Dan Slagle loves SuperDuper! Thursday, May 05, 2005

I restored my clone using SuperDuper! and, as usual, it went flawlessly. (Side note: He could charge triple for that program, and I would pay)

Just tell me where to send the bill, Dan!

(via The Unofficial iMFAQ NewsThanks, Dan!)

MacCompanion Loves SuperDuper! Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My experience — the software backed up my 80 GB (actually available 74.52 GB) containing 42 GB of data (204,483 files) in I hour and 15 minutes, a time comparable to other products I have reviewed for macC. Hurray, it passed the ultimate test of the backup software. My backup booted when I selected it as my startup disk. If you can’t boot it up as a startup disk, the backup is less flexible. Nevertheless, you can indeed recover you user files from it. Buy it and switch — I did. Do it now, not yesterday.

(Via MacCompanion: Thanks, anonymous reviewer!)

Is it safe? Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hey, look ma, no exclamation point in that title! Had to happen sometime.

So, the Safety Clone.

The Safety Clone is one of the most unique things that SuperDuper! does, but also one that is potentially misunderstood. I was really happy to see Ted Landau’s Macworld post suggesting it for Tiger, as it’s a pretty painless way of testing whether an OS upgrade works, but it’s important to understand what it is, and what it isn’t.

First off, the Safety Clone is not (not!) a “backup” in the conventional sense, so please don’t use it this way. We provide two scripts—“Backup - all files” and “Backup - user files” that are intended to be used as backups… hence their names. But the Safety Clone is something entirely different.

The idea is this: the Safety Clone isolates a copy of your system on its own partition. When you boot from it, you can install system-level updates (like Tiger) in this “Sandbox” while still retaining the ability to “roll back” to your original should something go wrong.

How do we do this?

Basically, the Safety Clone copies the “system” files that are considered to be “owned” by Apple: most of the things outside your Home folder. And, it shares those files that are “owned” by you.

For the more technically inclined, we “share” the files by symlinking them as appropriate. Details of what files are shared and what files are copied can be obtained by examining the script involved. If you have questions, ask!

So, we create two copies of your system—one in the “Sandbox”—but have only one copy of your user files, which reside on the original drive. When you boot from the Sandbox, you’re on an isolated system, but you’re changing your original user files. That way, when you boot back to your original OS, all the changes you made are there—because you changed the original files!

Just remember: it’s not a backup. It’s a checkpoint of your system that allows rollback of the OS. You must continue to back up your original volume if you want to protect against data loss. (Backing up the “Sandbox” isn’t usually necessary, since the things stored on it aren’t “personal”.)

Tips and tricks about “rolling back” in the next tedious installment!

Khoi Vinh Loves SuperDuper! Monday, May 02, 2005

First, I made a complete and bootable duplication of my PowerBook on a recently assembled 300 gigabyte external FireWire drive. In the past, I’ve used Carbon Copy Cloner for this task, but due in part to the fact that it hasn’t yet been updated for Tiger, I opted for Shirt Pocket’s elegantly simple SuperDuper! — I now happen to prefer it over Carbon Copy Cloner, anyway.

(Via Khoi’s great Subtraction blog, which kicks design ass: Thanks, Khoi!)

Super, thanks for asking! Monday, May 02, 2005

Wow, a lot of you are upgrading to Tiger! And I mean a lot!

Thanks to everyone who snagged a copy of SuperDuper! over the past few days: I really appreciate the registrations, and it’s great to see that you’re appreciating the program, too!

I’m in the middle of a post that talks about the origin of the Safety Clone and some tips, so stand by…

Macworld Loves SuperDuper! Friday, April 29, 2005

There are many excellent programs for “cloning” your drive. My recommendation here is SuperDuper! from Shirt Pocket. It boasts a unique Safety Clone feature that creates versions of your old (Panther) and new (Tiger) systems on two separate volumes. Both systems remain current with the files in your Home directory, so you can easily revert back to Panther if desired.

(Via Macworld’s Tiger Installation GuideThanks, Ted!)

New netTunes & the Release Jitters! Friday, April 29, 2005

Wow, yesterday was a hectic day.

I’d had a new release of netTunes in process for some time, and had completed the final testing a few weeks ago. Since the main focus was Tiger compatibility, it seemed appropriate to release closer to Tiger’s release (and I didn’t want to leak any Tiger information by accident), and yesterday (Thursday) was the day I picked to put it out there.

Well, actually, I picked Wednesday, but Wednesday somehow got filled with other stuff, and it just didn’t happen. So, Thursday.

The release process is always kind of the same: I’ve already packaged up the software itself, but that’s only the engineering side. Then, the marketing side has to take over, and you have to:

  • Write and send out a press release. Press releases are weird—they always have that amusing part where there’s a quote from someone in the company—typically the CEO—saying something like “I think this is the best work we’ve ever done.” Usually, Marketing just makes something up, runs it by the CEO (or whoever) and gets their OK along with a few tweaks. (Disillusioning, I know, but there it is.)

