house repair/improvements. The first image below is the sample image from the tiles we’ve elected to use in our new bathroom – the image is from the tile people and is nothing like our bathroom, but at least it does provide a “feel” for how the tile is going to look.

This next image is of the front of the house with the old (older but newer than original) siding removed. It exposed some bad wood spots that needed repair with replacement wood, but overall in good condition. We elected to put new windows in place as well. When we saw the wood shingles in the gable we decided to try and keep them. There are some that need to be replaced around the window, but otherwise they just need to be cleaned and painted. We need to add some color to the house anyway and we really like the “old style” look this brings back to the house.

This next image is of the house from an arial view showing the state at the time. The roof is a silvery gray but in most cases it appears white when the sun is bright.

We’ve selected (and purchased) lights and a ceiling fan (to replace the one in the main entry/porch area). We’ve gone with some “flush mount” LED lights for the kitchen, back door entry area (mud room), laundry and hall way. Also some smaller utility LED lights for the walk in closets. We found some really nice motion activated security lights as well (also LED). For the external front door and back door lights we’ve found a really nice style we like that is “old” and uses vintage element light bulbs. I’m not quite sure if they’re LED, but I think that is an option. The bulbs are about $5 to purchase but the look is really neat.

A good bit of work has to be done, including the flooring, tile work and painting – but we seem to be over the biggest portion of the rebuild. It’s going to be another few weeks before we can move back in.

Finally purchased MS Office 2016 (Office 365 actually)

Work is moving away from IBM (Lotus) Notes for email, calendaring and contacts. But we’re keeping it for all the other aspects as we have many applications running on that platform. We have about 40 or so left that need to be migrated to other platforms but our corporate office has over 4,000 – so I’ll have plenty of work in that respect.

I’ve been given the task of “Change Management” and some Training for the Outlook/Exchange project. Mostly that is sending out communications regarding the move and how people can prepare for it. I’ve already sent out a few emails to the North America audience. But, as of writing this, I still do not have access to the Outlook client or email for testing and my own edification of the products. So, I’ve decided to update my MS Office 2011 (Mac) and 2010 (Windows) to MS Office 365 (5 licenses for a year). That allows me to install on my MacBook, My Mac Pro and my Surface Pro 3. And still have two left over so I can install it on my Laptop and maybe my iMac in the office (if I need to).

I’ve switched from using the web interface for my Hotmail account to using Outlook 2016.  It’s not quite the same on the macOS  computers as it is on Windows but it’s close enough. It is also not quite the same as using Hotmail as it would be with our corporate Exchange server, but it should be close enough. However one gets emails, all the stuff I want to explore is the same regardless of what email is coming in and how it’s delivered.

Hello Martha! It was great to see you!

Sounds like something I’d put on Facebook instead of my blog, but I’d like to take this time to say hello to Martha, whom I’ve not seen in about 5 years or so. This week in Germany has been very busy and since we’ve been meeting mostly off campus, it’s been hard to find any time to meet up with people like Martha! It was great seeing her tonight even though we only had a few minutes to chat due to the seating arrangements. It was still good to see her even though I was an old crabby man and wouldn’t stay for another drink! Hope to see her again before we head back home.

After doing some testing, updating my Cable Internet Speed

I don’t think I really need it, but I’m boosting my speed up to Comcast’s Blast (200 Mbps). Why am I writing this here? I tried to remember the last time I updated my package and I had to dig around a lot more (reviewing CC bills to see when the price bumped up). I found it – it was December of 2016, but now I have this entry, I’ll search again and know it was done on April 30, 2017. Memory!

I was hoping to get more footage, but weather wasn’t participating

In a recent quick and short visit to my farmhouse in SC, I was able to take these images. I was only able to fly the drone for about 20 minutes before I had to stop and run out to pick up my sister. I was hoping to come back over the next day and shoot some more but that didn’t work out due to over cast weather and that another grand nephew came into the world. No problem, I’ll be back in another month or so to have another chance to capture more and get some more “flying” in. I wish there was a place to fly and practice at home…I’ll just have to find a place. I’ve posted many more on my Facebook page.