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Floating desktop calendar Apps
Although I usually only post usability tips within applications, if I find a particular application I think is interesting, I'll post about the actual program.

DesktopCalendar, freeware by Takashi T. Hamada, is just such a program. It doesn't do all that much, but what it does, it does very well. It simply places a fully configurable floating calendar anywhere on your desktop that you want it. You control the font sizes and colors, placement of the month, year, and calendar, and the degree of transparency.

Although you can use the included Clock application, DesktopCalendar seems much more elegant in its functionality. And since I keep a clean desktop in X, there's plenty of room for it (I have it just below the menu bar, at screen top right).

Worth a look-see if you're interested in having a calendar floating about on your desktop!
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Preview pane for icon and list views Desktop
I always thought the Column view was cool, especially because of the preview pane that comes up when you click on image or movie files. I was bummed that this preview was only available in column view, as I thought it would be useful in list and icon views as well.

Well, it turns out that this feature already exists!

When viewing a folder in icon or list view, click on a file and get info (Cmd-I). This brings up the info window. Select Preview from the popup menu in the info window, and volia! Click on different files to see a preview of each one. Neato.
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Free units conversion app in OS X

UNIXNot sure if this is exactly news, but it's a big help for any other students in science classes out there or anyone else who needs to occasionally convert picometers to fathoms. In the terminal, just type units, which is a UNIX app that knows how to convert between 501 different units of measurement, everything from inches to furlongs to stones.

[Editor's note: Type "man units" to get a couple of useful pages that explain how to use the program. Note that it will not do Fahrenheit/Celcius, but it looks like it can handle almost anything else!]
Possible solution to '?' icon at startup System
If the ? diskette flashes during boot up, and X won't boot, it means the system isn't finding a startup disk. Here's a possible fix.

Boot up with the OS 9.1 CD (hold down C while booting with the CD in the drive). That's OS 9.1, not OS X -- it is counterintuitive.

Once booted, open the Startup Disk control panel.

Pick the OS X drive or folder. (See, it recognizes OS X disks.)


Good luck.
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Easily remove an installed OS X system Install
There's a great thread on the MacNN boards talking about removing OS X without erasing a hard drive. "Schmoo" (who may be an Apple employee; check the MacNN thread!) presented an AppleScript that can be used to easily remove all traces of OS X from a hard drive. So if you have a version installed that you'd like to remove, check out Schmoo's script in the Update soon and Applescript to Uninstall X thread.

[Editor's note: I've pasted Schmoo's AppleScript into the second part of the article; read the rest if you'd like to see it...]
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OS X without the stripes System
If you don't like the horizontal stripes that OS X puts behind most things (menus, title bars, etc), there are now some "unlined" themes and an easy-to-use theme switcher for OS X. If you're interested in these, I'd suggest you grab them quickly, as Apple legal may not allow them to live very long.

To use, simply download the MetamorphX theme switcher, and then grab your choice of the unlined themes, launch MetamorphX and choose your stripeless theme.

I'm not sure if Apple will provide any 'official' themes for OS X or not, but here's a way to remove the stripes now if they bother you. Get 'em while you can!
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Keyboard-based restart and shutdown Desktop
Haven't seen it before, found it somewhere:

On the new Pro keyboard try control-eject, you have a fast way to restart or shut down your Mac.
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Use SSH for secure AppleShare sessions Network
The incomparable Brad Suinn from Apple has been kind enough to release juicy tidbits about the AppleShare X Client in a unauthorized readme. Amongst other things the end of the file shows how to do an AFP/IP connection using SSH so everything is nice and secure and encrypted. Check out: (search on "SSH" to find the relevant section)

[Editor's note: You may also want to check out Brad's home page for some other interesting items]
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Adding an unsupported printer to Epson's drivers System
I've been very upset with Epson because my fairly common Stylus Color 670 isn't supported by the distributed OS X drivers. I've contacted them a few times, and been given the same answer:"If you need to print, use Mac OS 9." So this weekend I took matters into my own hands.

The SC670 is just a renamed SC740 (which is supported) with USB. So I used textedit to find/replace the text "SC740" with "SC670" in every file inside the SC740.plugin, located in /Library/Printers/EPSON/. There were several bundles inside the plugin bundle that also needed the same treatment. I made sure to change the names of the files also.

Now my printer is recognized and prints perfectly. I'm sure there is an easier way to make the same changes using the command line, but I'm not that comfortable with many of the commands yet. Why Epson couldn't do the same thing, and add support for this printer, remains a mystery to me...


UPDATE: I received the following from the author of this tip:
"...unfortunately, it seems that it doesn't always work, and the variable may be the filesystem format. I had originally formatted my OS X partition as UFS, and when I hacked the printer driver it worked just fine.

Last night I decided to reformat the partition and reinstall OS X. This time I used HFS+. When I copied my hacked driver back to the Epson folder, it didn't work. I figured it may have been damaged in the backup/restore, so I went ahead and re-hacked the file. That didn't work either. I don't know what is going wrong. It may be because HFS+ is saving some sort of metadata with the files when I save the changes. The size of the bundle increases significantly after I make the changes.

Anyway, I figured I should let you know so that you can either update the hint with a caveat, or remove it to prevent anyone from screwing up their printer or something."
So as with most things experimental, use at your own risk!
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Install warning for Beige G3s with Ultra Wide SCSI Install
This has been documented on other sites, but I'll post it here in hopes of saving someone else some grief. If you are installing on OS X on a Beige G3 with an Ultra-Wide SCSI card, you need to update your firmware. This is free and easy and Apple provides more information about the process. Oddly, I was able to install OS X without doing this, but I couldn't boot into it install I installed this update. The error I was getting looked like "can't open: pci/Apple53C875C".
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