Restoring from a Time Machine Backup Took Four Days!

6 11 2007

Recently, a data corruption event occurred on my Intel iMac. The computer would not boot. Luckily, it had Leopard installed, and it was being fully backed up with Time Machine. So, I decided to do a full restore of the entire disk using the Time MAchine backup.

The iMac has a 120GB hard disk containing about 100GB of data. Time Machine was backing up to an external 500GB hard disk over USB 2. To do a full restore of the computer from a Time Machine backup, you start up the computer using your OS X install disk. There is a menu item to restore from a Time Machine backup. Simply choose which backup you wish to use, and it begins, doing the rest automatically.

The progress bar started calculating the time remaining to complete the backup, and in a few moments it indicated… 170 hours to complete! Progress bar time estimates typically start conservatively, and tone down to be more accurate after a little while. It did, a little – to about 100 hours. This seemed startling – You can copy a 100GB disk using Disk Utility or SuperDuper in a tiny fraction of that time. But, having the time and curiosity, I let it run. It indeed took over 100 hours to complete the restore of 100GB of data.

Holy cow! Almost four days to restore a system from a Time Machine backup! The restore was successful, but if this hour-per-gigabyte rate is typical, it is something that needs improvement right away!

So, has anyone else had occasion to do a full restore of this kind? Did it take an incredibly long time, or was my experience an exception?

Advertisements




Dash to Code widgets for your iPhone

15 10 2007

I was shocked that Apple didn’t do this right at the launch of the iPhone. Now, I’m still predicting they will do it, and soon:

When Leopard is released, its free developer software will include a copy of DashCode that will allow you to write widgets for your iPhone.

Most people know that widgets on Macintosh OSX are small applications that can be brought up on screen with a keystroke and dismissed with a click. They are lightweight applications, written mostly in the JavaScript language. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these widgets available, written by Apple, Apple developers, and just plain folk. Compared with a traditional Mac application, widgets are much easier to write. Since they use JavaScript, many people who develop Web sites already know almost everything necessary to write a widget.

It’s not very hard to develop a widget by hand with nothing more than a text editor and some GIF graphics, but Apple made writing widgets even easier when it made the DashCode application available to its developer community. DashCode is an integrated development environment for creating widgets. With it, you can place your graphics and user interface controls, write code, give it a quick test run, set breakpoints, examine variables, and so on. It includes a library of controls and snippets of code you can use in your widgets. It’s a slick, easy way to develop widgets.

Widgets on an iPhone might be a very good idea. Apple wants to make sure that its phone remains stable. They don’t want buggy or malicious third party applications to overwrite important code or data on other critical parts of the phone. They don’t want a crashing app to crash the entire phone. And they don’t want apps to get access to parts of the phone they deem off limits – It doesn’t want to see apps that unlock the phone to make it able to work with other carriers, for example.

Widgets run in a “sandbox” that they can’t, in theory, break out of. They can have limited persistent storage, be required to use a fixed API for access to system services, and so on. And they are small, light, and almost all the internals necessary to handle widgets are already in the phone.

You already have widgets in your iPhone – sort of. The Stocks and Weather applications on your phone, though not internally implemented as widgets (I think) look exactly like the corresponding widgets on the Macintosh itself. And if you peek at the Mac, you can get an idea of the many, many kinds of things you can do with widgets. On the iPhone they will be able to access the Net, make a call, bring up a Web page, or bring up a map – JavaScript can do these things already. With a bit of work by Apple, they could be given access to contacts and perhaps control playing of tunes.

Why, oh why didn’t Apple give developers the ability to make third party applications from the start. I believe they DID intend to – in the form of widgets and DashCode. I believe they wanted, on day one or soon thereafter, to allow people to use DashCode to make widgets, let iTunes sync them into the phone, and have them appear as icons right on the home screen of the phone.

