Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogging in Plain Text.

This is an attempt to write just plain text into a blog to see how it appears. The problem is multiple paragraphs... can blogs appear as intended without using HTML tags? This very blog entry demonstrates the problem. It is difficult to write blogs when over 35% of your typing incorporates HTML tags! While the use of Style Sheets may simplify the blog entry process to some degree, it's still too cumbersome to enter long HTML tags just to satisfy the encapsulating HTML source text set up by your server. If blogs could be entered without even one HTML tag, then that would be good enough for mobile blogging without resorting to a dedicated editor for the purpose (

The above is supposed to appear as three paragraphs, but since I must write HTML in my posts (using Blogger's post editor), it appears as only one paragraph. And links need to be explicily written, too; URLs are not magically detected and made as hyperlinks.


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Can I Make Posts On My Phone?

I think I can, I think I can...

... but it's really difficult using iOS' software keyboard! I made this blog entry using an iPhone and Blogger's editor, and it is a bit of a slog getting HTML entered into the page. You definitely want to keep your blogs short and simple this way!


Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Everlasting Legacy of iDisk.

I once said about the venerable optical disc drive:

... once a main source of getting large masses of data into and out of your computer, or the only way to rip and burn music and your home movies onto CDs and DVDs, these optical drives are fast becoming superseded by the ever-more-imperative and ever-so-heavily used network interface.

With the impending closure of MobileMe, I am now about to lose a remote backup solution—iDisk. The remote disk in the cloud was where I'd put some backups of just-important-enough data so that I can recover them from other computers, including my phone, whenever and wherever I need it.

Until the end of June, 2012, when iDisk is scheduled to go down in history, permanently.

There may be solutions from other providers that can replace iDisk, such as Dropbox, however, there is one thing that made iDisk an attractive solution for offloading your data into the cloud: some unique integration with Mac OS X.

The system applications that took advantage of included the Finder and the Standard File Package, iChat, Mail, Address Book, iCal and Sherlock 2, and an application that was offered outside the scope of Mac OS X itself, .Mac Backup. Except for Sherlock 2, the level of integration with iDisk remained right up until Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, although publication of such integration was shoved over to the side in Apple's marketing. Even Mac OS 9 has had some level of integration with iDisk, through iTools, right up until iTools became .Mac in 2002.

iDisk accessibility and support persisted right through to when Apple's on-line services became MobileMe, after .Mac survived through three major Mac OS X releases. In 2008, iDisk became accessible to Web users through, and remains accessible directly in the Finder and the system's Standard File Package, and the slightly-modified-for-MobileMe Backup 3.2. This support will end when iDisk finally disappears off the ethers next year.

Because Backup 3 allows users to back up files to iDisk, this capability will be lost when iDisk disappears. It was a way for people to perform remote backups to Apple's own servers, so that information can be made readily available to MobileMe subscribers on other devices, wherever they have access to the Internet. With iDisk's disappearance, remote backup will be a lost capability to Mac OS X and iOS users.

Which draws me back to the venerable optical disc drive. I once called it a waste of space inside my laptop... now I may have to retract that statement, because it will be the only way I can perform off-site backups of data without resorting to other tools and solutions. Other ideas could include the following when getting Backup 3 (or other backup tools) to back up your data as an off-site backup solution:

  • USB memory sticks,
  • iPods with internal hard disks, such as the iPod classic,
  • pocket hard drives, such as the excellent WD My Passport drives,
  • a network file server.

Any of these solutions, including transportation and storage of your media away from your workplace, would need to be considered as a replacement for iDisk.

And for those machines that never had built-in optical drives, it makes the USB port the most heavily-used port on your computer unless you can find a network solution to replace iDisk (such as these network gadgets).

iDisk was instrumental for the implementation of .Mac and MobileMe, and their services. However, iDisk was also useful in its own right as a filesystem service for users to copy any data they wanted as a remote backup or instant accessibility solution. With that fundamental service gone, users will no longer have a way to copy files to a remote network service unless they arrange to make their own tools and obtain new service providers to replace what Apple made available for over a decade.

On top of that, the absence of iDisk will cause older machines to start malfunctioning if users are not careful. Integrated accessibility user interfaces to iDisk services in the Finder and in the Standard File Package will cause computers to hang unnecessarily if users attempt to use these interfaces after iDisk is shut down permanently next year. While the iDisk sidebar item can be removed from the sidebar of Finder windows, unfortunately, the iDisk menu in the Finder's Go menu is a permanent fixture of the Finder and cannot be removed, and people will have to treat these commands as items never to select, ever again.


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