Archive for the ‘Macintosh/OS X’ Category

Data Loss

I lost some pictures last night. From 20110222-0814. I think I got them all back. Here’s the story.

At the office, I had moved the files from my Nikon D90’s 8GB Kingston SD card to my new MacBook Air. That went fine. Lots of pics. It had been far too long since I’d processed the pictures on this card.

First mistake: Moving them from the SD card instead of copying from the SD card and then renaming the directory on the SD card until I’d made lots of copies of the image files.

Last night, around 9pm, I was moving those pictures from my MacBook Air to my external hard drive, where I store my pictures, using ForkLift (which I love).

Second mistake: Moving instead of copying and renaming the directory on my MacBook Air until I’d made another copy or two of the image files.

Something was funky with Forklift. It wasn’t throwing an error but the source directory wasn’t disappearing and neither were its files. I restarted ForkLift, happened again. Tried with another folder, happened again. Files were getting copied instead of moved. Could it be permissions on my new MacBook Pro, which I had recently transferred settings and files to from my MacBook Pro via Apple’s Migration Assistant? Rebooted, problem happened again. So somewhere in here, I probably did an undo or two or a delete. Who knows. But suddenly I found myself with two identical folders, one of the Mac, one on the external drive, each with one crappy locked JPG in them and no other files. Uh oh. This is where I started to turn white. Undo didn’t handle. No redo was available. I was screwed.

I wound up recovering the files using my MacBook Pro, Parallels Desktop and a free tool named Pandora Recovery. It found no deleted JPGs to recover on the SD card, but its surface scan recovered a whole lot. Lost filenames and modification dates, but the EXIF data includes the picture taken date, so I can restore modification dates.

Many older pics were also restored. I’ll use Directory Opus to compare all the recovered images to existing images to weed out the majority of unnecessary files, at least that’s the plan.

Next, I found Exiftool (spelling?) by Phil Harvey. Wow! Just wow. What a neat tool. I used the following command to successfully change all 3500 JPG files’ modification dates to that of the photographed date in each picture’s EXIF data. This is the command:

exiftool ‘-DateTimeOriginal>FileModifyDate’ .

A non-free tool, exiffile (part of ExifUtils) also works, but I’ll take the functional free version, ExifTool in this case.


  • Don’t let pictures sit on the camera so long. Get them duplicated fast.
  • Don’t delete images from SD card until they’re in two or three other places.
  • Don’t move files — copy, then rename directory of originals, keeping it around a while.

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This Saturday, 13 August 2011, I picked up a MacBook Air 13.3” 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo 256GB SSD 2GB via Craigslist. Bought it from a good guy. It’s super clean and still has six months of warranty. I plan to add AppleCare to it to extend it two and a half years. My biggest concern would be an SSD failure.

This thing is fast. Last week, my cousin showed me his new/used MacBook Air (same specs but 4GB of RAM in his) and I was instantly in love. I’d seen them at the Apple Store and loved the 13.3” models while hating the 11.6” models. But seeing it next to my Mac, running apps and seeing how fast it is really sold me on it. So I started looking for one on Craigslist right away. I’d given up hope of finding one at a price that made it worth it to me to not just upgrade to a new i5 model to get that hyperthreading goodness.

I offered him $875 (asking $1100) and he accepted. I think it was a fair price all around. My cousin got his for $960 a few weeks ago (right before the new i5/i7 models were announced), so my price was on par with that.

Boy, this thing is fast.

I ran the OS X Snow Leopard Migration Assistant on this Mac and my old MacBook Pro 15.4” 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo 500GB HDD 3GB and — voila! — two days later, it was done, at about 8:05am this morning.

Things are working really well on it so far.

I consider this to be actually a very conservative purchase. My old MacBook Pro (three-plus years old now) was getting very slow (probably in need of an OS wipe after upgrading it from Tiger -> Leopard -> Snow Leopard). Putting an SSD in there troubled me because if it failed, it’d take a bunch of work to pull it out. And every time I’d take it apart (to install or remove), I’d risk breaking the computer each time. Plus the hassle. Plus if I had to send a broken SSD back to the manufacturer, I’d want to leave the MacBook Pro in pieces for weeks waiting for the repaired SSd and I don’t really have a safe place for that (kid-proof) in my home.

So I consider this upgrade a measured decision that I’m really happy with.


Update: It’s Tuesday, 4 October 2011. I’ve been using my MacBook Air regularly since I got it. It has completely replaced my MacBook Pro. I’m very happy.

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Someone came to the office today and said they had just bought themselves an iPad 2 3G AT&T at Best Buy today and that they had one or more in stock still. So I called and they had two. So I ran over and bought one.

