Workspace Restoration

Published 19 years, 2 months past

Oh, the joys of emergency restoration, drive repartitioning, data gaps, and reconstructing an absent work environment.

You may recall that I mentioned sending my PowerBook in for repair.  It’s still at the repair depot.  Apparently it needs a replacement for a rare component, so its repair is held up by a backorder situation.  You’d think they could do the Dell thing and just swap the hard drive into a new machine with the same configuration and send that to me, but I guess that would make too much sense.  So my only hopes for getting back up to speed lay with my trusty G4/500 with 384MB of RAM.

The first step: I had to install OS X on it if I had any hope of getting myself back to a semblance of productivity.  The only problem was that my boot volume, even stripped down to its essentials, didn’t have enough room to play host to both OS 9 and OS X.  I’d originally set up the drive to have a 2GB boot volume—acres of room in the Classic days—plus a 1GB scratch volume and a 22 GB main partition.  I’ve been doing drives this way for a decade or so.  Unfortunately, my strategy wasn’t sufficient for a Panther-driven world.

So before I could even install OS X, I’d have to repartition the hard drive.  That meant shunting everything to my newly arrived OWC Mercury Elite Pro 250GB hard drive, repartitioning the internal HD, installing OS X, running it through a zillion software updates, and then copying over the OS 9 folder so I’ll have it if I need to reboot into Classic.

Joy and more joy.  So I did all that over the weekend, starting off with a full Retrospect backup of all the drive volumes and then proceeding to move files around like I was playing a FireWire-based version of Towers of Hanoi.  While I was at it, I threw away a good deal of cruft (old installers, log files, that kind of thing) and moved a big heap of old data to a new permanent archival home on my external drive.

I’m happy to report that, in the end, everything came together rather nicely.  I’m now up and running with OS X on this aging beast, and while it certainly isn’t as snappy as my 1.25GHz/1GB RAM PowerBook, it’s quite functional.

Why did I just bore you with all that?  Because I wanted to share which free packages and extra doodads I’ve discovered are absolutely necessary to my getting back up to speed in OS X.

  • Complete MySQL from Server Logistics — I can’t run WordPress locally without MySQL, and this is the package that actually installs correctly.
  • CocoaMySQL — a nice little GUI front end to MySQL.  Handy for reaching into the DBs and tweaking values, which can be necessary if you do a sqldump on one machine and then jam it wholesale onto another.  Which I did.
  • Classic Window Management v1.0 — makes the OS act rational again by grouping together windows by process.  So if I click on the desktop, all the Finder windows pop to the fore.  When I click on a BBEdit window, all the BBEdit windows pop up.  None of this interleaved application nonsense.  (Which you can still invoke with a modifier key.)  Installing this also meant installing APE, but that’s probably a good thing anyway.
  • This isn’t really a software install, but it’s free.  I also hacked OS X to make Command-N create a new folder, instead of open a new Finder window.  More details can be found via my post “Now That’s A Switch“.  No, I will not adapt to the OS in this case: it will adapt to me instead, whether it really wants to or not.
  • SheetSpeed — if there’s one thing I can’t stand about OS X, it’s the bendy slidy dialog boxes, otherwise known as “sheets”.  (Which I sometimes pronouce with more of a “ih” sound than an “ee” sound in the middle, if you know what I mean.)  With SheetSpeed, you can crank the slide time down to zero, meaning the sheets just pop into existence and then disappear the instant you’re done with them.  You can also slow them way, way down, but doing so for any purpose other than temporary amusement should be grounds for a mental examination.
  • Ejector — great for clearing out .dmg volumes.  Sure, I could use Exposé to move everything aside and click-drag-toss, but that’s just not my style.  Ejector is far more capable than the file that comes with OS X.
  • Mouseposé — I’m forever losing my mouse pointer on my Cinema Display.  Or I was, until I installed Mouseposé.  It’s also very handy for presentations, which will be a lot more relevant when I finally get my laptop back.
  • TinkerTool — nice for things like putting the Dock precisely where I want it, and also for tweaking the OS here and there.

In addition to all those goodies, there are the more robust programs, some of them costing actual money (gasp!), that I just can’t live without.

