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This issue brings our first reader survey in years, along with much more. Updates from last week look at the removal and reposting of the Norwegian Early Help Desk video on YouTube, better ways of creating permanent URLs for New York Times articles, and a quick Final Cut Pro 5.1.4 update to fix problems introduced in 5.1.3. In other news, Apple and Cisco reach an agreement on the use of the iPhone name, Apple adds cellular data support to Mac OS X, the Your Mac Life radio show changes domains, and we pass on a tip for focused reading of PDFs in Preview. In DealBITS, we give away copies of Panergy’s docXConverter, which converts Word 2007 files to RTF or text, and this week also reveals our final Month of Apple Sales offer for Take Control ebooks. Finally, Joe Kissell anchors the issue with a review of CrashPlan, an innovative new backup program with great promise.

Adam Engst No comments

Please Take the TidBITS 2007 Reader Survey!

It has been many years since we’ve done a reader survey, but since we’re in the middle of some major infrastructure and site redesign work, I’d like to learn more about who you are, what you do, how you acquire technology information, what you think of our content, and most important, what you would like to see more of in TidBITS.

So I would greatly appreciate it if you could spare 5 minutes to fill out our TidBITS 2007 Reader Survey. For those who complete it, we have a small token of our appreciation at the end, but I’m sorry to say that we weren’t able to get that shipment of iPhones in time.

I’ll share results from the survey in TidBITS as we get a chance to evaluate them. Thanks in advance for your time!

Jeff Carlson No comments

Final Cut Pro 5.1.4 Update Fixes Plug-in Issues

Last week’s Final Cut Pro 5.1.3 Update barely had time to cool before Final Cut users discovered that it broke a number of third party plug-ins such as Conduit, Automatic Duck, and Magic Bullet Colorista. Now, Apple has released Final Cut Pro 5.1.4, which corrects issues with FxPlug plug-ins that use custom interfaces. It also fixes a bug with importing XML files with missing elements. The update is a 38 MB download and requires
Final Cut Pro 5.1 or later running under Mac OS X 10.4.8.

Adam Engst No comments

Your Mac Life Changes Domains

One of the most entertaining Macintosh radio shows/podcasts is Shawn King’s Your Mac Life, which had to change its domain name last week. So if you’re looking for Your Mac Life on Wednesday evenings at its normally scheduled time of 5:30 PM Pacific/8:30 PM Eastern, head over to instead of Among others, guests last week included iTunes guru Chris Breen of Macworld, Matt Deatherage of running down Apple news so far in 2007, and YML’s server admin Aaron Adams, who talked about how to use your Mac to take photos of the coming total lunar eclipse on 03-Mar-07. You can listen to the show at the YML archives.

Adam Engst No comments

DealBITS Winners: A Sharp’s Opal

Congratulations to John O’Reilly of, Dave Harvey of, and Cheryll Shubert of, whose entries were chosen randomly in last week’s DealBITS drawing and who received a copy of A Sharp’s Opal, worth $32. But don’t feel bad if you didn’t win, since A Sharp is offering TidBITS readers a $6-off discount on Opal, dropping the price to $26. To take advantage of this offer, which is good through 21-Mar-07, use coupon code 2007DB6 when purchasing from within the application (choose Opal > License). Thanks again for entering this DealBITS drawing, and we hope you’ll continue to participate in the future. Thanks to the
384 people who entered, and keep an eye out for future DealBITS drawings!

Adam Engst No comments

DealBITS Drawing: Panergy’s docXConverter Premium

Microsoft has promised that they’ll release converters that will enable earlier versions of Microsoft Word on the Macintosh to open XML-based .docx files created with the new Word 2007 in Windows. But until that happens, and even afterwards for everyone who might need to convert a Word 2007 .docx file into RTF (Rich Text Format) or text for use in another word processor or desktop publishing program, look to Panergy’s new docXConverter. It’s simple to use, since all you have to do is double-click a .docx file. docXConverter automatically launches and converts the file, putting it in a folder you specify and assigning it to open in the application of your
choice. Formatting should be identical between source documents from Word 2003 and Word 2004 and the converted RTF document, and Panergy is working on complete conversion of the new elements that Microsoft introduced in Word 2007. docXConverter requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is available as a free 30-day or 20-conversion demo (3.6 MB) if you want to test it on your particular documents.

