Recently, my AirPort network hit a major snag. While my main Base Station continued to function properly, AirPort Utility (on my Mac and iPad) indicated that my three subsidiary AirPort devices had dropped off the network (see image above). Selecting any of the devices in the bottom row resulted in a “Device not found” error. Confirming that these AirPort devices were indeed MIA, none of my wireless devices (iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro) would connect to them. The situation with AirPort Utility on my iPhone was even more disturbing: no AirPort devices showed up at all!
Huh? Everything had been working fine for months. I had made no changes to the AirPort hardware or settings. Why this sudden and unexpected collapse?
One possibility focused on AirPort Utility itself. I had recently updated the application to version 6.3, the version needed to accommodate the new Base Stations with 802.11ac support. However, a software bug seemed more likely to precipitate only a communication failure between AirPort Utility and the AirPort devices, rather than an actual removal of the devices from the network.Read more »
Reader Kjeld Sorenson had a nasty shock and doesn’t care to be surprised again. He writes:
I happened to have Disk Utility open the other day and much to my surprise I saw a warning about my Mac’s hard drive—that it had failed something called a SMART test and wasn’t reliable. First, should I replace the drive and secondly, how can I see alerts like this automatically?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology and is a scheme built into hard drives, rather than computers. If a drive reports that it’s failed this diagnostic test it indicates that the drive is on its way to giving up the ghost, not that it will seize up in the next couple of minutes. This should allow you plenty of time to back up your data (which you should already have been doing) in preparation for that drive’s eventual demise. Of course, as in your situation, it’s possible that it failed the S.M.A.R.T. examination weeks ago and is that much closer to the grave.Read more »
Reader Mary Andrews finds fault with Safari’s Bookmarks Bar. She writes:
I recently purchased a 27-inch iMac and while I love it, I find some text on it small. In particular, Safari’s Bookmarks Bar is very hard for me to read. Is there anything I can do to increase its size?
I’m afraid not. I’ve searched the Web for an extension that increases its size and I’ve come up empty. You can, of course, change the resolution of your iMac within the Displays system preference so that everything on the screen is larger, but you’ll find objects less crisp. Another option is to open the Accessibility system preference, enable the Use Scroll Gesture With Modifier Keys to Zoom option, and then hold down the Control key while using the mouse wheel (or two finger upward swipe on a trackpad) to temporarily zoom your display in and out.Read more »
Reader Walt Pinkston has family abroad that he’d like to chat with via FaceTime. He writes:
I’m a casual user of FaceTime, and it seems to work well most of the time. However, I’ve just noticed that I can’t establish a FaceTime connection with my daughter who’s traveling in the United Arab Emirates. She has her iPhone 4 with her, and we’ve been successful with FaceTime sessions using this gear here in the U.S. Can you shed some light on what’s going on and how to get FaceTime working for us?
The UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) restricts access to portions of the web as well as person-to-person video communication such as Apple’s FaceTime. This is not controlled on the handset but rather via the country’s carriers. Any IP address originating in the UAE is subject to this censorship, which explains why you can’t establish the connection with your daughter.
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Reader Andy Jensen likes his web browsing to be distraction free. He writes:
Lately I’ve visited a few web sites that automatically display and play videos. I find this really distracting when I’m trying to read the article I came to see. Other than clicking the Stop button on each of these things, is there some way to disable them?
I’m with you. I can ignore flashing elements and pictures that change from time to time, but once you introduce audio, you’ve crossed the line. If it’s the audio element that’s the most distracting, you can just punch your Mac’s Mute button. I often do that when trying to watch a YouTube video and an ad is forced on me before I can see the content I’m interested in.Read more »
Apple’s latest updates to its MacBook Air laptops have been getting rave reviews for their incredible battery life: the 13-inch model clocks more than 12 hours on a single charge. Unfortunately, these new Airs have also been getting some unwanted attention for a potential Internet connection failure. In particular, numerous users report that their Internet connection drops out within minutes of them getting online. A bit surprisingly, this occurs even though the computer’s Wi-Fi connection still shows a normal strong signal.
I first became aware of this matter via a Gizmodo article that provocatively asked: “Is Your New MacBook Air’s Wi-Fi Crappy?” The article claims that “a couple of thousand disenfranchised Apple customers seem to have descended on the Apple Support Forums.” Given that there were less than 150 posts in the cited Support Communities thread, Gizmodo’s claim of “a couple of thousand” complaints seems to be a significant exaggeration. Still, as there are likely many affected users who have not posted their dismay online, the claim is probably true in the larger sense.
Although the new models support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the problem happens primarily, if not entirely, with older connection technologies. More precisely, the dropped connections appear to occur most often with third-party routers as opposed to Apple AirPort routers, especially routers that are too old to have even 802.11n support. This means that if you take your Air to a Genius Bar at an Apple Store, the Air will likely work fine (as many people have confirmed). This, in turn, means that the Genius will most likely conclude that the problem is in software rather than with the Air’s hardware. However, in my view, a hardware cause remains a possibility; it may be one that only gets triggered when connected to certain types of routers.
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A reader who prefers to remain anonymous has some movies that he’d like to turn into an entirely different kind of media file. He writes:
I have some MPEG-4 music video files and all I want to do is lift the soundtrack from them and burn that music to CD. What’s the secret?
There are many secrets to this one. Allow me to run down a few of them that are built into the current Mac OS and Apple applications you likely have on your computer.Read more »