Mac

Scanner group test

TL:DR—avoid scanners with Contact Image Sensors if you care at all about color fidelity.

Vermeer it is not

After my abortive trial of the Colortrac SmartLF Scan, I did a comparative test of scanning one of my daughter’s A3-sized drawings on a number of scanners I had handy.

Scanner Sensor Scan
Colortrac SmartLF Scan CIS ScanLF.jpg
Epson Perfection Photo V500 Photo (manually stitched) CCD Epson_V500.jpeg
Epson Perfection V19 (manually stitched) CIS Epson_V19.jpg
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M (using a carrier sheet and the built-in stitching) CCD S1500M_carriersheet.jpg
Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 CCD SV600.jpg
Fuji X-Pro2 with XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, mounted on a Kaiser RS2 XA copy stand with IKEA KVART 3-spot floor lamp (CCT 2800K, a mediocre 82 CRI as measured with my UPRtek CV600) CMOS X-Pro2.jpg

I was shocked by the wide variance in the results, as was my wife. This is most obvious in the orange flower on the right.

Comparison

I scanned a swatch of the orange using a Nix Pro Color Sensor (it’s the orange square in the upper right corner of each scan in the comparison above). When viewed on my freshly calibrated NEC PA302W SpectraView II monitor, the Epson V500 scan is closest, followed by the ScanSnap SV600.

The two scanners using Contact Image Sensor (CIS) technology yielded dismal results. CIS are used in low-end scanners, and they have the benefit of low power usage, which is why the only USB bus-powered scanners available are all CIS models. CIS sensors begat the CMOS sensors used by the vast majority of digital cameras today, superseding CCDs in that application, I would not have expected such a gap in quality.

The digital camera scan was also quite disappointing. I blame the poor quality of the LEDs in the IKEA KVART three-headed lamp I used (pro tip: avoid IKEA LEDs like the plague, they are uniformly horrendous).

I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent performance of the S1500M document scanner. It is meant to be used for scanning sheaves of documents, not artwork, but Fujitsu did not skimp and used a CCD sensor element, and it shows.

Pro tip: a piece of anti-reflective Museum Glass or equivalent can help with curled originals on the ScanSnap SV600. I got mine from scraps at a framing shop. I can’t see a trace of reflections on the scan, unlike on the copy stand.

Update (2018-10-14):

Even more of a pro tip: a Japanese company named Bird Electron makes a series of accessories for the ScanSnap line, including a dust cover for the SV600 and the hilariously Engrish-named PZ-BP600 Book Repressor, essentially a sheet of 3mm anti-reflection coated acrylic with convenient carry handles. They are readily available on eBay from Japanese sellers.

Avery 22807 template for InDesign

The Avery 22807 2-inch circular stickers are a good alternative to Moo, PSPrint et al when you need a small quantity of stickers in a hurry. Unfortunately Avery has not seen it fit to provide usable InDesign templates as they do with some of their other sticker SKUs, only Microsoft Word, which is needless to say inadequate. A search for “Avery 22807 Indesign template” yielded some, but they have issues with missing linked PDF files.

I reverse-engineered the Microsoft template to build one of my own, with dimensions (including the tricky almost-but-not-quite square grid spaced at 5/8″ horizontally but 7/12″ vertically) to simplify “Step and Repeat…”.

I have only tested this with my InDesign CS6, not sure if it will work with older versions.

Avery 22807 2-inch circular labels.indt

On the bugginess of El Capitan

I never updated my home Mac Pro to El Capitan. To paraphrase Borges, each successive Apple OS release since Snow Leopard makes you long for the previous one. Unfortunately I have no choice but to run the latest OS X release on my work Macs as that is usually required to run the latest Xcode, itself required for the App Store.

I did not realize how bad El Capitan was until I upgraded my work iMac (27-inch 5K model) to Sierra last week. Previously, I would experience a mean time between crashes of around 3 days. I thought it was flaky hardware (the problems started from when I unboxed the computer), but couldn’t find the time to take it to the Genius Bar. I had also experienced the same problem with my old home 2009 Nehalem Mac Pro, which I had taken to the office, in fact that’s why I bought the iMac in the first place (and the first one I ordered had to go back because of defective pins in the RAM expansion slots). The Mac Pro had previously been rock-steady at home.

Since I upgraded to Sierra, I haven’t had a single crash. The only possible conclusion is that El Capitan bugs were to blame. The only thing unusual about this iMac is I upgraded the RAM from OWC, but the memory passes testing using Micromat’s TechTool.

I am not one to look at the Steve Jobs era with rosy-tinted glasses, OS X has never had the same level of stability as Solaris or even Linux, but Apple’s hardware and software quality has really gone to the dogs of late, something Lloyd Chambers dubs Apple Core Rot.

I am now starting to hedge my bets and am testing Ubuntu for my laptop computing needs, first by repurposing my 2008-vintage first-generation MacBook Air that is no longer supported by OS X anyway (works, but painfully slow) and soon with a shiny new HP Spectre on order.

Avoiding counterfeit goods on Amazon: mission impossible?

I mentioned previously that I seldom shop for electronics on Amazon.com any more, preferring B&H Photo whenever possible. I now have another reason: avoiding counterfeit goods.

My company boardroom is in an electromagnetic war zone—dozens of competing WiFi access points combined with electronic interference from the US-101 highway just outside make WiFi reception tenuous at best, and unusable more often than not. To work around this, we set up a wired Ethernet switch, and since most of our staff use MacBook Airs, Apple USB Ethernet adapters purchased from Amazon. When I side-graded from my 15″ Retina MacBook Pro to a much more portable 12″ Retina MacBook, I wasn’t able to connect using the dongle, and the name of the device was interspersed with Chinese characters. At first I thought it was an issue with my Satechi USB-C hub, but I experienced the same problems via a genuine Apple USB-C multiport adapter as well.

Eventually I figured out the Ethernet dongles were counterfeit. The packaging, while very similar to Apple’s, was just a tiny bit off, like amateurish margins between the Apple logo and the edges of the card. On the dongles themselves, the side regulatory disclosures sticker was inset, not flush with the body of the adapter.

Counterfeiting is a major problem. By some accounts, one third of all Sandisk memory cards worldwide are counterfeits. In some cases like chargers or batteries, your equipment could be at risk, or even your very life. The counterfeit adapters we purchased from Amazon did not come from Amazon themselves but from a third-party merchant participating in the Amazon marketplace. To Amazon’s credit, we returned them for a prompt, no questions asked refund even though we bought them over six months ago, but it is hard to believe Amazon is unaware of the problem rather than willfully turning a blind eye to it.

My first reaction was to tell our Office Manager to make sure to buy only from Amazon rather than third-party merchants (pro tip: including “amazon” in your Amazon search terms will do that in most cases). Unfortunately, that may not be enough. Amazon has a “fulfilled by Amazon” program for merchants where you ship your goods to them, and they handle warehousing and fulfillment. These “fulfilled by Amazon” items are also more attractive to Prime members. One option Amazon offers is Stickerless, commingled inventory where the items you send are put into a common bin. Amazon still has the ability to trace the provenance of the item through its inventory management, but for purposes of order fulfillment they will be handled just like Amazon’s own stock. Some categories like groceries and beauty products are excluded, but electronics are not.

The implications are huge: even if the vendor is Amazon itself, you cannot be sure that the item is not counterfeit. All the more reason to buy only from trustworthy, single-vendor sites like B&H, even if shipping is a bit slower.

Mac Pro first impressions

I received my late 2013 black cylinder Mac Pro last Monday. I ordered the 6-core model with D700 GPUs, since the higher-core models can’t Turbo boost to the full 3.9GHz the 4-core and 6-core ones can, and thus for most poorly-parallelized apps will underperform. I had to get a Promise Pegasus J4 with a pair of Samsung 840 Evo SSDs to hold my files, as I need nearly 2TB to do so and that is not available on the internal SSD, and it would be a shame to hobble this machine with spinning rust.

Some notes I have not seen in the many reviews sloshing around the Internet this far:

  • It is not actually black, rather a dark metallic gray, the color of hematite.
  • The TOSlink digital optical out is now capable of 192kHZ/24 bit audio, whereas the old Mac Pro was limited to 96 kHz. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find POF cables and DACs that can reliably sustain that data rate.
  • It is dead quiet compared to the old Mac Pro, and even my work iMac.
All in all, a remarkable engineering feat. A HP Z820 may have more memory capacity, expandability and total horsepower in its BMW-designed case, but Apple is the one pushing the envelope in terms of design.

