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Compact flash cards issues may cause high CPU activity Laptop Macs
We have a G4 iBook running 10.3.9 that has been running extremely sluggish and very hot -- too hot to rest your hand on the lower left corner. A visit to the Activity Monitor confirmed 100% CPU usage, and the culprit was a process named fsck_msdos. This had me confused: I know what fsck does (it verifies and fixes disk volumes), but I do not have a FAT-formatted volume connected.

Further experimentation led me to a defective CF card. Apparently, when diskarbitrationd attempts to mount the volume, it launches fsck_msdos. And fsck_msdos appears to be brain-dead: if it cannot access the volume, it just sits there and consumes CPU cycles...all of them, as long as the machine is on, whether or not you remove the defective card.

The solution is to simply kill fsck_msdos in the Activity Monitor, and read the defective card through the camera's USB interface. Surprisingly, a search of the Apple forums in the 10.3 discussion threads produced exactly one hit, which had nothing to do with the problem.
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Using your Apple laptop as a hearing aid/sound enhancer Laptop Macs
How to turn your Apple laptop with built-in microphone and GarageBand into a functioning hearing aid:
  1. Open Garageband and create a new song.
  2. Delete the piano track that comes up automatically.
  3. Plug in a pair of headphones.
  4. Create a new track. Make it a vocal track. Make sure you choose "monitor on."
Your laptop's built-in microphone will now act as a hearing aid/sound enhancer. All sounds in the room will be amplified for your listening pleasure. I used this trick over the weekend when my clogged sinuses caused dramatic hearing loss at an important out-of-town event. It worked very well. If your headphones leak enough sound, you may hear feedback. Just adjust the input or output volume in GarageBand until the feedback goes away.
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10.5: Open menus via track pad only on some laptops Laptop Macs
I accidentally discovered a rather odd way to open menus using only the trackpad in Leopard -- even if you haven't enabled trackpad tapping. If you position the pointer over a menu entry on the left side of the menu bar (not a menu extra), then quickly do a two-finger scroll and tap on the trackpad, the menu under the pointer should open as if you had trackpad clicking enabled.

[robg adds: A comment on the queue review site notes he had to "two-finger scroll, then tap with two fingers, and then slide my finger down normally. Feels like a bug." I haven't tested it myself.]
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Switch laptop batteries without a coin Laptop Macs
When on the road, I have a spare battery in my bag for my PowerBook G4. But being a modern person, I have no coins in my wallet anymore. This is a problem when I want to change the battery of my lapptop.

I tried unlocking the battery with a key, but that was not easy. Then I discovered that one of the corners of the spare battery can be used very well to unlock the other battery. No more coins for me. I don't know if this works for other *books as well.
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Internal modem and flash dial modifier workaround Laptop Macs
I wrote a little script (not yet published) that allows me to dial a phone number via internal modem. I have three phone lines at home: two of them are for my job and one is private. So when I dial out with my work phone, I can dial "R51" first to get the private line, not billing my boss for that call.

In order to get this feature into my script, I tried to use the flash dial modifier (the !), but quickly learned that this isn't possible. It's simply fixed to 700ms flash time, and I need about 300ms as far as I know.

While chatting with a friend about it, he accidentally gave me the right hint! The solution is to use Pulse Dial instead of the flash dial modifier! At least for me it worked. So here is the example. Usually I would have to dial:
That's what's not working. The workaround is to dial:
So first dialing a 1 with Pulse dial, which is mimicking the flash, and then dialing whatever I need.
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Wake up a MacBook that likes to sleep in Laptop Macs
Just now my MacBook refused to wake up from sleep. All I got when I lifted the lid was a black screen and the spinning color wheel (usually the password prompt appears).

Panicking that I might have lost data, especially considering I have FileVault enabled, I closed the notebook, let the computer go to sleep again, and lifted the lid for a second time. Hey presto -- the MacBook woke up this time around and I was able to enter my password.

