Category: Tech

Bye Bye CDs / DVDs

So it’s the week before the New Year and like most of you out there I am considering my resolutions and doing some general spring cleaning. Now for geeks (and particularly those of an OCD bent) this normally includes a spring clean of various computer systems. And this year my focus has been on my CDs and DVDs.

Over the years I’ve built up a large collection of CDs and DVDs to which I’ve burnt backups of my systems, old client systems and the like. In fact I have a four stories high CD holder that my grandmother bought stuffed to the brim and overflowing to an artful stack carefully balanced on top.

Eva Solo CD HolderI also have a much more artful and pleasing desktop CD holder from Eva Solo that perches by my iMac and gives me access to those essential daily CDs and DVDs. (Did I seriously just write that? Honestly I can’t remember when I last used a CD or a DVD… Snow Leopard installation perhaps?) Anyway if you fancy one for yourself you can buy it from Amazon here.

Unfortunately although I’ve always taken basic care of my CDs I’ve never been one of those people who is insistent about always putting them immediately back in the case (or paper slip rather, I’ve way to many for actual cases) and over time they’ve become scratched and generally worn down as this rather imperfect medium for storing information tends to get. (Did anyone seriously think they’d last a decade? I’m struggling with ones five years old).

Anyway as I started to transfer the CDs to my collection of HDs it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to give them a little more tender loving care than I thought. Now I can just about hear the sigh of some you reading who always take perfect care of their CDs and DVDs, but in my defence it’s perhaps because I stopped buying CDs when I got my iPod or because I never really got into DVDs beyond a service like LoveFilm but I never thought about how damaging a few scratches could be.

So demanding an easy, quick solution, using just what I might have around the house, I remembered an old geek tale that you could repair damaged CDs with banana skins. Surely it couldn’t be true… but what the hell, I had some bananas, was a tad hungry so it seemed the way to go. But before embarking without instructions I did a quick google and returned these instructions. So rummaged through the kitchen and came up with a not too brown looking banana (it is the holidays), some window cleaner, some kitchen roll and a handy duster.

So all good to go, I picked a CD that had been giving me some difficulty. One file was repeatedly refusing to copy across (the kind of frustration I was looking to remedy). Not reading the instructions right the first time I had eaten the banana (seriously was I gonna waste it on some CDs) so I had to just use the skin. And after a couple of rub downs, followed by some squirts of window cleaner, the CD was looking better, and low behold when I inserted it into the drive it copied the file.

I was now on a mission and five hours later (did I mention I had a lot of CDs  / DVDs – 158 if you want to know) and some 22.4 Gb of data transferred I was all done. Now I just have to find a sensible way to dispose of my CDs rather than sending them to landfill. Any ideas would be welcomed in the comments.

Oh and for those of you wanting to know if it’s sensible to push all of your backups on to some local HDs can I point you to my earlier post on dropbox where most of my files have now been backed up to. Great system.

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Upgrading to VMWare Fusion 3

VMware Fusion 3

VMware Fusion 3So my aunt called me this morning and asked me to pop over and upgrade her VMWare Fusion 2 to the new version 3, which I had persuaded VMWare to give her a free upgrade to, after biting the bullet and buying version 2 as a replacement to parallels one day before the period for which they were offering free upgrades.

The upgrade process for the new program and her virtual machine went like a dream and in a little under twenty minutes after downloading version 3 we were up and running. This is, unfortunately, where the problems with VMWare tools began…

The initial installation ran the VMWare tools installer but it simply didn’t go anywhere and after about twenty minutes of waiting around for it I did some googling and came across this article on the VMWare site that advised me to uninstall the previous version of VMWare tools before proceeding. A few minutes later this was done, but now not even the installer ran.

After some additional googling I learnt that it worked by mounting an ISO to the virtual machine and then the hunt was on for where that file would be locally stored so I could manually burn it to a CD and side step this issue. After a good amount of time I found the ISO was stored here:

Library/Application Support/VMWare Fusion/isoimages/windows.iso

After a little playing around I copied it to a usb and mounted the usb in windows and voila I could now install the VMWare tools successfully. If it hadn’t been for the problem with VMWare tools this upgrade would have been an hour at most job, but as it was it took over two hours (ouch) so if any of you are having the same problem, rest assured that the solution really is quite simple.

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Handbreak updates to 64bit


Diligent as you may be sparkle is not always reliable for letting you know when an update is available and it was down to the guys and gals over at TUAW to let me know about the release of the new version of Handbreak (0.9.4), which is now 64bit compatible!

If by chance you haven’t heard of Handbreak before, it’s the leading free, open-source video transcoder available for the Mac (as well as PC and Linux platforms). It can take your .avi files or dvds and turn them into sparkling new mp4 files (with default options including encoding for iTunes, the web and the like) or anything else your heart desires.

I can highly recommend it, though running on a newer Intel Core Duo Chip or above is essential as video transcoding takes a surprising amount of time and the slower your processor the longer it takes!

Anyway find the update here.

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