Archive for the ‘tips’ 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: , , ,


March 26th, 2008 No comments

So I’m giving Twitter another chance. For those of you who have never used it or seen it Twitter is basically a messaging system. Think of Facebook’s status indicator and build an entire service around it.

You can check out my twitter profile below.

Categories: life, network, tips, webtools 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:

QuickProxy Firefox Addon

March 21st, 2007 2 comments

Update June 16 2008:

The developer of QuickProxy was nice enough to leave a comment on this post informing me that the firefox add-on is alive again! I just installed it in my copy of Firefox 3 RC 3 (Mac) and can’t wait to start using it, as it is definitely the best proxy switch add-on I’ve used.



Update April 13 2008:

I’ve been running the Firefox 3 beta for a while, and unfortunately it appears quickproxy is no longer being updated. Check out ProxySwitch, which does the same thing.


A couple months ago I posted about using a SOCKS proxy to secure your traffic when using an open wireless network (or any time you need to redirect traffic in a VPN-like fashion). Ever since then I’ve been using this tip a lot, but it has led to an annoying amount of opening and closing Firefox’s network preferences to check the proxy status.

QuickProxy to the rescue! I just found this today and it is perfect for what I need. It adds a simple icon to Firefox’s status bar which is green when the proxy is in use. Click on it and it turns gray, disabling the proxy.

Categories: firefox, tips Tags:

iPod Shuffle Case

February 17th, 2007 3 comments

ipod shuffle glasses caseI found that an empty eye glasses case makes an excellent travel case for the 2nd gen ipod shuffle. This one is big enough to hold the shuffle, dock, and earbuds. Since the case is lined to protect glasses it does an awesome job of protecting everything.

And it makes it so much easier to find in my backpack! The first thing everyone says when they look at it is “I’d be so afraid of losing it.”

I bought this shuffle a few months ago after I’d quit smoking and reached the 3 week point. I love it, and it easily gets as much use as the 30GB ipod video my parents got us for Christmas.

You can see the full sized pic in the Gallery or at Flickr.

Categories: ipod, lifehacks, tips Tags:

Dark Side of the Dashboard Moon

December 20th, 2006 No comments

Dark Dashboard MoonI’ve had my Macbook for six months now, and I just now noticed this cool little feature in OS X’s Dashboard. The weather widget shows all kinds of weather conditions (a couple weeks ago it impressed me with little freezing rain balls bouncing off it) and at night it switches to show cloud conditions with the moon. It wasn’t until just now that I noticed it tracks the exact phase of the moon too.

I opened up dashboard for the first time tonight and this is what I saw. Sure enough we are having a clear night and a new moon, meaning no moon visible at all.

Pretty nifty.

Click the thumbnail for the full version.

Categories: mac, os x, tips Tags:

SSH, SOCKS proxies, and Firefox

December 8th, 2006 6 comments

This tip is courtesy of the Ubuntu Blog, but I just discovered it also works perfectly well in OS X and with some hot Putty action you could probably even pull it off with Windows. I’m writing this using it now.

A coworker of mine recently came down with some kind of outer space soul sucking virus and was ordered by his doctor to take a week off. Any hardcore geek will tell you that automatically means a lot of potential keyboard time, so he decided to setup a remote connection to the work network.

Being security-minded is important in the hosting world (it should be more important everywhere else) and so the inevitable question arose as to how he could best pull this off. Like an increasing number of laptop owners he also uses open wireless networks a lot (so do I) and you really shouldn’t be using open wireless with any password or data you really care about.

VPN’s work well for remote connections but can occasionally be a pain to set up depending on how your company has theirs configured.

If you have a computer/server running Linux or any other variety of OpenSSH server which is connected to a more trustworthy network you can create a SOCKS proxy SSH connection to it using the following command:

ssh -D 9999 user@server

The -D creates the SOCKS proxy, 9999 is the port, and user@server is your user name on the server you are connecting to and its host name or IP address. Then just set Firefox to use the SOCKS proxy as localhost and set the port to 9999. Presto – instant secure web traffic.

Categories: firefox, mac, network, tips, wireless Tags:

Best Firefox Tweak Ever: Reduce RAM Usage

October 25th, 2006 1 comment

If you wish you could afford a RAM upgrade (like me) and you are using Firefox then you’re probably familiar with what a memory hog it can be. Firefox 2 has proven to be just as excellent a browser as previous versions but that RAM appetite sure hasn’t changed.

Lifehacker has posted a series of tweaks you can make using about:config. I just tried the browser.cache.disk.capacity tweak and it reduced Firefox’s total RAM usage on my MacBook by almost 30%.

Good stuff.

Lifehacker link

Categories: firefox, tips Tags:

Switching to

September 10th, 2006 No comments, OS X’s built in email program, is loved by many a Mac user but generally not trusted by support techs dues some known issues with the app in general. Basically it’s a great mail program when it runs well but occasionally it can have problems that nobody but Apple seems to know how to fix.

Today I stopped using Thunderbird and switched to Both are on my system and I’m using IMAP so I can switch between them whenever I want.

Some of my friends might be asking “WHY???” Quite simple: Memory footprint. I noticed today that Thunderbird was using ~30MB of memory when running so I decided to compare them. weighed in at about 18MB average.

Not too difficult a decision when you’re talking almost 50% difference.

I’ll be switching back when I can afford that 2GB RAM upgrade 😉

Categories: mac, tips Tags: