Monday, May 31, 2004

Merging or combining two iTunes libraries

October 18 2003: iTunes Library on an SMB Share
I'm linking to an earlier posting on a related topic.

I recently merged two iTunes libraries. The full story of why I had two libraries is fairly complex and involves using an iPod as a temporary remote iTunes library store (not the same as synchronizing an iPod with an iTunes library), creating a special user so I could manage two iTunes libraries on the same machine (one sitting on an SMB share, the other on an iPod based disk image), and doing delayed CD track name lookup. I might add notes on the full story as it has some interesting aspects - such as a high speed approach to importing CDs when one lacks a net connection, but here I'll concentrate on doing library mergers.

In this merger a "secondary" library is moved into a "primary library". In the "secondary" track names and album names are preserved, but playlists and ratings are lost.

1. My primary library is mounted on an SMB share. iTunes 4.0 used to have problems with some characters when one hosted a Mac itunes library on an SMB share but I haven't run into that lately. If a problem shows up, look for odd characters.

2. Secondary library should be located in a folder that contains only music. (Advanced preferences can be used to move iTunes libraries.)

3. Set primary and secondary library advanced preferences to "Keep iTunes library organized". (I used one user account to manage the primary library, another account to manage the secondary library. I think iTunes Library Manager can do this with one account but I didn't bother.) In my case the secondary library was on a share accessible from both accounts.

4. Update all tracks in the secondary library with CD track name lookup.

5. Switch to primary library. Using the Finder locate folder containing secondary library. Drag and drop folder containing secondary library music into an empty area on the left side iTunes bar.

That's it. The files are copied into the primary library. I imported 300 songs (all legally btw) without a glitch. Songs had their title, etc.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

macosxhints - Selectively closing multiple Safari windows and tabs

macosxhints - Selectively closing multiple Safari windows and tabs: "OK, so this isn't a really complex tip, but it might be useful to somebody anyway. I'm sure we're all good experimental users, and we know that you can close all windows by pressing Command-Option-W in a window with no tabs (or one, if you have the tab bar always on), and that this becomes Close Other Tabs in a window with tabs. In a tabbed window, Close All Windows is then Command-Option-Shift-W. But what if you have a lot of windows, maybe with lots of tabs? And what if you want to close every window but one, similar to the Close Other Tabs feature? I tend to use Close Other Tabs a lot, often while Googling and looking at various results in many tabs. Often I also have many Google searches open in many windows at the same time, and I might want to pare it down to one window, but keep all its tabs intact, which is what this trick is aiming for.

The Dock comes to our rescue at this point: Close All Windows really means Close All (non-minimized) Windows. So, minimize any windows you want to keep open, and then press Command-Option-W or Command-Option-Shift-W, depending on whether you have multiple tabs in the frontmost window. Every open window gets closed, but the ones in the dock stay there until you need them.

A simple trick, but it might save you a few seconds from having to go through each window one by one and press Command-Shift-W or Command-W (again, as appropriate regarding the tab status of the window) to close them all."

Monday, May 24, 2004

The OS X security vulnerability is generalized and serious

Daring Fireball: About the Help Viewer Security Update, and, Also, Why I Don't Think You Need Paranoid Android

Security is expensive and customers don't value it that highly. The OS X security problem are deep and are related to an infrastructure with nice capabilities, but absent security. A good summary:
... This is a generalized and serious vulnerability in Mac OS X:

1. Remote web server causes a volume to be mounted in the file system, and the contents of the volume are displayed by the Finder.
2. The now-mounted remote volume contains a malicious application that contains an Info.plist file that asks to register a custom URI scheme with Launch Services.
3. Upon displaying the malicious application, the Finder registers the new URI scheme, as per the app’s Info.plist file.
4. After waiting a few seconds for steps 1-3 to occur, the remote web server sends another URI, using the newly-registered scheme.
5. Launch Services will launch the remote application.

The key to prevention is to nip it at step #1, and prevent remote servers from automatically mounting volumes in your file system.

To protect your Mac, you should definitely disable the following URI protocols, using RCDefaultApp:

* disk:
* disks:
* afp:

You should also assign the ‘ftp:’ protocol to any application other than the Finder. (Or disable it, but I think that’s overkill.)

