Archive for November, 2007

Backups: Taking the capital ‘B’ out of your Bad Day

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Well, my number came up today. The hard drive in my MacBook Pro started making this funny crackling, clicking noise. The Finder beachballed. Xcode locked up. I tried to shut down the machine gracefully. Tried to force quit everything that wouldn’t quit. No luck. Power cycled it. It booted to the blue screen, then hung there.

Funny – just two days ago I was visiting my uncle in Colorado, talking with him about statistics and probability, the Gambler’s Fallacy, and the reliability of hard drives. Now TechTool Deluxe tells me my drive has a bunch of bad blocks in the middle of what used to be my data. I guess I asked for this – bad karma.

So I’m going to lose some development time. That really, really sucks. But it doesn’t suck half as much as the prospect of losing all my source code, email, customer databases, test files, scripts, music, and geez – all my photos too. Thankfully, I’m still fairly paranoid about backing up (not as paranoid as I used to be, but still enough that I’ve got a backup in my office from last night, and an off-site backup from last week).

So look at all those files on YOUR Mac. How would you feel if they went away tomorrow? Like really. Y’know – gone, * poof *, never to return. The old adage is that it’s not a question of whether your hard drive will fail, but when. I’m happily calm about my bad day. At least it’s not a Bad Day with a capital ‘B’. Sure, it’s a maddening setback, and I’ve lost a little work – but I haven’t lost everything.

Do yourself a favor. Back up your data. And yes, I mean now. Get SuperDuper!, Time Machine or some other (lesser) backup application and use it. Sometimes it’s a nuisance, but right about now, I know it was a good idea.

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Of Turkey and Travels and DFX 4

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Happy two-days-before-Thanksgiving! At least for those of you that live in the USA or for some reason share America’s penchant for excessive eating.

Here’s an update on new the look and feel for Default Folder X. Among many things, the buttons have lost their borders for better Leopard karma, fonts and alignment are correct now, and Scott’s been working his magic with the icon. Feature-wise, the previews are smoother, you can now see and change Finder labels in both Open and Save dialogs, and stuff just works like it should. There are also a lot of under-the-hood tweaks for Leopard. I’m happy with the features now and DFX 4 should be ready to roll after a couple more weeks of testing.

Speaking of which, I need a few more dedicated folks to nit-pick and test. If you’d like to get your mitts on a beta copy, drop me an email at betamacs@stclairsoft.com and let me know what kind of machine you’re using, whether you’re running Leopard or Tiger, and why I should listen to your opinions ūüėȬ† Sorry folks, but we’ve got enough testers now – thanks to all the folks that volunteered to help!¬† The release will be next week (the week of December 10).

I’ll be heading out to Denver for the holiday, but toting my MacBook Pro as usual, so I’ll never be far from the net. Opinions, rants, and kudos are all welcome (I’m not saying I’ll heed the former, but if you’ve got valid criticisms, I’m never above changing my mind). And yeah, I actually do like turkey, and I really love the getting-together-with-family part of the holidays.

Oh yeah – and to reiterate my response to one of the comments in an earlier entry, if you buy Default Folder X 3.0.6 now, you get 4.0 for free. I’m not going to charge you an upgrade fee if you buy the software 2 weeks (or 2 months) before the new version’s released. That’s just mean.

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Cool developer features in Leopard

Monday, November 5th, 2007

A great article for developers:¬†Exploring Leopard with DTrace. ¬†And Matt Gemmell has a fantastic rundown of all the great new Leopard features and API’s in his¬†Get rid of your code with Leopard. ¬†I wish there were easier ways to use all of them without inexorably tying your software to 10.5, though. I’ve resorted to loading the QuickLook framework dynamically in DFX 4 so I can use it while still retaining Tiger compatibility, but that’s an easy case because there’s really only one API call I have to manually look up. ¬†Weak linking helps (thanks Apple!) but I don’t have a good structure set up for integrating a more complex framework without a lot of painful code. ¬†Anyone have any ideas out there? ¬†And no, “force your users to upgrade to Leopard” is not a viable answer in my book.

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Default Folder X 4 Look and Feel

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I’m excited about the new look for Default Folder X! Here’s a quick screenshot. In addition to the HUD-style translucent gray, DFX 4 gives you a preview window that floats below Open dialogs, finally letting you look at a decent-sized file preview no matter which view of the Open dialog you’re in (list, icon, or column view). The preview also zooms open to a full-screen image if you click on it – handy if you need to see more detail to be sure which of those two, very-similar-looking PDF’s is actually the one you want. And yes, the preview window also has”Get Info” information, comments, and permissions too.

The preview images come from QuickLook if you’re running Leopard, and from QuickTime if you’re running Tiger. QuickLook is faster and offers previews of many more formats (like MS Office documents), but I’ll try to squeeze in some more preview formats for Tiger before I get DFX 4.0 out the door.

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