Death of Google Reader
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 June 2013, 10:46 am
I use to use Google Reader to send stories from RSS feeds to here.  I have moved my RSS to Feedly (www.feedly.com).  I like Feedly however I have not found any way to "Send too Blogger" however Feedly can send to Twitter.

So, for now, I'll send interesting articles to my Twitter account.

https://twitter.com/mikelibassi






How to Change an Icon in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 June 2013, 4:46 pm
How to Change an Icon in Mac OS X:
You can change the icon of just about any file, folder, volume, or application in Mac OS X. This is an easy way to customize the appearance of items in the file system, and it can be a fun way to add a customized look to the desktop and home folder on a Mac. It only takes a moment per icon, and they can either be changed to icons belonging to another file or app, or changed to any image, and we’ll show how to do both.
Change an Icon on the Mac
Longtime Mac users know this process has been the same since the earliest days of Mac OS (System 7 was when icons first became changeable this way without the need for resource editing), but many newer OS X users are unfamiliar with the process, and thus it’s worth covering.

Change an Icon to an Image in Mac OS X

Customizing icons with any image is very easy. In this example we’ll switch the default Automator application icon for this app that quits everything to a customized icon created through Preview:
  • Open the image to use as an icon in Preview, then hit Command+A to “Select All”, then hit Command+C to Copy the image to the clipboard
  • Copy an image to the clipboard to use it as an icon
  • Now select the file/folder in the Finder that you want to change icons for, then hit Command+i to bring up the “Get Info” window (Get Info can also be accessed from the File menu and right-click in Finder)
  • Change an icon in Mac OS X
  • Click on the icon in the upper left corner, then hit Command+V to paste the image and set the new icon
  • Change an icon in Mac OS X
  • Close out of Get Info
The end result is a custom icon appearing in the Finder:
Custom icon set in Mac OS X
For best results, always use a transparent PNG file for icons, and aim for the origin image to be 512×512 pixels to insure that it will scale up and down properly without becoming pixelated. Using a transparent PNG (or GIF) makes sure the icon won’t have a white border around it when placed in the Dock or on the desktop. If you’ve never done so before, it is very easy to create a transparent PNG on the Mac by using the built-in Preview app. Standard images do work, but without transparency they will draw a border around the icon, looking more like the auto-generated image file thumbnails that appear in the Finder than what an icon should like like.
The video below demonstrates how quick this is, from copying the origin image to use as the icon, then setting it as the new customized icon for the destination app. From start to finish takes less than half a minute:

Customizing icons to have the same icon as one found elsewhere is more or less the same, but rather than going through Preview to open and copy an origin image, you can do everything from the Get Info panel as we’ll discuss next.

Changing an Icon to Another Icon

Similar to changing an icon to an image, you can also swap icons around between items, files, and folders. For example, if you like the icon of an app in your /Applications/ folder and want to apply that same icon to something different in your home folder, this is how you’d do that:
  • Select the origin icon or item in the Finder, and then hit Command+i to summon “Get Info”
  • Click on the icon in the upper left corner and then hit Command+C to copy the icon to the clipboard, then close out of Get Info
  • Now select the destination icon or item in the Finder, hit Command+i again, and click the same icon in the upper left corner of the Get Info window
  • Hit Command+V to paste the icon from the clipboard onto the destination file/folder
  • Close out of Get Info
This image shows the before and after, which has taken a folder with a generic icon and changed it to the icon of a heart found in a System Resources directory:
Change an Icon on the Mac
Switching icons from another icon is how to put to use the hidden Apple hardware icons in Mac OS X, and many of the free icon packs downloaded from the web from sites like Interface Lift. Typically those icon packs are collections of folders or empty files with an icon assigned to each file or folder in the container, making them very easy to copy and paste and use elsewhere.
By the way, if you like a particular apps icon and want to use that elsewhere, you can use Preview app to quickly extract the highest resolution version of any apps icon.



How to Create a Password Protected PDF File in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 May 2013, 4:52 pm
How to Create a Password Protected PDF File in Mac OS X:
Password protect a PDF If you need to create an encrypted PDF with password protection, forget about buying Adobe Acrobat or other expensive software, because Mac OS X has you covered with built-in tools. Yes, the Mac can natively create secure password protected PDF documents, meaning it’s free, and it’s also impressively easy to do.
The great thing about the protection is that it’s achievable through almost any Mac app, because the password layer is created from the OS X standard “Print to PDF” trick. Essentially that means if you can print the document, you can probably password protect it as well. For this walkthrough we’re going to use TextEdit, but you are free to use another app if that’s what you’d prefer.

Add Password Protection to a PDF File in Mac OS X for Free

This can be used to convert an existing file to a protected version, or to add protection to a document:
  • Open any file you want to convert to a password protected PDF
  • Go to File > Print, and click the “PDF” button to choose “Save as PDF…”
  • Create a secure PDF in Mac OS X
  • Name the file as usual, and optionally, provide an author and title, then click the “Security Options” button
  • Add a password to protect the PDF with Security Options
  • Check the box next to “Require password to open document” and enter a password, enter it again to verify, then choose “OK”
  • Require a password to open the PDF
  • Save the PDF document as usual
Optionally, you can also set passwords to be able to print the document, or even copy text, images, or anything else from it. That’s not what we’re focusing on here though, we’re aiming for broader password protection.
Once the file has been saved, go and locate the secured PDF that was just created. You will find the icon has changed from the normal PDF indicator icon to one with a lock on it, showing that it has been secured with password protection.
Opening the protected PDF in Preview app will bring up the following screen, informing the document is password protected and to enter it in order to view the contents of the file:
Open the password protected PDF
Entering the correct password reveals the full contents of the PDF instantly:
Opening a password protected PDF file
Test it out if you’d like, but entering the wrong password does nothing. Attempting to view the file in Quick Look also asks for the authentication, and trying to forcibly open the encrypted PDF will result in a page full of gibberish appearing rather than any of the actual content.
This is an excellent feature to use when sharing confidential documents through standard file sharing methods, messages, or email, and it’s also a nice trick to manage your own private information that may require password protection, particularly if a single file does not need to be modified again in the future. The limitation on editing the PDF is perhaps the main caveat of this approach, but that is fairly expected behavior with most .pdf documents anyway.
Though this PDF trick is reasonably secure and will be acceptable for many casual uses, it should not be viewed as having the same level of security as something like a strongly encrypted folder image or archive. For situations where more security is needed, and for groups of files that need password protection, a protected zip archive is a great way to go, and it also adds a level of file compression which makes it ideal for remote file sharing and transfers. Otherwise, for local files that need occasional access combined with editing abilities yet maintained with very strong encryption, using the protected files trick locks down a folder which is then accessible as a disk image only after a proper password has been entered. The latter is perhaps the most secure option available in OS X that doesn’t include FileVaulting the entire drive, thanks to the extremely strong 128-bit AES encryption that applies to not only the folder, but it’s contents as well.



How to Save Web Pages as PDF Files on the iPad & iPhone
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 May 2013, 8:47 pm
How to Save Web Pages as PDF Files on the iPad & iPhone:
PDF icon One little feature that iOS really needs is the ability to natively “print to PDF” directly on the iPad and iPhone, a popular trick on the Mac and in the PC world that allows you to digitally print anything and, in this case, save the contents of any web document or web page as a self-contained PDF document, allowing it to be read later, printed, or used for whatever other purpose. Since this great feature isn’t around on the iPhone and iPad at the moment, we can use a nice bookmarklet trick combined with a free third party web service to be able to add a “Save as PDF” option to Safari in iOS, which allows you to ‘print’ or convert any web page to a PDF file that is then accessible to apps like iBooks. Let’s walk through the process of setting this up:

1: Create a “Print to PDF” Bookmarklet in Safari

First we’ll create a bookmarklet that provides the PDF conversion service, this is easy and free:
  • Open Safari and go to any web page – this one doesn’t matter, it’s going to be modified anyway
  • Copy the following javascript text exactly as it appears so that it resides in the iOS clipboard:
  • javascript:pdf_url=location.href;location.href='http://pdfmyurl.com?url='+escape(pdf_url)
  • Tap the Share button and then choose “Bookmark”, name the bookmark something like “Save as PDF” or “Convert to PDF” and choose “Save” – ignore the URL for now
  • Convert a webpage to PDF in iOS Safari by using a bookmarklet
  • Now tap the Bookmarks button, and tap the Bookmarks tab at the bottom, and now choose the “Edit” button
  • Modify the bookmark to turn it into a PDF bookmarklet
  • Select the “Convert to PDF” bookmark you just created/saved and then tap into the URL feed
  • Delete the existing URL, paste in the javascript code you copied in the first step, making sure it appears exactly as intended
  • The Save a webpage as PDF bookmarklet in Safari
  • Tap “Done” and then close out of the bookmarks menu
Creating the bookmarklet is now finished and you are ready to use it.
Optional Web-to-PDF Converter URL: Though there shouldn’t be any issues with the above javascript and PDF conversion service, we’ are going to provide an alternative web-to-PDF conversion Javascript just in case the aforementioned one stops working or is problematic for you.
javascript:void(window.open('http://www.web2pdfconvert.com/convert.aspx?cURL='+escape(location.href)))
Everything is otherwise the same, except that this uses a different service, and the javascript will launch the converted webpage into a new window where it can then be saved. In testing, they both worked the same and thus we don’t have a preference one way or another, but considering they are free services there could be some limitations on one and not the other that we don’t know about. Anyway, use whichever you like.