  • BBEdit 8.1 — natch.
  • SubEthaEdit — this is becoming invaluable to me for remote collaborative document editing.  Tantek and I recently worked on a document while physically separated by 2100+ miles, and then worked on the same document while in the same room at SXSW.
  • Firefox — of course.
  • Thunderbird 1.0.2 — better at IMAP than Eudora 5.2, which is the version I’m using.  (I was surprised to discover it’s Carbonized!)
  • Transmit — all right, I admit I’m still without this one.  I’m a registered user of Transmit 2, and I can’t find an installer for it anywhere.  I miss it.  In the meantime, Fugu has been filling in.  I’d actually consider switching to it if it supported drag-and-dropping.  Instead, I just emailed the folks at Panic to see if they can point me to a 2.x installer.
  • DragThing — so much better than the Dock in so many ways.  Its one failing is that when you minimize windows to its process dock, they don’t appear as tiny thumbnails of themselves.  So I use the Dock as a process dock, and DragThing for everything else a dock should do.

Then there are the programs I want to install but can’t find in the form I want, like CalendarClock, which has become a commercial product and is no longer available as donationware.  I might have an installer for it on my laptop… not that it does me any good right now.

Anyway, there will undoubtedly be more to come, but I thought I’d share my gotta-have-’em bits with you.

Comments (22)

  1. eric, just wanted to drop by and let you (and others) about XAMPP ( ) this installs a boatload of applications in one installer…. apache, php 5/4, mysql, plus addins for python and tomcat. its a must if installing from scratch.

  2. Why in the world must you install OS 9 and OS X? I long for the day when Apple stops shipping OS 9 with its computers. It’s dead anyway, but Apple’s keeping it on life support.

  3. No QuickSilver? For shame! ;-) Honestly, I think I’d keel over and die if I had to live without it – that’s how addicting it is (I can’t remember the last time I accessed an application through the Finder).

  4. Eric: I still like OS 9. I still have applications that run better there than in Classic mode under OS X (like Photoshop 5.5; yes, I have CS; no, it isn’t always better). Given the degree to which I hack and tweak OS X to make it act like OS 9, is it any wonder I want the folder hanging around? Besides, it’s about about 300MB, as opposed to the 2GB monster that is OS X.

    Sage: I tried Quicksilver some time back and really, really disliked it. I find myself wondering why everyone’s so enamored of it, but to each their own, eh?

  5. Yes for Quicksilver ! And another nice utility for keyboard users: Witch (Expose at application level, cycle through open windows).

    And I’m with you Eric (M). I still use OS 9 – Fireworks 4 (can’t stand the look and the lack of speed of MX 2004).

  6. Transmit 3 is worth the upgrade. The docksend feature is the best thing I have seen. I use it for everything now. If you like dragging and dropping into a remote window, then you will like the docksend. You just drag something onto the dock after telling it, “Everything in this folder should goto this site in this folder when I drag it to the dock icon.”

    I mean really, I couldn’t live without.

    And CSSEdit. I really like it if even for just the color preview of the text and background.

  7. Fugu’s great, but have you tried Cyberduck? It supports both FTP and SFTP; allows you to have multiple windows open; supports drag-and-drop… It’s pretty excellent. Free too.

    Good luck with that PowerBook situation…

  8. This long procedure of installing and recovering software reminds me why I prefer comprehensive Linux distributions. Don’t you wish you could install OS X with everything else pre-loaded? The redundant bits do no harm. Also, you can distribute everything on several machines, without any repeated effort. Something to think about…

  9. I feel your pain about the repair lag; my Aluminum PowerBook is there, and has been there and on hold for over a week now. Thankfully, I never sold my old TiBook, so I can use Carbon Copy Cloner and pretend nothing about my workspace is different. Sad that Apple’s hardware and repair service has degraded to the point of needing a backup computer…

    For those that don’t know, you can check the status of your Apple repair at

    You need an Apple ID for the login, and to find your specific repair info, the serial number and your ZIP Code or the Dispatch ID (my recent Dispatch IDs have started with “G”, followed by 9 digits). The Apple Authorized repair center I deal with refers to the Dispatch ID as the “Claim Number”, so pay more attention to the ID’s format than what it’s called.

    More often than not, it will be on (seemingly indefinite) Hold, with such stunning detail as “Awaiting Part” or “Need More Info”. Sometimes, they even contact you when they need more info. Don’t count on it, though.

