Tag Archives: Mac Pro

Apple MacPro, OS X Yosemite and Wi-Fi … The Honeymoon’s Over

OK, so I’ll admit it.  I’m an Apple fanboy, and have been since making the switch to Macs in 2005.  For geek profile purposes, I would tell ya that I’m an early adopter, and a realist about problems that may show up.  It’s hardware, and software, and even though there’s tight synergy granted from both sides of that coming from the same complex in Cupertino, I recognize that things will go bump every now and then.

That said, let me introduce you to my latest saga with the Apple ecosystem.

AirDrop is a pretty cool technology that allows Macs, and now iPhones with iOS 8, to create short-lived, ad hoc networks to transfer files.  This is pretty cool, especially if you use your iPhone as a primary form of photography (And for Rick and Tom, I’m not naming names here!), and for probably other uses as well.  Once I got both Yosemite and iOS 8.1 down, I wanted to give AirDrop a try.  The first prompt I got was to turn on the wi-fi card in my late-2013 Mac Pro cylinder.

As a note, I don’t usually keep wi-fi enabled on my Mac Pro.  This machine never travels, and does some big data moves across my network, so hardwiring it at gig-e speeds just makes sense for me.

When I tried to turn on the wi-fi on my shiny cylinder o’ fun, I clicked the button on the network preferences panel… and nothing happened.  I clicked it again.  Nothing.  And like any good techie, I continued clicking it periodically over the next few minutes.  Nada.

I decided to restart my Mac, and as though by magic, I was able to turn on wi-fi in my system.  I played with AirDrop, and then turned off wi-fi.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I took a walk at lunch.  Normally, I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to capture my travels, but for some reason, it was having trouble finding the satellites, so I did my walk, and then wanted to check the distance.  My go-to answer for years has been Google Maps, but I figured that since Apple had included this cool Maps application on the desktop, I’d use it.

Well… it barked about not being able to find my position without wi-fi being turned on, which means the app barks incessantly about how it can’t determine my location.  I even tried to feed it my location to shut it up, and it still was pretty dang insistent.  I know my Mac doesn’t have a GPS device embedded in it, so it’s obviously using my wi-fi network name to figure where I am, based on the network I’m connected to.  If I’m out in public, that’s pretty cool.  Sitting in my house, that’s a little creepy.  TMI, say I!  However, that misgiving aside, I turned on my wi-fi.

Or tried to.

Once again, I was left with a wi-fi system that didn’t seem to be active, regardless of what I’d do.  Once again, I restarted my machine.  I paid close attention this time, and noticed that the wi-fi was on when the machine came back up.  Whether I had hit the button an odd number of times, resulting in the post-reboot status being active, or if it just remembered that I was trying to turn it on, my cylindrical Mac came back up with wi-fi happy.  Oh, and Maps was much happier as well.

So, what’s this mean?  I’m not entirely sure.  Except that I need to be planful around when I want to use AirDrop or Maps, or anything else requiring the lil’ Mac Pro to have its wi-fi enabled.

I’ve done a ton of searches on this issue.  Unfortunately, there are loads of as-yet-unresolved issues with Yosemite around wi-fi performance and dropping networks, and those are clouding my searches with a lot of wild goose chases.  If I had to guess, I’d bet that something is being flagged to turn on wi-fi, but can’t complete until after a restart for some reason.  Or, wi-fi is really active, but all the indicators in the network preferences aren’t there. I should probably watch my Apple network gear (using my iPad or iPhone) to see if there’s every anything showing up on the router’s side, which could help narrow things down.

Just a little spot on my otherwise shiny Apple!

Steve to Phydeaux: “Will you quit whining now?!”

After what has seemed like an eternity — especially in dog years, which is a fairly common unit of measure at the Deauxmayne — Apple has *finally* solved the dilemma of how an ’08 Mac Pro crosses the road to get to Mini DisplayPort monitors. The answer is in the cards.

Along with a gazillion hardware announcements, and more than a few software updates, Uncle Steve’s kids announced some love for my beloved Doc Oc. There is finally an option to hang a 24″ LED Apple display off my now-defunct Mac Pro.

The path is through an ATI Radeon HD 4870, which would dent your wallet to the tune of $349. From everything I’ve read, this card is very fast — much faster than the card currently in Doc Oc. However, it won’t ship for 5-7 weeks, and will only work with OS X 10.5.7 (any bets on when that might be released? 🙂 ).

The cool thing is that the card supports both DVI and Mini DisplayPort, which means I can tackle the upgrade in phases, rather than all at once. Buy the card and gain the speed upgrade (in some instances, anyway), and then upgrade the monitor.

Funniest thing about the description on the Apple store?

“ATI Radeon HD 4870 includes two video ports: one Mini DisplayPort and one dual-link DVI port. This allows you to connect both the 24-inch Apple LED Cinema Display or another Mini DisplayPort-based display, and a DVI-based display such as the 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display.”

Another Mini DisplayPort-based display? There ain’t but one out there, and that’s the aforementioned Apple 24-inch display. I guess that’s future-proofing, but in March of 2009, that reads like humor!

In the new Mac Pro machines, there’s another DVI/Mini DisplayPort card available — the NVidia GeForce GT 120 — but the Apple store doesn’t list that as an upgrade option for the ’08 Mac Pros. ‘Tis a shame, as that card is only $149. For folks wanting to upgrade monitors, but not really needing the extra speed, it seems like this would be a good option. These are also 5-7 weeks out, so maybe that’ll change between now and ship time.

In any case, I’m thrilled that my now-obsolete Doc Oc has been included in the the No Mac Pro Left Behind program in this round of annoucements!

(And BTW, there’s some good analysis of the new Mac Pro, both its shiny and ugly bits, at the websites of digilloyd and Bare Feats.)

CORRECTION: It looks like you only need OS X 10.5.6 to run the new cards, either on the new Mac Pros or old. I guess 10.5.7’s date is still a bit of a mystery. 🙂