Apple releases OS X 10.9.2

Apple released the latest update to Mavericks OS X 10.9.2 yesterday. The update contains several application and security updates. Of major updates FaceTime has been updated with the the ability to make and receive FaceTime audio calls and several stability and compatibility issues with Mail have been fixed. On the security side a serious SSL vulnerability has been patched. Find more details about the OS X 10.9.2 update here.

Apple recall MacBook Air models with defective SSD

Some MacBook Air computers sold between June 2012 through June 2013 have a defective solid state drive (SSD) that potentially could fail leading to a data lose. Only a minority of computers with 64GB and 120GB SSD drives are affected by this defective. Since the fall Apple has offered to replace all affected drives free of charge including MacBook Air owners with no AppleCare Protection Plan.

I have been running Mountain Lion on my mid 2012 MacBook Air and decided not to upgrade to Mavericks until I had time to do a fresh install rather than upgrading Mountain Loin. When a new OS X is released it’s normally a good time to clean up completely and start from scratch. Doing a manual backup, installing the new OS X, installing all applications again and then reload the manual backup is time consuming and normally takes out a full day. I got time during this month and it turned out my 120GB SSD was having this defective. Part of installing Mavericks is upgrading the firmware and this upgrade cannot be done on an affected SSD so no Mavericks this time… Instead this message popped up:

“MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update could not update your drive. The firmware update tested your drive and confirmed it has an issue.”

A call to Apple confirmed that my Macbook Air needed a trip to the shop and my SSD has now been fixed. At first I was told that the SSD needed to be replaced but apparently they were able to fix the defective without replacing with a new SSD.

Apple has created a website for their MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program with specific details about how to find out if the SSD is defective and how to get it replaced or repaired.

Norwegian 2013 Review

Norwegian LogoA year ago I wrote my first Norwegian review about my my experiences with Norwegian (Norwegian Air Shuttle) (DY) in 2012. I continued flying Norwegian routes in Scandinavia during 2013 and here are my experiences for the year.

Norwegians fleet is relative new with decent seats and clean cabins. The overheads are spacious and will fit most “standard” carry-on luggage. See details on Norwegian’s website. Delays have been at a minimum this year and I have in general been pleased with the flight experience and service from both inflight and ground staff. I have only booked low fare tickets, as the prices in general are considerably cheaper than the more flexible flex fares. During promotions which run on a frequent basis it can be a huge price saver to book in bulk if future travel plans are already decided. A low fare booking does not include seat reservation and checked in baggage but both can be added for a fee varying on the different routes.

On a few occasions I have request a refund for unused low fare tickets. This was easily done online. On low fare tickets only taxes and fees minus an administration charge are refunded so not much is left. It’s possible to make some changes to low fare tickets but with all the fee associated this quick adds up and sometime buying a new low fare ticket can be cheaper and easier. Flex tickets can be fully refunded and changes can be done free of charge but the price of a flex ticket can easily more than the double of a low fare ticket.

In 2013 Norwegian introduced a new in flight entertainment system. The system is running over WiFi and you connect with your own device such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. In my opinion this is a nice improvement by a low fare airline. Along with free WiFi access it’s possible to purchase online content such as movies. I have yet to tryout the system, as all my Norwegian flights have been relative short 30 minutes routes. The downside is that the Internet connection more often than not is unstable and slow… sometimes to the point where it’s not worth using it.

With “direct to gate” it’s possible to print a boarding pass from home and avoid self check-in and staffed counters in the airport. The main disadvantage is that you will not be assigned a seat until boarding the plane (unless you paid in advance or are flying on a flex ticket) meaning that whatever seat is available during boarding will be assigned. Instead I can recommend checking in (again) at the airport, either at a self-service kiosk or at a staffed counter, even when you have already printed a boarding pass and are travelling with a carry-on item only. This way you are assigned a seat a bit earlier and the chance of getting a seat of your preference is highly increased.

“Norwegian Reward” is Norwegians frequent flyer program. The one and only benefit provided in this program is “CashPoints” earned from flying. These cash points can be used towards fully or partial paying for tickets.

Norwegian offers:

  • 2% CashPoint on low fare tickets.
  • 10% CashPoint on flex fare tickets.

This bonus only applies to the actual airfare price after excluding taxes and fees.

From time to time Norwegian have special offers for Reward members only. Unfortunately there isn’t much “special” about those offers. All in all the Norwegian Reward program is quite stale and worthless. My main reason for having an account is to have a single login to all my future reservations.

In conclusion Norwegian is an excellent low fare airline. When it comes to expectations it’s important to remember that this is a low fare airline and especially customer service and benefits are at a minimum. This should be taken into account when flying Norwegian. In comparison I have also been flying SAS (SK) several times this year and the flight experience are equally good but SAS customer service and benefits are at a higher level, so are the prices. Especially when flying short routes as I mainly do Norwegian is offering a very decent product at very fair prices. I have already made several bookings for 2014 and expect again this year to fly Norwegian on a frequent basis. I have also been looking into Norwegians long haul routes and might try one of those in the near future.

More reviews are available from Skytrax and TripAdvisor.

Mac: Fix “Open With”

From time to time the “Open With” option in OSX will get out of sync and begin showing duplicate icons or even start a different application than expected. Installing, removing or updating applications often causes this. On the Mac the associations between applications and file types are saved in a database called “Launch Services database”. Luckily it’s relative easy to fix this problem by rebuilding the database.

On most installations of OS X 10.5.x and later you can rebuild the database by running a few simple commands from “Terminal”. First open “Terminal” (If you don’t know how to open “Terminal” hold down “Command” and press “Space” once, type in “Terminal” in the text field that opens and chose the “Terminal” app). Copy the following code to the command line and hit enter.

.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user; killall Finder;

The Mac will then rebuild the database and restart “Finder”. This can take anything from a few seconds to several minutes depending on your system. When completed the “Open With” option should be up to date. That’s it!

Several other websites recommend the OSX utilities Cocktail and OnyX if you fell uncomfortable working with the Terminal using raw commands. Besides fixing this problem they also provide several other options for adjusting and tuning your Mac.