Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turbulence during iCloud Restoration to Replacement iPhone 4

My firm purchased the Apple "Joint Venture" service, which allows us to register our iDevices, and get priority support from the Geniuses at an Apple Store, as well as training. The home button on my iPhone 4 went wonky on me, and would not react in the normal way when pressed. So I called the JV guys up. They told me it is a typical problem, and offered to replace my iPhone in-store, since it was still covered by AppleCare.

The next day I went to my Genius appointment at the Ginza Tokyo Apple Store, and though I showed up early, they still took me, and got me set up very quickly. There were still crowds from people wanting to get the new iPhone 4S, so the Genius Bar was packed, but the JV status allowed me to get serviced immediately, which was nice. Shinji, the Genius who helped me, also set up the phone with iOS 5, so I could just get to the restoring. I was out of there in less than an hour, and bought an Apple TV on the way out, so I guess Jobs' charm is still working on me!

Restoring an iOS 5 Backup to a new iPhone 4

I took the half-setup phone back to my office, got on WiFi, and started the restore from iCloud. Basically, the settings did indeed come over, but after about an hour, I got an error saying that it could not restore everything and that I should restore from iTunes (I am not sure whether that is normal, or a problem). I also had a few prompts to enter my iCloud credentials (Apple ID and password), for whatever reason. I kept re-entering, and it finally stopped asking.

I had backups in iTunes, so I restored from that, but that did not fully work either. I had to de-attach and re-attach the phone to iTunes, then click Sync in iTunes, to get it to fully install my purchased Apps. Finally it did work, but I am not sure what VooDoo caused that.

Despite the speed bumps along the way, basically, I was able to get my iPhone 4 restored. A couple of points:

  • Even if you are backing up to iCloud, it is really too new to trust, so make a manual backup. Connect to iTunes, then ctrl-click on your iPhone or iPad icon in iTunes, and choose backup from the popup menu. This will force a manual backup to iTunes locally, which can be restored from.
  • When you are going through the restore process, persevere, even if prompted for your password multiple times.
  • After you restore from iCloud if that is the route you are taking, you will need to restore at least Apps directly from iTunes.
  • Once you restore everything, you will need to re-enter passwords for things like Mail and so on, so have those handy.

I hope this helps someone facing the same problem. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Softbank iPhone 4 Emoji Keyboard Troubleshooting

Softbank iPhone emoji keyboardMy daughter came to me with an interesting problem with her iPhone, so I thought I would share what I learned and how I fixed the problem. The problem was, no matter what she did, the "emoji" (graphical emoticon icons) would not show up in her email app. I rarely use emoji except when emailing or texting my daughters, so I had to jump in and learn about it.

How to Fix the "Emoji Keyboard Does Not Appear in Mail" Problem on iPhone 4

First, I wanted to define the problem:

  • When pressing the globe icon, the emoji keyboard does not appear but it should. You can long-press or repeatedly tap the globe to get the choices to appear and indeed, it does not.
  • The emoji keyboard appears on "everybody elses" iPhone, meaning the teenage friends of my daughter ( :-> ) but just to be safe, I checked and indeed, it works for the other iPhones in my family as well, but not on hers.
  • More specifically, I can get the emoji keyboard to appear on my iPhone in the mail app, when I choose the Softbank IMAP address as the From: address and a cell phone recipient as the To:.
  • The emoji keyboard appears on my daughter's iPhone in the SMS/MMS app, as expected.