In this week’s DealBITS drawing, you can enter to win one of two copies of docXConverter 1.1 Premium, each worth $29.95. (The premium version costs $10 more than the normal version, but includes a maintenance plan comprising 2 years of updates.) Entrants who aren’t among our lucky winners will receive a discount on docXConverter Premium, so be sure to enter at the DealBITS page linked below. All information gathered is covered by our comprehensive privacy policy. Be careful with your spam filters and challenge-response systems, since you must be able to receive email from my address to learn if you’ve won. Remember too,
that if someone you refer to this drawing wins, you’ll receive the same prize as a reward for spreading the word.

Glenn Fleishman No comments

Apple and Cisco Reach iPhone Agreement

Apple and Cisco have reached an agreement on the use of the iPhone name. Cisco surprised the Mac world when their Linksys division released and rebranded a variety of Internet Protocol (IP) phones under the name iPhone in December 2006. Cisco had acquired the trademark via a company they purchased in 2000, and claimed to own the term in the realm of phones. The iPhone name was widely rumored for years to be attached to a project of Apple’s devising.

Then, Apple likewise surprised everyone by announcing an iPhone at Macworld Expo in January 2007 (see “iPhone Seeks to Redefine the Mobile Phone,” 2007-01-15). Almost immediately, Cisco filed a lawsuit, saying that it had been in negotiations over Apple’s use of the name and asserting its rights. Apple called the lawsuit “silly.”

Both parties entered into settlement talks quickly. The agreement announced on 21-Feb-07 states that both parties recognize trademark rights that have been granted, and both can use the iPhone trademark on their products worldwide. Both Apple and Cisco will dismiss all legal actions against each other, and will work on interoperability, without any specific agreements.

No mention of actual cash money was mentioned, and it’s entirely possible none was involved. This is pure speculation, but Cisco may have used the opportunity to force a bit more light into Apple’s crevices to achieve better compatibility for its wide array of consumer and corporate gear, which could benefit its customers and bottom line.

What this deal means is that Apple’s iPhone gets to be the Apple iPhone, although, due to the vagaries of how trademarks work, we might see it more commonly called – at least by Apple – “the Apple iPhone cell phone, music player, and Internet communicator.”

Adam Engst No comments

Concentrate on Reading in Preview

Thanks to Bryan Phelan for alerting us to a potentially useful feature in Apple’s Preview application. Bryan was noticing that other applications on his Mac were constantly distracting him from reading his Take Control ebooks until he stumbled on the Slideshow feature in Preview.

With an ebook (or any other PDF) open, just choose View > Slideshow (Command-Shift-F). Your screen immediately goes black and displays just the current ebook page. Click the Fit to Screen button in the transparent slideshow toolbar to expand the page to the full size of your screen. Unfortunately, you cannot see or click on bookmarks, but you can click on any link to follow it, and Web links load invisibly behind the slideshow rather than switching to your Web browser. You can hide the toolbar by clicking anywhere outside of it, but it returns to obscure the bottom of pages as soon as you move the cursor, so keyboard navigation is generally best.

To navigate between pages, press the left and right arrow keys or left and right square bracket keys. Press Escape to exit slideshow mode. The only other keys that do anything are F (for switching into full screen mode) and A (for switching back to actual size). Nearly every other key just beeps when pressed. Bonus points to anyone who can figure out what Tab, R, and L do, since they don’t beep.

Adam Engst No comments

Early Help Desk Video Gone and Back Again

The day after I wrote it up in TidBITS (see “Early Help Desk Video,” 2007-02-19), ZrednaZ, the user who posted the Early Help Desk Video with English subtitles removed the video, generating a flurry of squawks from TidBITS readers who wanted to see it. Some additional searching on YouTube turned up a handful of identical videos, all with Danish but not English subtitles. Then I noticed that one of the people leaving comments had found another copy with English subtitles, and shortly afterwards, ZrednaZ reposted the
, with a few additional seconds at the end (unfortunately, the reposted video is much darker than the other copies, though it has better subtitles).

