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Add more Text Encoding options to Apple's Mail Internet
Whenever a user enters non-ASCII characters in a new message (accented latin vowels or Japanese letters, for example), Apple's Mail will try, by default, to encode the text in Unicode character encoding. The user still has the chance to overwrite that default behaviour and choose another character encoding for the new outgoing message by selecting another one from the menu (translating from Mail's Spanish localization) Message -> Text_encoding.

It might happen though, that Mail does not offer the specific character encoding the user is looking for. In order for Mail to expand the list of possible character encodings, quit Mail and then go to System Preferences -> International -> Language tab, and then click the Edit... button. In this dialog, check the specific language that the missing character encoding is intended for. Click OK, quit System Preferences, and open Mail again -- the new character encoding options will appear in the drop down list. For example, in order to be able to choose Shift-JIS as a character encoding in Apple's Mail, add Japanese language to the International preference panel.

This hint is not actually mine, but was gently revealed by macosxhints' forum poster "bedouin" in this thread. So thanks bedouin!
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Use iPodder to automate legal mp3blog downloads Internet
If you are so inclined, there are a myriad of mp3blogs popping up that offer legal, free MP3s. Most of these are out of date, public domain, free, odd, and just plain whacky tracks ... but I happen to like these. Keeping up with them all can be a hassle though.

There are also quite a few blogs popping up with audio postings (much like a radio show). Adam Curry, who produces one of these audio blogs called The Source Code, has created a nice little script for automatically scouring your favorite mp3blogs, downloading the MP3 files, and placing them on your iPod for your morning drive, etc. This is a great utility, and it's not just for iPods! From Adam's site:
iPodder automatically downloads new MP3 files when they become available from any of 5 sources (you can change these if you wish) and copies them to playlists in iTunes based on the channel name. If you have an iPod, connecting it to your computer will load the songs automatically.
You can read about and download the script from Adam's iPodder page, or use this direct download link (32KB).
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A workaround for dial-up disconnects and fax receive Internet
Like others, I've experienced the lockup of dial-up internet connections when fax receive is active. I recently tried Page Sender in hopes it would fix the problem, but it has the same problem as does enabling "Receive faxes on this computer" in the Print & Fax System Pref.

I've found a correlation but not the cause: If you attempt a dial-up connection within roughly 20 seconds of waking from sleep, the connection will fail. The system recovers from this failure gracefully. However if efax is running, pppd will hang. Attempts to kill the pppd panic crash the computer (Mac OS 10.3.5 and probably earlier version of 10), so my only recourse is to restart. The manual workaround is simply to wait 20 seconds before connecting, but with others using the computer, this hasn't worked well. I tried several ways to solve this problem with AppleScript, but my final solution is user friendly and totally automatic.
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Use Lynx with GeekTool to grab news headlines Internet
Like many have previously mentioned, GeekTool is a pretty handy little thing (see here, here and here for some good examples). But I was interested in using it with Lynx, a text-based command line web browser -- most easily available from the guys at Fink. Lynx is a great app if your boss can be convinced you're hard at work when he sees a black and white screen full of letters and numbers. But Lynx is by default interactive -- not much use when you can only look at output through GeekTool, so I created the following Script job in Geek tool:
/sw/bin/lynx -dump -width=160 -nolist
Set this job to run every five minutes or so, and now I've got up-to-the-minute news headlines available just an Exposť command away.
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Repair broken .Mac webmail access Internet
For about the past two months, I have been unable to access .Mac's webmail page. Whenever I would try to login, I'd get a message saying "Sorry, the service is not available, please try again later." It didn't matter if I was at home or at work, using the G5 or the PowerBook -- I couldn't get into webmail, but all other .Mac services worked, as did other Apple services that use the same login ID.

When the problem first started, I wrote to .Mac support, and we had been having an ongoing dialog in attempts to repair the problem. They had me create a new user and enter my existing account info; no go. Then they had me create a new .Mac trial account, and that worked fine (in both my primary and new users). But my existing ID still didn't work.

Today, .Mac support wrote back with one astoundingly simple suggestion that I had never thought to try -- resetting my .Mac password. Duh! Once I had done that through the main .Mac account page, webmail was instantly functional again. Somehow, the webmail portion of .Mac thought I was giving it an incorrect password, even though I could use my iDisk, login to the Developer site, and update my .Mac homepage. So if you're having trouble with webmail, try a quick password reset.
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Spam of all colors via Mail and SpamAssassin Internet
For about a year, I just used Apple Mail's junk filtering to get rid of spam. However, when I'm on the road I use GPRS service on my cell phone to download mail, and it's really annoying to have to download spam at 38k4 or slower (and pay for the privilege!) just so it can be thrown away. So now in addition to the built in junk mail filtering, I also use Spamassassin on the server to move the messages to my junk folder without having to download them first.