2: Saving the Web Page as a PDF

Now to save a webpage as PDF all you need to do is visit the webpage you want to save as a PDF document, then select the bookmarklet that was just created.
  • Visit any web page (OSXDaily.com is always a good one, right?) and now pull down the Bookmarks menu and choose the “Convert to PDF” bookmarklet you created to instantly convert the web page to a PDF file
  • Use the "Convert to PDF" in iPad Safari
  • Select “Open in iBooks” to save the webpages PDF into the iBooks library, or choose “Open In” to select another destination app
  • Save the PDF to iBooks
iBooks will launch and you’ll then have direct access to the webpage as a PDF file stored locally on the iOS device. If the document is multipage, it’ll be broken up into unique pages with thumbnail browsing access.
A webpage saved to iBooks as a PDF file
Depending on how often you use this, you may want to set the Bookmarks bar to always be visible in Safari on the iPad, thus allowing you to always have access to the “Print PDF” bookmarklet that was created. The only real downside to showing the bookmarks bar all the time is a slight reduction in available viewing space of webpages, and it does clutter the screen slightly.
Don’t forget to check out some other helpful bookmarklets for iOS, each of which can be used to add some great features that are currently missing from Safari.



How to Add Text to Photos Easily Using Preview in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 May 2013, 6:53 pm
How to Add Text to Photos Easily Using Preview in Mac OS X:
Adding text to images is a fairly simple process to begin with that is made even easier with Preview, the basic image viewing app that is bundled on all Macs. Most people don’t think of Preview when they think of making adjustments and edits to pictures like this, but it works just fine, and because Preview has shipped with every version of OS X from the dawn of time, you’ll never have to download a third party app to just place some words onto a photo.
Placing text on a picture with Preview, free in Mac OS X
If you’ve never delved into Preview’s font and text tools, here’s how to use them.

How to Add Text to Photos with Preview’s Text Tool

  • Open the photo to add text to into Preview app
  • Click the “Show Edit Toolbar” button in the toolbar, then choose the “Text Tool” button
  • Click with the text tool onto the section of photo where to add the text, then type out the words you want to add
These are the initial buttons to press to reveal the Edit Toolbar, and show the text tool:
Add text to photos in Preview
Once the text is placed, you can move it around just by grabbing it with the cursor.
It’s simple enough to add text, but you can stylize it too by changing the font, font size, or color:
  • Change the font or font size by selecting all the text (Command+A) and then hitting the “Show Fonts” button
  • Change the color by selecting the text and selecting a new color from the Colors menu, or by choosing “Other Color” and finding one in the color picker
And here are the text tools, color selector, and font tools:
Add text to photos, change the font color, adjust font size, etc
Here is what Preview looks like with both the font and color panels open:
Adding text to images in Preview app under Mac OS X
When finished, save the photo as usual, or use “Save As” or “Export” to create a new file with the text placed on the image.
This video walkthrough shows how fast this entire process is, it takes under a minute to open a file, add some text to the photo, adjust it, then save the file. Not bad for a simple tool bundled with Mac OS X:

You can also use Preview to add cartoon style speech bubbles to pictures if you feel like going with a more goofy look.
Preview is pretty decent but if you’re looking for more options for stylizing the text you’ll need to turn to third party applications. Interestingly enough, you can’t add words or text to pictures with iPhoto, at least with the current versions, though that may change in the future. One simple and free third party solution is to use Skitch, which offers a few more text styling options like outlined text, or better yet, go all out and buy an app like Pixelmator, which is a full-fledged image editor and Photoshop competitor at a fraction of the cost ($15 as of writing).



7 Advanced Tricks to Reclaim Disk Space for Pro Users of Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 May 2013, 3:14 pm
7 Advanced Tricks to Reclaim Disk Space for Pro Users of Mac OS X:
Pro tips for advanced users to free up hard drive space in OS X Running out of disk space is never fun, and drive space comes at a premium for those of us with smaller SSD drives like the MacBook Air with a 64GB or 128GB drive. These tricks are fairly advanced and thus aimed at the pro segment of SSD users who are comfortable modifying system functions and files through the command line with potentially risky commands like ‘rm -rf’ and wildcards – if that does not describe your skill set, then this article is not for you and you should use these easy tips instead.
Also, some of these tricks disable certain system functions and may have side effects that would be considered undesirable to the average user, so be sure to understand that before using them on a given Mac. If in doubt about a specific trick or command syntax, it’s safer to avoid it completely and rely on more traditional methods offered here of reclaiming disk space when things get tight on a Mac.
WAIT! Advanced users only! Seriously. If you’re a newcomer to OS X this is not for you. One minor typo could result in file loss and damage to core OS files due to the destructive nature of the ‘sudo rm’ command. Do not use copy and paste, and be sure you have the precise path set before executing the command. You have been warned, so proceed at your own risk.

1: Disable SafeSleep Hibernation Mode

Space freed: 4GB – 16GB

This turns off OS X’s native hibernation function, known as SafeSleep. Essentially, hibernation dumps the contents of RAM to a sleepimage file on the hard disk when a Mac is put to sleep or runs out of battery. That hibernation file is the same size as your total RAM, meaning a Mac with 4GB of RAM will have a 4GB hibernation file, 8GB RAM will be an 8GB file, etc. Turning this feature off will that file from being created, thereby freeing up system RAM. The downside to this is that if a Mac runs out of battery life, you will not be able to resume instantly where things left off – in other words, keep Auto-Save enabled and save your documents when you’re nearing the end of battery life.
  • Open Terminal and enter the following command:
  • sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0
  • Next go to /private/var/vm/ to delete the existing sleep image file:
  • cd /private/var/vm/
  • Remove the sleep image file with the following string:
  • sudo rm sleepimage
  • Still in /private/var/vm/ we must now prevent OS X from creating the file, so we’ll make a dummy and prevent write access to it:
  • touch sleepimage
  • Finally let’s prevent access:
  • chmod 000 /private/var/vm/sleepimage
This will prevent sleepimage from being created and hibernation mode from working at all. This can lead to data loss if your battery runs out and you have not saved a file recently, so be sure to keep on top of your important documents once battery life gets low.
This can be undone by deleting the new sleepimage file again, then restoring hibernatemode to “3″:
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3; sudo rm /private/var/vm/sleepimage
This is an advanced trick and should be treated accordingly.

2: Remove Speech Voices

Space freed: 500MB – 3GB+

Don’t use text-to-speech and don’t care about all the fancy voices included with OS X? You can reclaim a significant amount of disk space by trashing them, the total space saved depends on how many voices have been installed.
  • Back at a Terminal window, enter the following command:
  • cd /System/Library/Speech/
  • Now to delete the entire Voices directory:
  • sudo rm -rf Voices/*
Do note that text to speech will no longer function at all if you do this. It’s also possible to delete all voices using the above method, then manually add a single one if you’d prefer to retain some voice capabilities in Mac OS X.

3: Delete All System Logs in OS X

Freed space: 100MB-2GB

Log files build up over time, though ultimately how much disk space they take up depends on a variety of things like your individual computer usage, errors, what services are running, and many other things. You’ll lose the contents of apps like Console by doing this, but if you’re not interested in reading OS X log files for debugging and troubleshooting purposes this isn’t much of a loss:
sudo rm -rf /private/var/log/*
Log files will continue to generate over time, so you may want to repeat this on occasion. You could technically prevent their creation by using the same chmod approach used to block sleepimage files, but that is not recommended.

4: Delete QuickLook Caches

Freed space: 100MB-300MB

Quick Look is that fancy file preview ability in OS X that is summoned by selecting any file in the Finder or an Open/Save dialog and hitting the spacebar. Unsurprisingly, QuickLook relies on caching to behave quickly, and those cache files can add up. Here’s how to trash them:
sudo rm -rf /private/var/folders/

5: Remove Emacs

Freed space: 60MB+

Don’t use emacs? Don’t even know what it is? You probably don’t need it then (It’s a command line text editor, for those unfamiliar). You’re not going to save GB’s with this one, but every MB helps on a small SSD:
sudo rm -rf /usr/share/emacs/
No more emacs, but don’t worry CLI users, you will still have vi and nano.

