Category Archives: Apple

Why Mac users should think about a Drobo


It’s all about metadata

There are three basic NAS type devices out there:

* HP Media Server and clones: HP promoted their Media Server at Macworld as a “home file server.” This somewhat surprised me, given that it is running Windows XP Media Edition or whatever the Vista equivalent might be;
* The generic NAS stuff, produced by Iomega, Buffalo, etc. Every single one of these I’ve ever seen uses a cut-down version of Linux;
* Apple Time Capsule.

Let’s address the first two types as a lump. Windows and the Linux-based stuff share things that a Mac can read as SMB (Server Message Block) volumes. The Linux-based NAS units use open-source Samba (a pun on SMB) services, while HP Media Server uses Windows or Vista SMB services. The operating system part isn’t as important as the file system.

Now, what can you save in Windows? You can save a file, you can save the file’s “last saved” date, you can save its size. You _cannot_ save the icon directly; this is actually an abstraction through the registry. You _cannot_ save the icon color; Windows simply has never heard of this. If you want to change the icon, for example, you need to use a registry editor.

Cosmetics aside, you also don’t get much metadata.

What does a Mac save? It saves:

  • Icon. Either an application-specific icon or, if you feel like it, any old icon you want to paste over the default. No limits;
  • Icon color. Apple calls these “labels,” but whatever you call it, being able to color icons is quite useful;
  • Size. You get a rounded-up size (10.2 megabytes) and an exact size (10,701,354 bytes);
  • You get a created date;
  • You get a modified date;
  • You can tell if the file is stationary for something else;
  • You can tell if it is locked;
  • If it is a PDF, you can tell how many pages it is, the dimensions of the page, what software created it, and what version of the PDF specification was used;
  • If it is a sound file, you get the duration in hours, minutes and seconds, the number of channels, and the bit rate, and you an even play it;
  • If it is an image, you get what kind of image, dimensions of the image, device used to create the image (usually a camera), device model, color space, color profile, focal length, alpha channel, red eye, f-stop, shutter speed, and a preview of the image;
  • If it is a video file, you get the kind, dimensions, codec, duration, channels, bit rate, and a preview;
  • If any of these items happened to be saved from Apple Mail, you also get the sender name, address, subject matter, and date of the E-mail.

If you save a Mac file with all this nice, rich metadata on a NAS or Windows-based file share, most of the metadata is lost. Sometimes the file itself is lost, if the file share just doesn’t understand what the heck it is supposed to be, or if the file itself is complex (Pages pages are not pages but an entire directory bundled together, as are Keynote presentations).

A Mac OS X-based drive, or a Time Capsule, stores a staggering amount of information that simply doesn’t have an equivalent in the Windows or Linux-based NAS worlds.

What does this have to do with a Drobo? A Drobo can be formatted with a Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) volume. In other words, all this pretty metadata is preserved. Automatically.

Cool. You can even use it as a Time Machine store, if you wish.

Mac dates


I’m always looking for important dates in Macintosh history, for no good reason.

January 1, 1904: if you have an original Mac and the battery goes dead, this is the starting date.

August 11, 1950: birth of Stephen Gary Wozniak, better known as Steve Wozniak.

February 24, 1955: birth of Steven Paul Jobs, better known as Steve Jobs.

October 28, 1955: birth of William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates.

August 27, 1956: birthdate of Ray Montagne, designer of the CUDA chip in old Mac. If your Mac displays this date, you have a Mac that has ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) chips and your battery is dead. An excellent example of a system-level Easter egg.

December 31, 1969 or Jan. 1, 1970: you have a dead battery on a machine that runs Mac OS X. Unix counts time in seconds, starting with one second past midnight on Jan. 1, 1970, is the start of the clock (the “zeroeth second”).

April 1, 1976: you have a dead battery and your machine has reverted back to the day that Apple, the company, was formed. Another stellar example of a system-level Easter egg.

January 1, 1983: Lisa introduced

January 1, 1984: Lisa 2 introduced

January 22, 1984: Macintosh introduced via a commercial during Super Bowl XVIII

January 24, 1984: Macintosh (original) for sale; System 1.0 released

May 5, 1984: System 1.1 released

September 10, 1984 Macintosh 512K introduced

January 1, 1985, Macintosh XL introduced

April 1985: System 2.0 released

September 1985: System 2.1 released

January 16, 1986, Macintosh Plus introduced
System 3.0 released

February 1986: System 3.1 released

April 14, 1986, Macintosh 512Ke introduced

June 1986: System 3.2 released

January 1, 1987, Macintosh Plus (Platinum) introduced
System 4.0 released

February 3, 1987, Macintosh SE introduced

March 2, 1987, Macintosh II introduced
System 4.1 released

October 1987: System 4.2 released

April 1988: System 6.0 released

September 19, 1988, Macintosh IIx introduced
System 6.0.1 released

January 19, 1989, Macintosh SE/30 introduced

March 7, 1989, Macintosh IIcx introduced

August 1, 1989, Macintosh SE FDHD introduced

March 19, 1990, Macintosh IIfx introduced

October 15, 1990, Macintosh LC introduced
Macintosh Classic introduced
Macintosh IIsi introduced

