While looking for interesting OS X apps recently, I happened upon a program called InstantLinks, available from Subsume Technologies. InstantLinks, shown in use at the right (click on the image for a larger screenshot), is a system service that is available in any application that supports OS X services (such as Fire and OmniWeb, to name two).
What does it do? From a services-aware application, you highlight a text string that you're interested in, such as a word, an address, or a URL. Then simply activate the InstantLinks service menu, and pick the action you would like performed on your selection. You can look it up in a dictionary, map the location, open the URL, search the web, or check a thesaurus.
It's an amazing example of some of the really neat stuff that I think we'll see coming out for OS X in the next few months. Highly recommended, if for nothing more than a peak at the future possibilities of OS X. Read the rest of the article if you'd like a detailed explanation for how to install and activate the progam (it's a bit different than a typical application).
If you're new to UNIX, the concept of file permissions can be somewhat daunting, to say the least. In a nutshell, permissions control who is able to do what to any given file or directory. It's important that they're properly set, otherwise certain things (such as CGI's for your web server, or shell scripts) may not work as you expect them to.
Read the rest of this article if you'd like an introduction to managing permissions in UNIX. Although quite detailed, this is not intended to be a complete education on file permissions; a good UNIX book is still recommended as the best way to further increase your knowledge.
If you logon as any user other than 'root' and you find that you are unable to launch an application, check the permissions on the Applications folder. The quickest way to fix the problem is to give the group 'Everyone' Read&Write access and copy this to the rest of the folders. Even though the permissions are correct further down the tree, the permission at the top level seems to matter.
One of the known bugs with the PB is that when you reboot into OS 9, one or more of your drives may have become invisible. It won't show on the desktop, but Sherlock will find items on it, Disk First Aid will see it, etc. For some reason, the visibility bit on these drives is being turned off (or the invisibility bit is being turned on ;-). OS X ignores the bit, so the drive shows up. OS 9, however, respects the setting and promptly makes the disk(s) invisible.
Alsoft has published a free utility that will restore the visibility of these disks when you boot into OS 9, and has a further description of the problem and its cause. You can read about and download the fix from this page on Alsoft's site.
You'll have to fill out a short form to get the program, but it's free of charge.
If you open a new Finder window at its (hopefully changeable in the final!) default size, you'll see a xxx MB available message on the left side, just below the Computer icon. If you expand the width of the window, the display will change to read xxx MB available, y items.
If you leave the window at its default size, however, and click on the xxx MB available message, it changes to read y items. Click on it again to change it back. Not sure how useful this is, but I thought it showed some ingenuity to think to program it that way. Who knows, maybe OS 9 does this too, but I've certainly never noticed it.
While browsing the Mac OS X Forums (currently down for a server swap), I found a reference to a very detailed paper on how you can use BSD (the UNIX system underlying OS X) to stop spam and trojan horse programs from reaching your machine.
The author is Brett Glass, and he's posted the article on his website. It's very interesting reading. Highly recommended if you're remotely curious about this type of stuff; required if you're using the OS X version of sendmail as your mail server!