Fix configd and systemuiserver high cpu problem

Just encounter a strange problem of high CPU from configd and SystemUIServer process in Catalina, which causes the fan boosting up and making enormous noises.

Manually killing these processes won’t help. And googling also doesn’t get much info.

Configd is the system configuration process, while SystemUIServer is the UI handling process. Apparently, something that needs to be configured goes wrong, and messes up with UI.

The culprit is the Finder connected with iPhone. Because iTunes is now gone, Finder is handling the sync with iPhone devices. But for some unknown reason, when my iPhone is connected thru USB, error “Could not check for an update to the carrier settings for your phone. This device is no longer connected” prompts. The Finder’s device tab of iPhone info still works, but the connection status will refresh constantly between success and USB error. Such constant updates lead to the CPU high usage.

Reset the finder settings plist file and force quit Finder works only for a while. Choosing the option to hide “CD, DVD & iOS devices” in the Finder sidebar preferences will be the solution. Update: one faulty USB port seems the actual reason.

The Finder’s device sync functionality is very buggy. Sometimes it will keep synchronizing thru WiFi and even prevent the system from restart. Make sure to uncheck the WiFi sync option in the connected device tab too.

Finally, the only way to sync/backup with iOS devices is thru iCloud.

Enable HiDPI for 1080p External Display with MBP

HiDPI is just like what the MBP internal “Retina” screen does. It uses 4x resolution to render, projects the rendered pixels to the target lower resolution on physical monitor, which will show much sharper texts and images. So for 1080p HiDPI, it actually renders at 4320p, and shows at 1080p (4 pixel to 1 pixel projection), therefore requiring a 4K screen to work.

Theoretically, there is no benefit to enable HiDPI on 1080p monitor, because physical screen pixels remains 1080p and the 4K rendered resolution should be projected to the same pixels as original 1080p rendering. However, there’s still a visible improvement, especially in rendering text. Here’s my screenshot comparison.

Without HiDPI, more fuzzy bold rendering of text:

With HiDPI, much sharper and slim rendering:

Since it’s a 1080p monitor, the default device profile won’t list HiDPI resolution options in the display settings. There’s a Mac shareware SwitchResX to install custom resolution profile when SPI is disabled. But this can also be done by the free RDM app and this online profile generation tool. After following the steps to install custom made 1080p HiDPI display profile, you could then select the lightning HiDPI for a 1080p external display with the RDM app.

WinToGo 10 with a thunderbolt drive on MBP 2018

There is a good article for WinToGo setup on MBP2018, along with this article and my old post for MBP2012, but they are all just good for USB drives only. If you want to do a Win2Go with a thunderbolt3 drive, several days of rebooting is ahead.

WinToGo on External Drive
Bru-nO / Pixabay

Firstly, WinToUsb won’t list thunderbolt drives, making it impossible to create bootable disk. This means the old way of imagex/dism and bcdboot to make a bootable installable thunderbolt drive is your friend. Then Win10 boot setup fails with mysterious error “Windows setup could not configure to run on this computer’s hardware” during the preparation spinning circle interface. Nothing googled directly helps, including the popular “msoobe” command hack. After hours of trials, this post gives the correct steps of bootable disk partitions creation. Actually, the top article above mentioned the hack to format with “EFI System Partition”, which will do the same trick to create MSR partition automatically, but latest windows 10 seems unable to create these correct partitions with the hack, causing the preparation setup failure.

Secondly, the Windows 1803 version won’t install on thunderbolt3 drive with MBP 2018. It always fails with DMA Access Violation crash blue screen of death. DMA is related to the storage driver. Since MBP 2018 came out in the later half of the year, Windows 1809 version will have the correct thunderbolt3 drivers included and will install.

Thirdly, Windows 10 boots, installs, and freezes if boot camp drivers are added into the install media. After several rebooting and studying, the problem might be related to the AMD Radeon drivers and ReLive settings. The solution is to begin setup without the add-driver step. It means that the external mouse and keyboard have to be used during the install process. The built-in keyboard with touch bar and trackpad won’t work without boot camp drivers. So prepare an external usb keyboard/mouse for the setup.

Finally, Win2Go of Windows 10 can install and run successfully now. Though, standalone boot camp drivers install might take quite a long time and hang for some USB XHCI controller. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to have an unrecognized mass storage device after a forced restart. Everything works with super fast speed, including the AMD display card, the thunderbolt drive and all USB devices!

Several Updates:

The unrecognized devices listed in Win10 Device Manager could be T2 chip related, which are reserved only for OS X and unaccessible in Windows. Since ACPI power management is also controlled by T2, Win10 will have to use standard Microsoft driver for power management. This will sometime lead to some strange battery behaviors, like discharging even if ac power is plugged-in. The only hope is some future released BootCamp drivers.

Latest Raedon 18.40 bootcamp drivers are here, which seems to fix the power discharging issue when GPU is on.

Fix Office365 Activation 0xD000FFFE error

Laptop Activate Home Office

Just migrated my old rMBP 2012 to new MBP 2018. With the help of Migration Assistant, everything seems as good as the old one, except that Office365 is not activated. When activating Office, it will always fail, reporting some unknown error 0xD0000FFFE.

It seems that the existing license was not correctly migrated.

After some Googling, solutions like deleting folders under ~/Library/Group Container is ridiculously unacceptable, since it will remove all your Outlook inbox folders!

