iDisk going away

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When MobileMe goes away at the end of the month, iDisk will go with it. Before that happens, you should copy any files from your iDisk to some other service.

iDisk is a virtual disk provided by Apple. When connected, it shows up on your desktop as if it were a hard drive, but the files you transfer to and from it are transmitted over the Internet to Apple. The advantage of this approach is that these files do not take up space on your drive and are available from anywhere in the world. The drawback is that it’s slow.

If you’ve never used the iDisk, don’t worry about it as it will be gone soon anyway. Otherwise, a great alternative is DropBox, a free service that provides a type of synchronized disk.

The DropBox software creates a folder on your hard drive that acts like any other folder except its contents are synchronized over the Internet to the DropBox service. If you add the same account to another machine (Mac or PC), the same files will show up there automatically. You can also access the files online through their web site and use it to share large files with others.

The drawback is that it takes up space on your hard drive so it isn’t truly virtual. But it is pretty fast, and it isn’t going away.

MobileMe ends in 30 days

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Just a reminder that MobileMe comes to an end on June 30. If you rely on it for e-mail or to sync your contacts or calendars between devices, you must switch to iCloud before then. And before you switch to iCloud, you must be running OS X 10.7.x (Lion) on your Macs and the latest iOS on your iPhones and iPads.

If you are using OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), you can purchase Lion on-line by going up to the Apple menu and choosing “App Store”. Or click here. If you are using an older version of the OS, you will have to upgrade to Snow Leopard first, or buy the Lion thumb-drive installer from Apple.

If you don’t rely on MobileMe for over-the-air synchronization of that data, this really doesn’t concern you. You can make the switch to iCloud, then manually update your e-mail settings if desired.

Note that some services will be lost in the transition from MobileMe to iCloud. Among those, iDisk will go away and there will be no more web hosting. If you need these, you will have to find other services to fill the gap.

For iDisk specifically, I recommend DropBox. For web hosting, I like GoDaddy, but there are a variety to choose from.

Off to vacation on Saturday

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I will be on vacation starting Saturday, May 12 and returning on Tuesday, May 29.

I’ll be traveling to Gotham City where I plan to fight crime at night while wearing a latex mask and inappropriate tights. As I am not particularly fond of heights and bruise easily, my contribution will probably be limited to driving around and yelling at kids to get off the lawn while trying to keep the cape I’m sitting on from strangling me, but at least I’ll be “doing something”. Or I’ll just stay in the cave and watch old movies while being served tea by a demented butler, I haven’t decided.

During my absence, Ed Covelli will be handling all emergencies and performing minor miracles. As he is particularly gifted, you can reach him by thinking really hard about gorgonzola cheese, or, if ethereal communication is outside your skill set, can e-mail or call him at 212/201-1465.

Revamped Quicken 2007 has been released

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Intuit has released an Intel-based version of Quicken 2007 that will work in Lion. On the surface, it works the same as the previous Quicken 2007, looks about the same, but is significantly faster. It opened my existing file without fanfare, but did crash once when I was downloading security prices, so I expect there will be an update at some point.

You can buy the “new” version for $14.99 from here.

Microsoft Word and Excel file names

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If you use Microsoft Word or Excel (or PowerPoint too, I guess), and have recently upgraded to Office 2011, be aware that these apps have an issue with file names that contain a forward slash (“/”).

It used to be that the only character that was “illegal” in a Mac file name was the colon, and that’s because the Mac would use that internally to designate folder paths. So if you had a “Widget” folder on your hard drive that contained the file “gidget.txt”, that path was represented internally as “My Drive:Widget:gidget.txt”.

When Apple moved the MacOS to a Unix base, they had to deal with a conflict. In Unix, the character that designates a folder is the forward slash, so the same file is represented by “/Widget/gidget.txt”. Apple dealt with this conflict by creating a layer above its Unix underpinnings that converts the colon to a slash and vice-versa. Applications could go on using the old-style designation, including slashes, without having to worry about what was going on beneath the hood.

But Microsoft is clearly doing things in a different way. Although it shouldn’t make a difference, the Microsoft apps are having trouble with the “/” in file names, and either refusing to open these files, or opening them as “read only”.

The bottom line is, don’t put slashes into your file names, whether they are meant for the Microsoft apps or not. If you have a file called “Info on 3/5/12.doc”, change it to “Info on 3-5-12.doc” or something similar.

