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Category Archives: Mac

If you feel compelled to force quit Safari because it has apparent stopped responding — and then find that it hangs on re-launch — you may try this first: Have a little patience!

It may be busy, not hung. Launch your Activity Monitor application, select Safari and then click on the Sample Process button. A window opens and takes a sample of the app’s activity for a few seconds and presents the results. If it’s doing something, give it a few more minutes. Go make a cup of tea. By the time you get back it may have finished what it needed to do — cleaning up some big mess. Safari eventually launches, or it did in my case.

Of course if the Activity Monitor doesn’t show Safari busy doing something then giving it more time to do nothing isn’t helpful. I followed a lot of web advice, to no avail, such as …
Go>Go to folder… finding /var/folders/ and opening up all the private caches to find the folder and deleting its contents or deleting files from Users/~/Library/Safari etc.
… perhaps one of these may do it for you.

For the record: I’m on an Intel MacBook, under Mac OS X 10.6.2 using Safari 4.0.4.


I tried a Software Update today, found a couple of items and decided to install them — but on download I got an error message that read “none of the checked updates could be saved” and “you do not have appropriate access privileges”!

Focusing on privileges, I figured I must do a Disk Repair on my privileges. No go. What my system was trying to tell me was that folders for these updates already existed in my Library/Updates folder — and that I didn’t have permission to overwrite them. I had to go in and delete these folders manually (my index.plist didn’t have to be deleted).

When I ran the updates again it worked. Lesson learned.

The audio levels on my iPhone movies are too low. My music is loud enough and can be increased beyond my comfort levels. Movie soundtracks are, however, too soft even when the volume control is maxed out. Why the disparity in sound levels? Not sure. I’m time-shifting movies from DVDs using Handbrake, perhaps this app is to blame?

Here’s how to work around it …

iTunes volume adjustment

In your iTunes Movies library, before you synch up your iPod or iPhone …

    Select all movies
    File>Get Info
    Select the Options tab
    Slide the Volume Adjustment up from None to 100%
    Click “Ok”

If asked, acknowledge that you’re changing multiple files through this action!

Of course you can and probably should change the settings on individuals movie files as you add them to iTunes.

Synch up! Your movies should be loud enough, although still not equal to the maximum volume you can crank your music up to!

DoubleTwistJon Lech Johansen, famous for having reverse engineered the CSS DVD-copy protection scheme, makes headlines again with DoubleTwist, an application which which removes DRM from iTunes so you can play your music on any device — not just those approved by Apple: “With doubleTwist, it’s a breeze to put your media on your devices and share it with your friends. Grab it for free, or learn more on the website. It’s time to play!” Download doubleTwist here.

itunesA colleague at work today told me her son had noticed that Apple’s iTunes Terms of Service prohibits the use of iTunes to make a nuclear bomb …


When trying to mount my iDisk in the Finder>Go>iDisk>my iDisk I get the following “Your iDisk cannot be accessed. Your member name or password may be invalid. An unexpected error occurred (error code -36).”


This happens whether or not I’m signed in via System Preferences>MobileMe or not, even after rebooting, fixing permissions and/or deleting my URLMount folder from Systems>Library>Filesystems. I’m using Mac OS 10.5x through several versions (now 10.5.5) with the Firewall down on a PowerBook G4 on an AirPort wireless network. I don’t have the exact same problem using my Intel PowerBook, I get the -35 error instead, where logging in and out of MobileMe from the System Preferences sets things right — for a little while, at least.

This isn’t a fix, but I can work around the annoying iDisk error code -36: If I go to my System Preferences>MobileMe>iDisk and start iDisk Syncing, then sure enough, my iDisk mounts and, after it has synced up, I’m able to use my virtual disk. It does, however, require a large amount of hard disk space but it brings with it the convenience of using my iDisk offline, which isn’t very often.

When I turn iDisk syncing off, I lose the virtual disk again: Listen up Apple, you need to fix this .mac, .me or MobileMe thing. Instead of acquiring alternate domain names for marketing it, try fixing it instead! Remember your Apple ad suggesting Microsoft to spend more on fixing Vista than on advertising it? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Did you know that Adobe’s Flash Player installs its own cookies, called “Flash cookies”, in your browser? Did you know that you can’t control and/or delete these Flash cookies through your browser preferences? Did you know that Flash Player can access your computer’s camera and microphone?


Caption: Flash cookies you might not have known about Read More »

UPDATE: June 21st, 2010. iOS 4 on the iPhone does away with the iPod app’s On The Go Playlist (last item on your playlist) and has replaced it with Add Playlist … (now the first item in your playlist) — which functions similarly.

