Mozy updated their Mac Backup beta software to version 0.6.2.4. There’s no information on the changes in this release but the previous release (v0.6.2.2) was a step back for me so I went for it. Version 0.6.2.2 had run OK since my previous problems until today when the problems returned. At 97.5% the backup would hang (regardless of size), the log would indicate “unable to connect to the backup server” and the backup would seem to end (no messages logged for 30 minutes).
So I installed the latest upgrade. Unlike the previous upgrade, this one kept the backup history. This version, like the last, seems to be slow communicating to the Mozy backup server. There are long delays when the status is “communicating to the server”. The backups are also slower than before, rarely ever reaching even 1/8 of the available upload bandwidth. This could be the Mozy servers and not the software. It could also be my connections so I did a speed test using Mozy’s recommendation (Speakeasy – West Coast Server) and received an upload speed over eight times what MacMozy was showing when it was backing up.
On the plus side, the new version completed a backup after the previous version had twice hung up at 97.5% so ‘ll keep my fingers crossed.
Apple released another update to their still fresh iPhoto 7, bringing the version to 7.0.2. The official word on this is it “…addresses issues associated with publishing to .Mac Web Gallery, rebuilding thumbnails, and editing books. It also addresses a number of other minor issues.” It’s a 10MB download through software update or 8.8MB standalone download.
I also found a solution to an annoyance that I had with iPhoto. It reminded me that Apple likes to bury actions in context menus.
In previous versions of iPhoto when I printed a photo it would automatically be sized to fit within the paper size, no cropping. With iPhoto 7 this changed. Now iPhoto seemed to guess at the best way to fill the page. In my case it would set the width to fit the page and crop the top and bottom. While I could easily crop it further I couldn’t figure out how to print the entire picture. I found the answer in this forum post. After click print then click the customize button, very intuitive to this point. But the next step is to right-click the picture and pick “fit photo to the frame size” from the context menu.
This isn’t easy to do so I assume Apple thinks most people want to fill the page, cropping when necessary. Am I the only one who wants to fit the entire picture I cropped/composed onto the paper?
Updated 8/28: See section in red block. Mozy released MacMozy 0.6.2.2 (23015), their online backup software for the Mac which is still in beta. This release was a reminder to me about the downside of beta software. I upgraded both my iMac and my Macbook. The MacBook upgrade went relatively well. I’d describe it as quirky but problem free. My Macbook backup is very small at 150MB with few changes between backups. My iMac upgrade was quirky and then became problematic.
Both Macs – Quirky
I downloaded and installed the upgrade. After the upgrade the status said a backup had never been done. There wasn’t any backup history. But I was able to restore files that were previously backed up. When I picked “Restore Files” from the menu I got a message that no backup has yet been done but then the restore dialog opened and I was able to pick files and restore them.
I manually kicked off a backup and the backup history showed it as completed but the status still said no backup has ever been done. I waited for a automatic backup and it was the same thing. The backup was logged in the backup history, the files were on the server, but the status says no backup was ever been. At some point, awhile after a reboot, the status correctly indicated the last backup time. I’m not sure if it was the reboot or just timing that made it appear.
The Macbook has been fine since, the iMac went downhill from there.
iMac – Downhill
I went into the Mozy configuration and changed the files being backed up. This resulted in about 900MB of new files to be backed up. The backup started just fine but around midnight the DSL connection went away (unrelated to Mozy). Once it was restored Mozy picked up doing the backup. But when I checked again in the morning it had stopped at 93.5% and seemed to be hung up “communicating to server”. Checking the console log showed it said it hadn’t done anything for 6 hours, so I canceled the backup. I started another backup and Mozy crashed.
I rebooted for a clean start and began another backup. It again hung a 93.5% even though there were fewer files to backup. I waited two hours then canceled the backup and tried again. This time the status window didn’t appear. I rebooted. I tried configuration, restore and backup. No window ever appeared. So I re-installed MacMozy and reset my configuration to my previous settings (what was being backed up before the upgrade). Since most files were already one the server I expected it to be quick.
