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Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 07:00:00 GMT


Excerpts from Michel Peissel's

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 07:00:00 GMT


I stepped outside and again I was struck by the magnificent view: a full circle of peaks surrounded the flat sea of the central plain dotted with its villages, refuges in a world unfit for man. If ever there lay a valley cut off from the world, a hidden, secret land, it was Zanskar. I could hardly believe that only recently I had left a world which is polluted and over-populated. Everything in Zanskar I found near to perfection: nothing, so it seemed, was out of place or unnatural. ... There was nothing here to tarnish the harmony of nature in which man has his natural place blending with the earth...

Fleas in Heaven

Finally I retired to a nocturnal safari against the terrible fleas. Someone, alas, had forgotten to explain to them the deadly effects of DDT, for they completely ignored the floods of insecticide with which I had covered my body. Leeches in the lower, damp southern Himalayas and fleas in the north are responsible for the real hardships of Himalayan travel. My parasites and I awoke early the next day.

At last I lay down to what I thought was well-earned sleep only to appreciate I had overlooked the fleas for which Kargil is famous. As I sat scratching myself I thought of all those travellers who had passed sleepless nights at this ancient crossroads of caravans heading for Tibet, Afghanistan, China and Sinkiang.

I must admit I needed self-control not to kill the fleas I caught in the chapel. Instead, with traditional respect for life, I placed the offenders on the ground without squashing them, thus leaving them free to start a new career on someone else.

For the night I was offered a small room in a large house that seemed neat and reasonably clean. Little could I then foresee that this was to result in severe wounds, much frustration and eight full days of furious scratching. 'To bite a flea is hardly food for the stomach but how nourishing for the soul,' goes a Tibetan proverb. I had to agree as, forgetting all taboos about respecting life, and in spite of the difference in size and the Geneva convention, I killed all prisoners!


Usually it takes me a week to get rid of the habits of my rational Western self, to stop querying every fact and figure and searching for an explanation to every phenomenon. This period over, I began to believe in witches and ghosts, gods and demons, good and evil spirits and endless other characters that in the West I liked to consider imaginary—in the same manner that Lobsang would consider unreal and laugh at all the dreary statistics in which we believe, such as the height in feet of our tallest buildings, or the exact distance in miles between the earth and the moon, the facts and figures which mould our lives and command respect in our figure-mad world. But what do figures mean, or spirits, if one docs not believe in them? The answer is nothing, for it is Faith that counts. Often we would be at a loss to check many of the facts we believe in; we accept them with that same blind faith with which I now accepted the presence of demons and the miracle of the [imprint in rock of a] footprint [said to be Padma Sambhava's].

Only old calendars appearing in iTunes

Sun, 08 Apr 2018 07:00:00 GMT

This post is for the scattered few who still sync calendars between their Mac and iOS device via USB, and find deleted calendars appearing in iTunes, despite those calendars not appearing in iCal / Calendar. Backup before proceeding. The iOS calendar(s) will be overwritten.

  1. Disregarding the absence of desired calendars or presence of undesired calendars within iTunes, select Sync Calendars > All calendars, check "Replace information on this iPhone" next to Calendars, sync, then quit iTunes.
  2. Open iCal/Calendar on the Mac and delete any unwanted calendars that appeared after syncing (yes, despite having selected to overwrite the iOS device, old, deleted calendars may reappear).
  3. Even if you've never used it, open on the Mac and delete any old, unwanted calendars.
  4. Open iTunes and head back to Info > Sync Calendars - only current calendars should appear.

Similar reports:


  • How To Reset Sync Services
    • OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 and later: run defaults delete SyncServicesResetWorldRunOnce and reboot
    • Earlier versions: run /System/Library/Frameworks/SyncServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ full
  • How To Reset Calendar, iTunes USB Sync suggests these steps for Mountain Lion:
    1. Delete ~/Library/Calendars/Calendar Cache and ~/Library/Caches/ (if present) then sync. If unsuccessful, try:
    2. Delete ~/Library/Preferences/ and ~/Library/Preferences/ then sync. If unsuccessful, try:
    3. /System/Library/Frameworks/SyncServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ full
  • いつの間にか iCal と iPhone5 が同期できなくなってた。 describes a scenario in which events from an iPhone do not get written to iCal on a Mac during syncing, though events from iCal, music, photos, etc on the Mac do get written to the iPhone. The author resolved the issue by:
    1. cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/SyncServices/
    2. rm -r Local.*
    3. cd Local
    4. mv conflicts _conflicts_
    However, keep in mind Apple's official guidance: "As if it were a swarm of bees, you should stay away from the SyncServices folder. Removing or modifying anything in the SyncServices folder--or in any subfolders within it--may cause unexpected issues. (This folder is located in your Application Support folder, in your Library folder, in your Home folder)."
  • The Most Annoying iTunes 12 Sync Issues You'll Meet and Solutions

