A disaster (almost)…

Like a lot of people converting to Mac from windows, I use Quicken. The Mac version has typically been behind on the featureset, and knowing that I just never bothered to look further into it. If the featureset was better and the conversion could be done without loss of data I would do it. Maybe later. However, since there are a couple of windows programs I use because of reasons like this, I use Virtual PC v6.1 (VPC) to run xp on my Mac. For the couple of programs I use it works just fine, even though it is a little slower, because I need only one machine to handle ALL of my computer tasks both work and personal.

Since I work in IT for a living, I understand the need for backups. I have set up elaborate backup systems for my company’s server farm, and I also back up my Mac weekly to a external Firewire hard drive. I do this backup on Sunday mornings (usually) so my backup is never more than a week behind. I had installed an update from Apple on Friday, and everything was fine the remainder of Friday and the couple of times I checked email and recorded some bills in Quicken on Saturday.

Sunday morning, however, things weren’t so good. The Mac didn’t wake up from sleep, so I powered it off (definitely not my first choice but in this case I didn’t see any other options). It came back up fine, but when I started VPC and selected the machine I wanted to start I got this error message:

“one of the virtual drive images could not be opened”

and Googling basically told me the machine was corrupted and that I should reinstall a new machine. Crap. I had a week’s worth of financial transactions to reconstruct and lot of them were expenditures from pocket cash that I would not remember. Resigning myself to the inevitable, I decided to avoid the pain and go work on a motorcycle. It’s not just a river in Egypt, after all.

Continue reading “A disaster (almost)…”

Work software for my new Mac

I need to edit web pages and manage servers so I began looking for something a bit more productive than terminal.

I took the trial of BBEdit and decided to purchase it.   TextMate was another possiblilty, but I liked the built-in ftp client the BBEdit has so I went with it for now.   I may change in the future, although the TextMate forums indicated ftp client functionality was a top-requested update and it is still not available.

I need to log in and manage a server farm running a mix of RedHat and Ubuntu Linux, I chose iTerm for that.   I still need to get the correct code for the delete/backspace key, but other than that annoyance it works quite well.   Keeping connection information as favorites saves time as well.

I chose Transmit as my ftp program, I am used to the my-files-on-the-left and the server-files-on-the-right layout.   I don’t like that it wants to choose ascii or binary based on the file extension as that is not always the proper choice, but I have added a few extensions through preferences and it seems to be working fine.

I use the Adobe reader a lot, Preview works fine too.

I use Openoffice.org v2 and have no need for any microsoft office programs.   I have found only one problem with OO.org v2, and that has to do with updating and saving files in an encrypted sparseimage file.   It hangs 100% of the time.   Moving the file out of the sparseimage file is all that’s required.   It is a nuisance but I want to ensure security of certain files at all times and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Essential software for my new Mac – part 2

Well, I receive zip files via email and downloads so I need to expand zip and sit files, and it turns out that Tiger does not include the Stuffit program that was previously included. No big deal, just go to the Stuffit site and download the expander app.

I moved my copy of Adobe Photoshop to my new Powerbook, and ran the updater to v7.01. I have no need of any more recent version of Photoshop so I’ll stay with this one for now.

I should retitle the post to “Essential software for my old Mac” as I decided to upgrade the OS on my powermac to 10.4.8 Tiger, so I purchased a copy of it. I also added memory to get it up to the 2gb max. This MDD Powermac has dual 1.25 ghz processors, and has a 1600×1200 digital display. It works quite well. So that I could work on video equally well on either Mac, I bought a copy of iLife ’05 and installed it on the Powermac. That gave me the latest iTunes and iMovieHD, and iDvd.

I purchased Roxio Toast Titanium v7 even though v8 is available. v7 is cheaper since v8 is out, but I don’t need the functionality of moving video to a video iPod since I don’t own one. If I get one in the future, maybe, but for now that was unneeded so I decided on v7.

Moving Thunderbird email to my Mac

This is a little more complicated, but the complications are largely due to the fact that I want to move my entire message archive to the Mac from my Linux server running Ubuntu. There are a couple of gotchas, but if you’re careful and check things ahead of time it will be surprisingly straightforward. Before you start this series of steps, you should have installed the latest (or your preferred) version of Thunderbird.