What I learned as I went along:

  • There are a whole lot of apps that purport to allow you to have emoji on your iPhone without jailbreaking, since the codes are apparently built into the IOS. Mostly they seem to have not-so-good reviews on the iTunes app store. However on iPhone 4, it appears that you just need to turn on the keyboard in Settings, General, Keyboard, International Keyboards. There is a keyboard which is specifically called "Emoji", and there are no advanced settings - it is just a toggle. I have no way of testing whether this keyboard is available for users outside Japan, since we are locked into Softbank as a carrier here.
  • There's a lot of voodoo out on the Internet about this problem, because a lot of people are having it and blogging about it: restart, uninstall, reinstall, sprinkle some eye-of-newt, shake-the-phone-twice-and-pee-on-your-neighbor's rosebush and so on. I tried the restarting since it is non-invasive but, until I resolved the main issue (later), restarting did not help.
  • The official documents say that emoji are compatible only when you send email to other carriers that support it, and, it appears it is also possible to use with Gmail and other IMAP servers, but not POP. I read that you have to choose the right email account, to be able to send from, in your mail app (again, not SMS), and also to a recipient who can accept the emoji. Somehow, Softbank seems to have got code added that limits the behavior of the keyboard selector, based on what you choose in your From: and To: in the mail app.

So as I was thinking about the third point, I thought I had better check the mail account settings, because we had set up a few different email accounts on the phone - the Softbank IMAP account that comes with the phone contract, an IMAP account and a Gmail account. Turns out that switching between all of these as the From: yields the same result - no emoji keyboard.

In the most important email account in this case, the Softbank IMAP account, I noticed that there was no main SMTP server set but that the Softbank SMTP server was indeed selected (and, mail was working fine save for this problem). When I set the Softbank SMTP server as main for the account, and restarted the iPhone, it started working. Now she can switch to the emoji keyboard as expected.

There is something in the code that controls how the emoji keyboard appears or not, based on the SMTP server that is selected, so be sure to enter the Softbank IMAP SMTP server as main, for the Softbank IMAP account you get with your contract.

The Cause of All This Strife

I believe the root cause of this problem is the automatic installer that Softbank recommends you use when setting up. When I logged in and tried setting up with it, it did not install correctly, failing to set SSL to ON, and I had to get in contact with Softbank about that one. I think that the installer also sets the main SMTP incorrectly, and is ultimately the reason so many people have this problem.

Besides being extremely lazy about this, since their auto-installer does not work, Softbank engineers are thinking too much but not enough, and ultimately causing trouble for their customers. They are trying to "make it simple" by providing an automatic scripted solution for people to get set up, but as Apple surely knows, automation like that is one of the hardest things to do because you have to consider so many angles. Better to simply leave it up to the user to learn that: "emoji work only with email accounts that can read them" because they not only did not get the installer right, they ultimately caused a greater problem with emoji not working for many.

I hope this little post helps someone out there with their emoji issues.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

OS X 10.7 Lion and Lion Server Upgrade Notes

In this post I will share my notes on the upgrade from OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" to 10.7 "Lion". This is not meant to be a comprehensive review but I hope someone can find some benefit in this information. I am an early adopter in most cases and a software lover (fanatic or addict might be a more appropriate adjective!), so I bit the bullet for this upgrade as soon as I could get it, knowing that I would be in for some trouble here or there. As for my background, I am a technologist mostly on the management side these days but do have a clue, and since I am not doing OS X or iOS development nor did I have time to read too much about Lion before the release, these notes represent fairly fresh eyes on the product.

Generally, my upgrade from 10.6.8 to 10.7.0 went smoothly and without trouble. Developers of the software I use were on the ball, and had apps ready for Lion either off their sites or in the Apple App Store. Kudos to them and to Apple for all the hard work. Make no mistake, software is truly hard work, and to make things appear easy and to "just work", like Apple often does, requires massive effort. If it looks easy, the guts of it are hard, in the world of software. There are no magic wands, although it might appear that way.

OS X 10.7 Lion

I thought the download would take forever, but it was relatively quick after making the payment in the App Store. I feel the low price is more than fair; generous even, given the value provided. I did two systems: my home system and my work system, paying for those separately. The morning download at about 7AM JST was fast, while the late afternoon download at the office was slower. Either way, it is a 4GB download.

I retrieved the file that had downloaded to the /Applications folder, before I clicked "Install", for safekeeping, and copied it to a USB stick. There is a way to convert a USB to a bootable disk to use for reinstallation, so I will revisit and do that later.