  10. I agree with some of our newly installed apps, however I really dislike anything to do with APE – most APE plugins (and really the engine itself) seem to be such a stability problem, that they negate the usefullness of the apps. I also tried Thurderbird for a while, but really like Mail’s IMAP handling much better – it just seems like a “finished” application.

  11. Eric,

    You talked about wordpress what do you think about this?


  12. I’ve got a .dmg of Transmit 2.6.2 if you’d like it. I’d agree with the previous comment about 3.0 being worth the upgrade, though.

  13. I concur on the Cyberduck recommendation. Incidentally, Transmit 3 is worth the price of upgrade if you intend to stick with Transmit.

  14. Eric, everyone loves Quicksilver so much because it’s getting a lot better really fast. With the right plugins, the speed with which you can do things is really surprising.

    For example, last night I wanted to paste one of my bookmarks onto IRC for consumption. Instead of tediously opening my browser, finding it, copy-link-location, switchback, yadda yadda… I hit cmd-space (quicksilver), del-=> (open integration, now I have a searchable list), “LatentSI” (now I have the LSI article selected, I didn’t even remember its full name,just a keyword from the title and some other letters), then I hit TAB-“p”-ENTER, and BAM, right into the IRC window.

    I can open up whole projects with less than 7 keypresses into ProjectManager or TextMate.

    Well, you get the idea. Quicksilver is really worth a deep look. It grows on you really quickly, especially when you have the right plugins and you tweak it a bit.

  15. This is awesome, Eric. As a person with a new PowerBook, this information will be invaluable to me. Thanks! :)

  16. Eric,

    I’ve had the same need as you to install MySQL locally on my PowerBook, and until recently used to install the same packages from Server Logistics like you mentioned. However, last week I came across the MAMP (Macintosh, Apache, MySQL, PHP) project. With just a few mouse-clicks, you can install Apache, PHP and MySQL for Mac OS X! MAMP installs a local server environment in a matter of seconds.

    MAMP is installed in the typical Mac fashion: very easily. MAMP will not compromise any existing Apache installation already running with your OS X. You can install Apache, PHP and MySQL without starting a script or having to change any configuration files!

    What’s more, if MAMP is no longer needed, it is sufficient to delete the MAMP folder and everything returns to its original status (i.e. MAMP does not modify any of the “normal” OS X).

    Now it’s even easier than before to locally work with a content management system (like WordPress, Movable Type, or TextPattern) on your Mac.

    P.S. – If the gang from Panic doesn’t get back to you quickly (I doubt this to be the case) I have a copy of the Transmit 2.6.2 installer you’re welcome to help yourself to — just e-mail me and I’ll make it available to you. Best of luck getting your PowerBook back.

  17. I just recently got my first Mac, a lovely new PowerBook, and one of the things that I had to have was a better clock for the menu bar (I think that is what it is called any way). I am used to a clock like Gnome’s that displayes the full date beside the time and offers a calendar when clicked. I ended up finding wClock. My only problem with it is the calendar function doesn’t work if it is set to start up on login. Since I hardly ever reboot it isn’t too much of a problem to just restart the clock when I do. Hopefully that little bug gets fixed though.

  18. Get your hands on Transmit 2? I’ve got the original .dmg here, so, I wouldn’t mind giving you it… *Notices Ryan’s comment, kicks self*

    Sheetspeed… Oh 5 seconds is nice for a littl’ fun… Now I’ve got it at the default again, it seems to fast :D

    Mouseposé will definatly help me… Easy to lose a cursor on a 30″ Cinema Display HD…

    As for BBedit, why not just use SubEthaEdit for every thing… And for people who want it here is a syntax highlighting for PHP and HTML for those who want it as highlight_string(); does it….

  19. I found your site looking for a solution to the problem of disappearing mouse pointer in OSX:

    So I’m going to try your Mouseposé to reveal the pointer next time this bug happens again.

  20. I can send you the last version of Calendarclock.
    Assuming you have access to the email I entered.

  21. I found a round about way to get an older version of Transmit. If you download the Transmit 3 demo you can then FTP to and it will not ask for a login or password and will show you an archive folder that will allow you to pull from past versions (including point releases) to download.
    Logging in by any other FTP client didn’t reveal this folder.

  22. Getting a Pwoerbook was also on my mind, but i had to skip it because of the costs.

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