Fixing iSight Error: There is no connected camera

A rash of users with “There is no connected camera.” problems with their Mac iSight Cameras has prompted a few calls on the subject. The problem manifests as a blank screen with a crossed out camera in iPhoto, with the text “There is no connected camera”. It does not appear to be limited to any particular type of Mac, and has been seen on a brand new 2017, top of the range MacBook Pro within a few weeks of purchase.

Mac Error There Is No Connected Camera Image
Mac Error There Is No Connected Camera

The error message “There is no connected camera.” comes up when the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air detects an issue with the camera’s connection. The problem appears to be with VDCAssistant, which is the process or daemon that is responsible for the built in iSight camera. Killing this process often fixes issues with the built in web-cam.

To Diagnose ‘There is no connected camera.’

First check If The OS recognises that the camera is installed by doing the following:

  1. Alt + Click on Apple (Top Left)
  2. Then Alt + Click System Information
  3. Under Hardware in the Left Column, click Camera

If no camera appears, then there may be a hardware problem, such as a lose ribbon connection on a laptop, so it is a trip to the Genius Bar or your local Tech Support.

How To Kill the VDCAssistant Process

If the camera is recognised then it is possible that the VDCAssistant process has stalled. To kill the VDCAssistant and any associated processes, close all applications1 that use the camera such as Photo Booth, Face Time or Skype. Then carry out the following steps:

  1. Open the Terminal application: Click on the Spotlight search and enter Terminal, and then select Terminal – Utilities.
  2. Enter sudo killall VDCAssistant in the Terminal window and hit Return.
  3. If the Password prompt appears, enter your password, followed by Return.

Open Photo Booth and see if the camera is working. The green camera light should be on

Still ‘There is no connected camera.’?

If the camera has now been restored, then the process has been killed and then successfully restarted. You can also kill the process by restarting the machine, although that is not always convenient. If you still get the error message “There is no connected camera.”, then the quick fix did not work, and there is a more challenging problem to deal with. In this case it is off to the Apple Genius Bar2 or your local Tech Support. If this did not help, please Contact Us to let us know.

1. Although not recommended, it is possible to do this with the application(s) running, as the VDCAssistant process will restart automatically.
2. Other support channels are available to help with the error “There is no connected camera.”

How to Insert a Mac Degree Symbol in Mac OS X

Something that we get asked, on a frequent basis, is how to insert a degree symbol in Mac OS X. There are at least four ways to insert a degree symbol into text, for example 45˚ or 100°C. So here is a quick guide to inserting a Mac Degree Symbol.

The quickest way is to use a Degree Symbol Keyboard Short-cut. Move the cursor to the location at which you want to insert a degree symbol. Then, use one of the following keyboard short-cuts:

  • Option-K: inserts a small angular degree symbol (135˚)
  • Shift-Option-8: inserts larger temperature degree symbol (72°C)

For a slightly slower way, use the Special Characters menu (also called the Emoji & Symbols menu in OS X Yosemite and later) which gives hundreds of useful symbols, characters, and emoji from which to choose. To access it, place the cursor where you’d like to insert the degree symbol and then either:

  • Use the keyboard shortcut Control-Command-Space
  • In the Menu Bar use Edit, Special Characters (or Edit, Emoji & Symbols)

Remember the small Mac degree symbol is correctly used for angles, like 360˚, while the larger degree symbol should be used for temperature, 37°C or 98.6°F. So there you have it; how to insert a degree symbol in Mac OS X.

Maximum Size of a FAT-32 Partition

Have you ever wondered what the maximum size of a FAT-32 partition could be?

Do you have an external drive which needs to be accessed on different operating systems such as Windows and Mac OSX? Have you moved from Windows to Mac or Linux and find that you can no longer access the Windows (NTFS) drive you used for your media files? How about plugging your media library into the DVD or other player, but find that it can not read NTFS or one of the Linux formats? That means that you probably need to format your disk using FAT32.

FAT32 provides the maximum level of compatibility between OS X and Windows machines. OS X has the capability of reading and writing to FAT32 drives built into the OS, and naturally Windows can see these drives too. But what is the Maximum Size of a FAT-32 Partition?

According to Microsoft, when you use the FAT32 file system with Windows XP:

  • Clusters cannot be 64 kilobytes (KB) or larger. If clusters are 64 KB or larger, some programs (such as Setup programs) may incorrectly calculate disk space.
  • A FAT32 volume must contain a minimum of 65,527 clusters. You cannot increase the cluster size on a volume that uses the FAT32 file system so that it contains fewer than 65,527 clusters.
  • The maximum disk size is approximately 8 terabytes when you take into account the following variables: The maximum possible number of clusters on a FAT32 volume is 268,435,445, and there is a maximum of 32 KB per cluster, along with the space required for the file allocation table (FAT).
  • You cannot decrease the cluster size on a FAT32 volume so that the size of the FAT is larger than 16 megabytes (MB) minus 64 KB.
  • You cannot format a volume larger than 32 gigabytes (GB) in size using the FAT32 file system during the Windows XP installation process. Windows XP can mount and support FAT32 volumes larger than 32 GB (subject to the other limits), but you cannot create a FAT32 volume larger than 32 GB by using the Format tool during Setup.
  • You cannot create a file larger than (2^32)-1 bytes (this is one byte less than 4 GB) on a FAT32 partition.