6: Delete tmp Files

Space freed: 500MB-5GB

/private/var/tmp/ is a system cache, and though it should clear itself after a reboot, it doesn’t always happen. Plus, if you have a 40 day uptime and don’t reboot often it won’t clear itself either, thus you can do it yourself. This can have unintended consequences, so this is best done freshly after a reboot, or when you quit all open applications and have no apps open or running. You’ll want to aim at the temporary files themselves that start with “TM” and not the entire directory, thus the command would be:
cd /private/var/tmp/; rm -rf TM*
Again, this can have unintended consequences, so do not do this while apps are running.

7: Trash the Cache

Space freed: 1GB-10GB+

Caches can be everything from web browsing history, to temporary app metadata, to apps very own scratch disks. Ultimately how large these user caches get depend on what apps are run, how often the Mac is rebooted, and general user activity, thus the size of these files can have a wide range. It’s not just power user apps that can grow large though, many streaming radio apps can create huge cache files that sit around for an eternity. Just like deleting tmp files, this is best done after a reboot or after quitting all open apps and thus have nothing running at the moment, or else unintended consequences could occur, resulting in strange behavior for open apps.
cd ~/Library/Caches/; rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/*
A safer approach to this is available here, which uses the Finder to delete user caches manually, thus removing the risks of using rm -rf with a wildcard.
Thanks to Fernando Almeida for providing five of these tricks! Got some awesome tips you want to share with us and the world? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or email – comments are temporarily disabled



A Quick Fix for “No Batteries Available” & Fans Running Constantly on a MacBook Air:
If you’ve ever had a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro’s battery disappear at random it can be a disconcerting feeling. This is often accompanied with the battery menu having an “X” through it and saying “No Batteries Available”, a very sluggish Mac, and even after a reboot or not the Mac will often have fans running at full speed despite nothing unusual showing up in Activity Monitor. To top it off, the MagSafe charger light typically is not lighting up, and the computer won’t even sleep. Uh oh, something is terribly wrong, right? Well, sort of – but don’t worry, this is all related and it’s a peace of cake to fix.
Before getting into any specifics or the details, let’s cover the solution: an SMC reset.

Get the Battery Back & Fans Normal By Resetting the SMC

This is a technical process but it’s very easy to follow. This will be the same on a MacBook Air & MacBook Pro Retina, technically any Mac with a built-in non-removable battery. You can find instructions for other Macs and older Macs here if needed.
  • Shut down the MacBook and connect the MagSafe power adapter – let the Mac completely power down before proceeding any further
  • Hold Shift+Control+Option+Power concurrently for a few seconds, then release
  • Press the Power button as usual to start the MacBook
Here are the precise key sequences for what an SMC reset looks like on a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro (Retina) keyboard:
Key sequences to reset the SMC controller on a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina
After the Mac has rebooted normally again, things should be all well and good again. Here’s an example of the “No Batteries Available” menu, then after the fix the battery is shown functioning as normal again:
No batteries available, shown on a MacBook Air
Note the total elapsed time in the clock is 2 minutes. In other words, it took only two minutes fix the entire problem, from adding up all the power-related issues, saving an important file or two, shut down the Mac, reset the SMC with the aforementioned keyboard sequence, then reboot the Mac to normalcy again.

Power Preferences will reset too

It’s important to point out that resetting the SMC will cause you to lose many power-specific options and customizations you may have made to OS X with System Preferences, ranging from screen brightness levels, to settings in Energy Saver for how the Mac handles things like auto-dimming based on lighting and power sources, screen sleep behavior, sleep when idle, etc. Thus you will have to go back and make those minor power customizations again.

Why does this happen?

You won’t always find an exact reason as to why the system management controller goes haywire along with core system and power functions, but the basic idea is that at some point something was corrupted, maybe for a reason or maybe not.

What is an SMC anyway?

For those who don’t know, SMC stands for System Management Controller, and it handles power functions and other core hardware roles on Macs, thus inexplicable issues with power management are almost always resolved by resetting the SMC. This is why for problems or oddities with power management like batteries disappearing, refusal to sleep, a very sluggish Mac combined with system fans blazing loudly, graphics cards acting up, are all very classic symptoms of needing to reset the SMC to get things back on track. Take the time to do it, it works.
Having run into this twice on two different Macs in the past week it’s certainly a worthwhile topic to cover, even if it’s a relatively rare problem to deal with. At the very least, it helps to be informed of these kind of things, so if any of the above happens to you, before calling AppleCare or taking a trip to the Genius Bar, take a moment to reset the SMC yourself, it will almost certainly fix the issue completely.



Use a Single External Hard Drive for Time Machine Backups and File Storage
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 May 2013, 2:45 pm
Use a Single External Hard Drive for Time Machine Backups and File Storage:
Time Machine Having regular backups of your Mac is a necessity, and there is really no easier way to consistently back up your Mac than by using the excellent Time Machine feature of OS X. But with the enormous size of external hard drives and their prices becoming cheaper and cheaper, it’s not always necessary to dedicate an entire gigantic hard disk just for Time Machine backups, particularly if your Mac has a smaller hard drive and thus the backups won’t take up that much space in general. For these situations, configuring the single external hard disk to have dual use is an excellent choice. The end result will be an external storage drive split into two partitions, one to be setup exclusively for Time Machine backups, and another partition intended for typical file system access and file storage.
The basic process may be familiar to Mac users who have setup drive partitioning and backups before, but we’ll cover every step to be sure everything is configured correctly.
Requirements
Note on buying external hard drives: it’s almost always cheaper to buy a generic external hard drive and format it yourself to be Mac compatible. Drives that are pre-formatted for OS X are usually no different than a standard external drive, other than having a higher price tag.

Step 1: Format the Drive to “Mac OS Extended” Compatibility

The first set of steps involves formatting the drive. You can partition a drive without formatting, but we’ll cover this process anyway because many third party hard drives ship with Windows-centric FAT32 or NTFS file systems which, while they are compatible for dual use with both Mac and Windows, are not compatible for using as a Time Machine drive, and as they are not exclusively formatted for the Mac, will have other limitations which are not desirable for exclusive Mac OS X usage.
This process will erase all data on the hard drive, meaning this is best to pursue when you first get a new external drive for backups and file storage.
  • Connect the external hard drive to the Mac
  • Launch Disk Utility, found in /Applications/Utilities/
  • Select the external hard drive from the drive list on the left, then click the “Erase” tab
  • Choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the format type, ignore the naming convention for now, then click “Erase” and confirm the drive will be erased
Erase external hard drive to Mac compatible format
How long it takes to format a drive depends on a variety of factors, including drive speed, interface speed, and total disk size. Just let the process go, don’t be surprised if it takes a few minutes.

Step 2: Create Two Partitions for Time Machine & Storage

Next we’ll set up the external hard disk to have two separate partitions, one for the Time Machine backups and the other for regular file system access.
A quick note about sizing: It is good practice to set the Time Machine drive to be at least 2x-3x your primary hard disk size. For example, if the Mac has a built-in 128GB SSD drive, setting the Time Machine partition to be at least 384GB or larger would be ideal. You can certainly get away with smaller sizes, but because Time Machine takes incremental snapshots of the data on your Mac, the backups will simply capture more data for a longer period of time if the partition size is larger. To be clear, backups will not stop once the maximum space is reached, it will simply rewrite older backups, thus preventing access to old drive states as they become rewritten. We’re going to use an even 50/50 partition scheme for this example (specifically, a 1.5TB drive split into two 750GB parts) though you can configure yours as appropriate.
  • When the drive has finished formatting, choose the “Partition” tab
  • Pull down the “Partition Layout” menu and select “2 Partitions” to split the drive into two equal partition sizes divided 50/50
  • Adjust the partition size allocation if desired by dragging the boxes to adjust size, or by manually selecting a partition and entering a desired allocation in the “Size” input box
  • Name the two partitions accordingly, select the first partition and name it something like “Time Machine Backup”, then select the other partition and name it something like “File Storage”
  • Choose “Apply”, then confirm the changes by clicking “Partition” when asked
Split a hard drive for time machine and file storage dual use
Partitioning a drive can take a few minutes, depending on the total capacity of the disk. Once that process is finished you can quit out of Disk Utility.

Step 3: Set Time Machine to Backup to a Specific Partition

With the most technical aspects now finished, you can specify the partition to become the Time Machine backup. This will also initiate the first backup of the entire Mac with Time Machine, which is usually the lengthiest backup since it’s going to back up every single thing.
  • Go to “System Preferences” from the  Apple menu and then choose “Time Machine”
  • Click the “Select Disk” button and let the list populate
  • Choose the partition named “Time Machine Backup” from the list, then confirm the choice by clicking “Use Backup Disk”
  • Let Time Machine backup for the first time
Specify the Time Machine partition
While you’re in the Time Machine settings, you can choose to encrypt the backups by checking the appropriate box (yes, you can encrypt them later if you change your mind), and you can also exclude files or folders from the backups through simple drag and drop specification by way of the “Options” button if desired. The default configuration remains unencrypted and excludes nothing, which is satisfactory for many use cases.
Again, the first initial backup process will take quite a while since the entire Mac is being backed up. Let the entire process run through its course, this may be best done overnight if the primary Mac hard drive is enormous since it can several hours to perform the initial backup. Backups performed after the initial sequence will be much faster and smaller, because they will be delta backups, focusing on files that have been added, deleted, or changed from the Mac, rather than just copying the entire drive and it’s untouched contents over and over again.

