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Greatly reduce CPU usage with Cricket Wireless modem Other Hardware
If any of you are Cricket wireless modem users, you know there is a huge problem with the software you download from their support site. When I first used it, my Activity Monitor was reading an average of 85% CPU usage on both cores! This is completely unacceptable for any reason, so before I returned the USB modem they provide, I figured out the following little trick. Having done this, my CPU load is now under 2% on my 2.4GHz iMac.

The software to control your internet access is not doing anything than setting up a VPN, and they can get away with such poorly written programs because the download installs a modem script. So, once you have the script, why not give that software the slip?
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Make Apple TV work with Checkpoint VPN Other Hardware
Maybe I should have known, but I recently had my Apple TV just stop showing up in iTunes. After following all of the troubleshooting tips at Apple's Support site, it crossed my mind that my new Checkpoint VPN might be the problem.

After some searching, I found this page that describes turning off the Checkpoint VPN SecureClient Security Policies. In your Checkpoint VPN SecureClient menubar drop-down menu, select Tools » Disable Security Policy.

I guess the security policy put in place pretty much blocks all incoming traffic to your Mac, including many Bonjour requests such as those from the Apple TV.
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Create Acer Aspire One recovery USB drive on a Mac Other Hardware
Acer's Aspire One netbook laptop comes without an optical drive. It does comes with a DVD, though, that lets you either install Linpus Linux OS to the netbook by connecting an external USB optical drive to it, or create a recovery USB drive using the DVD in other computer (a Mac, in this case).

In order to use the DVD, you are supposed to boot from it, but Macs will not recognize it as bootable media.

I used VMWare Fusion to create an "Other Linux 2.6.x kernel" virtual machine, inserted the DVD, and the VM automatically booted from the DVD without having to leave my Mac OS X environment.

The wizard that comes up does not recognize the SATA drive in my Macbook (understandably, since the Acer Aspire One comes with no HDD). It will consider, conversely, the first USB flash drive it finds to be the local HDD, and any subsequent USB flash drives to be just that: external USB flash drives.

So, if you want to be able to create a recovery drive using an external USB flash drive, you need to have two flash drives connected to your Mac, or else it will not list any as an option.

[kirkmc adds: This is one of those hints that, while not directly Mac-related, may help someone out there. Needless to say, I haven't tested this one. I've got a MacBook Air, and I can use Remote Disc if I need to reinstall the OS.]
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Consequences of Bad RAM Other Hardware
I recently purchased a used G5 Power Mac (2 x 1.8 GHz with 2 GB RAM) with System 10.4.11 installed on the 160 GB HD. It was bought to replace a Quicksilver which had been upgraded to run OS X 10.5.4 so I naturally wanted to upgrade this machine to 10.5.4.

Upon running the Install DVD using the Archive & Install option, I got an error message stating that "The BaseSystem package was not compatible with this machine and to contact the software supplier." At this stage I did not suspect a RAM problem so proceeded to install 10.5.1 on the same HD using another G5 of the same specs. It loaded OK so I moved the disk back to the "new" G5 and tried to run the Migration Assistant to recover the data files we needed.

The Migration Assistant stalled and, in the process, probably corrupted the bookkeeping file that I most wanted to access. I then suspected that the Leopard Install disk might have been faulty, since that was an implication of the error message. I bought a new Leopard Install DVD and got the same error message. I then tried to install OS X 10.4 from the install DVD but it too produced the same error message.
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Improve range on antenna-equipped Base Stations Other Hardware
If you have an external antenna on your AirPort Base Station, you may be able to extend the range somewhat, depending on how you originally connected the antenna. Here's how to make sure you're getting the maximum range possible:
  1. Power down the Base Station.
  2. Unlug your external antenna.
  3. Power up the Base Station.
  4. Plug in the external antenna.
The improved signal can easily be measured in AP Grapher or MacStumbler. It's not a huge difference, but it made a marginal connection reliable again. Be aware that if you ever reboot the Base Station, you'll need to be sure that the external antenna is unplugged while it reboots, otherwise the signal will drop back down to the "normal" level. This works on my white AirPort Extreme Base Station.
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Toggle Wacom tablets' dual/multi display support Other Hardware
Display toggle and screen switching via ExpressKey or button activation is only available in the Wacom driver for professional products, and (unfortuantely) is not included in the driver for the Graphire series and below. An alternative way to switch between screens/tablet setups is AppleScript GUI scripting, and some people have been successful with this method. However, with driver version 5.05-3, it seems impossible to reach the GUI elements in the "Details..." sub-menu with AppleScript. Direct scripting of the PenTabletDriver.app should also be possible (according to the AppleScript Editor's Dictionary function), but does not work.

