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January 2009 Archives

January 11, 2009

Hall of Justice bumper stickers

Random bites:

  • I recently saw Pirates of the Carribbean: At World’s End. Wow. Bad. Nowhere near as good as the other two. 20 feet.
  • There’s a hill on I-64 near my home where our van’s XM radio cuts out somewhere around halfway up the hill, and then resumes slightly below the crest of the hill. Befuddling.
  • I discovered recently that OS X Mail.app only applies rules to new mails. This means that if you read a mail on your phone/PDA and the “new” marking is removed, when you eventually fire up your laptop, none of Mail.app’s rules will fire on that message. I find that quite annoying.

Speaking of phones, I still hate my Crapjack… er, Blackjack. A few things have gotten better over time — there’s a new version of Good that a) replaces the broken Credant phone-locking functionality, and Good’s integration with the phone contacts is somewhat better (but still not entirely working, mind you). But it still sucks for many of the same reasons I described in my prior blog entry. I haven’t been brave enough to upgrade to WM6 because it’s a long/complicated procedure and is not supported by my work’s IT department. That just reeks of hanging a “hit me!” sign on my back.

But I am elated to find out that I’ll be able to swap out my Crapjack in February for a new Crackberry… er, Blackberry. Woo hoo! I’ll likely be getting the Bold, as Storm (the new touch screen Blackberry) a) isn’t [yet] supported by my work’s IT department (it may be someday…?), and b) is apparently fairly buggy and in desperate need of firmware v2.0. From everything that I hear, the Bold sounds like a nice enterprise / work phone.

I toyed with the idea of getting an iPhone instead of a Crackberry, but it seems like there’s still too many things missing on it for an “enterprise” / work phone. Even the Mac pundits at work recommended going with the Crackberry. The iPhone is cool and great, but it just doesn’t tie into enough work functionality (e.g., accessing email entails typing in a one-time password to establish a VPN). So… Crackberry it will likely be.

I can’t wait until February.

January 16, 2009

Bovine business cards

Two more things that annoy the heck outta me about my Crapjack that I forgot to put in previous entries:

The first item is general flakyness of the device itself. When I delete meetings in Outlook, sometimes they don’t get deleted on the phone. The end result is that my phone beeps/alerts me for a meeting that no longer exists. I haven’t been able to figure out the pattern of when the phone doesn’t delete an item; it’s nothing obvious like deleting an appointment within (poll_refresh_time) minutes of the appointment occurring, etc.

For the second item, I have long since acknolwedged that I have zero short term memory. As such, I accept electronic help for this: I live and die by my Exchange to-do items. I’ll file to-do items for things I need to do tomorrow. I’ll file recurring to-do items for things I need to do every week. I’ll file to-do items for things months in advance. Because these items have such a huge impact on my life:

  • I love that they’re available on my computer and on my phone.
  • I hate that Entourage doesn’t support them (gaaahh!!); I have to use Outlook (via Parallels) to see them.

I have discovered (painfully) that if I mark a recurring to-do item complete on the Crapjack, it cancels the whole series, not just the one item that was due today. I usually don’t notice this until (T+someone_else_noticing) after the next time I’m supposed to have done the item. For example, I mark “reserve more OFED teleconference bridges” done on my phone. Two weeks+2 hours later, I get an angry email, “What’s the OFED teleconference dialin information? Did you forget to schedule them?” Gaaaahhhh!!

Granted, both of these problems are likely really the fault of Good Messaging (the Exchange software that runs on the the device), not the Crapjack itself. But I’m taking a staunch user-based stance here: I don’t care exactly what it is in the platform that is broken, the overall product causes me pain and suffering when it is supposed to be a labor-saving device. Granted, no device is perfect, but this device is [significantly] more broken than not — its quirks and annoyances are significantly highlighted and painful because other devices have significantly fewer quirks and annoyances and do the same job much better.

I wish I knew when in February I was going to get the green light to refresh my phone; all I know is that it is sometime in February.

T-[16,44] days…

January 24, 2009

Cabbage is a dish best served cold

I backup the data on my work laptop every week. I’m quite fastidious about it because I’ve been burned by lost data before. So I usually start my backup somewhere around 6-7pm on Friday evening (I use rdiff-backup to a Linux server on my 100Mbps home LAN — yowzers). Then I top it off by rebooting my laptop either later that night or Saturday sometime (OS X is pretty stable, but I find that periodic reboots are still a Good Thing).

This week was no exception to my routine; I backed up everything Friday night. This morning, however, my MacBook Pro failed to reboot. Doh!

A little investigation revealed that the hard drive had somehow become subtly corrupted; event “fsck -fy” in single-user mode wouldn’t fix it. Doh. ☹

I obviously wasn’t afraid of losing any data since I had just backed up everything. But I wasn’t looking forward to the tedium of re-installing everything. Ugh.

Kyle told me about holding down the “T” key during an OS X boot which enables firewire “target” mode, meaning that you can hook up your laptop to another computer (e.g., my iMac) and the disk on the MBP basically appears as a remote disk. Woot! So I copied over all my data and a pile of extra applications that would have been annoying to track down to my iMac (ok, I really got yet another copy of my data over a faster network media, but it still made me feel good). I did try to run Disk Utility on the MBP disk, but it told me the exact same thing as fsck — no love.

So I rebooted the MBP from my Leopard install DVD, took a deep breath, and… erased my entire laptop hard drive. Yow. It was surprisingly scary. Happily, the disk fully zeroed out without any errors, so I guess the disk itself is ok (SMART reports that it’s ok, too).

I’m now re-installing Leopard on the latop and will re-copy all my data back when it finishes. I’ll still need to re-install a bunch of apps, though (e.g., those installed by Darwin ports, all the OS X updates, etc.).

I found a spare 250GB external drive lying around that I wasn’t using; I’ll now be augmenting my weekly rdiff-backup with either for Time Machine or SuperDuper; I haven’t decided which yet. I’m leaning towards SuperDuper because I can still use my rdiff-backup for periodic file loss (which isn’t that common for me; most of my software development work is done on Linux machines remotely) and use SuperDuper for catastrophic disk loss.

Sigh. I thought I had myself covered for backups. But I guess not; this exercise has wasted several hours so far. But if I use SuperDuper, next time (hypothetically) it’ll only take 30-60 minutes to fully restore.

About January 2009

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in January 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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