apple · mac os x · mavericks · networking · yosemite

Apple Swaps Yosemite’s discoveryd for Mavericks’ mDNSResponder DNS Service

Lately, the Mac nerd community has really become fed up with the networking shenanigans around the new Domain Name Service (DNS) networking protocol, discoveryd.

discoveryd, plays a part in how your Mac can find other devices, like Apple TVs and Apple AirPort networking gear, on your home network, other Wi-Fi networks you might connect to and Internet websites among other things.  As to the trouble discoveryd has been causing, well, you should read Craig Hockenberry’s blog post on it [strong language warning].  He’s far more knowledgeable about what goes on inside your Mac than I am.

Some of you may know that I’m a member of the OS X Public Beta program (and for iOS also).  In the most recent OS X 10.10.4 developer and public beta (build 14E26a) Apple replaced the discoveryd DNS service with the mDNSResponder DNS service that was used in OS X Mavericks and earlier.

Here’s a screen shot of my MacBook Pro running the previous beta build of OS 10.10.4:

As you can see, the discoveryd service is alive and talking to my home network.

After I installed OS X 10.10.4 Public Beta build 14E26a, you can see that mDNSResponder is back on the beat making sure OS X networking is obeying all the posted traffic signs.

Just for good measure, after installing the latest beta build, and as discussed in Hockenberry’s blog post, I powered down both of my third generation Apple TVs and my Apple AirPort Extreme and Express, rebooted my cable modem, and then, one-by-one, turned everything back on in the following order:

Cable Modem, Apple AirPort Extreme, Apple AirPort Express, MacBook Pro, Apple TV 1 and then Apple TV 2.

Since then, I’ve seen a marked improvement in my home network’s performance.  Hopefully, mDNSResponder will be sticking around on OS X for a while and makes it into the official general release version of OS X soon.

calendar · fantastical · flexibits · ios · mac · mac os x · productivity · yosemite

Flexibits Launches Fantastical 2 for Mac

The calendar mavens over at Flexibits have released a major update to their popular calendaring app, Fantastical 2 for Mac!
A short video of Fantastical 2 for Mac in action is available on the Flexibits website.

Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 for Mac includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), an intuitive parsing engine, iCloud reminders support, light theme, time zone support, birthday reminders, and much more.

Fantastical 2 has a beautiful all-new design and includes many OS X Yosemite features, including a Today Widget, Action & Share Extensions, plus Handoff support to provide continuity between Fantastical 2 for Mac, Fantastical 2 for iPhone, and Fantastical 2 for iPad.

Fantastical 2 for Mac’s natural language parsing engine has been updated to be even more friendly and flexible. The parsing engine now understands expressive repeating events such as third Thursday of every month, every weekend, last weekday of the month, and more. Plus, users can now add alerts by ending their natural language input with phrases such as “remind me tomorrow at 3PM”, “alert 1 hour before”, or “alarm 3PM.”

“When Fantastical came out 4 years ago, our goal was to reinvent the calendar app to ease the frustrations of using calendars,” said Michael Simmons, CEO & President of Flexibits. “With Fantastical 2, we challenged ourselves to reinvent Fantastical itself.”

I think for me, the perfect integration with Mac OS X Yosemite with the ability to use OS X Dictation, Today view, and Handoff to/from my iPhone and iPad together with Flexibits natural language parsing engine are the killer features that make this upgrade well worth the purchase price.
In addition to the super functional Mac toolbar mini window, Flexibits has included a new very handsome looking Today widget.  But the big new visual enhancement for Fantastical for Mac is the new full calendar view.
Fantastical 2 is available now directly from the Mac App Store for $39.99.  As the name implies, this is a completely new version of Fantastical, which means if you have already purchased Fanastical 1 for Mac, you will need to purchase it again.  The enhancements found in Fantastical 2 for Mac are really well worth it.  Plus, you are helping out some great indie Mac developers in the process.
apple · mac os x · mac pro · macbook air · macbook pro · macintosh · yosemite

Photos App Rolls Out in Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta Seed

Yesterday, Apple released the Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta.  The 10.10.3 public beta also includes the new Apple Photos app for OS X.

If you are currently enrolled in the public beta seed, you will see the new update appear in your Updates tab.

One word of warning: Photos, just like OS X 10.10.3, is pre-release beta software.  That means that there are going to be bugs and you should not install either of these updates on your main, production, Mac that you use daily.  To be a beta tester, you must be prepared to delete everything, applications and data (including family photos).

My recommendation is that you make multiple backups before you install OS X 10.10.3 and Photos on your Mac.  Time Machine, BackBlaze or event a Finder data copy to an external USB hard disk drive or flash drive is a good idea.

