Once you’ve checked out the big Take Control sale this week, we have oodles of other articles for you. Glenn Fleishman was busy, explaining why it’s unlikely that we’ll see another U.S. iPhone carrier any time soon, testing the new push notification-capable AIM for iPhone, and covering the new Adobe BrowserLab service for comparing how Web pages render in different browsers. Not to be left out, Jeff Carlson reviews four programs for recovering accidentally deleted photos from a memory card, and Matt Neuburg explains the best way to format a new hard disk. Notable software releases this week include Tinderbox 4.7.0, Airfoil 3.3.1, Apple TV 2.4, Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0.2, Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.4.2, Final Cut Pro 6.0.6, Camino 1.6.8, BBEdit 9.2.1 and the MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7.
Learn more for less! We’re having a 50%-off sale on all Take Control ebooks and Macworld Superguides through 07-Jul-09, so you can expand your library with our highly practical ebooks about Macs, Mac OS X, iLife ’09, AirPort networking, and much more. To take advantage of this limited-time sale, visit our catalog using this coupon-loaded link, select the titles you want, and click the Buy Selected Ebooks button. You’ll see the coupon code and the discount on the first screen of our shopping cart.
- “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal”: Joe Kissell shows you how to release your inner Unix geek!
- “Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition”: Keep your Mac running smoothly with an easy maintenance program!
- “Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac”: Learn how to solve any Mac problem with Joe Kissell’s expert advice!
- “Take Control of Running Windows on a Mac, Third Edition”: Find essential advice for running Windows on your Intel-based Mac.
- “Macworld Mac Gems Superguide”: Browse through 240+ reviews of inexpensive software to improve your Mac experience.
- “Macworld Mac Security Superguide”: Protect your Mac from bad guys, malicious software, thieves, snoops, and other pesky problems.
- “Take Control of iWeb ’09”: Learn how to make useful, attractive Web sites with iWeb ’09.
- “iPhoto ’09: Visual QuickStart Guide”: Master every aspect of iPhoto ’09 with step-by-step, visual instructions from Take Control publisher Adam Engst.
- “Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ’09”: Learn how to record complete songs with drums, keyboards, bass, strings, even horns…even if all you have is a beat-up electric guitar!
- “Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand ’09”: Get creative and make music with the built-in loops in GarageBand ’09.
- “Take Control of Safari 4”: Sharon Zardetto helps you make the most of Apple’s Safari, a deceptively powerful Web browser with many hidden and under-appreciated features.
- “Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network”: Make your 802.11n-based AirPort network fast, reliable, and secure! Updated for 2009 models.
- “Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security”: Learn how to keep intruders out of your wireless network and protect your sensitive communications.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the Take Control series with purchases, feedback, and enthusiasm!
Late last week, as part of our continual upgrade plans, I threw the switch on an infrastructure change with our servers. In an attempt to reduce the effects of the constant onslaught of spam and to start removing myself from the never-ending task of administering email accounts for local users, I’m now routing incoming mail through a different server.
The practical upshot of this change is that the server we use to send the TidBITS, TidBITS Talk, and Take Control mailing lists may now identify itself explicitly as emperor.tidbits.com instead of just tidbits.com in various email headers. As a result, if you filter or whitelist email from tidbits.com, you may need to adjust things to pick up emperor.tidbits.com as well as tidbits.com.
Sorry for any inconvenience this causes!
Congratulations to Terrell Hall of mac.com, Tom Powers of zoran.com, and Larry Weakly of foxinternet.com, whose entries were chosen randomly in the last DealBITS drawing and who received a copy of DiscLabel 6, worth $35.95. Entrants to this drawing all received a 20-percent-off discount on DiscLabel 6 (hey, sometimes you have to participate to get the discount!). Thanks to the 427 people who entered this DealBITS drawing, and we hope you’ll continue to participate in the future!
AOL has pushed out a version of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) for iPhone that features push notification of new messages. The program comes in two versions: free with ads, or $2.99 without ads. Both versions work with iPhone OS 2.0 software, but require iPhone OS 3.0 to display alerts of new responses from chat partners when you’re using other apps.
The addition of push is the only major change to the iPhone AIM client, and it’s a big one. (The other, minor, addition is typing in the landscape orientation.) You have to launch AIM and sign in to activate push. All programs that feature push have to be launched at least once to register their intent to push, even if there’s no account configuration required.