Fixing Mac software update NSURLErrorDomain error -1012

Software Update for system components on my home Mac Pro has not worked in a while, and I have had to resort to manually downloading and applying updates. The updates just wouldn’t appear in the Mac App Store app where they normally should.

After upgrading to Mavericks, I finally figured out why. Instead of silently ignoring the updates, Mavericks displays a not-so-helpful error message “NSURLErrorDomain Error -1012”. On inspecting network traffic from the App Store app, I noticed it connects using TLS 1.2 to swdist.apple.com, then aborts. It then hit me – in 2011, after Comodo was hacked, apparently by elements affiliated with the Iranian government, I revoked the trust setting on their root certificates. The certificate for swdist.apple.com is signed by Comodo, and thus Software Update could no longer establish a secure connection to Apple and that’s why it was failing.

This is not the only time a Certificate Authority was hacked. Dutch CA Diginotar, which included the Dutch government among its clients, suffered a breach, apparently also involving Iran. Microsoft, Mozilla, Google and Apple promptly revoked Diginotar’s root CA certificates, which quickly led to the company going out of business. I guess Comodo is larger (the EFF calls them “too big to fail”) and better politically connected (it helps when you have people like Phillip Hallam-Baker on the payroll), and managed to elude the same punishment it richly deserved.

Apple should really step up its game and ditch a security provider which demonstrated incompetence at its alleged core competency, and I filed Radar bug report 15328323 to urge them to do so. In the meantime, the way to fix the error message is to temporarily reinstate trust in the Comodo root CA.

Update (2015-10-29)

At some point in the last 2 years they switched from Comodo to Symantex (probably 2014-04-13 when the current certificate was issued). Unfortunately, Symantec has its own problems.

Street sweeping reminders in iCal

Parking signSan Francisco sweeps streets twice a month in residential neighborhoods, and you will be fined if your car is parked on a street being swept. On my street, the schedule is the first and third Monday of each month, between 9am and 11am. I was trying to create reminders to myself in my calendar. Unfortunately, iCal does not have the ability to specify a recurring event with that definition.

No matter, Python to the rescue, the script below generates a year’s worth of reminders 12 hours before the event, in iCal vCalendar format. It does not correct for holidays, you will have to remove those yourself.

#!/usr/bin/python
"""Idora street sweeping calendar - 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month 9am-11am"""
import datetime
Monday = 0
one_day = datetime.timedelta(1)
today = datetime.date.today()
year = today.year
month = today.month

def output(day):
  print """
BEGIN:VEVENT
DTEND:%(end)s
SUMMARY:Idora street sweeping
DTSTART:%(start)s
BEGIN:VALARM
TRIGGER:-PT12H
ATTACH;VALUE=URI:Basso
ACTION:AUDIO
END:VALARM
END:VEVENT
""" % {
    'end': day.strftime('%Y%m%dT110000'),
    'start': day.strftime('%Y%m%dT090000')
    }

print """BEGIN:VCALENDAR
CALSCALE:GREGORIAN
VERSION:2.0"""

for i in range(12):
  day = datetime.date(year, month, 1)
  while day.weekday() != Monday:
    day += one_day
  output(day)
  output(day + 14 * one_day)
  month += 1
  if month > 12:
    month = 1
    year += 1

print "END:VCALENDAR"

Cheeky

This is a popup the iOS6 App Store shows me when I try searching for a Google Maps app.

20120920-062922.jpg

Scanning your iTunes library for DRM-infested books

Tor, the leading publisher for Science Fiction and Fantasy books, announced they would be doing away with DRM in their eBooks. The product pages for their books on iBooks now mention “At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied”. I figured it would be a good idea to uncripple the many Tor eBooks I have in my collection.

I wrote a quick little Python script to scan my growing iBooks library for books that could be updated. The procedure is to delete the book from both iTunes and iPads, then download it anew (restarting iTunes is also needed after deleting). Apple keeps track of your purchases and will not charge you again.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys, os.path, glob, zipfile, platform, xml.etree.ElementTree

# publishers who have forsaken DRM
good = ['Tom Doherty']

if platform.mac_ver()[0] > '10.8':
  bookdir = os.path.expanduser('~/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks')
else:
  bookdir = os.path.expanduser('~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Books')

os.chdir(bookdir)

ok =  '\033[1;32mDRM-free    \033[0m'
bad = '\033[1;31mDRM-infested\033[0m'

count = 0
salvageable = 0

def extract(meta):
  creator = ''
  status = ''
  pub = ''
  et = xml.etree.ElementTree.fromstring(meta)
  try:
    creator = et.findall('*{http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/}creator')
    creator = creator[0].text
    title = et.findall('*{http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/}title')
    title = title[0].text
  except:
    assert '!DOCTYPE plist' in meta
    next_tag = None
    for e in et[0].iter():
      if e.tag == 'key' and e.text in ('artistName', 'itemName'):
        next_tag = e.text
        continue
      if next_tag == 'artistName':
        creator = e.text
        next_tag = None
        continue
      elif next_tag == 'itemName':
        title = e.text
        next_tag = None
        continue
  pub = [x for x in good if x in meta]
  return creator, title, pub

def find_meta(file_list, opener):
  for m in file_list:
    if m.endswith('.opf') or m == 'iTunesMetadata.plist':
      meta = opener(m).read()
      return extract(meta)
  
for fn in glob.glob('*/*.epub'):
  status = ok
  suffix = ''
  if os.path.isdir(fn):
    suffix = '(directory)'
    if os.path.exists(fn + '/META-INF/encryption.xml'):
      status = bad
      count += 1
    meta = find_meta(os.listdir(fn), lambda x: open(fn + '/' + x))
  else:
    z = zipfile.ZipFile(fn)
    try:
      i = z.getinfo('META-INF/encryption.xml')
      status = bad
    except KeyError:
      pass
    meta = find_meta(z.namelist(), z.open)
    z.close()
  creator, title, pub = meta
  print status, fn, suffix
  print '\t', creator
  print '\t', title
  if status == bad and pub:
    print '\t\033[1;32mThis is published by', pub[0],
    print 'and could be re-downloaded DRM-free\033[0m'
    salvageable += 1

print count, 'books are DRM-infested'
print salvageable, 'could be cured'

Unfortunately, it seems like the DRM-stripping is still work in progress. Out of the Wheel of Time series, for instance, only the first one is now DRM-free on the iBooks store.

