HOWTO: Take a Screenshot for print

There was a bit of confusion among myself and my peers today, on how to take screenshots and prep them for print. The printer required 300dpi images, and screenshots are, usually, 72dpi.

There is no way to just “take” a higher resolution screenshot, you have to actually upscale the originals. This will work on the Mac or PC, but requires Photoshop.

Step 1: Take your screenshot, and open your image. On Windows, your best bet is to turn OFF ClearType, the font screen smoothing technology before you take the screenshot.

Step 2: Select Image Size… from the Image menu.

Step 3:¬†Choose the resolution you want (I used 300dpi). Also for the Resample Image option, be sure to select “Nearest Neighbor”.

That’s it! Your image is now resized, while maintaining the quality of the text.

Review: Jungle Disk Plus 2.0

I’ve been on a quest for the perfect off-site backup service. I’ve considered everything using my own servers and rsync, tried various free/cheap services like Carbonite and AT&T Remote Vault, and finally came across Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk uses Amazon S3 for storage, and Amazon EC2 for their Plus service. This review is of the backup features, and does not cover the flagship virtual drive features.

Licensing: Generous! Pricing: Cheap!

First, the bottom line. The software is a $20 purchase, and that’s good for lifetime updates and unlimited installs that share a single S3 account. They do not mark up Amazon’s pricing, so storage (as of 7/15/08) costs $0.15/GB, transfer in costs $0.10/GB in and $0.17/GB out. So, if we backed up a 100GB drive, based only on transfer and storage costs, we would expect a bill of about $25. Amazon has continued to adjust their S3 pricing, so we can likely expect those costs to go down over time.

Plus Service
Jungle Disk’s Plus Service is indispensable for doing backups. The ability to do block-level updates and upload resume are both key to cutting down bandwidth costs. And, at $1/month, it seems to be a no brainer.

Backup
Jungle Disk has built-in backup features, which are what I’ve been using. First, we’ll cover the down sides: Jungle Disk has to be running for backups to occur. It will wake your computer from sleep, but if your user is not logged in or Jungle Disk is not running, the backup will be delayed or skipped. There are some workarounds for running it as a Windows service, none of which I found to be reliable. Also, as with any online backup service, it only goes as fast as your internet connection. There is a bandwidth schedule, so you can throttle back on upload and/or download speeds according to your usage schedules.

Everything else is rainbows and unicorns. You can create multiple backup jobs, choose the files you want to back up, set up exclusion rules and schedules. Some advanced features include optionally removing files that have been deleted on your local system, and setting up rules for keeping previous versions of modified files. Here’s how my backups are now configured:

Desktop: Daily backup of users directory & development directories, with a 14-version history, up to a year.
Laptop: Daily backup of users directory & development directories, with a 14-version history, up to a year.
Web Server: Hourly backups of inetpub, with a 14 version history, up to 60 days.
Database Server: Daily backups of MySQL dumps, with a 14 version history.

For my first month of backups, I am expecting a bill of around $75. Considering that this is including a first-time upload cost that I won’t have in subsequent months, it’s really amazing. I have many, many gigs of pictures and videos, thanks to today’s 10 megapixel cameras and HD Video files, so it’s nice to get those precious memories backed up off-site, in addition to my Time Machine backups.

Availability & Security
One truly unbelievable feature that may go unnoticed is that Jungle Disk itself is not dependent on the stability of the company. The Plus service, but the basic service is only dependent on Amazon S3. Jungle Disk actually has open-source code on their download page that includes the code needed to read your data back off of S3. This provides unparalleled levels of service, when compared to other online backup offerings. Also, if you are the extremely paranoid type, you can opt to encrypt your files before they’re sent to S3 (over http or securely over https).

Final Thoughts
I’ve been supremely impressed with Jungle Disk as an application and a service. When doing backups, CPU usage has been minimal, and on my DSL line, web and email speeds haven’t suffered much, if any. I do get some lag when gaming, but it’s easy to pause and resume backups. The ability to use this cross-platform on OS X, Windows and Linux has proven indispensable, allowing me to further reduce the number of solutions needed to maintain my home network and development projects.

