Problems with Time Machine endlessly preparing

We use Time Machine with a network disk connected via AirPort Extreme for backup in our household (writeup), and it’s generally a great solution. However recently my wife’s laptop had got stuck in an endless “preparing backup” situation. There didn’t seem to be any significant details in the error log, and when I ran a Disk Utility on the Sparse Bundle associated with her laptop nothing came up. My laptop was backing up over the network from the same drive, so I was fairly sure everything was working with the setup.

After a fair bit of googling I came up with Patty Patty’s solution (scroll down to Patty Patty’s post on Jun 1, 2008 12:45 PM) on the Apple discussion boards which I’ll rekey here for convenience:

  • Turn Time Machine off
  • Trash the com.apple.TimeMachine.plist in /Library/Preferences
  • Restart

I then turned Time Machine back on, and the next backup ran fine. Bear in mind that although this worked for me, any issue you have may be different and your mileage may vary. Patty Patty (gender unknown) went on to suggest the following, although I didn’t need to go this far:

  • Full Spotlight reindex of the Macintosh HD
  • Added a bunch of folders to the “Do Not Backup” list in Time Machine
  • Turn Time Machine on

The one difference I could spot between my wife’s setup with her laptop (which had the issues) and mine (which didn’t), is that her network connection is almost solely wifi and mine is often ethernet. Some other reports I read suggested that when connections are interrupted over wifi it can screw with Time Machine. Other reports I read suggest that Apple may still be working on this in upcoming releases… but given Apple’s usual level of transparency and predictability I think we should all take that one with a pinch of salt.

Hope this helps someone.

Specify the Finder icon with Avahi

Finder shared area icons Yesterday, I blogged about my various issues setting up Apple Filesharing on the Debian virtual server I’ve got running in Parallels. As of OS X 10.5, Leopard, the Finder has a shared area which shows the machines it’s discovered via Bonjour so you can easily connect to them. Today I got bored of having the default icon for my server, bizarrely Apple have set the default icon as a Cinema Display (what?), I wanted something more visually informative. After some Googling around and a bit of configuration on the Debian side, the server is now using an XServe icon. Continue reading Specify the Finder icon with Avahi

Disappearing Photoshop cursors

I’ve had a problem for some time now: my cursors in Photoshop CS3 on OS X are invisible. I’ve no idea why, or how it happened, but it’s really awkward when you can’t see where your mask is going to start, or where you text cursor is going to blink into being.

The solution

After a lot of Googling I came across another person (maybe called Mark, from detective work in his Flickr stream) with a similar problem, which started me off to find a solution. So far the only way I’ve found of solving this is (and this is OS X specific):

  1. Quit Photoshop
  2. In Finder, Go to Folder: ~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Photoshop CS3 Settings/
  3. Delete, or move to another folder temporarily, this file:Adobe Photoshop CS3 Prefs.psp
  4. Restart Photoshop and (hopefully) breathe a sigh of relief…

There must be a better way of doing it, and I still don’t know what triggered the problem, but at least the cursors are back. Cursors! I kiss you!