Here’s what happened. The original video aired in 2001 on a show called “Oystein og meg” (“Oystein & I”) from the Norwegian television network, NRK, but it seems to have shown up on YouTube only recently. Another YouTube user recently posted a short clip from NRK News (with English subtitles added) that discusses the situation. It turns out that the version uploaded to YouTube became one of the most viewed videos on YouTube, generating about a million views. The news report goes on to say that it’s illegal to upload NRK content and that NRK’s lawyers are now
investigating the case. Upon hearing about the NRK lawyers, ZrednaZ got cold feet and pulled the video from YouTube, but after numerous requests and seeing the many other copies elsewhere on YouTube, reposted it.

It will be instructive to see how NRK’s lawyers react. Yes, the reposts on YouTube were done without permission. But it’s unclear who, if anyone, has been harmed. The work was done 6 years ago, and presumably entertained many Norwegians at the time, but my bet is that it has essentially been ignored ever since, neither making money for NRK nor advancing the careers of the creators. Now, thanks to YouTube and the viral nature of humor on the Internet, it’s at least bringing the creators some attention. One of them is quoted as saying, “This is probably the closest we are getting to a world wide launch, and we are very pleased so far.” The fact that NRK wasn’t prepared to turn that attention into revenue or something constructive is a
missed opportunity, but not a reason to employ heavy-handed legal tactics. The lesson is that you never know when or where lightning will strike, but if you can be ready for it or move sufficiently quickly, you just may be able to animate your very own Frankenstein with all that power.

Although I was a touch worried, I don’t think we were responsible for the video coming to the attention of the NRK’s lawyers. I heard about the video clip on 13-Feb-07 from a friend whose librarian sister-in-law sent it to her, and I posted the story to ExtraBITS on that day. The video had been making the rounds in the librarian community, apparently, and on 14-Feb-07 there was a post on The Chicago Blog about it. I suspect that many of the YouTube views came before my piece ran in TidBITS, given that the NRK News story about the situation apparently aired on 19-Feb-07, the same day as that TidBITS issue went out.

Glenn Fleishman No comments

Apple Adds Significant Cell Data Support

Apple’s WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network) Support Update v1.0, released last week via Software Update, adds support for five cellular data modems from Novatel, which are variously offered by three U.S. cellular operators. The update provides support for four ExpressCard modems that work with the MacBook Pro and one USB modem that can work with any Intel-based Mac. Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later on an Intel-based Mac is required.

Third-generation (3G) cellular data networks provide moderate data speeds across entire cities and regions. Those speeds are currently ramping up as Cingular Wireless (soon to be rebranded as part of AT&T), Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless upgrade their networks to faster standards.

Previous Approaches — Before this release, Mac OS X users typically needed to rely on third-party software, unsupported hacks (that nonetheless work), or Verizon Wireless, the only U.S. carrier to offer official Mac software for registering and managing a wireless PC Card. This Intel-only update leaves users of PowerPC-based Macs relying on the existing approaches as faster cell data flavors hit the market.

It’s unclear whether Apple’s new support allows Mac users to register their cell modems on a provider’s network. This registration typically requires special Windows software on networks other than Verizon Wireless’s.

Data Rates — Cingular’s HSDPA (High-Speed Download Packet Access), a worldwide standard, is currently available in scattered cities around the United States, but the recent AT&T-BellSouth merger should accelerate that deployment. HSDPA has a top download rate of 3.6 Mbps in the current version, and 7.2 Mbps in a new version that’s starting to appear. Actual rates seen by individual users are always a bit vague: the current 3.6 Mbps generation seems to deliver up to 150 Kbps upstream and 700 Kbps downstream in typical circumstances, but can both burst far above that and drop far below. Cingular advertises 400 to 700 Kbps downstream. The 7.2 Mbps version of HSDPA could double that throughput, but is more
likely to support more users in each cell tower’s range instead, leading to a more modest increase in throughput. The Novatel Merlin XU870 ExpressCard, offered by Cingular and supported in this Apple update, supports both HSDPA speeds, as well as older, slower standards.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless use CDMA for their networks, a cellular standard used mostly in the United States and South Korea; their flavor of 3G is called EVDO (Evolution Data-Only). The first version, numbered Rev. 0, offered rates comparable to HSDPA. The next version, called EVDO Rev. A, is just starting to be installed, with Sprint and Verizon Wireless committing to a massive buildout through 2007. Rev. A adapters can operate at Rev. 0 speeds as well as use the earlier modem-speed 1xRTT standard. Rev. A offers typical downstream rates of up to 800 Kbps, with bursts of a few megabits per second, and improves upstream transfers to a rate of up to 400 Kbps. The WWAN Support Update v1.0 supports a single Rev.0 EVDO ExpressCard – the
Novatel XV620 on the Verizon Wireless network – while the other two ExpressCards and the USB adapter offer Rev. A.

