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March 19, 2009

My love affair with Apple is back on!

Last Thursday, I wrote that MobileMe deleted all of my data when my account expired because I hadn't updated the credit-card information in my account. When I had contacted MobileMe support I was told that my data was gone forever and there was no way to restore it. I was quite distraught.

Well, I have good news to report! On Tuesday, Mike from MobileMe Support called me to say that they had been made aware that I was less than pleased to find all my data gone when I tried to renew my MobileMe subscription. He said that MobileMe engineers would be able to recover my data and that they would set me up with a temporary three day account so I could download and backup the data myself. Much relieved, I told Mike to go ahead and bill me for the full subscription. That's right, I'm a paying MobileMe customer once again.

After going through some account verification protocols for Mike to confirm that I was really the owner of the account, he had the MobileMe engineers begin restoring my data from "the vault." After the initial phone conversation, Mike and I coordinated the rest of my account restore over email. In the final email Mike made sure to remind me that "... this recovery was an exception to the MobileMe Terms of Service, which advise that MobileMe members are responsible for backing up their own data. Apple will not be able to offer future exceptions of this nature... To prevent data loss in the future, we strongly suggest that you back up your iDisk files regularly to your Mac, a flash drive, or other storage device. The more backups you have, the more protected you are. I urge you to back up this data right away." Needless to say I'm backing up my iDisk to my MacbookPro right now with rsync.

I'm very lucky this all has a happy ending. This situation isn't really unique to MobileMe and I can't blame them. They were, after all, simply following the ToS that I agreed to (but of course didn't read) when I signed-up seven years ago. Let this be a lesson to everyone to never keep only one copy of your data no matter how much you might trust that one copy--nobody's perfect. Hopefully my initial overblown reaction to this doesn't damage MobileMe or Apple's reputation in anyway. Of course without my overblown reaction I probably wouldn't have gotten my data back. ;-)

March 12, 2009

Apple, you've broken my heart. :`(

So I had been using Apple's iDisk service since back when it was the free iTools incarnation. When they switched it to .Mac back in 2002 and started charging for the service, I was happy to give them my credit card number to continue using the service. I have been a paying customer for nearly 7 years now. Well the credit card number I had given them expired, as they are apt to do after 7 years. I didn't realize this happened since I had long since switched to gmail as my primary email account. I have all my various email accounts funneling into my gmail account so I never noticed that I stopped getting my @mac.com email. Well today I realized my (now MobileMe) subscription had lapsed when I tried to access my iDisk and it wouldn't mount. Apparently this is the first time I've tried to access it in a couple months. When I logged into me.com it gave me an account "reactivation" page. So I dutifully filled my new credit card number and info. With my account reactivated--woohoo--I mounted my iDisk and then to my absolute horror found it completely empty. SEVEN YEARS OF DATA GONE!!!! That data on my iDisk pretty much only existed on my iDisk. Foolish me, I trusted Apple with the data I didn't trust my own harddrives to keep safe. After spending 20 minutes trying to figure out how to contact MobileMe support I finally found the "webchat with a support representative." Adrian (my support rep) chatted me that since my account was inactive for 30 days everything was deleted from their servers with no means whatsoever to restore it. No backups--nothing they can do. I'm SOL. Yes, thats SEVEN YEARS OF DATA GONE after only 30 days!! I paid them $99 a year for seven years, and because I didn't pay attention for just 30 days, they murdered all of my data. I wish Apple would have paid me a fraction of the loyalty I have paid them all these years. Apparently 3 iPods, 1 iPhone, 7 powerbooks/macbook pros (plus one more for my girlfriend's mother), 4 paid OS X upgrades, a handful of iPhone apps, and dozens of songs on the iTunes Music Store weren't good enough.

Upon searching my gmail inbox of 539 unread emails, I discovered that Apple did send me two emails letting me know that my credit card info was invalid. They contained the phrases "Please update your credit card information in your MobileMe Account to avoid interruption of service." and "If your account cannot be renewed, your access will be restricted to email only and will be turned off completely 15 days after expiration." I never would have equated "interruption of service" or "access will be restricted" to ZOMG ALL YER DATAS WILL BE GONE FOREVARZ!!!!!!!! I seriously can't believe it's gone. Even Blizzard doesn't delete your World of Warcraft characters when you cancel your subscription. Why? Because they know you'd never come back if they did. Needless to say I have canceled my newly reactivated account and will watch carefully to make sure they refund my money, or I guarantee you I will be calling Visa to block the charge.

