Entries Tagged 'Programs' ↓

Time Machine Not Backing Up Anymore? Try iBackup Instead.

[Check out iBackup here, if you hate to read.]

Well, what I thought was totally awesome the first time I ran it turned out to be not so good.  OS X’s Time Machine let me down, and for the past three days I’ve been searching for a way to fix it.  I managed to make a full backup to my FireWire drive the first time I ran it, and it seemed really cool.  I am backing up to an external FireWire 400 drive, and trying to backup my MacBook Pro.

This is a notebook, and keeping Time Machine running didn’t seem like such a great thing for me.  Keeping an external disk tethered to my MacBook Pro wouldn’t win any awards for mobility, for sure.  I backed up, turned Time Machine off, and ejected my external drive.  I was happy.  A week later, I mounted the FireWire drive, and all seemed well.  Turned on Time Machine, and it recognized the backup, I could flip through hourly backups, and it all looked great.  I tried to run a new backup before going off to sleep, however, the next morning only 27KB had been transferred.

Obviously something went awry.  No errors, no warnings, and the little backwards running icon in the menubar was still happily plugging along.  What was apparent, though, is Time Machine had failed miserably.  As I’ve looked deeper into this across many a forum, as well as various blogs, this is widespread and most users with difficulties such as this have moved to Snow Leopard 10.6.1.  If you are running 10.6.0 and don’t have any issues with Time Machine, don’t update to 10.6.1.  I did run across one cool widget that tells you Time Machines logs, called Time Machine Buddy.

I tried various things, from deleting the com.apple.timemachine.plist file in the Macintosh HD –>  Library –> Preferences folder.  This is a system-wide application and you won’t find a plist file in your home directory.  I tried deleting the partial backup from my FireWire drive, and the alias file as well.  I checked the .Trash folder on the FireWire drive to be sure there weren’t any remnants on the drive.  Reboot after reboot, unmount and mount, nothing would fix it.  So, as a last resort, I formatted the FireWire drive and started over.  I made sure it was set up by the book.  Nothing works to fix it, and the weird part is I never get an error.  On my last attempt before looking into alternatives, I waited 6 hours to transfer 11KB.  The furthest I ever had gotten was 5GB, which I thought would be it.  Nope, stuck there for eternity.  So, until Apple helps us out and gets it fixed, I’m moving on.

I found this sweet donationware application called iBackup.  It doesn’t do nearly what Time Machine is supposed to, but for someone like me who just wants to backup my home folder, where my Sites, Downloads, Documents, etc. reside, it seems like it’s going to work out beautiful.  14GB of data transferred over to my FireWire drive in about 20 minutes, with no headaches.  I like that.  And it’s free for personal use, although I will probably throw the creator a donation because it’s what you should do when someone writes a handy application that you are going to keep using for eternity.  I want them to keep publishing it, of course!
So here are some screenshots, you can read more about the Preferences and Plugins following the images (click to enlarge):

Main iBackup Screen

Main iBackup Screen

System Settings Plugins

System Settings Plugins

Profile Preference 1

Profile Preference 1

Profile Preference 2

Profile Preference 2

Profile Preference 3

Profile Preference 3

Profile Preference 4

Profile Preference 4

Profile Preferene 5

Profile Preference 5

Profile Preference 6

Profile Preference 6

iBackup doesn’t support incremental backups, however, it does only copy items that have been modified.  It uses straight up UNIX commands to copy your files, which you can see in the screenshot directly above, labeled Profile Preference 6.  iBackup, on the initial backup uses the ditto command, and for subsequent backups (I’d rather they called them “synchronizations”), it uses rsync.  As Apple has developers moving away from resource forks, rsync will be an easier tool to use for OS X consumers.  If you hate the Terminal, this backup solution makes it quite easy to use a complicated command.

