Mac Tips for Techs: Activity Monitor -the Task Manager for a Mac



Before my Mac completely ticked me off, and I broke up with Apple, I was dealt a blow had been frustrating and ongoing (more on that in later blog posts). I had not been able to get my machine to turn off the digital optical out; my speakers were unusable on my MacBook Pro.

Because of this, and after a ton of Google research, I had been trying various troubleshooting techniques. One of them was to stop the CoreAudio service.

On a PC this is simple: you open Task Manager, you browse the running processes, and you kill them. However, how do you stop processes from running on a Mac? You can use a great utility called Activity Monitor, which is a built-in tool on the Mac that can be found by typing Activity Monitor into your spotlight.

ActivityMonitorFrom here, this should look pretty similar to Task Manager. You have your processes listed, and you can sort the list in a variety of ways. You can also select individual processes and click the X in the upper left-hand corner to kill the process.

You can also search the processes via how they affect memory, energy, disk, or the network, in addition to the default of CPU. This is crucial if you are troubleshooting certain issues with your Mac — such as whether you are low on RAM, or maybe the Mac’s battery life is dying too quickly (check the energy tab).

This is a great tool for troubleshooting a Mac, and should be included in any technician’s toolkit.


What do YOU want for Christmas: Apple Products Edition


apple xmas blog

Since I write a lot about how much I love my MacBook Pro and the various Apple Products (my iPhone 5s is my go-to for everything), I was asked about what cool new Apple Product might I want for Christmas. To be honest, the answer might surprise you.

Really, nothing….

Every year Apple releases a handful of products, new iPhones, new iPads, etc., and none of them really strike me as something I would be dying to have. I think Apple is doing something to the market, and I don’t know if it will continue to work: they are basically releasing a newer, updated version of the same product every year. And while, sure, the iPhone 6 does have new features that make it very ideal, I just don’t care. Because I still like my iPhone 5s.

I think Apple is doing kind of like what the Call of Duty franchise did for gaming. For the first few games everyone was hooked. I was hooked, I was buying these games every single November, and was really excited to play them. Then after a few years, sure, I was getting a better game — with new levels, updated graphics, better game play — but in the end, it’s still the same game, and I got tired. Now, that isn’t to say I won’t go out and get the new COD, but I will wait a few years most likely. I will wait until that $60 game goes down to $20.

I feel the same way about Apple products.

I would like the new iPhone 6, and someday I will get it. But I probably will wait until next year, when iPhone 7 or 8 comes out and the iPhone 6 is less in price, but still a great product. I am OK with this. I am the type of technician who doesn’t need the latest and greatest (which many tech types probably will say that doesn’t make me a technician at all). I was the type of person who, when the Nintendo 64 was coming out, I was getting my first Super Nintendo. I don’t mind being behind by a few years. I am moving at my pace and loving it.

With that said, I still wanted to give you all a product from Apple that, if I had to put one on my list, I would choose the Apple TV.

apple_tv-q410-angled-lgThis picture makes it look huge, but it’s actually very tiny and very affordable, with models floating around $99.

The Apple TV fits into my way of thinking, too. This device has been in its latest incarnation since 2012, so it has a few years of trial, compared to the rest of the products — and it’s a sleeper for Apple. It just passed the 1 billion mark in sales, compared to the bazillion the rest of the company makes, and I see a future for it.

I got rid of cable. The bill was way too high, just so my wife could watch Hardcore Pawn every two weeks. I have found ways to watch shows online, through our TVs. Sometimes it’s frustrating because you do have to occasionally wait for the show to load, but we can still keep up on a lot of great shows. And most, if not everything, is commercial free. During this election season, while everyone was inundated with commercials on candidates bashing each other, I never saw a single one! It was great!

That is why I like the Apple TV. It has potential. I think Apple is going to move into doing great things with it, and, albeit it isn’t there yet, it will be. I have had a chance to test out the Apple TV at my uncle’s house. It is pretty cool. It allows all of the standard apps, Netflix, Hulu, etc., and it has a lot of great sports apps too. My favorite is the app. I use that religiously to watch my Tampa Bay Rays, since I can’t get them on TV here. With the Apple TV, it’s right there waiting for me, along with the rest of the baseball teams.

Another cool feature we use with the Apple TV is Airplay. My uncle is very sentimental, so he likes to put photo albums from his iPhone onto his TV. When guests come over, it’s like a revolving picture frame.  With the Apple TV, it is simply a click of a button. He can also control Pandora over his iPhone to his Apple TV. He has a very nice sound system and likes playing it through there. (Apple TV has the Pandora app too, but he likes feeling like he has control in his pocket.)

For you tech-types, here are the specifications on the Apple TV (all specs are for the latest rev. 3 product):

Processor: Apple A5 (ARM Cortex-A9) Single core (Redesign from A5 dual core).
Graphics: Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2)
Memory: 512 MB
Storage: 8 GB NAND Flash for Cache
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Micro-USB (reserved for service and diags.), HDMI, infrared receiver, optical audio
Networking: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), 10/100 Ethernet
Video Output: 1080p/720p/480p over HDMI only, HDCP capable
Audio Output: Optical audio (48 kHz fixed sample rate), HDMI

I would like to say that maybe next year an Apple product will come out that will blow me away, and we can write about that. But let’s see where the Apple TV goes. With my preferences to stay in the back of the pack, so to speak, I am OK with that.

Happy Holidays! Have fun shopping!


One Ethernet Cable, and One Mac…WiFi for All!


Did you know that it’s possible to turn your Mac computer into a wifi hotspot without any 3rd party software?

It’s super easy and you can even password protect.

Here’s how!

Open System Preferences from the Apple drop down menu at the top left of the screen

Click on the “Sharing” pane

From the drop down ” Share your connection from:” Select Ethernet”…note:  you can choose multiple items here to use!

Check mark “Wifi” in the box below and click “WiFi” options

Choose your encryption type and enter a password to give to your peers

Save and check the box next to “Internet Sharing” on the left hand side.

That’s it!  You are now your own own hot spot..
note:  You can do this with tethered cell phones as well..Refer to your carrier’s instructions for this.
Have fun!

Apple Address Book for Lion - Unable to Search Your Contacts Since iCloud? Here’s the Fix!


Hey all,

So Apple released 10.7.1 with iCloud.  Cool!

I installed and updated my Mobile Me over to iCloud and was off to the races!  Nice!

The next time I went to open my Address Book and search for a contact, I entered the name of the contact, and NOTHING HAPPENED!

I tried removing the plist files, the address book application support data in the “now hidden” user library.

Nothing worked.

This must have something to do with the update of course!

Turns out the fix is easy, but elusive until you find it.

Here it is!

  1. Open up System Preferences and click on “iCloud”
  2. Next, uncheck “Contacts” in the pane on the right, and select “Keep Contacts”
  3. Reboot your computer!
  4. Follow the same procedure, and this time, check “Contacts” and Merge your contacts with the cloud
That’s it!  You should be all set and able to search again!