November 05, 2003

the twelve days of panther - part one

I've been running Panther on my Powerbook G4 for twelve days now. It's had it's ups and it's downs. Read on if you want my review of Panther, starting with the downs.

Continue reading "the twelve days of panther - part one" »

August 18, 2003

congrats to apple

g5-shipping.jpg
Wooohooo!!! I wish I was getting one!

June 25, 2003

premature specification

Haven't made an update in a while, so I thought I would just type something as I take a break while drinking down an ice cold Goose Island Summertime™.

So nothing much to say. Can't wait to check out the new North Michigan Avenue Apple Store. I hope I will get a chance to stop by for the grand opening on Friday, but I doubt it as I have a birthday party to go to at Harry Carey's. If I do make it in, I'm afraid I know what I will end up buying. Yup, you guessed it, an iSight. What can I say? I'm a total sucker for everything Apple. Come August I wonder if I will be able to resist the temptation to buy a G5. Spending $3500 on a computer really won't help me get out of my parents' house any faster that is for sure.

Well I'm almost done with my beer, so I guess that's it for now.

June 03, 2003

the new ipod

I have a 20GB iPod that is just over half full with over 1,800 songs. I love my iPod. I have it hooked up to my receiver at home and use that as the primary supplier of music to my stereo. I bought it last September when Jaguar was released and anything else you bought along with it was 10% off. When the new iPods came out a made a trip to the Oakbrook Apple Store with no intention of buying one. And when I got there my intentions were not changed. I really have to agree with Michael Prager of the Boston Globe (archived) on this. Checking out the new models they are definitely smaller and lighter. Amazingly lighter when you hold it in your hand that it baffles the mind. But I have to say I don't like the new touch buttons. They are too sensitive when you don't want to push them and they seemed to be not sensitive enough when I actually wanted to push them. Trying to play the little solitaire game seemed more difficult than it should have been trying to use the touch buttons. That coupled with the decreased battery life pretty much keeps me from even contemplating making an upgrade to a newer model iPod. Especially the battery life issue. What is the point of having a device that can hold two weeks of continuous music if you can only play eight hours of it at once.

February 27, 2003

computing on thin ice

Well today completely sucked ass. Had a close call with my TiBook. Around 1 or 2 this afternoon, I was upgrading OmniGraffle by copying the new version into my Applications folder. At 28.1MB of 28.5MB copied, the copy operation decided to stall. Only "5 seconds remaining" it told me.

Well after 5 minutes I started to get a little pissed. Dock eventually froze and the only windows I had that weren't minimized or hidden were for Finder which was completely locked up too of course. So with a frozen Finder and a frozen Dock, and sshd turned off, you are pretty much screwed. You can't do anything.

Hit option-command-esc to bring up Force Quit window. It finally came up...ten minutes later. Meanwhile during all this my harddrive is making grinding noises quite pleasing to the ear. Took another 5 minutes for the Force Quit window to actually display anything though. Once it did I started quiting apps, but it didn't seem to make a difference. Trying to relaunch Finder did nothing. They really should put the Dock in there too.

But all that is moot since the real problem was that my drive decided to apparently just give up because it was tired. Well after 30 minutes of trying to see if I could recover without a reboot I gave up and did the three finger salute. I can't remember the last time I rebooted my mac. I guess it would have been the 10.2.4 upgrade a few weeks ago. So I started to freakout when after the ding all I got was a grey screen. The apple never showed up. What?! Panic! I haven't backed up my 7.22GB of mp3s anywhere!

A few more failed attempts at trying to reboot and I decided to break out the Jaguar install disc. Popped it in, boot, opened Disk Repair. Five minutes after clicking on the "44.71 GB IBM-" drive icon, Disk Repair finally responded and informed my that there was no data on my drive. No partitions, nothing! Fuck!

So I decided, well it seems to be pretty hot, how about I shut it off and let it cool down for 20 minutes. So I did. Booted back up with the Jaguar CD, and thank god Disk Repair now displayed my partition. Pfew. Ran Verify Disk on it. It found a "Invalid Available Sector Count. Should be 118356 (was 118234)" error or something like that. Yikes. Whatever that means. So than I ran Repair Disk. It took like 30 minutes although I wasn't really paying attention. One the Repair was done, I did a cold shutoff by holding down the power button. Booted back up in the Jaguar CD and ran Repair again. Took 30 minutes but found no errors. Rebooted into OS X.

