Apple has just released Mac OS X 10.5.3 update and the changes are not earth shattering.

Here is a list of changes in Leopard OS X 10.5.3 posted at Apple Support.

Most important to me would be this one:

“Addresses reliability issues when performing a full restore from a Time Machine backup.”

[Hint: don’t install the Leopard 10.5.3 update for a week or two if you aren’t suffering from any of the problems fixed in the list of changes. Why? Remember 10.5.1? That was a fiasco that led to so many problems that 10.5.2 was quickly released to “fix the fixes”. Basically, let others find the bugs within 10.5.3 and have Apple fix those before you install the update. If there are any major issues with this latest release, you’ll avoid the worst of them by waiting a couple of weeks. I’m actually still using 10.5.0 since it’s rock solid and the updates released since don’t affect my day-to-day usage. I’d rather have reliability than having all the software that I don’t use up-to-date.]

That’d be pretty annoying to use Time Machine religiously and when finally disaster strikes and your backups aren’t fully useable? Ouch.

Regardless, I’d still recommend SuperDuper! for bootable Leopard backups in concert to Time Machine file backups, since Time Machine’s backups do not give you a bootable backup disk to restore from. If Time Machine backups are all you have, you’d have to reload Leopard from DVD, then restore your settings and documents from Time Machine.

With SuperDuper! you could simply connect the drive you used via FireWire/USB, reboot your Mac, hold down the alt key, select your SuperDuper backup and be working from that drive like nothing has changed.

Even more hard-core, you could simply remove the failed drive within your Mac, install the SuperDuper disk in its place, boot, and theoretically you should be operating normally as if nothing had happened.

A good alternative browser to Safari on Mac OS X Leopard is Camino. Camino is based on Mozilla’s Gecko engine, so it operates much like Firefox on Mac, but a hell of a lot quicker.

Camino just released version 1.6.1 (May 20, 2008), which fixed stability and security issues from their last major release, 1.6, which was made available a month before that, so the latest release should be pretty solid.

Having offered Camino as an alternative to Safari, I actually not only still use Safari, but I also use Firefox, basically the three major browsers on Mac. Why the heck would I do this? Each browser has its benefits.

Camino

Best mix of speed, features, and compatibility. I still find certain javascript/ajax issues such as with Google Documents drop down menus, but not much beyond that. Did I mention blocking of all Flash Ads and Pop-ups, with exceptions or white-lists available for both? Hot.

Firefox

Best overall website compatibility. Lets face it, Apple still has a ways to go before Mac penetration gets beyond even 15% of the user base that Windows has. As such, most websites are optimized or tested for “Internet Explorer” and none other. This can lead to rendering issues on Mac browsers such as Safari and Camino. Firefox is the least susceptible to these compatibility issues, which are generally due to Internet Explorer not being standards compliant. But, that’s another story for another time, by another blogger.

Safari

Fastest browser. Faster than both Camino and Firefox. Safari is what I think of as a “light browser”: a lean, mean, browsing machine. This was the first browser for Mac and it’s the most “integrated” with the operating system. But, it lacks some “power-user” features that I can’t live without on a day to day basis. For example: text or link searching using “forward slash” or “single quote”. In Camino simply hit the “forward slash” key, start typing, and Camino will move to the next word containing the string of characters you are typing. Hitting Ctrl + G will move to the next match. The same works with “single quote” link searching. Once the link you’re searching for is found and highlighted, simply press Enter/Return and the link is opened. This is seriously efficient and fast browsing, much much faster than messing around with a mouse or trackpad and hovering the mouse pointer over the correct few centimeters of display in order to open links. Try this inline search feature on Camino and I bet you will love it.

Safari has its own search/find feature that’s pretty tight as well, highlighting the word you’re searching for and darkening the rest of the page. This is great for serious text reading on big documents, but for navigating and general surfing, I’d much rather have Camino’s inline search with keyboard navigation.

To play divx videos or movies in QuickTime / Front Row on Mac OS X, you need to install a divx codec. If you open an .avi file and see only black, you likely don’t have a divx codec installed.

Download a free divx codec for Mac here then following these walkthrough instructions on how to play divx videos on Mac.

Say you have different keyboard layouts cause you’re bilingual and need access to accents or different alphabets. The normal way to switch between these two keyboards would be to show the keyboard icon on the top Menu bar and simply click on the icon and choose the keyboard layout you wish to use.

Although this works, it’s a bit annoying to mess with the mouse in search of a tiny keyboard layout icon when you just want to hop in to a keyboard layout to get an accented character, then return back to the original that you were just using.

To the rescue: Input Menu, hidden deep within System Preferences => Keyboard & Mouse => Keyboard Shortcuts => Input Menu (greyed out)

The reason Input Menu is disabled by default is that its historic keyboard shortcut has been taken over by Spotlights: Apple Key + Spacebar.

Keyboard and Mouse Preferences - Keyboard Shortcuts - Input Menu

For me, I hardly ever use Spotlight, since I’m on the Quicksilver launcher train, which pretty much circumvents my need of Spotlight, so I’m happy to give up Command + Spacebar to be able to toggle back and forth nearly instantaneously between keyboards (French AZERTY and English QWERTY). (See the great things you can do with Quicksilver here).

