SuperDuper is Super Duper!

13 04 2007

Backing up your computer is one of those jobs that nobody likes to do. It takes time and effort to get it right, but for most people the completed backup won’t ever be used. It’s difficult to maintain a backup routine when you don’t get instant benefits from it that keep you motivated.

I used to backup the odd thing here or there, but usually only stuff I knew I could never recover – and even then I did it so infrequently, the backup would probably have been next to useless had I have needed it.

Paranoia and concern for my precious data led me to start looking for a solution that would allow me to backup all my important things without taking ages to configure and ages to perform, that way it will be a lot easier to stick to the regime.

I found quite a few apps that would claim to backup things, but they were either too complicated to use or too simple to be useful.

The only one that seemed to be spot on for me was Super Duper.


Super Duper allows you to create backups of your entire hard disk which can be saved on an external disk and made bootable so you can instantly resume working should your hard disk fail. It also allows you to create custom backup sets where you can pick out just the files you want to backup and leave the rest.

My favourite feature though is the Smart Update ability which allows you to update your backup set to match your hard disk at a fraction of the time a full backup would take.

All this is free, but if you pay for the registered version (at $27.95 / ~£14.14) you get access to more customisation and a scheduling feature which allows you to truly automate your backups – Super Duper will mount a target disk, perform the backup, then eject the disk, all on a schedule you set.

The software has been written with absolute computer novices in mind, and so explains in detail what each step of the process entails so there are no doubts. This may be irritating to more experienced users, who may find it a little patronising, but I for one don’t mind it as it does help make it very clear what will happen. It’s sort of like taking a holiday from techno-jargon 🙂

Developer: Shirt Pocket
System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later – Universal
Download Link:
(2.7MB disk image)


Sticky Windows – Now Universal

10 04 2007

Sticky Windows ScreenshotAlmost a year ago I blogged about a piece of software that allows you to very usefully create tabs out of any windows you have on any side of your screen. Very useful if you regularly have a lot of windows open, and don’t want to minimise them to the same place on the dock where they can get lost and mixed up.

4 days ago, this software was finally updated to a Universal Binary and now works properly on Intel Macs!

Developer: Donelleschi Software
System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger – Universal
Download Link:
(908.0KB disk image)

Apple and EMI Wave Bye Bye to DRM

3 04 2007

That’s right, almost 2 months after Steve Jobs’ original Thoughts On Music open letter to the music industry, the first major label EMI has agreed with Apple and allowed their entire library of music to be sold DRM-free and at double the bit-rate previously.

Not only that, but apparently the iTunes Store will provide a single-click solution for existing customers to easily upgrade their previously purchased EMI songs.

The price per single has risen from $.99 to $1.29, but for no DRM and double the encoding rate, $.30 isn’t really that much (its about 15p more for us English people).

Now that one major label has taken the plunge surely it won’t be too long before the other ones have to follow suit, which can only be a good thing!

RSS Rules – Vienna

17 03 2007

RSS (Rich Site Summary / Really Simple Syndication) is a lightweight XML format for distributing news headlines and other content on the Web. You point a RSS-capable browser at the RSS link for a website, and you can then subscribe to the feed, seeing the content within an RSS view in your browser.

I liked the idea of it for being able to keep up to date with my favourite news blogs and sites, but I never really managed it very well, ending up with way over 80 bookmarks in Safari, in different folders on my bookmarks bar, making it a little difficult to keep up to date with new content.

Introducing Vienna:


Vienna is a really simple yet powerful RSS client for Mac OS X.

Vienna takes away all the complications with dealing with a lot of RSS feeds, by allowing you to subscribe to them all from one place. It allows you to create folders for different categories of feeds, and automatically checks for and downloads updates at a regular interval you choose.

It has some powerful features for finding the content you want, by allowing you to create Smart Folders of feeds, that automagically update as you would expect from any self respecting Smart Folder.

And because the content Vienna downloads is cached, you can then view your RSS feeds offline, ideal for people who have a lot of feeds to keep up to date with on the move; connect to your hot spot at Starbucks, let Vienna update, then disconnect to save your bandwidth.

To set it up, you simply drag any RSS bookmarks you have into it’s sidebar, and you’re done. Vienna will then automatically check for updates to the feeds for you, and notifies you when there are new ones by displaying an indicator on it’s dock icon, much in the same way that does.

What I like about Vienna the most is that is isn’t trying to be anything other than a feed manager – a lot of applications I’ve seen try to do so much they actually end up being browsers in their own rights, but not quite as good. I’m happy with my browser, so I want to stick with it, I just want a nice centralised place to keep up to date with my feeds – Vienna does this, and does it well.

Vienna 2.1.1
Link: (1.3MB zip)
Reqs: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later (Universal)

MacBook Pro keyboard remapper

11 03 2007

Well it has been a very long time since my last post, I have kinda got out of blogging regularly, but I do still plan on posting at least every once in a while. Today I have a useful bit of software to share with you.

