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Configure Apple TV without an HDMI cable Other Hardware
I just bought myself a second-hand AppleTV and wanted to configure it, but I don't have one of those modern flat screen television sets yet (just an old CRT with only a SCART plug), and the Apple TV doesn't come with any kind of cable or adaptor, so I was stuck.

However, somewhere in the back of my mind I found something about sync signal being sent on the green channel of RGB, so I connected the green channel of the component video to my TV, et voilà, I had the Apple TV menu (in black and white, but I didn't care) and was able to configure it. This may be obvious to some, but it wasn't to me. My AppleTV is now happily playing my music and movies (obviously also in black and white for the moment). Hope this helps someone.
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Convert Panasonic SDR-S10 MOD movies Other Hardware
Problem: Connecting the Panasonic SDR-S10 camcorder via USB works fine on the Mac, but you can't use the MOD files in QuickTime Player or in iMovie HD by default.

Solution: Using ffmpeg (part of the MacPorts project) enables you to convert those MOD files into DV files without quality loss. Use this Terminal command:
ffmpeg -i MOV001.MOD -target ntsc-dv video.dv
The resulting file (in this example, video.dv) can then be used in iMovie HD. You can also create result files with a special aspect ratio setting or in PAL format:
mpeg -i video.avi -target pal-dv -aspect 16:9 video.dv
[robg adds: While I haven't tested this hint, note that you can install ffmpeg without using MacPorts; this hint explains the process.]
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USB hubs and the new Apple keyboards Other Hardware
Owning a G4 Mac mini, I can't use the new Apple keyboard to its full potential -- using power-consuming USB 2.0 devices, like some sorts of USB sticks or an iPod. I was experimenting with my new keyboard the other day and found out that if you plug in a USB hub, in my case this one, you can use high-powered USB devices. Note that I am not using the USB hub's power cord.

I've been able to use my Mighty Mouse, iPod nano, and powered USB stick all at the same time when plugged into the USB hub, which in turn is plugged into my new Apple keyboard. Good luck trying it out.

[robg adds: I can't confirm this one, though is seems strange that it would work without the USB hub's power cord plugged in. If anyone has the new keyboard and can test with one or more USB hubs, please post your results.]
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One way to detect hardware keyloggers Other Hardware
Hardware keylogging devices create serious issues for all security-conscious computer users. A hardware keylogger is a small, inconspicuous USB device that can be hot-plugged into any computer between the keyboard and the host controller. Some actually function as USB hubs that can be connected anywhere in the bus. A keylogger may be physically indistinguishable from a USB extension cable or some other innocuous device. Once installed, it automatically begins to capture all keystrokes into its internal NVRAM, which may be up to 2MB in capacity. The device is completely self-contained and platform independent, needing no software to operate apart from its own firmware. It works just as well on a Mac as on a Windows box.

The weakness of the hardware keylogger, at least the kind that's available on the open market, is that it's not remotely accessible. The attacker who installed it has to return to retrieve the device or the data. Therefore, if you detect the keylogger before the attacker comes back for it, you can defeat the attack. Physical detection isn't reliable, because as noted above the device may look just like a component you already have, such as an extension cable, or may be hidden inside a keyboard enclosure or out of sight behind a desktop computer. What you need is some sort of warning that the topology of the USB bus has changed unexpectedly.

While there is no perfect solution to this problem, it's easy to take a first step that will eliminate most of the threat. The POSIX utility system_profiler is the command-line equivalent of the System Profiler application that runs when you select "About This Mac" from the Apple menu, and click the "More Info..." button in the resulting dialog. The advantage of system_profiler is that it allows finer control over the output.
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A solution for a Mac mini, FireWire, and iSight issue Other Hardware
I have a Mac Mini and an iSight I've been happily using. I added two LaCie Mini Hard Drive and Hub units under the Mini. The first drive got plugged into the Mini, and the iSight and second drive got plugged into the FireWire hub on the first drive. At this point, both drives worked, but I couldn't get video from the iSight. The Mini recognized the camera was there, but all I got was a black screen for video.