    Of course, in a small company like mine, I’m writing the press release. And, I’m quoting myself. In the 3rd person.

    Weird stuff. But this is the best netTunes release we’ve ever done. wink

    (Big apologies to all of you in the press who have to read my lousy press releases.)

  • Get the Shirt Pocket web site updated and ready to go.
  • Get the various VersionTracker and MacUpdate updates ready to post.
  • Update Apple’s software site
  • Various other things, email, etc.
Well, maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot. But it feels like it when it’s going on. And then you post the thing, and hope for the best!

Anyway, I’ve done this (and variations thereof) a lot of times over the past 22 years, and it’s always a bit nerve wracking: you just never get over the “release jitters”.

I was talking to Jonas Salling about this the other day, as he was releasing his own update (and, the three of you who haven’t gone out and bought the beautifully done Salling Clicker, please do so now), and he has the same nervousness—no matter how well prepared we are, it always seems like there’s a disaster waiting just around the corner.

Yesterday was especially nerve wracking for me because, immediately after posting the netTunes update, I had to do a whole bunch of errands out of the office. Which meant if something went wrong there was no way to fix it quickly—I nervously checked my email on my phone all day, waiting for the disaster to strike.

It never did. It went fine. It pretty much always does. So why are we always so nervous?

Maybe it’s because, as a small developer, you always feel like you’re one step away from the mistake that’ll kill your company. There’s not a lot of “wiggle room” for the small developer: we can’t absorb a Windows ME or Microsoft Bob or “iTunes Update that deletes your whole drive”.

Basically, we pretty much have to execute perfectly all the time. One mistake and we’ll look foolish and unprofessional: something the vast majority of us are not, but once that impression gets out there, the battle’s lost…

How “unique”! Wednesday, April 27, 2005

So, what should you expect from this blog?

My plan is to write about a relatively eclectic set of topics. I’ve sketched out my first 30 posts or so, and they seem to be falling into the following broad catagories:

  • News about Shirt Pocket
  • Software design and development
  • Computing from a user’s perspective
  • Occasional stories about small company development, marketing and support
  • Consumer electronics and usability
  • Dogs and Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Gadgets I like
  • Movies & Music
  • The occasional random rant

No huge surprises there. I’m sure other things will creep in now and again, but for now, there you go.
TUAW loves SuperDuper! Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Backing up has never been so easy:

SuperDuper is an incredibly useful piece of software. It doesn’t hurt that it’s virtually idiot-proof, with excellent documention, superb support and a visually attractive interface. I have been using it for several months and it didn’t take long for it to become one of my most valuable utilities. I’ve got a hunch you’ll feel the same way.

(Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Thanks, Laurie!)
So if a witch weighs the same as a duck… Monday, April 25, 2005

To follow-up on yesterday’s post, the inevitable question is: how do files get like this in the first place?

As far as I can figure out, this floating owner “feature” is part of OSX’s OS9 compatibility, and also has to do with the “Ignore ownership on this volume” checkbox you’ll find in the Get Info window for non-boot volumes.

It’s important to remember that OS9 has no concept of ownership whatsoever. So, when a file is created by an OS9 application, running in OS9 itself, it has to choose a user that’s going to own the file.

But what user should it choose? As I said, there’s no real concept of ownership in OS9. And if you randomly just pick a user—say, the first one—there’s no guarantee that you only have one user on your machine… and no way to ensure that, once you’re in OSX, the correct user owns the file.

There’s a bit more complexity to this whole “user” thing. While a user has a name (the “short user name” you select when you first create the account), the system doesn’t really assign the “name” as the owner of the file. Instead, it uses a User ID, which is a number.

On OSX, the first user account created is given the User ID 501. The next account created is 502, etc. These numbers are what are associated with the files on your disk, not the short user name, which is more for your convenience than anything else.

This can create some confusing situations, though, when you bring a disk to another computer, and turn “Ownership” on. If it’s another user’s computer, and their account was the first created (most are), that means their User ID is the same as yours. So, your files will look like they’re owned by them!

Similarly, if you have more than one computer in your office (or family), and the accounts weren’t created in the same order, your account may be “501” on one machine, and “505” on another! (Here, to avoid this problem, I make a habit of creating all my accounts in the same order on all machines.)

No doubt this is why Apple allows you to turn ownership off when you attach a FireWire drive to your machine… this causes all the file owners to float!

So, Apple compromised. Since they couldn’t randomly pick a user, and they didn’t want to force permissions on OS9—which would cause serious compatibility problems—they did the next best thing. They made these OS9 files owned by “everyone”, all at once. In other words, they made the owner float.

When the owner’s floating, it looks like it’s owned by the user looking at it. So, if the file is saved in OS9 (or stored on a FireWire disk with “Ignore ownership on this volume” checked), it’ll be owned by whatever user looks at it.

Even if that user is a Backup program running as root, like SuperDuper!. Which brings us full circle.

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