Apps Linux Mac Networking Other

Rescuing Encrypted files on ACD

So Amazon is shutting out Linux users.  But what if I have a bunch of encrypted files there using old encfs and acd_cli scripts?

I can copy down the encrypted files using their client at any point, but how will I know which one is which?

I did the following.  First, create a temporary directory.  I did this in my $HOME on my Mac.  Find a way that still exists to mount the drive (I used ExpanDrive).  Once that is prepared, change to the mounted and encrypted ACD directory and run this command:

find . \( -type d -exec mkdir -p "$HOME/temp/{}" \; -o -type f -exec touch "$HOME/temp/{}" \; \)

Let it run for a while, it may take several minutes.  This will create in $HOME/temp the identical directory structure as on the remote drive, and the identical filenames – but they will all be zero bytes!  What good is this?

Thanks to the consistency of encfs, you can mount and decrypt this skeleton directory like this:

ENCFS6_CONFIG=/path/to/your/encfs6.xml encfs $HOME/temp $HOME/plain

Now, use some other tricks to find the matching filenames and you can manually download the specific encrypted files you want.

Apps Desktop Mac

MacDVDRipper Pro 5

I was a fan of RipIt and DVDRemaster a couple of years ago, I had a nice workflow going where I could convert my DVD TV series discs into MP4s for the Apple TV  (We have a lot of discs).  I discovered MDRP since then, and I have been very happy with it, just a few clicks to rip and convert in decent quality.  I love to see an encoder max out all of my cores, too 🙂

(As a side note, it seems that DVDRemaster got purchased by the company selling MDRP, so I suppose it’s a natural upgrade path for me)

Well, v5 came out a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn’t see much that was powerfully compelling about the new features – all they said was that it was now 64-bit and embedded switchable soft-subtitles.  And something very vague about converting after the fact.  Would that matter to me?

I decided to do a face-off with a single TV season disc.  The metrics here have “buckshot accuracy” but give me an idea.  I ripped 4 episodes in v4 and the demo of v5 and compared the time-stamps… it almost appeared like v5 was twice as fast.  Yes, about 12 minutes between two episodes in v4 and 6 in v5.  WOW.  Why are they not advertising considerable speed gains?  I know the computer could have been doing a bunch more during the first encode, but surely not that much!  I ran through a couple more box sets to be sure… and yup, I can finish a disc of about 4 episodes in roughly half an hour.  Even the fans on my iMac blew at high speed for the v4 conversion and remained quiet for the v5.

This is a totally worthwhile upgrade just for that rough test.  But, I discovered the other killer feature.  Previously, you could not use .dvdmedia packages as a source – which was a drag if I wanted to distribute the ripping task to other machines using say, RipIt.  This version though, uses them just fine!  Yeah!  I didn’t find a big improvement in distributing that process though, since the convert straight from disc is so fast it’s almost not worth ripping to an image and converting from that.

The upgrade was $10 and totally worth it.

Apple Desktop iPad iPhone Mac

WWDC 2014

Apple had their WWDC keynote today, and announced, well, everything.

Their user experience is converging like I couldn’t have imagined before.  Continuity lets you transfer your work from mobile to desktop just by being close to your Mac.  You can answer your phone from your computer.

Mavericks looks awesome, despite my worry about flattening things.  I was worried it would look like Windows 8, but it looks terrific.  The screen fonts make my eyes sigh.

iOS extensibility has set my head spinning.  I can only imagine my what my Mail / Pocket Informant / Omnifocus workflow will look like early next year.  How will 1Password work with Safari now?  TextExpander and Drafts will now act like steroids for your phone.  Well, even more so.

Not talked about, but on the slide was Wi-Fi calling… which might mean free cell-phone calls.

A few “about time” features, of course, like AirDrop from iOS to OS X, interactive notifications, and reasonable iCloud prices.  I’m not about to gripe that those took so long, because hey, they’re here now.

Swift is an interesting announcement, it might mean much easier app development.  It might be just as easy to do a Swift app as a PhoneGap app now.  We’ll see.

One thing notably missing was offline Siri capability, which is a shame.  I understand why they didn’t do it though.  If they did, I’m certain they would have had to cut off the iPhone 4s and even possibly as far up the chain as the iPad Mini.  This is not something that Apple wants to consider doing right now.  (Update: apparently I completely missed the reference to Siri’s “streaming recognition” which might actually mean offline.)

Did you notice, Google got referenced about, well, once, if you count the big Android onscreen.  There was OneDrive, Box, but no Google Drive icon (interestingly, no Dropbox either).  Bing translate.  Even the webmail used in the demo was Yahoo!  Spotlight is now your go-to search, and that can use whatever engine Apple chooses to use behind the scenes – which is evidently Bing.  They allow you to change your default search provider to DuckDuckGo.  Apple is mad at Google, and now they’re playing hardball.

So much new, it’s going to be hard to wait until fall.

Apps Desktop Mac

Sorry iBooks, it’s over.

I’ve had it with iBooks, mostly because of its insane destructive syncing scheme.  Which isn’t syncing at all, is it?  See my logic below.

I want to read books with my two portable Apple devices, optionally with my desktop Apple computer.  I want to highlight, bookmark or annotate in one device and sync to any or all of the others.  This sounds like a job for iCloud, right?  You know, the Apple-invented cloud service for you know, syncing?

The iBooks developers haven’t got the memo.  You see, iBooks use your iTunes Account to sync.  So that means my wife’s independent library and annotations (on her multiple Apple products) are clobbered if I ever decide to sync collections and annotations.  This is because we share an iTunes account to purchase apps.  Note that it is quite possible to have a separate iBooks login and iTunes login at the same time – only on the Mac version of iBooks.  There is no option to select the iBooks store account on iOS 7.  You know, where you actually want that option.