undr ~>drmbooks.py
DRM-free     Books/0083D0AEC37E08453347DD12B1C6F980.epub 
	Greg Bear
	Blood Music
DRM-free     Books/09178837756A4DFF8347EC377345A37B.epub 
	Heinz Wittenbrink
	RSS and Atom
DRM-free     Books/0AD752E995042C7E12F11917AB58C6B8.epub 
	Wes McKinney
	Python for Data Analysis
DRM-free     Books/14BDC66A99E878EC232FFAFA73B341EF.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	Swords and Deviltry-Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-Book1
DRM-free     Books/15A1D7FE9B7D815C6FBE1A9A77D7143E.epub 
	Glen Cook
	A Fortress in Shadow
DRM-free     Books/1793F9DE1319B96FDE7E36EB8A1BC961.epub 
	Scalzi, John
	Old Man's War
DRM-free     Books/1D08BE221E8BC8F2A371EFEDE55029AC.epub 
	Ben Fry
	Visualizing Data
DRM-free     Books/24D6EC36CDEA0C1E8612CC61A89EA098.epub 
	None
	Node Cookbook
DRM-free     Books/29DA285F0051C431BD8BA3D1AEC5EAA6.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	The Swords of Lankhmar: Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-Book 5
DRM-free     Books/2E88CD68DFD8408CD0E7C0ACB1E78714.epub 
	Glen Cook
	A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire
DRM-free     Books/32996A9995040064818BAE4DFB66E92F.epub 
	Kelly Link
	Magic for Beginners
DRM-free     Books/34D3CD13D47E5FEBC6DCF7EF011113BD.epub 
	David Drake
	Lord of the Isles
DRM-infested Books/357298432.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	The Player of Games
DRM-infested Books/357311036.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Use of Weapons
DRM-infested Books/357377857.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Against a Dark Background
DRM-infested Books/357396585.epub 
	Brent Weeks
	Night Angel: The Complete Trilogy
DRM-infested Books/357657026.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Transition
DRM-infested Books/357658374.epub 
	Po Bronson
	NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
DRM-infested Books/357662058.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Consider Phlebas
DRM-infested Books/357669769.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Matter
DRM-infested Books/357914731.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	Dune Messiah
DRM-infested Books/357918110.epub 
	Dalrymple, William
	City of Djinns
DRM-infested Books/357923567.epub 
	Patrick Rothfuss
	The Name of the Wind
DRM-infested Books/357929995.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	Dune (40th Anniversary Edition)
DRM-infested Books/357969577.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	God Emperor of Dune
DRM-infested Books/357987322.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	Children of Dune
DRM-infested Books/357994537.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	Heretics of Dune
DRM-infested Books/357994652.epub 
	William Dalrymple
	White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India
DRM-infested Books/357996119.epub 
	Stross, Charles
	Wireless
DRM-infested Books/360601506.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	The Dispossessed
DRM-infested Books/360609519.epub 
	Greg Egan
	Schild's Ladder
DRM-infested Books/360627712.epub 
	Raymond E. Feist
	Rides a Dread Legion
DRM-infested Books/360627930.epub 
	Neal Stephenson
	Anathem
DRM-infested Books/360628773.epub 
	Raymond E. Feist
	At the Gates of Darkness
DRM-infested Books/360641088.epub 
	Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
	Flow
DRM-free     Books/361491495.epub 
	Basil Hall Chamberlain
	Aino Folk-Tales
DRM-free     Books/361494664.epub 
	Poul William Anderson
	Industrial Revolution
DRM-free     Books/361523763.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	The Romance of the Milky Way / And Other Studies & Stories
DRM-free     Books/361527545.epub 
	Saki
	When William Came
DRM-free     Books/361539032.epub 
	Saki
	The Chronicles of Clovis
DRM-free     Books/361557387.epub 
	Saki
	Reginald in Russia and other sketches
DRM-free     Books/361557834.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventure of the Dying Detective
DRM-free     Books/361559391.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Valley of Fear
DRM-free     Books/361560694.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Chita: a Memory of Last Island
DRM-free     Books/361561399.epub 
	Confucius
	The Analects of Confucius (from the Chinese Classics)
DRM-free     Books/361562678.epub 
	Saki
	The Toys of Peace, and other papers
DRM-free     Books/361562764.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
DRM-free     Books/361564075.epub 
	Poul William Anderson
	The Burning Bridge
DRM-free     Books/361564898.epub 
	Henry David Thoreau
	Walden
DRM-free     Books/361565201.epub 
	Saki
	Beasts and Super-Beasts
DRM-free     Books/361565806.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Youth
DRM-free     Books/361572327.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Kokoro / Japanese Inner Life Hints
DRM-free     Books/361573126.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	Through the Magic Door
DRM-free     Books/361575882.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	Tales of Terror and Mystery
DRM-free     Books/361578744.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	In Ghostly Japan
DRM-free     Books/361588265.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Books and Habits from the Lectures of Lafcadio Hearn
DRM-free     Books/361673695.epub 
	E. C. Babbitt
	More Jataka Tales
DRM-free     Books/361686559.epub 
	Poul William Anderson
	Security
DRM-free     Books/361713863.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Return of Sherlock Holmes
DRM-free     Books/361721797.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
DRM-free     Books/361725352.epub 
	Saki
	The Unbearable Bassington
DRM-free     Books/361725959.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge
DRM-free     Books/361726975.epub 
	Saki
	Reginald
DRM-free     Books/361727237.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventure of the Red Circle
DRM-free     Books/361732286.epub 
	Poul William Anderson
	The Valor of Cappen Varra
DRM-free     Books/361736043.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things
DRM-free     Books/361741563.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Japan: an Attempt at Interpretation
DRM-free     Books/361743007.epub 
	Ambrose Bierce
	The Devil's Dictionary
DRM-free     Books/361743953.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventure of the Devil's Foot
DRM-free     Books/361744178.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	His Last Bow
DRM-free     Books/361745602.epub 
	Poul William Anderson
	The Sensitive Man
DRM-infested Books/362435686.epub 
	Ansary, Tamim
	Destiny Disrupted
DRM-infested Books/366773380.epub 
	Esslemont, Ian C. C.
	Return of the Crimson Guard
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/373338999.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Path of Daggers
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-free     Books/375554215.epub 
	Orson Scott Card
	The Lost Gate
DRM-infested Books/376217648.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Reaper’s Gale
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/376227359.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	Winter's Heart
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/376227401.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	Crossroads of Twilight
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/376227406.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	Knife of Dreams
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/376227409.epub 
	Sanderson, Brandon
	The Gathering Storm
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/376227423.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	New Spring
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-free     Books/376231110.epub 
	Cook, Glen
	Surrender to the Will of the Night
DRM-infested Books/376231528.epub 
	Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
	Towers of Midnight
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/378317076.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	A Crown of Swords
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/378317808.epub 
	Robert Jordan
	Lord of Chaos
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-free     Books/379451459.epub 
	Le Guin, Ursula K.
	Word for World is Forest, The
DRM-free     Books/37EC6E895E6BD70BEB48D9F1553D608E.epub 
	Eben Hewitt
	Cassandra: The Definitive Guide
DRM-free     Books/380490608.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Eye of the World
DRM-free     Books/380494444.epub 
	Asimov, Isaac
	The End of Eternity
DRM-infested Books/381497257.epub 
	Harold McGee
	On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
DRM-infested Books/381622032.epub 
	IAIN M. BANKS
	Look to Windward
DRM-infested Books/381683084.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	Tehanu
DRM-infested Books/381935940.epub 
	Richard Adams
	Watership Down
DRM-infested Books/382674388.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Dust of Dreams
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/383912791.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385975662.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Dragon Reborn
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385981104.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	The Bonehunters
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385981116.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Midnight Tides
DRM-free     Books/385982966.epub 
	Brust, Steven
	To Reign in Hell
DRM-infested Books/385987858.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Gardens of the Moon
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385989170.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	House of Chains
DRM-infested Books/385992628.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Fires of Heaven
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385992927.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Toll the Hounds
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385992930.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Great Hunt
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/385998417.epub 
	Jordan, Robert
	The Shadow Rising
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/386016540.epub 
	Esslemont, Ian C. C.
	Night of Knives
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/388403394.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	The Crippled God
DRM-infested Books/389191300.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	Surface Detail
DRM-infested Books/390877859.epub 
	Loewen, James W.
	Lies My Teacher Told Me
DRM-infested Books/393310992.epub 
	Erikson, Steven
	Memories of Ice
DRM-infested Books/394745271.epub 
	Steven Erikson
	Deadhouse Gates
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-free     Books/394745833.epub 
	Walton, Jo
	Among Others
DRM-free     Books/395536306.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
DRM-free     Books/395537209.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Sign of the Four
DRM-free     Books/395539542.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	A Study in Scarlet
DRM-free     Books/395540660.epub 
	Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
	The Hound of the Baskervilles
DRM-free     Books/395686685.epub 
	Dante Alighieri
	Divine Comedy, Longfellow's Translation, Complete
DRM-free     Books/395688318.epub 
	Edgar Rice Burroughs
	A Princess of Mars
DRM-free     Books/395688375.epub 
	Lafcadio Hearn
	Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan / First Series
DRM-infested Books/395926792.epub 
	Fukuyama, Francis
	Origins of Political Order
DRM-infested Books/396269736.epub 
	Herbert, Frank
	Chapterhouse: Dune
DRM-infested Books/398283114.epub 
	Rothfuss, Patrick
	The Wise Man's Fear
DRM-free     Books/3A5FBC58E821CFDF15C8C4E85657481E.epub 
	Jon Hicks
	The Icon Handbook
DRM-free     Books/410943153.epub 
	Edwin A. Abbott (A Square)
	Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
DRM-free     Books/413463878.epub 
	Brust, Steven
	Tiassa
DRM-free     Books/418293515.epub 
	Heinlein, Robert A.
	Glory Road
DRM-infested Books/419950945.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Foundation
DRM-infested Books/419950970.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Foundation and Empire
DRM-infested Books/419950976.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Second Foundation
DRM-infested Books/419968238.epub 
	Scott Lynch
	The lies of Locke Lamora
DRM-infested Books/419968784.epub 
	Scott Lynch
	Red Seas Under Red Skies
DRM-infested Books/420037362.epub 
	Kim Stanley Robinson
	The Years of Rice and Salt
DRM-infested Books/420281728.epub 
	Richard Wiseman
	59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot
DRM-infested Books/420445771.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Foundation’s Edge
DRM-infested Books/420446058.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Foundation and Earth
DRM-infested Books/420725428.epub 
	Mike Resnick
	Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia
DRM-infested Books/421025353.epub 
	William Dalrymple
	The Last Mughal
DRM-free     Books/421124117.epub 
	Brust, Steven
	The Desecrator
DRM-infested Books/422530144.epub 
	Max Barry
	Machine Man
DRM-free     Books/422718511.epub 
	Apple Inc.
	Mac Integration Basics
DRM-free     Books/426914658.epub 
	Brust, Steven
	Five Hundred Years After
