Shirt Pocket

Winter Sporting Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hopefully no one out there noticed, but—for the first time in three years—Zabeth and I managed to get away for a two week vacation at Red Mountain (in Rossland, BC).

It’s not too bad a trip, about three hours north of Spokane, WA, a straight shot after a (normally) easy flight or two. A few screw-ups this time meant various additional hops, but in the end we made it.

It’s my very favorite place to ski. It’s kind of an “old fashioned” ski hill, with four “low speed” chairs, a T-Bar and a (new) “magic carpet” lift. The base lodge is quite basic, with lockers in the bottom level, a cafeteria on the 2nd and a bar on the 3rd. Up in the “Paradise” area, there’s another small lodge/warming hut/eatery… and that’s pretty much it.

And, honestly, all that works great. The food’s good, the people are great. But what Red’s about is the skiing.

The skiing is awesome.

Red had a ton of early snow—about nine feet—and though we didn’t get much fresh snow in the two weeks the mountain was in fine form. The first few days were almost spring-like conditions on the front face, soft even early in the day. Red’s a deceptive mountain, though, where you can ski 360 degrees around the various peaks, with a ton of off-piste skiing (some of which can get quite extreme). And the backsides, even during the sunny days, stayed shaded, the snow light.

Which was a good thing, because once the temperatures dropped, the front firmed up, which made the less groomed, exposed trails much less enjoyable early in the day. So, after a few groomers, we typically headed to the various back glades, bowls and other pitches, finishing up in the sun at the end of the day.

We stayed at Greene’s Family Guest House, a great little place in Rossland run by Rick and Sue Greene (thanks for the hospitality, Rick & Sue). It’s a few minutes’ drive to Red itself, and—fortunate for me—they’ve recently installed a wireless network. So, via the Miracle of the Tubes, work from 7-9am, skiing from 9-3, work from 3-7, dinner, and work until bed (usually while we caught up with episodes of Lost we’d missed, thanks to an iPod full of episodes plugged into the TV).

Seamless, I hope, for the SuperDuper! users who needed help.

It was a great time, and quite relaxing despite having full work days every day, and I feel fortunate to have a job that lets me do what I need to do even when far from home.

My parents were also able to take Taiko for the time, and I hope he was well behaved while there. They seem to have done really well, and Z and I are really grateful that they could watch him. (Sorry that he’s still jumping!)

Got back late Friday (during a snowstorm, of course), and picked up Taiko on Saturday, who was happy to see us and is warming my feet as I type. The mail revealed that Zabeth has passed the Veterinary Boards, which is terrific news too (not that I had any doubt), and she heads back into rotations early tomorrow morning.

And so, it’s back to the grind—refreshed.

Happy New Year! Sunday, December 31, 2006

It’s hard to believe another year’s gone by, but dates rarely lie, and there it is - the 31st, soon to flip.

Rather than turn inward and reflect on events here, I’d like to turn outward and thank each and every reader; all those who took the time to send me mail - those who needed support, needed to vent, to compliment or complain; the kind people who provided comfort as we lost our dog Ketzl and who cheered the arrival of Taiko; the editors at Macworld who honored us again; the users who honor us every time they use or recommend a Shirt Pocket product; all friends, old and new.

To all of you: thank you, and a very Happy New Year to you and yours.

An Embarrassment of Eddys Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wow.

It looks like SuperDuper! 2.1 has won another Macworld Eddy! Back-to-back awards for SuperDuper! in 2005 and 2006, and one for netTunes in 2004w00t!

Thanks, Macworld—and thanks to all the users, too!

The software business is a strange one, because the products you make eventually just… vanish. The OS goes away, or the market moves on, and soon there’s nothing left to show when someone asks what you do, or what you did.

Getting these three Eddy awards—one for netTunes and two for SuperDuper!—has been really gratifying, both because it’s an acknowledgment of good work, and because it’s more of a permanent thing—a physical record of what I was doing for all those years.

Plus, the trophy doubles as a weapon in an emergency. Man, these things are heavy!

Older, wiser. But mostly older. Thursday, November 23, 2006

Well, one year ago today we released SuperDuper! 2.0, and the past 12 months have gone quickly indeed.

In that time we’ve released a number of great updates, and I’ve communicated personally with thousands of you through support mail, IM, the forums and this blog. It’s been fun, rewarding and—on occasion—exhausting. But, mostly, fun and rewarding.

Looking over my blog post from this day last year, I spent my entire birthday, save for about 40 minutes, responding to hundreds and hundreds of support messages as people asked questions about the new release, and Bruce and I tried to fix a rollout glitch or two. Quite a day.

