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#683: Advanced Spotlight Features, MacBook Pro Keyboard Replacement (Video), Terminal Meet Ditto


Happy Tuesday,

I wrote last week about Apple’s unparalleled transparency when it comes to their environmental impact. I read each of the several dozen responses, and thank you all for taking the time to reply. There’s been some more great news on Apple and the environment: Apple resigned from the United States Chamber of Commerce. Catherine Novelli, Apple VP of Worldwide Government Affairs said yesterday in an open letter to the Chamber, “We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the E.P.A.‘s effort to limit greenhouse gases.” Apple is not alone in its withdrawal from the Chamber. Three big utilities—PG&E, PNM Resources and Exelon—as well as Nike stepped down from the Chamber board for similar reasons.

We’re always looking for ways to save energy and reduce our own footprint. With the cooler weather, our air conditioning costs (and emissions) for the server room are almost eliminated. We installed a FreeAire system last year that draws in the frigid outside air. It’s one of those ideas that makes such perfect sense I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first. We’re seeing ski areas and restaurants in the area using this system as well, and it’s very well received. It’s tough to find a better solution to heating our giant warehouse in the winter though. Art tested the furnace this morning just to make sure we’re good to go, and all appears in working order.

As always, enjoy this issue and keep in touch.


  Tip of the Week: Advanced Spotlight Features  

When Spotlight debuted with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), I came to the realization that it’s not really necessary to keep your files organized in a neat hierarchy of folders and files. While I’m sure plenty of you disagree with that, and in fact feel Spotlight a resource-hungry non-necessity, you’re crazy. Ok, not crazy. To each his or her own.

My desktop contains one folder most of the time. I call it Miscellany. It just sits there, all the time, getting bigger and bigger. Occasionally I clean it out, but for the most part it just sits there like a pet rock. I use Spotlight to find everything, and would be lost without it at this point.

If I want to find an email sent sometime this month from Rebecca mentioning Toby, I’d ask Spotlight for Toby kind:mail from:rebecca date:this month and I’d get a list of emails from Rebecca mentioning Toby. Or, an iChat from Jon in which he professes his love to Red Delicious apples, I’d ask Spotlight for delicious kind:chat from:jon and it’d pop right up.

There’s so much more to Spotlight than most people use it for.

Spotlight even powers the help system built into Mac OS X. If you click the Help menu and type Spotlight, you’ll come up with an article called “Searching for specific types of items” that’ll explain it all in depth.

For those of you still averse to this amazing technology, I’d urge you to reconsider and give it another go. It changes everything.

  Video: Keyboard Replacement on MacBook Pro  

Last week I was checking out the SDE YouTube channel and was shocked to see so many hits and awesome comments on some of the tech videos that I’ve done. Thanks so much for the great feedback and support! I’ve been wanting to get more videos out there and found some time to make a new three-part video on replacing the keyboard on a MacBook Pro.

Keyboards are one of the least expensive components to replace on a MacBook Pro, and, due to the abuse many keyboards take, they’re one of the most commonly replaced as well. Frequently we get machines in the shop that were the victims of coffee, wine, beer and other colorful liquid spills. While the keyboard itself might be inexpensive, the labor to install it can get fairly pricey so folks who are handy, and understand they’re voiding their warranty, might feel like attempting this repair on their own.

Keep in mind that these videos are meant as educational tools only and to perform the repair yourself does take some skill and the proper tools. In other words, if you attempt to do this yourself I highly encourage you to watch the videos all the way through before attempting the repair and if you don’t feel confident please don’t try it. There’s always a chance of doing damage when you attempt your own repairs and neither Apple nor Small Dog will cover your butt if you damage your machine.

So, without further ado:
MacBook Pro Keyboard Replacement, Pt 1
MacBook Pro Keyboard Replacement, Pt 2
MacBook Pro Keyboard Replacement, Pt 3

Good luck and be on the lookout for more upcoming videos!

  Don't Fear Terminal – Meet Ditto  

It’s very common for technicians to run into hard drives or files that are on the brink of failure or contain corrupted files that hang up traditional backup and transfer methods. Disk Utility can be used to create an image of a folder or drive, but tends to throw an input/output error at the slightest hesitation, like those caused by failing drives or corrupted files.

SuperDuper is much better at making disk images from failing drives or corrupted source material; while not the best tool for the job, it does seem to be the most versatile. I urge you to buy your own copy and support the developer of this fantastic tool:

Ditto is a command-line tool that will copy block by block the information from one directory (the source) to another (the destination). It’s very simple and does not care about hesitation from mechanical or logical failures. This said, it will not extract data from a hard drive that’s too far gone. I like to use Ditto in verbose mode, just so I can see that it’s working and how far along it is.

Many people avoid Terminal for fear of typing all those long commands and file paths. Not an unjustified fear because you can simply drag the source and destination right into the terminal window, and the paths will be automatically entered for you. Here’s how to use ditto my favorite way.

Assuming you have a terminal window open, simply type the following (but leave off the brackets):

ditto -v [source] [destination]

If you’re copying a folder on your Desktop to your Documents folder, it’d look like this:

ditto -v /Users/matt/Desktop/stuff/ Users/matt/Documents

The guide to using Ditto, and every other command line application, can be found by typing man x in terminal, where ‘x’ is the name of the application. So, for Ditto’s user guide, simply type man ditto and then press return.

  iPhone Has No Insurance? I Beg To Differ!  

It’s true that AT&T does not offer any type of insurance if you break your iPhone or if you lose it. However, if you lose your iPhone, you’re not completely out of luck.

If you have a MobileMe subscription ($99.99 per year) there is an feature called “Find My Phone,” which will help you get your iPhone back. It will let you send a message to your iPhone’s home screen from your computer. You could put something along the lines of “I know you have my iPhone, don’t steal it!” Or you could get creative and say, “The Cops are after you….!” If your ringer is off, or if your screen is locked with a passcode, it won’t matter. This message will still appear and alerts will sound off!

It gets better…

You can remotely wipe off all of the data on your iPhone (remember, all of that data will still be on your Mac!) so no one can access it and get your email, notes or games.

And…wait for it….

This insanely genius program will also show you on a map where your iPhone is currently located! You be able to go all CSI on the person who has your iPhone! To me, having the CIA agent-like MobileMe is better insurance than any phone company can sell. Consider that most of us spend about $8-$10 a month on insurance for their cell phone. That puts insurance in the $100 range, the same cost as MobileMe.

On top of all of those wonderful features, you also get the normal perks of MobileMe: online disk storage, beautiful iPhoto online galleries, the ability to publish iWeb sites you’ve created… You can “Push” email, contacts or calendars. “Push” means that if you add a new contact or calendar event or get a new email on your Mac, it will automatically sync everything up with your iPhone or vice versa. You don’t have to plug your iPhone into your Mac to sync up—let it travel over the air waves, maaan!

Check out MobileMe here. Have more than one iPhone or Mac in the household? Apple offers the Family Pack of Mobile Me which allows you to create up to five accounts!

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