The next backup worked although the status still says never backed up. I’ve rebooted and it still says never backed up. The backup history says it worked and the files are available for restore. As it stands now I added a gig of new files into the configuration, while removing others, and I’ll wait for the automatic backup to run tonight when the iMac is idle and see what happens.
Update: The backup ran on it’s own and completed fine. The status still indicated no backup but the newly backed up files could be restored. Immediately after a reboot the status correctly indicated the last backup.
It should also be noted that when I changed the backup selections to add the new files I removed others. This brought me closer to my quota and if you add the new files to what was there then I’d be over quota and in fact after the first failure the server showed my usage was at my quota amount. But the quota is actually determined by the selections in the configuration so this should not have been a problem since it was under quota.
Mozy has also redesigned their website and they have a new logo, shown in the top left of this post. If you want to try a free Mozy 2GB account (But I’d recommend you wait until the next version of MacMozy) you can click this referrer link which will give us both an extra 256MB of storage. Mozy offers the 2GB accounts for free and Unlimited Backup for $4.95/Month(aff).
I spent my free computer time this week organizing my photos and moving them from iPhoto into Aperture. The one feature that has me into Aperture is the way it handles edits. The original photo is in Aperture once as a master and any number of edits can be made. Each edit is simply the settings that need to be applied to the master, not a copy of the photo. iPhoto has one edit per photo and the edit replaces the master for all actions (although the master is saved and can be restored). Multiple edits require making copies of the photos.
I also looked at online photo sites. Actually I looked briefly and then spent most of the time digging into Flickr. I like Flickr because of it’s ability to organize photos with tags, sets and collections and also give them various levels of access. I uploaded about 1,000 photos to Flickr but only about 20 of them are public. Another subset are available to Family and a whole bunch are private.
I also looked at Photobucket and Picassa Web Albums. Photobucket’s Album (sub-albums actually) structure seemed cumbersome to me. I also couldn’t find how to do (and view) tagging even though the upload tool I tried supported tags. Picassa Web Albums was also album oriented but supported tags. Flickr just seemed more flexible and a better fit for me.
I found out that I actually had the “Pro” account because ATT/Yahoo is my ISP so if you have ATT/Yahoo check your account page in Flickr. It was news to me.
More Upgrades and Patches
The upgrade/patch cycle continued this week.
WordPress 2.2.2 was released about 3 weeks ago and I finally got around to upgrading my blogs. One benefit of procrastinating waiting is that the Fantastico scripts (used by Bluehost) have been updated and can be used to quickly upgrade. It fixes 10 bugs including a cross-site scripting vulnerability.
iMovie ’08 (a.k.a. version 7) was updated to version 7.0.1. According to the update it “addresses issues associated with publishing to .Mac Web Gallery. It also improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues.” I’ve yet to fire up iMovie ’08 but applied the update anyway. It was a 10.4MB download through Software Update for me on my Mac’s. No reboot is needed.
Pathfinder, one of my must have Mac apps, was updated from 4.7.1(385) to 4.7.2(389) awhile back but I didn’t get around to updating it until this week. It’s primarily a bug fix release.
I upgraded, iPhoto Library Manager to version 3.3 which added support for iPhoto ’08 and a few other things. I had been using version 3.2.5 to start the different iPhoto libraries I had, but I avoided using any additional features. I immediately used it to create a library and move photos from an existing library to the new library. I talk about my first use of iPhoto Library Manager here. It’s young and needs to grow, but I’m intrigued.
Wakoopa – I usually find things that track me creepy. And at first Wakoopa fell into that category but I found I liked it and it wasn’t too much information, especially for a website like The OS Quest. Wakoopa is a Web 2.0 social site built around software. I signed up and installed their tracking software on my iMac and iBook so far. It tracks the software I use and sends it to my profile. Profiles can be public or private. I made mine public and it can be viewed here.
…about one of the great wonders of capitalism: It is driven by morons who are circling the drain, and yet. . . it works!
Saturday Was Pirate Day – In another shining example of how DRM helps us consumers Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage system suffered an outage over the weekend. Original reports said it may be out until Tuesday but it was back online after a day. There were numerous stories, here’s the one from Ars Technica. Customers trying to validate couldn’t and anyone who needed to re-validate couldn’t. If Vista can’t validate it goes into “Reduced Functionality Mode” (let the jokes begin).
