I was having tremendously high CPU issues with my Mac last week. So high, that I could barely watch a video without my kernal_task blooming to over 400 % CPU! It was difficult to get work done at times, due to the problem. It confounded me for a while, and I tried searching online for resolutions and they were all useless.
I finally set up an appointment at the Apple Store to get an analysis. I figured maybe my battery or my memory was going bad. Turns out, the scan of my hardware came back perfect (which made me happy).
They then offered to reinstall the OS for me, and I had them reinstall Yosemite (no data loss, even though I was backed up). Sure, I could’ve done this on my own, but I kind of thought they might be able to do it faster and find other problems.
Thankfully, the reinstall solved all of the issues! Now, my kernal_task hovers around 4-5%, even when I’m watching movies. My CPU usage is low, and instead of the computer fan blowing non-stop, it’s silent again!
Update: So the issue completely goes away if I only have 1 external monitor plugged into my Macbook Pro. If I use both external monitors, my computer is completely sluggish — moral of the story, I’ve been using 1 external monitor lately. I am planning to just get a new Macbook Pro fairly soon, so problem will be solved with more RAM.
First, some background: I’ve been storing my photo library on a 4 TB hard drive. My photo library has grown slowly over the years at a pace of approximately 1 TB per year.
My photo library has grown significantly faster recently due to my video files. I started taking a lot more video on weekends and on trips and as you well know, that takes up a lot of space! On a single trip to Maui we captured over 50 GB of video / photos.
So, my archive quickly grow and once it was a 3.8 TB I knew I had to do something.
I had a second photo drive (also 4 TB that I used CarbonCopyCloner to backup to. It basically created a backup of my main photo drive. This gave me peace of mind that if my main drive failed, I’d have a local backup.
In addition, I use CrashPlan to back up online. If I’m being honest, it hasn’t finished backing up in over a year. It just goes so slowly.
So, I was at a cross point with the backups and I decided to jump in with both feet! Network storage scares me for these reasons:
I’m worried about accessing files over the network and worried about the speed.
Obviously worried about the backup, but with Synology I can easy since it can backup within the device to the extra drives. It also has apps so. I can install CrashPlan and hope it catches up.
I installed HGST Deskstar NAS hard drives (2 drives of 4 TB each). Once I hit the 4 TB size I’m going to grab two more.
Let’s talk about the speed issue. I’m often connecting over WiFi, and we all know that WiFi is generally limited to 100 MBps speed. Well, did you know that newer Mac laptops (mid 2013+) have 802.11ac support? This means Gigabit WiFi!
Needless to say, we will be upgrading all of our laptops shortly so we have Gigabit WiFi support.
I’ll also need to go grab a new WiFi Router that supports 802.11ac.
This will create a beautiful setup where accessing files over the network is quick! I can’t wait!
Here is my “unboxing” video which has been a sudden mediocre success on YouTube. I’ll probably post a follow up article about it once I am fully up and running with the new laptops. Installing the drives and using the software has been very easy.
Yes, I really wrote 81 different articles in one month!
You might think I spent a lot of time in front of the computer writing these articles. You would be wrong!
I wrote them while holding a 5 month old napping baby.
I’m even writing this article while my son sleeps!
Here’s my trick: I bought a wireless bluetooth keyboard and paired it to my iPhone. When my son falls asleep, I grab the keyboard, open Evernote, and start writing.
It is really that simple. I didn’t set out to write this many articles, but blew away all of my expectations.
I typically watch our kids in the morning while my wife gets an extra hour or two of sleep. During that time, my 5 month old will usually nap a couple of times. Perhaps for 20 minutes at a time. I take advantage of that time and do some writing!
I write directly in the Evernote app
For example, I will often begin a blank note in Evernote as a reminder about a topic I want to write about (just fill out the headline). That helps me because when I sit down to write, I don’t want to spend my time thinking about a topic.
Some articles require more research than others. In those cases, it can be a waste of time to do research while the baby is sleeping. I do basic research before I sit down to write. I take screenshots of information that might be useful and insert those at the bottom of my Evernote document. Then, when I’m writing, I can scroll down and reference them. This keeps me focused, and in one app.
There’s a few more tricks
If you have an Apple TV, here’s another trick I’ve used. Did you know you can mirror your iOS device to your Apple TV? I use this almost constantly! It’s like having a huge monitor and it is easier to see than the iPhone screen.
I focus on getting the words down while the baby naps
After he wakes up, I’ve found I can easily edit my articles (as long as the changes are simple) without the keyboard just using Evernote on my iPhone.
I can even publish my articles directly to one of my web sites by using the WordPress iPhone app! But, usually, I end up editing them on my desktop (still in Evernote’s Mac app) and then publish from there.
Evernote saves my work across devices
Evernote automatically saves everything I write, so I’ve never have to worry about losing my writing. I love that I can access my writing on any device. I personally use the iPhone and Mac desktop apps.
My writing tends to be about travel, product reviews, and how-to articles. I also often write case studies about my design projects. My articles tend to be on the shorter side. My shortest article was about 250 words, and my longest was 1,650 words. The 81 articles I wrote last month combined make about 30,000 words.
In the previous month I only wrote 5 articles. This is a fairly big leap in productivity for me.
By day, I manage a small web design shop and design and build web sites. The rest of the time, I help my wife with our two kids. We have a 3 and a half year old daughter, and our 5 month old son.
If you’re a parent, and you need to do some writing, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the time-saving benefit of pairing an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard to your phone.
The keyboard I am using
Here’s some info about the keyboard I’m using: It’s an Anker Ultra Compact Bluetooth Keyboard (Model A7726). I grabbed it on Amazon for only $16. The Keyboard is the same size as the wireless Apple keyboards, and is only compact in the sense that it is smaller than a full size keyboard. It takes two AAA batteries which last months. They have a couple of similar models which have rechargeable batteries.
Pretty much any Bluetooth keyboard will work.
I hope that these ideas will be helpful to other parents who want to write, but can never find the time.
Please leave a comment and share your writing productivity tips!