Remember, the maximum file size on a FAT32 drive is 4GB. So if you have a file that’s larger than 4GB, you can not use FAT32. It is not uncommon for raw HD video files to be much larger than 4GB, particularly when recording live events. If you are planning to access such video files on both Windows and Mac OSX machines, do not have access to network connectivity and want to avoid third party add-ons, then download the files onto a Windows NTFS drive which a Mac will subsequently be able to access (read-only).

So according to Microsoft’s calculations above, the Maximum Size of a FAT-32 Partition is approximately 8 terabytes.

For additional information about the FAT32 file system, see the links below:

5 Quick Tips for New iPad Users

Have you been getting used to your new iPad and wondering how to do the simple stuff that is so easy on your Windows PC, iMac or Linux workstation?

Here are five quick tips for new iPad users to help you get productive and make it work for you. they all work on iOS 5 & 6

  1. See all open iPad apps – To see all open apps displayed on the multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen either:
    • Double-click the Home button
    • Use four or five fingers to swipe up
  2. To close a running app – Touch and hold any icon on the bottom bar until the icons start moving, then tap the minus sign on the icon of the running app to close it.
  3. To switch between open apps – Use four or five fingers swipe left or right
  4. Close a book in iBooks to choose another – Tap the screen once and menu options will appear, then tap library in the top left corner to go back to he bookshelf.
  5. Download PDFs to iBooks via Browser – In iPad Safari tap a PDF download which will download and display in the browser. Touch the screen, and tap the “Open in iBooks” button at the top. When opened in iBooks, the PDF file is automatically added to the library.

Practice the gestures, and the five quick tips above particularly the four finger swipe, and they soon become second nature. Have fun with your new iPad!

Add a Mac Mini Server to your network

Have you ever considered adding a Mac server to your gadget collection, but were afraid of the hassle? Does your Mac work group need a server to share essential resources like your media library, without cluttering up your individual machines? Have you ever wondered if you could set up a Mac server to control your Mac work stations?

Well the answer may be to get yourself a Mac Mini, preloaded with Snow Leopard Server. You can buy one of these little dynamite machines for less than £900 including VAT in UK, or $950 US, and be up and running in less than an hour. The standard Apple Mac Mini Server comes with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB RAM, and two 500 GB Hard drives as standard, with a Geforce 320M graphics adapter, and of course Snow Leopard Server 2 installed.

Be warned, however, that this machine does not include an optical drive, as does it’s client cousin, or a keyboard or mouse, and you will need your own display. It does have two graphics ports, a HDMI port, with an included HDMI to DVI conversion lead. It also includes Wi-Fi wireless networking (based on 802.11n specification; 802.11a/b/g compatible), Gigabit Ethernet wired networking (10/100/1000BASE-T), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) for connecting with peripherals such as keyboards, mice and cell phones, and four USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire 800 port. Not bad in such a tiny form factor!

If you want to use a VGA display you can buy an optional adapter Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter, which allows you run up to 2560-by-1600 resolution. Please note that the Mac Mini Server has a Mini DisplayPort, not a Mini DVI port, so you need an Apple MB572Z/A Mini Display Port to VGA Adapter cable, or equivalent. See the link below for a suitable product, or contact Apple.

The setup is quite simple, with a Mac quality Assistant to guide you through the process. One note of caution is offered here; if the server you are setting up will serve as an Open Directory Master and DNS server, you should not set up a new Open Directory domain until you have read and understand the implications. One of the pitfalls of simply walking through Mac OS X Server’s automatic Server Assistant tool, is that the Assistant offers you the option of setting up a new Open Directory domain. This can cause problems if the server you are setting up will serve as an Open Directory Master and DNS server. See Understanding Mac OS X Open Directory later for more information.

Another thing to be aware of of if you are a hands on person and just want to get going. Make sure you have the server software serial number cards that are essential during the setup process! That is one of the first things the Server Assistant requires, and if you have thrown away the packaging in your enthusiasm to get going, you will have a problem. Not that anyone we know would have done that, you understand!

