George V. Reilly

SSD Upgrade for 2012 MacBook

My mid-2012 15" MacBook Pro has been getting ever slower. My last two work laptops came with SSDs, but this older machine has a 768GB hard disk drive. It was time to get a solid-state drive, which are far more affordable now than four years ago. Rather than replace the HDD, I bought a Data Doubler kit and a 480GB SSD. I removed the optical drive and installed the Data Doubler with SSD in that space. I rarely used the DVD drive, so I won't miss it.

The Data Doubler kit came with a set of screw­drivers and a detailed manual that covered multiple MacBook models. The manual continue.

Migrating to a New Mac

I got a new MacBook Pro on Monday: a 13" Retina with 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD, which doubles both the RAM and the disk capacity of its late-2013 pre­de­ces­sor. 8GB wasn't really enough for software de­vel­op­ment. By the time you run Chrome and PyCharm and Docker, you don't have much RAM left. And I was constantly having to run Grand Per­spec­tive to clean up disk space.

For the first time, I used the Migration Assistant and a Thun­der­bolt cable to transfer settings from the old laptop to the new. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. In one hour, the new machine had all the files and just about continue.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 on Mac OS X 10.11: Alt/Windows key no longer swapped

When I upgraded my home and work MacBooks to OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), the single biggest annoyance for me was that my external keyboards, all Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000s, no longer swapped the Alt & Windows key.

By default, when a PC keyboard is plugged into a Mac, the Alt key, which is im­me­di­ate­ly to the left of the spacebar, is mapped to the Alt/Option key, which is two keys left of the spacebar on a Mac keyboard. And the Windows key, which is two keys to the left of the spacebar on a PC keyboard, is mapped to the Command key, which is next to the spacebar on a Mac keyboard.

On continue.

RunSnakeRun (wxPython) apps in a Brew Virtualenv

I'm doing some Python profiling and I wanted to use the Run­SnakeRun utility to view the profile data. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, that's not straight­for­ward on Mac OS X if you use a virtualenv, and it's even less easy if you're using the Python installed by the Homebrew (brew) package manager.

There are several problems:

Installing wxPython

I downloaded wxPython3.0-osx-, released in November 2014.

If you open the DMG and attempt to run the PKG, you will likely get a misleading error message from OS X:

“wxPython3.0-osx-cocoa-py2.7.pkg” continue.

Running PyCharm on Yosemite

I did a clean install of OS X 10.10 on my home laptop a week ago. I tried to launch PyCharm 4.0.4 on it today. It im­me­di­ate­ly failed. Every time.

When I looked in the System Console, I saw:

1/25/15 7:46:00.557 PM pycharm[1160]: No matching VM found.
1/25/15 7:46:00.711 PM[1]: (com.jetbrains.pycharm.58252[1160]) Service exited with abnormal code: 1

The JetBrains website wasn't very helpful when I looked there. In time, I found a Stack­Over­flow answer that put me on the right track (and reminded me that I had previously solved this problem about a year ago, at work). PyCharm and some of the other JetBrains IDEs require JDK 1.6, as continue.

Clean Installing Yosemite

Every few years, I find it necessary to wipe my computers and do a clean install of the operating system. As a developer and a power user, I install a lot of software. The cumulative effect of in­stal­la­tions and upgrades is to leave a lot of cruft on the machines. Entropy increases and the machines grow slower and perhaps less reliable. So I like to wipe the hard disk, install a new operating system, and reinstall only those apps that I know I need.

My mid-2012 MacBook Pro came with OS X 10.7. Shortly thereafer, 10.8 was released and I promptly upgraded; likewise with 10.9. Yosemite (10.10) was released in continue.

Safari 4 Revisited

I tried Safari 4 on my MacBook back in February when it first came out in beta. It crashed im­me­di­ate­ly, every time, so I unin­stalled it.

I upgraded to OS X 10.5.7 earlier in the week and new Safari bits were available, so it seemed like a good time to retry it. After all, it had been faster than any other browser on my Vista box at work.

Again, it crashed im­me­di­ate­ly. This time, however, I took a closer look at the details of the error report that was being sent to Apple. A little Googling suggested that the Glims plugin was at fault. Indeed it was. I replaced beta 8 continue.

Windows 7 x64 running in Mac VirtualBox 2.2.2

I ported Vim to Win64 but I don't have a convenient Win64 system to test it on.

I decided to install the Win64 build of the Windows 7 RC on VirtualBox, which has supported 64-bit guest operating systems since version 2.0.

It worked without problems on my MacBook Pro. I used Vir­tu­al­Box's Virtual Media Manager to mount the Windows 7 ISO and installed from that. See also the handy guide. (Why does Windows 7 offer a choice of upgrading from a previous version of Windows on a virgin disk?) After completing the in­stal­la­tion of the operating system, I installed the Guest Additions for mouse pointer in­te­gra­tion and other goodies.

As always with VirtualBox continue.


Many of the screen­shots that show up on my blog were captured with ImageWell, a little Mac app with resizing, uploading, and rudi­men­ta­ry image editing func­tion­al­i­ty. It used to be freeware. Now it costs $20 after the trial period runs out.

In­stantShot! is a menu bar app that does a good job of taking screen­shots, but that's all it does.

ChocoFlop, which I've only just discovered, seems like the best of the free image editors for the Mac. The rest are pretty bad. Nothing as good as Paint.NET on Windows.

GIMP on OS X has finally become more or less usable, but that's heavy­weight.

De-partitioning a Mac disk

I wrote yesterday about NTFS-3G because I was backing my MacBook to an external NTFS drive. I was backing up because I wanted to de-partition my Mac.

When I upgraded my MacBook to a bigger drive, more RAM, and OS X 10.5, I par­ti­tioned the drive. I created two 25GB partitions with the intention of putting Windows and Linux on them with BootCamp. It turns out that BootCamp doesn't like that. It wants the system drive to have only one partition, which it would shrink. I never bothered to go any further.

The disk has been filling up recently and I wanted the extra space back, to extend my primary HFS+ partition by continue.

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