macOS: Ignore Ownership on an External Drive

I bought a 4TB external drive last year. I created two partitions: one to hold a Carbon Copy Cloner backup of my iMac and the other to be a generic external drive.

CCC has been working great but I have had the devil’s own time simply copying files to the external partition.

For security reasons that were a holdover from my MacBook days, I have created an Administrator user account and a Mike user account (which I use all the time). The Mike user does not have all the power of the Administrator, by design: if some bad software wants to write to the drive, it will not have the permission to do so. When installing software or making some changes, I have to enter the Administrator credentials to carry out the operation. It can be tedious sometimes, but it does not happen often and I’m used to it.

I think, too, Apple’s recent emphasis on security in its operating system releases have raised some barriers that weren’t there before. I don’t remember, for example, having this much trouble doing simple file management operations on an external drive. Even simply creating a folder or copying a file required me to enter my Administrator credentials for every single operation.

I finally got fed up this morning, Googled around, tried some things, and discovered the fix.

The first thing I did was follow Apple’s instructions for changing permissions in the Home directory and perform the same procedure for the external drive. No joy.

The second thing I did was so incredibly simple I almost wept: from the partition’s Get Info window in the Finder, check the option “Ignore ownership on this volume.” I checked the box and immediately was able to create folders, move and copy files, etc. O frabjous day! Thanks, Larry Jordan!

See Also

Clearing Automatic Album Ratings in iTunes

I tend to rate songs or tracks in iTunes or iOS Music with stars, as I’ve written about before. As Kirk McElhearn explains, recent versions if iTunes automatically calculate song and album ratings for an entire album even if you’ve manually rated only one song. This totally ruined Kirk’s — and my — smart playlists.

The only surefire way to solve the problem is to use Applescripts to clear the imputed album and track ratings — that appear in iTunes as gray stars — so that the only tracks that are rated are the ones I’ve manually selected — blue stars.

Two good solutions are the Album Rating Reset script from Doug’s Applescripts (I select “None/clear”), or the ClearAlbumAutoRating script from this Apple Support forum thread (scroll down to the post from “turingtest2”, which links to four Applescripts that both clear or restore auto ratings).

When I’m poking around inside iTunes and browsing albums, I find the ClearAlbumAutoRating script to be the easiest and quickest to use. Just select the album or a track, run the script, and the despised album rating disappears.

But for playlists or large selections of multiple albums, I like Doug Adams’ script. The beautiful aspect of Doug’s script is its simplicity. Run the script to display the Album Rating Reset window. Select a playlist or group of albums and the script gathers all the necessary track and album info; it told me, for example, that my 2-star playlist contained 125 albums. I selected an album rating of “None/clear”, clicked Apply, and saw my beloved playlist cleared of those gray-starred blemishes.

On Throwing Out My Old Memorabilia

Tonight, as part of our attic cleanup, I processed a box that I’ve probably not seen since I put it up there in, oh, 1995.

It contained stacks of memorabilia from when I was active in local community theatre in the early ‘90s. For each play, I had a large manila envelope that contained the script, signed programs, opening night and closing night cards and well wishes, any reviews, and so on. (Rather like Twyla Tharp’s boxes.)

On the outside of the envelope, I’d recorded director’s notes, schedule changes, reminders, and so on. I must have carried the envelope to every rehearsal, based on the different types of ink. I did not remember doing that so I was rather pleased, in a nerdy way, to see I was thinking of systems and managing/packaging information.

If I had come across a box like that in my 20s, even in my 30s, I’d have opened every envelope, read each card, thumbed through the script to read my highlighted lines, and soaked myself in the nostalgia of that time.

But today, at 57, I found it easy to smile at the memory of these artifacts, to put them back in the box, and to put the box by the door where it will find its way to the recycle bin.

I expect I will feel the same when I finally get to the box with my high school and college yearbooks. Liz will want to page through them to see what I looked like then. But I have no interest in them at all; in fact, I thought I’d already gotten rid of them years ago.

I don’t remember what Marie Kando says about processing memorabilia, but it’s easy to apply her question to such items: do they bring me joy? Right now? I know I delighted in receiving opening-night cards and gifts at the time; it was part of the fun of being in a production.

But they hold little to no emotional charge for me now. I see them as, again, artifacts. Or better: souvenirs collected by someone else living in a different time and place.

"Funemployment" During a Government Shutdown

As of this writing, we are in Day 19 of Dunning K. Trump’s shutdown of the government.

I’ve worked since 2005 as government contractor. Therefore, I’m subject not only to the whims of antagonistic branches of government, but also to my employer’s rules and regulations. During the last extended government shutdown, my employer actually paid for a week of our time, which gave everyone a morale boost. The contract has changed hands two or three times since then; my current employer will not, I believe, treat us that nicely. (But it is already treating us nicer than another firm we heard about: they laid off their staff during the 2013 shutdown and then hired them back at lower rates.)