In use, the Mac Mini Server runs cooler that the client version with its built in internal optical drive. Is seems that the internal optical drive generate most of the heat in a Mini, while the disk drives generate very little, which contributes to the heat savings claimed by Apple. As a benchmark, a Mini with Snow Leopard Server should handle a work-group or small business of 25 users with a bit of room to spare.

For the corporately minded, who like the server bolted into a 19″ rack, there is even a nifty little attachment you can buy, which allows two Mac Mini Servers to be secure in a 1U rack mounted enclosure. Neat!

Further reading about Mac OS X server:

How to Use Remote Desktop on an iMac

Have you ever wanted to access something on your iMac without going back to your desk? Wouldn’t it be cool to remotely access you iMac and check on your email without even being there? Did you know that Mac OS X comes with Remote Desktop software included, which allows you to connect to your iMac from another machine?

To set this up and try it out for yourself, follow the following sequence on the target Mac:

  • Go into System Preferences
  • Select Sharing
  • Check Remote Management
  • Note down the the IP address of the Mac, you will need this later
  • Click on Computer Settings
  • Check VNC viewers may control screen with password,
  • Enter a suitable password and the click OK

Your Mac is is now ready to receive input from another machine on the network. Now go to the machine you want to use to control your Mac and install a VNC client such as Chicken of the VNC, (for a Mac) or TightVNC (for Windows).

Using Chicken of the VNC

  • Open Chicken of the VNC and at the VNC Login screen check if the target Mac is listed. If not, click on New Server, and enter the IP address you noted earlier and the password, and click Connect. If the Mac is listed, select it and enter the password, then click Connect.

Using TightVNC for Windows

  • Open TightVNC Viewer (for a default Windows installation this will be under Start, All Programs, in the TightVNC folder)
  • In the New TightVNC Connection enter the IP address you noted earlier and Click Connect.
  • At the Standard VNC Authentication dialogue enter the password and click OK

Remember if you want to make a remote connection though a firewall, you will need to set up Port Forwarding, and point port 5900 to the IP address of your machine. You can do this by logging into the router with the administrator name and password.

You can now access your Mac OS X machine across the network as if you were sitting at it. Enjoy!

If you are interested in using your desktop Mac remotely, the links below may be usefull:

How To Add New Fonts To Your Graphics

While we were experimenting with layouts for a news letter for a project currently in the marketing department, we came upon the need for some additional font options for the headline and titles. While the built in fonts on a Mac are impressive, the headline wanted something more futuristic and stylized than those provided by default. A quick Google search identified that there are several sites which offer free fonts, and as the newsletter must be re-creatable, we wanted a freely available font for the headline on the style guide. After all you don’t want to pay for a custom font which you have to license for every user who may recreate the newsletter in the future.

On a Mac it is simple to install extra fonts. You just download them and then open the Zip or Archive file in Finder and then double click the font so that it opens in Font Book. If the font is what you are looking for just click the Install Font button. OpenType fonts work in Mac OS X, and TrueType fonts work in Mac OS X and earlier versions.

There is a little bit more to do in Windows, and you must be an Administrator on the target machine to install or remove fonts.

To install a font in Windows the hard way, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type the following command, and then click OK:
  3. On the File menu, click Install New Font.
  4. In the Drives box, click the drive that contains the font that you want to add.

Alternatively, you can also browse to a file in Explorer and then either

  • right-click on the font file, and then select ‘Install’ from the drop-down menu.
  • double-click on the font file to open the font preview and click the ‘Install’ button.

We are installing the new font for embedding in a header graphic, so everyone will see the same result. We tend not to use these custom fonts on web pages as most viewers will not have them installed, and you dont want to lose fancy twirls and long descenders.

A great site to visit is where they have an excelent selection of Free, Shareware, Free for Personal Use and Public domain/GNU GPL fonts which will meet most needs. We particularly liked the Sci-Fi selection which includes gems like Star Jedi and terminator! We discounted fonts marked “Free for personal use” as this newsletter is to support a database which is launching in a corporate market.

Why not explore the wonderful world of fonts and give you next newsletter some character?

More on the MacBook Pro Dark Screen Problem

Following up on the post last week about the tendency towards the dark side exhibited by the MacBook Pro (MacBook Pro Dark Screen Rescue Sequence?) further scientific testing has now revealed the definitive recovery sequence for the MacBook Pro Dark Screen problem:

  • Pull out the MacBook Pro magnetic power connector.
  • Close the lid as if putting it away for the night.
  • Reinsert the power connector
  • Open the lid as if waking it up

The machine then should be ready to authenticate you to continue working.

The science behind this is wooly at best, but assumes that the MacBook Pro is in fact self aware, but lonely, and goes into a sulk if you leave it alone for too long. Pulling the plug and closing the lid puts it to sleep properly, and powering up and opening the lid again wakes it up again, as if it has had a good night’s sleep. So far it has worked every time!