After clicking Install, the time to install was similar to past experiences with OS X upgrades. Breakfast eaten and paper read, I went back to look, and the system had rebooted into a login screen with a nice-looking "textile" background; very attractive. I used my usual account to log in, and after some grinding of gears (caches and such being created I imagine), everything pretty much came up as expected.

After the install and logging in, my first impression was that this release is a definite paradigm shift towards a more iOS like experience on OS X, given features like Launchpad and Mission Control. These take over a bit of the market share for small development houses making utilities to do a similar thing albeit in a more advanced manner. QuickSilver, LaunchBar and Spaces come to mind.

Some apps do conversions the first time you start them, like Mail and maybe Calendar. This takes a while especially if you have a massive amount of data stored.

Spotlight re-indexed after the first reboot, causing a temporary loss of Spotlight search and, full text search within Mail, for example, while the index process grinds away. Spotlight has been glitchy in the past for me, but this time "it just worked."

Lion has a monochrome palette, looking at the mostly-grey icons in Mail, Finder and Safari. Colorful icons are still present in the Launchpad and Mission Control apps. Then there are the iCal and Address Book apps which look out of character, looking like the objects they represent: iCal like a physical calendar complete with a torn paper edge and Address Book looking like an old-fashioned scheduler portfolio. They look good, but a bit out of place when compared with Mail, Finder or Safari. has really matured well with the Lion release, and has sharp-looking grey-on-grey icons. The problem for me is, I like to rely on color as a visual clue for speed while I work. I suppose one way of looking at it is, there are few distractions from the task at hand, and the monochromality of certain apps make it easy to concentrate on the work being done rather than on colorful icons.

Two of the key new-to-Lion features, LaunchPad and Mission Control, are very iOS-like and easy to use. For instance, to get into Mission Control, which lets you administer and move between spaces, you swipe four fingers upward on the trackpad. This is assuming you have one either on a Laptop like a MacBook Pro, or a Magic Trackpad, but I think we are in the middle of a bootstrap to make OS X very much a touch-centric OS.

An example of a really large "who moved my cheese" moment, and whopping big paradigm shift, is the scroll bars or lack thereof. Lion has the ability to allow any app that is programmed to take advantage of it, to run full screen. This looks fantastic, in apps like Mail, Safari, and even the Mars Edit edtor I am using to write this post. Further, the scroll bars do not appear by default a la iPhone and iPad (i.e., iOS), giving a very clean look to Lion apps, in general. Despite the relative hysteria over this predictable Apple shift (I mean, how many times have they done it in the past?), I am not finding it to be a problem at all. You just swipe two fingers on the trackpad to scroll, or for the trackpad-deficient, you can nudge your scroll button on your mouse. If you jiggle the trackpad with two fingers for instance, the scrollbars appear, and you can then drag-scroll as before and always.

The concept of scrolling itself has changed too, and this takes a bit of getting used to. On a tablet or phone, the touch paradigm means you push or pull the objects in the direction of the movement of your fingers, swiping and pinching. However, this is the opposite of what you might be used to, where pulling down on a scroll bar moves content up. With a touch device, this is the opposite, and so it is with OS X Lion. You pull or push the object (document, list, etc) with your fingers on the trackpad.

Safari has a neat visual indicator of download progress, to the right of the address bar.

Suspending with Option-Command-Eject is faster than ever. Where Snow Leopard was taking ages to go silent, Lion goes to sleep immediately. Perhaps this is due to all the various improvements in automatic file saving and caching?

After restarting a program, Lion remembers the exact state of it, and reopens the program how you left it. If you had 10 text files open, it will open them all back up the next time. I can see this might be annoying, but, it is really nice in many cases.

So far, I really like Lion. As I observe more, I will update this post.

Updates 24 July 2011

When you cmd-click a link in Safari, it now does the right thing and opens the tab next to what you were looking at, instead of way, way over in right field. I like it.

If you use Path Finder, note that it messes with Mission Control. I am not sure what I need to do yet, but I had to keep searching for the open Path Finder window in its Windows menu.

