Archive for the 'Mac' Category

Feb 06 2008

OS X 10.5 Dock – 2D or 3D

Published by under Mac

Just to document a simple change to turn off the 3D dock, here is a repeat of the CLI command to set the default dock style to 2D. This has appeared in several places including

$ defaults write no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock

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Jan 03 2008

OS X 10.5 Screen Sharing Tips

Published by under Mac

Macworld has an interesting short article on screen sharing between macs on a local net which includes some options that need to be enabled via terminal.

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Dec 13 2007

Managing known_hosts file

Published by under Linux,Mac,Network

Recent Debian installations of openSSH default to a hashed host name in the known_hosts file used by openSSH. This makes it more difficult to manual maintain and edit this file. A good start on the commands that can (should?) be used to manage know_hosts can be found on this blog entry.

Two useful commands:

search for an entry: $ ssh-keygen -H -F hostname
delete an entry: $ ssh-keygen -R hostname

An online version of the ssh-keygen man page provides more detail on the options it provides.

Since a one way hash is used, there isn’t any way to list all the entries in known_hosts with machine names “de-hashed”.

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Nov 18 2007

Upgrade OS X to 10.5 (Leopard)

Published by under Mac

Some comments and observations on my upgrade to Leopard from 10.4.10. The initial install was straightforward. Took on the order of an hour but worked smoothly. The following notes have probably been covered in various reviews, but they were
new to me.

Of note:

  • Mail requires upgrading mails storage which I’m sure is not reversible.
  • The OS seems to have forgotten some certificates that I’d approved in 10.4.Most notably my own mail servers certificate. A nice feature, I think, is that the dialog that says it is untrusted includes the ability to add it to the trusteed list. I never noticed that in 10.4,
  • Mail is more of a PIM (if PIM is still a viable acronym: Personal Information Manager) now. It automatically imports ‘to do’ items from iCal and has a ‘notes’ capability. I think I’ll like the notes. Not sure about the ‘to do’ import. It seems that you can edit the body of a to do in mail. Have to go back to iCal. You can change due date, etc.
  • Mail’s new ‘Notes’ can be put into IMAP mail boxes. Not sure how that is handled and whether they are actually put on the IMAP server or just kept on the mac and displayed as if they were on the server. Curious. They can’t be put into a smart (rule based) mailbox
  • iCal’s ‘slide out’ panel that which shows details of appointments and to do items seems to have been eliminated in favor of a ‘get info’ pop up. You have to ctrl-click or use cmd-i to see the details of either. Not sure I like that as I’d often glance at details.
  • Spaces is the feature I most wanted as I’m used to using multiple desktops. In a lot of ways, it is not too slick (e.g. no names for spaces, just numbers), but one characteristic I do like is it doesn’t switch spaces if there is an open application window in the current space. I put browser windows in doesn’t jump to a home space for the browser.
  • Gvim, iTerm, VMware, Firefox, Address book all seemed to work as expected.


  • Mail provided the first glitch. Seems that gpgmail is not compatible with this version of mail. “Get a new one”. Is there a new one?
  • Quicksilver was unable to connect when I told it to check for updates? Pathfinder seems to connect and check for updates properly. Is quicksilver needed? I used it as a program launcher and spotlight seems much faster and may be able to handle the launch role.
  • Programs installed in /usr/local/…. were not transferred to the 10.5. They remain on the “Previous System” and have to be migrated by hand or reinstalled. Ugh.

So that’s the first pass.

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Nov 17 2007

Creating a favicon.ico

Published by under Mac,web,Windows

Every few years, I need to create a favicon (the little icon next to the URL in the address bar) for a web site. As I recall, the format for those little 16×16 pixel graphics was set by Microsoft when IE was taking over the browser market from Netscape, but for whatever reason, many graphics programs on OS X don’t create *.ico files. Fortunately, a free web site comes to the rescue. It will upload a graphic and turn it into a .ico file for you. There is an associated verification page that will check out the favicon.ico on your website.

Very helpful for those of us who create favicons very rarely.

Update: See comment below for another site that does favicons.

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Aug 27 2007

Spreadsheets: A “Numbers” Update.

Published by under Mac

I’ve switched most of my spreadsheets to use numbers. I was seduced by Apple’s “eye candy” and a fondness for the canvas approach in preference to Excel’s one giant spreadsheet approach. That said, numbers does lack a lot of ease of use features that I’ve grown used to in Excel and it lacks some important spreadsheet capabilities that Excel provides. Here’s hoping these are only “release 1.0” problems and will soon be fixed.

