Category Archives: Mac OS X

Mac OS X – System-wide equaliser

I’ve been often wondering why Apple didn’t include a system-wide equaliser in their OS X. To be honest, even most free mp3 player software already comes with it. It used to be in iTunes, but somehow they had to get rid of it.

Now I wonder… what could be the reason they don’t allow you to do so. Sometimes, when playing a movie on my laptop, I wished I could turn up the volume a little more then the default max. Yes, I am aware that there are apps in the AppStore that offer this option, but why pay 7$ for something like this? Even more so… most of those software solutions mess up the sound quality a lot.

However, when you listen to different kind of music styles, you’d also like to adjust basic equaliser levels of bass, mid-range and treble. Just to have the perfect experience. And hey… wasn’t that exactly what Apple was striving for?

I would love to figure out what the reasons were not to include this in OS X and why to remove it even from iTunes.

Mac App Store drama. Apps bought in 1 country not valid after you’ve moved!

Today I got a very unpleasant surprise. Recently I moved from The Netherlands to Poland. Still all European Union. My MacBook Pro got however pretty stuffed with stuff and since I had some time today I’d figure I re-install the whole thing to get rid of some nasty issues which got in there after installing, uninstalling and working/changing too much.

So I started off, backing up, cleaning my disk, installing Mac OS X Lion and then… I thought… let’s update the address info etc. in my Apple ID as well. So said, so done, and I updated my info to reflect my current address.

I sign in, go to the Mac App Store and click the “Purchased” tab. Me expecting to get the nice list of apps, ready to install.

However… it said: “You didn’t buy any apps yet.“… I was heavily surprised, since I bought a bunch of apps and even some expensive ones. Like costing over 40 EUR or even some over 100 EUR each…

No matter what I did… I couldn’t get the apps back, so I started mailing with Apple support who as always, replies swift.

However… the first guy answering started complaining about the fact that I already requested 2 times a re-download option for my iTunes purchases… that’s write… I did that, when I was having major issues with my laptop, but that was regarding music. I learned my lesson with that and I have good backups now for that. However it seems that Apple itself forgot what the differences between the stores are. They write even themselves on their site http://www.apple.com/mac/app-store/

Buy, download, and even
redownload.

You can install apps on every Mac you use and even download them again. This is especially convenient when you buy a new Mac and want to load it with apps you already own.

Ehh… guys…. re-download…

Check out the mail which I received after having replied on the first response about the iTunes story. It’s a very nice answer.

 

Dear Frank,

Josh here, from Mac App Store Support.  Let me begin by apologizing for the frustration you have endured during this issue.  I will do my best to explain why your apps are no longer available in the Mac App Store.

I’m afraid that your change of residence is what caused this.  Content from the Mac App Store is country-specific.  App purchases made from either the iTunes Store or the Mac App Store are licensed only for the country from which the purchase is made.  After you change countries, it is impossible to upgrade or redownload the applications you purchased while your account was set to the previous country.

I truly apologize for the inconvenience, Frank.  I realize that this is not the answer you wanted to hear.  In order to access these applications again, the only option I can offer is to re-purchase them from the App Store with your current Poland address.

Thank you for your understanding.  I hope that I have served to clarify the cause of your issue.  Have a wonderful day.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.  You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Josh

In the current world I find this really stupid. The Netherlands and Poland are both EU. The apps are in both shops available, but no… you can spend your money again.

Of course I replied to Apple that I didn’t like this behavior and will send this story to some news papers and other media who love spending attention to big IT firms like Apple.

I can tell that when I changed my address and location I didn’t even received a warning that my apps and purchases wouldn’t be available for download anymore.

How I solved it now? I just changed my info back to The Netherlands. I don’t mind. Let Apple have my wrong address. After the change the apps where available for download straight away.

I can just say one thing. Way to go Apple!! What are you thinking. People spend money on having software legal. All other apps which I DIDN’T buy through the Mac App Store I can just install, put my license key and it’s working. I will never ever buy an application again through the Mac App Store. This just proves that buying straight from the vendor has huge profits as well.

Final email from Apple were they say they are sorry but are not going to do anything about it.