‘afp:’ is the scheme for AppleShare servers; I have confirmed that an ‘afp:’ URI in the following form will allow a remote AppleShare volume to be mounted automatically and silently:


Note that disabling the ‘afp:’ protocol using RCDefaultApp will not prevent you from connecting to AppleShare servers manually. You can still connect to AppleShare servers using the Finder’s Connect to Server command, or using the Network dingus in a Finder window sidebar. Disabling the ‘afp:’ protocol merely prevents ‘afp:’ URIs from being passed to the Finder from other applications — e.g. a web browser.

You must also make sure your web browser and ‘ftp:’ handler do not automatically expand or process quote-unquote “safe” files.

OS X DTP/Drawing/Reports application

DrawWell Technologies Ltd
I wonder what their market is?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Daring Fireball: Disabling Unsafe URI Handlers With RCDefaultApp

Daring Fireball: Disabling Unsafe URI Handlers With RCDefaultApp
This is the os x bug fix I'm implementing.

For Sale Used $77: Altec Lansing inMotion Portable Audio Speakers 1.0 Electronics: Altec Lansing inMotion Portable Audio Speakers 2.0
I have the first generation version of these speakers, now for sale on Amazon. I don't know what the distinction is between version 1.0 and version 2.0, the descriptions seem identical.

My speakers are in very good condition, they've been sitting on my office desk with some occasional travel. I'd say they're very close to new, except that the rubber plug that covers the firewire connector (it's used with older iPods that don't have a docking port) is dusty. I may even have the original box at home. (Update: don't bet on the box, I haven't found it yet.)

Version two sells for $110 on Amazon. I'm selling version one used for $77. Amazon typically adds about $5 to cover shipping; in reality it costs about $8 to ship with insurance but I've factored that into the price.

If you'd like to buy these, follow this Amazon link (may not be available prior to 5/21) and look for my entry in the used item section.

If you want to learn more about me before buying, my blogs and personal site tell more than anyone would like to know.

Fire-i Camera Technical Specs - webcam, security

Unibrain's Support - Fire-i Camera Technical Specs
Now this is an odd device ...

Note Studio

Note Studio
Palm and PC application for simple html pages.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Restoring Panther with Retrospect Desktop - Macintouch

Mac OS X Panther (10.3.3): "Restoring Panther with Retrospect Desktop

Merle Reinhart
I have successfully done what Paul Spector is trying to do several times, both with Retrospect 5 and 6. The trick that took me a couple of attempts to learn appears to also be missing from Paul's attempt.

After initializing the volume you want to restore, change the ownership to be root and group admin with privileges of rwx for the owner and group and r for the world. Then as long as the volume is set to observe permissions (i.e. the 'Ignore ownership on this volume' is unchecked), then Retrospect should properly restore the directory and file ownerships and permissions.

However, it appears that Retrospect doesn't modify the ownership/permissions of the root of the volume you are restoring to (this is likely why Dantz recommends restoring the backup over a fresh OS install as all the permissions and ownerships will already be correct).The other thing that I've found that should be done prior to booting from the restored volume, delete all the caches (including the kernel caches). Since technically, this is a new machine, these caches all need to be rebuilt (which means that the initial boot could take a few minutes).

Anyway, that has been my experience in using Retrospect for an OS restore. It works and can be faster than a new OS install (particularly if you have a lot of 3rd party programs or data), but you have to be careful of the ownership of the volume prior to starting the restore."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Using Command lines with Outlook 2003: Clen Profile -- reset registry

Using Command lines with Outlook 2003
Outlook /cleanprofile:
Removes invalid profile keys and recreates default registry keys where applicable.

Outlook help has command line page like this one. If Outlook is behaving oddly this is a good starting fix.

Yahoo! Maps show wifi hotspots

Yahoo! Maps
Now this is useful. Yahoo has a button on its maps that shows WiFi hotspots. Very, very nice.

I love the integration between Yahoo maps and Google. Too bad their competitors. I guess Google will have to buy Mapquest. Mapquest maps don't impress me; what I really want is tight integration between search, maps, and my personal data. Even Yahoo has done a poor job of integrating the "address book" and the "map location" list.

Dantz Retrospect: E-1101 (file or folder not found) on an unattended backup of a Microsoft networking volume: need to edit services management console

Dantz: What causes error -1101 (file or folder not found) on an unattended backup of a Microsoft networking volume?
Article ID: 27362
Date Created: 2002-07-18 Date Modified: 2004-04-07

... Under Windows NT, 2000, and XP, the error will occur any time Retrospect has autolaunched and you have Microsoft networking volumes in your script. This is because by default when Retrospect autolaunches it is running under the LocalSystem account, which doesn't have a login to the Microsoft networking volume. If you wish to run unattended backups of this networking volume and you are running Retrospect on Windows NT, 2000, or XP, you will need to take a few additional steps as follows:

- Quit Retrospect.
- Open the Services control panel (NT) or Services management console (2000/XP).
- In the list of services, select Retrospect Launcher, and click the Startup button (NT) or get Properties (2000/XP).
- Set the "Log on As" account information to your regular login, instead of the default "LocalSystem" account. Be sure to enter a valid name and password.

