This morning, I went to iTunes to check and see if I had any app updates. While I see the updates on my iOS devices, and download new versions, I don’t often check iTunes for updates to apps that I don’t use. Since I review a lot of apps, I have several hundred iOS apps, which I keep around, just in case.
Then I got to wondering how much space all these apps were taking up on my Mac. I looked at my Mobile Applications folder (in the iTunes Media folder), and found it was a whopping 30 GB. I looked inside, curious that I had that many apps, and found a number of duplicates.
As you can see above, there are some apps that are actual duplicates of the same files – Angry Birds 1.5.3 1.ipa is a duplicate of Angry Birds 1.5.3.ipa – but there are also older versions of apps, which should have been deleted during updates. For example, there are three versions of 1Password, and two versions of Angry Birds 5 (Angry Birds 5.0.0.ipa and Angry Birds 5.0.1.ipa). iTunes should have deleted all of these when updating apps.
So, I went through the folder and deleted all the duplicate apps. I deleted about 2 GB worth of dupes, which isn’t a lot compared to the total size of the folder, but it’s still 2 GB gained. Some of the duplicate apps were quite large, such as the 352 MB Numbers. You may have other large apps that take up space.
So take some time to check this folder and see if you have duplicates. You might save a fair amount of space too.
One thing I hate when I’m browsing the web is being distracted. I hate those blinking, moving ads, auto-play videos, and all the other cruft that websites use to try to get you to click, click, click somewhere, rather than read the article that attracted you in the first place.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the most egregious annoyances on the web. Some of them can be easily muted using browser plug-ins, like the five that I use with Safari to make my browsing experience a lot better. (Note: some of these plug-ins also have equivalents for other browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome.)
I am moving the magazine to a monthly publication that will contain double the amount of stories that the bi-weekly edition published–that’s 8-10 stories per month. I’m currently finishing up the latest issue and it should be published this week. This will be the start of a new chapter for The Loop Magazine, and I’m sure it will be a successful one.
I’ve contributed a number of articles to The Loop Magazine, and I’m proud to be a part of it. If you haven’t read The Loop Magazine, you should check it out; you’ll find lots of great articles.
I have been trying out Realmac Software’s Clear, recently, to keep task lists on my Macs, and sync them to my iOS devices. I like the app; it’s minimalist, easy to use, and avoids the cruft that many list and to-do apps add.
But then I lost data.
Clear syncs to iCloud, using Apple’s CoreData mechanism. I’ve seen problems with this in many apps in the past, and I’ve come to distrust it. I shouldn’t have even started using another app that syncs with iCloud, but I did.
The problem with Clear is that it doesn’t make automatic backups. If it did, I would have been able to restore from a backup. Fortunately, I sync my iOS devices to my Mac regularly, and my iPhone, Sugaree, had a backup from last night.
The data loss occurred some time in the last 12 hours or so, after that last backup. So, with a couple of tools, and a bit of grunt work, I was able to find my missing data.
Clear lost one of my lists; all the others were intact. So I needed to find the data from that list – which was a list of articles I’m planning to write for this website – and copy its data. It wasn’t long; just about ten article titles. But it had a lot of important ideas.
To start out, I used iExplorer to access my iTunes backup. (It’s a coincidence that iExplorer is my current sponsor, but I chose to offer the developer a sponsorship because their app is so useful for this kind of troubleshooting.) In the backup, look for a folder with the name of the app whose data you want to recover. In this case, the folder is named AppDomainGroup-group.clear.
Clear stores its data in an .sqlite file; for some apps, data may be stored differently, or in multiple files, depending on whether or not it syncs to iCloud. Right-click on the .sqlite file and choose Export to Folder. Save the file where you want.
Since it’s an .sqlite file, you can’t just open it in a text editor and access its data; you need a utility that will let you view that data. I used DB Browser for SQLite. Open the file and click the Browse Data tab. Each app will have different data structures, but for Clear, it was easy to find what I was looking for: a table named “tasks.”
The data I needed was in the “title” field; I double-clicked each one and copied the data, then plugged them into a different app. (For now, I’m trying ToDoist.)
That’s all I needed to do.
So, there are a couple of morals to this story. First, don’t trust iCloud. I don’t blame Realmac; it’s probably not their fault. I find it interesting that the data loss occurred overnight; I may have looked at my Clear list on my iPad yesterday evening, but I don’t recall doing so. If I had, I would have spotted that a list was missing. So my guess is that the data loss is due to iCloud itself.
Second, don’t use an app that doesn’t offer backups. I looked in my local folders and couldn’t find any readable files that I would have been able to recover from Time Machine backups. There’s a locally-stored .sqlite file, but it doesn’t contain the same data.