  • Run the iPod app on your iPhone.
  • Click on Add Playlist … (first item in your playlist).
  • Create a new playlist by giving it a temporary name (e.g. oldName+, to remind yourself what to rename it to, later in iTunes), then Save it.
  • Navigate to your playlists view (top left) if need be — you don’t want o add individual songs but copy whole playlists.
  • Select the playlist you want to copy and then from the top of that playlist you’ll find the magic option Add All Songs — the songs in that list will grey out.
  • Finally follow that by Done (upper right).
  • You’ll now be looking at your new playlist, check to see that it has all your songs listed in it.
  • Your new playlist will appear at the bottom of your old playlists, not in alphabetical order.
  • Rinse and repeat to copy old playlists into new playlists.
  • Sync to iTunes.
  • Rename the new playlists on iTunes, back to their old names.
  • Sync again.

Please read through the entire conversation which follows to better understand the process, precautions, limitations and user experiences …

The iTunes application has a gaping UI problem, it’s far too easy to delete a playlist and, once deleted, it can’t be undone! I’m not talking about having deleted the original song files, just the playlists you assemble — which point to songs in your music library. We all invest hours in selecting and sequencing our music into playlists. To lose a playlist can be pretty tough!

While working in a playlist you can have two different things selected — the playlist name and one or more songs in that playlist. So which will it trash when you hit the delete key? The selected songs or the whole playlist? It depends on which of the two was most recently selected and, therefore, the darkest of the two different selections. Madness. So with just a modicum of inattentive clumsiness you can easily kill off a whole playlist when you really mean to remove only a single track from it — and there’s no Edit>Undo safety net behind this function. Read More »

I don’t hold the inside track here, but what Apple needs in the laptop department are much smaller and lighter portables — so I’m hoping for a “brick” sized mini laptop. The Air went in the right direction with weight but in the wrong direction by foregoing some essential ports and components as well as limping along on a slower processor.

Amazon’s list of best selling laptops put’s Apple’s first entry 8th on the list today. Not good enough! Put back the optical drive and the ethernet port in a smaller form factor and please give it a zippy processor Apple!

October 8th: Here’s speculation on the new Mac laptops from The New York Times — Apple’s “brick” manufacturing process to yield a $800 MacBook? which seem to give me hope for a smaller more powerful and fully featured laptop.

The reasons might be many, but I’ve come to believe that there are just a few key overlapping issues which separate Adobe and Apple on the issue of Flash …

User Interface (UI): Adobe is developing its own cross-platform graphical user interface (GUI) for their applications which is different from Apple’s standard. Its a laudable and sensible thing for Adobe to be doing for end-users, but something which dilutes the value of Apple’s unique and easy to use interface. If the application UI between Wintel, Linux and Apple boxes are essentially the same there is less incentive to pay a premium for Apple hardware. Apple can’t like that much. There’s not much they can do about that on the Mac but they sure can spoil it spreading to the iPhone.

Bypassing the App Store: Since entire web applications and games can run in a Flash player inside a browser there will likely be fewer applications sold via the App Store — and less revenue for Apple. Worse though, since Flash would run those same apps on other phones and computers, this would dilute the uniqueness of the iPhone. Let’s face it, given the choice most developers would prefer to develop cross platform than for a single platform only.

Adding those two things together I can better see why Apple is pushing back on Flash — but of course I wish that they wouldn’t!

Suggested reading: Two years later the Wall Street Journal comes to a similar conclusion “Flash would also allow iPhone and iPad users to consume video and other entertainment without going through iTunes. Flash would let users freely obtain the kinds of features they can only get now at the Apple App Store.” To bypass WSJ’s paywall — at the time of writing — just Google “The Microsofting of Apple?” (with parenthesis) and you’ll find a link to the full version at WSJ’s site.

Firefox, for as long as I’ve known it, right up to version 3.0, appears to have a problem printing multiple pages where frames and tables are involved — either to the printer or to PDF on my Mac. By default it often prints only one page: Page one of many.

The problem may have to do with how it handles — or mishandles — frames. I’ve discovered that if in the print dialog box you select “Frames: The selected frame” option (the default being “Frames: As laid out on the screen”) then it’ll print all pages, to printer and to PDF.

That should be the end of this story, right? No. Read More »

This past September strange things started happening in our fish pond, a plastic-lined half whiskey barrel set out in the corner of our deck. At first the water lilies were being destroyed. Large parallel tears started appearing in the pads. I imagined it was a cat striking out at the fish with its bared claws.

Excepting for the destruction of the vegetation I didn’t think the fish stocks were dwindling — but they were indeed. When some old friends stopped coming up at feed time and then some stones off the bottom of the pool were found scattered on the deck I was determined to find out what was causing the loss.

I clamped a compact fluorescent lamp to the back of a garden chair and aimed the reflector at the pond, set my PowerBook on the kitchen table with its iSight camera facing out through our sliding glass door and set up the software to capture time-lapse images every second throughout the night. On the very first night the culprits were revealed in this silent movie …  

What I’d appreciate hearing in comments is how other people protect their small fish ponds from raccoons. I’ve heard of a dark, rigid hexagonal grid that can be mounted below the surface of the water which the fish can swim under to escape — but which would limit the ability of tiny hands from swishing around to catch their prey. But that won’t save the water lilies …