Category Archives: Apple

Backups and backups: How I keep my family’s computers safe

Lots of people ask me what I use at home for backups. This post should give me an easy place to send folks from now on. Picture your computer falling from your desk or your child spilling coffee on it. Imagine a virus locking up your entire system. Think of that intern accidentally changing the format on a business document. What if your laptop gets stolen? The dangers inherent in our favorite technological tools are widely known and the reality is that things just break. This is part of the reason online backup programs have become so popular. Combined with the fact that the majority of our most valuable information has become digital, it’s downright irresponsible not to use some sort of data-protection program. Important projects from work, cherished family memories, and critical financial records are all worth taking some extra time to protect. Among the hundreds of online backup sites out there, it can be difficult to pick a winner. Here’s the setup I use for all the macs in my extended family. If you still have a Windows box or two floating around, you can still use the second option.

Day-to-day Protection with Time Machine:

For Mac users, one of the most convenient programs for file protection is Time Machine. Time Machine is a popular choice for onsite backup because it comes standard on all computers running Mac OS X. As a minimal precaution, it works perfectly for day-to-day insurance. Your daily data is backed up every hour, your weekly data is backed up every day, and your monthly data is backed up every week. The only limitation to the program is that you will run out of space, at which point your older backups will be removed. Apple designed the program only to protect users from instant and disastrous data loss; it does not have the appropriate capacity to be used for long-term or remote storage. Files accumulate until you’ve hit your backup drive capacity, and then you’ll have to prioritize your data. A good way to extend your limit is to add an additional drive for Time Machine’s storage, which can add 12-18 months to your unrestricted storage. In general, you want a backup drive twice as large as the data you’re backing up. With Time Machine running, you can rest assured that your progress on any project, professional or personal, will always be at your fingertips and never be lost. But if you are looking for extensive peace of mind against the very worst disasters, you’ll need a backup program more useful for storage.

Long-term Security with Crashplan:

There are catastrophes that will circumvent even the most meticulous data protection plan. Your information is greatly at risk in the event of natural disasters and other types of hardware destruction Crashplan is a cloud backup program that allows users to save their information anyway they choose from anywhere they choose. Much like Time Machine, its updates are frequent and automatic (default setting is for every 15 minutes), ensuring that all new information and old versions of the same are secured as soon as they’re generated. Perfect for work on the road, Crashplan can backup and retrieve your information from any computer with an internet connection. With no limits on file size and storage, Crashplan is one of the few cloud backup programs that gives users the freedom to avoid choosing which information is most valuable. This ability to be flexible and expansive is what separates it from the pack. Their family plan supports up to ten computers, which makes it perfect for securing all the computers you value most. For users with big data loads, they provide an option to seed the backup process with a drive they mail to you. There is a one-time fee of about $125, but for users like us with terabytes of data, the investment repaid itself in time saved, shaving the week-long process down to a few hours. More importantly, with no limits and total security, you can rest assured that all your information is in safe hands: yours. With these two programs working in tandem, there isn’t a single file in danger of slipping through the cracks of your digital world.

UPDATE: Macbook PRO EVDO v640 card problems

Ever since I’ve been on Verizon’s EVDO with my MacBook PRO my Mac won’t sleep as quickly. Sometimes it won’t sleep at all and lets the battery drain completely. What’s worse is when it does sleep it needs a reboot to reconnect to EVDO after waking from sleep. I’ve been looking for a solution for sometime.

I’ve now removed the VZAccess software from Verizon and am running with the native EVDO drivers that ship with OSX 10.4.7+. Found a few pointers that recommend this. There is a good summary page here.

What you will miss by Uninstalling

* Logging of each connection, connected time, data transfered
* Graph of current usage along with fastest upload and download speeds
* Manual Activation

You’ll now get a nice signal meter and connected time in the top title bar (see image below).


Macbook PRO EVDO v640 card problems

EVDO on my Macbook PRO works just fine… Well the first time after a clean boot. If the computer goes to sleep the EVDO connection/card fails to reconnect. No amount of ejecting or restarting the Verizon app will make it work. You have to actually REBOOT. Searched the web for some solutions but came up blank. There has to be some process or command that will trick the card into working after coming back from sleep.


MacBook Pro getting closer…

Date/Time Activity Location Details
Jun 7, 2006   2:18 AM

Int’l shipment release




Jun 6, 2006   2:02 PM

Departed FedEx location




   12:48 PM

Arrived at FedEx location




   11:04 AM

Left origin




   11:02 AM

Picked up




   8:55 AM

Package data transmitted to FedEx




Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part IV

The wait is over. I’ve decided to order my MacBook Pro. See the details below. Lenovo decided to drop Linux as a focus for the Thinkpad line. The lack of a well supported Linux/Unix distro further adds reason to move to Mac.

