iTunes Starting and Stopping Randomly

I have a Mac Mini that I use as my media computer and for doing Apple-related stuff (like synching my iPhone). This morning while listening to music in iTunes the playback suddenly stopped for no reason, then started again, and continued to repeat the start/stop process. It was like a phantom was randomly pressing the “Play” button on my keyboard (removing the batteries from my Bluetooth keyboard did not correct the problem). I restarted my Mac but as soon as I did iTunes started itself and proceeded to play the last tune I was listening to (and then stop, and play…).

After a number a diagnostic steps and some Google searching I finally figured out the problem. Last night I had set something down towards the back of my desk which was accidentally lying on the speaker cable coming out of the back of my Mac causing an intermittent connection. Apparently the intermittent connection was causing the Mac to receive unwanted play/stop messages. When I removed the object and plugged the cord firmly into the Mac the problem was solved.

OS X Lion Problems

I recently upgraded my Mac mini to OS X Lion (from Snow Leopard) and discovered two very annoying problems that were not present in Snow Leopard. Both stem from the fact that I have a two-monitor setup: a regular computer monitor connected to the display port as my primary display, and a television connected to the HDMI port as my secondary display.

The first problem I encountered was when I tried to select HDMI as the audio source. I couldn’t. I tried to select it in the Sound panel of the System Preferences, but it kept reverting back to “headphones” as the output (“headphones” means anything plugged into the headphone jackā€”in my case it’s desktop speakers). After some Google searching that lead nowhere, I decided to unplug the speakers to see what happened and low and behold, I was able to select HDMI for audio output. After further searching, I discovered that Apple considers this a feature and not a bug. This Apple support article says this behavior was added “to mimic the mutually exclusive speaker behavior of iMac and Apple display products that use Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt,” whatever the heck that means. Their only “solution” is to unplug the speakers from the back of the Mac mini every time you want to use HDMI for sound. What a pain (and a bunch of wear and tear on the headphone jack).

The second problem is that apps will not display full screen in a secondary monitor. If you attempt to set them to full screen, they will jump to the primary monitor. I used to be able to play video full screen on the television while working (or surfing the Web or whatever) on my main monitor; I can no longer do that. I can view video in the secondary monitor in a window, but then I’m stuck with the window title and status bars, and the video is never as big as it could be.

The HDMI sound issue is an inconvenience, but the full screen video issue is ridiculously bad. A quick Google search turns up a ton of forum posts about this (even in Apple’s own support forums) by people who are scratching their heads at best and outraged at worst. Lion was released almost a year ago, and Apple shows no signs of wanting to address this issue. Shame on them.

Delete a Project in GarageBand 11

I’ve been fooling with Apple’s GarageBand 11 on my MacMini. In the process I created a bunch of test projects, none of which I had any intention of keeping. To my astonishment, I could find no way to delete unwanted projects from within the GarageBand application. Even a Google search didn’t turn up much relevant information, which was equally astonishing. Here’s how I was eventually able to delete the projects.

(This assumes you store your GarageBand projects in the default folder. If you don’t, you’re on your own to navigate to the correct folder in step 3.)

  1. Quit GarageBand (this isn’t really necessary but is a good idea).
  2. Open Spotlight search by either clicking the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the menu bar or hitting command-space bar.
  3. Type: garageband folder
  4. Hit enter. This should open a Finder window with the contents of the folder your GarageBand projects are stored in.
  5. Select the project(s) you wish to delete.
  6. Hit command-delete to send them to the trash folder.