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How To Fix Startup Problems on Your Mac

How To Fix Startup Problems on Your Mac

I’m getting more and more calls and emails from friends and family regarding startup problems with their Macs. This seems to be especially true for the iMacs.

So I’ve put together a list of the best ways to fix these problems. If your Mac hangs on a white screen or just won’t start up normally, there are a number of things you can do to try to fix the problem. It should be noted that if you have a hardware problem (e.g., bad hard drive, bad memory, bad power supply, etc.) these fixes won’t help. If you have a hardware problem, the best course of action is to visit your Apple dealer for a diagnosis.

Zap The PRAM

keyboardThe first and easiest thing you can do is “zap the PRAM”. This means clearing out the parameter RAM (Random Access Memory), which can sometimes get messed up if you shutdown improperly or the power is cut mid-stream for some reason. This will often fix many startup problems. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Turn computer off by holding power button down until computer turns off
  2. Turn computer on and immediately hold down all four keys: Option + Command + p + r  Continue to hold all 4 keys down until you hear the computer chime twice
  3. After the second chime (the startup sound) lift fingers off of keys and let the computer start up normally

If this procedure doesn’t fix your problem, then we need to get a little more serious and give your Mac a boot.

Safe Boot

A Safe Boot is a way to start your Mac and perform certain checks. It also prevents some software (which can be the source of startup problems)  from automatically loading. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Make sure your Mac is shutdown
  2. Press the power button to turn on Mac
  3. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, hold the Shift key
  4. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple logo

The system will perform certain checks and repair them if possible. Although a Safe Boot may allow you to now proceed with the login, this mode has disabled many startup items, some fonts, and possibly other software that you may be accustomed to using. So, the best thing to do is restart your computer normally and see if the problem has been resolved.

If you are still having problems, we have one more trick up our sleeve.

Single-User Mode

The Single-User mode gets you deeper into the Mac’s operating system without the nice user interface. This mode gets you only text on the screen. It also gets you into a mode where you are less protected from causing some damage to the system if you are not careful. So be careful to closely follow directions here. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Make sure your Mac is shutdown
  2. Press the power button to turn on Mac
  3. Immediately press and hold the Command + s keys

You know when you’re in Single-User mode when you see a bunch of white text on the screen. It may be a little scary if you haven’t been in the command-line mode before on your computer. Wait for the text to come to a rest at the command prompt, which may look like this:

:/ root#

At this prompt, type the following very carefully:

/sbin/fsck -fy

Then hit the Return key.

This process can take several seconds up to a few minutes to perform. Be patient. The text will indicate each check that is taking place. Some checks will occur quickly, others will take some time. You may also see text that indicates that some repairs are taking place.

Do not do anything to your Mac until you see something like the following prompt again:

:/ root#

The text will indicate status of your system and any repairs that may have occurred. If at this point the text indicates that a problem still exists, see this Apple forum discussion for further possible fixes:

Now type the following in order to reboot your computer normally:


I hope this has helped you get your Mac back up and running. Feel free to add any comments or suggestions.

Animation on the iPad with iStopMotion

Animation on the iPad with iStopMotion

I remember fondly my first animation class when I was eight years old. There was the excitement of creating a story with inanimate objects and bringing them to life with a Super-8mm camera. I also remember how agonizing it was to wait for the film to be developed so I could view the fruits of my labor. If only I had an iPad and iStopMotion back then…

focusiStopMotion ($9.99) is a well-design app for the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. The interface is simple and intuitive, allowing young and old animators alike to get to the task at hand. You can use either the front or rear camera to create your masterpiece. And, with the free iStopMotion Remote Camera app, you can remotely control an iPhone camera to shoot your video.

recordThe process is brilliantly simple. Position your iPad and choose which camera to use. Then, set the frame-rate (1-30fps), focus, exposure, and white balance. Then, begin animating by moving your objects and tapping on the screen to expose one frame at a time. As you create frames, they appear below in a timeline. Any time you want to play back what you created, simply hit the play button. The app smartly gives you an “onion skin” view, a ghosted image of your previous frame, which allows you to gauge the amount of movement from one frame to the next.

iStopMotion also allows you to capture time-lapse. You simply set the frequency of exposures in seconds and start it.

saveOnce you’ve created your animation, iStopMotion also allows you to record sound and/or add music. Then, you can save your work to Camera Roll, email, YouTube, or DropBox.

Once you realize how easy it is to animate with iStopMotion, you’ll never look at the inanimate objects in your life the same way!

iStopMotion for iPad by Boinx ($9.99)

Mac Sage Redesign

Mac Sage Redesign

It’s finally happening!

I can no longer neglect the very real need for this website to be redesigned. I have always been a big fan of very simple and clean design that puts an emphasis on the content. I still have this belief. However, I am also a big fan of beauty. I think this website could be more beautiful.

So, over the next week or so, you’ll be seeing the transformation of in terms of the design and usability.

You may also notice that the content subject areas will be broadened over the next year. I will still bring you great posts on Apple hardware and software and peripherals. But I will also sprinkle in posts about technology and arts. I may also begin to add other voices to the posts. There are a number of folks that have expressed an interest in writing guest posts. For the first time, I may begin to integrate guest posts.

I am open to other ideas as well, so feel free to comment or contact me directly.

Thanks for your patience during the exciting evolution!


UPDATE: Sunday, April 7, 2013

Well, after spending most of Saturday customizing the new theme, the initial redesign of is complete.

