Did Sophos Free A-V for Mac kill my Time Machine backups?

2010-11-09 10:50

[Update 2010-11-17] Sophos just announced an update to the free Mac anti-virus. Though Sophos did not say as much outright, it looks very much as if the initial release of SAV did indeed kill my (and others’) Time Machine backup(s).

Following our investigations, we have now modified the way in which Sophos Anti-Virus handles infections on TimeMachine backups. This modification was released on 16 November 2010, in the IDE file dloa-dei.ide. All computers that receive regular updates should now have been automatically updated.

[Update 2010-11-12] Graham Cluley posted the following on the Sophos support forum this afternoon:

Sophos is still investigating the issue reported by a small number of users on this forum about Time Machine backups being deleted whilst running Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition. As a precautionary measure, while our investigation continues, we would recommend that, if you detect malware in your Time Machine backup, you do not tell Sophos to clean it up.

From a protection point of view, you are still safe. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition continues to protect you (through its on-access scanner), checking any file you access for malware, including files restored from backup.

As our investigations continue we will provide further updates.

[Update 2010-11-12] Graham Cluley has answered a few more questions by email to shed light on the workings of Sophos A-V in the presence of Time Machine; reprinted at the bottom (see ). I commend Sophos for their responsiveness to this issue. Bottom line for me: I’m still running Time Machine (on a new disk); I am not running Sophos A-V.

[Update 2010-11-11] One other user of TM and Sophos A-V has reported what may be a similar data loss.

[Update 2010-11-10] A few additions are shown in light type; at the bottom is a helpful response from Sophos’s Graham Cluley (see ).

The title isn’t merely rhetorical; I really want to know. I hope by this blog post to begin a conversation with folks from Sophos and those who know more about the inner workings of Time Machine. My backups are gone — 19 months of irreplaceable data — but perhaps this post and the ensuing conversation can spare others from similar trouble.

First, of course, I should have had a backup of my 500-GB Time Capsule. It’s been in the back of my mind for months to go out and acquire a suitable disk and get that essential job done. So, before we get started, let me just say: mea culpa. Also, once the trouble described below transpired, I uninstalled Sophos AV. Their uninstaller is unusually comprehensive: it seems to have removed any log files along with the software.    ‣ more…



Limitations of the Mac OSX 'locate' Utility

2010-08-26 14:36

[Update 2010-08-28] Some helpful readers on a private mailing list provided clues to what is going on with locate. Click the “more…” link below. The update is at the bottom.

locate is a command-line (Terminal) utility that runs on the Unix underpinnings of Mac OSX. Its purpose is to help you find files, by their name or partial name, wherever they are stored in the file system. But OSX’s locate will not report on files stored in particular locations. It turns out to be a question of file permissions; the limitation may have been sensible on a multi-user Unix machine 20 years ago, but it makes little sense on a single-user personal computer such as mine.    ‣ more…



Time Machine won’t automatically back up after 10.6.4 *solved*

2010-07-05 15:50

[Update 2010-07-07] I got automatic TM backups working again, thanks to help from the Twitterverse, two private mailing lists, and an Apple discussion forum. Click the “more…” link below. Updates are at the bottom.

[Update 2010-07-14] Not completely working as it turns out.

[Update 2010-07-15] The timing (if not the cause) of the vanishing Automatic setting is determined.

Time Machine stopped doing automatic backups on my MacBook Pro, apparently when I updated to 10.6.4 on 2010-06-16.

Each time I enter System Preferences > Time Machine, the switch on the left says TM is OFF and the Next Backup time reads: Automatic backups off. I can turn the switch to ON (the word “ON” does not turn blue, as it should, and Next Backup does not change), but when I exit and re-enter, it shows OFF again.

Automatic backups do not happen. Backup only runs when I initiate it manually, or when the machine reconnects to the home network, after time away or upon reboot.

/Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine.plist when opened in Property List Editor says “AutoBackup, Boolean, [checkmark].”

I have dragged /Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine.plist out of its folder and restarted, letting TM recreate it, then re-connected to the backup volume and re-created my list of items to omit from backup. It didn’t change anything about the above behavior.    ‣ more…



US precipitation at a glance

2010-01-07 11:48

[ Updated 2020-08-16: ] Sometimes, especially when traveling, I just want to know what will be falling from the sky in the next day or so. Weather.com used to provide regional maps of how much precipitation (and what US precipitation forecast thumbnail sort) to expect over the next 24 hours, but those have been discontinued.

