Strange Things Are Afoot At The Circle K

I have a day off today. In fact I have this entire weekend off. I went from no work for 3-some-odd months to two weeks straight work including the weekend and it was a bit of a system shock. It’s nice to fart around.

Yesterday at work we were enjoying the fruits of our newly installed OS X 10.3. Doing cool things like labeling things with color. (Hey, when you’ve been using Panther for nearly a year on your home computer, trying to deal with Jaguar everyday at work is a real pain.)

We have a server in our office that holds our entire sound effects library. Any computer in our building with a username and password can get to the FX. It makes editorial much easier. We also have a drive that holds things like the digital picture files of the movie we are working on. Change notes to help conform edited material from an earlier version to the most current version of the movie.

Every editor who works with us also has a personal folder on that drive. A place to put your stuff. This makes exchanging files so much easier. Before we started using a central server 3 years ago, we had to rely on moving hard drives from computer to computer or [involuntary shudder] Jaz drives to transfer files. Now it’s a simple matter of “Hey, I put a mixdown of that line of dialogue you were looking for in your folder. You can get it whenever you want.”

So in our Panther-induced joyous mood yesterday we decided to drop Cameron’s personal folder into the Finder Sidebar—that list of drives and folder on the left side of every Finder window. That would make things really easy we reasoned. Need to get to your personal folder fast? Click on the folder in the sidebar. It seemed really cool yesterday.

Today during my day off I got a call from Cameron who decided to go into the office for a few hours to finish up on some sound design he had been working on. Anything he clicked on on his desktop caused the computer to hang—spinning beachball icon. The only way out was to Force Quit the Finder. He couldn’t open drives. He couldn’t open folders. He could run programs from the dock though.

I asked him to see if he could open a new Finder window. That didn’t work either. This time though it asked him to log into the server. He tried doing that but he got the spinning beachball again. But this gave me a clue to the problem. I suspected it had something to do with Cameron’s personal folder on the server being in the Sidebar.

Thankfully I always insist that we put the Applications folder in the Dock. By clicking and holding on it, he was able to get the list of all installed applications. After a little research on my end, this is how I had him fix the problem:

  1. Run Terminal. I keep it in the Dock so I would have been set. Cameron doesn’t but he had the Applications folder there so he could run it from that.
  2. Type cd Library/Preferences
  3. Type mv side.old
  4. Quit Terminal.
  5. Select Apple Menu -> Log Out
  6. Log back in.

All better. You can of course delete the offending plist file as well—the Finder will gladly rebuild it when you log in again. But if you had other things in there you wanted to save, it’s best to rename and fix it after you can work with your computer normally. You could also go in with a text editor and delete the lines from the plist about the remote volume.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have Terminal or the Applications folder in your Dock, but you’re on a network, you can remotely log into your computer and do the same thing. You’ll need to know the IP address of the non-functional computer. You can get it from the Network Preference Pane in System Preferences which you can get to from the Apple Menu.

Run Terminal on the other computer. Type in ssh username@ipaddress where “username” is your short name on the non-functional computer and the “ipaddress” is the address you got from the Network Preference. You’ll have to enter your password when it asks for it. If you’ve never used ssh before, it’ll ask you about adding the address or something like that. You’ll want to say “yes”. Now you’re logged into the non-fuctional computer. Do steps 1, 2, and 3 listed above. Instead of step 4, simply type exit to logoff and close the connection to the remote computer. Now you can do steps 5 and 6 on the non-functional computer.

I suspect there’s probably a way to get a folder on a remote volume to work properly in the Sidebar. Probably with a symbolic link of something. But my first mission was to get the computer working again. Thankfully I can say, mission accomplished.