Archive for October, 2007

System Files

Backup System Files DialogAnother quick and interesting note about Time Machine. The other day, a friend of mine set up Time Machine for use, and decided that he didn’t want to backup the /System, /Library and /Applications folders, basically just giving him backups of his /Users folder. After going into the preferences and choosing Options to add these folders to the Do Not Backup list, an interesting thing happened. After selecting the /System folder, a dialog appeared saying “Would you like to exclude other files installed with Mac OS X, such as applications and UNIX tools?” Quite conveniently, Time Machine is already set up to do what my friend wanted to do. While mucking about looking into the Begin Backup app, I noticed the file /System/Library/CoreServices/backup.bundle/Contents/Resources/System.plist , which contains a list of all of these system files that Apple refers too and will exclude from your backup.

Force Backup

Begin Backup IconEver since I began using Time Machine during my internship at Apple a few months ago, I’ve wanted to be able to force a backup immediately, rather than having to wait around for it to happen when Time Machine decides it’s time. I figured that there would be some UI for this added eventually, but it never happened. Fortunately, Jonathan Wight of Toxic Software mentions in this tweet how you can begin a backup from the command line. Seeing as it would be helpful to have this as an application that can be launched at will, here is one. It’s just an Applescript application which contains one line:

do shell script "/System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents/Resources/backupd-helper >/dev/null 2>&1 &"

You can download it here. Thanks schwa!

[Update]: Alright, so apparently you can right-click on the Time Machine icon and select “Backup Now”. However, this is only if Time Machine is in the Dock and I really do not want to keep it in my Dock at all, so I’ll stick with this Begin Backup method.

Assignment Planner 3.2

I finally got around to releasing Assignment Planner 3.2 today, which addresses two main issues. First of all, it provides compatibility with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, just in time for today’s official release, by fixing issues with the filter bar, providing a 512 pixel icon, and a few other fixes.

Secondly, it provides functionality in the form of Assignment Planner Online. A handful of folks have requested the ability to use Assignment Planner on their iPhone, which makes a ton of sense. When you’re sitting in class and are given a new assignment, it is much more likely that you have your phone with you than your computer and having Assignment Planner available to you at that moment would be incredibly useful. So, rather than creating a native application for the iPhone with private APIs that require jailbreaking and all that business, I’ve created an online version of the application, designed specifically for the iPhone. So, after your initial online setup, you can just point MobileSafari to and get access to all of your assignments.

Assignment Planner OnlineNow, uploading and downloading all of your data with every launch of Assignment Planner does put some load on my server and, unfortunately, I can’t provide that for free. So, Assignment Planner Online will available as read-only to all users for free, so that you can access all of the information with your existing assignments. However, if you’d like to edit or add new assignments using the online interface, access to a read/write version will be $4 for a 6-month period. The idea is that this time period should cover a quarter or a semester of school and if you find it helpful during that time, you can always renew in the next period. Hopefully this makes sense and is useful to those users who would like Assignment Planner always by their side.

So that’s it. You can get the new version at the main Assignment Planner page. Here are the official release notes:

  • New Features
    • Added basic syncing capabilities, with support for Assignment Planner Online.
    • Added Debug Window to help with basic troubleshooting management.
    • Updated for use in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
  • Fixes
    • Fixed issue with Export To Text when assignments don’t have a name.
    • Crash Reporter will now send the entire Application Support folder.
    • Fixed issue with courses that are completely empty causing odd behavior.
  • Widget (version 1.5)
    • Opening the website or the program will now hide the Dashboard.
    • Updated the URL on the back side of the widget.

Disable Leopard Dock

Daring Fireball referred to another blog post, which provides a hidden preference that can be used to disable the three dimension bottom Dock in Leopard. It can be done with the command

defaults write no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock

I figured that there had to be some sort of hidden preference like this, it was all just a matter of actually finding it.

LRFilterBar 1.6

I received an email a few weeks ago from Kyle at Snowmint Creative Solutions, letting me know that he intended to use LRFilterBar, but had made a handful of upgrades to the code. I had also noticed that Assignment Planner’s filter bar (whos code differs ever-so-slightly from LRFilterBar) did not work correctly at all in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. I was able to fix this issue in LRFilterBar and integrate it fully into Assignment Planner, to make both items completely compatible with Leopard. After adding a final option to choose between regular and bold font weights, I’ve posted LRFilterBar 1.6 for download immediately.

Leopard Icons

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard provides support for new 512 square pixels icons and, in my opinion, it’s pretty important to make sure your application has one. Take a look at the difference. (Click for full-size image).


Now everyone is going to finally know what the sticky note says.

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