DRM-free     Books/428235697.epub 
	Vinge, Vernor
	A Fire Upon The Deep
DRM-infested Books/429173089.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	The Other Wind
DRM-infested Books/429173713.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	Tales from Earthsea
DRM-infested Books/429699133.epub 
	Rajaniemi, Hannu
	The Quantum Thief
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/431617578.epub 
	Walter Isaacson
	Steve Jobs
DRM-infested Books/432519291.epub 
	Susan Weinschenk
	100 Things: Every Designer Needs to Know About People
DRM-infested Books/434509014.epub 
	Stross, Charles
	Rule 34
DRM-free     Books/434522188.epub 
	Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
	The Mote In God's Eye
DRM-free     Books/434811509.epub 
	Asher, Neal
	Cowl
DRM-infested Books/436646026.epub 
	Neal Stephenson
	Reamde
DRM-infested Books/436691174.epub 
	Julia Child
	Mastering the Art of French Cooking
DRM-infested Books/443149884.epub 
	Daniel Kahneman
	Thinking, Fast and Slow
DRM-infested Books/446155927.epub 
	Esslemont, Ian C. C.
	Stonewielder
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-free     Books/447591195.epub 
	Asher, Neal
	The Skinner
DRM-infested Books/454252718.epub 
	William B. Norton
	The Internet Peering Playbook: Connecting to the Core of the Internet
DRM-infested Books/455525627.epub 
	Amar Chitra Katha
	Birbal The Genius
DRM-infested Books/458461362.epub 
	Pamela Druckerman
	Bringing Up Bebe
DRM-free     Books/45B90418E467D479DCDDF23B932C648C.epub 
	Douglas Crockford
	JavaScript: The Good Parts
DRM-infested Books/460822066.epub (directory)
	Scott Lynch
	The Republic of Thieves
DRM-free     Books/465679A557523FDB836005CF4BB9380E.epub 
	Scott Berkun
	Mindfire
DRM-infested Books/479594044.epub 
	Saladin Ahmed
	Throne of the Crescent Moon
DRM-infested Books/479717436.epub 
	David Crist
	The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran
DRM-infested Books/479771801.epub 
	William Dalrymple
	In Xanadu
DRM-infested Books/489957500.epub 
	Bruce Schneier
	Liars and Outliers
DRM-infested Books/491186678.epub 
	James Blish
	Cities in Flight
DRM-infested Books/491668459.epub 
	Neal Asher
	Shadow of the Scorpion
DRM-infested Books/491669284.epub 
	Glen Cook
	A Matter of Time
DRM-infested Books/491669288.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Darkwar
DRM-free     Books/492199230.epub 
	Frederik Pohl
	The Tunnel Under the World
DRM-free     Books/492199569.epub 
	Frederik Pohl
	The Knights of Arthur
DRM-infested Books/494939678.epub 
	Esslemont, Ian C. C.
	Orb Sceptre Throne
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/498634992.epub 
	Charles Stross
	The Apocalypse Codex
DRM-infested Books/499392787.epub 
	Daniel Suarez
	Kill Decision
DRM-free     Books/4AE7DDA54BEEFCD65157927546B18063.epub 
	Roberto Ierusalimschy
	Programming in Lua 2ed
DRM-free     Books/4DCFF682728B765A1CE221F3D7C21536.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Starfishers Volume 3: Stars' End
DRM-free     Books/501278407.epub 
	Colette
	Chéri
DRM-free     Books/501758197.epub 
	David Brin
	Existence
DRM-infested Books/501758516.epub 
	Scalzi, John
	Redshirts
	This is published by Tom Doherty and could be re-downloaded DRM-free
DRM-infested Books/503019669.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	The Lord of the Rings
DRM-infested Books/503153300.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	Tales from the Perilous Realm
DRM-infested Books/503154129.epub 
	J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
	The Book of Lost Tales, Part One
DRM-infested Books/503154991.epub 
	J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
	The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two
DRM-infested Books/503155327.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	The Children of Húrin
DRM-infested Books/503163148.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	The Hobbit Deluxe
DRM-infested Books/503164678.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	The Silmarillion
DRM-infested Books/503167303.epub 
	J.R.R. Tolkien
	Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth
DRM-infested Books/504209078.epub 
	Isaac Asimov
	Prelude to Foundation
DRM-infested Books/504371982.epub 
	Iain M. Banks
	The Hydrogen Sonata
DRM-free     Books/511060740.epub 
	Frederik Pohl
	The Hated
DRM-free     Books/511143617.epub 
	Frederik Pohl
	The Day of the Boomer Dukes
DRM-free     Books/511252896.epub 
	Frederik Pohl
	Pythias
DRM-free     Books/513357605.epub 
	Hannu Rajaniemi
	The Fractal Prince
DRM-free     Books/513868CF0AA46D293EE27F74BC399760.epub 
	Jerry Pournelle
	West of Honor
DRM-infested Books/520233773.epub 
	Nate Silver
	The Signal and the Noise
DRM-free     Books/520897403.epub 
	Hugh Howey
	Wool Omnibus
DRM-free     Books/525170910.epub 
	Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross
	The Rapture of the Nerds
DRM-infested Books/526136048.epub (directory)
	Hetty van de Rijt & Frans Plooij
	The Wonder Weeks
DRM-infested Books/529020127.epub 
	Neal Asher
	The Departure
DRM-infested Books/529424632.epub 
	Guy Gavriel Kay
	The Lions of Al-Rassan
DRM-infested Books/536312376.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Garrett for Hire
DRM-free     Books/537023027.epub 
	Erikson, Steven
	Forge of Darkness
DRM-infested Books/541673159.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	The Tombs of Atuan
DRM-infested Books/541673162.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	The Farthest Shore
DRM-infested Books/546126326.epub 
	Jan Morris
	HAV
DRM-infested Books/551241606.epub 
	Ursula K. Le Guin
	A Wizard of Earthsea
DRM-infested Books/551567785.epub 
	Murray R. Spiegel, PhD
	Schaum's Outline Mathematical Handbook of Formulas and Tables, Fourth Edition
DRM-infested Books/551747038.epub 
	Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco
	Days of Destruction Days of Revolt v2b
DRM-infested Books/552144691.epub 
	Tamim Ansary
	Games without Rules
DRM-free     Books/553878102.epub 
	Charles Stross
	A Tall Tail
DRM-infested Books/563408849.epub 
	Iain Banks
	Stonemouth
DRM-infested Books/568731449.epub 
	William Dalrymple
	Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42
DRM-infested Books/569232538.epub 
	Neil Gaiman
	The Ocean at the End of the Lane
DRM-free     Books/571678152.epub 
	Glen Cook
	The Return of the Black Company
DRM-free     Books/571678945.epub 
	Glen Cook
	The Many Deaths of the Black Company
DRM-free     Books/573656304.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Chronicles of the Black Company
DRM-free     Books/573656441.epub 
	Glen Cook
	The Books of the South
DRM-free     Books/576233114.epub 
	Jack Vance
	Demon Princes
DRM-infested Books/578851675.epub 
	Zilpha Keatley Snyder
	Below The Root
DRM-infested Books/580642602.epub 
	Max Barry
	Lexicon
DRM-infested Books/588794444.epub 
	Charles Stross
	Neptune's Brood
DRM-free     Books/5CCB889F91585202637A3C5FBFD8409F.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Starfishers-The Starfishers Trilogy Volume II
DRM-infested Books/600938002.epub 
	Gardner Dozois
	The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection
DRM-free     Books/606232503.epub 
	Ian C. Esslemont
	Blood and Bone
DRM-free     Books/610920977.epub 
	Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
	A Memory of Light
DRM-free     Books/6122FF30560866BD75257E6CCC264371.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	Swords and Ice Magic-Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-Book 6
DRM-infested Books/619483561.epub 
	Raymond E. Feist
	Magician's End
DRM-free     Books/622837311.epub 
	Le Comte De  Lautréamont
	Les chants de Maldoror
DRM-free     Books/62497334A4189B1D00E9BDFD95724E2E.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	The Knight and Knave of Swords-Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-Book 7
DRM-infested Books/645571245.epub 
	Iain Banks
	The Quarry
DRM-free     Books/647688922.epub 
	Steven Brust and Skyler White
	The Incrementalists
DRM-infested Books/651331715.epub 
	Susan Crawford
	Captive Audience
DRM-infested Books/654456347.epub 
	Iain Banks
	The Wasp Factory
DRM-infested Books/662310218.epub (directory)
	Various Authors
	Star Wars: Empire Volume 3 – The Imperial Perspective
DRM-infested Books/662310219.epub 
	Paul Gulacy
	Star Wars: Crimson Empire
DRM-infested Books/664297397.epub (directory)
	Various Authors
	Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 4: The Heart of the Rebellion
DRM-infested Books/664343525.epub (directory)
	Paul Chadwick, Doug Wheatley & Tomás Giorello
	Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 2: Darklighter
DRM-infested Books/664894567.epub 
	John Ostrander
	Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume 1—Force Storm
DRM-infested Books/664910993.epub (directory)
	Scott Allie, Ryan Benjamin & Brian Horton
	Star Wars: Empire Vol. 1
DRM-free     Books/666772E4C21E2017E71C10F1990840BC.epub 
	Pieter Hintjens
	ZeroMQ - Connecting your Code
DRM-infested Books/674224604.epub (directory)
	Various Authors
	Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 5: Allies and Adversaries
DRM-infested Books/674226603.epub (directory)
	Thomas Andrews, Scott Allie & Various Authors
	Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 6: In the Shadows of Their Fathers
DRM-free     Books/697938901.epub 
	Charles Stross
	Equoid: A Laundry Novella
DRM-free     Books/6BBD61A64A46FFFF4AE7C5FCEB9CFCEE.epub 
	David Drake
	Balefires
DRM-free     Books/71C79A253586282ABE73C2975237EB08.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Sung in Blood
DRM-free     Books/73BC5DD0E51611BDC359CBAB48CC203F.epub (directory)
	Crane, Stephen
	The Red Badge of Courage
DRM-free     Books/7A0D1AEE343638A8A3769DABB90CD4CB.epub 
	Clay A. Johnson
	The Information Diet
DRM-free     Books/7B46914B55481714DED3D711288978FA.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Shadowline-The Starfishers Trilogy I
DRM-free     Books/809DCC75FE60E749458CB27636EE6777.epub 
	Mercedes Lackey
	The Secret World Chronicle
DRM-free     Books/8350F5DFECCD6AA88714400FDF4F6831.epub 
	François de La Rochefoucauld
	Réflexions ou Sentences et Maximes Morales
DRM-free     Books/853BD1C65277D276BA09E04EBFEB73EF.epub 
	None
	PostgreSQL 9 Administration Cookbook
DRM-free     Books/85907063B2351E91C6E7F5052C090BFD.epub 
	None
	PostgreSQL 9.0 High Performance
DRM-free     Books/8663E7BF735C06318FF450532A67F1C2.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Passage at Arms
DRM-free     Books/8690D69995483C5D2DF6AD38BE53C1D7.epub 
	Paolo Bacigalupi
	The Windup Girl - Second Electronic Edition
DRM-free     Books/8993920EF1C0E8FE8CB47A20BD955F53.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	Swords Against Death-Fafhrd and Gray Mouser-Book 2
DRM-free     Books/8DC6ED0A99161EBB516E370A60ED1121.epub 
	Jonathan Zdziarski
	Hacking and Securing iOS Applications
DRM-free     Books/8DD0D22CD05B0B8D52DF9DB93FC8616B.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	Swords in the Mist-Fafhrd And the Gray Mouser-Book 3
DRM-free     Books/912CB8B110736684549EAC4FC36665AB.epub 
	Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
	Signal to Noise
DRM-free     Books/93061FDFD6EEC01FD8CE4295A049C97C.epub 
	Cory Doctorow
	Homeland
DRM-free     Books/9592D5001632B94D1FEFC98B3A40E049.epub 
	Kelly Link
	Stranger Things Happen
DRM-free     Books/990CA5799084407151488A7C563DF269.epub 
	Tom Hughes-Croucher
	Node: Up and Running
DRM-free     Books/9CCCA9E217602948B84BE9A7A21C2753.epub 
	Mike Resnick
	Birthright: The Book of Man
DRM-free     Books/9DA2C8D7E941C37FA83192E5849AA850.epub 
	Q. Ethan McCallum
	Parallel R
DRM-free     Books/A7DB557515983DB67F74E2BE351FC319.epub 
	Glen Cook
	Reap the East Wind
DRM-free     Books/B18AB85267B815E540C7E370F8D97726.epub 
	Lars George
	HBase: The Definitive Guide
DRM-free     Books/B1A586D24AE5F2450010F8664F8E059D.epub 
	Cory Doctorow
	Pirate Cinema
DRM-free     Books/B562B5D74F8677C946B0A6F81EB34F1B.epub 
	Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
	Nathan the Wise; a dramatic poem in five acts
DRM-free     Books/BE42D426242836AA171539B7415732E6.epub 
	Glen Cook
	The Swordbearer
DRM-free     Books/BE80AD93781746E45CF95607A7BEE687.epub 
	Charlie Stross
	Bit Rot
DRM-free     Books/C39FBC59673713A57D404D62BE85C4DC.epub 
	Lauren Beukes
	Zoo City
DRM-free     Books/C81CBBD470EFDBC62359BDAD12FDF551.epub 
	Thomas Hobbes
	Leviathan
DRM-free     Books/D17DC1A83BD90AFB24055A01831BFAB4.epub 
	Glen Cook
	The Dragon Never Sleeps
DRM-free     Books/DA8FBAB386EC503A0EF21E481D214521.epub 
	David Flanagan
	JavaScript: The Definitive Guide
DRM-free     Books/DBAD0DE7A4305B90F6AC33C673FE68E8.epub 
	Glen Cook
	A Path to Coldness of Heart
DRM-free     Books/DBCCB54B140D1158250B24B7E3E81B63.epub 
	Scott Chacon
	Pro Git
DRM-free     Books/DF6C56F9A8719294B13BA91BED5E1667.epub 
	Mike Resnick
	Ivory
DRM-free     Books/E8D76FDD351E68D92AE4A3F3AEA7EC6A.epub 
	Paolo Bacigalupi
	Pump Six and Other Stories
DRM-free     Books/EEE65A68378C2510E18DF24CD767AC9A.epub 
	Fritz Leiber
	Swords Against Wizardry-Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-Book 4
DRM-free     Books/F3BC14466A16C96CCD8FFE00DCCF8147.epub 
	Glen Cook
	An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat
DRM-free     Books/F534835595041374B814D151A633E69D.epub 
	Peter Watts
	Blindsight
DRM-free     Books/F8BF760284ADC800B290DCA6D8EA7EF2.epub 
	Ben Klemens
	21st Century C
DRM-free     Books/FE8C57863E40B98CB732FEE4BFDB60BB.epub 
	Glen Cook
	An Ill Fate Marshalling
8 books are DRM-infested
26 could be cured

