Category Archives: Mac OS X Platform

Setting up Octave and Gnuplot on OSX

Good instructions are here.

PDF OCR Batch-processing with ScanSnap

The ScanSnap S1500M (but also the S1500 as well as the earlier models S510 and S510M) comes with ABBYY FineReader for OCR support. This is great for creating searchable PDFs. Especially handy on a Mac with Spotlight. The problem is that in the default setup, each scan is OCRed right after the scan and depending on the age your machine (my G5 is getting a little long in the tooth) in can take quite a while. When you’re in the process of scanning many hundred’s of pages of paper documents, you don’t want to have to wait for the computer to do it’s OCR recognition, you’d rather feed it all the documents and let it do OCR while you’re doing something else. Continue reading

Installing iPhone SDK 2.x on PPC

This post is really just an edited summary of instructions found elsewhere. I used instructions from two sources (here incl. comments, and here), the first of which is slightly outdated and incomplete. Here’s the full story: Continue reading

Welcome to 2001 – Windows 7 Gets a “Dock”, too!

Excerpt form an Ars Technica Article on the Windows 7 UI:

An icon on the taskbar doesn’t necessarily mean that a program is running; programs can be pinned to the taskbar so that their icon is persistent. Clicking the icon starts the program (if it’s not running) or switches to it (if it is).

…featured since March 2001 in Mac OS X as presented in this Ars Technica Article: Direct Link.

BOM-files – What do/did Mac OS X Package Installers Install?

The answer can be found in the so-called BOM-files, which stands for Bill Of Material. More information about bom files be found in the Apple Developed Connection (ADC) bom man page, or by typing man bom in the terminal.

These files are buried inside installer packages as well as in receipts of already installed programs. To find it, right click the installer package, and select “Show Package Contents” and find the .bom file. Usually there’s more than one. Unfortunately, these are binary files, so there’s one more step to view its content. Continue reading

“Secure Empty Trash” and “Delete Free Space” Details

Recently I found out about a nice feature of Mac OS X’s Disk Utility: The ability to securely delete unused space. Huh? – you might say – why do that? Well, one nice feature of the Finder is that you can securely empty the trash. This not only removed information about the file from the file system’s directory (e.g., file allocation table), but actually overwrites the data on the hard disk such that it cannot be recovered, or at least, to make recovery more difficult.

Sometimes I forget to choose secure empty trash, and once the file has been deleted its too late to securely delete it. That’s were “Erase Free Space” comes in. In disk utility, select the partition (not the drive), then the Erase tab, and then choose “Erase Free Space”. You get three options: single, 7-fold, and 35-fold overwriting. For a 250 GB HDD, single erase takes about 2-3 hours. 7-fold erase takes 7 times as long, i.e., 14-21 hours. 35-fold erase seems rather impractical. What if you have a power failure during those 3-4 days it takes?

It’s certainly easier to just use Secure Erase Trash, but now knowing about the Erase Free Space, the question is, how many times does dat get written over? Apple’s help page does not tell. This discussion on Mac OS X Hints sheds some light on the details. One post concludes that secure empty trash does a seven-fold overwrite. Also interesting is that secure empty trash makes use of an underlying terminal command – srm – which stands for secure rm (remove).

Export Outlook Mail PST-Files to the Mac

While there are multiple software solutions that cost money, I prefer the free alternatives. In this case it comes in the form of Mozilla Thunderbird, and to be more precise, the Windows version. Thunderbird’s import function imports your current Microsoft Outlook folders including attachments and all. It also has options for Outlook Express and other mail programs, but I have not tried those. Once imported, you can retrieve the converted messages from the profile folder (Thunderbird/Data/Profile/Mail).

On the Mac, after installing the Mac version of Thunderbird and setting up your accounts, you simply copy the content of the mail folder from the Windows version to the corresponding location on your Mac (~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/yourname/mail).

If you rather use OS X’s Mail Application, then additional steps are necessary. Mail App has an option to import from Mozilla but I was not too successful with that. Among other things, it creates those “mysterious” white folders that cannot contain messages directly, only other folders. Alternatively, this Mac OS X Hint (also check out the discussion) explores several other ways, however, I have not yet tried this myself.

Resize Sparse Disk Images

I am a big fan of encrypted sparse disk images in Mac OS X. I use them primarily to keep my financial data secure w/o the need to use FileVault. This way, only the data that needs to be encrypted is protected with quick access to everything else. Using sparse disk images saves space, b/c only as much space is reserved as is needed. The only problem I have encountered, if more space is needed than was anticipated when setting up the disk image in the first place. Fortunately there is an easy way to resize sparse disk images in Mac OS X Tiger. This Wikipedia Article explains how: Continue reading

iMac G5 Do-it-yourself Instructions

This site in the Apple knowledge base is a comprehensive index of instructions on how to open up and repair your iMac G5.

Print Address Labels & Return Address Labels with OS X Address Book

If you want to print address labels for mass mailings, you cannot do that with Apple’s Pages, because Pages puts only one address per page in its mail merge function. This is fine, if you want to write a lot of identical letters to different people and also want to add custom printed envelopes. But If you don’t want to feed each envelope individually into your printer, you need address labels. Continue reading