Back in the day The first external hard drive I bought was a 40 megabyte SCSI device, and it cost about $400. That’s correct, 40 MB for $400. Today you can’t even fit Mac OS X (just the system, with no other program files) on anything less than several gigabytes, but in 1989, when I bought that home-assembled drive from a guy in Scotts Valey, CA, that was considered a pretty big drive. In fact it was big — physically at least; it measured about 12" by 3" by 5" — about the size of 12 DVD cases together.
Back then, most programs fit on an 800k floppy drive, and if you had data files bigger than 800k, you were really pushing the envelope with your computing. In 1988 through 1992, I was publishing Western Front News, and began to scan grayscale photos for the newspaper and impose them on Quark XPress pages for high quality digital output. This was cutting edge for the time, given that large metropolitan newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle were still pasting up their pages by hand using paper, wax, and traditional halftone photos laid in by hand with hairline tape.
Grayscale images could make pretty big file sizes, however, and the layout program I was using to design the newspaper, Quark XPress, could make pretty big files too, unless you split your publication into separate files (e.g. “Front Page.qxd”, “Page 2-3.qxd”, etc.) which I did. But even using these tricks, files were beginning to get bigger than many people had space for, and hard drives were simply too costly for many people. This was also before removable solutions like Zip disks became popular.
Compression technology Along came compression technology for the Mac like StuffIt and DiskDoubler, which used algorithms to look at the data in the files, close up gaps, and scrunch down needlessly duplicative parts (this is my vast oversimplification of how compression works). This was great for archiving files, but not very useful for files you were using all the time, since a file that had been DiskDoubled was unusable by the original creator program until you un-DiskDoubled it. Just like a ZIP file, which is what today’s modern OS X system uses for default compression.
After an edition of my paper was done and at the printer, I'd compress the Quark XPress files with Diskdoubler and then archive them on a few separate floppies. Then I could delete the originals from my $400 40 MB hard drive and free up a meg or two of space to work on other things.
DiskDoubler DiskDoubler was great because you could enact it from the Desktop, which was uncommon then. You didn’t have to start it up each time you wanted to compress or uncompress a file, you could just select the file in the Finder and use a pulldown menu from the main Apple menu bar.
I was using DiskDoubler as early as System 6 and 7 (I think I bought it shortly after it was released in 1990), and I was definitely still using it as late as System 8 and 9. By the time I’d finally switched fully to OS X around 2002, DiskDoubler had been bought once or twice by other companies and future development had been shelved. I was still using it occasionally, but by then hard drives had become a lot more affordable, not to mention much larger in capacity.
Orphaned DiskDoubler files It wasn’t until around 2006, when I bought a Mac Pro, that I realized I could no longer open these ancient archives I’d made in DiskDoubler. Until then, my trusty Mac G4 desktop could boot OS X and OS 9 at the same time, and while it wasn’t a perfect solution for using OS 9-only apps, there were so few instances that I needed OS 9 that it didn’t seem to matter.
The later version of OS X I had on my Mac Pro, on the other hand, did not boot OS 9. Now that I had this shiny new silver Mac and gigantic hard drives were pretty cheap (and I could fit up to four inside!), I’d moved most of my old files over from CDs and Zip disks and the like, thinking I could finally put old client files and other stuff in some logical order instead of having them all strewn all about. This would be especially helpful on those admittedly rare occasions when a client from ten years ago would call me up out of the blue and ask if I still had a map or logo or something (which happens about once every two or three years).
But even after ditching Zip disks and culling old files from CD-ROMs and putting them all on my Mac Pro, I still had lots of files that were .dd file format; they were DiskDoubled. In other words, I had files I couldn’t open. To make matters worse, I had about 100 floppy disks from waaaay back in the day, which contained some of my earliest client designs and most of my Western Front News archives. And all of those files were compressed using DD.
I had hung on to my older G4 for just this sort of reason. I knew it was the only way I was going to be able to open my old Quark XPress files, since I’d abandoned XPress long ago for InDesign and had no intention of purchasing the costly OS X version of XPress just so I could open ancient files that I only wanted to convert to PDFs.
I booted OS 9 and only then did I realize I’d never installed DiskDoubler on this Mac. I’d been using it at work, and I had it on an older Mac I hadn’t touched in years (and didn’t even have an extra monitor for). Not only that, I couldn’t find the program anywhere on my HDs.