Update (2013-11-06):

OS X 10.9 Mavericks and the new iBooks app changed the location of the iBooks directory, I changed my script accordingly (and made it adjust depending on which OS version you have). Also, the file names have changed and no longer embed author and title, so I am extracting them from the XML metadata files.

Fixing Microsoft Office Mac 2011 font woes

This post may be of use to people experiencing the same problem I had. When I opened PowerPoint slides sent by a coworker, I was getting blank slides. Attempting to switch to outline view would crash PowerPoint. A search for possible solutions yielded inconclusive posts or dead-ends.

After much twiddling, it turns out the problem was with a misconfigured Arial font. Microsoft in its great wisdom installs a copy of Arial that conflicts with the system-supplied one, as explained in Kurt Lang’s must-read article on OS X font management, but that was not the root cause of the problem.

Arial was not appearing at all in the PowerPoint font menu, and opening the slides in Keynote yielded a font warning saying non-existent Arial was replaced by Arial Narrow. Clearly PowerPoint is much less resilient than Keynote to missing fonts (crashing in outline view mode is inexcusable, but that’s Microsoft coding sloppiness for you). If Arial is so vital, it should have been included as a resource in the application bundle itself, but I digress.

Font Book did show Arial as installed, with only a single copy after I purged the conflicting fonts as per Kurt Lang’s recommendations. Validating Arial in Font Book yielded a warning about duplicate fonts, but with no indication of where the duplicate may be, since Font Book itself did not know of any other instance.

It turns out I had an old pre-OpenType copy of Arial in my ~/Library/Fonts folder that was causing a conflict. It was functional enough to be picked up as conflicting and disabling Arial in PowerPoint and Keynote, but not functional enough to be listed by Font Book. I am not sure how it got there, possibly from an older version of Office and transferred over many machine upgrades. Removing the file fixed the problem. of blank slides and the crash in switching to outline view.

