Slow Mac - What's going on?

Recently I've had two instances where my Mac just wouldn't respond. It was frozen. I clicked links and typed commands, but nothing would work. Since I run a great application called iStat Menus I could tell my CPU was running at maximum and I didn't have any resources left to do what I wanted. So how do you figure out what's going on and what do you do?  Good question! I'm glad you asked.

Apple provides a great application called Activity Monitor. If you have never used it, it's located in the utilities folder. It will show you all of your open applications and running process, how much CPU they are using, the amount of RAM being consumed, energy used as well as disk and network activity. 

In my case I found that a process called "storeassetd" was using 99% of my CPU. A lot of digging around the Internet finally revealed that this process is associated with the Apple Mac App store. looking at it, I guess the name makes sense. Somehow, when I was updating my Mac applications, the App store process didn't stop when I quit the software update. 

To fix the problem and stop the runaway activity you just highlight the application and click on the stop sign icon in the upper left.

The second instance of runaway CPU was a little more nefarious. I was being attacked by a hacker.

Again I was investigating why my Mac was running slowly and discovered that this time the responsible process was "opendirectoryd"  Being a UNIX admin I knew this was the LDAP login authentication process UNIX uses...WTF? This is where Apple's Console application comes in handy. 

Console is the application that allows you to look at all of the log files the Mac keeps. I fired up Console, did a little digging and found this:

Page after page of someone trying to log into my Mac as root. Hundreds of attempts per second!! No wonder my poor Mac was having trouble. 

I realized what had happened almost immediately. The previous week I had needed to access my Mac while away from home and had allowed remote login in the System Preferences Sharing configuration menu.  Since I have multiple Macs I had also set up my Airport router to forward all ssh requests to my iMac so I could log in to the correct Mac. The fix was just as easy. Shut down the ssh port on my Mac and remove the Airport Port forward using Airport Utility.

The moral of this story is to be vigilant. If you have a problem, if your Mac is running slowly and you don't know why, do a little investigation. It could just be a hung application (like my App Store process) or it could be something much much worse.


iTunes - Where is that Song?

I recently posted about some of the annoyances of iTunes. Today I want to follow up with another point of frustration: How to search for a song and figure out which of your playlists it's in. 

One of the great things about iTunes is creating the perfect playlist. And if you have a lot of playlists in your music collection it can be hard to remember which is which. My wife was trying to find a playlist and could only remember that it had this one specific song in it. So she did what all of us do and searched for the song. ... No dice.

She poking and prodding she turned to me and said "This is horrible! Why can't they make it simple to list out all the playlists that have a specific song in it?"  We tried asking Siri and she just got confused. The answer is a keystroke away.

Bring up iTunes, select your music library and search for a song. 

Hold down the "Control" key and click on the song. Near the bottom of the list you should see "Show in Playlist." Click on it and it will show you all the playlists your selected song is in. 

If "Show in Playlist" isn't visible it just means that song is not a part of any playlist. Who know searching could be so easy? 

Let me know some of your iTunes gripes in the comments below. Who knows? Maybe there's a simple solution.


iTunes Annoyances - Let Me Count the Ways

iTunes started life as a great little app to play music. Over the years it has grown to gargantuan proportions and handles all of Apple's media as well as acting as a portal to the iTunes store. To me iTunes is bloated, over weight and needs a diet. Since that's not going to happen for a while I've decided to address some small but niggling issues and maybe help someone keep from pulling their hair out. Today I want to address a problem that plagued me when I started using iOS 9 on my new iPhone 6s

I work out to music and I suddenly ran into a problem with playlists. The first song repeated over and over. I could not get the next song to play. Hitting the couple arrow icon just started the song over again. 

First I wanted to see what my playlist had "Next Up" so I hit the three lines to the right of the play icon.

It showed me nothing but endless repeats of the same song. 

The solution is as simple to fix as the problem is to cause. When playing music the main screen has a to "arrow" icons at the bottom of the screen. One for "Shuffle" and the other for "Repeat."  Can you see the almost too small to read numeral "1" on the "Repeat" icon below? That means the selected song will play over and over and over... until you are sick of it or change the settings.

To stop this aural assault you just tap the same icon until the little "1" & the grey box around it goes away. BTW - The grey box is a visual signal that this function is selected. In this case if you select the "repeat" arrows and only tap once the grey box will be shown but no number. This means the playlist will repeat. Tap again, and the number 1 will appear and that song will repeat. I figure since the Home button on my iPhone is so close to the repeat icon in iTunes I inadvertently selected it without knowing it. 

Over the years Apple has tried to improve iTunes but it's still filled with small buttons which I am clueless to explain. If there were only one or two unknown buttons it wouldn't be so bad but every update of iOS or iTunes brings more changes and more new icons. If you add in the new Music service, old Playlists, Genius Playlists, Shared libraries and other functions things get confusing in a hurry. 

I hope this helps relieve some of the frustration out there. Write a comment and tell me your frustrations with iTunes. I'll listen, and just maybe, Apple will too.