Mac Archives

March 27, 2003


Kung-Log is an Mac OS X application for writing & publishing blog entries. I'm trying it right now. The purpose of programs like this is to let you write blog entries without having to use the web interface. The web interface can be slow and this allows you to do things a real application can do, such as spell-checking and having a button which inserts the song iTunes is currently playing (as demonstrated below). I'm sure there are many programs like this, especially for Windows but this seems pretty nifty and it works with the particular blog software I'm using.
Currently listening to Hell from the album "Hot" by Squirrel Nut Zippers, The

March 28, 2003

i/PowerBook battery calibration

PowerBook G4 and iBook: How to Calibrate a New Battery for Best Performance

The battery of an iBook or PowerBook G4 computer has an internal microprocessor that provides an estimate of the amount of energy in the battery during charging and discharging. The battery needs to be recalibrated from time to time to keep the onscreen battery time and percent display accurate. You should perform this procedure when you first use your computer and then every couple of months thereafter.

Cutting MS Word v.X CPU load

The "Adam" below is Adam Engst. Someone should tell him that most people don't get paid by the word to write so "Live Word Count" isn't too important :-) Anyhow, these are pretty good tips since Word for OS X tends to gobble up quite a few CPU cycles even when it's in the background.

From: Errol Lewthwaite Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 1:39 PM To: TidBITS Talk Subject: Re: Closing applications quickly in Mac OS X

Something I have just discovered to speed up MS Word on OS X significantly.

When looking at top (in Terminal) when Word has a document open Word is often using 30-50% of CPU.

In Word Preferences turn off "Preferences/View/Window/Live Word Count". CPU usage drops down to about 0-10%.

[Along the same lines, turning off inline spell checking would probably help, but in both these cases, the features are useful for many of us all the time. -Adam]

Lookup NetBIOS names from OS X

This falls under so many categories. MacOSXHints has this storyAn AppleScript to look up NetBIOS names. but Real Men use the Terminal. Here's the command line bit that does the real work:

nmblookup -T -U <WINS server IP> -R <NetBIOS name>

Continue reading "Lookup NetBIOS names from OS X" »

April 2, 2003

Running GUI apps as root

Mac OS X Hints has this hint:
Launch GUI programs as root which is kind of obvious to Unix veterans. Here's the meat:

"sudo path/to/application/Contents/MacOS/app_name &
For example:
sudo /Applications/ &"

Continue reading "Running GUI apps as root" »

April 16, 2003

Fugu 1.0 available

"Fugu is a native Mac OS X Cocoa GUI wrapper for OpenSSH's commandline sftp client. SFTP is a secure replacement for FTP: the session is encrypted via ssh, so nothing--most importantly passwords--is sent in the clear."

It's also free and open source.

Nice touch in Software Update

A nice thing about OS X's Software Update is it can check for updates for applications which are not a standard part of the operating system. For instance, if you have the Safari beta web browser installed, Software Update will let you install the latest version. This is also true of other, more exotic applications like QuickTime Broadcaster.

April 17, 2003

White Paper on FireWire port failures

This isn't strictly a Mac issue but many people have reported problems with failing FireWire ports on their Macs.

FireWire Port Failures in Host Computers and Peripheral Devices

This guy makes a lot of FireWire devices (we have one at work for connecting a 2.5" laptop hard drive to FireWire) and should know what he's talking about.

April 24, 2003

Disconnect USB Audio, crash your App

Mac OS X: Audio Application Unexpectedly Quits If Third-Party Audio Device Is Disconnected or Turned Off

It doesn't affect only USB audio devices but also FireWire. Their solution is to quit the app before disconnecting the device. Seems pretty lame, I hope they fix that in a patch before releasing 10.3. We have a bunch of Macs which we want to switch to OS X this Summer but we'll be going with 10.2 because that's what we already own.

That reminds me, this year, we need to make sure our Mac orders are placed late enough to definitely get 10.3. included.

April 30, 2003

iTunes4 sharing is HTTP

I found this article by pudge, Slashdot editor, MacPerl maintainer, and all-round Mac+Perl guy to be interesting. Basically he found that the service iTunes4's sharing creates uses HTTP on port 3689. This does not open up your whole Music folder for browsing but he did find a way to download a track instead of stream it.

