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

OmniOutliner Pro 4.6 - Pro version of th...
OmniOutliner Pro is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
Alfred 3.1 - Quick launcher for apps and...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.6 - Organize your ideas,...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
Default Folder X 5.0.6 - Enhances Open a...
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
Adobe Creative Cloud 3.8.0.310 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $19.99/month for a single app, or $49.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.25 - Create inventories...
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more
Viber 6.2.0 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device, so... Read more
Data Rescue 4.2.3 - Powerful hard drive...
Use Data Rescue to recover: crashed, corrupted or non-mounting hard drive deleted, damaged, or lost files reformatted or erased hard drive One powerful new feature found in Data Rescue 4 is... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.34 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.34 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more

Find out the story behind League of Ange...
If you’re looking for a new thrilling MMORPG to play with your friends then you’ll be excited to hear that there is a sequel to one of the most well known titles in the genre – namely League of Angels 2. With a brand new 3D engine offering... | Read more »
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing...
I'm not sure if it's possible to say you are an anime fan but also never have seen one episode of Naruto. If it is, then I resemble that remark, and if not, I offer a hearty apology. [Read more] | Read more »
5 mobile games that let you explore spac...
No Man's Sky hasn't exactly turned out to be everything it was promised. Though its core concept of exploring an unimaginably vast universe of different planets is an intriguing one, the execution has left many PS4 and PC gamers feeling like they... | Read more »
Mummy madness in new action game Tomb He...
Hot on the tail of Bump Hero, ZPlay is giving gamers another reason to get screen bashing with a brand new release. Tomb Heroes is a challenging action game in which you battle enemies in various tombs around the world. You can select from nine... | Read more »
Siralim 2 (RPG / Roguelike) (Games)
Siralim 2 (RPG / Roguelike) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Siralim 2 is an old-school monster catching RPG. Summon and customize hundreds of creatures to fight for you as... | Read more »
Clean Text (Productivity)
Clean Text 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars (Games)
Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: *** SPECIAL LAUNCH SALE: $2.99 (25% off) *** "A mesmerizing and unexpectedly emotional journey." -- Los... | Read more »
How to get four NFL superstars for your...
Even though you're probably well on your way to building a top notch squad for the new season in Madden NFL Mobile, let's say you could beef it up by adding Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Von Miller, and Todd Gurley to your roster. That's... | Read more »
Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!...
Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! – Multiplayer Sports Game Starring Your Favorite Characters 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Become a soccer superstar with your... | Read more »
NFL Huddle: What's new in Topps NFL...
Can you smell that? It's the scent of pigskin in the air, which either means that cliches be damned, pigs are flying in your neck of the woods, or the new NFL season is right around the corner. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

RESCUECOM 2016 Semi-Annual Computer Reliabili...
The beginning of a new school year is upon us again, in which students and parents have some very important choices to make, often including the purchase of a computer or tablet. Whether you are... Read more
VRS Design Damda Glide Series iPhone 7 and 7...
What makes the Damda Glide Series for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus special? Case maker VRS Design says its Damda Glide Series is the first mobile case to incorporate a semi-automatic mechanism for... Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available for $350 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $829... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Save $120 with Apple refurbished Time Capsule...
Apple has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for $120 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $179, $120 off (not... Read more
9-inch 32GB iPad Pros on sale for $70 off MSR...
B&H Photo has 9″ 32GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $70 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $529 $70 off MSRP - 9... Read more
Mac minis on sale for up to $140 off MSRP
Adorama has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $649 $50 off MSRP Amazon has the... Read more
Back To School with OtterBox Essentials
Back to school means back to an environment that is tough on tech. OtterBox has the back to school essentials you need to keep tech safe from drops, bumps, scratches and hallway havoc. Check out the... Read more
VRS Design Releases New iPhone 7 Plus Case Li...
With a device as large and costly as the iPhone 7 Plus, it is primal instinct to protect it from potential damage. According to a study by SquareTrade in 2012, iPhone damages cost Americans roughly $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 51218354 Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* /Mac Support Engineer - GFI Digital,...
FI Digital, Inc. is currently seeking candidates for a full time Apple Support Engineer to add to our Maryland Heights, Missouri IT team. Candidates must be dynamic Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
Apple Solutions ConsultantJob Number: 51218534Pleasant Hill, California, United StatesPosted: Aug. 18, 2016Weekly Hours: 40.00Job SummaryAs an Apple Solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 51443201 Mishawaka, Indiana, United States Posted: Aug. 25, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.