What we can access now is maps based on satellite data showing current precipitation. I have stitched together nine of these maps to produce a US precipitation graphic (about 1440 x 760 pixels; link opens in a new window). The images are pulled directly from weather.com's image server, where they are updated hourly.

Click the “more…” link for details of how to capture a screenshot of this map every hour to produce an animation of the developing and anticipated US weather.    ‣ more…



Please stop saying “24 x 7 x 365.” Just stop.

2009-10-19 23:38

Yes, I mean you. That’s 7 years. Multiply it out. If you must, say “24 x 7 x 52.” Or better yet, what’s wrong with “24 x 7?”



Soft hyphens

2009-07-19 11:09

I just recently learned that soft hyphens are now usable and effective in HTML markup, as they are finally supported in a sensible way by most modern browsers. (Pity Jukka Korpela, author of the preceding link: he has been writing that document for twelve years.) The soft hyphen — which has the entity code ­ or ­ or ­ — can be interpreted as a hyphenation hint, letting the browser or rendering engine know where are the ideal places to break up a long word, leaving a hyphen behind, should it encroach on the margin. The soft hyphen is not displayed if the word is not broken upon rendering.

I have tested the below and verified that it works as intended in Safari 3 and 4 on a Mac; IE 5, 6, 7, and 8 on Windows; and Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 anywhere. (Firefox 2.0 ignores soft hyphens.) Opera on Vista and OS X render perfectly, according to readers.

This is a test of how various browsers handle soft hyphens. Here are a few long, or long­ish, words that should help us see how things go when one of them gets near a margin: asyn­chron­ous uni­later­al un­pre­medi­tated guber­na­torial ante­delu­vian http://­recov­er­ing­phys­i­cist­.com ex­acer­bat­ed on­o­ma­to­poe­ic ex­has­perat­ed re­barb­a­tive per­hel­ion ante­delu­vian asyn­chron­ous ex­acer­bat­ed ex­has­perat­ed guber­na­torial on­o­ma­to­poe­ic per­hel­ion re­barb­a­tive un­pre­medi­tated uni­later­al.
   ‣ more…




2009-07-05 11:29

On July 2, 2009 I got stent #2 implanted in my heart at the Mass General hospital in Boston (the first was in October 2006, at the Lahey Clinic). This incident developed way faster than last time. At the first sign of pain in my left arm I was pretty sure what was going on; saw my doctor for an EKG that same afternoon (Wednesday). Last time it had taken me two weeks to twig to it. He strongly suggested I to see my cardiologist real soon. I went the next day, Thursday, and after a stress EKG (treadmill) he brought me a little card of four Plavix tablets and a cup of water, and I knew beyond a doubt what was coming.    ‣ more…



If you get a Mac with Firewire-800 only, you’ll need this

2009-06-13 07:01

sonnet tech fw 400 to 800 adaptor
Most existing Firewire devices — outboard disks, cameras, scanners — are interfaced using Firewire 400. You’ll need an adaptor like this one to use them with your shiny new MacBook Pro, which is equipped with Firewire 800 only. I bought mine, made by Sonnet Tech, from Cesell; if you prefer to do your own research, here’s Google’s page of shopping results for “firewire 800 to 400 adaptor.”



We need a new diacritical mark

2009-03-17 11:29




The çedilla makes a C sound like an S.

The háček makes a C sound like a CH.

So, the háçčedilla must make a C sound like an SH.

According to this expert’s page, the diacritical mark that font developers call the “caron” is known as the “háček” to linguists, and (among other names) in the languages in which it is used: Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Slovenian, among others. Wikipedia advances the theory that the name “caron” was made up by combining “caret” and “macron,” and lets that theory stand in the absense of any other compelling explanation. The mark is called “caron” in the context of Unicode.



A quite obscure Firefox bug

2008-05-30 10:35

Firefox has a constellation of bugs where it behaves differently depending on whether or not a <p> is explicitly terminated, inside a <div> which is enclosed in a link. The <p> need not be the final object in the <div>. The bug is present in Firefox and 3.0.1 (tested on a Mac); it’s still there in Firefox 3.5.7. Safari on Mac and IE6, IE7, & IE8 on Windows behave as one would expect. Here is a self-contained demonstration (opens in a new window). Filed as Firefox bug #436600.



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