I’ve mentioned in the past in this blog how I really rely on a Palm handheld
computer. When I first moved to Mac from Windows, I said that one of my
Interoperability with a Palm handheld. I use it a bunch for everything it does including the obvious (calendar, etc.) and the less obvious (eReader, Documents to Go, Expense).
I’ve used my Palm, with the aid of
The Missing Sync for Palm OS. It works… good enough. But, sometimes it
drives me crazy. I have about 2500 entries in my address book. Sometimes it messes up, losing data. Sometimes it takes hours to sync. In fact, it might get
caught in a situation where when I will start syncing at night, I wake up the
next morning and find it is still going. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of trying
to sync and finding that I have to interrupt it to take my Palm and go off
to work.. the next morning. I don’t know if it is Apple’s iSync of The Missing Sync’s fault. I understand it is complex to do the mappings (categories on the
Palm to groups on the Mac), but I don’t care. I want to stop dealing with it
and just use it.
(You wouldn’t know it from Apple. Mostly, all they talk about are the games
and music, which are the things that make them money. But, I already have
a 30G iPod. I need a more reliable PDA. I went crazy to try to figure out
whether it had a Note pad application.)
Here’s what I need (and I think “need” is correct). First, the “must haves”:
Bible—I do regularly read the Bible and am used to having an electronic
Bible in my Palm. The same company, Olive Tree Bible Softwarehas a mobile product
for the Touch. I do not want to have to depend on an Internet connection.
iCal sync (including birthdays)—of course I want to sync with iCal. It
claims to do it.
Calculater—yes, of course.
Address book sync—again, of course.
And “like to haves”:
wireless access—it has it. I want it for email and web.
Notes or memos—I have Memos on my Palm. I don’t think there is anything that is a direct replacement. I am hoping that Notes are syncable.
email—I have it with the Palm and want it with something new. The
Touch has it.
To do/iCal Tasks—I am not sure, but I think I read that the newest
version of iCal for the Touch does include To Dos/Tasks.
expense tracking—The little application that comes
with the Palm is nice to track
mileage and expenses and will produce a spreadsheet. It seems that there is
a free app for this.
Secret!—this product from LinkeSOFT
stores all my confidential data encrypted with a password of my choice.
It uses 128 bit IDEA encryption. I really depend on this to
store my passwords.
It looks like a free application, LockBox, will do this.
Or,maybe one of the other applications mentoned in
Review: Secret keeper apps for the iPhone at Macworld.
I have Documents to Go on my Palm, that reads and writes Microsoft
Offices files. I don’t really use this much. I can do without.
So. I still don’t want an iPhone. I like my family plan with Verizon. But, I
really would like an iPod Touch: not to replace my iPod, but to replace my
It has been a bad week for removable storage for me. I had problems with back-ups on my FireWire drive, I talked about in
Time Machine is Working Again (which turns out okay, as you can tell by the title. :-)).
The other day I noticed that some of the podcasts on my iPod weren’t working. That is to say, they would play for up to 20 seconds and then stop. I tried fast forwarding past that point. No joy. So, I did what Apple always says to do. I did a soft reset. Still no good. Music played fine, but podcasts would not. Now I know that they are handled differently, so I wasn’t surprised. Just annoyed.
So, I went to the next step. And this was an error—my first mistake. (We’ll come back to what I should have done later.) The step I took was to click “Restore” in iTunes. This restores the iPod to its factory settings. No worries. I have all the songs backed up in multiple places. So I did it. And I connected it again to iTunes to have it restore all my settings and music. I plugged in the iPod.
Problem with the iPod?
I saw this:
Arrg. Not good at all. I looked and looked on the Internet. I listened to my iPod as it spun up and failed. “Oh, no!” I thought. “Another failed iPod!” (I had replaced the disk in this 20G iPod last year with a 30G disk.)
I have a 10G iPod Nano. So, I figured I would have to use it and swear off iPods. So, I plugged in the Nano. And… (you are head of me here, aren’t you?). Same error. Whoa. Hmmm. My iPod has a USB cable and a FireWire cable. Try the FireWire.
Success! It was restoring! The iPod’s USB cable was bad! (I knew the USB port itself worked, as I use it for other things, such as synching my Palm handheld.) So, another early mistake. I should have tried the FireWire cable or another iPod USB cable.
While it was restoring, I checked something I should have checked way earler: what do the podcasts sound like played in iTunes?
They had the same problem. (Again, not all, just some.)
I’d start a podcast that said it was 45:34 in length and it stopped after 34 seconds or so. Again, I had not moved through the correct, diagnostic sequence.
So, why the bad podcasts? I think I now knew. Recall, as I mentioned above, I previously reported on probems with backups to my FireWire drive. Recall, Dave Nanian of Shirt Pocket had pointed to problems from other devices plugged into the FireWire drive, especially an iSight camera. I asked Dave, “Any background as to why having another device plugged into the FW port of my FW drive would cause this?” He replied, “It’s mostly the iSight. It’s bus-powered, and gets into weird states where it starts causing the voltage on FW to go completely nuts, which causes other devices to generate errors.”
I think that this was the cause of some flakiness in some of the podcasts. With the exernal iSight unplugged (where it will stay until needed), I re-downloaded the podcasts. No problems.
See if the problem is the same in iTunes as on the iPod. The iPod’s data is only as good as what iTunes gives it. I would have switched from looking at the iPod to looking at the data in the iTunes library.
