Mac OS X: 2D Dock in 10.5

I don’t mind the 3D look of the OS X 10.5 dock, but I often prefer the 2D look of the old dock. Plus, I prefer the more-obvious running app indicators from the 2D dock; I find these hard to see in the 3D version. Also, sometimes I just prefer the same look for my dock whether it’s right- or bottom-oriented. Also, hidden apps (⌘H will hide, not minimize, an app’s windows) can be configured to show as transparent icons.

From a terminal:

Credit should be given to macosxhints.com for this.

Get Windows key on an old keyboard

I have a particular love of IBM keyboards, both the clicky Model M (compact) as well as scissor-key ThinkPad keyboards. Neither of these, however, has a Windows key. This key is good for much more than popping up the Start menu, so I’d like to get it back. Also, I never use Caps Lock, and have always preferred having Control in that location. So, I remapped Left Control to the Caps Lock key, and then reassigned Left Control to work as Left Windows. Works like a charm.

Explanation of the code to put into the registry can be found here, or you can just use KeyTweak to reassign.

Sync two iTunes libraries

I have two Macs, and I use iTunes on both of them. My music library is managed on my MacBook, but I want access to all of the music on my Mac Pro at home without having to stream it. What’s the easiest way to keep these synchronized? We’re dealing with a Unix, so rsync comes to the rescue:

  1. Please back up your music, in case you get the hosts swapped or something. Tar it up or something:
    tar -zcvf myMusic.tar.gz Music
  2. Make sure one computer is available to the other via SSH by enabling “Remote Login” under System Preferences/Sharing. Grab a terminal and test this:
    ssh userid@hostNameOrIPAddress
  3. Also in the terminal, in your home directory, try a test run of rsync. I am transferring files from my laptop to my desktop, from a terminal on the desktop, so the command is:
  4. Add additional -v flags to get more verbose output. Run until you feel comfortable. Take off the --dry-run and sit back.
  5. Lastly, go select “File/Add to Library…” in iTunes and select your Music/iTunes directory. It’ll churn through the files and update its local database.

Update:
Turns out, these days I hardly ever rsync between two Macs; I buy music and rip CDs into my laptop, and I have a Sonos system that accesses tunes via a shared drive attached to my network. I easily mount this drive share to my laptop, so it regularly shows up in /Volumes on my laptop. So, the rsync command line looks like I’m synchronizing two directories local to my laptop:

It’s Chrimmistime!

This week has been a devastating one for AAPL stock, but undaunted by financial realities I am now awaiting the arrival of a new Mac Pro workstation. Seems like forever ago I began my wait for this hardware refresh so I could replace my aging PowerBook 17. Minorly awesome were upgrade prices for Photoshop and Logic that were less than devastating. Unfortunately playtime is postponed until next month, delays resulting from inclusion of the sweet Nvidia 8800GT graphics. The new apartment heater will be installed as late as the end of February.

Laptop internets via Blackjack

Need access to internets on your laptop but you don’t have a cellular data card? If you have a bluetooth Windows Media smartphone (a Samsung Blackjack, for example) and an appropriate data plan, just run WindowsInternet Sharing from File Explorer on your phone, select “Bluetooth PAN” under “PC Connection”, then connect to the device with your laptop.

New iMacs, iPods nice in person

While at the mall tonight shopping for glasses, I slipped into the Apple store for another of my three-minute visits to check out the new hardware.

  • The new iMac is a gorgeous kitchen computer, even with the horrendous glare of its glossy screen¹. Unfortunately I’ll never buy an all-in-one.
  • As I expected, the new iPod Nano is very nice in person. It looks fat in pictures, but it’s a slick little wafer in the hand. If the market is still there for music players, I suspect this one will charm anyone who touches it.
  • The new aluminum face on all the iPods, including the “Classics”, is a nice smoothly beveled surface. Nicer on the Nano than the heavier Classic 160GB, but a nice departure from the plastic lacquer look.
  • The user interface on the Classic is much slicker than the old UI, with plenty of smooth motion and fades. I’m not very fond of the split-screen strategy, and it’s a bit slow moving back in its menus, but they’re doing a lot of cool with not much processor.
  • I typed about twenty seconds on the new thin Mac keyboards, and I wasn’t disgusted. It’s no M, but the feel is tolerable, and the look is undeniably slick.

¹Was I the only person who hated the glare of CRT screens in 1998, even on a gorgeous 19″ Wega? Overly saturated colors are not worth the glare, people!

Software love: Thunderbird, Google Desktop

Windows Google Desktop love: Set “Quick Find” preferences to “Launch programs/files by default” to be able to run programs quickly. Hit Ctrl twice, start typing the program name, then hit enter to launch. (Mac Google Desktop is configured like this by default.)

Thunderbird Nostalgy plug-in love: Press “s” and start typing (with tab-completion) the name of the folder you want to move the message to. Joy.

Vista desktop dead

I’ve been enthusiastically using 64-bit Windows Vista on my work desktop for the past few months, and with good luck. Until recently, that is, when it began to blue-screen on an alarmingly regular basis. I don’t know whether to blame a bad driver (most likely), bad hard drive (doubtful), or bad memory (very unlikely, since the machine was very stable for a long while). Unfortunately, I have little idea how to quickly diagnose the problem. Whatever the cause, I honestly haven’t found the Vista experience on a desktop even remotely worth jeopardizing stability, and I’m rebuilding with XP. Now, if I could just get my XP laptop to suspend and hibernate properly…

Even with philosophical and political leanings aside, sometimes I just really hate Windows.

Easy shots at Vista’s UAC

Apple has never been shy about taking cheap shots at Microsoft, and a new ad pokes fun at the very clunky User Account Control security feature in Vista.

What is so wrong about informing a user that an application is attempting to do something potentially nefarious? Most people have no idea what computer applications do in the first place, so how will they be able to distinguish between good and bad activity? This brings to mind a classic Raymond Chen essay on why the default answer to every dialog is cancel. (His book is very good.)

I’m currently using 64-bit Vista Ultimate on my work desktop and I have not deactivated UAC, but I often wonder why I shouldn’t. The UAC feature attracts a little too much attention because of a single flawed visual effect: The entire screen attempts to darken behind the yes/no dialog. However, don’t think subtle fade; it’s more like “did my monitor just go out?” Early Vista builds were even worse, but it’s still anything but smooth. It’s like they’re asking for it.