Archive for the ‘mac’ Category

How To: OS X Selective Desktop Lock Hotkey

November 12th, 2008 1 comment

yay security!UPDATE: 10.6 users should follow the guide here. 10.5 or below users can follow the guide below.

Despite all the compliments I pile on Mac OS X here, it is missing one feature that can be found on every version of Windows since Windows 2000: A keyboard hot key that locks the desktop regardless of the screen saver’s normal security setting.

Hit the link below for the rest of the guide…

Read more…

Categories: mac, os x, tips, work Tags: , , ,

NicePlayer Finally Updated

June 11th, 2008 No comments

There there blog, I know I’ve neglected you.  I’ve been super busy and … yes, yes ok I know excuses won’t cut it here.  You’re pissed.  I’m sorry.

Here is a peace offering instead:  My favorite (and default) video player for OS X, NicePlayer, has finally been updated in the form of a preview build.  This preview includes the return of remote control support, something which has been broken since 10.5 originally came out. Yes, that is quite a long time now and yes, I did wonder up until the moment I found this preview build if the application was dead in the water.


Categories: freeware, mac, os x, video Tags: , ,

A Better VLC Icon

January 6th, 2008 No comments

Having tried a lot of the alternative video players available for OS X 10.5 right now, VLC has become my favorite choice.

This mostly has to due with flexibility and the fact that it supports the Apple remote. Up until now I defaulted to NicePlayer (which also supports the remote but only under 10.4).

The only problem with VLC is the application icon which is about as smooth as a car wreck in the dock. MacRabbit has a very nice replacement icon set which also supports file types.

Categories: freeware, mac, os x, video Tags:

Simple Rsync Backup

December 4th, 2007 1 comment

Rsync is an awesome tool for creating and restoring backups, but it really helps if you remember how you ran the command the first time.

This post is an effort to fix that problem with my backups, or rather an excuse to not have to bother remembering it anymore.

rsync -avz -e ssh –delete –stats –progress /Users/jay jallen@(hostname/IP):/home/jallen/stuff2 –exclude ‘.Trash’ –exclude ‘.DS_Store’

All of the options starting with delete are double dashes. For some reason when I copy and paste the above into a terminal it pastes them as single dashes which screws up the command.

Note: This is being used to backup a MacBook to a remote SSH-accessible drive, hence the exclude statements for .Trash and .DS_Store.

Categories: linux, mac, tips Tags:

Leopard Stuff

November 24th, 2007 1 comment

A collection of tips and other goodies I’ve read recently about OS X 10.5 Leopard:

The 512×512 icon support gives an already polished operating system an even cleaner look. Try looking at your applications using Quick Look and you’ll see what I mean. Apple even hid a few things in their default icon set, like the Font Book icon (letters are A F K) and a letter written in the TextEdit icon (good overview w/pics here).

You can find all of the default icons for 10.5 at /System » Library » CoreServices » CoreTypes.bundle (right-click and open package contents) » Contents » Resources. (via

is my personal favorite 😉

Stacks is a cool feature and is actually somewhat useful, but Apple should take note of these sweet overlays.

If you have the developer tools installed you will find two extra screen savers located at /Developer/Examples/Quartz Composer/Compositions/Screen Savers. Copy the two files to /Library/Screen Savers or ~/Library/Screen Savers. The Security screen saver is fun and is actually motion activated.

Photobooth can now make animated GIFs
. Handy for buddy icons.

Drives/devices mounted remotely seem to show up in the Shared section of the finder sidebar instead of the Devices section like in 10.4. Until I realized this I was only able to open them using Quicksilver. Turns out you can drag them in the sidebar from Shared to Devices, and the move is even permanent after the drive is removed and then remounted.

Quick Look is pure awesomeness in a bottle.

Categories: mac, os x Tags:

It Lives!!!

November 19th, 2007 7 comments

My MacBook is back online following a hard drive crash. The entire process sucked. It’s why I haven’t been online much in the past week or so.

Time to stretch some gigabyte-wasting applications now that I’ve got twice the room available.

UPDATE: Shelby asked for the full details, so here we go.

Last Sunday, while I was running a 103 degree fever due to the flu, Jen sat down with my Macbook to look up a recipe. It woke up from the sleep mode without a problem but started acting strange. One by one everything on the desktop started giving the spinning beachball o’ doom. Nothing responded, and I mean nothing, so I shut it down hard using the power button.

