A Frustrating Week in Macville

If you stay within certain boundaries, the Macintosh experience is very pleasant. However, I've been doing Macs for 25 years, so take it as a personal liberty to mess around with my Macs and get away with it. Lately, the Mac has pushed back.

I should emphasize from the outset that this isn't a rant. It's just an editorial musing about some of my experiences. The real goal is to get (polite) discussion going that also serves to entertain and educate newbies.

1. iTunes. My iTunes library is getting big, over 52 GB. Following our esteemed managing editor's Quick Tip "Move Your iTunes Library", I moved the iTunes Music directory to a second internal drive in the trusty PowerMac G5. (This is a directory found within the iTunes directory.) After I reset the location of that directory in iTunes preferences, I got a progress window suggesting that iTunes was updating the path to each item. When it was finished, I played some music, and all seemed well. That was Friday.

This morning, after a weekend's worth of Time Machine updates (not that I think that matters), I had an exclamation mark in front of every iTunes song and TV show. The listing was fine, but if I double-clicked a song, iTunes reported that it couldn't find the song. So Something mysterious is going on here, and the procedure to move an iTunes Music directory may have changed since Jeff published his note. Has anyone had a similar experience?

2. Pulling the Rug. My wife and I have been eagerly following a really neat SciFi fantasy called Legend of the Seeker. Each week, after the show airs on our local PBS station, Apple has been adding the HD version (for $2.99) to iTunes. This morning when I went to download the latest episode, I found that every HD episode had been removed and replaced with the SD equivalent for $1.99. Now ABC (the source) may have forced this on Apple, but it seems to me that when people make an investment in a product, a sudden degradation of the quality isn't called for. Apple shares some blame for allowing this. Just another technological disappointment that fills our small buckets of patience and overflows.

3. Patrick McGoohan died last week. His legendary, cult, and significant TV show from the 1960s, The Prisoner made a mark on all of us along the way. Before he died, he spoke many times about the message of the show and how it relates to our lives. Here's a quote from Wired last week

"We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche.... As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy.

"We all live in a little Village," McGoohan concluded in the same interview. "Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners."

A poignant example of that is if you try to update an unlocked iPhone 2G using iTunes 8.0.2 instead of 8.0.1. Some of you know what this means, so I won't go into more detail. Enough said.

4. AFP, ACLs, and Achoo. This is an apocryphal story because I haven't documented the events and named the suspects.

It seems to me that after I updated to 10.5.6, I am no longer able to do something I've always done. I have the same named account names on my MacBook Pro and an old PowerMac G5. When I use Apple File Sharing Protocol (AFP) to go from one machine to the other, that user's Desktop directory is not visible on the other machine -- as part of all the other directories one can see, such as Documents, Music, Pictures, etc. Instead, the Desktop directory shows up as a separate, mountable volume, even though it's not listed in /Volumes.

Say what?

I asked Ted Landau about this at Macworld, and he's not seeing the same behavior, but I'm betting his account names are different. In fact, if I log into different account (name) on my own MBP, and then connect to the PMG5, the Desktop directory shows up right where it belongs, same as every other. I think this is either a new bug (allergy) or a new "feature" of 10.5.6. Feedback is welcome.

When I looked at the directories on the PMG5, I noticed that some directories, including Desktop, have acquired Access Control List (ACL) privileges. (Designated by a "+" sign at the end of the directory entry.) This is something normally only done on Mac OS X server, and Mac OS X client users should never be confronted by this. I used some command line magic to remove the ACL, but it didn't solve the above problem, and I'm especially mystified because these ACLs never appear on my MacBook Pro for the corresponding directories.

So that's my list of recent frustrations. No doubt, some of you will say, "John, you shouldn't mess around like this." But indeed I do. That's how I learn. It's just that creative play isn't always, well, like, totally fun -- to borrow a phrase.