Mac problems solved! (And more…)

For some reason, I’ve had a number of Mac issues lately. As anyone who knows me knows, I’ve been a Mac user since 1987, when I was introduced to it by my high school English teacher, Mr. Davis, showed it to us and said all our papers had to be created on it. (By the way, I promise to finish The Odyssey soon, Mr. Davis.) I had long used The Apple ][, but the Mac was new to me back then.

So, Mac issues aren’t usually a big deal. This past week, though, I had several of them.

Where’d the Apple TV go?

First, my Apple TV wasn’t showing up in iTunes after upgrading to Snow Leopard. iTunes acted like the Apple TV was connected, but it wouldn’t show it in the devices list. After restarting the computer with the shift key down to put the Mac in “safe” mode, iTunes saw the Apple TV just fine. Upon further review, I discovered that Intego NetBarrier was the culprit. I removed all traces of it from the computer and Apple TV has been happy ever since.

Now, since NetBarrier is designed to block unwanted intrusion into your computer, it makes sense that it would block Apple TV by default. And I’m sure that I could have mucked around in the NetBarrier settings to allow the Apple TV through, but honestly, I’m already protected by a NAT router (Airport Extreme), so the extra caution seemed not to be worth it.

Active Directory blues

As it happened, I was also having a problem connecting to Active Directory at work from my laptop. For some reason, the computer refused to bind to the service. Again, after much exploration (and the aforementioned Apple TV discovery), NetBarrier again seemed to be the culprit. I removed it and Active Directory is singing again.

Quicken resuscitated

I’d also been noticing a problem with Quicken 2007. It had stopped downloading transactions from my banks for no apparent reason. I tried resetting passwords, rebuilding the PIN Vault, turning off online banking and turning it back on again, changing financial institution names (like from “zWachovia” to “xWachovia” or just “Wachovia” — the funky names, by the way, are vestiges of past banking mergers. As a former First Union customer, I’m under “zWachovia” these days. I’m sure it’ll eventually become “qWells Fargo” or something.), but nothing worked. I kept getting OL-249 errors and notices that Chase had changed its online banking schemes. Finally I came upon the solution. I had to download a special security update from Quicken. After running that update on Quicken, my downloads worked again. Why this critical issue isn’t better addressed on Quicken’s site is beyond me.

Briefly…

Now, on to other matters technological. On the iPhone front, allow me to highlight some recent additions to my app collection:

AppBox Pro: For just $0.99, this app will replace dozens of others and do it with more style than what it replaces. It sports a level, currency converter, date calculator, flashlight, random number generator, tip calculator, translator, unit converter and more. I mean, really, this is great not just for what it packs in, but for everything else you can get rid of.

Boxed In: This puzzle-like game is fast and tons of fun. Basically, you have to move boxes to clear a path to a door. Sounds easy. And for a while, it is. But then it gets really challenging. Level 44 baffled me for days.

Navigon: This turn-by-turn GPS navigation software is my favorite that I’ve seen/tried. Yeah, it’s pricey, but they keep making it better. It announces road names, it allows you to control the iPod functionality without leaving the navigation app, and soon it will include live traffic information. It does expose the flaw in the iPhone not allowing parallel processing, but so it goes.

DoodleJump: This deceptively difficult game is all about orienting the phone to cause this little guy to jump from level to level. Hard to explain, easy to learn, impossible (?) to master.

Madden NFL: Fun football game, but really, does anyone have a fucking clue what all the offense and defense plays are? Those names make no sense to anyone but John Madden.

Yelp: You gotta love the augmented reality Easter Egg. If you’re on a 3GS, start up Yelp and then shake it three times. That enables “monocle.” Once that’s enabled, you can select it and point your phone (like you’re taking a picture) at some shops. Yelp will tell you what each building is. This, my friends, is the future.

That’s good for now.

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