Now when Retrospect autolaunches, it will be running as the user you specified, and thus it will be able to access the networked volume, whether you are logged into Windows or not.

For more information on backing up using Microsoft networking, see the knowledgebase article titled "How do I back up Microsoft networking volumes using Retrospect for Windows?"

When I followed the directions I got error 1069 ... logon failure. I checked out a few other Dantz knowledge base articles and I was left with the distinct impression this doesn't work in version 6.0. Supposedly version 6.5 fixes it, but history has made me skeptical about Dantz's promises.

I'll try saving a script and scheduling that to run through the Windows scheduler.

Monday, May 17, 2004

You forgot your Mac OS X password

You forgot your Mac OS X password: "If you forget your password for your computer, insert the Mac OS X CD and restart your computer while holding down the C key on the keyboard. When the Installer appears, choose Reset Password from the Installer menu and follow the onscreen instructions."

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Eric Weisstein's World of Science

About Eric Weisstein's World of Science
Eric Weisstein's World of Science contains budding encyclopedias of astronomy, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics. This resource has been assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric W. Weisstein with assistance from the internet community.

Eric Weisstein's World of Science is written and maintained by the author as a public service for scientific knowledge and education. Although it is often difficult to find explanations for technical subjects that are both clear and accessible, this web site bridges the gap by placing an interlinked framework of mathematical exposition and illustrative examples at the fingertips of every internet user.

Hosted by wolfram, of "new science" fame.

For example - fundamental constants. I wonder if Britannica points to this site.

Jim Heid's Apple Discussion post deleted: Follow-up

Jim Heid's Mac iLife 04 Site: iTunes, iPod, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand
Apple Deleted My Post, So I'm Publishing It Here: Never Use iPhoto's 'Erase after transfer' Option

Yesterday, I posted a reply on Apple's discussion boards. A user had suffered a trauma: he imported some photos into iPhoto, and had checked the 'Erase camera contents after transfer' box. Alas, for some reason, iPhoto didn't import the photos -- but it did erase the camera's contents. Ouch....

....This morning's email brought notification that my post had been deleted because it was inappropriate. Whatever. It's Apple's sandbox, and Apple can and clearly does set and enforce its own rules.

Although I feel that the censorship level on Apple's Discusson board is excessive, I'm obliged to update this blog with a few points in their favor:

1. In an Apple discussion it was pointed out that Jim's post may have had an "active link" to his book, Apple guidelines prohibit that.

2. My posting complaining about this was "locked" but not removed; it contained an active link to this post.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Blogger links are no longer permanent -- a VERY bad design decision

Blogger: Dashboard

Blogger was redesigned. As part of the redesign each post can have its own archive page. That's great, except Google made a boneheaded, even ludicrous, mistake.

Persistent URLs used to contain a meaningless identifiers, a long number. That's the right way to do things. The used to look like this:


But if you enable the new single post/archive page option, persistent URLs look like this:

The title has become the URL.

If you change the title, the URL changes.

So the URLs are only as persistent as the title. They are no longer truly persistent URLs.

That's one of the biggest design errors I've seen in some time. I can't believe no-one caught it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Diversified Systems Group, Inc. - Media & Services - CD-R/DVD-R - Bulk CD-R/DVD-R - Mitsui

Diversified Systems Group, Inc. - Media & Services - CD-R/DVD-R - Bulk CD-R/DVD-R - Mitsui

Sell "gold" and other longer lived Matsui media.

Issue 12 - Which Brands of CD-R Discs are Best for Long-Term Data and Photo Storage?

Issue 12 - Which Brands of CD-R Discs are Best for Long-Term Data and Photo Storage?
6. Typically, Japanese made CD-Rs tend have better quality control, IMO.

Once they move production to Taiwan/Mexico, forget em.

