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Transparent windows in any Cocoa program System
Making terminal windows transparent seems to be a popular item, and someone asked if it would work in other apps. Well, it won't work out of the box, but there's a cool little hack that will make it work, at least for Cocoa applications.

This isn't quite perfect, as it will change the transparency of the title bar, scroll bars, etc. as well as the content, but it does make them transparent.

Read the rest of this article for the step by step instructions.

[Editor's note: I have not tried this on my machine yet. You should probably back up any file you are going to modify before you start. Sounds really cool, though!]
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How to view other non-European languages System
The default installation of OS X doesn't come with any other non-European language other than Japanese. Well, we all know this by now. However, there is a way to view Korean, Chineses and others by moving the respective fonts from the OS 9 fonts folder (or any other) into the fonts folder in /Library/Fonts [editor: corrected per comments] and voila!

Now go to the International setting in System Preferences in OS X and see your language displayed! Select the language and keyboard you need and now you should be able to view these foreign languages in, Web Browsers and others.
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Play your MP3s in the Finder Desktop
If you use the finder in column view mode, there is a way to play an MP3 that is quicker than any app so far: simply clicking once on the mp3 file will display a play bar in the next column containing the entire track. It plays almost immediately. Some draw-backs: only one MP3 can be played at a time with this method, and only the front finder window will play sound. Still though, if you just want a quicky, this is pretty sweet.
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Play Zork on OS X! Apps
OS X may be the world?s most advanced operating system, but tonight, I took it back into the early 80?s. In the early days of the internet (or Arpanet, back then), a text-based game known as Zork was all the rage. I remember playing it on a TI Silent 700 dumb terminal with thermal paper, connected to the net at a whopping 300 baud.

Zork was the second big computer adventure game (after Adventure, of course), and it featured an amazingly detailed universe, and a slick English-language command parser. Infocom eventually published the Zork games for the PC, but my memories are strictly from the dumb terminal era. The first three Zork games are available freely on the web; more recent versions are still owned and protected by Activision.

Zork was originally coded in MDL (pronounced muddle), but over the years, it was rewritten in C, so I set out on a mission to get it running on OS X. After some searching, and a little bit of editing, I got it to work (as the screenshot shows; click here for a larger version). It turns out the hardest part was finding all the pieces. Read the rest of this article if you?d like to know how it works, and for step-by-step installation instructions.

If you don't want all the details and just want to play, grab the binary download of a UNIX Zork engine (Jzip), the first three Zork game data files, and a Read Me from my "Griffman's OS Collection" page.

And yes, I know about (and own) "The Lost Treasures of Infocom" I & II for the Mac; that's not the point -- I wanted to see if Zork could be run in a terminal window on OS X -- and it can!
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Double clickable mySQL installer Apps
Stories about mySQL seem to generate quite a bit of interest here, so here's one (last?) pointer to yet another way of getting mySQL running. This should be the easiest way of all - a Mac-friendly, double-clickable installer package. It's been tested by several people, and they've had good things to say about it.

You can find it here:

CAUTION: If you have already installed mySQL (fully or partially), you should probably remove it prior to installing this version. On the MacNN forums, a poster claims that the package didn't work well with his previously installed version.
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Monitor your network traffic Network
Want to get down and dirty and find out what kind of traffic is on your network? Well, a packet sniffer is a great tool for this, and OS X has a copy of tcpdump, the open-source packet sniffer program, pre-installed.

Please note three things about tcpdump:

- It's a command line tool so you'll have to use the Terminal. (See the manual (man tcpdump) pages for options.)
- You have to be root to use it (or use sudo)
- It can be used for good or evil. Please make the right choice.

As a networking teacher, it's a great way to show students how insecure their network traffic really is (especially stuff like telnet and ftp).
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Single-user mode made easy System
This is a follow-up to the hint about using <Cmd>-S during boot-up to go to single-user mode.

Well, I go to single-user mode to run fsck, the UNIX disk checking tool and I noticed on my Wall Street PB that <Cmd>-s would work sometimes but not consistently.

As an old UNIX geek I was trying different, more reliable ways to get to single-user mode from the Terminal and found this one almost by accident:

1. su to root (or use sudo)
2. Run the command "shutdown now" (without the quotes, of course.)

After a bit of pondering, OS X will quietly and consistently shutdown to single-user mode. A quick 'reboot' and you're back in Aqua.

Man, I love this OS!
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Use custom icons for docked URLs Desktop
You may already know that if you drag a URL into the right hand side of the dock, it'll stay there and clicking it opens the page in your chosen browser.

Trouble is, the icon for URLs is generic and unintuitive and you can't change the icon directly. There is a solution...

Instead of dragging the URL straight into the dock, drop it into a suitable folder and the use the standard cut'n'paste method (described in the rest of this article) to swap the icon. Now drag the URL/icon into the right hand side of the dock. Hey presto, you have a custom url with custom icon in the dock. I have an icon of Dilbert that takes me straight to his daily comic strip.

Read the rest of this article if you need a primer on cutting and pasting icons in OS X...
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Stupid dock tricks Desktop
I haven't noticed anybody mentioning this yet. It isn't useful at all, but here goes:

Open a Carbon or Cocoa app and dock one of its windows. Then hide the app (command-H or from the app menu).

The docked window "flies" over to hide behind the app's icon in the Dock! Unhide the app by clicking it in the Dock (or command-tab) and it flies back.

It's this kind of attention to detail that makes me love Apple. Now if only the interface wasn't so slow. :)

[Editor: Make sure your dock is visible first; hit CMD-OPT-D if you usually leave it hidden; it's not so impressive when you can't see it ;-) ]
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Steps to a more responsive desktop Desktop
Try the following to maximize the speed of the desktop:
  1. Don't change the opacity of the terminal. [Editor: But it looks SO good!]

  2. Change the dock minimization effect to "scale" by typing defaults write mineffect scale

  3. Increase the mouse tracking speed and the keyboard repeat rate through the System Preferences application.

  4. Set your colors to thousands, not millions. [Editor: Audion 2.1 looks so much better in millions!]

  5. Increase the priority of the Window Server. This requires root access. First type ps cx and look for the PID of "Window Manager". Now type sudo renice -(number between 20 and 0) (PID of Window Manager). You will be prompted for a password; enter yours (not root's). Take note that as root, a lower number means higher priority; try -5 or -10 as a start. The situation is reversed if you are just doing a renice as user.

    So if 'ps' returns the PID of Window Manager as 243, you'd type "sudo renice -10 243" to set set the window manager's priority at -10.NOTE: See the comments for proof that this speed-up is purely pyschological at this point ;-)
PS: Some applications are not threaded properly. A good example is MSIE, it exhibits the exact same behavior under Mac OS X as it does under Mac OS 9. e.g. animated GIFs are "locked" in a frame if the mouse button is held down.
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