Showing Hidden Files in OSX Finder

Just like when using Windows, sometimes it is necessary to make special hidden system files visible to Finder.  There is no preference for it, but with a simple Terminal command, things can be made visible very easily, on a privileged user account.

Simply open the ‘Terminal’ application, and at the prompt, type:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

and then:

killall Finder

This will cause all Finder windows to close and then reopen with the hidden files, visible and identifiable with a ghost-like appearance. You should be able to interact with them normally now.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 11.00.54 pm

Syncing Google Contacts with iMessage (and Contacts) on OSX Mavericks

You may remember earlier in the year I took issue with the super secret hidden checkbox in the Mountain Lion’s version of Contacts which magically syncs your Google contacts with OSX Contacts and Messages. As it seems, Apple have finally fixed the SSL problem stopping you from syncing through the Google option in System Preference’s Internet Accounts setup.

Getting the sync to work now is as trivial as adding a Google account to your Internet Accounts list, log in and turn on the items you want to sync. Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 9.46.42 pmHurray! Easy peasy.

It’s beyond me that it wasn’t like this before.


Syncing Google Contacts with iMessage (and Contacts) on OSX Mountain Lion

Being able to sync your Google Contacts with your OSX Contacts is possible – it just takes a bit of digging.

As a long-time iPhone 4 user, I was recently introduced to the wonderful OSX Messages app, which lets me read/send iMessages from my Mac, as if I had sent a text from my phone. Such an amazing thing (even if it does only work with other iPhone users). However, it only used phone numbers to identify contacts; less than ideal since I seldom reference my friends and family by their cell numbers.

I use Gmail for all my email purposes; and after loosing my completely contacts list TWICE from the failures of Windows Mobile 6, I am also a huge advocate for Google Contacts – awesome synergy between my phone list and email contacts. and while I’ve been very happy Syncing my email/calendar/contacts between Google and my iPhone; my Mac just didn’t want to come to the party and I refused to retype my contacts manually.

At first I tried syncing the contacts over Google’s Microsoft Exchange Protocol (which is actually the best way of syncing Gmail/contacts/etc onto the iPhone), however you cannot get the necessary SSL to connect to Google on Mountain Lion. Next I tried backing up my iPhone contacts into iCloud, which also failed.

I was about to give up until I discovered that the preferences for the Contacts app has an option that I didn’t know about. Carefully disguised under the “On My Mac” account, you will find the option to sync with Google.

syncing-google-contacts-in-mountain-lionHurray! Easy Peasy.

AirPush is Offensive to my Sensibilities

I saw this tweet from a friend (@RyanBooker) today: “Is this for real? This would guarantee your software is immediately uninstalled” with a link to the following video:

And I don’t know about you but it really gave me the heebie-jeebies. I found myself being repulsed in illogical, unreasonable ways. I’m not even an Android developer (or user), but I found this completely offensive. After I cooled down and was able to think clearly for a minute I reflected on why I had such an adverse reaction. I realized that its all about the sacredness of notifications.

You see we are slowly migrating over to a post-scarcity world. Information, is one commodity which has become so abundant (and so cheap); that it’s become a limitless resource. In a post-scarce world, the main commodity is attention. User attention becomes the focus of generating profits and this is (and has always been) the entire idea behind advertising. Advertisers pay others for a slice of the attention they receive.

As user’s expose themselves to greater quantities of new information and media, they spend greater quantities of their focus (and attention). Sooner or later, unless users can adopt greater efficiencies their attention becomes very scarce. I think we’ve reached a point where our collective attention is so scarce as to it being entirely depleted. We’re so saturated with new media and access to information that the effectiveness of advertising is becoming greatly diminished. We’ve become desperate to find “a few more minutes in a day” and thus we’ve adapted to ignoring advertising to steal some attention back. Most of us (especially geeks) have evolved a personal ‘ad blocker’ in our mind’s eye.

Unfortunately the cost is that it’s become harder to remember importances. So we rely on our mobile technology to inform us when we need to jump to action. As a primitive example, who uses the alarm function on their smart phone? Our phones are our personal assistants. They tell us when our friends are trying to contact us, they act as our saviors when something goes wrong, they entertain us when we’re bored and they tell us important things WHEN we need to know them. Usually, they do this through the notification system. It’s a special sacred system devoted to the most important issues in our lives. This is what’s so wrong about AirPush. They are capitalizing on the cost of our mobile notifications. Technologically speaking, the most important area of our lives. When we hear the distinctive sound, or see that special symbol of our phone’s notification system; we spring into direct action. They are cashing into our need for a system that helps us live our lives, lest we miss opportunities or forget something important.

That’s the basis of my offense. I need my notification system to be personalized and pure because I rely on it to assist me with the day-to-day running of my life.

AirPush says that they’ve changed the API to require opt-in/opt-out due the torrent of outcry and negative feedback that developers have clearly been slammed with but for me, that isn’t really enough. I shouldn’t HAVE to opt-out of something that uses my notification area inappropriately and without permission.  And conversely, if the system is opt-in, then its all but useless to developers (because let’s be honest who would WANT such a thing?)

Frankly, AirPush is a violation of the way I use my mobile devices and I would never abide any application which employed such a system. It’s gotta be the fastest way to get users to uninstall your app.

HTC Math Fail

Can you spot the problem? This isn’t exactly an epic fail, nor is it particularly or devastatingly terrible, but I do think that mobile devices do need to work properly, and clearly this is a bug. This is a HTC Desire, but the same bug is replicable on the HTC Desire HD. While this isn’t a reason not to buy an android phone, I choose to use it as an example to make myself feel better about living inside the Apple Reality Distortion field. Sure, the iPhone might be communist, but the streets are clean and the trains run on time.

