mac

"You have inserted a Blank DVD" – Opening discs from Windows on a Mac

A few times in my life, I've received DVD-Rs or CD-Rs that a Windows user burned and gave to me, and popped them in my Mac, only to receive a message, "You inserted a blank DVD [or CD]. Choose an action from the pop-up menu or click Ignore."

The problem is, there's no way to read the data from the disc on the Mac; you can try burning stuff onto it or simply ignoring it, but you can't read the pictures off the disk. I checked the data side of the disc, and, sure enough, there's a different color band where data was written. But it's a no-go on the Mac.

The problem here is that Microsoft/Windows decided to implement it's 'Drag to Disc' file copying feature in a somewhat annoying way; people with Windows computers can copy individual files to a burnable disc, eject the disc, and put it back in and copy more files to it. But they can't delete files from the disc, and this kinda breaks the way write-once media is supposed to work. (To Windows users: Make sure that you finalize/burn the disc completely before you hand it off to someone. Otherwise only Windows users can read the files).

Old Mac of the Month - Macintosh IIci (on 512 Pixels)

This month, my old Mac story about a IIci was featured on on the excellent Apple-related blog 512 Pixels, by Stephen Hackett: Old Mac of the Month: Macintosh IIci.

My old Mac IIci

I briefly mention the IIci in my (not-yet-complete) Computing History article here on Life is a Prayer.com. I really liked the IIci, and it's probably one of my favorite Macs of all time, especially considering I probably owned and used it the longest!

Special thanks to my brother and dad, who not only helped me get into electronics and computing, but also helped me edit the article.

Pick and Choose F-key usage (Brightness, Sound, Dashboard, etc.) on a Mac

For the longest time, I've flip-flopped on whether to check the 'Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys' option in the Keyboard System Preference pane.

I love using the volume up and down keys on the keyboard, and probably use them fifty times a day. I sometimes like using the 'Dashboard' key too. I rarely use the media control keys. I'm undecided on the F1/F2 keys, though... I would like to use them as brightness control on my MacBook Air keyboard, but when my Air is plugged into my external monitor and keyboard, I want to use those as F1 and F2 (especially for code folding in TextMate).

Lucky for me, I found this great bit of freeware: FunctionFlip.

It's a System Preference pane that lets you choose which F keys are used as standard function keys, and which ones are used for the marked purposes (brightness, volume, etc.). AND, you can even set things different depending on what keyboard you're using. Nice!

Supercharge your Key Repeat rates in Mac OS X Lion

As an ardent keyboard-only user of Mac OS X (mice are so early 90s!), I like having a very fast key repeat rate, allowing me to hold the delete key to remove characters, command-z to undo a bunch of things in my text editor, etc.

Since I have a MacBook Air without an Eject key, I had to use KeyRemap4MacBook to switch the F12 key to behave like the Eject key for the purpose of turning off the screen with the keyboard.

This gives me another nice feature, too: the ability to have extremely fine-grained control over key repeat rates. After installing KeyRemap4MacBook, you can click on it’s ‘Key Repeat’ tab in the System Preference pane, and set your own values (in ms) for waits.

I simply set the ‘Initial Wait’ to 200ms, and the ‘Wait’ to 25ms. These values let me type, delete, and undo things very fast. That’s sooooooooooooooo spiffy ;-)

Force-Sleep the Display on a 2010-2011 MacBook Air

[Update: It looks like Mountain Lion finally restored this functionality—you can press Shift + Control + Power key, and the screen will immediately go to sleep.]

The 2010/2011 MacBook Air models are all amazing, and I believe Apple will eventually convert all their Mac laptops to the same basic design (just different sizes), forgoing the optical drives.

The only downside to this new design is the lack of an eject key—of course, most people probably only knew the key could eject discs, so it's no big loss for them. I, however, use that key in a standard Shift + Control + Eject combination to instantly turn off my Mac's display to conserve power and prevent any pixel ghosting. I've used the combo for a few years, and it took me some time to find out a way to reliably do something similar on my new 11" MacBook Air.

There are a few ways you can get this functionality back:

MobileMe Stuck on 'Registering Computer...'? Try this

I was having tons of trouble getting my brand new 11" MacBook Air to get MobileMe Sync set up, and it kept getting stuck with 'Registering computer...' either when I checked the 'Synchronize with MobileMe' checkbox or when I clicked 'Advanced...' and then 'Register Computer'.

Since I've subscribed to iTools, then .Mac, and now MobileMe (soon iCloud) since 2000, I figured this may have something to do with the fact that, after all these years, my default AppleID would change to @me.com (rather than @mac.com, as it has been for years).

The steps you should try before giving up are as follows:

Steve

As many of my colleagues mourn the death of a great tech icon, Steve Jobs, I pray for his soul, and hope (sincerely) that he makes it to Heaven. For all his flaws, he was a good neighbor, an optimist, a great strategist, an opponent of pornography, and he built up the tech industry in ways the future history books will show.

Steve Jobs

Much of my life has been lived along with products created or conceived by Steve himself (see my ongoing computing history here), and my current profession would be nowhere near as interesting as it is without his continual push towards extending the reach of technology into my life.

Apps I Like: BreakTime - Great for Desk Workers

Since I've started working full-time as a web developer a few years ago, I've probably spent more than 8 hours every workday (and a few hours most weekends) sitting perfectly still at a desk, moving only my fingers, and occasionally my arms, to type, move a mouse, and drink something here and there.

With reports that working standing up isn't really all it's made out to be (you still need to move around, and you're moving pressure points from your lower back to your lower legs...), and other reports stating that it's more about periodic movement and stretching that will help with musculoskeletal fitness, I've been thinking more about ways I can force myself to move.

Breaktime App for Mac

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