Archive
Tag "OSX"

Sud­denly, after the upgrade from Snow Leop­ard to the much vaunted OSX Lion, my wire­less trans­fers over a home LAN net­work became slug­gish. It was tak­ing a few *min­utes* to trans­fer a sim­ple file.

Appar­ently I am not the only one with these issues.

I tried a few fixes gleaned from a bunch of sep­a­rate threads on the Apple forum, and off the web. Not every­thing is a smart sug­ges­tion. Here's what finally works, so hope this saves some peo­ple with sim­i­lar prob­lems the time:

[You need root access for the "sudo" bits of the fol­low­ing code to work, of course.]

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sudo bash -c "echo 'net.inet.tcp.delayed_ack=0' >> /etc/sysctl.conf"
sudo bash -c "echo 'net.inet.tcp.recvspace=40960' >> /etc/sysctl.conf"
sudo bash -c "echo 'net.inet.tcp.rfc1323=0' >> /etc/sysctl.conf"

Make sure the sin­gle quotes remain sin­gle quotes in the above code share. These new sysctl set­tings will take effect after a reboot.

Another use­ful sug­ges­tion is to dis­able the IPV6 stuff. Not needed for now. Done using:


System Preferences ->
Network ->
Airport (or your WiFi listing) ->
Advanced (button) ->
TCP/IP (tab)

Change the IPV6 to "Link — Local".

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So you've been vis­ited by the much dreaded CRC — Cycli­cal Redun­dancy Check error, most likely encoun­tered while copy­ing files between hard disks. On Mac OSX, this will usu­ally appear as some cryp­tic per­mis­sions mes­sage with an Error –36.

To cut the geek-speak, this sim­ply means that you hard disk may have cer­tain files that may have "bad sec­tors", or are cor­rupted in other words.

For­tu­nately, this is a com­mon enough prob­lem in our tech­ni­cally advanced world of exter­nal stor­age. I rec­om­mend solv­ing this on Win­dows (I use both XP and OSX Leop­ard at the time of this writing).

Step 1: CHKDSK

Use what Win­dows offers you by default. The chkdsk com­mand. Just open an MS-DOS com­mand prompt win­dow and go to the drive you wish to check (I'm hop­ing you already know your way around a com­mand prompt; if you don't please con­sider Step 2 below). With the com­mand prompt show­ing the drive let­ter of the disk you wish to check, enter this command:

e:> chkdsk /R

Here, "e:" is my drive to be checked. The "/R" attribute asks the chkdsk com­mand to "recover" what­ever bad sec­tors it finds dur­ing its scan. In most cases, and if you're lucky, this ought to do it.

Step 2: CDCheck (Free)

Only if the prob­lem you were fac­ing still remains after you have run the chkdsk com­mand, should you con­sider doing this. This is a free­ware pro­gram that makes it super-easy to check/recover your disk. It can be any disk – your cur­rent hard disk, a CD or a DVD, or even an exter­nal hard disk. The inter­face is pretty sim­ple as you can see in the screen­shots here.

Step 3: Spin­Rite (US$ 90)

If all else has failed, just save your­self some heart­burn and go straight to Spin­Rite. This is hands-down the best soft­ware for this pur­pose, as any­one in a dire need of data recov­ery will con­firm. I would trust any piece of soft­ware from GRC. Only catch: it's not free, but when you use it you know why it's worth every last cent. It gives you a sim­ple option to save an ISO file, which you can then eas­ily burn on to a CD using any CD writer tool (includ­ing Win­dows' own right-click). Then reboot your machine so it starts from the CD. Spin­Rite will auto­mat­i­cally report and recover what­ever is recoverable.

Next Steps

Basi­cally, a CRC error is the begin­ning of the end. If this is on an exter­nal hard disk, I highly rec­om­mend that you con­sider back­ing up the data immediately.

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If you're here, you know what I'm talk­ing about. The Safari plu­gin sounds like a neat lit­tle tool but is a pesky cus­tomer on any com­puter. Not the way to win hearts. Delet­ing it doesn't work, not do the instruc­tions on their website.

Here is how I did.

