Shadows and Tall Trees Wednesday, June 12, 2024

We're happy to announce Beta 2 of SuperDuper! v3.9, our initial cut at a Sequoia compatible release.

"Wait!", you might say, "Beta 2? Did you guys hit your heads on something?"

Well, maybe. But Beta 1 of this was a non-public external beta that's been in process for months for other things. To ensure all those users get updated too, this first public Beta for Sequoia is Beta 2.

You can deal. It'll be OK.

Shadows

Back in 2018, when we released Smart Delete, I wrote the following:

We're also supporting Mojave in 3.2 with one small caveat: for the moment, we've opted out of Dark Mode. We just didn't have enough time to finish our Dark Mode implementation, didn't like what we had, and rather than delay things, decided to keep it in the lab for more testing and refinement. It'll be in a future update.

So...yeah. It's been a little while. But the wait is over: SuperDuper v3.9 includes Dark Mode support, and banishes our old textured window to the land of shadows.

(please clap) (pause for cheers)

Note that this also means that macOS 10.13, High Sierra, is the minimum macOS version for v3.9.

(please keep clapping)

Clouds

Apple, and other cloud providers, have been slowly moving to the new Cloud Storage structure. Now that it's stabilized, embraced, and seems to be working in a predictable fashion, we've turned on our ability to copy local Cloud files, while intelligently skipping the files and folders that have local "stubs".

This should speed up Smart Update significantly, and eliminate some "can't delete" errors you may or may not have experienced. (If you did, and got in touch, the fix I sent you was a version of Beta 1, and you will automatically receive this version. If you don't, please select Check for Update... in the SuperDuper! menu.)

Tall Trees

This version of SuperDuper works under the Sequoia beta, and makes full backups. We've verified that restoration is possible, and that the OS gets replicated, but expect that boot will be unstable, at least until Apple gets further into the process.

Remember: the backup does not have to boot to be fully restorable—the OS is in its own, read-only volume and can be readily installed via Recovery, build images, external installers, etc.

Short and Sweet

So that's it—there are various little fixes throughout.

As is always the case with our Beta versions, installing this will move you to the "Beta" channel for automatic updates. You will receive all of the Beta versions of v3.9 until its release.

Once the final version comes out, it will also be offered and on install you'll be back to the "Production" channel, and will not receive Beta updates until you install any future Beta. It’s pretty cool.

Enjoy!

Download SuperDuper! v3.9 B2

Turntable Listening Experiment and Wrap-Up Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A few weeks ago, The Tracking Angle posted a YouTube video comparing two turntables, using the same arm, cartridge and phono preamp.

The two unit sounded surprisingly different to my ear, given the only change was the actual device holding and spinning the LP (assuming, of course, that when the arm was moved it was properly set up; given Michael Fremer was the one performing the test, it seems a good assumption).

But that gave me an idea. Since I had a few cartridges, turntables and preamps here, I thought I would perform the same experiment. I sourced the same LP from Japan, bought an A/D converter (the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen), and made seven recordings, with various combinations of Turntable, Phono Preamp and Cartridge. I also stripped the audio out of the Tracking Angle's YouTube video, for a total of nine recordings of the same track.

But rather than show what equipment was being compared, I took those nine completely blind and anonomized recordings and posted them to Mastodon, asking people to provide their rankings and impressions without knowing what was what.

Thanks

Before I provide the summary information, I wanted to thank the people who took the time to participate in the experiment. The recordings, all told, take about 55 minutes to listen to, and often people made multiple passes to decide on their rankings. Hopefully it was as fun for them as it was for me.

Caveat

As I indicated in the "toot", the various recordings were not level-matched. I did the best I could in the analog domain, but in general the output of the preamps were high enough that the Focusrite couldn't "drop" the level any lower. I didn't want to manipulate things in the digital domain, so I left it to listeners to level-match.

My own rankings were not included in the test, since there was no "real" way for me to listen blind...and I was well aware of all the telltale indications of what was what after doing all the recordings. I tried shuffling the playback order and making multiple passes that way, but I couldn't eliminate bias, so...

Results

Given the caveat above, these results don't necessarily correspond to my rankings. Rather, they're the average of the rankings provided by the participants. And there's no "right" or "wrong" answer!

With that in mind:

  1. Sample F, ranking 2.33 - Aesthetix Rhea Signature phono preamplifier, Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, Bang & Olufsen MMC20CL cartridge from 1981.