Once you’re signed in to AIM, the software lets you remain signed in for 24 hours, during which time incoming messages are displayed as push notifications if your iPhone is sleeping or if you’re using other apps. If the iPhone’s display is active and you’re using AIM, messages are shown inline.
The iPod touch receives notifications only if it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network; while awake (display active), it shows messages instantly, and while sleeping, it checks
every 15 minutes. The iPhone uses Wi-Fi only if a cellular connection isn’t available, and Apple’s developer guidelines says those messages are shown only if the iPhone is plugged in or awake. This appears to be either an inconsistency in how the iPhone and iPod touch handle push, or an error in one of Apple’s documents.
AIM can work from multiple locations at once, which means you could be signed into iChat on one or more Macs and signed into AIM for iPhone. However, in testing, Adam Engst and I found that if you and your partner have encryption enabled in iChat, messages and sessions initiated in iChat don’t generate push notifications. If you start responding to the same person in AIM for iPhone, encryption is disabled on iChat, and push notifications start up.
You can disable iChat encryption (Preferences > Accounts > your account > Security), or make sure you’re logged out of iChat on all machines if you want push notifications to work in AIM for iPhone.
Push notification behavior for an iPhone or iPod touch can be set through a new Notifications item that appears in the Settings app only after you’ve installed at least one program that uses push. There’s a global setting to turn notification on or off, and then program-specific options. AIM offers the choice of disabling sound, alerts, and badges. (A badge is the number that appears on an app icon showing a quantity of something associated with the app.)
The addition of push should be part of the inevitable decline of text messaging (also known as SMS). As I wrote in “When iPhone Pushes, Text Message Fees Fall” (2009-04-09), a text message might cost a carrier a fraction of a cent to handle, while the firms charge customers up to 25 cents per message.
As far as the details that Apple has provided explain, push notification doesn’t cost the customer or the software developer anything, and, in the United States, iPhones come with unlimited data plans. Push notifications are tiny, and even thousands of notifications should add up to no more than a megabyte per month, which shouldn’t be a problem even in countries that cap data plan usage.
Unlike SMS, push notification is best effort – Apple tells developers that “delivery of push notifications is not guaranteed.” For instance, Apple’s “quality of service” description says that notifications that can’t be delivered are stored for a “limited period” before being deleted, and that only one notification per app is cached if a device isn’t immediately reachable.
SMS is designed to be more robust, and while there is also no guarantee, SMS text messages are almost always delivered unless a cell phone is either out of range or turned off for an extended period of time.
SMS’s key advantage is universality across carriers and countries, even though cross-border SMS is even more expensive than the ridiculous in-country charges. But AIM has tens of millions of users, and it’s free to get an AIM account that works with iChat as well, so you could encourage anyone with whom you frequently text message and who has an iPhone or iPod touch to set up an AIM account for use with the iPhone client.
That said, AIM can’t yet replace SMS. The 24-hour sign-in limit might be AOL’s way of reducing load or Apple’s requirement to avoid damaging relationships with carriers. Still, I could see checking in to see if someone were on AIM before using SMS – and if not, sending an SMS message for them to log into AIM.
When AT&T mishandled public relations around the iPhone for the Nth time recently – in having no formulated or ostensibly correct answer about upgrade fees for existing subscribers – I heard plenty of folks counting the days until AT&T was no longer the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple’s iPhone. (See “Call AT&T for the Best iPhone Upgrade Price,” 2009-06-15.)
I don’t want to say that it ain’t gonna happen, because we all know that where there’s a business will, there’s a technology way. But there are a few big bars in the way.
Cellular Standards — The foremost bar is that AT&T uses the GSM cellular standard, over which the vast majority of mobile phones operate worldwide. T-Mobile USA uses GSM as well. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel long ago opted for CDMA, which is used by hundreds of millions of people in the United States and elsewhere, but has no future as a standard, as I’ll explain.
Verizon has been much mentioned as a replacement or supplemental partner for Apple. But many folks forget that the iPhone simply can’t operate on Verizon’s network today. There is no technical reason why Apple cannot create a modified version of the iPhone that works on Verizon’s current 2G and 3G networks.
