Turn off Apple Startup Sound on your Intel Mac

If the chime your Mac makes on bootup drives you batty, have no fear – it’s controllable. You can mute, turn down, or even turn UP your Macintosh startup volume using freeware utilities!

There are a few applications out there that will allow you to adjust the Apple startup noise, but only one (as far as I can tell) that will allow you to adjust the startup chime on Intel based Macs – Psst from mistatree will let you do it on your x86 Apple computer, and it’s easy to use too!

Psst is a universal binary that runs in OS X, meaning that it will run on PPC Macs, as well as the newer Intel Macs like iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros.

To install the program, simply download the DMG image file using Safari, Firefox or your favorite browser, and mount the image by double clicking it. After that you can copy the file anywhere on your hard drive and run the application by double clicking it. Adjust the startup sound to your liking and reboot to see the changes. You will notice the difference on bootup/startup – the startup chime should be less noisy or muted depending on how you adjusted it.

Disco Disc Burner App Public Beta for Mac OS X

Why is it that I always find myself ponying up the small amounts of cash it takes to purchase Mac shareware applications? Black fire and a disco ball? I gotta have it.

Today I fell victim to MacZot‘s current promotion (ends in 23 hours!) that saw me gobbling up the public beta of the Disco CD/DVD burning application for Mac OS X, and boy am I content with this lil 700KB number.

Firstly, the hype: when you purchase the beta at the silly-low price, you also get the opportunity to send a free license to someone else. So here goes – the first person to leave an intelligent comment gets the license! (I’ll need a real email address) This is a great marketing idea that see people not only using the beta of a terrifically designed piece of software, but also spreading the word to others so they can try it as well. Good show.

Disco Windows

Next, the features: Disco copies discs in two clicks. Say that ten times fast. Disco can span CDs and DVDs automagically. They call it Spandex, I call it dead sexy. This is extremely handy when backing up iPhoto or iTunes, trust me. Disco can burn VIDEO_TS folders by just dragging them onto the application, which makes it great for burning your DVD backups. Disco has realtime 3D interactive smoke that actually wafts up from the application as you burn discs. If you blow into your microphone, the smoke will dissipate, and if you move your cursor around the smoke itself, it reportedly moves accordingly – but I didn’t get to see this on the low-end test box. Disco has an amazingly simplistic interface that is very easy to follow as it prompts you at every step. Last, but certainly not the least in terms of features, and should really be in caps: Disco remembers every single burn and keeps a catalog of the burn sessions using what it calls “discography” so that you can easily do things like print labels, disk jackets, or simply keep handy for when you need that dot release or the pre-altered code that you can never find. Let Disco be your personal sherpa.

Disco runs very well for a beta application. I have yet to see it crash under Panther, Tiger, or even Leopard (WWDC or the 9a ADC build). Oh, and it worked fine in Tiger server as well. Unfortunately the test box is a 1st generation Mac Mini (PPC), so there was no “smoke” to speak of (anyone have screenshots?), so that will need to be tested later. I burned some mix audio CDs, a backup copy of the disk image for Disco public beta itself, an ISO image of Ubuntu Edgy Eft Beta, and a bunch of Gentoo releases, for good measure. No hiccups. I erased a very old scratched CDRW. I even inserted a scratched blank CDR to see what would happen… Well it wouldn’t burn correctly but Disco kept on keepin’ on – like some sort of Disco inferno – no bouncing beachballs of death here. And you call this a beta? I expected flames, not smoke. No crash and burn here.

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In these screenshots you see the Disco app in full swing, from installation to a test burn, and a view of all the windows it provides. I really like the design of this app, and it was well worth the 15$ pricetag. If you’re new to MacZot, and need a referrer, feel free to use “blandname”. Now go write some optical media and dance around like a schoolgirl.

Oh and on the topic of Disco, and in the name of Halloween here’s a joke:

“Why didn’t the skeleton dance at the disco?”

“He had no body to dance with”

9 Great, Free Applications that Work with Vista

This is a list of my favorite Windows applications that I honestly couldn’t live without that also work on Microsoft Windows Vista RC as well, much to my surprise. All of the software is free to download and use, and in fact most of them are open source.