I had one on order from Apple but it wasn’t scheduled to ship until 25 April.

I went to the Apple Store last weekend (a few days ago) to get an iPad but they only had white Verizon iPads in stock. No, thanks. I read that AT&T’s 3G network is considerably faster than Verizon’s and that AT&T’s network technology has room to speed up where as Verizon’s CDMA network is running at its maximum speed already.

Damaged iPads
There’s a little more to this. The first iPad I bought today had scratches on its back. (It was not an open box model.) I noticed on the drive home so I turned around immediately and had Best Buy replace it with the other one. The replacement also has at least two vertical scratches on its back but they’re not ugly like the scratches on the first one. These scratches are not obvious, so no big deal. But scratches on the back of a $700 aluminum computer from Apple are a real surprise.

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I sold my iPad to a friend last night. He was going on the road and needed something portable. Looks like the iPad will be a great fit, and it was exactly what he’d wanted (but hadn’t hoped to get). I ate some cash selling it but I don’t mind at all. It was a good transaction at a good time.

I’m sure I’ll get an iPad 2 at some point, but I don’t know if it’ll be this weekend or weeks or months from now.

When I told my five-year-old daughter I was selling it, she instantly replied, “No more puzzles?” She uses a jigsaw puzzle app on it (not the loser NatGeo puzzle app).

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When Apple launched their Mac App Store recently, they put Aperture 3 in it and dropped the price for App Store purchase from $200 to $79.99. That’s a compelling price. After reading a few reviews and talking to my photographer friend, I bought it.

I’ve only played around with a bit to date, testing reference file rename/delete/move handling and such, I haven’t really used it for reviewing and cleaning up photos. So far it’s not bad.

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Apple TV

My Apple TV arrived last week, Friday morning. I set it up that night. Man, this thing is small. And just the ability to stream music from my MacBook Pro over wifi is worth the $100 I paid for this wonderful little device.

I would prefer it if the remote had a raised wheel on it so I could scrub backward through Netflix streaming movies more accurately.

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I’ve been using my Samsung Vibrant T-Mobile Android smartphone since last Saturday. Today is day 6, Friday.

Before I made the jump, I made a list of reasons to stay with my iPhone. Then I went to Kansas City and got to play with EdM’s Droid. And then, unexpectedly, my wife liked her mom’s new Samsun Vibrant and wanted one for herself. Then, most unexpectedly of all, T-Mobile was having a buy one get one free sale on smartphones when we went in to get my wife her Vibrant. So here I am.

First, a list of the non-stock replacement apps that are helping my Android phone suck less compared to my iPhone:

  1. chompSMS for text messages. The benefits over the built-in Messaging app are legion, including pop-up notifications of text messages and, best of all, a conversation view that doesn’t repeat each person’s name (even mine!) before every single message.
  2. K-9 Mail email app
  3. Andronoter to replace Simplenote (It even syncs with the Simplenote web service!)

Second, a list of simply cool apps (not substitutes for default Vibrant apps):

  1. Screeble Lite for smart device sleep handling (Thanks, Ed.)
  2. Dropbox
  3. Google Maps, especially Navigation (driving GPS)
  4. Amazon
  5. Pandora
  6. Google Voice built in so notifications are native, right up in the notification bar. This is super, especially since I redirect my voicemail to Google Voice voicemail. No need to get SMS notifications of Google Voice voicemail transcripts anymore as it’s all just baked in.

What sucks about my Vibrant (software):

  1. Fields for entering things like email addresses are too tall. Wasted space, big time.
  2. In Week view (Landscape phone orientation), I don’t see words on my appointments, just empty, colored rectangles. EdM’s Droid had words in there and I totally loved it. I expected my Android phone to have this, too. Darn.
  3. The keypad (Andoid version, not Samsung version and not Swype version) is just not as comfortable as that on my iPhone 3G S.
  4. Scrolling through contact list in Contacts app sucks. Accidentally tapping one someone’s record while scrolling is too common. I wish I could drag the top down to make a search box appear. I don’t like pushing the dedicated search hardware “button.”
  5. Camera previews the picture after taking one. I prefer iPhone’s method of letting me keep taking pictures one after another.
  6. Home page (TwLauncher) doesn’t move icons when you drop one where another is. So I have to keep one icon/shortcut spot empty on my main page if I want to move stuff around. This is just totally stupid.
  7. Home page (TwLauncher) doesn’t let me remove Dialer from its position on the bottom-left of the four-icon bottom launch bar. Stupid.
  8. Finding out how to change which SMS had a shortcut on TwLauncher’s four-icon bottom bar required some google searching and then some trial and error. Ridiculous.
  9. The default Voice Recorder app stops recording when you push the hard Sleep button on the side of the Vibrant. Seriously? Totally stupid.
  10. My BusyCal event alarms (part of the calendar records on my Mac) don’t make it to the Calendar app on the iphone. The appointments are there, just no alarms. I don’t know if this is BusyCal’s fault or gCal’s. Since my phone is a major reminder tool for me, this is most decidedly not okay.
  11. I don’t hear it vibrate when I get a text message. Come on. This is just stupid.
  12. It beeps when I turn OFF the sound. I have to turn off all keypress feedback sounds to stop this. Totally stupid.
  13. Horribly loud bootup and shutdown music from T-Mobile. Not okay — what if I’m in a meeting and need to turn my phone off?
  14. On my iPhone 3G S, I can jump to the top of a page by touching the top of the screen. No such feature built into Android.
  15. More to come, perhaps.

