The Northern Spy: Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and imitators
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and imitators

By Rick Sutcliffe

What boundary is the link between young and old?

Is the Spy old because he hits a significant-sounding birthday number on July 3? Perhaps. After all, two nations celebrate his birthday annually, albeit one two days early, and another a day late. And, next year will be the thirtieth since he first typed this column on his Apple II.

Yet, perhaps after all, age is a state of mind. The Spy's father was a young-looking man at 65, retired that year, and died of old age and complications from Parkinson's and other ailments but six years after. So, the Spy has always said he wouldn't retire. And, in these uncertain times, relying on pensions funds/income carries a significant level of risk.

Yes, and he can still prove the fundamental theorem of calculus, explicate relativity, programming language design, electromagnetic equations, or the automorphism group of a graph, so...maybe not this year. A part sabbatical promises to be handy for some writing projects, though. Perhaps some research will get done. Meanwhile, this month's column will of necessity be curtailed somewhat as the week is indeed busy.

Nokia and RIM were once the stalwarts of the mobile industry, but both now appear to be mere links between POTS and an Apple-dominated communications world. They are sinking in the sea of irrelevance even faster than the Spy expected. Google's Android was to have relegated the iPhone to the next mere link in the chain, but with the number of injunctions in patent infringement cases increasing by the month, the future no longer appears so rosy for the imitator.

And speaking of imitators, it appears giant MS laboured mightily, but brought forth ... a tablet? Hasn't anybody told Richmond that's been done already? Surely these multi-billion dollar companies have some creative talent, some ability to produce a game-changing product. Surely they are capable of more than slavish copying of others' work, are able to invent their own stuff rather than reverse-engineer what Apple has already done. Playing catch-up at this stage is worse than futile, leading the Spy to wonder if the MS tablet is yet another piece of vapourware

Steve Jobs was not missing at all from the Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro announcement. The Spy's machine is on order, and not likely to appear for weeks yet, but the specs and internal arrangements make it clear (for good or ill) that iSteve's fingerprints are all over this latest offering. One needs to look no further than the fact this is the least serviceable machine Apple has yet made to see his ghost in the box. A glued-in battery, soldered-on RAM? Indeed.

And, speaking of "my way or the highway' decisions", there are plenty of those in the design of OS X. Apple expects all applications to be run from the folder by that name and store all documents likewise. Fortunately, many vendors ignore this, and allow their apps to be run from some other partition. The Spy stores everything on a separate partition, backs it up daily, takes one backup home and restores it to the identical partition there, and repeats in the morning, but in reverse.

Why not rely on the cloud and synchronization? Because it delegates too much responsibility, too much confidentiality, and therefore increases risk, perhaps by an order of magnitude. As a for instance, he has always put all his email on that "Files" partition. It's bad enough that mail is not private without putting it out there with a sign that screams "hack me".

But time and developments have caught up with him and his favourite email client -- good old Eudora -- which will no longer work in current and future versions of OS X. All things considered, the Spy has decided that Apple Mail is the best of a mediocre lot of possible replacements, even though he much prefers the work flow and simplicity of Eudora. And, Apple has largely caught up in features, and squashed most of the bugs that previously erected an insurmountable obstacle to a side grade.

But Apple Mail must reside in the Applications folder on the boot drive, and even if the Spy could get around that and run it from elsewhere, the essential program data, including all the mail folders and settings are stored in BootVolume/Users/Me/Library/Mail. This won't do for him. So how do we tell Mail to store things on the Files disk instead?

An alias seemed the logical answer. Put the mail folder where you want it to be, create an alias, copy that where the original was before, and call it "Mail". One would think that Mail would look in "Mail" (confusing nomenclature calling the storage folder by the App's own name) but see the data in its real location. Whoops. Doesn't work. Apparently an alias is not strong enough to do that kind of handoff. But the underlying UNIX OS can do just that via what is called

A symbolic link

One acts as above, but instead of using the Finder to make an alias, one drops into the Terminal and creates a symbolic link there. The Spy will leave it to the intrepid to look up how to do this, because there is a simpler way.

1. Go to Nick Zitzmann's software page (link below) and download the program SymbolicLinker.

2. Install as a Contextual Menu plugin or as a Service per the instructions (which vary according the the age of your OS).

3. Restart the Finder.

4. Navigate to the item for which you wish to make the link, select it and control-click, bringing up the contextual menu.

5. Scroll down to the bottom "More" and over and down to "Make Symbolic Link". The link will appear where you want it.

6. As with an alias, move a copy to where the too-hidebound program with the anemic preferences regimen expects to find its files, and rename it there to what it wants. If "Mail" was there before, first rename it to, say, "Mail.old". (Always back things up.)

This trick could be applied to the Mail folder, the Documents folder, or even to the entire home folder for the User. Repeat the same steps on all machines to which you will be taking/restoring that Files disk. Note that there could be permissions issues, and these might have to be turned off if you expect this to work on multiple machines, where users of the same name have different underlying IDs. However, it does work, where Aliases do not.

Moreover, it is independent of which version of Apple's Mail you are using, which may be a consideration. (Be careful. Older ones have limitations on the size of a mail folder and may not be compatible.) Note that if the folder being linked to changes its name or location, the alias may need to be re-created.

This workaround is faintly evocative for the Spy of the days when Apple switched from DOS 3.3 to ProDOS for the Apple ][+ and gs, giving as one reason that the old DOS 3.3 disks' File Allocation Table lacked sufficient room to index the three-and-a-half inch disks. That was a case of Apple engineers not knowing their own product well enough. The Spy was still getting the occasional $5 for his simple hack called DOS 3.3.5 up to just a few years ago.

