Tag Archives: Mac

Installing Mac OS 10.5 – Leopard

It’s been a while since I did a proper technical post, but lately I’ve had little time to devote to the techie side of my life. So to help me get back into the swing of things, I ordered Leopard from the Apple website last week. At €129, it’s a lot cheaper than Windows Vista.

I usually don’t go for installing new operating versions until they’ve had time to settle down and the developers have had a chance to release updates for the bugs that invariably crop up. This time I decided I would bite the bullet and go for Leopard straight away.

I’ve never installed Mac OS before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Coming from a Windows background, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to reinstall Windows – and what a tortuous experience that can be. (After working tech support for so long, I have the Windows mantra down pat: “Backup, format, reinstall.”)

As it turned out, installing Mac OS was a lot easier than installing Windows: pop the disk in the drive, double click the installer icon, and click the restart button. The machine automatically boots from the DVD drive, and the install process begins.

There are three options to choose from when installing a new version of Mac OS:

  • Upgrade,
  • Archive and Install, and
  • Erase and Install.

The first option installs Leopard over your existing OS, keeping your data and applications intact. The second makes a backup of your previous installation and installs Leopard, and the third wipes your current installation and then proceeds to installation.

I went with the Upgrade option as I didn’t want the hassle of reinstalling my applications and starting again from scratch. Once you click the “Continue” button, that’s it, no further user interaction is required. In all, the process took about an hour to complete, and when my MacBook rebooted at the end I was straight into Leopard.

Some users have reported problems with their installs hanging after the reboot, but apparently the problem is due to an unsupported extension for Logitech mouse drives. More seriously, there have also been issues with the built in firewall, so if you’re using your Mac on an unprotected network, you might want to invest in a full firewall product. The only problem I had was that I had to re-enter the encryption key for my wireless network connection, even though it was already stored in my keychain. Apart from that, I had no installation problems. Now it’s time to play with the new OS.

Syncing a Windows Mobile Smartphone with Mac OS X

When choosing a smartphone you have two OS options: Symbian and Windows Mobile. Nokia and Sony Ericsson use the Symbian OS, while HP, Toshiba, HTC and Samsung use Windows Mobile on their phones. No matter which OS your phone uses, chances are that the synchronisation software provided with the phone will be Windows only. So, if like me you’re a Mac user, how do you sync your phone with your Mac?

If you’re lucky, Apples iSync will recognise your device, in which case you’re pretty much good to go straight out of the box. However, if you have a smartphone that isn’t recognised by iSync, who’ll have to splash out on a 3rd party solution.

I recently purchased the HTC S710, which unfortunately, it isn’t recognised by iSync. After a quick Google search, I came across “The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile“. Missing Sync allows you to sync via your Network, Bluetooth or USB. Providing plugins for your Contacts, iCal, and all your multimedia content, Missing Sync has all the bases covered. If you have Microsoft Entourage installed, it will also provide a conduit to sync your data directly with Microsofts attempt at a PIM for the Mac OS.

Setting up your device is straightforward and I was up and running within minutes of downloading the program.

Costing $39.95 for download, or $49.95 for the CD version, it’s certainly worth it if you have to sync your smartphone with your Mac.

Setting Up Apache, PHP, MySQL – The Easy Way

I’ve been experimenting with Content Management Systems recently, and after some research, I’ve decided to use Joomla for my next couple of projects. The idea is that I don’t need to spend as much time writing code, and I can get a website up and running quickly. In order to get more experience with of Joomla I decided to install it on my MacBook.

In order to use Joomla, you need three things: Apache, PHP and MySQL. Individually, these are easy enough to install, but getting them to work together can be a bit of a headache. Config files need to be edited, file permissions need to be changed, servers need to be started and restarted, and it can be a bit daunting, not to say time consuming.

That’s where MAMP comes in. An acronym for Mac, Apache, MySQL, PHP, it’s a collection of all these programs in one handy installer that does all the work for you. It took a couple of minutes to download and about 30 seconds to install. Once installed you have a full Apache server, MySQL server and PHP 4 and PHP 5 installation. Better still, it doesn’t interfere with any other Apache, MySQL, or PHP installations you may have running, and it’s controllable from a handy Dashboard Widget.

Once MAMP is installed and running, it’s just a matter of downloading the package and installing Joomla. A simple browser-based installer guides you through the setup, and within minutes I was up and running. The only issue I came across was that the permissions of the Joomla folder had to be updated to allow the installation. It was just a matter of selecting the folder, holding Option-I and changing the permissions for “Others”. Done and dusted.

For those of you not on the Mac platform there are also versions for Windows, Linux, and Solaris available, along with a Joomla Standalone Server (Windows based).


I’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know my Mac. Coming from a Windows background, I’m more au fait with Windows utilities, settings, and setup.

Because I’m so new to Mac OS X, I spend a lot of time looking up ways to do things with my Mac that to longtime users seem simple. Until now this research involved a lot of time on Google and a lot of time just playing with different programs and utilities, just looking at what they do. One of the programs that I discovered recently is Sherlock.

Sherlock is basically a search interface connected to several different internet sites. Within Sherlock, these connections are called channels. So there is an Internet Channel, an Ebay Channel and an AppleCare Channel among others.

From my point of view, the most useful has to be the AppleCare Channel. This allows you to search the Apple database for articles on all aspects of your Mac. Think of it as the Apple version of the Microsoft Knowledge Base. So far it’s proven invaluable in finding out about my Mac, what I can do, and how I can do it.