Well long story short I'm typing this now from my TiBook so I guess things are okay. I of course immediately backedup all my mp3s to a Firewire drive. Everything else I have on here exists somewhere else. I guess I'll see how long before my drive flakes out again. Then it's time for a call to Apple.

January 08, 2003

OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 X11 for Mac OS X Final Beta

So OpenOffice.org released the final beta version of OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 X11 for Mac OS X yesterday at MWSF. I'm surprised to have not read about it on any sites yet. I managed to download it pretty quickly off of one of the mirrors (probably because the downloading frenzy hasn't begun yet). My first impression is that it does appear to be very stable, but it's not quite polished enough to replace Office X for the everyday Mac user.

Yesterday Apple also quietly released a beta version of X11 for Mac OS X which is an optimized version of Xfree86's X server that also includes a speedy quartz based window manager. It works much like Orobourosx but much faster thanks to Apple's optimizations. I bring this up because it looks like the new OpenOffice build was unfortunately built before anyone knew about Apple's new X11. After installing OpenOffice.org, a nice "Start OpenOffice.org" icon is created in your Applications folder. Double clicking it the first time asks you what program to use as your X11 server. I choose Apple's X11, but after a minute or too, Console was nice enough to report that soffice.bin had crashed. So no go with a nice double click to start up OOo. I'm sure this will be fixed by the time it is finally released though. Fortunately, I had no problems starting it from within an xterm or adding it to the X11 Applications menu by entering the command "/Applications/OpenOffice.org1.0.1/program/soffice"

On from there it looks to be very stable. The Word and Excel documents I opened loaded perfectly and printed without a hitch. I didn't have to do anything special to make this happen. Just open and print and done. So the basics are definitely there.

Printing is a little confusing though from a user feedback standpoint though, as it does not go through Print Center. And it prints so fast through CUPS (on a TiBook 667) that I wasn't even sure anything had been printed until I went to the other end of the office to check the printer. Maybe if we are lucky it will use Printer Center in the final release.

My last gripes are that as far as being a Macintosh program it's just not there yet. I don't fault anyone for this as this release based on the X11 version does not attempt to be a full fledged Mac program anyway. No attempt has been made with this version to follow the Aqua Human Interface Guidelines of course. And since it uses X11 instead of Aqua, menu bars are of course within each window instead of in the standard menu bar (as with any X11 program running on Mac OS X). All the shortcut key combinations use Ctrl instead of Cmd. This means that you hit Ctrl+S to save and Ctrl+P to print instead of Cmd+S and Cmd+P respectively. I was also not able to hit some of the key combinations such as Ctrl+F7 to bring up the Thesaurus. These problems should of course be addressed when OpenOffice.org completes their native Aqua port which is currently under development.

All and all it looks like OpenOffice.org has built a very solid application that anyone coming from Unix/Linux should feel very comfortable using and save them from having to fork over cash to Microsoft in order to edit Word documents on a Mac. For people that are used to the beauty and consistency of Macs and Mac apps, they are probably still better off spending the money to purchase Microsoft Office X if they need to work with these documents everyday. But for anyone that doesn't spend much of their time in a word processor, perhaps less than once a week, this is definitely a great alternative to spending $500.

January 06, 2003

My Keynote Predictions

I have no affiliations with Apple or any insider knowledge of any kind to back any of my predictions up, but what I do have is a fresh view of Apple. I have been a PC user for over half of my life and didn't really get into Apple until I convinced my boss to buy me a TiBook last Christmas. I have no desire of going back to the PC world let me tell you. But I do still have a bit of an outsider view of things, so here goes.

I am reading a lot of predictions that are expecting Apple to release either a Tablet PC type product or an "iPod II" that supports video. I think both of these predictions are completely absurd. Let me tell you why.

