Friday, April 25, 2008

w00t! It b00ts!

Hand-Made Mac Tip No. 3
Making a Backup Leopard Installation DVD Using an External Hard Drive

I am reveling in total geekdom right now! They said it couldn't be done, but I did it!
Ok, ok, so you have your Leopard OS X 10.5 installer DVD, right? Now, you'd like to be able to make a copy of that DVD in the event that the disk gets damaged or lost, or eaten by your dog or peed on by your ferret, right? Well, because that's what any responsible nerd would do, right? (um, ok, just me? well, I'm known to be freakishly paranoid at times, but oh well.)

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

What's that you say? You can't make a copy of the Leopard OS X installer DVD because it's dual layered, 7GB+ and won't fit on the standard DVDs you have hanging out in your supply closet? Awww. Isn't that a shame. You *know* using CDs and DVDs is sooooo 2006 already, anyhow, mmkay? I mean, like, who uses resin anymore, sheesh! It's all about the external hard drives with real live movable parts, dontcha know!?

Well, I went on a quest to try and find out how I could make a copy of of this darn installer DVD and so I googled and twittered. After reading about 10 different links on the subject, they all said the same thing: use a bootable external hard drive.

Ok, made sense. But, oh, by the way, Western Digital drives (or any other drive) can't be made into a bootable installer disk for use with an Intel Mac if you want to use the APM (Apple Partition Map) scheme. You can only boot into an installer on an intel Mac using a partition created with the GUID scheme.

Q: But, MacMommy, you have a MacBook Pro. Why wouldn't you just partition the drive using GUID and be done with it?

A: I also have a Quicksilver G4 which is a PPC Mac. It also lacks the ability to read DVDs. It only came with a combo drive which reads/burns CDs. A bootable drive would be much nicer than plunking in multiple CDs. Right now it doesn't meet the system specs for Leopard, but an upgrade to the processor will fix that. So, I wanted to see if I would still be able to somehow make just one partition using APM that I could use as an installer disk for the older PPC as well. (My luck, by the time I'd get around to doing that project, I might have lost the darn DVD anyhow, so I really think having the installer handy on a hard drive would be a good thing.)

So, of course, I set out to see if this is really true because, you never know with technology. I began by inserting the OS X installer CD, launching Disk Utility, select New Image to copy the DVD and saved the .cdr file to my desktop. Before I did that, I had used Disk Utility to partition this HD into 4 parts. On one of the partitions, I dedicated 10GB of space to and I called it LeopardInstallDVD. After the DVD finished copying, I first tried just copying the .cdr over to that partition. Then I restarted and held down the option key. Nope. Nada.

Next, I tried using Disk Utility to do a restore like all the other links suggested. I got this error. "Operation not supported by device."

Ok, so that sorta proves the whole "you can't make a bootable drive using a Western Digital MyBook in APM mode" theory. Bummer.

Then, after much chin stroking, a little bit of grumbling and some furious typing, I remembered: Mike Bombich! Maybe Mike Bombich can help me out! I was thinking back to when I was a Site Tech and imaging hundreds of Macs for elementary schools, we used to use a Molotov Cocktail comprised of: Carbon Copy Cloner, NetRestore Helper, and NetRestore. I was able to image an entire lab of 30 computers in a little over an hour with the use of my wheeled office chair, 10 boot CDs, 2 FW drives and a 10 networked boots. (I was also very pregnant at the time, so that's where the wheeled chair came in handy as I zoomed by each iMac plunking in CDs and pressing key commands)

I remembered that for some reason, disk images created with the standard disk utility just did not work when they were over 5GB. The image creation would either fail or it wouldn't complete in some way so that we could use the NetRestore method for re-imaging the computers. So, I thought it might be worth a shot in this scenario.

So I headed on over to and downloaded the latest Tiger version of NetRestore. The image creation process came back to me and I was able to create a .dmg file using NetRestore Helper. (I haven't tested this method using the Leopard version because I was still running Tiger at the time, so YMMV.)

I created a master image of the installer DVD and saved it to my desktop using NetRestoreHelper. It took a while, but it was worth the wait. Once the master image appeared, I then used NetRestore, in place of Disk Utility, to restore the image onto the 10GB partition I previously created. Here you can see the result. The partition has been renamed by default to the name of the DVD. It's been partitioned using APM, but I can still boot into installer mode on my MacBook Pro.

APM partition scheme
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Once I could see the installer language screen, I proceeded to upgrade my MacBook Pro to Leopard and for the past couple of days I've been happy with the result!

So, to sum it up, if you'd like to make a bootable installer disk from a partitioned external hard drive that will serve as both a backup to your original installer DVD plus you'd also like it to also be able to upgrade a legacy PPC Mac with a broken optical no DVD drive, then this method is for you. The difference from other instructions you may find is that NetRestore Helper works some mojo to create a .DMG file as opposed to the standard .CDR file that Disk Utility generates which evidently does not play well with a partitioned drive using the APM scheme. (Of course, I could have just said that, but it was more fun to tell you the whole story and share pictures.)