So why didn’t they do it? Because of security? Politics? Contractual constraints? Nah, it’s just that Leopard was delayed. I believe they have this all set up – a new DashCode with modifications to make iPhone widgets, that runs on, and requires, Leopard. When Leopard and the iPhone were being developed, they were going to come out at almost the same time. But when development resources got tight at Apple, they decided to get the phone out first and save Leopard for later. This pushed back DashCode for iPhone as well. And ever since, Apple has been taking flak on having no development system.

Widgets aren’t applications, they have many limits, and developers will complain that they can’t do everything or make the most efficient use of CPU resources, but you can make a heck of a lot of stuff with widgets.

That’s my guess on what’s happening. You are going to see, when Leopard arrives, a way to make widgets for the iPhone using DashCode. So get ready now, developers! Start making developing widgets now that do the things you want to have on the iPhone. I’m betting you will be able to get them into the phone very, very soon!





NBC leaving iTunes for HULU – Here’s why it’s moronic

1 09 2007

So NBC is leaving iTunes store. Why? I’ve heard they want more control over distribution options. They want more control over piracy. They want more control over pricing options. DING DING DING! We have a winner! They want to charge more money. They want you to buy things in bundles, they want you to start paid subscriptions. But you know all this.

HULU. They have this new store called hulu.com. This is where they want to bring you to buy their stuff. The stuff you see on NBC, some stuff you see on Fox… The studios want more control and this is where they want to apply it. It’s not open yet. We don’t know the full pucture yet. But hey, it’s moronic. I can think of two things to say about it.

Hey, it’s going to be a great idea! If only they had done this in the past, producers of entertainment could have made a ton more money! Instead of putting records in the record stores, open your own company record store that has your stuff exclusively, and make people go there to buy on more restrictive terms! That’ll work… Let’s see, remember all those Disney stores that were in all the malls all over America, where you had to go to get Disney stuff? Whatever happened to those?

Hey, did you know that NBC broadcasts shows like “The Office” out over the air for free? That’s right, for free! And yet, lots of people are willing to pay two bucks to get a lower technical quality copy that they can download over the Internet in the iTunes store. Lucky us! No? Not lucky us? It’s actually bad? Yeah that’s bad, we think we can make people pay more. We think we can put on heavier copy restrictions. We think we can get people to pay on a subscription basis. We think they want the pay versions of our stuff, they really, really like us, they want it even though we broadcast the stuff for free and in fact we are dying to get more people to watch those free broadcasts so we can get back up to being the number three net again.

IS that what you are thinking? It’s moronic! Your customer’s aren’t your enemy to squeeze and choke! Do any of you have kids? Go home and talk to them. You could be making money hand over fist on the Net. Instead you are killing yourselves. Look, I’m not Einstein, go ask some real people and HEED THEM. You can clean up, I’m tellin’ ya.

Don’t make your product more expensive, harder to get, and harder to use. Do the opposite. Make it easy to get, easy to use, and cheap. Go ahead and keep the commercial breaks in your shows to subsidize them a bit. Better still you are going with product placement, and those in-show ads are being WATCHED. The key is to make shows an impulse buy, make them easy to find, to get, to use, to put on the customers devices – ALL their devices. SO WHAT if they give a copy to a friend! People invite others to their living room to watch TV with them, don’t they? And you LIKE that, right? Because they might start watching themselves at home later! Well let people watch a copy of a show. Make damn sure it is easy as pie for that friend to start buying their own copies. And instead of working on DRM, work on ways to make sure you can count how many viewers you have. Count those viewers and you can crank up those proces for those product plazcements. DUH! Work on that!

That’s why iTunes is a win-win, you morons! So far it is the easiest way for people to get your shows is through iTunes. It’s an impulse buy. One click! Join the party. Make hulu, stay on iTunes, make the shows cheap, make them copyable, make ways to count those copies and those viewers. We all win and instead of being called greedy morons you are called the smart good guys.

It’s your choice, NBC, studios, content producers of all types. But the money is out there waiting for you. It’s just laying there for you – it’s actually LOOKING for you. You want it or not? Loosen up and everyone wins big time. Less DRM. More counting eyeballs. Work on that. Everyone wins.