Try a different cable if you have a connection problem. It might not be that but cables are easy to check. And if the cable is bad it is cheaper to replace than an iPod.
Don’t plug other things into the FireWire port of you external disk besides another daisy-chained disk of the same type. Especially don’t plug in an external iSight Camera.
Recently, I blogged that Time Machine Failed Me. You can read it there, but there is a bit more to the story.
I had turned Time Machine off. After all, every time (yes, every) it tried, it failed. (In an earlier post, I mentioned an error that occured when I didn’t check the state of my PowerBook before shutting it down. That was my error.)
But, I still used and relied on SuperDuper!. And then the unthinkable happened. For the first time, SuperDuper! failed. Red type in the SuperDuper! window told me, “SuperDuper!: Failed to copy files from Macintosh HD to firewire.”
I looked at its log file. The log file is fascinating. I’m… um… seasoned, I suppose is a good word for “old.” I’ve been around a while. I remember doing backups onto 9 Track Mag Tape. You did that with “everything” on the system stopped. Even in more modern times, Backups have given trouble if the system was trying to write anything. SuperDuper! clearly keeps trying and trying. (And, yes, I have booted from and recovered files from my back-up volume.)
But, I digress. The last line of the log said this:
So, I tried again. Same error, different place. I ran DiskUtility against the FireWire HD. No problems. I ran it against the system HD. Again, nothing to repair. So, I wrote to Shirt Pocket’s feedback address at 17:57:53 -0400. I got a response from customer support (I am joking a bit… “customer support” is the owner and operator, head programmer, and perhaps the only employee, David Nanian). A few hours later I got this response:
It looks like your destination volume failed during the backup. Please power off both the Mac and the backup drive. Wait a few minutes, and then simplify the FireWire bus to just the drive (if there was anything else attached – especially an iSight, iPod or hub).
Power back up, and then use Disk Utility to repair the destination volume (use the buttons on the right side of the Disk First Aid tab, not the left side “repair permission” buttons). Repeat until there are no errors indicated.
When that’s done, give it another try, and let me know if that helps!
“Especially an iSight,” eh? Darn. I do have an iSight which I cleverly plugged into the FireWire socket on the back of my external drive (since it took the only FireWire port on my PowerBook).
I unplugged the iSight camera, started a backup, and went to bed. This morning I found that it had worked without an error.
Which brings me back to Time Machine. I figure that same iSight camera might have been the problem. So, I restarted Time Machine. And it worked throughout the night (and throughout today) also.
So, I’m using Time Machine again. But, I am trusting SuperDuper! Apple has… Steve Jobs, somewhere. SuperDuper has David in Weston, Massachusetts, who wrote the thing and responds to email late at night. Even when he is on vacation!
I’m disappointed in this “run it and forget it” thing. Others have seen this.
Most probably have not. I mentioned it in
Time Machine Error. Well, it continued
to happen. Sometimes it would fail with a
pop-up message saying, “Time
Machine Error. Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while
creating the backup directory.”
Very helpful. What am I supposed to make of that, let alone
Mom and Pop or Aunt Ida? So I opened Time Machine and
clicked the red “i” in a circle, assuming it meant “information.” And
that pop-up said… the exact same thing.
I turned off TM. I used Disk Utility to Verify and Repair. It would not verify
or repair. (If you are interested, the log is
Now, Disk Utility helpfully tells you,
“Click Repair Disk. If the repair fails, back up and erase the disk.”
Back up where? And why? It is bad. Why back up a bad disk.
So, I have no choice but to erase it and start
Time Machine captures again. Why? Why not? I am glad I routinely back up on another volume using SuperDuper!
Oh, and I need to select “Change Disk…” in Time Machine and pick the
same, now zero-ed out, disk.
And I’m fairly smart.
Again, how could Mom and Pop or Aunt Ida do this?
Help on my Mac turns up a topic entitled,
“Time Machine stops backing up to external disk.”
Promising? No. It says to 1. Open Disk Utility and
2. Click the Partitions Tab.
As I mentioned in
System Back-ups, I have and do use
SuperDuper! for backups, but since installing
Leopard, I also let Time Machine do it’s thing.
Today, it was showing an error condition. When I queried Time Machine
(I opened it then clicked on the little “information” icon, next to the
error) it helpfully told me “Unable to complete backup. An error occurred
while copying files to the backup volume.” I tried again. Same thing. I used
Disk Utility to check the disk. No problems.
So, first I did a back-up using SuperDuper! I use a different partition for
that. Then I queried the Internet, which, as we know, knows everything.
I found the solution.
Apparently, Time Machine was interrupted during the last time it was run.
Now, a power outtage can do that, and we had one today. But, this was user
error. I turned my machine off last night when going to bed. And I did
not check to see if it was running.
It was a simple fix. I found it, via a search for the error message, at
the MacCast Forum.
The answer, from forum user “karinlord,” was:
If Time Machine gets disrupted for any reason during a backup (e.g.,
hard drive unplugged, power failure) it seems to get stuck.
Occasionally it gets stuck for reasons only known to Leopard.
It’s a known bug on the Apple discussion boards. What has worked for me
is the following:
ensure hard drive is powered on and connected to computer
turn off time machine
go to your backup volume, backups.backupd, “your computer name”, and then
select and trash “In Progress” or “Latest”
(it will be the last one in your backup folder listing)
turn Time Machine back on
either wait for the next backup cycle, or what I do to be sure things
are working right: force an immediate backup
(control-click on TimeMachine, select “backup now”).