This year, though, it’s much calmer, and I’m going to take most of the rest of the day off—pretty much my first in a few years—to celebrate Thanksgiving (& my encroaching decrepitude) with my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, Zabeth and Taiko.

While I’m doing that, I also want to raise a glass of Thanksgiving wine in a toast to thank all of you, out in the tubes that make up teh Internets, for your support, encouragement, criticism, and compliments. Bruce and I couldn’t do this without you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No doubt you’ve noticed that I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit recently.

It’s been rather busy here, with various projects taking time as we hurtle through fall toward winter. Taiko’s quickly growing into his paws, and while it’s kinda silly to compare his personality to Ketzl’s, he seems to be a bit more mischevious, and he’s certainly a lot more willing to get up on his hind legs. It’s taking a lot of time to supervise him, correct him when he takes things off counters (or jumps on people) and get him the exercise and socialization he needs. But things are going nicely: he’s about 50lbs and shaping up to be a good boy. More photos soon.

Zabeth’s fourth year of veterinary school is going by quickly as she prepares to take the boards while, at the same time, doing her clinical rotations. She’s running on coffee and adrenaline at this point, and Taiko and I are trying to stay out of the way.

On the Shirt Pocket side, things have been busy. The release of 10.4.8 brought with it what looks to be a bug in Core Graphics: many applications—including SuperDuper!—are crashing on some Intel Macs when two threads are trying to draw at the same time. This happens in a lot of cases, but in ours we have some NSProgressIndicators that use the standard option that runs them on their own thread. If we’re updating the status view (in our main thread) at the same time the progress indicator tries to update, CoreGraphics uses a lock to handle the contention… but crashes.

Of course, it’s intermittent due to the timing issues, which makes it frustrating, but we’ve reported it both through the standard methods (rdar://4789778) and through other channels. We’re looking at workarounds here, since it’s unlikely 10.4.9 would come out based on this one problem.

For testing purposes, I brought a Mac Pro into Shirt Pocket Headquarters, it’s proven to be an excellent Mac. It’s very fast (although its I/O to a striped RAID set is much slower than I’d expect), very quiet and—so far—reliable. My few Boat Anchor applications are running beautifully in Parallels Desktop now that their MacPro compatible version is out—in fact, it continually surprises me how well Parallels works. If you need to run Windows, and don’t need high performance graphics, it’s a highly recommended solution. (Just make sure your VM is shut down before you back it up, of course!)

More as I get time!

Time’s Arrow Saturday, August 26, 2006

OK! netTunes and launchTunes release (and netTunes re-release—sorry about the Purple Rain) done, so it’s time to get back to what I keep getting asked about: SuperDuper! and Time Machine.

To get the “Frequently Asked Questions” out of the way right at the top of this post: no, we’re not dead, we’re not angry, and Apple has no obligation to leave market opportunities for independent developers, notify us that things are coming, or pretty much anything else.

This is business. It’s difficult for Apple to come up with 150 features to add into the next version of the OS, and harder still to make those features compelling enough that we’ll all pony up our hard-earned dollars to upgrade.

(As an aside, does anyone else out there think there was a definite hint, in the “feature” presentation of the keynote that bragged that OS X is now a “bigger, all-inclusive bundle”, that the price will be higher when Leopard is released?)

Some sort of backup functionality belongs in the OS. It’s been a long time coming. The fact that it wasn’t there left opportunities for 3rd parties, but that doesn’t mean Apple shouldn’t address the missing functionality.

And so, they have, with Time Machine. Really, I think that’s a great thing. People need to back up more often, and I hope Time Machine encourages them to do so.

Now, I can’t really get into a lot of details, because our NDA prevents disclosure of anything that wasn’t in the keynote. But let’s talk about what we’ve seen there, and why SuperDuper! remains both relevant and necessary—a true complement to the functionality in Time Machine.

First, as is likely obvious, Time Machine is designed to provide automatic “temporal” backup (discussed in broad terms in the post The Ninety-Nine-Per-Cent Solution many months ago).  Its primary usage scenario—and the one that the keynote focused on—is to allow quick recovery of files and data that have gone missing, etc. It does this in a way that’s highly integrated with the OS, with a unique UI that’s both cool and kinda cheesy… and, as was the case with Spotlight, with a certain amount of application-level impact (something 3rd parties like Shirt Pocket could never mandate).

What’s important to note is that this isn’t, and never was, what SuperDuper! was designed to do.

Our tagline, Heroic System Recovery for Mere Mortals, tries to sum up the whole idea: SuperDuper! is designed to provide excellent failover support for the all-too-common case where things fail in a pretty catastrophic way, such as when a drive fails, or your system becomes unbootable. We do this by quickly and efficiently creating a fully bootable copy of your source drive. Perhaps more importantly, recovery is near immediate, even if the original drive is completely unusable, because you can start up from your backup and continue working.

