Bugs & Fixes: From missing alarms to update woes

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It’s time for another troubleshooting roundup. From alarms that don’t go off when expected to updates that crash your Mac, here’s a collection of reports that recently wound up on my virtual desk.

Calendar alarms. Last week, I set up a calendar appointment on my Mac. I use BusyCal ( ), but the same thing would have happened in iCal. I entered the appointment as a reminder for my wife (we share the same calendar). I set the alarm to go off later in the day, at a time when my wife wanted to be reminded of the task. The alarm went off exactly as scheduled on my Macs and linked iOS devices. It did not go off on my wife’s iPhone (the critical device in this scenario) or her iMac.

I was surprised because I was fairly certain that I had done this alarm setting on prior occasions, and the alarm had gone off on my wife’s iPhone. I checked on the web. Others confirmed my memory; a set alarm would go off on all devices sharing a calendar. In fact, most comments were to complain about this behavior. Unlike my situation, people wanted to be able to set an alarm for themselves without having it bother those who shared their calendar. They couldn’t. Now the situation appeared to be the reverse!

I contacted the good people at BusyMac, to see if they could shed more light on this matter. They could. They informed me that Apple had apparently silently made a change to iCloud a few weeks earlier, probably in response to all the user complaints. Alarms now only get enabled on devices owned by the user who created the event. The event itself appears on all shared calendars, but not the alarm. As far as I can figure out, this is not a configurable option. You were stuck with this being one way before and stuck the other way now.

Typing reversals. I have had a long-standing problem where there is often a slight delay when I begin to type after a pause. The result is that the first two letters get reversed. For example, if I type “The,” it appears as “hTe.” This will happen almost every time, continuing for days, and then inexplicably stop — only to return again a few days or weeks later. Several forum postings suggested that TextExpander ( ) might be the root cause. I asked the people at Smile about this, and they acknowledged that TextExpander was a “possible cause” in some “edge” cases. The good news is that they believe they’ve squashed this bug in the just released version 4. I’ve been testing a beta version of the upgrade over the past weeks (and I’m now running the release version) and can confirm that the symptom has vanished (hopefully never to return).

Apple update woes. Installing an update is a bit like having surgery. The intention is always to make things better and most times you are pleased with the result. But there’s a small risk that something will go wrong, leaving you worse off than you were before. Such is the case with two recent Apple updates.

If you installed Thunderbolt Software 1.2, Apple informs you (in its characteristic understated manner): “You may notice your Mac becomes unresponsive on startup.” Oops. After discovering the problem, Apple promptly withdrew the update, citing the cause as a compatibility problem with a previous “Thunderbolt update applied by some customers.” If you find yourself in this boat, the solution is to reinstall OS X, ideally and most simply via Lion Recovery. Meanwhile, Apple has released Thunderbolt Software 1.2.1. The new update presumably does not contain the startup failure bug.

After installing Trackpad Update 1.0 for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Apple warns that the Trackpad may become (here’s that word again) “unresponsive.” In this case, this can happen if your Mac goes to sleep in the middle of the update installation. Such untimely naps are never recommended for any update, and you would think Apple’s Installer would prevent this from occurring. Apparently not. If this does happen to you, the solution is simply to reinstall the update. Since your Trackpad is temporarily out of commission, you’ll want to attach a mouse or other external input device to carry out the re-install. If none is available, the cited Apple article gives a 12-step procedure for how you can accomplish the desired goal entirely from the keyboard.

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