Recovery Disk Assistant

recovery

A few months ago, with the help of SuperDuper!, I switched out hard drives in my Macbook Pro. SuperDuper! and a USB-to-SATA cable made the whole thing easy, but one thing it didn’t do is clone my drive’s recovery partition.

For me, I prefer having an external source for recovery and diagnostic purposes. When OS installs came on a DVD you were halfway covered. While having a recovery partition on your drive is nice, if that hard drive fails you have no quick and easy way to restore from your Time Machine backup (unless you have one of those fancy internet-recovery macs). So I highly recommend you use Recovery Disk Assistant soon, today, to create restore tools on a USB stick.

If you do this same setup, or even if you don’t but want to be prepared, make sure you use the before you swap out your hard drive. I had to borrow another Mac to create it, but now my entire hard drive is dedicated to the OS install and I have a USB stick in my laptop bag ready to go if the worst happens.

Swift Publisher

If you don’t have $650 to spend on page layout software, like Indesign, check out Swift Publisher. Runs $20. I’ve been playing with it a little today and think I’m going to try using it at work.

With this, Pixelmator, and Coda, you can have a pretty decent indie software replacement for many tasks you may run to Adobe software to complete for under $100.

More Hate For Autosave

Tom Ellard on OSX Lion’s autosave function:

Let me illustrate the problem. Today I’ve been marking. The students have submitted PDF documents. I open one and it has a scan in it I need to rotate to read. OK cool, rotate and read it, so I shut the document and up comes a warning that goes like this:

JUST THOUGHT I’D WARN YOU THAT I’VE BEEN OVERWRITING THE ORIGINAL PDF WITHOUT TELLING YOU. IT’S ON A NETWORK SO IF YOU EVER WANTED TO REVERT IT YOU’D BE SHIT OUT OF LUCK. BUT BECAUSE I’M FEELING GENEROUS I’LL GIVE YOU ONCE CHANCE TO UNDO IT. YOURS, TIM COOK.

YES / NO

What the? I didn’t want to edit the damn original! That’s a time stamped submission of an assignment! NOOO! NO! -click-

Shut Your Lid and then Open It Back Up

After years of a PC/Mac gaming dry-spell a bunch of games have hit me all at once: namely Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Lone Survivor, and Diablo III.

If you don’t want your games to look like garbage on a display you need to run them in native resolution (in my case 1900×1200), otherwise there’s pixel interpolation or something that makes everything on screen look like it’s covered in goo. The problem is that my computer is so old that modern games don’t run well when using my external display under decent settings. I’ve gotten around this by using Window mode. It works ok, but I’d rather be fully immersed in the game, which would mean playing it full screen. I’ve chalked this up to just having an old computer that can’t run these kinds of games.

OR SO I THOUGHT!

Here’s the trick that worked for me. I needed to stop my laptop from driving both the internal and external displays at once and set it up just to use the external display. I used this hint to do so. I shut my lid to make the computer go to sleep, opened it back up, and only the external display is in use.

And my games run a lot better.

If you do the same proceed with caution. It didn’t work for some people in the comments who claimed it hosed their machines. Also, make sure you’ve hit this switch in Energy Saver preferences, otherwise you’ll never get good graphics performance.

Why not just close the lid? Because these games will make your computer hot, and heat dissipates through the keyboard. I don’t get a good feeling having a notebook closed like that when it needs to constantly cool down.

If you use Steam you should/could friend or follow me here.

Disabling Locked Documents on Lion

The oddest thing about this tip is that it wouldn’t need to exist if Lion’s autosave function wasn’t fundamentally broken. It’s a feature that’s supposed to add convenience, but all I think it’s done for me is help me accidentally save over other files I use as a starting document.

Bottom line – I like things being saved when I hit the save button. It’s nice having a generated backup in case something crashes, but the final commit to disk? That should belong to me. Hitting Command+S isn’t an inconvenience, it’s a confirmation that things are saved the way I want them to be saved. Autosave removes that.

Window Mode

Left 4 Dead 2 - Window Mode

I have a pretty decent computer, a Macbook Pro from 2008. But it isn’t powerful enough to drive many modern games at the native resolution of my external display (1900×1200).

I could reduce the resolution, but the problem with reducing resolutions on an LCD is that anything other than the native resolution looks like garbage. A full screen game at 1280×800 resolution has to be rijiggered for a 1900×1200 display and it ends up looking awful.

But then there’s window mode: an option for games to play in a window instead of fullscreen. This way you can at least get the game in a playable resolution, but you still have to play it in a window.