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Complex batch file renaming in the Finder Apps
If you work with batches of files in the Finder and often need to rename them, I'd recommend giving A Better Finder Rename (ABFR) a look. ABFR, a $15 shareware app, offers over 20 different ways of renaming things, including the small snippet shown at left from the "Remove anywhere" choice. Other options include "Replace anywhere within name", "Produce alphabetical list", and "Strip vowels". Each choice brings a different set of options forward. ABFR sits in your dock (or on your desktop) and you activate it by dragging and dropping onto it the files and folders you wish to rename.

I find ABFR ideal for dealing with my digital camera, which gives me lots of well-named files like "DSC0001.JPG", "DSC0002.JPG", etc. With ABFR, a fix is just a drag and drop away. Hopefully, future versions will load as true contextual menus (as in OS 9), but apparently Apple has not made the Finder's contextual menus available to developers (yet?).
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Automatic startup of FileMaker Pro Server Apps
FileMaker Pro Server 5.5 on Mac OS X won't startup automatically when the machine boots. According to the documentation and FileMaker technical support, the only way to start the so-called "server" is to run the FileMaker Server Config app and click the "Start" button. Since this is totally lame and unacceptable, I devised a workaround.

Read the rest of this article for the how-to...
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Add a window-changing shortcut to iTunes2 Apps
I just downloaded iTunes, and the new version reminded of an annoyance that has been with iTunes since the beginning--namely, that there's no keyboard shortcut to switch between normal and compact window modes. So I took it upon myself to figure out how to make one for it. The result can be found at:

http://reverie.rem.cmu.edu/~reverie/Localized.rsrc.sit

which you should unstuff and then use the Finder to copy the file into iTunes.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/ (control-click on the iTunes application and select "Show package contents" to find this folder). Make sure iTunes isn't running before you start.

If you want a more detailed explanation of how this hack was created, read the rest of the article.

[Editor's note: I have installed this modified file, and it works just as described. A couple of cautions -- make a copy of your iTunes app in the Finder before you start, and do not use the Terminal's 'cp' command. These files are resource-fork-only files, and you will kill their contents if you use the 'cp' command! If you must use the Terminal, use "CpMac" instead! Don't ask me how I know this...]
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Speed up disk image loading Apps
With the increased emphasis on disk images in OS X, you may want to tweak the preferences for Disk Copy. By default, Disk Copy verifies the checksum on all disk images as it mounts them. This takes a bit of time, and can become annoying if you're installing a large number of programs.

To prevent this from happening, launch Disk Copy by double-clicking (in /Applications/Utilities). Open the preferences, and in the 'Verifying' tab, remove the checkmark from "Verify Checksums". Now when you mount an image file, it will happen quite quickly.

Mild caution: This theoretically means that you could attempt to mount a 'bad' disk image that would not normally pass the verification check. I admit that I do not know what implications this could have on your system. I just know that I've been running it this way for quite a while with no negative side effects, and I love the speedy disk image mounting.
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iTunes2.0.1 released Apps
Apple has now re-released iTunes2 for OS X, in the form of a new iTunes 2.0.1, available on the iTunes2 download page. For those of you who might have grabbed the original installer, delete it now. It had a serious error with the installer script that could wipe your hard drive in certain circumstances.

The short version of what Apple appears to have changed in this new installer? Any reference that used to look like this
rm -rf $2Applications/iTunes.app 2< /dev/null
now looks like this
rm -rf "$2Applications/iTunes.app" 2< /dev/null
The addition of the quotation marks takes care of any issues regarding drives with spaces in their filenames. In addition, the file lengths on "iTunes.bom" and "iTunes.pax.gz" have both changed, indicating that there were additional changes made behind the scenes. I haven't bothered top expand and compare the two .pax archives; at this point, suffice it to say that Apple made a bad mistake, realized it, and acted quickly (for a large corporation) to fix the problem. This, of course, is little solace for those who were affected.

A detailed explanation of the problem with the earlier installer script is available if you read the rest of this article...
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Install extra iDVD2 fonts for general use Apps
I received my copy of the iDVD2 upgrade in today's mail. While playing around with the program (it's quite impressive), I noticed that it includes four fonts not included with the first program (Cracked, Handwriting - Dakota, Santa Fe LET Fonts, and Snell Roundhand). I went looking for these, and was somewhat surprised not to find them in any of the usual spots (~/Library/Fonts, /Library/Fonts, and /System/Library/Fonts).

A little digging found them inside the iDVD application bundle - control-click on iDVD2 to open the bundle, then navigate into Contents/Resources/Fonts. From there, the only way I could find to use the fonts was to copy them (via an option-drag) into my Classic system's Fonts folder (ie System Folder/Fonts).