Top Quality Name-Brands, in order of preference:

A. Mitsui Gold CD-R & Kodak Gold Ultima - Phthalocyanine dye + Gold.
B. Kodak Gold Silver+Gold - Phthalocyanine dye + Silver & Gold.
C. Mitsui Silver, Ricoh Platinum - Phthalocyanine dye + Silver.
D. Mitsubishi/Verbatim - Azo + Silver.
E. Taiyo Yuden - Cyanine + Silver.

Last updated in 2001, but little seems to have changed. There's new interest in longer-lived CD-R so maybe we'll learn more.

Ultimately we need Google to go into the off-site backup business.

NAV on OS X deletes entire Eudora mailbox files

MacInTouch Home Page: "Notes and Tips

Alan Claver offered some good tips for avoiding Norton AntiVirus's bad habit of destroying entire mailbox files:

The problem is that the virus signature appears in clear text within the mailbox file and/or spool files of Eudora. This text is matched by NAV and depending on your options the file is either deleted or quarantined (with predicably bad results).
Not every definition file appeara to have these signatures but when they are downloaded and incorporated into NAV, these issues occur.
The fix for this is to exclude the folder which contains the IMAP and/or SPOOL folders from NAV real-time and scheduled scan configurations. For the standard Eudora 6.x installation on OS X:

* POP mail folder: {home}/Eudora Folder/Mail Folder
* IMAP folder: {home}/Eudora Folder/IMAP Folder/{mailbox folders}
* SPOOL folder: {home}/Eudora Folder/Delivery Folder

Don't just exclude the entire IMAP folder because the Attachment folder for the particular IMAP account is located there and that folder must be scanned (since that's where the virus files are dropped)."

Monday, May 10, 2004

resolving iPhoto blurring?

iPhoto 4, Macintouch

Terrell Smith

Indeed, iPhoto does do far too much blurring. It can be corrected simply by clicking on one of the brightness/contrast sliders in Edit. You will then see the picture snap into focus."

Outlook's propensity to lose custom views

Text of a usenet post -- I'll link to the thread when it's published ...

Ok, I'm sorry for the multiple posts from this am, but I hope you'll agree that in sum they're useful. I'm thrilled someone else is working to track this down.

I may have a workaround for the bug. Others can test this out. I think it only works with Outlook 2003 and exchange server.

First -- what we know & speculate:

1. This is an old bug. Custom views have been disappearing since Outlook 98.
2. It doesn't happen to everyone! It probably requires Exchange server problems or some other oddity. I use multiple PST files, for example.
3. Custom views USED to be stored in views.dat. So pre-2003 users of Outlook can happily back up views.dat and be fine. Lucky dogs!
4. The problem MAY be related to synchronization between the multiple locations of custom views, including PST files, OST files, Exchange server etc.
5. If custom views have "folder scope", rather than being "PST scope" or "All folder scope", I wonder if they're less likely to vanish?

Now the new thing.

Outlook 2003 has a new feature -- one can "copy" folder design. The help file text for this is incoherent. I don't know if it really works. This is what I'm testing to backup and restore my custom views. I'm trying to create the views only with "folder scope".

1. Create a new PST file called "ViewsBackup" and create empty folders in it for Calendar, Tasks, etc.
2. Click on my empty Calendar folder. Then chose File:Folder:Copy Folder Design. Select the SOURCE folder for the Views. In theory this should copy Views to the "ViewsBackup" folder. Repeat for each of the main folders (Calendar, etc)
3. Exit Outlook and backup (I zipped it) the "ViewsBackup.pst" file.

Next time I lose my custom views, I'll try restoring them from either ViewsBackup.pst or (whichever works).

meta: outlook, bug, defect, exchange, synchronization, data loss, custom views, custom view, filter, disappear, vanish, lose, disappearing, outlook 2003, gone, jfaughnan, jgfaughnan


This June 2000 article describes how older versions of outlook stored custom views.

update II

Ok, this is interesting. There's a LOT of broken stuff in this part of Outlook. Playing with this domain I broke views in many interesting ways, including varying views appearing from click to click, parts of the views list disappearing, etc.

1. /cleanviews is a command line option that's handy to get the views working again.
2. The only views I can copy from one folder to another (using the method outlined above), are views created with scope of "this folder, visible to everyone". I think "All xxx Folders" causes odd conflicts when copied, and "This Folder, Visible only to me" doesn't work at all.
3. The Copy Folder Design / Views & Forms doesn't do a full overwrite. I'm not sure what it does when names collide, or if it only matches on names. If a view name does not exist at the target it adds the view name.