The hunt is on I tried every modern compression app I could think of, but none seemed to support DD format anymore (this was particularly disappointing of StuffIt, which used to be able to open DD files). I scoured the far-flung reaches of the Internets for a solution, to no avail. I saw random posts on various Mac help forums, people in the same boat as me, with age-old orphan files they wanted access to.
I eventually found one OS X program, The Unarchiver, that claimed to decompress DiskDoubler files, but it never worked. Finally, reading the developer’s support forum, I discovered that he just hadn’t gotten to implementing support for DD format yet.
Treasure found At long last, yesterday I located an old backup CD of my utility applications from two or three computers ago. The CD is from 1999, but thank bog I held on to it, because it contained a working copy of Norton DiskDoubler Pro version 4.1, which runs under Mac System 9x and actually opens my Diskdoubler files. Hurrah!
A gift for those in need As I mentioned before, I came across forum posts by other people trying to solve this same predicament over the years. Hopefully they’ll find this post via Google (I’ve tried to pepper the text with as many relevant SEO-able keywords as possible), and get some positive results from it.
Download Norton DiskDoubler Pro version 4.1 for Mac System 9
Recommendations for use In order to use DiskDoubler you will need a Mac capable of booting OS 9.
The download file above is a ZIP archive made on OS X. You should download and unarchive it on OS X, then transfer the resulting folder to your Mac OS 9 volume (if you don’t have OS X and you can’t open the ZIP (I think you’ll be able to, though), leave a comment and I’ll see if I can use an older archive format).
On your OS 9 volume, open the folder Norton DiskDoubler Pro 4.1, and simply drag and drop any DiskDoubled file onto the application icon (see screenshot above). The file should compress to the same folder as the original, without deleting or moving the original. Those settings can be configured in the application, if you like.
Please comment If you found this article helpful, have your own recommendations for using the app, or other advice to solve the orphaned DiskDoubler files problem, please leave a comment. If this article saved your life and you want to show your infinite gratitude by heaping mounds of money on me, please contact me directly and I will forward my offshore account info to you.
Checking your Seagate Barracuda drive’s serial number on a Mac
Some people have reported a problem with their Seagate hard drives that can make it look like your drive is gone or won’t mount. The affected products are Barracuda 7200.11, Barracuda ES.2 SATA, and DiamondMax 22. The problem has been tracked to a firmware issue, and Seagate has published instructions on their site to find out if your hard drive might be affected.
As is often the case, if you’re on a Mac, the instructions on Seagate’s website aren’t written for you, so here are the steps to follow:
How to run multiple copies of (the same version of) Firefox
For the longest time, while using Firefox 1.x I was able to run two or more copies of the application at the same time. This was useful for partitioning my work and protecting it from being lost if there was a FF crash (which there were a lot of in the later Firefox 1.x days). If one instance crashed, the other would still keep chugging along. This was especially necessary because we didn't have Session Restore in back then.
When Firefox 2 came out, this capability was lost. I tried to figure out how to do it again by following several methods I saw mentioned on the the web, but none of them worked, and alas, I'm not nerdy enough to figure out why not. I'd always get a damn error message complaining that I'm not allowed to run multiple instances of the same app.
It didn't work even if you copied the app to a different folder and launched the copy. It didn't even matter if one was Firefox 2.1 and the other was Firefox 2.3.4. No work.
While you can run an old copy of Firefox 1.x at the same time as Firefox 2.x or even a beta copy of 3.x, you can't run two copies of Firefox 2.x on the same machine at the same time, not even if one is version 2.0 and the other is version 2.5.
An. Noy. Ing.
But, lo! I finally found a method that works. As you can see from the screenshot, I'm presently running three instances of the same version of Firefox on Mac OS X.
Here's how to do it:
First, Quit Firefox if it's running already.
Start Terminal and type in the directory path to your Firefox application. It'll probably be similar to mine below. Note that "espd" is my username, so yours will be different. "Firefox_dwOct.app" is what I've named my app, but yours will probably just be "Firefox". It must be followed by the rest: "/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin" is standard for a normal Mac OS X install but it could be possibly be different for you (probably not, though).
