Category Archives: Mac

Java Applet Failure in Accellion Product

We run a product, not too dissimilar from Dropbox, for sharing large files across company lines.  Our product is made by Accellion and it works pretty well all things considered.

Recently we ran into troubles with the Large File Uploader.  This is a technology for uploading larger files (above 2 GB, I believe) into the system.  Small files were working fine but for the Large File Uploader the “Choose File/Folder” button was remaining grayed.  Though this behavior was consistent across platforms it was only happening on certain machines.

Playing around with different browsers gave me some clues.  Opera with plugins disabled and JavaScript turned off it would give the same experience as the other browsers (the needed button being grayed-out).  However, once I enabled JavaScript (for that site) and enabled plugins (using plugins on demand also failed silently) I finally saw there was a missing plugin.  (Other browsers were not indicating there was a missing plugin.)

Turns out the plugin wasn’t technically missing.  You must also enable plugins in Java Preferences.  Here are both the Windows and Mac Java Preferences dialogs.

Java Preferences (Windows)
Java Preferences (Windows)
Java Preferences (Mac)
Java Preferences (Mac)

After fixing that, try visiting that page again and you (finally!) get something useful.

Security Dialog
Security Dialog

Tada!

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Make Minute Adjustments in Your Mac’s ScreenSaver Time

Sometimes you want more granularity than a drop-down menu supplies.  I found myself in this situation with start times for the screen saver on my Mac at work.

I use the initiation of ScreenSaver as a means to lock my machine (since Apple still ignores this vital business-environment feature).  If I’m not actively using that machine I want it to lock as soon as possible.  I also found that the controls in the GUI (the aforementioned drop-down menu) were too limiting.

After some hunting I found the controls necessary.

First, take a look at your current evocation time:

defaults -currentHost read com.apple.screensaver | grep idle

Mine is currently set to 120 (or two minutes).  I understand that anything below 60 will default to 60 so that seems to be the bottom limit.  Here is what you need to do to change your idleTime variable:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.screensaver idleTime 180

As you can see I specified 120 seconds.  Feel free to test out different times as would be appropriate to your situation.  (Zero (0) means never.)

If you are seeking a command to initiate ScreenSaver directly (perhaps for scripting purposes) this works:

open ‘/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app’

Thanks to this thread for most of this information.

Have fun with that.

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Oh, My Darling! Musica!

Well, Clementine has been around for a little while by now.  It’s based on an earlier version of Amarok and it’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.  Since I advocate for Ubuntu I’ll give you the short version of how to install it for Ubuntu.  (Unless stated otherwise my instructions should function for all three platforms.)

For Mac and Windows users, head on over and download Clementine.

Ok, Ubunters, grab your terminal because you’ll enter a couple of commands to make this quick and painless installation.  (This works for 10.04 through 13.10.)

(As of 14.04 Clementine is included the repositories and you needn’t add David’s repository.  Thus you may skip the first command below.  However, if you want the most current version do  add the repository since the version in the standard repositories can be slightly stale.  The current standard version will not support the mobile remote control application as an example.  I add the respository below.)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:me-davidsansome/clementine
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install clementine

Once this repository is added and running, you’ll get your updates through your usual updates channel so this is my preferred method.  (The repository currently throws errors in 13.04 beta but they can be ignored. This has been fixed.)

It has a fairly comprehensive Preferences dialog so feel free to poke around in there, see what’s what, and try some of the features.

I don’t use Internet music sources, but it supports a good host of them for those of you who do (from Spotify to Last.FM and all points hither and yon).

This is also a great way to get simultaneous FLAC and library support on the Mac and on Windows.  (You can get limited FLAC support in iTunes on the Mac but it’s a bit of a pain in the ass.  Here is that article.  And you can get a FLAC plugin for Windows Media Player but why bother?)

One quirk with Clementine (and also previously with Amarok) is that it’s not obvious how to just play from all of your music.

Firstly, you open it and you have no content.  You’ll have to navigate to Tools —> Preferences —> General —> Music Library and click the “Add new folder…” button to add a folder location.  I just add my Music folder (and add shortcuts into my Music folder for any additional locations).  This page in Preferences also houses the word list for album cover art.  Separate each word with a comma.

Ok, so it will scan your collection now that you’ve added a folder location (and you can manually force a scan as well).  Once that finishes you will see a column of artists with sub-directories for albums. But how do you play everything?  If you open the Smart Playlists folder at the top you’ll see one called All tracks.  Not complicated but not necessarily obvious.