So I bought a Belkin powered FireWire 6-port hub (F5Uf26) and plugged everything into it. Now the iSight and the disk drives all work. Lesson: Not all hubs are created equal. I knew that about USB and Ethernet before. Now I've just added FireWire to the list.
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How to identify and find drivers for unsupported hardware Other Hardware
Whenever I get new hardware, either for my iBook G4 or for my PC laptop or my sister-in-law's desktop PC, I use USB Prober (installed with the Developer Tools, and found in /Developer » Applications » Utilities) on my Mac to properly identify it. Open up USB Prober. Plug in the hardware device.

The line I look for in USB Prober is under the High/Low Spped Device of the USB device in question, which is usually on the last line of the tree. I open up Device Descriptor and see another list. The line that I use is called "Device VendorID/ProductID." To me that is the most important line, as it's required to find drivers.

For example, an AirLink 101 USB to Serial converter, which is intended for the PC -- and AirLink has no Mac drivers. When I looked this up with USB Prober, the Device VendorID line read:
  0x067B/0x2303   (Prolific Technology, Inc.)
So then I googled for Prolific 2303 "Mac OS X" driver. Google will then show you any drivers it might know about for Mac OS X. You can do the same for Windows and Linux.
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Check for a dead battery in a Mac's remote control Other Hardware
I was having some trouble with my Mac's infrared remote, and I thought maybe its battery had died -- but I wasn't sure how to test that.

After some thought, I came up with a quick way to test the battery. Just open Photo Booth and point your remote at the camera (make sure the end of the remote is visible in the onscreen image), then press any button on the remote (volume up or down, for instance). If you see a bright light emitting from the remote in the Photo Booth window, you know the remote's working OK and has battery juice.

[robg adds: I tried this with my MacBook Pro, and it indeed works quite well -- the infrared light is picked up by the camera, and shows up very brightly in the Photo Booth window. Obviously, you could use any app that lets you see the camera's input in real time, not just Photo Booth.]
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Activate all Exposť modes from the aluminum keyboard Other Hardware
On the new aluminum keyboard, there's an Exposť control key -- F3, which shows all windows. If you'd like to use the other Exposť modes, you can do so by using F3 with modifier keys:
  • Control-F3 will show all windows from the current application
  • Option-F3 will open Exposť's preferences
  • Command-F3 will show the desktop.
As noted here previously for older keyboards, other keys with Option will bring up the relevant preferences: Option and F1 and F2 launches the Displays panel, while Option and F10, F11, or F12 brings up the Sound panel.
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Modify movies to look better on AppleTV on standard TV Other Hardware
Believe it or not, Toshiba actually made standard definition CRT TVs with component inputs yet without the "enhanced definition" setting, so output from my AppleTV is pillarboxed (3:3 instead of 4:3) or stretched vertically (wide-screen content appears almost 4:3). While this makes overweight, overpaid news anchors look svelte in their podcasts, it's not a great result when viewing movies or TV shows or ... everything else.

I'm not ready to drop $800 (or more) for a flat-screen HDTV, so I've been asking for a hack that would alter the AppleTV's aspect ratio. No luck. I've also been asking Apple for a new setting in the AppleTV settings, but Apple is looking towards the future and not the past.

I did manage to find a reasonable workaround, however, and it's easy as pie (or a piece of cake ... whatever). You will need QuickTime Pro. Simply open the video and press Command-J to show the video's Properties. Click on the Video track and alter the Scaled Size on the Video tab to 75% of the original height. You must uncheck Preserve Aspect Ratio. I use the closest multiple of 16, although I'm not sure the AppleTV requires adherence to the "rule of 16s." I then use File » Save As to save a self-contained movie and drop it into iTunes.

The result: All 4:3 video plays full-screen, and wide-screen content plays letterboxed. I'm working on an AppleScript that will do this as a "droplet" to make the process simpler.
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Apple Aluminium Keyboard media keys serve many roles Other Hardware
I bought a new aluminum Apple Keyboard a few days ago, and found the media keys (F7, F8 and F9) very useful for controlling iTunes. Then I discovered after putting a DVD into my Mac Pro that the media keys stop controlling iTunes and control DVD Player instead. Handy to use the keyboard instead of fiddling with a mouse, especially if you have a wireless keyboard!

Not sure if this is documented, but I haven't heard about it before.
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