Archiving events as plain text

Sun, 01 Apr 2018 07:00:00 GMT

After 14 years of calendar events (>17,000, but still well within the recommended limit of 50,000), finally started acting up; a month-long period refused to sync via iTunes from an iPhone to a Mac, despite desultory remedial efforts1. Time to archive and cleanup: Backup calendar(s) to both ICS and ICBU formats; print to PDF for good measure Recover recalcitrant events from iPhone using iExplorer Install icalBuddy2 version 1.8.10 via Homebrew3:brew install ical-buddy Export all events from 2003 through 2017 using a for loop4:$ for i in {2003..2017}; do icalBuddy --separateByDate --noCalendarNames eventsFrom:$i-01-01 to:$i-12-31 > $i.txt; done Combine all 2003–2017 txt files into one:awk 'FNR==1{print ""}1' *.txt > events.txt Check for duplicates:uniq -d events.txtand remove:uniq events.txt > events_deduped.txt Remove auto-generated URLs for events created via iMessage or Mail:sed '/^ url:/d' events_deduped.txt > events_urls_removed.txt Delete 2003–2017 events from Calendar via Automator5: Find Calendar Events > Date ending > is before > 1/1/2018 > Delete Calendar Events Footnotes: 1 namely (and mainly from How To Reset Calendar, iTunes USB Sync): deleting calendar caches (~/Library/Calendars/Calendar Cache* and ~/Library/Caches/ deleting Calendar preference files (~/Library/Preferences/ and ~/Library/Preferences/ resetting iTunes Calendar sync ($ /System/Library/Frameworks/SyncServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ full) (no longer a thing since Mavericks apparently) importing events from the phone to the Mac via iExplorer and then overwriting the iPhone's calendar via iTunes etc. 2 Display iCal events on the command line or as Rich Text 3 to avoid a bug in the officially-hosted version (1.8.8) under OS X 10.10+. 4 Exporting all events from 2003 through 2017 like so: $ icalBuddy --separateByDate --noCalendarNames eventsFrom:'jan 1, 2003' to:'december 31, 2017' completed without error, but stopped in 2006, hence the for loop. 5 Calendar, Automator, and AppleScript were so recalcitrant under macOS Sierra that an OS X Mountain Lion virtual machine had to be employed for the cleanup process. More on deleting old events: iCal cleaning iCal: Highlight & delete all events or events within a date range iCal: Delete all events before or after a certain date via AppleScript Remove old events from Calendar AppleScript to clear the Apple Calendar cache - SolarWinds recently locked FitItScripts behind a paywall for their customers only; a request for access was denied. The referenced script is also sadly missing from Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Barney-15E's answer to How to erase all files of the Calendar? iCal calendars won't delete, keep coming back Failed attempts: jherran's sed script: events are not returned chronologically (or alphabetically, or in any discernible order) Tried Calex based on its byline (The Calendar Exporter), but it only exports to ICS (which does already). Further, it only exported a few hundred events before stopping. iCalendar archiver "Tool to archive old iCalendar entries into files per year." Python script; ran successfully but resultant ICS file did not differ appreciably from the original. Archiving via BusyCal: If you're still running Tiger or Leopard, iCal Archiver from the BusyCal team might help. [...]

Rename Windows user account and profile folder

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 07:00:00 GMT

Scenario: You are running Windows 8.1 You have an existing local Windows user account named Alice that you'd like to rename to Bob, including the associated user profile folder There is no (nor ever has been a) user named Bob on your machine You have an existing admin account named Eve Steps: Backup, backup, backup (and know how to restore if things go wrong) Log in to Windows as Eve (if Fast User Switching is enabled, make sure Alice is logged out completely) Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\User Accounts > Manage another account > Alice > Change the account name > Bob > Change Name Rename C:\Users\Alice to C:\Users\Bob Do a batch search and replace in the registry1 of C:\Users\Alice to C:\Users\Bob with a tool like Advanced Regedit (win32)2,3 Verify no references to C:\Users\Alice remain4 by searching the registry with regedit or reg query Create a symbolic link5,6 to maintain compatibility with hard-coded references to C:\Users\Alice7:C:>mklink /d C:\Users\Alice C:\Users\Bob Reboot, log in as Bob, and test rigorously, restoring from backup if necessary Footnotes: Most guides, including Microsoft's own Renaming a User Account Does Not Automatically Change the Profile Path, only mention updating the value data for ProfileImagePath in the corresponding S-1-5... subkey of HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList:However, there are invariably many more references to the old path which need updating, especially since most guides (including Microsoft's) also fail to include step 6 above (symbolic links). Or with a batch file or PowerShell script: Registry: find and replace part of a path in a batch file / PowerShell Registry Find and Replace On a crufty, heavily-used system, removing all occurrences of C:\Users\Alice from the registry required using two additional batch search and replace tools, Registry Toolkit and Registry Replacer. For longer usernames (e.g., AliceSmith), values containing the short path name (C:\Users\ALICES~1) may also be present and require updating. Symbolic Links vs. Junctions vs. Hard Links If you ever decide to delete the symbolic link, be very careful: "If you have a symbolic link that is a directory (made with mklink /d) then using del will delete all of the files in the target directory (the directory that the link points to), rather than just the link. SOLUTION: rmdir on the other hand will only delete the directory link, not what the link points to." From a comment by GuitarPicker: "[T]here may be some other programs which store the paths elsewhere, such as an .INI file, .XML file or a database." Sources & more: Rename profile folder on Windows 7/8 How to rename the User folder in Windows 10? How to rename user folder in Windows 8? How To Move The Windows Users Profile Folders describes another method, employing a new user account and xcopy. [...]

Very slow copying from dmg to /Applications

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 07:00:00 GMT

Copying's 771.4MB (13,307 files) from LibreOffice_6.0.2_MacOS_x86-64.dmg (235.9MB) into /Applications took over three minutes* on a MacBook Pro with a SSD and 16GB of RAM via Finder (rsync and cp were similarly sluggish).

By way of comparison, Android's 846.9MB (10,720 files) copied from android-studio-ide-162.3871768-mac.dmg (445.8MB) via Finder in just fifteen seconds.

However, after zipping via OS X's built-in Compress command, it could be unzipped in less than twenty seconds via the default handler (Archive Utility). Why is copying from the dmg file so much slower? Perhaps The Document Foundation could offer a zip file rather than (or in addition to) the sluggardly dmg.

* (On first launch, there was another thirty second delay while "Verifying ''..."; clear the quarantine attribute beforehand to avoid: xattr -d /Applications/



Archiving JavaScript-laden webpages

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:15:00 GMT

Saving webpage assets wrapped in heavy JavaScript (e.g., lightboxes and slideshows) for offline access can be irksome.

Recently, a particularly recalcitrant website refused to fall to the usual suspects (Wget, SiteSucker, Offline Pages Pro, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, various extensions and add-ons, etc.), but incredibly came to heel under the venerable iCab's web archiving feature - thank you Alexander Clauss!

Quickly verify file checksums in OS X & macOS

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:00:00 GMT

with Joss Brown's Checksums. Supports a wide array of algorithms, from built-ins like MD5 and SHA-256 to Tiger and Bencode via optional installs. Requires OS X 10.8 or higher.
  1. Download and mount latest DMG
  2. Copy Checksums.workflow to ~/Library/Services/
  3. If desired, automatic update checks can be disabled by opening Checksums.workflow in Automator and removing the updater function and function call from the bash script.
  4. Rather than using the Context menu to launch Checksums (Control-click > Services > Checksums), set a keyboard shortcut: System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services > File & Folders > Checksums > none > add shortcut > Control-Command-C (or any other desired and available key combination)
  5. To compare a checksum with a file, copy the checksum to the clipboard, select the file, and press your keyboard shortcut:

Add a macOS recovery partition without reinstalling macOS

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 07:00:00 GMT

If you search the web for how to restore a missing recovery partition, chances are you'll come across advice like: "Generally the best and simplest method is to reinstall OS X entirely. This is a neat way of triggering for a second time the process whereby the recovery partition is created. It's quite a drastic and time-consuming approach, however."-- How to create a Mac recovery partition in OS X El Capitan and Yosemite and: "The only way to solve this problem is to download the latest installer from App Store and re-install OS X"-- How to re-create a missing recovery partition in OS X Yosemite (updated to OS X El Capitan) However, thanks to davidjb's (detailed in his blog post Creating a macOS Recovery Partition without reinstalling OSX or re-running your installer), it is possible to add a recovery partition without reinstalling macOS. Boot the Mac from an external drive or into Target Disk Mode*, then run: TARGET="/Volumes/Macintosh HD" # Specify where to configure Recovery partition MACOS_INSTALLER="/Applications/Install macOS" # Path to your macOS installer # Remaining paths ahead are dependent on OS version # This *should* support 10.9 and above but is only tested on 10.12 curl -L -o ~/Downloads/RecoveryHDUpdate.dmg hdiutil mount -nobrowse ~/Downloads/RecoveryHDUpdate.dmg pkgutil --expand /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Lion\ Recovery\ HD\ Update/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg /tmp/recoveryupdate hdiutil mount -nobrowse "$MACOS_INSTALLER/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg" /tmp/recoveryupdate/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/Scripts/Tools/dmtest ensureRecoveryPartition "$TARGET" "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD/BaseSystem.dmg" 0 0 "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD/BaseSystem.chunklist" hdiutil eject "/Volumes/Mac OS X Lion Recovery HD Update" hdiutil eject "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD" Notes: * Cursory testing indicates that davidjb's can also be run from a booted macOS install by simply disabling SIP and changing "$TARGET" to "/" (without the quotes). Slight script modifications: Backslashes have been removed from the MACOS_INSTALLER path to prevent mount failed - No such file or directory and Error (async): Couldn't attach disk image errors. -nobrowse has been added to the hdiutil mount commands to prevent Finder windows from opening. For High Sierra compatibility: Delete hdiutil mount -nobrowse "$MACOS_INSTALLER/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg" and hdiutil eject "/Volumes/OS X Install ESD" Change the MACOS_INSTALLER path to "/Applications/Install macOS High" Change the dmtest command to /tmp/recoveryupdate/RecoveryHDUpdate.pkg/Scripts/Tools/dmtest ensureRecoveryPartition "$TARGET" "$MACOS_INSTALLER/Contents/SharedSupport/BaseSystem.dmg" 0 0 "$MACOS_INSTALLER/Contents/SharedSupport/BaseSystem.chunklist" dmtest's SHA1 file checksum: 1b4fa6daa72d18c7b37a1d0071128d192e606898 A number of guides recommend Recovery Partition Creator 4.x, but it requires disabling SIP and remains closed source (despite an old promise to release the AppleScript code). Silver lining: dmtest is included, which saves having to download the 450MB OS X Recovery Disk Assistant v1.0. [...]

