• Tech

    That Mac script that passes MP4v to ffmpeg

    Because of how Mac OS Mojave, Big Sur, Monterey handles file permissions, many Firefox add-ons are not able to pass downloaded files to outside binaries. Usually, the add-on will return a “file/directory not found” or “permission” error.

    I use one such add-on that converts movies to audio-only so that I can listen to a video in a car. After the upgrade to Mojave, the add-on started having problems with passing the downloaded MP4 file to ffmpeg to convert into M4A (MP4 Audio). So instead of typing commands into the Terminal to pass the file to ffmpeg, I decided to make an Automator script to convert MP4 to M4A from contextual menu by right-clicking on the file

    1. In Automator create a new Quick Action
    2. Make the item shown below. I usually keep the ffmpeg executable in ~/bin
    3. Save the script
    4. Name it Convert MP4 to M4A

    That’s it. Now you can right click on a MP4 file and call up the conversion script from the Quick Action or Services item.

    This script is meant for people who know what they’re doing. It won’t check if the file you’re trying to convert is an actual MP4 file, and it won’t display any errors to the GUI. Use with caution.

  • Tech

    Things you MUST DO before upgrading/updating to Mac OS Big Sur (11.x)

    Ever since the beta versions of Mac OS Big Sur was introduced, there were a few dozen complaints of the installer not functioning properly at a catastrophic level. The problem happens particularly often with recent Macbook Pro models (Intel & M1), where the installer is stuck in a loop or bricks the computer completely. There is no way to cancel the install once the installer restarts your Mac, and no way to restart from your internal drive because the installer erases the Boot partition and replaces it with an Update partition.

    You can check out Mr. McIntosh’s blog for some details on the kinds of installation failures.

    If we take the statistic of “how many people report crimes” or “how many people get duped by spam”, we can estimate that the angry posts on the Apple Discussion Forum is only about 1.6% of actual Macs being affected. That means, if 10 people complain, there must be 625 affected machines out there. So far, I’ve seen about two dozen users (developers, mind you) so that’s 1500 Macs affected. Not a HUGE number but significant – especially if they are developers, beta-testers, pro-users, and early adopters.

    Anyways, long story short, here are things you MUST DO BEFORE upgrading to or updating Mac OS Big Sur. If the installation fails and your internal drive gets screwed or bricked, this will save you.

    • BACKUP – complete cloning of the internal drive is recommended
    • Enable at least one Admin user on the local drive
    • Enable booting from an External Drive – do this through Recovery Mode
    • Install Big Sur on an External Boot Drive as a production drive, if possible
    • Migrate Users to the External production drive
    • Make sure you have at least 35GB of available space on your internal drive

    Yes, yes, that means you have that same data in 3 different places. But you’ll thank me later.