Monthly Archives: March 2011

Mac Backup Strategies for Worldwide Backup Day

Thursday is Worldwide Backup Day, when we celebrate taking precautions so as not to lose data (well worth celebrating). The best backup strategies take a layered approach to provide different levels of protection. I’m going to focus on three layers for protecting your Mac: online, nearline, and offsite backups.

Online Backup

Online backup refers to copies of files that are directly accessible. Some examples of online backup would be copying files to USB thumbsticks or an external hard drive, and cloning a drive with Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Online backup is convenient because you don’t need any additional software to get access to the backup files and you save the time that would be spent on restoring files from some other type of backup archive. Cloning is particularly good for system drives because you can boot up your computer and get to work right away instead of waiting to reinstall everything or restore files from a backup archive like you would with Time Machine.


Nearline Backup

Nearline backups are usually saved in an archive format that is saved to storage that is directly attached to the computer, or available on the same local area network. Nearline backups use additional software to manage the copies and provide some additional benefits like compression, incremental updates, versioning of files, and maybe even centralized administration and security. The disadvantage of nearline backups is that you can’t boot from them if your startup disk is down and you can’t directly access the files if you take the backup drive to another machine. Time Machine is the most familiar example for Mac users, but other software like Retrospect can be used this way too.


Offsite Backup

Offsite backups are simply copies that are stored in another physical location from the computer. The purpose of offsite backup is to protect you in the case of fire, theft, or some other disastrous event like a lightning strike or flood that would destroy both the computer and the backup storage next to it. Offsite backups, by nature of being physically removed, take time to recover and restore and are really only there for catastrophes. You can rotate physical drives offsite, use cloud backup service like CrashPlan or a filesync service like Dropbox.


These different layers can be combined to provide you with the right amount of protection for your needs. Here are three ways that a casual, moderate and hardcore user might implement online, nearline and offsite backup for their important files.



  • Copy your most critical files to a USB thumb drive. Repeat this process every quarter.


  • Buy an external hard drive and turn on Time Machine.


  • Take a second USB thumb drive with critical files to work.
  • Get a free Gmail  account and email an encrypted disk image (use Disk Utility) of your files to yourself (don’t forget the password!).
  • Get a free Dropbox account and copy up to 2 GB of files.



  • Clone your system drive to an external hard drive with SuperDuper! Update your clone at the beginning of every month.


  • Use Time Capsule for automatic network backup. If you have a laptop, don’t underestimate the convenience of having Time Machine just run while your computer is on without having to remember to plug anything in.


  • Buy more storage from Dropbox or…
  • Sign up for CrashPlan, possibly the best cloud backup service for Mac users



  • Clone your system drive to two different external hard drives with SuperDuper! Take one clone off site and rotate them every week.



  • CrashPlan
  • Dropbox in addition to Crashplan
  • Second cloned drive
  • If you’re really, really hardcore, set up a second Time Machine drive and rotate that offsite as well. You will have to manually switch drives in Time Machine preferences each time you rotate the drives.

Whatever your level of preparedness (or paranoia), there’s a backup strategy for you. Take a little time this Worldwide Backup Day to choose one and implement it before you have a reason to regret putting it off any longer.

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Boxcar for Mac Serves the Notifications You Want to Your Desktop [Downloads]

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mSpot Ups Its Streaming Music Storage to 5 GB [In Brief]

mSpot, the stream-your-own-music service that covers Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, has raised the online storage for its free accounts to 5 GB. It is, of course, a challenge to Amazon’s Cloud Drive/Cloud Player debut, but mSpot does have more developed apps, both in uploading and mobile streaming, than Amazon at the moment. [mSpot] More »

iTunes 101: Multiple Devices, One iTunes Account

Whether you’re using an old iPhone as a GPS, or one of your children is using an old device as a hand-me-down, you may want to manage multiple iOS devices from one and only one iTunes Account.  This includes, but is not limited to, managing a mix of iPads, iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs, MacBooks, etc., all from the same iTunes Account.  Here are some things to consider when setting up multiple Apple products with a single iTunes Account.

Account Authorization Limits

You may have noticed that iTunes is limited to authorizing only five computers with each iTunes account. This means that you can only authorize five separate Mac or PC computers or user accounts to playback protected iTunes content or use Home Sharing using a single iTunes Account.  For example, if you have created five different user accounts on the same computer, and have authorized iTunes for each user account on that one computer with the same iTunes Account, then you have reached your maximum number of authorizations.  This is also true if you have used that one iTunes Account on the same user account on five different computers. Basically, each iTunes Account can authorize up to a maximum of five instances of iTunes. You can deauthorize computers or accounts at any time following the instructions found at Apple’s support website. Luckily, though, once you have iTunes configured with a single  iTunes Account, there does not appear to be a limit to the number of iPods, iPhones, and iPads one can sync to a single iTunes library.