Over the summer, to test my theory, I tried to upgrade a PPC G4 Mac Mini using my method and sadly, it did not work because it didn't have enough RAM. You need at least 1GB of RAM and this Mac Mini only had 512MB. I'll try it again sometime when I get around to cracking that thing open to upgrade the RAM and see what happens. It did work on an PPC MacBook. If I ever try to upgrade the old G4 Quicksilver's processor, I'll probably pull the drive out and image it using my IDE converter cable and then reinstall the drive instead of trying to boot the computer from a FW drive. So, like I said, YMMV and you can try this at your own risk. If you should happen to make it work like I described, I've LOVE to know about it, so please drop me a comment. Thanks!

I hope this helps someone that might have a similar scenario as mine. Drop me a comment if it helps you out or if you figure out something better. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rebel Ink Baby Winner!

I am pleased to announce
of my very first blog comment give-away!
(click here to see the original contest details)

Watch this video to see if your name has been picked.

If you didn't win the prize you can still get the same
great threads over at Rebel Ink Baby!
Click on the button below and che
ck out Rebel Ink Baby today!

Myrna Weinreich has won her very own
Rebel Ink Baby Onesie
because she left a comment and Lucian picked it!

Here's the kiddo to show you the prize she won.
The onesie has "100 percent orgasmically grown" printed on the front.
Wait till you see where they print their logo!

Here are some other images of the items inside the b
ox pictured.

This contest has ended.
Thanks to all who entered!
Your comments mean a lot to me :)
Congratulations to
Myrna Weinreich

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Special Characters

Hand-Made Mac Tip No. 2
How to Use the Special Character Palette
(and a little bit of a Jing review)

Have you ever wondered how to get special characters to show up in a text box like musical ♫♪♬♩♫ notes or a smiley☺face? How about a check ✓ mark or a ☐ box?
Or even a ✌☮
Clicking on this image will take you to the website where my video is hosted so you can play it and watch the demonstration in action.

I made a quick little screencast on how to use the Special Character Palette to insert these characters into your text. In this example, I was using the popular independent Twitter client called Twirl, but you can use this method with any area of text. You'll also notice that I was dragging and dropping as opposed to clicking on the insert button. Go ahead and try clicking on that insert button depending on which application you're using, it may or may not work. It did not work using Twirl, but drag and drop did.

I used Jing to create this little video, but as you may know, I've been frustrated using Jing in the past. I still think Jing is a great project though. The video quality is awesome, it's fast and easy to use. It's definitely got that instant gratification thing going for it. Me likely some instant gratification as much as I like instant cocoa with marshmallows. Jing is good for exactly what it claims: quick little instructional videos. It's good for when you need a little bit more than what screenshots would give you. It's almost faster to create a short video clip than to Skitch up screenshots with arrows and text notes depending on the situation. (I love Skitch for all screenshot tutorials!)

What I don't like about Jing is that you can not change the size of the video that you want to embed. Whenever I try to put it onto my blog, it takes up the whole width of the screen and looks awful. So, I cheated this time. I took a screenshot of the video while it played and then posted an image with a link so you would have a visual reference of the screencast I made. Pretty sneaky, huh?

The other annoying thing about Jing is that in order for the video to fit inside the browser window without having to scroll, you need to keep your live area rather small. This is troublesome because then you can not see all of the menu bar items in the OS X interface. So, you just have to carefully plan your placement before you begin recording. It's ok if you're just showing one small area on the Mac screen, but not helpful when you really need to see a much wider area to get what's going on. Jing has it's place but it's limited.

Just so you know, certain browsers may not display these special characters correctly. For example, I discovered that right now, Firefox does not display the open heart symbol. I'll insert it here: . If you see a black rectangle with an X inside of it, you'll know what I mean. When I view this page in Safari, no problemo. I'm sure it won't always be this way, but I just wanted to mention it.

If you find this tip helpful, great, but please promise me that you won't go all crazy and use these symbols and special characters in places where it's not appropriate. One major place that comes to mind is file and folder names. You should NEVER use special characters in file names or folder names. Always use alphanumeric characters. Spaces and underscores are safe but most everything else beyond that, well, YMMV. I just wouldn't do it. I've seen file names with ampersands and dashes work without any noticeable troubles, but I still feel it's bad juju. You especially want to avoid ever ever ever using any slashes of any kind. Just trust me, ok? You would listen to your Mother, right?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Picked Last for Kickball, but Alltop Now

I have had a really good run this past week. I am having fun. I am giggly.
Giggly, is that even a word? I guess it is, there isn't a little squiggly line under it.

Wanna know why? On top of being a full time Mom and Wife and a part time Consultant and Instructor; in addition to whatever other projects I dip my hands into these days, I also try to squeeze in a little bit of a social life. For me though, a social life is not hanging out at the salon or going to bars. I don't even do many play dates yet. I also don't watch soaps or day time TV unless you count PBS Kids, Between the Lions, Word World, or the Doodlebops. Instead, I've been spending my Naptime Happy Hour and other 'Mommy needs a break time' hangin with these fine folks.