The first 10 or so days of the shutdown, I was on Christmas vacation. So last week and this week have presented challenges in managing dark thoughts and staying busy.

  • I’m rather stoic about it all, I must say. There’s nothing I can do about the weather; there’s nothing I can do about this shutdown. All I can do is protect myself and hunker down. So I’ve not been troubled by gloom and doom thoughts because I know I’m OK.

  • Thanks to YNAB, I have enough money in the bank to help me meet my obligations for at least two months. So that preparation relieves me of a significant amount of stressed thinking.

  • One thing I’m doing differently this time is “hyper-scheduling” my days; I got the idea from David Sparks, who wrote a series of posts on the practice. Basically, you put your to-do list in the calendar, scheduling when and for how long you’ll do each task.

    During previous layoffs/unemployment, I would sometimes have whole days on my hands with nothing planned. This sounds wonderful until the 4th or 5th day, when I could feel the negative thinking start to kick up. Now, I plan the next day’s activities on the afternoon or evening before. Every hour is accounted for, whether it’s “Exercise,” “Yardwork,” or “Coffee and book.” Knowing the day’s contours ahead of time relaxes me; it provides a sense of purpose to the day so I’m not figuring everything out as I go.

    So far this week, I’ve cleared the front and back yards of leaves, taken donations to the thrift store, vacuumed the house and kept up with the clothes-washing, taken care of cohousing tasks, cleared miscellaneous errands, &tc. Estimating how long an activity will take really helps me to see that I cannot do it all in one day. I don’t know how I’d have gotten even half of these things done in a typical weekend.

    Tomorrow, I have a haircut, look in on a friend, review cohousing materials for an upcoming meeting, work out, process a box from the attic, write a blog post, and tinker with the vinyl digitizing software (my fun project for the winter). There’s loads more, but that’s enough for an example.

    Sparks’s post deals with the typical objections people make: what about when an emergency happens, aren’t you locking yourself in, &tc. He addresses those questions well.

  • My friend Bob shared a new word he’s heard: “funemployment.” Well, I won’t call it fun. But I am enjoying my time off and like catching up on postponed projects. In a way, this time has been an extension of my Christmas break. And I am grateful for being privileged enough to benefit from it.

Clearing Out Those "Someday" Projects

We’re downsizing in preparation for moving house in a couple of years. To that end, all those boxes in the attic and all those projects in the closet now have to be reckoned with. We thought we’d get to them “someday.” And so, right on its own schedule, “someday” has arrived.

From the attic, the first thing we’re doing is pulling down boxes and boxes of yearly receipts, tax returns, etc. I spent one afternoon sorting through 1990 and 1992 receipts: so much paper! Checkbook stubs, pay stubs, bills for utilities, credit card, medical receipts, &tc.

And it was astonishing to me to see how often my social security ID was used as an identifier on my bank statements, on some medical statements, and a few other items. I’m keeping the last 7 years of required receipts and tax returns, but am tossing the rest and shredding any paper with personally identifiable information.

We try, every weekend, to go upstairs and bring down one or two boxes of old papers or memorabilia to sort through and make decisions about. Usually I bring down a box for me to process and one for Liz. The goal is to not return anything to the attic. If it’s staying, it’s going into a sturdy, clear bin that will stand up over time better than old paper boxes.

The attic run is turning into an every other weekend trip, but still — one must start and keep starting.

As for my two office closets … One holds a giant metal 4-drawer filing cabinet, with a shelf of miscellaneous tech, software, stationery, and the like. I’m saving that closet for another day.

The second closet holds a shelf of blank books (I have way too many blank books) and binders (I went through a period where I binderized my progress on projects or collected info on specific topics into binders); a bookcase with books, old journals, Tarot decks. &tc.; a couple of bankers boxes of comics; a pile of backpacks, gym bags, and duffle bags “just in case”; and a set of shelves holding our combined vinyl collection and CDs. There may even be cassettes there, but I haven’t looked closely.

One of my 2019 winter goals is to digitize the vinyl. When we moved to this house in 1995, we had shed many of our albums but kept just as many. I had a very nice Sony turntable for a bit in my office but used it very little. There was no convenient way to listen to the old albums. And digitizing albums with the PC and Mac computers I had over the years was more trouble than it was worth. I gifted the turntable to a co-worker.

Late last year, my banjo teacher gifted me with a USB turntable he was not using. Hooking it up to my big iMac was easy, and there’s plenty of room on the desk to hold both. There is also much better software and guidance these days on digitizing vinyl than when I tried before.

I will wallow in the vinyl-digitizing swamp for a few days until a repeatable workflow emerges, at which point I’ll document it here.

As for the binders, the CDs, the books … in their own time.

The Dumbest Publishing Platform on the Web

Write something, hit publish, and it's live.

