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Really Super Get File Info

People are worried what's on their disks? Why?

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Not a day goes by without some new single purpose utility hitting the market promising to alleviate some kind of woe with the file system. Whoever uses such a utility is a tool. They do one thing and one thing only (OK some of them do two things) and that's it - time to toss them away.

Here's a classic: Show&Hide. This 90 KB download hides one thing and one thing only: the defaults 'AppleShowAllFiles' key you can set yourself from a command line. You're led to believe it's going to copy your iPod files out for you but it's not. (And considering it's only a dinky Finder flag stopping you in the first place, what exactly has been holding you back?)

Or take FileBuddy. This is a great app - the only thing is it's not for OS X - it's a 'MacOS' file manager and that was passé seven years ago.

Or how about this one: DS_Store Cleaner. Where normally a search utility will let you look for anything and in any location you want, this klutz is single minded: it can only search for one thing and only do one thing with it. The object lesson in what to not do.

Now here's a real joy: Ghost Folder. This mess claims to be able to hide things for you but then admits later on it really can't do any such thing. Unbelievably enough the authors of this piéce de resistance call themselves 'Bad Software'. And they use a 'ROT' for encryption.

Starting to remember your dinner? This will bring it back again: Journalizer. 136 KB download and all it does is hide two command lines to turn journaling on and off. All it does is one thing.

Or this, by an author held by some in some repute: MacJanitor. Over 300 KB and all it's got are three command lines to run the periodics. (And those three lines can be conveniently squeezed into one.)

Perhaps the ultimate: Secret Folder. Much like Ghost Folder only worse: this costs $20 to not be able to do anything at all - and what it wanted to do was one thing only.

And there are countless more. People sure are dumb. Not only are the 'utilities' offered as far from 'general purpose' and 'of general utility' as possible, but the people buying them don't know any better either.

People shell out $20 here, $25 there, to do one thing one time only. Expensive business.

There are even 'utilities' out there that claim to give you 'super file info', as if they were showing you everything otherwise hidden from you, and they're not even coming close.

And fine, you say, I don't really want to learn all that, I only want to fix this here issue I have right now. To which anyone with primate IQ can laugh back: sure, go for it, sucker!

Really Super Get File Info

Here's what 'really super get file info' is all about.

  • First off, you have to realise - take as a working hypothesis - that your underlying file system is POSIX compliant. (It's not but you have to pretend it is - Apple do so why can't you?) And if it's POSIX compliant, then it admits of Unix file attributes. Which are as follows.

    Now you might not think this is important right now - even if you understood it - but it's there, it constitutes 'really super get file info', and once upon a time you probably thought that 'Apple show all files' flag was mysterious and irrelevant too. If you're going to collect information, you might as well collect it all. It's sold by the pound.

  • And as that last shot might be a bit difficult to understand or deal with, there's another way to skin the cat.

    At least this one is in plain English. It spells out exactly what the various 'POSIX' fields mean and gives you access to more (even here) than you'll find anywhere else.

  • But even that might not be enough, as it was a working hypothesis only that we were POSIX compliant. In the wonder of the past two millennia, Apple have managed to marry two totally and conflicting file systems into one extremely wobbly whole, with the archaic 'HFS' sitting in the trash chute. (Divorce is the only way out.) And to alleviate some of the pain, you need to be able to look at Finder shite - and correct it.

  • And if that still isn't enough (and it's not but you haven't learned it yet) then you can have your tutor spell it all out for you.

    And it wasn't enough, for attributes on files don't determine everything - their directories also have a say in things. (And if you find that strange, get over it: it's POSIX.)

    And this guy goes so far as to summarise all data available anywhere in your system for whatever file pleases you.

That's 'Really Super Get File Info'. And with that info you can do anything. You have full control and no longer need to scour the software archives for a single shot single purpose utility to do one thing (which it probably won't do well anyway).

Once you see everything and have access to everything, no two bit AppleScript apparatus will ever again stand in your way.

So next time someone tries to convince you that 'wimp is good', ask them to put up their money for their little experiment.

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