I'm serious about backups. If you've been following me on Twitter, you might have read I recently subscribed to Backblaze for my offsite backups: Backblaze is a service that, starting at $5 per month, can save the contents of your Mac on the service's remote and secure servers. You can restore at any given time, and access all the service's functionalities and settings from the preference panel that you can install on your Mac. Combined with Dropbox, Backblaze has become my ideal solution for offsite backups that don't reside on my local setup, and thus are less likely to be subject to damages and other kinds of problems -- say my home office got robbed, Dropbox and Backblaze wouldn't be affected by the issue.
But I don't just rely on online services for my backup needs. For as much as storing files online is convenient and fast enough these days, I'm a strong believer that local, incremental backups on external drives need to be performed at a regular daily schedule. For this reason, I bought an AirPort Extreme station months ago to put to better use the external drives I own: Time Machine backups to an AirPort disk on my local network all the time, other media is automatically copied through Hazel to another disk shared via WiFi. With these shared disks, the extra advantage is that everyone in my house who's connected to my same network can access media (and backup through Time Machine) whenever they want. On top of that, I've got two USB / FireWire 800 drives that I use for SuperDuper -- which keeps a bootable copy of my Mac and runs its automated backup session every night. Read more
ScreenFloat by Eternal Storms Software -- the same developer behind Flickery for Mac -- is a new app released in the Mac App Store last night that allows you to take screenshots that will float above other windows on your Mac. Why would you want to do that, instead of the classic CMD + Shift + 4? Because sometimes information can't be copied & pasted, and a screenshot is the best you can do to have the information you need a few clicks away. With OS X' default screenshot-taking capabilities, you'll still be forced to switch between the main app you're using (say, the browser or a text editor) and the screenshot you just took, perhaps opened with Preview or Quick Look. So Eternal Storms thought that, when screenshots are the best way to quickly capture information, your Mac should be able to let you easily and quickly take a look at the image. Read more
Popular file manager and FTP / cloud uploader Cyberduck was updated to the long-awaited version 4.0 today, which adds a lot of features for Mac and Windows users. The new version of Cyberduck (not yet available in the Mac App Store, which still reports version 3.8.2 as the latest one) comes with a series of bug fixes and enhancements but, most of all, better Finder integration on OS X and Dropbox support through API.
Finder integration seems very useful as the app puts a new option in the Services menu (contextual menu on right-click) that lets you upload any files to a specific Cyberduck bookmark directly from the Finder. Just choose a file, hit Upload and Cyberduck will ask you where you want to upload it. Besides the Finder, this should work in all apps that supports the Services menu -- ironically, you should be able to upload files from Transmit to Cyberduck.
Also interesting is initial Dropbox support to access your files stored in Dropbox without leaving the Cyberduck interface. The implementation in version 4.0, however, is kind of convoluted as it forces you to download a special configuration profile and log in with a developer API (which you need to generate on Dropbox) to grant the app access to your Dropbox files and folders. I wish this Dropbox integration was easier to set up like in many other iOS apps we've seen in the past months.
You can read all the details of what's new in version 4.0 here. Cyberduck is a free download, although donations are recommended.
After the release of the first Lion developer preview last week, we have seen Apple is bringing several aspects of iOS to the desktop: the Launchpad mimics iOS' Springboard and folders, gestures allow you to move between apps like in the iOS 4.3 beta, Resume lets Mac OS save the state of apps (window, position, content) even after a logout or restart. We did a little bit of digging in the Lion preview, and we found some files in the Finder's resources that suggest a direct connection between iOS devices and Lion's Finder could be coming in the future.
The files, located in the System folder, clearly show iPhone, iPad and iPod touch icons at three different sizes, likely to be used in the Finder's sidebar. Other icons currently not used by Lion like "Mobile Documents" (first spotted by 9to5mac) are in there as well. While the presence of mobile documents suggests a Dropbox-like functionality for the Finder is coming with MobileMe / iWork.com, we speculate these iOS device icons might be for a future direct connection between iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and the Finder itself.
