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Yet another means of searching Google with IE Apps
Boing Boing, a website run in part by Mark Frauenfelder (star of one of Apple's 'Switch' advertisements), has posted a very, very easy way to modify MSIE to use Google as its default search engine (i.e. "? " in the Address bar). It utilizes the 'patch' command and a modified "English.lproj" to make the change for you.
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Install the Sun ONE Studio Java IDE Apps
If you're interested in installing the Sun ONE Studio Java IDE on OS X, this article on the Sun ONE Studio Developer Resources website explains exactly what you need to do. The process is a bit complicated, but the article describes the necessary steps with a good amount of detail.

Thanks to an anonymous tipster for this hint...
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Use iTunes to open AlbumWrap files Apps
After some frustration with a file sent to me by a friend on a PC, I discovered that iTunes natively supports MP3s that have been 'wrapped' up using AlbumWrap, whereas Windows Media Player dosn't have a clue what to do.

AlbumWrap itself is a new one to me, but because it still has a .mp3 suffix, it can confuse some players.
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Using Mactopia document templates in Word v.X Apps
Recently I decided to use a document template on the Mactopia site for a paper. I downloaded the .dot file and placed it in my Templates folder. Try as I might, they didn't appear in the Project Gallery. The help file merely says the file must be "valid".

The trick is: you must set the type/creator to W8BN/MSWD. Apparently file extension is meaningless.

[Editor's note: I'd never seen the templates on Microsoft's site before. After looking at a couple for Word and Excel, I must say it's a relatively impressive collection of helpers!]
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Hidden effect settings in iTunes3 visual mode Apps
The iTunes3 documentation reveals that pressing '?' while in Visual mode brings up some visuals generator options: 'F' for frame rate info and capping, 'R' for cycling the config settings randomly, etc. (press '?' again to see the second help page).

What's not documented is that you can cycle through the config settings at will, not just randomly. There are three config variables with many possible combinations. I don't know the proper names, but I've dubbed them Wave, Flow and Colour.
  • Wave: How the waveform appears on the screen. Press Q and W to rotate settings.

  • Flow: The way the waveforms form patterns. Press A and S to cycle.

  • Colour: The colour settings for the pattern. Z & X to cycle these.
If you press 'C', you can see the values for each of these items change in the upper right corner of the screen as you cycle through the various options.

Used in conjunction with 'M' ('Select config mode'), it is possible to freeze a custom visual, instead of progressing to other styles. Coupled with fullscreen mode and screen capture, this is a nice way to get some funky desktop patterns!
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Disable font smoothing for Word V.x speed increase Apps
I (like many others) was very disappointed in the performance of Word v.X on my G3/600 iBook. Looking through the various settings today, I stumbled accross something very interesting. There is an option under the 'General' section of the Preferences entitled "Enable Quartz text smoothing". This option is selected by default, and since I like my fonts nice and antialiased, I didn't think much of it.

I believe now however, that this option enables some sort of MS specific antialiasing, because if you turn it off, the fonts are still antialiased (though they look different ... better, but different), and everthing in the app speeds up about two times! The strange thing is that if I turn off antialised text in the system preferences (using TinkerTool), there is almost no speed improvement.

I'm not sure if this is an oversight on MS's part, or myself not realizing what's really going on, but it's made my Word v.X easily as responsive as 2001 under OS9.

Hope that helps some folks.

[Editor's note: I was amazed at the notable speed difference that resulted when the Quartz smoothing box was disabled. Even on a my G4/733, pages now scroll by at a much faster rate, and the text is still nicely smoothed. This same option exists in Excel (but not PowerPoint), so you may wish to disable it there, too! I don't believe that Quartz Text Smoothing is a MS specific option; I believe it's an OS X system option, but I don't know much more about it than that ... anyone?]
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Reshuffle the iTunes song order Apps
I dunno about some of you, but it seems to me that iTunes (even version 3) doesn't do that great of a job of randomizing the song play order. This is particularly apparent if you play songs directly from the Library, and not from a playlist: in my experience, if you play songs in the library, and then go back and select one that you've already listened to, you'll find that you're going through the same order of songs again!

Well I was reading through the iTunes 3 Help the other day, and you can force iTunes to reshuffle the order so it's not as predictable. If you're in a playlist and option-click on the shuffle icon in the bottom-left corner of the iTunes window, the order will be reshuffled.

The best part? It works in the library, too!

[Editor's note: This feature is a bit confusing at first, as nothing appears to happen when you option-click the shuffle button. But it does, indeed, rework the play order. Test this with a click on "Next song", note the song that's now playing, hit "Previous song", option-click the shuffle button, and hit "Next song" again. The song will be different than it was the first time you hit the "Next song" button. If you repeat the experiment without hitting the option-shuffle combination, the song will be the same. And yes, you can accomplish this same thing by clicking the shuffle button twice (to turn it off and then on). But this shortcut is one less button click.]
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Toggle iTunes library synchronization on the fly Apps
iTunes 3 does an excellent job of automatically synchronizing its music folder to its library. A great example of this is the 'Copy files to iTunes music folder when adding to library' option in the Preferences.

But what if sometimes you don't want a song automatically copied to your library, but just added to the playlist instead? Simply hold down 'alt' (also labeled the Option key on some keyboards) as you drag the file(s) from the Finder into iTunes, and it will do the opposite of the option selected in the Preferences.
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Fast access to local webserver in Internet Explorer Apps
I'm sure this is common knowledge somewhere, but I discovered by accident that you don't need to type "http://localhost" or "http://127.0.0.1" to get your local Apache server in IE 5.2.1.

You can just type "http:///" and hit return.

[Editor's note: This doesn't work with Mozilla or OmniWeb.]
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Make your Mac dream of electric sheep Apps
Did you know that the distributed computing screen saver Electricsheep has been ported to OS X? Your Mac can now also dream of electric sheep. Check out the website for the long story about what Electricsheep are, along with a downloadable OS X Electricsheep.saver. Place it in your Library folder and start your Mac dreaming. It's fractal generated eye candy at it's very best!

[Editor's note: The website recommends a high-speed always-on internet connection.]
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