If you’ve ever wanted to set up a Mac for someone and do tasks such as preload applications or run Software Update, you’ll have to jump through the setup process, but the next user won’t be able to enter all their details. How can you go about resetting the Mac to re-run the Setup Assistant and give the new-Mac feel?
A tip I ran across on niload.com describes how to do just that. Basically, you run setup like normal, log in and do updates and/or install programs, then remove a few things and shut down. Upon reboot, the Mac will run the Setup Assistant as if it just came from the factory. You can read the full hint for the detailed instructions. (Also, note my comment at the bottom of the hint, as it should be a safer way of removing the account.)
While I’m on the subject of new Mac owners, this list of 10 things every new Mac owner should know might be a handy resource to print out and give along with the updated Mac. [via]
Here is a hack just like my ADB to USB Mouse Conversion, only using the electronics from a newer Apple mouse. The creator, Alex Dawson, did a great job on the overhaul, especially with the positioning of the board and the placement of the optical sensor. It was recently posted on hackaday, which is where I learned of the hack.
On a related note, I just received my first issue of MAKE magazine, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. If you find the above hack even moderately interesting, you’ll want to get a subscription.
Mentioned briefly in my post about the comment spam filter Akismet, WordPress.com is out of beta and open to anyone who wants to sign up. Not to be confused with the downloadable version at wordpress.org, WordPress.com is a free Blogger style site where you can create an account and instantly run a blog powered by (you guessed it) the WordPress publishing system.
Jon points out a handy program, FontParade, for previewing your fonts on paper. Sure, you can scroll through a list on screen, but referencing a tangible list is far easier. I’ve never found another program that accomplishes quite what this program does. If you have a ton of fonts to browse through in order to achieve just the right look, give FontParade a whirl.
Shortly after Google Analytics was released, I gave it a shot. Several days after properly setting it up, I still wasn’t getting results. Today, I read that it doesn’t work in Safari. So much for depending on Google for stats.
As a full time Safari user, I gave up on that front and purchased Mint, an easy to use (and wonderful to look at) web stats generator by Shaun Inman. While it doesn’t have graphical pie graphs like Google Analytics, it sure makes checking out my stats a breeze. Some webmasters go all-out and get very detailed with stats, but me, I just what to have a general idea of what’s going on and what’s hot. For the cost of the average shareware app, Mint reports all this and more with a clean, refreshing style. I couldn’t be happer with it. To top it all off, there’s a simple Tiger widget included in the purchase which displays total visitors.
Jaron Brass showed me a great little tool for checking the life of your PowerBook (or iBook) battery, coconutBattery. It works by doing the appropriate
ioreg command and extracting the relevant battery information. It can report the number of charge cycles, the current and maximum charges, and the age of your Mac. I wasn’t even aware all that information was even available to software running on every Mac. In any event, it’s time for me to buy a new PowerBook battery, and coconutBattery helped me easily make the decision by showing exactly where my battery life stands.
For those working on a Mac doing Xbox modifications, here’s a tip for handling BIOS files. Some Xboxes, such as the “version 1.0,” require a 1 MB sized file, but not all are distributed this way. On the Windows side of things, there are a number of tools available for dealing with Xbox BIOSes, however there’s nothing specifically made for Mac. With a little bit of command-line work, you can combine files without any special tools except the operating system. To join files, the general syntax is:
cat bios512.bin bios512.bin > bios1MB.bin, where bios512.bin is a 512 KB size BIOS.
You’re simply doubling over the file to obtain the 1 MB sized one the Xbox needs. It can be repeated four times for a 256 KB BIOS. Or, if your Xbox is wired with a switch into multiple banks, you could combine two separate files using
cat and the redirection operator
> to build a custom BIOS, and switch between them as needed.
While I haven’t tried, I’m sure the Unix ‘split’ utlity can slice a file and do the reverse of the above (something along the lines of split -b 512k bios1MB.bin). Just be careful, as not all BIOSes are designed to be sliced into smaller pieces. Hopefully these two built-in tools should get you through any Xbox BIOS issues on the Mac.
This is how it all starts. AnandTech has done a great job disassembling an Xbox 360 and documenting it along the way. It actually looks like it may be easier to disassemble than the original Xbox, provided you have the right tools.
I’m impressed with the change in Xbox controller styles. While I was not one of the many who complained about the sheer size of the original Xbox controllers, I find the new style to be a delight to use. Wireless capabilities are a nice touch, too.
I read elsewhere that the Xbox 360 also has a battery to retain the date and time settings, which caused some problems with previous Xbox softmods. It can also be configured to use a network time server, such as time.microsoft.com (or time.apple.com, if you prefer “Apple time”).
The launch is less than a week away, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up one of these new machines with minimal hassle. We’ll see about that.
Update: AnandTech posted another article, this time covering the Xbox 360 motherboard’s layout, ICs, and buses.
In all the official Apple Service Source guides, where detailed take-apart information for every Apple product is listed, they make references to a tool called only the “black stick.” It’s used for prying open plastic cases without chewing up the edge like a metal screwdriver would. However, they don’t mention what this tool really is or where to obtain one. RadTech, makers of my favorite iPod cases and polishing solutions, sells what seems to be the tool Apple uses. However, they sell this nylon pry tool for a ridiculous $7. For a strong plastic stick. Being in need and not knowing where else to get it, I ordered one not too long ago. After receiving it and noticing some information stamped on it, I did some searching and found out they’re manufacured by Menda, makers of various lab tools. I also managed to find an online distributor with a website that works. So, if you’re in need of an iPod opener that won’t mark up the case, and which doubles as a handy soldering tool, get your “black stick” from ESD Systems for $1.59.
Update: Buy this stick from Stanley Supply (mentioned in the comments). It’s sturdier than the pointy stick and makes opening iPods and Mac hardware a breeze.
BoingBoing has a great timeline of the Sony “rootkit” fiasco that’s recently made news around the world. I’ll leave the details up to them. For a great audio summary, download the related Security Now! podcast. The EFF has also posted an open letter, asking Sony to make good. Here’s hoping that Sony receives legal action as a result of their spyware-like tactics. Lastly, Wired magazine is calling for consumers to boycott Sony copy-protected CDs until they come clean and recall all the infected discs.