Saturday, November 24, 2007

Weird Dark Border around Leopard Desktop

Since yesterday a dark border kept appearing in my Leopard desktop. I am currently using six spaces and this dark border only appears in space 2, which I used the spaces for Safari and internet browsing.

The screen looks like:

Posted my problem to Whirlpool, some suggested that it could be the Expose that is doing the trick. I am still don't know what is the purpose of having the dark border around the screen. I did not change Expose configuration.

After a machine restart, it seems alright where the dark border disappear in all spaces. Weird.

Wonder if this is a problem with Leopard? Or somehow I did something that trigger this dark border to appear?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Screenshots Snapshot in Leopard

Today I encountered a situation where I want to take a screenshot of webpages. Being a new Mac user, I am not sure if I could do what is equivalent to "Alt/Ctrl + PrintScreen" in Windows. 

Quick google search reveals this very helpful site. There are quite number of different options to take a screenshot and I was amazed by shortcut keys and varieties. It makes screenshooting a fun activity!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Migrating Outlook Mail to Apple Mail

"Migrating Outlook Mail from my Windows machine to Apple Mail" has been a TODO item since I bought my Mac. Today I have a chance to experiment and import successfully to Apple Mail. Although not perfect but it gets mostly what I want.

Here are the steps that I have done (with help of several websites):

1) Look for where Outlook stores the mailbox, normally you can get this setting via the Preferences or Settings.
2) Use Outlook Express to import all the mail from Outlook (this is because somehow Thunderbird cannot recognise the Outlook Mail).
3) Download and install Thunderbird on your Windows machine.
4) Use Thunderbird to import all emails from Outlook Express (make sure you select Outlook Express).
5) After import, check the "Preferences" or "Settings" under Thunderbird to see where it stores all the email.
6) Thunderbird organises each of the mailbox as separate directory. Copy all the folders that you want to import to Mac.
7) I uses Apple Mail and select File -> Import Mailboxes...
8) Select Thunderbird and select the thunderbird mailbox that you have just copied.
9) Apple Mail will import all the folders and put them under "On My Mac -> Import".

I have to spent sometimes to organise the folder to different level but I got most of the email messages. Although I don't quite like how Apple Mail organise the folder and mail.

Found a problem where whenever you tried to move an email from one folder to another, it does not delete from the source folder. It just greyed out the email in the source folder. When I press delete on that email, it still would not delete it. Is this a defect? Or just I haven't accustom to the way Apple Mail works?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1

Apple has just released an update for Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1. Apparently this update release contains bug fixes for major defects that have been found since Leopard has been released.

Today I invoke the Software Update manually and there are a few updates, including iTunes 7.5, QuickTime, and of course the Leopard update 10.5.1. Installation took around 15 minutes. Being a new Mac user, I cannot spot any difference between this update but it might be more stable?

Also I found a very strange problem with Leopard recently where when I boot up my Mac (normally I use hibernate mode 5 - similar to Windows Hibernate) and after everything is booted correctly, when I click on any application in my dock, the application icon kept jumping and the application never open. I have tried Terminal, Activity Monitor and even tried to force quit some of them but failed. Ended up have to force a restart by holding the power button! I don't really expect this to happen to a Mac, which contradicts what I heard from others, where Mac OS X seems to be the most stable OS!

Having two incidents since I bought my Mac, one being installation of Parallels and now cannot open any application (after force reboot of Mac, it looks fine), it kind of makes me wonder if all the reviews that I heard are true?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Useful Utilities for Leopard

Have my Mac and Leopard for two weeks now and found the following utilities pretty handy.

Quicksilver: This is a MUST HAVE if you want to access your application quickly. Highly customizable. Launch your application by pressing +, type in a few words and search your application from the list.

UnRarX: I saw some posts mentioned that in Tiger it supports .rar file type but not in Leopard. So this utility will come in handy when you want to extract .rar.

VLC: Having problem viewing .wmv and other file types which are not supported by Quicktime? This VLC player supports most of the video format and it comes with clean interface.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mac OS X Hibernate Issue


I have been searching for ways for Mac OS X to behave the same as Windows when it comes down to hibernation. Mac OS X has this concept of "Sleep" and "Shutdown".

By default, "Sleep" will turn the computer off but my MacBook Pro will still have the white light, switching between dim and bright. In this case, you cannot totally switch off your MacBook Pro as you would like to do in Windows.

However, if you "Sleep" using your laptop battery, once the battery runs out, MacBook Pro is smart enough to save all contents in your RAM to hard disk. This is called a "Safe Sleep".


Wouldn't it be nice if we could choose to hibernate whenever we want so that if we are not using the laptop for a few hours, instead of putting the laptop to "Sleep", which will still drain the battery, we can "hibernate" the laptop and restore our applications (as it is) when we start it up again.


Macworld has an article that contains comprehensive information about this. Here is the summary.
  • First find out what is the current setting of your sleep mode, using:
> pmset -g | grep hibernate

This will tell you which sleep mode you are currently on. The following displays different sleep mode:

0 - Legacy sleep mode. It will save everything to RAM upon sleeping but does not support "Safe Sleep". Very fast sleep.
1 - Legacy "Safe Sleep". This is the "Safe Sleep". Everything your laptop goes into sleep, it will save everything to harddisk. Slow on Sleep and Startup.
3 - Default. As described above, when sleeping, contents are saved to RAM. When battery runs out, hibernate occurs.
5 - Behaves as 1 but applicable only for modern Mac that uses "Secure virtual memory".
7 - Behaves as 3 but applicable only for modern Mac that uses "Secure virtual memory".

