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#908: Showing Users folder in Mavericks, Yellowed Plastic, iPhone's Mysterious "Other" Data


Small Dog Key West’s star technician and assistant manager, Taylor Amon, could often be heard saying the following: “The internet is a silly place.” And I don’t think I’ve encountered anything as silly as Zack Danger Brown’s Kickstarter project which is simply…potato salad. Seriously.

The project started with a reasonable goal of $10 to produce some potato salad and included backer rewards such as a photo of Zack making the dish and a potato salad-themed haiku. As more and more blogs picked up the story, it gained more and more backers and it’s well over $50k at this point, with 17 days to go as of this writing.

While I can see some shaking their heads in confusion or rolling their eyes in disgust, I can’t help but laugh. I like to imagine that the project founder is actually an experimental artist subverting the conventions of Kickstarter as we know them, transforming the most ordinary task into a product to be desired. But, he’s probably just some dude, with a silly idea, on the internet.

I will not be donating, however, for I have had my yearly fill of that creamy, starchy salad over the July 4th weekend (America!) and I am quite full. I will instead focus my interest on repairing some computers and posting some great articles about the world of technology. We’ll start things off with your individual User folder (where your data is) and where you can find it, great DIY advice for cleaning your old hardware, and an answer to the puzzling “other” category in your iOS device’s data breakdown.


  Showing Users folder in Mavericks  

As a tech, I like to know where things are stored and have fairly simple ways to get to them. If you’re like I am, you may have found the fact that the Users folder is now hidden by default at the root level to be a nuisance.

Using this simple Terminal command, you can restore the folder to a shown state. With 10.9.3, this will revert back to the hidden state whenever you log out, or restart your machine.

  1. Open (located in the Utilities folder)
  2. Enter the following command: sudo chflags nohidden /Users
  3. Hit enter and wait about 15 seconds

After you enter that command, if you open up “Macintosh HD,” you should see your Users folder sitting there once again.

Using Terminal gives you access to the Unix code of your machine, and as a result, can be a dangerous place to mess around with settings. Only use the tool if you feel comfortable!

  Yellowed Plastic  

I was recently gifted an old Macintosh SE in need of some love. In addition, it came with a keyboard and mouse. All three pieces have some of that “classic” yellowing. These old computers and other electronic hardware many of us know and love have a serious disadvantage. The flame retardant chemical additives in the plastic yellow over time, especially in UV light. It makes many of us forget what they used to look like.

In the past few years, there have been a couple of do-it-yourself methods to chemically fix the plastic. They all involve a potentially dangerous level of hydrogen peroxide, but handled CAREFULLY, work very well.

The “quick and easy” one is to use cream peroxide, primarily intended to bleach hair. This is weaker than the Retr0Bright recipe you can find at the link below, and requires more time in the sun, which can potentially cause unwanted streaking.

Members of a couple vintage hardware forums and some chemistry geeks got together and determined an easy-to-make solution that can be spread on the old plastic, plastic bagged, and put in UV light for a period of time to reverse the yellowing effect. I will not detail the recipe here, as again, this is an “AT YOUR OWN RISK” procedure not condoned by Small Dog Electronics.

The mixture can be made with off the shelf products from the supermarket, and should take only an afternoon to have your old Apple plastics good-as-new.

Visit Retr0Bright for more info on this procedure!

I’ll post an update when I’ve completed my own experiment!

  iPhone's Mysterious "Other" Data  

If you’ve ever filled your iPhone to capacity, you may have suddenly noticed a gray section of stored data titled “Other” in iTunes. What could this mysterious data be?

Well, there could be a couple things that could be contributing to it, but the most likely culprits are your apps. More specifically, one culprit: iMessage. You’re probably not aware of this, but every time you send or receive a file within an iMessage — whether it’s photos or various documents — your iPhone stores that data. If you are like millions of other users who enjoy sending silly photos to friends and family (or inappropriate ones if you’re into that sort of thing), that data can accumulate very quickly over time.

On the rare occasion, restoring the iOS on your iPhone can resolve this issue, but the less invasive solution is to locate problematic apps on your phone that could be taking up space.

To free up that space, follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure your phone and apps are synced in iTunes.
  2. If possible, make sure you have backed up or copied off any documents or data you might need, as you will lose it. A lot of apps allow you to email documents and data.
  3. On the phone, go to Settings/General/Usage. You should find a list of all the apps.
  4. On the right hand side is a list of the total storage space each app is using, including the app itself. The list is also handily listed in descending order of size. If you tap on on one of the apps on the list, it shows you how much space is being used by documents and data. You also have the option to delete the app.
  5. To delete the app, simply tap on “Delete App.” The app is deleted, and so is the data stored in the ‘other’ area. Repeat for other apps if necessary.
  6. To re-install the app(s), plug it in to your iTunes and re-sync your phone. The app(s) are re-installed with no data taken up in the ‘Other’ area.

If you want a visual representation of your data, the third party app iExplorer is very easy to use and available as a temporary demo. You can also buy it if you want.

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