MacToSchool is offering $300 worth of Mac software for $50. Worth it if the software is worth more than $50 to you.
This post is obsolete and screenshots have been removed.
After much angst and with great trepidation I decided to switch my broadband over to Comcast.
I called AT&T again to see if faster DSL was available and it’s not. I also checked Broadband Reports to see what other broadband providers are available to me. There really isn’t an alternative to give me higher speeds than my current DSL other than Comcast. So my choice came down to staying with my current 1.5Mbps/364Kbps DSL connection or switching to Comcast. With no DSL upgrade in sight and more and more annoyances with my current speed I decided to upgrade. I’d been with Comcast before and still had the cable modem and router from back then so at least there wouldn’t be any hardware costs. Plus I still get Cable TV through them so there’s an active connection. I chose speed over price and customer service.
So late Friday night I placed the order online for Comcast while working late at the office. They’re running what now seems a typical 6 month discount on the packages. I went with the “Premium” plan mainly because of the higher upload speed. The “up to” speeds are 8Mbps down and 768Kbps up. Even though I had everything I was still required to spend $10 for the self-install kit. Much to my surprise I was also required to have an online chat session to confirm the order. The rep initiated the session almost immediately. I spent most of the time waiting for the rep to “enter the work order” which was a bit of a concern. I had visions of everything being re-typed. I’d never had a good experience with Comcast customer service and was hoping an online order would avoid human errors.
On Sunday I decided to hook up the cable modem to see what would happen since my online account showed the billing had gone through. Sure enough when I started my browser the Comcast sign-on form came up. They pretty much required I install their software so I canceled out on my Mac and fired up my old Windows XP laptop I use for testing. I figured I’d use the old laptop and use their software, this way if I had any speed complaints I’d be “100% official”. Plus it was the path of least resistance. I ran the install and configuration wizard and went through the setup. It set up my account and email address but also installed their “Desktop Doctor” software and “Configured Internet Explorer”. Then it rebooted the modem.
I did a speed test at Broadband Reports and ran some speed tests with the laptop connected directly to the modem and doing nothing else. The results are below.
Once I knew everything was working I pulled out my Linksys WRT54G router and set it up. It needed a firmware update but other than that the installation was easy. I did need to replicate the Mac address of the PC I ran the setup on. I wired my iMac up to the Linksys and have been using it for a couple of hours.
Here’s the speed results from my first test directly from the laptop to the cable modem so there’s nothing else on the line. Considerably lower than the “up to” speed for downloads. This was done right after the setup.
Then I rebooted everything and waited 15 minutes or so for things to settle down and ran another test. The download is above the “up to” speed while the upload is pretty close.
Generally speaking I found the Flash test to have higher results than the Java results (which questions the accuracy of both). I also found the New Jersey server to have slower results than other servers when the tests were done back to back. So after setting things up on the iMac I did a Flash test to the New York server with these results.
A series of tests done with various servers were in the same ballpark except for a couple extreme variations. Click on any of the test results to go to the Broadband reports speed tests page to run your own test. (Broadband Reports and DSL Reports are the same website.)
Browsing is of course noticeably faster which would be expected even if Comcast gave me 1/4 the rated speed. What I really wanted was the uploaded speed. I started a backup to Amazon S3 using some software I’ve been testing and that showed an average upload speed of over 700Kbps while copying 21MB.
I have to say I’m happy with the results. I’m getting the upload speed I’m told is the “up to” speed. The download speed is more than I need for now but it’ll be nice to have. When I left Comcast the first time I was getting about 50% of the “up to” speed they advertised. It remains to be seen what the future will bring. My broadband bill will jump 50% during the 6 month promotion and a total of 250% once the promotion ends. In return I get a 500% increase in download speed (assuming they meet the “up to”) and a 200% increase in upload speed.
I finally got around to updating my Parallels 2.5 installation to the latest Parallels 3. Parallels 3 has been out awhile and I’ll be installing build 4560. I’ll be upgrading Parallels on my iMac and have 5 virtual machines configured. I don’t have Boot Camp installed on my iMac.
