Lost in the log

Have you taken a peek in Console recently, to see what your logs are up to? If you have, you may have noticed that they now consist of a torrent of messages like
17/05/2016 21:04:40.175 storeassetd[531]: multibyte ASN1 identifiers are not supported.
17/05/2016 20:55:15.298 WindowServer[233]: _CGXRemoveWindowFromWindowMovementGroup: window 0x91 is not attached to window 0x92

Having excised most of the old dross and accumulated extensions, and running a fairly clean El Capitan system, my All Messages clocks up around 4000 messages every 8 or 9 hours. At its worst – straight after the OS X 10.11.5 update, for example – it can fill those 4000 message slots in a minute or two, but even overnight when the system is not asleep it will seldom stretch to much longer than 12 hours.

A traditional Unix wizard would have the screaming ab-dabs at this. We used to tweak, tune, and pare down systems until they barely coughed into their logs. It used to be the mark of a well-loved system.

Now every man and his dog writes their life story into the logs. Things like
17/05/2016 19:23:17.249 Pulp[28253]: WARNING: The Gestalt selector gestaltSystemVersion is returning 10.9.5 instead of 10.11.5. This is not a bug in Gestalt -- it is a documented limitation. Use NSProcessInfo's operatingSystemVersion property to get correct system version number.
Call location:

17/05/2016 18:38:41.000 com.apple.cts[480]: com.apple.ical.sync.x-coredata://3CC953A0-00C5-4E05-9C1C-134C46129432/CalDAVPrincipal/p3: scheduler_evaluate_activity told me to run this job; however, but the start time isn't for 1080 seconds. Ignoring.

When you need to check your logs, finding anything is now a real challenge. If you know a suitably selective word from the expected message, you can search on that, which is really neat. But much of the time you have to browse the logs to look for warning signs, to try to understand what went wrong, why something is not working properly. When your logs are full of needless messages, that is time-consuming and error-prone.

I also cannot see any way to clean my logs up, to reduce this incessant message diarrhoea. The vast majority of these messages come not from tacky third-party products, but from Apple’s own. Of the 4000 messages currently in my All Messages view, 697 bear the com.apple signature. After any startup, there is always a long stream of warnings about deprecated uses and similarly trivial transgressions, all attributable to the loading of various components of OS X. It’s as if each engineering team in the OS X group is vying with one another to see who can post the most messages in the logs.

What would be neat would be for each message to be assigned an importance:

  1. for the really important, kernel issues, potential disasters
  2. for the significant which you want to know, but not quite yesterday
  3. for the routine babble, and the default.

Then we could switch to mode 1 and only see the most important, or down to 3 for the insatiably curious with time on their hands. We either need that or a mute button.