As Sherlock aggregates various online resources, you do need an Internet connection. But once you are online, it’s definitely worth using. There’s a wealth of information available out there, it’s just a matter of getting to it.

Autohide the Dock and Menu Bar on a Per App Basis

I’m one of those people who like to keep their software updated, particularly when the updates are free! I regularly update Firefox. I’ve never had a problem with an update. But I do have a gripe. (Of course I do, otherwise would I be writing this post!). I have Firefox configured so that the Mac OS X menu bar and dock automatically hide. It’s quite easy to do, but it does involve manually editing some configuration files.

First off, locate the Firefox.app on your system. This is normally in the Applications folder, but can be installed elsewhere. Control-Click the file and select the “Show Package Contents” option on the pop-up menu. When the package contents folder opens, double click the “Contents” folder and locate a file called info.plist

. Open this file in your favourite text editor.The next step is to insert the following lines into the text file. The following lines must be inserted in alphabetical order:


Here’s a hint: it goes before the NSAppleScriptEnabled key.

Start Firefox and you’ll notice that the both the menu bar and the dock are no longer visible. To access either of these items, just move the mouse cursor to the normal location of the dock or the menu bar.

This will work with any application, so if you’ve ever wished that you could use the full screen area for an application, that’s how you can do it.

I originally found this hint at Mac OS X Hints.

Upgrading Memory on a MacBook

When I bought my MacBook, I went with the most basic specifications. Mainly because of the cost, and also because the basic system was more than enough for my needs. After using it for the last while, I felt it was time to throw some more memory into the system.

The original specification included 512MB of memory, so I was considering upgrading to 1GB, just to add some pizazz. I checked out the Crucial UK website, and they had 2 x 512MB chips for €41.11 including VAT. 2 x 1GB chips would cost just €86.94. As that kind of price point, I figured that it was worth going the whole hog and putting in the full 2GB that the system could handle. With next day delivery via UPS, the entire cost came to just over €90.

I used to do tech support for Dell laptops, so replacing memory is a job I’ve done many times before. Usually it’s just a matter of powering off the machine, earthing yourself, slipping out the old chip if required and putting in the new one.

Putting memory in a MacBook is pretty much the same. In this case the memory slots are located under the battery, so you’ll have to use a coin to remove the battery and then a small philips screwdriver to remove the L-shaped slot cover. There are 3 screws and they do not separate from the slot cover, so you can’t lose them. If you have butter fingers like me, this will save you hours on your hands and knees looking for any tiny screws that you may have dropped!

Each memory slot has a lever used to release the memory chip. Once it’s out you can insert the new memory. Like all memory chips, the slots are “keyed” so that the chips can only be inserted one way. With the now empty battery cover closest too you, and the open memory slots facing towards you, the notch on the memory chip should be on the left. One thing that I did notice is that it takes a bit of force to get the chip seated properly. You’ll know it’s seated properly because the lever will retract towards the main body of the laptop and will tighten.

After that it’s just a matter of replacing the slot cover and the battery and switching on the computer. If you’ve installed the memory correctly, then your MacBook should start normally. Once you’ve reached the desktop, you can check that the memory is being detected properly by going to the Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> More Info. This will open the System Profiler. On the left hand side, under Hardware is the Memory section. Clicking this will give you details of the memory in each slot.

And that’s it. I haven’t really had a chance to fully test my new memory, but I have noticed that opening certain programs has speeded up considerably, though for some reason Firefox takes just as long as ever to open up.

CR vs LF vs CRLF

If the above title seems cryptic, it’s supposed to be. It’s representative of a problem that I came across today when I was editing one of the plugins on this site. When I went to check the plugin status, I was shocked to see that instead of the normal options to activate/ deactivate the plugin, all I got was a mish-mash of PHP code.

I couldn’t think why this had happened, then it hit me. I had done the editing on my MacBook. The Mac, just like every other platform has built-in text editors. These editors treat text in much the same way as editors on other platforms, although there is one crucial difference. When you hit the enter key on a Mac, a special character is inserted to signal that a new line should be started. On a Mac, this is called the Carriage Return, or CR, character. On a Windows editor, the enter key inserts a Carriage Return – Line Feed, (CR-LF), character, and on a Linux machine, it’s a Line Feed, (LF), character.

So each of the major platforms treat a new line in a different manner. The upshot is that if you write a text document on a Windows machine, the new line will be interpreted correctly on both a Linux and Mac, as it uses characters common to both. However, if you write a text document on a Mac, then it won’t be interpreted correctly on a Linux machine, and vice versa.

So here was my problem, I had edited the PHP files on my Mac and uploaded the changed files to a Linux server. Using EditPad Lite for Windows, I was able to easily convert the newline characters from CR to CR-LF, and re-upload the file. Problem solved. The only thing that I can’t figure out is that if Linux has a problem with the CR-only newline character, how come the plugin worked OK?

Using a Screensaver as Desktop Background

I found this on a Mac OS site. It allows you to use your screensaver as your desktop background:

  • Open the Terminal app.
  • Type (all on one line): /System/Library/Frameworks/Screensaver.framework/
    Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &
  • Hit enter.
  • Terminal will return with the process ID
  • If you want to stop the screensaver background, in the Terminal, type kill followed by the proces ID.