Monthly Archives: October 2008

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

Remove Short Description for Feed Items in iGoogle

When I looked at my iGoogle page today I found a short description under each item. Unfortunately that made the paper longer than one screen so I couln’t view all my items w/o scrolling — very inconvenient. Even worse, there was no immediately clear way to restore the original layout. I tried to click on the small arrow in each block to edit the settings, but to no avail.

The solution can be found when clicking on “My Account” in the top right corner. 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.

Small & Fast Adobe Acrobat Alternative for Windows

If you regularly use Adobe Acrobat Reader on Windows then I am sure you have come across the problem that certain documents load and display unacceptably slow, even on a fast dual or quad core CPU and on machines with ample memory. In particular, I am talking about quickly scrolling through a graphics or photo intensive file in continuous display mode. I want to be able to grab the scroll-bar, or alternatively, use my mouse wheel to very quickly scan through the whole document, and frequently, Acrobat halts briefly while (presumably) buffering the content on the next few pages. Why is that? I don’t know, I find it exceptionally frustrating that a program made by the company who set the standard is not able to offer good performance and recent hardware.

Now, one might be inclined to blame the hardware, alas, that’s not the case. Continue reading