Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heroic MacBook Pro Saves iMac: Film at 11

This is exactly why I wanted to get a Mac laptop at work (well, one of the reasons, anyway)...

Yesterday when I was at a site troubleshooting an iMac, whose boot screen kept flashing between a question mark and a System Folder (often an indicator of a failing hard drive or a corrupted system file), I tried and tried and could not get the thing to boot using any of the standard tricks (including zapping the PRAM and resetting the OpenFirmware settings). It wouldn't even boot from a CD or from the MacBook Pro while hooked up via a FireWire cable. I ended up getting the iMac to start up in FireWire target disk mode (holding T when the iMac started up) and this was the only thing that worked—and it enabled me to mount the iMac's hard drive on the MacBook Pro's desktop. I immediately saw the problem: the iMac's HD had been renamed to a backslash character, which must have made the iMac unable to locate the drive during the boot process. I renamed it to "Macintosh HD" and restarted the iMac, and lo and behold, the iMac booted flawlessly, without hesitation. If I didn't have the MacBook Pro and a FireWire cable, that iMac probably would have been thrown out under the assumption that it just didn't work anymore.

Lessons to learn from this experience:
  1. Mac OS 9 and earlier can't boot if you rename the hard drive to "\".

  2. There doesn't seem to be a freeware extension to prevent the accidental (or intentional) renaming of the hard drive in Mac OS 9 or earlier. (If you, dear reader, know of some way to do this, by all means please post in the Comments section!)

  3. Having a Mac laptop is indeed an awesome tool when fixing Macs. If your boss raises an eyebrow when you ask for a Mac laptop, you can refer him or her to this article. If you need more firepower, try this page—gets 'em every time. Or, at least, it did in my case; your mileage may vary. If all that doesn't work and you're forced to use a non-Mac, at the very least you can strut around in your "SMUG VIRUS FREE MAC USER" shirt to show everyone which computer you'd rather be using.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

AOL IMAP Server Supports "IDLE"

I listened to the latest edition of the MacBreak Weekly podcast (or netcast... whatever) today and Leo Laporte mentioned a plugin for Apple's program called "IMAP Idle." I did a little digging and found out that anyone can check whether their mail service's IMAP servers support IDLE (RFC 2177) using a simple telnet command. Here's what I found out about America Online's (and apparently also Compuserve's) IMAP mail service:
telnet 143
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
* OK imap-m08 v50_b4.1 server ready
a capability
a OK CAPABILITY completed
z logout
In other words, AOL supports IDLE. Yippee! Of course, if I had bothered to check the IMAP Idle blog entry to find out that there's a new version of this spiffy Apple Mail plugin available, I would have known that it now tells you whether your IMAP server supports IDLE or not. D'oh! Oh well, I hope someone on the Internet finds my research useful. You're more than welcome to post here if the info above helped you in some way.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sweet Drive Cloning Software for Windows

Recently at work we've been looking for a solution similar to that popular disk cloning utility, only affordable. That is, we needed a program that wouldn't charge us per machine cloned like the other guys do. We also needed something that supported SATA drives (and preferably SCSI drives, too). Well, after a lot of searching, I finally came across what we've been looking for: Casper XP. Works with all the versions of Windows that we use, and apparently supports any sort of drive (IDE, SCSI, SATA, USB, FireWire...) and file system (NTFS, FAT32, FAT16...) that Windows natively supports. It even runs from within Windows rather than from a bootable disk,* which is very convenient. And the 30-day trial version is actually functional, so we were able to get started with a major project right away. So far, it's been awesome.

UPDATE: November 8, 2006
Casper XP SystemBuilder Edition (which is what we use) comes with a bootable CD-ROM. You can actually use Casper XP either from within Windows or booted from a CD. If you're not a technician and just want to use Casper XP for home use, you can get a CD-ROM ISO for an extra fee when you buy the standard edition of Casper XP.

And while I'm revisiting this subject, I recently came across some free utilities that you might want to check out if you're interested in drive imaging or replication (please note that I have NOT tested any of these programs yet, so I don't necessarily recommend them; however, you might find them useful):
  1. DriveImage XML - Drive imaging allowing individual files to be restored from an image, plus direct drive-to-drive cloning
  2. DrvImagerXP - Drive imaging software
  3. DrvClonerXP - Partition-to-partition cloning software
  4. NewSID - Apparently, after replicating a drive for use in a second machine, changing the computer name isn't sufficient; that's where this SysInternals/Microsoft utility comes in handy
Also, on a recent edition of the MacBreak Weekly podcast I heard about a free (for personal use only) backup utility for Mac OS X: iBackup.

Monday, April 17, 2006

First post in over a year!

Wow, I only posted once last year. I guess it's no great surprise considering everything that's gone on in my life during that time. Since my last post, I finished my bachelor's degree, started my master's degree, became a father, started teaching a college class on Saturdays, and I recently started a new full-time job. Oh yeah, and we bought a town home. I just picked up our keys this afternoon. So, yeah, I'd say I've been just a smidge busy as of late.

In fact, I'm still busy. It's just after 11:00 PM and I still need to fill out some paperwork for my Saturday job and try to post something on my university's discussion board so my teammates don't think I've forgotten about this week's group project.

A little about my current interests:

  • I'm into the TV show "LOST" (which, since we don't get ABC with our rabbit-ear antennae, I download on iTunes the day after each new episode airs). I enjoy listening to The Official LOST Podcast starring the show's executive producers, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof.

  • I converted from Palm to Windows Mobile (aka Pocket PC), largely because of the unreasonably high price of built-in Wi-Fi on Palm and because WM supports MS Remote Desktop (Terminal Services) in addition to the ubiquitous VNC. I now use my WM PDA instead of my Palm to listen to audio in the car. So far this year I've finished the New Testament, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, a couple issues of the Ensign, the April General Conference, and I just started on the Old Testament (all of these are free downloads from here). I also listen to LOST podcasts in the car.

By the way, my "Future Mac User" baby gear has become my best-selling product line on CafePress. I also have a cool black version of my "VIRUS FREE (i use a Mac.)" t-shirt.

Got a better design idea? Create and sell your own stuff (it's free).