Tuesday, 11 December 2007

quick highlight


It occurred to me the other day that colouring a file or folder in Mac OSX isn't as quick and straightforward as it might be. First you have to select the objects you want to label, then go to the Finder's File menu, then go right to the bottom to pick the colour label you want. There are alternative ways of doing it, of course, but all require a similar amount of user interaction. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if you could select the colour labels from the Finder window toolbar?

'quick highlight' lets you do just that. The installation procedure copies a folder of Applescript 'apps' to your Applications folder from where you can drag some or all of them into the toolbar. That's it. Just select the object you want to label, and click the coloured button in the toolbar. Less clickage.

You can download quick highlight here:




Sunday, 25 November 2007

Leopard tip #1 Partition your hard drive without erasing data


OK, so I've got a copy of Leopard. Problem is, I didn't want to just do an upgrade as I've read so many stories of blue screens, problems after installation, etc., and I didn't want to have to back up my data and do a clean install. So, I though the best thing to do would be to install Leopard on its own partition – but how to create a new partition without erasing all existing data? I had a look at iPartition which looks like a very good product, but I didn't want to have to pay for something (Leopard's expensive enough already). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I booted from the Leopard DVD, opened Disc Utility and selected my hard drive then clicked the 'Partition' tab. To my surprise, I saw that Disc Utility lets you create a new partition without erasing any existing data. Fantastic! It'll even let you resize an existing partition if necessary, and, as long as there's enough free disc space, won't erase anything.

There you have it – Disc Utility in Leopard lets you create and resize partitions without erasing data.



Sunday, 28 October 2007

remind-o-matic – new program


I recently had need of an alert scheduler. While there are lots of such programs out there, I found them a little over-the-top for my needs (too feature-rich). So, I set about creating a simple, unobtrusive alert/reminder program – remind-o-matic. Download it here:




Friday, 19 October 2007

New Triumph Bonnie SE

Wow! I picked it up on Tuesday and can hardly bear to be parted from it. Honestly, this bike's got it all: great looks, fantastic handling, it's fast (0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds), comfortable ... So far I've only put about 110 miles on it, and am hoping to do a LOT more at the weekend.

It does mean that the VT has gone to a new home (via ebay) which I'm a bit sad about as I'd hoped to keep it as a project and do it up as a runaround hack. However, as I've got neither the time nor the space for it, it's just as well.

Back to the SE, though, if anyone has any experience of these bikes, I'd love to hear from you. I've not owned a Triumph before, so it would be nice to get some real ownership notes.



Saturday, 6 October 2007

2004 Triumph Bonneville SE


Well, just put down a deposit on a 2004 Bonneville SE (Black, 4000 miles, and beautiful). Picking it up in a week ... soooooo excited. So, I've got an F reg Honda VT500 for sale (54k, needs fork seals and a new rear tyre). It's a very reliable bike, but needs a little attention (will be reflected in the price).



Monday, 1 October 2007

SMART Reporter


SMART Reporter is a little application that puts an icon in your menu bar and gives your an early warning of impending hard drive failure. I'd recommend that everyone use it.

I recently had a 1.5ghz PowerBook which was stalling at the grey screen with the Apple logo on during startup. I tried TechTool Pro, Mac Test Pro, Disc Utility and Apple Hardware Test, but couldn't get the machine to boot any further. I then did an 'Archive and install' of 10.4.6, whereupon the PowerBook booted up fine. A-ha! I thought, sorted. I left the machine on test for a couple of days, during which there seemed to be no problem. Finally, just before I contacted the owner, I installed SMART Reporter, and within minutes, it was reporting imminent hard drive failure. A little later, the machine was stalling at startup again.

Luckily, reinstalling the OS gave me the opportunity to recover data before the drive failled again, but this might not always be possible. SMART Reporter might just give you enough warning ...

Download SMART Reporter here: http://homepage.mac.com/julianmayer/smartreporter/



Saturday, 15 September 2007

the new aluminium imac

Wow! We popped over to Bournemouth this morning, to check out the new imac in Solutions shop there. I've heard a lot of conflicting reports about the new reflective screens, and the new keyboards. The screens certainly are reflective, but they are fantastic! Bright, clear, sharp, vivid! Really nice – I really want one now. As for the keyboards, they're great too, very like a laptop keyboard, easy to type on (probably take a little while to get used to, but not too long). The 2.4 gig procesors are very fast, very snappy. Can't wait to get one.

