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#MacOSX : Enable Half-Star Ratings in iTunes

iTunes allows users to rate songs on a 1 star to 5 star basis, but what if a song is somewhere in the middle of the rating scale, not quite worthy of 4 stars but not a 3 star song either?

For more precise personal ratings, enable the half-star rating option in iTunes:

  1. Open Terminal app
  2. type:
    defaults write com.apple.iTunes allow-half-stars -bool TRUE
  3. Quit and relaunch iTunes for changes to take effect. To give something a half star, click and slide the star rating scale until the 1/2 value shows.

NOTE: removing the half stars moves the song rating to the star below it, so a 3 1/2 star song would turn into a 3 star song, and so on, but the metadata of the songs are still in half-star increments.
So, if you turn the option back on again, the ‘correct’ half-star ratings would show and be intact.

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#MacOSX : Customize Launchpad with Launchpad-Control

Quoting from developer’s site:

Already upgraded to Mac OS X Lion? Yes? Well then you certainly know Launchpad, the “home for your apps” like Apple says.

A huge disadvantage of Launchpad is that every app located in your /Applications folder is shown. That means that you will see little helper programs like uninstallers or updaters, too.
These apps can’t be hidden from Launchpad easily because Apple does not provide any preference pane or tool to do so.

Launchpad-Control is a small tool which allows you to easily hide/unhide apps (and groups) from Launchpad in Mac OS X Lion.

NOTE: it is free, but be kind and make a donation to the developer, he will appreciate it very much. 😉

#MacOSX : Change Launchpad Background

If you do not like default background of Launchpad you can easily change it:

  1. Go to Launchpad
  2. Hit Ctrl + Alt + Cmd + B
  3. Hit more if you want

That’s All. 🙂

 

#MacOSX : IP Scanner Pro, Network Scanning for Dummies

You are accustomed to incomprehensible command line tools???

Finally I have the right solution: IP Scanner Pro

It’s all about friendlyness!!! You can ping, wake up, insert into whitelist, etc all the devices found with just one click.

I will show you just an image, you don’t need anything else! 😉

NOTE: I have hidden MAC address.

#MacOSX : Add Dock Spacing using OnyX

Onyx is a powerfull App which does a lot of things. You can tweak user interface too; what we want to do is adding invisible spaces in the dock.

  1. Start Onyx and enter your administrator password
  2. Go to Parameters tab
  3. Choose Dock tab
  4. Click on the buttons at the bottom: Applications or Others
  5. OnyX will now reboot the Dock

This is how it look like:

#MacOSX [*NIX]: MAC Address Spoofing

MAC Address is a unique identifier of 48 bits assigned to network interfaces.

This Address is unique in the world, so it does identify you, everywhere.

From a Security & Privacy perspective this is not good at all!!!

How to modify it:

  1. Open Terminal app.
  2. Type:
    sudo ifconfig [en0-en1] ether [MAC Address]

    • where you can choose en0 for wired ethernet interface or en1 for airport interface
    • MAC Address is something like FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF
      where there are 6 groups of 2 exadecimal symbols separated by colons (:)
  3. Insert your Administrator password.
  4. Go to Network System Preferences, select active interface and push Advanced… button.
  5. In TCP/IP tab click on Renew DHCP Lease button.
  6. You should now see your new MAC Address in Hardware tab.

NOTE: you can set Configure: Manually in Hardware tab to manually set MAC Address and avoid using Terminal.

NOTE2: if you do not renew DHCP Lease you may loose network connectivity.

NOTE3: if you have set MAC Address through Terminal it will be restored to it own default after reboot or shutdown.

NOTE4: some Hotels or private Acces Point use MAC Filtering to prevent abuse of their network. The changing of MAC Address allow you circumviate this kind of restrictions (see MAC Spoofing). This is NOT legitimate, so if you are not an evil user and you need emergency network access, try to set your MAC Address to FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF (could not work of course). This way System Administrator will readily understand what is going on. 😉

#MacOSX : Display EDID [UPDATED]

EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) enables Mac OS X to know what kind of monitor is connected to it.
Why are we interested in it? If we know the exact model of LCD connected to our mac we can retrieve who is the manufacter of the panel (which often it is not the brand under the monitor is sold) and its properties (like response time, contrast and brightness) as Apple doesn’t specify they in its own products.

So here we go:

  1. Open Terminal app.
  2. Type (see this comment):
    ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayEDID | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6
    ioreg -lw0 -r -c "IODisplayConnect" -n "display0" -d 2 | grep IODisplayEDID | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6
  3. Second line is what we are looking for.

NOTE: if you are interested in how this work, you can type in Terminal (but be ready for a full NERD immersion):

  • man bash
  • man ioreg
  • man grep
  • man sed
  • man xxd
  • man strings

Don’t say i haven’t Warned you! 😀

#MacOSX : System Preferences Archives Pane

Mac OS X support zip & unzip files natively, but you can’t find how to configure it in System Preferences.

Archives Pane exists but it is not installed by default, so you must install it first:

  1. Go to (Shift-Command-G):
    /System/Library/CoreServices/Archive Utility.app/Contents/Resources/
  2. Double-click on Archives.prefPane
  3. Insert your admin password
  4. From now on you have Archives pane in System Preferences

NOTE: it works on Mac OS X Lion, Snow Leopard and Leopard.

