Laptop Downsizing

My Laptop Setup

From 512 Pixels:

Currently, I’m using a Mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It has an 2.5 Ghz i7, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB of SSD storage. It’s the fastest, most capable Mac I’ve ever owned.

I went with the 15-inch because I thought I’d be using it as a notebook way more than I actually do.


I fell foul of this when I started remote working, I bought a maxed-out 15″ Retina MacBook Pro thinking I’d need something powerful for at my desk and something I could carry around for when I needed to get out of the house.

Unfortunately, due to the size of the rMBP, I never took it out and ended up with the same ‘tied to my desk’ feeling I would’ve had with a desktop Mac.

The best thing I did, for my productivity (and my mental wellbeing) was trade the rMBP in for a far, far less powerful 12″ MacBook. Yes, it’s slower, which can be especially noticeable when I’m coding or photo editing but now I feel like I have far more freedom and I work in other (more interesting) locations more often.

I don’t regret the decision to trade down, all I had to do was swap some power for a bit of patience, which was worth it in the long run. It’s something I’d definitely recommend considering if you have a large laptop but still feel ‘stuck’ in the home office.

Laptop Downsizing

Cloning Permissions And ACLs On OS X

Sometimes permissions get messed up, it’s normally easy to fix, but if the problem also breaks your access control lists (ACLs) then the fix can be much more time consuming (especially when external drives are involved).

Most of the time, for a quick fix, I use the commands below to clone the permissions and ACLs from a known good folder to my broken folder. Usually, this is all I need.

chown $(stat -f%u:%g "$SRCDIR") "$DSTDIR"
chmod $(stat -f%Mp%Lp "$SRCDIR") "$DSTDIR"
(ls -lde "$SRCDIR" | tail +2 | sed 's/^ [0-9]*: //'; echo) | chmod -E  "$DSTDIR"

Either set the environmental variables as you need to or replace them directly (liberal use of sudo may also be required depending on the folder being updated).

I can’t take credit for the above commands, I discovered them on StackOverflow a good while ago and added them to my useful snippets – if I come across the original I will add the necessary credit.

Cloning Permissions And ACLs On OS X

Software Updates

I’ve finally gotten round to updating iSyncIt and Set Icon for Snow Leopard, as always you can download iSyncIt here and Set Icon here.

The new release of iSyncIt fixes the only bug I could find under Snow Leopard – the icon not changing correctly under bluetooth on / off conditions.

The Set Icon release fixes the problem of the application not performing its one and only function – setting a drive icon. Along with the bug fix I modified the image conversion to prevent the (frankly awful) stretching of non-square images to fill a 512×512 icon, images now scale nicely. I also removed the terrible tool-tips that show up when you start the application I used to think they were ‘cool’ but soon realised the error of my ways. However, in place of this I added some ‘brilliant’ window resizing when you remove an icon – we’ll see how long that lasts. Oh, the application will also run as a 64 bit application now – not that that makes any difference what-so-ever, I just did it because I could.

Check back soon.

Software Updates

Updates, Updates, Updates

Again, it has been quite a while since my last post (almost a month in fact) and quite a lot has happened since then. Any regular visitors to the website will have noticed the new theme, the website maintains the new layout released a couple of months ago but the colour scheme has changed to something a bit more minimal. Along with the new theme I have re-introduced some small adverts to the bottom of pages and modified the URL of the blog feed to allow tracking through FeedBurner.

The other main updates to the website are the introduction of My Book Icons 0.8 and My Passport Icons 0.3. The My Book Icons update includes a new icon for the Western Digital My Book Studio II drive. Both of the icon sets now include icons in Windows ICO format and Linux PNG format. On the Mac side of the icon sets, after popular demand, I have added copy & pasteable icons to allow setting of icons using the “Get Info” window in Finder.

You can download My Book Icons here and My Passport Icons here

That’s all for now, check back soon.

Updates, Updates, Updates

My Passport Icons

By popular demand, but a little late, I have released a set of icons to represent the Western Digital My Passport range of external hard drives, this release was driven primarily by requests that I have received and the fact that I have just purchased a WD My Passport drive myself.

For now the release contains only two icons, they are for the red and black “Essential” variants of the My Passport drive. I will be releasing icons for the remaining drives shortly so if you don’t have one of the two drives included keep checking the website.

You can download the icons here.

I will be writing a post shortly to explain why my presence has been lacking recently and why releases are so slow in coming too, so, check back soon.

My Passport Icons

Just A Few Updates

It’s been almost a month since my last post and a lot has happened since then so I thought I’d bring any readers of my blog up to date.

If you are a frequent visitor to the website you may have noticed the new layout (implemented about 20 days ago now). The layout is much simplified over the old layout. It makes use of a single column layout with items from the old sidebar in the top corners. For now the advertising and widgets have been removed whilst I decide if they should make an appearance in the new website. The visual changes comes with a fairly comprehensive code re-write that should drastically improve the performance and security of the website, the changes come thanks to a series of Rails podcasts I have discovered, you can find them here.

A quick list of the main changes to the website are as follows; the removal of all AJAX & AJAX-like functionality (other than Lightbox), everything now works statically for increased accessibility, the blog can now be browsed by category. More user feedback has been introduced. The appearance of forms has been improved and the website now makes sole us of PNG and JPEG images for transparency and quality.

The secondary reason for this post is to officially announce the availability of iSyncIt 1.5, you can download it here. This release, whilst not been too far detached visually from version 1.3.1 comes with a boat load of code improvements. The main changes are as follows; a new preferences system, doesn’t look any different but it’s easier for me to manage. The move to Leopard only. A fix for the problems that were caused in version 1.3 by Growl notifications. You can now enable & disable the login item from within the application. Updates to Sparkle & Growl. Menus now update properly. Scheduling now functions better and the control of bluetooth is improved.