If you can't figure out the right path to the app's binary file (the "firefox-bin" part), then here's how to find it: In the Finder, open your Applications folder, find the Firefox icon, and right-click (or Control-click) to get the Contextual menu (pictured below), and select "Show Package Contents." That's how you see the files inside an application bundle.
Now, inside the Finder window that will open, you'll see a folder named "Contents." Double click it, and you'll see a few more icons, including a folder titled "MacOS." Open that one and look for the file called "firefox-bin", with an icon like a Terminal session (pictured below).
Now arrange your Terminal window and the Finder window so you can see them both, and simply drag the "firefox-bin" icon directly into the Terminal session after your username-prompt (pictured below), and it'll instantly fill in the correct path. OS X is pretty neat that way.
So once you've got the path to your Firefox app in Terminal, you'll need to change the example text "YourProfileName" to your actual profile name.
If you don't know your profile name, here's how you find it: In the Finder, navigate from your Home folder (usually your username, like mine in the screenshot below) to the folders "Library > Application Support > Firefox".
Inside the Firefox folder is your "Profiles" folder. You probably only have one profile inside, and it probably has a weird name like "65d7ghtn.default", although it might instead be called something like "qtgfxqc3.YourName".
That "YourName" part will actually be a profile name, not "YourName". You chose a name when you first installed Firefox way back in the Dark Ages, and you've probably never seen it since. Whether it's "YourName" or "Fred" or just "default", you can put that in where I've got "YourProfileName" in the example below.
Now just type the "-no-remote &" part, then hit your Return key and Firefox will launch the Profile Manager (pictured below). This is a part of Firefox most people never see, but it's handy. It's off by default, but the Terminal command "-P" turns it on.
Now you want to un-check the "Don't ask at startup" checkbox, because if you're going to use multiple profiles you want Firefox to launch the Profile Manager each time you start Firefox, so you can choose which profile to use.
If you only have one profile listed, at this point create a new one. Follow the dialog boxes and it'll step you through the process, then it'll launch the browser as normal.
Now go back to Terminal and copy and past the command again, this time using the other profile name you haven't initiated yet. A new Profile manager will launch, you can select the profile you haven't launched a browser for yet, and click the "Start Firefox" button.
Voila! Two instances of Firefox running, using two different profiles.
PS> I should note that it's the magic "-no-remote" Terminal command that allows you run two or more instances of an app. You can do it with many other apps too, if you like (not all will work, your results may vary).
Is Apple improving its environmental record, or is it just spin?
Did anyone else notice that Steve Jobs actually made it a point, albeit briefly, to talk about Apple's environmental goals at his MacWorld keynote last month?
When I was checking out the specs for the new MacBook Air on the Apple website I was astonished to see on the Tech Specs page, a big, bold box labeled Environmental Status Report.
A short while later I went looking for Apple's page on their environmental standards, which I had seen last year but wasn't sure where to find it since they've redesigned their site in the meantime. I went to the home page of Apple.com and figured I'd have to click on "Site Map" and then look for the link there, but I was surprised to see an "Environment" link at the bottom of the home page, right next to "Job Opportunities."
It all made me wonder whether Apple is beginning to do a better job with their product designs, or whether it's just their marketing department that's doing a better job with spin.
Likewise, in 2005 the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) launched it's Bad Apple campaign to criticize, among other things, the non-ubgradeability of the iPod and Apple's reluctance to institute a take-back solution for electronics recycling. (SVTC's campaign was itself criticized in a 2006 article on Roughly Drafted.)
I've been wondering if these two watchdog groups had been following Apple's progress and what their take was. Alas, the SVTC's website search sucks and Google doesn't seem to have even spidered their content (!), so I didn't find much there, although it seems that SVTC is still pushing Apple for shareholder resolutions that would improve its computer take-back efforts.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace seems to have discontinued its Green My Apple campaign after Steve Jobs issued a very public pronouncement last spring on a page titled "A Greener Apple," wherein he described the company's plans to, among other things, phase out some of the worst chemicals found in CRT monitors. I thought this was a little bit disingenuous on Apple's part, however, since it had been clear for a while that Apple was phasing out CRTs for business and product design reasons, not environmental ones. Jobs' letter also signaled improvements in e-waste reduction via upgrades to its electronics take-back program.
