Recently, I heard about someone who was away from their computer long enough that it went to sleep. This is both to reduce energy use and to protect the computer from other people prying into your stuff. The latter works by requiring the user’s password when the computer is woken from sleep. Granted, that’s more appropriate for an office, but the feature is often enabled by default even for individual, home users.
The person knows her password, uses it all the time, and yet today, she was unable to regain access to her account. She tried over and over and over again. Even tried variations — all lower case, first letter capitalized, older passwords for good measure — but nothing worked.
My first thoughts were:
- the keyboard layout has been inadvertently changed.
- a Shift, Control, or Num Lock key is stuck in the “on” position.
I have had a lot of headaches with Windows, because the login screen doesn’t always keep the same keyboard layout the user as chosen and it doesn’t always indicate which keyboard layout is in effect. So if your password has letters that have different locations on the keyboard depending on the layout (QWERTY vs. AZERTY vs. QWERTZ, etc.), then you should try (by memory) typing in your password using one of keyboard layouts that might be defined on your system.
There are other options, sometimes, such as pressing Alt-Shift (Windows) to invisibly toggle between available layouts. In some cases, there will be a small, almost unnoticeable indication of what keyboard layout is in effect. Clicking on this might give you other options to choose from. Lastly, you can also try to find the Accessibility options that are available for those who have various disabilities (sight, hearing, missing or unusable limbs, etc.). These options include an On-Screen keyboard which allows you to use the mouse to press keys, but more importantly, it lets you see the keyboard that’s currently defined.
Yesterday, I got a call from someone who had purchased a new Samsung laptop with Windows 8. They were having trouble connecting wirelessly to their Livebox (Orange, France) even though all other devices in the house (Mac and Windows laptops, Apple TV, several smartphones, etc.) were connected.
First, for those who don’t know or remember, the Livebox has a security feature for wireless clients. You are required to push a button on the Livebox prior to connecting with a new device. When you do, the wireless LED will blink for about 60-120 seconds, providing a limited time to connect. While it’s flashing, you can connect a new device.
It seems however, that this was not the problem, and so I was called in to troubleshoot. I was certain that I’d be able to connect them quickly. When I got there, I used my own (Apple) laptop and a cable. Success. Then, I tried to connect wirelessly – no luck, until I realized that the password printed on the Livebox was not the correct one. Once I used the correct password, which I found from the Livebox configuration page (http://192.168.1.1), connecting was immediate.
OK, so time to trouble shoot this new operating system. I was able to see the network, provide the password while the LED was blinking, but it would either not connect at all or report only a “Limited” network connection. The times that it didn’t connect, there was nothing to do but try again. I disabled/re-enabled the Wireless device. I looked at (but didn’t change any) of the devices properties.
Finally, one time when I was able to “connect” in a “Limited” fashion, I was able to right-click and get the properties of the connection. And there was the answer.
Windows 8 and the Livebox tried to negotiate a connection and agreed on WPA2-Personal and AES encryption. In my experience, I’ve usually seen/used WPA-Personal and TKIP. I selected those settings, saved and tried again. Success!
1. Push the Wireless button on the Livebox before connecting a new device wirelessly.
2. Connect to the Livebox using the correct password.
3. If connection is listed as “Limited,” right-click the connection and view the Properties.
4. Change the Properties to list: WPA-Personal and TKIP.
5. Apply, Save and try again.
6. Reboot and verify still connect, for good measure.
Last month, Apple announced that the next version of its operating system, Mac OS X 10.8 (or “Mountain Lion”) would be released in July. Last night, a version was released to developers which, barring last minute tweaks, will be the final version. Also, some sources remember that last year’s update was released the day after their quarterly financials conference call and that there will be another such phone call next week on Wednesday.
Regardless of whether the new version is released in the next two weeks or not, is not terribly important. The fact is that it will be released and will be the current version for the next year or so. So, are you ready to upgrade?
According to Apple’s Up-to-Date Program, “The OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date upgrade will be available at no additional charge from the Mac App Store to all customers who purchase a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012.” However, you will need to make your request for the free upgrade within 30 days of the date Mac OS X Mountain Lion is available on the Mac App Store (which you can find in your menu in the top right corner). If you purchase an Apple computer after Mac OS X Mountain Lion is released and for some reason it still has Mac OS X Lion, you’ll have 30 days from the date of purchase to qualify for the 30 day free upgrade.
But, hey, if you miss the window, it only costs $20 anyway, so it’s no big deal, right? It used to cost between $100-130 for each new version of Mac OS X, but last year it was $30, this year $20, where I think it will stay until there is another major change in the OS.
Basically, you need an Intel-based Mac. For more specific information, go to Apple’s Mac OS X Technical Specs page, but the short version is, if you’re Mac was bought in 2008 or later, you should be fine, although you will want to be sure you have enough memory (RAM) and hard disk space to accommodate it. You can check RAM and Hard Disk by clicking on > About This Mac and then “More Info….” If you don’t have enough RAM, usually it’s pretty easy and cheap to upgrade. These days, a 2 GB RAM module goes for prices between 20-40 CHF, depending on whether you have a desktop or a notebook and how old it is. I got a 4 GB chip for my Mac laptop (2009) for about 35 CHF just a week ago.
You also need to have Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) installed already. If you do not, then you need to upgrade first. Check “About this Mac” as above. If you have Version 10.6, then just do a Software Update which will bring you to 10.6.8. If you have anything earlier than 10.6, you’ll need to upgrade first. Find someone with Snow Leopard disks, borrow them, install it and then you can go to Mountain Lion.
Time Machine – You are backing up daily, right?
I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter what version you currently have….Please Make Sure You Have a Current Backup. That means, completed in the last 5 minutes. If you are not using Time Machine, you really should be and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. If you have a single Mac desktop, then get yourself an external hard disk that is at least as big as your internal, plug it in, wait for Time Machine to ask you if you want to use it for backups and click “Yes.” Then wait for the backup to happen. If you have more than one Mac or you have a single laptop, consider buying the Apple Time Capsule. It’s a great investment and will back up your computer(s) wirelessly whenever you are using them! It doesn’t get much better than that, honestly.
I repeat, if you are not actively using Time Machine, do so now. Before you upgrade.
Upgrading to Mac OS X Mountain Lion
In most cases, like 999 times out of 1000, the upgrade is really simple, if lengthy. Open Mac App Store, purchase Mac OS X Mountain Lion, wait for the download (could take 30-90 minutes, depending on your internet connection), and then click the icon in the Dock (that long line of icons that shows you which programs are running) to start the installation and then wait again for it to complete, again possibly 30-45 minutes.
Most times, that’s all. But, inevitably it will go wrong for someone. Maybe a power outage at the wrong time screws something up. Maybe the internet connection is interrupted and corrupts the download. Any number of stupid things could happen and leave you with a system that no longer works.
That’s why you need/want a current Time Machine backup. Because even if something happens, you’ll be able to recover easily. Really easily.
UPDATE: On 24 July 2012, Apple confirmed that Mountain Lion will be released on 25 July 2012. Expect it around 10:00am Pacific Daylight Time, or early evening here in Europe.