Also, iTunes4 adds at least two protocol types (which are really just http assigned to specific apps) to your system, itms: (iTunes Music Store?) and daap: (Digital Audio Access Protocol?). itsm URLs point to specific pages within iTunes Music Store and daap: URLs point to servers providing iTunes sharing. So if my Mac is and I turn on sharing in iTunes4, someone can enter daap:// in their browser and their iTunes4 will launch and connect to my shared playlists.

Continue reading "iTunes4 sharing is HTTP" »

More on iTunes4

Blogspace is certainly abuzz about iTunes4 and the Music Store. This article nicely summarizes how URLs to specific parts of of the Music Store are structured. If you want to see what the URL delivers, just change the "itms" to "http" and your browser will display the returned XML document the best it can (bad in Safari, pretty good in Mozilla and IE). One thing you can do with the XML is copy the URLs which point to the preview files (which are DRM'd AAC files, just like the full tracks) and download the preview files (the URLs are regular http).

May 5, 2003

Radmind reaches 1.0

From MacInTouch:

Released after an extended beta-testing period, Radmind 1.0 is a suite of Unix command-line tools and a server designed to remotely administer the file systems of multiple Unix machines. It can detect changes to any managed filesystem object (files, directories, links, etc.) and can optionally reverse the change. For Mac OS X, Radmind Assistant provides a graphical interface to the command-line tools. Radmind is free for Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Solaris.

iTunes-BPM script

iTunes 4 added a "BPM" (Beats Per Minute) field to its ID3 tag choices. Of course CDDB and it's ilk don't include BPM in their information so you have to fill this in yourself. The standard solution is to use a program which has you tap (the mouse or keyboard) to the beat of a song and displays the BPM of your tapping. Assuming you're not totally rhythmically impaired, the BPM of your tapping should match the the BPM of the song. Here's a JavaScript Beats per minute Calculator which you can use at this page or download the source to run locally off your hard drive. Since adding BPM is something you may want to do in iTunes now, someone wrote an AppleScript to add a BPM calculator to iTunes. I haven't tried it yet but it seems like a good idea.

May 6, 2003

Problem between MT & WebDAV?

I followed some basic instructions for enabling WebDAV on this server. In the httpd.conf I uncommented the modules and I added a new directory with access controlled by an htpasswd file. I created the directory, created the htpasswd file and when I tried it (using iCal publishing) it worked. Browsing the blog worked just fine but I ran into trouble once I tried to save a blog entry. I could create, edit, preview entries but when I tried to save, the browser just spun its wheels. I couldn't save an entry again until I went into the httpd.conf, commented out all the stuff I added, and restarted the web server. I'll have to look into this some more, I'm sure at some point I'll want to use WebDAV. I noticed other problems related to the order in which Apache modules loaded, perhaps there's an order issue between mod_dav and mod_perl.

May 9, 2003

5-User Max in iTunes4 Sharing

I had read in a couple of places that iTunes 4's playlist sharing had a limit of 5 simultaneous clients but I hadn't seen anything definitive. Now I have.

iTunes 4: Idle Users of Shared Music May Be Automatically Disconnected

May 27, 2003

Enabling Sendmail as send-only

This is something I've been wondering about for a while but never got around to hunting down. This Mac OS X hint explains how to set up Sendmail to start automatically at boot but to only be available locally on the machine. This is very good for setting up automated functions to email updates to you or to use it as a quick 'n dirty way of sending info or files by email from the command line. These instructions were written for OS X but I'm sure can be adapted for any UNIX.

May 29, 2003

Metadata Hootenanny

Metadata Hootenanny lets you easily read/write all the metadata in a QuickTime .mov file, stuff like title, copyright info, etc. It also lets you create chapter tracks which allow your movie to have a menu for jumping to particular points. The normal Quicktime Pro way of setting them it to enter them in a text file and import it. This could be a nice for making QuickTime movies appear a little more professional.

July 2, 2003

SMS vis iChat

Does your phone use SMS? Apparently you can send messages via iChat or the latest AIM client.

July 8, 2003

OS X command for CPU, RAM info

From Terminal, try the command "sysctl hw." You'll get information about your CPU, cache, bus, and RAM. "Sysctl -a" will give you a lot more information but very little will make sense to you.

OS X 10.2 has the command "system_profiler" which is the commandline version of the Apple System Profiler and is, overall, better than the above command. However, one thing system_profiler can't do is tell you have much RAM the Mac has if it'a "pre-New World" Mac such as a beige G3. "Sysctl hw" will make you do the math yourself to convert the RAM figure from bytes to megabytes but its a quick way to find out more about the machine, particularly when used remotely.

