The easy, DIY system for group-editing big documents

When you’re collaborating on documents with other people, sharing a folder on a cloud-based storage system like Dropbox is convenient way to keep everyone’s copies of those docs updated automatically. But nothing in that system prevents two people from opening and changing a given document at the same time. That can lead to version conflicts and confusion.

You could avoid this problem—and make it easier to see who made which changes and when—with a formal version-control system. Teams of programmers working on a project often use tools like Apache Subversion (SVN), Concurrent Versions System (CVS), or Git to manage their files. These tools ensure that only one person can modify a file at once, let everyone know who’s working on a file at any moment, and keep a historical record of changes so that any earlier version can be recalled in the future.

But for a lot of projects, a complex version-control system and its associated software and repositories are overkill. There is, however, a compromise: Those of us who work on TidBITS’ Take Control ebooks—authors and editors—have over time developed a simple manual system, based on Dropbox, that mimics version control but requires no extra software. Here’s how it works.

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Four reasons you should use OS X's System Information utility

When troubleshooting your Mac, you often need to get information about your system and what’s going on inside of it, either to help you identify and fix the problem yourself or so you can convey that information to others who might help.

One tool that can help with this is a utility that used to be called System Profiler but as of OS X 10.7 (Lion) was renamed System Information. By either name, it’s a handy app that lets you look up all kinds of details about your system's hardware and software, from the serial number and firmware version of your particular Mac to information about peripheral devices attached to it.

You can access this system profiler in a couple of ways. One is to go to Applications > Utilities and find System Information (or System Profiler if you haven’t upgraded lately) and open the program directly from there. Or you can open the Apple menu, click More Info, then select System Report.

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