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Ruby as an Apache CGI UNIX
Hello, I've sucessfully installed Ruby, a great newish scripting language. I recommend you try it out. Anyways, it works fine by itself, but I am having problems getting it to work as a script in Apache. I've installed mod_ruby, and have followed their directions. However, I can still not get it to work under Apache. Anyone had any luck?


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Play 1980's video games using MacMame Apps
For those that didn't know it, MacMame (a universal arcade game emulator that can run 2,500 games!) has been carbonized for a while now. There's a new release (download 0.53) out now, and it runs quite nicely in OS X. At left is a quick snapshot of Galaga running on MacMame on OS X -- here's a larger version if you'd like a clearer view.

I ran into a couple of minor visual glitches with a few games, but they are generally quite minor and most games ran perfectly. MacMame provides a large number of options for configuring the video, and it's usually possible to find a setting that looks good and performs well. UPDATE: The 0.53 version (released 8/15/01) seems to fix most of the video glitches I was having. The games now look perfect!

Performance on my G4/733 was (expectedly) fine, even without telling MacMame to hog the CPU. One of the nice things about older arcade games, though, is that they don't require huge amounts of horsepower. MacMame also ran very nicely on our iBook 500.

MacMame relies on original ROM files for the arcade games that it plays. Follow the links on the MacMame web site as a good starting point. From a legal perspective, you should own a full-size arcade version of any ROM you download, as they are still technically not in the public domain.

NOTE: Make sure you also download the new OpenGL plug-in for OS X (and OS 9). It's in the downloads section of the MacMame site, and it lets you apply OpenGL effects (bilinear filtering to smooth the jaggies) to MacMame's games.

If you grew up playing the video games of the 1980's, MacMame is a must-have OS X application!
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Use the Dock as a 'last chance' Finder fixer System
On very rare occasions, the OS X Finder will lock up and not respond to keyboard or mouse actions. It happened to me tonight when I tried to move 300+ items from my iDisk to a SCSI SyQuest drive - I'm not sure if it was a bug in iDisk, the Finder, or the SCSI drivers. In any event, the Finder showed only the spinning rainbow, and clicking on it in the Dock revealed an "Application not responding" message. The machine was still quite usable (other open apps were doing fine and were fully responsive), but I wasn't sure how to resolve the Finder problem -- I couldn't launch any new applications (such as the Terminal or Process Viewer) since the Finder was unresponsive.

In addition, the usual escape route (command-option-escape) wasn't functional. The dialog box would not show up on the screen, regardless of which app was in the foreground.

I could have used another computer to connect and quit the Finder via "ps aux" and "kill", but that seemed like cheating. The only app I had in my dock (the only way I had to start programs) that wasn't running was CPU Monitor. On a lark, I launched it and noticed that it has two very useful menu items for troubleshooting system lockups - under the Processes menu, you can choose "Open Process Viewer" or "Open Top".

Either one of these was enough to solve my problem -- opening Top launches the Terminal, from where I could open a new window and use "ps aux" and "kill" to relaunch the Finder, or I could (as I did) use ProcessViewer to do it directly.

The moral of the story? To prevent a Finder lockup from rendering your machine unusable, keep one of CPU Monitor, Terminal, or ProcessViewer in your dock at all times. My personal choice is CPU Monitor, since I can get to either of the other apps through CPU Monitor. With one of these apps in your dock, you should (barring a dock lockup!) be able to launch a program to help you restart the Finder.

The nice aspect of working in OS X, of course, was that everything was back to completely normal once I restarted the Finder -- and, much to my amazement, I found that the copy that had locked the Finder had actually completed!
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Epson printer support info update System
Epson has finally released some useful info on which of their printers will be supported in OSX 10.1. The info is here:

[Editor's note: It appears that if you don't have an Epson USB printer, you're out of luck. My serial Epson 800 isn't on the list, which is not all that surprising, but still a little disappointing. It is several years old, so maybe it's a good excuse for an upgrade. Anyone know of affordable Ethernet-capable color printers supported in OS X? I'd love to share one printer amongst two Macs and two PC's.]
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Applescripting Seti@ home Apps
[Submitted by phlbbrtn on Saturday]

In this hint I will show how to control the Darwin (command line) version of Seti@home using AppleScript. For this there are these ingredients:
Read the rest to find out how to control Seti@home with AppleScript.
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Cisco VPN client for Mac OS X is available! Network
For those of you using a Cisco VPN server, they just released the Mac OS X version of their VPN client software. Ask your VPN support person, whoever that may be, for the specifics.