Basing on pure speculation, we wouldn't mind seeing Apple implementing the AirDrop functionality (which lets you share files between Macs running Lion with a single drag&drop) for iOS devices as well. Users with a Mac and a nearby iPhone or iPad could drop files into the Finder and instantly share them. A direct iOS-Finder connection opens to many possibilities, though: what about PDFs, photos, mobile downloads, documents coming from apps? Currently, these things are all handled by iTunes. While many users appreciate the comfort of a single application to manage all kinds of media ending up on their iOS devices, there's no doubt having an iPad accessible in the Finder would be much more convenient for certain tasks like document sorting or sharing. Perhaps with a little bit of cloud integration.
Again, we're just speculating here -- but the icons are there and ready to be implemented in some way through the Lion Finder. There's an Apple event tomorrow, iOS 5 is rumored to be previewed alongside the iPad 2 -- maybe we'll see what this connection between iOS and the Mac could be about.
PropEdit, a new free app by eosgarden, aims at making the process of editing file and folder permissions on your Mac super-easy. Instead of relying on contextual menus in the Finder or the Terminal to modify owner and group permissions, PropEdit offers a graphical user interface inspired by the Finder's column view that allows you easily find your way through the system and act on files that need a permission fix.
PropEdit features an additional sidebar that contains all the options you might need to change permissions; instead of chmod in the command line, you can simply check off items to modify a file's ownership, and so forth. It's all very simple and strightforward.
Terminal junkies will of course stick to their insane command line skills when it comes to permission editing, but PropEdit is really good. It's not available in the Mac App Store, but you can download it for free here.
Back to My Mac is often ignored by Mac users as just another feature of the equally ignored MobileMe set of online webapps, sync tools and desktop settings. Back to My Mac allows you to display a remote Mac on your local machine's Finder as if it was within reach, just a few clicks away. Select the remote Mac in the Finder's sidebar, browse its contents through the Finder itself or just connect to its screen using OS X built-in Screen Sharing features. Back to My Mac, ultimately, enables you to virtually sit in front of your Mac even if the computer is actually miles away from you. All of this happens over the Internet, routed through MobileMe. Read more
I share a lot of screenshots and photos between my iPhone and Mac every day. Up until today, I've relied on third-party apps like iFiles to import pictures into its library and get them on my Mac using Cyberduck, which can connect to iFiles' built-in WebDAV server. PhotoToMac, a $1.99 app by Galarina, improved my workflow with a system that allows me to import photos and videos without using additional Mac apps. Files shared with PhotoToMac, in fact, end up directly in the Finder. Read more
iOS devices don't have a Finder, and in many ways that's a good thing. Apple simplified the approach to file management by making the filesystem virtually invisible to the users and delegating "database functionalities" to apps, which are nothing but containers of files, data and information. Apps like Pages, PlainText or the Photos app itself keep actual files together, it's just that on iOS users aren't forced to manage, organize, clean and sort them like on the desktop. It's a simpler and more intuitive approach. For many, though, file management sometimes is necessary. Either because of an app that doesn't support sharing (thus documents can't get out) or working needs that require access to a specific file in a specific location, several users over the years have lamented the impossibility to have a Finder-like system on their iPhones and iPads. We have also seen apps like Berokyo trying to bring folders and files together on iOS by making compromises with iOS' default interface style and features.
Cloud Connect Pro, a new app by Antacea I've been testing for the past week, aims at bringing true Finder-like options and file management capabilities to the iPad with deep cloud integration. This app can connect to any computer, Dropbox or iDisk instance and WebDAV / SFTP / FTP server to access folder structures, files and media. It can stream music and videos, double as a lightweight but useful VNC client, open and preview document and much more. Read more
The Finder's Legendary Selections
Terrific post by Mike Lee on the Finder's selection behavior. Lots of things I didn't know in there:
If you’re not a software engineer building apps for the Mac, none of this really matters. It’s just an interesting bit of trivia you can use to not really impress anyone.
If you are a software engineer building apps for the Mac, buckle up, because like Past Me, you have no fucking idea how these selections work, which is a real problem, because one day you are going to implement selection behavior in your app and completely fuck it up.
I say go read it no matter if you're a software engineer or not.