I checked to see if there was an update to Parallels 2.5. There was an update available for download but I was on the recently released build 3212. I didn’t see any mention of needing the newer version to do the upgrade so I stayed at 3212.
The upgrade had the following basic steps:
Be sure you have a Parallels 3 license key (or make a conscious decision to use the trial version). Version 2 license keys will not work.
Backup your Mac. Also backup your VMs as they will be upgraded and cannot be downgraded if you decide to go back to the old version of Parallels.
Downloaded Parallels 3 (83MB)
Mount the downloaded disk image and run “Install Parallels Desktop.pkg”. A user guide along with other documentation is in the download. Click through the installation wizard – do a complete install. (3 minutes)
Restart the Mac when prompted
After the restart fire up Parallels Desktop. Enter the activation (license) key when prompted. (1 minute)
Start the VM. For Windows you will be prompted with the typical Windows “Found New Hardware” messages. Cancel these. The Parallels Tools virtual CD will autorun and you’ll be asked what to do – run PTStart.exe. During the install you may received numerous unsigned driver warning messages (I received 5 on Vista, none on XP). Allow the driver to install. (5 minutes)
Restart the VM when prompted. Upon the first startup a “SmartSelect Update” will run. The VM is scanned and the software is cataloged. Your time may vary. (4 minutes)
It took me 35 minutes to upgrade Parallels and my first VM. I repeated steps 7 and 8 for each additional Windows VM and each took about 8 minutes. Ubuntu didn’t require any additional time.
Windows Vista – numerous unsigned driver warnings. One “Found new hardware” message that had to be canceled.
Windows XP – several “Found New Hardware” messages that had to be canceled. No unsigned driver errors. Low video resolution warning on first reboot after upgrade. Had to set the video resolution after the upgrade.
Ubuntu – no Parallels Tools so no driver upgrade. During the shutdown the screen goes psychedelic and Parallels sees the shutdown as incomplete. This happened on both Ubuntu VMs. It should be noted that the Ubuntu install under Parallels 2 required a workaround.
This article is obsolete. Images and broken external links have been removed.
I’ve completed my move to Google Apps and now all my mail goes into my inbox there, one way or the the other. In Part 1 I’ll cover the domain setup and IMAP mail migration using the migration tool, while in part 2 I’ll cover the features that are available to all GMail users.
My reasons for moving to Google Apps were:
Sometimes they can be a bit creepy but I trust them as much as I trust any other ISP or mail provider.
I want to provide email to family members.
My current setup has my mail provided by Bluehost as part of my hosting service. This pretty much puts me in charge of the email server. I just don’t want to have to worry about backups and email problems. It was OK when I was the only one using it, but if I’m going to bring other’s on board it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
EMail is not tied to an ISP.
GMail has the best spam filter I’ve ever used.
Google Apps includes Mail (including Talk & Calendar), Docs & Spreadsheets, Personal Start Page and Page Creator. There are two versions, free and Premium. Free allows 2GB for email and is ad supported. Premium allows 10GB for email and allows the ads to be turned off. Premium also has a 99.9% email uptime guarantee, along with mail migration tools and integration tools a business may look for. My only interest in Google Apps is for email.
I started with the free edition but quickly signed up for the 30 day Premium trial so that I can use the IMAP mail migration tools that’s included.
The domain I use for email is my primary domain with my Bluehost account but there’s no website associated with it. While I *should* be able to use the same domain as the primary domain with Google Apps I decide to be cautious since I’ve never done this before. I registered a new domain with 1&1 and use it as the primary domain with Google Apps. The domains I’ll use are (not the real names):
myfamilyblue.com – this is primary domain with Bluehost and the domain I use with email. I want to use this domain for email addresses.
myfamilyga.com – this is a new domain I’ll register and use as the primary domain for Google Apps. This will be available for email addresses and deliver to the same mailboxes as the other domain, but I won’t hand out the domain name.
In addition, while I can change MX records myself with Bluehost I have to go through tech support to change CName records. With 1&1 I can change both MX and CName records. This means I can make changes myself without having to go through tech support. This will be less annoying to me and less annoying for them if I decide to undo changes.
