Category: Macs

I really like finding little applications that do a single specialized task really well. In this case, it is a Dashboard widget called Deep Sleep that puts your computer into hibernation. I discovered it on MacOSXHints and have been using it regularly for a few weeks.

Mac laptops use three sleep mechanisms: Safe sleep, deep sleep and quick sleep. The primary difference between them is how the computer reacts when all power is removed. Safe sleep is the default behaviour and will resume normally even after the power source is completely disconnected (that means you can change batteries without fully shutting the computer down). Deep sleep also wakes normally (albeit more slowly) and draws no power at all. Quick sleep will not remember any data when started after a power loss.

The nice part about this widget is that it enables you to use the deep sleep method once, then have it revert back to the standard form afterwards. It is especially convenient for when you know the computer won’t be needed for a few hours, but you’ll need the full battery afterwards. This ability is also useful for when the battery has aged and no longer holds the original power (like mine).

So if you need to put your computer away for a while, but still want power when you wake it again, give Deep Sleep a try.

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Just like the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, a kernel panic can strike fear into the heart of even a seasoned computer user. This black and grey screen suggesting that you restart your computer in multiple languages signals that the computer has done something that just does not compute.

Rather than pass it off as a single event and move on, it is in your best interest to determine what is causing the problem and banish it to the land of /dev/null (that’s Nerdspeak for garbage can).

Here are some suggestions for ridding your computer of this evil.

Check hardware

According to Apple, computer memory is a common cause of kernel panics, so it is suggested that you test your computer. A free utility to do this is Rember. It tests the RAM and can often find errors. If you are using third-party memory, double check the specification as incompatible RAM can cause unusual behaviour.

Can you recreate the error?

The whole idea from this post came from the fact that my computer gave me a number of kernel panics whenever I unplugged my USB hub that had an external drive on it. I still have yet to pinpoint the exact problem, but knowing approximately what could be causing the problem can go a long way to finding a solution. Once you have the hardware picture, you can search through Google to find other users who may have the same problem, and possibly offer a solution.

Any new software?

If the kernel panic comes shortly after a new piece of software was installed, it is quite possible that is the problem. Of particular concern is programs that install themselves in the startup items folder for launch at login. The startup items folder is located at Startup drive / Library / StartupItems and needs to contain ArcanaStartupSound as this is the computer boot sound. Anything else that looks unfamiliar can be moved outside the folder. Restart the computer, and see if the problem occurs again.

No one likes it when their equipment malfunctions, but like many other computer-related problems, a little thinking and troubleshooting can restore your computer to its former condition.

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Maybe you’ve bought a new computer and can’t use Migration Assistant, or maybe you need to restore your data after it has been corrupted. Whatever the reason, you’ll be happy to know that replacing the data in Address Book, iCal and Keychain is as easy as replacing a file. Since OS X stores data inside standard text files, all data associated with a specific application will be found inside the user library.

Here’s where to find them.

Address Book

Navigate to userfolder / Library / Application Support / AddressBook. Inside that folder is a number of strange and mysterious file names. The one you’re looking for is AddressBook.data. If you try opening that file in a text editor, you’ll see gibberish because it is a binary data file.

Transfer that file to another Address Book instance (in the same folder), restart the application, and you’ll have all your contacts again.

Keychain

Restoring the Keychain, while basically the same process, requires slightly more work to complete. Navigate to userfolder / Library / Keychains and look for login.keychain. This file stores all the passwords and website form details that are collected whenever you save them. “Login” is the master keychain that the system always looks for. If you’re replacing this keychain with another backup, you’ll have to unlock it before you can use it properly again. To do that, open Keychain Access (inside /Applications/Utilities) and select Unlock Keychain “login” from the File menu. Enter your administration password, and you’re good to go.

iCal data

Backing up iCal calendar data is much easier if you export the calendar from inside iCal. To do that, select the calendar from the list on the left side of the window, and choose Export from the File menu. That will produce a file with a .ics extension that can be imported into iCal by double clicking the document.

If you’re looking for the iCal data specifically, the calendar files are located at userfolder / Library / Calendars. The problem with this method is that the calendars are stored inside a cryptically-named folder that can only be distinguished by opening the info.plist file inside the folder. Using the folder itself is probably only necessary when you need to rescue data and iCal cannot be opened.

Thanks to the file organization of Mac OS X, you can be sure that important personal data can be recovered or backed up if there is a problem.

[tags]Mac OS X, iCal, Keychain, Address Book, backup, troubleshooting[/tags]

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Originally, this was going to be a tip about how to remove the addresses used previously inside Mail. I found the preference file, an application to edit the database, and even wrote up a post for MacOSXHints. Then Rob Griffiths — the legendary hints master running the site — sent me an email to say that everything I had done was accessible from the single menu item you see here. Once inside that window, you can search, remove and edit any addresses you have used to send email.

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I’m a regular reader of the Mac news blog MacUser.com and today I noticed an interesting ad on the sidebar.

The ad (shown above) was for a company called Psystar, which sells computers preinstalled with OS X, Vista or XP and is currently in a legal battle with Apple to continue selling these particular machines. I understand that administrators of the site have very little (if any) control over the ads their site contains, but this image was just to amusing to pass up.

[tags]Apple, Psystar, legal, advertising[/tags]

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