February 11, 1991, Macintosh Portable introduced

April 1991: System 6.0.8 released

June 1991: System 7.0 released

October 21, 1991, Macintosh Classic II introduced
Quadra 700 introduced
Quadra 900 introduced
PowerBook 100 introduced
PowerBook 140 introduced
PowerBook 170 introduced
System 7.0.1

March 23, 1992, Macintosh LC II introduced

May 18, 1992, Quadra 950 introduced

August 3, 1992, PowerBook 145 introduced
System 7.1 released

October 19, 1992, Macintosh IIvi introduced
Macintosh IIvx introduced
PowerBook 160 introduced
PowerBook 180 introduced
PowerBook Duo 210 introduced
PowerBook Duo 230 introduced

February 10, 1993: Macintosh LC III/III+ introduced
Macintosh Color Classic introduced
Centris 620 introduced
Centris 650 introduced
Quadra 800 introduced
PowerBook 165c introduced

March 22, 1993, Workgroup Server 80 introduced
Workgroup Server 95 introduced

June 7, 1993, PowerBook 145b introduced
PowerBook 180c introduced

June 28, 1993, Macintosh LC520 introduced

July 26, 1993, Workgroup Server 60 introduced

August 16, 1993, PowerBook 165 introduced

October 10, 1993, Macintosh Color Classic II (last “classic” Mac) introduced

October 21, 1993, Macintosh TV introduced
Quadra 605 introduced
Quadra 610 introduced
Quadra 650 introduced
PowerBook Duo 250 introduced
PowerBook Duo 270c introduced
PowerBook 520 introduced
PowerBook 540 introduced
System 7.1.1 released

February 2, 1994, Macintosh LC550 introduced
Macintosh LC 575 introduced

March 14, 1994, Power Macintosh 6100 introduced
Power Macintosh 7100 introduced
Power Macintosh 8100 introduced
System 7.1.2 introduced

April 26, 1994, Workgroup Server 6150 introduced
Workgroup Server 8150 introduced
Workgroup Server 9150 introduced

May 16, 1994, PowerBook 520c introduced
PowerBook 540c introduced
PowerBook 550 introduced
PowerBook Duo 280 introduced
PowerBook Duo 280c introduced

July 18, 1994, Quadra 630 introduced
PowerBook 150 introduced

September 1994: System 7.5 released

March 1995: System 7.5.1 released

March 1995: System 7.5.2 released

June 1995: System 7.5.3 released

September 27, 1996: System 7.5.5 released

January 7, 1997: System 7.6 released

April 7, 1997: System 7.6.1 released

July 26, 1997: Mac OS 8.0 released

January 19, 1996: Mac OS 8.1 released

October 17, 1998: Mac OS 8.5 released

December 7, 1998: Mac OS 8.5.1 released

March 16, 1999: Mac OS X Server 1.0 “Rhapsody” released

May 10, 1999: Mac OS 8.6 released

October 23, 1999: Mac OS 9.0 released

April 4, 2000: Mac OS 9.0.4 released

January 9, 2001: Mac OS 9.1 released

March 24, 2001: Mac OS X 10.0 “Cheetah” released

June 18, 2001: Mac OS 9.2 released

August 21, 2001: Mac OS 9.2.1 released

September 25, 2001: Mac OS X 10.1 “Puma” released

December 5, 2001: Mac OS 9.2.2 released

August 24, 2002: Mac OS X 10.2 “Jaguar” released

October 24, 2003: Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther” released

April 29, 2005: Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” released

October 26, 2007: Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” released

August 28, 2009: Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” released

July 20, 2011: Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” released

[time passes…]

Tuesday January 19, 2038: the world ends, as the 32-bit versions of Unix reach the maximum number of seconds supported by the clock, and reset to zero. Or possibly the world starts again. This will happen at 3:14:07 UTC (seven seconds after 3:14 a.m. in Greenwich, England).

There’s an app for that

It is amazing how quickly Apple’s campaign to create applications (apps) for the iPad and iPhone has not only spread among software developers but also into the general population. “There’s an app for that” has evolved from a marketing push to a punch-line for jokes to a commonly used phrase.

“Is there an app for that?” is probably heard as often as “There’s an app for that.”

There's an app for that

Storefront of Apple Store at the Columbia Mall, Columbia, Maryland (Photo by Lawrence I. Charters, taken with an iPhone)

While the application explosion is extraordinary, so is the method of distribution: you can buy an application (“buy” includes free applications) while sitting in a coffee shop, or in your living room, or almost anywhere but a computer store or electronics store. There are no store aisles, you don’t have to wait in line at the checkout counter, you don’t carry your purchase home in a bag, and you don’t have to throw away the cardboard and plastic packing materials.

If that isn’t enough, there are even apps to help you shop for apps.


Microsoft Warning Message

I found this fascinating:

Microsoft Warning Message

You bought something. We're not sure what you bought, but we hope you are happy with what we sent.

Isn’t this just the sort of thing that gives you confidence that, not only does Microsoft sell IT software and hardware, they’ve also got just a splendid handle on how to use it?