Unlike Mail, Spamassassin assigns a spamminess value to each message. I decided to turn these values into colors, in order to be able to peruse my junk folder for false positives more easily. It works like this.

Open the Preferences in the Mail application, and select Rules. Then, add rules that look for the X-Spam-Level header. This header isn't in the default list, so you'll have to add it first using "Edit header list...". Select "Begins with" and then add a number of *'s. I use five for my first rule. Then under actions, choose "Set color" "of background" to something that indicates a low level of spamminess, such as yellow. Then add additional lines with more asterisks and more severe colors. I use orange for ten asterisks and red for fifteen. Make sure that the rules that match more *'s come later in the rule list.

The result is that anything that probably isn't spam doesn't receive a special background color. Anything with a score of five or higher is highlighted in yellow. Most false positives are in this category, so I open the message if there is any doubt whether the message may be legitimate. A score of 10 or higher means orange highlighting, and 15 or higher red. There are very few false positives (legitimate messages flagged as spam) in these categories, so I just look at the subject and sender and only when I'm pretty sure it's a legitimate message I open it. No benefit of the doubt in these categories.

Note that Mail will also sort messages based on color (under View, Sort by). This makes scanning the junk mail folder for false positives even easier.

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A set of scripts to translate iChat acronyms Internet
I'm not a big acronym user, finding it generally faster to type what I'm thinking than abbreviate it. However, I often find myself on the receiving end of acronyms that I have no idea what they mean. For fun, I went onto the web and scraped a few web pages listing hundreds of common chat acronyms and made a tool that I can use to very easily translate these on the fly while using iChat.

I made two scripts that work together, allowing me to highlight text in iChat and get a quick translation of any acronyms in the highlighted text. Due to the fact that the perl script was a few thousand lines with all the definitions, I've cut out all but four acronyms so that folks can add their own or contact me for the full set of definitions if they want. As the definitions were simply scraped off the web, I make no claims on the quality of the content of the translations which also contain some swear words. You might wish to create your own list of definitions and add them to the script.

I'm a self taught scripter, so I'm sure there might be shorter and or better ways to do this. It's intended to be able to translate whole sentences containing acronyms, and the way it handles deconstructing white space and punctuation and re-assembling them might be handled better, but it seems to work fine for me as is.
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Force QuickTime streams to play in QuickTime Internet
Yesterday over on the Macworld forums, a reader was having trouble getting QuickTime streams from to play properly. When clicked, the streams (from the Video section of the site) would open the user's RealOne Player, and then not stream.

Christopher Breen did some digging and came up with the solution -- you need to open RealOne Player's preferences, and disable the "Real Time Streaming Protocol" section in the Media Types preference. As Christopher points out, you might actually have to enable it once, click OK, then re-open and disable it and click OK to make the changes "stick."

Once you've done this, though, the QuickTime streams will open properly in QuickTime Player.
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Display sports scores (and more) on the desktop Internet
I'd like to share a pretty cool use of Steven Frank's (of Panic) free WebDesktop program, which allows you to "layer" a webpage over your desktop on Mac OS X. My trick uses's BottomLine, a free, real-time headlines and scores tracker. Here's what it looks like on the Desktop

It's really simple to create. Just download and install WebDesktop. Once you have it running, open the BottomLine location via the WebDesktop -> Open Location menu item. You'll want to use the regular URL and not the JavaScript popup version.

Once the applet is loaded, simply resize the WebDesktop window using the widget at the bottom right so it looks good, then move it to the bottom of the screen. When you switch to a different application, WebDesktop's title bar disappears, leaving you with the spiffy looking BottomLine, the envy of all your friends.

[robg adds: WebDesktop is somewhat like GeekTool, a previous Pick of the Week, except that it can display full web pages instead of just images. If you've got the screen real estate for it, this really opens up a world of possibilities for continually updated background information...]

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Use spell check and email aliases in .Mac's webmail Internet
I went to compose a new message in my .Mac webmail recently and found a new icon: Spell Check. In .Mac Mail's preferences are a number of language dicationaries to choose from but no custom dictionaries. Also, prefs has a checkbox to enable auto spell check when sending.

While in Preferences, I also found an Email Aliases feature under the Accounts tab. Pretty cool. Set one up for myself. I can give that alias when signing up for stuff when I suspect they might sell my address. I could also create an alias that I give to just friends/family. Great feature.

Looks like new .Mac account features rumored elsewhere for later release are starting to trickle in.
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