In a statement about Jobs' letter, Greenpeace said, "It's not everything we asked for. Apple has declared a phase-out of the worst chemicals in its product range, Brominated Fire Retardants (BFRs) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) by 2008. That beats Dell and other computer manufactures' pledge to phase them out by 2009... But while customers in the US will be able to return their Apple products for recycling knowing that their gear won't end up in the e-waste mountains of Asia and India, Apple isn't making that promise to anyone but customers in the USA. Elsewhere in the world, an Apple product today can still be tomorrow's e-waste. Other manufacturers offer worldwide takeback and recycling. Apple should too!" [Full article]
Greenpeace also issued a detailed analysis of Jobs' pronouncement last May. Almost a year later, though, they don't seem to have put out a follow-up yet. I hope they will.
I was leaving my job and had accumulated three-plus years of contacts, website bookmarks, emails, etc., that I wanted to keep and transfer to my home computer, but I didn't necessarily want to use the same apps at home that my company used. For example, Mac users in my office used Microsoft's Entourage (the Mac equivalent of Outlook) for address book, shared calendering, and email.
Despite two or three super-annoying bugs that Microsoft never fixed in the three-plus years I used it, I actually liked Entourage more than any Microsoft software I've used since the old System 9 days when the Mac version of Internet Explorer was the only really decent browser on the market for a few years (obviously this was before Safari, Netscape had been swallowed whole by AOL and was beginning to suck pretty bad, and Firefox hadn't even been invented).
But why would I splurge for Microsoft's Entourage at home when my Mac comes with three great free apps (Address Book, iCal, and Mail) that do fundamentally the same things Entourage does, and all work together too?
So I needed to figure out a way to sync data from the work computer with the home computer, while also switching from some apps to different ones. There were a lot of tips on the web about how to switch from Entourage to Address Book or how to go from Outlook to Entourage, but these tips all required that you were either doing this on one computer, or had the two computers in the same room.
I needed solutions that would work between work and home. It took me a few days of researching and experimenting, but I came up with some solutions that worked well.
Read on for solutions to these problems: Problem #1: Can I export my Entourage contacts and email? Problem #2: How do I get my IM contacts to my home computer? Problem #3: How do I sync that newly exported data from work to home? Problem #4: How can I take my web browser's bookmarks home? Problem #5: I don't want to lose all my web site passwords saved in my browser! Problem #6: How do I open Word documents at home? Problem #7: Can I consolidate my home and work iTunes libraries?
Problem #1: Can I export my Entourage contacts and email?
Entourage to Address Book This was easier than I expected. Entourage on OS X lets you export your contacts as vCards, which is a cross-platform text format (.vcf) that is recognized by almost any contact app (like Apple's Address Book). It's simple: In the Finder, make a new folder called vCards. In Entourage, select all your contacts, and just drag them all to the folder (it may take a couple minutes if you have a lot of contacts). Then, in Address Book, simply select File > Import > vCards... from the menu (see picture below), and navigate in the dialog box to the vCards folder you dumped your Entourage contacts into.
After that, I could sync my Address Book with .Mac to get them to the home computer. But more about that in a moment.
Entourage to Mail This bit was unexpectedly simple too. Similar to the previous scenario, if you just drag an Entourage email folder or your entire in-box from the program to the Finder, all the data gets exported and packaged into the popular .mbox format. It even includes attachments, much to my surprise.
After that, all you have to do is transfer all those .mbox files to your home computer, and if you're going to use Apple's own Mail app at home like me, you simply open Mail and select File > Import Mailboxes... from the menu (see picture below).
Next you'll see a dialog box named Import (see picture below), in which you'll want to select Other from the list and hit Continue. Then you just use the ensuing dialog box to navigate to the .mbox files on your hard drive and then Mail will churn through them all (it may take a while if you have a lot of email) and put them in a new folder titled "Import."
Problem #2: How do I get my IM contacts to my home computer?
I use the excellent, multi-service, open source Adium X at both work and home, but Adium stores some of its contact data locally. So if you've added a nickname to a contact to remember that, for example, pirate2am is Hilary, then you only have that notation on the one computer, and the next time pirate2am IMs you while you're on the other computer, you may not remember who that is (don't you hate having to ask somebody "Who are you?" on IM?).