Afterwards the Macbook would not start back up at all. No failed boot screens, no icons indicating a problem, just the startup chime and then a persistent blank white screen. I reset the PRAM and the PMU to no avail. Finally I stuck my ear next to the left-side wrist wrest area (where the hard drive is located) and confirmed my worst fears: A horrible clicking noise was coming from the drive, indicating it had died a messy death and took my data with it.

A little research also linked my dead drive to a bit of news I’d read not too long ago: Data recovery firm Retrodata reported towards the end of October that they are seeing 20 – 30 times the normal failure rate for certain 60GB Seagate drives used in Macbooks. Of course my drive matched the referenced model, but sadly Apple has not offered up any kind of replacement for these drives and my Macbook is no longer under warranty.

On a side note, I will never again buy an Apple computer without automatically including the cost of the 3-year apple care extension. Moving on…

Thankfully I had made a complete backup of the drive just before installing OS X 10.5 so I didn’t really lose that much data. The worst was a few reports for work that take me a while to complete but they can all be done again.

After fighting a long battle with the “instant gratification” side of my personality I bought a 120GB Fujitsu drive on newegg that was the best deal I could find. I patiently (ok, not so patiently) waited the few days it took to get the drive shipped. I had to go out and pick up a torx driver set to move the drive caddy from the old drive to the new drive, took care of that and put the new drive in. I figured my problems were just about over but sadly I was very, very mistaken.

Both my original 10.4 restore discs and the 10.5 disc failed to install. Both yielded I/O errors and would fail at completely random points in the installation process. My suspicions about my macbook’s DVD drive failing jumped to mind, so I borrowed a coworker’s identical Macbook and connected the two with a firewall cable using target disk mode (which is a really cool feature by the way). Sadly my macbook could see the drives on the other macbook but failed to boot off the DVD.

Later that evening it occurred to me that if the install was failing at random points I could try to install the OS with the smallest feature set possible, just to get the core operating system installed, figuring I could install iLife and everything else later.

Amazingly, after two attempts, it worked! Once I confirmed 10.4 was running I tried to upgrade to 10.5. I guess Leopard was determined to add its own bit of humor to this story because even though it told me the install failed it still booted into 10.5 when I took out the installation DVD.

Even though it now appeared to be working ok I did not really trust it. Considering the DVD drive is failing who knows what parts of the OS could’ve been corrupted during the install.

Co-worker with a external DVD firewire drive to the rescue! Using that drive I was able to reinstall everything completely with no errors (for the record, just hold the option key while starting up and a mac will give you a boot-device menu of everything it can see that is attached to it). My co-worker suggested converting the install DVD to a dmg file, citing the ridiculous speed increase you would get versus the standard DVD install method, but I just wanted a working Macbook again 🙂

I consider myself extremely lucky that this is the first personal hard drive I’ve had die in the many years I’ve been using computers. Most of my friends and co-workers have had several drives fail on them in their time.

Categories: mac Tags:

OS X Tidbits

October 23rd, 2007 No comments

Missile Command Widget

Screen saver based on the liquidmac app.

Enabling HD Trailers in Front Row
(make sure Front Row has been opened at least once before running the command)

Categories: freeware, mac, os x, quickies Tags:

Lifehacker Love

October 4th, 2007 1 comment

Lifehacker sent out a call for submissions for an OS X menu bar show-and-tell feature about a week ago. I snapped a quick screenshot and sent mine in. Today I was happy to see they picked it up and put it on their site:

Categories: freeware, mac, os x Tags:

Safari 3 – New Hotness

June 11th, 2007 2 comments

Apple dropped a bomb today and not only released a public beta of Safari 3 but also released Safari for WINDOWS.

For anyone who doesn’t understand the big deal here I’ll just put it this way: Prior to today if me or any of my computer geek/coworker pals saw a Safari window open on a Windows desktop we’d probably shake our heads, think we started hallucinating, and then slowly back away.
Read more…

Categories: downloads, freeware, mac Tags:

X-Chat Aqua

February 20th, 2007 2 comments

After a difficult search X-Chat Aqua has won the coveted (in my mind, anyway) default IRC client spot on my MacBook.

Irssi is still my tool of choice but sometimes a GUI-based IRC client is helpful.

In the end Growl support and a complete set of independent network connection preferences (yay SOCKS proxies!) won me over.

Categories: freeware, mac, os x Tags: