Entries Tagged 'Web Tech' ↓

Downloading and Installing Applications on OS X

If you are a new Mac user, switching from Windows, or just new to computers in general, you may not know there is something a little bit different in the way you install programs on Mac OS X.
Many people I know run into trouble installing applications they download from the internet, simply because they are not used to dropping an application into the “Applications” folder from a mounted virtual disk. My brother had 4 copies of Google Earth downloaded, none installed, and wondered why it was “reset” every time he tried to run it. So, for those of you out there trying to figure out why you cannot just drag the icon into the dock and run it at will, here is a tutorial made just for you.

First, download your application. In OS X, on Safari, the default location for your downloads is in your “Downloads” folder, located inside your “Home” folder. To access this location, find “Finder” on the left hand side of your dock (by default.) It looks like this:

Finder

Finder

When you click on the icon in the dock it will open a new Finder window.  You can accomplish this same task by holding down ⌘ and hitting N, or “Command-N”. Be sure it says “Finder” by the  in the menu bar, upper left hand corner of your screen.  You should see something similar to this:

New Finder Window

New Finder Window

I am currently running OS 10.6.1, Snow Leopard, but the above ⌘-N works throughout OS X.  Also, I have already clicked on the “Home” folder (looks like a house) and the Downloads folder inside of Home.  That is why they are highlighted in blue.  If you do not have this view enabled, it may look like this:

Cover Flow View in Finder

Cover Flow View in Finder

You can see the top center of the window shows my Home Folder, meaning this is the directory you are currently located in.  You can use your arrow keys to navigate down the list shown in the bottom half of the window until you get to the “Downloads” folder.  Hitting enter, however, will not get you into that folder.  You can use ⌘-Down Arrow to go into the folder, or you can use ⌘-Right Arrow to open the folder’s contents and display it in the list.  As a matter of fact, when you select any file and want to open it, using ⌘-Dn (I’ll list command-down arrow like ⌘-Dn from now on) will work.  You can also hit spacebar to see a QuickView of the file.  Yet, I digress.

So, now that you are in your “Downloads” folder, you can find the file you have recently downloaded.  I will use Google Earth as my example here:

Google Earth Download Page

Google Earth Download Page

When you click the “Agree and Download” button, you see a new “Downloads” window open, and the file begin to transfer to your computer:

File Transfer In Progress

File Transfer In Progress

After the file transfer completes, a bunch of stuff happens.  First, OS X verifies the disk image is not corrupted, and then it will mount.  A file with “dmg” after the period means “Disk Image”, which basically means it is just like a CD or DVD you would put into your drive.  If you had a physical disk and stuck it in your DVD drive, it would show up on your desktop, and you could click on it.  Same goes for .dmg files, but you don’t need the physical disk:

Google Earth Downloaded and "Mounted"

Google Earth Downloaded and "Mounted"

The download automatically verifies, and “mounts” on your desktop, just like you had a Google Earth CD and put it in your drive.  The white thing above the disk name on my desktop there is the icon for a virtual disk, or some USB drives as well.

You can also see the actual Google Earth application in the window titled Google Earth and the virtual disk picture just to the left of it.  If you close that window, the disk stays mounted on your desktop.  What you want to do now is actually install the program by dragging it to somewhere on your computer.  This is done simply by holding down the left mouse button (trackpad button, or sometimes your only mouse button) and moving it off of the window it is currently in.

I recommend always installing programs into your “Applications” folder, to keep everything nice and tidy.  Open a new “Finder” window, and below your home folder it says “Applications”. Click on the link, and it will open your “Applications” folder to the right hand side:

Installing into Applications Folder

Installing into Applications Folder

One thing to note here is above the “Applications” link, there is the Google Earth disk image with an Eject symbol next to it.  More on that in a second, first let’s install Google Earth. Get your two windows side-by-side on your desktop, and drag the Google Earth application from it’s current window and drop it on the list in the “Applications” window.  Before you let go of the mouse button, be sure there is a little green “+” sign, letting you know the file you are moving is going to be copied into this location.  If you see it, go ahead and drop it in there:

Side-by-Side

Side-by-Side

Look for the + Sign :)

Look for the + Sign :)

Now that you have installed and application, you can unmount the disk image.  First, close the window titled “GoogleEarth-Mac”.  Next you can either click the eject button next to the GoogleEarth disk in the “Applications” window you still have open, or you can click once on the disk image on your desktop to highlight it.  You can then drag it to the trash can in the dock (with turns into a big Eject button), or you can use the keyboard shortcut ⌘-E (command-e for  ”e”-ject.)

Lastly, if you want to back up your GoogleEarthMac.dmg file, you can do so.  You can leave it in your “Downloads” folder, or you can delete it.  To delete it, navigate back to your “Downloads” folder, in your home directory, and highlight the .dmg file:

Highlight the File in Finder

Highlight the File in Finder

To send it to the Trash, simply drag it there and let go, or hit ⌘-Delete.

That’s all there is to installing an application on OS X.  Once you can effortlessly find your way around the windows, installing is as easy as drag and drop!

Safari and Firefox Cache Preferences

I have a MacBook Pro, and I’m always trying to keep it running the best that it can.  Most of the time, the trouble I have is related to the amount of space Safari and Firefox use to store files in the cache.  If you would like to limit Safari’s space on your hard disk, you are kind of stuck as far as the options in the file menu’s “Reset Safari”  go.

