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Recover from a crashing Apps
Yesterday, after the Aqua window server unexpectedly quit (due to some combinaton of Classihack, XDarwin, xchat, and the GIMP, I think) -- which drops you instantly back to the login screen (ouch!) -- I couldn't get to run anymore. I'd start it up, the window would start displaying, and then it would quit. I've been using Mail for over a year, and this was the first real problem I'd had with it.

I tried all the 'usual' stuff. Trashed the prefs. Emptied my POP email via another program. Moved all my mailboxes out of the path. Booted in OS 9 and ran Disk First Aid. Booted single user and ran 'fsck -y'. Even copied a from a known working system. Nothing worked. So I went looking for help, and found this thread on the MacFixIt forums. Turns out that three of us had the exact same problem yesterday!

On someone's suggestion, I tried logging in as another user, and was quite surprised to find that ran perfectly. About the same time, I received a response from the X4U mailing list with the solution to the problem. Somehow, my ~/Library/Addresses folder had been damaged (probably by the Aqua crash). By moving this folder out to the desktop, I was able to run Mail as my normal user again. All three of us in the forum stumbled onto the solution at about the same time last night :-).

Now the only remaining question is if there's any way to recover some of the address book information. Probably not, but I'm going to investigate a bit more today.

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Controlling iTunes from the Terminal Apps
[Editor's addition: I received two different 'iTunes command line' hint submissions at nearly the same time. In the interest of ease of use in the future, I'm combining them in this one posting.

The first 'iTunes terminal script' tip, submitted by Stu G., reads as follows:

"I come from a more unix background and have always controlled xmms (a mp3 player) from the command line, usually remotely. To my knowledge, iTunes alone does not do this. So using the new scriptability of version 2.01 and the 'osascript' command, I tossed together some quick aliases I use with my tcsh:
alias next      osascript -e 'tell application "iTunes"'[space]
-e "next track" -e "end tell"
alias prev osascript -e 'tell application "iTunes"'[space]
-e "previous track" -e "end tell"
alias pause osascript -e 'tell application "iTunes"'[space]
-e "pause" -e "end tell"
[NOTE: Enter as one line each, replace [space] with the actual space character]. Stop and play, etc are just as easy to create. What I think would be nice, is if some one takes the scripting of iTunes and smashes these controls into say the Services menu, then there would be semi-global keyboard control of iTunes."

The second tip, submitted by the author of this article, David S., is more of a full command line interface for iTunes. I've installed it on my machine, and it's very nicely done. The rest of this tip is his text... -rob.]

Now that iTunes has built-in AppleScript support, everyone is making AppleScripts to control it. I felt left out since I haven't found a script to control it from the command line. This little shell script I made should fill that void. I have put some of iTunes features I use most into it.

If you're interested in controlling iTunes from the Terminal, read the rest of the article...
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We've been Slashdocked! Apps
i have had SlashDock running in my dock for a while telling me when MacSlash and Slashdot update and i havn't been visiting MacOS X Hints as quickly as it updates (unlike Slashdot and MacSlash!).

that all changes now! :) SlashDock has a config file that tells it where to get its headlines. the file is located at:


[Editor's note: This file was not installed by default when I loaded Slashdock the first time. I had to open the SlashDock package (control-click on the app and Show Package Contents), then navigate to Contents -> Resources, and then drag a copy of SlashDock.config.plist to the prefs folder.

And it turns out it's just as easy to add content from for the latest Mac OS X Application releases -- just read the rest of this article for the instructions for both.]

Panther proven!
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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:

which you should unstuff and then use the Finder to copy the file into (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/ 2< /dev/null
now looks like this
rm -rf "$2Applications/" 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 "" 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'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 ./
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/
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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