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ATPM 4.04
April 1998


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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

Well, I've gone and done it. This is the first time I'm using BBEdit Lite instead of MS Word to write my column. And, I wasn't even gonna start out this way, but it seemed appropriate in my effort to become 100% Microsoft-free. I'm still selling the bumper stickers, by the way.

Anyway, last month I alluded to a conspiracy. Which I'll write about next month. Usually, as this is the April issue, I write an April Fool's column, and a good time is had by all.

However, this month, strange things are happening. To me. As this column is ultimately about me and my place in the Macintosh world, I thought I'd share them with you. After all, my seven readers will agree, what happens to me in relation to the Mac is most important.

Conditions at Ray-O-Hac are much like the new Fred Savage show, Working. It's become a must-see around the Shields house, and not just because it's on NBC. For the few of you that haven't seen it, and if you don't watch, you should, it's about a guy fresh outta college, played by Fred Savage, learning his way around the corporate workplace of Upton/Webber, the most heinous company on the planet. Of course, that's fiction, because I work at the most heinous company on the planet. And I don't even have a sitcom to show for it.

Their latest transgression? Thanks for asking. If you don't, the piece just ends, and I'm still approximately 750 words short.

But I digress. Normally, I go from desktop to desktop, correcting any fix the Huser (I'm gonna hafta come up with a new one for that) breaks on his Mac. And since Macs work 99.9% of the time, I'm kinda enjoying the life of the Maytag repairman.

Until last Thursday. The site manager put me on another special project. Because I did the first one so well. I don't remember if I told you about it, but, to review, it involved me, a Zip drive, and about thirty or so Zip disks. Why? To copy key files from key personnel for a Hart-Scott-Rodino anti-trust review. I must've done something right, as the merger was approved. So, you Ray-O-Hac readers, and I know you're out there, now have someone to blame.

What did I get as thanks?

Lunch at the Olive Garden.

That's it.

Not that I don't like the lasagna there, but a raise would've been nice. I would've accepted a certificate. At least it beats our Christmas bonus last year, which was a box of jelly beans and a plastic Slinky[TM].

The highlight of the project was that myself and my two colleagues that I worked with, brought it in early, hence under budget. That was our mistake, although I didn't know it at the time.Had I known about this new project, I probably would've found a way to screw up on the previous one. What they've got me doing is recreating type and creator information for files that were backed up improperly.

Ok, how do you back up a file improperly? Simple: you don't use a Mac. As a result, the file gets converted to a DOS text file. Which is fine, if all you're doing is writing DOS text. Sure, there are utilities available that allow me to perform this simple little procedure, however, the scope of the project is extremely large.

Approximately 75,000 files, give or take.

Why so many? Ray-O-Hac has a wholly self-contained service bureau. For the few of you out there that don't know what that is, it's a place you take your print work to make it look pretty. We need our own, because we do super secret competition-sensitive stuff. Not to mention the classified work. I could tell you more but, of course, then I'd have to kill you. And that would significantly decrease readership at a time we're actively searching for sponsors. Not a good thing.

File Buddy is Your Friend
The utilities I alluded to earlier are, in no particular order: Type/Creator Database 3.1, a necessarily incomplete listing of Type and Creator info for over 17,000 different file types; Can Opener 3.0, which will open any file and allow you to determine what's inside; and File Buddy 4.3.3, to perform the actual task. The project leader actually suggested we use CTC 1.4, but for a large project like this, File Buddy does a better job, IMNERHO.

The procedure is as follows: Copy files from the server to a scratch disk, drop it on the Can Opener, make the change, try to open the document to make sure you guessed correctly, and copy the file(s) back to the server. Repeat 'til finished, or until you go postal--which ever comes first.

Now, I don't mind the work. Actually, it's kinda refreshing; I get to meet new people and see new sights, as they've relocated me to the service bureau location. It's ok, as I get to use a 9600/300. Sure, I'll miss my 6100, but not for long. Ok, I go back and visit at lunch to catch up on e-mail and remind the fine folks in the bullpen who sits in the captain's chair.

What they forgot to tell me when I undertook this task is that the project leader is insane. He's spent the short time we've been together finding ingenious ways to make the project last longer.

Now, it's my view that an undertaking of this size should be done brute force, top down. The Mac's file system is up to the task of presenting files this way, allowing folders to be copied and files to be changed quickly and efficiently.

But, of course, we needed a priority list of what files to do first. Ok, not a huge deal, but the harbinger of things to come. The latest? He decided that he didn't want me to restore large amounts of files all at the same time. I mean, why use one copy command, when fifty will do the job just as well? He maintained that to keep the integrity of the file system on the server, it was better to do it this way. ??? I mean, I could go into a diatribe of why this is unnecessary, but anyone who's used a Mac for more than half an hour can probably figure it out. Also, I suffer from bilateral tendentious, which is just a small step away from the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome.

Of course, if I do contract carpal tunnel, I can claim disability due to a work-related injury, and then return to the leisurely life of MacMan[TM]. And then maybe I could get my column turned in on time. Stranger things have happened. Just not to me. Otherwise, I would've written about them by now.

72 and sunny in El Segundo.

e Ya next month.

Disclaimer: Mike will accept praise, flames, and job leads at: <>.
Blue AppleHe wants to stay in the LA area and would prefer some sort of Mac job in the
entertainment industry.

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