    A bit of a surprise, frankly! The Rhea is an all-tube phono preamplifier that's quite well regarded, and it was well matched with the vintage 1972 turntable and cartridge.

  2. Sample B, ranking 3.17 - Brinkmann Edison Mk II phono preamplifier, Brinkmann Taurus direct-drive turntable, Brinkmann 12.1 arm, Audio-Technica AT-ART1000 Moving Coil Cartridge.

    The Edison is a hybrid Tube/SS design, with a solid state initial gain stage and a tube output stage.

  3. Sample A, ranking 3.5 - Brinkmann Edison Mk II phono preamplifier, Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, MMC20CL cartridge from 1981.

  4. Sample H, ranking 3.66 - MoFi MasterPhono - Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, Bang & Olufsen MMC20CL cartridge from 1981.

    The MoFi is a recently released solid state Phono Preamp. This particular recording lowered the peak levels (gain) compared to sample C, featured later, but was otherwise identical.

  5. Sample G - ranking 4.43 - CH Precision P10 phono preamplifier, TechDAS AirForce III Premium turntable, SAT CF-12 tonearm, Lyra Atlas Lambda SL cartridge.

    This recording came from the YouTube video, and is the less expensive of the two Tracking Angle setups...at around $300K.

  6. Sample I - ranking 5 - Aesthetix Rhea Signature phono preamplifier, Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, Bang & Olufsen MMC20CL cartridge from 1981.

    A shock to me! Sample I is identical to the winner, Sample F - except it's uncompressed, whereas Sample F is encoded with high-bit-rate AAC. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  7. Sample E - ranking 6.25 - MoFi MasterPhono - Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, Soundsmith SMMC20CL+ cartridge.

    The Soundsmith cartridge is a modern, drop-in replacement for the vintage MMC20CL, made by Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith. (It's one down from their top-of-the-line SMMC20CLV.)

  8. Sample C - ranking 6.6 - MoFi MasterPhono, Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4000 linear-tracking turntable, Bang & Olufsen MMC20CL cartridge from 1981.

    Identical to 6 save for the cartridge.

  9. Sample G - ranking 7.2 - CH Precision P10 phono preamplifier, OMA3 turntable, SAT CF-12 tonearm, Lyra Atlas Lambda SL cartridge.

    This recording came from the YouTube video, and is the more expensive of the two Tracking Angle setups...at around $600K.

I found these results extremely interesting. In general, people seemed to prefer the tube preamps to the solid state ones. Given the LP is cut quite hot, I'm guessing that there was a preference for the sound of the tubes at the margins, vs Solid State. The tube amps were all set to their lowest available gain levels for the high-output Moving Iron cartridges and appropriately for Moving Coil; the MasterPhono was set, using a test record, for the correct 0dB level at 1kHz.

The vintage Beogram turntable did remarkably well in the public rankings, despite its age, as did the vintage cartridge. In identical setups, the newer Soundsmith version ranked better...but it was close. Overall I thought all the B&O cartridges had a bit of a mid-bass boost, and, as mentioned above, are quite high output. Sample H was an attempt to keep the peak levels a bit lower and give things a tad more headroom.

Finally, the extremely expensive Tracking Angle combos didn't perform as well as expected with the pubic, despite their excellent reputations and reviewed performance. I'm not sure that means anything, since experts indicate they're some of the finest combinations of equipment ever made.

But, what it does show is that you don't necessarily need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a setup that you'll enjoy... and enjoyment, after all, is the point.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Snow Ventura Tuesday, September 26, 2023

As surely as spring follows winter, and summer follows spring, macOS release season follows summer.

And with that, nearly always, a new version of SuperDuper!

I'm happy to announce the immediate availability of SuperDuper! v3.8, which bring Sonoma compatibility, along with some other minor changes.

You can read about the changes in other blog posts here, but for now, you can use the built-in updater to install v3.8 or, if you'd like, you can

Download SuperDuper! v3.8

and install all on your own.

Enjoy the new version!

Prompting Problems Monday, September 18, 2023

tl;dr - SuperDuper! v3.8 B2 now available. Includes some fixes for pre-Sonoma users, and a UI enhancement.

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B2

Guidance vs. Annoyance

Designing UIs involves a certain amount of compromise. You want to give the user the freedom to do what they want...but you also want to guide them to do the right thing if they're going to make a mistake.