Once placed there, they were available to all applications; I could not, however, find a way to make them work from any of the OS X font folders.

More on iDVD2 a bit later this weekend...it's quite an upgrade from the first program!
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Use a GUI tool for system management - revisited Apps
Back in December of 2000, I published an article about using Webmin as a web-based administrative tool for OS X. At that time, OS X wasn't directly supported, and not all features worked as expected. Read the original article for an overview of the Webmin feature, but basically, it puts full control of most of the UNIX command-line applications (configure Apache, FTP, etc.) into a browser-based interface.

At some point in the release cycle, Webmin added support for both OS X and OS X Server, which means that everything works as expected under OS X. Installation is trivial; download the package, put it where you want it to run from, and then type
sudo ./setup.sh
to run the setup script. You can use the default answers to every question, just make sure you pick the correct OS from the list (OS X is number 40). It even supports versions 10.0.x and 10.1. It even comes with a nice uninstaller. Just type
sudo /etc/webmin/uninstall.sh
and it will stop the server and remove itself from your system.

I highly recommend Webmin as an easy way to administer the UNIX side of Mac OS X. Be careful, however, as you can easily change some things that may have unintended consequences ... that's the downside of easy access to everything!
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Randomly cycle desktop images Apps

I know that cycling desktop images been covered here before with a number of solutions, but I just ran across what may be the slickest solution I've seen yet. If you have a number of images that you'd like rotated as your desktop background, check out SwitchPic.

This amazing $5 shareware application, written by Joe Howard, is nearly a perfect solution to the problem. It offers the ability to use the built-in screensaver images (beach, nature, etc) as backgrounds or you can specify your own folder of images. You can then, as seen in the screenshot, individually control whether each image is included in the cycle, how it's placed on the screen, and how likely it is to be chosen for use. You can even choose to install SwitchPic as a stand-alone application or a custom PreferencePane.

About the only caution I would offer is that it does a recursive search on whatever image folder you tell it to use, and if there are a lot of images and sub-folders, your machine can really slow down while it works at cataloging the images. Not a bad bug list for version 1.0 of anything!

So if you want to cycle your desktop images and help a starving college student in the process, download and register (for a whopping $5!) SwitchPic. I'll be registering my version this evening!

[Important note: The program will use a LOT of memory while indexing images! Here's a blurb from the author, posted on VersionTracker: "The problem with the system slowing to a crawl while loading a large set of images doesn't have as much to do with indexing as much as loading all of the pictures to preview. SwitchPic loads an images, resizes to be smaller and then discards the larger image in memory. The problem is that it doesn't release the memory until all of the images have been loaded. When more memory is being taken than you have on the system, it stores it on the slow hard drive. I haven't noticed this since I have a lot of memory so it hasn't needed to access the hard drive. I'll try and fix this and release a updated version early next week."]
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Mac to UNIX path conversion AppleScript Apps
Now that we have this great ability to send AppleScript commands to the terminal, I find that it is a royal pain to convert the Finder path to a Unix style path. This is especially true when you have multiple volumes. This script has the "unix_path" subroutine that takes a Mac path and converts it to a UNIX path while taking into account just about every weird character you can throw at it.

As an example, it will display the Mac and UNIX path of the current Finder item, then open a terminal window and give a file-listing of the current finder-item.

Read the rest of the article for the Mac to UNIX path conversion script -- you'll have to enter this into ScriptEditor and save it in order to use it, of course.
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Enable multitasking in iMovie Apps
Hello,

I dont know if this hint is worth something but if you have been using iMovie you know that when you're either capturing, playing or exporting a movie from or to a DV camera, you can't do anything else. Multitasking during thoses tasks is by default disabled. But you can change that in the following preference file:
~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iMovie.plist
If you want to enable multitasking look for:
        ... ... ...
<key>Option multiTaskDuringCapture: %d
</key>
<false/>
<key>Option multiTaskDuringExport: %d
</key>
<false/>
<key>Option multiTaskDuringPlayback: %d
</key>
<false/>
... ... ...
and change the setting to true instead of false (be sure to have Imovie closed while you edit the file).

Be aware that if those are disabled, it is for a good reason. Capturing and exporting from or to a DV Camcorder need a constant bitrate (3.6MB/sec) and is quite CPU intensive. I didn't have a chance to try this trick since I discovered it but I guess one would need a pretty fast CPU (or even better two CPUs) and a fast HD for this to work. Feedback is welcome!

[Editor's note: I haven't tried this one myself yet, either, but I did verify that the flags are in the plist file.]
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