Macintosh Blog Posts
Practical Powerbook ideas
If you have a an old Powerbook G4 laptop in your home, you may still be able to put the computer to valuable use! Here are three things to do with an old Powerbook G4 laptop that you may not have thought of.
First off, having a Powerbook G4 on at idle uses 21 Watts per day which will cost you .04 cents per day or $16 a year. So there's very little cost to having the computer plugged in.
Record your morning radio show
During your morning commute, have you ever heard of a joke that you would like to hear again. What was that song you heard for the first time? Was there a time you wish you could replay that broadcast? Well now you can.
Using Audio Hijack Pro and a simple audio cable hook up to your radio, you can set it up to record your radio show that you listen to every morning. You can set it up so that it only keeps a week's worth of clips. Basically set it and forget it. You can get the clip that you need when you need it and not have to worry about running out of disk space.
Advanced Macintosh users can even set it so the audio file is emailed or placed in a dropbox folder to access when your away from home.
Maintain active backups of your files
Don't waist valuable space on Dropbox for common files that you use at home! Put some common library files on your Powerbook and keep it on the network. Some common library files may include manuals of appliances in PDF, Microsoft Word letter templates and others.
This is great way to keep a single resource for the entire household. It's better than a shared drive since you can encrypt the drive and perform some productive actions. For example, you can set up a folder action to convert any Microsoft Document to a PDF file.
Archive your CD collection
If you still have a large collection of music CDs around your house, keep a digitized version on your Powerbook. This will make it much easier to find your favorite music collection. Why keep Christmas music on your main computer all year long?
Using the Powerbook G4 as your central music hub is great for playing music on the network tv too.
Powerbook G4 Laptop Hard Drive
If you have a Powerbook computer, in storage or use it frequently for files, you should consider getting a USB Flash drive to copy the data on the computer. This will make it very easy to have an off line backup of your data should something happen to your computer or hard drive. This is also handy for those times when you want something off the computer and don't want to have to boot it up.
For about $100 you can get a 128GB Flash drive, which is more than enough space to use backup most Powerbook computers. My Powerbook G4 came with a 80 GB hard drive. I suggest using the SanDisk Cruzer Glide USB Flash Drive
Apple's Disk Utility has the ability to create a complete copy of your Hard Disk as a Disk Image. This is practical way of backing up your computer since everything is copied, you won't miss a critical library file or anything. You can then open this disk image on any Mac computer, such as a newest laptop or iMac.
Before you start the backup, you should clean up your computer - get rid of anything you don't need. You may want to delete already back up photos, music and other files. Don't forget to empty the trash, in your applications, such as iPhoto and the Desktop. You may save additional space by deleting the browser cache from Safari and Firefox.
Since this backup will take hours, ;I suggest running this at night:
- Connect the USB drive to the computer.
- Launch up Disk Utility. (Search for the Application is the fastest way to get to it.)
- Click the Hard Drive in the left navigation. (Most cases it will already be selected.)
- Click on 'New Image' in the top tool bar
- I suggest calling it 'PowerbookG4-Backup' Tip: There's no need to add the date to the name because it will have the time stamp.
- Compression is the best image format type for back up. The other options would be good if you plan to modify the disk image later. For example change a file that you commonly use.
- If you have any sensitive tax or government data, use one of the encryption. Keep in mind that this will add additional time and size to your backup.
- Click Save and the process starts.
After the backup is completed, you should validate that the backup is done by opening the disk image in another computer.
Once the process is completed, label the outside of the USB drive so it will be easy to find later.
Getting iPages Free
This afternoon I stopped at the Apple store on Boylston Street in Boston's Back Bay with a question about the new Pages application. Basically, how do I get the latest updated version for Free.
Let me briefly explain my situation:
A couple of weeks ago Apple announced that along with giving the latest version of MacOSX away for free, that they would also give away the entire suite of iWorks products. The problem was that I haven't been able to get it for free since in the App Store on my iMac it still says that it's $19.99. I did have the iWorks '08 on my computer.
The Apple employee suggested that I try the following:
- Open up the Apple App application on my iMac.
- Sign out of the Apple Store.
- Restart the computer
- Open up the Apple App application
- Sign back in.
