Don’t panic…

I use Apple products. In fact, I use a lot of Apple products and some of my less generous colleagues might even label me a “fanboy”. I’d call that unfair because I’m not blind to their faults and I know that, like all technology, it will fail at some point.

I have tried my best to develop ways of avoiding failures, making sure that they cause as little damage or disruption as possible and generally covering my back wherever and whenever possible. The other day, whilst doing routine updates to one of the Macs in my office, I experienced something that would probably have completely freaked most computer users out and necessitated a lot of aggravation or even a visit to a service centre or Genius Bar.


Simply put, all of the applications went AWOL. The dock, of which you can see a screenshot above just showed a whole row of question marks indicating that the applications were missing and a quick visit to the applications folder showed that the Mac clearly thought so too. The error message said that I didn’t have permissions to use the folder which made me believe and/or hope that nothing was actually missing. The “missing” applications included Time Machine and all of the repair and diagnostic tools that I would normally go straight to. I looked in the bin and I tried to search for items that I know should have in my applications folder but found nothing.

This has never happened to me before and I have never heard it described so I tried solution number one – to use a different device, get onto the internet and search the collected knowledge of the world’s computer users. The general consensus appeared to be that I had a major issue and that I needed to reinstall the Mac operating system. Easier said than done given that, despite trying every kind of reboot and diagnostic test I could, the App Store, all web browsers and Time Machine were amongst the locked/blocked/missing applications.

I could have done it all from one of the other Macs but I have, for many years, had a back-up drive from which I can boot my computers. These days it is a USB3 SSD drive with OSX Yosemite loaded on it and I used that to reboot my computer and install a fresh copy of OSX. Twenty-five minutes later with a mildly raised heart rate and some cramp in my fingers from keeping them crossed my computer was back as if nothing had happened. No screwdrivers were involved and nobody had to drive anywhere. No data was lost and I could get on with work.

Just in case you are wondering, panicking wasn’t even in the top ten ways to sort this out – about five places below a stiff drink or three!

A case that proves the old military phrase that I was taught at school in the 1970s and 1980s – “precise and proper planning prevents poor performance”.

Image rescue software

sandsk_rescue_proI just thought that I’d post a very quick note about the free one year licenses that I got with two new Sandisk compact flash cards that I bought today. As someone who relies on their cards for a living it’s great practice to replace and update your cards so every few months I buy a couple of new ones.

Since I went freelance and got to start making my own purchasing decisions almost six years ago I’ve been buying ever larger and ever faster Sandisks. I don’t always buy the fastest or biggest but they tend to be faster and/or bigger than the last batch. Anyway, you get the idea.

This time it was a couple of 16 gigabyte 120 mbps CF cards that work nicely with the Canon EOS5D MkIII cameras each of which came with a one year license for the Rescue Pro Deluxe software. I was prompted to get a couple of new cards because my last one year license for the software expired a week or so ago. It struck me that this is quite a good way for Sandisk to keep me loyal and for me to keep up to date with the software. Every twelve months I need to buy at least one new card and by doing so I keep the software running. By buying two new cards, I now have two computers with valid licenses!

Everyone is a winner.

The joke here is that I haven’t ever had a Sandisk card go wrong on me. I have rescued a card belonging to a colleague (Transcend Card) and I have had some fun ‘rescuing’ a few very old and very small retired cards of my own.  Earlier today an ancient Lexar 512 Mb card threw up some images shot on a Canon EOS1D in 2003 and some more shot on a 1D MkII in 2005. A 2GB Sandisk card went through the process a few minutes later and that had some personal stuff from 2008 along with a couple of jobs from the same year. If I can find the right card reader in the loft, I also have a PCMCIA card dating from 1998!

This could become addictive…