Tagged Mac

TomTom randomly disconnects during update on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

When I went to update my TomTom XL to the latest version of the operating system, I ran into a problem where the update failed and the device was stuck at a blinking screen with a red X across it. I Googled the problem a bit, but didn’t really find any good solutions. This Apple forum was trying to solve the problem, so I applied the first two suggestions, but to no avail. Following the instructions on repairing a bricked device on TomTom’s site was similarly unsuccessful.

Then I started watching the TomTom every time I ran the update, and I noticed that the little hard drive icon would stop flashing before each disconnect, not the other way around. This led me to believe the problem started on the device. When I went into the Manage my device option in TomTom HOME, I noticed the device’s memory was nearly full.

I think the problem is that the TomTom update/map is larger (or at least requires more room during unpack) than the previous version of the OS or map. In my case, the problem was solved in the following way:

  • In TomTom HOME, choose More->Manage my device
  • Make sure you’re looking at Item on my device (not on the computer)
  • Navigate through and delete any unncessary files (in my case deleting extra downloaded voices was enough)
  • Go back to the HOME menu and choose Update my device

The update should finish. If it fails, check to see if it’s failed on a different file (that means it used more space, but still failed because it ran out), and delete more files. If your device is already bricked (like mine was), deleting the application itself (see screenshot below) couldn’t hurt (in fact, this might’ve been necessary for my OS update to successfully install).

Active Directory / Open Directory group nesting fixed in Snow Leopard

There was a bug in Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” that prevented proper application of MCX settings to an Active Directory group nested inside an Open Directory group. This problem has been corrected in 10.6 “Snow Leopard,” but it’s important to note that this is a client-side issue as well that requires you to upgrade all machines to Snow Leopard in order to have the settings properly apply.

The problem evidences itself in the following way: under Apple’s Magic Triangle guidelines, the proper method for access management on the desktop is to “nest” AD users and groups within OD groups, and then to apply settings to those OD groups. This allows for user management of AD users on any Macs they log into, while avoiding the risk of extending the AD schema itself. For the most part, this worked correctly in Leopard, except on AD groups nested in OD groups when applied to Computer groups within the OD. For example, placing a user AD\joeuser into an OD group called banned_users and then denying the banned_users group login access to the LabComputers OD group would block Joe from logging in, but adding AD\alumni into the same OD group would not prevent login access.

Thankfully, this nesting behavior now works correctly in 10.6. As long as you upgrade your clients as well, you should be able to manage Computer settings just like you’d expect.

Installing Microsoft Office 2008 on Snow Leopard

If you’re having trouble putting Microsoft Office 2008 on your new Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) Mac, it may be because you need to install Rosetta, the PowerPC emulator that allows you to run older software that was not designed to run on Intel Macs.

As it turns out, while Office 2008 is completely universal (that is to say, it will work with both PowerPC and Intel Macs), the installer is written only for PowerPC. If you put the disk in your computer without Rosetta, you will probably receive a message about it not being compliant, or you may not see the disk at all. If this happens, simply insert the Snow Leopard disk, and add Rosetta. Then re-insert the Office disk and it should prompt you to use Rosetta to run the installer.

Remotely enable VNC on OS 10.5 (Leopard) with SSH

Leopard Logo If you find yourself needing to get remote VNC access to your Apple computer running Leopard, you can do it remotely as long as you have an SSH connection to the machine. This is especially helpful because the default configuration for Apple’s remote desktop only allows you to connect from another Mac. You need to set a generic VNC password if you want to connect via a VNC client running in Linux or Windows. Here’s how.

  1. Connect to the remote machine via SSH.
  2. Enter the following command, as all one line:
    /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -configure -activate -access -on -clientopts -setvnclegacy -vnclegacy yes -setvncpw -vncpw [your password] -restart -agent
  3. This will set the remote Mac to allow legacy VNC connections from non-Macs and allow you to use the password you chose with the -vncpw option (note there should be no brackets around your actual password) to connect from any VNC client.
  4. I have found that often you will also need to kill the AppleVNCServer process after running this command before you can connect. Just type killall AppleVNCServer and it should let you connect. You can also find the PID through the top command, then type kill <process #>.

I originally found this solution in an Apple forum thread that has an interesting discussion about the subject.

Make an Active Directory user a local administrator in Leopard

Leopard LogoApple’s latest offering, OS 10.5 “Leopard” offers GUI-based integration and account management for Microsoft Active Directory that is fairly full-featured and complete. However, as tends to be the case when it comes to enterprise-level account management, Apple dropped the ball and forgot to include a very important feature: the ability to promote a domain user to local administrative status without them having to log in. You can add groups through the Directory Utility GUI, but not individual users. Why would this be important? Well, at least for me, it’s because a lot of the users I support aren’t there when I’m setting up their computer, but they’ll need to administer it down the road. Getting their password in advance is a huge security no-no in an environment where pretty much everyone has sensitive data on their machine, so how can you give a user local admin privileges before their home folder is even created? Terminal, obviously.

  1. Launch Terminal from Applications->Utilities->Terminal.
  2. Type the following command, substituting the name of your domain user in the appropriate field, surrounded by quotation marks:
    sudo dscl . -append /Groups/admin GroupMembership "new_user"

You’ll be prompted for your password, then you should see the command prompt again. If you’re not sure whether or not it worked, try promoting a domain account for which you have the password the same way and logging in. Go into System Preferences and try to unlock something. If your name appears in the username field, you’re an admin!