Except that Apple’s mobile chip provider is still reportedly Infineon, and Infineon has no CDMA technology in its portfolio, only GSM. (If you read Infineon’s site you’ll see that the company supports WCDMA, which is connected only in underlying theory to CDMA. WCDMA is an encoding standard used in UMTS, the slowest 3G flavor used on GSM networks.)
That means Apple would have to switch chip providers or add another one, which would be difficult given Apple’s penchant for secrecy and how closely the company has reportedly worked with Infineon. Infineon could develop its own CDMA chips, but Qualcomm owns an enormous number of patents related to CDMA (which it invented), and it would be a complex, long-term project for Infineon to obtain the rights. That all makes it highly unlikely in the short run.
Infineon also has one software-defined product, where software can reshape the radio standards supported in the chip, but CDMA isn’t on the list of supported standards.
Further, it’s hard to see why Apple would start down the CDMA path at this moment, because Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have both abandoned the CDMA roadmap for their 4G networks, and Qualcomm has discontinued development on its 4G standard. Verizon and Sprint use Qualcomm’s 3G standard, EVDO, but both have committed to different fourth-generation network standards. (EVDO doesn’t allow data and voice at the same time, which would seemingly be a non-starter for Apple.)
Of course, T-Mobile currently uses the same GSM standard as AT&T. However, T-Mobile was late to the spectrum game, and has deployed 3G only in limited cities. Further, T-Mobile acquired some spectrum that hasn’t been used before for 3G in the United States, nor in other countries. T-Mobile’s 3G phones support a different set of spectrum bands than those sold by AT&T for international use, and the iPhone doesn’t include the band required for some of T-Mobile’s 3G spectrum.
What about LTE and WiMax? AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will all use LTE (Long Term Evolution), which is considered a GSM-evolved protocol – the standard has come from the GSM worldwide trade group – and has emerged to be the dominant next-generation or 4G mobile standard. LTE will have a top throughput of 50 to 200 Mbps, depending on how wide a frequency range is assigned by carriers to channels. In the United States, a real per-user speed could hit 4 to 8 Mbps in routine use, and peak at much higher rates in bursts. Companies working on LTE phones and telecom analysts don’t expect handsets with LTE built in for a while
– 2011 will likely be the earliest, but it could even be 2012.
Sprint has opted for WiMax, because the firm wanted to get a 4G network deployed faster for competitive reasons, and wasn’t sold on LTE when it made the call. Sprint merged its holdings with Clearwire, of which it now owns a majority, and has put WiMax in four major cities so far (Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Portland, Oregon). Sprint’s choice of WiMax makes it unlikely to work as an Apple partner, and Sprint was also the exclusive debut carrier for the Palm Pre, as well. (Again, WiMax could be added to an iPhone at some point, but the future worldwide market for WiMax seems extremely small compared to current LTE plans.)
Clearwire expects to have WiMax built out to pass 120 million people by the end of 2010, but Verizon and AT&T likely won’t hit that population with LTE until well into 2011 or even 2012 with currently announced plans. After that, however, LTE will likely surpass WiMax by a vast margin.
I could see Apple taking one of two paths. One would be to stick entirely with the GSM roadmap, upgrading new iPhone models with faster HSPA standards as they appear, and adding LTE to a future iPhone as AT&T starts to deploy that standard in earnest in about two years. That buys the iPhone access to 4G networks worldwide, including Verizon’s, although only for LTE.
This strikes me as most likely because it’s a simple, effective plan that encompasses the majority of advanced-network users worldwide now and over the next decade. The latest reports put worldwide GSM users at 4 billion and CDMA at 500 million, roughly, although a good portion of those subscribers don’t have faster than 2G network access.
The second path, which seems more fussy and thus less likely, would be for Apple to wait for both AT&T and Verizon to have significant LTE deployments that are backed up by slower and more robust CDMA/EVDO and GSM/EDGE/3G networks where LTE coverage is unavailable.
At that point, Apple could produce an iPhone that could support all those standards. The reason that Apple would need to add at least CDMA (and possibly EVDO) to work on Verizon’s network is that Verizon will continue to operate its slowest 2G voice networks using CDMA for some time, perhaps another decade. First-generation analog voice service was discontinued only last year, many years after 2G voice was fully deployed. It’s unlikely a Verizon customer would tolerate an LTE-only phone.
