Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cloud Storage: comparing costs of Drive, SkyDrive, DropBox, iCloud and others

The new hotness is cloud storage. So so hot.

How do the services compare? Here's the list I'm working with:

Sugar Sync

First, price. Prices from public web pages, rounded to the dollar. You'll see that Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive are fairly similar. Next is Sugar Sync, closely followed by DropBox. Then unbelievable expensive is Box.

What do I notice?

  1. Well given price and the lack of desktop syncing nobody can use Box.
  2. DropBox and iCloud pricing is so similar that either they are both using S3 (we know Dropbox does), or Apple have chosen Dropbox as their competitor for iCloud.

Plotting this all out on the same graph which I've not seen before (sorry about the 'Gbs' silly graphing software!)


Dropbox: Well I've used DropBox for a while. Dont trust them of course, but you cannot deny their ubiquity and LAN syncing is extremely useful. I _do_ store confidential data with them, but only ater applying a layer of encFS / FUSE.

Google Drive: the new kid on the block, uses the underlying Google storage mechanism for sharing very very nicely. When we get the iOS client it'll be nearly as good as Dropbox in ubiquity. I also use encFS / FUSE here as well.

SkyDrive: Microsoft's offering. The desktop client is nice on OSX, syncs quickly. Can also use encFS / FUSE, OK lets face it, trust no-one. The main weakness is the web interface, and of course the web interface cannot upload very large files. Oh yeah no Android client, so thats a huge heap of mobile they are missing out on.

Box: no desktop client, insanely expensive. Enough said.

SugarSync: its ok actually very similar to Dropbox in ubiquity and pricing. I've not used it as much as Dropbox maybe thats only because I got started with Dropbox first. Where do they store their your data? Security certifications? Use encFS / FUSE here as well.

iCloud: For Apple ecosystem devices the ubiquity of OSX to iOS syncing is superb, and there's no reason to not use iCloud for your Apple devices. But if you are not heavily invested in Apple, or you need more storage, the iCloud is not so compelling.

Scores on the doors:

Dropbox 9/10 if you use encFS / FUSE
Google Drive 8.5/10 before iOS client arrives, goes to 9.5 after, because of better security certifications
SkyDrive 7.5/10 due to web interface and no Android client
SugarSync 7.5 nice client, not quite as ubiquitous as Dropbox, security and privacy?
iCloud 5/10 expensive, no Android client
Box 2/10 EXPENSIVE and no desktop client

Excellent article by TheVerge comparing these services.

Update: OSX client can be downloaded from here:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

MacFUSE successor: OSXFUSE or FUSE4X?

Since 2008, MacFUSE has not been supported. In its place we have 2 successors: OSXFUSE and FUSE4X.

Which one to use? Well seems from that OSXFUSE is the best one to use.

OSXFUSE also has a MacFUSE compatability layer, so it should work with anything that works with MacFUSE.

If you need Ext 2 / Ext 3 support, you can get a pre-compiled binary from the maintainer here, looks like NTFS support for Lion isn't so good right now, unless you use a commercial package.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

OSX Lion: VTDecoderXPCService taking lots of CPU

For some reason, maybe showing those little videos for swiping and multi-touch, the Trackpad system preference pane invokes the VTDecoderXPCService and its uses lots of CPU.

So just don't leave the Prefs Pane on it.

Update: The VTDecoderXPCService is OSX Lion's video sandboxing layer, so you may get it using lots of CPU by doing other things as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OSX Lion: Turn off shadows in Screenshots

Here's an annoyance solved for me.

When taking a screenshot, Lion gives me a drop shadow. Pointless in my opinion.

From Terminal run this command

defaults write disable-shadow -bool true

Then restart SystemUIServer

killall SystemUIServer

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

OSX Lion: The Installer can’t open the package. There may be a problem with file ownership or permissions.

Was getting this message when trying to install anything on OSX Lion:

"The Installer can’t open the package. There may be a problem with file ownership or permissions."

For me, it was a permissions issue, not with the downloaded application, but with the Installer itself. So I open Disk Utility, selected the Boot Drive and repaired permissions.

All is now good.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

OSX: howto disable Java in Browsers

Well... Java, what can we say. Yes its a pile of poo.

But Java runtimes are needed because software developers like Adobe use it, and their products will not install or launch unless you have a runtime installed. Sigh.


In the address bar, type "about:plugins" or "chrome://plugins/", scroll down to Java and select "disable"

while you're there, goto "chrome://settings/content" and under plug-ins select "click to play"


Goto to Tools > Add-ons > select Plugins, scroll down to Java and disable


Goto the Safari > Preferences, select 'Security' and deselect Java

Monday, April 2, 2012

Howto retrieve text from crashed stickies on OSX

Documentation on Apple's OSX Stickies is rather thin on the ground. So when they crashed and displayed no text, I thought I'd lost them. I recovered backups, and although the file had plenty of data in in, I was unable to find how to restore directly.

You can open the .plist of course, its just xml, but its very messy, looking like


and so hard to navigate.

To at least recover the contents, I used a Plist Editor, in my case PlistEdit Pro, and this makes the text appear on a single line, so then you only need to remove some HTML codes:

I copied out each line, pasted into a text editor, and then I'm done.