Tag Archives: apple

Xephyr, RHEL5 and Mac OS X 10.5

When doing system administration it is often more convenient to connect to a server through some sort of remote connection setup rather than having to sit at a console in a datacenter.  The comfort of one’s office (or living-room) is often far superior in terms of noise and temperature than the environs of the datacenter itself.

When setting up the RHEL5 server this week here at VSU, I was forced to use the Sun iLOM connection to do the initial install of the server.  While I generally use command-line only tools, the ease of use one gains from the GUI tools can often make some tasks much simpler.  Towards this end I decided to setup the server and my client to allow XDMCP sessions so that I could have full access to the GUI when necessary.

On the server there are a couple of things that you need to configure in order to make this workFirew:

  1. Firewall ports
  2. GDM configuration options

On the client you will need to configure the OS X firewall, as well as use the correct Xephyr connection syntax.
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xmarks install interfering with Office Updates

xmarks_logoWhile re-loading the OS and apps on my iMac at work, I ran into major issues whilst updating MS Office 2008.  When running the first update, Office 2008 SP1 (12.1.0) I had no problems, however none of the other updates would run.  I kept getting the error “You cannot install Office 2008 Updates on this volume. A version of the software required to install this update was not found on this volume.”

At first I thought that this might be due to some permissions shenanigans revolving around my AD/OD setup, since the logged in user was not a local admin, but had been granted administrator privileges through a nested group trick.

After more searching I ran across a post on the forums MacRumors.com pointing out problems when running updates on an Office 2008 install that had been altered by using Monolingual or XSlimmer.

Both of these programs were developed to slim down the sizes of binary applications on OS X.  Monolingual strips the “additional languages” from OS X programs and operating system files, while XSlimmer is designed to remove both the extra language information and the unused binary code in a fat binary.  I have never used either of these programs, since I was not concerned about the amount of disk space they utilize.

After more searching, I ran across a post in the Entourage Help Pages discussing troubleshooting Office 2008 installations.  While this page also mentioned issues with installations being altered by Monolingual and XSlimmer, it also pointed out an issue with a workaround created to handle a bug in how Safari deals with the docx file extension.  While the automator workflow mentioned does not appear to actually affect anything other than the names of files, it did jog my memory about something else Safari related that occured when installing Adobe CS 4 earlier the same day.

While installing CS 4 and the available updates, I was prompted to not only quit Safari, but also to quit XMarks for Safari.  For those that don’t know, XMarks is a great service for synchronizing your browser bookmarks between multiple machines, platforms, and browsers.

On a hunch I quit XMarks for Safari, as well as the browser itself.  No dice, I still got the error.  Knowing how easy it would be to reinstall the helper application, I uninstalled XMarks.  Eureka!  The Office updaters now ran without a hitch.  So, if you are having this problem, try deactivating or removing anything plugins that effect the default nature of Safari.

FontBook, Spotlight and the mysterious spinning hard drive

Lately I have noticed that when browsing the web my external hard drive would spin up when there seemed no need.  I had just given into the mysterious and not concerned myself with this until yesterday.

After a few searches, I turned up a post on Apple’s discussion boards entitled Safari pauses & spins up ext HDs with ATS Autoactivation errors.  While I have not found the errors in my logs refered to by the OP, I have noticed the exact same symptoms.

Using the symptoms and discoveries by W. Raideer and strangebirds as a guideline, I found a solution to the issue.  While this may in fact be a bug, it turns out that if you disable Spotlight on the external drive this activity ceases, at least in my case.

To quote the Help documentation for Font Book on the Automatic Activation feature:

Note that if you turn off Spotlight searching for any folder or disk connected to your computer, Font Book can’t find and enable fonts in those locations.

After listing my external drive in the Spotlight preference pane section labeled Privacy, I have ceased to have this particular issue.  While this may not be advisable or desirable, depending on the content of the external drive, I have noticed no detrimental effect by disabling Spotlight on the drive.

iTunes Store interface bug?

I noticed something today in the new iTunes Store interface.  When you hover over a song in the store you are presented with a nifty play icon that replaces the track number in the album listing.  This is quite similar to the iTunes Store interface functionality on the iPhone/iPod Touch OS.  Clicking on the play icon or double-clicking on the song title starts the 30-sec preview of the track.

iTunes_Store_bugJust like the iPhone version, the new iTunes Store desktop interface then displays a round blue icon with the ubiquitous stop square with the progress of the 30-sec preview rotating in a contrasting blue color.