The upper-right hand "lozenge" icon is gone, having been replaced by the full screen icon. It was useful to quickly cycle between different views of the icon bar in any given application, if you option-click it. RIP.

The stop light icons in the upper left of any window seem to function the same, but they are smaller and daintier.

Pressing option while clicking a menu still works to bring up hidden options.

A lot of text-to-speech voices were added and are available as optional downloads. Check out the Speech preferences panel.

Updates 3 Aug 2011

Finally, a security basic has been improved, in that you can easily set your mac to lock after screen inactivity or screensaver activity. System Preferences, Security and Privacy, General.

An irritation is, Lion spell-checks everything everywhere automatically, making it a bit difficult to type, sometimes. It is the iOS paradigm for sure. You can toggle this in System Preferences, Language and Text, Text, Correct Spelling Automatically. It requires a restart.


OS X 10.7 Lion Server

Luckily, my firm was not making use of too many of the features of Snow Leopard Server, or this upgrade would have been really painful. When I upgraded to Lion Server, a lot of stuff just broke, unfortunately, but more on that below.

When you go to buy Lion Server from the App Store, you are told that both programs need to be purchased, and it is just as easy as the client to install. XCode and the Lion Server Administration tools are available as separate downloads. When you download XCode, despite the fact that it is put into /Applications, you still need fo find and run the XCode install program.

You can still use Workgroup Manager and the Server Admin app, but Lion presents the Server app as the primary admin tool. The problem with this is, the Server app is overly simplistic. Where as Server Admin had many settings, has only 1 or 2 per service, and not all services came through the upgrade unscathed.

My firm was primarily using Open Directory, Apache, Wiki, Mail, MySQL, and some development tools on our Snow Leopard server. Some problems occurred with each:

Open Directory - some user IDs broke and I had to recreate them.

Mail Server - Lion is still using postfix, but, the upgrade broke our aliases in /etc/aliases. When I told postfix how to find the aliases file, in, mail started to flow again. That being said, there is nowhere to add virtual domains and so on and so forth, like you could do with Snow Leopard Server.

Apache - the virual hosts settings do not work, and I lost a whole range of websites in this. Virtual Hosting is the most basic thing, so it was a shame that Apple could not get this one right.

Wiki - the wiki is now being served out of the postgresql database (user collab, db collab), instead of out of the Collaboration folder. Further, the looks have been generified so you no longer have the ability to customize each wiki. However, I would say the usability of the wiki went up considerably from an editor standpoint. We still cannot edit the Wiki pages using an iPad.

MySQL - is no more, though I imagine you can install it some how. Lion server comes with PostGreSQL rather than MySQL but there is no GUI for it at all. You are stuck with psql or perhaps

My feeling is, Apple are aiming Lion Server at the SMB market, and shutting out businesses that really want to push the envelope on Lion Server.

If that is the case, is it not strange to have so many troubles upgrading, or to have no easy way to back up the wiki, without hiring a tech to assist.

Updates 3 Aug 2011

Setting up notifications on the wiki was difficult, because apparently the wiki recognizes only its own hostname. Perhaps I misunderstood something, but for me, entering preferred addresses for each user did not work. I had to use and set up a .forward file in each home folder. Definitely not something for the uninitiated.


In Conclusion

I will add more as I discover. Hope this was helpful.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Important info from US Embassy to People Stranded in Japan

The American Chamber of Commerce sent this message from the US Embassy in Japan. Please forward.

March 12, 2011  14:20

This warden message is being issued by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Japan of ways to let family and friends know your status.  This information is also being posted on the Embassy website to help family members to get the status of the person they are looking for.

For information regarding tsunami warnings issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency, please see the JMA website: or

We understand that there are limited flights departing from Narita and Haneda airports in the Tokyo area. If you trying to fly out from Japan, please contact your airline to see if it is scheduled to depart.