This post has the official software to remove the existing license. Then re-activate Office365 will succeed happily.

Published
Categorized as ELife, Tips

Switch to VSCode from Atom

Atom as a code editor just becomes slower and slower with the burden of massive plugins, requiring near 15s on my MBP to initially display file contents. In comparison, VSCode with similar extensions just takes 5s to show text upon launch. There must be some underlying architectural issues in the Atom startup process, as both are based on Electron. The memory/cpu footprint also has huge differences as this old post shows. Atom sometime even stops responding and asks to wait for editor window to run.

VSCode Editor
yatsusimnetcojp / Pixabay

While speed performance is important but tolerable, all kinds of mysterious long pending bugs are indeed killing Atom. In my scenario, the vertical scrollbar sometime just turns into a white bar. The git interface cannot stage lines for files with unicode filenames, but only stages the whole file. The nuclide file tree is unusable because it constantly steals focus from text editor area! Lots of issues are reported, analyzed, and never reach a fix. Such problems have been long existed nuisances and should no more be born with.

Fortunately, VSCode now enjoys the affluence of extensions. Almost all of my Atom plugins find their counterparts in VSC. The only advantage of Atom is the beautifulness in contrast to the VSCode default theme’s coarseness (the blue status bar is horrible). Hopefully the Atom One Dark theme and keymap extensions are the cure.

Just after Microsoft bought Github, it seems the right time to switch from Atom to VSCode after all.

Disable BTT accessibility popup

Just updated BetterTouchTool to V2.645, finding that the accessibility permission popup cannot be dismissed. The close icon at the right corner of the popup panel is just missing. Luckily, BTT can work well for touch/click functions without those accessibility permissions.

After some searching around, one github issue comment has the way to diable the popup:

defaults write com.hegenberg.BetterTouchTool BTTDisableAcccessibilityCheck YES

Update: It’s only valid for High Sierra and previous OS X versions. Mojave will require enabling accessibility for BTT.

Workaround MX Master pairing with High Sierra

Apparently High Sierra has well complained issues with bluetooth. My Logitech MX Master mouse also suffers from random disconnection. Today when I tried to disable bluetooth and reconnect, the mouse just won’t connect.

So I deleted it from MBP’s bluetooth devices, and found out that MX Master cannot pair any more again. Just like some other guys’ video shows, it keeps connecting and disconnecting when pairing.

My old tricks in Yosemite did not work again,  resetting the bluetooth module and remove all devices got no help after restarting the machine. Finally a glimpse of some words in some forum threads googled just saved my morning: complete shutdown, not restart.

Oddly enough, after a shutdown and fresh booting, my 10.13.6 High Sierra successfully pairs with MX Master!

Fix to delete time machine backups for no-responding finder

My MacBookPro was forced to upgrade to High Sierra, because XCode 9.3 is only available on 10.13 to support development for iOS 11.3. The new operating system looks quite the same, except the ridiculous wordings of the Chinese translation of system UI.

As usual, I made a Time Machine backup before the upgrade. Since my NAS disk was quite full, some old backups should be deleted after the system ran smooth. Well then, the Finder just turned frozen during the Time Machine deleting process, locking in the Time Machine tunnel interface.

After a hard rebooting and some googling, I found that the following steps might fix. It uses the command line to delete the dated backups and shrinks the size of the target Time Machine bundle :

  1. Connect to the target Time Machine Sparse Bundle file in the Finder
  2. Ensure that /Volumes/Time Machine Backup/Backups.backupdb shows in ls
  3. Delete old backups: sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Time Machine Backup/Backups.backupdb/YOUR-MAC/SOME-DATES
  4. Eject the Sparse Bundle file in the Finder
  5. Shrinks the bundle: sudo hdiutil compact TARGET-SPARSE-BUNDLE-FILE

Fix MBP High Kernel_Task CPU in Sierra

Just encounter a strange high cpu problem of kernel_task in Sierra on my rMBP. It means that the kernel_task process is having more than 80% CPU usage in the process monitor. At first, it seems like some software problems, especially when atom editor is opened with a super long starting time. After closing atom, it does lower the cpu for a period, but running another software afterwards will also boost the kernel_task cpu percentage to 80%. It strongly suggests some underlying hardware problems there.

Comments in this post give a reason: temperature and fan control. Since it’s  now summer and super hot, the 10.12 OS X on my mbp is quite possibly reducing cpu speed for temperature compensation, causing the kernel task taking more cpu to consume. Resetting SMC in this article brings the fan control back and fixes the kernel_task cpu problem.

And installing some fan speed monitor/control software is also a good idea to keep an eye on it.

Fix MX Master Mouse Lag and Freeze Caused By Stuck Thumb Button

First thought is the bluetooth problem: tried everything related but not working at all. After a few trial and inspection, it seems that the thumb button of MX Master (located at side and pushed down by the thumb finger) is stuck, causing the mouse pointer not able to move smoothly.

Disabling the thumb side button in Logitech Options won’t help. It turns out like a hardware interference not a software driver setting.

This Inkandescent’s post and this operation guide will help fixing it. But the pull-up workaround in the first thread doesn’t work very well, so buying the T5 screw driver and loosing the thumb button board screws will be the final fix. Of course, the thumb button now won’t work anymore.