  • For me, I am using MacBook Pro and I know that I am using "Secure virtual memory" (System Preferences -> Security), so 5 is my choice. I want my Mac to hibernate everything I sleep.
  • Make an alias in your .bash_profile under your home directory:
alias hibernateon="sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 5"
alias hibernateoff="sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0"

  • "Source" your bash_profile file and your are done!
  • Whenever you want to hibernate your computer, if it is not set already, just go to terminal and execute hibernateon. If you want to turn it off, hibernateoff and you are all set.


It was known that if you want to avoid hassle setting up in command line, there is a dashboard widget, called Deep Sleep that will do the trick do. Somehow it does not work on my MacBook Pro.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Parallels 3.0 with Leopard

Playing with my Leopard and MacBook Pro for a few days now, and I miss my Microsoft Money. I cannot seem to find a replacement yet but Quicken comes pretty close. Quicken also has a version that support Mac.

Given that I have accumulate quite a number of Microsoft applications, especially for Money and Office, I have decided to purchase Parallels 3.0 to emulate my windows environment. There are some good reviews from my colleague.

At first was having some trouble finding a copy of Parallels around the shop and one of the Mac reseller introduced me with VMWare fusion. Not knowing how it performs, I kept looking for Parallels until I got one from another reseller.

Installation from the CD was simple enough and hassle few. Also impress by the book that comes with the box.

The problem comes when I click on the Parallels icon once the installation is completed. It just throw an error and error report displays some information that is too low level that I cannot comprehend.

After a bit of googling, found out that Parallels website does offer a download for Leopard users separately. That could indicate that the copy I have does not compatible with Leopard. So I downloaded the copy and installed it. Build 5160 is the build number that should work with Leopard.

Next challenge is to find my old Microsoft XP CDs. First I have installed Microsoft XP Home edition (without SP2) and apparently it does not work with Parallels. The installation of the Windows stuck at "Install device drivers..." stage. Luckily I found another copy of more recent Microsoft XP Pro and it installed successfully.

After that, starting the VM just a click away and it show up the same old WinXP interface. Installed Microsoft Money and Office on it and voila! Now I can work on applications from Mac and Windows. Also a nifty feature in Parallels is the "seamless" mode where it hides the window frames and make the Windows application looks as if a Mac app. Cool! Don't forget to hide the task bar to make it more realistic.

In conclusion, the installation of setting of Parallels is not as easy than I thought it would be.
  •  The first problem is due to the recent release of Leopard and how Parallels 3.0 in store does not work out of the box with Leopard will definitely give headache to the user. I strongly recommend whoever bought Parallels from a store ensure that they download the latest copy from Parallels after that.
  • Stability - Occasionally when I am starting the VM, it just said some problem starting it and at one point, it even cause the "restart" blind coming up and advised me to restart my computer! Not sure if this is something to do with hibernation.
  • Using Parallels is good that provides concurrent usage of both Mac and Windows applications. However, for Windows, I need to perform an extra step by starting the VM.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Leopard - First Glance

Mac OS X 10.5 a.k.a Leopard has been the hot topic around town lately. While getting my first Mac is exciting, learning how to use Leopard or accustom to Mac OS X is another adventure.

Here are some noticeable differences working in Windows environment and Mac OS X:
  • Keyboard - As all Macs come with the "Command" key, which I found acts very similar to "Ctrl" key in Windows. Although Mac keyboard also comes with Ctrl, Alt, and Shift. Most of the "Ctrl" key function in Windows are the same with "Command" key function. For example, under Firefox, a new tab is "Ctrl-T", and with Safari, a new tab is "Command-T". Find is "Ctrl-F" under Windows and Mac is "Command-T". I am glad to see this similarity because that makes the transition easier and normally I just have to guess the key.
  • Windows menu bar - Under Windows, all window has their own menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc). In Mac OS X, all windows share the same menu bar (with various menu item depending on the application). Also I think all of them share the same common key shortcut too, for example, "Command-," will bring you to the preferences setting for each application.
  • Close,Minimise and Maximise - The button group is located at the top left of each window rather than top right in windows. Although in Windows, you can change them using different themes, such as WindowBlinds, AquaSoft, etc.
  • Dock - This is the unique signature of Mac OS X where it acts like the "Quick Launch" under windows but looks nicer. Also in Leopard, it comes with the concept of "Stack",  whereby you can organise your items under a folder in Dock. When you click on the Stack folder, it will spring out in a "Fan" or "Grid" mode.
  • Spaces - I love spaces very much. Being a Linux user too, I have discovered the effectiveness of using Spaces quite a while ago. Spaces allow you to organise your work into different workspace so that it would not clutter with too much application windows. The new Spaces that comes with Leopard enhance the experience where you can switch to different Spaces instantly by using shortcut key "Command+arrow key" or "Ctrl+". You can also customise the keyboard shortcut if you don't like "Ctrl+". For me, the Ctrl key is a bit out of reach and I have change it to "Command+
To be honest, I found that it takes sometimes to adjust to the new keyboard layout and a lot of time I hit the wrong button. As time goes by, I think it will become easier. Also I think I will buy a Mac keyboard later.