Finally, an unfortunate side-effect of the iSyncIt re-write is the loss of German localization. I will be getting in touch with my friendly volunteer translator shortly to see if he will be willing to re-localize the application for me.

That’s all for now, check back soon.

Just A Few Updates

Set Icon, The Initial Release

After literally tens of emails from people having problems applying the ‘My Book Icons’ to their external hard drives I came to the decision that I needed to write some software to make the whole process a little easier. The result of this decision and a couple of (short) days work is Set Icon.

You may remember from my previous tutorial that setting a custom hard drive icon (correctly) required some Terminal wizardry and some extra command line tools. Set Icon provides and all in one, drag and drop way of setting a custom (ICNS format) icon for a hard drive (including your internal hard drive), without the need for any external tools.

The advantages of using Set Icon rather than copy & paste are; the icon will appear correctly in the Finder sidebar under Leopard, will appear correctly when the hard drive is mounted over a network and will appear correctly in the Boot Camp chooser.

There are a few extra features I plan on adding to Set Icon and I also plan on creating a Tiger compatible version in the near future so all you Tiger users don’t feel left out.

You can download Set Icon from its software page. If you like the software please consider making a donation using the button on the right hand side of the website.

That’s all the news for now, check back soon.

Set Icon, The Initial Release

My Book Icons 0.7

It must be that time of the year again, I’m on holiday so I’ve started to update all of the downloads I maintain. The first of these updates, and the one most requested, are the vertical orientation icons for the new Western Digital My Book drives. You can download the new version of these icons from the downloads page. I am planning on updating iSyncIt in the next few weeks too.

The website has also undergone a bit of an update, nothing major, just a few tweaks to make things work a little better now. For example when you login, you will no longer be sent to a confirmation page, you will be returned to the page you were on. Much more convenient when posting comments.

P.S. If you are having trouble applying the icons see if this tutorial helps: Setting Hard Drive Icons In OS X.

That’s all for now, check back soon.

My Book Icons 0.7

The Advantages Of Time Machine

I wasn’t sure about Time Machine when it was announced, sure it was great to have regular, up-to-date backups with no effort but I couldn’t believe that restoring would be as easy as Apple said it would be. Unfortunately I had a chance to test Time Machine to its fullest in the week just gone.

My iMac was feeling a little sluggish so I ran the cleanup scripts in a program called OnyX, the program has never let me down before but as the scripts were running I noticed the whole contents of my home directory beginning to disappear. I panicked a little but new Time Machine had just completed a backup before I ran the scripts.

First I tried restoring all my data from Time Machine piece by piece but it was taking far too long. The solutions was easy, boot of the Leopard DVD and select the option to restore my whole system from time machine, 45 minutes later the computer rebooted and I was greeted with my old system, all my files, back where they used to be like nothing had happened.

My Aperture library was backed up separately using vaults because Time Machine always insists on backing up the whole library, the restore for Aperture was another half-hour and all my photos were back too.

I couldn’t have asked for an easier restore, yet another shining example of Apple’s software. I won’t personally be using OnyX again but a word of warning, if you don’t use Time Machine, back up your system as frequently as you can afford to. You think data loss will never happen to you but more than likely it will and it saves a lot of trouble (and possibly heartbreak) if you have good backups.

Check back soon for more tales of survival.

The Advantages Of Time Machine

How To Ruin Your Filesystem

It’s been a while since I last posted, and, as my iMac is currently ‘busy’ I thought now would be as good a time as any for my first post of the new year. First of all I have to say, Happy New Year, a bit late I know but better late than never. Now I can get to the true purpose of this post.

This post is a cautionary tale about external hard drives and, what I see as an error in Mac OS, more specifically, Leopard. In my endeavor to keep as many Time Machine backups as possible I have recently retired my old Western Digital My Book Premium 320GB in favor of a Western Digital My Book Studio 1TB. The hard drive itself is great, really quiet, large size. It is due to the large size that I am now in the situation I am in.

Because of all my new found space I realized I could keep Time Machine backups of both my iMac and my PowerBook on the same drive. To keep backups of the PowerBook my idea was to mount the WD drive over AFP on my PowerBook and Time Machine from there, this would have been the sensible thing to do, however backing up over 11GB of the network would have been time consuming so I opted to create a network, temporarily, with firewire, so it would be much faster.

It would appear however that firewire daisy chaining works in mysterious ways, when I connected the iMac and PowerBook with a firewire cable the WD drive was ‘passed through’ to the PowerBook and appeared mounted on both desktops. I thought this was a clever feature of Leopard and used it to my advantage & started the Time Machine backup.

The backup subsequently hung, so I stopped it, decided I couldn’t be bothered and I could live without Time Machine for my laptop. I tried using the drive again on my iMac, first deleting the image created by the PowerBook & received an error. Then after trying to verify the drive and finding it couldn’t be repaired, realized I had found what could be considered to be a bug & a combination of my own stupidity.

I am currently running DiskWarrior and the external drive if full of overlapped files. This is because the ‘pass through’ was not a clever Leopard trick, it was a result of the firewire implementation (that could have been blocked in the OS I am sure), and caused simultaneous writes to my external hard drive to occur.

Fortunately it only appears to have written off my Time Machine backups (it was Time Machine that started up on the iMac whilst the PowerBook was doing the same) and not the other data on the drive, which I managed to salvage (in case DiskWarrior fails) by mounting the drive in read only mode.

Take my advice, think before you do something like this, I should have realized this would happen but I thought Apple were good enough to stop me doing something this stupid.

Check back soon for more useful posts.

How To Ruin Your Filesystem