  1. Start Thunderbird, and create your main email account. We’re not going to download any mail yet, we just need to have Thunderbird create the directory structure for us. Close Thunderbird.
  2. Locate your profile directory. Most likely, it will be in Users/Library/Thunderbird. The profile directory has an automatically-generated name ending in “.default”. Change into the profile directory, and then to the Mail subdirectory. There should be a directory named “Local Folders”. We will be replacing this directory with the “Local Folders” directory from our current installation of Thunderbird, so rename it to “Local Folders Save” to make that a bit simpler.
  3. Copy your “Local Folders” directory to your Mac. As long as you are logged in as the user for this Thunderbird installation, place the copied directory in the Mail directory. Now, there should be a “Local Folders” and a “Local Folders Save” directory present.
  4. We need to delete all files with an “msf” extension. These are index files for the various mail folders you’ve creted and they are re-created when the folder is referenced. If you don’t delete them, Thunderbird will likely hang when you start it. To delete them, open a terminal window and change to the “Local Folders” directory. At the command prompt, type “find . -name ‘*.msf’ -print” to locate the files we need to delete. Now, to delete them, we will modify the command we used to locate them. At the command prompt, type “find . -name ‘*.msf’ -exec rm -f {} \;”.
  5. Start Thunderbird, you should see your archived email messages in the “Local Folders” directory. Now you can create any additional email accounts you need. Close Thunderbird.
  6. There are a couple of other files you may want to copy to simplify your migration. Your address book is in the file “abook.mab”. It should be copied to the profile directory. If you’ve marked messages as junk and you want to use this information without starting over on your Mac, copy the file “training.dat” to the profile directory. If you used message filters to put junk messages into the local Junk folder or other filters, copy the file “msgFilterRules.dat” to the “Local Folders” directory.
  7. I have my signature files in the profile directory, so if you copy your signature files there you can set them up by editing account settings from within Thunderbird.

All done! Thunderbird works as well on the Mac as on any other platorm, and you can move your mail including your archived messages by following this simple series of steps. I started with this howto and added my own wrinkles.

BIG HINT: If you have mail in your inbox that you want to move (and you use the POP protocol), just create a folder within “Local Folders” named myinboxsave, and copy all the messages from your inbox into this folder.   This way, when you copy the Local Folders to your Mac, you will have copied your inbox messages at the same time.   Just open the myinboxsave folder and copy the messages back into your inbox. Nice.

Essential software for my new Mac – part 1

When I received the Powerbook, it didn’t take long to get it going. I set up a wireless connection to my existing network at home, which includes two printers, an Ubuntu-based linux fileserver, a windows server, and a Powermac running 10.2.8 Jaguar. It took me longer to find the WEP password than it did to set it up.

The new Powerbook came with iLife ’05, which has an updated version of iTunes on it.   I was not about to re-rip my entire cd collection into the new laptop, so I used podworks to move 4000+ songs from my iPod into iTunes on the new laptop.

Now, I needed to make the machine suitable for daily work. I installed the Verizon software for my KPC-650 cellular modem and it worked immediately. I have read that you need windows to activate the card, but since I had already used it in my windows laptop I didn’t have a problem with activation. It works well and I can ping sites by name and IP, so dns resolution is working fine. The pings showed the latency is much lower than my current satellite internet connection.

OK, now I have internet access. Safari works fine, but I need to test sites in several browsers to ensure they are compatible. Let’s start with FireFox – it installs easily and I grab the bookmarks.html file from my windows laptop and instantly I have all of my bookmarks available on the Mac. Nice.

Next is email. I use Thunderbird, so I grab and install it. Now to move my mail from Thunderbird running on my Linux server to the Mac.

Off the deep end or finally may have gotten it right

I decided to buy an 17″ Apple Powerbook laptop. Yes, the Powerbook instead of the very popular Macbook/Macbook Pro Intel-based laptops from Apple. The Intel-based Apples seem to be all the rage, but they were lacking in one critical area – they do not have a pcmcia slot. Without that slot, I can’t use my Verizon cellular modem. A second, slightly less important difference is that the Powerbook has a built-in telephone modem. With the cellular card handling my main internet connection duties out here in the country, I need a backup means of connecting to the ‘net. It’s just simpler if you don’t have to take a dongle with you.

The 17″ G4 Powerbook is a really nice machine and the underlying *nix OS is just fine with me. I ordered 2gb of RAM from www.ramjet.com and the installation took all of 5 minutes. About This Mac now reports 2gb of DDR2 RAM, which should really help when running Virtual PC.

Now, the software tools need to be identified, located, and installed.