Not hacked, bugs

It turns out that my technical difficulties the other day were in all likelihood not the result of being hacked but an arsehat software incompatibility.

The short version is that the weirdnesses I experienced were caused by:

  • OS X Lion has known problems dealing with certain PDF files. It appears that the problematic PDF, produced by and then emailed via a Mailman mailing list, was one of them. Hence Apple Mail and sometimes Preview would crash when dealing with this PDF.
  • Norton Internet Security for Mac version 4 is only for OS X up to Snow Leopard. OS X Lion requires Norton Internet Security for Mac version 5. It’s a shame neither NIS nor Lion knew this.
  • Norton Internet Security probably hadn’t updated its virus definitions in the previous week because I was travelling a fair bit and was probably offline at the scheduled time.

I determined all this while I was running backups. It’s always sensible to make sure your backups are in order before doing any significant technical work.

I discovered that:

  • Copying the 400GB of Time Machine backups of my old MacBook Pro from one external USB drive (pocket sized) to another (bulkier, for archiving) using the Finder took more than 7 hours.
  • Creating the initial Time Machine backup of my new MacBook Pro on the pocket USB drive, some 220GB of data, took a little over three hours.
  • Encrypting that 640GB USB drive took 14.5 hours.

In hindsight, I suppose I should have checked software compatibility when transferring everything from the dead Snow Leopard machine to Lion, but then it did flag other stuff as incompatible so I assumed… yeah, I know.

Live Blog: How pwned am I?

Uhoh. My MacBook Pro may have been hacked. I’ve already done a bit of troubleshooting, but this looks like it’s going to be A Thing, so I’ve decided to liveblog it. And here’s the liveblog.

The brief version is that Apple Mail crashed when it tried to open a particular email message dated 4 November, one containing a PDF file. Consistently. So I thought I’d do a virus scan on it.

That’s when Norton Internet Security reported that LiveUpdate was missing pieces, and I saw that it hadn’t checked for updates since… 4 November. Eek.

Now all the action would have happened on my battered old MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. That computer finally died of motherboard failure on 11 November and I replaced it with a fresh OS X 10.7 Lion machine on 12 November.

However I did just transfer everything across using Apple’s migration tool, rather than freshly installing all the software and just copying the data, so… well… who knows what the hell is going on?

Deep in my heart I suspect that it was just bugginess and a dying computer, copied badly to a new computer. I hope.

If you want to follow or even help, the liveblog is over the jump.

[Update 11.20pm: Things may not be as bad as I thought. It turns out that Norton Internet Security for Mac version 4.x is only compatible for OS X up to version 10.6 Snow Leopard. There’s NIS version 5.x for OS X 10.7 Lion. It looks like it’s a straightforward software compatibility problem, and the lack of updates could be because I was travelling that week and the computer was offline when updates were scheduled. If this is all the case, I’m a bit disappointed that the software itself couldn’t figure this out.]

Continue reading “Live Blog: How pwned am I?”

Weekly Wrap 70: Jobs, hipster love, pain and transformation

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets — leaving out all of the most important bits.

I can’t tell you about the highly personal things that happened last week, except to say that something which had been gnawing at the very core of my being has… changed. And my mind is still adjusting. As is my shoulder, which continues to misbehave. But codeine is dealing with that. Again.

The tooth situation is being resolved, though. Stage one of the root canal work has been performed.

I can also tell you about the nauseatingly young-and-in-love hipsters, pictured above, with their matching skateboards and matching sneakers. Well, that’s all I want to tell you about them, or I’ll get cranky.

So with the linkage…


  • Patch Monday episode 108, “Adobe’s long battle with security flaws”. A conversation with Brad Arkin, Adobe’s head of product security and privacy.


Media Appearances

Every single media spot I did this week related to Apple and/or the death of Steve Jobs.

Corporate Largesse


Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Matching skateboards and sneakers, a rather nauseating expression of young love spotted on King Street, Newtown, on Saturday night.]