ConTEXT – ConTEXT is a free and lightweight editor for programming or can be used as a notepad replacement. ConTEXT supports find and replace in multiple files at once so changing one method in loads of files is no longer an issue. Works in Vista with no problems whatsoever.

Synergy – Synergy is like a software KVM, but only shares keyboard and mouse capabilities. Synergy is multiplatform, and I currently use it to have my keyboard and mouse work in Ubuntu, Vista, and my Mac Mini running Leopard with no problem at all! This way I get to use my favorite keyboard and mouse and get to free up some space on my desk at the same time.

VLC – VLC has been my favorite media player for years now. VLC comes with most of the codecs you will need to watch videos on your PC already. VLC is very lightweight, and JUST WORKS, something that can’t be said about many media players. The only issue with VLC in Vista is that it turns Aero Glass off while it is playing.

FileZilla – I use FileZilla to interface with clients that still haven’t moved to SCP. FileZilla is an open source FTP client that gets the job done, supporting drag and drop, SSL, and NAT to NAT connections. The only thing it is missing is FXP support, but that’s not really a big deal in my case. Works fine in Vista with no problems at all.

IMGBurn – I love IMGBurn. This is hands-down the easiest way to burn .IMG, .ISO and BIN/CUE disk images to backup CDs or DVDs. Free, open source, and awesome. Works a treat in Microsoft Vista Beta 2 as well.

WinSnap – I use WinSnap to make many of the screen shots you see on blandname. WinSnap supports full screen and windowed screen shots, and also allows for rotation and drop shadows if you feel the need.

Electric Sheep – I often refer to Electric Sheep as “the best screensaver ever”, but truth be told, it’s really a collection of computer-generated screensavers that allow users to vote on them using a Digg-like system. On Windows, Electric Sheep uses bit torrent to transfer the sheep data. Again, working just fine in Vista!

Xming – Xming is my prefered interface to remote Linux boxes. Xming is for Linux what RDP is for Windows – you get a local X server and acceleration that displays data from remote applications running on Linux machines. Tested more than a few times to a remote Ubuntu computer, and one Gentoo box with no caveats.

WinSCP3 – SCP is now my preferred file transfer method. Luckily my favorite client also works on Vista, or I may not have used it at all. Much like FileZilla, WinSCP3 has a very simple, streamlined interface that is feature-rich and gets the job done, even on Vista.

So there you have it: 9 free applications I couldn’t live without that work just fine on Vista, and make it easy for me to do my day-to-day tasks. Hopefully someday this list will include F-Spot and Amarok, but I’m happy with this as a start considering neither of them work on Windows XP SP2 either!

Parallels 2.2 Workstation Features

Parallels announced today the updated features of the newest iteration of Parallels Workstation.

Big new all around for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Here’s the breakdown (from the newsletter):

Parallels Desktop for Mac is the first solution for running Windows and OS X at the same time – without rebooting!

The Desktop for Mac Official Update includes a number of powerful new features, such as:

  • Works on ANY Intel-Mac with ANY memory configuration with no system modification. This includes Mac Pro towers with up to 16GB of RAM, and the full line of Core 2 Duo iMacs
  • Support for Windows Vista as a guest OS
  • Support for Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” as a Primary OS
  • Better USB support, including support for isochronous devices and Windows Mobile 5 devices

Parallels Workstation 2.2 for Windows & Linux is a powerful, cost effective virtualization solution which boosts productivity and lowers IT costs by letting users run multiple OSes simultaneously – without rebooting – on any Windows or Linux PC.

The new version includes a variety of new features and improvements:

  • Full support for AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology, and stronger support for Intel Virtualization Technology
  • Support for Windows Vista as a Guest OS
  • A new shared folder utility lets users share files and folders between OSes
  • Better networking
  • Better USB support, including support for webcams and Windows Mobile 5 devices

Quick Tip: Eject your CD on an Apple Mac

If you don’t have an Apple Macintosh keyboard, you miss out on the “eject button”. This is a shame really. The easiest way to eject the CD is to drag it to the recycle bin, or if you have a Windows mouse as well you can right-click and select eject. Should you have a Macintosh mouse, option-click and select eject. If all else fails, reboot the computer and hold down the left mouse button (or only mouse button), and the CD will eject for you. If this STILL doesn’t work, you can go into OpenFirmware and tell the Apple computer to eject using the command:

0 > eject cd

Hope that helps!

