Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring cleaning your Mac

So I got up this morning and the birds were chirping, the sun was up full heat while I drank my coffee, and then I realized only 15 GB were left on my user partition! Time for spring cleaning, plus some well overdue backing up.

Every time it gets to this, I use the same set of tools (all free except for ChronoSync and iPartition, both of which aren’t necessary for an in depth cleanup). Here are the apps, in the order I use them:

               

  • OmniDiskSweeper will scan your drive and nicely display what folders use up the most data.
  • AppCleaner will help you uninstall apps completely. Most applications leave plist files and other logs behind, AppCleaner finds those and deletes them for you.
  • Onyx is the swiss army knife of OS X optimization and fixing. There is simply so much stuff in here, it is a must!
  • iDefrag is a great tool to defragment your hard-drive. It will optimize kernel file placement for faster boot-up times. Paid app.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner is a great tool for backing up your boot partitions.
  • ChronoSync is best at backing up, synchronizing and archiving data. Paid app.


How I go about it:

First and foremost, I launch my RAID 5 drive to store my backups and big/important/Document files (it’s a OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2. It rocks!). I back up my boot partition using Carbon Copy Cloner, just in case. Then, using OMNIDiskSweeper I will scan my partitions. I don’t necessarily delete files with the app itself, I use it as a guide to help identify huge folders. It also helps find locations where you wouldn’t have looked, such as Adobe Encore’s Render folder using up 40 GB… I go through my Downloads folder and pretty much trash everything that is older than 2/3 months and that doesn’t ring a bell. I also move a of stuff to the aforementioned drive, using a great and revolutionary tool called cut and paste… Thank you Lion.

Next up is AppCleaner, which will help deleting old and unused apps. Finally, you can empty your trash… This will probably take a couple of days if you are removing a lot of files. You can spend the next few days swearing at Locum! See update…

If you haven’t decided to throw your mac away after realizing how daunting and painful it is to simply remove files… Congratulations, you win patience! Now the fun part, Onyx. Did I mention Onyx is great? It’s awesome! First let it scan your SMART status and your startup partition. It’s a pretty easy tool to use, but I’ll go through some of the steps. Oh wait, my startup volume is corrupted! Probably because emptying the trash froze my computer… Thank you Lion! Well if the same happens to you it’s pretty simple. Restart holding cmd-r, select the disk utility, select your main drive and click repair. Then select your boot partition and repair. While you’re at it you should repair your disk permissions. Do the same to all your partitions.

Now back in Onyx you can skip the verify tab, under Maintenance and Scripts, select execute. These are completely safe to run. Next up is the cleaning tab. I would run all the tabs before restarting your computer, but make sure to read what each option does. Most defaults are safe, but double-check to make sure. Once all the cleaning is done, reboot and voilà! Of course Onyx has many more fun options, but they aren’t about cleaning so I’ll let you discover those yourself.

If you have the time, defragmenting your boot up drive would be a good idea, though beware this can take a really long time. I really recommend Coriolis’ iDefrag. It works wonders.

OK, now I really prefer having clean and optimized backups, so I’ll backup my OS using CCC again (I delete the backup we did earlier). Then, I use ChronoSync for my document folder, my pictures etc… I like it because I can tell it to keep files I have deleted locally, and to archive older files which I’ve modified. Even though that might not be as relevant since Lion saves histories of file edits, but I prefer being safe than sorry.

Update: Well well well, just as I was going to send a bug report about Locum to Apple, I decided to make sure I wasn’t securely emptying my trash… Ouch! I was! I apologize for spreading false… hate-blog? on locum. So let’s make my horrendous mistake constructive at least! If emptying your trash is slow and takes up a lot of CPU, maybe your always securily emptying your trash. To make sure, go to the Finder preferences, to the advanced tab, and uncheck the “Empty trash securily” if it’s checked.

If you ever want to securely empty your trash, “command + right-click” the trash icon, and it will display the “Secure Empty Trash” button. Easy as that.

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Game publishers: “Houston, we have a problem?”

If Kickstarter could speak, I think this is what it would say:

“Game developers, meet fan base.”

“Fan base, meet game developers.”

Game publishing has changed and there is no going back. For good or for worst we’ll see, but I would lean towards good. If you’ve missed out on all the Double Fine fun, worry not, Wasteland 2 will be coming soon. With your help, it might even make it to Mac! I think this is one of the most interesting things that has happened to the video game industry since Steam and the Indie revolution. Lets dig deeper…

One of the first thing that struck me about both Double Fine and Wasteland 2 is the fact that both games offer DRM free versions. The publishers want to make buyers feel bad when they download illegal copies of games, but in reality, all they are hurting are the huge wallets that have refused to publish games we want to play and that game developers want to create! Or worst, ruin old classics! Take X-Com for a tragic example.

If you aren’t sure what a DRM free download is, well basically you can take the game, create a torrent and share it with the world. It will work! I am definitely not encouraging you do that, but it’s interesting to see how game studios don’t care about it. All they care about is making fun games, and live decently off of that. Which to me sounds respectful.

A comparison to iTunes could be made here, which changed the way people buy music. Publishers lost big because of Napster, but they lost even bigger because anyone can self-publish on iTunes. The same can be said about Steam. The stupid middle-man (suit clad publisher), who will measure a game’s quality by the amount of copies sold, can now be skipped all-together.

Or can it? Indies have used Kickstarter in the past, but also Alpha version pre-orders and other ways to fund they’re games. What the system brings is a way to fund more expensive games, or bigger teams, who have a product people have been waiting for. I would tend to think this funding method will get more and more popular with time.