Currently, AT&T has about 80 million and Verizon about 90 million U.S. subscribers, and both carriers will continue to grow. It does seem odd for Apple to forego a potential large hunk of users in the United States, but looked at worldwide, focusing on GSM and LTE is a simpler course of action.
It’s still possible that Apple has a card up its sleeve, but I don’t see how that’s possible without bringing in another chip maker, and firing up operations that would be highly specific to the U.S. market. Never say never with Apple, but I believe that AT&T is where the iPhone will remain for the next couple of years.
Reformatting a new external hard disk? You wouldn’t think this would constitute any challenge, would you? You start up Disk Utility, you select the external disk, you switch to the Erase panel, and you take a deep breath and click Erase, right? Wrong.
It happens that, perhaps because of the changing economics of external hard disk acquisition (fancy talk for “they’ve gotten a lot cheaper lately”), I’ve recently had to reformat several new external hard disks. These include a shirt-pocket sized Maxtor Mini for taking my compressed music collection along on airplane trips, a larger Maxtor OneTouch that I made a friend buy when I discovered that his wife’s compulsive ripping of The Prisoner episodes from the local library had filled up her iMac’s internal disk, an AcomData to serve as my mother’s iMac’s Time Machine backup, and most recently a whopping 1 TB Fantom GreenDrive, a rugged, cool, silent machine that I picked up for less than $100 at Buy.com. In every case I started by trying
to use Disk Utility’s Erase panel, and in every case I encountered some sort of initial failure. In the case of the Fantom drive, there were even printed instructions saying to do this, and they were wrong. Wrong, I tell you!
So, since experience has taught me the right way (repeatedly, because I so readily forget what experience has taught me), I’m going to give you the benefit thereof and put this canard to rest once and for all. This is what you do:
Launch Disk Utility. Plug the new external drive into your computer, provide it with power as needed, and switch it on. When the new disk appears in Disk Utility, select its top-level icon. (I stress this because the disk is represented by two icons, one for the physical disk, as it were, and one for the single volume it contains.) Now switch, not to Erase, but to Partition.
On the Partition pane, everything will appear to be greyed out, as if you had encountered a brick wall. That’s because before you can do anything, you have to change the partition arrangement, using the Volume Scheme pop-up menu. You have to do this even if you don’t actually want to change the number of partitions. So, the Volume Scheme pop-up menu starts out saying Current. Change that. The minimal change is to 1 Partition. I’m not going to tell you that you need any more partitions than one, or how big they should be; that’s up to you, and depends on how this disk will be used.
Now stop. Stop! I know you think the next thing to do is give the drive a name and assign it a format – probably Mac OS Extended (Journaled), the default (and rightly so). But don’t do it yet. See the Options button below the rectangular graphic depicting your partition scheme? Click it. Click it! This is the key, all-important step. From this one step stems all the trouble or goodness, the success or failure that your reformatting of this new external hard disk will be met with.
Why? Because there are three possible partition schemes, and many disks come with Master Boot Record, which is absolutely wrong for a Mac. You must choose between GUID Partition Table and Apple Partition Map. The latter is the most universal for use with Macs; you can’t go wrong this way, unless you want to use the disk as a startup disk. If you do, then your choice here depends on what kind of Mac you want to start up from this disk. Intel-based Macs prefer GUID Partition Table; they can boot from disks partitioned using Apple Partition Map, but won’t let you install Leopard to such disks directly (you must clone a copy of Leopard from a GUID-partitioned disk to get this to work), and will prevent you from installing
firmware updates on your Mac while you’re booted from such a disk. On the other hand, PowerPC-based Macs can boot only from an Apple Partition Map disk. (See Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch’s “Booting an Intel iMac from an External Drive,” 2006-01-30.) Apple also cautions that the same distinction applies if the disk is to be used as a Time Machine backup, though I’m not entirely certain why.
So choose your partition scheme and click OK. Now enter a volume name and a format, and click Apply. Presto! The disk is reformatted in the twinkling of an eye, and is ready for use.
Yours truly has been cursing at Web browsers since 1994. That gives me some pedigree in suggesting that Adobe BrowserLab is the finest method I’ve seen over 15 years in checking whether a Web page you’ve designed will look the way you want on browsers used by the majority of Internet users. (The service is currently in a limited-user preview stage.)