  1. First, close Safari. This is VERY impor­tant, as it does not work otherwise.
  2. Start Ter­mi­nal. (Go to Appli­ca­tions -> Util­i­ties -> Ter­mi­nal, or type Ter­mi­nal in Spotlight).
  3. Under Ter­mi­nal type "sudo –s" with­out the quo­ta­tion marks to log in as root.
  4. Then enter:
    defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
  5. Go to the blue (or gray) apple at the top left of the screen, then select Force Quit. From the menu of items, click on "Saft" and click on the Force Quit button.
  6. Then, in the same Force Quit win­dow, click on "Finder" and click the "Relaunch" button.
  7. In the Finder win­dow, on the top right bar (the Fil­ter spot­light bar), type "saft" with­out the quotes. Delete with delight any file called Saft. Note: This may reveal a few other files that may con­tain the word "Saft" such as threads.py in my case (a Python file). Nat­u­rally, you want to NOT delete these. Just get rid of the Saft files.
  8. Empty the trash. If there is a file that won't delete because it's in use, then Force Quit "Saft" again as in Step 5 above, and then Empty Trash again.
  9. Go back into Ter­mi­nal, and type "sudo –s" again with­out quo­ta­tion marks. Then enter:
     defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

    This will set the Finder back to the way it was before. Then type "exit" and it will exit out of the root.

  10. Now nav­i­gate to the folder: /Library/InputManagers. Note that this is NOT the "Library" folder in your Users folder. This is the Library folder from the root. Inside Input­Man­agers is the "saft" folder — get rid of it.
  11. Empty Trash (again). If it says Saft is in use, reboot the machine and empty it then. Or if you use some excel­lent util­ity like Main­Menu you can "Force Empty Trash".

Go back to your happy, prob­lem free Mac!  :)

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As it says on the tin:

Update: Here's a great list of things to do.

  1. Main­Menu. Free. Superla­tive. Cre­ates a neat lit­tle menu item on the top bar. Bet­ter than most other tools I have tried for this pur­pose, espe­cially in its clean inter­face. Some­times, if you have the plea­sure of expe­ri­enc­ing a sit­u­a­tion when the Trash won't clean because OSX says that the "Appli­ca­tion is still in use" but you're sure you quit it and it's not live any­way, MainMenu's "Force Empty Trash" is a fab­u­lous tool to have at your fin­ger­tips.
  2. Lit­tle Snitch: Tells you every­time some pro­gram on your machine wants to "call home" and con­nect to some server. Great flex­i­bil­ity in allow­ing the pro­gram to con­nect to a server, a port, or in gen­eral. Allow (or Deny) it to con­nect only once, or until the appli­ca­tion quits, or For­ever.
  3. RCDe­fault­App: Just as it is on any OS from Win­dows to Ubuntu, it often hap­pens that you would like to asso­ciate cer­tain file types with cer­tain appli­ca­tions. On Mac OSX, we do have the same right-click con­tex­tual menu as Win­dows that allows "Open with [Appli­ca­tion]" and "Make this the default appli­ca­tion", but for some rea­son this doesn't always work, and occa­sion­ally doesn't even show up as an option. No mat­ter. RCDe­fault­App is the appli­ca­tion that allows you to do that superbly, and then some.
  4. But­ler: Another small util­ity with a neg­li­gi­ble foot­print that allows for some nifty short­cuts to stuff already on your machine.
  5. Per­ian: No Mac should be with­out this. This pretty much explains itself. There's a nice video tuto­r­ial here that shows how easy it is to install and then for­get it. Sud­denly your Quick­time (and iTunes) will be able to play a whole raft of video for­mats. If you want to be really equipped, get the Divx codec, the 3ivx, and Flip4Mac which plays wmv (Win­dows Media Player) files on your Mac. Of course if you get really frus­trated there's always the tried and tested VLC Player.
  6. CleanApp: The best appli­ca­tion unin­staller out there, hands down. Don't believe for a minute when the OSX man­u­als tell you that on a Mac all you need to do is drag the appli­ca­tion into the Trash and you're done. BS. Many appli­ca­tions (think Adobe) install sev­eral things in sev­eral loca­tions. CleanApp 3 tells you all the asso­ci­ated trap­pings of these appli­ca­tions and allows you to unin­stall them all together.CleanApp is not free, alas (there is always a poor man's App­Cleaner, which does some basic stuff) but it allows for much more gran­u­lar con­trol. The best part: CleanApp has a "Log­ging" ser­vice that keeps track of what­ever you install, and then knows in gran­u­lar detail every­thing that you need to unin­stall later; you can enable and dis­able this log­ging ser­vice at will, so it is use­ful to keep it gen­er­ally off and only switch it on before you are under­tak­ing a seri­ous install of soft­ware, such as Final Cut Pro from Apple for example.
  7. Tin­ker­Tools: To mod­ify the many sys­tem pref­er­ences in your OSX that should have been made tinker-able but are not. Us Win­dows switch­ers are used to mod­ding every­thing, so this is a fab­u­lous tool.
  8. Trans­mis­sion: The best tor­rent client for OSX. Very sim­ple, no-nonsense, and yet pretty inter­face. BitRocket is all google-juiced as it has been around longer, but it went down more often than Paris Hilton's pants.  Limewire now has an OSX ver­sion too, but I am done with crash­ing and slow down­load speeds unless you cough up a few dol­lars.
  9. Candy Bar: If you really, really want to mod­ify your icons. Panic is one of the bet­ter soft­ware devel­op­ers for the OSX plat­form. Their Uni­son tool, a native OSX Usenet client is pure code poetry. There's a lot of iconog­ra­phy avail­able at their part­ner web­site Icon­Fac­tory. Can­dy­Bar is not free though. If you are short on cash, you can always try the some­what bare­bones Lite­Icon.
  10. Vienna: The best and most ele­gant RSS reader client for OSX at the moment. Now if only they could sync it with Google Reader, Bob might be my uncle. How long has the Google API been out now!?
  11. Chicken of the VNC: The best VNC client out there, con­nects with­out prob­lems to Win­dows VNC servers too.