I use a black background with yellow lettering, and I have Clementine display the album art behind the semi-transparent playlist.  It’s pretty cool looking.  Both of these settings can be found at Tools —> Preferences —> User Interface —> Appearance.

(If your version of Clementine on Ubuntu doesn’t have an Appearance tab—and I think that is limited to 12.04—you can make adjustments using qtconfig after installing the package qt4-qtconfig.  You can install this by issuing the command sudo apt-get install qt4-config.  You can run it from your terminal by typing qtconfig.)

It’s really well integrated into the latest Ubuntu.  Clementine (and Rhythmbox) are located conveniently in the Volume drop-down.  Very clean and very quick to respond (for both of them).

While Clementine is running it will change the color of it’s icon as the song progresses (this may need to be enabled to take effect).

The folks over at OMG!Ubuntu! have many articles covering Clementine for those interested in such things.

There is a lot more that could be said about Clementine but this ought to be enough to get you started.

Have fun with that.

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Mac Right-Click by Left-Click Confusion Solved

I was mucking around on my Mac (10.8; Mt Lion), picking through the preferences (matching those preferences to a newly-built Mt Lion virtual machine), when my left-click did something odd. Every other left-click I issued (on the desktop say) produced a right-click instead.

At the same time applications (like the System Preferences panel) disappeared. The applications did not close, nor did they minimize. They merely became invisible.

Turns out the solution to return the machine to normal behavior was simply tapping the space bar. Once tapped left-clicking was again always left-clicking and applications (once called from the netherworld by clicking their dock icons) stopped vanishing.

Not sure how to reproduce the cause, but have fun with that.

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How to Middle-Click (Properly) in the Mac BASh

I have been using a three-button scroll mouse ever since I started using Linux systems back in 1999. Don’t get me wrong, my previous Windows systems did technically have three-button scroll mice, but I wasn’t really using that third button. However, in BASh and in Linux systems in general you can perform the entire copy and paste cycle by merely highlighting some text and then middle-clicking where you want that text to go. Comparing this to the right-click ——> click Copy then right-click ——> click Paste, this is a saving of three clicks. Over the course of the day that’s a big savings.

Now, Mac runs BASh as its shell. It’s mostly there, only hobbled slightly. This middle-click ought to work except the Mac OS hijacks the middle-click of the mouse to jump to the Dashboard. To me this is useless. In part because I don’t really see much value in the Dashboard, but also in part because you can at any time pull up the Dashboard using the f12 key (fn + f12) or even put an icon in your Dock.

If you, like me, would rather have your middle-click in your shell there is a somewhat unobvious way to get there. (I’m running Mt Lion so your exact method may vary slightly.)

In System Preferences select Mission Control (about the middle of the top row called Personal). In Mission Control’s panel look near the bottom for “Show Dashboard:” and see the drop-down menu which presumably reads “Middle Mouse Button”. Change that to read “—”.

Once that is done you will be able to highlight some text in a terminal and middle-click to paste that text at your cursor position. Unfortunately this won’t make it work across applications (which it does in Ubuntu for instance), but it will help some.

We do what we are able.

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Mac Name Changes

You may decide for whatever reason to change the name of your Apple computer. It is easy enough to locate the machine name in System Preferences —> Sharing in the Computer Name field. (Change it in that field and then click the Edit button to ensure it is also changed there.) This takes care of most of the name change.

You will next want to enter the Terminal to enter one line of code which changes your hostname file and fixes the remainder of the name change.  Once you have a terminal opened this is the command you will want to run:

##
#

# Run this command:

scutil --set HostName [NewNameGoesHere]

# If you get a permissions error, simply add sudo to your command (you will be asked for your password):

sudo scutil --set HostName [NewNameGoesHere]

#

In case it’s not obvious, that bracketed portion gets replaced by what you want your machine name to be.

Reboot.

Have fun with that.

(Thanks to this site for the command syntax.)

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The Mac that Broke the Administrator Account and How I Fixed It

There is this thing that happens from time to time where a Mac on our network will get confused about the local administrator account.  For whatever reason it thinks it’s a domain administrator account.  If you were to run id as that user you would see a bunch of domain related information which should not be there.

