Mac Mounting Misery

For months now, I’ve had a problem with this Snow Leopard-running iMac. I’ve been regularly updating it, done several repair permissions on the system disk, and nothing had fixed it. The problem is VERY annoying, and manifested itself this way: anytime I downloaded any disk image file (.dmg) and double-clicked it, it would not open, simply saying “No mountable filesystems”. Furthermore, my firewire hard drive would not mount automatically – I had to both “hdiutil attach -nomount /dev/disk1″ and “sudo mount -t hfs /dev/disk1s2 /Volumes/bitpool” every time I rebooted, and created a script to do this on reboot. At the time, I didn’t realize it was related, but camera memory cards would also not show up when I plugged them in to my reader. This reader had been having problems with it’s built-in iPhone dock, so I bought a new card reader – but the new one wouldn’t allow cards to be read either.

Well, I needed to import some pictures and was tired of plugging in the SLR and eating up its battery, so I did a “sudo mount -t msdos /dev/disk2s1 /tmp/card” … Aperture saw the pics, but didn’t show previews, and when I tried to do the import it failed, saying “/Volumes/card/EOS_DIGITAL…blah.CR2 failed to import” .. Hm! Aperture assumes whatever’s mounted must be under Volumes and have the volume name in it, huh? Ok, I’ll just create an EOS_DIGITAL directory in Volumes and manually mount it there… “Operation not permitted” .. Ok, SUDO mkdir .. “Operation not permitted” !! At this point, I started looking into ACLs, and ended up removing all the ACL entries on the /Volumes directory (figured it probably wouldn’t hurt, even if they were supposed to be there). Still no dice. I did another repair permissions, and it said the ACLs on /Volumes was wrong, but couldn’t fix it. Did some more searching and came across the chflags command, and “ls -lO” to see flags. My /Volumes directory had the uchg flag set! Again, didn’t know if that was supposed to be there, but killed it with a “chflags nouchg /Volumes”. Boom, mkdir works! I unplug my card reader and plug it back in… Boom, card shows up! I double click on a .DMG I hadn’t been able to open in months. Boom! I did another repair permissions, and it was now able to restore the ACLs on /Volumes – everything still works, so it must have been that uchg flag. I have no idea how it got there, but this difficulty was actually much harder to troubleshoot and solve than the issues I’ve had in Windows and Linux.

Here’s a very partial list of the google search terms I used to *try* to solve this, to no avail. Maybe this post will help someone else since I finally stumbled on the answer…
request from non-root process kextload “not allowed”
“failed to load” ufs.kext not privileged
hdid attach failed no mountable file systems dmg sudo
“mount_hfs” “permission denied”
mount_hfs hdid “attach failed”
(mount_hfs OR “mount -t hfs”) works (“mount -a” OR “mount -av”) ufs
(mount_hfs OR “mount -t hfs”) attach +nomount dmg
mac nothing automounts anymore
mac usb automounts anymore

Emacs / Terminal Misc Fixed font on Mac OS

I’ve done this a couple times now, and forgotten what I did, so I’ll blog it this time for me and anyone else. I like the misc-fixed-semicondensed 6×13 font that is the default for xterm in Linux. I eventually got this working well in Mac OS for emacs. Here are the steps:

1. Download and install the MiscFixedSC613 TTF font from

2. Add something like the following to your .emacs (this also swaps “command” and “option”, so that meta is next to space, which is how I like it – can still Cmd-V paste from mac clipboard using option key):

(defvar macosx-p  (string-match "darwin" (symbol-name system-type)))
(unless (eq window-system nil)
  (cond (macosx-p
	 (setq default-frame-alist '((width . 110) (height . 89) (top . 22) (left . 0)
				     (background-color . "black")
				     (foreground-color . "#d0e0e9")))
	 (setq mac-option-modifier 'super)
	 (setq mac-command-modifier 'meta)
	  'default "-apple-miscfixedsc613-medium-r-semicondensed--12-100-72-72-m-100-iso10646-1")
	 (setq mac-allow-anti-aliasing nil)))

3. Unfortunately, this didn’t really fix anti-aliasing for me – the outlines of my o’s and 8’s were ugly and filled-in, like they’d been flood filled. I also had to do this in terminal:

defaults write org.gnu.Emacs AppleAntiAliasingThreshold 100

Now, everything looked great!

