I went to do something I often do which is connect my external hard drives to a computer to see files…. but tonight there were no files to see.  There was hardly a drive to see.  I don’t know what changed, but there was something it didn’t like.

This was a situation where tears would have come if the data on the drive was totally inaccessible.  Not because of a poor backup plan (I actually had one in this case!) but due to exhaustion.  But they would have been needless tears, as would have the frustrations that could have followed.


Instead of all that, I found this great link with a super suggestion to “try this”… it didn’t seem harmful or difficult, so I did.

LINK: Save your external drive!

The outcome was my learning about a free Mac disk utility called “Disk Arbitrator”.  In a few short moments I saw through this utility that my drive still had my stuff on it, was able to make my computer see it again through the standard Disk Utility on OS X and run a repair disk utility…. that didn’t seem necessary in the end.  But it seemed to come in, like a good mediator, and get everybody talking again.

MAC SOFTWARE: Check out Disk Arbitrator

I don’t know what the source of the problem was, and I know I should keep an eye on it.  But tonight I’m grateful that I didn’t spend hours trying to find a fix for a problem when this one did the trick.

Hat’s off to the original poster and a great little utility I’m sure will come in handy again.


Performing African Violet Surgery

by Donna Harris on January 25, 2015

African violet

One of my seemingly millions of interests is the growing of African violets.  I am definitely still in the beginner category here, but I’ve played at keeping these little guys alive for a few years now.  In May 2014 there was an influx of purchased violets, which really solidified this interest.

Originally purchased to look nice on my desk at work, I quickly learned that the flowers fall off and don’t come back again easily on their own.  And also that these plants need a fair amount of sunlight and warmth.  (Up until very recently, neither of these came in ready quantities at work.)  So, the plants would look pretty for a few weeks and then end up coming home with me to care for them there.

Well, something exciting is happening.  The plant featured at the top of this post is (… get this …) actually getting ready to flower!  And in a big way!  You see, I keep them alive pretty well.  They stay nice and green.  But after some time passes, it’s tricky to remember which ones were which colours.  When you look at the photo, you can see some of the several buds getting ready to flower and can tell this particular plant had pink flowers!  Wuhhoo!

But today was no ordinary day for the violets.  I had two, long overdue missions – both involving surgery.  As in olden times, the kitchen table became the operating theatre and, there, I set to work.

Patient #1

The first mission was taking another one of the plants purchased last spring (maybe the burgundy one?) and separating it.  This guy had multiple crowns — which basically means leaves grew every which way because multiple plants began growing in the same space.

The surprising thing (at least to a novice plant surgeon) was there were a few other little guys in there beyond the two main plants. And so a secondary goal became giving the little guys a new place to make it on their own.  (More on that in a moment.)

Patients #1a and #1b

Pictured here we have our separated patients.  They should adapt and became quite happy on their own in a few days, I think.

The other little guys got mixed in with some new friends, which I will get to in a moment.





IMG_20150125_161707Mission number two was dealing with the plants I was propagating intentionally.  Back in the spring or early summer I tried my hand at a few different techniques of propagating new plants from cuttings.  The method that was the hands down winner was sticking cut leaves directly into the soil and waiting until little guys start to sprout.  And sprout they did.

In a single pot I placed three leaves and all three of them did their thing.  My goal today was to separate the little guys and get them into their own space.








Again, in my inexperience, I was thinking each leaf had started one new plant.  But that’s not the way it goes necessarily.  So, as with the first operation, there were multiple candidates for transplanting.

In the photo showing the candidates, you can see the three large leaves.  They were still in great shape, with some roots of their own, so I thought I’d try an experiment and pot them together again and see what happens this time.


IMG_20150125_173337These are all the transplant candidates.  Some are reeeeeally tiny.  Others will probably do just fine in a few days.  Once they’re happy, I’ll probably try keeping a few at the office and see how that goes in the new space — which has both heat and good sun exposure in the window.











IMG_20150125_173350In this photo you can see three pots of cuttings to begin some new plants.  The one at the bottom left is the retry experiment with the original three leaves.  The other two (bottom right) are new leaves cut from the plant I separated out.  Then other two on the right are the newly separated plant.

The larger plants on the left are just concerned family members who didn’t undergo surgery themselves today.

Well, that’s about it… hopefully in a few days there will be an exciting post about the flowering of the pink violet plant. :)


The Case of the Disconnecting Drives has been Solved

by Donna Harris on January 22, 2015

server After an extremely frustrating moment where my randomly disconnecting drives escalated to become corrupted drives, I decided the pursue the matter further.

So yes, this is another techy, geeky post.  But maybe it will help somebody… Or even remind me later how I solved this when I come across the problem again.

What seemed to be happening was after a certain amount of inactivity, when left on this new hard drive enclosure (presumably) does something that makes the OS say ‘hey, you’re inactive… I will put your drives to sleep’ and then proceeds to disconnect everything very abruptly.

When I dug a little deeper I learned that there is an Energy Saver setting in OS X that controls whether the hard drives sleep or not.  It seems (at least for right now) I need them to not sleep.  (I imagine this includes external and the internal drive… So I might want to research this a bit more with respect to the internal drive.)

All I needed to do (it seems) is uncheck the “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” option, as seen in the screenshot.

Screenshot - OS X Energy SaverSo, there you have it. I made this change late last night, left the external drive on overnight and all through the day and everything stayed connect and uncorrupted. This is good news.

Another thing I learned about while prepping for this post was some nifty features about the “Preview” app in OS X. I’ll have to save those for a future post. But in the meantime, you Mac users, you really should check out the hidden power of Preview!


A Geeky Mac Discovery: How to Remount External Drives

by Donna Harris on January 21, 2015

Wchiparning, this is a geeky post.

I recently decided to change my file backup strategy for my Mac.  As part of this, I’m dealing with multiple external drives.  Today I started having problems with the drives disconnecting and I quickly grew frustrated when I had to shut down and restart the drives to make them visible again.

Enter the simple solution I’ve been dreaming of but didn’t realize.  In the “Disk Utility” app there is a “Mount” option for each drive.  How I’ve missed this for all these years, I’m not sure.  But it’s awesome news for a geek like me.

Thanks to the guy who wrote a helpful post which taught me this.  Visit his site/post here:

Why it’s randomly disconnecting?  Well, that’s a Google search for another day.


That time I met Woody Woodpecker

January 12, 2015

Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings As I was wandering on Sunday afternoon at the Guelph Arboretum, I met a bird… But not just any bird. I named this little guy is named Woody, the Pileated Woodpecker. He was being noisy enough that I had […]

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The Case of the Overambitious Cook

January 11, 2015

Sunday evening rolls around and I decide I should cook something for tonight and tomorrow.  After some surfing around, and considering what (I thought) was in the house, I decided on a dangerously multi-stepped plan: – cornbread – black bean and ham mixture, to be combined with… – brown basmati rice Seems simple, right?  Heh. Even […]

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Looking through the lens

January 7, 2015

If you’re already a Flickr-er, or just curious what I’m up to over there, feel free to check this out:   So far it’s been me uploading but not organizing photos… just a warning.  The most recently uploaded photos were taken with a Nikon D90.

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