Many people then happily ran old DOS 3.3 programs from the new drives. One does not always have to do it Apple's way. Moreover, there is no reason why Apple couldn't have made an alternate file ocation a configurable option.

Update of the month is Scrivener 2.3, which has added numerous new small features, some for the workflow, others for import/export of files, most notably in the latter case, in the .DOCX format -- something the Spy avoids like the plague, but may benefit others with pickly (and myoptic) editors. It also now has an option for automatic update.

In case you've been living on another planet, Scrivener, from Literature and Latte, is the most versatile and useful word processor for large writing projects, bar none. It handles reading, writing, editing, and organization of a 600K word manuscript (the like of which chokes W*rd) from outline to publication-ready with ease and panache. If you write books or scripts, you cannot work without Scrivener.

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor and chair of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several organizations, including in the corporate sector, and participated in industry standards at the national and international level. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and six novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe's fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon's Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher's Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html

URLs for items mentioned in this column

Scrivener: http://literatureandlatte.com
SymbolicLinker: http://seiryu.home.comcast.net/~seiryu/symboliclinker.html

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Firefox 37.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Arq 4.11 - Online backup to Google Drive...
Arq is super-easy online backup for the Mac. Back up to your own Google Drive storage (15GB free storage), your own Amazon Glacier ($.01/GB per month storage) or S3, or any SFTP server. Arq backs up... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.3.4 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more
Yummy FTP 1.10.2 - FTP/SFTP/FTPS client...
Yummy FTP is an FTP + SFTP + FTPS file transfer client which focuses on speed, reliability and productivity. Whether you need to transfer a few files or a few thousand, schedule automatic backups, or... Read more
VueScan 9.5.08 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
Air Video Server HD 2.1.0 - Stream video...
Air Video Server HD streams videos instantly from your computer on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV. No need to worry about converting or transferring files. We took everything that was... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.7.5 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator... Read more
BusyContacts 1.0.2 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Capture One Pro 8.2.0.82 - RAW workflow...
Capture One Pro 8 is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 300 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It... Read more

2K Announces WWE 2K, Mobile's First...
It seems like this month has been pretty big for wrestling. First Wrestlemania, then 2K has announces that they're releasing  WWE 2K for iOS. It's a simulation-based WWE game where you'll get to play with several WWE superstars such as John Cena, ... | Read more »
How the Apple Watch Could Change the Fac...
The Apple Watch is still a ways out, but my previous musings on the wearable’s various features got me thinking: what might it be like a year after launch? Two years? Five years? What if it becomes a symbiotic part of the iOS framework to the point... | Read more »
Pie In The Sky: A Pizza Odyssey (Games)
Pie In The Sky: A Pizza Odyssey 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A game about delivering pizza. In space. | Read more »
Chosen Gives Hopeful Singers, Songwriter...
If YouTube videos and reality TV shows like The Voice have taught us one thing, it’s that there are a lot of people out there who are anxious to show the world their talents. And if they’ve taught us a second thing, it’s that there’s an almost... | Read more »
Android's Popular OfficeSuite Now A...
Once only available for Android devices, OfficeSuite has finally landed on the app store. The Mobile Systems app lets you view, edit, create, and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents as well as convert them to/from PDFs. It's touted as being... | Read more »
Warhammer: Arcane Magic is Coming Soon,...
Turbo Tape Games has announced that they're joining forces with Games Workshop to bring the turn-based strategy board game, Warhammer: Arcane Magic, to life on the iOS. | Read more »
Fast & Furious: Legacy's Creati...
| Read more »
N-Fusion and 505's Ember is Totally...
| Read more »
These are All the Apple Watch Apps and G...
The Apple Watch is less than a month from hitting store shelves, and once you get your hands on it you're probably going to want some apps and games to install. Fear not! We've compiled a list of all the Apple Watch apps and games we've been able to... | Read more »
Appy to Have Known You - Lee Hamlet Look...
Being at 148Apps these past 2 years has been an awesome experience that has taught me a great deal, and working with such a great team has been a privilege. Thank you to Rob Rich, and to both Rob LeFebvre and Jeff Scott before him, for helping me... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
MacMall has the 2013 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro available for $949.99 for a limited time. Shipping is free. Their price is $350 off original MSRP, and it’s the only sub-$1000 new Retina... Read more
Adobe Brings Powerful Layout-Design Capabilit...
Adobe today announced the availability of Adobe Comp CC, a free iPad app that enables rapid creation of layout concepts for mobile, Web and print projects. With Comp CC, designers can rough out and... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro avail...
Best Buy has clearance 2014 13″ 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pros available for $1199.99 including free shipping. Their price is $300 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model.... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999, save $1...
Best Buy has the 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Their price is... Read more
2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $649, save $50
Amazon has the 2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $649.99 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Textkraft Professional 3.2 Powerful iPad Text...
Finally it’s springtime, at least theoretically in my neck of the woods, where we’re still navigating canyons between towering snowbanks with temperatures well below freezing in winter weather that... Read more
Apple offering refurbished 27-inch 5K iMacs f...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMacs for $2119 including free shipping. Their price is $380 off the price of new models, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
16GB iPad mini on sale for $199, save $50
Walmart has 16GB iPad minis (1st generation) available for $199.99 on their online store, including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Online orders only. Read more
New 128GB MacBook Airs on sale for $50 off MS...
 B&H Photo has 128GB 11″ and 13″ 2015 MacBook Airs on sale today for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (Model #MJVM2LL/A): $849 $50 off... Read more

Jobs Board

DevOps Software Engineer - *Apple* Pay, iOS...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail...
**Job Summary** Job Summary The Lead ASC is an Apple employee who serves as the Apple business manager and influencer in a hyper-business critical Reseller's store Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.