Icon Health / HC Credit aka HELPCard aka HC Processing Center

I’m having a terrible experience dealing with Nordictrack (Icon health and fitness) and it’s partner financing company HC Credit. Consider buying from someone else if you’re on the fence. Unfortunately, they have a setup that discourages efficiency and customer-friendliness, since they seem to recoup profits on their “interest-free” offers by charging crazy fees even without any mistakes on your part and really getting you if you’re a day late. My inquiry about these practices was met with “your fault, it’s in the fine print.” Sigh. Even if I must eventually accept that fact, that’s not the way to leave me a happy customer. I’m out hundreds of dollars to these guys. Don’t buy Icon / Nordictrack. And though the “HELPCard” / HC Credit company has no need to maintain a good image since they are fed “sales” from other companies, never use them if you can help it. Their website is ancient, contains errors, and their call center is unprofessional and difficult to deal with. Makes me want to start up a competitor that operates with efficiency and customer friendliness, and maintains profitability through automation and efficiency rather than through leeching ridiculous fees from people as inefficiently as possible.


Reading back through my old posts, I realized that this company is a ghost in the machine – no one ever hears of them until after they’ve made a purchasing decision with some other company, which does probably want to maintain a decent image (thus why I mentioned Icon Health/Nordictrack). So I thought it might be slightly more effective to maintain a little “hall of shame” list here, noting which companies had the terrible sense to work with these incompetents. If you stumble upon this post and have had experience with HC Credit, please leave a comment noting the client / associated company that used them for credit payment processing.

Hall of Shame
Nordictrack (Icon Health and Fitness)

Real Estate Crash

This is not from the Onion. We live in our own microcosms and macroeconomic woes impact all of us very differently. Capitalism and abundance breed funny pockets of reality. But this makes me want to re-examine my own hierarchy of life priorities that filter down to discretionary spending.

The LA Times. “It used to be a high point of Goldy Anthony’s life. Every six weeks or so, as a kind of personal morale booster, she and a group of girlfriends would make appointments to see a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon for little touch-ups. He was ‘an artist’ with Botox and Juvederm, she said.”

“Afterward, in a carefree mood, the ladies would dine at a popular restaurant on the Sunset Strip.”

“No more. The sub-prime loan crisis, the housing slump and the general decline of the economy have claimed another covey of victims. Anthony is in the real estate business, and under current conditions, the cosmetic treatments — at $1,800 or more a pop — can no longer be squeezed into her budget. It’s the same with others in the group.”

“‘We used to make appointments together,’ Anthony said. ‘Then they started saying, ‘I can’t go next week.’ People didn’t have the money, but they were ashamed to tell you.’”

“‘I would rather have Botox than go out to dinner, but it’s just gotten so bad,’ said Anthony, 41, who is looking for a job since her career in the mortgage business went sour. She has not had the facial treatments in months.”

“And what’s been happening in Beverly Hills is apparently happening around the country. After years of steady growth, the cosmetic surgery business seems to be going through a rough patch.”

“Cathy Hollingsworth is not in the real estate business; she manages a clothing store. But the 42-year-old mother of two from San Jacinto said she is holding off on $20,000 worth of surgery because she doesn’t think it would be fair to her family in a shaky economy.”

“Her husband’s job with an engineering firm appears to be secure, but the four-bedroom home the family bought 2 1/2 years ago has lost value. On their street in a brand-new subdivision, four or five houses now sit empty.”

“‘If we weren’t upside-down in the house, I probably would take the money out and have it done,’ said Hollingsworth, ‘I’ll have to see how long I can tolerate wearing a girdle.’”

Microsoft’s awkward love letter to Yahoo

After being spurned by their would-be lover Yahoo, Microsoft attempted to woo the coy bird. Unfortunately, Microsoft, though admittedly rich and powerful, struggles to set the romantic mood. Looking very much like their personification in the Mac switcher ads, Microsoft comes on a little too strong to be using words like “embrace” and “consummate”. Some will accuse me of cherry picking quotes, but these are actual excerpts from Microsoft’s response to Yahoo’s demure refusal to get hitched. As is standard practice in the press, I’ve used “…” to condense their statements (only when necessary, of course)… (poetry quotery best read aloud, beatnik style).

