Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The New Backup Strategy

Before Leopard, I had a specific backup strategy for both my volatile content (things like source code, documents, etc) and my entire hard drive, which was a snapshot backup. The volatile documents solution was Subversion, kept on a remote, universally accessible machine. The snapshot backup was handled by SuperDuper, which backs up your entire drive in a bootable state, essentially creating a complete snapshot of your hard drive. A couple of problems reared up because of this setup.
  1. I had to handle the "package" files (the ones created by Apple iWork, like Keynote and Numbers) files specially, because Subversion didn't like the way the applications managed the contents. Basically, I had to zip/unzip them for version control. This wasn't terrible (I automated the process to a large degree), but still a little annoying.
  2. My Subversion repository was huge, because I had my entire Documents folder in it. However, most of the documents were there just so that I could have a backup, not because I wanted to version them. The only files I really versioned where the source files and related content.
The advent of Leopard and Time Machine changed my strategy. First, I separated out the Documents stuff for which I really only wanted backups and let Time Machine handle them. I put all my versionable files (like source files) in a new, much smaller Subversion repository. And, even though I have Time Machine, I still use SuperDuper to create backups. The reason I use both:
  • I want the hourly, behind the scenes backup provided by Time Machine.
  • I want to be able to browse backwards in time to look at previous versions of those files, and the Time Machine UI is gorgeous for that.
  • Time Machine alone isn't sufficient. To restore from Time Machine, you have to boot your machine from a startup disk, then restore the backup. Yuck! I still like SuperDuper's snapshot approach, which I've proven to myself works flawlessly (see Don't Crack Open Your Mac for the story).
  • SuperDuper and Time Machine can share the same drive, so I have a single 500 GB drive that has all my backups on it.
  • It's now easier to replicate the source code in more places (IOW, more machines) because it's much smaller.
  • You can tell Time Machine to only backup certain directories (or, more specifically, exclude directories you don't want backed up). Because I only use Time Machine for my Documents folder, it takes only a little space.
  • Because SuperDuper creates a bootable drive image, and my external drive is FireWire, I can boot another MacBook Pro with the external drive. Yes, it's slow, but if the worst happened while on the road, and I've got to present at a conference, as long as I can borrow/steal another machine, I can boot into my machine from backup and do my presentation.
I've been using this approach for a while, and it works nicely. I leave the external hard drive hooked up all the time, and start a snapshot backup at bedtime every night. SuperDuper has a nice option that will sleep the computer when it's finished it's work. So far, this it working out really well. I haven't had to restore the whole drive from SuperDuper yet on this machine (but I know that works -- I've done it on other machines), and I have used Time Machine to grab a file that accidentally got deleted.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Keyboard Zoom

This is a re-blog from Jack Dempsey, setting up a keyboard shortcut to Zoom.

This works well because almost all Mac applications include the Zoom menu item on the Window menu.

Thanks, Jack.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quick Blank

This was left by Emilio as a comment to the Quick Sleep entry from before, but I'm afraid not enough people read the comments so I'm promoting it to full-blown entry.

The keychord CTRL-SHIFT-EJECT instantly blanks the screen, without invoking the screen saver. It's just instant blank. Note that it will not lock the screen if you have passwords turned on for the screen saver, it just makes the screen blank. Still, pretty cool.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Keynote Mode for Keynote

Several people have asked me how to turn on Keynote mode in Keynote. Keynote mode is where the presenter sees a different view from the audience. In Keynote, you can set up a mode that allows you to see the current slide, the upcoming slide, the time of day, the elapsed time from when you showed the first slide, and the "ready to progress" bar (a red/green bar at the top of the screen that lets you know that all the transitions have completed successfully). To get Keynote mode to work, you must set a particular set of options in Keynote preferences, and getting the combination is just rigth is tricky (especially if you aren't connected to a projector). To show the magic combination, here are the settings I use. First up, the Preferences dialog that controls what you (the presenter) sees:

The other settings appear on the the Slideshow Preferences dialog, shown here:

This is the dialog that controls Keynote's projection options. The important options here are the Allow Epose, Dashboard, and others to use screen, which allows you to see the mouse cursor and interact with the screen even when slides are showing, and the Present on secondary display, which uses the projector (i.e., the external monitor) to show the slides.

There are a couple of caveats to using Keynote mode. First, you must un-mirror your display (found on Display Preferences, under System Prefereces). I usually use the option in Display Options to place them on my menu bar, so that I have easy access to the Display Prefereces. When you un-mirror your display, it is exactly the same as using an external monitor. That means that you can't really do code demos and such unless you want to look over your shoulder. That's why most of my slides how have source code embedded on the slide, so that I can use Keynote mode.