Office Word 2008 for Mac crashes when you choose File > Open

Someone at my work had a problem with Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac crashing whenever they’d go to File > Open inside of Word. If they double-clicked on the file, everything was fine. Not wanting to hunt around through infinite Library folders looking for the offending files and “uninstalling” Office, I found a quick and easy solution online:

According to this site, “This is due to corrupt preferences, specifically the UserName/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.Word.plist . Quit Word, drag that file to the desktop, and relaunch Word.” That solution worked perfectly for my customer, and they’re back to happily opening files from inside of Office.

Now, if that doesn’t work, there are some additional preferences files you can tweak/delete. You can find that additional troubleshooting advice here.

PokerStars.com’s Mac software to arrive soon

The following is a compensated review for PokerStars for Mac.

If you’ve ever played online poker, you’re probably familiar with PokerStars.com, one of the most popular poker sites on the Web. The ‘Mac-friendly’ poker reference site PokeronaMac.com, is reporting that the Mac version of PokerStars’ downloadable PC client will be hitting the Web soon. If you want, there’s a place to voice your support of the new Mac version, and press PokerStars for its release.

Now, it’s pretty neat that PokerStars is choosing to support a Mac client, especially in light of the fact that most new Macs will run Windows just fine. It speaks to the volume of PokerStars’ subscriber base that they have seen a significant demand for a Mac client from their customers. However, what I don’t understand about PokerStars or many of the other popular poker sites is simply why a well-written Java client is not the standard. Java will run on Mac, Windows, and even Linux, and it’s this sort of thing that the sometimes cumbersome, always lethargic language was designed for. There’s no offline play in the downloadable clients of any of the companies, as far as I know, so it seems that there’s no reason to use the player’s computer as the source of the application, when a universal client-server language exists that is universally compatible with all desired target platforms.

In spite of this note (and perhaps someone from PokerStars will care to comment), I think it is pretty nifty that the Mac client will be coming out. I’m only a little hesitant because there doesn’t seem to be a release date on PokerStars.com or PokeronaMac.com for the Mac client, and this wouldn’t be the first time that such a project never appeared after a lot of advance publicity. I certainly hope this isn’t the case here, but only time will tell. Until then, hope springs eternal!

mac, poker, pokerstars, pokerstars.com, poker on a mac

Institute for Advanced Personhood

The Institute for Advanced Personhood: Microsoft’s new Vista campaign

The new Microsoft Vista ad campaign is out, and it’s…..weird. The story involves Demetri Martin, a comic, who shot a Comedy Central special, which ran last night (and two weeks ago), and was entirely underwritten by Microsoft. The company used their ad space to run a series of shorts about the IAP, or Institute for Advanced Personhood, a mythical and somewhat silly organization dedicated to eliminating clutter from people’s lives. Vista itself is never mentioned, although it’s used to give some presentations and is constantly displayed on all computer screens within the ‘Institute.’

Visiting the IAP’s website, at theiap.org, lets you view additional footage, including the story of Martin’s visit to the IAP, and his subsequent treatment, etc. The whole thing is a viewing experience that could waste up to an hour of your time, and is actually quite funny (as was Martin’s special on Comedy Central last night). Furthermore, this is evidence of what promises to be a truly massive advertising campaign by Microsoft to get the word out about Vista through unconventional means. After watching a series of annoying Mac commercials featuring a snooty preppy making snide off-hand comments about PCs running Windows, it’s nice to see the corporate giant flexing its financial muscle to once again re-crush the indy into submission. I never thought I’d say that, but I’ve really come to hate the Mac guy.

For additional info, check out this link on digg.com.
comedy central, demetri martin, iap, institute for advanced personhood, mac, mac guy, macintosh, microsoft, PC, vista, windows vista

Don’t hate Windows ‘cuz it’s popular, it can still show boobies good

You know what? I’ve had enough of the self-righteous bullshit I constantly hear from people who, for one reason or another, use obscure operating systems and feel it necessary, solely for that reason, to rag on Windows at every opportunity. Take for example, the plethora of smug, overbearing Mac users that seems to crawl out of the woodwork to make fun of virus protection. Case in point is a poll on Techdirt.com, which asks users to list the number of ‘anti-‘ programs running on their desktop. Clearly, this was intended for the 95% of users out there running Windows, but that didn’t stop the beret-wearing crowd from chiming in brilliantly:

Why is it that if somebody doesn’t have ANY anti-something, that they are “living dangerously”?

Perhaps it should be renamed to “I don’t use an OS/Software the forces me to use this junk”

Here’s the thing: I love Macs. I think Linux is neat. But the fact of the matter is that most of the world is running Windows, so most of the pond-scum writing viruses and spyware are going to target it, because they’re skeevy assholes, not complete idiots. No one really cares if their popup displays on Safari 1.0, if their malware-anti-spyware product will install on FreeBSD, or if they can hijack your browser to dial aged Portuguese women in South Jersey for per-minute tele-sexual services. There’s millions of other people out there running Windows who are ready to eat that shit up. But you know what? If your operating system was popular, all the other kids would hate it too, and try to hurt it both phyisically and psychologically. Plus, here’s the thing that other OS users are always afraid to admit. Windows users can afford to run anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-phishing, anti-bellum, and anti-quated software all at the same time on their machines, and still be able to do exactly what they want with their computers. And you know why? ‘Cuz all that porno’s optimized to run on fuckin’ IE, bitch. So have a nice day staring at the command line, nerd.