Notebook Users Report Battery Errors Under Snow Leopard, Workarounds/Fixes Suggested

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Date: Thursday, January 7th, 2010, 06:43
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Since installing it, I have to admit that I like Snow Leopard and it has yet to kick my pets or burn my apartment to the very ground.

These are good things.

Even so, per CNET, a large number of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have noticed a problem with the computer frequently displaying a “Service Battery” warning in the battery system menu. This also seems to be coupled with relatively short battery life, either with the battery discharging rapidly or with the computer going to sleep but still reporting high percentage of charge left in the battery. As of the Mac OS 10.6.2 update, affected users are still experiencing the problem.

This problem appears to be an issue with Snow Leopard’s handling of the battery hardware, where the services that are supposed to detect battery problems are incorrectly reporting the battery status, and subsequently triggering the system to go into a precautionary sleep mode or claiming the battery is draining. This theory is backed up by the fact that affected people who have downgraded back to Leopard either by reinstalling, restoring from backup, or even booting off the 10.5 Leopard DVD have not had the problem occur on the same hardware.

A recent TUAW article suggests this behavior stems from Snow Leopard being fine-tuned to reveal existing battery problems that Leopard was not aware of. While this may be the case for some people, the sheer number of people reporting the problem indicates there may be errors in the software. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to discern those with pre-existing battery problems from those with healthy batteries.

In order to address the issue, the article offers the following tips to help sort things out via the mighty Apple Knowledge Base:

Calibrating the battery

Resetting the PRAM

Resetting the SMC

Strangely, the battery issues have cleared for a few users who have just shut down and restarted their systems on a regular basis. While keeping the power supply plugged in to prevent any issued with the battery, they’ve turned off the machine and rebooted to see the battery being normally recognized. This suggests the problem may be with a setting more than a specific bug, that hopefully can be reset by a full restart. MacBook owners may tend to sleep their systems instead of restarting them, which will keep various settings from being refreshed.

Further supporting the claim of software issues in Snow Leopard is that some users have cleared the problem by booting into 64-bit mode. If you do not have any software that requires a 32-bit kernel and system extensions, try booting into 64-bit mode by restarting and holding down the “6” and “4” keys simultaneously. For some the problem has returned when booted back into 32-bit mode, but for others the switch to 64-bit mode has fixed it even when booted into 32-bit mode.

Another suggestion to address this problem is to remove the power management system preferences, which contains parameters that determine how the system will behave when running on either AC power, battery, or a UPS. This file is called “com.apple.PowerManagement.plist” and is located in the /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ folder, and can be removed without harming anything. This isn’t a fix, however, and those who have done this have found it only seems to temporarily remove the warning in the battery system menu, and does not address the underlying issue.

Lastly, the issue may lie with the upgrade process itself, where settings for Leopard are not working with Snow Leopard. The temporary successes with removal of the Power Management property list suggests this may be a possibility. As a result, try booting off a clean OS installation of Snow Leopard to test the hardware.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end of have found a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Apple Releases Epson, Lexmark Printer Driver Updates for Mac OS X 10.6

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Date: Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, 05:23
Category: Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its Lexmark Printer Drivers 2.2 for Mac OS X 10.6 update, a 121 megabyte download that provides the latest drivers for Lexmark owners running Mac OS X 10.6 or later. The company also released its Epson Printer Drivers v2.2 for Mac OS X v10.6.1 update, a 546 megabyte download that also includes scanning software and it’s aimed at users running the 10.6.1 update.

A full list of supported printer models for both Lexmark and Epson.

As always, the updates can be found, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Microsoft Releases Version 7.1 of IntelliPoint, IntelliType Drivers

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Date: Monday, December 14th, 2009, 06:09
Category: Software

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On Saturday, Microsoft released version 6.2 of their drivers for their IntelliType keyboards and IntelliType mice. The drivers, which can be selected and downloaded here, bring the software up to speed with Mac OS X 10.6.2 (“Snow Leopard”) and offer full 64-bit compatibility with the operating system.

The drivers require Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, let us know what you think and feel free to hurl your two cents in, as Microsoft’s list of changes is fairly vague for the new version.

VMWare Releases Fusion 3.0.1

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Date: Friday, December 11th, 2009, 05:35
Category: Software

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On Tuesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.0.1 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, which can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

Highlighted New and Improved Features:
– Faster 3D performance, with Windows Experience scores 20-80% faster than before on Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
– Reduced time for resuming virtual machines.
– Supports import of standalone VHD disks into VMware virtual machines.
– Supports import of Parallels Desktop 5 virtual machines into VMware virtual machines.
– New 64-bit native networking subsystem to match the 64-bit native engine.

PC Migration Agent and Migration Assistant Improvements:
– Adds support for Windows Server 2008 R2.
– Installer localized into all supported languages.
– Shows progress that VMware Tools are being installed in last step of migrating the PC.
– Does not automatically show the PC Migration Agent application in the resulting virtual machine.
– Adds only one network adapter to imported PC virtual machines.

A full list of changes and fixes can be found here.

Fusion 3.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

First Builds of Mac OS X 10.6.3 Update Due This Week

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Date: Thursday, December 10th, 2009, 07:42
Category: Software

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The first external builds of Mac OS X 10.6.3, the next incremental update to Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system, should be seeded to developers this week. Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story say the forthcoming builds are likely to be released to some developers in the next 48 hours, and carry the expected prefix of 10Dxx. It is not yet known what issues Apple hopes to address with the latest update.

A month ago, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.2, which corrected a guest account bug that could potentially delete a user’s account data, triggered by logging in and out of a guest account on a Snow Leopard machine. The update also included native support for the Mac maker’s new multi-touch Magic Mouse.