How my iPhone lost all its data in one fell swoop

14 07 2007

It happened to me, and it can happen to you, too. I was charging up my iPhone. All the data was there one minute, and gone the next. I was able to recover it all by re-syncing, but I don’t know if my nerves will ever recover. Here’s how it happened.

 

I have my iPhone synced up to an iMac, and this works fine. But I have several computers in the house. And of course, I can barely take my hands off the iPhone these days. I’m watching podcasts, watching movies, listening to music, and so on. Unfortunately, the thing needs charging, but I don’t want to let it go. So, I want to keep it charged as much as possible when I’m using it around the house. I have an extra USB docking cable, and to keep it charged, I plugged that cable into my MacBook Pro laptop, and then into the iPhone. I heard the now-familiar “plink” sound that means the phone has started charging. But then I noticed. Poof! Almost all the data on the iPhone had vanished!

 

What happened, was that in addition to starting a charge cycle, the iPhone had happily started syncing with the MacBook. The unwanted sync had, in seconds, erased all the music, movies, and podcasts on the phone, and matched it up with the media I had on the MacBook, which was almost nothing. iTunes was in the backgroung, and I hadn’t noticed on the computer screen that this was happening.

 

As I recall, this process can happen with an iPod as well. But I think when you plug an iPod into a different computer, you get a dialog box that asks you if you want to sync the device up with the new computer. This didn’t happen with the iPhone. It simply started to sync with the new computer. Apple, we’ve got a little buglet here! The phone should see it is on a new computer and ask before syncing to it.

 

After recovering from the near heart attack from suddenly having my iPhone go almost blank, I realized that all I had to do is plug the iPhone back into the original computer, and everything syncs back in. It went smoothly, but this was over 7GB of stuff, and it took a while.

 

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent this problem. You can not plug the phone into another computer. I could have used the charger that plugs into the wall, for example. Or, you can turn off the “Automatically sync when this phone is connected” chackbox that appears in the iPhone settings in iTunes. With this off, you can plug into the second computer to charge it. Another trick? Use a FireWire iPod doc cable for charging the iPhone to another computer. Since the iPhone does not have a FireWire port, the computer will not recognize it, but the phone will still charge.

 

Anyway, until Apple gets this little problem fixed, I thought I’d warn you about plugging your iPhone into another computer without paying much attention. Have fun with your iPhone!





Myallo Online Goes Mobile for iPhone

1 07 2007

The Myallo Online website at myallo.com has gone mobile with a new version of the site optimized for the iPhone at myallo.mobi .

“Myallo Online displays a personalized collection of news and articles from all around the Web, and we thought this would be great to have on the iPhone” said Michael O’Connor, site creator and longtime Apple software developer. “You can scroll through headlines with your finger, tap to read an article, and tap again to go to the article’s source site.”

“With the iPhone in hand, we are continuing to optimize the site to make the experience seamless. While the iPhone handles the myallo.com version of the site just fine, especially over the fast Wi-Fi network, myallo.mobi greatly reduces the amount of data, which keeps it responsive even over the slower cellular network”, said O’Connor. “ While optimized for the iPhone, myallo.mobi works well with any mobile device” he added.

About Myallo Technology: Myallo’s unique patent pending neural-network-like technology literally learns what you like, predicts your interest in articles of text, and ranks them according to your taste. The technology is currently available in the Myallo for Macintosh application, on the Myallo Online website, and is licensable for commercial use.

Myallo Online, at <www.myallo.com> and <www.myallo.mobi>, pre-reads hundreds of sites from across the Internet, predicts your interest in them, and shows you personalized pages filled with up-to-the-moment articles you’ll want to read.

Leptonic Systems Inc. is a corporation dedicated to creating “Software of Interest” for the Macintosh and the Web.





Written with an iPhone

1 07 2007

I wrote this entry on an iPhone with the WordPress web interface, but with a little difficulty. When I tapped in the text entry area for the body of the entry, the iPhone keyboard wouldn’t pop up. The phone didn’t recognize it as a text field. This was probably due to the way the field does visual text formatting. So, I had to switch to code mode, which presents the field as plain text. After that, there was no problem.