Why test? Because no two browsers appear capable of rendering the same Web page in precisely the same way. The further you go back in time with browser versions, the greater the disparity among rendering and the more errors that show up with perfectly valid code. But even the latest releases of major browsers still have peculiarities that require tweaking.
BrowserLab lets you enter a URL and rapidly see the resulting Web page as it appears in the seven most popular browser versions currently in use: Firefox 2.0 (Windows XP and Mac OS X), Firefox 3.0 (XP and Mac OS X), Internet Explorer 6 and 7 (XP), and Safari 3 (Mac OS X). BrowserLab requires Flash 10, but no additional plug-ins.
What makes BrowserLab different from services like BrowserCam or BrowserShots is that it’s intended to be nearly interactive, rather than just a screenshot service. Enter a URL and within a few seconds, the results are shown. Different views let you look at two browser previews against each other, too.
The idea behind BrowserLab is quite simple: “Making sure you have design integrity, and you have easy access to cross-browser previewing,” said Scott Fegette, an Adobe Dreamweaver product manager.
Fegette sees BrowserLab as an extension of Dreamweaver’s ability to “find problems and help you fix them” as you design or tweak pages. But he also said Dreamweaver designers need the context of “real browsers.” BrowserLab has a light layer of integration with Dreamweaver CS4 via a palette, but can be used entirely independently as well.
Fegette said that Adobe wanted to design a service that had a very short wait time for previews to be generated. Other browser capture services – many of which feature an inordinate number of browsers and platforms – take minutes or tens of minutes to generate screenshots, which have to be downloaded and viewed. “Designers couldn’t work iteratively,” Fegette said.
BrowserLab loads screen captures within the Flash frame from the seven supported browsers noted above. You can also create one or more “browser sets,” which is handy if you’re testing only against, say, Firefox 3 and IE 7, but not Safari 3 and Firefox 2.
While pages load, the site displays a little spinner animation to show which browsers are still loading and which have completed. That’s a nice bit of feedback. On the backend, Adobe uses a combination of virtualized and dedicated servers to create page previews.
You can view browser captures in one of three ways: 1 up, 2 up, and onion skin. The 1-up mode is obvious: it shows a single capture, selected from a pop-up menu at the upper left. The 2-up view lets you compare captures side by side, selecting the browsers from menus on the left and right. Scrolling horizontally or vertically moves both captures in lockstep. (The screen captures are created with some depth, so you can see a reasonable way down a page.)
Onion skin overlays two browser views with transparency to help designers create pixel-identical layouts (or at least layouts close to that) in every browser; it’s an easier solution than the common approach of bringing screenshots into a Photoshop document and putting them in separate layers. A slider lets you adjust the relative transparency levels of each browser.
Assisting in any mode, but especially useful in onion skinning, is a zoom function from 75 percent to 200 percent. The site also has a set of hot keys for switching among browsers (arrow up and down), zooming (+ and -), switching among views (1 for 1 Up, 2 for 2 Up, and 3 for Onion Skin), and adjusting onion skin transparency (left and right arrows).
Internet Explorer 6 was continually mentioned both by Fegette and myself (and fellow TidBITS editor Jeff Carlson, also in on the interview). IE 6 continues to have relatively high use on general-purpose Web sites, and is often the only browser in which a given site is broken. Fegette said that Dreamweaver designers might fix a problem that the program said would cause IE 6 rendering issues, but then not be able to preview that page in IE 6. (Windows doesn’t like having multiple versions of IE installed, although you can cajole it.)
Fegette said that Adobe has many plans for future iterations of BrowserLab, based on the response to the preview. More browsers will obviously be added, with the top items being IE 8, Safari for Windows, and Google Chrome. Fegette didn’t mention Safari 4 in particular, which was still in beta when we talked.
He also said that the initial response was so strong and positive that he can see a lot of room for expansion. Mobile browsers, previewing how a page would look in a cell phone browser, is also high on Adobe’s list. The iPhone is of keen interest, but even designers who aren’t specifically creating sites for mobile phones want to start preparing for it.
However, Fegette noted that mobile browsers are a challenge because, although the majority of smartphone operating systems – Symbian, Android, and iPhone – are standardizing on WebKit, “they’re all using different builds.”