All done! Easy backups and access to classic file storage are good to go

Now that everything is setup you will have one partition automatically serving as the backup drive, and the other accessible as usual through the file system for general file storage of things like movies, large video collections, pictures, media, downloads, or whatever else. How to differentiate between the two drives? Other than the obvious name differences that were specified during configuration, you’ll discover the icons serve as an indicator of which partition/drive does what purpose. The normal file system storage partition will have a standard orange external drive icon, and the Time Machine partition will have a green icon with the backup logo on it.
Accessing the standard file system partition is done through any Finder window, where it will appear in the sidebar under “Devices”, or if you have drive icons set to show up on the desktop, it will appear there.



How to Change File Ownership in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 April 2013, 9:26 pm
How to Change File Ownership in Mac OS X:
User icon Though it’s somewhat rare to encounter ownership and permissions errors in OS X, it can happen, particularly when an account has been moved, or a files owner has been modified by a third party application. Oftentimes you can just run through the process to repair user permissions, but that’s not always guaranteed to sort out a problem, and in some situations you need to adjust a files ownership directly on either a single document or a group of files before the intended user will regain proper access to the file. For these situations, there are two ways to manually change a files ownership, through the Finder and also through the command line. We’ll cover both, though for more advanced users the chown command is really much faster, and in some respects, it’s easier too.

Changing a Files Ownership through Finder in Mac OS X

You can change a files ownership through the same Get Info panel that lets you adjust permissions in the OS X Finder:
  • Select the file in the Finder, then hit Command+i to summon the “Get Info” window
  • Click the arrow alongside “Sharing & Permissions” to reveal the ownership and permissions options
  • Select the lock icon to unlock preferences
  • Click the [+] button to add a new owner, then add the user from the list and choose “Select”
  • Now select the name and click the gear icon, selecting “Make (username) the owner”
Change file ownership in Mac OS X
While going through the Finder is undoubtedly easy, it’s still several steps long and the Terminal can be faster in many ways. Don’t be intimidated by a command prompt, we’ll walk through the process and as you’ll see it’s actually pretty simple.

Change File Ownership with chown from the Command Line

Using the command line is generally considered more advanced, but for some situations it’s not only faster than going through the graphical interface, but in some regards it’s easier too. Here we’ll walk through the basics of changing file owners through the ‘chown’ command, which is standard in Mac OS X and also nearly all variations of unix.
Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities/ to get started.
The syntax in it’s simplest form is:
chown [username] [file]
For a usage example, to change the ownership of a file named “test-file.txt” to the user “Bob” the command would be:
chown Bob test-file.txt
Keep in mind that the user name you’re looking to use is the account short name, which is usually what a home directory is named after. If you’re not sure what the short user name is, type ‘whoami’ into the terminal to get the current short name, or type “ls /Users” to see a list of all user accounts on the current Mac.
Change a file owner from the command line with chown
If you’re altering a system files ownership or another users files that you don’t have read and write access to, you can always proceed chown with ‘sudo’ to use chown as super user and force the change:
sudo chown bob ~/Desktop/test-file.txt
Typically you won’t need to change the group of a file, but you can do that with chown as well by appending it to the desired username with a colon like this:
sudo chown bob:staff ~/Desktop/test-file.txt
Again, you usually won’t need to change the files group, though occasionally you will run into a file that has somehow lost or misappropriated both it’s owning user and the access level group it once belonged to.
In OS X, the group is usually either ‘staff’ for general user files that are not admin level, ‘admin’ for administrative level user files like applications, preferences, and connected drives, and ‘wheel’ for superuser access to core OS components like /bin, /library, /home, /etc, /usr/, etc
Anyway, use whichever method is right for your needs, but for almost all cases of adjusting file ownership these days I launch the Terminal and use chown. That’s mostly a matter of preference, but I’ve never been a giant fan of the Get Info panels handling of ownership, though it’s usually fine for making quick adjustments to permissions.



How to Block Spam Text Messages on the iPhone (or Any Phone)
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 April 2013, 9:28 am
How to Block Spam Text Messages on the iPhone (or Any Phone):
Text Message icon Having been inundated with spam text messages and SMS lately on my iPhone, I went looking for a solution to put an end to it all. Though it’s not as simple as it should be, there is a way to block virtually all spam texts from ever reaching your phone, and it actually works. To do so we’ll have to go through the respective cellular carrier you use, but to understand why this proposed solution it’s helpful to understand the problem a bit more.

How Text Spam Works

Almost all text spammers use tons of mass generated phone numbers and user names on free services like Yahoo Messenger to bulk send texts outward. This is why text spam usually arrives from an address like “141008000″ or some other nonexistent number that can’t receive texts back, because it’s not coming from a real phone number, but instead some free web-based or messenger service. They then spam out to thousands of randomly guessed phone numbers in sequences that are attached to an email address for a cellular provider, like [random-phone-number]@[carrier-texting-email-domain] – this will look something like 5551112222@txt.att.net, and any email sent to that address will then arrive to that phone number as an SMS message. What the spammer then does is increment the numbers upward, meaning the next spam message will be sent to the phone number at 5551112223@txt.att.net and the next to 5551112224@txt.att.net and so on. This is all done automatically through scripting, and since the numbers and usernames sending out the spam messages are also randomly generated in bulk, it’s almost impossible to gather a list of them to put into the same type of block list that we can use to block phone numbers on the iPhone, and even if you did add them since they use so many different services it would hardly matter anyway.
Anatomy of text message spam
Knowing and understanding all of this, to block text spam you’ll need to go through your cell carrier provider and disable the email texting feature, thereby preventing your phones email address from being able to receive texts (If you didn’t even know that your phone number had an email address attached to it for receiving text messages, well you’re not alone there either, but it’s a fairly old feature that doesn’t get much use these days now that services like iMessages and WhatsApp are so commonly used).
Enough talk, let’s get blocking! Note that all of these options are account-wide, meaning if you and your family share an cell account, it will work to block spam for all numbers associated with that account.

Blocking Text Spam with AT&T

I have AT&T so we’ll cover blocking text spammers through there first:
  • Go to http://mymessages.wireless.att.com and set up the account for your number if you haven’t done so yet – this is different than your standard AT&T account
  • Once logged in, go to Preferences > Blocking Options
  • Under “Email Delivery Control” check boxes for both “Block all text messages sent to you as email” and “Block all multimedia messages sent to you as email”
  • Next, under “Mobile number control” toggle the menu to “BLOCK” to prevent all incoming messages from YOURPHONENUMBER@txt.att.net from ever coming to your phone
  • Click “Submit” at the bottom to save the preferences
Block spam text messages with AT&T
Optionally, you can sent direct “Allow Lists” and “Block Lists” in the same menu, but again because the spammers are using random free services and domains, it’s very hard to track these directly and trying to create a block list is fruitless. On the other hand, if someone you want to communicate with actually does send you texts as emails, go ahead and add them to the allowed list.
Log out and enjoy your new text-spam free iPhone on AT&T!

Blocking Spam Texts on Verizon

  • Go to http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/myverizonlp/ and login to your Verizon account (register if you haven’t yet)
  • Go to Preferences and Text Messaging, then go to Text Blocking
  • Adjust settings to block from BOTH the web and from email
Note: without a Verizon iPhone handy we had to rely on second hand information for this from someone who isn’t the most technically savvy, but an older article from 2008 on the New York Times confirms the general method, though they suggest going to http://vtext.com instead, which now seems more like a general messaging portal.

Block Text Spam on T-Mobile & Sprint

Borrowing information from the same NYTimes article:
Sprint:
  • Log in to sprint.com account, go to Text Messaging > Settings & Preferences > Text Messaging Options and disable email sending
T-Mobile

In depth instructions can be found on T-Mobile Support (thanks Warren!), but the basis is:
  • Log into the T-Mobile account and go to Communication Tools
  • Disable text messages sent from email
Note: If any readers have T-Mobile or Sprint and can confirm these instructions by leaving a comment with the correct method that would be fantastic, thanks in advance!
Once configured on your respective cellular carrier, you should never see one of these annoying messages again:
Text message spam on the iPhone
This includes even if you eventually have a phone other than an iPhone, whether that’s an old fashioned dumb-phone, a Windows Phone, Blackberry, or Android… as long as the carrier stays the same and so does your account, the settings change will follow you. If you do change cellular providers though, you will need to make the Email Text Message adjustments again for new cell carrier.