There's no tracking, ad-tech, webfonts, analytics, javascript, cookies, databases, user accounts, comments, friending, likes, follower counts or other quantifiers of social capital. The only practical way for anyone to find out about a posting is if the author links to it elsewhere.

Allen Jacobs notes in his newsletter that it appears you can’t edit what you’ve posted or take it down.

What you publish is also not scraped by the search engines. So, as the site says, “you can scream into the void and know the form of your voice is out there forever.“

Fill Every Single Empty Moment

Nielsen-Norman Group UX study conclusion:

This compulsion to fill the silence is related to the Vortex phenomenon, which refers to people’s lack of control over the amount of time they spend online, due to continuous digital temptations that pull them deeper and deeper into interacting with their devices. As people feel the need to fill every single empty moment, they are more and more drawn to their devices, as an easy way to satisfy that need.

I love my iPhone SE, but I have noticed recently how it has become a fidget device. In a theater waiting for the movie to start, at a pub waiting for our drinks, in the grocery store checkout line. I check it knowing that there will be nothing new to see and nothing I can do about it even if there is something new.

I’m noticing those moments more often, which I consider a good sign. When I notice that I’ve “woken up,” I put the phone down or back in my pocket, breathe, look around, and let whatever thoughts want to float by, float by. I remind myself to be grateful for where I am now. Nothing bad has happened yet.

(Via Allen Jacobs’ email newsletter)

Final Thoughts on Montaigne

From the final pages of Michael Perry’s Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy.

He quotes from Montaigne on one of his abiding meditations, death: Death, it is said, releases from all our obligations.

This phrasing…,with its use of the word releases, implicates us in our duty while we remain among the living. Montaigne may have retired to his castle, but he did not retire from every duty. “When he contrasts the solidity of acts with the futility of words,” wrote Starobinski, “he accepts the traditional moral teachings and opts for acts.” Even after he began essaying he continued to serve as a soldier, an advisor, and the mayor of Bordeaux. Even as he lay dying he had agreed to travel to Paris to counsel the king in some affair of state. “The world is inapt to be cured,” he wrote, but never forget he stood on that world, and forsook it at his own peril. I read Montaigne in my room above the garage and think I better start speaking up more. That I should make a few more ambulance calls. Take up the cause of uncertainty, if nothing else. If reading and writing about Montaigne has taught me anything, it is not that I am on some path to perfection where I never again grab the [electric] pig fencer. Montaigne is the pig fencer, jolting me out of my absentminded musing and into the recognition that through the examination of our imperfections I can better serve my obligations to others.

That, above all, is what I take from Montaigne.

I am obligated.

I must do better.

Amateurs Amble Through Philosophy

The only thing more fun than reading Montaigne, it seems, is reading what others say about Montaigne. (1) His admirers pop up when and where one least expects.

For example, Sarah Bakewell’s 2010 book How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer was a bestseller that probably took everyone, including Bakewell, by surprise.

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And over the Christmas break, I read Michael Perry’s 2017 Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy. Perry is a Wisconsin-based writer/musician/farmer/volunteer fireman/humorist and probably two or three more slash-somethings by now.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s review nicely recaps the book and highlights one of the best things about it: how Perry’s easy and personable approach so nicely matches Montaigne’s. Just as Montaigne took his instruction and sustenance from the ancient philosophers he read and quoted, so Perry draws from Montaigne’s life and essays some essential lessons for his own life. (2)

Perry the Humorist makes himself known often with anecdotes and memories, capping sentences and paragraphs with quips aimed at the back seats. I got a bit wary sometimes, recognizing when he was winding up for a pitch. But when Perry the Writer and Perry the Man wrestle with issues of weight — relationships with family and neighbors, responsibility, bodily and emotional pain, ego, leading a life of integrity along with the costs that that decision imposes — Perry’s own essays achieve a solidity and a quiet authority. Montaigne and Perry speak for themselves, and by doing so, give voice to many others. Both men are flawed; both are always trying to do better.

Montaigne in Barn Boots is not a biography; Bakewell has done that. Perry’s book is something to me that is more interesting: an intelligent person riffing on a classic from the past to help him live better for the future, laid out for us in the style and manner of his personal patron saint. I loved it.

(1) Or what Montaigne says about himself. My own personal favorite Montaigne book is Marvin Lowenthal’s The Autobiography of Michel de Montaigne, which stitches together Montaigne’s writings from the essays, letters, and other documents, to create a chronological self-portrait that is sometimes more fun to read than the essays. Montaigne’s essays and the Tao te Ching would probably be my desert island books (but don’t ask me to pick only one translation!).

(2) And a shout-out to Perry’s bibliography of books, articles, web pages, and even Twitter feeds; I love finding out that Montaigne had a Twitter feed (@TheDailyTry, though it’s not been updated since January 2018). This is exactly the sort of motley collection of links and blog posts I love to collect when I do a deep-dive into online research. I’m looking forward to many happy hours of reading.