Anyway, cheers,


Monday, 10 September 2007

Coloido 1.1


I'm actually taken aback at the extent to which the coloido screen saver has spread across the internet (particularly big in Japan I see). It's even made it onto YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_6Keu8eE0U). Well, anyway, version 1.1 is now available. You can now control the speed of the two plasma elements that make up the kaleidoscope. Now with even more hoopyness ...



Hooray for Apple Hardware Test


I actually thought I'd never be saying this, but hooray for Apple Hardware Test! That's the free utility that Apple ships with all new Macs. I've used it on a number of occasions in the past and, despite several hardware problems, it's never alerted me to a problem. Never. As a result, I've tended to forget about it recently, preferring instead Apple's Mac Test Pro, memtest or Tech Tool Pro if I wasn't sure about the exact fault.

However, the other day I had a 1.33ghz, 15in PowerBook with what looked initially like a hard drive failure. The machine wouldn't boot up at all, nor would it start in target firewire mode. It would boot from the Software restore disc (but Disc Utility failed to repair the disc, and it was impossible to reinstall the OS – the installation would only proceed so far, before the blue screen with the spinning wheel appeared).

Mac Test Pro and Tech Tool Pro both failed to boot the machine!

As a last resort I decided to try Apple Hardware Test (as this is included on the Software restore disc – and this was the only disc capable of booting the machine) and lo and behold, five minutes later the culprit was identified – a faulty RAM module.

A replacement from Crucial (very fast delivery!) is now in place and everything's fine.

Whodathunkit, eh?


Thursday, 6 September 2007

Macworld cd


Just received the latest edition of Macworld magazine, and discovered that they've included one of my screensavers (colobar) on the cd. Excellent! (bit surprised that they didn't get in touch to ask first - is this normal?)

Anyway, cheers,


Thursday, 30 August 2007

New screensaver – coloido

Hi, managed to get to spend a bit of time on Quartz Composer recently, for the first time in ages, and made a new screensaver (coloido) – it's a customisable kaleidoscopic screensaver. Get it here http://www.axmt07.dsl.pipex.com/coloido.html



Sunday, 26 August 2007

date & time widgets


I've been contacted recently by a number of people asking if the UK date & time widget could be made customisable. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that yet, but in the meantime I've made a few variations for different time zones. Have a look here:




The Green Man festival


Haven't done any Mac stuff recently worth posting about – been very busy with the other thing (life). Anyway, went to the Green Man festival in the Brecons the other week. Excellent, despite the weather. Vashti Bunyan was a complete surprise (brilliant), and Robert Plant was fantastic. Also great were Tunng, Fridge, John Renbourn and Vetiver. I didn't get to see Devendra Banhart, unfortunately, but it was a great festival. I do think the organisers should take a few things on board for next time though.

• Somewhere to do washing up (sinks and that) as it's billed as a family festival.
• I think the area outside the Folk tent was so trashed by the weather because it was right next to the main entrance. If the entrance was behind the tent I think the ground would have survived better, as it wouldn't have had everyone traipsing past all the time.
• More stalls and shops.
• I think the camping area should have been better arranged, so that people weren't all walking past the family camping area to get to the general camping bit. We had people having a piss next to our tent in the middle of the night, and one drunk bloke actually tried to crash out in our tent! I think the famil area shold have been furthest from the entertainment area.

Anyway, great festival all the same.



Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Neat folder backup script

I wrote this script to provide incremental backups to a work in progress folder on my mac. It copies this foler to an external hard drive, then appends the date to the folder name. This means that every day you get a new backup (and when you get too many, you can just delete the older ones). Replace the file paths with your own:

-- This script will copy a folder of your choice to a destination of your choice, and then append today's date to the newly backed up folder. This means that you'll have a daily incremental backup of you're 'work in progress' folder, for example. --

-- If you save this as a run only application on your hard drive, then use iCal to open it at, say, 5.30 every weekday, it'll backup all your work in progress. You can then schedule your machine then to shut down at, say, 6pm using the 'Energy Saver settings in System Preferences. Obviously, if these backups build up you'll eventually run out of disk space, so you'll need to regularly 'clean out' the backup folder --

tell application "Finder"
make new Finder window to startup disk
set target of Finder window 1 to folder "Hard_Drive:Users:Home:Documents:Workshop:" -- this should be the path to your work in progress folder --

ignoring application responses

-- duplicate your folder to your backup location --

duplicate folder "Workshop" of folder "Documents" of folder "Home" of folder "Users" of startup disk to "Backup_location:Backup_location folder"

