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10.4: Create a 'Run As' contextual menu command System 10.4
Tiger only hintI needed to install some software today while logged in on my cousin's account, but wasn't able to because she is not an Administrator. The Vise installer would not let me authenticate, and I didn't really want to login as myself just for an install, so I thought this would be a great time to put Automator to use. This is an extremely simple hint, but hopefully it will save you some time in the future.

First off, you need Pseudo -- it's a utility that allows you to run programs as another user, provided you have their username and password. Download Pseudo and drop it in your Applications/Utilities folder. Now open Automator and start a new workflow. You only need one action to make this work.

Select Finder from the Applications list on the left and drag the "Open Finder Items" action to the workflow area on the right. By default, it says "Open with: Default Application." Click this drop-down, choose "Other..." from the bottom of the list, and find Pseudo in your Applications/Utilities folder.

Now choose File: Save As Plug-In..." and name it "Run As..." Also, make sure "Plug-in for: Finder" is selected. Now quit Automator and go find an application you'd like to open. Control- or (right-) click the app and choose "Automator -> Run As..." from the pop-up menu. You'll now be prompted for a username and password, and your app should run with the privileges of that user. Hopefully this will helpful to some of you.
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10.4: Control UPS via Energy Saver preferences panel System 10.4
Tiger only hintI am not sure what types of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) this works with, but I know it works with my two APC Back-UPS ES 725 devices and OS 10.4.2. I decided to finally hook them into the computer, so my computers will know to shut down if the UPS is on low power -- I hadn't hooked them up since I moved and upgraded to Tiger.

I downloaded the APC software, but before I installed it, I noticed a battery icon in the menu bar which linked to the Energy Saver control panel. There was now a new option, in addition to Power Adapter, called UPS. This gave me the standard Energy Saver settings, plus three options from which I can mix and match:
  1. Shut computer down after running on battery power for x minutes.
  2. Shut computer down when only x minutes are left on battery.
  3. Shut computer down when only x percentage is left on battery.
It also includes a UPS battery meter. The APC software has only two options, and you have to choose one or the other -- Tiger's built-in UPS support seems much more robust.
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10.4: Disable ssh password login under Tiger System 10.4
Tiger only hintGiven the increase in scripted attacks to guess ssh passwords, I decided to disable passwords altogether, and move to public key authentication.

I edited /etc/sshd_config as follows:
# To disable tunneled clear text passwords, change to no here!
PasswordAuthentication no
#PermitEmptyPasswords no
That worked fine until one day, I tried logging into a Tiger machine from an account which lacked the required public key, and discovered I could still get in with just a password. It seems 10.4 has added another flag to disable:

# Set this to 'yes' to enable PAM authentication (via challenge-response)
# and session processing. Depending on your PAM configuration, this may
# bypass the setting of 'PasswordAuthentication' and 'PermitEmptyPasswords'
UsePAM no
What is curious about UsePAM is that in the comment it says that no is the default, so it should not have been necessary to uncomment it. Yet, in my own experience, I had to explicitly disable it to prevent password authentication. Note: don't forget to restart your Remote Login after saving the changes.

[robg adds: This earlier hint (and some great associated comments) covered disabling password-based ssh access, also in light of the number of brute force attacks being seen. Interestingly, I hadn't yet redone this hint for 10.4, so I checked the log files today. My machine is still getting pounded by scripted attacks; literally hundreds per hour ... looks like it's time to re-enable the protections from these hints and comments!]
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10.4: Add iSync support for Sony-Ericsson V600i System 10.4
Tiger only hintThere have been a number of hints on this front (i.e. adding support for models X, Y, Z), but mostly for the Address Book, to enable Bluetooth dialing and SMS support.

Regarding iSync, things are not necessarily more complex, especially if the phone you are trying to add is similar or identical to one already supported by Mac OS X. Case in point: I was trying to add a SEV600i -- it turns out that iSync 2.1 has support for the K600, but not for my V600i. It took a bit of fiddling around to realize that a precise sequence of steps was required...
  1. As expected, modify /Applications -> iSync.app -> Contents -> PlugIns -> ApplePhoneConduit.syncdevice -> Contents -> PlugIns -> PhoneModelsSync.phoneplugin -> Contents -> Resources -> MetaClasses.plist

  2. Add identification strings to the array as shown here. This section used to be a single Sony Ericsson+Sony Ericsson 600, so I turned it into an array to support the 600, V600, and V600i. Some guesswork is probably required for other models, so feel free to add many lines at once; it can't really hurt.