#MacOSX : Taking Screenshots

You will be surprised but even without stamp key on the keyboard you can take screenshots whitout 3rd party apps! 😀

There are several keyboard combinations that can be used to take screenshots in Mac OS X. The SystemUIServer process handles these commands.

  • Command-Shift-3: take a screenshot of the screen, and save it as a file on the desktop.
  • Command-Shift-4, then select an area: take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop.
  • Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: take a screenshot of a window and save it as a file on the desktop.
  • Command-Control-Shift-3: take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the clipboard.
  • Command-Control-Shift-4, then select an area: take a screenshot of an area and save it to the clipboard.
  • Command-Control-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: take a screenshot of a window and save it to the clipboar.

From Mac OS X Leopard and later, the following keys can be held down while selecting an area (via Command-Shift-4 or Command-Control-Shift-4):

  • Space: to lock the size of the selected region and instead move it when the mouse moves.
  • Shift: to resize only one edge of the selected region.
  • Option: to resize the selected region with its center as the anchor point.

NOTE: different versions of Mac OS X have different formats for screenshots.

NOTE2: in Mac OS X 10.4 and later, the default screenshot format can be changed, by opening Terminal app and typing :
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type image_format
killall SystemUIServer

Where image_format is one of jpg, tiff, pdf, png, bmp or pict (among others). If you omit the second line, you will need to log out and in again for the change to take effect.

#MacOSX : Xlog, Logs As The Desktop Background [OUTDATED]

Ok, this is for sys admin and paranoid people.

If you want see system logging in real time on your desktop there exist an amazing app: Xlog

Here you can see a beautifull screen on how it looks like:

Sadly, Xlog is no longer available in the App Store and stopped working since Mac OS El Capitan.

NOTE: you can set Xlog preferences to start it automatically on login. 😉

NOTE2: you can choose text & background color and transparency.

#MacOSX : Quick Look

Quick Look is a powerfull feature of Mac OS X which is activated when hitting space after file(s) selection; let’s see why:

  1. Multiformat Support: can open an amusing number of file format including, but not limited to:
    PDFs, HTML, QuickTime readable media, plain text and RTF text documents, Apple Keynote, Pages and Numbers, ODF documents, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files (including OOXML), RAW camera images.
  2. Plugins: support for additional formats can be achieved via use of 3rd party plug-ins.
  3. Index Sheet: if you select multiple files before activating Quick Look, you’ll just be shown a preview of the first file. Clicking Index Sheet is just like using exposé, only with the previews rather than windows.
  4. Slideshow Mode: when using Quick Look on multiple images, there is a play button at the bottom to start a slideshow.
  5. Zooming: if you activate Quick Look on an image, hold down the Option key and you will notice that the cursor changes to a magnifying glass. Now, using the scroll wheel you can zoom in and out.
  6. Keyboard Navigation: while you are previewing a file with Quick Look, you can still use the keyboard to navigate to other files. In column view this is easily done with the arrow keys. In the other views, use Cmd-DOWN and Cmd-UP to go into and out of folders.
  7. Trashed Files: can preview trashed files without moving them out.

NOTE1: Quick Look has been introduced in Mac OS X Leopard and it is still present in Mac OS X Lion.

NOTE2: Quick Look is just enough to prefer Mac OS X over Windows! 😛

#MacOSX : Disable Hibernation & SSD Tweaks

SSD are based on NAND Flash which have limited writes life. Currently 25nm chips support 3000-5000 cycles then they become read only.

This limitation makes very important avoid unneeded writes on the disk.

Moreover power save technologies can give some trouble (of course on SandForce controllers).

So this are some steps to Tweak your host system to give you the best experience:

  1. Turn off hibernation. To do this, open terminal app and type:
    sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

    Enter admin password and let’s do it the magic.
    This will prevent GB of writes every time you close the lid of your notebook.

  2. Remove unused hibernation file to free up as much space as your RAM:
    sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage
  3. Open System Preferences and go to Energy Saver, than uncheck
    Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible
    both on Battery and Power Adapter tabs.
    This will prevent disk freezes and beachballs.
  4. If you have a SATA 2 interface and a Nvidia chipset on your Mac, check to have 3 Gbps Negotiated Link Speed.
    Go to Serial-ATA section in System Information app to take a look of your disk(s).
    This will ensure optimal performance of SSD.

NOTE: there are more Hacks, like enabling TRIM for non Apple supported SSDs but they give more troubles that other therefore I advice against to engage in similar enterprises.

NOTE 2: WARNING!!! Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 seems to change the way “safesleep” is handled. If you currently have safesleep disabled in order to free up the drive space required by the sleep image, this will cause it to come back and even setting hibernatemode = 0 won’t change it. Quick untested FIX:

cd /var/vm
sudo rm sleepimage
sudo ln -s /dev/null sleepimage

#WP7 Connector: ERROR 8000ffff

You have a Mac.

You have WP7 Connector 2.0.1 or above.

You can’t check for updates because it fails with such error…doh! 😦

Don’t worry!!!

  1. Turn on wifi
  2. Shut down the phone (with WiFi ON)
  3. Power on the phone (insert PIN if needed)
  4. Reconnect to WP7 Connector and check for updates, it should work now 😉
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