Perhaps the reason for this relates to the fact that we use a name for the local administrator account which is the same as a name we use for a domain-level account.  I didn’t set it up this way, and I’m advocating for a change.  We shall see.

Regardless, usually when this happens (and it’s pretty easy to notice since the dock is reverted to default and the user doesn’t have write permissions to even their desktop) I can get the correct administrative account back by a restart.  Today for one machine this was not working.

Also, while it is in this state the administrator account can’t open the System Preferences.

The only other administrative account was a domain user (mobile account).  Unfortunately I was not able to log into that account at all as log in would hang at each attempt.

Tough situation: can’t log in as a real local administrator so I can’t fix any of this mess.

I found this article which offered a solution for creating and elevating an account from the command line.  This article uses a slash as the location identifier (/), but that was not working for me.  Others said localhost would work, but I couldn’t get that to work either.  In the end I used the dot (.) and that allowed these commands to do their jobs.  Also, the article neglects to mention that you must use sudo to run these commands successfully.  Without using sudo you will likely get this error:

<dscl_cmd> DS Error: -14009 (eDSUnknownNodeName)

Obscure, you say?  This is why I write these articles.


##
##
## first I tried just running this trio but (though I could su into that user account) the account didn't exist outside the shell

sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme
sudo dscl . -passwd /Users/deleteme D3leteme
sudo dscl . -append /Groups/admin GroupMembership deleteme

## so then I ran the rest of them

sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme UserShell /bin/bash
sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme RealName "Delete Me"
sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme UniqueID 503
sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme PrimaryGroupID 1000
sudo dscl . -create /Users/deleteme NFSHomeDirectory /Local/Users/deleteme

This allowed me to log in as the deleteme user and to enable the root account.  Once I was able to log in as the root user I was able to delete and re-create the local administrator account.

Then it was smooth sailing.  Logged into the newly (re-)created administrator account, deleted the old domain user account, and made sure everything was up to date.  I did have to remove this Mac from the domain so that I could re-add the user using their mobile account (that was stuck), but that wasn’t so bad as the rest.

Hope this helps you.  Have a great time.

(If it ain’t broke, why’d you put in a ticket?)

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The Mac .flac iTunes Blues

If you have been following my adventures, you know that I have ripped my entire CD collection (some 14,000 songs) to flac files and have those stored on an Ubuntu machine. (Read the starting article here.)

I have thus far been able to use my collection through a file-share on another machine.  Both the serving machine and the receiving machine are running Ubuntu.  That is working great but the road does not end there.

Rhythmbox is capable of sharing music in much the same manner as iTunes does using what is known as DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol).

Now, iTunes does not natively support the playback of flac files.  Apple has their own lossless codec which they would like us all to use.  But this is not time to commit yourself to forever being an Apple consumer.  Keep your options open.

So, in my case the question arrives: How do I play my collection on my Mac (10.4.11) using what’s available there?  I know that VLC, though clunky, will play flac files; it does not currently properly support DAAP.  By contrast iTunes (pretty as it is) will connect to DAAP but as mentioned is unable to play flac files natively.

I have mentioned before this article which offers instructions for enabling flac playback in iTunes on the Mac.

The article was aimed at someone with files local to their Mac wanting to playback those flac files using iTunes.  This procedure rests upon a component for QuickTime called the Xiph QuickTime Component (xiph-qt-0.1.8.dmg).  QuickTime is relied upon by iTunes for playback.  So, giving QT the ability to play flac files ought to be the end of the matter.

With Xiph and the Flac.Importer installed (in the QT Components folder) I am able to play a local flac file using QT.  I have confirmed that each of these is required by QT for flac playback (you will encounter a different error if either of these components is not in place).

Sadly, after adding these components and connecting to the Rhythmbox share iTunes sees but will not play my flac files.  Instead, when a flac file is selected for playback iTunes sits idly while claiming to be in playback mode (though the time does not change nor does the progress bar move across the song).

The one item which was not followed was running all the flac files through the OggS application.  The article implies this is an optional step.  The OggS application registers certain metadata with the operating system.  According to this article this is necessary only in order for iTunes to successfully import the flac files into your collection, but iTunes will ignore any attempt to attach to a flac file which has not been so registered.