July 16, 2003

Aaaaah! Webcam!

I just found an open source webcam driver which supports my USB 3com HomeConnect (aka Vicam) in OS X, macam.

Photo category icon

I don't care to take pictures of myself but thanks to a QuickTime component, the camera is supposed to work with many webcam apps, including the iChat AV beta (using another bit of software called iChatUSBCam which enables the use of USB cams with it). I'll probably use it when my sweetie goes back to school. I'll hold the cat up to it.

Continue reading "Aaaaah! Webcam!" »

July 19, 2003

Why I'm not switching to Safari

Itís a little thing but I do it all the time in Mozilla. In Safari, I canít load a URL by dragging it onto a tab. In Safari I have to either right-click then choose New Tab from the menu or command-click the link, which requires two hands. Then I still have to click on the tab to bring it to the front (there are keyboard commands for tab switching but theyíre also two-handers - shift-command-right arrow and left arrow). When Iím done with the page, I have to close the tab because itís not much good for anything else.

Continue reading "Why I'm not switching to Safari" »

October 29, 2003


I just installed Panther at home. The actual install took about an hour, which I figure is pretty good considering this is only a 400MHz G4 with 576MB of RAM. I did an upgrade rather than a clean install or archive & install. I know some have had problems so I backed up my hard drive with CCC (took for freakin' ever. 3 hours I think). Here are some first impressions:

Continue reading "Mrowr" »

July 8, 2004

Tunnelling AppleShare over SSH

This is really just refinement and update to information found elsewhere.

Say you're somehwere with your 'Book (named "rover") running OS X and you'd like to edit some files on your OS X machine (named "bone") at home. You're accustomed to this because you've got your home router set to forward the SSH port to your Mac and you use a dynamic DNS service to have a home hostname (named "") so you don't have to figure out what your broadband IP du jour is.

Continue reading "Tunnelling AppleShare over SSH" »

June 6, 2005

I am freaking out

I read some of the Apple w/ Intel rumors this past weekend but pretty quickly I stopped because there was so much speculation and today's WWDC keynote was supposed to definitively answer the question. So Steve just finished the keynote and it's true, Apple is going to move away from running on PowerPC chips to Intel chips. Not Intel-made PowerPC chips, not 64 bit Intel chips but run-of-the-mill 32 bit x86 chips, Pentium 4s and such. Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006

Why am I freaking out? Mostly I think it's irrational, an indicator of how far down my brain stem Apple has managed to insert itself. The rational part of me says it's because Macs are objectively good ("oh sure, but look who's telling me that!") and this third major transition could jeopardize its future. Apple's fortunes took a major downturn during the 68K->PPC transition but it's not clear that the transition was really to blame. It is the OS that counts more than any other component of the Mac so in that sense the OS 9->OS X transition was much more risky. However with that transition there were so many advantages to be had.

What will switching to Intel do for Apple? Yes, overall performance will be better but unless there's some more major news, overall performance gains will be at the expense of the specialized performance of features like Altivec. I think the much bigger advantage is the elimination of chip shortages hurting Mac availability and therefore sales. Who knows how many sales have been lost due to such shortages? I bet Apple has a pretty good idea.

The computing environment is becoming a little more homogenous. It seems particularly unfortunate that the x86 architecture, which seems to have so much historical baggage, is even more solidly the standard.

June 7, 2005

no Open Firmware for Mactel

This was mentioned in on a mailing so I was compelled to go looking for a definitive source. From Universal Binary Programming Guidelines [pdf] (pg. 47), "Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors do not use Open Firmware."

What are the ramifications of this? Will I be able to hold down the C key to boot from a CD-ROM? Will I be able to hold down the mouse key to eject media? How will I netboot? And, perhaps most importantly to me, will this mean Target Disk Mode is gone? If there's no Open Firmware, what is in its place? Surely not the unpleasant BIOS found on PC hardware. Despite the fact that shutting down is not often necessary and somewhat discouraged, the Mac boot process and its capabilities are an important part of the Mac experience and not to be trifled with.

If Open Firmware is going, what other parts of the Mac are going and why? Does using an Intel processor necessitate such changes? Are Macs going to have not just Intel processors but Intel motherboards with only minor changes centered around keeping OS X on Mac-only hardware?

About Mac

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Extra88 in the Mac category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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