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, January 07, 2010

“Find my iPhone” function = mixed results

Having returned from a short getaway trip to Orr Hot Springs last week with the redhead, I panicked for a few minutes when I couldn’t find my phone in my backpack.

When we arrived there, I had turned it to Airplane Mode and put it in my backpack, since there was no cell reception. When we returned home a couple days later, it wasn’t there. Begin to panic.

Since Orr Hot Springs has no locks on lockers or rooms, I was definitely thinking there was an iPhone thief. I logged in to Mobile Me to use the “Find my iPhone” feature, and it didn’t work. Deepening panic.

A minute later I thought of one other place where the missing phone might be, and there it was! I’d forgotten that I’d slipped it into the bag of cables and chargers that accompany us on trips.

I went back to try “Find my iPhone” again, making sure Airplane Mode was off and even Googling the setup process to make sure finding was enabled. It still didn’t locate my phone, which was now sitting right next to the computer, about 4 feet from the wifi connection. Meh.

Sadly, I don’t know whether to blame AT&T or Apple.

Update: I tried it again a couple days later, and this time it worked. Hmmm. Leads me to blame AT&T, since my cell signal is notoriously flaky at home. Doesn’t explain why it didn’t work over my Wifi connection, though. Still meh.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Explicit Content Only
N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton edited down to only the explicit parts.

Titanium Sporkestra
Velma and I saw this awesome drum line from Seattle at Burning Man this year, in a Marching Band March-Off held at Center Camp. I posted some pictures of them to Flickr, although they’re kinda blurry. I found the girl with the dreads, Cheryl I think her name is, incredibly hot. I liked her sense of style and she and another guy seemed to have a great sense of humor. Well, they all did, but she stood out to me ; )


The lols keep a-comin’

MacWorld bloopers
As my friend Jason likes to remind me, Steve Jobs isn’t perfect.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Eoin Colfer at the Apple Store

I was surprised there were so few people at the Apple Store on Wednesday, October 28, to see Eoin Colfer, author of the much-anticipated sixth Hitchhiker’s novel, And Another Thing.... There were fewer than a dozen people seated in the theater portion of Apple’s flagship San Francisco location at One Stockton Street. Granted, it was 1 in the afternoon and most people would be at work, but surely there are plenty of Hitchhiker’s fans who work in downtown San Francisco and could’ve strolled over on their lunch hour.

The lackluster showing seemed to confirm my suspicions that U.S. marketing for and overall public awareness of the book has trailed behind awareness in the U.K.. Or perhaps it was just that it was such a strange venue for an author talk and book signing? It’s hard to say, since And Another Thing... has surfaced on the New York Times bestseller list at number 20,, which isn’t bad, although it currently isn’t even in the top 100 on (although it’s number 48 on

Colfer was funny and engaging throughout his talk, self-effacing about the turnout (a few more people trickled in throughout the hour), and went quickly to questions from the audience. Since the audience was so small, everyone who wanted to ask something had a chance. In fact, plenty of chance. I ended up asking several questions since most of the other people had run out of questions.

My questions were more or less as follows, but I won’t try to report his answers verbatim, since he went on quite a while for each one, often rambling into some funny aside or three. You’ll have to wait until Apple posts the podcast of the event on the iTunes Music Store (likely in a month), upon which maybe I’ll transcribe his actual answers here.

How many times so far in the U.S. have you had to explain to people how to pronounce your name? It’s pronounced just like “Owen,” and he said it’s just the old Irish spelling. I asked him this in part because I pronounced it “Ewan” for a couple months before I went to his website, where it helpfully says “It’s pronounced Owen!” right in the header : )

Tell us about Hitchcon. I asked this mostly so he’d tell everyone else about it, and to give him something to talk about. I’d already read a lot about it in the Guardian’s coverage. Hitchcon was earlier this last month in London, and it’s where the new book premiered, on the 30th anniversary of the original book’s release. It was also the first time Eoin was to face the skeptical Hitchhikers fans in person, and the first time he’d do a reading from the book. He was a bit nervous, to say the least. Among other cool things at the weekend event, a huge amount of the original cast members of the radio and TV series reenacted parts of the scripts live on stage. If it hadn’t been the same weekend on which I’d planned our anniversary getaway, I might’ve flown to London for a week.

What did you do before writing? He was a school teacher.