Sometimes, that's easy: you disable items, provide sensible defaults, and minimize areas where mistakes can be made. For example, we disable the "Repair Permissions" option when macOS doesn't support it; you can't make a copy until you've selected a source and destination;

Other times, you are warning them about a bad situation. This is usually done with a confirmation prompt, such as when you're going to run a copy. Here you just want the user to make sure they understand what they're doing.

Of course, you don't want to over prompt, and you don't want to annoy the user. (Looking at you, Apple security prompts.)

The Problem

One thing I see sometimes are schedules set up with "Erase, then copy".

Generally—as in 99+% of the time—you do not want to schedule an "Erase, then copy" backup. It's more dangerous, it's slower, and, on Big Sur and later, it will typically fail if the screen is asleep due to weird behavior of Apple's replicator.

I usually want to do "what the user asks". But here, they're asking for something bad. And while they may know they want to do it...in my experience over the last almost-20-years (omg), they usually don't.

But Sometimes You Need UI, Part 2

So, I finally resolved to do something about this situation.

Now, when you try to schedule an Erase, then copy backup, you'll get a prompt that explains that you probably don't want to do this...and a few buttons that let you schedule a Smart Update instead, schedule the Erase if you really want to, or (of course) Cancel.

It won't be shown very often, so hopefully it won't be annoying. We'll have to see. I'm sure those of you who are annoyed will let me know.

Clicky click

So there you go. New beta, new fixes, a UI update. All there's left to do is

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B2

Enjoy!

Sonoma! Monday, September 11, 2023

TL;DR

v3.8 B1 is out, with support for macOS Sonoma! You can download it from here:

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B1

It's Beta Season!

Hey, folks! We're back and we're happy to be bringing full Sonoma support to SuperDuper.

In general, v3.7.5 works well with Sonoma already, and this release is focused on fixing the few issues we've run into and polishing things a bit.

What's New

Sonoma is a little bit of a "Snow Ventura" release and hasn't affected SuperDuper a lot. That's both good and bad.

Good because it means that we haven't had to change a ton to get things working properly.

Bad because Apple has not improved its support for bootable backups. Their tool, required for copying the OS, remains quite fussy, sometimes doesn't work, etc. It's something we have no control over, though, so we're doing the best we can with the options available.

Backing Up on Big Sur and Later

As has been the case since Big Sur, the general way to use SuperDuper is:

  • Start with an Erase, then copy backup, which will use Apple's tool to replicate the OS.
  • Update that backup with "Backup - all files" with "Smart Update" in between OS updates.
  • When you want to update the OS on the backup, repeat the "Erase, then copy".

One thing that's important to remember is that you can install the OS over the backup at any time to update it. That will update the OS and system applications, while leaving your data, settings and applications intact.

This means that even if you forget to update the OS, you can do it later...and, you can restore even if you don't have an OS on the backup at all.

Wait, What?

That's right. Even if the backup has no OS on it, as long as it's a "Backup - all files" with "Smart Update", you can restore. The process is easy:

  1. Clean install the OS to the drive you want to restore to.
  2. During first boot of the new OS, you'll be prompted to restore.
  3. At that point, select the SuperDuper backup. All your applications, settings and data will be restored.

Yes, it's that simple.

Concluding Thoughts

We think you'll have success with this new Beta release. As usual, once you've installed a Beta, you will be offered additional Beta releases of v3.8 until the final release. At that point, you'll only receive "regular" updates until you install some future Beta.

Enjoy, and let us know if you have problems.

Download SuperDuper! v3.8 B1

You Got Culpa on My Mea! Saturday, January 21, 2023

One of the problems with supporting versions of macOS going back to 10.10 is that it becomes harder and harder to test older versions...and that's complicated further by Apple silicon, since you can't run an Intel VM on Apple silicon...Rosetta won't work.

Unfortunately, in v3.7.3 and v3.7.4, this has caused a problem. It's something we didn't anticipate, and, alas, it caused some minor attribute issues on older OS versions that are fixed in v3.7.5.

These problems will self-correct the next Smart Update, and never put data at risk, but they're embarassing anyway.

What Happened

During the last few months, we'd had a report that the "Date Added" attribute of files wasn't getting updated. We didn't remember exactly why that attribute wasn't copied, and when we checked it under current OS versions it seemed like it could be copied, so we implemented that in our copy engine and distributed that to some external testers.

