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

Tor Browser Bundle 7.0.7 - Anonymize Web...
The Tor Browser Bundle is an easy-to-use portable package of Tor, Vidalia, Torbutton, and a Firefox fork preconfigured to work together out of the box. It contains a modified copy of Firefox that... Read more
Data Rescue 5.0.1 - Powerful hard drive...
Data Rescue’s new and improved features let you scan, search, and recover your files faster than ever before. We have modernized the file-preview capabilities, added new files types to the recovery... Read more
Alfred 3.5.1 - Quick launcher for apps a...
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
Tunnelblick 3.7.3 - GUI for OpenVPN.
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.9.16 - Knowledge base,...
Save 10% with our exclusive coupon code: MACUPDATE10 DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research... Read more
AirRadar 4.0 - $9.95
With AirRadar, scanning for wireless networks is now easier and more personalized! It allows you to scan for open networks and tag them as favourites or filter them out. View detailed network... Read more
ForkLift 3.0.8 Beta - Powerful file mana...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
Opera 48.0.2685.50 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
FotoMagico 5.5 - Powerful slideshow crea...
FotoMagico lets you create professional slideshows from your photos and music with just a few, simple mouse clicks. It sports a very clean and intuitive yet powerful user interface. High image... Read more
Adobe Audition CC 2018 11.0.0 - Professi...
Audition CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Audition customer). Adobe Audition CC 2018 empowers you to create and... Read more

Wheels of Aurelia (Games)
Wheels of Aurelia 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander guide - ti...
Halcyon 6 is a well-loved indie RPG with stellar tactical combat and some pretty good writing, too. It's now landed on the App Store, so mobile fans, if you're itching for a good intergalactic adventure, here's your game. Being a strategy RPG, the... | Read more »
Game of Thrones: Conquest guide - how to...
Fans of base building games might be excited to know that yet another entry in the genre has materialized - Game of Thrones: Conquest. Yes, you can now join the many kingdoms of the famed book series, or create your own, as you try to conquer... | Read more »
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (Games)
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander 1.4.2.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.4.2.0 (iTunes) Description: An epic space strategy RPG with base building, deep tactical combat, crew management, alien diplomacy,... | Read more »
Legacy of Discord celebrates its 1 year...
It’s been a thrilling first year for fans of Legacy of Discord, the stunning PvP dungeon-crawling ARPG from YOOZOO Games, and now it’s time to celebrate the game’s first anniversary. The developers are amping up the festivities with some exciting... | Read more »
3 reasons to play Thunder Armada - the n...
The bygone days of the Battleship board game might have past, but naval combat simulators still find an audience on mobile. Thunder Armada is Chinese developer Chyogames latest entry into the genre, drawing inspiration from the explosive exchanges... | Read more »
Experience a full 3D fantasy MMORPG, as...
Those hoping to sink their teeth into a meaty hack and slash RPG that encourages you to fight with others might want to check out EZFun’s new Eternity Guardians. Available to download for iOS and Android, Eternity Guardians is an MMORPG that lets... | Read more »
Warhammer Quest 2 (Games)
Warhammer Quest 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon adventures in the Warhammer World are back! | Read more »
4 of the best Halloween updates for mobi...
Halloween is certainly one of our favorite times for mobile game updates. Many popular titles celebrate this spooky season with fun festivities that can stretch from one week to even the whole month. As we draw closer and closer to Halloween, we'... | Read more »
Fire Rides guide - how to swing to succe...
It's another day, which means another Voodoo game has come to glue our hands to our mobile phones. Yes, it's been an especially prolific month for this particular mobile publisher, but we're certainly not complaining. Fire Rides is yet another... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple restocks full line of refurbished 13″ M...
Apple has restocked a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
13″ 3.1GHz/256GB MacBook Pro on sale for $167...
Amazon has the 2017 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale today for $121 off MSRP including free shipping: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXV2LL/A): $1678 $121 off MSRP Keep an... Read more
13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more

Jobs Board

Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Farmin...
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
Frameworks Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! As a software engineer on the Apple Watch Frameworks team you will Read more
*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
Job Summary The Apple News Product Marketing Manager will work closely with a cross-functional group to assist in defining and marketing new features and services. Read more
Fraud Analyst, *Apple* Advertising Platform...
Job Summary Apple Ad Platforms has an opportunity to redefine advertising on mobile devices. Apple reaches hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.