New Website: What does that look like?

So, most of you who read this blog are technologically savvy. And, if you’re anything like me, your friends and family come to you for help and advice for all things computers. Sometimes, the person needing help just isn’t familiar with all the jargon and acronyms needed to get things working. That’s where What does that look like? comes in.

What does that look like? is a site dedicated to helping people find out what different types of tech cables look like, and what kind of cables they might need to solve their problems. The basic idea is that you, as the proverbial help desk jockey, can go to this site, and email/IM/SMS them a link to it. Simple as that.

So go forth and spread the word, What does that look like? is here to help.

Review: Genie PowerLift Excelerator

So, last fall I bought a Genie PowerLift Excelerator garage door opener from Home Depot. I decided to go with a higher-end opener because of the nice warranty graphics on the box touting their superior warranty. It turns out to have been a great decision.

Over the past couple months, I’ve noticed that the garage door has been opening and closing with decreasing speed. I figured that the problem was that I just needed to adjust the sensitivity, but when I finally got around to it last week, it had no effect.

I called their customer service line, and after a few very reasonable troubleshooting steps, they determined the problem must be the controller board. It is a user-serviceable part, and I opted to just take care of it myself. They charged me $6 to ship out the new part, which arrived a couple business days later. I then replaced the part, but it did not solve the problem.

I called the customer service line, and they were able to pull up my previous call notes after giving them my phone number. They asked a couple “are you sure you installed the new board correctly” questions, and then gave me the option of either trying to replace the other circuit board, or swapping out the whole motor head. They also gave me the option, again, of doing it myself, or having a technician come out to do it. I decided that it would be best to just get a new unit, and that I had no interest in replacing it myself in the summer heat. They obliged, and also said that they wouldn’t charge me shipping for the new part because I already paid shipping for another part that didn’t solve the problem. They explained to me in great detail what the process involved, including faxing a service request to a local technician, and how long I should expect the process to take. They didn’t even have to collect my address a second time.

This is how customer service should be… Simple, reasonably generous, and exactly what is advertised on the box.

Install Vista x64 SP1 under BootCamp

I just finished the multi-day ordeal of getting Vista 64-bit SP1 to run under BootCamp. I specifically ran into two distinct problems, and found the workarounds for both.

Problem 1: Vista x64 SP1 supports EFI booting, but not the version Apple uses on Macs.

There are several theories as to why you can’t boot from the Vista SP1 disks in EFI mode, but the bottom line is, at this point, you can’t do it. The Vista x64 SP1 disk now tries to boot into EFI mode, which fails. The disk tries to let you choose between BIOS and EFI booting, but the screen never finishes drawing, reading “Select CD-ROM Boot Type”, and doesn’t allow for the necessary keyboard input.

Solution to problem 1: Create a disk that doesn’t allow for EFI booting

I found the solution on jowie.com. It provides a great step-by-step screenshot solution to burning a DVD that will work, though you will need access to a Windows machine with a DVD burner. I used one of my VMWare Fusion instances on my Mac, without any issue.

Problem 2: 64-bit BootCamp Software is hard to come by

This problem was a bugger to figure out, because of Apple’s lack of documentation. I found the BootCamp 2.1 update for Vista x64, but couldn’t get the installer to run. I’d double-click it, and it’d do nothing. As the file name eludes to, this “installer” is actually just an updater. If it doesn’t find BootCamp 64-bit 2.01 already installed, it just silently fails. And, as you might have deduced from the nature of this post, Apple doesn’t have BootCamp 2.01 available as an installer for download. Luckily, it’s available via torrent on The Pirate Bay. So, here’s the solution:

Download and install BootCamp 2.01
Download and install BootCamp 2.1 Update

Once you’ve done this, you should be good to go.