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Topics - greg

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Espionage 2 / >> ATTENTION: Customer Support On Hold! <<
« on: December 08, 2011, 08:09:27 PM »
UPDATE (Feb. 14th, 2012): Tao Effect is thrilled to welcome Zsolt as part of our customer support team!
UPDATE: We're hiring!

Dear customers,

It pains me to say this, but for the month of January, and possibly extending into part of February, I, Greg, am not able to fulfill my responsibilities in providing any customer support.

I was running the day-to-day operations of this company for several years on my own, and I experienced an overwhelm of life events and trauma that completely burnt me out. Right now I have to take care of my body and bring myself back into order, so that I can delight you and deliver on my promises, and once again "bring this ship in order". I am recuperating, doing what needs doing, and I hope to have this situation resolved soon. In the meantime I ask for your understanding, forgiveness, and have listed the following resources for self-assistance:

Espionage Support Forum:

Espionage FAQ:

Espionage Manual:
Choose "Espionage Help" from Espionage's Help menu in Espionage (you can search it too!).

Again, my sincere apologies for being unable to provide you with a personal response at the moment!!

Espionage 2 Tips / HOWTO: Send a diagnostic report
« on: October 14, 2011, 10:19:41 PM »
  • Do whatever it is you were trying to do that caused the error message (so that Espionage can log more details to the system log before you run the diagnostic report)
  • Download the diagnostic tool.
  • Double-click to unzip the app.
  • Double-click on the app.
  • Go through the steps, it will attempt to send us the report and fail, and then it will place a zip file on your Desktop (it should open up the Finder and select it).
  • Email this zip file to our support address (obfuscated to protect against spam): support at taoeffect dot com

Espionage 2 Tips / How to modify an encrypted folder's capacity
« on: August 14, 2009, 08:25:15 PM »
When Espionage encrypts a folder, it uses the same technology that Apple's FileVault uses: encrypted disk images. These special files must be given a capacity upon creation, which determines how much data they can potentially hold.  The actual size of the disk image can change, and thus the disk image can grow in size on your hard drive, but it can only grow up to the capacity.

When Espionage encrypts a folder, it calculates the folder's capacity using a value called the Minimum Image Capacity (MIC) as defined in the Advanced preferences:

Code: [Select]
if 10 times the size of the folder is greater than the MIC
folder capacity = 10 times the size of the folder
folder capacity = MIC

By default, the MIC is 10GB.

The capacity can be changed, and a future version of Espionage will make this simple to do.

However, it is also possible to change it yourself, but it does involve the use of the Terminal.

Below are instructions for doing this that should be easy enough to follow, even if you've never heard of a "Terminal":

Verbose Instructions for Adjusting a Folder's Capacity

  • Open Espionage and select the folder you will resize
  • Uncheck its 'Enabled' checkbox and click 'Save Changes'
  • Open the Terminal application in /Applications/Utilities
  • Type (omit the quotes, note the extra space): 'cd '
  • Locate the folder you wish to resize, and drag it onto the Terminal window where you've typed 'cd' followed by a space
  • You should now have something that looks something like this in the terminal:

    Code: [Select]
    [prompt]$ cd /Users/[your username]/path/to/folder
  • Press the 'enter' or 'return' key
  • Type 'ls -a'
  • You should see a listing of files, one of them will have a dot, followed by the folder name, followed by ".sparsebundle" or ".sparseimage". Copy this entire name (including the dot at the beginning)
  • Enter this into the terminal, where your see [paste], instead of typing [paste], press Apple+V to paste the file name you copied in step 9. Note that what you paste should be surrounded in double-quotes:

    Code: [Select]
    hdiutil resize -size 10g "[paste]"
  • Do NOT press enter, use the arrow keys to position the cursor on top of the 'g' in '-size 10g', and press delete twice to delete the number 10. Enter the capacity you wish the folder to have (units are in gigabytes). So if you want  your folder to have a capacity of 250GB, then the final line will look like this (if your folder is called "Secret" and it's a sparseimage:

    Code: [Select]
    hdiutil resize -size 250g ".Secret.sparseimage"
  • Press 'return' or 'enter'
  • Type in the folder's password when prompted for it. It will appear as though you are not typing anything, this is so that no one can see your password as you type it. Press 'enter' or 'return'.

In a future version of Espionage this will be handled in an easy-to-use interface.

Alternative Methods

If you are running out of space in an encrypted folder and would prefer an alternative method to the above instructions (with the current version), simply restore the folder by removing it from Espionage, and then re-encrypt it. You can also simply set the MIC to be a very large value, although that will only apply to folders you encrypt after modifying it.

