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  • dtoub 4:05 pm on Monday, June 6, 2011, 4:05 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple, iCloud,   

    wither my iDisk? 

    From the WWDC keynote today, there was a lot of detail about iCloud. It’s nice that it’s free. And great that it expands a lot of the current functionality of MobileMe. But not so great that, at least from the information presented, one is limited to 5 GB and there is no Web server functionality. Maybe this will change in the fall, when iCloud is released. But as I currently have a 20 GB iDisk, which uses nearly 8 GB for my documents and Web site files, it’s clear that I will have to start thinking about migrating to another Web server. Per Apple’s support document, they are granting continued use of my existing MobileMe account until June 30, 2012. But then, it is all gone. Unless there is something else that wasn’t mentioned today at WWDC, one will not be able to serve Web sites via iCloud.

    Presumably, there will be a mechanism by the Fall to migrate up to 5 GB of files + mail (I have 2.2 GB of .mac e-mail) to iCloud. But I am likely to simply purchase a domain and hopefully redirect http://homepage.mac.com/dtoub/dbtmusic.html to that new location. Not the end of the world. But it’s another important lesson. I remember when Steve killed the “free for life” iTools in favor of .mac at $99/year. This was followed by the $99/year MobileMe, which finally wasn’t half bad. Now Steve has killed MobileMe in favor of the free, but lower capacity iCloud. Who knows what will get killed off next time around.

    • Paul Muller 4:47 pm on Monday, June 6, 2011, 4:47 pm Permalink

      FWIW, about a month ago I registered a domain name through WordPress and restyled my site to look something like a netlabel. I even figured out how to make my Bandcamp site a subdomain and I now have a gmail account that also uses the same domain. So everything is consistent – the WordPress template, the Bandcamp download area and email addresses – they all look like they belong to the same site. Plus, I can add other artists at some point, with their own email and webpages. Total cost was $17 – add in the $20/year I have been paying for WordPress to host up to 5 GB of MP3 and pdf files and it is still just $37 annually. I’ve got my music on my laptop, of course, and I back up regularly to a USB hard drive. But worse case, all my finished stuff is in the cloud on WordPress and I have had zero issues with their reliability in over 2 years.

      If you are looking for alternatives to your present setup, look further into WordPress. Best value out there as far as I can see…

    • Tom 5:27 pm on Monday, June 6, 2011, 5:27 pm Permalink

      Small point, but at no time did Apple ever say iTools was ‘free for life’.

    • dtoub 5:30 pm on Monday, June 6, 2011, 5:30 pm Permalink

      Thanks Paul. I’m waiting until iCloud comes out this fall to sort it all out.

      Tom, I knew someone would call me on that. I’m quite aware of what Steve really said, but he said it in a way that the perception out there was clearly that iTools would be “free for life.” Parsing his words, one could come to a different conclusion, but at the time, we all thought he meant it.

    • Michael 8:56 am on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 8:56 am Permalink

      There are many of us concerned about our iWeb sites. Losing ‘homepage’ was disappointing as was iTools. But I for one would be happy to pay extra to keep my iWeb site where it is with its current address..especially as I am an educator and many of my published documents cite my iWeb created Site in my biodata.

    • Steve Layton 10:50 am on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 10:50 am Permalink

      Like I’ve told everyone for quite a while now, #1 buy a domain name! It’s super cheap now, it’s yours for ‘life’ (i.e., as long as you pay the renewal), it follows you no matter where you’re hosted, and all your page & file links and your email will never change even when if & when you shift webhosts. Which is #2, sign on to a large, reputable webhost. For also super cheap, you can have hundreds of GBs, tons of bandwidth and lots of options for whatever tools you’d like to incorporate. If you’re like Paul, it’s totally simple to install & use something like WordPress to create and format your own site, all the while keeping it flexible but organized and tidy up top. It keeps you in control, and keeps your online presence stable year after year.

    • dtoub 3:42 pm on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 3:42 pm Permalink

      Well sure, but for now, I’m watching to see what Apple does to accommodate the large number of us who have come to rely on our iDisks for serving our sites AND hosting files that we can, when desired, share with others, even from an iPhone. What was nice about all this is it was a single solution-nice to store files and back things up, well-integrated with numerous apps (even Quicken 2007), and serve Web sites if desired. I use WordPress for this blog, of course, which works well, but would move to my own domain and site if and when Apple makes it clear this fall whether or not we can migrate our many gigs of documents from our iDisk to an iCloud-based solution. I have a year, so at least I have some time. Thanks for some great suggestions!

  • dtoub 9:21 am on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:21 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple, , , SuperDrive   

    superdrive madness and other hardware glitches 

    I’ve noticed some weirdness with my MacBook Pro’s SuperDrive recently, where burning DVDs as backups would be hit or miss. Mostly miss. I would keep getting error messages about how the laser failed to be calibrated, usually at the beginning of the process, sometimes at the end of a failed burn. At one point this past weekend, a DVD-R would not be ejected after a failed burn, and no matter what I did, the disc would not eject. I tried restarting while holding down my mouse button, running the Unix drutil eject command, and even took some online advice and held the Eject button down while tilting my MBP so that the drive bay door was aimed at the floor. Nothing worked.