Costs — All three companies typically charge about $60 per month for unmetered service with a two-year commitment and a high cancellation penalty. Cingular and Verizon Wireless require a voice plan to get into the $60 range, with costs around $80 per month otherwise. The cards and USB modems are typically subsidized by the carriers when you make a plan commitment; prices vary by location and term of agreement, but typically cost between $50 and $150 with the longest commitment.

“Unmetered service” doesn’t mean “unlimited,” although all three firms typically advertise it as unlimited. You can read a lengthy essay by Tim Wu, a professor at the Columbia University law school, about how “unlimited” means “whatever we define it as” in the hands of cellular operators. For Verizon Wireless, it means less than 200 MB transferred per day for email, Web surfing, and corporate applications – hardly broadband!

Adam Engst No comments

Easier New York Times Linking

Ever spend a non-trivial amount of time working on something, only to find that you’ve almost completely wasted your time? That’s what happened last week, when I spent about an hour testing a variety of old and new URLs to articles at the New York Times, attempting to find a reproducible method of linking to them in a way that provided free, permanent access. With help, I came up with a solution, but it hasn’t turned out to be nearly as easy or clever as it could have been. (See “Create Permanent Links to the New York Times,” 2007-02-19.)

Thanks to Seth Theriault for sending me a set of test URLs that make linking to New York Times articles even easier. Let’s say you want to link to this article about Steve Jobs’s letter about digital rights management:

That’s an old article now, so following that link would take you to TimesSelect. But according to Seth, and he’s right, merely appending “/partner/rssnyt” to the above URL (not to the TimesSelect URL that appears when you load it in your browser) will make it permanently available for free, as in:

That’s great, since you can now access old articles for which you have only the base URL by merely appending the magic string to the end. Or at least that’s the theory – Seth tells me that although it usually works, it’s not guaranteed to do so, especially on older articles.

But that’s not all. The New York Times requires registration, and while registration is free, some people prefer not to sign up. (Using the “/partner/rssnyt” links requires registration.) Seth notes that using the Permalink feature available while reading any article provides a URL that not only gives permanent free access to the article, it sometimes sidesteps the need to register. I say “sometimes” because the permalink to the article about Jobs’s letter doesn’t circumvent the registration requirement, whereas this permalink (to an article about Kodak printers) currently does:

Even more confusingly, I created a permalink to an article (Michael Pollan’s must-read “Unhappy Meals,” about what we should be eating) a few weeks ago that does require registration, and it’s different from the permalink that I can create from the same article now. Both provide free access to the article, but for some unknown reason the article is also once again available for free at its plain URL. Plus, although I didn’t keep detailed notes of my testing, I could swear that my permalink took me to TimesSelect for that article when I was writing this up last week.

All I can conclude is that the New York Times Web weavers have a variety of options available with regard to article access, and they can and do change those options at will. For now, though, the “/partner/rssnyt” string is all that’s necessary to make a normal New York Times URL into one that will remain accessible for free.

Joe Kissell No comments

CrashPlan: Backups Revisited

In the course of writing two editions of “Take Control of Mac OS X Backups” and several magazine articles on the same subject, I’ve tried a lot of Mac backup applications. Although the details of their features and implementations vary greatly, I haven’t seen anything truly revolutionary for a long time. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard’s much-discussed Time Machine feature will certainly apply a snazzy interface to file restoration, but its underlying mechanism of archiving files to a hard disk or server volume once a day is pretty standard.