If like me, you are using your MacBook Pro to run Windows under BootCamp, you may have noticed a slight problem. Unless you have the full Apple BootCamp drivers installed, you won’t have full keyboard support, and even then you don’t get all the features you would probably like.

I found a very useful utility called Input Remapper, which provides support for the MacBook Pro keyboard when running under Windows, allowing you to control the volume, brightness and eject key as well as right-click while holding Ctrl.

Not only that, but it allows you to remap certain keys including swapping the ordering of the left 4 keys, for example, to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys round. I play first person shooters, and usually the duck/crouch key is Ctrl. On the MacBook Pro keyboard, where Ctrl usually is, there is the Fn key. So wouldn’t it be nice to make the Fn key behave as the Ctrl key? Well with this utility you can.

A few other nice extras include the ability to control your MacBookPro’s other settings, such as minimum/maximum display brightness, keyboard illumination settings, and fan speeds. Setting the fan speeds to max makes the computer a little bit loud, but makes it run icy cold, even when playing some pretty intensive games.

I’m guessing, but haven’t tried, that this will also work with the standard MacBook under BootCamp.

Input Remapper 1.0.02

BootCamp 1.1.2 Drivers

10 12 2006

Apple’s BootCamp is now into Beta version 1.1.2 so I thought I would try and install Windows again, which is something I hadn’t done since my MacBook Pro issues a while back…

Anyway the new BootCamp beta supports the Apple keyboard’s special keys and the trackpad right-click and so on, which is something the previous one didn’t do.

However upon installation of the Macintosh Drivers CD, at the Apple Keyboard part, Windows suffered from a blue-screen-of-death, and nuked the keyboard and mouse drivers. Upon reboot I found that mouse and keyboard support was completely gone, and not even an external USB mouse made the cursor come back.

To resolve the issue, I had to reinstall Windows XP  from scratch and try again. This time, when prompted that the driver hadn’t passed the Windows certification thing, I only said ‘Continue anyway’ if it didn’t read as anything to do with the keyboard or trackpad, since they worked good enough for me before hand.

So I don’t have an Eject key or support for right-click, but at least it works and I can play Steam/Command & Conquer/Homeworld 2 again 🙂

Hopefully an updated version of the appropriate drivers will be available soon, but until Leopard comes out, and BootCamp becomes integrated with OS X, I’m not to worried 🙂

IMAP and

11 11 2006

IMAP: If you can you

I’m here to talk about the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) today. In the world of email there are basically two protocols: POP and IMAP.

POP is the original old faithful, but is very simple – you connect to your POP server, it sends you new messages, you download them and they are removed from the server.

The main problem with that is that the messages are now stored locally on your computer. Many people now use webmail of various types to connect in to their mailboxes, so if the messages have been downloaded, you won’t be able to see them anymore through the webmail.

Now most people probably will not find this a problem – and it isn’t if you only ever read your mail at home, on the same computer.

Enter IMAP. With IMAP, your emails are stored on the server and you connect to the server to download new messages, which are then cached on your computer for offline viewing. If you then connect in via a web interface, and delete some messages, when you next connect in from home, the mailbox is synchronised to reflect these changes.

This means you can organise your mail into different folders, and be able to see the exact same setup, regardless of your email client. Another really useful ability of IMAP is that it can request just the mail headers, allowing you to see the subject, sender, size and so on, without having to actually download the whole message.

Users of dial up who often receive large messages, will find this more useful than most, as it prevents them from wasting connected time (and money) waiting for large messages to download, as they can choose whether or not they want a particular email.

Thunderbird, Mozilla’s email client works with no further configuration, other than the account settings, but if you want to use the built in OS X, then there are a few things to be aware of. and IMAP has issues with IMAP – it just doesn’t behave properly. Any folders you may have added to your IMAP account will either be missing or incomplete, and will disappear at seemingly random times!

After puzzling over this for some time I was worried that perhaps my email server host (1&1) didn’t fully support IMAP properly. So I installed Mozilla Thunderbird and tested it, only to see all my folders exactly as they should be.

So with 1&1 ruled out as the cause, I decided to move on to setup to work with my Gmail account, while I puzzled over it. After setting Gmail up, suddenly, my original IMAP account started working perfectly!

So the solution to getting IMAP to work properly with is to make sure you always have more than 1 account configured in it. After accidentally stumbling across this solution, I checked online for more advice, and apparently this is quite an old problem, stemming back to early versions of, so who knows why it hasn’t been solved yet.

The only other thing you need to do when first setting up your IMAP, is tell which of the server folders are to be used as the Inbox, Drafts and so on, or things will get a little confusing.

To do this, you just need to find each special server folder in the list, click on it, and choose ‘Use this mailbox for’ from the ‘Mailbox’ menu. Then select the appropriate option. Once this is done, you’ll have a fully working IMAP setup on through OS X.