  12. Omni­DiskSweeper: As you start using your OSX, and installing appli­ca­tions and such, your hard disk usage keeps mount­ing (no pun intended). The fast, small foot­print Omni­DiskSweeper does this job faster than any­thing else on the mar­ket, includ­ing the some­what visu­ally pret­tier What­Size.
  13. Mono­lin­gual: Like Win­dows, OSX also comes with about a gazil­lion lan­guages pre­in­stalled, which take sev­eral giga­bytes on your hard disk. Like­wise, OSX the oper­at­ing sys­tem also comes with a num­ber of archi­tec­tures such as Pow­erPC even if you have an Intel sys­tem, because the same OS needs to sup­port older Apple hard­ware. Any­one who has bought a new sys­tem with Intel's archi­tec­tures (the lat­est Mac­books or iMacs) can safely get rid of the other archi­tec­tures. Mono­lin­gual is a sim­ple, free util­ity that does exactly that.
  14. Tech Tools Pro: Expla­na­tion com­ing soon.
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Any­one who runs hosted remote servers and has to log into remote ter­mi­nals for reg­u­lar use, it is vital to have short­cuts that allow for quick login. SSH2 is the rec­om­mended way.

On Win­dows, there is the fan­tas­tic SSH2 tool Secure­CRT. Or if you're cash crunched, a com­bi­na­tion of Putty and Putty Con­nec­tion Man­ager works for many.

On Mac OSX and Unix/Linux sys­tems, one doesn't truly need an SSH client at all, because the "Ter­mi­nal" appli­ca­tion is inbuilt. Peo­ple talk of iTerm and such, but I have still to see a value add for such tools.

But one does miss the con­ve­nience of Secure­CRT on OSX, because I have still to find a true Secure­CRT alter­na­tive for the Mac plat­form. Some­thing that allows me to make pre-determined con­nec­tions so I can just click on them to con­nect (which tools like Jel­ly­fiSSH do) and then logs me in directly with­out prompt­ing for a pass­word (which Jel­ly­fiSHH does not do).

So I have sim­ply made aliases in my [code].profile[/code] file, which gets exe­cuted every­time you start your Ter­mi­nal win­dow (so it's a good place to put your short­cuts and any code you wish to exe­cute when the ter­mi­nal starts, such as paths).

  1. Start the Terminal.
  2. Open the pro­file file for the cur­rent user (you).
  3. pico .profile
  4. Enter a new line for our shortcut.
  5. alias s='ssh -2 -p 22 user@host.com'

Quick expla­na­tion for that com­mand in step 3. The let­ter "s" is the short­cut I make for con­nect­ing to the sniptools.com server. Change it to what you wish. This will mean that when I start Ter­mi­nal, all I need to do is type "s" and it con­nects me via SSH to the sniptools.com server. The "-p" switch is an impor­tant one because some of us with para­noid secu­rity set­tings might have a dif­fer­ent port num­ber than the default port 22 for secure SSH. The rest user/host stuff is self-explanatory. The "-2" is to force SSH2 con­nec­tions instead of older vanilla SSH.

Now. Save the pro­file file and source it to try it out:

source .profile

Sourc­ing is only for this one time, for your cur­rent Ter­mi­nal win­dow, which had already exe­cuted the pro­file file *before* we added this alias. When you start a new Ter­mi­nal ses­sion, these aliases et al will be auto­mat­i­cally set for you.

Done. Now your pro­file has the alias for "s". From now when you type "s" in your Ter­mi­nal, it will con­nect, but it will ask you for a pass­word. To get rid of the nag­ging pass­word, we need to cre­ate pub­lic authen­ti­ca­tion key for the domain. This, in fact is what Secure­CRT does behind the scenes on Win­dows too.

Here are the steps to accom­plish this. Run these one-time com­mands in order from the Ter­mi­nal window.