Have your books been translated into other languages? The reason I ask is because I heard recently that some uniquely British-type things in J.K. Rowling’s books have to be changed to make sense to other cultures, and I’m wondering how you’d feel about that. I’d heard a snippet on NPR about some of the people who do the translations, and was slightly appalled to learn they sometimes edit things completely out because they’re deemed too British, and changed to something more culturally understandable to a child in, say, Ethiopia or Malaysia. I felt this was ridiculous; how else would a child in Malaysia learn about the strange quirks of British private schools if it weren’t in books like the Harry Potter series? I didn’t go into that much depth with my question, mind you. Colfer said it wasn’t usually a big problem for his books, although he recalled the Russian translator had a tough time with the fairies in his Artemis Fowl series, as in Russian folklore there’s only one sort of fairy, and in Irish there are all sorts, from dwarves to elves to trolls, and so on.

After the talk and Q&A, a couple people milled around talking with Colfer and a gentleman who must’ve been with the publisher or PR firm or something, as he’d quite clearly been Douglas Adams’ representative in the Bay Area years ago as well. Together we recalled the last two times Adams was in the Bay Area on book tours for So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless. The former was the tour on which I met Adams, which I’ve talked about before, and on the latter I only caught his appearance on the Jim Eason program on KGO AM.

I haven’t read the new book yet, as I’ve been meaning to reread the last few Hitchhiker’s books (I’ve read the first two or three many, many times, but it’s been a long time since I re-read either of the last two), plus I was in the middle of a couple other books. I’ll post a review when I’ve gotten to And Another Thing..., and I’ll also get around to posting my mini reviews of his Artemis Fowl series which I started reading early in 2009.

Photos from the event.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Building Black Rock City
Dozens (hundreds? I don’t even know!) of volunteers and staff spend several weeks, in advance of Burning Man, turning a desert of nothingness into out a city that will grow to ~50,000 inhabitants (!!!) within the week before Labor Day. It’s an incredible feat in and of itself, and one that never ceases to simultaneously amaze me and make me well up with tears and an awesome sense of gratitude.

Holograms iPhone app makes your pictures appear 3D
Pretty inventive.

AT&T is a big, steaming pile of...
Consumer revolt via YouTube.

Simon’s Cat: TV Dinner

How Wings are Attached to the Backs of Angels
A very strange but lovely animation by Craig Welch.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Top 5+3

Velma and I are going on a site visit to beautiful Sequioa National Park for a few days and I thought I’d be generous and post some extra distractions for those of you stuck behind desks while we’re backpacking through the redwoods. So here are three bonus links along with your normal five. Don’t say I never gave you nuthin’.

“Barney Miller” on Hulu
I loved this classic sitcom from the ’70s and ’80s, so I was pleased to see Hulu has added every episode. I’ve watched several so far, reliving my childhood with pre-adolescent glee. Plus the show had one of the all-time raddest theme songs (I can say “rad,” it was the ’80s!), and I found a free MP3 at Now I just need to find all the episodes of “Taxi” somewhere online.
Of course, I then spent half an hour looking up TV theme songs on this site. Best finds were the aforementioned Barney Miller, a semi-good quality version of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” TV theme, and the awesome “Streets of San Francisco” intro, which I’ve been wanting for years.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog’s Mac 101 series
I’ve been a Mac user for almost 25 years now (*whew*) so it’s not surprising that I’ve picked up a lot of power-user tips over the years. But even I learn something new once in a while. For PC-to-Mac switchers, novices, and even old timers, the Mac 101 series on TUAW is a great way to pick up quick and easy tips that will make you more productive and save time and effort. I perused the entire series a few nights ago and there are some great shortcuts and tips that will undoubtedly leave most Mac users thinking, “Aha! That’s how you do that!”

The Evolution of
Snapshots of Apple’s home page, from 1997 to today.

Brute force Hubble fix saves the day — again
Play-by-play description of the second time spacewalking astronauts had to resort to brute force to repair part of Hubble on this latest, and so far very successful, trip. Some other interesting play-by-play descriptions of the recent trip are available in other posts on CNET News’s Space Shot blog.

What Would Penis Do?
The artist of these shorts has a new book.

Aerial Virtual Tour of New York
Dizzyingly cool. Switch it to full-screen and be amazed.

