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Getting my head around iMovie frame rates

A few months ago I started recording my fishing trips for a YouTube channel, starting with my iPhone and then buying an ORDRO EP7 head-mounted video camera for action shots. Both the ORDRO and the iPhone delivered video at 30 fps so I had no cause to worry about the effect of different frame rates.

Having now acquired a Panasonic HC-V380 camcorder to take over from my iPhone, offering quite spectacular zoom capabilities, I was concerned that the new camcorder delivers 50 fps, a significantly higher rate than the EP7, which I had set at 30 fps. I produced a short iMovie project with clips from both to see if this caused any problems, and it didn't seem to. Knowing that iMovie sets the resolution, and presumably the fps based on the first media clip added, I tried both combinations. It didn't seem to make any difference. I then discovered that iMovie had actually exported at 25 fps in each case and after some more trials found that this is a default, irrespective of the individual clip settings.

During all this experimentation I had increased the EP7 rate to 60 fps, as I found that iMovie would export at 60 fps if the first clip was set as such. Indeed, this was the case, but I had added as second clip from the camcorder set at 50 fps, which was totally ignored when iMovie rendered the output file. 

So it seems that having now reset the EP7 to 30 fps, and with the camcorder at 50 fps, everything will be rendered at 25 fps and let's hope this doesn't lead to any issues with the output video. There will, after all, be too many frames rather than too few! During all this I couldn't find one article or forum discussion that explained this aspect of iMovie very clearly, although there were plenty of people trying to sort out the frame rate issue. Typing in 'frame rate' in iMovie Help yields no results.

Late 2015 4K iMac now running Big Sur

I have been running Big Sur on my iMac for a while now having previously updated my MacBook Air. I'm pleased to say that I have experienced no real problems with the upgrade. I made sure as far as possible that all apps were updated to ensure Big Sur compatibility. The only one flagged as incompatible by the OS was Avira Free Antivirus.

I tried the free version of the newer Avira Free Security that supersedes the free antivirus but found that it delayed the appearance of the sign-in dialogue to such an extent that on occasions I thought that the Mac had frozen on start up. I then found that there was no uninstall option, which worried me as security software can leave lots of traces if one simple drags the app to the bin. Fortunately I have a stand-alone uninstall app that seems to identify all the various files and this got rid of it, after which I didn't experience any issues.

The other worry was my MS Office 2016 suite, which MS stopped supporting in October last year. To be honest I find that I can do most things using Pages, Numbers and Keynote but I'm still using Excel regularly and haven't as yet encountered any issues.

So, Big Sur is up and running on both computers and my next challenge, some time in the future, will no doubt be if I change my Intel iMac for Apple's latest Silicon ARM processor. Quite a way in the future I would think!

Surfshark VPN

After mulling over the idea of a VPN for some while now, I took the plunge over the Black Friday weekend and signed up to Surfshark. It was a good deal at under £60 for a 27 month subscription.

I must admit that I didn't realise that using the VPN would be so easy. I've downloaded the app for my Mac and the iOS app for my iPhone and iPad. It's just a matter of logging in and selecting a server in the country of your choice.

My main reason for going down the VPN route was to watch French TV content, which isn't available in the UK because of licensing restrictions. I've already watched a documentary on France 3 TV and it went without a hitch.

Today I explored the capabilities further by watching a series on Amazon.com, connecting to a New York server. This again was straightforward although I had to sign in to US Amazon using my UK account information. I suspected that this might be a problem but in the event, having negotiated a Captcha and validated my email address, I was connected and able to view the programme.

I don't know why I waited so long!

Updated MacBook to Big Sur - but iMac must wait

Took the plunge and updated my MacBook Air to Big Sur. I have fewer apps on my MacBook so there was less chance of something being incompatible. I uninstalled the Avira Free anti-virus as I had already received a notification that it would be incompatible, and this was confirmed on the Avira site.

I'm pleased to say everything went very smoothly, the only concerning thing being that the fan in the MacBook was on almost continuously during the installation. It was clearly pushing the hardware quite hard!

This update bridges the Intel Macs with the new Silicon ARM Macs that will use processors currently found in iPads and iPhones, thus bringing closer together the various hardware offerings in the Apple range. The update thus renders the launch bar icons differently, more in line with those found on the iPhone and iPad. It also introduces some additional features, such as a Control Panel where you can set regularly used features, just like on the iPhone and iPad. Clicking on the date displays the notifications panel. Other apps, such as Safari and Messages have been enhanced.