So my solution concentrated on finding a way to export my contact list from Adium at work and then syncing it with my contact list at home. There's no built-in function for this, and sadly there's not even an export function in Adium (although the latter is on their development roadmap), so I couldn't just export a tab-delimited or CSV file to take home and import.
At the same time, I also had duplicate contacts in Adium and Address Book, but in the IM client you normally have little more than their username, their IM service (AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, etc.), and maybe an avatar. In Address Book, you obviously have a lot more fields. But if you're like me, for some people's entries you don't have their IM, you always just have that in your IM client, so why bother? And perhaps you want to capture their avatar from the IM client and copy it into Address Book's nifty picture field.
Doing a Google search brought me (eventually) to Adium Book, a little OS X AppleScript app made by a Brazilian programmer named Aurelio.
This little app worked great, looking at Adium X and Address Book at the same time, comparing records, and giving me a simple interface for resolving conflicts (see picture below) like duplicate names and/or differing data for the same name. It even let me copy avatars back and forth, and if I had two different ones for a single person, it let me choose which one to use, or to keep a different one in each app.
Now that I had all my IM contacts copied from Adium X to Address Book, I still needed to get them home. So it was time to sync using .Mac.
Problem #3: How do I sync that newly exported data from work to home?
I'd been avoiding getting a .Mac account for years, since I couldn't justify paying $99 a year for things that I can already do on my own website (e.g. web pages, blogging, webmail, etc.), or through other services that have more robust features (e.g. photo sharing, bookmark syncing, etc.).
But because I've avoided .Mac, I've never been able to take advantage of the easy-to-use sync features that are built into all Macs. Because I had a deadline by which I needed to have my work data backed up and transfered to my home Mac, I thought it was time to give .Mac a whirl. Plus I could take advantage of the 60-day free trial and accomplish everything I wanted to do, and then if I still didn't think .Mac was worth it, I could drop it before having to pay for a full year.
There are actually two or three features of .Mac that I really like, and that are difficult to reproduce using other services (and certainly not in the easy and built-in way that .Mac works). Those features are: 1) Sync, 2) iDisk, and 3) Back to My Mac. That last one is only available to Leopard users, so until I upgrade I can't use it. But in the meantime, the first two make .Mac worth a try, and I must admit that Sync works so effortlessly that I'd almost be willing to pay for .Mac just because of that.
With .Mac you can sync your Safari bookmarks, Address Book contacts, email, calendars, keychains, and more (Leopard adds Dashboard widgets too). I wish it also worked with Firefox bookmarks, but I have other methods for that, described later.
Once I signed up for the .Mac trial period, I could suddenly sync my Address Book at work (which remember now contains all my contacts from Entourage and all my IM contacts), to .Mac's servers, and then go home and sync .Mac with my local machine(s). Suddenly I have exact copies of all my contacts at home as well as at work, plus I've got them on the web with .Mac, so I can access them from almost anywhere.
Problem #4: How can I take my web browser's bookmarks home?
.Mac also syncs your Safari bookmarks, but I primarily use Firefox, so .Mac wasn't going to cut it in this regard. Luckily, it's extremely simple to export/back up your Firefox bookmarks. Just select Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks... from the menu (see picture below).
Firefox will bring up the Bookmarks Manager, in which you simply seelct File > Export... (see picture below), and you save the file as something like "Bookmarks_Firefox_January2008.html" on your hard drive. Then you move the file to your home computer, open the Bookmarks Manager in Firefox again, and select File > Import... from the menu.
There are some apps out there to help you resolve any duplicates, but that's a long, involved, and therefore separate tutorial, so I'm going to save that for another time. At least you now haven't lost all your bookmarks you collected on your computer at work.
Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, it's a pretty good idea to regularly export those bookmarks on your computer anyway, as a backup. I keep several years' worth of them in my Documents folder, all dated and organized by browser. I lost several years worth of bookmarks once in a hard browser crash, and I'm not going to risk that ever again.
Problem #5: I don't want to lose all my web site passwords saved in my browser!
If you're a Firefox user like me, you probably like Firefox's useful ability to store usernames and passwords at the many sites you have to log into every day, week, or month. If you're not using it, you can turn it on from the Firefox > Preferences... menu, then click on the Security icon/tab in the prefs dialog box that comes up (see picture below).