You can even take your backup to a totally different Macintosh, start up from it, and work while your failed Macintosh is in the shop… then, when it comes back all fresh and shiny, restore things and keep working.

All of this is done with a minimum of fuss and bother, and with respect for your time. And while Time Machine can restore a full system (the details of which were not shown, so I can’t comment on them), as can other similar products, that’s not its strength. Doing so requires you to actually take the time to restore the backup in full, which interrupts your workflow, requires a destination device, and takes a lot of your time—at the exact moment when you can least afford it.

So, when Leopard comes out, and Time Machine is released, be assured that we’ll continue to be relevant and necessary. We’ll work alongside its rapid recovery of individual files, and will seamlessly augment that with our rapid system recovery.

And, of course, we’ll continue to improve every part of SuperDuper! to make backups faster and easier for all.

(Digg this post.)

It’s always something #289 Thursday, August 24, 2006

Well, the rollout of the new netTunes and launchTunes went well except for one thing—due to what looks to be some API change in the Accelerate framework, the server was sending a purple iTunes image when running on Intel.

Since I’d done the original engineering and testing of the server way back in April, and hadn’t changed the server code, I skipped one part of my final testing… namely, checking the server on Intel. I verified that it started and that the purchase process worked, but I didn’t check its server functionality… big mistake.

That kind of thing always comes back to bite you, and bite it did. Took me most of the morning to diagnose and fix, but 2.3.1 was released to take care of the problem a little while ago. Sorry about that.

New netTunes and launchTunes! Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Shirt Pocket releases netTunes 2.3 and launchTunes 1.1
The Macworld Eddy Award Winning “No Compromises” iTunes Remote - now Universal!

Weston, MA – August 23, 2006:  Shirt Pocket announces the immediate availability of netTunes 2.3, the latest update to the Macworld Eddy Award winning remote control for iTunes, and the perfect companion to Apple’s AirPort Express and launchTunes 1.1, the application that guarantees your shared iTunes libraries are available without all that pesky walking.

netTunes lets you control iTunes running on one Macintosh from another, using iTunes’ native interface. You get the same window, the same playlists, the same capabilities. You simply run netTunes and take complete control of the “remote” iTunes from any Macintosh in your house. It’s that easy — as easy as iTunes itself!

“It’s been a long time coming, but the new versions of netTunes and launchTunes are ready to go” says David Nanian, the founder of Shirt Pocket. “But we didn’t just recompile—we’ve taken advantage of both the Intel and Power PC platforms by improving performance across the board, and polished the user experience as well.”

netTunes and launchTunes are available for immediate download at the Shirt Pocket web site http://www.shirt-pocket.com. Users can evaluate all of the capabilities of netTunes for free for 30 minutes at a time; full licenses cost $19.95, and can be ordered at the Shirt Pocket web site, or directly from the application. launchTunes costs $7, and the Tune Suite—a bundle of netTunes and launchTunes—is offered at $23.95 - a $3 savings.

About Shirt Pocket
Shirt Pocket, based in Weston, Massachusetts, was formed in late 2000 as a Macintosh-only shareware creator and publisher. Shirt Pocket’s first product, the Eddy award winning netTunes, lets users control iTunes on one Mac from any other Mac on the network with iTunes own intuitive user interface. launchTunes, Shirt Pocket’s second product, made iTunes’ playlist sharing practical by automatically launching iTunes on remote servers when needed. And its third, the Eddy award winning SuperDuper!, is one of the most highly acclaimed backup/cloning programs available for the Mac. All are available from the Shirt Pocket web site at http://www.shirt-pocket.com.

Shirt Pocket was started by David Nanian, co-founder of UnderWare, Inc, and one of the original authors of the BRIEF programmer’s editor and Track Record bug tracking system.

Taiko Monday, August 21, 2006

A few quick pictures of Taiko as I prepare for the rollout of the new netTunes and launchTunes this week…

Young Taiko
Taiko Sleeping
Taiko on Rug - 11 Weeks

WWDC Saturday, August 05, 2006

Well, I’m here in San Francisco awaiting the start of WWDC 2006, and hoping it’s a bit more eventful than WWDC 2005 (which was a replay of WWDC 2004)… and I’m sure it will be.

Communication is going to be a bit slower during the next week or so, so if you don’t get a response to your emails, forum posts, etc for a few hours you know why.

And if you’re here in town at the conference, get in touch!

(As far as predictions go, I’ll let everyone else speculate about what’s going to happen… we’ll all know for real soon enough!)

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