The final straw was when yesterday I clicked iBooks, and it came up with a message “Hey I notice you are using to sync.  Would you like to sync with instead?”.  I did not want to do so, therefore I selected “Cancel”.  I watched as iBooks then deleted a book that I previously synced with my iCloud account.  I stand agape.  I boggle.  In what universe should “do not sync” ever change anything, never mind delete?

iBooks is fundamentally damaged.  So is the iOS eBook reader ecosystem because of its mere existence.  I have had enough.

Apps Desktop Mac

iWork for iCloud Beta

I just got to try it out. It’s… OK.  Definitely nicer looking than Google’s Docs offering, with some more conversion and graphics options, for sure, but some things elude me.  In Pages, for instance:

  • Tabs/margins? Dragging or clicking on the ruler does nothing.
  • Columns as shown on this page don’t seem to be possible.
  • Editing or creating paragraph styles is MIA, also highlighted on that same page.

Maybe they’re just disabled for the beta.  That’s fine and I don’t expect a lot from this product at this point.

What I do expect, in the near future is some news on whether iWork ’09 is the last of its kind.  Should I buy Pages now or wait?  I am very pleased with the iPad version but I want quite a bit more than this web app will offer me on the desktop.

Desktop Mac

OS X Mavericks and iOS 7

Most people are talking about the new look of iOS 7, but isn’t that why Jony (and the pre-show text) basically said that design is about more than looks?

I got a lot more excited about the internals of the new OSes this time.  I really enjoyed Snow Leopard’s advances, and actually Lion brought some important stuff to the table.  It looks like they’re taking another good look at OS efficiency and that will benefit everybody.  Same with iOS 7, Apple adamantly refused to allow global multitasking until now – so what’s new about their implementation now?  Did you notice that the clock icon shows the actual time… and even the second hand moves?  There has to be some hot realtime technology going on under those flat icons.

The only disappointment I have is that the iPad Retina (3rd gen) is excluded from any of the features (i.e. AirDrop).  That’s a little too soon to begin to orphan that one, I think.

Now we wait for the NDA to lift, and for Ars Technica’s killer reviews.

Desktop Mac

Mountain Lion

I installed the latest OS X release, not much sticks out as significantly different.  Little things I noticed:

Safari 6

  • Offline reading list – I only use Mac desktops, so no big deal here.  I also use Pocket for my iOS devices.
  • No RSS anymore – reading, I don’t care but I really miss extracting the RSS from the page
  • Wide tabs.  I don’t like ’em since I used to double-click in the empty area for a new tab.
  • Fast!
  • Downloads jump to the dock’s download stack (if visible).  It’s blatantly obvious where your download goes.
  • I like the little tab overview feature, but it really should use coverflow.


  • Email data detectors seem broken.  e.g. an email that contains will highlight only
  • Mouse-selecting a message doesn’t change the background, just puts a rectangle around the message line.  Keyboard selection does as before.  Weird.
  • Now non-beta.  Seems to track presence much better.
  • You have to relocate the auto-accept script, since it doesn’t refer to itself as iChat internally, yet.
  • Notifications.


  • App Store fixed those stupid non-default centered window buttons.
  • Software update now launches App Store.  Weird.  We’ll see how this works with things like printer driver updates.
  • Launchpad now has a search field, works GREAT. If you only use Alfred/QS/Launchbar for program launching, you may be able to use this instead.  It’s fast.
  • Notification center… It’s OK. Nothing really uses it yet, so I still need Growl.  If Growl will forward stuff to NC and integrate Prowl then I’ll probably finally buy it from the MAS. That will get around the stupid requirement that only MAS apps can use NC.  (See addendum for Messages above)
  • I like the smoked glass dock.
  • Web sharing is removed from the Sharing pref pane.  I guess OS X Server is only $20. This is free though.
  • AirPlay mirroring might be neat, I have no AppleTV to test it though.  I want to know if games will work well.  I’d like to drag over a wireless mouse/kb/gamepad and play Mac (or Parallels) games on the big screen.
  • The two-finger “rest” on the trackpad is helpful, it shows the scrollbar position.
  • Expanding scrollbars on mouseover will probably be nice.  We’ll see how it works out

More to come, I’m sure… Bottom line: It’s no Snow Leopard, but it is a better version of Lion.  Get it if you can.

Apps Browser Desktop iPad iPhone Mac Uncategorized

ToDo done

I went on a little while ago about ToDo apps, and finally decided to jump on Appigo’s ToDo for the Mac.  It’s OK.  It has a few nice features but it’s missing things like adding tasks easily from Mail, or a nice quick systemwide interface using a hotkey.

They do have a systemwide interface, but it’s not a nice one.  It just allows you to enter the title of the task but that’s it.

I may seem negative, I’m not, at least not totally. It has great syncing with ToodleDo which is a biggie (they’re missing the Status field, which could be important).  I’ve simplified my lists considerably because of its design, and I actually think that’s a good thing.  Now I have one for work and one for personal, and use contexts to separate them.

I made a context for work called “Analysis” and I hit that one at the beginning of the day, it’s really seemed to have helped.  I move things to a “Contact” context if it gets to that next step.

Tags are important here but not sure if they translate well to ToodleDo and the iPhone apps I use.  I’ll think that over.

Apple Desktop Mac


MacHeist is happening again!  Check out and it should make (very little) sense.  It’s a sort of puzzle game with some super software rewards connected with it.  It usually ends up with a software bundle for sale, but not until after a ton of stuff gets given away for free!