Where’s my Mac BIOS? (How to get into OpenFirmware Easily)

A lot of people these days appear to be under the impression that Macs have a BIOS, which is unfortunate because they actually have something much better – Macs have OpenFirmware. This is true for G4 Mac Minis, PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, eMacs, and Dual G5s… I could go on and on.
I got most of this info from experience and the Apple Developper Connection – if you’re not a member yet, sign up, it’s free.

You can get into OpenFirmware using this key sequence:

CMD-OPT-O-F

In detail, this means using two hands, holding “command”, “option” and “f” on the left and “o” with your right hand. Do this while booting your computer and you well hear two chimes. At the end of the chimes you will be greeted with an

On my G4 Mac Mini, for example, I can hold down the power button for roughly 10 seconds and I will hear the chimes – this should work for iMacs as well.

The OpenFirmware prompt that looks like this:

ok

0>

Congratulations, you’ve accessed your “BIOS” you switcher!

Now that we’ve passed this glorious milestone, we have some work to do. After all you came here for a reason right? (and not just to click on the ads, wink-wink nudge-nudge)

Some useful commands that save me time and time again, and enable reparation of the G4 Mac Mini:

Boot your Apple computer using the default boot device:

0 > mac-boot

Boot your Mac using the inserted CDROM at the yaboot directory for linux CDs:

0 > boot cd:,\install\yaboot

To eject a CDROM from your Mac:

0 > eject cd

If you have any other OpenFirmware tips to share, feel free to comment!

Ruby on Rails installed by default in Leopard

This is more of a teaser, but my dream has come true! Ruby on Rails is now installed by default on Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Beta (Leopard WWDC edition). Getting it up and running is really a snap.

Here’s the quick and dirty way to make a sample Rails environment and start the server.

Firstly, open the Terminal application. You know the scary black window with white text. Well actually it could even be white with black text – your mileage may vary (mine is black with green, for example).

Anyway, we’re wasting time – this is quick and dirty right? Otherwise I would be talking about chunky bacon.

In Terminal, type:

rails example

You’ll be met with a nice list of scrolling lines and when it’s done your “example” Rails application will have been initialised.

And that’s pretty well it!

Moving on, we want to see something tangible to prove to ourselves just how flippin’ impressive this really is, and why you knew when you saw that Apple Developper Connection article about Rails you knew good things were to come.

In Terminal, once more, sweating profusely now, we type:

cd example

ruby script/server

This runs the server for us. Once it has been set up, you can safely minimize the Terminal, and fire up Safari, Firefox, Camino, iCab, heck even Internet Explorer. We’re navigating ourselves to: 127.0.0.1:3000

Here’s what we find there (click the thumbnail to enlarge the screenshot):

Ruby on Rails 1.1.2 running on OS X Leopard

The nitty-gritty (no dirt band):

  • Ruby version – 1.8.4
  • RubyGems Version – 0.9.0
  • Rails version – 1.1.2
  • Active Record version – 1.14.2
  • Action Pack version – 1.12.1
  • Action Web Service version – 1.1.2
  • Action Mailer Version – 1.2.1
  • Active Support version – 1.3.1

It’s set up in a development environment by default (where you want it), using the sqlite3 database adapter (pretty typical).

Next time we’ll show you how to update these and run irb. Until then feel free to vote in our poll and support us!

