This is less of a hint than a heads up. I was chatting with Rob Griffiths yesterday, the creator of this web site, wondering if one can partition a Fusion drive. It turns out that you can, but only the hard drive part of it. This, and many other questions, are addressed in this Apple technical note, which is worth reading. The Fusion drive is a new technology, and has certain limitations because of the way it works, but it can be useful to see what these limitations are.
Having searched the web, I could not find any reference to playing 1080p videos on the 2nd generation Apple TV (fully updated with the latest firmware). The Wikipedia entry, for example, states that it is 720p only. But my experiments show that 1080p movies can play just fine. The problem comes when downloading 1080p movies from the iTunes store. This hint shows how to quickly play such downloads.
Prior to purchasing a 1080p movie from the iTunes store I ran many experiments with self-created videos (Blu-Ray rips) to ensure that such HD files could be played.
So I completed my experiments by purchasing a 1080p movie (Vertigo to be exact). iTunes downloads two versions when making such purchases: the HD version and a SD one. Both are stored in the same iTunes folder and iTunes itself shows an HD:SD badge. The problem here is that the 2nd generation Apple TV only shows the SD version and therefore only plays the SD version.
To play the HD version, locate the files in the Finder, then delete the movie from iTunes, opting to keep the files. Then add back just the HD version and the 2nd generation Apple TV shows it as HD and plays as HD. There was a very small pause at the start of the film as I was watching, but I have a fast network, so the download to the Apple TV was soon a few minutes ahead of the play position.
I think I will actually go back to purchasing the 720p versions as my eyes are not quite what they were and I cannot really tell the difference. This was just an experiment to prove a point.
[kirkmc adds: I don't have a 2nd generation Apple TV to test this…
Update: It turns out that the Apple TV 2 can only output 720p, so it must be downscaling the 1080p videos. However, according to the poster, it is playing these videos, so you can have only 1080p videos in your iTunes library and play them through this device, apparently, instead of it defaulting to SD versions. But I still can't test this to see what's really going on.]
My right shoulder had been hurting lately, due to the movement necessary to reach my trackpad. I was using a standard, wired Apple keyboard with the number pad on the right, and my Magic Trackpad was to the right of that, making me reach pretty far to access it.
So, I set out in search of a standalone number pad I could use with my Mac. While I don't work with numbers often, when I do my accounting, it's a pain to have to type numbers from the top row of the keyboard. I looked at a number of models - both wired and wireless - and found what seemed to be the best choice: Logitech's N305. This works with Logitech's Unifying Receiver, is fairly compact, and, according to Logitech, works for three years with a pair of batteries.
But the N305 does not support Macs. Fortunately, in reviews for the product on Amazon, a number of people posted a solution. Download the free KeyRemap4MacBook, a preference pane that lets you remap just about any key on your keyboard or number pad. There is a specific setting in this preference pane for the N305: in the Change KeyPad Key section, you check Logitech N305 hack. The number pad works perfectly, though the top three buttons, which have specific Windows functions (one launches Excel, another the calculator, and a third switches applications).
While the small, sleek aluminum remote that comes with the Apple TV is nice, it may be one too many. The Apple TV can work with many other infrared remotes, and an Apple technical document outlines the procedure for having the Apple TV "learn" your remote.
You'll need to use the Apple remote to set this up, and you do so by choosing Settings > General > Remotes from the Apple TV's interface. Choose Learn Remote, and press the six buttons that the Apple TV needs to learn.
Some remotes may not work, so read Apple's technical document for more information.
The SuperDrive on my MacBook Pro (circa 2007, rev. D I think), experienced a long, slow decline in its performance, and finally it stopped working altogether.
When I say 'stopped working,' I mean that it wouldn't recognize a disc: I'd insert the disc, it would spin around a little, make some chugging noises, but then spit it back out. I think it starting doing this for CDs sooner than it did for DVDs (more powerful laser?), but I can't recall for certain. I don't do much with discs, and since it's a 4.5 year old laptop, I never got it serviced, which predictably landed me in a bind.
Anyway, that's when I stumbled across a solution:
You take a clean cloth (like a lens cloth for cleaning eyeglasses), drape it over something slim like a business card or a smooth plastic gift card, and plum the depths of your drive in an attempt to clean the lens. Supposedly it's just inside the left boundary, but I plunged my improvised cleaner in everywhere I could, as deep as I could get it. I didn't use a brutal amount of force, but I wasn't particularly gentle either. Result: now my drive works.
Fair warning: I'm sure it's possible to somehow do horrific damage to something in your drive. If you have the time, patience, and money, I encourage you to take your non-functioning drive to a professional. But if you like to try to fix expensive hardware yourself, then this hint is for you.
I have an Apple TV2 hooked up to a DVI monitor by HDMI, an arrangement which doesn't support audio.
As the Apple TV2 also has SPDIF optical out, I connected this into my 2011 iMac's optical input so I could hear the ATV sound from the Mac. Looking at the sound input in System Preferences, I could see the connection was working, but I heard nothing from the iMac speakers, even though they were chosen for output. Then it dawned on me that the iMac likely didn't support audio passthrough.
I recalled that QuickTime Player could record audio from an input. So in QT I chose New Audio Recording, chose 'Digital in' as the input, and then slid the volume slider so I could monitor the audio. Works like a treat. There's no need to actually record anything in QuickTime Player.
[crarko adds: A clever solution. I have my Apple TV2 hooked up using the standard HDMI setup, so I did not test this.]
I'm a happy user of the Logitech Solar Keyboard for Mac -- never having to change batteries is quite liberating. However, this keyboard lacks a few things, including dedicated Scroll Lock and Num Lock keys, that you may find on other keyboards.
I don't use those two keys often, but I do use them while working in Excel. After some trial and error, and some Googling, I figured out how to turn them on and off. (Because there aren't any physical keys, there aren't any indicator lights for these keys' states. Instead, you have to look at Excel's onscreen indicators, at the lower right corner of the worksheet.)
Scroll Lock: Press Shift+F14. Num Lock: Press Shift+Clear (on the numeric keypad).
I'm not sure if these shortcuts work on other Logitech keyboards or not.
[crarko adds: The hassle of dealing with batteries has kept me away from wireless keyboards all along; this may just change my mind.]
It's worth noting USB 3 devices are faster, even with USB 2. Here's something you may find interesting.
While Mac's don't support USB 3 yet, USB 3 is backwards compatible with USB 2, which is what recent Mac's have. USB 3 used in under USB 2 conditions (which I'll call USB 3/2 to save typing) is much faster than USB 2.
For example, the ADATA S102/16GB USB 3 memory stick is about 50% faster than even the fastest USB 2 stick I've found.
And for more of a surprise, how about this: the $19 Transcend USB 3 card reader (TS-RDF8K) is nearly twice as fast as my fastest USB 2 card reader (500MB copied in 11 sec vs 20 sec.)
So, if you're into moving data from your camera faster, get a USB3 card reader even if your computer doesn't support USB 3 yet. As usual, however, YMMV.
[crarko adds: I don't think I have any USB 3 devices around to try this. I'm sure we'd all appreciate it if folks who do try this tip and post their results, hopefully with some hard numbers in support.]