Obviously this functionality is only viable if you're not on a shared computer, and if you are using Apple's Keychain to securely store your master password. Otherwise, other people will see your username/password combination when they go to log in to Yahoo! or places like that.
I was switching from the work computer to full-time on the home computer, and I dreaded having to remember — and re-type! — all those passwords that I regularly used on the work computer. I searched in vain for an app that would export these from Firefox (which does not support this function itself, although it should) so I finally had to bite the bullet and type them all into a text file (you can't even drag and drop them out of FF's list!) which I then transferred to home and will have to re-enter.
Update: I don't know how I overlooked the Firefox extension Password Exporter when I was first looking for a solution. I've installed it now, but haven't tried it out yet. The documentation leads me to believe it can import as well, which would by useful.
Problem #6: How do I open Word documents at home?
This wasn't actually a problem for me, since I've avoided Word for years, and there are already plenty of alternatives to Word on the Mac, and even several web apps you can use instead. But for sake of completeness and because I predict there will be people who find this article who do use Word a lot, I'll mention some solutions.
TextEdit This app is free and comes installed on every Mac with OS X, but most people don't realize it opens Word's .doc format. I use TextEdit for almost every simple text document I need to write that will eventually get printed or made into a PDF. You can drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste images into it with ease, and I think you can even drag-and-drop tabular data from other apps into it (I never need this, however, so I'm not positive). It lacks many of the vast "features" that make Word the worst of the bloatware in my book, but I never have any need for those features, and if I need to do complex layouts, why in hell would I use a text editor anyway? That's what layout programs like InDesign or Illustrator are for.
Oh, and a word to the wise about Word's .doc files: On a Mac (and on PCs too, for that matter), there's never any reason to save anything as a .doc file, which is proprietary to Microsoft and just means that anyone you send the document to is almost always going to need Word to open it. The simple alternative, which supports 99% of the functionality anyone will ever need in a .doc file, is the .rtf format. Just save everything as .rtf and the whole world will love you.
xPad I've been using this little notepad app for years and I can't live without it. xPad does everything TextEdit above does, but it also auto-saves and adds an extremely handy tray to the side of your document window and keeps all your docs listed there, making organizing your frequently-accessed text documents incredibly easier. I keep to-do lists in there, five or ten half-written blog entries at any given time (I wrote this tutorial in it, screengrabs and all!), drafts of emails, link lists, and much more (see picture below).
Problem #7: Can I consolidate my home and work iTunes libraries?
Now this was a big one. I worked in a place where lots of music was available (Download.com has over 100,000 free MP3s, for example), and I occasionally happened upon treasure troves on the net that I was all too happy to queue up for download on the fast connection at work.
Eventually I had amassed quite a collection of songs that I didn't have at home, and when it came time to leave my job I certainly didn't want to lose those. It would be simple enough to copy them all to a hard drive, bring them home, and then drag them into iTunes to import. But I'd spent a lot of time building playlists to listen to at work, not to mention rating most of those songs. I wanted to retain that metadata!
I saw two vendors at MacWorld Expo who offered a potential solution, and I picked SuperSync because it seemed to offer a lot more robust features, even if the interface on the other one was a little cleaner and easier to understand. Plus I met the actual developer there at the booth, hawking SuperSync, so I was able to spend 10 or 15 minutes asking him "Will it do..." and "What if..." until I was satisfied that it'd probably work great for me.
That said, I purchased SuperSync but I haven't actually had time to try it yet, so I'll have to update this post after I've given it a whirl. ; )
Conclusion I hope some of these tips come in helpful to you. I'd like to hear from you if they do. Or, if you have any additions, corrections, or alternative methods you'd like to share, please post them in a comment below, or write them up for your own site and post a link here.
How to update your Mac for the change in Daylight Savings Time
As you may already know, beginning in 2007 daylight savings time (DST) will be extended in the United States and Canada. DST will start on March 11, 2007, which is three weeks earlier than usual, and it will end on November 4, 2007, which is one week later than usual.
Mac users who have Software Update set to automatically check for updates on a regular basis should have already been prompted to download and install new software. If you haven't, or you want to double-check, here are the steps.