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Editing recurring events in iCal that you’ve accepted from MS Exchange/other…

Thought I’d share a mini-triumph to a niggling problem with iCal and recurring events I’d accepted into my calendar.

I work with a number of clients, most of whom are on MS Exchange of one flavour or another. I get meeting invites from them and accept them joyously into iCal on my Mac. For the most part this works fine, except when it comes to recurring events. My diary was littered with recurring events stretching into the future without end and I was unable to delete these since – as iCal kindly reminded me – I was not the meeting organiser.

I asked clients to send a cancellation, but this didn’t remove the event, and in some cases they’d already removed or finished the recurrence, just leaving me with an infinite stub.

I could delete the individual instances, but had to remember not to delete the whole series (or I’d lose the events that had really happened and that I’d attended) and I also had to take care not to ‘inform the organiser’ of the deletion – it’s never fun getting spammed about someone cancelling an event that doesn’t exist in your world!

In a moment of googling joy today I came across this ancient tip:

where it mentioned that the ‘organiser’ was identified by their email address. The tip suggested grepping and editing the underlying calendar with a text editor (wah – destruction of data alert!) but it sparked an idea that worked… Here’s how to be able to edit these otherwise untouchable appointments…

  • Open the event and look under attendees for the organiser (it says after their name, eg “Ian Jindal (organiser)”)
  • Click on the organiser’s name to see their email address and copy this (an option if you ctrl-click on the name)
  • Close the appointment and go to Address Book app
  • Go to your own address card (Card >> My Card)
  • Enter edit mode (apple-L) and add a new email address for yourself – paste in the copied email address for the event organiser, then exit Edit mode (apple-L again)
  • Go back to your calendar and open the event
  • Bingo! iCal thinks that “you” are the event organiser (since they Organiser’s email address is in your address card) and therefore lets you edit the event. Change the recurrence ‘end date’ to a date of your choice.
  • Save.

I now have a clean calendar and a light heart 🙂

Just remember to remove the temporary extra email(s) from your address card.

Welcome to Macintosh, 24 years ago today – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

24 years ago, eh? Most people know that I’m a bit of a mac fan (or victim – take your pick). Given that I spend so much of my working life at a keyboard it’s a real testament to the OS+hardware combo that I still enjoy the very processes of _using_ the computer. Apart from the dull, awful year of the late OS9 phase (think 1997-2000, when Windows NT was a more fulfilling computing experience and Windows2000 “just worked”) every day of using 5 versions of OSX have been fun. Well, nearly.

I missed the start of macdom, only coming across my first mac in early 1988. I’d just come off a “computer course” at Ernst & Young, on an aged Epson orange-screen, keyboard-clips-to-the-front machine and there, in the middle of the open plan office, was a pretty little SE (or SE/30, or something – it was a little box, anyway). It still had its antimacassar on, it was “portable” in the way that a rickshaw makes people ‘portable’, it didn’t have multifinder and the 9″ screen was a porthole, but goodness me was it lovely. Intuitive and it ‘just worked’.

Having MS Word and Excel made the machine useful, so it’d be naive to think that the OS alone could make the machine a success. Indeed, with Apple’s vanity foray into “we be for the creatives” it was nearly wholly marginalised as a business machine. Arguably its entrenched position in the publishing and design departments kept it alive (or was that the enormous software investment in Quark that was a disincentive to change?) while Jobs wandered off and did ‘pretty unix’ via NeXT.

A combination of industrial design (Ive), good UNIX underpinnings or DNA (from NeXT), flair and confidence (from the return of jobs) and an understanding of “mass affluenza”, supporting ‘design items’ and higher prices than the cost-cutting obsessives inside the megaboxshifters would have thought sensible and we have today’s Apple.

The company today has defined a new consumer electronics niche – twice. The iPod and iTunes linked hardware and a licensing business model that was new; the iPhone is a desirable phone that’s the first to make on-the-move data access really usable, while also creating a new economic model for working with telcos (the revenue-share agreements rather than subsidised handset prices).