[Editor's note: I can't find any reference to the OS X Client on the Cisco web site, so it does appear you'll need to talk directly to your Cisco rep. If someone has a URL with more information, please pass it along as a comment to this article...]
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OS X's free drawing program - Sketch Apps
Some people may not have noticed the free drawing program which comes with OSX. It's located in Developer/Applications/Extras and it's called Sketch. It's only installed if you do the developer install. It's a simple drawing program, with lines and circles and type, similar to Microsoft Draw. It's nice for simple diagrams when Illustrator is just too much work. The only catch is you have to save your work as a Sketch file (.sketch) before you can Save As a TIFF or PDF file.

[Editor's note: You'll also find (a program to show that a dying program won't affect the system) and (a TextEdit replacement with some nicer features) in the Extras folder - it's worth a look if you've installed the Dev Tools.]
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Empty the trash via the command line UNIX
Opera was crashing on me constantly, so I decided to trash my Opera preferences. Little did I know (until I was emptying the trash) that my Opera prefs folder contained 38,000 items! After waiting for about 10 minutes, I still had 35,000 items left to empty. I decided to bail out and do it from the command line, where it took approximately 15 seconds! A simple rm -r * to empty my .Trash folder did the trick.

[Editor's note: If you're new to the terminal, be very careful with the 'rm' command. There is no going back, and there's no confirmation (by default). To do this safely, you should first type cd ~/.Trash (to make sure you're in your trash directory) and you may want to use rm -ri * which will ask for confirmation on each file. Although this won't be fast, you'll be confident you're deleting the right files before they're all gone! A wise friend once said to me that there are two types of UNIX users ... those that have "rm -r *"ed the wrong directory, and those that will...]
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OmniWeb UI slowness in Graphite theme Web Browsers
Ken at Omni Group just posted a quick note in this MacNN forum thread to let everyone know that OmniWeb's UI is much slower than expected when using the Graphite OS X theme. Switching to the Aqua theme will resolve the issue in the current release, and Ken writes that he's fixed the bug in the next release.
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Replace the built-in FTP server Apps
Apple's built-in FTP server, which is started by clicking a button in the Sharing prefs panel, is probably sufficient for most users. It gives easy access to your machine via FTP, but has some limitations. If you wish to allow others to FTP to your machine, you need to create an OS X account for each user. If you want those users restricted to their home directory, you need to create an 'ftpchroot' file that limits their access. Other more advanced tasks, such as space limitations, require further tweaking to the FTP server.

If you'd like an easy way to put a more robust FTP server solution in place, check out CrushFTP by Ben Spink. CrushFTP is a Java-based application that runs on OS X (and OS 9!).

It has a wealth of options, including:
  • User (add/delete/modify) management within CrushFTP
  • Set disk quotas and other privileges by directory
  • Set maximum idle and connect times and bandwidth limits
  • Limit max downloads per session
  • Easily specify which port CrushFTP will serve from
  • Control which days a user may connect
  • Limit or allow connections based on IP address
  • Generate detailed usage reports
I ran a very simple speed comparison this afternoon (transfer one 7.9mb file from my Mac to my Win2000 laptop), and I was surprised to find that CrushFTP beat the built-in FTP server (444K per second vs. 440K per second). A more extensive test would have to be done on multiple files to verify the results, but CrushFTP seems to be just as speedy as the bundled FTP server -- at least in a single-user scenario.

CrushFTP is a $20 shareware application, and it's a fully try-before-you-buy package. If you're looking for a more advanced FTP server package, check it out.

NOTE: I am not a registered CrushFTP user, as my FTP needs are simple. It just seems like a well-developed alternative to the bundled OS X FTP server, with easily defined options. As with anything that allows direct access to your machine, please make sure you're comfortable with the product and its background before installing or using it!
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