Using Command lines with Outlook 2003

Using Command lines with Outlook 2003

Very nice reference, some handy troubleshooting solutions.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

TechTV | Secrets of the iPod - troubleshooting

[This post was updated and revised 11/27/05.]

TechTV | Secrets of the iPod is a decent summary of advanced troubleshooting techniques, here are the key points with my emphases and corrections/comments]
Resetting the iPod

If your iPod's locked up, you can perform the equivalent of a hard boot by holding down the Menu and Play buttons for about seven seconds. This forces the iPod to restart, and hopefully allows it to function as it should.

[jf: This is incorrect. This is a partial reset, which does not resolve the 'unresponsive center button' problem which sometimes afflicts my 3rd generation (3G, smooth wheel, docking port) iPod. A proper reset requires the iPod be attached to a power supply, then switch the hold button to "on" (hold), then switch to "off" (red does not show on hold area) then hold Menu & Play. A full reset will solve my unresponsive center button; a state where part of the iPod behaves as though the device were locked.]

Disk Mode

Is your iPod missing in action when you plug it in to your Mac or PC? You can attempt to force your iPod's attention on your computer by invoking Disk Mode on your iPod. To do so, plug your iPod into your computer's FireWire or USB 2.0 port, use the reset button combination described above and, when you see the Apple logo, press and hold the Previous and Next buttons. In short order, your iPod should display the Do Not Disconnect message and mount on your PC or Mac.

[jf: My 3G iPod will mount by FireWire, but not USB. I might try this.]

Restoring your iPod

If you have to routinely reset your iPod or force it into Disk Mode, you should give serious thought to restoring it (iPod-speak for reformatting). Doing so erases everything on the device -- music files, calendars, contacts, notes, and any other data you've copied to it -- so be sure you have a backup of the material.

To restore your iPod, simply connect it to your computer and run the appropriate iPod Software Updater application. Be very careful that you update your iPod with the appropriate version of the Updater. A third-generation iPod can't be updated with the Updater intended for earlier iPods, but a Windows iPod can be (and a 3G Windows iPod won't work correctly with the newer software). Use only iPod Software 1.3 Updater and earlier for first- and second-generation iPods, and iPod Software 2.0 Updater and later for the current third-generation iPods.

[jf: As of 10/12/05 Apple's updater is supposed to work for all devices. The last OS revision for the 3G iPod was 2.3. Just prior to this release the universal updater didn't work on 3G iPods, but this version d for me.]

Scan the disk

The iPod has the ability to scan its hard drive for errors and repair some of those errors. If you suspect your iPod's drive is slightly funked up, try scanning the disk.

To do so, reset the iPod, and when you see the Apple logo, press and hold the Previous, Next, Select, and Menu buttons. An animated icon of a disc will appear along with a progress bar. This test can take 15 to 20 minutes, so be patient. If your iPod doesn't have a good charge, plug it in to a power source before scanning the disk.
Older iPods could also be placed in a diagnostic mode(methodshop):
1. You need to restart your iPod before putting it into Diagnostic Mode. Check that your hold switch is off by sliding the switch away from the headphone jack. Toggle it on and off to be safe.

2. Press and hold the following combination of buttons buttons simultaneously for approximately 10 seconds to reset the iPod.

* iPod 1G to 3G: "Menu" and "Play/Pause"
* iPod 4G+ and Mini: "Menu" and "Select"

3. The Apple logo will appear and you should feel the hard drive spinning up. Press and hold the following sequence of buttons:

o iPod 1G to 3G: "REW", "FFW" and "Select"
o iPod 4G+ and Mini: "Back" and "Select"

You will hear an audible chirp sound (3G models and higher) and the Apple logo should appear backwards. You are now in Diagnostic Mode.

4. Navigate the list of tests using "REW" and "FFW". The scroll wheel will not function while in diagnostic mode... (see link for rest of directions)

Friday, May 07, 2004

DateDex - The Calendar Directory of days, dates & events worldwide

DateDex - The Calendar Directory of days, dates & events worldwide

Another site getting a lot of blog postings. I agree!

Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures (NIST.GOV)

Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures

This is not new. The footer dates it to 1998! I saw a blog posting on it. Marvelous, but they need a better way to categorize their algorithms.

