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LaunchBar launcher app Apps
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:

http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/download.html.
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Use the Console app to monitor other system logs Apps
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.)

For example:
  1. Turn on FTP access in the Sharing Pane of System Preferences.
  2. Open the Console (in Applications/Utilities).
  3. 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.
  4. Open the Terminal (also in Applications/Utilities).
  5. Type ftp localhost at the prompt.
  6. 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.

-p
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Save your Stickies database... Apps
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.
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Floating desktop calendar Apps
Although I usually only post usability tips within applications, if I find a particular application I think is interesting, I'll post about the actual program.

DesktopCalendar, freeware by Takashi T. Hamada, is just such a program. It doesn't do all that much, but what it does, it does very well. It simply places a fully configurable floating calendar anywhere on your desktop that you want it. You control the font sizes and colors, placement of the month, year, and calendar, and the degree of transparency.

Although you can use the included Clock application, DesktopCalendar seems much more elegant in its functionality. And since I keep a clean desktop in X, there's plenty of room for it (I have it just below the menu bar, at screen top right).

Worth a look-see if you're interested in having a calendar floating about on your desktop!
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Mail List/Preview window toggle Apps
Just a little quickie (but the little ones are usually the nicest!)...double click on the square just above the scrollbars but to the right of the message header titles (e.g. Date & Time on my std install), and Mail toggles from Preview Message to List view (or I guess more accurately, toggles preview off and on). Same happens if you double click on the separator bar between the lists and the preview.

Still a little light on functionality, and a bit slow when you have more than one mailbox (try 6+), but hey it's only a Beta oops i mean 1.0 release.
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Default start-up commands in custom terminals Apps
Not sure if anyone has posted this hack, but...

If you use custom Terminals for various tasks such as one terminal to telnet or ssh, and one terminal to tail a log file, etc. you can edit the .term file for each custom terminal to keep the shell you'd like to use -and- to also start up any default program or script you'd like.

If you'd like to set custom terminals with custom commands and still use your default shell, read the rest of this hint.

[Editor's note: This is similar to a tip that has been previously published, but it's a nicer wayto accomplish the same objective, so I've published it as a new hint]
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iTunes, burn speed, and wasted CDs Apps
Over the last few days, I've been trying to burn my first CD's with iTunes for X on my G4/733 with the Superdrive. On my first attempt, I accidentally left the screensaver and drive sleep enabled, and continued to browse web sites, download files, and play with mySQL while the disc burned. I wound up with a coaster, and wrote it off to my failure to set things up correctly.

On the second attempt, I remembered to turn everything off, and left iTunes in the foreground while it worked. When it was done, I stuck the disc in the PC (as it's the most finicky machine about reading homebrew CD's), and it didn't read. On the Mac, it read, but wouldn't play at all. Coaster #2, but this time, I didn't know why.

Before the third attempt, on a hunch I went into iTunes' prefs, and set the burn speed to 1x instead of 8x. I had already set the buffer to "large", so I left that alone. Again, I left iTunes in the foreground while it worked. The play list was about an hour long, and I left for about 45 minutes. I was surprised to find the disc done when I returned, so I can't really say it burned at 1x -- I need to do some further testing to see how fast it actually burns. When I tried this disc in the PC, it worked great ... it also works in all the players I've tried it in, so it appears I had a successful burn.

Pending further investigation, I plan on burning all my CD's in iTunes at 1x; it may be worthwhile (at least for those with G4/733 Superdrive machines) for others to do the same. Anyone else had similar or different experiences on similar or different hardware?
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Mail.app Activity window Apps
I just discovered (a colleague of mine) that when you double click on the rotating arrows in the main window in the Mail.app, the activity window appears. That's a bit easier than selecting it in the Window menu.

Marcelv
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Hotmal with IE 5.1 Preview release Apps
some people (including myself) have been having trouble with IE 5.1 and logging into hotmail. here is a workaround.

when you go to hotmail, go to the address bar and delete the part that says login, and type start/username that is whatever your username is. so if it was brodie then the whole address should look like this:
http://lc3.law5.hotmail.passport.com/cgi-bin/start/brodie
as long as it has cgi-bin/start/brodie at the end it doesnt really matter, this will give you a password/username prompt pop up. interestingly it remembers your username for the duration of your IE session.
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Fun with Calculator and InterfaceBuilder Apps
What's 2+3? 5 of course! But what if you want it to be 6? Or -1? Its easy to fool your fellow Mac users with a little help from InterfaceBuilder.

Open up the .nib file from any application (I use Calculator as an example), but make a backup first in case you screw up somewhere. In order to swap the - and + buttons on the calculator, all you have to do is re-connect the subtract button to the add action (and vice-versa). Whilst holding down control, click on the - button in the calculator window in Interface Bulider and drag the blue line over to the CalculatorController icon in the Calculator.nib window. Click on the "add:" action in the top-left area of the "Inspector" window that appears, and then click "Change Action" at the bottom of the window. Do the same for the add button and "subtract:". Save, run Calculator and BINGO! - clicking subtract now adds.

This is just a simple example. You can even modify menu items (change 'New...' to 'Quit' for hilarious consequences).

Of course none of this will work without write access to the Applications folder (ie. an adminisrator account), and you'll need the Developer's Tools installed in order to get InterfaceBuilder.

[Editor's note: Use at your own risk, as alays ... and this is a GREAT example of why you might want to use a locking screensaver when you leave your computer alone for a bit!]
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