Computer Authorizations

Losing Some Apps, Gaining Others After Syncing

If you’re only using one iTunes account across multiple devices, you may notice some strange behavior when you sync your iOS devices: apps seem to disappear and appear at random with each sync.  It is likely that each iOS device serves a different purpose, or is even being used by a different person.  This leads to each user adding and removing apps that suit their needs and the purpose of the device.  What is happening is that apps that were purchased on one device are being lost, while apps purchased on a different devices are being added.  This situation is easily remedied by transferring purchases before each sync, and disabling the automatic synchronizing of new apps on each iOS device.  The “Automatically Sync New Apps” option in the apps tab of your iOS device info screen in iTunes applies to any app in your  iTunes library that has been added to your iTunes library since your last sync. If you are managing several iOS devices from one account, it is a good idea to disable this feature.

Automatically Sync New Apps

Controlling Purchases With One Account

With this configuration, each iOS device is capable of making independent purchases.  In fact, there are three layers of where the iTunes Account is configured.  The first is the iTunes installation you use to sync your device.  The second is the iTunes Account configured on the device itself.  This is configured in the on-device Settings app under Store (for iTunes Store).  In fact, there are several techniques you could use in the way you configure parental controls on each device that can prevent or enable each device from making purchases.  These purchasing techniques apply to the iTunes Music, Book and App Store.  Changing which iTunes Account is used on the device to be something other than the iTunes Account you sync with may cause problems when the sync operation transfers purchases from the device to the iTunes installation on your Mac or PC as well as the Digital Rights Management (DRM) on the device itself.  So plan on using the same iTunes Account on both your computer and your device to avoid those problems.

Device Settings Restrictions

Syncing Media Files From One iTunes Library

There are two paths you can take with your iOS device. Either manually manage your iTunes Library when syncing, or set up user-specific Playlists and sync only those playlists.  This feature has been in place for iPods since before the iPhone was ever announced.  You may even want to consider creating a separate playlist folder for each iOS device you sync to.

Sync Selected Playlists

Accessing Media with iTunes Home Sharing

Another layer of iTunes media management has to do with remote playback of your iTunes library, which is accessible on multiple devices via Home Sharing.  With the iOS 4.3 update, now all of your iOS devices can access your iTunes Library remotely on the same Wi-Fi network.  What is interesting here is that the iTunes Account you set up for Home Sharing does not have to be the same iTunes Account you sync your device to.  This is configured in the Settings App under iPod in the Home Sharing section.  Unfortunately, your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad cannot add multiple Home Sharing accounts like you can do with the Apple TV.  This does get a little confusing if you also use the Remote App from Apple that’s capable of configuring multiple iTunes Accounts to access and control other iOS devices like the Apple TV. To access libraries on any device using Home Sharing, you’ll need to leave iTunes open and running somewhere on your local Wi-Fi network.


Managing up to five computers with one iTunes Account and a seemingly unlimited number of iOS devices including the Apple TV is definitely possible.  Apple has done a great job by exposing some settings like automatic syncing in iTunes as well as on-device restrictions to help take control of both apps and media on each device individually while still using the same account.  Apple is still in the process of refining what you can and can’t do with your iTunes account, so stay tuned for more updates as the company rolls out new software updates.

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Use NetNewsWire to Clean Out Your Starred Google Reader Items [Annoyances]

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Give Color to your Home

Some colors can instantly improve your mood while some makes you shy away in disgust. Although favorite colors differ from one person to another, there are certain colors that actually work for your home decor. These colos, when used, can actually uplift your spirits and make your house feel more like a home. Here are some tips on adding color to your home.

Light colors are more likely to give an illusion of a bigger room. It also exudes the feeling of openness and lightness. Dark rooms, on the other hand, tend to shrink a room, making it smaller than it usually is. Use light colors to give more space to a small room and make a big room cozier and more inviting by using dark colors. If you really want to paint a small room with your favorite dark color, opt to have one wall in a dark shade and use lighter shades on the other walls of the room.

Opt for light and pale colors if you don’t have enough lighting. Light colored walls can spread the light evenly across the room even if you only have a small light source.