FILEHand -yet another search tool to try

Marc's Outlook on Productivity: FILEHand - a Google-like search for your desktop

I don't have much hope -- all the full text search tools I've tried lately have been very flaky or worse. Still, I'm obliged to try.

iPod -- Apple customer service debacle

iPod doesn't appear in iTunes or on my Mac desktop

1. At age 6 months 30GB iPod battery is aging fast.
2. At age 9 months battery has < 1 hour life. Instead of paying $30 for S&H I paid $60 for AppleCare and one year postage free service.
3. Get replacement iPod under AppleCare.
4. Replacement iPod is non-functional out-of-box. Won't mount (see The firewire hardware on the iPod is broken.
5. After the usual 45 minutes on phone support I worked up to a Tier two tech with an overflowing voice mail box. In a week or so I should have ANOTHER replacement iPod.
Update 11/27/05 ... to round out the story ...
6. The next iPod had a non-responsive central button. This was fixed by a full reset, but the problem would occur every 6 months or so. This final iPod was eventually discovered to have a non-functional USB port.

So Apple sent me two defective iPods, the last of which I have used for the past year. In November of 2005 Macintouch reported a 30% failure rate on the 3G 30GB iPod -- atrocious even by the standards of complex consumer electronics. I was bit by a defective product line, and then by Apple's practice of sending "refurbished" devices to replace defective products. The "refurbished" devices are supposedly repaired or shown to be working, but my experience suggests the "repairs" are very "low cost".

The experience with my 3G iPod has made me very cautious about trusting Apple products. It's also taught me the limits of AppleCare. Since that experience I do not purchase the extended warrantee, instead I follow the rules required by my credit card company. I try to have repairs done by people I trust, such as twin cities Apple store that's privately run.

dbVisualizer and MySQL for OS X

Marc Liyanage - Software - Mac OS X Packages - MySQL

I use dbVisualizer at work with Oracle. Very nice application -- the full version is only $70 or so. I noticed it claims to work with MySQL; some quick research supports this.

MySQL can be freely downloaded (open source).

Both dbVisualizer (Java) and MySQL apparently run quite well on OS X.

The combination of dbVisualizer and MySQL is nowhere near as user friendly as FileMaker, but I'm not sure it's beyond the comfort zone of a Microsoft Access victim. I may play with this on OS X a bit.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Tasks 2.0 (Macintouch)

MacInTouch Home Page: "Alex King released Tasks 2.0, a web-based task and to-do list manager with hierarchical views, creation of iCalendars, reminders by email, and other features. The new version brings the single-user version up to par with the multi-user Tasks Pro, adding features such as RSS feeds for every task, time tracking, file attachments, and smartphone/PDA access. Tasks is $29.95 for any server running Mac OS X, Linux, Unix, or Windows with PHP, MySQL, and Apache."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Digital Film Scanners - Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED Film Scanner Review, Information, and Specifications

Digital Film Scanners - Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED Film Scanner Review, Information, and Specifications

In depth review ...

Conflict Map: Nobel eMuseum

Conflict Map

This is staggering. What a terrible view of humanity. North America is almost uniquely quiet.

Apple - Discussions - iPhoto "Not enough disk space bug" -- fixed by ONYX and PCC Cache cleanup

Apple - Discussions - Not enough disk space bug -- it's back!!
Hey, we're learning something. At least with 4.01, the major source for this bug appears to be related to the system caches. ONYX and Panther Cache Cleaner both are known to fix the problem. We don't yet know which cache must be removed.

This is progress. The problem could be in how iPhoto works with the cache subsystem, within the cache system itself, the cache/file system interaction, or the file system/hardware level. Given the on/off problems OS X has had with corruption of disk drives, especially firewire drives, I would worry about the very low level OS functionality. I dimly recall reading at one time that the code layer between OS X and BSD Unix was pretty ugly.

If it's a deep problem then it probably occurs with all apps, but shows up more in iPhoto because of the way iPhoto works. That would fit with what I read on OS X Hints -- cache cleanup is the common fix for many application problems.

If it is a 'deep' problem it won't get fixed before 'Tiger'. (10.4) at the earliest. In the meanwhile, I will configure ONYX and/or Panther Cache Cleaner to run every week automatically. PCC is $10, I think ONYX may be free but maybe they accept donations. Either way I'd like to pay something.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Reviews on Tinderbox, Notetaker, Notebook (via Mac Net Journal)

Tinderbox, Notetaker, Notebook -- by Doug Miller

and ATPM review - Notetaker and Notebook Camera & Photo: Nikon CoolScan V ED Film Scanner Camera & Photo: Nikon CoolScan V ED Film Scanner

I have 1500 or so unfiled prints from post-childOne until 'saved by digital'. I'll never get around to filing them.