-- Note: if you're backing up to a networked drive, you must make sure that you've connected to the drive before the script is run --

end ignoring

delay 120 -- set this to an appropriate number of seconds to ensure the backup is completed --

-- this next bit appends today's date to the newly backed up folder --

set theDate to current date
set todaysDate to ((the month of theDate & " " & the day of theDate & ", " & the year of theDate) as string)
if name of folder "Backup_location:Backup_location folder:Workshop" is not "" then
set name of folder "Workshop" of folder "Backup_location folder" of folder "Backup_location" to "Workshop" & " " & todaysDate
end if
end tell



Sunday, 15 July 2007

Fix to QF 1.3

A reader on Macupdate pointed out a problem with QuickFind 1.3. Basically, the Yahoo.com button was returning results from Yell.com. Sorry about that, a silly mistake on my part. It's now fixed, and you can download the repaired version (didn't think it warranted a 'new' version) from my website: http://www.themacguy.co.uk.



Monday, 9 July 2007

QuickFind 1.3

Just released QuickFind 1.3. Now includes the ability to set the window transparency.



Saturday, 7 July 2007

The VT lives again ...

I got my VT500 back from the bike shop (Tilleys in Weymouth) today. They'd had it for a fortnight and hadn't solved the problem. Basically, the bike had suddenly started running really badly, wouldn't idle and died when I opened the throttle. It had been going like that for a couple of days. Before I took it to the bike shop I checked the oil – the crankcase was completely full of petrol! The guys in the bike shop changed the oil and filters, put in new plugs, checked the carbs, faffed about with the petrol tap, and eventually gave up on the problem yesterday.

I managed to get it home today (at an average speed of about 5 miles an hour) £250 lighter. Gutted. I thought I'd have to put the bike on ebay for parts, mabey get about £50.

As a last resort, I decided to try cleaning up the ignition components, to see it they were the problem. Half an hour with some contact cleaner on the leads to the coils and the major loom connectors, and wow! It's running fine!

Wish I'd tried that in the first place ...



Sunday, 1 July 2007

10.4.10 problems

Like a lot of people, I have experienced some problems after installing this update. Although the installation went OK on my imac G5, on my ibook G4 things were not so straightforward. Immediately after the update, I experienced a kernel panic (grey screen, with a window in the centre instructing me to restart my machine). I booted from the OSX installation disk and ran Disk Utility, which reported that everything was fine with my drive. When I restarted, the ibook seemed OK. However, when I restarted again later, there was another kernel panic. Ran Disk Utility again, all fine, restarted again, all fine, then when I'd restarted another time, kernel panic. This seemed to be a pattern.

I decided at this point to install the combo update, but as this had no effect, I decided to do an archive and install. However, I immediately ran into a problem with this in that the installer coudn't 'see' my drive! Eeeeek!

Anyway, to cut a long (nearly 2 hours messing around with this) story short, Disc Warrior sorted things out.

If you have similar problems with this update I'd recommend having a look at these articles (particularly the second one which has a good set of guidelines for installing updates generally):


All the best,


Friday, 29 June 2007

the importance of OS9 system discs

I've just finished working on a Power Mac G4 which wouldn't boot up. I could have just wiped the drive and reinstalled OSX, but the client wanted to recover a lot of data off the drive first (Disc Warrior had been running for three days and found 294474 overlapped files, but got stuck at that point!). The drive was so corrupted that it wouldn't even boot in Target Firewire Mode (TFM). I tried a lot of things to get this machine booting up again (Disc Utility, Techtool Pro, Disc Warrior) all with no luck.

The solution? First I booted the G4 up using an OS9.2.1 disc, then connected an iBook in TFM mode. The thing about booting from OS9 discs is that you still have access to the desktop. This meant that I could just copy the data from the G4's drive to my iBook, which appeared on the G4's desktop, whilst all the time booted from the OS9 disc.

I'd really like to know why Apple has removed this functionality from its OSX install discs.



Sunday, 24 June 2007

new website!


Just finished updating my new website – http://www.themacguy.co.uk. Content is much the same as before, but the look is much better (I think). Changed to a new web host as well, so there may be a few teething problems.

