Migrating from Quicken 2006 for Mac to Quicken Essentials

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The Short Version: I think it’s worth $25 if you can find it at half-price. It’s not very useful for much more than basic balancing of a checking account. To import from Quicken 2006 you must install the new version and import from Quicken 2006 prior to installing Lion (or by booting into Snow Leopard). It works well enough for my needs.

I’ve enjoyed using Quicken 2006 for Mac for several years. My financial tracking needs are relatively simple though it had more than enough features. Unfortunately, Intuit chose to not provide an Intel binary for the program. While I can understand why a company wouldn’t port an older program, I don’t understand why Intuit didn’t develop a version with equivalent features that is compatible with Lion.

I debated whether or not to move to Quicken Essentials. I needed a financial program that is compatible with Lion. However, many of the reviews were very negative. In fact, the number (and weight) of the negative reviews made me very wary about buying it. Weeding through the reviews I found several individuals that stated it worked just fine if you only need to balance a checkbook.

In the end I decided to go ahead and purchase it. While I do have a couple of investment accounts and various credit accounts it wasn’t essential that I track them in Quicken (I wasn’t doing this anyway, at the time).

If you’re considering upgrading then I think I can safely state that it works just fine for tracking a checking account. If you’re interested in managing credit accounts, investment accounts, printing checks, integrating with TurboTax  and a number of other activities then this product probably isn’t something you’ll want.

There was one other thing that made the decision acceptable – I found a discount so I only had to pay $25. Unfortunately, it looks like the link to the discount is no longer good – the link now goes to a page that shows only the regular price.

Warning:If you’re interested in Quicken Essentials because you plan to upgrade to Lion then you must install Quicken Essentials and import your data before you upgrade to Lion. My father ran into this problem but was able to make it work by booting into Snow Leopard.

Superdrive Failure After Upgrading From Snow Leopard To Lion

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A few days ago my wife’s MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2010) suddenly couldn’t read CDs or DVDs. Inserting a disc results in the drive spinning up and down a few times and then ejecting the disc after a moment. We quickly realized this was the first time she had tried to use a disc since I upgraded her computer to Lion.

So far, I haven’t been able to fix the problem. I’ve tried several different suggestions, but I haven’t hit on the correct one. My assumption is that one of two problems have occurred: (1) The Snow Leopard to Lion upgrade resulted in a software problem that affects the Superdrive or (2) it’s purely a coincidence and the Superdrive has simply suffered from a hardware failure.

In the worst case, the MacBook Pro is still well within the AppleCare warranty period so we can have it repaired, if necessary. I’ll try some additional tips as I come across them before we resort to sending it off or visiting an Apple Store.

This doesn’t seem to be an uncommon problem. Quick searches turn up numerous complains from individuals using different configurations who upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion and ran into the same problem. I’m including a few related links. If I find a solution that fixes our problem I’ll add an update to this post.

Updated 11/11/2011: The fact that this problem just started after upgrading to Lion may be a coincidence. I went through some additional diagnostics this evening. The one step I did that has convinced me that this probably is a hardware failure was an attempt to boot from a CD. My assumption is that if the drive issues were caused by a software problem then it wouldn’t appear before booting into Lion.

While it’s true that my wife hadn’t tried to use the drive since we upgraded to Lion, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that the hardware failed sometime before or after the upgrade. In addition, I have noticed signs indicating that the body area where the drive is located isn’t well reinforced. On more than one occasion, and with other models with similar body designs, that when one holds the laptop in a way that puts pressure in that area that it seems to transfer into the drive itself. In my opinion it’s very possible that the drive can be damaged if one has a disc in the drive while putting any kind of pressure on that area of the frame.

It looks like we’ll need to take the MacBook Pro to an Apple Store for repair.

Updated 11/12/2011: The nearest Apple Store is a long drive from our house so we opted to call Apple support and mail the system back for repair. The initial call was painless. It didn’t take much to convince the Apple tech to enter a ticket to have the drive fixed. I updated him on what I’ve done and when I mentioned it wouldn’t boot from a CD he agreed that the drive was most likely bad. It was a good experience overall. I didn’t have to go through the troubleshooting steps again – the tech accepted my conclusions without forcing me to follow a script.

Updated 12/12/2011: The weekend after my wife submitted the support ticket she received the box to ship the laptop on Tuesday. Her laptop was repaired and back in her hands by the Thursday of the same week.

Keeping FaceTime Windows On Top (OS X and FaceTime 1.1.1)

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Last night I was sharing a FaceTime session with my wife via my MacBook Pro. In addition, I was also looking up some information in a Web browser. Several times I was annoyed that the FaceTime window kept falling behind other open program windows.

FaceTime (version 1.1.1) for Mac doesn’t appear to have an option to keep the windows on top. I’m not sure if this was an intentional UI decision or just an oversight – chat programs often have this capability. It’s probably something that will be added in the future but until then I found a solution by installing a program that I’ve used in the past.

Afloat works as an add-on that provides a handful of new window controls, including the ability to keep a window on top for programs that do not have this option built-in. The program is free and the current version works in Snow Leopard and Lion. It works directly from Window menu item. It doesn’t support every program (I didn’t see it appear in Firefox, but it did show up in Acrobat Pro and FaceTime).

Afloat 2.4 (Snow Leopard and Lion) – Developer Website

An Inexpensive Airport Replacement for a 2006 iMac

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The Short Version: The Airlink Wireless N Mini USB Adapter (AWLL6075) works well for an iMac with a broken Airport adapter. The software could be less obtrusive but for the cost (and size of the adapter) it’s a good buy. It doesn’t load until the user is logged in so it can’t be used to connect to network services such as Screen Sharing or File Sharing without first logging in and running the software.

