November 19, 2013

MacOS Migration: If I Have to Shave One More Yak ...

So I decided it was time to update my laptop, the current Macbook Air being three years old and having a tendency to forget that the screen is present. The triggering event was a minor spillage which stopped several crucial keys from working as the beer dried out (yes, I know ...).

Clearly the first thing to do was take the Air off the 'Net and back it up. Connecting the backup disk and starting a Time Machine backup saw it identify about 75,000 files of the 1,500,000 on y hard disk needed backing up. When the backup phase started it took about five minutes to get to "3k of 4.5GB backed up" and I realized I had a problem.

StackOverflow suggested I consider repairing the Time Machine disk. That's another hour I shall never see again, but at least Disk Utility gave the volume a clean bill of health, so I restarted the Time Machine backup and this time (hallelujah!) it ran. I then ran the Migration Assistant on the new (receiving) Mac and told it to restore my account, settings, applications - the whole caboodle. Since the Assistant kindly estimated this would take at least two hours and fifteen minutes I decided this would be an appropriate point at which to go for a couple of drinks with my buddy Kirby.

I found the Apple Migration Assistant to be quite friendly (disclaimer: I have always previously used manual migration procedures to switch computers and so cannot say whether Windows offers similar friendliness; if not, it should). When I returned about 90 minutes later I was delighted to find that the restore was complete (I hadn't waited around for Migration Assistant to upgrade its estimate), so I was able to log in to my newly-restored account on the updated Air.

My joy lasted as long as it took me to run a terminal session, when I saw the following delight:

Last login: Tue Nov 19 01:27:18 on tty??
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/Cellar/python/2.7.4/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 162, in _run_module_as_main
    "__main__", fname, loader, pkg_name)
  File "/usr/local/Cellar/python/2.7.4/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 72, in _run_code
    exec code in run_globals
  File "/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/virtualenvwrapper/", line 16, in 
    from stevedore import ExtensionManager
  File "/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/stevedore/", line 3, in 
    from .extension import ExtensionManager
  File "/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/stevedore/", line 4, in 
    import pkg_resources
ImportError: No module named pkg_resources There was a problem running the initialization hooks.

If Python could not import the module virtualenvwrapper.hook_loader,
check that virtualenv has been installed for
VIRTUALENVWRAPPER_PYTHON=/usr/local/bin/python and that PATH is
set properly.
AirHead:~ sholden$

Not exactly what you want to see when you log in, but at least indicating the the error was probably with my virtual environments. Fortunately it was quite easy to fix this daunting error message by doing a brew install python after uninstalling the previously installed version (thereby achieving an upgrade from 2.7.2 to 2.7.5). Since my account is set to prefer /usr/local/bin to /usr/bin it finds the updated python immediately. I then upgraded pip to the latest version and I appear to be good to go (though I am sure I shall find many other bumps in the road).

A very pleasant surprise was that the Mac knew about all my printers and was happy to try and use them for me. I won't know whether they work until I get back to the network to which they are connected, but if they do I will be both surprised and delighted. This is clearly superior technology where the user experience has been considered relatively carefully.

Unfortunately the user before me had already started using brew, so quite a lot of reowning was required to make my account the owner of essential locations before I could start to access the brew package again. Once I could start to think about doing that I discovered that brew update would not work because "The following untracked working tree files would be overwritten by merge". Thanks to this very helpful web page I updated by brew installation and then the update went ahead just fine. After which a brew upgrade decided that 35 packages needed updating (gulp!) and so I am currently waiting to see if the following packages upgrade without issues:
ack 2.10, atk 2.10.0, cairo 1.12.16, cmake, erlang R16B02, fontconfig 2.11.0, gdk-pixbuf 2.30.1, gettext, gfortran 4.8.2, git, glib 2.38.2, gmp 5.1.3, gtk+ 2.24.22, harfbuzz 0.9.24, icu4c 52.1, libmemcached 1.0.17, libxml2 2.9.1, mercurial 2.8, mplayer 1.1.1, ncdu 1.10, nmap 6.40, pango 1.36.1, pixman 0.32.2, postgresql 9.3.1, pv 1.4.6, pypy 2.2.0, python 2.7.6, python3 3.3.2, redis 2.6.16, sphinx 2.1.3, sqlite 3.8.1, xz 5.0.5, zeromq 3.2.4
I'll let you know how it goes! In the meantime, though my virtual environments still need some attention I am able to run Pythons 2 and 3 and the IPython Notebook. Kudos to Apple, this migration has left me much happier than I would have imagined.

November 5, 2013

What Do You Care?

I was saddened to discover from this blog post that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is currently (and, most likely, call me paranoid if you will, deliberately) unaccounted for in the Russian prison system. I have never met this woman, but I know she has a family, and friends, who love her and need to know she will be kept safe. I also know that she tried, with her fellow band-members, to bring to the world's attention the fact that their homeland might not be ideal. For which they are all being punished.

If you won't just bring this one tiny injustice to your world's attention, what do you expect other people to do for you when you need help?

The Russian state needs to understand that unless it chooses to give up any pretense of listening to public opinion then it must get used to the fact that it too is being watched. If you can't find time to help Nadezhda, who should find time to help you?

Of course if you'd rather just write computer programs then this is just another annoying whiney post in a long series. Whose number is, by now, doubtless legion, sorry about that. But when you need to find your significant other in the TSA miscreants' repository don't come round asking me for help.

You think this could never happen? I so hope you are right.