Nov 122009

This article is about how Frau Klein deals with a dying hard drive in her new macbook pro having time pressure of finishing up a project. the ongoing head -> wall, swearing and screaming isn’t documented here ;)

Symptoms: The mac used to freeze for a few seconds every now and again. Since I am back home it increased dramatically: every half an hour it froze for half a minute and in between every so often.

What happened? I was looking in to the system.log using the  Console and found for each freeze a Disk I/O error. Panicing around I used Disk Utility to check the HDD, the tool lied and said everything is ok. I also executed it from the install CD with the same result. A hardware check was successful too.

Backing up the system: As the duration and count of freezes increased I used one of my external HDD to backup everything via time machine which worked out fine. As I haven’t used it before I don’t know what gets backed up and which applications or configurations I might loose, so I also used Carbon Copy Cloner to backup everything to another drive. CCC complained about unreadable files – and proofed so my concern that the HDD is dying. I hope I can create a bootable external disc to be able to finish my project before I fix the mac. For that I formatted an external 320 GB device as bootable disc using disk utility:

  • In Disk Utility click on the external drive (the manufacturer’s info line but not a specific partition) and click on the Partition tab.
  • choose the Options button and select GUID partition table (needed for booting on an Intel Mac) and click OK
  • Click on the Volume Scheme, and choose 1 partition from the drop-down list
  • Click the Format drop-down, and choose Mac OS Extended (journaled)
  • Name your drive and click the Partition button.

Then I started CCC, choosed the source drive (deselected some folders) and the target drive and clicked on clone. It takes about 2 h to clone 100 GB.

Finishing work: Once, the cloning is done I restart the mac using the USB drive by opening System preferences, choosing Start up device and then selecting my backup device.

Now I try to finish my work before I care about fixing the machine.

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Nov 112009

Gah, I sit in front of my machine swearing a lot. I try to sort my last 3 weeks mail looking for tasks I might have forgotten or not. It is a pain – so much noise: ongoing conversations about tasks not related to me, loads of mails with attachments such as signature images – a couple of times forwarded, wrong combined threads, no related sent mails, some mails seem to be disappeared. Why is it so difficult to get a satisfying solution serving all my requirements when it comes to mail management? I am not greedy!

What I want:

Can deal with IMAP

  • show all folders w/o subscribing them
  • immeadiately show new mails
  • allow to create new folders in frontend

Viewing mails

  • can be configured by folder
  • turn off / on by desire
  • allow to split threads
  • hiding mails in threads (full / consolidated view)
  • thread contain also sent mails


  • easy UI for tagging mails (instead of folders) – such as project name
  • rule based tagging
  • different flags such as todo, read it later, follow up by <date>
  • allows to watch threads (favourite settings)
  • prioritize income mail (to split between helpful / important mail and random muttering) – I don’t care which priority is set by the sender. I want to configure the level of importance to me.
  • allow commenting of mails
  • get reference to a specific mail (a file system link which can be used in a to do management tool) – I don’t want to get a mail client with it’s own to-do management system, i want to combine it with my existing system. not every mail causes an todo, not every todo is related to a mail.

Received mails

  • preview without formatting
  • switch between show mail as text or with original formatting
  • hide attached

Searching mails

  • no form for search but pseudo language similar to what google offers
  • fuzzy search – such as ‘ad hoc’ returns ‘adhoc’, ‘ad-hoc’, ‘ad hoc’ etc.
  • search result can be saved as link
  • mass change on found mail (such as category)
  • being intelligent enough to define multiple forwarded mails with the same content as one hit.

Sending mails

  • multiple signatures configurable
  • signature based on rules – depending on the recipient (containing pattern), if replied / forwarded / new mail etc.
  • add tags, flags and follow up configuration if necessary – without popping into 4 windows
  • on click send as text / formatted
  • attachments upload in background
  • mail as attachment can be chosen as well (yes, sometimes this is required!)
  • forwarding: detect and ignore images in signatures automatically

Additional features:

  • fast, intuitive, basic UI – no features, no advertisements, no additional functionality i don’t need.
  • runs on mac, windows and in the internet
  • can deal with 10K+ mails
  • nice address book management: identifying major information e. g. from email footers
  • tbc :)

Why not:

  • Gmail: lots of my requirements can be solved by GMail. But, alas! I might be identified as spam due to the way how external email addresses are handled. I worked around my requirements quite a bit to get them solved with GMail it slows it down and breaks it on every other browser.
  • Mac Mail on Zimbra: this is my current solution and just makes me swear – a lot. Mac Mail doesn’t load mails immediately, threading doesn’t work as desired. Finding mails is impossible. It randomly sorts mails in different folders – for unknown reason there are tw sent folders and I don’t see a pattern which mail gets sorted into which folder by which condition. I suspect mac mail also either hiding or deleting messages as there has been more then once the situation about ‘I knew I got that mail but I don’t find it’.
  • Zimbra Desktop client: no! it is heavy, ugly and not intuitive to use, it needs too many clicks to get to a specific result, the UI is not configurable, the Mac ingtegration (address book, calendar) doesn’t work properly, it has a huge Yahoo search button which I every so often hit accidentally when I want to search for mails. The search UI is crap.

I haven’t tried anything else yet. I used Outlook quite a bit, it’s similar to GMail: it solves half of my requirements. Entourage I didn’t try at all after my desperation earlier this year.

Why is it so important?

  • working in a company which is spread around the world email is a key communication channel. easy access to the information is important.
  • I get about 100 new mails a day – some directly to me, some interesting in mailing lists and some other to mailing lists I don’t need to follow up.
  • I hate being inefficient by manually (!) searching for mails, browsing through noise to find something specific.

What next?

Feel free to recommend work flows, tools, mail clients etc. I am happy to learn.

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Oct 122009

Wie es sich fuer einen ordentlichen Businesskasper gehoert, trage ich meinen portablen Scanner mit mir herum, derzeit ein Plustek OpticSlim M12. Auf Windows lief alles fein, die ganzen Tools, die mit dem Geraet kamen hatte ich installiert.

Mit dem Mac ist nun alles neu… und alles laeuft ohne Probleme: das Geraet habe ich angeschlossen, den Mac Treiber (download page) installiert, der Scanner wird erkannt. Ich suchte eine Weile nach Scanner Software, kam so zu VueScan (kostenpflichtig) und SilverFast AI (ebenso kostenpflichtig). Da ich nur geringe Anforderungen an ein Scan Programm habe, deinstallierte ich beide Loesungen wieder, als ich ueber das vorinstallierte Image Capture las.

Image Capture oeffnen. Devices > Browse Devices auswaehlen. Dort beim gewunschten Geraet auf Use TWAIN UI klicken und der Scan Dialog oeffnet sich.

Meine Anforderungen.
Ich scanne Papierquittungen und speichere diese als JPEG ab. Diese werden ausschliesslich fuer die Buchhaltung verwendet.

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