During that process, we found a way to copy attributes that allowed us to eliminate a read operation. Basically, the fts API has a field that was populated with things we were reading separately, and we changed the copy engine to use those instead.

External testing showed why we didn't copy "Date Added" in the first place: setting it is not supported by some file systems and some versions of macOS. So, before shipping v3.7.3, we backed out that change (with a typo that caused the relase of v3.7.4), but we left in the optimization.

Unfortunately, post-v3.7.4, we received a few reports of folders that had become inacessible without elevating permissions. On investigation, this was due to the optimization: not all versions of macOS populate that field properly, and that was causing the problem.

The Solution

The solution to this was to back out the optimization, which we've done in v3.7.5, released today. Any incorrect attributes will be automatically updated next Smart Update.

Things to Improve

We wanted to turn around v3.7.4 quickly once we found the problem, which we did, but since we were backing out a change (rather than implementing a fix), we didn't put it through a full external test.

That was a mistake, especially since it involved the copy engine. And while it didn't cause any harm as such (save for embarassment), it's something we'll endeavor to not do again.

The Future

This may mean we will have to phase out "new" support of older macOS versions in future releases: beyond the testing problems, it has become hard to even set the "target" version of SuperDuper builds to 10.10.

That wouldn't mean we won't "support" older macOS versions (after all, we offer versions of SuperDuper that work with macOS all the way back to the Power PC days), but it would mean that new versions of SuperDuper may not support as many versions "back" as we'd like.

Have at It

SuperDuper v3.7.5 is available now for auto-upgrade and as a download. Thanks, as always, for your support, reports and for using SuperDuper: we appreciate it.

Wait, Hold On! Thursday, January 12, 2023

You know that thing where you put out a release, that fixes two minor crashes, but then a typo causes a different failure?

Well, welcome to SuperDuper! v3.7.3/v3.7.4, the "Can I Have a Do-Over" release.

v3.7.3 was released to correct two rare problems: both of which had to do with launching scheduled copies.

The first was a weird race condition that caused occasional crashes right at launch, but only with scheduled/scripted copies launched without loading settings. It was strange, we couldn't reproduce it internally, but it happened to a few users and we think we've run it down.

The second caused copies to terminate successfully, typically after copying all the data, before running the cleanup phase of the copy operation. This was another one we couldn't reproduce internally, but seems to be related to a singleton that was getting re-initialized in some situations. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry about it, beacuse it's fixed and all is right with the world.

Of course, all was right with the world, until we released v3.7.3 this morning, and within an hour a user got an error.

Really? Oh, Man...

We thought we were in pretty ideal shape. v3.7.3 had been given to quite a few people over the last month or two, and it was working great both internally and in external testing. But, right after release, a user had a copy error on Catalina, and it was quite weird so we ran it down.

During development, we were doing some investigation into copying of some uncopyable attributes, and at one point we found an optimization that allowed us to skip a read operation, since we already had the data.

But, when implmented, there was an expansion-related mistake in one access to the variable, which caused an error in some rare circumstances.

Although, again, we couldn't reproduce the problem internally (I hate that, since it makes it hard to generate a test case to guard against this kind of thing in the future), we nevertheless ran that to ground quickly after v3.7.3's release (ah, v3.7.3, we never really knew ya), and out the door went v3.7.4.

So there you go! Two quick releases, two small fixes, one panicked change of underwear, and one other fix. A good way to spend a Thursday.

Enjoy!

Analyzed, Statically Saturday, December 17, 2022

Well, v3.7.1 didn't last very long, did it. >sigh<

Happy to announce SuperDuper! v3.7.2, the "give me a fix, one fix only" release.

Ready for Launch

Here's the deal: when Applescript starts SuperDuper with a specific Apple Event ("launch"), SuperDuper starts and doesn't load the default settings. Instead, it waits for the application scripting it to load the settings it wants, and proceeds from there.

Late in the development of v3.7.1, we ran SuperDuper! through the Xcode static analyzer, and it mentioned that one specific thing in our launch sequence could hang. So, it was moved off the main thread to a background thread.

Initial tests showed things worked, and the analyzer was happy, so we went with it.

If a Bug Happens in the Forest...

Well...I noticed that I received a weird error panel during a scheduled copy that showed that a volume wasn't mounted (which was true, but didn't matter). The copy happened fine, and it was kind of harmless, but it was weird.