Quicken 2007 for Lion

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Intuit has sent an e-mail to some users announcing that Quicken 2007 will be updated to be compatible with the Lion OS. The note says it will happen in “early spring,” so hopefully that means before the deadline to switch from MobileMe to iCloud. It doesn’t mention a cost, and other sources have reported that the Quicken file has to be converted to the new version under Snow Leopard first.

The letter reads:

Dear Quicken Mac Customer:

As a fellow Mac fan and customer, I wanted to personally introduce myself, and share some highlights of our Apple-related efforts with you.

I recently became General Manager of the Personal Finance Group at Intuit, responsible for Quicken and Intuit’s 25 years of leadership in personal financial management software makes me excited to lead this team and I am committed to creating products to help you reach your financial goals.

I recognize, however, that we have not always delivered on this promise to Quicken Mac customers.

As you may know, Quicken for Mac 2007 does not currently work on Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). I understand the frustration this may have caused you and have put a team in place to address this issue. I am happy to announce that we will have a solution that makes Quicken 2007 for Mac “Lion-compatible” by early spring. There are still details to be worked out, so I ask your continued patience as we work through these. In the meantime, you can find more information on our Mac FAQ page.

Working toward a Quicken for Mac 2007 solution is just a first step in winning back your confidence.

We are expanding our development team to continue our renewed focus on personal finance solutions that suit the needs of our Mac customers. As we develop solutions, we’ll be looking to you and the rest of our Mac customers for ideas and feedback.

I understand we have a way to go, but I wanted to start by communicating our commitment to Mac and look forward to sharing the details with you as they emerge.

Thank you for your continued loyalty to Quicken.


Aaron Forth
General Manager, Intuit Personal Finance Group

Safari Autofill Prefs

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Ever use autofill in Safari only to have it fill in the wrong information? For example, you might want to use your work e-mail address, but it always chooses your home e-mail address, or you want it to fill in your cell phone number, but it always chooses your work number. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell the System which bit of information is “primary”.

Until now.

I just released a free app on my website called Safari Autofill Prefs that will let you choose the data Safari should use when doing an autofill.

FYI, Safari uses data from the Address Book, specifically your “Me” card. You can check this data by opening Address Book, then going to the Card menu and choosing Go To My Card. If it brings you to the wrong card (or no card at all), find your name, then go to the Card menu and choose Make This My Card.

Once you’ve located your “Me” card, make sure all of your various addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are entered, then try Safari Autofill Prefs to pick the items that Safari should use.

iOS 5.0.1 and battery life

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I’m happy to report that the recent iOS 5.0.1 update has made a dramatic difference to the battery life of my iPhone 4. And I’m hearing that from various other sources too about the iPhone 4, the 4S and even the 3GS.

On Saturday morning, I unplugged my phone. Normally, even though my usage was light, I would have expected it to be all-but-dead by Sunday morning. Instead, I still had about 30% charge by the time I plugged it in again Sunday night. I have never had that experience with any iPhone model I’ve owned (this is my third) or with any previous iOS version. I’d say Apple finally fixed a major problem.

Since the battery life issue was the only one that’s been reported about the iPhone 4S, I’d say that’s resolved and, if you’ve been waiting to get one, you can go ahead.

iCloud and you

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iCloud is the new Apple service that will ultimately replace MobileMe. If you’re a current MobileMe user, you will get all sorts of “reminders” and nudges to migrate to iCloud or start an iCloud account.

Unless you’re running Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) on all of your Macs, don’t do it.

The problem with iCloud is that it requires the latest OS and won’t work with any previous OS for synchronization of data. If you migrate to it and still have a previous-OS Mac, you will lose the ability to share your contacts and calendars among your Macs and iOS devices, and there is no way back.

The alternative is to start a brand-new, free account with iCloud for a specific purpose on your iOS devices (like backing up to iCloud instead of your Mac), but when you do finally migrate, you will have multiple iCloud accounts and, at this time, there is no way to merge them.

The bottom line is, if you use MobileMe and haven’t completely upgraded to Lion, you don’t have to do anything until June 2012 so leave iCloud alone. But if you don’t have a MobileMe account, or have upgraded all of your Macs to Lion, go ahead with iCloud.

MobileMe issues when sending mail

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I’ve had a number of calls over the past few days from clients with MobileMe accounts who are having trouble sending otherwise innocuous mail. No settings have changed, the address is correct, there are no attachments (or they are small), and the e-mail should just go out. But it doesn’t. Instead, Mail spins for a few minutes, then displays an error window.

If this describes your experience over the past week, rest assured, it’s not you, it’s them.

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