Clicking on the stop square does not always stop the playback of the preview.  What should happen when you click on the stop icon is that the preview ceases to play and the icon goes away to be replaced once again by the track number.  On some albums in the store this function works.  On other albums it does revert back to the track number, however the preview continues to play until it finishes or until you hit the pause button in the iTunes window.  Also when you let the preview play out to the end, the stop icon does not disappear either, to release the icon you must click the stop button even though the preview has completed.

This definitely seems like a bug in the interface.  I have confirmed this in both the Mac OS X and Windows versions of iTunes 9 running on Snow Leopard and Windows Vista, respectively.

Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender Impressions

Finding the right case for you iPhone can be a challenging and somewhat frustrating process.  Not only do you have to contend with the sheer number of case types, but you also have to balance the needs of your particular listening and working environments.  If you are like me you may have found that you actually need more than one type of case.  While it would be nice to have the ultimate iPhone case that I could comfortably and easily use in any situation, I have yet to discover it.

Recently I purchased an Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender case for use with my iPhone 3GS.  The main motivation behind this particular purchase was the ruggedness of the case.  Next summer I am going to be riding a self-supported bike tour with a couple of friends in Pittsburgh, so I was in the market for a case that could handle the shocks, drops and dust that I would encounter both on the tour and while training for it (man, do I ever need to start the training).

My daily driver of a case to this point has been a red and black (Goooo Dawgs!) iFrogz Luxe.  This is a very nice case that adds minimal bulk to the iPhone design while providing a basic level of protection from scuffs and bumps that can occur during average daily use.

While the iFrogz Luxe turned out to be great for a daily case, it became rapidly apparent that it was not going to withstand the rigors of an extended bike tour and training process.  After determining this, I turned to the Otterbox.  Otterbox is known for making very rugged cases, waterproof cases, and water proof equipment boxes.

Otterbox states that the iPhone 3G Defender is not intended for protection against water intrusion, due to it’s openings for the microphones and speakers of the iPhone 3G design.  This being said a friend that also has one said that it will protect your phone from an occasional spill, like when someone knocks over a coke on the table at a meeting.  I can personally attest to the drop and bump protection, having purposefully dropped my phone while incased onto a concrete sidewalk from a height of three feet.  (Not recommended for the faint of heart!)

I really liked the additional grip that the case provides.  Sometimes the slick plastic back of the iPhone 3G and 3GS can be a little hazardous.  The buttons are fairly easy to operate even while incased in the poly-carbonate shell and silicon rubber cushioning.  All of the ports with the exception of the speakers and microphone are firmly covered with silicon rubber flaps that interlock into the plastic shell when not in use.  This is great, since the water sensors on the 3G and 3GS are located in the headphone jack and inside the dock connecter port.  With the openings firmly covered and protected it is possible to fudge a little on reporting water damage when attempting to get a warranty or AppleCare replacement.

If you want to dock your phone while in the 3G Defender, however, you maybe out of luck depending on the dock connector design.  Due to the nature of the case design, there is a fairly deep recession that has to be navigated in order to connect anything to the dock connector.  A cable or two won’t be a problem, but if you use a device like the iHome or a car mount then you will most likely be out of luck, unless you buy something like the iStubz from CableJive.

Another problem you may run into has to do with the sheer extra bulk added by the case.  I frequently use my iPhone while in my 2007 Toyota Tundra, both for music and for navigation.  I mounted my iPhone on the console in place of the ashtray using a mount and device holder combination from ProClip.  While the combination is a bit pricey, I like their product choices.  Fortunately my device holder is adjustable enough to hold the 3G Defender case, but unfortunately the dock connector plug does not extend high enough to connect with the iPhone while in the case.

Beyond those two issues, which are fairly easy to overcome, I am still having trouble getting used to the confinement of the screen itself.  The 3G Defender enclosure leaves all of the screen itself usable, but some functionality is tricky when using the onscreen keyboard and sliders.  This will be especially noticeable by those of us that don’t trim our fingernails all the way to the quick.  I know that many of my female friends, as well as some males, will find the edges of the case get in the way.  The one application feature I am having the most trouble with is the address bar in mobile Safari.  When using Safari and trying to get the browser to re-display the address bar, I find myself having to use the side of my finger tips instead of end of the finger.

I would judge that the 3G Defender is a great case for use in a physically demanding environment.  I am not completely sold on its use in an average daily environment that doesn’t involve lots of physical abuse.


  • shock protection
  • dust protection
  • better overall grip (especially for individuals with larger hands)


  • dock connector recessed farther than desired
  • added bulk may make accessories unusable without additional cabling
  • some on-screen functionality can be impaired due to the side of the case surrounding the screen

Overall I would say this is an excellent case and well worth the price being charged for it.  Paying $50 to protect your $400 investment is a no-brainer.