After I upgraded the processor in my iMac from a Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo I discovered that the Airport in the iMac wouldn’t work. The system didn’t show any errors and the card appeared to work, but it couldn’t detect any networks (neither mine nor my neighbors). I opened the system up a few times to see if I could spot the problem and even tried re-seating the card but nothing helped. My best guess is that I may have damaged the antenna.

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Upgrading My White 2006 iMac Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo and Installing OS X Lion

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Not very long ago I added a post explaining why I didn’t think it would be worth upgrading the processor in my Core Duo iMac and also why I wasn’t in a hurry to upgrade to Lion. Well, as often happens, I wasn’t satisfied with those conclusions and eventually decided that the benefits outweighed the effort involved.

This post won’t include step-by-step instructions – just some general information and maybe a few tips. However, I do think it was indeed worth upgrading my iMac to be able to run Lion.

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Monoprice Flexible Keyboard

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My friends are well aware that I like to purchase computer and A/V cables from Monoprice, along with the occasional device or odd item. Well, this purchase was certainly an impulse buy. Part of the reason I tossed it into the cart was so I wouldn’t end up with the shipping cost being more than the cost of the items I was ordering. In addition, it may actually be useful at some point.

This week I bought a Monoprice Deluxe Ultra-Slim Flexible Keyboard (a hell of a title considering it’s just a flexible USB keyboard). I thought it might be practical at some point, if a friend asks me to work on a computer. I wouldn’t need their keyboard as well (and I already have a couple of monitors and mice). Perhaps it would be handy in some kind of emergency (“Quick! Does anyone have a keyboard in their car!?!”).

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Removing Exif Data with SmallImage (OS X)

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This evening I started browsing the Web in search of a simple image tool that could be used to quickly remove exif data from JPEGs. A few links later I came across SmallImage. It’s a nice batch JPEG processing tool and can indeed remove exif data very easily. Note that it is capable of doing much more, but so far I’ve only used it for this one task.

SmallImage is donationware and available for OS X (a Snow Leopard version is available).

SmallImage (OS X – Donationware)

Accessing Network Shares from OS X (Prior to Lion)

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Updated 08/15/2011: Based on the my blog stats it looks like many of you are hitting this page while searching for information on connecting to Windows shares from OS X Lion. I’ve found another resource that may be of assistance, though I can’t verify it:
Access PC Windows 7 Files From Mac OS X Lion (TrickyWays)

There are multiple ways to access a network share from OS X. For example, you may find the shares by browsing Network. Since I know the IP addresses of the machines I need to connect to I usually take a more direct route, which can also be useful in accessing shares that may not appear under Network.

In this example the target computer is a Windows system named Target with an IP address of 192.168.1.5.

Traditionally, under Windows you would have used \\Target or \\192.168.1.5 to access files over the network.

In OS X you can go to the Finder and then do the following:

  1. On the Finder menubar select Go
  2. Choose Connect to Server
  3. In the Server Address box type smb://192.168.1.5 [or your target machine IP]
  4. If you want to save it under Favorite Servers click the plus button
  5.  Click Connect
  6. Select the appropriate share and/or provide authentication credentials

I also use this method to connect to Mac shares.

I’ve read that Apple dropped Samba support in Lion due to licensing changes and has instead added true Windows sharing support. As a result, using “smb://” may no longer work. I can’t verify this since I don’t have Lion (I’m still using Snow Leopard). I spent a few minutes researching this but several different methods were offered across different Websites. I can’t test them to determine the simplest method so for now I’ll refrain from posting a suggestion.

I Can’t Upgrade to Lion (But I’m OK with It)

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Updated 10/13/2011: Then again, maybe not…

When Lion was released I was initially dismayed to learn that my iMac wasn’t compatible since it has an Intel Core Duo processor. However, the more I read about problems with Lion the more I think I’d be experiencing flashbacks of difficult Microsoft Windows upgrades from previous years (for example, from Windows 95 to Windows 98).

It’s probably not much of an issue for new Mac owners that aren’t migrating software and data from an older Mac. But for those that are, it seems there are many challenges. Incompatible software, software that Lion removes, various OS bugs… That’s not say that it’s a bad upgrade, but anyone who’s worked with computers for several years should already know that leaping into a major OS upgrade right away isn’t always the wisest decision (of course, it depends on the various needs and habits of each user).

For the moment, I’m not feeling too concerned about my iMac’s inability to be upgraded. I’m sure it will hit a sore spot when the software I prefer to use is no longer updated for Snow Leopard. Until then, I’ll just mull over purchasing a new Mac.

Should I upgrade my Intel iMac Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo to Install OS X Lion? (Apparently Not)

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Updated 10/25/2011: Note that despite my comments in this post I decided to upgrade the processor and install Lion. Visit that post for more information. I decided to leave this post since it records what I was thinking at the time and some may still find this information useful.

I was recently disappointed to learn that my iMac, which is an Intel Core Duo system, will not be compatible with OS X Lion (10.7). Core Solo system will also not be supported. At first, I was annoyed. After all, my iMac is still a good system that can run most software rather well, especially considering that it only supports a maximum of 2 GBs of RAM.

However, while I’m still disappointed, I no longer think this is just a strategy to force Mac users to upgrade sooner than necessary. Based on some light reading of several different posts and articles the compatibility cut-off may be an intelligent move. While Snow Leopard does have 64-bit support it runs many system processes and apps in 32-bit mode. The compatibility cut-off for older Intel Macs is apparently attributed to the lack 64-bit support within the Intel Core Duo and Intel Core Solo processors.

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