Of course, if you care at all about typography, you should use Helvetica rather than an inferior ersatz like Arial, but Arial is so prevalent in the taste-impaired Windows world that one cannot escape its gaucheness entirely.

 

Solving Mac freezes due to ocspd crashes

A public service announcement for anyone experiencing the same problem and who may google for a solution.

A couple of days ago my work iMac started experiencing intermittent freezing, and very slow searches in Mail.app. Rebuilding my Spotlight index overnight using sudo mdutil -Eav did not help. I started suspecting problems with recent versions of Chrome, or iTunes 10.5 Beta 7, but quitting those apps did not help either.

After running the Console.app, I noticed the following messages in my logs:

2011-09-14 17:39:20 	com.apple.launchd[1]	(com.apple.ocspd[3197]) Job appears to have crashed: Bus error
2011-09-14 17:39:21 	com.apple.ReportCrash.Root[3201]	2011-09-14 17:39:21.325 ReportCrash[3201:2903] Saved crash report for ocspd[3197] version ??? (???) to /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/ocspd_2011-09-14-173921_localhost.crash
2011-09-14 17:50:29 	com.apple.launchd[1]	(com.apple.ocspd[3269]) Job appears to have crashed: Bus error
2011-09-14 17:50:29 	com.apple.ReportCrash.Root[3270]	2011-09-14 17:50:29.964 ReportCrash[3270:2903] Saved crash report for ocspd[3269] version ??? (???) to /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/ocspd_2011-09-14-175029_localhost.crash
2011-09-14 17:50:45 	com.apple.launchd[1]	(com.apple.ocspd[3271]) Job appears to have crashed: Bus error
2011-09-14 17:50:45 	com.apple.ReportCrash.Root[3270]	2011-09-14 17:50:45.117 ReportCrash[3270:2807] Saved crash report for ocspd[3271] version ??? (???) to /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/ocspd_2011-09-14-175045_localhost.crash

Looking at those crash dumps did not yield very useful information, just some blather like this:

Process:         ocspd [3197]
Path:            /usr/sbin/ocspd
Identifier:      ocspd
Version:         ??? (???)
Code Type:       X86-64 (Native)
Parent Process:  launchd [1]

Date/Time:       2011-09-14 17:39:19.339 -0700
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
Report Version:  6

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGBUS)
Exception Codes: 0x000000000000000a, 0x000000010009b210
Crashed Thread:  0  Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread

Thread 0 Crashed:  Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
0   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b59d0b Security::ReadSection::at(unsigned int) const + 25
1   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b59172 Security::DbVersion::open() + 62
2   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b58cc1 Security::DbVersion::DbVersion(Security::AppleDatabase const&, Security::RefPointer const&) + 179
3   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b587ce Security::DbModifier::getDbVersion(bool) + 330
4   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b58675 Security::DbModifier::openDatabase() + 33
5   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b582b9 Security::Database::_dbOpen(Security::DatabaseSession&, unsigned int, Security::AccessCredentials const*, void const*) + 221
6   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b576c1 Security::DatabaseManager::dbOpen(Security::DatabaseSession&, Security::DbName const&, unsigned int, Security::AccessCredentials const*, void const*) + 77
7   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b575a3 Security::DatabaseSession::DbOpen(char const*, cssm_net_address const*, unsigned int, Security::AccessCredentials const*, void const*, long&) + 285
8   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b6b294 cssm_DbOpen(long, char const*, cssm_net_address const*, unsigned int, cssm_access_credentials const*, void const*, long*) + 108
9   com.apple.security            	0x00007fff87b6ae3a CSSM_DL_DbOpen + 106
10  ocspd                         	0x0000000100006ad9 0x100000000 + 27353
11  ocspd                         	0x0000000100006cab 0x100000000 + 27819
12  ocspd                         	0x0000000100001f68 0x100000000 + 8040
13  ocspd                         	0x00000001000176ed 0x100000000 + 95981
14  ocspd                         	0x000000010001787b 0x100000000 + 96379
15  ocspd                         	0x0000000100017e4f 0x100000000 + 97871
16  ocspd                         	0x0000000100004613 0x100000000 + 17939
17  ocspd                         	0x0000000100001d48 0x100000000 + 7496

Thread 0 crashed with X86 Thread State (64-bit):
  rax: 0x000000010008e000  rbx: 0x000000010008e000  rcx: 0x00007fff88f0d47a  rdx: 0x000000000000d210
  rdi: 0x0000000100115478  rsi: 0x000000000000d210  rbp: 0x00007fff5fbfe850  rsp: 0x00007fff5fbfe850
   r8: 0x0000000000000003   r9: 0x0000000000000000  r10: 0x00007fff88f0597a  r11: 0x0000000000000206
  r12: 0x0000000100115478  r13: 0x00007fff5fbfecd0  r14: 0x00007fff5fbfecd0  r15: 0x00007fff5fbfed20
  rip: 0x00007fff87b59d0b  rfl: 0x0000000000010297  cr2: 0x000000010009b210

Binary Images:
       0x100000000 -        0x10003cfef +ocspd ??? (???)  /usr/sbin/ocspd
    0x7fff5fc00000 -     0x7fff5fc3bdef  dyld 132.1 (???)  /usr/lib/dyld
    0x7fff80853000 -     0x7fff80859ff7  com.apple.DiskArbitration 2.3 (2.3)  /System/Library/Frameworks/DiskArbitration.framework/Versions/A/DiskArbitration
    0x7fff80baa000 -     0x7fff80c27fef  libstdc++.6.dylib 7.9.0 (compatibility 7.0.0)  /usr/lib/libstdc++.6.dylib
    0x7fff811af000 -     0x7fff81268fff  libsqlite3.dylib 9.6.0 (compatibility 9.0.0)  /usr/lib/libsqlite3.dylib
    0x7fff812e9000 -     0x7fff8161dfef  com.apple.CoreServices.CarbonCore 861.39 (861.39)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/CarbonCore.framework/Versions/A/CarbonCore
    0x7fff82092000 -     0x7fff82122fff  com.apple.SearchKit 1.3.0 (1.3.0)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/SearchKit.framework/Versions/A/SearchKit
    0x7fff8229d000 -     0x7fff822c8ff7  libxslt.1.dylib 3.24.0 (compatibility 3.0.0)  /usr/lib/libxslt.1.dylib
    0x7fff82695000 -     0x7fff826d2fff  com.apple.LDAPFramework 2.0 (120.1)  /System/Library/Frameworks/LDAP.framework/Versions/A/LDAP
    0x7fff82954000 -     0x7fff82966fe7  libsasl2.2.dylib 3.15.0 (compatibility 3.0.0)  /usr/lib/libsasl2.2.dylib
    0x7fff82ae1000 -     0x7fff82b81fff  com.apple.LaunchServices 362.3 (362.3)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/LaunchServices
    0x7fff82c8f000 -     0x7fff82c9dff7  libkxld.dylib ??? (???)  /usr/lib/system/libkxld.dylib
    0x7fff82d0e000 -     0x7fff82dc4ff7  libobjc.A.dylib 227.0.0 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/libobjc.A.dylib
    0x7fff82dc5000 -     0x7fff82de6fff  libresolv.9.dylib 41.0.0 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/libresolv.9.dylib
    0x7fff8349e000 -     0x7fff834adfff  com.apple.NetFS 3.2.2 (3.2.2)  /System/Library/Frameworks/NetFS.framework/Versions/A/NetFS
    0x7fff83a2b000 -     0x7fff83a41fef  libbsm.0.dylib ??? (???)  /usr/lib/libbsm.0.dylib
    0x7fff83a42000 -     0x7fff83bb9fe7  com.apple.CoreFoundation 6.6.5 (550.43)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreFoundation.framework/Versions/A/CoreFoundation
    0x7fff83bbe000 -     0x7fff83c92fe7  com.apple.CFNetwork 454.12.4 (454.12.4)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/CFNetwork.framework/Versions/A/CFNetwork
    0x7fff83c93000 -     0x7fff83cbbfff  com.apple.DictionaryServices 1.1.2 (1.1.2)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/DictionaryServices.framework/Versions/A/DictionaryServices
    0x7fff84905000 -     0x7fff849c2fff  com.apple.CoreServices.OSServices 359.2 (359.2)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/OSServices.framework/Versions/A/OSServices
    0x7fff849d8000 -     0x7fff84a38fe7  com.apple.framework.IOKit 2.0 (???)  /System/Library/Frameworks/IOKit.framework/Versions/A/IOKit
    0x7fff850ef000 -     0x7fff8513bfff  libauto.dylib ??? (???)  /usr/lib/libauto.dylib
    0x7fff851a2000 -     0x7fff851ddfff  com.apple.AE 496.5 (496.5)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/AE.framework/Versions/A/AE
    0x7fff8525f000 -     0x7fff85270ff7  libz.1.dylib 1.2.3 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/libz.1.dylib
    0x7fff85b42000 -     0x7fff85b43ff7  com.apple.TrustEvaluationAgent 1.1 (1)  /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/TrustEvaluationAgent.framework/Versions/A/TrustEvaluationAgent
    0x7fff87921000 -     0x7fff8796bff7  com.apple.Metadata 10.6.3 (507.15)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/Metadata.framework/Versions/A/Metadata
    0x7fff87b2b000 -     0x7fff87db4ff7  com.apple.security 6.1.2 (55002)  /System/Library/Frameworks/Security.framework/Versions/A/Security
    0x7fff88b46000 -     0x7fff88b4aff7  libmathCommon.A.dylib 315.0.0 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/system/libmathCommon.A.dylib
    0x7fff88f02000 -     0x7fff890c3fef  libSystem.B.dylib 125.2.11 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/libSystem.B.dylib
    0x7fff8921b000 -     0x7fff8933afe7  libcrypto.0.9.8.dylib 0.9.8 (compatibility 0.9.8)  /usr/lib/libcrypto.0.9.8.dylib
    0x7fff8933b000 -     0x7fff89378ff7  libssl.0.9.8.dylib 0.9.8 (compatibility 0.9.8)  /usr/lib/libssl.0.9.8.dylib
    0x7fff89494000 -     0x7fff894d5fff  com.apple.SystemConfiguration 1.10.8 (1.10.2)  /System/Library/Frameworks/SystemConfiguration.framework/Versions/A/SystemConfiguration
    0x7fff8953e000 -     0x7fff896fcfff  libicucore.A.dylib 40.0.0 (compatibility 1.0.0)  /usr/lib/libicucore.A.dylib
    0x7fff89b66000 -     0x7fff89b66ff7  com.apple.CoreServices 44 (44)  /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/CoreServices
    0x7fff8a545000 -     0x7fff8a65cfef  libxml2.2.dylib 10.3.0 (compatibility 10.0.0)  /usr/lib/libxml2.2.dylib
    0x7fffffe00000 -     0x7fffffe01fff  libSystem.B.dylib ??? (???)  /usr/lib/libSystem.B.dylib