Still – let’s not get too misty-eyed: not until we see the 10″ Macbook Superair – an iphone-style touchscreen osx-running, optionally-keyboarded datamunching ever-connected wondergizmo – the Apple Newton re-born! I’m just going to nip off and unwrap the pristine Newton 120 that Doug bought me off ebay (in generous sarcasm, I’m sure). Your time will come again, my pretty…

UPDATE: for an amusing look at Mac obsessives, check out the trailer here: Some great quotes and much at which to chuckle: whether at aging hippies who see Apple as the new revolution, tart comments about them being misguided fools or the sensible point about ‘love the community not the mac’. It has the makings of a great documentary and – whatever your view – it’s a reminder to brand owners in a global, consumerist world, about the power of connection your brand with people’s passions.

81 degrees: hot Mac Book Pro after the Leopard upgrade


Well, as you’ll know I upgraded to Leopard and had an OK time of it (once I’d sorted out access privileges). Overall, I’m enjoying the new OS, but I must admit that I’m really missing MailTags… roll on the Leopard upgrade in January!

I’ve noticed a couple of things that are a bit annoying:

1) MY GOD IT’S RUNNING HOT! The laptop is too hot to hold. Toast!

2) Occasional ‘freezing’ of the keyboard. There’s an active thread on this, but my own amateur diagnosis is that it’s something to do with either the heat, the superdrive spinning up, faulty cabling, a USB driver or all/any/none of the aforementioned. Whatever, it’s spurred me to sort out the heat thang…

3) “Airdisk” – vapourware disk, more like. I have an Airport Extreme: it’s solid, reliable and pretty. I ask no more. Well, actually I do: please don’t break when you automatically self-upgrade to 7.2.1 (or whatever). Also, how’s about your claim to make attaching a USB drive a piece of cake and then sharing that over the network a reality, rather than a stalling, fumbling, inept sham?

Deep breath.

I only want the airdisk so that I can back up verily mine laptop using Time Machine… however, as I sit here it’s struggling to do the first 100Gb while tethered to firewire, so I’m wondering how realistic the suggested hourly disk snapshots are…

But I digress: back to the asbestos question…

I used to have FanControl running, but find that there’s a newer version specially for the Intel Macs and I’ve just downloaded and installed it.

Since it’s been up and running the keyboard’s been behaving, the ‘puter is definitely a bit cooler, and there’s a neat display of fan speed and temperature.

I’ve also inadvertently found that the biggest contributor to a cool laptop is wedging a pencil underneath the machine, towards the back. This lifts the rear of the machine (giving a rather nice angled keyboard) and lets air circulate. Basic and effective. Got to love pencils 😉

Tasty – “Open in TextMate” from Leopard Finder – The Pug Automatic

This is nice.

I’m still in love with TextMate (especially since I’ve been doing lots of editing property lists of late – yuk).

I’ve always liked the way that if you select multiple files and then cmd-click | open with… and select Textmate then it “knows” to open them all and create a working project for them.

This handy little button (which looks rather nice in the finder – a touch of colour) reduces that to one click.

It’s small, fast and effective. One could ask for no more.

Upgrade story: Mac OS X Leopard

So, this was the advice I gave myself about upgrading to Mac OSX 10.5 “Leopard”:

* don’t rush – wait for the war stories
* don’t rush – do some major backups
* don’t rush – do some serious housekeeping
* don’t rush – check you’ve got the serial numbers and details of all applications ESPECIALLY those little plugins that you forget about until they’re not there.

Anyway – I lasted less than 24 hours.

I had a rather horrible experience with the user accounts being disabled after log in. Ouch. I’d log in, all would be as normal, except that the Keychain (where passwords etc are stored) was corrupted. Worse, after 3 attempts to open Keychain it kindly told me that I was locked out. No problem, thought I, I’ll do something else and get back to this. Unfortunately the user account then disappeared!

