iCloud ‘Optimize Mac Storage’ breaks the Mojave installer

Yet another example of a really bizarre macOS bug that’s pretty inexcusable as a test escape, given it occurs with the default installation settings on a completely clean OS install.

In short, the Mojave update installer does not work (on High Sierra at least) if you have ‘Optimize Mac Storage’ enabled for iCloud Drive (System Preferences > iCloud pane > iCloud Drive Options… button > Documents tab > Optimize Mac Storage checkbox).

Specifically, the installer reports:

Installation requires downloading important content. That content can’t be downloaded at this time. Try again later.

…and indeed fails to download the actual Mojave update files (the installer app as ‘installed’ via the App Store is merely a 22 MB bootstrapping app, that downloads the actual image only after you run it & start the installation).

Even more obnoxiously, if you use the dosdude1 Mojave Patcher Tool to force-download the entire installer, as soon as it completes the 6.5 GB download and produces the ‘Install macOS Mojave’ app in /Applications, the system deletes the downloaded installation files out from under that app, rendering it just as broken as the official App Store version. Infuriating.

Aside: to be clear, turning off ‘Optimize Mac Storage’ enabled me to produce – and keep – a working installer as downloaded by dosdude1’s tool. I did not verify that it also fixes the regular installer as downloaded via the App Store.

I also ran into the “The recovery server could not be contacted” error message even before all the above, but thankfully that was fixable via the means normally prescribed online – running “sudo ntpdate -u time.apple.com”.

Blink XT review

Normally I’d just post a review like this on the merchant’s website – in this case Amazon.  Yet perplexingly when I tried to do so, I was given the error message:

Sorry, we are unable to accept reviews for this product. This product has limitations on submitting reviews. There can be a number of reasons for this, including unusual reviewing activity.

Hmmm… curious.  I tried revising my star rating from 2 to 5 to see if it were so blatantly influenced by that, but it did not make a difference.

Anyway, FWIW here’s my review:

First up, the Blink XT cameras do not work with normal batteries – you have to buy quite expensive Lithium batteries.  Use of any other types of AAs will result in the camera not triggering reliably, failing to record full videos (or at all), etc.  So factor in about $20 extra per camera for a pair of such batteries.  Also, the two year quoted battery life appears to be a joke – I had to replace the first set of batteries after only a month or so.

Second, the video quality is not great.  They’re ostensibly 1080p but it looks both upscaled (probably from 720p) and it appears the video is recorded on the sync dongle, not the camera itself, so it’s subject to any radio interference issues that might exist, which will result in noticeably degraded video quality – or recording corrupting or cutting out entirely.  Overall the video quality, even in the best case, is like that of a very cheap smartphone (as of 2018), or say a 2010 iPhone.

Third, the only way to remotely control the cameras, and view recorded videos, is via mobile apps.  No desktop apps, no website, nothing.  So it’s very tedious to view the recordings, manage them, etc.

Fourth, the mobile app for iOS is not great.  It’s very slow – Cloud-saved videos are never loaded in advance, only on demand, and can take up to a minute to start playing.  It’s also a bit buggy.  e.g. a lot of the time it’ll fail to do whatever you asked, responding instead with a long delay ended with an error message along the lines of “the camera is busy”.

Fifth, wireless range is limited – I have one camera only about ten metres from both my wireless router & the sync module, through one exterior wall, and the video quality is noticeably degraded sometimes.  I tried placing one camera with line of sight about 30 metres away, and it worked (barely) for an hour or two and then never again, until I moved it much closer.

Sixth, motion triggering is inconsistent and lacks important configuration options (like zoning to denote areas to ignore or conversely to focus on).  e.g. for one video looking out the front of my place, it unavoidably has the street in view, which means that even on minimal sensitivity, we get a video & notification every single time a car goes by on the street.  Yet it still won’t reliably trigger when a human walks up to the front door, until they’re right in front of the camera.  Yet it’s nonetheless sometimes triggered by squirrels up to 10 metres away.

So, solidly not recommended.  Not the worst thing ever – the system does function in a very minimal sense, and I’ve managed to get some utility out of it, but it’s definitely disappointing – and many of these errors could surely be easily fixed by better software, firmware, or hardware design (e.g. support for normal batteries).

Sigma lens compatibility with the Nikon Z7

Sigma just released an updated Z7 compatibility study, which thankfully is mostly just “everything works as it should”, though there four exceptions, and one which is pertinent to me:

50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art:  When starting to shoot with the subject completely out of focus, the response to the AF operation is intermittent. It is necessary to release several times or to turn the focus ring once to release. It is planned to be resolved by a firmware update.

I have seen what might be that issue, but I’ve also seen the same symptoms with the kit 24-70/4, and Nikon’s own F-mount lenses, so, I’m curious what the distinction is between the Nikon Z7’s general autofocus issue of this nature, and this specific issue that’s supposedly only applicable to the Sigma 50/1.4 Art.