That, though, was the result of the moved code...the launch event was loading settings it shouldn't, and if the drives for those settings were missing, you'd get an error.

Now, no users reported the problem, but we found it, fixed it, and that's v3.7.2.

Code is Served

That's about it! I'd love to say "100% Faster!" or "Tastes Great, Less Filling!" but really it's just "a bug was fixed".

And now SuperDuper! v3.7.2 is available for automatic update. Enjoy your weekend!

Ventura Highway Friday, December 16, 2022

I'm happy to announce the immediate availability of SuperDuper! v3.7.1, an update that will go down in history as being released today. >fanfare<

So, what's different?

As is tradition around these parts, after the release of a major OS, and our corresponding major update to support it, there's always something that can be improved. Even with extensive private and public testing, there are just so many different Macs, software configurations, peripherals, drives, drive firmware versions, docks, raw drive units...something always pops up.

And so it has. In Ventura, on some systems, we've seen some cases where, post-replication ("Erase, then copy" in Big Sur and later), the destination volumes wouldn't always re-mount. Sometimes an error would occur (referencing the 'bsd' info), sometimes not. When these failures occur, Apple's replicator has also replicated the source volume name, and due to the error, we didn't get a chance to rename it back to what's expected.

Anyway, it was annoying to you and (because we hate things like this) us. So we've been working for the last month or so to try to find a way to fix this...and I'm happy to say we have.

But the excitement doesn't stop there.

What's in a name?

A recent Ventura release has also started notifying people about "Startup Items" that were installed. Of course, as you might expect, when you set up a schedule, we have to install some items to get those schedules to, you know, run and stuff.

So, Ventura starts telling you that it happened. But - rather than use the Application name, it used the "Development Team Name"...and so people who see that "Bruce Lacey" had added some startup items...confusing everyone. (Bruce, as you'll see in the About box, is my partner in this endeavor).

Of course, this confused people, they turned the startup items off, and then schedules didn't work.

We've found the key needed to get the startup items to say something more sensible, and so now they'll say "SuperDuper!"—please don't turn them off! If you do, your schedules will not work.

No Emulation Needed

Finally, we've found a way to get the updater to not demand the use of Rosetta: something entirely unnecessary, given the SuperDuper! application works natively on Apple silicon. This'll make the update seamless for users on Apple silicon without Rosetta installed.

Whee?

Yeah, not terribly exciting, I know. But, important behind-the-scenes improvements that should make things better for everyone.

As always, thanks for being a SuperDuper! user, and enjoy the new update!

Silly Season Monday, October 17, 2022

Welcome back to Silly Season, where we all wait to see what the Apple gods have wrought with the new release of the OS that'll come this month.

As most of you already know, since Big Sur, programs that want to copy the OS must rely upon Apple's replicator ('asr') to perform the task. There's no choice: this particular copying ball, and the ability to boot from the result, are entirely in Apple's court.

And at least so far, we're seeing a larger percentage of failures both in replication (typically error 49244, which when decoded and byte stripped is error 92. That means there's non-fatal -- except to the replicator -- corruption) and in boot.

These are rather frustrating for us and, of course, for you. For us, because apart from reporting the issues to Apple, which we have done, we can do nothing about them. Apple has to fix the problems; we cannot work around them.

For you, because until those problems are fixed by Apple, you won't be able to boot from a backup.

Still Works!

That said, your Smart Updates are going to work fine, and remain fully restorable. As explained previously, you need only reinstall the OS and point at the backup when prompted to restore during first boot. This all works great...and when Apple fixes the issues with the replicator and with boot, that will "magically" start working again too.

Meanwhile...

In the meantime, we've been improving SuperDuper. We've worked around some issues with Google Drive (which was incorrectly protecting folders on drives it's not operating on), significantly improved some corner-cases in Smart Update, and made changes needed to work well under Ventura.

Dinner is Served

We don't expect any major problems with this new release, and it has been working well in limited field release. Given that, it's time to roll out a wide public beta, and so here we are.

As always, to use the Beta, download and install the version linked in this post.

Once you're running a Beta release, any subsequent Betas in this series will be offered to you as updates, as will the final, production release.

Once the production release is installed, no further Beta releases will be offered automatically until you opt-in by installing a future Beta.

Enjoy, and get in touch if you have any problems!

Download SuperDuper! 3.7 B1

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