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Using MAMP to develop a PHP site

I built a site for my daughter some time ago and recently I've been developing a registration system using Sitelok by Vibralogix, a sophisticated piece of PHP software with a superb manual and incredible after sales support; something I've needed as I've struggled with the certain aspects of the site development. Mainly it must be said to do with the Paypal interface rather than the basic registration system.

MAMP

I use RapidWeaver and with new and existing web pages now being controlled by PHP it has not been possible to preview them before publishing. As most of what I've done so far is on hidden pages, locked with Sitelok, it hasn't impacted too greatly on the live site. But I had reached the stage of modifying live pages for Sitelok, making live publishing a slightly risky way of checking modifications or additions. So I decided to try MAMP, which comes in two versions, MAMP (free) and MAMP Pro. The free version was adequate for my limited requirements.

I had looked into MAMP some time ago, for a different project, but hadn't managed to use it properly. Lack of knowledge, I would add, rather than any failings with the application. But this time I did my research and watched a couple of videos on YouTube. It still took a bit of trial and error to set things up, but having now done so it's working a treat.

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Parallels on SSD & Windows 7 to Windows 10

Windows 10 - Parallels

Introduction

Windows has in the past driven me to distraction and I can honestly say that my computing life improved immeasurably after I migrated to an iMac in 2008. But I kept Windows going for a while, first as a virtual machine in VMFusion, and then in a Bootcamp partition when I acquired a MacBook Pro in 2009. The Windows frustration continued and I shared my feelings back in 2017.

When I upgraded both my iMac and later my MacBook, Windows was jettisoned.

Jump forward to 2020 and against my better judgement Windows is back. The story of how this came about might be of interest

Samsung SSD

When I updated to MacOS Catalina there were some applications that I didn't want to lose, but weren't compatible with the new OS. I decided to buy Parallels and retain a virtual copy of Mojave. As my new iMac has only a 250GB SSD drive and the Mojave VM occupied around 36GB, it represented quite an overhead. All was well until recently when I did some quite heavy video editing in iMovie, resulting in my Mac freezing. I was caught out because my daughter shared an iCloud folder containing all the individual video clips, this being possible with the advent of Catalina 10.15.4 and iOS 13.4. What I didn't realise was that all the files had been downloaded to the Mac. So much for shared 'cloud' storage. This share, combined with the production of a number of completed videos in iMovie, left me unknowingly with minimal remaining disk space.

After tidying up the video files and moving all the shared clips to an external drive, I re-established safe headroom. But I decided it would be better to move the Mojave VM to an external disk. I experimented with a spare SATA hard drive but it was far too slow to allow a decent user experience in the VM. So I bought a Samsung portable 500GB SSD. This worked fine with the VM, there being little discernable difference from when it was on the Mac's SSD.

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Undeletable file in Trash /Bin

A short while ago I was experiencing very slow downloads on my emails in macOS Mail. Following a tip in a forum I moved some system files to a new temporary location, these being automatically recreated by Mail when it was relaunched. The idea was to remove the cached settings. It didn't in fact help and I suspect that it was my email service provider (BT) that was actually the problem.

Once I was sure that Mail was working correctly I deleted the original system files that I had relocated. But when I came to empty the Trash one file remained, generating an error during the delete process. Thus began a long and unsuccessful attempt to get this file out of my Trash.

I found quite a bit of advice on the web, both from Apple itself and various technical web sites. I tried everything: key combinations, Safe Mode; Disk First Aid in Recovery Mode; Terminal commands and the clever idea of moving the file to iCloud and then deleting it on my iPhone after my iMac was powered down. But it just came back. I even moved it to the BT Cloud, which is outside the Apple system, and deleted it there, but it always returned.

Finally I found a web page that explained all. The file, in its orignal location, was:

~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/DataVaults

I managed to delete the folders but DataVaults proved to be totally indestructible. The web page linked to another with an explanation of the additional controls that Apple has placed over access to files and folders in macOS Mojave, and of course in Catalina. My problems started when I was running Mojave and persisted after I recently updated to Catalina.

Here is an extract from the article:

DataVaults are folders to which neither the user nor third-party software has any access at all.

