Mac Tip du jour: how to monitor uncommunicative apps

You know how it is: you’re doing some sort of intensive task, like installing something or making an image of something, and the progress bar stops moving. Is it still working, or has it crashed? When do you give up? (And then there’s the apps that have indeterminate progress bars, or just plain don’t give you feedback).

The other day I was installing the Final Cut Studio, and during the Soundtrack install it appeared to hang. I forced quit, tired again and again it seemed to hang (and I do have a pretty long “hang threshold”, I didn’t just give up after a minute or two)

In the olden days, I used CPU Monitor to just check to see if the computer was still working (proves nothing, of course: it could be patiently waiting for something which will never happen, or frantically running an infinite loop, but you get some idea). It occurred to me that in the modern world (in fact, post X.2 I think), I could go one better and monitor the data being written to disk. And lo and behold I could see that, not only was there data being writ, but it was happening in a lumpy I’m-processing-data kind of way.

Used it again today making a NetBoot image. Not because I really feared that it wasn’t working (although today is in fact the first time I’ve suceeded with netboot) but, just like a good progress bar, it gives you *something* to do while you wait …

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