Manually restoring a Time Machine backup

You should copy files using tmutil -

If you don't and instead use "cp -a src dst", Time Machine's special attributes and access rights will remain on the files. This will stop you writing to them, for one example.

This can still be fixed using these commands:

sudo xattr -d -r '' /
sudo xattr -d -r '' /
sudo chmod -R -a "group:everyone deny add_file,delete,add_subdirectory,delete_child,writeattr,writeextattr,chown" /

There are situations where using cp or rsync is preferable to tmutil, for example in the case of a corrupt backup.

iTunes Match surprise

It's a positive surprise!

Firstly I've been really impressed with the service. I effectively carry my music around with me all the time, and share a single library at home, in work and on holiday - all without having to manage a VPN or streaming off my home server. The gotcha I found to look out for is if you have music on mix CDs - those mixed tracks will of course not match in iTunes. I removed them all here rather than upload them. If I want to listen in the future then I can go back to my old directories-on-disk storage system and play the MP3s direct.

But the surprise is the quality. I thought my library was pretty good, in recent years I've been pretty careful to rip CDs at high bit rates. With my own encoding I had decided that I couldn't hear a difference over 160 CBR, so went with a high-VBR setting.

Yet even with a track with MP3 VBR average over 200kbit/s, Apple's 256kbit/s AAC versions are audibly superior. I'm hearing notes and background sound in tracks that I'd just not noticed before. Side-by-side checks aren't obvious but confirm that improvement when there is background detail in the sound.

I'm not in any way an audiofile-$1000-cable type of person - I'm listening using cheap in-ear headphones off a MacBook.

LibreOffice 2

Having installed OpenOffice on my Ubuntu machine I have been able to get on with my work with no problems whatever, and also completely forgotten that the LibreOffice fork exists.



Apologies for negativity, but LibreOffice has been something of a disaster here.

Ubuntu switched from OpenOffice with their latest release. They really shouldn't have - LibreOffice's quality control is apparently quite poor and serious bugs that affect my workflow have crept in, over the OpenOffice 3.3 counterpart.

Firstly, caching of linked documents:
I have dozens of spreadsheets which link together in a web of horrifying complexity. LibreOffice attempts to improve performance by caching the external data. Unfortunately, that means when I change data in one sheet it doesn't change in another. Even opening and closing the document doesn't help. Even clicking 'update' in Edit->Links doesn't work. I have to close and reopen the application.

Second, corrupting of linked documents URIs:
Sometimes saving a document in LibreOffice causes the URIs of linked documents to become fixed (as seen in Edit->Links). This is bad as I move between several computers over the day, each of which may access the documents differently (/home/techuser/docs/ on the server, /Volumes/techuser/docs/ on a Mac Samba connection, //server/techusers/docs/ on Windows).
After using LibreOffice on a Linux machine, the paths get stuck as "/home/techuser/...". Attempting to open elsewhere results in sheets with little more that "!REF" messages. At first I restored backups and resigned myself to losing the recent changes, later I found that manually settings the links in Edit->Links fixed it.

What's the solution? "apt-get remove libreoffice" then download the genuine .deb files.

I am serious about my data. I have trusted OpenOffice and StarOffice for around a decade now. Ubuntu have unfortunately jumped into the LibreOffice camp far too soon and its image has suffered as a result.


Paul Allen has written a book, revealing some more candid details of the early life of Microsoft:

These are things people who worked in software always knew, but the world was blinded by the money and the marketing.

There were many years when it was hardly worth publishing software because you knew if you had a hit that Microsoft would stomp into your market and put you out of business - or if you were really lucky, wait for your value to drop and buy you out. It amounts to two decades of lost opportunities.

This is happening less these days. But only because Microsoft don't go after the little people any more - look at Bing, an evolution of MSN search. It's there only to kill Google. Xbox => Sony. They make huge losses but still they persist.

