netTunes

Time’s Arrow Redux Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now that the release of Leopard is imminent-ish, I thought I'd do an update of my Time's Arrow post from a year ago regarding SuperDuper! and Time Machine. Let's get into it!

Leopard Compatbitility

First, v2.1.4 of SuperDuper! is not fully compatible with Leopard.

Changes were made to Leopard since our last release in February. We've been following Leopard's development closely, and we have a working version of SuperDuper! nearly ready. Given the nature of SuperDuper!, though, we don't want to release it until we have the final "bits" of Leopard to test with. It should be available shortly after Leopard's release (earlier if we get the final build before the public does--which we won't).

To answer the inevitable question: the update will be free when released.

Note that netTunes is not Leopard compatible due to a Leopard bug I was unable to work around. I'm hoping for a fix in an upcoming Leopard release, since I do not have a workaround for the problem.

Leopard and Sandboxes

When the Leopard-compatible version is released, please realize that Leopard is a pretty different version of the OS. I recommend against using a Sandbox to share a Home folder between Tiger/Panther/Jaguar and Leopard: there have been a lot of changes to the way data is stored, and a Sandbox is not likely to provide sufficient isolation.

Time Machine

As far as Time Machine goes -- in general, I've always thought that 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 think Time Machine encourages them to do so, and gives them a relatively transparent way to do it.

Time Machine and SuperDuper!

That said, though, Time Machine isn't the be-all and end-all of backup programs. In fact, given how it works, I really do think that 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 most demonstrations and documentation focuses 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 (I'll tell you, the 'space' theme hasn't grown on me at all...)... and, as was the case with Spotlight, with a certain amount of application-level impact (something 3rd parties like Shirt Pocket could never mandate).

Fully, Directly Bootable Backups with SuperDuper!

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. And even if the other Mac is a different CPU type, you can still open and edit the files on the backup.

You cannot do this with Time Machine: Time Machine copies are not bootable until they're restored.

In SuperDuper!, system recovery is done with a minimum of fuss and bother, and with respect for your time. Yes, Time Machine can restore a full system, but that's not its strength. Doing so requires you to actually start up from the Leopard DVD (which you'll need to have with you) and then take the time to restore the backup in full, which interrupts your workflow, requires a working, entirely separate 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 SuperDuper!'s fully bootable backups continue to be relevant and necessary. We'll work alongside its rapid recovery of individual files, augmenting 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.

Ocean of words Thursday, May 03, 2007

For those who haven't heard me blather at length about all things SuperDuper! and Shirt Pocket, there's a 45 minute interview of me up at MacVoices.

Remember: the game rules require you to drink every time you hear me say "Um", "Uh" or audibly gesticulate. Do not play while driving.

Apple TV - codename:tv Friday, March 23, 2007

tv is in the house -- two of them, actually -- and, well, it's good!

I'm not using it for music much -- my library is much too large for this device, and navigation of large collections, as has been said elsewhere, is quite lacking.

That said, for video material -- movies, tv shows, etc -- it works great. Playback starts quickly, even when streamed, and looks quite good. It's lacking in the audio department (it's really too bad that so much of this material, both movies and TV, encoded with Dolby Digital in full 5.1 or 7.1 surround, are reduced to ancient Dolby Surround playback, with no LFE channel, no split surrounds... much less impact), but visually things look quite reasonable.

It works great with netTunes, too, as you'd expect. As I've said many times, I run with a headless server, and it contains all my music and other content. With netTunes, it's trivial to connect to the server using a laptop while seated on the couch, and "pair" the tv with the server, change the synchronization information, purchase TV shows to be viewed -- all remotely.

I'm happy that the approach I took years ago -- truly remote controlling iTunes with its own interface -- continues to work with new versions of iTunes, and continues to prove it was the right way to go, moving forward with iTunes as iTunes itself changes.

Anyway, great stuff.

One expensive but potentially useful tip: you can use a scan converter to convert from Component input to regular Y/C (S-Video) or Composite, should you not have a component/HDMI capable TV. One example is the TV One AVT-3190 ($389). Expensive, but cheaper than replacing your TV...

Adding commands to netTunes Sunday, March 11, 2007

You know, it’s pretty rare that I post up here about netTunes, mostly because… well… it just works, and there’s not much to say other than “Whoa! Cool!"… which gets a bit boring.

But, every so often I’ll get a question about how it’s possible to access commands that aren’t available in the main window—for example, Store > Check for Purchases...

So, from the department of obscure features, let’s get this done!

Normally, you’d access things like this with an onscreen control or keyboard shortcut. For example, to access iTunes’ Preferences, you can press Cmd+y (an alternate for Cmd+,) and it’ll come right up. And you can add a playlist with the + button in the main window. But Check for Purchases doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut or button, and so it’s not available in netTunes.

But there’s hope! In Tiger, you can add your own keyboard shortcuts using the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane. Open that up, switch to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and click the + button. Set the Application pop-up to iTunes, then enter the full, properly capitalized text of the menu item (in this case, Check for Purchases..., including the ...). Choose a shortcut key (like Cmd+Opt+C).

Save, then quit and restart iTunes and poof! You can now Check for Purchases in netTunes on the client!

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!

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

Waiting… Sunday, July 30, 2006

OK! The testing of netTunes and launchTunes, its purchasing process, Universal Support and integrated store is complete. Things are basically ready to go, except for one thing—I’m waiting for a new version of the eSellerate Integrated Web Store library to be released.

This was supposed to go sometime a week or two ago, but unfortunately got delayed. It’s important, though, because the store installation procedure leaves a file in /tmp that, for some reason, Tiger feels is necessary to move into “Recovered Items” in your trash.

They’ve been working on a fix for that, and I’ve been waiting for that fix to become available. Any day now, I’m told, and I’m passing that savings on to you!

What’s taking so long? Thursday, July 06, 2006

It’s been difficult, these last few months, to find the time necessary to work on netTunes and launchTunes while working on/supporting SuperDuper! and navigating the waters of decline with Ketzl.

netTunes was pretty much done back in April, save for some online store issues—I want to support PayPal, and that means moving to the new “Embedded Web Store” (which is also required for Universal apps). Doing that involves doing some new graphics/layout for the custom pages.

launchTunes, though, was harder—ironic, since it’s a much simpler program. The big problem was that launchTunes hadn’t yet been converted to a drag-and-drop install, and I’d done some work extending its capabilities that hadn’t been completed.

Plus, I’d learned more about Cocoa in the few years since its original release (it’s never been updated)… so, it was time to throw out the old and rewrite the whole thing. Which, given the time constraints, took longer in calendar time than anticipated.

I’m happy to say that I managed to finish up the main launchTunes application, with its auto-install capabilities, while flying back from Chicago the other day. Everything tested out great, so now I’m working on the two apps’ graphics and online store stuff.

Once that’s done, the Universal versions of netTunes and launchTunes will finally get into your hands. Sorry it’s taken so long!

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