Thinc Iowa

I’m going to keep this one short, not because I don’t have a wealth of things to say about it, but rather my friend, colleague, and mentor Ben Milne has said it better.

ThincIowa is only a week away. Get a ticket. It’s the best $200 you’ll spend in October.

If you need any more reason to go, they have a nice page to convince you here.

When iOS updates fail.

So a colleague and I had a private twitter conversation this evening regarding his inability to install iOS 5. He received the following message at the onset of the update process: “There was a problem downloading the software for the iPhone ‘Friend’s Phone’. The requested resource was not found.”

We went through several steps, as I didn’t have the same experience as he did.

  • Could he restore? No.
  • Was he going through a USB hub? No.
  • Was he using the latest version of iTunes (10.5)? No.
Finally, I asked him to try to restore via DFU mode (Device Firmware Update, although there is an equally apt alternate meaning for the last two letters.)
The process for initiating DFU mode is simple:
  1. Plug in the device via USB.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Hold down the power and home buttons on the iPhone for 10 seconds.
  4. Let up on the power but continue holding the home button.
  5. iTunes should detect that your device needs to be restored.
This is the last hope for failed iOS issues, but it is still a process that doesn’t cause pain. Especially with iOS 5’s new ability to back up with iCloud.


Remembering Steve – Part 3

While I was at Great Ape Trust of Iowa, I had built an XSan installation that I used to host user home directories off of. This wasn’t a very standard configuration, albeit one that was marketed and supported by Apple.

As is customary, I will wait to install a new operating system until at least one point release is distributed. This was the case with 10.5.1 client and server, which I installed one night in early 2008. I installed it, then went home and to bed.

The next morning, all hell breaks loose.

At some point during the morning, a particular user logs in, and all of the files on the server disappear.

I reboot the server, and the files are back. Then they disappear again. Reboot, and they’re back. Up, down, up, down.

I revert the server to a backup of the previous version, and then start a series of long nights trying to figure out why I couldn’t keep things stable.

At one point, I send a 2 AM rant to, saying that with all the hell 10.5 has put me through regarding XSan, the least they could do is make iCal server not suck in 10.6.

The next day, I get a call.. “Hello, my name is so-and-so from Apple Executive Relations, we understand that you are having a problem with your XSan. I’m going to get you in touch with the XSan engineers to assist with the problem.”

It turns out that there is a bug in the server software that was only reliably triggered by my configuration. Once I found the parameters, and relayed them to the engineer, they were able to duplicate the bug in their test installation, and they sent me a patch to test. That patch was then included in 10.5.2.

Remembering Steve – Part 2

The second time that I emailed Steve, I was consulting, and had a client with a rather nasty problem with their iMac that I had convinced them to buy. This problem was a bug that caused the computer to be in a state that would only be repairable by replacing the logic board.

A software bug that caused a hardware bug.

Six months after the warranty ran out.

Anyhow, I emailed Steve, letting him know that not only was this a documented bug, that the machine was six months out of warranty, but that the client I convinced to buy it had sworn off of Apple products forever after he had spent quite a bit of money outfitting his office with Apple III’s, which were expensive, error prone, and Apple stopped supporting prematurely.

A few days later, I get a call…

Hello, my name is so-and-so, and I’m from Apple Executive Relations. I understand you have a client with a problem iMac. We’d like to get that resolved for them. Can you provide a serial number and I’ll authorize a free out of warranty repair…

Remembering Steve – part 1

The first time I emailed Steve, it was a little over ten years ago. I was on a now defunct mailing list that Apple hosted that discussed user interface topics.

One of the topics discussed was file extensions vs. the old Mac’s style of file type/creator. Mac OS X 10.1 was coming out, and was supposed to manage file extensions much better than 10.0. The mailing list, including myself, weren’t happy with the abandonment of the technology in the classic Mac OS for an inferior technology popularized by Windows.

Anyhow, I emailed a response to the list, and decided to carbon copy

Fifteen minutes later, I had an email in my inbox-

I think you’ll like the new file extension policy in 10.1 coming out late this month.


I responded with an equally short email saying that I already knew the policy, and it was the problem.

Fifteen minutes later, I had another response, this one a three paragraph explanation on why Type and Creator were dead.

I’m not posting that one.

Being a snarky kid (I was 24), I then thought- “This conversation started on the list, and it’s email, which isn’t private, it should go back to the list.” I know better now.

So I posted the whole conversation back to the list. The next day, I receive the last email I’d ever get from Steve…


You posted our communication on a message board.

Signing off,