    So I went to the Apple Store in King of Prussia, PA, where the service is really good. The Apple Genius was all set to install a new SuperDrive when we tried booting up from a Netboot drive and to both of our surprises, the MBP was able to burn a disc. So the thinking was that it was an OS issue. I did an archive and install of OS X last night, which meant I had to reinstall some drivers and update some apps like iTunes and Safari (I’m running the beta of Safari 4 and really like it), but that was a pretty rapid process. However, the MBP still can’t burn discs, even if I login as the root user, so it is clearly not an OS or Home Directory issue.

    So I’m back to the Apple Store. The drive repair should take an hour and hopefully that will be it. We’ll see how that goes.

    And then there’s my external LaCie hard drive issue. Again. This makes three LaCie drives that have failed in less than a year, usually within 1 day-four months. This last one was a replacement for the replacement of a failed drive. The online support folks at LaCie are sending me a replacement AC adapter on the possibility that it is a power issue, but let’s be real, it’s most likely a disk crash or failed hard drive controller, judging from the sounds I’m hearing when the drive spins up but doesn’t mount. I do have a 1-TB Western Digital drive on order from Buy.com (thank goodness for all the gift certificate points I’ve banked—I think this is costing $12 in the end) and that should cover my backup needs just fine. I do have a Western Digital 500 GB portable drive that has a FireWire 800 interface, and it’s very fast and stable so far. I also have a nearly 1-year old LaCie drive that I’ve called back into service, and am just praying it’s stable for the short term. I just can’t trust LaCie drives, even when they’re provided as replacements by the company itself. Hardware is replaceable, data isn’t.

    Hoping this ends my weird computer hardware karmic storm for now…

    UPDATE: well, it’s not the SuperDrive after all. Or the OS. Might be the logic board…

  • dtoub 9:42 am on Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 9:42 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple, , software/hardware bugs   

    quote of the day 

    How true—given how many times my iPhone crashes daily after the 2.0 and now 2.0.1 iPhone OS update:

    ”Jailbreak apps potentially undermine the security, reliability, and battery life of the iPhone, although Apple’s own iPhone 2.0.0 software has done a bang up job of violating all of those things itself as well.“

    AppleInsider, 8/6/08 

  • dtoub 10:20 am on Monday, July 21, 2008, 10:20 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple, computer nonsense, ,   

    my lost weekend: don’t waste your time with MobileMe’s “push” except for e-mail 

    When I had a BlackBerry, I relied on PocketMac’s free sync tool that enabled me to sync my Entourage calendar, notes and address book with the BlackBerry. Since moving to the iPhone, I rely on the sync services built into Entourage, which also interacts with OS X’s sync services. Until recently, it worked ok—new events got synced from Entourage to iCal within seconds, and then to my iPhone over a USB sync (or vice-versa, since new events on the iPhone would make it to Entourage).

    Then came Apple’s change to MobileMe. Dorky name, but whatever. It held the promise of push e-mail as well as push contacts, push calendar events and push bookmarks. Sounded great. And initially, once some bugs were worked out on Apple’s end, it seemed to work ok. Certainly, the push e-mail works perfectly. However, “pushing” to and from my MacBook Pro would take much, much longer. True, the MobileMe sync preferences are set to sync at 15-minute intervals (a number easily changed, mind you, but in the end that doesn’t help much—trust me). That I could have lived with, since all I’d have to do is hit the Sync Now button in iSync on my menu bar, and that would be that. However, syncing this way takes forever. The sync would keep going and going for 30 minutes or more, even if hardly anything had changed on my iPhone or laptop.

    I reset sync services, restarted, repaired permissions, etc. but that didn’t make the “push” syncing any faster. So I disabled push on my iPhone except for e-mail, and that’s when the real troubles started. As expected, the calendar, contacts and bookmarks on my iPhone were now blank, but one sync with my MBP over a USB cable would do the trick. And it did. Except that with all the sync services nonsense I went through, my iCal calendar wouldn’t sync within any reasonable timeframe with my Entourage calendar. I had read an article on MacFixit about how to solve these issues by deleting several preference files, and that made things worse. I no longer had any Entourage calendar within iCal, nor was it being recreated by deactivating then reactivating sync services in Entourage. And when I finally had some success, everything was duplicated on both ends. Fortunately, I had a backup of my Entourage database (several, actually, all taking up 2+ GB of space), and reverted to that one, but now iCal only showed all my old recurring events ad nauseum. I even went into the terminal and tried the following:

    killall SyncServer

    rm -rf ~/Library/Application\ Support/SyncServices/*

    (note: in general, I never recommend using any rm -rf Unix commands, since it can end up irrevocably trashing unintended files, but in this case it was worth a shot.). Unfortunately, this didn’t work. Apple does mention never to delete anything in the SyncServices folder, but deleting the entire folder in the expectation that it would be recreated later on seemed reasonable.

