MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘Time Machine

Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

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In October last year I related how I inadvertently blew my iMac’s logic board. Reluctant to pay the steep repair bill I decided instead to buy a MacBook Pro to replace it. I never regretted this decision but the one drawback was that I had to make do without the data stored on the iMac until such time as C3 (the repair shop I took the unit to) finally got around to extracting its hard drive for installation into an external enclosure. Eventually I got my data back last Friday, which I proceeded to migrate to my MacBook Pro.

This left me with a 250 GB external hard drive to try out Time Machine, Leopard’s new back-up utility. I’ll be honest, like many others I find backing up data to be a tedious chore. As a result my efforts were patchy to say the least. (Fortunately however I used an online back-up service called Mozy to back up my most essential data a few weeks before my iMac crashed.) With Time Machine though Apple has not only taken the tedium out of the process, it has actually made it fun.

It’s also easy to use – as soon as you plug in your your external hard drive Time Machine will give you the option to use it to back up your data. After I began the process it took several hours to back up the sixty or so gigabytes of data from my MacBook Pro using a USB 2 connection. In the meantime though I was able to carry on using my Mac normally.

The fun part comes once the back-up is finished and you can start playing with the Time Machine interface. (Regrettably I wasn’t able to take a screen-shot as Apple’s Grab application doesn’t work in Time Machine mode.) In keeping with its the sci-fi connotations, Time Machine has a very futuristic feel about it. When you activate the utility it transitions away from the normal OS X desktop environment into a 3D representation of the cosmos, with the active Finder window in the foreground. Behind it are numerous other Finder windows – select one of these and, voila, you are transported back in time to the Finder window as it would have appeared and a particular point in time. (A timescale on the right of the screen lets you keep track of the exact time and date.) If you want to restore a previously-deleted file merely select it and click on the gear icon in the Finder toolbar and click again on the relevant option. (Alternatively you can also delete all back-ups of the file.) You also an option to restore the entire system by clicking a button at the bottom right of the screen. Time Machine also works with Apple’s Mail application – very handy if you need to retrieve that vital email that you stupidly deleted.

Detractors have criticised Time Machine for using too much eye-candy. No doubt that Apple could have designed it to resemble your average run-of-the-mill back-up utility. But what would the point be in that? For me Time Machine succeeds in part because it delivers that ooh-ah factor that Apple is renowned for. It also makes backing-up an easy exercise for people like me who didn’t have the inclination or discipline to do proper back-ups in the past!

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Written by macinjay

March 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Macworld Expo Keynote

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I concluded my last post by predicting that Steve Jobs would have a few surprises in store for us. For the first time since I’ve been following the Macworld Expo though I can honestly say that I wasn’t actually surprised by anything revealed in his keynote!

There was no new iPhone announced. Jobs compensated by talking about the new features and enhancements included in its latest firmware update. Not exactly earth-shattering though by Apple’s standards, especially considering that these had been leaked to the rumour sites weeks ago. The update will also be available to iPod touch owners but they will have to pay $20 for what their iPhone-owning counterparts get for nothing – go figure. Also the upgrade is only available via the iTunes Store, which leaves a lot of Apple’s international clients, including me, out in the cold.

The rumour sites were also spot on about Apple’s new ultra-portable, even getting the name right – the MacBook Air! Thin enough to make your average supermodel green with envy, it’s a small engineering marvel that Jobs was able to fit into a manila envelope. Very nice, only it doesn’t have an optical drive and sports slower processors than the less-expensive MacBooks. By leaving out the optical drive Apple seems to be prematurely consigning another technology to the scrapheap, like they did with the floppy drive and dial-up modems. From a connectivity standpoint the Air is limited to USB, WiFi and Bluetooth. It isn’t all about aesthetics; the Air shares the iPhone’s Multi-touch technology for zooming images and rapid scrolling using its generous touchpad and there is a flash-based version that should improve boot-up times. But I have to wonder if the Air is going to find a market considering all the design compromises that had to be made so that Apple could market it as the “world’s thinnest laptop”. Time will tell but I’m certainly not regretting buying my MacBook Pro now.

Jobs also announced a wireless storage and networking solution to work hand-in-hand with Leopard’s back-up utility Time Machine called, aptly, Time Capsule. I may actually consider buying one of these for back-ups and to provide a wireless connection to my printer, as plugging and unplugging cables into my MacBook Pro everytime I need to move it has become a chore. Still, not really a headline-grabber.

As predicted, Jobs revealed that movie rentals were coming to iTunes. He also detailed related changes to the Apple TV, which will allow users to view, rent or buy media directly from the device instead of having to synch it with their computers first. The upgrade will also enable high-definition content. No doubt this will address criticisms of the original product. (The improvements will be available to existing Apple TV owners as a firmware update.)

That was the meat of it; of course there was the usual padding about how many billion songs had been downloaded from iTunes and all the rest. But this is not what keeps Mac fans glued to their computer screens for updates from the Expo blogs. Sadly I fear this year’s Expo will leave many of them disappointed.

Written by macinjay

January 16, 2008 at 11:43 am