Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Top 5

TED Talks: Bill Stone: Journey to the center of the Earth...and beyond!
Stone goes to the depths of the Earth, and the reaches of the sky. 17:43min

Forbidden Lego
A book featuring a candy catapult, a continuous-fire ping-pong ball launcher, and more. More about Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against!.

Please Fix the iPhone
Hate that you can’t X with your pricey Apple gadget? Ask for it here, or just peruse what other people want changed/added/fixed.

Iron Maiden, “The Trooper” (cover) By Gauchos
I love the little headbangin’ girl! lol! She has her own mic, but I think it’s a flashlight : )

Nerd Merit Badges
There’s no way I’m every going to earn the Inbox Zero badge.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Top 5

History of the Internet
A good infographic-style history. Slightly lengthy, but really informative and visually compelling. Even I learned stuff I hadn’t known.

Lucas in Love
Well this explains a lot.

An Image Was Worth 1,000 Statistical Tables
Doctors don’t have a great record when it comes to properly washing their hands. I found this article on ways to change the behavior of doctors fascinating.

Wild Light
Very nice nature photography, all from the guy’s back yard in south Michigan. He’s got separate galleries of birds, bees, assorted bugs, ants, and even mosquitos. The bee shots alone are incredibly cool.

Achieve Your Big Goals With Incremental Persistence
I’m a real fan of this thinking: Chip away at it. I have tons of little side projects, some of which I’ve been working on for years. Some people roll their eyes and just walk away thinking I’m spreading myself too thin and I’ll never accomplish anything, let alone all of them. I disagree.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Opening DiskDoubler files from Mac OS 9

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 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.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday top 5

Mind the crevasse
Pavement art inspired by Julian Beever. View some high quality photos of the installation in the video, plus another cool (hot?) one, at the Daily Mail.

A Charlie Brown Heavy Metal Christmas
[via Diane RW]

Facebook Fever
A good follow-up to the article I linked to a week or two ago about things everyone should know Facebook privacy settings. [via Jeanne B.]

Follow Cost
If you’ve ever had a people you on Twitter who just post waaay too much, you can use this little web app to see their average daily number of tweets. I’m seriously considering unfollowing this one guy who drowns everyone else out with an average of 24.52 daily tweets.

We Refuse
“We don’t want any federal bailout. We don’t want any reward for irresponsible behavior in our market. We don’t want artificial support of any kind for our market...” Unit Interactive refuses to participate in the recession. Hear hear!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I’ve been doing (Feb 2009)

If you missed the previous ones and you want to bore yourself to tears, here’s list #1, list #2, list #3, and list #4.

List #5, started January 31:
  • Uploaded some more screenshots of cool web designs to Flickr.
  • Designed a logo for the SIlicon Valley Water Conservation Awards.
  • Gave Jenny and Chris a ride back to the farm they’re working at in Petaluma, and stayed for dinner.
  • Worked a ton more on my portfolio, including going through many years’ worth of designs done while at and
  • Spent a couple hours exploring
  • Collected quotes about Ozark Handspun from the web.
  • Designed two new Ozark Handspun print ads.
  • Gave some input to Scott L., who was looking for feedback on a logo design.
  • Made some tweaks to my logo for the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards.
  • Tried for a third time to find a solution to Blogger’s broken feeds on my blog. Finally fixed it.
  • Researched how/where to best recycle my old mobile phone, did a hard reset to make sure all the data was wiped, removed the SIM and memory cards, and printed a shipping label to send it to Environmental Media Association’s fundraising program which utilizes Electronic Recyclers International.
  • Downloaded and tried out a couple new Mac diagnostic, repair, and optimization apps: CheckUp and SpeedTools Utilities.
  • Ordered 8 GB of RAM to put in my four empty slots. I’ve been running this computer on far too little RAM (less than a third of its’ max!) for far too long, and the latest versions of Firefox and Photoshop have been incredibly sluggish, so it was time for a relatively inexpensive upgrade ($185 at Other World Computing is a lot cheaper than a whole new computer).
  • Also ordered and installed a 1 GB module for Velma’s iBook.
  • Spent a lot of time perusing the website of a company I’d really like to work for.
  • Deleted 125 stores from Ozark Handspun’s retail page, and added 10 new ones.
  • Spent a few hours playing with iPhoto’s new capabilities.
  • Tried numerous things to fix Velma’s iPhoto, which keeps crashing.
  • Cleaned the cat box.
  • Vacuumed a bit.
  • Coded a lot.
  • Thought a lot, and tried to remember to make notes on most of it.
  • Went briefly to a Chinese Hew Year party at a neighbors’ house. We didn’t really know anyone but the neighbors, who we don’t know that well either, but I really wanted to see the inside of their awesome house. It’s a brilliantly done modern remodel. Made me want to move again/more.
  • Bought Velma the three-in-one-volume version of an antique book she’d wanted (I got her the cookbook volume before, but because of a miscommunication I didn’t know she wanted all three).
  • Went to Markleyville for a long weekend, to play in the snow with Velma, Christine, and Anthony. And two dogs and a cat.
  • Made a cool template in Photoshop that allows me to make photo-realistic pictures of documents as if they were spread open on a tabletop. Using in the portfolio.
  • Went to Stacey’s Books before they closed, then went to see Coraline in RealD with Velma.
  • Made some digital illustrations.
  • Went to Compostmodern 09.
  • Organized all the hard-copy notes that I’ve made over the past 4.5 years, planning my website’s redesign. I cut them all into logical pieces, since there were often random bits on all sorts of scraps of paper, and taped them into a notebook in a more usable order, where I can continue making more notes.
  • Sent a list of software title ideas to my friend Jason who edits the Download Dispatch Mac newsletter for CNET.
  • Did some research online.
  • Voted in the AIGA board elections.
  • Did a quick edit of some sheep and goat photos Velma took, for someone who was writing an article about Ozark Handspun.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thursday top 5

Hudson River Plane Landing (US Airways 1549) Animation with Audio
Captain Chesley Sullenberger: “We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”
La Guardia Ground Control: “I’m sorry, say again Captain?”
Makes me gasp and choke to watch, even though it’s just as animated reenactment. [via BoingBoing]

Clean Coal Air Freshener
Ad directed by the Coen brothers.

John Stewart bids George Bush farewell

Dog, Cat, and Rat
Can’t we all just get along?

Upload your own picture and make a Shepard Fairey-style Obama-like image. Four of the funniest are pictured here. [via Slamo]

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Progress report on the portfolio and site redesign

Thought I’d give another sneak-peek at some of what I’ve been spending so much time on for the past couple months.

As my precious regular readers will know, I’m redesigning this site and also updating my portfolio for the first time in about three years. What I may not have mentioned before is how in-depth the update to the portfolio is going to be. I’m doing a more comprehensive update than I’ve ever done (by far), going back 20+ years to my very first professional projects. I’m not posting them all, of course, just going through my entire archive and picking out some things from back then that I’ve never had online before.

It’s quite a task, which is why it’s taking longer than I’d anticipated. Anyway, I thought I’d tease everyone with a few snaps of some of the stuff that’s done. You’ve probably not seen a couple of these before. One of the logos I just did last month.

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