For the subdomains I’ll want mail.myfamilyga.com to access mail but I’ll use the default URLs for the other tools. You don’t need to use subdomains since Google Apps will give you URLs but I wanted the sub-domain for easy access to the frequently used mail. I can setup redirection for the subdomains of myfamilyblue.com to redirect to the Google App URLs.
There are additional restrictions if you buy the domain from Google, such as not being able to cancel Google Apps for a year. I’ll use my own domain that’s already registered.
Setting Up the Domain
I registered the new domain, myfamilyga.com, at 1&1 and waited for the DNS to replicate.
Then I registered with Google Apps for Domains. I set up the first user during registration and this will is the admin ID.
Google does create a test address so you can test email before changing your MX records. The address is displayed when you first set up Google Apps.
I need to verify the domain with Google before the services will actually start working. Google provides a couple of ways to do this. Either copy a specific html file to the site or create a CName record. I went the CName record route since I wanted one anyway. Google provides instructions for various domain hosts and I used the ones they provided for 1&1. In the case of 1&1 I needed to create a sub-domain then go in and create a CName record for that sub-domain and point it to ghs.google.com. I didn’t have to wait for this to replicate before I could continue, although it does need to replicate before email can be fully used.
Note: It’s a bit hidden in the help but Google also allows a MX record to verify domain registration. So if your mail system is ready to go you can just create the MX record. Remember, mail deliver will go to Google once the MX record is created so make sure all users are created if they have mailboxes on another server. My domain verification seemed slow so I created an MX record and then verification completed immediately. It may have been a coincidence.
The next step is to set up the users which will also create the mailboxes. I already created a user name for myself while setting up Google Apps. So I set up nicknames for all the other mailboxes and forwarding addresses that I had set up on the old myfamilyblue.com.
The next step is to change the MX records for the domain. As soon as the MX records are changed all the email will start going to GMail so you’ll want all the users set up before making the change. In my case I have a new domain so I changed the MX records immediately so they have time to replicate. The MX record information provided by Google is here. The setup may vary depending on your domain host. Just make sure the entries are in the order listed by Google and that the priorities go from higher to lower. My setup for 1and1 MX records is shown below (click for full screen).
Since I wanted multiple domains reporting into Google Apps I went into the “Domain Settings” section, “Domain Names” tab and added the myfamilyblue.com domain as an alias. Then I went to Bluehost and changed the MX records. Here’s how to set up the MX records at Bluehost.
Test mail delivery to the users that have been set up. It may take time for the MX records to take effect.
You can use this NSLOOKUP(kloth.net) tool to see if the CName and MX records have changed on your DNS server. Enter your domain in the domain field and enter the DNS server (from your hosting/DNS provider) in the server field, then select the record type from the dropdown list. If you registered a new domain in step 1 it may take time for the change to replicate through the internet. For the first 48 hours the query may show your DNS server has the correct information but the rest of the internet may not know that your domain info is on that server.
IMAP Mail Import
I registered for the free-trial of the premium version so I could use the IMAP migration tool. My Bluehost email was in IMAP mailboxes and was the bulk of my EMail.
The IMAP email migration tool is under the “Advanced Tools” tab (premium edition only). I set up the server connection to Bluehost. For server software I picked “Cyrus” (first choice for trial and error) no security and port 143. Some mail systems may require an “IMAP Path” such as “Inbox”. I told the wizard I’d specify a few accounts and then I entered the user id and logon information for the accounts to migrate. I was pulling everything into my one new GMail mailbox.
The migration took some time, about 45 minutes in my case, and is dependent on quantity and size. A progress bar displays the status or you can click into the details and see how many emails have been migrated. As the mail was pulled in the migration tool added two tags, one was the email address of the old mailbox and the other was the full folder path that the email was in. The tagging was an unexpected and nice bonus.
My AOL My eAddress mailboxes are also IMAP mailboxes. I tried the migration tool on them but always received errors soon after the migration began. I only had about 100 emails in those mailboxes and only a couple of folders. So after a few migration failures I went to plan B. The My eAddress mailboxes were already set up in Thunderbird so I created a new IMAP mailbox on Bluehost, added it to Thunderbird and dragged the AOL email to the new account. Then I used the IMAP import utility to pull it into GMail.