For those who are in Japan and wish to inform of us of your condition, please send an e-mail to <>  and provide the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • As much information as possible regarding your physical location (address, hotel name, etc.) and contact information (home phone, cell phone, email address, etc.) within Japan.
  • Please also in your e-mail please state that we may your release information to people who may contact us regarding your welfare.

We encourage you to try to contact your family and friends.  Possible ways to inform your family of your situation:

1. While we understand that there have been disruptions in communications in Japan, including the interruption of internet and mobile telephone service, we encourage you to continue your efforts to be in contact with your loved one(s) using SMS texting and other social media (e.g., FaceBook, My Space, Twitter, etc) that your loved one(s) may use.

Other possible ways to inform your family of your situation:

2.  Google

Google has created the site, "Google Person Finder".

If you are in Japan, you can post messages about your whereabouts.  A person looking for you can type in your name to find out if you are safe.  Similarly, your family or friends may have posted a message that they are looking for you.

3.  Cell Phone Messages

If you have a cell phone in Japan, you can post messages via your cell phone provider.  Family and friends who know your cell phone company can check the cell phone company's website below and type in your phone number to see any message you have left.  The available areas are Aomori, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures.

For Docomo users:

For KDDI (Ezweb) users:

For Softbank users:

For Wilcom users:

For Emobile users:

Another way to find out:

Please continue to monitor the Embassy's website,, for updated information.

For telephone inquiries, please call 202-501-4444 or 1-888-407-4747.

US Embassy Tokyo


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

New: "Special Ops" Backpack from KILLSPENCER

Killspencer Special Ops Backpack 2011After quite a bit of back-and-forth, since my Japan-based credit card and Killspencer's card processing software were working together as well as oil and water, I finally got my Special Ops backpack the other day. Killspencer's founder Spencer Nikosey was fantastic while working through the card issues, and he soon reported that the bag had been made and was being shipped, after about two weeks' lead time.

I wanted to buy a backpack not a brief, because I cycle to the station and back, and so welcome the stability, however I did not want to look like I was going to mount an assault on Everest (Dude, don't forget your crampons, and you got the pick-axe?), and, I wanted to get one that was sufficiently business-like that I would not be embarrassed to take it to a meeting. I wanted the pack to be a little lighter than what I was using, a Crumpler Sinking Barge backpack for a laptop and a medium size DSLR, but I wanted it to be more compact, because the ol' Barge is Bulbous. Really, really bulbous. I find myself making sheepish excuses for the Crumpler's girth - say, can I move this meeting table so I can fit my bag in the room? Uh, no.

Since I just need my 15" Macbook Pro, accessories, phone, wallet, and since I mostly carry the somewhat-compact Ricoh GXR camera, I thought there must be a smaller, slimmer, more compact backpack available somewhere. So, tenacious researcher that I am (er, anal retentive?), for a couple of months I researched. I looked at a lot of bags in person and on line, including all the usual suspects like Brenthaven, Tumi, Schlesinger, Samsonite, Tom Bihn, Spire, various hand-made bags and some Japanese brands like Manhattan Passage and Porter.

I own or have owned the following:

  • Crumpler—I have the Sinking Barge DSLR-and-laptop backpack, but it really sticks out, off your back, and is fairly heavy to accommodate the DSLR padding. I like it though, basically.
  • Tumi—expensive, given that the strap grommets ripped out after less than a year of use, and a pain to get any warranty assistance.
  • Brenthaven—amazing warranty support, high quality, but the backpack for holding the MBP (granted, 17") is pretty massive, so that was a no. It weighs even more than my Crumpler. I use and like a lighter-weight Brenthaven brief, but a brief is pretty unstable on a bike.
  • Schlesinger—kind of a non-starter in Japan, especially if you have to send things back and forth to the US, what with the duty for leather being something like 50%. I had one of their leather briefs before, and liked it, but it did not give very good protection to a laptop.
  • Samsonite—went to the shop near Tokyo station, and did not really like the backpacks they had there. Love my Samsonite suitcases, though.
  • Manhattan Passage—they make a large number of bags with an insane number of pockets and variations, but the so-called "three way" models, which are briefs with hide-a-way straps, did not impress for whatever reason. I own and like one of their small shoulder bags, which is just right for a novel, a phone, a wallet, pens and so on.
  • Porter—this is a Japanese brand; they make some nice bags, but, they are expensive for what you get. I wavered between one of their backpacks and the Killspencer, but I am glad I chose the way I did. The Killspencer pack is really well made, and it makes the Porter I was looking at seem positively flimsy.

