Mac OS X: How to backup the Mac OS X Install DVD?

ToastI recently decided to make some Mac OS X installation tests, and, to avoid destroying the original Apple Install DVDs, I thought it would be great to first make some backups of the disks.

And so I discovered the intricacies of the Apple hybrid disks…

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Mac OS X: How to get nice screen shots?

grabIt’s this outstanding attention to details one of the reasons I like the Apple products.

I was using the Mac OS X Grab application for long time already, but it was just recently that I discovered the special keyboard shortcuts, more precisely the differences between using them and directly using the Grab application.

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Mac OS X: Where do various programs store licensing information?

Have you wondered where some programs store the licensing data, or various information to account for time limited or to count for limited demo/test licenses?

Well, these files should be shared between all users. Then… take a look at /Users/Shared!

With the default configuration, Finder will probably not show you what you expect, but open a Terminal window and type

ls -lA /Users/Shared

You’ll probably notice some hidden files, with names starting with dot. Deleting some might even reset your demo licenses!


Mac OS X: How to write to a NTFS disk?

windowsNTFS support is available in Mac OS X for some versions already, but only reading from NTFS is currently (v10.6.4) possible.

Like it or not, there are moments when we need to share files with other non Apple computers (Windows, Linux). I dedicated a slim USB powered disk for this and I thought that formatting it as FAT32 is the best option in terms of portability. As long as you have only small files, FAT32 is fine, but if you need to transfer files larger than 2 GB (like .iso images, movies), FAT32 is no longer appropriate, and a solution based on NTFS needs to be considered.

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Mac OS X: How to backup (rip) a movie DVD?

DVD Copy ProFirst of all, this post is not about making illegal DVD copies. My goal is to transfer my DVD library from optical disks to a hard disk (ok, a large one), the same as I did with my music CD library, entirely transferred to iTunes. Well, not exactly the same, since the DVDs are significantly more complex than audio CDs.

The classical audio CDs structure is very simple, just a list of tracks, without any additional information, so ripping it did not loose any content.

On the other side, DVDs usually have a very complex structure, with multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitles, menus, special features, photos, etc.

The common approach when ripping DVDs is to preserve only the main video and audio streams and repack everything using a very high compression algorithm to produce a DivX or MKV stream. For my taste, this approach is not acceptable, due both to quality issues and missing content.

A true backup should preserve the full content and the quality; the only solution I know is to use a disk image format, like ISO.

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Apple SuperDrive fails to write DVD DL disks?

It looks like I’m a victim of some kind of CD/DVD curse. I encountered various problems when trying to burn CDs from the moment I bought my first (very expensive) CD writer. That’s why I’m very reticent when someone asks me to make a copy of some disk, and that’s no surprise I’m rarely burning disks.

This time I wanted to make backups of the two Mac system disks. Since both are larger than 4.7 GB, the single layer DVD+/-R would not be enough.

I bought a box of Verbatim 8x DVD+R DL, but the write failed. I also tried Traxdata 8x DVD+R DL, and Memorex DVD+R DL, with the same negative result.

Writing single layer DVDs was not a problem (so far).

The System Profiler lists the ‘Disc Burning’ device as a Pioneer unit:

Firmware Revision: Q81F
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 2000 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO

I do not know if the problem is only in the unit installed in my Mini or it affects all similar Pioneer drives.

It would be interesting to know other experiences with writing DL disks on Macs.

[Oct 13 Update] Problem solved

On Oct 11 I took the Mac to be serviced. They acknowledged the problem, removed the defective optical drive and placed an order for a replacement.

Two days later they called me and we installed the new drive, solving the problem. The replacement drive seems to be identical, ruling out a problem with the Pioneer DVRTS08 model.

As a curiosity, after replacing the drive I noticed a problem with the Disk Utility program in use on my system, failing to write DL disks (the error claimed that the disk is not compatible with the writer). However, Roxio Toast worked flawlessly on the same hardware. Booting the original Mac OS X 10.6 system from an external disk and running Disk Utility was again flawless, so the problem seems to be with my system (this needs to be further investigated, but as long as Roxio Toast works, there is no hurry).

Crockford on JavaScript, Scene 6

Douglas on Server-Side JavaScript and YUI 3To my nice surprise, Douglas Crockford continued his series of successful presentations with the sixth part, “Loopage”.

Once again, Crockford started with some history, chaining events from Grace Hopper’s first compiler to modern events based programming, marking the potential of JavaScript to reshape today’s Web by bridging client side with server side programming.


[For the first 5 parts, please see my previous post. The complete and up-to-date page regarding Crockford’s presentatios is Crockford on JavaScript]