Other features I like to see, that Time Machine completely lacks, are the ability to backup to Windows hosted shares, via both AFP and SMB servers, ethernet connected drives, as well as encrypted sparse images.  Quite nice.  I must admit, I was going to try Time Machine down the road if I see Apple has fixed it’s problems, but something like iBackup for Mac is a product that will be tough to get me away from.  Being able to use ethernet connected drives on my Gigabit network will certainly be a necessity; since I already own some LaCie drives, I never planned on buying a Time Capsule anyway.

iPhone Doubles Contact List in OS 3.0

Prior to syncing your iPhone with MobileMe, be sure to turn off the syncing of your address book in iTunes or you will end up with double contacts when you view the list “All Contacts” in your address book on your iPhone. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it had me baffled for a while.
I had an issue with the speaker port on my iPhone 3G, and sorry to say *cough*, it had to be replaced with a new phone under Applecare. I have had “MobileMe” since it was .Mac, so I was in the Apple Store with a fresh iPhone, ready to leave. No contact info in my phone, say wha?!? I don’t know about you, but I don’t memorize phone numbers. I rely on my phone to do that. So I sync up with MobileMe right in the store and I’m good to go.
Here’s the tricky part. I didn’t realize that if I already synchronized with MobileMe, iTunes would still add my contacts from my Mac, even though MobileMe gets it’s list from…my Mac. What I had to do was delete all of my email address information and re-sync with iTunes.
To avoid that mess, before you sync with iTunes, follow the steps below:
First, open iTunes. Go into Preferences in the File Menu, or hit ⌘-Comma. Under Devices, check the “Prevent iPods and iPhones from syncing automatically” checkbox:

iTunes Preferences--Devices

iTunes Preferences--Devices

Now you can plug in your iPhone, ad nothing will be automatically changed.

Next, select your iPhone in the Devices List,  and select the Info Tab at the top.  You want to uncheck any selections in that tab that would also be synced with your MobileMe account:

iTunes iPhone Info Tab

iTunes iPhone Info Tab

If you have doubled your contacts already, you may have to restore your phone in the summary tab, which is unfortunate, but sometimes worth it anyway.  I’ve read some posts about unhappy owners having to do this, as it takes some time.  Before you try that, you may want to sync/unsync whatever duplicate information you have stuck on your iPhone and see if iTunes will remove it.

If you have tried this to no avail, please comment below and I’ll try to help you sort it out.  If it worked, please let me know that, too.

Thanks for stopping by.  :)

E-Mail and Optimum Online — Updated With Response From OOL

[Looking for iPhone settings and Optimum Online?  Click here.  ]

[Looking for POP/SMTP settings?  Incoming and Outgoing Servers are both:  mail.optonline.net.  Scroll down for the outgoing settings.]

Update: Here it is, response straight from Optimum:

Thank you for contacting Optimum Online regarding your question about email. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and will be happy to assist.  I do apologize, apart from normal unencrypted POP/SMTP there is no SSL option at this time to encrypt your connections.”

Sorry guys, that’s it.  Nothing about any if/when they might include it, or any hint of a plan to include it at all.  Unfortunate.  [/Update]

I get a lot of hits on my post here about the iPhone Mail and Optimum Online, so I figured I’d write a post on regular old computer mail as well.

The problem basically is that Optimum doesn’t allow SSL connections to their servers, either outgoing or incoming. They only allow secure log-in to their servers through HTTPS port 443 on their Optimum Webmail Portal.  I currently have a question in to them about using SSL with third party applications and am awaiting a response.  You see, on 1xRTT or 2G EDGE, it is still quite fast to download e-mails through your phone.  But in order to pass encrypted information, you would need to access your e-mail through your phone’s browser of choice (Safari on the iPhone, in my case.)

This problem extends to your mail application regardless of operating system.  I will show you how to set up an email address using Optimum Online through Mail on OS X.

Mail, helpful application it wants to be, will automatically check your connection settings when you type in your name and email address.  Poor Mail, though, fails miserably at connecting via SSL, and asks you if you’s like to continue, or setup your account manually.

