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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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Diff and Merge using FileMerge Apps
Apple ships an application FileMerge with the developer tools CD which is certainly of use to people, developers or not. You can even call it from the command line. To call it from the command line to diff (editor: compare two files showing the differences between them) two files, use:

/Developer/Applications/FileMerge.app/Contents/MacOS/FileMerge[space]
-left <file1> -right <file2>

(Enter the above as one line, replacing [space] with an actual space character). You can put it in a shell script by creating a file in your ~/bin directory with execute permissions containing:

#!/bin/sh
/Developer/Applications/FileMerge.app/Contents/MacOS/
FileMerge -left $1 -right $2

(everything from /Developer... through $2 should be entered on the same line). You can also use this program to merge from the command line by creating a shell script containing:

#!/bin/sh
/Developer/Applications/FileMerge.app/Contents/MacOS/FileMerge[space]
-left $2 -right $3 ancestor $1 - merge $4

(everything from /Developer... through $4 should be entered on the same line)
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Customize IE5 button bar with links Apps
One nice feature of Internet Explorer 5.1 is to be able to drag&drop any pictures(.jpg or .gif) from a web page as a bookmark into the button bar (I'm not talking about the favorites bar, but the actual toolbar bar). Let's say, I wanna have macosxhints.com as a bookmark up there. I simply drag&drop the logo from the top of the page of macosxhints.com home page into the button bar (you should see a small vertical cursor before dropping).

Although that's it for the basics, read the rest of this article to see how to customize the name, the URL, or to use a local image.

[Editor's note: Very cool feature; I had no idea you could do this!]
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Use TinkerTool 2 to tweak 10.1 Apps
TinkerTool 2 has now been officially released for OS X 10.1. This cool application has been indispensable for me ever since OS X shipped. With version two, Marcel's included all sorts of cool tweaks that have been covered here in their more direct form:
  • Desktop background picture options for tile, center, etc.
  • Dock placement in screen corners
  • Dock "suck in" effect
  • Four options for scroll arrow positons
  • Startup language setting (this would require a reinstall of OS X to change otherwise!)
  • System font replacement and anti-aliasing
  • Terminal transparency
TinkerTool 2 is simply the easiest way to tweak these esoteric OS X settings ... and it's freeware!
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Use USB controllers in OS X games Apps
CarvWare has released GamePad Companion, a slick little shareware application that lets you assign keyboard keys to USB device buttons. This $15 shareware app can help fill the void until developers get around to coding their own controller support in OS X.

I tried it on a couple programs with my USB gamepad, and it worked as expected ... if I played more games that used controllers (I'm a Quake3 addict ;-), I'd consider this a very worthwhile investment. They have a demo version available so you can try it before you make a purchase decision.
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Undocumented iTunes visualization keys Apps
With the iTunes visualizer enabled, press the Q or W keys to move back and forth through a list of visualizer configurations. The A and S keys let you control the basic waveform being used to seed the visualization. The Z and X keys cycle through color palettes. Press the C key to display the current configuration.

Use of the ? key to control basic config (framerate, etc.) is documented, but as far as I can tell, the hotkeys above are not.
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Run OSX apps on a Unix file system Apps
Want to NOT run Classic, and have a UNIX filesystem? Getting can't install on a Network server error? For those of you who installed OSX with a Unix filesystem (UFS) and now have trouble installing/ running OSX apps like Mozilla 0.95 or Quicken 2002 (OSX version), here's a workaround.

Use diskcopy (in the utilities folder) and create a blank image file, sized appropriately for the application in question. Example, I created 30 meg blank disk image, using Mac HFS extended, and then just copied the 24.5 Meg Mozilla folder over to the mounted disk image. Mozilla runs fine now. Did the same thing for Quicken 2002, and the installer was perfectly happy writing to the HFS disk image.

Seems many of the app programmers, in their rush to get these apps to market, haven't really ported all the file I/O routines to the Darwin OS calls.

Well, this is a work around at the expense of some disk space. One nice benefit is I can copy my quicken data and programs from my OSX laptop to my OS9 desktop with one file image, and back.
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Mail.app notification bug workaround Apps
Background: my email is delivered to my OSX machine via sendmail. My ISP sends mail every time I make a connection. I leave Mail.app running 24x7 and have set it to scan my Unix mailbox every minute.

There's a bug in OSX 10.0.* and 10.1's Mail.app that prevents audio notification for unix mailbox deliveries. A simple solution for this is to use Mail.app's mail filtering rules. Enter Mail.app's preferences, then ...

select "Rules"
select "Create Rule"
select Criteria "To" + "Contains"
type "@" in the text field.
Enable "Action "Play Sound"
Choose a sound to play when mail arrives.
Click 'OK'

Now drag you new rule to the top of the list. Note: I used "To:" "Contains" "@", so that any mail with an "@" in the recipients address triggers the audio notification. Local mail, e.g. cron generated output, is sent without "@" in the address, so I don't hear their arrival.
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