On the other hand, I could pay someone to run the negatives through this scanner and attach date information to JPEG output. Then dump the results into iPhoto or Photoshop Album for sorting and analysis. I may end up dumping the prints once the negatives are imaged (but keeping the negatives offsite in a well protected environment).

I love the Amazon reviews. This one is extraordinary. Terse but packed with useful information:
Reviewer: Peter Jung from Greater Toronto Area, Canada
Decade's collection of fading film this COOLSCAN can handle. You can obtain detailed images that are truly vivid, sharp, and better than the original then technology.

Batch scanning can be done with one click on the Scan button in Nikon Scan 4's firmware. The maintenance free red, green, blue, and infrared LED light source is gentle to film. The 4000 ppi optical resolution is an ideal start for outputting A3+ prints on the new crop of large format bubblejet and inkjet printers.

Reading the Nikon Scan Reference Manual in the Nikon Scan Reference Manual/Easy Scanning Guide CD would be your best learning tool to get the most out of your scanner. For the most accurate results, the first thing to do before scanning is to set your preferences by clicking on the Prefs button in the Control Area of the Scan Window.

When enabled, the Digital ICE quad Advanced software works well with most film. The Manual will explain that ICE, ROC, GEM, and DEE will not operate with the optional FH-G1 Medical Holder.

ICE will not work on monochrome film unless the film has been developed in colour. ICE will not work properly on Kodachrome, but will work on other brands of slides. Noise may appear if ICE is used on overexposed or very vivid images. ICE will reduce the overall sharpness of the image. ICE is not not designed nor does ICE advertise itself to remove all dust and scratches from film. ICE will reduce most of the dust and scatches, however. You will have to use a third party application like Adobe Photoshop to remove the remaining dust and scratches. ICE alone will double the scanning time of 38 seconds.

ROC may add colour to monochrome or grayscale images. ROC alone will almost double the scanning time.

GEM alone will almost triple the scanning time.

DEE works best when the image is cropped to exclude other unexposed areas of the film. DEE alone will almost quadruple the scanning time.

When enabled, Scan Image Enhancer (SIE) will automatically adjust hue. It does not work with darker images. In fact, the scan produces darker images. You are better off using DEE to pull out hidden detail in the shaded areas.

ICE, ROC, GEM, DEE, and SIE together will almost quintuple the scanning time.

Unsharp Mask can be created to all colours, or individually to red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, or yellow colours in the image. Deselect blue if you do not want to emphasize the grain in an image with blue sky.

The SA-21 strip-film adaptor only works for 2 - 6 frames. To save money by not having to buy the optional 1 - 6 frame FH-3 film holder, place a 1 frame negative into an empty cardboard slide holder and insert into the MA-21 slide holder. Remember to select Neg (color), and Calibrated RGB in the Control Area before scanning.

Along with a short USB 2.0 cable, included in the package is a Nikon View 6 CD, which is an application, used to organize saved pictures in TIFF and JPEG file formats only. According to the Manual, large files created in Nikon Scan may not show on Nikon View slide shows.

Before clicking on the Scan button, press Ctrl (MS Windows) and the Autofocus button. Then left click on a focal point in the preview image to ensure accurate focusing at that point. You can always change the focus point using the same method, or by using the Focus Tool in the Layout Tools palette. The palette can also be customized to suit.

If you have to use the Analog Gain palette to correct or adjust the colour values for each of the elements in the scanner's light source, your LED's may require repair. The probability of repair to the LED's is not specifically discussed in the Manual.

If desktop or cubbyhole space is an issue, the scanner can be placed with either the top or side vents facing up. Remember to provide the minimum clearances to the scanner for ventilation. The dual wrap around band of rubber feet will ensure a cushioned slip resistant footing.

After using the transparency unit on an Epson Perfection 1670 Photo flatbed scanner for 2 months, this COOLSCAN is the only economical equipment to use to obtain satisfying scans. It is amazing how much the original analogue images have improved.

If you have at minimum several hundred frames to archive, and the time to spend in front of your monitor performing adjustments and scans to each frame, then you will not regret overspending on this scanner.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Banks for children, finding things, and market failure!

MAGNIF Product Listing

This site specializes in coin banks. It was hard to find. I located it by:

1. seeing a coin bank advertised in a catalog
2. taking strings from the marketing description and feeding them into google (every catalog uses the same vendor-provided description).
3. locating sites selling the "reference" item then finding this site.

A similar technique is used for researching products that lack distinctive names. Search on both the non-distinct name and the distinctive name of a competitor's product ....