Nmap for Mac OS X Explores Networks, Scans Ports, and More
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 March 2013, 9:25 pm
Nmap for Mac OS X Explores Networks, Scans Ports, and More:
nmap for Mac OS X
Nmap is a powerful command line network discovery utility that lets you review network inventory, host response and uptime, and perform security auditing through port scans, OS and firewall detection, and more. Though it’s free (and open source) and ships along with many versions of linux, it doesn’t come standard with OS X installations, and thus must be installed separately. Nmap is generally fairly advanced, but it has plenty of useful applications even for those of us who are not network administrators and security professionals, and it can also be helpful for simple network setup tasks and troubleshooting.
While installing nmap you will also have the option to install the full suite of network discovery utilities, including ncat, zenmap (requires X11), ndiff, and nping. These are all useful tools as well, so it’s a good idea to install them all along the way.

Install Nmap for Mac OS X

Using the DMG installer its he easiest way, but you can also build nmap yourself from source or get it through something like Homebrew or MacPorts.
  • Get nmap for Mac OS X (free)
  • Install through the dmg, be sure to right-click and choose “Open” to get around the Gatekeeper warning if it’s still enabled
  • Install the full nmap suite, or selectively choose whether to install ncat, ndiff, nping, etc
There’s no need to reboot, but you will want to refresh or open a new Terminal to have nmap found in your path.

Sample Usages of Nmap

Nmap works with both LAN and WAN IP’s and has near infinite applications, but we’ll cover a few commonly used simple tricks. Do note that its not unusual for very little information to be reported back from OS X machines, particularly if the software firewall has been enabled and no sharing services are enabled. On the other hand, scanning a Windows PC or a network of Windows machines will often give you a huge amount of information and reveal many services, even if the Windows firewall is enabled.

Find Open Ports on Localhost

Nmap makes it very easy to find out which ports are open on localhost (that is, your computer):
nmap localhost
You might see something like the following reported back:
PORT STATE SERVICE

22/tcp open ssh

80/tcp open http

445/tcp open microsoft-ds

548/tcp open afp

6817/tcp open unknown

This let’s you know that SSH/SFTP, HTTP, Samba, and the Apple File Sharing protocol are all open on the localhost Mac, and shows which ports they’re running under.
For a Mac, toggling various options directly in the System Preference “Sharing” panel will directly impact what you see as running, whether it’s to activate the SSH and SFTP server and enabling remote login, turning on and off file sharing for Macs or Windows or both, screen sharing, or whatever else. Separately, if you started a local web server at some point (even the super quick python http server), you’ll also find those running.

Scan & List a Range of Local Network IP’s

You can also find information about other machines on your local network. We’ll assume your LAN has an IP range of 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.25, change those numbers as appropriate:
nmap -sP 192.168.0.1-25
If you don’t know the range, you can also use wildcards:
nmap 192.168.0.*

Scan & Detect Operating Systems

Using the same IP range concept as above, you can attempt to discover which operating systems and their accompanying versions are running on the networked machines. This does not always work, but there’s no harm in trying:
nmap -O 192.168.0.1-5
If nothing is reported back (not uncommon), you can try to use the –osscan-guess flag instead to try and guess which OS is running based on the services detected:
nmap --osscan-guess 192.168.0.2

Using Nmap with Alternate DNS Servers & Trace Route

Nmap is also really useful for troubleshooting internet connections, WAN issues, and publicly available assets, and it can be helpful when trying to figure out if a network issue is your network, an ISP, or somewhere else along the way. By using the –traceroute and –dns-servers flags you’ll be able to help determine what’s going on and where, and the latter is particularly helpful if you are having trouble accessing certain remote IP’s but are unsure if the host is actually unavailable or if your DNS servers are the issue.
The –dns-servers flag overrides system DNS settings for that scan. Here we’ll use nmap to scan through alternate DNS (Google’s DNS servers used in example) of yahoo.com:
nmap --dns-servers 8.8.8.8 yahoo.com
In this example, if yahoo.com is live through the alternate DNS but not available to you without specifying –dns-servers, you may have an issue with whichever DNS servers you are using rather than the host itself.
The –traceroute flag incorporates the familiar trace route ability in the scan, note this has to be run as root through sudo:
sudo nmap --traceroute yahoo.com

More Resources

Nmap has much more to offer than what we mention above, you can see the full list of possible commands and flags by typing:
nmap --help
Or by summoning the manual page:
man nmap
If you’re interested in learning more, the nmap website is also full of great resources and offers extensive documentation.



Scrivener for School
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2013, 12:51 pm
I typically post articles I find helpful here and I really don't post much personally.

In this case I did want to rave about Scrivener and now entering my third term in grad school find it's an essential tool for classwork (research papers).

So I'm posting my scrivener badge here in pride:
A Mac writer using Scrivener

Great program and worth every dime.


Make a Photo Stream into a Public Website Easily, Anytime from iOS
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 March 2013, 3:52 pm
Make a Photo Stream into a Public Website Easily, Anytime from iOS:
iCloud icon, for Photo Stream Now that the simple photo sharing service Photo Stream is an integral part of the camera experience in iOS, you’re probably aware there’s an option to create a public website during the process of creating a new shared photo stream. But you also turn any existing photo stream into a public website too, so if you missed out on creating one through the initial sharing setup there’s no need to create a new stream, just toggle a setting to instantly make a public website out of a photo stream.
The auto-generated photo websites are excellent ways to share your iPhone pictures with someone who doesn’t have iOS and Photo Stream support, since the photo website can get sent to any Windows PC, Mac, Android device, literally anything with a web browser will be able to view the result.

Turn Any Photo Stream into a Photo Website

You can do this on any iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with Photo Stream support. Photo Stream requires iCloud.
  • Open “Photos” and tap the “Photo Stream” button at the bottom
  • Photo Stream icon
  • Tap the blue (>) arrow button next to the name of the Photo Stream
  • Change Photo Stream settings
  • Flip the switch next to “Public Website” to ON
  • Optionally, tap the “Share Link” button and send theURL for the newly crafted photo stream website through email, iMessages, Twitter, or Facebook
Make a photo stream website
You’ll briefly see a spinning wait cursor and the text “Publishing…” as the page is being generated. Then, the URL will be shown below, but they’re not the most user-friendly or memorable URL’s, making the Share Link feature the best way to send out the link for others to see the pictures.
How about the websites themselves? They’re minimal but quite nice, displaying thumbnails of the shared photos against black backgrounds, each can be clicked for a larger version with some additional options to either flip through the rest as a self-controlled or automated slideshow, and there’s also a button to download the picture locally.
Photo Stream sample website

Remove the Public Website of a Photo Stream

Alternatively, what if you setup a public website of a photo stream by accident, or what if you no longer want the website visible but you still want the photo stream to exist? You can toggle the website option off on a per-stream basis again, there’s no need to delete the entire photo stream.
  • Open “Photos” again and tap the “Photo Stream” button
  • Tapping the blue (>) arrow button next to the name of the Photo Stream, then flip the switch next to “Public Website” to OFF
Remember, disabling the Photo Stream website will not disable that photo stream itself, and it will not delete the pictures, it only removes the publicly accessible website.
Disabling a Photo Stream website
The once accessible public website will instantly disappear, and if the URL was known before it will disappear with anyone trying to access the shared picture website seeing this cutesy error message instead:
iCloud page not found error
Have fun!



Control Time Machine from the command line with tmutil
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 March 2013, 10:50 am
Control Time Machine from the command line with tmutil: The ability to control Time Machine from the Time Machine preferences in System Preferences is quite limited. You can choose exclusions, turn Time Machine on or off, and force backups, but that's about it. Fortunately, a command-line tool, tmutil provides much more control over Time Machine. The man page for tmutil says the following:



"tmutil provides methods of controlling and interacting with Time Machine, as well as examining and manipulating Time Machine backups. Common abilities include restoring data from backups, editing exclusions, and comparing back-ups."



For example, you can compare backups to see what has changed from one backup to another, inherit a backup (which you can do from the Time Machine menu, when you set up a new Mac and want to use a backup from an older Mac), or set up fixed-path exclusions (excluding items at a specific file path).



Check man tmutil to see all that you can do with this comma ...