By the way, I’m having no problems typing on the virtual keyboard. As Apple said, the key is to trust the intelligence of the keyboard. Just go on typing away, completely ignoring the blatant mistakes you see yourself making, and in pretty much every case each word is fixed up as you hit the space bar. It is quite amazing!





Fifty possible iPhone features: What we know and don’t know about them

20 06 2007

It’s one week before the iPhone arrives. Here is a list of fifty of typical smart phone and iPod features, and what we know and don’t know about them when it comes to the iPhone. It’s going to be fun finding out what’s in this thing!

Accessory Car Charger

Accessory Car FM Transmitter

We know that most accessories that plug into an iPod docking connector should also work with the iPhone. So as long as the accessory physically fits, there is a good chance it will work.

Alarm Clock

Time Zones

We know there is a clock icon on the home screen, but we have never seen it. It seems likely that the clock will have at least one Alarm. We also know there is a Calendar icon, but we have not seen that application, either. It seems obvious that the calendar will include appointments with alarms. Will the clock show multiple time zones? Will the phone adjust itself to whatever time zone you are in? This seems likely, as the cellular system can adjust the phone to local time.

Bluetooth Phone Headset

Bluetooth Stereo headset

We know that the phone has Bluetooth + EDR. As an iPod, it seems likely that stereo Bluetooth will be supported. We know Apple will be offering at least two in-ear Bluetooth headsets that are monaural. We don’t know if Apple plans to sell any stereo Bluetooth headphones.

Bluetooth ModemBluetooth is supported, but will you be able to tether your laptop using Bluetooth such that your laptop can connect through it to the internet? We don’t know. I suspect this capability will not be included in the first model.

Battery Life

Apple has given us claims for battery life. These are maximums, but it looks to me that in the real world, the battery life will not be a major point of complaint. If you are like me, you’ll be using your iPhone constantly. WiFi, audio, and video use a lot of battery, and there never will be enough.

Calculator

We know there is a calculator icon on the home screen, but we have never seen the application. Will it be a simple four banger? Will it have advanced math and programming features? Will it be a graphing calculator? We don’t know.

Camera FlashCamera Low Light PerformanceThe camera has no flash. We don’t know what kind of performance it will have in low light. My guess is the camera will perform about as well as the iSight cameras on Apple laptop computers. That’s fairly good for a fixed focus camera without a flash.

Camera Autofocus

Camera Image Stabilization

Camera Macro Focus

Camera Video

Camera Zoom

We don’t know about any of these features. Will there be video, can 

Connect to international carriers

Connect to other US carriers

The phone uses the GSM standard, and it has all four possible frequencies. AT&T only uses two of the four. Since the other two exist, it only follows that the phone is International and should work outside the USA. But can you put in a SIM card from another company and have it work? We do not know. I suspect not on this model, not unhacked out of the box.

Dialing by Voice

Can you do voice dialing? There has been no hint of this feature anywhere.

Document Viewer

We know there is a Notes icon on the home screen, but we have not seen the application. Is it utterly simple, like Stickies or the notes function on the iPod? It is straightforward with a bit of simple formatting like TextEdit? Will it open or edit Word, RTF, spreadsheets? I suspect it will be able to display PDF files, at least.  The fact that this application exists implies that there is a document system of some kind. Are there folders where we can save our notes? Can we download or transfer files and see listings of our documents? We do not know.

EMail Periodic Check

EMail Push

EMail to groups

We know we have EMail and that it supports POP and IMAP. It seems likely that you will be able to set it to periodically check for new mail. What about push mail, which notifies you instantly when mail is sent? We know Yahoo is going to give us free push mail on the iPhone. But what about other systems? We do not know the extent of what we can connect to with the Mail system. Can we collect contacts into groups and EMail to a group?