Remove all color but black from an image

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 07:00:00 GMT

Background removal apps and web-based services don't do well with noisy images like this one of thin parchment paper which has text from the next page bleeding through:


However, ImageMagick works, well... magic: $ convert in.png -fill white -fuzz 80% +opaque "#000000" out.png


A scattering of dried figs and nuts

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Free from hindrance are those things which lie in the sphere of the moral purpose, and subject to hindrance are those which lie outside the sphere of the moral purpose. And so, if he regards his own good and advantage as residing in these things alone, in those, namely, which are free from hindrance and under his control, he will be free, serene, happy, unharmed, high-minded, reverent, giving thanks for all things to God, under no circumstances finding fault with anything that has happened, nor blaming anything; if, however, he regards his good and advantage as residing in externals and things outside the sphere of his moral purpose, he must needs be hindered and restrained, be a slave to those who have control over these things which he has admired and fears; he must needs be irreverent, forasmuch as he thinks that God is injuring him, and be unfair, always trying to secure for himself more than his share, and must needs be of an abject and mean spirit. When a man has once grasped all this, what is there to prevent him from living with a light heart and an obedient disposition; with a gentle spirit awaiting anything that may yet befall, and enduring that which has already befallen? "Would you have me bear poverty?" Bring it on and you shall see what poverty is when it finds a good actor to play the part. "Would you have me hold office?" Bring it on. "Would you have me suffer deprivation of office?" Bring it on. "Well, and would you have me bear troubles?" Bring them on too. "Well, and exile?" Wherever I go it will be well with me, for here where I am it was well with me, not because of my location, but because of my judgements, and these I shall carry away with me; nor, indeed, can any man take these away from me, but they are the only things that are mine, and they cannot be taken away, and with the possession of them I am content, wherever I be and whatever I do. "But it is now time to die." Why say "die"? Make no tragic parade of the matter, but speak of it as it is: "It is now tune for the material of which you are constituted to be restored to those elements from which it came." And what is there terrible about that? What one of the things that make up the universe will be lost, what novel or unreasonable thing will have taken place? Is it for this that the tyrant inspires fear? Is it because of this that his guards seem to have long and sharp swords? Let others see to that; I have considered all this, no one has authority over me. I have been set free by God, I know His commands, no one has power any longer to make a slave of me, I have the right kind of emancipator, and the right kind of judges. "Am I not master of your body?" Very well, what is that to me? "Am I not master of your paltry property?" Very well, what is that to me? "Am I not master of exile or bonds?" Again I yield up to you all these things and my whole paltry body itself, whenever you will. Do make trial of your power, and you will find out how far it extends. Who is there, then, that I can any longer be afraid of? Shall I be afraid of the chamberlains? For fear they do what? Lock the door in my face? If they find me wanting to enter, let them lock the door in my face!—Why, then, do you go to the gate of the palace?—Because I think it fitting for me to join in the game while the game lasts.—How, then, is it that you are not locked out?—Because, if anyone will not receive me, I do not care to go in, but always I wish rather the thing which takes place. For I regard God's will as better than my will. I shall attach myself to Him as a servant and follower, my choice is one with His, my desire one with His, in a word, my will is one with His will. No door is locked in my face, but rather in the face of those who would force themselves in. Why, then, do I not force myself in? Why, beca[...]