Use shades of blue and green or other cool and relaxing colors on rooms that you go to when resting. These colors can help you be calm and peaceful despite the chaotic day that had just transpired. Hospitals are known to uses these colors for the patient rooms as well.

Bright colors tend to make some people nervous and restless. Should you really want to have bright colors in your room, paint the walls in pale or neutral color and incorporate bright colors through the objects inside the room. Use bright colored pillow cases, rugs and furniture to liven up the pale and neutral walls without imposing the color on anyone who goes inside the room.

Rule Your Computer From Afar by Setting Up Wake-on-LAN [Video]

Wake-on-LAN isn’t a new technology, but with the increasing number of smartphones making their way to the market, it’s high time we looked at how you can make a home theater PC, or any hard-wired system in your house, wake up from anywhere with free tools and bit of tinkering. Here’s how to get started. More »

Using Git Versioning inside your XCode Project

This tutorial will show you how to automatically fill in CFBundleVersion and CFBundleShortVersionString, when using Git.
This has been tested in Xcode 3.2.5 (Updates for Xcode 4 at the bottom)

Git Setup
First off you need a project that is checked into git, and is also tagged with an initial version number.

If you already have git setup for your project, skip down to XCode Setup

To locally setup up git, without a remote repository, after installing git, issue the following commands
cd into your project directory
and type “git init”
create a file in this directory called “.gitignore” and add the following lines to it

# xcode noise build/* *.pbxuser *.mode1v3 xcuserdata   # auto git version noise InfoPlist.h   # old skool .svn   # osx noise .DS_Store profile

Then you can type:

git add * git add .gitignore git commit -a -m "Initial Version"

To make the first commit.

Type the following to give us our initial version tag

git tag -a "0.0.1" -m "Version 0.0.1"

When tagging, for this script to work, you should be using the form X.Y.Z, where X,Y, and Z are all numbers.

XCode Setup
Now that we have a local Git Project, or if you are already used to git and skipped to here, we can set up our project to auto generate our CFBundleVersion and CFBundleShortVersionString

Right click on Targets, and select Add -> New Target
Choose Shell Script Target
Enter a name. I chose GenGitVersion
Close the Target “GenGitVersion” Info screen that popped up, and expand the GenGitVersion under Targets in the Groups & Files view.
Double click on Run Script to open the “Run Script Phase for “GenGitVersion” Info” Screen.

Paste the following into the “Script” Section

Change Info.plist to the name of your Info.plist, and also the git= string to the location of git on your system.
This script will use the “git describe” command to take the name of the latest tag you have committed of the form 0.0.0 and create a short version string of the form 0.0.1-X-abcdefgh-dirty, where the 0.0.1 is the latest tag, -X is the number of commits since that tag, and the -dirty is whether you have committed all your latest changes or not. The version string created by this script will just be the latest tag name, for example 0.0.1.

If you used my .gitignore, then you already have InfoPlist.h added, otherwise add InfoPlist.h to your .gitignore
Right click on your main Target and choose Get Info
Under the General Tab, you want to add the GenGitVersion Target as a Direct Dependent of your main Target
You would do this by clicking the + sign under the Direct Dependencies section and choosing GenGitVersion, and then clicking Add Target.

Under the Build tab, you also need to select, Under Packaging, the checkbox for “Preprocess Info.plist File”, and right above that make sure to enter in InfoPlist.h as the “Info.plist Preprocessor Prefix File”

The last thing you need to do is change your Info.plist file to use the following for CFBundleVersion and CFBundleShortVersionString
CFBundleVersion = APP_VERSION
CFBundleShortVersionString = GIT_VERSION

Now when you use the following in your application, you will have git populating the strings, based on the version numbers of the latest tag and commits.

NSString *shortVersion = [[NSBundle mainBundle] objectForInfoDictionaryKey:@"CFBundleShortVersionString"]; NSString *version = [[NSBundle mainBundle] objectForInfoDictionaryKey:@"CFBundleVersion"];   NSLog(@"Short: %@", shortVersion); NSLog(@"Version: %@", version);

Xcode 4 Changes
There is not a Shell Script Target anymore in Xcode 4, unless you are opening an Xcode 3 project inside Xcode 4, however what I found to work is to create a new Aggregate Target, and in this target you can, under Build Phases, Add A Build Phase of the type, “Add a Run Script”. This gives you a “Run Script” section to place the script. You then set this aggregate target as a Target Dependency of your main Target, which will run the script before your main target is built.

Skip the Organic Label for Onions and Avocados [Groceries]

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