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Posts Tagged ‘mac os x’


Saturn’s Rings and the moon Tethys (via APOD)

I’ve been getting tired of the Cosmos lately. No, not the actual Universe, but the lovely yet small set of astronomy pictures in the Mac OS X (Tiger) screen saver “Cosmos”.

I knew that there would be gorgeous images like I’d like to branch out, see more nifty stuff… like the image above, of Saturn’s rings and the moon Tethys,
Astronomy Picture of the Day page, and even more at APOD’s archive site.


Enceladus’ Ice Volcanoes (via APOD)

If I were into scripting on the Mac, I could have written a script to fetch new content from APOD, but instead I simply grabbed a few dozen of my favorites via the archive site. Now, how to get them into my screensaver?

The net is mighty– I soon found out how to diddle with /System/Library/Screen Savers/Cosmos.slideSaver to get what I wanted. Copy it into another directory (after authenticating to unlock it), and rename it APOD.slideSaver. Select it, right-click for a menu, and choose “Show Package Contents”. The “Contents” folder contains a “Resources” folder full of slides.


NGC 68888 (via APOD)

Remove the ones in there, substitute your own, and then copy back into /System/Library/Screen Savers/ to deploy it. You’ll get a dialog about not being able to copy it, with an “authenticate” choice to let you do so. Or just use the command line and sudo.

Ta-dah, I get an APOD option in the Screen Savers section of the System utilities. And now I have more shiny galaxies to watch, and to light my livingroom with when I’m sitting quietly and petting the kitties in the evening.

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I’d been completely stumped earlier this year while attempting to try Second Life– the Mac client just “no va”, wouldn’t go, for me. I got an error suggesting that my DNS was busted and that I should try connecting to http://www.secondlife.com, and open a ticket if that didn’t work. How I was supposed to open said ticket if I had no IntarWebZ is left as a thought exercise, I suppose.

At any rate, after leaving it alone for the longest time, I was re-inspired to investigate this evening and found the problem. If I’d been a bit more Mac-savvy, I’d have found it long since– a good reminder that Mac OS is Not Unix, but something that Strongly Resembles Unix But With Quirks. Here is what I sent to the nice support folks at Second Life (who were quite helpful, but equally stumped along with me) this evening when I reopened the ticket:

I am reopening this so I can share the solution that I discovered with you. It turns out to be a very simple, yet very profound issue, and is easily diagnosed and corrected, so I want to be sure you add it to your solution base. It’s something to watch out for on folks running the Mac OS X client specifically.

Under Mac OS X, system applications, like Firefox, Safari, etc, use the built in resolver libraries. The Second Life client, like the nslookup utility, apparently is using classical DNS rather than the system libraries and using only /etc/resolv.conf to get information. The problem was that my /etc/resolv.conf file was no longer a link to /var/run/resolv.conf, and thsu was not supplying the correct information. This can happen for various reasons, including system updates, or booting without a network cable.

The symptom to identify this is if the person CAN get to http://www.secondlife.com from a browser, do ssh from a terminal/shell window, etc, but the Second Life client claims that there is a DNS error. This shows that the operating system is correctly doing name lookups via the built-in libraries, but that DNS is not correctly configured.

Diagnosis: Have the customer open up a terminal window and do “ls -l /etc/resolv.conf” and see if it is a symbolic link or a plain file. It should be a link to /var/run/resolv.conf.

Correction: If not, they should fix it: “sudo rm /etc/resolv.conf; sudo ln -s /var/run/resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf”

If this does not resolve the problem, inspect the contents of /var/run/resolv.conf. If there is a problem with the network DHCP, there will not be any correct nameserver lines in the resolv.conf, and then that’s a client network problem not subject to quick fixes. :-)

best regards,
Strata aka Maybear

See you online!

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I’ve been on a grand unification quest to find all the duplicates and old versions and generally clean the heck up on my desktop Mac, in preparation for a clean full “reference” backup and then a Leopard upgrade. I’m hearing enough security kerfuffle about the new (dis)improved firewall on Leopard; that I’m feeling glad that I didn’t buy a copy yet. Some of the issues are less relevant to me than to some, as I have a gateway firewall on our local net.

I’m disappointed to hear that Apple may be taking some of the Unix magic out of the hands of us old fogies in the course of prettying up subsystems like the firewall manager. I wouldn’t want to see quite the level of bells, whistles, and occasional frag-grenades of, say, some of the Linux GUI sysadmin tools. The princple behind those tools, however, is one that Apple would do well to emulate: provide a graphical user interface to the actual scripts and command-line / config-file changes needed to accomplish a task. Rewriting the UI as a program of its own, intertwingled with the functionality, is bad compartmentalization and should be avoided.

Speaking of firewalls, they do only protect you from stuff that is coming IN to get you, not stuff that you helpfully download and that opens up connections OUT to wreak havoc or spew spam. The emergence of Mac-targeted web trojans; is something that neither Tiger nor Leopard will prevent. It’s another class of security problem entirely, the kind that comes in via the keyboard or the mouse– what ham radio old-timers used to call “a short between the headphones”.

What I do find helpful for dodging some bullets is a the NoScript plugin for Firefox, which lets you selectively approve or deny scripts running on web pages that you are browsing. There is even some ongoing work on preventing cross-site scripting via NoScript. I find it very handy. Still, caveat clickor and all that.

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Mac drop problem was thermal shock. Desk is no longer in kitchen/DR area, under cold HVAC, so basically can’t run iMac G5 when house ambient temp is 75-plus. #$%@!!

Cracking it open and blowing the dust bunnies out, of which there were very few, just cooled it enough so that it takes longer to fail.

Now it’s cooler. The mac is up, and staying up. So I’m trying to read my mail, and somebody sent me a video.

Somewhere along the way, I lost audio from browsers, eg, playing vids. Attempting to fix it via http://www.macfixitforums.com/showflat.php?Board=tiger&Number=772938 caused me to lose SYSTEM audio. Though GarageBand still can play audio.

I’ve been watching too much InuYasha. Have fierce and savage urge to attack, via keyboard, with battle-cry of “BLUUUUUETOOTH KEYCLICKS OF *CLRI ROOT NODE*!!!” If only the damn thing would just blow up. It would be SO worth it.

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My desktop mac has been crashing randomly for the past several days. Downloading the 10.4.9 combo dmg, with a permissions fixer, did not solve the problem. Still getting sudden shutoffs, leaving -122 error in ../../private/var/log/system.log.

Also reported were a bunch-o-cruft about difficulties routing and mookin’ aboot (she sez, through clenched teeth clamped about a nonexistent hand-carved bit of briar).

Took the mac off the net. Went through every control in System Prefs, singing Buddy Holly to myself. “Look through every window, yeah… what do I see?” Yes, the song is “any” window. Turned off anything ‘helpful’, eg FruitMenu, FontLoader, yada yada. Found that firewire is now plumbed for IPv6 stuff. Ah.

Oh, and since the 10.4.9 upgrade, my terminals say ‘localhost’ instead of ‘hoksu-mitto’. Well.

To make a long story shorter, I think I have it this time. Have turned off bluetooth wake-up capability, set the hostname again (! again ! what, do they not finish plumbing the hostname if you aren’t on the net?! ), yada yada.

Let’s see how it goes. I’m way behind on email, if ya got something up, call me.

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