Installing Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 2 on a Budget Mac Mini

I’ve introduced this before but I got off to a really bad start and I appologize. So here’s the follow-up. Not only is Edgy Eft 2 quite stable, it also installs just fine on a Mac Mini, it simply doesn’t recognize the Apple Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard yet. You can easily get the install running using a USB keyboard, however, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Edgy Eft Knot 2 is the newest release from Ubuntu, and is compatible with the budget Mac Mini G4s. Ubuntu 6.10 supports wireless on the mini as well as sound! OK now that we have you hooked let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1 – Grab the release

You’ll want to either download the CD image or start scraping the torrent (in my case the torrent was faster but YMMV)
Once you have the ISO, verify the MD5 sum in order to make sure it’s OK. If you used bittorrent, you should be fine as it will calculate the hash as you go.

Step 2 – Burn the CD Image

This part is pretty easy, but if you run into trouble Ubuntu actually has a fantastic guide to burning CD images – it comes highly recommended.

Step 3 – Start the installation

This part is pretty simple if you have Macintosh keyboard. Other keyboards can be problematic. To boot from CD using an Apple keyboard, just hold “C”. If this doesn’t work, and you downloaded the ISO but didn’t verify the MD5 sum, chances are you have a bad download or a bad burn (or both). You’ll want to verify the MD5 sum now! If it passes we know we have a bad burn – so burn it again. Of course if the MD5 sum failed, you’ll want to download again – I’d recommend using bittorrent of course.

Step 4 – Post Install

The install is actually pretty easy and straight forward but we’ll need to tweak a few things in order to get what we want out of this version of Ubuntu. After all, we want wireless right? (By the way – sound should work just like the liveCD, as well as previous versions of PPC Ubuntu) Follow the screenshots below which shothe whole procedure. I’ll be making a slideshow soon – subscribe to RSS and it’ll come.
Gallery:

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How to Rip CDs on a Mac

This quick guide will get you started backing up your CDs on you PowerPC Mac, or even your spanking new Intel MacBook Pro!

I recently downloaded and installed a wonderful application called Max from Sbooth software. Max is absolutely free, and not only that, but it’s also open source (OSS) and a universal binary.

Max reminds me quite a bit of EAC which is my favorite audio CD backup program when running Windows. In fact, one of the few things I had always longed to do on my G4 Mac Mini was backup some of my audio CDs for use with my iPod Mini.

Now I know that iTunes will rip CDs to MP3, but it doesn’t offer too much in terms in functionality. For exmaple, if you have a scratched CD, iTunes will often have problems with the file. iTunes also only converts one file at a time, making the process quite slow. Of course, Max can both copy from scratched audio CDs, as well as rip multiple tracks at once if you have multiple cores or processors such as the Mac Pro or the dual G4 and G5 workstations. With these computers iTunes is simply wasting your time and giving you bad quality files. Did I mention Max supports lossless formats? I could go on and on. Let’s get ripping!
First you’ll want to download the files from SourceForge (SourceForge is a great source of Open Source programs). Click on this link to download the latest Max release for OS X

Getting Started

Once you’ve downloaded the Max archive, installation is a snap (like most other Mac software). If you used Safari, FireFox or Opera, the file will have decompressed (expanded) to your desktop already. Even on Leopard it does the same thing. Double click on the Max folder and drag the Max application file (the one that looks like a blank CD with “Max” written on it with a red marker). We’re going to drag this file into the applications folder on your main hardware for easy access later. Once you’ve done this, you may also want to drag the file from there to your toolbar for later use.

OK, time to run Max for the first time. Are you liking the name “Max” yet? It reminds me of “Macs”.

Double-click on the icon for Max in your application folder, or single-click on the dock icon. Max will start up magically at your command and is now ready to backup your CDs in multitudinous formats. Huzzah.

To select which output formats will be generated:
1. Open the Formats section of the Preferences and double-click the desired format from the list of available formats
2. Edit the encoder settings, if desired

To create audio files from compact discs:
1. Insert the compact disc
2. Select the correct album information from that retrieved, if prompted to do so
3. If desired, download album art by selecting Download Album Art… from the Compact Disc menu
4. Click the Select All button
5. Click the Encode icon in the toolbar
6. The encoded files will be placed in your Music folder

To convert existing audio files to other formats:
1. Drag the files you would like to convert to the Converter window
⁃ Alternatively, select Convert Files… from the File menu
2. The converted files will be placed in your Music folder