If you don't check macworld.com on a daily basis, you may not know that I spent the last week writing a very detailed series of articles about the Core Duo mini. I used it in a variety of tasks, from basic word processing through gaming, and basically just wrote about everything I discovered while using it. Overall, I was quite impressed by the newest Intel Mac. There are three parts to the series (linked from the above story), as well as a follow-up to answer some readers' questions.
Some of my testing involved hooking the mini up to our high definition television (HDTV). For those of you with newer HDTV's, this is a simple task, as it apparently just works. But our set, a Pioneer SD-582HD5, is nearly five years old, and lacks any form of computer connectivity other than an RGB input. I spent many hours with Google, talking to friends, and playing with way too much hardware in the family room before I finally got things working acceptably.
So I thought I'd take a few minutes and document what I did here, just in case there are three or four others of you out there, trying to do the same thing (I can't imagine this hint will apply to a large number of readers!). If anyone knows an easier way to do what I just did, I'd love to hear that, too.
(As an aside, if you'd like to see the difference between HD quality and DVD quality, check out this short one-frame comparison movie I made for a Macworld article, using the latest Harry Potter movie and its HD trailer: 836x354, 548KB • 1673x709, 1.7MB)
My new iMac G5 received a vCard sent from my phone -- through the Apple-shaped infrared port on the front! I just thought I'd try it, to see if the thing only cared about the Apple remote. But to my surprise, it worked. Now how to send stuff from the computer...
I am submitting this because I really can't find anyone talking about this on the web, and it is a big deal (I think). I felt IrDA was a sad loss from the Apple lineup, and now it seems to be back in some manner at least, just completely unpublicised. Hope you find this interesting!
While there's certainly no shortage of dynamic email signature tricks on MacOSXHints, unfortunately they all seem to have broken when Apple released Tiger. I submitted a bug back in December and was told it was a known issue and that my bug was a dupe. It's March now, still no fix.
So what's a Cocoa hacker to do, but code up his own fix and inject it into Mail.app. And so I offer my free (GPL'd) DynSigFix (DSF), a haxie-style unofficial patch to Mail.app which re-enables AppleScript access to change signature text.
To be clear: This is a hack. It patches your running copy of Mail.app in memory. It could reduce your shiny G5 tower to a smoldering molten pile of ooze for all I know. It comes with no warranty. If it breaks, you get to keep the pieces.
That said, it works pretty well on my two Mac's and hasn't crashed Mail yet. And I have FINALLY have my rotating Fortune quips back on the bottom of my outgoing emails!
I had an issue pairing my Apple Remote with my MacBook Pro. The Apple manual says (on page 36):
To pair your Apple Remote with your MacBook Pro:
Position the Apple Remote 3 to 4 inches from the IR receiver on your MacBook Pro.
Press and hold the Menu and Next/Fast-forward buttons on the Apple Remote for 5 seconds.
After trying and failing several times to pair my remote using these instructions, I gave up. While it could be a bit annoying not to have the remote paired, it was not a significant enough issue to prompt me to send the notebook in for repair. After a few days, I decided that there must be a software conflict causing this problem, since the remote works fine otherwise. I scoured the net for a solution and found nothing. It seemed I was the only one with this problem.
Based on the premise that you should push all of the buttons and see what happens, I tried several other key combinations on the remote. To my surprise, holding the Menu + Play/Pause buttons together for five seconds paired the remote with my MacBook Pro.
I have unpaired and then re-paired the remote several times with this alternate button combination and it works every time.
[robg adds: The Intel mini instruction book reads the same way, but those keys do work to pair the remote on the mini (the Play/Pause button also works).]
The Unofficial Apple Weblog tells us that by holding down the Play key, you can use your Apple Remote Control to put your Mac to sleep (assuming you have Front Row on it).
[robg adds: Now that I have a mini in house, I can test these types of things, as well as research them. In this case, this feature is documented, though it's quite buried. The mini's manual says that you can use the remote to put the machine to sleep, but then doesn't actually explain anywhere how to do so. Instead, I found it referenced in the mini's help, in the "putting your computer to sleep" topic. It also mentions there that you can wake the machine by pressing any button on the remote. I tried it, and it works.
Note that if you happen to use a remote-equipped Mac in a public place, you may wish to disable the IR remote, lest you find your machine suddenly sleeping thanks to tricksters nearby with their own remotes! You can do this in the Security System Preferences panel.]
My old (and very slow) Xerox copier ran out of toner before putting it away for storage several years back. I recently had the need for a limited number of copies, so I went to my local Staples, only to find that the cartridge was $120! I knew there must be a way to use my Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner and my printer to create a makeshift photocopier for the infrequent copies I do. I'm sure some scan software must allow a scan directly to printer function, but my Epson software is pretty limited. There may be some better ways of doing this but the following is what I came up with:
On my desktop (can be anywhere on your Mac), I created a folder called AutoPrint in which I created two folders named print and printed. Using Automator, I then created the following script:
Finder: Get Specified Finder Items (and added my aforementioned print folder). For the input on this action, you must choose 'Ignore results from previous action,' or you'll end up sending previous print jobs.