* Tablet PC: There is really no market for the tablet PC. For one thing, myself, as well as most people can type a hell of a lot faster than they can write. So given that plus the potential for mistakes in handwriting recognition that are bound to pop up occasionally, from a productivity stand point the tablet will NEVER replace a bona fide laptop. The only place a tablet pc would be more useful than a laptop, is if you are standing and have no table to rest your laptop on. It's not very easy to hold a TiBook in one hand and type very effectively with the other. I could see a Tablet PC being more practical in this situation. But on the other hand is it really going to be better than a PDA? NO! PDA's are great and can fit in your pocket. True they won't play video like a Table PC could, but come on...do you really need it? For the people that a Tablet PC might actually be useful to (read: corporate users), they don't need it to play video or any other gee-wiz-bang novelty feature like that. They've already got a PDA that does everything that would use the Table PC for and at a quarter of the size and price. Who else might the Tablet PC be useful too? Your UPS or Fedex guy and guess what. They've already got a tablet shaped piece of equipment that fills their needs. They don't need a big expensive color LCD screen to do what they do. The Tablet PC == big loser.

* Video iPod: This would be even worse of an idea than the Tablet PC. Who is going to watch video on their iPod. NO ONE!! Sure it sounds cool and if you bought one you would run around and show it to all your friends, but after that...is it really useful? No not at all. If Apple wants to use a new video feature to justify keeping the price of the iPod at $500 then I guess that is their prerogative, but I can tell you I'm not going to be replacing my 20GB iPod I have now for one that plays video. Dumb! The iPod has dinky little 2in screen. It's not big enough to watch video practically. So this means they would have to make the iPod bigger which if you ask me takes away a lot of the appeal of the iPod. The iPod has a nice small form-factor compared to other mp3 players. The other reason that adding video to it doesn't make any sense is how it combines with iTunes. The iPod (on the mac side anyway) is a portable hardware extension of iTunes. It is a very elegant solution. I add or remove music to iTunes, plug in my iPod and in minutes they are synced. I don't even have to think about it, it's just plug and play. So what is Apple going to add Video to iTunes now? It doesn't make any sense. That means you are going to have to now sync with some other utility that handles your video library and playlist. Where do you get this video? Are regular ordinary people going to be downloading gigs and gigs of video off the Internet to put on the iPod so they can watch on it's little tiny 160x128 screen? No way! So unless Apple also releases a new iApp that rips video as easily from DVDs as iTunes does from CDs, there is no elegant solution for video like there is for music. It just is not practical.

Here's an easy way to figure out if a product idea makes sense for Apple. Can you fit it into a Switch commercial? Keep in mind that at least 10 seconds of the commercial is spent with the person saying who they are and what they do. So you have 20 seconds to describe a product in simple ordinary words. This works for iPhoto, iPod, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, etc. Try and sell me a Tablet PC or explain to me why a Video iPod will make my life better in 20 seconds. YOU CAN'T DO IT!

So now that I've shot down everyone's two favorite predictions, what are mine?

* Rendezvous enabled iTunes: This is I want and we know they have been working on it. They really need to start leveraging the new Rendezvous technology in Jaguar, so far iChat and printing are the only things. Not to many people have bought Rendezvous enabled printers yet, so no one really notices it. It's something that is very cool and you don't have to think about to use. Win Win for everyone.

* Rendezvous Home Stereo Component: This should be the new DLD everyone is clamoring for. I seem to remember Philips or maybe it was Panasonic or Pioneer who said they were working on a Stereo component that would play music using Rendezvous to access your iTunes play list. This could be the new DLD that they announce and I know I would go out and buy it. Right now I hook up my iPod to my stereo. If I no longer had to go through the process of syncing my iPod with my TiBook to get my latest mp3's on my stereo or charging it, that is worth $200-$300 to me. Just make it wireless please so I don't have to run CAT5 to my stereo.

* Ogg/Vorbis support in iPod: This is more of a pipe-dream than a prediction. I would really love for Apple to add support for Ogg/Vorbis to the iPod via a software update, but I doubt it will happen. I don't want it bad enough to spend another $500 for a new iPod. But I would love it and it would certainly bring the final bit of geeks eyeing shiny TiBooks from a far over to our side.

