The OS Quest Trail Log #20

CES is over and MacWorld is about to begin. Can’t say anything at CES caught my attention. Stuff was just bigger, thinner and less expensive. The big news last week seemed to be Warner’s move to Blue-Ray and that was before CES.

I can’t say I’m all that excited about MacWorld either. Curious? Yes. Excited? No. Rumors are flying of course. Apple got the Mac Pro upgrades out of the way this week so they aren’t looking for keynote filler. My lack of excitement has more to do with the fact that I won’t be buying any of the rumored products, at least not this year. The iTunes Store movie rentals is intriguing, depending on price. I won’t pay ten bucks to “own” the iTunes locked movies when the extra laden DVD is usually only a few bucks more. But the movie rental may be worth it. My Netflix DVDs have been sitting in the house longer and longer lately so pay as I go may be cheaper. Still, it’s hardly a earth shattering change.

The big event at on the OS Quest this week was a complete cleaning of the OS Quest data center. Same old hardware a software but now nice, shiny and uncluttered. The post for the picture is data center desk one week after it’s cleaning and still uncluttered.

Frustrations

.Mac gave me my first real bit of aggravation in a long time. For performance reasons I sync my iDisk to the local disks of my Macs and it’s worked remarkably well since the changes to .Mac around the time of Leopard. But this week was shades of .Mac past when the same 16 files were always out of sync between the remote and local iDisks. No matter how many times I told it to use the .Mac version it would ask again the next sync (I also told it to keep the PC version numerous times with no success). These were all files which hadn’t actually changed. So I ended up having to blow away the local iDisk (simply by turning local syncing off) and then turning it back on which pulled everything back down. It’s been fine since.

This led to my Mozy surprise, which actually wasn’t caused by Mozy. When local disk syncing is turned off it creates a copy of your old local iDisk in a sparse image file on your desktop which can be quit large. My ~1GB of iDisk data resulted in a 34.3 GB disk image, even though .Mac itself is limited to 10GB and I’ve allocated up to 9GB to iDisk. The next day I noticed Mozy was backing up over 35GB of new data.The iDisk archive file didn’t hit me right away, especially since the amount of data was so large. At first I thought it was backing up everything again. I didn’t notice the large file size until I traced back the new files in the Mozy log.

I’m a fan of Apple’s Mighty Mouse but it added to this week’s frustration. One came with my iMac and I gave it a try over my previous trackball and liked it so much I since bought another. The scroll ball was the clincher. But the scroll ball develops an annoying habit of scrolling every way but down. My original had the problem and I relegated it to a little used Mac. But the newer one developed the same problem this week and it’s relatively new. So it was either fix the problem or go for a warranty replacement. A quick Google search found this thread at Mac OS X Hints showed I wasn’t alone. In my case holding the mouse upside down and pressing down hard while scrolling, along with compressed air fixed the problem. The thread has other solutions all the way up to a link to how to take the mouse apart. I’ll have to try it on my original Mighty Mouse the next time I fire up that Mac.

And of course photography brought it’s own frustrations but those are covered below in the photography section.

Software Updates

TextExpander 2.0.4 was released from SmileOnMyMac. According to SmileOnMyMac the update:

fixes a problem with Dvorak-Qwerty keyboard layout, as well as a problem with the snippet type failing to stick.

The update is free to version 2 owners.

I did have a minor problem with the install. Despite following the install directions to the letter I ended up with two TextExpander icons in my menu bar. Further research showed I had two textexpanderd processes running. I killed them both then went into System Preferences and selected TextExpander and the process started up again, just one of them.

I’ve been using Transmission as my BitTorrent client since upgrading to Leopard. It’s a small, nice and simple but fast client. It recently left beta and is now at version 1.0.

NetNewsWire went free with version 3.1 earlier this week and then cam out with NetNewsWire 3.1.1 later in the week. The version fixed a crash on startup bug, a split version bug and won’t collect attention data for authenticated feeds. I’ve been using NetNewsWire since it went free and I like it so far. I haven’t experienced any of the bugs so can’t say if they’re actually fixed. I’ve been less enthralled by Newsgator Online and FeedDemon. NNW is for Mac and FeedDemon is for Windows although they are not the same app for different platforms. The change from Google Reader to NNW was easier than for the the online and FeedDemon versions. The upgrade is done by the application itself and is automated but NNW will shutdown and restart.