Some of the information you get when googling for the error message is misleading, suggesting ocspd is somehow tied to nVidia graphics drivers. It is in fact the system daemon that handles verification and revocation of SSL certificates using the Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP), a vital component of the Internet’s security architecture, as evidenced by the recent Diginotar fiasco. Thus presumably it is used throughout Internet apps like Mail.app or Chrome, and the regular crashes (at 3 minute intervals or so) would also freeze any apps that make use of cryptography.

The solution was to delete the the temporary certificate revocation list (CRL) databases ocspd maintains:

sudo rm -rf /private/var/db/crls/*
sudo rm -rf /private/var/db/crls/.fl*

A corrupted database is probably responsible for the repeated crashes I observed, and clearing those solved my problem. You may want to make backups of those files instead of just deleting them.

As usual, I disclaim responsibility for any harm this procedure may do to your computer, or induce it to eat your dog, who ate your homework.

So much for the theory that the Mac “just works”. To paraphrase Churchill, it is the worst operating system, with the exception of all others…

Update (2014-04-30):

Well, at least OCSP works on the Mac. You can test it by trying https://revoked.grc.com/. Google Chrome also rejects this, but being Google, they don’t use the standard and implemented their own seriously flawed CRL distribution mechanism  (they manually blacklisted the GRC test site, for instance). Safari on iOS does not block the site at all (a StackOverflow thread suggests verification is only performed for EV certificates, which is are used in only a tiny minority of SSL/TLS sites).

Clearing custom crop aspect ratios in Lightroom

Lightroom’s crop tool allows you to constrain the aspect ratio to a proportion of your choice, e.g. to 4:3, defaulting to the same aspect ratio as the original. The last 5 or so custom crop aspect ratios are saved, but a minor annoyance is you are unable to clear the list.

Python on the Mac and SQLite to the rescue: this simple script  lraspect.zip will reset them. If you use a non-default name for your Lightroom catalog, you will need to edit it. To run it, quit Lightroom and run the script. It will back up your catalog for you just in case.

Needless to say, I cannot be held liable if this script corrupts your catalog or eats your dog (who ate your homework), use at your own risk.

#!/usr/bin/python
import sys, os, sqlite3

# edit this to point to your LR3 catalog if you do not use the default location
lrcat = os.path.expanduser('~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom 3 Catalog.lrcat')

os.system('cp -i "%s" "%s.bak"' % (lrcat, lrcat))
db = sqlite3.connect(lrcat)
c = db.cursor()
c.execute("""select value from Adobe_variablesTable
where name='Adobe_customCropAspects'""")
crops = c.fetchone()[0]
print 'aspect ratios:', crops
c.execute("""update Adobe_variablesTable
set value='{}'
where name='Adobe_customCropAspects'""")
db.commit()
print 'Custom crop aspect ratios reset successfully'

A waiter for a server

I had to monitor a long-running process on a Solaris server tonight, but didn’t want to stay glued at a computer monitor. A neat trick:

ssh myserver.example.com "pwait 17601"; say "batch done"

You would replace 17601 with the process ID of the job you are waiting for, of course. That way, my Mac connects to the server, waits for the job to complete, then gives me an spoken alert when it is done. I can watch a movie, do chores or whatever during that time. I am sure there are equivalent commands to pwait for Linux.

Hey Apple…

Some improvements you should consider:

  • Sync iPods, iPhones and iPads over WiFi. Cables are so twentieth century. Palm had bluetooth sync working ten years ago, and 802.11n has the same real-world speed as USB. You could then simply extend this to sync the device to the cloud instead of a specific computer.
  • Ditching DVDs to offer an OS reinstall USB flash drive on the new MacBook Airs and Pros is a good idea, but the stick is easy to misplace. How about soldering a read-only USB drive directly onto the motherboard so it can never be lost?
  • When someone enters an address in a Calendar entry on iOS, make it clickable and linked to the Maps app, the way addresses in Contacts are. Copying and pasting them manually is a drag.
  • Stop adding useless frills like “stationery” to Mail.app, and make the default chronological sort order switchable to “most recent on top”.
  • Add HDMI CEC support to the AppleTV. It would be nice to have a HDTV automatically switch over to the AppleTV’s HDMI input when you try to access it. Speaking of which, it would be nice to have an option to disable the audio out on HDMI, e.g. if you have a decent surround sound system connected to it over Toslink and don’t want the TV’s tinny speakers to kick in.

Dear Parallels

Since you keep hitting me with these spammy popups no matter how many times I click on “Do not show again”, you leave me no choice but to switch to VirtualBox (much better software in any case, and less Windows integration means less chances a virus breaking out of the virtualized Windows ghetto.

Oh, and installing MacFuse without asking permission (unlike VMware Fusion): not cool.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Will Adobe ever learn?

In a triumph of hope over experience, I recently “upgraded” from Adobe CS3 Design Standard to CS5 Design Standard. I hardly ever use Photoshop any more since I started using Aperture and Lightroom (originally a Macromedia product, no matter what the lame “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” face-saving branding may try to claim), the main driver for the purchase was actually InDesign CS5 and its ePub functions.

Of course, this is Adobe. Previous versions gratuitously included crud like a full Opera install (an older version, insecure, naturally) just to display a splash screen, or a full MySQL install to power Acrobat search. I never install Acrobat, of course, since that bloated and bug-ridden piece of garbage managed to steal the crown for most insecure software from Internet Explorer, no small feat.

Adobe does not want to confuse users with streamlined and efficient software, so they decided to include the mostly useless Growl on-screen notification program to nag you into registering. Increasing bloat and attack surface for malware is not a good idea, nor is interrupting creative people’s flow with interruptions. Of course, helping clients Get Things Done is a low priority at Adobe, as evidenced by their product choices.

You have to pity the Growl developers, whose reputation will suffer from guilt by association. I dislike interruptions and do not find it useful, but many people do and rave about it. They installed it by choice, not as a sneaky drive-by install for slimy marketing purposes.

