Archive for the 'software' category

High CPU usage caused by fontd on OS X

Some time ago I realised that the fontd process was chewing up my CPU cores. In my case this seemed to coincide with using the final Presto Opera build (v12.16) but font related issues can be caused by just about any application.

OS X uses the Apple Type Server process, which stores commonly used fonts in a cache for quick access. These files can become corrupted and may affect system performance and stability. So sometimes it may be advisable to do a little maintenance. Here are two simple steps that may help sort font related issues.

Clear the font cache

Clearing the database is done by opening a terminal session and issuing the following command:
sudo atsutil databases -remove; atsutil server -shutdown

Apple Type Server will be restarted immediately by launchd after running the command, so there’s no need to ping the server with
atsutil server -ping

Restart your computer immediately after performing this action.

Validate your fonts

To look for and delete any conflicting fonts, open Font Book, select all your fonts, right click and select “validate fonts” from the context menu. The result will show whether any fonts are giving you grief. You can delete the conflicting fonts but ensure that you don’t delete any required system fonts (which could make your system unstable.)

For more info, make sure you check out Kurt Lang’s very comprehensive article about OS X font management.

Dual Screen Calibration with Eye One on MBP Running OS X

As graphic professionals we need to regularly calibrate our computer screens to ensure they’re performing optimally. Of course that doesn’t mean we always do. Just like we ALWAYS make multiple back-ups of ALL our files and keep some of these back ups off site. Right?

Calibrating one screen is fairly straight forward with the right tools. Just follow the software wizard and you’re done in about 10 minutes. Calibrating two screens can be a little bit more tricky—especially if one of those screens is a laptop display.

I use the latest version of Eye-One Match (v3.6.3 as of this writing). Once figured out how to make the magic happen, it’s really a breeze. Follow these steps and you should be fine…

My Set Up

  • 15” MacBook Pro (late 2010) runs OS X (Snow Leopard, v10.6.6)
  • 20” XL20 Samsung SyncMaster external display
  • laptop screen has been arranged to be the secondary display whenever the XL20 is plugged in
  • XL20 contains my menu bar

Let’s Calibrate!

These steps work for me. I’m not saying it’s the only way to accomplish this, but it sure works for me.

Calibrate the laptop display first

  • ensure you DO NOT have your external display plugged into your laptop
  • start Eye-One Match and follow the steps to calibrate your screen
  • save your profile with a meaningful name (such as “MPB-24-03-2011”)

Calibrate the external display next

  • plug the secondary display into your laptop
  • you may need to ensure that it is set as your main display (not sure about this step)
  • start Eye-One Match and follow the steps to calibrate your screen
  • save your profile with a meaningful name (such as “XL20-24-03-2011”)

Ensure that you now have two displays with their own ICC profile

  • go into “System Preferences” > “Displays”
  • click on “Color” tab
  • ensure the “Show profiles for this display only” option is checked
  • click on “Gather Windows”
  • compare the settings

If all is well, you should now have two displays with their own profiles, and your profile settings should look similar to this:

Note the two different profiles.

Note the two different profiles.

Songbird Performance Issue With Large Libraries

Songbird has long since replaced iTunes as my default music player. Why? Well, iTunes seemed like a less-than-desirable alternative to Winamp after completing my migration from Windows to Mac. My main gripe with iTunes is the bad sound quality it generates. But I digress.

Issues with larger libraries

While having been very happy with Songbird overall, I have been concerned about Songbird’s slow performance with larger libraries.

For this project to survive this issue absolutely had to be addressed in upcoming versions. I realised that it would only be a matter of time before we’d see improvements—after all, Songbird is being built by a group of designers and developers that have previously worked on projects such as Winamp, Netscape, and Firefox, so I have quite a bit of confidence in its dev team.

Time is now

It looks like the time is finally here: after reading the developer’s blog on the subject I installed their nightly build to check for myself. I’m happy to be able to report that performance has been greatly improved in the latest nightly build. So, as things stand, all will be well in the next stable version of the software (v1.9).

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all the Songbird devs who make the magic possible—keep up the good work everyone.

Further Reading

Vienna RSS Not Updating Any Feeds

I’m afraid that this sounds like database corruption. The cause of this is unknown to us at this point. Vienna’s database is located at “~/Library/Application Support/Vienna.messages.db”. If you backup your home folder frequently (which everyone should), then you can quit Vienna, delete “messages.db”, and replace it with a recent backup. If you don’t have a backup, there may also be a file “messages.db.bak” in the same folder; check the last modification date on that, and if it’s recent enough, then you can quit Vienna, delete messages.db, and remove the “.bak” extension to use your old database.

If you don’t have either of those things, then you still should be able to export your subscriptions and re-import them. Export all of your subscriptions, quit Vienna, move “messages.db” to a different folder, and re-launch Vienna. That will create a fresh database, and then you can import your subscriptions again.

Jeff Johnson, Vienna Developer on the cocoa|forge forum

Oh bother… Guess my Vienna database is corrupted. And I’m not one of those smart people making regular back ups of their home directory either.

This could be a blessing in disguise since I was not being able to keep up with my reading. I’ll take some time to clean out my messy RSS repository and start over. No doubt there will be a number of gems to links to…

iGTD Dead?

Is it time to call the wonderful iGTD software project dead? I’m afraid so. Further development seems unlikely at this stage. It’s a shame—it was one of my favourite Mac applications.

The project hasn’t been updated for nearly a year now. There are some forum posts on the subject: Bartek the developer has gone through a rough patch and has been unable to work on the project.

I don’t want to speculate much about the nature of his woes, but I have always wondered about the incredible speed of the updates & upgrades of the application. I deemed it unsustainable for a single person to update an application several times a month. Guess it all became too much for him.

Perhaps it is time to set the project free and allow others to take over? In any case, I wish you well Bartek. You’ve delivered wonderful free software, but it came at a price…