BrowserLab is currently in preview release, opening for use by additional people at irregular intervals as Adobe scales resources and tweaks the site. When BrowserLab was opened for use on 03-Jun-09, Fegette said the plan was to allow 3,500 people on a first-come, first-served basis. By 9:00 AM on the launch day, the team had accepted 8,300 people, and had to shut down enrollment.
Broader enrollment is planned for July, but until then you can follow the project on Twitter to get updates when Adobe accepts new small contingents. You can use an existing Adobe ID, or you can create a new account.
The preview of BrowserLab is free, but the service will ultimately cost money. How much hasn’t yet been decided, Adobe said. BrowserCam costs $60 per month or $400 per year for unlimited use. BrowserShots is free with best-efforts results, or $30 per month for expedited, unlimited requests with support.
Fegette echoed my feelings about a service that he was instrumental in creating: “I really wish I had this 10 years ago.”
Yes, I did that bone-headed memory card thing: I erased one of my camera’s SD cards before I transferred the photos to my Mac. After performing the requisite forehead slapping, I went in search of software that would get my pictures back.
Notice that I didn’t panic. When a camera or computer typically erases a memory card, the images aren’t actually deleted. The blocks on the memory are marked as recordable, so new data writes over the old. In this case, I was confident I could get the photos, since I hadn’t shot any new images since erasing the card. Some cameras can optionally perform a low-level format of a card, which overwrites all the card’s data. Camera manufacturers don’t make the distinction easier, since some models, such as my Nikon D90, refer to erasing the card as “formatting,” but the photos are still recoverable.
If you’re reading this article because you just accidentally erased a card and searched the Web for a solution, take a breath and know that it’s highly likely you’ll get your photos back. Remove the card from the camera so you don’t shoot any more pictures that could overwrite your “erased” ones, and read on.
Data Rescue II — First, I checked to see if I already owned something that could do the job. Prosoft Engineering’s Data Rescue II is designed to search through hard disks and recover their data. Using the program’s Assistant mode, I performed a Thorough Scan, which looked at every block on the card. Scanning the 8 GB card took about 15 minutes on my 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro.
The downside to using Data Rescue for this purpose is that it assumes you’re searching for file names, not images. I could see that the file T4352x2868-00387.nef could be recovered, but I didn’t know what image the file contained. The scan revealed every file it could, which included photos I’d already imported into Aperture.
At the time, I wasn’t choosy (so I may have panicked a little when I saw that my photos were gone), so I was happy to recover all 5 GB worth of them. I would have to sort through them later, but at least the images were safe.
Data Rescue II costs $99 and requires Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later. A demo version is available as a 14.2 MB download.
Klix — I imagine someone at Prosoft Engineering must have erased a media card at some point and run into the same issues I did, because the company’s JoeSoft division offers Klix, a $29.95 utility specifically designed to grab erased media.
The Klix interface is simple: one window where you select your media card and start scanning, and an Image Recovery window where you preview the images Klix locates.
The software first copies the entire contents of a card to your hard disk for backup (an option that can be turned off in the program’s preferences). Depending on the card’s capacity, expect to wait several minutes and watch a progress bar creep across the screen. This temporary duplicate is deleted when you quit the program.
After copying, Klix scans the card for media (more waiting, about 20 minutes for my 8 GB card), and then displays the images in the Image Recovery window. I could select all images or just the ones I was missing, then click the Recover button to copy them to a folder of my choosing on my hard disk.
Having thumbnails of the card’s images, which Data Rescue doesn’t offer, makes a huge difference. I was able to choose just the missing shots and recover them. That said, the thumbnails are small and are just one size; you can’t zoom in to see more detail. And, for some reason, the Image Recovery window can be expanded in height, but the width is limited to five pictures across.
I want to also mention an annoyance. When the application first launches, it asks if you’d like to check for updates – a completely reasonable feature. You can click Yes or No to perform the check, but there’s also a box marked “Check for updates on launch.” Clicking Yes to check for the update opens another modal dialog that notes you have the latest version; you must click OK to get rid of it. The problem is that it’s not an automatic option: the same dialog appears every time you open the program. Just let me authorize a quick online check at startup once, make it happen in the background, and bother me only if there’s an actual update.
Those quibbles aside, the end result is that I was able to recover just the photos I wanted (about 1 GB worth) instead of everything on the card thanks to Klix’s image previews.