    To make a long story short, after two days and many hours of dealing with this issue, here was the fix, at least on my system, which I found in a support article from the Entourage Help Page:

  • Turn OFF all sync services in Entourage preferences
  • Quit ALL Office applications (including Daemon—a script to do this is here)
  • Quit Safari, Address Book & iCal and all applications synching through .Mac (Transmit, Yojimbo…)
  • Use Activity Monitor to quit Sync Services
  • Delete the contents of ~/Library/Application Support/SyncServices/
  • Optionally: if you want to replace all data in the system Address book and iCal with Entourage data, delete all iCal & Address Book Data Files:
    • ~/Application Support/iCal/*~/Application Support/AddressBook/*
    • ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iCal/*
    • ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.AddressBook/*
  • Open the .Mac System preferences and make sure .Mac synching is enabled
  • Restart all applications that sync to .Mac (Safari, Address Book, iCal, etc…. and Entourage).
  • Turn ON Sync Services in Entourage preferences.
  • I should also add that I used iSync to reset the sync history. How much that helped is hard to say, but Apple also suggests going into Terminal.app and typing:

    /System/Library/Frameworks/SyncServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/resetsync.pl full

    I didn’t need to try that one, which probably does what I did with resetting the sync history anyway. In any event, I now can sync perfectly over USB again. However, I strongly recommend not enabling push for contacts, calendar and bookmark synchronization. It’s slow, unpredictable, and the fact that I usually cannot load the calendar page in MobileMe doesn’t make me very confident in Apple’s servers these days. Until they really have their act together on the MobileMe front, I’m keeping push off except for e-mail. The whole MobileMe push thing is what got me into this nonsense, anyway. It cost me much of my weekend, and had I not been careful, could have lost data as well.

    UPDATE 3/30/09: Well, I think Apple has finally gotten its act together on the MobileMe front. I’ve been using MobileMe sync for weeks now and it’s been great. I no longer use Entourage at all, but use Mail/iCal/Address Book, so my sync problems have been gone for many months, and the addition of syncing through the cloud only makes this better. But if I were still using Entourage, I’d be leery, mainly because SyncServices and MS Sync is not great.

  • dtoub 2:34 pm on Friday, April 11, 2008, 2:34 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple, , ,   

    new macbook pro 

    To be perfectly honest, I’ve never purchased a top-of-the-line Mac laptop. My first Mac laptop was an end-of-life’d PowerBook 520c I got through a university discount. Let’s see—33 MHz, 250 MB hard drive and with the expensive RAM upgrade I bought, it went from 4 MB to a whopping 12 MB of RAM. I should also mention its 9.5” passive matrix color screen and its 28k modem. Yes, those were the days.

    I finally was able to get a PowerBook G3 (Wall Street model), which I believe was 256 MHz (or was it 128?), and I maxed out the RAM to 40 MB or so. This was again not the high-end laptop from Apple, but it was more than good enough. Since then, I have had two iBooks, one G3 and a G4, figuring that it wasn’t worth the price differential to get a PowerBook, just as I once looked at my first PowerBook’s crappy passive matrix screen and envisioned five $100 bills next to it, and determined that the $500 looked better than the difference between an active matrix and a passive matrix laptop screen.

    I was provided with a MacBook Pro for my forthcoming new job, and it’s incredible to finally have the best tools available for work. It’s the 2.5 GHz dual-core model with half a GB of graphical memory on a separate chip and 2 GB of RAM. The hard drive is 250 GB in size, which is great since my puny 80 GB iBook’s hard disk was nearly full. While I had a weird glitch with the MIgration Assistant right at the end of transferring stuff from my iBook G4 (each time, with less than a minute to go, the Assistant would lose its FireWire connection with the iBook and the iBook was frozen, so some apps didn’t transfer over), it’s been flawless since. I had to re-input my Keynote 3 and Reason 4.0 serial numbers and for some reason I have no printers anymore, but that’s it for problems I’ve found. 

    It’s an amazing, incredibly fast laptop. The LED display is very sharp, and an ambient light sensor adjusts brightness based on the surrounding lighting. The keys also light up in low-light conditions, which still amazes my daughter Arielle. And it comes with OS 10.5.2, which so far seems to be working just fine for me. And the trackpad does multi-touch, like the iPhone. In all, it has been a pretty painless update, although a bit more intensive than the last time I used the Migration Assistant to go from the iBook G3 to the G4. It’s just nice to finally have the best toys tools at my disposal.

    • checky 7:38 pm on Friday, April 11, 2008, 7:38 pm Permalink

      Grats with your new machine. The mac is great, i’m still a newbie on mine. Have fun!

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