iPod, DiskWarrior and Data Rescue, Multilingual Spelling

Wednesday, 2004-12-29; 06:29:00

More technology stuggles abound...

So when I was in Egypt, I started using my iPod as a main startup disk while using Nola's computer (since I had left my own laptop back in Italy for fear of having something happen to it in Egypt). Of course, the day before I left for Italy, Murphy's Law had to strike, and my computer crashed and my iPod wouldn't start up or mount on the desktop anymore.

This was all the more alarming given that I was storing all my Egypt photos on my iPod so that they would be easily portable back to Italy to put on my laptop, and then back to the U.S. There was about a period of 5 days where I was concerned for my photos. (It was funny, because literally the last thing I did before the computer crashed was to export my photos to a folder on the hard drive of Nola's computer, so I did have a sort of "backup" of my pics.) Luckily, however, just last night I finally managed to salvage my photos from my iPod and get them on my computer, so they're all in iPhoto now. :)

Anyway, I think the reason that my iPod is messed up a bit is because it fell off Nola's short table while I was booting from it, and I think that might have caused the hard disk to get damaged a bit. This is confirmed by the diagnostic tests I did with DiskWarrior and finally with Data Rescue. I tried running DiskWarrior to get my iPod to remount, but when it was searching for directory data, it said "speed inhibited by disk malfunction", and didn't even finish that step after I had left it running through the night. I then figured I might as well just salvage my data and then just erase my iPod -- so I used DataRescue X to salvage my data.

I must say that DataRescue is a very slick program. Not only did it recover just about all my files perfectly, it was very responsive even while my iPod had bad blocks, something that I can't say even for DiskWarrior. In the course of scanning the hard drive (using Quick Scan), it found about 61 bad blocks on my iPod's hard drive (eek!). Three of my pictures were in spots where there were bad blocks, but DataRescue recovered the pictures anyway and flagged them in the Finder using a red label (which was pretty cool, IMHO). Furthermore, it actually presents you with a normal file and folder listing of what was on your damaged drive, not like Norton Utilities' volume recover (or at least how I remember it) where it just presents a list of files. This way, I was just able to tell DataRescue to simply recover my whole "iPhoto Library" folder, and it preserved it perfectly. That was important, because that way I was sure to have the original photos I took back on my laptop.

DataRescue is also good, because it offers the option of saving "scan files", which means you can choose to recover files at a later time without having to go through the whole scan process of the hard drive again (assuming nothing has changed on the hard drive, which is pretty safe to assume if your hard drive is in an unusable state). They actually offer a demo of the software, although for some reason they cripple the demo by only allowing you to recover one file per session of the demo (I think a more reasonable solution would to make a 30-day trial or something, because recovering one file is utterly useless when you're in a tight situation and your data could be lost -- usually most people want instant gratification and want to know that their data is safe, so a one-file-per-session demo is not a good advertisement for a product, even though DataRescue is a very good product).

Because my iPod won't mount, I can't use it as a music player right now. It's not that it doesn't work -- I can turn it on and play solitaire and browse through the menus, it's just that no music appears. I'm going to wait 'til I get home to try using TechTool on it to get it to mount again. Nola had Norton Utilities, but after trying to use that (it fixed the volume header or something, but that didn't help any), I'm convinced that Norton Utilities is completely useless now. It was useful when it was at version 4.0 on the Classic MacOS, but each successive release after 4.0 has been full point upgrades for no real added advantage (i.e.: à la AOL: "Get AOL version 3829, now with a new, colored, OK button!"). If you're looking to buy a disk utility, I wouldn't even consider Norton Utilities at this point. I'll bet that the company is still just riding the reputation that it had in the Classic MacOS days, while not actually focusing on making it a good product.

Anyway, hopefully I'll have a music player back in a few days. In the meantime, however, I have my photos back, and also the few music purchases I made through the iTMS. So that makes me feel a whole lot better.

It's funny.. whenever something is wrong with my computer (like when I was having to start up from my iPod since Mac OS X was fubared on my laptop) or with my iPod, I don't really feel good until I fix the problem. It's like it bugs me to no end to know that something is wrong with my computer -- but it's not really a feeling of annoyance, but more one of not feeling good. It's kind of weird, but I guess it's because I use my computer (and iPod) a lot and don't want anything to happen to them.


To continue in the vein of offering small little Mac OS X tips, here's a quickie for those of you that want a built-in multilingual spelling checker. This is useful if you write in Italian and French and English, and want Mac OS X to check spelling for all of them (because it DOES have a built-in dictionary for most main languages).

It doesn't even require any third-party software, like CocoASpell, which I used to use. Here's what you do:

1. Open up a text editor like TextEdit.
2. Go to the Edit --> Spelling --> Spelling... . This should pop up the spelling floating window.
3. In the "Dictionary" popup menu at the bottom of the floating window, simply select "Multilingual", instead of "English" or "Italiano" or whatever dictionary you normally use.
4. Close the spelling floating window.

That's it! This automatically applies to all check-spelling-as-you-type-services, so it's system wide. It's very handy (especially for those Italian or French essays).

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