Skip DMG verification by default in Mac OS X

I’ve been using OS X for a while now, and one thing that really irks me, especially on larger DMG files like a Leopard image, is that OS X automatically tries to verify the checksum of the DMG image file, which could take hours.

There are a few applications out there that will disable this for you, but if you want the quick and dirty method, and don’t mind using the Terminal once in a while, use this one-liner to disable the verification easily:

defaults write com.apple.frameworks.diskimages skip-verify true

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

Copy Files From a Mac to Windows Using SCP

Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.

Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain that´s why i always chose the best web hosting.

That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.

SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).

Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.

Fugu on OS X Server

It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)

WinSCP Screenshot

In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!

Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!

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!

Poll Results in: Ubuntu for the win!

Though we are just a small site at this point in time, we’re sure to grow and need to know and what direction. So we decided to run a poll for a few weeks to see what was garnering more interest from blandname readers.

The results are now in and it looks like Ubuntu is the current topic of choice, with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard coming in behind.

Ubuntu Wins

It seems some of you have a good sense of humour because you added Windows Me. Some good suggestions were found in the addition of CentOS which we are currently writing an article for, and Gentoo linux, one of favorite operating systems to play around with.

In the coming months, we’ll try to touch on all of these topics, focusing more attention on the winner of course.

Feel free to leave suggestions for future polls or other topics you’d like us to cover – we’re here to help.

Parallels for Mac to support Vista and Leopard

I’ve been using Parallels Workstation on my beefy Windows test host alongside VMWare Server and Windows Virtual Server. Parallels, though a relatively new piece of software, is remarkably good.

Recently I received an email about the new Apple Mac version which adds a lot of features that have me very excited. I have been debating a MacBook Pro purchase, and this announcement just may be the tipping point.

So let’s hear them out on this spam, and have a look at why I’m so excited.

Big features to mention:

  • Support for new quad-processor Mac Pro towers outfitted with up to 3.5GB of RAM
  • This addition means that Parallels Desktop for Mac is now compatible with all Intel-powered Apple computers, which in addition to the Mac Pro includes the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini!
  • Compatibility with developer build of Mac OS X 10.5, code-named “Leopard”
  • Experimental support for Windows Vista

Bugs Fixed:

  • Solaris guest OS no longer hangs after suspend/resume
  • An improved Parallels Tools package
  • Full support for OpenBSD 3.8 as a guest operating system
  • G4U hard disk cloning tool now works in virtual machines

The new Parallels release candidate adds many exciting features including (but not limited to):

  • USB improvements — easily use multi interfaced and isochronous USB devices (including Windows Mobile 2005 and webcams)
  • Mac OS X performance improvements — optimize Mac OS X or guest OS performance by switching off the Mac cache function
  • Graphic performance improvements — enjoy faster, smoother video playback
  • Keyboard support improvements — use all of the keys on your Mac keyboard, such as the eject CD button, right-left and Shift/Ctrl/Alt (option)/Windows keys, in any virtual machine
  • Unicode path support improvements — name files and paths in national languages
  • Shared folders performance improvements — open folders and files faster, and transfer data across OSes with almost zero lag

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