Then the prices in the store should be updated to reflect that I am eligible for the free upgrade. I'll have to try this out tonight to see if this infact works. If it doesn't he suggested that I call the Apple Store at 1-800-676-2775.
Let's see if this works!
Apple does something every major release that annoys me and I am pretty sure that I am not the only developer that encounters this. Apple makes some changes to some of the root UNIX configuration files without telling the user why they did that. As a results, I'll see weird behavior and I have to figure out why.
Let me back it up a bit. I know I am getting a little technical, but bare with me here. Since Mac OS X Beta, I have been playing around with the core UNIX that is a part of Mac OS X. One of those files is Apache, which is the primary Webserver that comes with Mac OS X.
Apache is a very powerful Webserver that allows you to do all sorts of cool things. If your interested you should check out Cool things you can do with Apache.
I changed the Apache configuration file to enable PHP and point the root folder to a different directory. I do this so that it's easier for me to do changes, and I enjoy writting code in PHP.
Back to the issue, in every release of Macintosh OS X, and in some minor updates, they backup the configuration file that I have and enable their own Apache configuration file. Why? Is there some cool feature that I need to know about? Security bug fix?
All I ask is for Apple to tell us why they changed the default apache configuration file. Developers can then assess the risk of using the updated conf file or reverting to the previous configuration file.
Apache configuration file locations:
/etc/apache2/httpd.conf~previous - this is what apple renames your old config file.
When you change the configuration file, you need to restart apache, Simply type in:
G4 Tower PCI Screw
If you have an old PowerMac G3/G4 and looking for replacement screws to secure your PCI cards. You need to look for Apple Part 922-5974.
These screws are still very expensive to get. I found a place that was selling 5 screws for almost $100! Over price for computer part in a computer that is more than 10 years old.
The specs for the screws is M3.5x 7.5mm. There are several stores on eBay that are selling the screws for about $10 for 100 pieces. Still a lot for a small screw. You may have better luck searching for similar parts at some hardware stores. I have heard that some people had luck at True Value hardware stores.
As a long time Macintosh user, one of the applications that I really enjoyed using is BBEdit from Bare Bones software. I have been using this software off and on again since 1997. It's been a critical tool for any text issues that I deal with on the Macintosh. There's a lot of really cool things that you can do with BBEdit. Here's two cool features:
Replacing Text in multiple files is one of the reasons people use BBEdit.- We all have some need to replace text, and more often than not it's with multiple files. Over the past 10+ years, I have found that BBEdit is the easiest way to find and replace text in multiple applications. What's cool is that BBEdit also saves your search/replace so that you can reuse the search pair again. Extremely helpful when I needed to replace Window line breaks with Macintosh line breaks or vice verse.
One of the strong points to BBEdit's simple search and replace is the use of Text Factories. This functionality allows you to perform multiple search and replace at the same time. So if I had 200 files that wanted to replace all the line breaks to UNIX format and change the copyright year to 2013, I can do it in one simple action. BBEdit then shows you a report of the changes that it would perform and allow you to decide to accept all changes. Very cool and very powerful.
In short, BBEdit is a great application and worth the $49.99 price. Your getting an application that can be used for any text functionality that you do on your Macintosh. If you tried the application in the past, I encourage you to try it again.
Installing Leopard on Parallel
I have been working on getting Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) installed on to my iMac via Parallel. The reason I wanted to do this is because I have some software that only run's in 10.5, and it will be very expensive to upgrade to work with (10.8.2)
There were 2 big issues that I had to deal with:
1. I wasn't creating the correct disk image for Parallel to use
Part of the core problem was that the Parallels log file wasn't telling me what was going on. I would see lots of PET_VM_EVT_VM_CONFIG_CHANGED, PET_DSP_EVT_VM_DEV_STATE_CHANGED and PRL_WNG_NO_OPERATION_SYSTEM_INSTALLED. But no clue what is going on. Basically if you get the 'Click Start' to launch after a few seconds after starting the process it means that your Disk Image is bad.
Thanks to some information over on MacFixIt, I was able to correct identify how to properly burn a disk image of an OS disk. ( I wasn't selecting the core device.)