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# generate pub and priv keys, leave the passphrase empty
# (simply press ENTER when asked for it)
ssh-keygen
 
#copy the pub key to the remote computer
#(change port number if different from the usual 22)
#change "user" to your user name
#change "host" to your domain name
scp -P 22 ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub user@host:~/
 
#log on to the remote computer
ssh -p 22 user@host
 
#create the .ssh directory in the root login directory, if it doesn't already exist
mkdir .ssh
 
#append key to file
cat id_rsa.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
 
#delete the public key file, no longer needed
rm -f id_rsa.pub
 
#log off the remote server
exit
 
#logon to the remote server, without password prompt
ssh -2 -p 22 user@host

That's it. This is a huge time­saver. Now all I need to do to login to the sniptools.com server is type one let­ter, "s" in the Ter­mi­nal, and I'm on! Fol­low these instruc­tions for each host you con­nect to on a reg­u­lar basis and you'll love the con­ve­nience henceforth.

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Panic, the mak­ers of some fan­tas­tic soft­ware such as Trans­mit or Panic, also have the most light-weight audio con­verter for the Mac OSX platform.

It's called Audion: get it here.

It's now a FREE soft­ware. Just use the free ser­ial provided:

RNL07P0-030HWMV-4MAGDS3-4U17REX

Works per­fectly.

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I used the excel­lent "Mono­lin­gual" on OSX to delete unnec­es­sary lan­guages from my iMac. I could have sworn I did not delete the Japan­ese input sys­tem, Koto­eri. But turns out I had.

To rein­stall it, I vis­ited the usual forums and searched Google. No solu­tion. No down­load­able file.

Well, the solu­tion is simple.

  1. Insert DVD 1 of your orig­i­nal Mac OSX software.
  2. Click into the folder "Optional Install".
  3. Click on "OptionalInstalls.mpkg".
  4. Expand the menu item "Lan­guage Translations".
  5. Choose "Japan­ese".

That's it. It should install the input menu in about 2 min­utes. When you're done, eject the DVD and click on the "Inter­na­tional" option in your Sys­tem Preferences.

If the option does not show as Eng­lish (romaji) "Koto­eri", it should show up as orig­i­nal Japan­ese as in the screen­shot below:

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Finally, we can (hope­fully) test Safari on Win­dows too, but it remains to be seen how this com­pares with Fire­fox and its bat­tal­ion of exten­sions and the ever-blazing Opera.

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The MKV for­mat, although never orig­i­nally intended to share stuff online because it's large and really high qual­ity, has now become stan­dard. Espe­cially now with Blu-Ray becom­ing a stan­dard. But some of us are happy stor­ing AVI for our own use espe­cially if we can have it in decent-enough qual­ity (MKV files are usu­ally 1GB or more for, say, a film).

Google is full of tools and util­i­ties that allow MKV to AVI con­ver­sion. Many of them are share­ware. You down­load them free but then you have to cough up $29.99.

I have found the FREE tool, All2AVI ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/alltoavi/ ) does the job and does it superbly. It's fast, free, and the con­ver­sion from MKV and other for­mats to AVI hap­pens pretty effi­ciently and reliably.

If you're on OSX, you can use Visu­al­Hub or Sub­merge, but both of them are a bit unre­li­able. Visu­al­Hub in par­tic­u­lar is a fan­tas­tic way to do any con­ver­sion on Mac OSX, but if it col­lapses with a cryp­tic "Sorry, could not con­vert for some rea­son", then you may wish to use All­toAVI inside an XP vir­tual machine.

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If not to make things sim­pler for you, then for the sheer delight of it, it's kind of fun to make your Win­dows PC look like a Mac. A full theme from Fly­aki­teOSX, sounds and all, makes it a breeze.

Want a Mac look on your Win­dows machine? Skins and themes would be nice, but there's more to that when you want to REALLY emu­late a Mac OSX inter­face entirely. There are plenty of pro­grams avail­able to emu­late spe­cific fea­tures of OSX, e.g. Finder, icons, etc [exam­ple].

But Fly­akite OSX is a project that's look­ing mature, and it comes with a very com­plete theme, includ­ing sounds and mouse cur­sors and Explorer cus­tomiza­tion, things you don't typ­i­cally expect from a sim­ple 'theme'.

The web­site goes for a Mac look itself, which is a bit painful, but it's worth the download.

Before you go for it, some caveats

  1. The per­for­mance of your machine in gen­eral may be affected, of course. Not too much though.
  2. The theme does fun­da­men­tally change some core files like Explorer.exe but (a) it makes a backup so you can go back with a sim­ple unin­stall, and (b) it doesn't screw up any addi­tional func­tion­al­ity like my Groove but­ton on my Explorer bar.
  3. I don't like shad­ows under my win­dows, but that seems to built-in in the skin.
  4. Some things like Win­dows Media Player will not change. WMP has its own skin, which remains untouched.
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