If you’re hot on Spotlight, simply choose a different keyboard shortcut for either Spotlight or Input Menu => Select the Previous Input Source. You can do this by double clicking on the shortcut in question and pressing the new keyboard combination to replace it with.

Fix for “caution: filename not matched” error when trying to unzip multiple files at once in Terminal.

Solution for unzipping multiple zip files with a single command.

Open up a Terminal window on OS X, go to the directory containing the zip files and enter this command:

unzip \*.zip

The forward slash escapes (prevents) the wildcard character (the “*”) from being expanded by bash shell interpreter. In English: the files in the directory are the filenames “unzip” is trying to extract from the first file it finds when using “*”.

Example:

/myzips directory contains zip files: first.zip second.zip third.zip

Trying to run: “unzip *.zip” will cause the unzip program to take “first.zip” as the archive to play with, and will look for files “second.zip” and “third.zip” within “first.zip” to expand/extract. Obviously not what you want to do.

Not escaping the * character will result in errors like: “caution: filename not matched”.

microphone

Think you have a loud or noisy CD/DVD drive in your MacBook / MacBook Pro?

Apple was kind enough to record the noises from SuperDrives installed in MacBooks so that we can compare our drive sounds to that of “normal” SuperDrives.  In my opinion, the SuperDrives make horrible loud clunky noises completely unbefitting of sleek laptop like the MacBook or MacBook Pro

Listen and compare your cd/dvd drive noise to these official Apple “SuperDrive” sounds.

I’m not sure why, but I can’t help but laugh when hearing these sound clips.

(Photo: Ben McLeod)

First find your current sleep setting by opening Terminal in OS X and entering this at the prompt:

pmset -g | grep hibernatemode

That should return you something like “hibernatemode 3″. Remember this number, send an email to yourself, write it down on a scratch pad, whatever it takes to remember your default mode. Mode 3 keeps your RAM powered during sleep to allow super fast wake-up, but also writes an image file of all memory onto disk in case power is lost.

To change the hibernate safe sleep setting to not create an image file on the disk, i.e. mode 0 (mode zero, not the letter ‘o’), enter the following in a Terminal window:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

Enter your password when asked to do so. This prevents Safe Sleep from saving your memory contents to disk, in large part the cause of not being able to wake MacBook’s from sleep.

If you’d like to get back about a gigabyte or more of disk space, delete the memory image file with the following Terminal command:

sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage

Macworld has a great article with more information about safe sleep and hibernation on MacBooks.

Open the lid and nothing? Tap keys, change brightness, close and re-open lid and your MacBook still in sleep mode?

Solution: Turn off Safe Sleep. Or use Smart Sleep.

If you open your MacBook lid and notice that you can’t wake your MacBook from sleep, it’s because of the Safe Sleep system Apple designed. This system puts all your current memory (your RAM) onto the disk, so that it can power down the RAM, save energy, and keep the current working state of your computer, even if you ran out of battery power, changed batteries, etc.

Problem is, it’s slow. And buggy. Often when waking from sleep by opening the lid, the MacBook will remain in sleep.

My solution to this: don’t use Safe Sleep. Unless you’re constantly working on battery power and hate plugging in, you likely won’t ever notice you’re not using Safe Sleep’s hibernate to disk mode.

Here are some instructions on how to turn off Safe Sleep on a MacBook Pro Leopard or Tiger to avoid wake-up problems.

If you still want to use Safe Sleep with disk caching of RAM, use Smart Sleep by Patrick Stein. This software adds a preference pane to your Mac, allowing you to not use disk hibernation until you reach a low battery level, say 20% remaining battery.

Find Terminal in Leopard or Tiger

Open Finder

Go to Applications => Utilities

Double click on Terminal or highlight Terminal and Apple/Command Key + Arrow Down.

In a follow-up to my previous post on the best laptop screen – MacBook Pro 15″ LED backlit screen, I’ve discovered why the laptop screen is quite different in displaying the same photo as compared to something like a Samsung SyncMaster 206bw which I use as my secondary display.

It comes down to screen gamut [pronounced gammet], or how many colors a display can accurately represent. For example, a black and white display has less gamut than a color CRT with a dead electron gun, which in turn has less gamut than a fresh new Apple MacBook Pro LED screen.

Viewing a dedicated display like the Samsung side-by-side with any laptop screen, will make the laptop screen look “washed-out” in terms of color, simply because the laptop screen cannot produce as many different colors. At extremes you’ll have one color replace another, for example, light reds replacing what should be orange hues (which is the most notable deficiency in colors of the MacBook Pro LED screens).

This doesn’t mean the MacBook Pro LED screen is bad, it’s actually the best in terms of color gamut amongst all of the previous Apple laptop screens.

For a more in-depth discussion of color gamut on the MacBook Pro 15″ LED displays, check out these posts from James Duncan Davidson and Rob Gailbraith.

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