So one possible solution to a slumbering MacBook (or other laptop) that refuses to wake is to hit the virtual snooze button and wake it up again a few seconds later.

[robg adds: I thought we had this potentially-frozen-laptop fix elsewhere in the database, but a few searches this morning came up blank. I've used the same technique myself on a G4 PowerBook a few times, though my MBP has been (thankfully) free of the same issue.]
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Use laptop Macs in lid closed mode for quieter operation Laptop Macs
It might sound odd to some, but I like to work in complete silence. My MacBook is quiet, but there's still a blowing sound from the hard disk and fan, something that seems to be magnified in my small office.

Recently I got a mini DVI adapter to run an external monitor, and found that Apple considers it OK to run MacBooks with the lid closed, so that the external display becomes the primary (only) display. Instructions on what to do can be found in this support document. According to the article, PowerBooks, MacBooks and MacBook Pros are all OK to run with the lid closed.

With the lid closed, the notebook is much quieter, simply because the screen seems to stop the noise from reaching your ears. In fact, it really is "whisper" quiet.

Needless to say, for this to work, you'll need not only an external display plus the mini DVI adapter, but also an external keyboard and mouse.
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Use double-click selection-drag on trackpads Laptop Macs
I use an old PowerBook G4, and though I love a mouse sometimes I'm at a place/position that doesn't easily allow me to whip out my Wireless Mighty Mouse and get to work. I've gotten used to the trackpad and though it's not as nice (to me) as a mouse, I can make do. But there was at least one shortcoming that always bugged me until recently.

Specifically, with a mouse you can double-click a word to highlight the whole word, then while continuing to hold the button down, you can drag the mouse left - right - up - down to select blocks of words/sentences in entire groups, selecting whole words at a time. Even with all the settings checked on my PowerBook's double-tap-enabled trackpad, I couldn't get it to actually perform this maneuver.

Recently I discovered that you can indeed get the same behaviour out of the trackpad, though it's not documented that I could find, and unfortunately it's a two-step process. First, you have to double-tap the word, which will highlight the selected word. Then pause very briefly and double-tap the same word again and immediately start dragging. Now as you're dragging, your selection will automatically select entire words instead of the usual behaviour of just up to the pointer. Be careful though -- it's a two-double-tap process, not one-four-tap process (a four-tap selects the entire paragraph). So make sure you put enough time between your double-taps so that the system knows the difference (.05 of a second or something).

I also discovered that if you have "dragging" enabled but not Drag-Lock, and you find that you don't want to wait the half-second it takes for the system to realize you want it to release things you're dragging after you take your finger off the trackpad, simply give it a quick tap once you have dragged the item to where you want to drop it. Anyone that's tried the Drag-Lock option knows that that's how the system works with that selected: the OS waits for you to tap the trackpad to signal "release" of the drag. This hint is basically pointing out that the behaviour extends to systems with only "Dragging" enabled. This only saves a quarter-second at most, but sometimes it's more than anything an irritation-saver.
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illuminate laptop screens with sunshine to save power Laptop Macs
I've been using iBooks and MacBooks for years, but it never occurred to me until today that you don't necessarily need the screen backlight at all when you are working in sunshine. The display can be fully, beautifully illuminated by direct sunlight. "Frontlighting" instead of backlighting!

The catch is that the screen really does have to be fully illuminated by the sun. Any shade from your own body, or anything else, and the shaded part of the screen will be pretty much invisible. But if you can get all or most of the screen sunlit, you will not need any backlighting at all.

What a great battery saving tactic ... I wish I'd clued in ages ago!
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Remove discoloration on white MacBook palm rests Laptop Macs
This is something I discovered after using a pencil to jot down some phone notes on my MacBook's palm rest.

You can use a pencil eraser to remove the discoloration that appears around the MacBook palm rest area, on either side of the touchpad. It takes a quite a bit of effort, and it definitely seems that plastic erasers are best (rather than India rubber), but it's an effective non-chemical method. Watch out for bits of the eraser getting beneath the keys.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one, lacking a white MacBook...]
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