Send Text Messages & Make Video / Phone Calls from Contacts App in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 March 2013, 2:38 pm
Send Text Messages & Make Video / Phone Calls from Contacts App in Mac OS X:
The Contacts app in OS X, once called Address Book, has a few hidden communication tools that are incredibly useful, making the app a simple but powerful hub to start conversations. Right from Contacts, you can send iMessages, initiate FaceTime video chats, make an actual phone call, and even send normal SMS text messages to your contacts who don’t have iMessage support.
Send messages, make phone calls, start Facetime from Contacts app in OS X

Using the Contacts communication Tools

The Contacts app communication abilities are extremely easy to use, despite not being obvious features at all:
  • Choose any Contact, then tap the “mobile” text alongside the individuals phone number
  • Select the desired communication method from the pulldown menu:
    • “Send Message” to send an iMessage, first message is sent through Contacts but the conversation is continued through Messages app
    • “FaceTime” for starting a video chat through FaceTime app, can connect to either other Macs or iOS devices
    • “Call with Skype” initiate an actual phone call, or a Skype call, through Skype app
    • “Send SMS with Skype” sends an actual SMS text message through Skype
  • Additionally, to send a Tweet right from Contacts, click on the “Twitter” text and choose “Tweet”
To use the Messages feature, you’ll obviously want iMessage to be set up properly. The message will be sent from Contacts, but it routes the texts through the Mac Messages app and that’s where a conversation would take place. Remember, if you’re not sure who on your contacts list has iMessages or not, you can use a nice trick to find which contacts are iMessage users, and that technique works on both OS X and iOS.
Send text messages from the Contacts app
As you probably noticed, a few of these features are dependent on other apps, and in order to get the most out of Contacts communication tools take the time to get Skype on your Mac. Skype is a free download but in requires paid credits to make real phone calls and send texts to other non-Skype users, communicating between Skype with VOIP is free. FaceTime is bundled on all new Macs so you shouldn’t need to install it, but it’s available on the Mac App Store if you missed it.
If you’ve added the contacts Facebook account, you’ll also find the ability to view their photos or profile by clicking on the Facebook text, but there isn’t a way to initiate a conversation through Facebook messaging or wall posting, yet at least.

Great Communication Tools For Travelers

While it would obviously be awesome to be able to route the phone calls through an iPhone, the ability to use Skype is actually a really nice feature for anyone who needs to make long distance calls, if you’re calling someone out of the country, or if you’re traveling and want to avoid expensive roaming charges. Since both Skype and iMessages can also receive inbound text messages, you’ll be able to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world for extremely cheap, if not just outright free.
Heads up to TheGraphicMac for pointing out the texting feature.



Flatten a directory structure
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 February 2013, 10:51 am
Flatten a directory structure: There may be times when you want to consolidate all the files in a directory and its sub-directories (or a folder and its sub-folders) into a single directory or folder. For example, you may have a folder with sub-folders for years, and other sub-folders in each year folder for months, and you may want to move files in the month folders all to the top level.



Doing this manually is a complex and time-consuming process. While you might be able to do this by using a search - for example, if all the files are, say, Excel files, you can search for Excel files in the top folder, then just copy them all to a new folder - if there are lots of different types of files, this wouldn't make things easier.



Fortunately, there's a way to do this from a command line. On the BedroomLAN blog, Alexios presents two commands that will do this:



cd $ROOT_DIRECTORY

find -type f -print0 | xar ...



Use Safari’s Reading List to Send & Share Links Between Macs & iOS Devices
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 February 2013, 4:21 pm
Use Safari’s Reading List to Send & Share Links Between Macs & iOS Devices:
View Reading List articles in iOS
Reading List is a great feature of Safari that syncs saved web pages between Safari on all of your Macs and iOS devices. This lets you save web pages to read later and works a lot like Pocket and Instapaper, except that it doesn’t require any additional downloads, toolbars, plugins, or third party apps in order to use, because it’s all built right into Safari in OS X and iOS.
Though it may seem to directly compete with the likes of third party apps like Pocket, Reading List often works best as a temporary bookmark sharing service, letting you send and share links from one of your own devices to another and from computer to computer, without the cluttering of the actual Bookmarks menus with links and web pages you may only need to access once or twice. That is really it’s strong suite for many users, so keep that in mind when using Reading List, and don’t necessarily think of it as a Pocket/Instapaper replacement.

Using Reading List in Safari for Mac OS X

There are a few basic commands you should know for saving and sharing links with Reading List in Safari for OS X:
  • Shift+Click a link in Safari to immediately save it to Reading List
  • Command+Shift+D to immediately save the current page to Reading List
  • Command+Shift+L to show or hide Reading List
  • Right-Click a link and choose “Add Link to Reading List”
Reading List in Safari for OS X
Web pages saved to Reading List sync practically instantaneously to Safari on all other Mac and iOS devices that are configured to be using the same iCloud account, but without iCloud Reading List will not sync at all.

Using Reading List in Safari for iOS

On the iOS side of things, Reading List is even more simple to use than OS X, both for saving links and for retrieving them:
  • Tap and hold any link in Safari, then choose “Add to Reading List” to save a web page for later
  • On iPad: Tap the bookmark button, then tap the eyeglasses icon at the bottom to reveal the Reading List
  • On iPhone & iPod touch: Tap Bookmarks > Reading List
Access reading list in iOS
You might have noticed that Twitter on the iPhone also has an option to “Save for Later”, but unlike the iPad version of Twitter it does not send those saved links to Pocket or Instapaper, instead it sends the saved links to Reading List.
If you don’t use Reading List at all right now, try using it as a personal bookmark sharing service rather than a pure reader, you just may get more use out of it that way.



12 Stunning High-Resolution Wallpapers
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 February 2013, 12:41 pm
12 Stunning High-Resolution Wallpapers:
12 Stunning High Res Wallpapers
Getting bored with the current crop of wallpapers scattered across the backgrounds of your various Macs, PC’s and iOS devices? You’re in the right place. We’ve gathered a great collection of ultra-high resolution stunning images from NASA, Hubble, and National Geographic that encompass some crazy pictures from space to equally surreal photos on our own planet earth, and they’re sure to look great on just about any display you throw them on, whether it’s a Retina Mac or iPad.
A few quick notes: the pictures hosted on National Geographic are not direct image links, you have to choose the resolution on their landing page for the device you want to decorate. For the highest resolution image that NatGeo offers, choose the “Desktop” option, then you can scale it down (or up) to whatever device you see fit. Also, the pictures hosted by NASA can sometimes be ginormous, like 8000×8000 pixel JPG files, which is wonderful if you’re looking to stretch them across multiple monitors or decorate a retina display, but it’s a bit overkill for something like the iPhone screen, so you may want to save them all in a folder then take a moment to batch resize them using Preview to a resolutio that is appropriate for your needs. Ok enough chat, let’s get to the good stuff…

Milky Way over Quiver Trees (widescreen)

Milky way over Quiver trees

Diver and school of fish

Fish school and Diver

M106 Galaxy

m106 Galaxy wallpaper

Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula

Namib Desert, Namibia

Namib desert

Ilturup Island, Russia

Iturup Island, Russia wallpaper

Canadian Rockies

Canadian rockies wallpaper

LL Ori

LL Ori

Rippled Reflection

Rippled wallpaper

Trifid Nebula

Trifid Nebula

Xinjiang China

Xinjiang China wallpaper

Lucky Bay, Australia

Lucky Bay, Australia wallpaper

Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy wallpaper

Not a fan of these shots? Check out wallpapers of nebula images, Earth from space at night, take the time to uncover all the hidden wallpapers in OS X, or just browse through our wallpaper archive and find something that suites you. Happy decorating!



Simple Tricks to Improve the Terminal Appearance in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 February 2013, 2:22 pm
Simple Tricks to Improve the Terminal Appearance in Mac OS X:
The standard terminal appearance is just boring old black text on a white background. Apple included a few nice preset themes too, but to really make your terminals appearance stand out you’ll want to take the time to customize it yourself. While some of these tweaks are admittedly pure eye candy, others genuinely improve the command line experience and make using the terminal not only more attractive but easier to scan.
Improve the Terminal appearance in Mac OS X
Follow along and try them all, or just pick and choose which makes the most sense for you.

Modify Bash Prompt, Enable Colors, Improve ‘ls’

At a bare minimum, let’s get a better bash prompt, improve the output of the frequently used ls command, and enable colors. This is all done by editing the .bash_profile or .bashrc located in the home directory, for the purpose of this walkthrough we’ll use .bash_profile:
  • Open Terminal and type nano .bash_profile
  • Paste in the following lines:
  • export PS1="[33[36m]u[33[m]@[33[32m]h:[33[33;1m]w[33[m]$ " export CLICOLOR=1 export LSCOLORS=ExFxBxDxCxegedabagacad alias ls='ls -GFh'
  • Hit Control+O to save, then Control+X to exit out of nano
The first line changes the bash prompt to be colorized, and rearranges the prompt to be “username@hostname:cwd $”
The next two lines enable command line colors, and define colors for the ‘ls’ command
Finally, we alias ls to include a few flags by default. -G colorizes output, -h makes sizes human readable, and -F throws a / after a directory, * after an executable, and a @ after a symlink, making it easier to quickly identify things in directory listings.
Pasted in properly, it should look like this:
Improve the Terminal appearance
Open a new terminal window, run ls, and see the difference. Still not satisfied with the appearance, or have you already done that? There’s more to do.