Firmware Updates

We do know that the software in the phone will be updated from time to time. It seems clear that updates will be obtained on your home computer via the Internet, and then will be synced into your phone through iTunes. Thus, it will work exactly like iPod updates. I suspect we will see rather frequent updates, and that they will add very significant new features.

Flight Mode

Most phones have a flight mode, which turns off the cellular radio, while still allowing use of other functions such as playing music. It seems obvious that there will be some kind of flight mode on the iPhone – there are many non-phone functions that could be used.

ProfilesAre there profiles? Profiles typically change a collection of settings, such as silent mode, flight mode, wallpaper and other stylings, ring tones, and so on. We do not know if there is any type of profile system in the phone.

GPS

There does not seem to be a GPS chip in the phone. This does not necessarily mean the phone doesn’t know where it is. All modern phones, in conjunction with the carriers, have a way of locating the phone, at least within a few hundred feet. It is possible that the phone might know what town it is in, for example. While not good for turn by turn street directions, this could still be useful in locating nearby places of interest. No such feature has been announced, however.

iPod Games

iPod Graphic Equalizer

iPod On the go playlists

iPods have these features, so why not the iPhone? Game software is specific to the CPU chip, so the games that work on iPods may not work on an iPhone. I suspect iPod features such as graphic equalizers, speeded-up speech, and on the go playlists may appear on the iPhone. There have been no announcements.

iPod Portrait Video

We have seen photos, Internet pages, and record album covers change their orientation and appear in both portrait and landscape modes. But we have only seen video in landscape mode. It appears you will not be able to see video in portrait mode. On a related note, we have only seen demonstrators change from portrait to landscape mode by rotating the phone counter clockwise. Can you also rotate it clockwise? Does it adapt or do you get an upside down image? Also, does the phone have to be vertical when you rotate it? Will it sense rotation if it is laying flat on a table? We do not know.

Keyboard Predictive Text

Keyboard Dictionary Customization

We know that the keyboard uses a dictionary to make corrections as you type on the flat screen. But can you add your own words to the dictionary? We do not know. I suspect so, otherwise it will be difficult to type unusual words.

Keyboard in Landscape Mode

We have not seen the keyboard come up in landscape mode. What if a web page is being displayed in landscape mode, and you tap on a text field? Does the screen force itself to portrait mode as the keyboard appears? We do not know.

Record Phone Calls

Record Voice Memos

Obviously the phone has a microphone. Can you use it to record phone calls? Can you record voice notes? If the camera records video, does it also record sound? We do not know.

Ringtones

Ringtones Per Contact

Ringtones Per Group

We do not know much about ringtones. We have heard two different ones in demonstrations. Can you add your own? Can you use any of the tunes you have loaded into the iPod section of the phone for a ringtone? I suspect you can. Can you associate different rintones with different callers or groups of callers? We have seen that in iTunes itself, on the iPhone sync screen, there is a Ringtones tab. We have not seen the contents of this tab.

Safari Cookies

Safari Flash

Safari Java

Safari Javascript

The Safari browser is known not to support Java or Flash. It seems obvious you can’t have a browser without Javascript, and cookies will also be necessary. What kind of limitations are there? Can you limit the kind of cookies you accept? We do not know.

Safari Tabs

The Safari browser on the phone is known to support up to eight pages at once. These can be flipped thought like tabs.

Screen saver

The phone has wallpaper, and you can use any of your photos. But is there a screen saver? Can animated wallpaper or screen savers be used? We do not know.

To Do List

We have not seen any To Do list functionality. However, we know that Leopard has To Do items in iCal and in Mail, and we know the phone has both calendar and mail applications. So it seems very likely that there will be some kind of To Do function.

Vibrate

The phone does seem to have a vibrate function.

VOIP

VPN

Though these functions do seem to be possible with the phone hardware, no functionality of this type is announced, and it will be up to Apple to allow such functions in the future if they wish.

WiFi N mode

The WiFi seems to support b and g modes only, not the faster n mode. This makes some sense since the n mode generally likes to use multiple antennas to implement its high speed links.