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Letter templates in Palm Desktop v4 Apps
In Palm Desktop v4, the instructions for creating your own "Letter Templates" (the letters you can automatically generate by clicking the appropriate button in a Contact's info screen) are somewhat erroneous if you are using OS X. While the Help file describes the location where these letters should be placed, the location doesn't exist!

Well, it does, sort of, but you have to "Show Package Contents" of the Palm application (with a control-click on the application itself). You'll then find the proper folder at "Contents -> Resources -> English.lproj -> Letter Templates".

By the way, if you are using AppleWorks, make sure your newly created letter exists as an AppleWorks word processing file and -not- as a "template"; otherwise, it won't show up in the selection box when you click the button (in Palm Desktop) to request the current contact's info be included in the letter.

Other than this little errata, Palm Desktop kicks butt!
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A few tips for importing photos into iPhoto Apps
As mentioned in this article about importing pictures into iPhoto, importing your entire collection can have some problems. However, if you import your album piecemeal, you might have better success. I had all of my photos arranged into individual folders. I imported one folder at a time and iPhoto associated each separate batch of imported files with a "roll". So, then in the organize view you can enable the view by Film Rolls option so you can see all of your photos segmented the way you originally wanted them.

A few notes:

1) Dragging a file or folder from the Finder onto iPhoto Organize view is the same using the Import menu command.

2) The time and date on the roll will be today, rather than when the pictures were actually taken. Therefore, you should import your pictures in chronological order.

3) I found a bug in the import command. Don't import pictures from a CD. Copy them to your hard drive first. Otherwise, the pictures will be copied as read-only and you won't be able to edit your pictures.
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Reverse iPhoto rotations via the keyboard Apps
Option clicking on iPhoto's Rotate button will cause the image to rotate clockwise (normal clicking results in an counter-clockwise rotation). Quicker than using the menu bar or shortcuts. This may be documented but there again I never read the documentation.

[Editor's note: The iPhoto help is actually very robust. If you select Help, then click on "More..." in the News section, you'll get a list of keyboard shortcuts, including this option-click on Rotate trick. As another example, did you know that option double-clicking a photo will open it in a separate, resizable window? There's more, too, so give the Help pages a quick read-through!]
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Change the modification date on iPhoto imports Apps
I have a bunch of old images I have been trying to load into iPhoto. Now I have spent more time than I should arranging these images into folders based on date, and was dismayed that iPhoto changed that hierarchy when copying the image hierarchy over. Closer inspection of the hierarchy revealed that iPhoto was using the modification date on the image file, and some of the images (either because I had edited the image or rotated it or something) had their modification date changed (duh!), which resulted in iPhoto putting that image in a different folder to what I expected.

I thought about writing a tool to fix the modification dates, but then I came across the shareware tool FileBuddy X (look for it on VersionTracker if link doesn't work).

After downloading and playing with this tool for a while, I found I could open up my images folder containing all my images (I backed up first - be smart!), load the top images folder into FileBuddy, select all, hit "Get Info", change the modification date to the creation date, change all, and then import the images into iPhoto.

Still have to live with the rather terse numbered folders of iPhoto, but at least now my images are arranged with other images taken at the same time, even though I have subsequently edited them.
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Add a missing search engine to IE 5.1 Apps
Here's a way to add a search engine to the search toolbar in internet explorer:
(Notes: Do this with caution! Also you can only do this using the single search engine option; I'm on my way to find a way to do this for multiple search engines.)

1. Download this page: http://ie.search.msn.com/en/srchasst/srchcust.htm

2. Open this in your favorite text editor or html editor

3. Search for the line: <OPTION VALUE="http://www.yahoo.com/search/ie.html">Yahoo

4.Insert above it or anywhere you like this line (I'm adding google):
<OPTION VALUE="http://www.google.com/ie">Google

5. Save the file, and open it in IE.

6. Change the option to use single search engine

7. Find google on the list. If you're having trouble seeing it, try and click on any remnants of the scroll bars to find the list.

8. Open a new window, and then the search tab.

To reset it, just click customize in the search tab the usual way.

[Editor's note: I have not tried this myself, as I haven't used IE in quite a while...]
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Usenet multi-part file tool available Apps
I just released MacPAR OS X for free download. MacPAR is an OS X user interface for the PAR utility, to easily create PAR archives or to recover missing files in a chain of multipart files (like .001, .002 etc.) by using .PAR files (like .P01, .P02). Nowadays everybody should add PAR files to their uploads of multipart split files on Internet newsgroups. With the PAR utility it is possible to recover any missing part (e.g. that didn't manage to get thru to your news server).

The code for Par has been developed in the Parchive open source project on sourceforge.net. I designed a user-friendly Mac interface for OS 10.1.2 or higher to make working with PAR very easy. This first release limits the creation of archives to batch-file mode only.

The MacPAR OS X project is part of the recently started Mutsu project on sourceforge.net for the development of Applescript Studio programs. Mutsu is a repository for Applescript Studio applications and code snippets, and you also can find MacPAR's source code there.

I hope people will enjoy working with Par as much as I do!
Loek

[Editor's note: I don't do much with usenet groups, but if you do, this PAR solution sounds pretty interesting.]
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Making iTunes imports unnoticeable Apps
Normally when I import music into iTunes, the whole system gets rather sluggish which makes it very awkward to work with it the while.

