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Multiple email aliases in Mail

I’ve always wanted to be able to send email from several different addresses – for official university stuff, I want to send from my Monash address; for personal mail, from my personal address. For Tzi Software-related stuff, from my Tzi Software address. Until now, I thought one had to create a separate account for every address. Not so!

Daniel discovered this tip from Craig Swanson: Use multiple email aliases in Apple Mail. Nice!

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MacBook Pro (first ed) refusing to eject CD

I have a first edition MacBook Pro (asking for trouble), and I just had an interesting run-in with the optical drive. I put in an old burned CD with a paper label (stuck all the way down, mind you – no bits sticking out), and it was making some very odd noises, although it was recognised as a valid CD.

I thought I’d just eject it and take a look, to make sure the label was stuck down, etc – it ejected, and all looked fine. I put it back in, and then the drive just made odd noises, and tried to eject again.

This time, however, it started ejecting, then got stuck and swallowed the CD again – I didn’t even see the thing poking out of the drive. This process repeated several times before I restarted the computer, holding down the mouse button. That was no help, and just continued the same process all through the boot, and continued once the machine was finished booting – it would make odd grunting noises for about 20 seconds, then attempt to eject, obviously fail, then swallow the disc again and repeat the process.

This had happened before, but not nearly as bad – sometimes the drive won’t eject a cd; strangely enough, if I squeeze the CD tray (hands on top and bottom of the MBP and squeeze together), sometimes it’ll help the CD out. I was doing this for the 15th time or so, and finally about 5mm of the cd stuck out of the drive – before it sucked it back in (which it was going to do), I grabbed it and unceremoniously yanked it out of the drive.

Just to make sure all was well again, I put in another cd, and ejected it successfully.

So, if this happens to you, try squeezing the drive. Some other suggestions are here and here.

So, what is the deal with this? How is it that a supposedly high-quality piece of machinery like the MBP can so frequently choke on fairly inoffensive-looking discs? Ridiculous.

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Creating applications in XCode using frameworks

XcodeDefining a proper, logical structure to a new project is an important early step. It will save time later, when you realise you really need to enforce a bit of order, and will make development easier over the life span of the project.

One useful structure that can be fairly well managed in XCode makes use of frameworks to contain the bulk of your project’s code. A framework can be created as a ‘sub-project’, and a build step added to your main target that builds the framework before continuing. This can aid in enhancing the readability and maintainability of your code, and helps to encourage and enforce the use of the model-view-controller paradigm.

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Run-down on Mac OS X media center software

Update: Matt Hansson has written a more up-to-date overview of the offerings. His findings: He still prefers Mediaportal on Windows to the currently available Mac solutions. Damn.

200704041635We’ve recently set up a home entertainment centre, consisting of a 40″ Samsung LCD TV, a Yamaha 6.1 audio setup and a Mac Mini.

In order to drive it all, I was after a full-screen media center suite (movies, music, DVD, etc), to hide the fact that it’s a computer – we don’t wanna see that muck!

It had to have a high usability, and a high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor…Actually, partner, but you know), which means no hardcore key combinations, or dropping to terminal to kill -9 anything. I’m looking at you, Xhub.

It had to be relatively fast – no waiting around for five minutes for the music library to appear.

…And it had to offer some moderately easy way to share screen-time with EyeTV, the digital TV viewer/recorder.

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OS X performance tweak?

200701041058While looking around for information on some fairly irritating memory leaks I’ve been encountering in OS X (some common library seems to be chewing up memory, so that after a few days of running, all my apps take up enormous amounts of memory), I found this old tip regarding setting the maxvnodes parameter.

A comment attached to the tip above quotes one of Apple’s kernel developers: “Increasing the value of maxvnodes will increase the number of files that get cached in RAM. This will make subsequent access to those files much faster. But the downside is that more of your RAM will be used up for this disk caching and thus you will have less RAM available for normal application use.”

Thus, by default, Apple specify a value that is apparently a compromise for best overall performance.

That said, I increased the value to 84672, despite not having large amounts of free RAM:

sudo sysctl -w kern.maxvnodes=84672

My machine, after running for a few days without a reboot, often runs quite sluggishly, with lots of swap activity. For example, bringing up the Dashboard after not using it for a while can take a good 5-15 seconds, depending on what else is running.

After tweaking the maxvnodes value, all the widgets in Dashboard refreshed within 2 seconds (it had been a fair while since I last brought it up) – just coincidence, or did it actually make a difference?

The system does feel snappier; I can do things like start apps, bring up menus, load webpages, switch desktops and use Quicksilver without the irritating delay that I usually get. Maybe it’s all in my head, but maybe not. Worth a go!

If it does work, the command can be put into /etc/rc to be run on boot (as settings are forgotten after reboot). Instructions are outlined in the comments accompanying the tip.

[Edit]: This command might aid in establishing an optimal value:

sysctl -w kern.maxvnodes=$(echo $(sysctl -n hw.physmem) \
   '33554432 / 512 * 1024 +p'|dc)

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Mail’s ‘Entire Message’ search gives ‘0 found’

Mail just stopped returning search results when I did a full text email search. I did a bit of googling and found some discussion on the problem with 10.4.7 that was fixed with 10.4.8. So, not that. Someone in that thread mentioned that they forced a re-index of their entire drive in Spotlight.

Scott, another individual who mentioned the problem on his blog said he attempted to just re-index the local Mail repository, but to no avail (he noted that there was a problem with the Spotlight filter for Mail). He also forced a rescan of the drive.

I didn’t feel like doing an entire rescan, so I checked for the Spotlight filter with mdimport -L. Lucky for me, the Mail importer seemed to show up. I quit Mail, re-indexed its data with mdimport -f ~/Library/Mail, waited a few minutes and re-opened Mail to find search working again.

So, just forcing a re-index of the Mail directory seems to work under 10.4.8 Intel.

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