It's interesting though that I had trouble finding this. I'm better at finding things than most people ....
Update: The colorful $8 coin sorting banks lasted about 45 minutes. One sorted fairly accurately, another less accurately. Soon coins jammed, requiring disassembly. On disassembly the plastic pins fell out. The device was finished. We paid about $10 for under an hour of minor amusement and we generated more landfill.

This is what, in my main blog (Faughnan's Notes), I classify as yet another instance of market failure. We wanted the device I suspect this toy was based on -- a toy that worked quite well about 20 years ago. Maybe 100 years ago. We'd have paid $20 for one that worked. What we got was dreck -- for $7 plus shipping. Labeled "made in America" by the way -- I rather doubt that.

Life for the middle class American in the early 21st century is an unrelenting and extremely annoying series of bigger and smaller "market failures". I think this might be a truly new phenomenen with a significant real and opportunity cost.

Not to mention overflowing landfills.

Gmail - Inbox -- first spam is eBay account phishing!

Gmail - Inbox

I got my first spam on my beta gmail account. The address has never bene published, so this was a dictionairy attack. It was a "phishing" spam for a fraudulent eBay account. GMail put it into my spam box, from which there's a convenient "delete forever" option.

Soon the deluge will begin. I'm curious to see how GMail will handle this.

We know how to fix spam, now we're waiting for things to get bad enough to enable the fixes. Unfortunately I think the overkilll (Microsoft/Intel's Passport/DRM/"trusted computing") solutions will be the winners.

iPhoto Not enough disk space bug - it's still there. A deeper problem with the OS X cache and file system?

Apple - Discussions - Not enough disk space bug -- it's back!!

An old bug is still there -- but now I don't think it's truly an iPhoto bug (the iPhoto glitch is the meaningless error message). See my other blog postings on this topic!

The "not enough disk space" iPhoto bug has cursed many of us over the years. This is the misleading error message iPhoto produces when something goes wrong during image exporting to the file system or to a client application (Quicktime moviews, etc). (Usually there are GBs free and the export size is a few hundred MB.)

It just means "Something has gone wrong, I don't know what".

iPhoto 4.01 was thought to have fixed this problem, but it just recurred in a new iPhoto 4.01 album of mine that contains only a few hundred images.

There are several workarounds that are thought to help [1].

In the past I've used the approach of dividing up the image set into smaller and smaller exports, until I find the one image (it's always been one image) that causes the problem. I then crop it and undo the crop and the problem resolves.

This time I tried the approach of deleting the "thumb" files in the iPhoto Library (see [1]). It didn't work.

Based on the theory that the most common cause is corruption in an iPhoto cache, I tried out the $10 Panther Cache Cleaner's "deep clean" option and rebooted. The problem resolved.

In the past I've blamed iPhoto for this problem. Now I suspect it's a deeper problem with OS X that just shows up more often in iPhoto because of its heavy use of the OS X caching subsystem. Power user forums, such as OS X Hints, now consider cleaning the cache subsystem to be the modern equivalent of rebuilding the Classic desktop -- the first solution to most problems (even before repairing privileges, which in 10.3.3 seems to rarely make a difference).

A cache subsystem problem may represent trouble in the cache code itself or in the underlying OS. There are lots of nasty interacting layers down there, where BSD Unix meets OS X. I wonder if tracking down those nasty problems is part of the task assigned the file system gurus that came to Apple from BeOS.

This is an annoying problem from iPhoto, but in my experience either tracking down the bad image or using deep cache cleaner will fix it for a while. It may, however, be a bigger problem for the OS.

lists many of the theoretical solutions.

Review: Edmund Scientific Astroscan telescope (DansData)

Review: Edmund Scientific Astroscan telescope

Dan does a wonderful review of this scope. They key concepts are portability and wide-field viewing -- nebulae rather than planets. There's much to marvel at in the universe at very large scales; match your interests to the accessible!

I'm seriously tempted to buy one. I'm also happy to learn that Edmund is still around, it's been 25 years since I admired their catalogs.

An older but interesting digicam review

Review: Canon EOS D60 digital camera

An older but typically Dan-like review, with many asides of interest.

WordPerfect Office for $99

Eudora Premium Services Directory

WP office is $100 for "Eudora Users". Since Eudora is free to use in ad supported mode, WP Office is $100. Much less costly than Microsoft Office, I doubt it can be a significantly worse experience. OpenOffice would probably be my prior choice though.