Hello Frank,

It’s Lauralee here. Josh is out of the office and has asked me to keep an eye on your request in the meantime. Please accept my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this issue has caused.

Frank, as the content from the App Store is country-specific, any applications need to be dated before changing countries. After you change countries, you won’t be able to upgrade the applications you purchased while your account was set to the previous country. Again, I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused.

Please know that Apple is always open to feedback from their customers and we recognize that no one is better qualified to provide feedback about iTunes than the people who use it. As such, it is my recommendation that you submit your comments through our feedback page. A large number of the things we do to our products and services are relative to suggestions that we receive from our customers. The more we see an interest in making a change, the greater the chances of it being implemented. Please submit your suggestion through the following link: 

http://www.apple.com/feedback/itunesapp.html

I would like to thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback, Frank. It is people like you who can help make positive changes for yourself and Apple.

Sincerely,

Lauralee

iTunes Store/Mac App Store Advisor

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.

Trim support on SSDs in Mac OS X 10.6.8 (SL) and 10.7 (Lion)

As you all know, for some reason Apple thinks that it is cool to only enable TRIM support for solid-state drives (SSD) which you buy through Apple. However, Apple’s SSD is most of the time just a plane Samsung PM800 SSD which Apple just overprices to the max. As you probably know there are much better SSD drives out there, but it would help quite a big deal if the OS also would help along and enable TRIM support for those drives as well.

 

For the ones who are already totally lost 😉 I’ll first explain what TRIM support really means and why we want it.

The TRIM command allows an OS to inform a SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally. While TRIM is frequently spelled in capital letters, it is not an acronym; it is merely a command name. In plain english: This makes sure that the free space on your disk is also really empty.

Because of the way that file systems typically handle delete operations, storage media (SSDs, but also traditional hard drives) generally do not know which sectors/pages are truly in use and which can be considered free space. Delete operations are typically limited to flagging data blocks as “not in use” in the file system. Contrary to, for example, an overwrite operation, a delete will therefore not involve a physical write to the sectors that contain the data. Since a common SSD has no access to the file system structures, including the list of unused clusters, the storage medium remains unaware that the blocks have become available. While this often enables undelete tools to recover files from traditional hard disks, despite their being reported as “deleted” by the operating system, it also means that when the operating system later performs a write operation to one of the sectors, which it considers free space, it effectively becomes an overwrite operation from the point of view of the storage medium. For traditional hard disks this is no different from writing an empty sector, but because of how some SSDs function at the lowest level, an overwrite produces significant overhead compared to writing data into an empty page, potentially crippling write performance.

SSDs store data in flash memory cells that are grouped into pages, with the pages (typically 4 kB each) further grouped into blocks (typically 128 pages, or 512 kB in total). NAND flash memory cells can only be directly written to when they are empty. If they are considered to contain data, the contents first need to be erased before a write operation can be performed reliably. In SSDs, a write operation can be done on the page-level, but due to hardware limitations, erase commands always affect entire blocks. As a result, writing data to SSD media is very fast as long as empty pages can be used, but slows down considerably once previously written pages need to be overwritten. Since an erase of the cells in the page is needed before it can be written again, but only entire blocks can be erased, an overwrite will initiate a read-erase-modify-write cycle: the contents of the entire block have to be stored in cache before it is effectively erased on the flash medium, then the overwritten page is modified in the cache so the cached block is up to date, and only then is the entire block (with updated page) written to the flash medium. This phenomenon is known as write amplification.

 

Enabling SSD support in Mac OS X 10.6.8 / 10.7

Ok, well, if you have an Apple SSD, you’ll be done really quick. Just install the SSD, make sure you update to 10.6.8 or Lion (10.7), reboot and you’ll have TRIM support enabled. You can check this easily in your system properties.

Mac OS X 10.6.8/10.7 TRIM support

But what if you got one of those nice Intel or OCZ drives? They are rated much quicker than the Samsung PM800 drives Apple supplies. But without TRIM support it might end up as a slow drive as well. How to do this?

Life has been made simple by Oskar Groth from Sweden. He made a tool which let you backup your current settings and patch the settings of the OS to enable TRIM support on your own SSD drive.

You can download it here or visit his website.