There was no mention of the account on the log-in screen and even when I fired up terminal and tried to ‘su’ to the user the password wasn’t accepted.

Panic was alleviated by my being able to see all of the user accounts on the drive so I knew that the data was intact (and because I had root access and the system disks as a boot option I knew I’d be able to recover everything).

Interestingly I had a realisation about backups. Even though I had a full backup of everything (read/write) and a disk image (‘ghost) I could use to fully restore the machine, the very thought of losing 24 hours of restoring time was just exhausting. I therefore chose to continue my efforts at recovery.

There’s about 250Gb of data and stuff on the G5 and if I can’t be bothered to restore then goodness help me when there’s a couple of terabytes there!

My insight from this is to fully separate the OS and vital applications from data. As of today the data is kept on an external drive and both the data and the OS on the desktop are backed up to a second external NAS drive. I sorta knew this would be better but it took a prod like this to make it happen.

I tried to rectify the log-in problems every which way. Googling gave me myriad answers and I did the basics: restart from the CD, reinstall the OS, repair privileges, recover the keychains from backup, recreate the keychains, run the keychain repair, install the keychain patch… All to no avail.

Finally, I found this most excellent support document: “Unable to log in to an account after an upgrade install”. Interestingly, this support document was created 2 days before Leopard was released to the public… Would have been nice to have been told!

Anyway, starting in ‘single user mode’ (a unix-like startup) and doing some stuff as root fixed everything. Huzzah!

Armed with this knowledge I upgraded the laptop last night and, well, it took 45 mins and worked like a dream. Mac-like, indeed. I left it overnight to index my mail and 100Gb of HD contents and this morning it was zippy and lovely.

The interface is slick, perceptibly rapid and all of my plugins and apps work fine – apart from (sob) MailTags. The Apple “Discoverers” are truly awesome and astoundingly accurate but my workflow really needs the MailTags approach to which I’m now habituated. I hadn’t realised its utter non-workingness. Pity – and roll on the upgrade due at the end of the year. Note how, in my new well-behavedness, I’m not going to install the beta version… 😉

So – what have I learned from this?

1) Backups are vital, but it needs to be a real catastrophe to make me do a full restore. The time taken and effort required are simply too onerous for a ‘minor disaster’. I need to improve my backup approach
2) Separate data and OS/apps really clearly – makes a sensible backup and recovery process easier (I hope)
3) take care to synchronise settings (keychains, preferences, licence keys etc) – this is what makes your computer “yours” and you’ll be kicking yourself for months without these…

The final lesson is the most serious one, however. Don’t mess with “production” machines! Bit by bit ‘my’ collection of Macs is no longer mine. Vicky really relies on the G5 for her design work and having me “upgrade” the computer where the improvement is, erm, being locked out and losing a day’s work is not acceptable. I’ve now taken myself off _her_ machine and will get it ready for full production support.

Of course, this means that I now need a dev/test machine… 😉

CIPA Specifications Guideline for Digital Cameras

DPReview has a link to the new guidelines for the “Specification Guideline for Digital Cameras”. Currently in draft the document carries the collaborative weight of Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Panasonic, Sony and others.

Currently the only topic on digicams is the infernal megapixel level – an annoying and largely irrelevant metric when the camera has high noise, terrible compression algorithms and a shutter lag measured in geological time!

Standards – to ease comparison and make key features visible – are always a good thing and it’s cheering to see an industry body taking the initiative here.

The Guilloche artist – Centre Culturel de la Haute Horlogerie

A wonderful short film on the art of guilloche – mechanical engraving. In an age of mass production or computer-controlled manufacture it’s too easy to forget the ‘original’ hand-crafting – it’s too easy to assume that it was ‘just done by a machine’.

Guilloche does something to me and I can meditate upon a fine watch face for hours (yes, I know I need therapy) so it’d lovely to see this passionate film by a suitably brown-overcoated Frenchman, clearly in love with his draft.