* New iChat: Everyone seems to think they will be announcing a new version of iChat that has audio and/or video support. I could see this. It's something I think most of the other chat clients already have. I personally won't be making use of it. I use chat mostly for business purposes and I need the logging that chat enables. Audio/Video can not be practically logged so if something important happens I can no longer search back and reference past conversations if they happened over audio/video instead of text chat. Now what would be really kickass though would be if the new iChat included voice recognition that transcribed the audio so you later could go back and search past conversations. That would be a killer app for Apple to bring to the market first. The corporate world would go nuts for something like that. Another nice feature to add to iChat might be to integrate a bit of Apple Remote Desktop into it, so you could display your desktop to people to compete with NetMeeting. Does anyone even use NetMeeting any more though?

* All new systems are Firewire2 enabled: I think Apple will update all new shipping macs to have Firewire2. We can thank SmartDisk for jumping the gun on that.

* All new systems are Bluetooth enabled: Apple being the first to ship bluetooth standard on systems would be very cool. Sorta takes the wind out of Microsoft's syncing sails. This also lends nicely to the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse that a lot of people are predicting for the iMac.

* All new systems are USB2 enabled: Why not? If they do Firewire2 and Bluetooth, there is no reason not to upgrade USB2 at the same time.

* Airport supports 802.11b and g: I don't know if that is technically possible, but I sure hope it is. It would be really cool if it was software update and you didn't have to go out and buy new hardware to get the faster speeds. There is a lot of 802.11b Apple product out there in the market place. To stop supporting them would be a bad move. But that shouldn't stop them from also shipping the latest and greatest. I think this is probably a stretch though. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure 802.11g is actually a finalized spec yet. I think it may still be a draft spec at the moment. It probably won't change, but do you really want to base products on standard that might change?

* General spec improvements: Other than that, just you standard harddrive space, processor speed, memory improvements that happen. Nothing special here.

* Xserve RAID: It would be nice for this to actually ship, or at least have an ETA.

So that about sums it up. People are predicting the announcements that some iApps you will have to start paying for upgrades for. I'm not really leaning either way on whether or not this is true. I hope it's not, but if it does, so what. If I have to spend $50 to have titles in iMovie stop sucking, I'll spend it. There could also be the iBrowser that everyone thinks Apple is making based off of Chimera. Maybe...but why bother? Why not just pay the Chimera developers to make Chimera do what it is that Apple wants. Do they really need to re-brand it? What would they gain? Nothing really. There are also predictions of major changes in the display line up. I guess maybe? Don't have any strong feelings about that.

October 23, 2002

not what I came here for

Went to the Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group. The Shake presentation didn't do much for me. Quite a bit out of my price range. Of all the other cool stuff I saw, I'd have to say the coolest was that which was not actually being presented. Duality by Conundrum Software. It is a theme changer for OS X. There are themes you would expect such as Classic and Windows XP and other random original ones. The one I'm running on my TiBook is the Brushed Metal theme. Makes everything look like Quicktime and iTunes. Sweet! Matches nicely with the titanium shell.

October 16, 2002

Overlapping Extent Allocation

Today I went through the joy of reinstalling everything on my TiBook. For the last several days, there has been a problem with the disk on my laptop where I would receive about 20 "Overlapping Extent Allocation" errors or something like that. No matter how many times I ran fsck they never went away. I then resorted to booting into OS 9 and put Disk First Aid to work on it. Same errors never went away even after running it 4 times. DFA also showed a failed Header check error or something like that. So I decided to wipe the drive and reinstall.

I kinda wanted to do this anyway. Previously I had a separate 3GB partition that had OS 9 installed on it and then the rest of the drive was a second partition for OS X. Well this time I made only one disk partition. I was also able to do a fresh install of Jaguar (on top of 9.2.2) instead of upgrading from 10.1.5 so maybe this will fix any stability issues I was having before?

I doubt it. After the os install was complete and I was putting my apps back on, I had a very weird thing happen. I had Mail.app running syncing with my IMAPS server (over 1.8GB of mail), iChat, AddressBook paired to my T68 over Bluetooth, Mozilla, and iTunes (6.76GB library) running. I was mounting the iSyncBeta disk image and it was running through the checksum when just out of the blue every single app crashed including Finder. Finder restarted itself and I was left stairing at the desktop. Uhhhh... I've never seen that before ever. So I rebooted and continued putting stuff on.

What's left to go? Haven't installed X yet. Saving that for tomorrow. GnuPG 1.2.0 came out not too long ago. The MacGPG site says they are waiting for 1.2.1, so I'm going to wait for that instead installing 1.0.7 now and upgrading later. GPGMail will go on after that.