Say you have Espionage installed on two computers on the same internal network, and you'd like to have an encrypted folder that's shared between these two computers. With normal folders you might use a program such as ChronoSync (with Apple File Sharing) to accomplish this task, but with Espionage, you can still use ChronoSync! There's just some things that you need to keep in mind:

  • On both machines, have ChronoSync added to Espionage's whitelist.
  • Only sync the folders when both the destination and the source folders are locked.
  • On the machine you're syncing to, before syncing, disable all of the encrypted folders that are about to be synced. This is only required if you're syncing across the network using Apple file sharing. If you're syncing to a folder that's on an attached USB or Firewire drive, the folder is already "disabled".
  • Never do a bi-directional sync on an encrypted folder, sync one way or the other only. You can switch directions at future syncs.

That's about it. To summarize the important points: make sure that ChronoSync (or your favorite synchronization app) is whitelisted, and that you only actually perform the sync operation when all folders that will be synced are locked (or disabled).

Espionage 2 Tips / Disabling Spotlight for a folder
« on: April 10, 2009, 12:32:46 AM »
When unlocking a folder, you may notice that Spotlight takes a couple of seconds to import the Spotlight index associated with the folder:

While this does not mean that the entire contents of the folder are being re-indexed (that only happens the very first time the folder is unlocked), it can still be annoying, especially if you have many folders set to autounlock when you login.

Thankfully, turning off this behavior for a particular folder is simple:

1. Open the Spotlight preferences and click the Privacy tab:

2. Unlock the folder and open it in the Finder.
3. Click and hold the mouse button down on the folder icon in the toolbar until it changes color, then while continuing to hold down the left mouse button, drag it onto the Privacy list:

That's it.  To re-enable Spotlight support for that folder simply remove the folder from the Spotlight privacy list.

UPDATE! - These instructions are for storing Espionage'd folders within Dropbox, which is not recommended (though possible). For new instructions on how to encrypt your Dropbox folder safely, see this blog post.

Note: While this tip is for Dropbox, similar (if not exact) considerations can be taken to synchronize Espionage'd folders via different means

We received a support email with the following question from Alan:

Quote from: "Alan"
Can I somehow configure Espionage to work with Dropbox so I can use my Espionage folders on multiple systems? I see how the backup works, but I was hoping to be able to keep a single Espionage folder in my Dropbox and have it sync on both machines.

While it is possible, currently we do not recommend it because there is no explicit support for Dropbox built-in to Espionage, and because Dropbox changes how the Finder behaves this causes some issues with Espionage when using it to sync folders (as you mentioned though, using it as a backup destination is fine).

If you still want to try though, here's how to do it (we recommend using a dummy test folder first):

  • Add Dropbox to Espionage's whitelist on both machines
  • Encrypt a folder on the first Mac in your Dropbox and then make sure that it's locked.
  • On the second Mac you should soon see your locked Espionage'd folder, wait for it to complete transferring.
  • Add that folder to Espionage on the second machine using the *same settings and password*

Finally, you'll have to make sure the two Espionage's are in sync by making sure that the folder is in the same state that the other Espionage expects.  In other words, after you finish working with the folder on one Mac, lock it and do not unlock it on the other mac until both sides have finished receiving the changes. The other Mac's Espionage should expect the folder to be locked as well.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Whenever you lock or unlock the folder, the entire contents will be resent to Dropbox because the disk image is being moved. (See the built-in help topic "How does Espionage work?" for more information)
  • You might have to whitelist any helper apps that Dropbox might use on both machines. You'll know if the password prompt appears on either machine.  You can whitelist it from the prompt itself, just click the blue button in the lower-left of the prompt. To see the full path of the application that's attempting to access the folder, hover the mouse over the text that says: "The application '___' wants access to the folder:"
  • Since Dropbox changes how the Finder behaves a little bit by injecting code into it, you may see the password prompt appear by itself after locking a folder
  • Using large folders with Dropbox is discouraged since Dropbox will re-upload the entire encrypted data each time because Espionage moves the hidden disk image each time the folder's locked status is changed

Espionage 2 Tips / Ensuring optimal Time Machine backups
« on: April 02, 2009, 11:24:51 PM »
These instructions require at least Espionage 2.8

Because Espionage moves a disk image each time a folder is locked or unlocked, Time Machine may end up backing up more than it needs to.

To ensure efficient backups with Time Machine, you can either make sure to run Time Machine when all folders are in the same locked state as they were during the previous backup, or, now with 2.8 you can prevent Time Machine from backing up a folder altogether (and use Espionage’s backups instead) for specific folders:

Stay tuned for more improvements in this area…

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