It turns out that this is a bug with the HTC Basic Calculator, and not a bug with the device itself (as verified by testing the same math on another calculator app on the same phone) but it’s still as funny as hell.

Windows 7 Drivers for Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter

Listen up, all you Boot Camp’in Mac users … Can’t find Windows drivers for the Apple USB Ethernet adapter? Want to use use the adapter on another Windows machine? Are you crazy?  Well, it turns out it CAN be done, with a little bit of trickery.

There is a lot to be said for Apple’s simplicity of design.  Even their adapters and cables look as if they were pain stakingly and lovingly hand crafted by an eccentric, gay, Swedish man. Everything just looks better.

Recently, after the onboard NIC died in my Acer Aspire L3600 (which runs Windows 7 x64, and I use as a dedicated Windows Media Centre).  After flashing the BIOS and jumping through several hoops with no avail, I needed to go looking for another way to get a wired >=100Mbit/s network interface into the machine.  Since its ultra-compact form factor makes an internal PCI option impossible, I needed to go looking for an external (USB) option.  It didn’t take long to realise that my options were going to be extremely limited and after checking out my nearby computer retailers, I had only two options.  A reasonably generic SWANN adapter, or Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter – both were in stock at my local Dick Smith Powerhouse.  The problem with the SWANN adapter, is that its a single solid block, and since my Media Centre lives very close to the wall, it wasn’t desirable, while The Apple adapter can be flexed to a right angle.

Problem is, the Apple adapter says (on the back) that it can ONLY be used with an Apple MacBook.  But the adapter’s drivers ARE included as part of BootCamp, which means it can function when running Windows on a MacBook. So with a little trickery, you can get it working on any old Windows 7 or Vista PC (32 or 64bit editions).

  1. First, you need to download the driver for the adapter, either the 32bit or 64bit version.
  2. Next, extract the zip file and locate the file Ax88722.inf.  It needs to be altered in order to get the device drivers to be installed.  In order to simplify the process, I’ve simply got the tweaked version here, for you to download. Just replace the original Ax88722.inf file with this one inside this zip file.
  3. Next, attach your USB ethernet if you have not done so. Launch device manager (right-click on “computer” and select “Manage”). Locate the lonely unknown device “Apple USB Ethernet” and right-click it to select “Update Driver Software”.
  4. Select “Browse my computer for driver software” and in the file browser dialog select the folder of your recently modified .INI file and continue the wizard. This should bring your Apple USB ethernet to life!

Apparently there are drivers for 32bit versions of Windows XP, put together by the BootCamp community, if you’re an XP user and feeling lucky you can try your luck with this link (but like the rest of this post, use it at your own risk).

Why iPad? Because it’s Cheap!

ordinary people just want something cheap that works. And that’s how the iPad will seem to them. Many will never make a conscious decision to switch. They’ll get an iPad as well, then find they use their Windows machine less and less. When it dies they won’t replace it.


I think this is totally true.  And interestingly, I think its the same reason why the MacBooks have taken off recently.  I am one of the converted.  Mac “gets” mobile computing.  They  seem to understand that when I am on the move, I dont want headaches with network connections and I just want my Laptop to work!

This being said, the iPad is a disappointment for me because I really wanted something a bit more.  I wanted something that run OSX, and had a stylus with multiple sensitivities.  I also wanted it to have a conductive touch interface and I wanted it to be as thick as the air.  THAT would have blown my world – however, I am convinced that this may actually be coming (at least in part) in the future.

I do think that the iPad was rushed and I do think that its uninspired (the iPhoneesque interface is starting to show its age).  But I also think that this wont matter at the till.  I also think that it opens up some interesting development ideas, specifically in the area of table-top gaming and traditional board games – especially when coupled with ‘linked’ iPhones.

I am very hopeful that the iPad succeeds in creating a new category of applications that use it unique feature set.  I truly think that limiting it to Web browsing and Book Reading would be a terrible shame.  And a waste.

MagicPrefs – Making the Magic Mouse Even More Magical

MagicPrefs is a free menubar application which aims to improve the functionality and configuration options of the Apple Magic Mouse.

  • It features the ability to bind a variable number of finger clicks, taps, swipes, pinch and other gestures to functions like Middle Click , Hold Down Both Mouse Buttons , Spaces , Expose, Dashboard etc.
  • Touch Sensitivity implements a single point control for a number of factors impacting the algorithms of the taps, swipes, pinche and other gestures.
  • Tracking Speed adds the ability to increase the maximum mouse speed by a extra 200%.
  • Also featured is a real-time display of the fingers touching the surface of the mouse that you can enable to test

You can download it, here for free.

(Via Gizmodo)

The Apple Reality Distortion Field

I often complain about Apple products. The recent launch of the iPhone 3G is merely just another example of this. Not only is the Apple Reality Distortion Field at full strength again, and now apparently the field has grown so strong that Apple doesn’t even have to advertise with it’s own cash anymore!

Is this honest to god “frontpage news”? Or have they considered making Apple pay for its own advertising, rather than letting it replace actual news content?

Update: Firstly I’d like to point out that I do understand the irony of posting this, since I am effectively providing free advertising to Apple as well. Secondly, I think the iPhone is just another phone; however I do think that the web browsing on it is second to none.

Update II: Thanks to Ben for pointing out this sweet clip from YouTube: