September 2010

Create an encrypted folder with OS X Disk Utility [Solved]

I run several servers on my mac, and worry about getting hacked or accidentally sharing sensitive files. In addition, I worry about sensitive files when I take the computer in for tech support, or when others use my computer. Documents such as my tax files contain my social security number.

I don’t have to worry any longer (until AES is cracked, anyway), because it is easy to create an encrypted disk image on OS X. I followed the instructions here:

I chose a 2.5 GB image, which automatically suggested a CD/DVD type partition. I’m not sure what partition type to use but don’t think it matters. These were the settings I used:

This will create a .sparseimage file. Sparse images are nice because they don’t actually take up their entire hard drive space until they’re filled with contents.

Note that after you drag the files in, you still have to delete the originals. Then when you eject the encrypted image, they are protected. When you double click on the image again, it will ask you for your password. Don’t forget this password, because it is impossible to recover!

I used spotlight to search my computer for files containing my passwords or social security number. If they were necessary, I dragged them in here, otherwise I deleted them.

Cyberduck pauses when dragging files to upload [solved]

I’m on a speed-up-my-computer kick today.
I’ve generally used Cyberduck as my main FTP client, but switched to Transmit and FireFTP when it became too sluggish. It has been sluggish for several years now, though I still use it for advanced operations such as right-click file permissions (with the Info menu).
I finally did enough googling to solve its sluggishness: In the transfers window, select all and click Remove. Unless you need a detailed history of everything you’ve downloaded, this window is fairly useless and is the cause of Cyberduck’s sluggishness.
I found this solution via this thread.

Firefox is sluggish and streaming video is choppy [solved]

I got a brand new 2010 8-core mac pro with 12 GB ram, and was horribly disappointed to find that streaming video on Hulu and Netflix still stuttered. Why is Apple’s second fastest machine worse than my iPhone at playing Netflix video? Flash is an infamous hog on mac, but Firefox in general was slow when hovering over links and clicking on things. Netflix uses silverlight too, so it’s bizarre that it would also stutter.
Running Netflix and Hulu in Safari worked fine, but I missed features in Firefox. So in Firefox I went into Tools > Add-ons, disabled everything and restarted. Everything was zippy again. Then I slowly enabled add-ons one at a time.
The culprit seems to be Firebug and the enormous cache it keeps. For now, I have disabled Firebug, and only enable it when developing.

SMSDaemon crash causes screen to wake up and hard drive to constantly access [Solved]

I have been having issues with my Mac screen waking up in the middle of the night for some years now. I think I may have finally solved it. Many sites have suggested that a faulty USB bus or oversensitive USB mouse could cause the wakeup, but I ruled that out when I migrated my OS to a new mac with new hardware. It had to be software related.
My solution is probably very uncommon, but perhaps the diagnostic steps I took would be useful to others.
I woke up at 5:57 AM to my mac screen turning on and my hard drive accessing constantly. I’ve written a script that can sleep my display from my phone, but instead of doing that I got up and started investigating.
I launched Console (Applications/Utilities) and took a look at the Console Messages log. At 5:52 AM there was a ReportCrash that said “Saved crash report for SMSDaemon” and a path to the crash file.
I googled “SMSDaemon OS X crash” and came across a macrumors thread that explained that it is an open source daemon installed by the Syphone utility, a piece of software that used to help get text messages off your iphone but is no longer supported. That thread didn’t have a lot of info on how to remove syphone though, so a google search of “uninstall syphone” lead me to this page, which has the following instructions:

1) Launch Syphone, open the Preferences, and UNcheck “Run helper app in the background” (leave it unchecked if it already is).

2) Close Syphone.

3) Go into ~/Library/Application Support/ and delete the folder named ‘Syphone’.

4) Go into ~/Library/Preferences/ and delete the file named ‘com.micromat.Syphone.plist’.

The Syphone application now just displays a link to techtool pro, but you can still access the preferences menu and turn off the Daemon. If you can’t run Syphone for some reason, the following commands will unload the daemon and delete it:

$ launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.micromat.SMSDaemon.plist
$ rm ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.micromat.SMSDaemon.plist

Apparently SMSDaemon may have had an enormous memory leak; I’ve come to my computer with 1.5 TB free and yet gotten the “there is no more disk space on the startup disk to write, please force quit some applications” errors before. Others have complained of memory leaks too; my machine seems to be running better now.