The only software which can see and work with their contents are certain Apple-signed products which have a specific entitlement to do so.


The moral, be careful when messing about with system files.


Updated iMac to MacOS Catalina

After much deliberation I today updated from Mojave to Catalina.

The main issue, of course, was the fact that with Catalina Apple discontinued support for 32 bit applications. I had for a while been removing such applications, updating them or finding alternatives. This cost a bit of money along the way. For example, my Adobe Elements 15 (Photoshop & Premier) wasn't guaranteed to be compatible and in the end I broke a long association with this software and went for Pixelmator Pro for photographs and Apple's free iMovie for videos.

The Adobe suite never felt completely at home on the Mac whereas Pixelmator is truly a Mac app as of course is iMovie. My limited use of Pixelmator has so far proved successful although, of course, I have needed to adapt to the different interface. I'm still to see how I get on with iMovie.

Some apps I had rarely used, so they went. The difficult ones were those that I needed but were unlikely ever to be upgraded to 64 bit by the developers. For example, our Withings weighing scales link to the internet and if you ever need to reconfigure the wifi connection there is a Pairing Wizard. It's very rudimentary and will almost certainly never appear as 64 bit since the latest scales don't need it. There's also my Game Golf transfer app, which may in time benefit from an upgrade to 64 bit. And I have the 'Le Petit Robert' French dictionary, which is now available in 64 bit form but at an unacceptable price. At the moment Audacity isn't Catalina compatible although I'm sure that a 64 bit version will eventually be released. And finally there was MacX Video Converter Pro, which again has a new version available but at a price.

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MacOS Time Machine on encrypted external HDD

I've upgraded my ten-year-old MacBook Pro to a MacBook Air. The old one will go to my wife's niece as it still performs well, especially after I replaced the battery and installed an SSD to speed things up a bit. She had taken a shine to it so my upgrade makes two people happy. For my part, the difference in OS between my iMac (Mojave) and the MacBook (El Capitan) was starting to present issues, such as incompatibility between versions of Pages, Numbers etc.

Having somewhat laboriously cleaned the old MacBook of my data so that I didn't lose certain software, such as the old but still serviceable Office 2011, I ended up with a much cleaner computer that I believe will be perfect for her. It's amazing how many personal identifiers exist within the software but I'm sure that I've removed most of them as well, of course, as signing out of all the Apple services.

Note Encrypt backups check box

Next came the the job of backing up my new MacBook to the external HDD that I use for a Time Machine. I encrypted it when it was first formatted and when I tried to delete the old backup I was informed that I didn't have the necessary permissions. I therefore erased the disk and again reformatted as encrypted. Time Machine asked if I wanted to use the disk and at this point I made a mistake. It asked if I wanted the data encrypted. Because I had already encrypted the disk I didn't choose this option. When it then asked for the disk password I wasn't paying attention and entered it. Unfortunately this started a decryption process that after three hours hadn't hardly registered on the progress bar.

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Le Robert Correcteur - time to look elsewhere

A few years ago I bought the Le Robert Correcteur. It is a spelling and grammar checker for French, something that is incredibly useful if one has the intention of writing in French. It's a grammatically complex language and even Le Robert doesn't spot all one's mistakes. But it at least weeds out most of them and will often flag a sentence that it believes to be badly constructed even though it can't pinpoint the precise reason.

It wasn't cheap and came with three licences. I used one on my iMac and one on my MacBook Pro. A while ago I rebuilt the MacBook with an SSD disk and restored from Time Machine. Most things worked but Le Correcteur was having none of it. The licence protection was obviously recognised that something had changed as a result of the upgrade. So I had to use my third and final licence. I've now upgraded to a 2018 MacBook Air. And guess what, I can't even get Le Correcteur to load let alone try to enter a licence key. All attempts to find help on deregistering the app on the old MacBook have failed.

I certainly wasn't going to fork out for another three licences so I decided to consider alternatives. I have used Bon Patron before, a web-based spelling and grammar checker that performs arguably as well as Le Correcteur. I tested a sample piece in both and in fact Bon Patron did slightly better in that case. Although both missed a fairly glaring conjugation error, which might have been because of the way I structured the sentence. Perhaps it wasn't French enough! The only downside to Bon Patron is that is web-based, so without a connection you can't use it. But with almost universal connectivity these days this is perhaps not a major issue.

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