Enable Bold Fonts, ANSI Colors, & Bright Colors

This will be theme and profile dependent, meaning you will have to adjust this for each theme. Most themes have ANSI color on by default, but enable it if it’s not.
  • Pull down the Terminal menu and choose “Preferences”, then click the “Settings” tab
  • Choose your profile/theme from the left side list, then under the “Text” tab check the boxes for “Use bold fonts” and “Use bright colors for bold text”
Enable bold fonts and bright colors in Terminal
This makes things like directories and executables be bold and brighter, making them easier to spot in listings.

Adjust Background Opacity, Blur, & Background Image

After you have colorization squared away, adjusting the terminals background appearance is a nice touch:
  • Back in Terminal Preferences, choose the theme from the left side, then go to the “Window” tab
  • Click on “Color & Effects” to adjust the background color, opacity, and blur – opacity at 80% or so and blur at 100% is pleasant on the eyes
  • Click on “Image” to select a background picture. Dark background pictures are better for dark themes, light for light, etc
Adjust the Terminals background and appearance
Opacity and blur alone tend to be enough, but going the extra step to set a background picture can look either really nice or completely garish. You make the call.
Terminal window with background image in Mac OS X

Install a Theme

Another approach is to use Terminal themes like IR Black, which are simple to install, add custom colors, and make the command line much more attractive. Here are three popular themes:
You can also easily create your own by spending some time with Terminal Preferences and setting colors and fonts to what you like.

New Terminal vs Old Terminal

Put it all together, and you should have something like this:
Better looking terminal in Mac OS X
Which is a bit more interesting to look at than this, right?
Command prompt
Have a useful bash prompt or some other customization tip? Let us know in the comments.



How (& Why) to Reset the Advertising Identifier in iOS
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 February 2013, 1:21 pm
How (& Why) to Reset the Advertising Identifier in iOS:
Reset the Advertising Identifier in iOS
From iOS 6.1 onward, users can now reset the Advertising Identifier on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This means you can basically throw all the anonymously gathered data about a device that is used to serve relevant ads out the window and start fresh, thereby removing any of the targeted data that has been accumulated and assigned to that Advertising ID.
  • Open “Settings” then choose “General” followed by “About”
  • Scroll all the way down and locate “Advertising”, from there tap on “Reset Advertising Identifier” and confirm the ID reset
Once confirmed, iOS will regenerate a new random blank ID.
Reset the ad tracking ID in iOS
You can also go the extra mile and turn iOS ad tracking off completely while you’re at that settings screen, which functions like a “Do Not Track” feature and prevents any of anonymous data accumulation from happening. What that will do is completely deny the ability for anonymous data to be gathered about the device to serve more relevant ads, outside of web cookies. For example if you have every Angry Birds app installed on the device and do 100 web searches for Angry Birds a day, disabling ad tracking would prevent you from seeing ads relevant to that topic.

Reasons why you might want to reset the Advertising Identifier

Keeping in mind that all of the accumulated data is anonymous, there isn’t some universally important reason to reset the Ad ID and by no means should it be considered standard procedure. Because the data is anonymized, the reasons to reset the ID tend to be fairly unique situations:
  • The ads you are being served are tied to past activities that are no longer relevant to your interests
  • You or your employer are particularly sensitive about privacy
  • Your iOS device is company owned, and you don’t want IT to (potentially) discover that you’re searching the web for things unrelated to work by having ads for unrelated stuff show up on the device
  • You are transferring an iOS device to a new owner or family member, and you don’t want to go all out and reset to factory settings for some reason
Of course there are other reasons as well, but again it’s important to stress this isn’t some super important thing to think about for 99.5% of iOS users.
For some historical background, the Advertising Identifier is a relatively new creation, and previously advertisers tracked anonymous data by the actual device UDID. Because the UDID is tied to hardware and not possible to reset, Apple created the Advertising ID as an alternative to the UDID, one which can be freely reset and directly controlled by the user much like cookies and browser history can be managed at any time.



Make a Transparent Image (PNG or GIF) Easily with Preview for Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 January 2013, 10:28 pm
Make a Transparent Image (PNG or GIF) Easily with Preview for Mac OS X:
Make a transparent image
It’s extremely easy to make an image transparent with the help of Preview, the built-in image editing app that comes along with all Macs with OS X. Do note this works best on images with uniform colors in the area you want to become transparent. The more complicated the image and color variation, the more work you will need to do with the alpha tool.

Making a Transparent Image

You can turn any image transparent with Preview, though you’ll find the resulting image must be saved as an image format that supports transparency. If you select a
  • Open the image in Preview
  • Click the little pen icon in the toolbar to reveal the image editing tools
  • Select the “Instant Alpha” tool, which looks like a magic wand (it is contained under the Selection pulldown menu if the image is smaller than certain widths)
  • Alpha tool
  • Click and hold on the part of the image you want to turn transparent, and while still holding move the cursor up or down to either select more or less of the image to turn transparent – anything that is red is what will become transparent
  • Alpha Tool
  • Hit the Delete key, or go to the Edit menu and select “Cut” to remove everything that was highlighted red with the Alpha tool (note: if the original image was a format that does not support transparency, you will be asked to convert the document, choose “Convert” to proceed” as expected
  • Repeat as necessary for other parts of the image you want to become transparent
To get the finer details transparent it can help to zoom in and out of the image using Command+Plus and Command+Minus keys.
If the original file was a PNG or GIF and you are satisfied you can just save as usual, but in a lot of cases you may not want to overwrite the original file. Instead, you can save the newly transparent image as a copy by using “Export” or “Save As”.

Exporting the Image as a Transparent PNG or GIF

PNG files are much higher quality than GIF, and for most uses you’ll want to use a transparent PNG, but we’ll cover both anyway.
Saving a Transparent PNG
  • Go to File and choose “Export”
  • Select “PNG” from the pulldown menu, and check the box next to “Alpha” to insure the image maintains it’s transparency
  • Save as usual, maintain the .png file extension
Make a transparent PNG
Saving as Transparent GIF
  • Go to File and select “Export”, then Option-click on the file formats menu to reveal “GIF” as an option
  • Check the box for “Alpha” to preserve the image transparency, then save as usual with a .gif extension
Because you’ll need to perform manual adjustments with the alpha tool, this would not work on a group of files, though you could batch convert them ahead of time to PNG or GIF, then open each individually to make them transparent.
The video below walks through the process of turning an image into a transparent version of itself, including cleaning up areas that didn’t get immediately grabbed by the alpha tool by using zoom.



Set an Ultra-Strong iOS Password by Using Accent Characters
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 January 2013, 1:36 pm
Set an Ultra-Strong iOS Password by Using Accent Characters:
Super Strong iOS Passwords with Accent Characters
If you want maximum security with your iOS device, having a strong password is essential. Though you can extend password strength by using a phrase with mixed characters, another excellent option is to use special accent characters, making a password virtually impossible to guess. The idea is fairly straight forward: take a word, sequence, or phrase that you would normally use as the password, but then replace certain characters with accent letters or special characters. This will work the same on on any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, and here’s what you’ll need to do.

Turn On Strong Password Support in iOS

We’ve discussed the strong passcodes feature before as a great way to secure iOS devices, and that’s where this tip begins. Here’s how to enable that if you haven’t done so yet:
  • Open Settings then tap “General” followed by “Passcode Lock”
  • Tap “Turn Passcode On” if you haven’t done so yet, then flip the “Simple Passcode” switch to OFF
For added security and easier testing, set ‘Require Password’ to “Immediately”, though that is optional.
Strong Passwords in iOS

Setting a Strong Password with Accent Characters

To type accent characters in iOS, you need to tap on a letter and hold for the accent menu to appear. An example of a password created this would would beFor example, a password like “tacobell” could be come “tãçōbęll”
  • Now enter a new password, and replace some characters with accented versions to make it more secure
Strong passcode with accent characters
Once this has been set, you can see how it works by locking the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. You will now have the standard keyboard available rather than the simple numeric keys. As usual, the accent characters are accessible by tapping on holding on the letters that support them.



Secure Password in iOS
Though no password is perfect, this really does create extremely strong passwords that are almost impossible to guess because just about nobody is going to think to use accent characters, and most people don’t know they’re accessible at the lock screen anyway.
Finally, don’t forget to set up Find My iPhone on the device as well, and consider further improving Find My iPhone by locking down location settings.
Heads up to @labnol for the great idea.



Remove Duplicates from the “Open With” Right-Click Menu in Mac OS X
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 January 2013, 2:23 pm
Remove Duplicates from the “Open With” Right-Click Menu in Mac OS X:
Fix the Open WIth menu and remove duplicate app entries
The “Open With” menu appears when any file in the Mac Finder is right-clicked (or control-clicked), and it is intended to provide a list of alternate apps that selected file can be opened with other than what is currently set as the default application. This Open With is great, but sometimes it can become freakishly cluttered with repeat entries of the same app, and in the worst cases it won’t even just be a duplicate here and there, it will be multiples of the same app appearing in the Open With list. We’ll show you how to remove these repeat entries and how to make an easier to use alias for future uses.

