Archives for September 2006
If you’ve ever tried to save music videos from your browser onto your hard drive, you’ve run into then name Akamai. Usually the final video, once you’ve removed all the frames and html and everything surrounding it, is hosted from an Akamai address with a bunch of numbers as the URL.
It turns out Akamai is a very old compamy, originally founded in 1995.
Like other Net infrastructure plays, Akamai got swept up in dot-com fever. Following its 1999 IPO, the stock price soared from $26 in late October to $345 on New Year’s Eve. But when the Internet bubble burst, many of Akamai’s customers went bust or just disappeared. Then Lewin was killed on September 11 on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. In 2001, Akamai lost $2.4 billion; a year later, the share price bottomed at just 56¢.
Akamai stock has tripled over the past year to $43.
Lessons to be taken here:
- the value of persistence
- the foolishness of financial markets (i.e. the lemming effect)
- the value over time of good ideas
- the importance of load spreading for speed in web applications (i.e. almost all the big companies including Google, Apple and Microsoft are using Akamai – if there were an easier or cheaper way, they’d be using it)
Internet Boom - Bust - Boom Continues »
I’ve just lost lots of hours this week trying to rescue my boot firewire drive. It’s a notebook sized 2.5″ Drive in a sleek little aluminum Firewire 800 case from O’ToStore.
Apparently the drive has been failing for weeks and I just haven’t been noticing. Alas SMART does not work on Firewire drives or I probably would have noticed right away.
The cause of the failure? Bad sectors.
I normally backup my boot drive every week or so, but let it slip for a few weeks this time.
When I got around to making the backup using SuperDuper! (free edition, full backup), my backup failed on an I/O error. An I/O error is the equivalent of a bad sector.
Now I was really in trouble. My backup boot disk was shot as well. Strangely enough the original still worked well enough running the OS as long as I wasn’t trying to back it up.
Bad Sector - I/O Error in OS X while Backing Up Continues »
For a background on how this review came about and on some of the nuances of using these backup and file synchronisation utilities in stress testing, please see my post on Input/Output Errors in OS X during Back Up.
Backup and File Synchronisation Software for Apple OS X Major Players
SuperDuper! – super when it works. Gets best of breed in a highly technical review of these backup utilities (well worth reading). Priced right at $28. Quality demo (only SmartUpdate not available). Every reason to use and buy. Will not succeed against I/O errors however. Helpful and friendly support. No draconian license policy. Highly recommended.
Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) – Freeware. Extensive documentation. But seen better days as creator Mike Bombich was hired by Apple a couple of years ago and can’t spend as much time on it as he used to. At its best with OS 10.2.
ASR (Apple System Restore) – Freeware. Perhaps this is what Mike Bombich has been up to while at Apple. A very good and robust solution that only seems to fail with I/O issues and that it creates only disk images rather than bootable volumes (except as a 2 step, image and then volume). Here are Apple’s instructions for use:
For backup quality and speed, it’s hard to beat Apple Software Restore (ASR). This is the program used to build software restore CDs on HFS+ volumes. To use ASR, make an image of your disk using Disk Utility (use Create Image From Directory, not Create Image From Device); this backup can then be restored onto other disks, or even the same disk. ASR can restore in place, or by reformatting a disk and copying files onto it. In many cases, the latter usage is much faster, but of course it does remove any existing files.
Synchronize! Pro X – $100 – can do folder synchronization, incremental backups and will not fail against bad sectors and I/O errors. Any drive reporting bad sectors and I/O errors should be retired from service anyway, not repaired. Original license policy very reasonable – personal license for personal comptuers. Ridiculous license policy implemented around version 3.4 driving many users from the product: license valid for a single computer. Subsequently modified to allow a full version on one computer (with scheduling) and occasional use from a secondary computer. Unfortunately developer is aggressive and snarky. On the telephone he asks questions like “Do you even know how to read?” If he would fix his attitude and his license policy, the product is utilitarian and excellent. Reading through the entire VersionTracker section, alas it seems unlikely that Qdea’s Mr. Sontag will ever be a nice friendly man. To some people, this issue may be unimportant. There is also some risk with a one man operation in such a specialilsed sphere with a comparatively expensive product that Mr. Sontag may leave the software business (by inclination, by illness, by death). Or he wouldn’t like your questions and decide to cut off support and rescind your license (I believe he’s done that at least once). Of course for a single copy that is less of an issue but with a site license, I would be concerned.
InTech QuickBack. Part of a whole suite with a reasonable overall cost of $90. InTech Speed Utilities come in an non-upgradeable version with lots of hard drives (where I discovered it). I haven’t successfully used the QuickBack part of the suite but based on MediaScanner and Quickbench performance, I have no reason to doubt that it is as effective as any other bootable backup utility apart from SuperDuper who have their own and superior engine.
LaCie SilverKeeper. Free. Not very attractive but very effective. Reasonably quick. Maintained regularly (current version 1.1.4 updated for 10.4). Highly recommended alternative low cost solution. It is a backup utility not a file sync utility unfortunately.
Unison. Free. Open source. A pain to setup. You need to create sets, you cannot just work on the fly. Very good tracking of changes though. A true industrial sync solution. Programmers and command line junkies should look no further.
Recommended arsenal for backup:
Photo orientation is the way your photos look coming out of the camera – there are two alternatives Landscape (horizontal) and Portrait (vertical).
Many modern cameras digital include a sensor which tells the camera if it is in Portrait or Landscape mode. This includes most modern Canon and Nikon cameras, as well as those of other manufacturers but not including, notably for me, Pentax DSLR up to the *ist DS.
How does it work? The camera leaves a comment on the EXIF file for image software to rotate the camera the same way it was held at the time the picture was taken. Technically this is done with an orientation tag embedded into the picture.
Many image software applications handle these rotations automatically in their most recent versions. In principle, automated photo orientation based on EXIF tags should be a very good thing, saving the user time and trouble. In fact, EXIF based photo orientation is a mixed lot for the end user.
Image software packages handle EXIF orientation in various and complex ways. At a basic level, some software ignores the tag altogether. It’s when the software acts on EXIF orientation things get complicated.
In Mac OS X 10.3.9, Apple’s built-in image and PDF browser preview ignores this tag (Preview version 2.1). Apparently in Mac OS 10.4, Preview recognises the tag and performs the rotation automatically.
iView MediaPro recognises the orientation tag as well (version 3.1.1 and I believe has done so from version 2.6 and up). iPhoto does as well (from version 5 and up but somebody else will have to test this as I won’t run iPhoto on my computer – a friend lost half of her European pictures to its vagaries).
When it comes time to opening your pictures in Photoshop or Elements, you’re also covered. The image will show up correctly orientated. When you save a copy out of Photoshop it will stay that way.
All well and good.
But in the end, the automatic rotation won’t save you when it’s game time and its time to post your images…
As soon as you you try to upload your automatically oriented pictures, a rude surprise awaits. Your images are all sideways!
Auto Rotated Image Online – Oops
EXIF Photo Orientation and OS X Continues »