Order Details

Product Name


Product Number

Unit Price



MBPRO 15/2.16 CTO





With the following configuration:

  • Processor 0656552 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo
  • Memory 0656107 2GB 667 DDR2 2x1GB SODIMMs
  • Hard Drive 0656106 100GB Serial ATA drive@7200rpm
  • Optical Drive 0656096 SuperDrive (DVDRW/CDRW)
  • Display 0656520 Widescreen Display
  • Modem 0656201 None
  • Apple Software Solutions 0656200 No optional SW
  • Keyboard/Mac OS Language 0656553 BkLit Keyboard/Mac OS
  • Country Kit/AEX 0656102 Airport Extreme Card andBT

Estimated Shipped By:

JUN 07, 2006

Estimated Delivered By:

JUN 12, 2006

Recycle Fee









Estimated Shipped By:

JUN 05, 2006

Estimated Delivered By:

JUN 07, 2006

Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part III

Well the 17″ MacBook Pro’s are starting to arrive. From the reports I’ve read the 17″ MBP lack the whine which appears in many of the early production 15.4″ MacBook Pro models. There are a few things that are popping up for the first time. Like the lid stays closed better, staying cooler and then there are those who think the 17 inch MBP is still stupid big. Hey what’s to lose… you get more for your money than with the 15″. Not to mention an extra 2 inches to help let all the heat out. Personally not sure how much fun it will be to travel with what amounts to a surf board of a laptop. I think it’s clear that the Thinkpad is out. Going to be either a 17″ or 15″ MacBook Pro. Few more mentions.

Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part II

Apple released the 17″ MacBook Pro last Monday. In Part I of my Apple vs Thinkpad post I mentioned a few reasons why I’m strongly considering the MacBook Pro. The 17″ model adds Firewire 800, 8x super Drive, and obviously a larger screen. If Apple had just added the option for a speed bump in the Core Duo it may have just been the tipping point.

A few more reviews.

On a side note the MacBook Pro is seeing more and more applications get ported to native Intel and/or Universal support. Just one more feather in the MacBook’s hat.

Time to switch? – Thinkpad vs. MacBook Pro – Part I

I’ve been an IBM Thinkpad user for the last ~7 years. By and large they’ve been good to me. I think in those 7 years I’ve had 6 different Thinkpads. On average one a year. Only two failures to speak of; the first a hard drive failure on my T20 which had been whining for weeks so I had good backups. The 2nd a screen failure when an airport screener (one of those new anal post-9/11 types) dropped it taking it over to the bomb residue tester. So for 7 years of heavy laptop use not a bad record. However more and more I’ve got my eye on making the switch to Apple. Thinking back; my first ever computer that I did any *real* work on was an Apple IIe. Wrote some LOGO programs in an after school computer class.
Today my first reason to consider the Mac is that my day-to-day work can all be done(I think) without the support of Windows or Linux as my primary OS. Using Windows as my primary desktop for more than a decade has I’m sure left some scars. However most of what I do these days can be moved to just about any modern OS. Let’s see… Web based AJAX email, calendar, and contacts client. Thunderbird for offline IMAP mail. IDEA for software development. Firefox for web programming and surf’n the net. FTP, SSH, WinZip, etc. Lots of little productivity tools that can be replace in any OS. So for the most part being internet connected a bulk of the time let’s me do most things on the web.
The second reason is a common one echoed by geeks around the blog-sphere and the net. OSX is more secure, it’s Unix, it s *real OS*, it’s got nice UI candy, yadda yadda yadda. Nothing new there but for the most part I agree. The third and key factor is that Mac laptops have finally caught up speed wise with Apple’s switch to the Intel chips. For years the even the highest end Apple laptops suffered severe lags in performance compared to their IBM counterparts. For a developer or someone who uses a laptop for more than just a word processor and internet kiosk this is a huge deal. Before the MacBook Pro it just wasn’t feasible to use a Mac laptop as your primary machine if you wanted to get the most performance. The forth and final reason I’ve identified is that in my space and geek space in general an Apple is just cooler than a Windows machine. Ok so this is hard to prove and it’s a bit of a religious topic but I had to add it. So with that my delima begins. To Mac or not to Mac? Stick with Thinkpad and the new Core Duo T60’s or leave IBM (ahem.. Levono) behind and take the plunge with MacBook Pro?

I’m obviously not the only person looking at this issue.

What do you think?