So, to start setting up your e-mail (if you don’t yet have one setup through OOL, you can do so here) first open Mail.  Then open preferences with ⌘-, (holding ⌘ and pressing comma.)

Mail Preferences

Mail Preferences

This brings you to your account page, where you will begin setting up your new account.  I am using Mail on Snow Leopard, but the steps to follow are similar enough in Leopard and Tiger for you to follow along. Click on the “Accounts” tab in the top of the window, which brings you to this screen:

Accounts Pane

Accounts Pane

Once there, click on the “+” button to add your new account.  Mail will ask you for your Full Name, User Name, and Password, and then try to automatically set you up with the correct servers:

Add Account Screen

Add Account Screen

Click continue, and Mail will tell you it cannot connect securely to the servers:

Mail Password Security Warning

Mail Password Security Warning

Click “Setup Manually” so you can adjust the account settings, and begin sending and receiving your mail.  Using Optimum, you are going to setup a POP mailbox, and both your incoming and outgoing mail servers are mail.optonline.net :

Incoming Settings

Incoming Settings

Click continue, and then you want to disable the SSL by unchecking the “Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)” check box, but still have “Authentication” set to “Password”:

Uncheck SSL

Uncheck SSL

Click Continue, and you will be brought to the outgoing server section.  Enter a description for the server, which is something you will use to identify it in Mail.  It has no other significance.  Check the box that says “Use only this server”, as well as “Use Authentication”.  Enter in your username without the “@optonline” or “@optimum” ending, as well as your password:

Outgoing Setup

Outgoing Setup

You will then be told, once again, Mail cannot connect securely to the server.  Again, click “Setup Manually”, which takes you to here:

Outgoing Security

Outgoing Security

Leave these settings intact, and click “Continue”.  You will be shown an Account Summary screen, and both incoming and outgoing mail should say SSL off.  Be sure the “Take Account Online” box at the bottom is checked, and click “Create”.

I am waiting to hear back from Optimum about a different port or setting allowing SSL connections via third party mail clients, and hopefully I just couldn’t find the correct port to use.  If not, here’s to hoping they are working on getting SSL enabled soon!

LaunchBar, Quicksilver (OS X) or Colibri (Windows)

Apple’s notebook line has been selling like wild for quite some time now, and I think it’s appropriate for notebook users to know about these programs.  Even desktop users should have them, but there is literally no excuse for a laptop jockey to forego them.  My wife, a vested Windows laptop user, has the option of Colibri.  These programs are interchangeable in what they do for the most part, so I’ll just go ahead and write about them as a group.

They are all handy little applications that index your files, programs, webpages and such so they are no more than a keyboard shortcut away.  I cannot stress enough how much time and effort these programs save.  They remove the tedious movements and tendon crippling one-finger clicking a mouse can produce.  They save you countless hours per week of navigating through the Finder or Start Menu.  You can launch pretty much any application within three keystrokes, which for  a notebook user is indispensable.  Imagine sitting on a plane and not missing your mouse.  You can open songs, albums, files, pictures, you name it and it’s indexed.

LaunchBar has been my application of choice since I was on Panther, so I am a bit biased towards that one in particular. The downside is a license will cost you roughly  €24.  Quicksilver and Colibri are both free licenses at the time of this writing.

I’ll let you decide which is right for you, but be warned: this is like going from dial-up to broadband.  You get the good stuff and you’ll never live without it again.  So for those choices that are donationware, I strongly suggest you keep their development teams happy and throw them some coin.

Here’s the links:

QuickSilver

QuickSilver

Launchbar

Launchbar

Colibri

Colibri

As I said, I’m a huge proponent of LaunchBar, they give free updates, and have one of the fastest interfaces on the planet.  See below for screenshots of the preferences panels, and if that isn’t enough go ahead and click on the link above and download the free trial.  You won’t be sorry!

General

General

Appearance

Appearance

Shortcuts

Shortcuts

Actions

Actions

lb5

Calculator

Clipboard

Clipboard

Advanced Options

Advanced Options