Another trip down nostalagia lane! If you enjoyed the article on playing Zork on OS X, you may also be interested in playing the Scott Adams' Adventures on your OS X box.
These were text-based adventure games written for a number of early computing platforms, including the Apple ][. You can read more about Scott Adams and his adventures on his home page. As I recall, there were about a dozen or so, all using the same basic two-word parser and featuring some good puzzles.
Over on the MacFixit boards, CapVideo has posted an explanation on how to run Scott's adventure programs under Mac OS X. If you're interested, check out the Scott Adams' Adventures thread for the details. You'll need the Developer Tools installed, and should be relatively comfortable with the command line.
I wasted a number of hours on Scott's adventures in my Apple ][ days; I can't wait to try these out this weekend!
By default, Apple's mail.app will mark a message as 'read' as soon as you click on it. There's no preference setting to prevent this from happening, but a member of the Apple mail team gave one workaround on the X4U mailing list.
Simply move the "preview" horizontal divider (the line that separates the incoming mail list from the message body) all the way to the bottom of the screen. The easiest way to do this is to double-click the line itself. This causes the Preview panel to vanish, and messages will no longer be marked read as soon as you click on them.
[Editor's note: This tip was submitted last weekend by an anonymous reader]
There are many "alternate" little applications and hacks for people who want to change their Mac OS X experience. One of my favorites is MenuStrip, the $7 program that gives you a bunch of useful buttons to put along the top right of your window. Very Mac-like, you can choose what it will display, so it's minimalist, as it should be.
The best button is the "hide all apps" button, so you can get rid of all those windows in a flash. I have a KeyQuencer macro do this on Mac OS 9 -- press a key, get rid of all apps and bring up the Finger -- and MenuStrip brings this functionality to OS X. Very nice.
Holding down the option key while perusing the Finder menus reveals some neat options for manipulating windows. OmniWeb also reveals several options which are not otherwise available directly from the menus.
I guess these are some of the little things that Jobs said wouldn't be found for a while, but show the detail put into the interface. I tend to agree.
If you use the Address Book application, there are some pretty nifty things you can do with it. While reading this month's MacWorld (pick it up if you don't have it yet; they have some great OS X info in this edition!), they mentioned one tip I hadn't run into yet.
Open the address book, and click and hold on the little "person" icon next to any name. You'll see a mini business card appear, which can be dragged anywhere. Drag it onto the desktop, and a little "virtual business card" appears - simple double-click access for anyone's address. Drag it into a Cocoa application, and the field names and values for that card will be pasted as text. I'm sure there are more tricks, but those two are quite useful all by themselves. I haven't spent much time with the Address Book (keeping my fingers crossed for Palm!), but it's a handy little application.
I had been getting really sick of my puck mouse when I downloaded Toon Boom Studio, and found it came with a Wacom tablet driver that isn't available, as far as I could tell, from Wacom. Be warned though. This driver proves that OS X isn't entirely crash proof, it can and probably will bring down the whole OS a couple times.
Reader 'brodie' sent this one in a couple of days ago, and I missed it in the queue...
If you have mail rules which conflict with one another (for example, anything that doesn't contain 'firstname.lastname@example.org' in the "To:" field gets moved to a "spam" folder, but you also want to move everything to 'email@example.com' into a "pending" folder), then all you need to do is drag the rules into the proper order within mail's rules panel. In this example, you'd drag the "doesn't contain my username" rule to the top, followed by the "move to pending folder" second. This way, your spam would get filtered first, and then remaining mail would get moved to the "pending" folder.
Rules are created and managed in the Mail -> Preferences menu item.
I recently stumbled upon a very nice minimalist launcher app for OS X. It seems to be from the OPENSTEP days and has now made its way to Apple's latest consumer OS. It's set up so that you just hit command-space and then start typing in the name of what you want to launch, then press retrun when it's selecting what you want. Very fast, very minimal. It's called LaunchBar and can be found at:
I didn't realize just how useful the Console app is until I noticed the Open Log... item in the File menu. This allows you to choose the log file for any running service and monitor it in real time. (This is just like running 'tail logname' from the command line, but the Console app does the work for you. In fact it uses tail to do its thing.)
Turn on FTP access in the Sharing Pane of System Preferences.
Open the Console (in Applications/Utilities).
Choose File - Open Log... (It should take you to /var/log automatically, but if it doesn't, enter /var/log in the Go to field.) Select ftp.log.
Open the Terminal (also in Applications/Utilities).
Type ftp localhost at the prompt.
Watch the messages which appear in the console window. Very cool!
The really nice thing is you can monitor any number of logs in this manner, as each will open in its own window.
The Stickies note database lives in ~/Library/.StickiesDatabase. Since the database is named with a dot as the first character of its name, its invisible in the GUI. So if you're using the Finder to move pieces of your home directory around (say in preparation for a new hard drive), make sure you grab the Stickies database in the terminal in order to save your notes. From the terminal, simply:
cd ~/Library cp .StickiesDatabase /path/to/new/location/.StickiesDatabase
This will copy your Stickies database to its new home. As you use OS X, there may be other "dot files" placed in your home directory, so it may be worth an occasional glance in the terminal if you're planning on moving stuff around. Use ls -al to show the dot files in a terminal directory listing.