In order to reset ( or clear ) your cache, history, cookies, etc., you can easily do this by clicking Safari in the menu bar, and either selecting just “Empty Cache” or “Reset Safari” from the drop-down menu.  There is a lot of options in Reset Safari, and you can partially clear certain things as you like.

You may also be interested in limiting the actual size of the cache, of which you have but one option–WebPreview, or CoverFlow.  You can check here for instructions on how to disable that feature. Unfortunately, there is no option in Preferences to limit the cache size of Safari, or if there is I couldn’t find it.  There is a cryptic “database size” option in the advanced section of preferences, and I am trying to find out from Apple what that is in reference to (as I have none listed in the box.) The “Database Size” in the advanced section of Preferences has been an option to JavaScript developers to store code client-side rather than server-side as a way to avoid code getting trashed by storing it with a user’s cookies.  Unfortunately, after my call with Apple, there is no way to limit the size of the Cache.db file yourself (from Apple directly.)  They did mention that there “may be a third party”  application out there that could do this for me, of which I will have to scour the intrawebs to find.  My cache.db is 180MB after only two days of having cleared it.  Bummer.

Firefox, on the other hand, does give you the option to limit the cache size in Preferences –> Advanced –> Network:

Firefox Preferences

Firefox Preferences

This is nice to have, and the default is a modest 50MB.  I’ve had Safari’s WebPreview images top 500MB, which is just out of hand.

Firefox also has the ability to start sessions and save information as you’d like, found under Preferences–>Security:

Custom Security Settings

Custom Security Settings

Private Browsing Option

Private Browsing Option

The private browsing feature should show in your window’s title bar letting you know it is activated.  With this feature enabled, you just aren’t saving anything to your cache, history etc.  You are not surfing the web anonymously, however, so don’t do things you wouldn’t normally do!

Safari Webpage Preview

Check out my update on this article here.

I was just going through the idea of a simple script to clear Safari’s cache. Being a new Snow Leopard recruit, I didn’t know where the cache is located, so I started looking in the usual suspect places. Before I got far, I landed in the ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari/Webpage Previews folder. For those of you who don’t realize the significance of that folder, I was with you up until about 5 minutes ago.
This folder contained about 500MB of webpage snapshots of various places I’d visited over the past, oh, 4 days. The reason behind all the images? Cover Flow. When you browse your bookmarks bar in Cover Flow, Safari can show you all of the sites in your history with full page images. This is cool, but seriously….does it need to keep them all? If you hit something cool like my site here (*cough*) more than once a day, it will take more than one image. 500MB?!? I never knew that just Safari’s iteration of Cover Flow was taking up that much disk space on my system. That’s a lot of space! Fortunately there is a really simple solution to getting rid of the images.
First, go to your Safari menu and click “Reset Safari”(current as of 4.0.3 on Snow Leopard):

Click Reset in Safari MenuWebpage-Preview-Box

There are many options, and I do recommend once in a while resetting all of them (check all the boxes) to keep your web browsing going smooth. This particular option, if you have a small amount of free hard disk space, could make a lot of difference on system performance. Depending on your browsing habits, this could seriously chew up a lot of disk. Clear it out, and then use the web as you normally would. Before you go to bed, to work, or whatever, check this folder for size again:
~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari/Webpage Previews, this way you have a good idea of how much space this takes up in one of your normal web sessions.

Creating a Cat5/Cat6 cable for Ethernet

Here is a POV snail’s paced video explaining the magic of wiring your own *straight through* patch cables on the cheap; rather than paying someone to make one for not so cheap.  Scroll down if you just want to see how I do it and don’t care about an explanation.

I assembled the cable as T568B wiring:

  1. White/Orange
  2. Orange
  3. White/Green
  4. Blue
  5. White/Blue
  6. Green
  7. White/Brown
  8. Brown

The numbered list above (and below for T568A) are in pin order.  You stick these colors into the connector with the tab of the connector closest to the floor, and the open end of the connector at your belly.  Pin one would be on the left sticking the cable in the open end, holding connector as described.

Although it really doesn’t matter where the colors go as long as they are the same on both ends (straight through.)  You should conform to the standards set forth, but it isn’t because the cable wouldn’t work otherwise.  There is also the T568A standard, which is:

  1. White/Green
  2. Green
  3. White/Orange
  4. Blue
  5. White/Blue
  6. Orange
  7. White/Brown
  8. Brown

So with that in mind, you could theoretically ignore all convention and just make sure that the color on one end matches the color in the same spot in the connector on the other end.  That’s ghetto but functional.

If you are reading this to learn it as a source of income, then you’d better learn it the proper way or you won’t be working for long.  Also, your butt might be sore for a while due to a client’s boot stuck in it.  Some companies out there doing video surveillance cameras in the Briarcliff area know what I’m talking about.  Making cables all willy-nilly, and no way to even test them! Plug one end into the router, the other end into the back of the PC, and pray?  Oh brother…get the F*$# out of my office!  This here video is for you guys, and keep the shoe.

Anyway, on with the show, and good luck saving yourselves some cash!

Click To Open Movie

Click To Open Movie