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#832: Transferring Email, Hidden Wi-Fi Diagnostic Tool, Corrupted Disk Images

 
     
 

Hello all,

The good weather seems to have arrived just in time for the end of summer to be fast approaching. August, typically hot and humid, has so far offered up some of this summer’s best weather. There are tons of fresh fruit and veggies around, including recently the first peaches (yes, we have peaches in Vermont thanks to Shelburne Orchards).

It’s still hot in the courtrooms, though, as Apple, Samsung, and some others hammer through a court case that seems likely to have some long-term impact on consumers and their electronic devices. Over time we will see what that impact will be and whether it’s a good thing or not.

In less litigious news, we get a lot of questions about moving to Mail from Outlook. RJ has offered up some tips on that process. Carl has a Wi-Fi tip (another perennial tech support question) and I attempt to dissect a problem with disk images.

Thanks for reading.

Liam
liam@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Transferring Email from Outlook for Mac to Apple Mail  
   
 

I did a consultation recently at a small business that needed a handful of tasks to be completed. One of these was an email transfer from Outlook to Apple Mail. There’s a pretty standard procedure involved in doing this transfer, it’s just time consuming. There was one catch however: this user was switching from Outlook for Mac to Apple Mail. This was not something I had done before, as most of the time the customer is switching from a PC to a Mac, and simply needs their emails/mailboxes/contacts switched over to their new Mac.

The application we normally use to convert the Windows-based Outlook emails to a format Apple Mail can import, called Message Save, is a Windows application, and therefore not suitable for this task. I did some experimenting, and tried simply dragging a mailbox from Outlook onto the desktop. The mailbox populated on the desktop in the format .mbox. I tried not to get my hopes up, because I figured it couldn’t be that easy, but I knew that the .mbox format is what Apple Mail uses for mailboxes.

I opened up Apple Mail, clicked on File -> Import Mailboxes, selected the .mbox file, and it worked! I was very pleased with how simple this process was. From there, I was able to select the rest of the mailboxes within Outlook and drag them all into a folder on the desktop. Apple Mail allowed me to batch import all the mailboxes.

Once they were all imported, I was able to organize them exactly how they were set up in the customer’s Outlook. Mail imports them as sub-mailboxes under a Mailbox named “Import”, but they can easily be dragged out of there, and arranged on the sidebar however you desire.

 
   
     
  "Hidden" Wi-Fi Diagnostic Tool  
   
 

In my internet wanderings I discovered a few articles pointing to a mysterious Wi-Fi diagnostic tool that Apple snuck into Mountain Lion. A common reason people check machines into our service department relates to perceived poor Wi-Fi service, so I wanted to share this with our readers.

This tool is available for anyone running 10.7 or later. The tool is slightly different for Lion users than it is for Mountain Lion users. If you’re running Mountain Lion (10.8) hold down the option key on your keyboard and click on the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar. It’s the one that is pie wedge shaped. You’ll see a menu item called “Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics.” If you’re running Lion you’ll need to navigate to it manually by going to the following folder: /System/Library/CoreServices. As with most applications you don’t want to move it from it’s original install location, so do not move the application from that folder! If you want to make a shortcut to it to keep somewhere else that’s fine.

If you’re on Mountain Lion press Command+N to open a utilities window and then click on “Wi-Fi Scan.” For Lion users you’ll want to use the Monitor Performance tool. Both will give you the list of available networks as well as their signal and noise information.

Here’s some information from Technorati on how to tell if you have a good signal:

“The ‘Signal’ number specifies the signal strength between your Mac and the Wi-Fi access point or router. The higher this number is, the better. But note that these are negative numbers so a Signal of -60 is higher (and stronger) compared to a Signal of -80. The Noise number represents the amount of wireless noise that can interfere with the Signal. In this situation, we want lower numbers. So again, because we have negative Noise numbers, a Noise level of -94 is better than one of -90.

Finally, we can take the Signal and Noise numbers to come up with a Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) for our wireless connection. So for example, If I have a Signal level of -60 and a Noise level of -91, the difference between these two numbers is 31. The higher the SNR is, the better the Wi-Fi performance will be. Typically a SNR of 25 or higher will give you great Wi-Fi performance.”

 
   
     
  Corrupted Disk Images  
   
 

The disk image has become ubiquitous in the computing world. It is basically a virtual hard drive that lets you store and retrieve data just like the real thing. The reason it has become so popular is that it gets treated as a single file by the operating system. This makes disk images easy to move, transfer from machine to machine, and download. It can also make complex installs easy, as a disk image can be a clone of an install DVD for an application or a game. They are pretty rock solid but, like all things downloadable, sometimes they do get corrupted.

If you are lucky you have never clicked on a disk image and seen the message “Error- no mountable file systems found”. If you have, you know the usual solution is to re-download the image. If the image is something small like Firefox the process is pretty painless and only takes a few minutes. If, however, it’s the copy of Adobe Creative Suite that took six hours to download and kept you from doing anything else internet-based while it did it’s definitely less trivial and probably elicits some unfriendly language pointed towards the gods of the internet.

After going through this numerous times myself, including once with a backup of my home machine that had taken hours to do, I decided to see if there was any other way to approach the problem. All my usual directory tools such as disk utility and Disk Warrior had failed, as had the terminal command hdiutil attach which a lot of times will get stubborn drives to be usable. After some looking I was able to find a combination of commands that will mount many damaged .dmg files.

There are three basic steps:

1) Create the device node. The important part is to skip the parts that disk utility does automatically, which is to verify and try to mount the volume. Disk utility tries to verify and mount by default, and will fail to mount your image if either of those tasks fail:

hdiutil attach -noverify -nomount disk.dmg

Where disk.dmg is the name of the image.

2) Then run:

diskutil list

This will give you the name that the OS has given your drive. It will be in the form diskN, where N is a positive number.

3) Finally, attempt to mount the device:

diskutil mountDisk /dev/diskN

where diskN is the number you noted before.

This mounts the disk itself, instead of attempting to mount a volume which in our case is bad and will not mount through Disk Utility. Many times this is all that is needed, and the image can be opened and used normally. If not, directory repair tools such as Disk Warrior can now be used, as they can see the virtual drive to work on it. I have used this to save time on big downloads, but more importantly it has saved customer data because data coming from failing drives can be so corrupted it breaks the disk image we are attempting to write to in the recovery. I hope this helps if you run into this issue.

 
   
     
  Small Dog's World Famous Garage Sale is Coming Soon!  
   
 

As per usual, we wanted our loyal readers to be the first to know—our Garage Sale is kicking off this Friday, August 17th. We will be including the list of items we have for sale in this week’s issue of Kibbles & Bytes, so if you want to be the first to see the great deals, make sure to sign up for Kibbles.

Look for HUGE markdowns on brands like Timbuk2, Incipio, Simplism, Edifier, Marware, Griffin and more. Note that all items are final sale, and that all items must be purchased ONLINE. NO item will be sold over the phone.

Click below for the link to our famous Garage Sale and to brush up on the rules!

Smalldog.com/garagesale

 
   
     
  Altec Lansing BXR1321 2.1 Speaker System | Save $40  
   
 

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  Save, Protect and Ship for FREE! 11-inch MacBook Air with Diamond Warranty  
   
 

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  LaCie iamaKey USB Flash Drive - 8GB | Save 50%  
   
 

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Just $9.99! Quantities are limited, so get 50% off this stylish and functional flash drive while you still can.

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  Booq Covers for iPad 2 and iPad 3 | Save $15  
   
 

Save $15 on these cases from booq.

We have limited quantities, so protect your iPad before it’s too late!

 
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