The complete list of updates to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 updates are as follows:

Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta seed can be installed on any Mac that is currently running OS X Yosemite.

apple · imac · mac os x · mac pro · macbook air · macbook pro · yosemite

Apple Releases Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update

Earlier this week, Apple slipped out the latest security and enhancement update for OS X Yosemite.

OS X 10.10.2 includes the following enhancements and fixes:
General content
Resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
Resolves an issue that might cause web pages to load slowly
Fixes an issue that could cause Spotlight to load remote email content when this preference is disabled in Mail
Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
Improves VoiceOver speech performance
Resolves an issue that could cause VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
Addresses an issue that could cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
Improves stability and security in Safari
For enterprise customers
Improves performance for browsing DFS shares in the Finder
Fixes an issue where certain Calendar invitations could be displayed at the incorrect time
Fixes an issue for Microsoft Exchange accounts where the organizer of a meeting might not be notified when someone accepts an invitation using Calendar
Addresses an issue where Safari could continually prompt for credentials when accessing a site protected by NTLM authentication
Adds the ability to set “Out of Office” reply dates for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Mail
Security Content
For detailed information about the security content of this update, see Apple security updates.
I’ve been testing a prerelease version of this update for about two weeks now and it is looking pretty good.  The Wi-Fi disconnects had been driving me a little more nuts than usual which was masking the slow web page load issue.  (Huh, why aren’t these pages loading faster?  I’ve rebooted all my networking gear…eye roll.)
This update is available now from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store app.  
It’s always a good idea to plug in your MacBook and backup your Mac before installing any new software like OS upgrades and patches with Apple’s Time Machine or with a third-party solution like the fantastic BackBlaze service.
apple · mac os x · yosemite

Apple Publishes OS X "Critical" Security Update

Earlier today, Apple published a “critical” OS X security update that closes a potential vulnerability in the Network Time Protocol service.

As is typical of Apple and other software vendors, the specifics of the vulnerability are not mentioned in the App Store Updates tab.  At the time we saw the update appear on our Macs, the Apple Security Updates web page had not yet been updated with the patch details.

The Network Time Protocol patch weighs in at 1.4MB and is available now via the OS X Yosemite App Store Updates tab.

apple · ipad · iphone · iwork · keynote · mac · mac os x · numbers · pages · yosemite

Apple Releases Yosemite Public Beta 2, iTunes 12 Beta, and iWork Updates

This past Thursday was pretty busy for Apple.  Continuing toward the presumed late October launch of Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the Fruit company released the second public beta of Yosemite alongside a new iTunes 12 beta.

Yosemite Public Beta 2 and iTunes 12 Beta

The Yosemite and iTunes betas brings the changes that have recently been released to Apple’s registered (and paying) application developers to the free public test drive of the next version of Mac OS.  The software, as is all other Apple software at this point, is shipped as a software update from the Mac App Store.  The installation process took about 30 minutes on my mid-2009 MacBook Pro.  The new version of iTunes was a relatively quick install.

Taking a quick look around after installing Yosemite, there didn’t appear to be all that much changed from Public Beta 1.  Many of the changes at this point will be internal meaning that applications have most, if not all of their features and are going to become more stable.  I did notice that my external USB hard disk had a new flattened icon that I like better than the original orange icon.

The iTunes 12 beta has a new, cleaner look to it.  I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I like the older interface with the sidebar or the new interface.  Knowing myself, I think it’s just a reaction to having to learn where things are or a new way of doing them.  I’m pretty sure I’m just being a cranky old man about the UI enhancements in iTunes.

iWork App Updates

In addition to the new beta software, Apple also rolled out new versions of their iWork applications for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.  I didn’t notice any outward appearance changes to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  According to the update description, Apple only stated that the new apps “contain stability improvements and bug fixes.”

Head over to the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store to download and install the free updates now.

apple · mac os x · yosemite

Still Time To Join the OS X Yosemite Public Beta

If you are an Apple fan and have always wanted to try the latest, but maybe not exactly done, software – now’s your chance!

After 14 long years, Apple has launched a public beta for the next version of the Mac OS, OS X 10.10 Yosemite.  As the word ‘beta’ implies, this software is still very much under development and next exactly ready for prime time.  But if you have a second Mac, or know how to dual-boot your Mac to another partition, then this your chance to jump in the pool and test things out.  If you find something that’s not working or has a rough edge, you can report it to Apple.

This is not for the faint of heart or the first time Mac user.  If you want to learn more about what’s involved with being a beta tester, you should read yesterday’s SPF post first.

Apple’s accepting the first one million Mac owner requests to join the program.

Still interested?  Head over to the Yosemite beta sign up page to get started.