Jungle Disk 1.50 was released for Windows, OS X and Linux. I like the concept of Jungle disk and spent the twenty bucks to buy it. I still don’t use it as my primary backup tool but it keeps getting better. At twenty bucks for lifetime upgrades it’ll never be cheaper. Since it’s cross-platform and allows files to be opened while on S3 it’s inevitable that I’ll start using it. The main downside (for me) is that the Amazon S3 pricing is open-ended and after about 30GB it costs more than Mozy’s $5/month. Until this release it also lacked some of the features of Mozy (like block-level backups) but this release support Jungle Disk Plus which adds many of those features. All the changes to this version are covered in the release notes.

Jungle Disk for Windows Home Server 1.02b Beta was released back on December 16th, the day after I installed the previous version. When I saw the regular Jungle Disk update I went an checked the WHS version and sure enough, it was updated back in December. I had experienced one potential JD problem. At one time I logged off the console with the Jungle Disk pane the one active in the console. When I tried to log back into the console from any machine the console wouldn’t display properly and wouldn’t respond to the mouse. I had to reboot the server. Other that JD has been fine but I updated anyway. Jungle Disk for WHS is still in beta so the software is free at this time and is available here. You still need an Amazon S3 account.

Ubuntu Server

I got back on track with the Ubuntu Server project. It’s been added to my Linux page and you can follow along there if you miss it in the feed. You should see my next post on Monday or Tuesday. I purposely didn’t install any GUI with Ubuntu Server to force me to the command line. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that situation so I had some fun just getting familiar with using the console.

Photography

I finally got around to processing the pictures I took over the holiday. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I bought a new flash to get away from the built-in flash. This did result in more even lighting , although they came out on the dark side and had to have the exposure bumped in processing. That wasn’t really the frustrating part, I just need to get used to the flash and camera by using it more. I was happy the spotlight glare and redeye were gone.

The frustration started when I went to Aperture. Now, I admit much of the frustration was due to my lack of knowledge about Aperture and digital photography post-processing in general. But for a company with a reputation of elegant UI’s I found Aperture to be one frustrating piece of software. Just to make sure I wasn’t nuts I installed the LightRoom demo again and did find that to be much easier to get into and fix up the photos. Still, I’m sticking with Aperture and I’m sure things will improve over time.

I also pulled the pictures into iPhoto and again found that much easier to fix up. And iPhoto was much easier when it came to printing. Despite having calibrated my monitor and using the ICC Profiles for printing from Aperture the printout was much darker than the screen. While from iPhoto, which doesn’t use the ICC profiles came out much closer to what was on the screen. To add to my confusion with Aperture the best printout came when I used the ICC profile and left ColorSync on in the print driver. My understanding is this is just wrong as ColorSync should be off when the ICC profiles are used.

Just makes me realize I have a lot to learn and need to take a lot more pictures.

So I did take some pictures around the house to work with the flash and some natural lighting. But I put the SD card into the card reader and several photos show as bank in iPhoto. I open Aperture and it either can’t read them at all or it renders them as garbage. Before swearing at my Mac I popped the card back into the camera, and sure enough even though it saw picture files, it wouldn’t display them either. So, some time lost and a lesson learned that I’ll set the card as read only before putting it into my computer’s card reader.

Website News

The News & Links section usually appears at the end of the Trail Log posts but I’ve decided to kill the feature, at least for now. Based on the stats I have for clicks they won’t be missed, but feel free to chime-in in the comments if you want them back.

The Links and Articles pages are also going to see a exit in the near future. Neither gets much activity so they’ll be dropped so I can eliminate the plug-ins.

 

The Security Quest articles which usually appear on Wednesdays will also be cut back. Probably once a month following Microsoft patch Tuesday or when I have enough to write about. It’s all about eliminating having to post to meet a schedule and posting about whatever I’m working on instead. They weren’t getting much traffic as it is, although there were exceptions. If all you want is the security content you can subscribe to the Security category rss feed or register to get the security articles via Email.