Remove Repeat App Entries in “Open With” Menu of OS X

This should work with just about every version of Mac OS X
  • Launch Terminal from the /Applications/Utilities/ directory and enter either one of the following command string onto a single line:
Copy & paste from single line command string:
/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user;killall Finder;echo "Open With has been rebuilt, Finder will relaunch"
OR
Same command string broken into multiple lines:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/

LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/

lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user

(Note: the backslashes within the second command are used to extend long commands to multiple lines while still making them executable when copy & pasted, they are not necessary to include if you are manually typing the command string into the terminal)
This may take a while as the entire Launch Services database has to be rebuilt, and in that rebuilding process is where the duplicate app entries will be removed from the right-click menu. Once this is finished, you must then quit and relaunch the Finder for the change to take effect, that is easiest to do from the command line as well:
killall Finder
Now when Finder has relaunched, go back to any file and right-click on it, pulling down the “Open With” menu to see all repetitive entries gone.
Remove Open With Menu Duplicates in OS X
But what if you have to do this often, that command string is kind of annoying huh? Here’s how to shorten it dramatically:


Creating a Short “Remove Open With Duplicates” Alias

If you find yourself having to do this more often than you’d like, creating a simple bash alias for the entire command sequence can be a significant time saver since it will remove the need to enter a lengthy series of command strings.
  • Open .bash_profile with your favorite text editor, we use nano for this walkthrough because it’s simple:
  • nano .bash_profile
  • Paste in the following alias onto a single line of .bash_profile, rename the alias if you feel like it
alias fixow='/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user;killall Finder;echo "Open With has been rebuilt, Finder will relaunch"'
  • Hit Control+O to save, then Control+X to exit nano
Verify the alias worked by typing ‘fixow’ at the command line, though if you already cleared Open With it won’t have the same effect. If you used the exact command string as above you’ll get a little message echoed back at you, looking like this:
$ fixow

Open With menu has been rebuilt, Finder will relaunch

If for some reason you have trouble grabbing that code, you can also copy it from the OSXDaily GitHub page, where we are starting to collect some particularly useful shell scripts for OS X.
This allows you to simply type ‘fixow’ (short for Fix Open With, get it? We sure are creative) and that entire command string will execute without having to type the entire thing again.

Can I Remove Every App From the “Open With” Menu?

If your issue is beyond the duplicate or repetitive entries, the other option is to clear out the entire Open With menu and start from scratch. This takes everything out of the menu, forcing you to manually associate apps with file types and formats on your own or just by using OS X to open particular files. That’s really a method of last-resort, or for uber-customization if you want to rebuild the list yourself and be more selective with the associations.



Batch Image Conversion in Mac OS X the Easy Way with Preview
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 January 2013, 11:21 pm
Batch Image Conversion in Mac OS X the Easy Way with Preview:
Preview is a greatly under-appreciated app that has been bundled along with Mac OS X since the beginning, getting better and better with each OS X release. One quiet feature that has been around for a while is the ability to mass convert a group of pictures from one file type to another, often referred to as batch conversion. This lets you easily take a large amount of JPG files and convert them over to PNG, for example. It’s safe to assume that if you can open the image files in preview, you can export them to a new file type, including GIF, ICNS, JPEG, JPEG-2000, BMP, Microsoft Icon, OpenEXR, PDF, Photoshop PSD, PNG, SGI, TGA, and TIFF.

Convert a Group of Image Files to a New Format with Preview

  • From the Finder, select a group of images and open them all with Preview either by launching directly or dragging and dropping them into the Preview Dock icon
  • Once opened in Preview, click within the preview pane on the left side and then Select All, either by hitting Command+A or by pulling down the edit menu and choosing that option
  • Pull down the File menu and choose “Export Selected Images…”
  • Optionally, create a new folder for the converted pictures to save to, then select the desired image format (Option-click to reveal more) and click “Choose” to save
Batch convert image files in Mac OS X with Preview
A progress indicator bar will appear over the pictures letting you know things are progressing. Depending on the amount of images selected to convert, their resolutions – which can also be resized at the same time if desired, and their file formats, this process can either be very fast or somewhat time consuming.
The video below walks through the group file type conversion process with Preview, taking a selection of JPG files and saving them to a new folder as PNG’s. As you may notice in the video, the original JPG files remain intact throughout this process.

The ability to convert a single image file has been around for quite some time and that shouldn’t be a mystery to those who have used Preview before, but the group conversion ability is limited to newer versions of the app in OS X.
If you follow us here at OSXDaily with regularity, you probably know that we recently showed how to perform image conversions from the command line using the sips tool as well, but using the GUI and Preview is much easier for most users and is going to have a wider appeal.



9 Essential New Years Resolutions & Tips Mac Users Can Do Right Now
Posted by Mike J L dot com [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 January 2013, 4:40 pm
9 Essential New Years Resolutions & Tips Mac Users Can Do Right Now:
Essential Mac maintenace tips for new years (or any time of year)
Happy New Year! Start your new year off right with some simple digital resolutions to make your Mac perform better, be safer and more secure, plus you will get some added peace of mind. We’ve broken these tips into three simple sections, follow along and your Mac will thank you for the year to come.

Perform Basic System Maintenance

We have covered various simple ways to maintain a Mac before, and with the start of a new year there’s no better time to run through some easy basic maintenance tasks.
  • Update System Software – Keeping OS X and core system software up to date is important for optimal performance, stability, and security. This is so easy to do, pull down the  Apple menu, choose Software Update, and install what’s necessary. Reboot and you are good to go.
  • Update Apps to Newest Versions – The latest versions of apps include new features and bug fixes, and keeping your apps up to date is just as important as your OS X system software. If most of your apps come from the App Store, this is so easy to do there’s virtually no reason not to do it. Just open up the Mac App Store, visit the Updates tab, and install them all.
  • Clean Up Junk – Spend some time freeing up disk space by deleting stuff you no longer need. Look at your Downloads folder and trash anything that isn’t necessary, delete large files and archives that are no longer needed, and if you want to go even further, check out our guide on how torecover disk space on a Mac.
  • Uninstall Apps You Don’t Use – If you have a bunch of apps installed that you don’t use, all they’re doing is taking up space. Take a few moments to check out your Launchpad and Applications folder, and uninstall what you don’t use anymore. Apps from the Mac App Store can be uninstalled simply by deleting them from Launchpad, and most other apps can be uninstalled just by trashing them from the Applications directory

Set Up A Backup Solution

Are you backing up your files and important documents yet? We talk about this often because you really should be, and with how easy it is to do these days there’s practically no excuse not to.
  • Use Time Machine – Time Machine is included in all modern versions of OS X and it makes backing up your entire hard drive as easy as possible. On initial run it will back up everything, then it will run in the background and just back up the changes that are made. All you need is another hard disk to do this, and external drives with huge capacity are cheap these days.
  • Consider Cloud Backups – For the best backup situation, you’ll use Time Machine in conjunction with a cloud backup service, that way you’ll have two copies of all your important files, a local copy and one in the cloud that can be retrieved from anywhere. Services like CrashPlan (paid) do this for you with the same ease as Time Machine and run in the background, but if you want a more hands-on approach you can manually back up the most crucial files to the free service levels of DropBox and even Amazon S3. Dropbox integrates nicely into the Finder like any other Folder, while S3 is a bit more advanced, and if you run out of space on either it’s very cheap to get tons more.

Take Some Simple Security Precautions

It only takes a few minutes to set up some simple security on a Mac that will give you added peace of mind. Simple things like requiring passwords in order to use the Mac at any time, and using the excellent Find My Mac service through iCloud should be considered mandatory.
  • Require Passwords – Nobody wants unauthorized users gaining access to your Mac, and among the best ways to prevent that is to require passwords for things like boot login and when waking from sleep. Enable and use the screen lock feature when you step away from your desk, and disable Automatic Login through the Users & Accounts preferences panel to force passwords on boot and reboot.
  • Use Find My Mac – Part of the free iCloud service, Find My Mac is the OS X version of the Find My iPhone ability that lets you quite literally pinpoint a Mac precisely on a map. If it happens to get lost or stolen, you will know exactly where it is, and precise location information like this can help you or the proper authorities recover your hardware again. I have personally had friends and colleagues recover missing hardware using this service, it’s free, and it’s invaluable. If you haven’t set up Find My Mac (and the iPhone and iPad versions too for that matter), take a few minutes to read our guide and do it now.
  • Add Identification Messages – After you have passwords required to access a Mac, add a quick identification message so that if your computer does get lost, it’s easy for someone to figure out who it belongs to. Ideally, put an ownership name, email address, and phone number on the login screen and screen saver. It only takes a minute to configure login messages in OS X, and even less time to set messages as your screen saver. Do both.
What New Years tasks to do perform on your Mac? Is there anything we’re missing here? Let us know in the comments, and Happy New Year!



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