What still sucks about my Vibrant (hardware problems and things which might be hardware problems):

  1. Reaction to dragging is a annoyingly behind. Perfect on iPhone 3G S, subpar on Samsung Vibrant running Android 2.1.
  2. Selecting items (I notice this in Google Reader via the built-in web browser) selects a record below the one I’m trying to select/tap. I didn’t have this kind of “learning” phase on my iPhone 3G, my iPhone 3G S, my iPod touch nor my iPad. I don’ know if this is the web browser’s fault or if the fault lies someplace else.
  3. Waking the phone. Hard to find the side button, which is a bit toward the back side, not sticking right out the side. No complaints about this on iPhone.
  4. No hard button to go home. I have to remember where four buttons are to do things and the light on these hard “buttons” turns off fast. Sucks. No problem when the menus are on-screen (iPhone).

What’s good about my Vibrant hardware:

  1. Big 4“ screen (800×480). Compare with iPhone 3G S’s 3.5” screen (480×320).
  2. 3G internet speeds on T-Mobile. Compare with EDGE-only speeds with my iPhone 3G S on T-Mobile.
  3. Better camera than iPhone 3G S. (But the Vibrant’s camera app sucks.)
  4. Thin like iPhone 3G S.
  5. Light in weight.
  6. Nice rubber case for $17 from the T-Mobile store
  7. Big, bright, hi-res screen. Worth mentioning twice.

What’s good about T-Mobile, a.k.a. Why not switch to AT&T for an iPhone 4?:

  1. $10 unlimited text message family plan. That’s total, not per line.
  2. $10 internet on T-Mobile.
  3. Unlimited minutes (two lines for $89.98). Not a very big deal to me as I don’t use a lot of minutes, so maybe I should dump this.
  4. Phone was “free”. Yes, my cellular internet bill for my line went up from $10 to $25 a month and I committed to two years of service, so it wasn’t really free. But I’d also be committing to two years of service with AT&T. But I can pretend.

2 September 2010 Update: I returned my Samsung Vibrant to T-Mobile the evening of Tuesday, 31 August 2010. So it lasted me about 11 days. The things that really killed it for me in the end were

  1. I couldn’t feel it vibrating (on my desk, in its rubber sleeve) when I got a text message, even with the message vibration set to long.
  2. To check for a text message, I had to not only wake it up with the side button but unlock its screen by sliding my finger across it.
  3. Lack of a hard <Mute> button.
  4. Calendar alarms not making it from BusyCal/iCal to the device.
  5. The Calendar app taking way too many clicks for me to add a record with an alarm.
  6. The contacts app sucking.
  7. The black background with light text. Ick.
  8. The email app just making messages look ugly. Even the list of messages was ugly. I tried the built-in Email app, Gmail app and K-9 Mail. None of them came close to the polish of the email app on my iPhone 3G S. They all just felt slapped together interface-wise, though all three were some of the better Android apps I’d come across interface-wise.

I was all ready to cancel T-Mobile and go to AT&T the night I returned my Android phone. I’d run all the numbers. But T-Mobile told me my contract had seven more months on it (March 2010) so I figure I’ll wait until the next iPhone comes out (iPhone 5) in June 2011 and see at that time if it’s worth switching to AT&T to get it without overpaying for the phone, unlocking it and perhaps even suffering with EDGE internet on T-Mobile again. For now, I’m back to my iPhone and it’s like being reunited with an old friend. We don’t have to talk, we’re just naturally in tune. But, boy, it its screen small compared to the giant, gorgeous Samsung Vibrant screen!

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