So when I heard about CrashPlan from Code 42 Software, released last month at Macworld Expo, I was expecting more of the same: just another tool to add to the dozens already in my lists and feature comparison charts. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that CrashPlan is much more than that. It does some cool things I’ve never seen in a Mac backup program before, and it does them in a wonderfully easy-to-use fashion.

Most backup software follows a similar pattern: you tell the application which files, folders, or volumes you want to back up, where you want the backups to go, and what options you want to use (such as compression or filtering by file name). Then you either click a button to perform an immediate backup or schedule recurring backups. In CrashPlan, the file choices and options are almost an afterthought; it’s the destination you’re asked for first, and that’s where the program begins to distinguish itself.

Smarter Online Backups — One option is to back up your computer over the Internet to CrashPlan’s servers, called CrashPlan Central. The main benefit in doing so is that your data is stored safely off-site. It’ll still be there if your house burns down, and you can even access it remotely from another computer if necessary.

In general, despite this advantage, I’ve found Internet backup services underwhelming, because they’re slow (even with a fast broadband connection) and expensive, and because restoring files is problematic if your Internet connection disappears. However, CrashPlan’s pricing is vastly lower than its competitors: you can store up to 50 GB for $5 per month, and additional space is only $0.10 per GB. In addition, you’re charged only for the amount stored at the end of the billing month, not the total amount of data transferred.

Like other online backup programs, CrashPlan compresses and encrypts your data before sending it over the Internet. And, like the others, it’s constrained by the laws of physics; compression notwithstanding, online backups can in some cases take days or even weeks to complete. But CrashPlan does three unique and interesting things.

First, it gives precedence to files that have changed recently. So, if you’re running your first full backup and it takes three days to finish, but in the meantime you make major changes to a document you’re writing, CrashPlan almost immediately backs up the new document rather than waiting until the rest of the queue has been processed.

Second, it can store multiple versions of files that have changed, and can optionally do so right after a change takes place, rather than having to scan every file on your disk before each run; you can set the number of minutes that elapse between when the file is saved and when CrashPlan backs it up. This means that, from the moment you begin using CrashPlan, it can archive multiple versions of your most important and actively used files – somewhat like a version-control system – without waiting to run on a fixed schedule.

And third, if a file changes, CrashPlan doesn’t make a new copy of the entire file, but copies only the bytes that have actually changed. This means that incremental backups run very quickly and that storage space is minimized – two attributes that are always welcome, but especially so with online backups. As a consequence, if you were to back up, say, the 10 GB disk image you use for Windows XP in Parallels Desktop, you could update it every day without worrying that you’ll overwhelm your backup media. In fact, CrashPlan goes a big step further: if more than one computer in your home or office contains a file identical to one you’ve backed up already, CrashPlan stores just a pointer to the original backup file, not another
copy. So you can effectively store much more data in a much smaller space than with other backup solutions.

The potential downside to this partial-file approach, however, is that in order to reconstruct a given version of a file, CrashPlan needs access to all its constituent pieces. Although the program performs extensive data verification to make sure nothing is lost, conceivably a disk error or other snafu could damage some portion of one of your backed-up files, making it impossible to reconstruct the whole thing later; this is much less of a worry when your backup program stores complete copies of each file.

Peer-to-Peer Backups — CrashPlan’s servers aren’t the only destination you can choose for your backups. In fact, the company’s FAQ talks candidly about the fact that CrashPlan Central is neither the fastest nor the cheapest choice. A second option is a friend’s computer, which could be almost any other computer in the world with an Internet connection. CrashPlan has clients for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, and files from one operating system can be stored on another. All your friend has to do is install the software (it’s free to use if you’re only storing someone else’s backups) and you can then add that friend’s hard drive as a backup destination for
your files. Your friend can specify how much disk space is available for you to use, and all your data is encrypted in such a way that your friend can’t read your data. Neither you nor your friend requires a static IP address to pull this off, though in some cases you may have to fiddle with a firewall or router to let the data flow correctly.