Finder: Get Folder Contents
Finder: Print Finder Items (I chose the default printer)
Finder: Move Finder Items (choose the printed folder).
I saved the workflow into the AutoPrint folder for safe keeping. Then I chose File: Save as plug-in, named the plug-in "AutoPrint," and chose "Folder Actions" from the pull-down menu. That brought up an "Attach to folder" pull-down from which I chose my print folder. If I remember correctly, it asked me if I wanted to enable Folder Actions, to which I replied yes.
At this point, I tested it by dragging a document into the print folder and, sure enough, it went straight to the printer, then moved directly into my printed folder. But if this was all I needed it to do, I could have simply created a desktop printer.
Finally, I set my Epson Scanner's auto features save into the print folder. Voila, instant photocopier. And in color, too! I figure its no slower than my old Xerox, and kept $120 bucks for the college fund.
There are a lot of widgets on my Dashboard that display some information that I'm interested in (such as weather, RSS feeds, application updates, daily comic etc.), but that aren't so important that I'm actually going to activate the Dashboard to see them. These are kinds of things I just want to stumble across from time to time. So I thought it would be convenient if the Dashboard could show up by itself in the way a screensaver would.
Starting with this hint and this discussion, I found out how to get the system idle time. I used this info to write a script that runs in background and takes two arguements. The first one gives the system idle time in seconds after which the Dashboard should show up, and the second one determines what time in seconds the script should sleep between execution.
Copy and paste the script into your favorite editor, save it somewhere, and remember to make it executable (chmod a+x script_name). You can then execute it, remembering to specify the two time arguments. For example:
dashsaver 300 60
would activate Dashboard after three minutes of inactivity, and then the script would sleep for a minute before checking again. (Use an ampersand at the end, i.e. dashsaver 300 60 &) to run the program in the background.) After executing this script, the Dashboard behaves like a screensaver and activates itself after a given time -- even though you have to push F12 or click the mouse to deactivate it again, not just move the mouse.
If you've been using Safe Sleep (see these twohints on it), you should probably also be aware that resetting the PRAM (Command-Option-P-R at boot, or through OpenFirmware) will clear the NVRAM property that enables Safe Sleep.
This is both good and bad: if you're unable to boot the computer because of a corrupted sleepimage file (such as happens if you use the hibernatemode pmset option for encrypted swap when your swap isn't encrypted, or vice-versa), it's a quick-and-easy way to get the computer booting again. It's bad because I'm sure somebody will set up Safe Sleep, come to rely upon it, reset the PRAM for some other reason...and really, really get upset when the computer did a normal sleep rather than a Safe Sleep!
Also, somebody might find the following shell script handy:
sudo nvram nvramrc='" /" select-dev
" msh" encode-string " has-safe-sleep" property
sudo nvram "use-nvramrc?"=true;
if sysctl vm.swapusage | grep -q 'encrypted'; then
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 7;
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3;
echo "You must restart your computer to finish enabling Safe Sleep."
It'll automagically take care of figuring out which hibernatemode to use; just run it (remember to make it executable) and (assuming your hardware supports it), Safe Sleep is enabled. (And reboot, of course.)
While messing around with my new MacBook Pro, it suddenly occurred to me that the remote included with my computer might be used to control more than just Front Row. Since it seemed just the sort of thing Apple would think of, I started firing up apps and clicking to see what would happen here's what I found:
First of all, the volume adjustment works the same just about everywhere, although it should be noted that it adjusts the system volume and not application's volume.
Keynote: next and previous buttons can be used to control slides.
iTunes: everything works as anticipated.
iPhoto: next and previous go up and down in the source list. Hit play/pause to start a slide show using that source. While in a slide show, next and previous can be used to skip or back up.
DVD Player: everything works as anticipated.
QuickTime Player: works as anticipated - the next and previous buttons actually give you near frame-by-frame control of QuickTime movies.
There may be others, of course, but those are the ones I found. Now if they'd only expose this through some AppleScript events, so that other applications could take advantage of it. Then it could become really useful.
Apple fixed most of the Bluetooth connectivity problems in the 10.4.5 update, leaving just one unresolved issue, wherein you can't send a file from the phone to the Mac. A workaround was posted on the Blue Mint blog.
Essentially you need to "kick-start" the Bluetooth transfer by switching tabs in Bluetooth's Preference Pane. Open Bluetooth's prefs, click Devices, start the transfer, then click the Sharing tab. It sounds silly, but the method works for me.
[robg adds: I added the 'super summarized' description of the method above, as it's my intent that the hints found on macosxhints should be able to stand alone if the source site ever goes away. There's more detail in the linked page, of course, where they also note that the original workaround came from this entry on rasterweb.]