iTunes gadgets

OK, if you want your iTunes to work like your iPhone or iPod touch then there is this application called Cover Art which does it. Does quite work right in that the lyrics don’t scroll but are incredibly tiny, but the cover does shimmer which is cool!

“Simplehelp”: has a cool list like:

iTunesMyWalkman which lets you take a Blackberry that looks like just a Mac OS X disk and synchronize iTunes playlists to it

iTunes Album Playlist Creator makes every album a custom playlist so it is easy to sync it.

GimmeSomeTune lets you download lyrics and albums. I had trouble actually using it

iTunes-LAME lets you use the higher quality LAME MP3 importer when you are ripping CDs.

Nlyrics also trys to do downloading. It seems to work pretty well. Like Harmonizer which is a dashboard widget.

“Cover Version”: is a visualizer that shows album art and then tiny lyrics

AVI on Mac

AVI is a Microsoft format that Mac OS X doesn’t read, so how do you make it work:

Watching AVI Movies in Mac OS X – Mac Guides

VLC Player is a cross platform application with a mac version available for download from the VLC website. [I’ve found that mplayer is there, but seems to hang and doesn’t work well at least on Leopard, 10.5.5]

Watching AVI Movies in Mac OS X – Mac Guides

QuickTime Plug-Ins

Several third party plug-ins are available to allow users to watch .avi files using Apple’s native multimedia media program. These are installed into the QuickTime plug-ins folder and usually require little or no setting up.

* Perian. Currently the best and most all-encompassing Quicktime plugin that will guarentee to play almost any codec within an AVI file.Includes support for MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio, AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3, (i.e loads of Codecs)

  • Flip4Mac. A free solution, offering playback of AVI, ASF, ASX and most importantly non-DRM protected WMA and WMV files. Microsoft site

There aren’t any decent mp3 taggers

It took me a while but I just love mp3tag on Windows to tag mp3s. The free Tritag on the Mac is Ok, but doesn’t add artwork at all. And adding artwork doesn’t really work well with iTunes, sometimes it seems to get into the MP3 and sometimes not. Even when you manually add, it doesn’t.

And the best thing about mp3tag is that it is very smart about taking tags from a filename. Maybe The Tagger is the answer.

All things iPod, iPhone, iTunes and beyond | iLounge

Deadbeat Software has released The Tagger, its new MP3 and AAC tag editor for Mac OS X. According to the developer, The Tagger features support for batch editing of audio files and a wider range of ID3 tags than iTunes, search and retrieval of tags from Discogs, the ability to remove hidden personal data from iTunes Plus files, and more. The Tagger requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and sells for $29; a free 14-trial is also available.

MacBook Air reinstallation and hopefully Time Capsule transfer

OK, so I’ve completely wiped my MacBook Air, time to rebuild it. Here is a list of things that have to happen. Sure sounds Windows like doesn’t it 🙂

# Remote install Mac OS X. Sigh. This is going to take 4 hours over the air apparently
# Try the “Time Capsule recovery”: which comes during the standard installation, it asks if you want to restore from Time Capsule
# Run Settings/Software Update to get me to 10.5.5.
# Install Microsoft Office 2004
# Install PDFPen
# Install Quickeys (or a good time to get F2 and F4 working with other stuff)
# Copy over my Music
# Make Mac Mail work with my email accounts
# Make Entourage work with our Exchange server

Mac Routine Maintenance (Not!) don’t do this

With Windows, I have this whole ritual for keeping things clean that include these free utilities

* Spybot. Keep immunizations up for adware, spyware and use its Tools to fix the registry of bad entries, cleanup startup groups of shovelware
* Antivir. Freeware antivirus package. Just need to keep it scanning and take the regular updates
* Zonealarm. take the updates to this firewall and make sure to disable the native XP firewall
* Firefox. Make sure to install adblock plus, flashblock and and turn cookies on to ask
* PerfectDisk. This isn’t freeware, but it is a great disk defragger that you have to run regularly
* Norton Ghost. Again not freeware, but does an incremental backup of your hard drive.

On the Mac, I don’t have a similar routine, but “”: does have a good list but of course after I ran Yasu, it corrupted my entire MacBook Air boot drive, so that upon boot, it failed with a spinning wheel and the Apple logo. Not good! Am going through a full rebuild now. Thank goodness that the low level “DVD Sharing for OS X Install”: works. I guess I get what I want, a clean MacBook Air! Routine Maintenance

Required Materials
1. Disk Utility (Included with Mac OS X)
2. Keychain Access (Included with Mac OS X 10.3 and higher) or Keychain First Aid (For Mac OS X 10.2, Free)
3. Yasu ($3.50) at “Jim Mitchell”:
4. Preferential Treatment (Free) at “Jonn8”:
5. BootCD (Free)
6. DiskWarrior ($79.95)
7. ClamXAv

Here is his procedure:

# Create a Bootable CD so that you can run things like Disk Utility offline and tackle the hard drive. Unfortunately, this utility only works up to 10.2 (Jaguar) and is borken for 10.3 (Panther), 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard)
# Restart your Mac so everything works well
# Verify or repair your keychain. This happens to me quite a bit, you can get a corrupt keychain. With 10.3 or higher, goto Spotlight and find _Keychain Access_ and choose Keychain Access/Keychain First Aid and run Verify and if it bad, then click Repair.
# Goto Spotlight and search for _Disk Utility_ and use it to verify. This fixed permissions that prevent access to thing.
# Preferential Treatment looks corrupt plists, these are preference lists used by applications. If they are corrupt, the application might crash
# Run Yasu with everything selected, this deletes lots of cached data which can get corrupted. The system builds it all back again automatically as you use your computer, but corruptions can happen. Be really careful on this one, appears to Corrupt OS X 10.5.5!
# Update ClamXAv virus definition files
# Make sure Firefox has adblock and flashblock on.

Ripping CDs on a Mac

On Windows, I use Lame and a specialized encoder because most experts think Lame is way better in making MP3 than iTunes (no surprise there, Apple likes its AAC format). I normally use Max, but it uses MusicBrainz as its database whereas iTunes uses GraceNote. So a good solution is a “ituns-LAME”: script that uses iTunes/Gracenote and then encodes with Lame. Documentation is terrible, so I’d use Max, unless it couldn’t find an album then drop back to iTunes-Lame.

iTunes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Importing of audio CDs into MP3 can also be accomplished using variable bitrate (VBR), however it has been noted in a double-blind experiment conducted in January 2004 of six MP3 encoders, where the iTunes encoder came last, that the quality of the files produced by iTunes was below par. These results were later refuted because the method of testing using in the experiment was questionable.

A word about encoding music and iTunes… | creativebits

LAME ( is a fantastic, free encoder that can achieve all the above. This program is normally run from the command line, which can be a problem for many Mac users who normally prefer something a bit slicker.

There are now two good solutions for the Mac.

– Max (
– iTunes-LAME (

F2 in Mac

Well, F2 on the Mac changes the screen brightness on MacBooks, but when you are in Excel, you want F2 to be brightness and F4 to be change cell references from absolute and so forth. With the F8-F12 this isn’t an issue, you can unmap those to get to F9 which is recalc by just changing System Preferences/Keyboard & Mouse/Keyboard Shortcuts and unmapping F9. Confused yet?

Macworld | Mac OS X Hints | Change Excel’s ‘edit in cell’ keyboard shortcut

On the PC, you can edit the current cell in place by simply pressing F2. On the Mac, the equivalent keyboard shortcut is Control-U, as F2 is assigned to cut the contents of the current cell. (If you’d like to see all of Excel’s keyboard shortcuts, open Help -> Excel Help, then type keyboard shortcuts in the search box, and then select Excel Keyboard Shortcuts in the results box. You’ll probably find quite a few that you didn’t know about.) After many years of using a PC in my prior job, I found the Control-U shortcut not only hard to remember, but harder to type. Unfortunately, you won’t find the “edit this cell” command listed in Excel’s keyboard customization section, so there’s no apparent way to change the shortcut. With a bit of help from a third-party program, though, you can achieve the same end result—make F2 edit the current cell in Excel (2004 or 2008) on the Mac.

To make this work, you’ll need some sort of program that supports macros; I’m going to use Butler

Mac OS X hangs

Well the Mac isn’t immunie to strange problems. At various times I’ve noticed syslogd (the logging daemon), the spindump and kernel_task all spinning at 100% cpu utilization. Not really clear what is causing it. In one case a flaky USB hub causes kernel_task problems which makes some sense.

kernel_task uses 70%+ often – Mac Forums

kernel_task is the core of OS X. It runs all the device drivers, and other high privilege tasks. If it’s spiking up like that, it could be a bad device driver causing it. Have you checked the logs to see if anything is being reported there? Also, have you installed any 3rd party USB drivers (including printers, scanners, etc) as they are often a cause of problems

In another syslogd hangs on a particular file… | 100% CPU usage caused by syslogd (Leopard)

Over the last few days I experienced a strange bug that didn’t go away even after several times of rebooting — a process called syslogd used up to 100 percent of one CPU, which means up to 50% of my computer’s processing power.

After some research, I found the following solution:

Fire up Terminal and execute the following commands (enter administrator password when asked):

sudo launchctl stop
sudo rm /var/log/asl.db
sudo launchctl start

What do these commands do? First of all, we stop the syslogd process. The second line removes a database file which causes the whole dilemma (don’t worry, it’ll be re-created afterwards), the third line starts the previously stopped process again.

kernel_task uses 70%+ often – Mac Forums

With a hyperactive kernel_task, check the fonts and font cache.