What you can do over the Internet with a friend’s computer, you can also do on your local network with another computer of your own – or more than one. And once you’ve set up computer A to be a destination for computer B, you can also back up from B to A with a single click, making the backups mutual. This means that whether you have two computers or dozens, each can back up to the others, quickly and automatically (assuming you have enough disk space).

Most backup software can be persuaded to back up to another machine on the local network by using file sharing to mount one computer’s disk on the other. More-advanced software, such as Retrospect, bypasses all that hassle and also provides greater control by using a client-server system. But CrashPlan is the only cross-platform backup software I know of that provides true peer-to-peer backups, locally or remotely, out of the box – and that it does so without requiring explicit scheduling is a huge bonus.

Bells, Whistles, and Red Flags — Beyond the basics, CrashPlan offers most of the features I consider important in any archiving backup program. You can choose whether to have the software run all the time or only during certain times; select how many versions of each file you want to keep and when, if ever, to remove files deleted on the source disk; select only certain files or folders or exclude files with particular extensions; choose files to restore by date, by filesystem location, or using a search; restore backed-up files to their original location or another spot; and either rename or overwrite existing files during restoration. You can also throttle the bandwidth used for online backups, and can
choose different thresholds for when you’re using the computer and when it’s idle.

Nevertheless, for all this backup goodness, CrashPlan has several flaws and some curious omissions. For one thing, bafflingly, it lacks the capability to back up directly to an external hard drive or even a network-attached storage device; at the moment, the only valid destinations are other computers (and only the users of those computers can specify on which local storage device backups are stored). So if you have just one computer and can’t – or don’t want to – back up over the Internet, you’re out of luck; if you do back up over the Internet, you’ll be stuck with slow restore speeds. Code 42 says that remedying this is at the top of their priority list.

Another issue is that CrashPlan, like Time Machine and Apple’s Backup 3.1, was designed to do archives well but not to create bootable duplicates. In my opinion, archives and duplicates are the two pillars of a complete backup system, and having just one puts you at risk. For example, even if you have excellent archives, a hard disk crash could leave you unable to work for hours or days while you repair or replace your drive and restore all the necessary files; duplicates let you get back to work immediately. In addition, bootable duplicates can save your bacon in the result of a system upgrade gone wrong. So you’ll want another tool, such as SuperDuper, to cover that aspect of your
backup system.

CrashPlan is written in Java, and as is often true with Java applications, it leaves something to be desired in the look-and-feel department. That is to say, it’s reasonably pretty, but looks more like a Web page than a proper Mac application. There are no menus or keyboard shortcuts, and some of the controls are ambiguous. Although backups run in the background even when the CrashPlan application isn’t open, you get no feedback that anything is happening, except possibly your Internet connection slowing down (depending on your settings). Code 42 says they’re working on a solution to that.

On a few occasions, I noticed that my Mac’s CPU got stuck at 100 percent for long stretches of time even when I didn’t have any other applications running and CrashPlan wasn’t actively backing up; Activity Monitor informed me that Java was monopolizing the processor. According to Code 42, a few other users have had similar problems, and they’re looking into it.

These, and some other minor bugs, are about what one would expect from the first commercial release of a new application, and I fully expect to see improvements in the near future. Among the other things I’ve requested are greater flexibility in excluding files from a backup (say, by size or date modified) and a grammatical overhaul: the program uses “backup” as a verb when it should be “back up” (as in “Files to Backup” [sic]).

Conclusions — Despite these problems, CrashPlan is the first program I’ve seen that has made me want to reconsider my own backup strategy, because it offers possibilities that previously did not exist or were awkward to pull off. I’m not quite ready to give up Retrospect for backing up the Macs in our home, but I can easily imagine that happening if and when a few of CrashPlan’s outstanding issues are ironed out.

CrashPlan comes in two editions. CrashPlan Pro (described here) costs $60. The non-Pro version of CrashPlan, which costs $20, stores just one version of each file and doesn’t look for file changes in real time. The Pro version also includes free updates for a year and priority tech support. A free 14-day trial is available.