So I looked for an alternative, and ended up with the following, which I use to toggle between my two screens and "all screens" -- and it can easily be changed to fit other setups.
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One fix for 'weak' keys on the aluminum keyboard Other Hardware
I've had an aluminum keyboard since just after its launch, and I generally love it. However, what annoys me was that it easily misses some keystrokes, specially the 1/! key on my keyboard.

Today I decided to take a look at the key, and now I have it working much better. Simply raise the key with a nail and then gently insert a knife and pull down, so that the plastic cover is separated from the spring. Now you'll need a small piece of paper folded three or four times -- cut it if needed so you get a 2mm x 2mm square, with less than 1mm thickness. Put this folded paper on the inside part of the plastic cover, so it touches the key membrane when closed, and fix in place with a piece of tape. Here's what my modified key looks like.

Put the key back on the spring (press until you hear a couple of clicks). Now the key will be more responsive than before. If the piece of paper is too thick, the key now will be very sensitive. If the paper is too high, the key cap won't close at all. To fix either of these issues, just remove a bit of paper and try again.

Now I'm a 100% happy user of the aluminum keyboard!
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Really dim down an external display Other Hardware
I recently got a Dell 20" LCD to act as an external monitor for my MacBook through its Mini DVI-to-DVI connector. When working at night with only a small lamp for illumination, it was impossible to set the brightness low enough so that I wouldn't have to squint at the screen.

Inverting colors using Control-Option-Command-8 made it just slightly more comfortable, but I didn't fancy the weird colors. Calibrating the screen to a lower gamma didn't do much either. In the end, I found these two freeware utilities: Both act by applying a color filter to make the screen look darker. I like Nocturne because it activates/deactivates darkening with a single click. I assigned a trigger to Nocturne in Quicksilver, and now I can get a dimmed screen with just a keypress ... and no more bloodshot eyes!
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How to do a factory reset on the Airport Express-N Other Hardware
I have a a one month old AirPort Express (wireless-N version) that has been acting flakey, and I tried to perform a factory default reset to no avail. So I called Apple Tech support, and they told me that not all Wireless-N versions of the AirPort Express follow the same factory reset procedure.

According the Apple tech note, to do a factory reset you are supposed to unplug the AirPort Express, and plug it in while holding down the reset button until the LED flashes green four times, then release the reset button. This did not work for me.

Instead, what I had to do was leave the AirPort Express plugged in, press and hold the reset button until the LED flashes amber rapidly. Now keep the reset button pressed in for at least 10 more seconds (I waited 30), and then release. This worked for me to reset my AirPort Express; I hope this helps someone else in the same situation.
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Prevent EyeTV Helper from auto-launching Other Hardware
I use my OS X Leopard Server with an EyeTV to do all of my recording, with the machine running 24/7. EyeTV on the Server is configured to store all recordings in the EyeTV Archive sitting on a network-attached storage (NAS) device. My idea was to do the (time-consuming) editing and exporting from time to time on another workstation on my network, so I set up EyeTV on that workstation to point to the same EyeTV Archive on the NAS, which gave me full control over the recorded movies. I had to fiddle around a little bit to bypass the tuner configuration, because I don't want to record any movies from that workstation. Everything was fine; editing the movies over the network is not a problem at all.

Things turned weird after I noticed that my workstation somehow cached the information about scheduled recordings and woke up my Mac in the middle of the night ... sometimes I even found my workstation idling with login screen after a vacation weekend -- not so great. I tried to delete the EyeTV Helper application in my user's Login Items -- it was installed by EyeTV as a startup process. But every time I started EyeTV, it silently re-established this program for next startup. I was also unsuccessful after force quitting EyeTV Helper and deleting the EyeTV folder in Librarys/Application Support. EyeTV asked for an admin password on next launch, and reinstalled this folder and its contents.

I finally decided to tweak the EyeTV program in order to cripple its abilities on the workstation.
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