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Shortcut key to start under X System
I don't know if this has been already documented but it seems that pressing X at startup will force the Mac to start under MacOS X if the startup system folder is set to MacOS 9 (at least if your MacOS 9 system folder is on the same partition as X). I had to use this trick a couple of times because I couldn't start under MacOS 9 which always crashed during startup for an unknown reason.

Note: if you press L at startup, you won't start Linux nor Lisa (well, actually I haven't checked !) ;-)

[Editor's note: I haven't tested this on my machine, as my OS 9 partition is on a separate hard drive. I also don't know which Macs it may or may not work on, as I have not seen this documented elsewhere.]
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Deleting IE's preferences Apps
Reader Tom Ransom wrote in with a problem and a solution -- how do you delete the Internet Explorer preferences in OS X? He was unable to download from any passive FTP hosts via IE, and thought trashing the preferences might cure the problem.

The typical method would be to trash com.microsoft.explorer.plist from ~/Library/Preferences and that should do the trick. Tom tried this, but it had no affect on his problem. Through some detective work in the Terminal (since prefs files are now text-based XML and easily browsable), he determined that IE's prefs are actually stored in the file com.apple.internetconfig.plist in your Preferences directory.

So if you're having trouble with passive FTP, try trashing that file (perhaps along with com.microsoft.explorer.plist) and relaunching IE. It worked for Tom!
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Managing BBEdit backup files Apps
I have long been a fan of BBEdit's backup option, but have loathed cleaning up after it. If you've used it, you know that it doesn't take long for literally thousands of files to accumulate. Fortunately OS X makes this a breeze with the aid cron and a shell script.

I use the following to perform a daily cleanup:
#!/bin/sh
cd /path/to/bbedit_backups
mydate=`date +%Y%m%d`
mkdir $mydate
find . -name "200*" -type d -prune -o -type f -exec mv {} $mydate \;
find /path/to/BBEdit/BBEdit\ Support/FTP\ Temp -type f -exec mv {} $mydate \;
find . -type d -ctime +20 -exec rm -rf {} \;
Basically, this script goes into your backup folder, makes a new (sub)folder, and moves all of the backup files for that day into it. The FTP line moves all of the files in the FTP Temp folder into the newly created folder. Finally, the script removes any subfolder over 20 days old. (Alter to your own preference). Note that you must change the "/path/to" lines to match your setup.

[Editor: Remember that the script must be made executable (chmod 755 name_of_script) to run, and getting it working via 'cron' is left as an exercise for the reader -- there are tips posted elsewhere here on configuring cron. -rob.]
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Random words from the terminal UNIX
Here's a nifty but somewhat useless quickie that will pick random words from the built-in dictionary file:
perl -e 'open IN, "</usr/share/dict/words";rand($.) < 1 && ($n=$_) while <IN>;print $n'
Notes:
  • Inspired by an example in the 'Camel' book and the fact that I couldn't come up with a non-Bash way to generate random numbers from the shell. (Any ideas why there's no /dev/random? It kinda seems that this was a design decision rather than an oversight...)
  • The /usr/share/dict/words exists on most Unix systems. Curiously, the words seem to be different from that of the system-wide spellchecker service built into OSX.
  • You can use the standard backtick operator to plop the word into another cmd-line program.
  • DO NOT *EVER* USE THIS [OR ANY DICTIONARY] TO GENERATE PASSWORDS!
[To the editor: I admit this is sort of off-topic as far as Mac OSX is concerned. Perhaps you can use it when there's a dry spell in hints or as a 'stupid shell tricks' feature.]

[From the editor: Hey, it is a bit slow with everyone awaiting 10.1's arrival, and this is an interesting trick. There are some strange words in the dictionary!]
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Installation tutorial for xspim UNIX
I have spent the last few days trying to get xspim (a MIPS emulator) to work with OS X and have finally got it going. After spending many frustrating hours on it I figured that I would post how to get it working for the few who might need it (unless you are really into assembler or need it for class or work there is really no point). fyi: download spim from here

Read the rest of the article for detailed installation instructions...
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Script to stay online at all times Internet
Is there a way for me to let a script (or something similar) always check whether I'm online and to re-connect when I'm not? I have a dsl flat and would like my ftp and webserver to stay online. my isp tends to disconnect if after some idle time, and i'd rather not do a permanent ping which is good for "faking" user activity.

Looking forward to your hints
;-) maciana
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Hide iMovie while rendering in the background Apps
While working on an iMovie project tonight, I noticed something about the (much much loved!) ability to render transitions and other effects in the background. I started a large number of transitions rendering (probably 10 or so), and then switched back to the Finder. The machine (a G4/733) was usable, but very very jerky. I saw the spinning rainbow occasionally, and switching apps and selecting menus was very slow.

In the interest of trying anything to see if I could regain some speed, I hid the iMovie application. Amazingly enough, this made a huge difference. Although I can still tell there's background work going on (the CPU meter is pegged, for example), I have full control over the machine, the windows don't lag, and I haven't seen the spinning rainbow since hiding iMovie.

This is a very small sample size (one machine!), so I hate to jump to conclusions, but I've repeated the experiment a number of times with the same results. If iMovie is visible in the background while rendering, the machine slows dramatically. If iMovie is hidden while rendering, it's hard to tell there's much out of the usual going on.

If you work in iMovie, give it a shot and let me know if you see similar results...I'm intrigued!

-rob.
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Monitor connected FTP users Network
Hi there,

I'm using the built-in ftp server. Is there any way to monitor which users are logged in and what there are doing (in realtime)? Looking forward to your response.

Thx
maciana
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Terminal font spacing issue with TinkerTool System
The terminal's font spacing (even for monospaced fonts) suddenly went wacky and I haven't had any luck getting things back to normal.

Typed entries at the command line and even in editors like vi are offset by half a character to the right (relative to a normally positioned text, as output by "ls" for example). Pressing backspace returns the remaining characters to the "correct" position.

After deleting the terminal preferences, things go back to normal until the font size is changed from the default size.

Has anyone seen the following problem? If so is there a recommended remedy?
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Good article on process management System
In the midst of looking for something else, I stumbled across an 'older' (May 2001) article concerning power management with OS X on PowerBooks. In the text of the article, there's a fairly good example of how to use "ps" and "grep" and a couple of other UNIX commands to get a handle on what may be going on with your system if you're experiencing slowdowns or fast-draining batteries.

If you're interested, head over to O'Reilly's web site and read Mac OS X and Battery Life by Derrick Story. Although Derrick wrote the story, the majority of the content is from a note submitted by Peter Fraterdeus, a long-time Mac user and developer. Peter gives some very good examples of how to use the features of the core UNIX system to identify potential trouble spots. Most of the article is relevant not just to PowerBooks, but to Mac OS X users in general.
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