Here are just some of the things that made my week:

★ I got a shout out from Liana Lehua at Girls Gone Geek. If you're a chic and you're into tech, you should really check them out. One of these days I'm going to join them in a chat sometime. I'll keep ya posted!

Check out April 3rd Girls Gone Geek - Episode 27 at 37:00 in.
Check their page and subscribe in iTunes!

Leo Laporte said hello to me and referred to me as a "twitter friend" all the way from Australia on a live broadcast. I was tuned into the IRC chat room at the time and he saw me log in and said hello. It was a nice surprise. It's so nice to know I'm a Twitter Friend, not an automated, script-added twitter feed. He actually follows me. (unlike some tweeple and you know who you are and it doesn't matter because you probably don't read my blog anyhow.) That's pretty darn cool. I still wanna hug that guy. Maybe some day I will.

Guy Kawasaki added me
I'm an Alltop Mom!

✓ Go to and look for me!

★ On Sunday, (Holy Mac Sunday) I participated in a live discussion with Victor Cajiao and his co-host, Steve Stanger of The Mac Attack, on the Typical Mac User Podcast Live over at
TMUP Live 73: Life Hacking with Steve Stanger
I got to rant about email woes and discuss some of my philosophies on lifehacking. (I've only just begun starting to voice my ideas about lifehacking, and now I feel inspired. You can expect more of that from me in the near future.)

✓ If you'd like to hear my rant, you can download and listen to it here at 18:45 in.
Better yet, subscribe in iTunes! It's a really great show if you're a recent switcher or slider and it's an even better show for the Mac community group of people who listen and share.

★ Also on Sunday evening, I had a discussion with a fellow Mac community colleague, Tony Walla, and we brainstormed some ideas about a possible podcast. What's that dripping sound? A leak? Did you hear that? (just givin ya some linky love and some motivation, Tony!) So, that's one more thing to be excited about.

(I've been on a couple of podcasts here and there by now, but I've only started to mention it now since I'm in the sharing mood. I'll try to keep better tabs on it from now on.)

Now, for a little story as to why I feel so compelled to share this with all of you interwebbers. [Proceed to fuzzy daydream memory fade.]

When I was a little girl, I was always picked last for everything. They picked me last for kickball because I sucked at it. They named a special kick just for me. They called it "The Missy Kick." The ball was pitched. The ball started to roll towards me. Even before it reached my foot, all of the kids would start walking to assume their new field positions for the next inning. Almost never fail, I would punt it straight into the open arms of the pitcher. Instant out. Fail. No pass go. I was the last player to stand at bat, so my kick usually signaled the end of an inning and sometimes the end of the game. I always walked back to the classroom feeling dejected. Kids can be so cruel.

Well, I'm all grown up now (well, sort of) and I probably still suck at kickball, but that's Okay.

Featured in Alltop
See this badge? I get to add it to my pieces of flare! This means something to me.
It means that I now Rock at Recess!
(as in Nap Time Happy Hour or what I do with my Mommy "me" time like blogging and networking.)

Wanna see my letter to Guy Kawasaki? Here is a screen shot of my letter. (click to enlarge.)

Here is a screen shot of Guy Kawasaki's response. I think I'll be saving this one.

Who needs kickball when you have this?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Toddler-Proof Your Mac

Hand-Made Mac Tip No. 1
How to Toddler-Proof Your Mac

Best viewed in Full Screen mode

Toddler-Proof Your Mac from TheMacMommy on Vimeo.

You can also check out my Vimeo Channel called TheMacMommyBlackboard.

This is the same video I've embedded in my blog before only this time I'm using Vimeo. I think the quality is much nicer on this version. I'm really concerned with how the end user will view it and I want it to look nice. I was also experiencing a copyright issue with some of the videos I posted to YouTube. (If you've been following me on Twitter, you may have seen my ranting. I'm getting over it now.) I may or may not pull the YouTube videos, I haven't yet made up my mind.

I'm also gearing up for a way to redesign my website a little to incorporate more video tutorials. I'm trying to learn what I can about screencasting and I'd like to try my hand at it. The problem is money and digital space or the lack thereof. My plan is to use some of this blog space to host some video tutorials and then somehow incorporate it as a fixed link on my website

Right now, my blog (what you're reading now) and my website are two separate things, but my goal is to try and marry all of my web spaces together. Sort of like digital quilting, if you will. Since we're scraping by on a single income and don't have a lot of money, I'm using the free space our ISP provides to host my website. There isn't much server space at all, so I'm using that as a means to stitch together all of my other web spaces and online ventures.

So, I may be changing some of these blog posts and titles so that the links can play together nicely for a time when I revamp my website. I need to update my bio and other things, so look for some changes in the next few weeks, I hope!

I'll post more about this subject at another time, but for now I'm just excited to have tried out Vimeo.

I hope you like what I have so far! If you have any ideas or suggestions, I'd love to read a comment. I have it set so that comments get emailed right to my into a handy little folder. Let me tell you, it makes my day when I see a comment come into my little folder! Keep em coming! I love to hear from you!