App Store chaos + Power Coma + Time Machine blackout = Friday

Originally, I had expected an App Store crisis on the day of Apple’s event, when I had envisaged that the Sierra 10.12.1, iOS 10.1, and many other updates would be released simultaneously. Although Apple managed to avert that by releasing those updates earlier in the week, when they went relatively smoothly, what happened was, if anything, even worse. It also coincided with a strange hang-in-nap problem on my iMac, which in turn stopped Time Machine from working. When it rains, it always pours catfish.

When I came down to my iMac (17,1, Sierra 10.12.1), its display was asleep as it should have been, but that refused to wake properly, remaining black. I farted around a bit with the trackpad and keyboard, but it appeared to have hung, and I had no other means of investigating other than forcing a shutdown. When it restarted, apparently feeling more refreshed, I could not of course use Console to work out what had happened, but had a quick squiz using a series of log extracts obtained by LogLogger4.

Those showed that backups had run normally, every hour, through the night and morning, and apart from a great deal of chatter, nothing in the logs seemed particularly untoward. Searching for BOOT_TIME, the marker of a startup, showed that my iMac had not tried to restart before I forced it to shut down either; this did not appear to be a kernel panic, whatever they might look like in Sierra.

It just seems to have been a failed attempt to wake from a Power Nap. I have now turned Enable Power Nap off in the Energy Saver pane; these continuing problems with sleep and power management are getting very annoying.


I do not know why the next Time Machine backup failed, but as it is a long time since I checked my external RAID using Disk Utility, I started the six-hour First Aid process to ensure that it was not due to a silly error in the file system. It wasn’t, and following a regular restart, Time Machine seems to be backing up normally again.

With those tasks set in motion, it was time to work out what was going on with the App Store and updates – something else which had caught my eye.

Writing the Genius Tips pages for MacFormat (and its equivalent for MacUser before), I need all Apple’s own apps, from Pages to Xcode. Overnight, Apple had released updates to pretty well all of them, mainly to enable their use with the new Touch Bar on its latest MacBook Pro model, but inevitably with various other enhancements and bug fixes. I couldn’t let them pass by.

The first annoyance was that, because there were around ten updates available, the App Store app was unable to show them in its Updates pane. To start off with, I had to open the Apple Apps item in the Store itself, and click on individual apps to install each update. Once there were around seven updates remaining, the Updates pane finally condescended to show them, so that I could run the rest of the process from there.

With so many other users across Europe and the rest of the world facing the same fiasco, updating the apps one by one was often frustratingly unsuccessful. Clicking on the Update button often returned an error, so I then had to try another instead. Some of the updates changed part-way through: at first, Xcode 8.1 said that it would only be around 1.4 GB in size, but during that download decided that it had really meant more than 4 GB, so the required time changed from the acceptable to the nearly-absurd.


Then there was Compressor, which updated fine, then decided that it had not updated even though I could run the new version. And in the midst of all this, the App Store decided that I had not really purchased four apps and needed to verify this Mac with the store in order to be able to use them. Only it then changed its mind, and seemingly forgot all about that, leaving them on my Purchased list as they were before.

The App Store app is hardly a neglected backwater in Apple’s software zoo: it underwent substantial revision for macOS Sierra 10.12, and was updated in 10.12.1 too. Yet it is still one of the most dysfunctional apps out of the 600 or more that I have installed.

By the end of the day, my Time Machine backups still seemed to be running OK, and the last of the updates was safely installed. I even managed to get a little work done. Now we’ve just got a few more weeks before we start the process all over again, with macOS 10.12.2, iOS 10.2, watchOS 3.2, …