I won’t be trusting any important data to iCloud any more. I am slightly concerned about my contacts; I’ve had issues with them in the past. I know there are local and Time Machine backups that I could restore if I ever need to. But for the rest, iCloud is simply too precarious.
Stacksocial is running a deal on a bundle of five productivity subscriptions for only $59.99. The Five-Star Productivity Pack gives you the following:
1 year of Pocket Premium ($44.99 value)
1 year of Evernote Premium ($45 value)
1 year of Wunderlist Pro ($49.99 value)
1 year of LastPass Premium ($12 value)
3 months of Dropbox Pro ($29.97 value, new users only)
Bonus: 8 week New York Times Digital Subscription (new users only)
There’s lots of good stuff there to help you organize your data and stay productive. You may already subscribe to one or two of these services, but if you’re interested in any two of them, you can save money.
I’ve been playing Go, a grid-based strategy game that dates back thousands of years, for more than three decades, and it’s a game I enjoy a great deal. Unlike chess, which is often an all-or-nothing game of attack and defense, Go is about slowly-evolving strategies to surround the largest territory on the board. Each player, black and white, alternates placing stones on a board with a 19-by-19 grid. Building up territory, where the opposing player cannot get a foothold, each player attempts to enlarge his or her territory, and thwart advances and invasions by the opponent.
It’s easy to learn the rules of Go; it’s hard to become really good at the game. This is a game that computers can’t yet defeat: the best programs can only defeat professional players with a handicap (Go has a handicap system where the weaker player gets to place from two to nine stones on the board at the start of the game).
If you want to play Go, or want to improve your game, there are a number of excellent iOS apps that can help you learn how to play and try to master the game. Here are the best ones.
A friend plays Two Dots a lot, and is irked by the fact that, after you have lost five lives, you have to either wait a while, or pay to get more. I really dislike this sort of gameplay, where you get hit for in-app purchases all the time. So I don’t mind telling you how to get free lives.
Since these games use a timer, all you need to do is change the time on your device. On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Date & Time, then toggle off Set Automatically.
Move the date wheel ahead one day, then go back to the game. In most cases, you’ll be able to get free lives, but sometimes, I’ve found that Two Dots needs to be nudged a second time.
If you have a different device, find the Date & Time setting and make the same change.
Some games actually check the time to make sure you haven’t tweaked; they confirm the time on a server. So you need to put your phone in airplane mode, change the time, start playing, then turn off airplane mode.
I’d rather pay for a game than have this in-app purchase system. These games work by addicting you, frustrating you that you can’t finish a level, and offering you the opportunity to “buy a refill.” It’s a lame way to make money, and they do make lots of money. So here’s how you can play more without paying.
Rogue Amoeba software has just released an update to its excellent audio recording app: Audio Hijack 3 maintains the app’s position as the best audio recorder for Mac, and its new design makes it easier to use, and more efficient.
I’ve long used Audio Hijack to record streamed content, as well as podcasts, and seeing the new interface is like discovering a brand new car. While it does the same things as before, it’s so much easier to use that complex audio recording is now just a few clicks away.
Audio Hijack 3 uses Session Templates, which allow you to quickly set up a recording for any use.
Most of what you will record is visible in the Template Chooser, and if you have more complex recording needs, you can choose New Blank Session and roll your own.
In the Template Chooser, you can see the many ways you can use Audio Hijack 3.
You can record streams: audio from the web, from your Mac, or voice chats, such as Skype or FaceTime.
You can record from physical media, such as DVDs, to capture audio from concert videos, or vinyl records, to digitize them (and filter out hisses and clicks while you’re doing it).
You can use it to alter the audio on your Mac as you’re listening to it: the Sweeten template lets you apply EQ and effects, and the Increase Volume template lets you make your Mac louder.
You can record any application, any input device.
And you can record podcasts, with complex settings and effects.
I’ve been using Overcast to listen to podcasts on my iPhone since it was released. It’s a great app, with some really good features. (Read my review.)
And developer Marco Arment did something nice in the app: he had links to other podcast apps in the Settings screen. So if you didn’t like Overcast, you could check out one of a half-dozen other apps. And the links appeared in random order, so none of the apps was always first in the list.
There was an update today to Overcast, and, surprisingly, Apple forced Arment to remove those links to other apps:
This is surprising. I don’t see why Apple would not allow a developer to link to other apps; I’m pretty sure I’ve seen apps that try and get you to buy other apps by the same developer. The only difference here is that Arment was helping you find the best podcast app for you by sharing links to apps that aren’t his.