– The capability to freeze a ‘pane’ as one scrolls through big tables is a big deficiency, as mentioned in my original post. Hiding columns or rows is a partial solution that works when you only append data. Doesn’t help when scrolling is needed.
– Copying cell and row/column format information is weak. Only cell by cell copying is supported and for that capability, format is narrowly defined as textual formating only. There isn’t a way to copy borders, background, etc. all at one time. Everything but the cell contents.
– Charting capabilities and formats are limited.
– No way to connect to a database.
– No pivot tables.

So, I’m hoping for improvements in future releases. Soon?!

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Aug 27 2007

Spreadsheets: Excel & Number

Published by under Mac

Apple has introduced a new “spreadsheet” product as part of its iWork suite, and as usual for Apple, it is ‘different’. Not an Excel clone but a page layout oriented numerical table, chart, image and movie masher! Sounds very modern, but it is very retro in that printing paper seems to have been a major factor in its design.nd it is lacking features essential for effective use “on screen”. A very odd choice of features for Apple to have made.

In Numbers, tables can have header or footer rows and header columns, but only one of each. This makes sense in that Apple can then display this corresponding text to make formula much easier to read, but it limits the ability to associate descriptive text for display or printing. In essence, letting ‘programming’ interfere with display. Is that Apple?

So far, its worst deficiency for me is in handling big tables. In Excel, a standard practice is to be able to ‘freeze rows or columns that provide identifying information to rows or columns on the screen to help orient the eye when viewing large sets of data. Near as I can tell there is no way to do that in Numbers. The print view sort of addresses this problem but only very poorly. You can scroll through and edit the pages on the screen and each page will have the header information. But then the paper paradigm again intrudes unnecessarily.

On the positive side, the change from one big sheet that is mashed different ways tor different purposes to separate tables, charts, etc. that can be related and manipulated on a “canvas” is a real step forward.

I seem to recall a failed spreadsheet named Canvas which tried this approach years ago. Not sure of that, however. Lotus’ old Symphony also had some of these capabilities. So Numbers is retro and current at the same time.

A lot to like, but I’m having to adopt to its limitations and work around them. Haven’t decided to switch.

Note: This was originally posted to on August 10th.

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Jul 14 2007

Parallels to VMware Fusion (OS/X)

Published by under Linux,Mac,Windows

I’ve been using two Windows apps on version 2.x of Parallels for Windows with no problems, but was intrigued by VMware’s entry into the OS X virtualiztion world so I’ve been trying their release candidate of “Fusion”. My main interest in VMware is its support for non Windows OS’s. Debian Linux in particular.
When reading some of the posts on VMware’s Fusion site, I came across a very useful link to very detailed instructions on how to migrate a Parallels vm to VMware. They worked flawlessly.

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Jul 06 2007

Auto-restart Mac Mini

Published by under Linux,Mac

I have a mac mini running Debian Linux as a server and it works fine, has a very small physical ‘footprint’, and so far has been very reliable. A problem has has bitten me once is that the mini does not ‘naturally’ reboot after a power failure the way that old desktop PC’s reboot. Its power switch isn’t “on” after the machine is running so power doesn’t return and someone needs to manually press the start button. When running OS X there is a simple power management setting to control this reboot, but that isn’t available via Linux. Googling for a solution resulted in the answer which I’ll repeat here in order to spread it further. Nothing original.

The best source I’ve found is provided by a UK based hosting service, Mythic Beasts. Due to hardware differences, the solution is different for PowerPC and Intel based minis. Also, the setting which controls the restart doesn’t survive a restart and thus has to be reset after or during each start. A kernel patch is provided as the best solution, but I’ve opted for the simpler but less reliable script based solution.

After every boot, a little script runs and it contains one line:

    echo server_mode=1 > /proc/pmu/options

I put a link to this sciript at the start of the list in rc2.d. A symlink

     S09hak-reboot –> ../init.d/hak-reboot

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May 11 2007

Changing Desktop font size (& in Finder windows)

Published by under Mac

  • Click on the Desktop to make sure that the Finder is the active application and Desktop is selected.
  • Choose View > Show View Options.
  • The default type size is 12 points. Use the Text size pop-up menu to select a larger type size. You can choose from 11 point (smaller) to 16 point (bigger).

You can resize the font in a Finder windows, too. Just open the Finder window before changing the text size in the View Options dialog. Finders organizational options are accessed in the same way.

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