How to lose customers

Trying to get a Rackspace cloud server to supplement my Slicehost servers (since Rackspace use Slicehost's technology).
Sorry, Your Order Could Not Be Processed At This Time
We’re sorry but there seems to be a problem processing your order at the moment.

Five times. Two cards. I'll go somewhere else then. Funnily, they're showing adverts through Adsense on this site right now for a £20 off deal.

I tried to sign up for both Rackspace UK and USA. USA stopped me by requiring a call back to verify the account. UK wouldn't let me sign up at all, and even before bombing out wouldn't let me sign up as an individual - I had to provide my company's details.

HP OfficeJet J4680

A review of the J4680:

All the features I'd want.
Supports the Mac completely: scanning, printing, the works.
It's a network printer - that's how it works over WiFi; incredible value to get a network printer for this money!
Perfect, when it works.

But it doesn't work. Mechanically, it won't pick up paper half the time. It crashes. It starts to print, stops and dies. It stops recognising colour cartridges. It loses WiFi connectivity. It won't switch off, needing an unplug from the wall.

I've had the printer for over a year and have only needed to print a couple of hundred pages in that whole time - yet it's been so painful and awkward to get anything done that I simply don't care any more.

I'm going to write off the cost of the printer and get something better. But what? Perhaps another HP, since if it worked this would be a great printer. Perhaps I just need to speed the right amount of money.
A Lexmark has been perfectly reliable for several years now (is it five years?), but doesn't support the Mac at all - not a thing, not even to print text.


Do what you like, Jesus will forgive you

See: - Americans still buying moving houses instead of cars.

"I am not worried about the environment," says Mr Evans. "It's Him up there who looks after the environment."

Shitting hell...


Fix MacBook Pro sound distortion

I have had a MacBook Pro 15" i5 (2010) for a number of months.

Since it was new, it's had a horrible distortion of sound at low volumes. Very noticeable on headphones and with quiet music. I had resigned myself to having a faulty computer and just putting up with it.

Well, it's not faulty. It's a software setting. I suspect there are millions of frustrated MacBook Pro owners in the world who are putting up with this for no reason.

The fix is to open Audio MIDI Setup (Applications/Utilities) and flip the format to "2ch-32bit" while playing something that causes the distortion. "2ch-16bit" mode is broken.

The improvement should be instantaneous.

I am somewhat upset at the number of months I've put up with poor quality for no reason.


Enough. I've had enough with Gentoo breaking itself on each emerge. The snapping point was an upgrade of Bind which took down my master DNS.

I'll keep Gentoo for specialist purposes - e.g. I believe it makes an excellent hosting platform which has only Apache/PHP/Python/MySQL installed [1]. However for my personal do-everything, install-the-lot server it has to go. The attraction was the ability to stay fairly bleeding edge with portage and to tune compilation, but it hasn't worked out. FreeBSD provides the same sort of functionality in 'ports' which I've never had a significant problem with, so it is shame that same robustness hasn't continued in Gentoo. But the BSD and Linux worlds are quite different.

I'm building a new server and it will run Ubuntu server. I've been quite impressed with its install process so far.

I was going to go with CentOS, however RHEL 6 is out and so I'd want to run CentOS 6, but that is not in sight yet. In business, we run CentOS for development and RHEL for production hence I was keen to stick with it.

I'll have to learn how to use apt-get though, after all these years of urpmi, rpm, emerge and yum. Oh, and good old 'make install'.

The hardware I run is somewhat overdue a good upgrade, and a recent disk failure through bad sectors underlined that. I'm taking the opportunity to slowly migrate to a faster machine and to take advantage of 2x2TB disks rather than 4x320GB disks. Disk technology itself is much better too - I'm getting 100MB/s rather than 50MB/s on the 320GBs.

[1] I would however much prefer FreeBSD, which is lightweight, flexible, secure and very robust. But Slicehost didn't support it when I signed up - which is expected due to the way they provide virtualised servers (with Xen, I believe).



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