The Puppy Dog Close

I understand there’s a technique in sales known as the “puppy dog close.” Imagine a family going into a pet store “just to look.” The sales person says “No problem, I know you don’t want to buy anything today, but while you’re here why not hold this just for a minute” and proceeds to put a puppy in the arms of the kid who’s only too happy to play with it. Of course the kid and the puppy hit it off instantly, and the dad grudgingly gives in to the inevitable. In other words they go home with the puppy. **That** is the puppy dog close.

Shareware and try-before-you-buy software are based on the puppy dog close, but all too often I find it surprisingly easy to walk away after trying it. This past week, tho, I bought three different pieces of software as soon as the trial period ended.

The first program, Dangerous Mines, is an addicting Minesweeper type game I’ve been trying out for the past month. Of the three game variants, my favorite is Gauntlet, where you have to complete a level in a limited amount of time to proceed to the next level. The Hard game, which seemed impossible to play just a few short weeks ago, I now tackle in the morning while the coffee is brewing. Maybe I play it a little too much (are my mouse fingers supposed to feel numb?), but I just got a high score over a million so I’m lucky I can quit anytime. Really. The game is well done, tho a little pricey at $25 (PC version, Mac version available as well).

The second program is the fine NetNewsWire, an RSS aggregator I’ve got collecting feeds from about four dozen websites so I can stay on top of new posts without having to visit all those sites all the time. I love the interface, and how it can be customized, and it keeps getting better. I’m using the beta of version 2, highly recommended at $25 (Mac only).

The third program is Panic Software’s Transmit, a fine little FTP client. I’ve been using Fetch forever to do FTP, since 1995 I think, when Robin introduced me to the internet (“Too geeky” I said, “it will never catch on with the masses.” She felt differently, and Once Again, She Was Right). Fetch went commercial with the OSX version, and I ponied up for it. It’s gotten a little long in the tooth and hasn’t kept up with the times. Panic, on the other hand, did a fine job with Transmit, and I’m a sucker for a nice user interface anyway. Nice utility, does what it’s supposed to and even looks pretty, $30 (Mac only).

The Undead Drive

In the middle of copying over the third chunk from the crashed drive this afternoon, I noticed that said bad drive was mounted on my desktop, and that I could read it!

I’ve spent the last hour furiously backing up the photos, mail, address book, time log, GarageBand mixes, notes, and other stuff I thought I’d lost forever.

Good: Having FileSalvage recover your lost files.
Better: Having the drive mount and not even needing FileSalvage!

Update Feb 24: I went back and tried to get a couple less critical things off the drive today and it’s back to being dead. Good thing I got off what I could the other day.

Crash of '05: Followup

The replacement drive has been working fine after the old one crashed last month, but it’s been bugging me that there were some files that I couldn’t recover, like some family photos taken around Halloween. Yesterday I bought FileSalvage, a program that promised to scan the bad drive and recover what it could, but it had problems working with the damaged drive (10megs scanned after 3 hours).

I put on my geek hat and discovered that Unix’s “dd” command can be used to copy raw disk blocks from the damaged drive to a spare partition, a couple gigs worth at a time. It took about an hour to copy the first chunk, and FileSalvage then recovered a bunch of stuff off of it, including 4 of the missing photos. Encouraged, I continued with the next chunk, and an hour later I’d recovered fifty of the family photos! It will take over 20 hours to recover the drive at this point, but it’s something I can do at my leisure, as time permits, and while it’s working I can be doing other things. I see now why DriveSavers charges two grand or more to do this!

iLife 05 arrives!

When I got back home tonite I discovered that the new iLife 05 had arrived. It took a few minutes to install, and I played a bit with the new GarageBand. It seems a little faster, and I really like the new transcription feature (notes on a staff). Put together a few measures of layered rock, remembering how easy it is to do that (it’s been a month since I’ved played with it).

iPhoto has a cool new feature where you can use a calendar to display all the photos in a given month, or on a given day. I hear it will keep track of movie clips, but I didn’t get a chance to try that out.

And iMove and iDVD look like they have some nifty new features, but I’m saving playing with those til I have a few hours to spare.

Back to normal

…or at least a convincing imitation 🙂

The PowerBook has been up and running for a few days now, and Barry and I had a productive day at House-Mouse yesterday.

I’m realizing that networks helped save a lot of my important files. My client sites were backups for me (just as I am a backup for them). And all the songs I bought over the past two years from the iTunes Music Store were backed up on the music server and the iPod.

Those backups weren’t created consciously, they just happened as part of what I normally do. But because the network is there (both our house network and the internet), it would be easy to make backup copies of important files, I just need to remember to do that.

I haven’t totally realized yet that my computer extends far beyond the physical box I carry around with me; Its reach extends to the other computers in the house, and elsewhere on the internet.

A hard crash

On Monday the hard disk crashed on my PowerBook. Since this machine contains my life, things were a little tense for a while. A trip to Small Dog to get a replacement drive, then a geeky half hour or so to install it. Got it pretty much all back together before I realized I’d missed a step (omitted in the instructions on pbfixit.com) and had to take it back apart again.

Then I began the hours-long process of reinstalling Panther, running System Update, and reinstalling my applications (BBEdit, Photoshop, InDesign, etc). Restored what I could from my most recent backup, which unfortunately was three months old. FTP’d down my client sites (the sites themselves are my backup!). By the time I went to bed (after midnight), I had enough restored to be productive.

I wrote a quick note to my clients telling them what happened, and reminding them to backup often!

Since then I’ve been downloading the various little things that make cyber life more pleasant, the utilities and contextual menus and so on.

An now I’m just about back to where I was.

What was lost? Some recent photos, a couple songs from the iTunes Music Store that I hadn’t yet copied to the music server or my iPod. Lots of geeky notes, like how to get various perl modules working on OS X. Some lyrics, downloaded movies, bookmarks. Three months worth of emails. Sigh.