Photorec: Digital Photo Recovery Tool

Back Entrance

Yesterday I was walking around Downtown Austin snapping some photos with my Canon XTi. I haven’t gotten out to take photos in a while, and I just moved to the area, so I was having a lot of fun. I framed a shot and pulled the trigger and nothing happened… I looked down at the screen and saw an error message about my CF card. Crap! I cycled the power, pulled the battery, pulled the card, all to no avail. I swapped CF cards and went on with my day, chalking the early shots up as lost.

When I got home I hit Google, looking for a free tool to recover data from a corrupt storage device. I knew that there were several apps available, but these few random shots weren’t worth the ~$50 price tag of most tools. I was also looking for a tool that I could use in OS X. Booting into Windows for a tool like Recuva was an option, but I was enjoying the challenge of finding something that would work in OS X as well. (Recuva may work great, was recommended to me by Kitch, but I never loaded it up.)

I came across a blog post by Jeffrey Friedl talking about his success with PhotoRec, a cross platform (and I mean, every platform you can think of) tool for recovering files from corrupt file systems, or recovering deleted files from anything. Jeffrey’s post outlined, step by step, how to recover photos from a corrupt memory card in OS X using Photorec.

If you’ve ever had a memory card go corrupt on you, give PhotoRec a try before you give up. I’ll be keeping a copy of this utility on my thumbdrive for all major operating systems from now on.

Jeffrey Friedl’s Blog – Recovering Photos from a Corrupt Memory Card with PhotoRec

PhotoRec Official Website


In Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, Apple had a nice detail in the GUI, rounded corners on the screen. The rounds were small, but simulated the rounded corners of older CRT monitors on modern LCD displays. To me, though, the rounded corners meshed well with the precise radiuses that adorn the corners of Apple hardware. Apple got rid of this detail in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard and left a hard 90º corner with no artificial radius.


Tonight I came across a small application by Many Tricks (you may know them from their popular application launcher Butler) called Displaperture that adds radiused corners back to Leopard. An added bonus, you even get control over the size of the radius, and you can scale it from barely visible to impractically intrusive.

Considering that every Apple device sold today runs a LCD display, using this application may seem like a step backward. However, the effect looks GREAT on the new Macbook screen with it’s borderless black bezel. Setting a tight radius on the corners of the screen gives the bezel a consistant and polished look. Below you can see a picture of the effect on my Macbook Pro. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great to see such a simple free tool to set the effect.

Displaperture on my unibody Macbook Pro


Instapaper on the Kindle

Instapaper on KindleI was extremely fortunate and surprised to get an Amazon Kindle as a graduation gift. Apparently after you’ve earned an undergraduate degree, people assume you can read!

I have also been a big fan of Instapaper for a while. Instapaper is a web service that lets you bookmark websites for reading later. What makes it unique, though, is that it will format the pages into text-only pages, perfect for mobile devices and clean reading. Saving pages is accomplished through a javascript bookmarklet that works in your desktop web browsers as well as mobile browsers that support javascript. To make things even better, there is now an Instapaper iPhone/Touch native application (free and pro versions [iTunes links]) that will cache unread webpages onto the device’s internal memory. I made great use of this feature while traveling in Boston’s subways over the summer. I’d often lose my cell signal, but I still had plenty of content to catch up on.

It dawned on me that Instapaper would be a perfect application for the Kindle. The Kindle’s screen is a complete pleasure to read on for extended periods of time, unlike the small iPhone screen. Also, the free EVDO data connection lets it take advantage of web services anywhere you can get a Sprint signal. I did a quick Google search to see what I could find about Instapaper on the Kindle and came across a great blog post on If you leave the Kindle’s browser in standard mode, you can take advantage of Instapaper’s great mobile device interface, with simple text formatting and quick loading. However, if you set the Kindle browser into the advanced mode, you get an extremely nicely formatted Instapaper index page. Clicking on the “text” link in Instapaper for an article delivers a fast and clean copy of the web article. It really is a perfect match.

Even more exciting, the developer of Instapaper, Marco Arment, has plans to further optimize Instapaper for the Kindle once he can get his hands on one himself. I’m looking forward to it.

I hope this helps any Kindle owners wondering how to best read web content through the Kindle’s slow and limited web browser.


SmartSleep for Mac Notebooks

I’ve always loved the nearly-instantaneous sleep feature of Mac notebook computers. If I needed to get up and go with my 12″ Powerbook G4, I could snap the lid shut and throw it into my bag. Recently I grabbed a new Macbook Pro, and noticed that the computer didn’t go into sleep instantly. Instead, the computer was writing RAM to the hard drive, a process called hibernation, which kept the system’s state safe in the event of power failure (your battery dies, or you swap it out for a new one). This is a great feature, but I don’t have a secondary battery to swap, and I was getting tired of closing the lid and waiting for the white light to start pulsing. If you don’t wait for the light to pulse, then you’re moving the computer while the hard drive is active, and you risk damaging the drive. The sudden motion sensor (SMS) is active while the machine is in use, but apparently isn’t active during this hibernation process.

I can across this great blog post by David Alison describing the situation and showing a quick terminal command you can use to disable the hibernation mode. After running the command, shutting the lid on the notebook will skip dumping RAM to the hard drive, and will just instantly sleep. I was hessitant though, because if you don’t hibernate and your battery dies while the machine is asleep, you lose your system’s state. Also, if I bought a second battery, would I remember to hunt down the terminal command and reverse the setting? I’d also be losing the instant sleep state again.

Thankfully Jeremiah posted a link to SmartSleep in the comments of David’s blog. SmartSleep is a preference pane that lets you turn on and off hibernation (writing RAM to disk) with a drop down menu. It also features a mode called SmartSleep, where the computer will hibernate if the battery is below a certain threshold of charge, but otherwise sleep will be instant. Perfect!

If you’re a Macbook user and you want instant sleep, grab a copy of SmartSleep for yourself.