For skeptical people who do not believe in anthropomorphism, try seeing the explanation as a metaphor; it does not matter if there is a poisonous snake by your foot, or if you just believe there is, your reaction is the same. Try the sequence and see if it fixes your MacBook Pro Dark Screen Problem, then let us know your explanation!

MacBook Pro Dark Screen Rescue Sequence?

I was recently working on a MacBook Pro (2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with OSx 10.5.8) when the dreaded dark screen goblin paid a visit. I had actually left the machine to make a cup of coffee, and the screen was dark when I got back. Well not completely dark, as the faintest outline of the authenticate dialogue box was visible if you looked hard enough.

The unusual thing is, I could see that the machine was still running, as I had a second display plugged into the external graphics adaptor, and the screensaver had been showing there. Moving the mouse pointer to the second display stopped the screensaver, and I was able to successful log on, even though I could not see the main screen. This brought up the desktop on the external display, which showed that machine was still running.

After I Googled MacBook Pro Dark Screen, which showed lots of people have had the same problem, I concluded that there are a lot of expensive sounding fixes involving changing Screens, Inverters and Reed switches! I really want a simple, no cost, fix for the dark screen problem. I tried the recommended F5 keyboard backlit dim followed by F6 brighten sequence, but to no avail. I also tried a Command-Option-P-R sequence, as someone suggested that it might be a power management problem.

The idea that the MacBook Pro power management may have become confused gave me an idea. Yes I know that is anthropomorphism, but sometimes it helps to understand what is going at a higher level of abstraction, without bothering about details like facts. So having made that mental leap, I tried the following sequence:

  • Repeatedly press F5 until the keyboard went dark
  • Pull out the magnetic power connector.
  • Close the lid as if putting the MacBook Pro away for the night.
  • Open the lid and reinsert the power connector as if waking it up.

As if by magic, the machine sprang back to life and displayed the login box, and all was well. This was the first time I had experienced the dark screen without resorting to rebooting to fix it. Celebrations all round!

Now logic would suggest that pressing backlit buttons F5 and F6 could have no impact on the screen. Pulling out the magnetic power connector has never made a difference to the dreaded dark screen before, nor has closing the lid and reopening it. How about the sequence of steps, exactly as listed? Well I have never tried it before, in my recollection, so perhaps it is the sequence? We will see, next time the dark screen occurs.

In the meantime, if anybody actually knows what causes the dreaded MacBook Pro Dark Screen, or repeats my sequence and has it work for them, please let me know. You can click here to contact me via TechCo Support, or post a comment below.

Remember that all sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic! Have a Happy New Year!

Screen Capture in Mac OS X

The other day someone needed to screen print in Mac OS X, but as a Windows user they focused on the the absence of the Print Screen button on a Mac keyboard, which leads to the inevitable question “How do I Print Screen on a Mac?” As this is not the first time that requirement has surfaced, here are few ways to accomplish screen capture in Mac OS X.

  1. Switch to the screen that you want to capture
  2. Hold down Command (Apple key) + Shift + 3, then release all keys
  3. Use your mouse to click on the screen

You will see a picture file appear on your desktop, which is the captured image file.

You can Print Screen (screen capture) just a portion of your screen, which is really useful if you are wanting to focus on a particular part, say an icon.

  1. Switch to the application or screen where you want to screen capture
  2. Hold down Command (Apple key) + Shift + 4, then release all keys
  3. You will see the mouse cursor has changed to +
  4. Use your mouse to select the portion you wish to capture.

You will see a picture file appear on your desktop, which is the screen capture image.

If you want to print screen for a particular application window you can

  1. Switch to the screen that you want to screen capture
  2. Hold down Command (Apple key) + Shift + 4, then release all keys
  3. You will see the mouse cursor has changed to +
  4. Press the space bar once
  5. You will now see the mouse cursor has changed to a camera
  6. Use the camera to select which application window to screen capture

As before, you will see a picture file appear on your desktop, which is the captured image file.

However as Windows users are used to the captured image going straight to the clipboard, you can mimic this behavior on a Mac as follows:

  1. Switch to the screen that you want to capture
  2. Hold down Command (Apple key) + Control + Shift + 3, then release all keys
  3. Use your mouse to click on the screen

The captured image is now in the clipboard, ready to for you to paste into your chosen application.

The full list of built-in Mac Screenshot Commands are as follows:

Command+Shift+3 Capture entire screen and save to file
Command+Control+Shift+3 Capture entire screen and copy to clipboard
Command+Shift+4 Capture dragged area and save as to file
Command+Control+Shift+4 Capture dragged area and copy to clipboard
Command+Shift+4 then Space bar Capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and save to file
Command+Control+Shift+4 then Space bar Capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and copy to clipboard