Check out Watchismo’s article for links to other videos in this lovely series.

SpinVox’s “Spin-my-Blog”

I’d rather ignored Spinvox since I wasn’t sure that the voice-to-text technology was ready to receive voicemails (that, let’s face it, often have peculiar acronyms, words and accents). However, a number of friends are using Spinvox and swear by it. Admittedly, they’re either head hunters (large volume of calls, screening etc) or tech types (who would rather not speak to anyone at the best of times) but to be fair the conversions they’ve received have been pretty good.

Allegedly, the conversion is by dint of humanoids, listening and transcribing to the VM recording, but their website makes no mention of the mechanism. The human touch could explain the accuracy – as one friend mentioned, the transcript accurately reflected a mumbling, drunk Welshman in a cab… Harsh.

Anyhoo, their latest product extension is voice to blog. Nice idea to file short pieces quickly, although I’m not sure I’d trust spellchecking, linking and suchlike to a voice interface. I can imagine ‘posting’ a blog entry only to discover an embarrassing typo a little while after Google indexes the blog…

That said, the joy of being able to huddle in a corner and pretend that you’re reading your scoop “down the wire” to the expectant news desk (like a hack in a 1950s movie) is just too great – I’m going to have to try this!

Aside from this implementation though it’s good to see asynchronous voice interfaces being developed, especially while so much attention is lavished on the visual and the ‘battle of the gooeys’.

SMS – direct from the Apple Address Book with the K800i

A while ago I posted about a lovely little app from that allowed me to sync my Ericsson K800i with my mac. One of the best £1.49s I’ve ever spent!

Anyway, the lovely folk there mailed me today with a new plug-in that allows – at LAST – me to SMS directly from my mac via the K800i.

In case people aren’t aware, when your mac is “paired” with a mobile phone and you’re in the Address Book application, you can right-click (or command-click, as Mac Users say) on a mobile number and select “SMS” from the contextual menu.

This allows one to knock out SMS messages as if there were no tomorrow. The only reason I miss the Hated Treo 650 is for its awesome texting capabilities, but now I feel liberated.

There’s an additional nice touch in the software that, when you get an incoming call there’s an on-screen notification and you can accept, reject or immediately SMS the caller. Best of all, at the end of a call, you’re asked if you want to log the call in the contact record:

Called at 30/01/2007 10:03

is added to the notes record. Granted, it hasn’t got duration, whether initiated or incoming, or even a billing code (!) but it’s still a neat touch. Best of all it’s simple, lightweight, needs no effort on my part and – gloriously – just £1.49.

With all of this Mac-K800i Karmic Goodness I may even be slightly sad when I trade up to the inevitable iPhone… Maybe.

UPDATE: 20070326… The other day I went to sync my phone and – erk – there was an error: apparently the plugin was no longer compatible with iSync. Of course – the curse of configuration management when you run Software Update and just install all latest updates to OSX! I wandered over to Feisar’s site and found this helpful update – typically clear and helpful. Honestly, this is such a helpful site – and even better value! This really is my favourite ever £1.49 spent online! : MacWorld San Francisco 2007 Keynote Live Coverage

Not quite “being there”, and not as fast as IRC, but props to the folk at MacRumours for their line by line coverage of Job’s keynote…

Read this bottom up… I particularly like the “crowd cheers” commentary.

9:43 am one device, not 3 separate
9:43 am crowd goes wild again
9:42 am 3rd
internet communicator
9:42 am revolutionary
9:42 am mobile phone
9:42 am 2nd
9:42 am crowd goes wild
9:42 am widescreen ipod
9:42 am first
9:42 am 1984 – first mac
2001 first ipod
today – introducing 3 revolutionary products

I know, I’m a sucker, but I WANT ONE.

Just nipping off to find a way to preorder… 🙂

My only sadness is that it’s not like the Newton Reborn… Your day will come again, my sweet. Soon, yes soon.