Anyway, have a look.



Sunday, 17 June 2007

Quickfind 1.2

Just released a new version of QuickFind (1.2). New features include:

• Completely redesigned interface
• Much smaller footprint
• New icon
• New search options (thesaurus, news)



Monday, 11 June 2007

Can't access Adobe.com!

I found the answer to this problem on the Apple/Support/Safari forum, and thought it was useful enough to share here. For ages I haven't been able to get onto Adobe.com to access any of the forums there, or download anything; Safari just sat there trying for a while then timed out. The problem it seems was down to my DNS addresses (System Preferences/Network). I replaced the ones I'd got from my ISP with two from Opendns.com ( & and everything seems to be working fine now! I'd recommend you take a note of your old dns addresses before you replace them, and even mention this to your ISP.



Thursday, 31 May 2007

New Triumph Bonneville test ride


Just thought I'd share my thoughts about my test ride yesterday on the new Triumph Bonnie. I've been daydreaming about one of these for weeks now, and had to check one out (many thanks to Three Cross Motorcycles in Wimborne).

First impressions were : "Wow, that's beautiful! I want it!" When I was out on the road, I wasn't disappointed, it lived up to my expectations: it was comfortable to ride, powerful enough to pull out at 60 and overtake a couple of cars (up to 80 in no time), got lots of attention from car drivers and handled beautifully.

The demonstrator I rode had quite a high seat, and I felt a little 'on top' of the bike. However, when back at the shop I sat on another one with a slightly lower seat, and that felt much better, much more like I was 'in' the bike than perched on top.

Overall, the build quality of the Bonnie was fantastic, lots of chrome and thick paint and, apart from the switchgear, not too much plastic. However, it's with the latter that I have 'issues'. The switchgear looks really plasticky and cheap, and with bike gloves on, felt fragile and imprecise. I'd left the indicators on a couple of times, even though I was sure I'd cancelled them.

When idling, the sound of the Bonnie was pure retro Bonnie, expecially with the extra loud pipes fitted, but when moving there's just a quiet whirring sound, and the occasional backfire when you drop the throttle. And no vibration at all!

I'm still really interested in one of these, but the Black SE model I want isn't available anymore. Apparently, Triumph is bringing out a new model later this year, with fuel injection rather than carbs (the fuel injection system fitted inside fake carb bodies!). I'll have to wait until the new model comes out and decide then whether or not I still want one.

In the meantime, at least I still have the trusty VT500!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

QuickFind update and news

I haven't been able to post anything recently, and doubt that I'll be able to get much work done over the coming weeks (there's been a new addition to the family – baby Aran). However, I'm planning to keep revising/updating QuickFind, and hope to get a bit more done in a few days) if I can. Planned features include:

• Smaller footprint
• Ability to query more websites
• Organise websites better, with more drawers, etc.
• Ability to save queries/searches/results
• The ability to view results within the application itself, without launching your web browser
• Allow some degree of user customisation

If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks to all who have provided feedback and suggestions so far.



Friday, 4 May 2007

QuickTime content not displaying in Safari

Recently, after an OS update, I found that QuickTime content wasn't displaying properly in Safari. Instead of the media content, all I was getting was a pale, faded out broken QuickTime icon. Anyway, too busy to look into it properly I soldiered on using Shiira. However, I soon got fed up with the problem and started looking into it. As Safari and Quicktime worked OK on another account on my machine, I had a look at the home/library/preferences folder for quicktime and safari preferences. Once I'd deleteed the following and restarted Safari, all was well:

QuickTime Preferences

Monday, 30 April 2007

3 new applescripts

I've just finalised 3 new applescripts: a simple local backup routine, useful if you've got an external hard drive; a remote backup routine for storing your important files on your web space (this uses Drop DMG to compress and encrypt your files, then Cyberduck to upload them; and finally a script for business with online shops (the applescript automatically logs in to your web site, processes your orders and prints them out). The last one will need to be adapted for your needs, so if you're interested get in touch.

QuickFind 1.1

I've recently updated QuickFind to version 1.1 and, following the initial rush of feedback, am working on further updates. QuickFind's kind of like a remote control for the web, saving you lots of clicking and retyping. Of course, it won't ever do everything you'd like, but if you've got some specific sites that you search all the time, then I'd be happy to customise it for you.