I still have some tinkering to do, but nothing that should be too disruptive. Thanks for all the messages of encouragement!

How Much Does A Website Cost?

How Much Does A Website Cost?

“So, how much does a website cost?” I get this question all the time.

It’s a perfectly valid question, but there are many variables which determine the answer to this seemingly simple question. It’s a little like asking: “So, how much does a house cost?”

Website Pricing

The difficulty in providing a simple answer to website pricing arises because there are so many elements and factors involved. To give you an idea, I have quickly listed some of these factors here:

  • The Client– I’ll be very honest here. The nature of the client will always affect the pricing. The first thing a web developer does is assess the relationship with the client. Is the client picky? Is the client easy to deal with? Does the client make clear decisions or do they hedge? Does the client understand the expertise of the  web developer and respect it?The bottom line: Good working relationship with client = lower cost of website
  • Scope – What does the client want? What does the client need? These are two very different things, and not all clients realize it.
  • Client Technical Knowledge – The more technically aware clients tend to need less hand-holding. Less hand-holding means lower costs. (The exception to this rule is a client who knows just enough to think they are the expert.)
  • Hosting – Who is hosting and who is responsible for maintenance and troubleshooting of hosting issues?

These are only some of the relevant factors. They don’t even address the basics like design, functionality, SEO, and workflow.

In my experience, most folks don’t understand how much time it takes to build a well-designed website. So, it’s no wonder why most folks – including small business owners – don’t really know how much it costs to build a website.


There are a number of services that offer “free” websites. Of course, nothing is really free. In most of these cases, you build a “cookie-cutter” website that is surrounded with advertising. For some folks, this may be adequate for a short period. For this type of need, I usually recommend

The budget-minded business owner may tend to jump at this option. However, I have often observed that those who initially choose this option eventually discover that their website needs have grown beyond it.

Basic Website – $800-$2500

In my experience, the average for a baseline business website is roughly $800 to $2500. I’ve seen it cost much, much more too.

A basic website is essentially a digital brochure for your business. It’s typically about 5 pages:

  1. Home page – An introduction to your product or service (images are always good)
  2. Product and/or Service page – Detailed descriptions and explanations of your products and/or services.
  3. About page –A brief profile of the business owner(s) or business
  4. Contact page – A page to encourage communication with the reader. This can be simply email, phone, address, Facebook, Twitter, etc. information. Sometimes it also includes an interactive form that is submitted.
  5. Gallery/Portfolio/Testimonials page – Depending on the type of business product or service, this page is an exhibit of examples or satisfied customers.

These websites are typically built with themes, which are often tweaked, customized and optimized for the needs of the particular business. A basic website is an online sales and marketing tool, working 24/7. These days, having at least a basic website for a business is an essential in much the same way that a business card is essential. There is a level of legitimacy that is provided, even to the smallest of businesses, by having a website.

Custom Website – $3000-$8000

A custom website may or may not start with a theme or template. The difference is that, either way, the website is created for the specialized design needs of the client. The design process with this type of website is where the bulk of the time and money goes. At this price level, the website design is custom-tailored to the client’s specific market needs, usually through custom CSS and HTML5 coding.

It’s important to realize that at this level, the focus is on website design. You will not typically find functional features like reader interactivity, ecommerce, or content management.

Content Management System (CMS) – $3000-$10,000

The average for this type of website is typically around $5000. But this is a broad and deep category of website.

These type of websites will be designed and built with both appearance and functionality in mind. Custom art and photos and mid-level functionality are included. The client will have the ability to manage the content and other data through the CMS interface. Often, these websites include a blog or forum component.

The emphasis with this type of website is on creating an easy and effective way for the client to manage and maintain an active website.

The Deluxe Website – $12,000-$100,000+

These are highly complex, interactive, custom coded and designed websites that typically get very high traffic. Think about websites like on up to Depending on how you figure costs (some of these websites are built in-house by teams of well-paid folks), these websites can cost into the millions of dollars.

What Most Small Businesses Need

I’ve provided a brief overview of a broad range of website pricing. But most small businesses will likely fall into the Basic or Custom website category. Although I’ve separated the CMS website as a distinct category, it is becoming increasingly common to create any new website on a CMS platform, whether or not the client plans to maintain and manage the website in the future.

About 5 years ago, I switched over to creating all websites on the WordPress platform; I do this even for websites that initially have no blog component. I’ve found that in the long run, this is a wise choice for both myself and my clients. For me, it streamlines the design and development process. For my clients, it allows them a level of autonomy (and therefore cost savings) in the management and maintenance of the website.

Sharing Internet Connection With An iMac

Sharing Internet Connection With An iMac

This post is really an update of a post ( Using Your Mac As A Wireless Router ) I made back in 2007. I’ve had many emails from folks pointing out that the screenshots are not the same on their OSX. Since OSX has changed some since 2007, I will show how to do the same thing using Lion (OSX 10.7.4). (Since many of you will probably have a wireless modem/router, this may not be as useful.)

First, here’s the basic idea.


To configure internet sharing on you iMac, go into System Preferences and click on Sharing.


In the Sharing window, click next to Internet Sharing on the left. Then select Wi-Fi on right. Be sure to click on the Wi-Fi Options to set a password for your wireless network. If you don’t do this, anyone within range will be able to use your wireless network.


Also, note that you will be prompted to turn on Wi-Fi on your iMac if it is not already turned on.

Your wireless network can be identified by the name used in the Computer Name field.