So they lived happily ever after?

Not so quick. As many have mentioned, all it takes is for one huge scam and everyone will most definitely back away… or will they? I can already imagine a game-oriented Kickstarter-like page on Steam. That would be awesome. So even if Amazon fails (and they definitely will take any steps required so it doesn’t happen), the crowd-sourced funding method will not.

Finally, what’s great about this phenomenon is the games aren’t even sold yet. The game studios will make even more money once the sales start. I bet you they’ll make enough for a couple of updates and maybe even patches/DLC. In the end, publishers will always be there for huge titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty, but could you imagine the next Skyrim being funded this way? ABSOLUTELY.

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What I think of Safari

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Update: I’ve just updated to 5.1.4, which should give 11% better JavaScript performance and fix a cookie issue I’ve had for so long. I’m crossing my fingers it actually helps. Since the update, my CPU monitoring seems a lot more reasonable. Coincidence? I would have to believe the update does help. What was I thinking!?

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So I just installed Lion

I know, I know. It’s pretty late  for Lion ain’t it? Well, yes it is, but I was actually going to wait till 10.7.4 (as some old timers do). I thought I’d explain that view, which is fully justifiable, and give a couple of initial thoughts about Lion.

Mountain Lion is right around the corner and I’m installing 10.7! That might seem crazy for some OSX users, especially iOS customers new to the platform. Some of which are so blatantly in love with Apple, go ahead and download/install developer previews on their only boot partition! We are always looking forward to what the Cupertino is up to, but they’re a software company like every other and bugs haunt them too. Albeit, you should never install a Beta OS on your main machine/boot partition. That should be run on a separate system… in a separate room… locked with an Abloyd lock… and eye scanner… in space… OK, maybe not the eye scanner 😛

What could justify this sort of odd behaviour?

  1. A working workflow and setup: If your using your computer to make money, you have a working setup, and probably a workflow. This is as simple as, upgrade your OS and lose money… Maybe because your not as efficient anymore (see: lost of exposé “all windows”) or some of your mission critical applications have new/different bugs (which you now have to re-adapt to), or they work differently (temporary loss of work speed). This doesn’t apply to me as much anymore because I’ve gone back to school, and am reorienting my career (effect: see blog title :)).
  2. Old machine run new code? As I’ve stated so many times before, I run an old MacBook Pro. How do you know if it will be as performing with the new update? Has Apple fully tested the hardware? They are definitly good at killing old hardware, so yours might be included. Again, if the new OS is slower, you not only loose overall speed, but will get deeply annyoed. Conclusion: I think Lion actually runs faster on my machine (after the initial HD indexing of course).
  3. Let em kill them bugs that are! Every software ships with bugs, it’s just about how much time they’ve had to crush them. In Adobe’s case, it’s just lousiness.
  4. Finally, going to buy new computer? With all the above, if you’re expecting to buy a new computer in the next 6-12 months, it might be a good thing to keep that older setup intact. Just saying.
Why the upgrade now?
  1. The need… of two new features (yep, you’ve read right, two). The first being cut and past in finder, which I have been dreaming of since Panther. Second, the new Spaces. My needs have evolved, and since I’m using more and more Virtual Machines simultaneously, with RDP thrown in the mix, I just couldn’t hold back on that one. It’s been astounding how the new Spaces have changed the way I interact with OSX, for the utmost best! It’s amazing. And there I was thinking fullscreen was just a gimmick, it isn’t. Just for the note, my setup currently consists of a main “web and stuff” desktop, a second desktop for Photoshop, a fullscreen VM for Linux, a fullscreen VM for my Bootcamp, a fullscreen RDP session with my old XP box, and more to come. This in less than a week’s use. Love it.
  2. Trusted sources: like… not the internet. Friends and family. In my case it was family. After my step-brother mentioned he stopped using his mouse completely since Lion, mimicking the gestures for his Spaces setup and all, I was intrigued. That is the type of guy I can trust. We’ve had countless discussions about technology, we know each others workflow (in Snow Leopard he was a Spaces lover and I was the Exposé all-windows junkie). An hour talk with him convinced me more than a year of browsing the net… WOW.
  3. What the hell, my Snow Leopard DVD is standing by.
That was it for me. I had seen too many conferences were the presenter would simply swipe to his VM, making the demos actually work smoothly, for me to just lay back and leave it out till .4.
So was it worth it? I’m happy I waited so long, becuase the shock was even bigger. YES! In all-caps screaming to all the prudent Snow Leopard users out there. Upgrade now. That’s all I can say. I am wrong sometimes. Just sometimes…
The main caveat: loss of expose all-windows. This is a main show stopper, and no Mission Control doesn’t replace it. There’s a little tip out there from OSXDaily though, and I would apply it before even trying mission control with the upper-right corner. In terminal, type:
defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.16
then:
killall Dock
This will ease the pain a lot. I understand the thought behind removing such a thing. The new “app” focus, as in one-window-one-app etc. But to lose such a great feature is, at least to me, awkward. I’ll have to end this on a good note though, because Lion is really worth it. I am actually starting to believe Apple have learned a lot from optimizing their applications on iOS devices, working with low power and slower CPUs. It is tangible in Lion, and runs great[er] on my old laptop. Nope, it’s horrible and I’m definitely considering going back to Snow Leopard. Apple, we need a Snow Lion, or at least a Snow Mountain Lion… please?
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