Staff Roundtable — [Adam Engst] I haven’t had a chance to look at CrashPlan myself yet, but I’m extremely intrigued by Joe’s description of its peer-to-peer backup approach. I suggested that Apple should do something along those lines in talks I’ve given and in “Apple Computer, Going Forward into 2004” (2004-01-05), where I wrote:

“I’d like to see Apple build peer-to-peer file sharing technologies into Mac OS X so a network of Macs and Macintosh users could become more powerful and flexible than the mere sum of its parts. Multiple copies of shared files could be stored across multiple machines, eliminating the problem of a turned-off Mac or traveling PowerBook. Browsing for servers would become a thing of the past; shared files would simply be accessible at all times in what seemed like a local set of folders. Such a system could even automatically maintain backups of data that wasn’t shared by distributing it in encrypted chunks around other Macs on the network. All this would work best over a high-speed local network, but designed and implemented
properly, nothing would stop it from extending to the Internet.”

When I get to testing CrashPlan, I’ll be interested in seeing how well it actually reassembles all the backed-up chunks into the final file, and also if it’s possible to restore an entire hard disk from backup (presumably after booting from another hard disk or a utility device like Micromat’s TechTool Protege). After all, it’s not really the backup that’s important, but the restore.

[Jeff Carlson] Although I can’t yet see myself using CrashPlan because my Retrospect system works just fine for now, the product does seem like a good tool to install on Macs belonging to extended family members. I’ve helped my parents set up regular backups, but their systems so far haven’t included off-site backups; just getting files backed-up to an external hard drive has been a huge improvement. But CrashPlan could be a no-hassle solution for me to make sure, remotely, that their important data gets saved outside their homes, maybe even to a hard drive I set up in my office. Love means helping your less-technologically-inclined family maintain good backups.

Adam Engst No comments

Take Control News/26-Feb-07

Month of Apple Sales #4: The Switcher’s Kit — We all know at least one malware-harried Windows user who’s on the fence about switching to the Mac. But as much as Mac OS X is simple, secure, and pleasant to use, changing operating systems is still a big step. Help ease their transition with our Take Control Switcher’s Kit: 7 ebooks guaranteed to help explain which Mac to buy, approaches for moving data from Windows to Mac OS X, how to run any necessary Windows applications on the Mac, and the best techniques for learning and maintaining Mac OS X. This essential bundle costs only $25.18 – a 60 percent discount from the list price of $62.95. (And yes, since we don’t use obnoxious copy prevention technologies,
you can just download the ebooks and give them to your friend via email or on CD.)

  • Take Control of Switching to the Mac
  • Take Control of Buying a Mac
  • Take Control of Running Windows on the Mac
  • Macworld Mac Basics Superguide
  • Take Control of Customizing Tiger
  • Take Control of Users & Accounts in Tiger
  • Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac

To take advantage of this discount, just purchase from the Month of Apple Sales #4: The Switcher’s Kit page.

This, and the rest of the offers in our Month of Apple Sales, are available only through 06-Mar-07, so now is the time to get started with Tiger, learn more about iLife, increase your knowledge of Mac OS X, or help a friend switch to the Mac.

TidBITS Staff No comments

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/26-Feb-07

Volume control for family Mac — The iPod contains a volume limiting option, but what about the Mac? Is there a way to prevent a 7-year-old from cranking up the sound? (1 message)

Apple TV play DVD from laptop? As we wait for the Apple TV to ship, a reader wonders if it will be possible to watch a movie on television from a DVD in a Mac elsewhere in the house. (1 message)

NY Times links — Readers respond to Adam’s article last week about creating permanent links to New York Times articles online. (3 messages)

Running with a Garmin Forerunner GPS — Readers discuss TrailRunner and other GPS applications that could be used with a Garmin Forerunner and other GPS devices. (4 messages)

Weird preferences folders — A large number of oddly named folders are being created on a reader’s Mac, but where are they coming from? (7 messages)

Reading WriteNow files in Mac OS X — So you wrote that great novel using WriteNow years ago, but now you can’t read it? Here are some suggestions for reading WriteNow files and converting them to something Mac OS X can fathom. (5 messages)

How much to quote? What’s the correct protocol for quoting TidBITS Talk (or any discussion forum, for that matter) messages in your posts? (3 messages)

Editing compressed video — A reader seeks opinions on a product that’s designed to capture video from devices with HDMI connections. (1 message)