Some more annoyances in CS5:

  • The pricing for the suite is more than the sum of its parts: $200 each for Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, $700 for Design Standard. I suppose they must think Acrobat and their online tie-ins have a value of $100 (hint: they forgot the negative sign).
  • Of course, they won’t let you upgrade individual component applications.
  • On the plus side, they now have the decency to include Acrobat on a separate CD, so you can discard it immediately and not risk installing it as a side-effect of installing the apps that are actually useful.
  • The icons were designed by the world’s laziest and most creatively bankrupt designer, just as with CS3 and CS4
  • Performance on a high-end 8-core or 12-core Mac is actually slower than on a lower-end configuration, thanks to legacy cruft and incompetence.
  • It is slower to load on my wife’s MacBook Pro. Each successive version of OS X is faster on the same hardware, Microsoft and Adobe deliver software that gets progressively slower.

In other words, unlike Lightroom, CS5 is designed to be endured, not to delight.

Organizing with Delicious Library

Delicious Library is one of the slickest apps on the Mac, and won countless design accolades. Essentially, it is a database for your books, CDs and DVDs (version 2 added gadgets), and it looks glorious on a large monitor like mine. It seems like a novelty for collector-fondlers, and I myself unfairly dismissed it as a toy in 2008, but behind its playful user interface lies a remarkably powerful organizational tool, and the new 2.5 version has made major improvements in stability and performance after 2 years of relative neglect.

Screenshot of Delicious Library

My wife and I are both avid readers—one of our common dreams is to someday have a home with a dedicated room for a library. We are squarely in the demographic for the Bookshelf porn website. Here is a montage of mine alone, not including the books I reluctantly had to consign to storage, or those in my parents’ basement back in France:

My bookshelves

With well over 900 books, I needed a system to manage. At some point I discovered Delicious Library has a writeable location field in its database for every item, and you can create virtual shelves to organize your books. I literally have one DL shelf for each shelf in my bookshelves, one for each box in storage, and one for all the books I keep at work. This way, I can browse shelf by shelf or box by box, or conversely look up the location of a book I need.

Location data for a book

You may think recording the location of each book would be a mind-numbing task, but Delicious Library makes it effortless. It can read ISBN bar codes using the iSight camera included in most Macs, but a better option is to use the Microvision RoV Bluetooth barcode scanner they sell and support. It is quite inexpensive at well over $200, specially compared to the inexpensive Symbol CS1504, but the convenience makes it well worth the price if you have a serious library to wrangle.

If you select a shelf on the right sidebar, then scan a barcode, the book is automatically added to the selected shelf. I filed a feature request with them in 2008 for precisely this, and I do not know when they added it, but it makes a world of difference. The scanner has a memory, so you can zip into an adjoining room, scan all the barcodes on a shelf, zip back and let the scanner pour the shelf’s inventory into DL. It even reads out the titles as they are added. Repeat the process and quite quickly you can compile an inventory of your entire library.

The search function in DL is somewhat primitive, but Smart bookshelves (similar to iTunes’ Smart playlists) help. I have Smart Bookshelves for:

  • Books I have already read
  • Books I have yet to read
  • Books that now have significant resale values on Amazon, to identify candidates for decluttering (you would be surprised to see the markups some art or technical books can fetch once they go out of print, even temporarily, such as my old copy of De Marco’s Peopleware).
  • Books signed by the author
  • Science-Fiction and Fantasy books, using Amazon’s (probably Bookscan’s) categorization
  • Computer books, similarly

Delicious Library tries hard to use cutting-edge functionality in OS X, which is why version 2 only supported Snow Leopard and later. It has a top-notch AppleScript implementation. I am no AppleScript guru, but I relatively easily wrote my own scripts to:

  • Copy the bookshelf name into all the books it contains. This essentially eliminates the data entry, but you have to be careful to make sure a book is not misfiled into two shelves at the same time. The sample script Highlight shelves containing selected media is helpful in this respect.
  • Find the BookMooch entry for books I want to give away.
  • Find the book in the San Francisco Public Library, in case they do not have it and might be interested in a donation.

Thanks to the user interface, browsing books on the Mac is almost as fun as doing so on the bookshelves, and infinitely faster. Of course, this is true of most book catalog programs, including many fine free options available for Windows and Mac, but most others do it with less aplomb.

Incensed at Mozilla

One of the greatest features in the Webkit-based browsers (Apple’s Safari and Google Chrome) is WebSQLdatabase, the ability for a web site to store information in a SQLite database on your browser accessible via JavaScript. This allows web developers to build database-enabled applications that run entirely in the browser, without requiring a server. This is very useful for mobile devices, which in the US enjoy flaky network connectivity at best. One very handsome example is the iPad-optimized Every Time Zone webapp.

SQLite is probably the most important open-source project you have never heard of. It is a simple, streamlined and efficient embedded database. Firefox stores its bookmarks in it. Google distributes its database of phishing sites in that format. Sun’s industrial-strength Solaris operating system stores the list of services it runs on boot in it—if it were to fail, a server would be crippled so that is a pretty strong vote of confidence. Adobe Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture use it to store their database, as do most Mac applications that use the CoreData framework, and many iPhone apps. In other words, it is robust and proven mission-critical software that is widely yet invisibly deployed.

WebSQLdatabase basically makes the power of SQLite available to web developers trying to build apps that work offline, specially on mobile devices. No good deed goes unpunished, and the Mozilla foundation teamed up with unlikely bedfellow Microsoft to torpedo formal adoption of WebSQLdatabase as a web standard, on spurious grounds, and pushed an alternate standard called IndexedDB instead. To quote the Chromium team:

Q: Why this over WebSQLDatabase?

A: Microsoft and Mozilla have made it very clear they will not implement SQL in the browser.  If you want to argue this is silly, talk to them, not me.

IndexedDB is several steps backwards. Instead of using powerful, expressive and mature SQL technology, it uses a verbose JavaScript B-tree API that is a throwback to the 1960s bad old days of hierarchical databases and ISAM, requires a lot more work from the developer, for no good reason. To add injury to insult, Firefox 4’s implementation of IndexedDB is actually built on top of SQLite. The end result will be that web developers will need to build a SQL emulation library on top of IndexedDB to restore the SQLite functionality deliberately crippled by IndexedDB. If there is one constant in software engineering, it is that multiple layers add brittleness and impair performance.

Of course, both Mozilla and Microsoft are irrelevant on mobiles, where WebKit has essentially won the day, so why should this matter? Microsoft has always been a hindrance to the development of the web, since they have to protect the Windows API from competition by increasingly capable webapps, but I cannot understand Mozilla’s attitude, except possibly knee-jerk not-invented-here syndrome and petulance at being upstaged by WebKit. WebSQLdatabase is not perfect—to reach its full potential, it needs and automatic replication and sync facility between the local database and the website’s own database, but it is light years ahead of IndexedDB in terms of power and productivity.

I am so irritated by Mozilla’s attitude that after 10 years of using Mozilla-based browsers, I switched today from Firefox to Chrome as my primary browser. Migrating was surprisingly easy. Key functionality like bookmark keywords, AdBlock, FlashBlock, a developer console, and the ability to whitelist domains for cookies, all have equivalents on Chrome. The main regressions are bookmark tags, and Chrome’s sync options are not yet equivalent to Weave‘s. At some point I will need to roll my own password syncing facility (Chrome stores its passwords in the OS X keychain, which is also used by Safari and Camino).

Ginormous iPod to go

The hard drive in my October 2006 vintage 80GB iPod 5.5G died a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t keen on upgrading to the iPod Classic as:

  1. With a maximum capacity of 160GB, it is still too small to house my entire 220GB music collection
  2. Apple introduced encrypted audio outputs on the dock connector, to force accessory makers to pay royalties, thus making it incompatible with many accessories and forcing you to buy new ones.

I use my iPod mostly in my car. The classic hard drive iPods have one key capability iPhones and iPod Touches lack—the ability to shuffle by album, which is essential when you listen mostly to classical music and where an opus maps to an album.

While investigating repair options, I found out Toshiba now makes a two-platter 240GB (224 GiB) hard drive. The iPod Classic won’t recognize the second platter (a third strike against it) but the 5.5G will. I sent mine to RapidRepair for repair/upgrade and received it back yesterday. The flip side of such an enormous drive is that the sync takes forever: I started it around 10PM yesterday and it is till running, over 9 hours later. They handled the repair very professionally, there are no marks on the casing, and I now have a fully functional 224GB iPod for less than the price of buying a new 160GB iPod Classic. The only feature it is missing is the ability to play 24-bit/96kHz ALAC files like those I made out FLACs purchased from Linn or the B&W Society of Sound.

I can’t understand why Apple does not make this new high-capacity drive available in iPods or the MacBook Air.