“It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full … offering”
“Base… number two … we have”
“Base… number two … does not … provide…unity”
“Yahoo! has no…ring”
“and … so… Microsoft… will … sing”
“our … proposal … we … will …sing”
“Yahoo! … our … fair …pet…!”
“we are confident”
“we are … great”
“we are … a compelling number two”
“we are … moving”
“moving forward…!”
“we are … moving … to pursue”
“Yahoo! … Yahoo! … Yahoo!”
“we are … moving … to … the right”
“and … we have … the right … steps”
“we are … moving … in”
“easing… in”
“Yahoo! … is … the best”
“It is … increasingly exciting … becoming better positioned to…”
“Yahoo! … Yahoo! … Yahoo!”
“we are … moving … to consummate”
“moving forward … to consummate”
“for… that … embrace…, that … exciting … position…”

63 Marathons, 63 days

My good friend Tim Borland is running 63 marathons over 63 consecutive days. His wife Michelle and kids Kailey and Colton are performing the feat of living on the road for 2 months, in an RV along with Tim. And all of this for a great cause – to raise funds and awareness for a terminal genetic disease (A/T) which doesn’t have a cure today but is much closer as more and more research is done. A cure would also provide valuable insight into the mechanism of other genetic diseases. To help spread the word, the A/T children’s organization is sponsoring a contest to get website and blog mentions – do it and win a Nintendo Wii! Here is the official info.

Ultra-runner Tim Borland is running 63 marathons in 63 days in order to raise funds and awareness for the A-T Children’s Project in their quest for a cure or life-improving therapies for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). A-T is a rare, neurodegenerative disease that affects children, giving them the combined symptoms of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and cancer. Children with A-T — born seemingly healthy — are usually dependent upon wheelchairs by the age of 10 and often do not survive their teens.

To run with Tim, join a tailgate party, or make a donation, please visit the A-T CureTour website. There, you can also view the daily video blog produced by filmmakers who are making an independent documentary on the A-T CureTour or enter a contest to Win a Nintendo Wii.


I’m reading a book called Balancing Your Family, Faith & Work by Pat Gelsinger. Pat is the Senior VP in charge of the biggest technology group at Intel, the Digital Enterprise Group. I wanted to record here some of the ideas that impacted me and why.

When my time on earth is complete I want to be like Paul and have run the good race (2 Tim. 4:7) and used up every ounce of energy, minute of time, and dollar of resources for his purpose and kingdom.

I think I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for a long time, and have feared it. I feared what I would lose by trying to ‘give my all.’ But lately, I’ve been seeing that living this way yields the most satisfaction. What is satisfaction? I think it’s essentially our closeness to perfection (in abstract) or how close our heart is God (what to actually pursue). This equation comes about when pursuing perfection if “perfection” is a personal God.

Everyone derives satisfaction from all sorts of things on a short and long term basis. Eating a great meal is a small bump in our satisfaction level over a short period of time. Being happily married and raising a family can be a large source of satisfaction over a long period of time. But every experience in our life can operate in isolation, or contribute to the slope of our life over time as time goes to eternity (infinity in the x axis). Are we using and allowing experiences to bring us closer to perfection and keep us there (infinity in the y axis)? I.e. do we change for the better – become closer to God? Or do we return to where we were?

I think of the satisfaction bumps as divine updrafts – blessings from God. But we don’t have wings. We don’t have the means to approach heaven over an infinity of time (consistently change for the better and grow closer to God). The only one who can forever bring us along closer to infinity is infinity Himself. Our own efforts at life result in death by chaos (sin) or death by crystallization (law). We don’t have a source of eternal life within us. If we are to gain ever greater satisfaction, we need to put to death our independence and rely on God. God has made this possible by creating a space/time connection to us through Jesus. He enables us to relate to the infinite without being burned away in our imperfection. He provides our perfect example. And obeying Him as Lord gives us the wings we need to approach x/y infinity (eternity/perfection).

Cheesy graphs
Satisfaction in Ourselves Satisfaction in Christ
Satisfaction in Ourselves Satisfaction in Christ

As I was reading this book I rediscovered that this process isn’t completely about sacrifice and self-denial. It is the most rewarding path possible. My fears were real, but unfounded. The key is Christ – without Him, I do have the downslope of every temporal satisfaction to look forward to. With Him, I can look forward to infinite love and joy.