I wish not to do this for these three reasons:

  1. This creates an extra step I have to take on every subsequent flac I rip
  2. The flac files are to be considered complete when they are ripped not after they have been iTunicized
  3. The files are stored across the network and they are more than 14,000 in number—way too much time and bandwidth spent for a rather superfluous matter

I am still seeking the answer and am creating this post as an informational repository at which I can point folks who may be able to contribute to the solution.  I will continue to add information as I find it.  Please feel free to help out in the comments.

Special Note for those Running 64 bit Macs (Lion, for instance):

You can run iTunes in 32 bit mode to make the above work (until a 64 bit version of the tools becomes available).  To do so go into your Applications folder, right-click on iTunes and choose Get Info.  On that dialog you will find a check box to “Open in 32-bit mode“.  Check it.

I haven’t tested this but I am assuming it will allow the above procedures to work.

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My iPod has an update–the band will arrive shortly…

I try to keep my expectations very minimal. In a world of largess this works out pretty well. It also gives me good cause when things defy my expectations. Since my expectations are by design on the low-end of the expectation spectrum, when something fails to meet those expectations it’s usually something about which one would be well justified in getting one’s panties in a bunch.

Please allow me a moment to fling seven words at the two major contenders in the personal computing arena.

Before I start in on Redmond, I should take a moment to explain my expectations. Let us reflect upon the word Update. In the fast-paced world of software development this small word carries a heavy load. There are all kinds of updates: security, feature enhancements, feature packs, service packs, critical. They come from all over. Whether you run Windows, OSX, Linux, or some other OS you’ll be running regular updates for that OS. You’ll also be running updates for many of the software packages you have installed within that operating environment. For most of us this is so obvious we don’t even consider it in our list of things that get done (unless you are like me and have to manage the updates for multiple groups of machines). Regardless, there is one thing about an update that we can agree upon. An update makes some change to the piece of software in question.

For example, if I see that there is an update for Opera available for my Fedora machine I can rest assured that the update will make some change to Opera.

There is one small deviation from this system, but it is also a very logical step. Sometimes there will be a piece of software which is itself there to manage updates. Apple recently introduced Apple Software Update (for Windows) to manage updates to QuickTime, iTunes, and the like. Adobe uses their Version Queue to manage updates to installed Adobe products. You see that word installed in the last sentence? This is where it all hinges for me.

Just as it makes sense that the update to which Opera alerts me is an update to Opera, the updates to which an update manager should alert me will either be for the update manager (it’s a piece of software that may well need an update) or for the already installed applications which that manager is managing.

For example, it seems utterly appropriate that Apple Software Update may offer me alerts for Apple Software Update, for iTunes, and for QuickTime–all of which are installed on my work machine. Windows Update may want to offer me updates for Office, Windows itself, the updater itself, or perhaps IE7. This all seems perfectly in line.

Now we come to the meat of my rant. Here is where the I vent my spleen.

A short while back Microsoft introduced a little something to compete with Flash. It’s called Silverlight. I have about as much interest in it as I do in getting a colonoscopy–I have no doubt one day I’ll have to go down that road but my lack of enthusiasm will be apparent, there will be drugs involved, and I will be bent over a sterile table.

So what should I see but Silverlight showing up in my WSUS console. This is an annoyance to say the least. I cannot see how this could possibly qualify as an update. They bill it as a feature pack. Ok, whatever. Them’s just words. Translation: “please allow us to foist our new brain-child on your unsuspecting machine”.

Needless to say I declined the update across all networks, so generous it may seem.

I would have just as easily forgotten this incident had not today something new happened which brought that lovely bile bubbling to the surface. Apple Software Update announced to me that there was an update. Ah, what could it be? QuickTime? iTunes? My iPod? Nay, good reader, none of these. I am informed that Safari 3.1 is available. I had to check my machine again. Maybe I loaded Safari for Windows when it came out thinking I might need it for testing. Nope. Never been on this machine. So again I must ask, how does this qualify as an update?

When I check for updates to Firefox it doesn’t tell me that my Thunderbird is out of date, let alone tell me that I can install Thunderbird if I don’t have it installed. I suppose the next higher level would be for Firefox to alert me that Fedora 8 is now available. Or rather for Firefox on my Windows machine to let me know I could update my operating system to Fedora 8 right now.

So here is my rule: updates update the software seeking the update. Updates do not offer new or unrelated software downloads. That’s what spyware does.

Now I feel my spleen has been fully vented. If you have been splashed by the spray, take a look at where you are standing and if applicable get out of the pissoire.

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