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

LibreOffice 4.4.1.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0.3 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Cloud 3.3.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.5 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Firefox 36.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac 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... Read more
Thunderbird 31.5.0 - Email client from M...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
VOX 2.4 - Music player that supports man...
VoxIt just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features & support for all audio formats you should ever need... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.46 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
WALTR 1.0.9 - Drag-and-drop any media fi...
WALTR is designed to make it easy to upload and convert any music or video file to an iPad or iPhone format for native playback. It supports a huge variety of media file types, including MP3, MP4,... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.14 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more

Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming F...
Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] DeNA and Square Enix have announced that | Read more »
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like T...
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like That’ll Kill the Whole Family Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Nexon Co. | Read more »
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: MUSCLE MENUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Regular Show gets an above average game.   | Read more »
Action RPG League of Angels – Fire Raide...
Gaia is being invaded by the Devil Prince and the demonic Devil Army at his disposal, and it’s up to you and your avatar to defeat him in League of Angels – Fire Raiders. Raise a mighty army from hundreds of recruitable angel heroes and take the... | Read more »
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars:...
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars: Fast as Lightning Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
AdVenture Capitalist Review
AdVenture Capitalist Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: DAS KAPITALUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad An inadvertent Marxist manifesto.   | Read more »
Monster vs Sheep Review
Monster vs Sheep Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SAMEY FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad What Monster vs Sheep lacks in variety it makes up for with stress relieving fun. At least, for a... | Read more »
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitter...
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitters 2.0 Trailer? Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 25th, 2015 [ permalink ] One Man Left Studios has announced that their turn-based strategy game, | Read more »
HowToFormat Review
HowToFormat Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: USEFUL TIPSiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Making a presentation and want to get it just right? HowToFormat teaches you how... | Read more »
Thermo Diem Review
Thermo Diem Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: GETS TO THE POINTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want to know whether it’s warmer or colder tomorrow? That’s precisely what Thermo Diem will... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Takes 89 Percent Share of Global Smartp...
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone operating profit reached US$21 billion in Q4 2014. The Android operating system captured a record-low 11 percent global... Read more
New Travel Health App “My Travel Health” iOS...
Rochester, Minnesota based Travel Health and Wellness LLC has announced that its new iOS app help safeguard the user’s health when traveling abroad — “My Travel Health” is now available on the Apple... Read more
Sale! MacBook Airs for up to $115 off MSRP
B&H Photo has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $799 100 off MSRP - 11″ 256GB MacBook Air: $999 $100... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more
Wither The iPad mini? End Of The Road Imminen...
AppleDailyReport’s Dennis Sellers predicts that the iPad mini is going to be left to wither on the vine, as it were, and then just allowed to fade away — a casualty of the IPhone 6 Plus and other... Read more
Android and iOS Duopoly Owns 96.3% of Smartph...
IDC reports that Android and iOS inched closer to total domination of the worldwide smartphone market in both the fourth quarter (4Q14) and the calendar year 2014 (CY14). According to data from the... Read more
13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
MacMall has the 2013 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro available for $999.99 for a limited time. Shipping is free. Their price is $300 off original MSRP, and it’s the only sub-$1000 new Retina... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Mac minis available for up to $75 off MSRP
MacMall has Mac minis on sale for up to $75 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest available for these models from any reseller: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459.99 $40 off - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
WaterField Unveils Versatile Padded Gear Pouc...
San Francisco manufacturer WaterField Design’s new Padded Gear Pouch is a light and handy-sized, yet protective, organizer for every kind of take-along gear: technology, travel, toiletries,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail 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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.