I hate Epson

As much as I love the print quality of my R800, I have to thoroughly withdraw any recommendation to buy one of these, or any Epson inket as far as I can tell, unless you print very often. As an occasional photo printer, you would be financially better off hiring a personal assistant to be on call to come pick up your flash card and drive back and forth to a photo lab to print your picture.

Each time you go to print after it’s been a while, the printer spits out almost a quarter of it’s ink in “cleaning.” Unfortunately, you’ll also usually have a banded print, which means you do a nozzle check, which shows some small clogs. Now you have to run a cleaning cycle, which uses another 1/8 of your ink. In some cases, this works. This last time for me, it didn’t after 3 cycles. So this print I’m trying to print has cost me somewhere north of 50 bucks. I call tech support, and they say “oh, I’m showing your printer is out of warranty. If you want to continue talking to me, you’ll have to pay $9.99.” I’m like, “Nine ninety nine are you out of your mind?!” And he’s like “Hang on, I have to run a cleaning cycle on my mouth – that bumps the price up to $20.”

I’m about to throw the printer out of the convenient second-story window to my left, as this scenario has repeated itself to various degrees of ink burning every time I go to print. Did I mention it’s over $100 to replace all the ink cartridges? PLEASE AVOID EPSON. Unless you have either money or ink or both burning a hole in your pocket. Note that Epson’s tiny little cloggable nozzles and ridiculous ink wasting cleaning cycles and sky high ink prices are probably ok for pro photographers, who make so much margin on prints they can afford ink wastage for great prints. But I am steering most people away from liquid gold ink guzzling Epson from now on.

I've replaced all these inks a couple prints ago... Most of them two days ago when I started trying to print the print I haven't gotten out yet.
I’ve replaced all these inks a couple prints ago… Most of them two days ago when I started trying to print the print I haven’t gotten out yet.

Embedded Photojournalism

Some chilling imagery from a brave reporter for NBC, who is apparently embedded with an anti-squirrel squadron in Cuesta park. But to get this close, you have to wonder – is the reporter a squirrel sympathizer? Might the press actually be aiding the squirrels in their quest to dominate our media and disrupt our normal lives? I mean, I doubt you’d see this kind of “cute” squirrel footage on Fox news.

9959365.jpg 9959366.jpg

9959369.jpg 9959371.jpg

The Game is Afoot

attack.jpgBack in college I wrote a short story involving squirrels for my creative writing class. We peer reviewed each others’ stories, and mine was described alternately as hilarious, disturbing, or both. Well, I’d like to add another description – prescient. Squirrels are making an initial volley of attacks, it seems. A squirrel in a Mountain View park jumped a 4 year old boy, latching on and biting him even as he dropped to the ground and rolled. From the first recent news story:

“As for Andrew, he’s still trying to make sense of the assault. He
declared he’s never going into a park with trees ever again, his
mother said, and he keeps telling everyone the squirrel was trying to
eat him.”

Well, the humans decided to strike back, placing traps and promising to humanely euthanize any squirrels caught (personally, I think they should make an example of squirrels caught, perhaps by hanging them by their tails and shaving them, in full view of the other squirrels). Will the supposedly greater brainpower possessed by the biped combatants ensure victory? There are doubters even among their own ranks. From a later story:

“The squirrels will be back,” South Bay wildlife rehabilitator Norma
Campbell said. “For every one you take out, two more will come

Hide your children.


Well, lest I think prayer was a second-class citizen in life, the next chapter in Desiring God extolled its virtues. I particularly liked the image one paragraph gave me, so I made a lame diagram of it in MS Paint. Yes, it would have been better in Visio. No, I don’t have Visio on this laptop. Anyway, since it’s so lame, I’ll explain a bit. Basically, from one dimension flows many, and back into one. Prayer creates, sustains, or enables the working of all these essential aspects of life, and these aspects in turn fuel our overarching purpose in life, and that which we cannot attain without the Spirit of God: Love! It is true our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, but that glorification and enjoyment is expressed in love for Him and for others. In the diagram, the top phrases have love at the beginning (Love is the fruit of the Spirit) and the bottom phrases have prayer at the end (the Spirit is given in answer to prayer). Without further ado, here is my lame drawing. is great for looking up bible references in many versions.

From Prayer to Love


An online journal