Klix costs $29.95. A free demo version can scan and locate images on a card, but is limited to recovering one file of any size. The software is a 2 MB download and requires Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later.
Photo Recovery for Mac 3.5 — Another utility, AppleXsoft’s Photo Recovery for Mac, offers more granularity for locating erased images. While Klix locates all media files, Photo Recovery for Mac can search for just the file types you know (or suspect) are on the card. Choosing Nikon from the Search pop-up menu selected JPG Image, TIFF Image, and NEF Image (the latter being Nikon’s raw file format). In fact, Photo Recovery doesn’t limit itself to just photos and videos; there are options to locate Excel and PowerPoint files, Zip archives, audio formats, and more.
What also impressed me, at first, was the capability to start previewing photos while Photo Recovery performed its scan, displaying a selected file in a large preview area that scales with the application’s window. This feature let me start looking for the batch of missing pics right away.
However, that turned out to be something of a trick: I wasn’t actually previewing and selecting photos, because Photo Recovery was performing the recovery during the scan, copying all the files it found to my hard disk. That did allow me to open a file and edit it if I wanted, but I didn’t need to wait for the time Photo Recovery took to retrieve those I didn’t want.
I should point out something important, but not thoroughly tested. I discovered that none of my applications – including Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Nikon Capture NX 2 – could open the NEF images Photo Recovery created. The AppleXsoft Web site notes that the “saving option” is disabled in the evaluation version, so I’m assuming that Photo Recovery may be deliberately mangling file data in the demo version, which is what I was using.
The free demo is available as a 4.8 MB download. Photo Recovery for Mac costs $49.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Image Rescue 3 — I remembered that a Lexar memory card I bought at one point included a free version of Lexar Image Rescue, but the software had long ago been sacrificed to the evil mound that is the cluttered top of my desk; also, I think it was distributed on a mini CD, which can’t be used with any of my slot-loading Macs. The company’s Image Rescue 3.0 came highly recommended from some of my contacts, however, and I can see why.
Image Rescue 3 boasts the friendliest interface of the lot, with step-by-step sections that explain what is happening and what will happen next. Like Photo Recovery, Image Rescue can narrow the list of file types to search, with camera presets to search for compatible formats. It also allowed me to preview the images before copying them to my hard disk.
Image Rescue 3 costs $28.99, and Lexar does not offer a demo version. If you’ve purchased a Lexar card, look for a URL in the card’s documentation that points to a free download on the Lexar Web site.
Putting a Price on Memory — Each application I’ve mentioned here also includes features for erasing memory cards, including low-level formats that can help remove drive corruption issues. Image Rescue 3 can also test a card to help identify potential problems, and it can burn images to a CD or DVD.
I’d like to think that I’ve learned my lesson and this will be the last time I use any of these utilities. That’s why I initially thought the programs were priced too high; why pay $30 or $50 for an application you’re going to use infrequently? But the answer came off the card in the form of the photos, digital captures of moments that can’t be repeated. And honestly, I can’t rule out future bone-headed memory card moments in my future.
Tinderbox 4.7.0 from Eastgate Systems is a significant update to the personal content assistant. Maps and charts receive a slew of new features including added shapes, fill materials, and support for Dashboard. Also, new smart adornments help manage and organize your maps by automatically gathering, sorting, and arranging notes and then extracting pertinent information, setting or removing tags, or even posting messages on Twitter. Finally, the update brings a new Chart view, improved handling of link labels, and a speed bump for agents, actions, and rules. ($229 new, free updates for purchases within the last year or $90 otherwise, 28.7 MB)
Airfoil 3.3.1 from Rogue Amoeba is a minor maintenance update to the audio distribution tool. The update provides compatibility with AirPort Express 7.4.2 firmware and Apple TV 2.4 firmware; the auto-transmit checkbox under Preferences now works correctly with speakers that disappear; and Airfoil no longer sends initial fake timing packets to work around firewalls. Also, several issues have been addressed including multiple Video Player problems related to dragging in a new movie and one with deadlocked speaker threads. ($25 new, free upgrade, 11.3 MB)
Apple TV 2.4 is an update to Apple’s home media center. Most notably, the latest version includes support for the iPhone/iPod touch Remote app, enabling users to control an Apple TV with finger gestures. The update also adds Flickr search capabilities, new View categories, and enhanced transport and chapter modes. The update is available via Apple TV’s Software Update menu.
The Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0.2 from Mark/Space updates the Mac-to-smartphone syncing software to add voicemail and voice memo archiving and transfer capabilities, and provides full support for iPhone OS 3.0. A bug that could prevent syncing in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger has been fixed, as has one that could cause a crash when syncing Notes with Entourage. Note that encrypting backup files in iTunes 8.2 (set on the Summary tab for the iPhone in iTunes) prevents The Missing Sync from being able to read data from the iPhone. This update is downloaded automatically by The Missing Sync. ($39.95, $29.95 crossgrade, free update)
Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.4.2 from Apple is a maintenance update that fixes a handful of minor bugs. Issues addressed include unspecified problems with connecting to extended networks, connectivity issues with third-party devices, an unspecified issue that occurs when the base station is configured for PPPoE, and Back to My Mac support for third-party routers. Apple suggests that AirPort Utility 5.4.2 or later be installed before upgrading to firmware version 7.4.2. The update can be downloaded via AirPort Utility > Check for Updates. (Free)
Final Cut Pro 6.0.6 from Apple is a minor maintenance and compatibility update to the professional video editing software. The update fixes issues with real-time playback for users working with early 2009 Mac Pro and Xserve models. (Free, 19.15 MB)
Camino 1.6.8 from The Camino Project is a security and stability update to the Mac-focused, Gecko-based Web browser. Improvements include an upgrade to the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine version 184.108.40.206, which contains a handful of security fixes, and enhanced ad blocking. Also, the stored cookie list now displays despite the presence of invalid cookies, the Downloads window now remains open when the Customize Toolbar dialog is visible, and typing to select an item now works correctly in SELECT controls with OPTGROUP elements. (Free, 15.3 MB for English-only or 19 MB for multilingual)
BBEdit 9.2.1 from Bare Bones Software is a maintenance and stability update to the powerful text editor. Four crashing bugs have been fixed, including one that occurred when dragging items into a project list, one that could happen when opening the Find window from the scripting interface, one that appeared when an SFTP server returned invalid UTF-8 file names, and one that popped up when using the Open with Finder action from project and browser lists. Plus, a bug that prevented users from setting a Sleep key command has been fixed, the Replace commands now properly update the search history, and a progress dialog now appears when upgrading the Application Support folder contents.
($125 new, free update, 15.4 MB)
MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7 from Apple addresses an unspecified issue affecting a small number of users using 3 Gbps SATA drives in June 2009 MacBook Pros. Apple clarifies: “While this update allows drives to use transfer rates greater than 1.5 Gbps, Apple has not qualified or offered these drives for Mac notebooks and their use is unsupported.” The download is available via Software Update or via the Apple Support Downloads page. To update your firmware, follow the instructions located in the updater application which launches after the installer closes (/Applications/Utilities/MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update.app). (Free, 3.35 MB)
Buying Bogus iTunes Gift Cards May Cost You — Next time you’re about to buy an iTunes gift card on eBay or Craigslist you may want to think twice. There’s a chance the card was purchased with a stolen credit card or hacked, and, as Macworld reports, Apple is cracking down on these fraudulent gift cards by permanently disabling user accounts that redeem them. (Posted 2009-06-29)
Jeff Carlson Talks iMovie ’09 with MacVoices — Jeff Carlson chats with Chuck Joiner on MacVoices about undocumented features in the latest iMovie ’09 releases, and unexpectedly delivers a short Video Encoding 101 course when explaining the new Optimize Video feature. (Posted 2009-06-22)
First iPhone Recovered via Find My iPhone? — A Lego Brickworld conference attendee writes up his Jack Bauer-like recovery of an iPhone that was nicked at a sketchy bar. (Posted 2009-06-22)
iTunes stops podcast downloads — If you don’t open a new podcast episode within five days, iTunes stops downloading new episodes. Is there a way to change this behavior? (2 messages)
My Three Screens, via ViBook — The ViBook lets you add another monitor via a USB connection, but iMovie ’09 won’t launch with one attached. (2 messages)
Mac OS X shutdown vs sleep mode — Is it advisable to shut down a Mac periodically, or can you just put it to sleep? The consensus is: sleep. (6 messages)