  3. Save the file; quit iSync.

  4. Then and only then, add your phone to the Bluetooth device manager. If your phone was registered, then you need to delete it and start again. A good sign is when the first tick-box is not greyed out; i.e. a hint that iSync will work. I had assumed that restarting iSync alone would take the above modification into consideration, but adding the device is what does it.

  5. Start iSync, add your phone, and sync!
Hope this helps others...
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10.4: Make a UDF DVD for set-top DVD players in Finder System 10.4
Tiger only hintI haven't seen this discussed too much anywhere, but Tiger's disc burning from Finder now formats discs in a Mac OS Extended/UDF dual file system. In Panther, disc burning used the ISO 9660 standard. So it is now possible to take existing VIDEO_TS projects and burn them directly in the Finder for set-top DVD Players.

The only drawback is that these discs will mount as Mac OS Extended when inserted into Macs. As such, OS X's DVD Player will not recognize them as DVDs, unless you do an 'Open DVD Media...' from the File menu. Still, they play great on my standalone DVD Player. Goodbye Toast!
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10.4: Use Automator to toggle hidden Unix files' visibility System 10.4
Tiger only hintQuite a long time ago, this hint explained how to use the command line to make the Finder show all those hidden unix files. I turned it into a little shell script, and stuck it where I could find it. Then more recently, a bunch of AppleScript solutions were hinted at, in a thread that started in mid 2003, and had still more postings as of a couple of months ago.

Now with Tiger, however, it's possible to make showing such files a contextual menu selection via Automator. I made an Automator action called 'Show/hide unix files,' and told Automator to save the file as a plug-in for the Finder. Read on for the details...
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10.4: Open Dashboard at login with AppleScript System 10.4
Tiger only hintIf you're like me, the biggest thing that bothers you about Dashboard is how slowly the widgets load the first time you activate it. My typical routine is to start up my computer and walk away while it boots up. I thought this would be the perfect time to activate Dashboard and let it fully load while I'm away.

I used this AppleScript:
tell application "Dashboard"
  launch
end tell
I simply saved this script as an applet, and added it to my login items. My original intention was to have the script activate Dashboard, wait 30 seconds and then deactivate it. As it is now, Dashboard is still active when I return to my desk. Can anyone out there help with this?
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10.4: Use multiple simulataneous GUI accounts System 10.4
Tiger only hintHere's how to have two GUI users active at one time on the same machine. This hint is a summary of this hint on the macosx.com forums; read the original post for much more detail.

Here are the basic requirements: After you have two or more accounts set up on one Mac, install OSXvnc and start the server. Once started, Fast User Switch to the other user on the machine.

Now from another computer, use a VNC viewer like Chicken of the VNC and point it to the Mac. Even though the Mac is logged in as another user, your VNC session goes to the original account, allowing both of you to use the machine at the same time.

When testing, this is seemed to work well, although you have to wonder if there will be problems with system calls from the same programs happening simutaneously. I've only been running this for about two hours, but no problems so far.
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10.4: A caution on Address Book and Syncing System 10.4
Tiger only hintThis really isn't a hint -- it's a warning based on an experience I had with Address Book during a sync. I run Tiger and, during a sync, I was adding entries to my Address Book. I know that iCal used to not let you make changes while a sync was happening.

I assumed (yeah, I know about assuming) that, since Address Book didn't complain, it was safe. Well, when the sync was done, all I had in my Address Book were the two addresses I had added during the sync! Thankfully, I have .Mac and was able to recover my contacts from one of my registered Macs. If I didn't have that to fall back on, though, I would have lost all my contacts. I also noticed that iCal no longer compains if you open it during a sync. So be careful...

[robg adds: I haven't confirmed this one, but it seems like a reasonable caution to be aware of when syncing!]
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Avoid high kernel_task utilization on 2005 PowerBooks System 10.4
Like many 2005 PowerBook owners, I have been frustrated with the apparent bug in Apple's new USB trackpad driver on these machines which forces idle kernel_task utilization upwards of 7% at all times, dramatically reducing battery life, lowering system performance, and preventing the machine from cooling down while relatively idle.

Well, after several months living with this frustrating bug, I was further frustrated to see that there were still no widely-publicized solutions. I decided to stop waiting and try to address the bug myself by simply removing Apple's trackpad driver from the equation.

To my (pleasant) surprise, installing the SideTrack 1.2 trackpad driver fixed the problem completely, driving idle kernel_task utilization down as low as 1%.

While I would rather not have to use SideTrack forever, not only has it improved my battery life and idle temperature, it also definitively demonstrates that, indeed, it is Apple's new 2-finger scrolling trackpad drivers in 10.4 which are to blame. Hopefully now they'll do something about fixing them in 10.4.3.
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