2. I was unable to modify a disk image.
This is a problem with Mountain Lion and not something that you did. Apple updated the DiskCopy tool so that DVD master disks are read only. To get around this, I had to boot up my old computer and then created the disk image on that machine. That created the opportunity for me to edit the disk image.
Looks like I am in business and looking forward to installing my applications!
Hiragana Keyboard Layout
Last night I decided to connect an external monitor to my Powerbook G4 so that I could work with a larger screen and not use the smaller laptop screen. Apple calls this clam shell mode. To do this you need to connect a USB keyboard, USB mouse and an external monitor then close the laptop.
While I was installing some old drivers and in the process the keyboard language type got converted to Hiragana. I am not sure exactly which driver made the change, as I installed USB Overdrive, MacAlly IceKey Driver and SteerMouse.
I am thinking it was SteerMouse as it was the first driver I installed. The Logitech MX 518 mouse wasn't responding when I click and it appeared to move too fast. Later I notice that the USB wasn't working, as I was typing strange characters on my Macally IceKey keyboard.
SteerMouse was created in Japan, so that might be another clue that it was the application that changed my keyboard type to Hiragana.
I am going to uninstall all the drivers and third party utilities to see if I can identify the root cause and get everything working. Part of the problem I am running into is that I am using 10.5.8 on my laptop and some of drivers don't support that any more.
Crossover and Notepad++
The problem that I keep running into is the inability to move a dockable window from the right side of the screen to the left side. The problem is that I am unable to drag and drop to the left and the window becomes undock. When the window is undock, there is no way to connect is back to the main window. To get back the previous state, I have to reinstall Notepad++.
Maybe someone else have better luck at moving the Dockable NppFTP window, but it just doesn't work correctly in Crossover.
Here's the complete description of Dockable Windows:
Notepad++ supports so called Dockable Windows. These are part of the GUI, but you can move them around and choose whether you want them aligned to any side of the main windows (docked), or floating like a separate window.
To change the location of a dockable window, click and drag the titlebar of the window around. When you drag near any edge of the main window, a rectangle will be drawn indicating that the window will be docked there if you release it. Moving it anywhere else will draw the rectangle in the same way the window would be positioned if it were floating.
You can resize floating windows like any other window by dragging its edges, but to resize a dockable window you have to drag the edge that is adjacent to the main window.
There can be multiple dockable windows grouped together. If this is the case, only one of the windows is shown, and the others are reachable by a tab bar that is shown below the visible window. Selecting an item from the tab bar will hide the visible window, and show the corresponding window from the tab bar.
Swann Firewire hub
I have an old Swann Firewire hub and was going to connect it to my computer. I wanted to use to connect multiple devices. I purchased this hub a few years ago and its been sitting in the basement for a while. When I put it in storage, I didn't keep the power brick with it. Which causes a dilemma, what power jack will I need? When I looked on the bottom of the hub it didn't have any specs. So I decided to search the Internet.
After searching several sites, I found the required power specs. It looks like the 12vV/1A is what will properly power up the device. I figure I post it here in case I needed this information in the future.
Here's the full details of the Firewire hub:
The Swann FireWire 6 Port Hub not only overcomes the 4.5M length limit in the 1394 standard for the user?s devices, but it offers 6 independent 1394 bus connections, each with a 400Mbps transfer rate. Swann FireWire 6 Port Hub is the best choice for corporate and professional users who want a solid solution to IEEE 1394 / FireWire connectivity.Features
- True plug & play hot-swappable device
- Self or Bus Powered
- Fully supports IEEE 1394 standard
- FireWire protocol allows for connection of up to 63 devices
- Data transfer at 100/200/400 Mb/s
- 6 bi-directional ports with over-current protection per port
- PC & Mac compatible.
- Allows connection of up to 63 FireWire devices
- DV cameras, DV camcorders, DV recorders, still digital cameras
- HDD, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM Digital TV, Set top box, scanners, printers, disk drives
- 1394 standards compliant; IEEE 1394-1995, P1394a (rev1.1)
- Asynchronous & isosynchronous data transfer
- 100/200/400 Mb/s transmission rate
- 6 x 6-pin 1394 bus connectors
- 1 x DC 12V/1A input jacket
- G3 300 or higher
- Mac with 1 FireWire port
- System 9.04 or higher
- 64MB RAM minimum