After a lot of looking, I kept going back to the KILLSPENCER line. I really like the concept of military fabric being repurposed to create bags, and there really are not that many bags that properly hold a MBP 15" but are also compact, I found.

Well: good things are worth the wait, and this item was well worth it.

Special Ops Right out of the Box

First impressions over two days of use were these:

  • It is Made in the USA. That is important to me, so long as the quality is top-class. I live here in Japan, and indeed do buy Japanese, but more and more the world seems to be about cheap goods, so you see a lot of stuff made everywhere but Japan and the US. I am happy to pay more for quality.
  • The attention to detail, right down to the embossed Civil War style logo on the wrapping paper, is exemplary. No loose threads. No weird seams. Just solid consistency and quality.
  • The black twill fabric is waxed, which lends a nice tactile and slightly-sticky feel to the bag and its optional Accessory Case. It even smells good.
  • The bag feels really solid, especially when it is loaded. It somehow stands on its own, as well, which is something I wanted but gave up on, so, a bonus. There is a handle at the top, with a removable leather handle encircling it. The handle cover has pull-the-dot snaps, and can be removed and therefore probably replaced. It feels good in the hand while carrying, even when the bag is loaded down. Generally speaking, the backpack is lighter than something similar in leather would be.
  • The Riri "Aquazip" zippers seem waterproof, and I imagine when combined with the waxy finish, will be a winning combination against Japan's rainy season.
  • The shoulder straps look a bit slim compared to the usual massive ones you see on other packs, but they are well balanced with the bag, are actually comfortable in use, and their metal buckles are well-designed, with a simple-yet-ingenious locking rocker mechanism. This bag has none of the ubiquitous nylon buckles you see so commonly.
  • The approach to space seems to be: "you decide what to do with it". It does not have a plethora of pockets. Rather, the main compartment is just a large compartment with a couple side pockets for a pen and maybe a business or credit card holder. There is an outside pocket for a wallet and so on. The laptop pocket is next to your back, and fits the 15" MBP snugly and perfectly. You can get an external "Accessory Case" pouch, suitable for an iPod or phone, or probably a pack of cigarettes if that's your vice.
  • Branding is subtle, with a good-looking black KILLSPENCER leather logo label at the bottom of the back pad, and a white-on-black fabric label on the inner side of the accessory pouch.
  • There are three horizontally-oriented "Alice Clip Attachment Point" webbing straps for attaching accessories to, along each side. Today, I found out I can stuff an umbrella down the side inside these webbing straps. It was a very simple matter to attach the accessory pouch as well; just open the sliding "Alice" connector clips, position them so they clip over the webbing strap, and then slide the locking pin into place. Nice and simple.
  • The bag comes with a wall-mount "hub" system. You screw this into your wall, and then you can hang the 'pack by its grommet, which is mounted in stiff leather right between the tops of the straps.

A Couple Small Things

There were a couple small challenges I am working through:

  • The main compartment is fairly large vertically, so you need some way of organizing the space. A folio or some kind of binder might make sense if you have a lot of business papers like I do, because there are no accordion pockets like in a briefcase. I am using a Moleskine folio and a ThinkTank Photo cable management bag to keep things from flopping around inside. Something custom from KILLSPENCER would be very nice, but the Utility Pouch is just a tad too small for papers. Something like the unfortunately-too-large-for-the-special-ops Freudian Slip from Tom Bihn, would be perfect.
  • I wonder how to take care of the black twill fabric. Can I wash it? Do I need to NikWax it?
  • It would be nice if there were a key ring inside the 'pack, to clip the fancy keychain accessory to. Not much I can do about that but maybe in a future version...