While iTunes needs to be highly prioritized by the system during playback operations to allow for smooth sound performance without any dropouts, there is no need for this during "pure" import-only activity. So I wrote a little script that will reprioritize the iTunes app. While this may result in bad play performance (occasional dropouts -- very rare), this makes background import almost unnoticeable. The whole system runs as smoothly as normal, and the only thing you'll notice is the CD drive running continuously. Here's the script:
  #!/bin/sh
ps -ax | grep iTunes.app | grep -v grep
renice 20 -p `ps -ax | grep iTunes.app | grep -v grep | cut -c1-5`
Just put the commands above into a file in your ~/bin directory and chmod +x the file. Whenever you just want to do background import, start iTunes and run the script in Terminal window afterwards. You'll see output like:
  500  ??  S      0:01.90 /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/MacOS/iTunes /Appli
500: old priority 0, new priority 20
To return iTunes back to original scheduling priority, just close the app and restart it.

I find myself running iTunes almost always at low priority because dropouts are very very rare (I use the "big buffers" setting).
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iPhoto supports (some) unsupported devices Apps
Yesterday, after nearly four years of great service, I retired my Olympus D-500L. Although it worked well for us, it was starting to feel its age, with a maximum resolution of just 1024x768. In addition, it was quite bulky and as a result, sat at home instead of going with us on many trips.

So as I started looking for replacements a couple months ago, portability and higher resolution were two key elements. After a bunch of reading and testing, I thought I had my mind made up. Then iPhoto came out last week. On the iPhoto compatability page is a list of supported cameras, card readers, and printers. When I looked at that page, the camera I was interested in was not listed. Others by the same manufacturer were, but not this model nor even one in the same family.

The camera was supposed to work with Image Capture, though, at least according to the manufacturer's website. So I decided to go ahead and make the purchase, since the camera offered all the features I wanted. If I had to go camera -> Image Capture -> iPhoto, it still wouldn't be too bad. When I took the first test picture and connected the camera, I was very happily surprised when iPhoto launched and correctly identified the camera!

Oh yea ... which camera did I purchase? I picked the Canon S30 PowerShot, a 3-megapixel camera in a very portable body with some nice features and a good price point that has gotten some good reviews. If you're in the market for a digital, I highly recommend a visit to dcresource.com, which features a very thorough collection of reviews and an interactive buyer's guide that's quite good.

In addition, my Epson 890C printer also works just fine through the simplified print dialog in iPhoto, despite it also not being mentioned on the iPhoto page.

Anyone have any other cameras, printers, or card readers not on the list that are also known to work in iPhoto? The PowerShot S30 (and S40, too, I would guess) and the Epson890C are the first two that I can add to the list...
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Two security analysis programs Apps
In my never ending quest to replace my other computers I use and make my OSX TiBook more than a cool machine and a full replacement of all my other machines ... I begun replacing my Linux stuff (having completed replacing my PCs). In the process, I found some really good security analysis software for OS X that I thought I would share.
  1. MacAnalysis - A really nice shareware security analysis tool that seems to be coming along nicely (IMO worth the $50 fee). It has a plug-in architecture where you can update its database automatically (a must for analysis sofware) and a really nice OS X interface. A little lite on the doc, but seems to be coming along.

  2. Nessus - This one requires a little explanation. Nessus is the open source security analysis software IMO. I would not attempt this one unless you are comfortable with the UNIX command line :). Regrettably the old version did not seem to compile on OSX even with XFree and GTK+. However with a little work, I was able to get the latest image from CVS to compile. In order to attempt it, you will need to have a X server (I suggest using fink to get the XFree rootless server), the GTK+ libraries (again, I would use Fink, makes it trivial to do), the OpenSSL libraries (it claims to be able to compile without these - it does - but I wasted most of the part of a day to try and get it to work without these and I couldn't ... save yourself the trouble). Once you have all these pieces, it compiles and works like a charm :) I would also suggest for piece of mind (and eyes) using OroborosX - this software interfaces the XFree windows and the Aqua windows so well that you sometimes forget you're using X software :).
If anyone has any good security analysis software they use on OSX, please let me know :) Always looking to expand.

[Editor's note: Although these programs can most likely be used for bad purposes, they are also important in determining whether your own network is secure or not. As such, I think it's in the general interest to make people aware of these tools. After all, if the Bad Guys know about these programs, wouldn't you like to know what vulnerabilities these progarms find on your own systems in order to close the holes?]
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Mouse speed control via a preference panel Apps
Although there have been previous tips published about speeding up your mouse (one, two), neither solution was perfect. The first tip required replacing an Apple kernel extension; the second didn't change the settings in real time and was often reset arbitrarily.

Ben Hines has just released MouseZoom 2.0, a freeware solution that handles both issues. This system preferences panel installs and removes easily, and (as of version 2.0) the changes made are reflected immediately in the speed of the mouse tracking.

MouseZoom 2.0 is a more flexible solution than replacing the stock Apple mouse driver, as it is very easy to revert to your original setup - just remove the preference pane if you don't want to use it. Thanks to 'greggomer' for telling me about the updated version.
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