That update was in beta for just over a month, before its release to the public on Nov. 9. A timeframe for the potential Mac OS X 10.6.3 release is not yet known.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail 4.6.2 (Snow Leopard Edition) Released

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Date: Monday, December 7th, 2009, 07:26
Category: Software

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Over the weekend, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.6.2 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests.

The new version, a 2.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Improves overall stability.
– Added clearing of the latest variants of the RSPlug (Jahlav) trojan horse.
– Addresses a number of other minor issues.

Cocktail 4.6.2 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run.

How-To: Repair Fuzzy Icons in Snow Leopard

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Date: Tuesday, November 24th, 2009, 07:35
Category: How-To

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There’ll always be bugs, you can count of that.

Per CNET, a number of Snow Leopard users have been complaining of blurry and pixelated icons showing up in the Finder. A thread on the Apple Discussion Board outlines this issue, where instead of the large and crisp icons that are so prominent in OS X, the system shows grainy and low-resolution versions of them, regardless of the icon size being used.

Mac OS X icon files are actually comprised of several files in one, each which represents a different version of the icon from low resolution to high resolution. This is so the system will not always load the high-resolution versions if the icon size does not call for it.

Potential fixes for this issue include the following:
An application called BlueHarvest allows users to repair the DS_Store files that might be causing this issue. The program can be located and downloaded here.

Remove system and user caches:
Additionally, you can try using a system maintenance tool to remove all user and system caches. This can be done with a utility like OnyX, and I would recommend tackling the following system caches:
dyld’s shared cache

All “System” cleaning routines

All “User” cleaning routines

After removing the caches, restart the computer.

Additionally, removing the Finder’s preference file may also help, since icon rendering is a function of the Finder. The preference file is called “com.apple.Finder.plist” and is located in the /username/Library/Preferences/ folder. Move this to the Desktop and restart the computer (or logout and log back in) and hopefully the Finder will load the icons properly again. Keep in mind that doing this will remove a few customizations of the the Finder, including sidebar additions and recent items, but that should be easy to set up again.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, let us know.

App Store Download Bug Noted

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Date: Friday, November 13th, 2009, 05:06
Category: News, Software

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A number of users have received error code 414 when attempting to download multiple iPhone applications, the end result being failed attempts altogether. Per CNET, the error seems to particularly affect users with more than a few downloads to complete. Most users in this Apple Discussions Forum thread report needing to update upwards of 20 Apps.

Many are calling this a bug in the iTunes Store system related to the “mature content” warnings Apple uses on Apps with a 17+ rating. Over on the Apple Discussions Board, user “ecasadei” described the situation as follows:

“I’m getting the same error. I have 97 app updates available, and when I try to “Download All Free Updates” at once, a window pops up stating “IMPORTANT: This product contains material that may be objectionable to children under 17. By proceeding, you are confirming that you are 17 or older.” and then I get an error message stating that iTunes could not complete my request because an unknown error (414) occurred. I have no idea which of these apps has been given a 17+ rating — at first glance they all seem pretty tame — otherwise, I’d update those manually and then try to download the rest all at once again. As it stands, I’m forced to update them all one by one. I’ve also seen the following error appear when I try to get an update on some individual apps:

MZCommerceBuy.AgeCheckFailureKey.addToCart_message MZCommerceBuy.AgeCheckFailureKey.explanation”

There’s clearly some sort of bug in the age verification process during app updates and this is getting a bit odd.

The general consensus here seems to be to download your 17+ rated Apps one at a time and save all your others for a mass download. It would also be helpful to download your updates for applications before too many build up in your queue. You can update many of your applications directly from your iPhone and download updates on your computer even if your iPhone is not plugged in. While it does not appear that the recent update to Snow Leopard directly addressed this issue, watch for the next iTunes update to tackle the problem.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or located a fix or workaround, please let us know.

Cocktail 4.6.1 (Snow Leopard Edition) Released

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Date: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009, 08:59
Category: Software

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On Tuesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.6.1 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests.

The new version, a 2.0 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may unexpectedly quit while clearing Mac OS X 10.6.2 system caches.
– Added Mac OS X 10.6.2 compatibility.

Cocktail 4.6.1 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run.

Intel Atom Processor Support Missing From Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update

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Date: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009, 05:55
Category: News, Processors

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As much as the Hackintosh community may love Mac OS X, Apple doesn’t always love them back.

Per OSXDaily, support for Intel’s Atom processor is confirmed to be missing in the final release of 10.6.2.

Apple’s latest update for Snow Leopard has broken support for Intel’s Atom processor line. Mac OS X 10.6.2 was released Monday afternoon, and was Apple’s second major update for Snow Leopard.

OSXDaily reported that various netbook and “hackintosh” forums are “blowing up with problems of 10.6.2 instant rebooting their Atom-based notebooks.” Systems using the Atom processor will go into a startup-loop if the 10.6.2 update is installed.

Support for Atom fluctuated over the course of 10.6.2 development, and Apple was mum about the subject.

It is recommended that anyone using OS X on Atom-based systems should not install the update. Many believe that a community-generated fix will be developed soon. Prominent hackintosh blogger StellaRola commented, “Just an FYI, this is OSx86 after all and none of the scenes hackers really let down on support. The latest kernel may not be “officially” supported but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a modded kernel around the corner.”

Intel’s Atom processor is a low-cost, low-power chip intended for notebooks, netbooks and ultra-mobile PCs. Although current Apple products do not sport the Atom chips, a dedicated community has formed around the practice of installing Snow Leopard on Atom netbooks.