I do get the irony of a decidedly non-military desk-jockey like me being attracted to this bag, steeped as it is in military terminology and history. But in the end, what I like about the KILLSPENCER approach is, the respect he has for both the modern "road warriors" who might buy this bag, and the real warriors in our military.

Well, that is about it. I am really impressed with the bag, and like it a lot! Please see the photoset here.

Hope this review helps someone.


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Geek Out: Scheduled Indexing of your Concrete5 via Cron

I thought I would share how to get the automatic indexing working in a Concrete5 site, if you happen to use that CMS.

There is a special URL in the admin dashboard, which you can call from cron, to periodically re-index your site.

How to get Concrete5 to Automatically Index in One Easy Step

This is what the cron entry should look like:

27 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -O - -q -t 1

This runs the job every hour at 27 minutes past. You should also be able to use other programs to hit the URL if wget is not installed:

27 * * * * /path/to/lynx -source
27 * * * * /path/to/curl --silent --compressed

Make sure you use absolute paths with cron because its environment is not the same as that of a shell. It is more limited. Also, of course the way you enter cron jobs will be different per host, and some may allow you to do it via a control panel. Either way, if you do not know how, you can ask your hosting company. This is a typical and easy thing to set up, if you provide them with your Concrete5 installation's special index URLs from the dashboard.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy, SuperDuper! Happy.

SuperDuper! Saves the BaconMy hard-working Macbook Pro, which I keep running pretty much 24x7 without a break, had a hard disk failure yesterday. The dead disk was inconsolable, and no amount of Disk Utility or fsck or Applejack would cure its ills. I tried the usual boot-from-install-dvd-and-run-disk-utility, but that did not work either, and the fact that I do a daily Cocktail run to keep things clean wasn't relevant - a dead disk is a dead disk. Then I remembered I had been taking a nightly scheduled backup with Shirt Pocket's super-duper utility "SuperDuper!", and so a little manual reading later, I was able to get back up and running in a jiffy.

Here's How I Restored a SuperDuper! Backup to a New Hard Disk

First I went and got a 500GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid hard disk / SSD drive. Pretty nifty technology. It was trivial in my 1st generation MacBook Pro unibody to remove the old disk and put the new one in. You just remove the battery, and there is a single plus screw holding in the bracket that holds the drive in. However, you do need a Torx driver to remove four small posts from the drive itself, so you can transfer then to the new drive. A Torx T6 size is what fits the model I have.

Once the drive was installed, next, I booted from my Snow Leopard DVD, and after a while I saw the familiar install screen prompting for a language choice. You will notice that a menu will appear at the top of the screen, and that you can then choose to open Disk Utility from that.

In Disk Utility booted from the DVD, I then got busy partitioning the new drive (just chose to make one big 500GB partition called "Macintosh HD" as usual), and then went to the Restore tab. It is not a problem to restore a sparseimage made from a 300GB drive, to a new 500GB drive, so I just connected the FireWire drive containing the SuperDuper! sparseimage file, and did a File, Open in Disk Utility to mount that image. I chose the backup from within the sparseimage, and told Restore to restore to Macintosh HD. About 2.5 hours later, the restore completed without incident.

I then used Disk Utility, still in setup mode, to verify the drive and repair permissions. No problems detected.

Post-Restore Tasks

There were a couple of things to do after the restore.

  • SuperDuper! restores the drive just fine, but renamed it to the name of the sparseimage. I had to do a cmd-i on the drive in Finder, and rename it back to Macintosh HD.
  • Since SuperDuper! excludes the sparseimage from indexing, your restored drive will also be excluded. Just go into Spotlight preferences, and remove the Macintosh HD from the Privacy exclusion list.

So, in conclusion, that nightly backup via SuperDuper! to an external FireWire drive really saved my bacon! Kudos and thanks, Shirt Pocket!