“Space Oddity: Steve Lamacq Live’s guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
I recently found this broadcast from BBC Radio 1 about the history of the Hitchhiker’s phenomenon, produced to introduce the 2005 movie. Features interview snippets with Douglas Adams, Simon Jones, Stephen Fry, actors from the original BBC TV series and radio shows, fans, and a bunch of people involved with the movie. Oh, and it’s hosted by the original Marvin, in character of course. It’s actually quite a good show, regardless of the movie being rather a let-down. [31:24 min, RealPlayer stream]

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thursday Top 5

How Peeps are made
Photos: Inside Just Born, the manufacturing factory of marshmallow Peeps in Bethlehem, PA.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on “The Colbert Report” last week [7:10 min]

Osbournes Reloaded: Episode 1
I had no idea there even was a new Osbournes show. I only learned about it through someone’s tweet. It’s kind of a variety/game show. Lots of swearing (censored, since it’s on Fox), but not bad really, all things considered. Ozzy even looks pretty good. I have to say, the ending of this first episode is truly over the top. [28:59 min]

For the Love of Vinyl: Aubrey “Po” Powell on Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis was the design firm behind some of the most influential and recognizable (not to mention strangest) album covers of the 1970s and ’80s, having worked with artists such as Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, and Led Zeppelin. The principals have put out a retrospective book: For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis. [8:42 min]

Bill Gates on Facebook
40 billion reasons why he’s better than Steve Jobs.

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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, February 12, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Steve Jobs demos Apple Macintosh, 1984
A short video of the historic unveiling (unbagging?) in 1984 of the first Mac, during which Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh, and the Macintosh introduces Steve. At the end, when the camera pans back across the Flint Center in Cupertino, people are practically leaping out of their seats with applause (where, incidentally, my high school graduation was also held, just four years after this video). Brings a tear to this geek’s eyes. *snif*

1983 Apple Keynote: The “1984” Ad Introduction
Many people remember Ridley Scott’s famous 1984 TV ad and think of it as the first salvo in the war between Apple and Microsoft. But it was really IBM that Apple was gunning for at the time.

Evolution of Dance
Dude must be freakin’ tired after this workout. [via Velma]

XXXS garments knit by hand for the movie Coraline

10 Things Science Fiction Got Wrong
A few of the things on this list bug me too, whenever I see them in a science fiction movie. Especially the first one: I hate it when filmmakers put sound in space. Spaceships don’t go “vrrrwhoooosh!” dammit! 2001 is practically the only film that gets this right. However, the rest of the article contains some pretty wild claims, some of them just plain wrong. The best part of the entire post is the comments, where a legion of often-self-proclaimed huge dorks pick apart the original article and provide endless evidence to counter the author’s claims.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

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:

A) Go to Seagate’s instruction page.

B) Skip Step 1 on that page, since it’s for PCs only.

C) Instead of Step 1, from your computer’s Apple menu (upper left corner of your screen), select About This Mac, then click the button More Info. This will open the System Profiler.

D) From the menu on the left, select Hardware > Serial-ATA, and you will see your hard drives listed.

E) Select each one, and look for the lines for Model and Serial Number. Those are the two you’ll put into the tools on the Seagate website.

F) Go back to the Seagate instruction page and follow steps 2 and 3.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday Top 5

The Website is Down

MacBook Wheel
The new shiny from MacWorld 2009.

Shepard Fairey profile by Time magazine
Fairey created an iconic Obama poster and sticker early in the campaign, and another Fairey portrait was chosen to appear on Time’s Person of the Year cover.

The Blue School
The three original members of the Blue Man Group have started a preschool. More from Time magazine.

The Big Picture: The year 2008 in photographs
I’ve linked to The Boston Globe’s awesome large-format photoblog before. These three links contain their round-up of some of the most stunning news photos from 2008: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Mac vs. PC: More than meets the eye
Great SFX short. See the large, HD version here.

Lemmy, the movie
Someone’s making a documentary about one of rock ’n’ roll’s baddest bad-ass. Need I warn that Lemmy is never safe for work?

Farewell Mr. President
See all the farewell videos on the YouTube channel. You have just 19 days to add your own. (Hooray!)

Herzog and the Monsters
Lesley Barnes uses an interesting animation technique, although it’s a bit hard to follow the story this way. The crappy YouTube video compression doesn’t help matters.

USPS offers free mail-in e-cycling
Got a new mobile phone for xmas? Get rid of those unwanted small electronics for free, using the USPS’s recycling program.

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