At this point I had GMail working in my own domain. I really don’t have an interest in the other Google App pieces.
Some things to keep in mind:
I have two domains. When I set up a user ID it gets one mailbox that is addressable with both domains. So ray -at- myfamilyblue.com and ray -at- myfamilyga.com deliver mail to the same user mailbox.
Nicknames can be set up for users. I consolidated all my myfamilyblue.com mailboxes and forwarding addresses into one GMail mailbox by setting up a nickname for each one.
In part 2 I’ll cover importing mail from POP accounts (such as my other GMail accounts) and consolidating all my email in this one mailbox. All things which are available with regular GMail accounts.
VMWare Fusion also moved out of beta recently. I’d been running the beta version on my MacBook and finally got around to upgrading it to the final release. I haven’t upgraded to the latest Parallels version yet so it’s not really fair to compare, but I’ve been very impressed with VMWare’s Fusion. The Parallels upgrade is on tap for this week.
All that said, if you all you need to do is run more pedestrian Windows applications on your Mac, such as Outlook or Excel, you are not likely to notice significant performance differences between any of the virtualization options mentioned here–for less resource-intensive applications, the performance of any of these virtulization applications is probably fast enough.
Then there was the iLife ’08 upgrade. So far I’m not overly impressed with the update to iPhoto. I use it mainly as a organizer, not an editor. Some of the features improve organization but at the price of performance. The pinwheel makes a frequent appearance when I’m using the upgraded iPhoto.
I also installed iWork ’08 and fired up Pages enough to know it at least presents a nice clean screen for typing and doesn’t force me into page layout mode.
A couple of other programs I use have prompted me to let me know they have upgrades available too. But so far I’ve held off upgrading them so they’ll be some more upgrades next week too. Wonder if I’ll have time to actually use some software this week?
The last update to MacMozy is still causing me problems. It has a habit of getting stuck in a “Backup started…” state with no files processed. It hasn’t been too much of a problem because I’ve been turning off my iMac during the day when I’m at work and MacMozy usually runs fine between reboots. It’s also fine on my MacBook which gets shutdown after each use. It’s on weekends like this, when my iMac stays on, that I have problems. I’m hoping the problem just goes away with the next update.
The addition of Numbers to iWork ’08 won’t kill off Microsoft Office, but it does appear to have claimed Apple Works as its first victim. The AppleWorks page is gone from Apple, www.apple.com/appleworks redirects to the Support page for Apple Works. So it appears Apple has killed off Apple Works. Apple Works came with my first Mac Mini and as much as I wanted to like and use it I just couldn’t, so I can’t say I’ll miss it.
I’ve been running Boot Camp on my MacBook since getting it. Even though I haven’t used it for anything to speak of Apple came out with an upgrade and I had to apply it.
The update was easy, although a bit time consuming, mainly because of the need to burn a CD and a couple of reboots.
Boot Camp Upgrade Checklist
Times are for my 13″ MacBook.
Download Boot Camp and mount the drive image. It’s a 347MB download.
Install the Boot Camp assistant from the mounted drive. (2 minutes)
Burn a “Mac Windows Driver Disk” to CD. (10 minutes incl. verify)
Reboot to Vista (Hold option key when shutting down) (2 min)
Insert the driver disk from step 3. Autorun will prompt and ask what to do, tell it to run setup.exe. Acknowledge the XP permission prompt. The drivers will install. During the installation of the video drivers the screen will corrupt and go blank. It will restore to normal. (10 minutes)
The total time for the upgrade was just under half an hour.
When it came time to run Automatic Update on my Windows XP SP2 virtual machine (running under Parallels) I got 12 updates, so Microsoft pushed more than the security updates. The updates broke down as follows (all links are to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article number listed):
The download and patching was straight-forward. A single reboot at the end of the patching was required. Windows didn’t have any problems starting up or running after being patched. But, I don’t use Windows enough to encounter any but the most severe problems. I also run very few applications so wouldn’t encounter any conflicts. I don’t run any versions of MS Office so I haven’t tried the Office updates.