I Am Joe’s Blog:

September 20, 2005 • 10:24 AM

Taking/Losing Control of .Mac

Last Saturday, after months of writing interrupted regularly by delays of all sorts, I finally breathed a deep sigh of relief as I submitted to my editor a manuscript for my next ebook, Take Control of .Mac. This is a project I’d hoped to complete during the first few months of the year, and which was getting in the way of finishing some long-overdue updates to my other ebooks. What with my ebooks on upgrading to Tiger and Now Up-to-Date & Contact, Macworld articles, Interesting Thing of the Day, and other interruptions too numerous to mention, I simply couldn’t make it happen sooner.

So this morning I woke up, sat down at my computer, and discovered within the first 30 seconds that I now have a major revision ahead of me, before the first edition even goes out! Not to mention the fact that I’ll need to revise Take Control of Mac OS X Backups more significantly than I already knew I needed to.

The main reason for these revisions is that Apple has done something truly unexpected: they’ve actually made Backup a useful backup application. I can’t overemphasize the significance of this move. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for earlier versions of Backup, which lacked basic features I consider crucial. Although I’ve only spent about an hour so far testing Backup 3.0, I have to say that so far I actually like it. I might even use it. In fact, I might even go so far as to recommend it—for certain kinds of users in certain situations—in lieu of my old favorite, Retrospect.

Most importantly, Backup now performs additive incremental archives, which means that (a) it keeps old copies of files when they change, so that you can choose which one you want when it comes time to restore; and (b) it copies only new or changed files—not every single file—when performing a backup. It has other useful new features too, but I haven’t worked with them enough to say how much I like them.

Added to this is the fact that Apple has quadrupled storage space available to .Mac users for email and iDisk (from 250 MB to 1 GB); you can still buy another gigabyte if you want for $50 per year. Now, 1 GB still isn’t enough to back up your entire hard disk online (and it’s far behind the 2 GB+ limit of Gmail), but it’s certainly way better than before, and at least beginning to get into the territory of practicality. Limited storage space is yet another thing I complained about in the first draft of my ebook on .Mac, and about which I will now have to say somewhat nicer things.

Apple has made some really great steps in the right direction, and this makes me quite upset happy. (I’d like to think that my criticisms played some small part in their decision, but who am I kidding?) I now have to squeeze a few more days of writing into this week, which definitely makes me unhappy, but at least it’s for a good cause.

Comments

  1. September 20th, 2005 | 11:52 am

    […] Joe Kissell […]

  2. September 21st, 2005 | 2:39 am

    […] Apparently Backup 3 may actually make Backup useful! […]

  3. October 31st, 2005 | 11:28 pm

    […] In late September, I mentioned that I’d no sooner finished a draft of an ebook about .Mac than Apple went and changed the service, updated their Backup utility, and generally wreaked havoc on my schedule by forcing me to spend days rewriting. Specifically, they fixed a number of issues I’d complained about, so I had to take out my complaints and even add a compliment or two. […]

  4. Philip Sutton
    November 28th, 2005 | 3:42 am

    Hi Joe,

    I came across your e-book “Take control of Apple Mail”. I run an email list via Yahoo Groups and I quite often edit messages online that are sent to the group to make them more readable. Most emails are easy to edit because they are either planin text or htlm. But some of my contributors use Apple Mail and their formatted text is in text/enriched coding. Can Apple mail (back to version 3.0) be instructed to send formatted text in html coding? In which case I can get my Apple Mail user contributors to resubmit thei postings OR do you know of any utility for a Windows user (me) to edit or convert text/enriched text to a format that I can edit and then reconvert to text/enriched format?

    Cheers, Philip

  5. Philip Sutton
    November 27th, 2005 | 7:42 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I came across your e-book “Take control of Apple Mail”. I run an email list via Yahoo Groups and I quite often edit messages online that are sent to the group to make them more readable. Most emails are easy to edit because they are either planin text or htlm. But some of my contributors use Apple Mail and their formatted text is in text/enriched coding. Can Apple mail (back to version 3.0) be instructed to send formatted text in html coding? In which case I can get my Apple Mail user contributors to resubmit thei postings OR do you know of any utility for a Windows user (me) to edit or convert text/enriched text to a format that I can edit and then reconvert to text/enriched format?

    Cheers, Philip

  6. November 28th, 2005 | 4:46 am

    Philip: Earlier versions of Mail can’t send messages in HTML format—at least, not without some extremely geeky fiddling that would be beyond the capabilities of the average user.

    Mail 1.x (shipped with Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.3.x) gives you the choice of plain text or “rich text,” by which it means text/enriched. Mail 2.x (shipped with Mac OS X 10.4 and higher) still uses the term “rich text,” but now uses text/html like the rest of the world. So unfortunately, all I can suggest that you tell users with older versions of Mail is either to use plain text or to upgrade to Tiger. (Or, to use an entirely different email client.)

    If you’re editing the text in a Web browser, I don’t know what to recommend. I suppose you could probably copy it and paste it into a text browser that supports regular expressions, and cook up a macro of some sort that would massage the encodings. But I don’t know of any off-the-shelf tools that will do that. Eudora (PC and Mac) does support reading and displaying text/enriched, and if you can use that to view the messages, you may be able to then change the format from within Eudora.

    Hope that helps!

  7. November 27th, 2005 | 8:46 pm

    Philip: Earlier versions of Mail can’t send messages in HTML format—at least, not without some extremely geeky fiddling that would be beyond the capabilities of the average user.

    Mail 1.x (shipped with Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.3.x) gives you the choice of plain text or “rich text,” by which it means text/enriched. Mail 2.x (shipped with Mac OS X 10.4 and higher) still uses the term “rich text,” but now uses text/html like the rest of the world. So unfortunately, all I can suggest that you tell users with older versions of Mail is either to use plain text or to upgrade to Tiger. (Or, to use an entirely different email client.)

    If you’re editing the text in a Web browser, I don’t know what to recommend. I suppose you could probably copy it and paste it into a text browser that supports regular expressions, and cook up a macro of some sort that would massage the encodings. But I don’t know of any off-the-shelf tools that will do that. Eudora (PC and Mac) does support reading and displaying text/enriched, and if you can use that to view the messages, you may be able to then change the format from within Eudora.

    Hope that helps!

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