AppleScript 2.0!

Thanks to df for pointing out that Apple has posted release notes for AppleScript in Leopard.We can now ask if an application is running, without AppleScript launching it to find out. ;-)Some nice additions to running AppleScript on the Command Line:

  • use # to comment out a line
  • start the script with #!/usr/bin/osascript, and make it executable, will enable it to be run in the shell
  • osadecompile is a command line script to display compiled scripts as text

Now osascript also supports additional arguments on the command line, so now you can run a script and provide strings for it to use. see the osascript man page for details, and an example. This feature was available in Tiger, I just never noticed until now!

StuffIT download

StuffIT, that became Allume, that became digital river is becoming less and less relevant on Mac OS platform. Part of the reason for that, of course, is the policy of the manufacturer, that requires signing up, buying things, etc. It’s nearly impossible to find the free StuffIT expander, for those rare moments when you need it.

In any event, here is a direct link to the StuffIT download page. I had to give out a throw-away e-mail address to get it.

Merging Keychains?

Does anyone know how to merge multiple Keychains in Mac OS X?

I know I can copy items from one keychain to another, but that involves authenticating twice.

I tried going in and adding those other keychains to be part of my list, but they don’t stay. Frustrating.

Why am I doing this? I replaced my computer, and was not able to transfer my account at setup time, so I ended up with some old keychains that got copied over.

Suggestions, comments, rants?

All are welcome!


Mac OS X/mach: Identifying architecture and CPU type

Platform independent endinanness check:

#include <stdio.h>
union foo
  char p[4];
  int k;

int main()
  int j;
  union foo bar;
  printf("$Id: endianness.c,v 1.1 2006/07/09 17:48:14 stany Exp stany $nChecks endianness of your platformn");
  printf("Bigendian platform (ie Mac OS X PPC) would return "abcd"n");
  printf("Littleendian platform (ie Linux x86) would return "dcba"n");
  printf("Your platform returned ");
  bar.k = 0x61626364;
  for(j=0; j<4 ; j++) 

  return 0;


Platform dependent tell me everything check:

 * $Id: cpuid.c,v 1.2 2002/08/03 23:38:39 stany Exp stany $

#include <mach-o/arch.h>
#include <stdio.h>

const char *byte_order_strings[]  = {
        "Little Endian",
        "Big Endian",

int main() {

  const NXArchInfo *p=NXGetLocalArchInfo();
  printf("$Id: cpuid.c,v 1.2 2002/08/03 23:38:39 stany Exp stany $ n");
  printf("Identifies Darwin CPU typen");
  printf("Name: %sn", p->name);
  printf("Description: %sn", p->description);
  printf("ByteOrder: %sn", byte_order_strings[p->byteorder]);
  printf("CPUtype: %dn", p->cputype);
  printf("CPUSubtype: %dnn", p->cpusubtype);
  printf("nFor scary explanation of what CPUSubtype and CPUtype stand for, nlook into /usr/include/mach/machine.hnn
ppc750t-tG3nppc7400t-tslower G4nppc7450t-tfaster G4nppc970t-tG5n");

return 0;

Mac OS X: Getting things to run on platforms that are not supported

Purposefully oblique description, I know.

Basically there are two ways of not supporting a platform.

One way is to not support the architecture. If I compile something as ppc64, noone on a G3 or G4 CPU will be able to run it natively, nor will x86 folks be able to run it under Rosetta. I can try to be cute, and compile something for x86 arch, cutting off all PPC folks. I can compile something optimized for PPC7400 CPU (G4). G5 and G4 systems will run it and G3s will not (This is exactly what Apple did with iMovie and iDVD in iLife ’06). Lastly, I can compile something in one of the “depreciated” formats, potentially for Classic, and cut off x86 folks, and annoy all PPC folks who would now have to start Classic to run my creation. Oh, the choices.

The other way is to restrict things by the configuration, and check during runtime.

Procedure for checking that the architecture you are using is supported by the application.

bash$ cd
bash$ file Example_App
Example_App: Mach-O fat file with 2 architectures
Example_App (for architecture ppc):  Mach-O executable ppc
Example_App (for architecture i386): Mach-O executable i386


bash$ cd Other_Example/Contents/MacOS
bash$ file Other_Example
Other_Example: header for PowerPC PEF executable

Step 2a) If application is Mach-O, then you can use lipo to see if it’s compiled as a generic or as a platform specific:

bash$ lipo -detailed_info Example_App
Fat header in: Example_App
fat_magic 0xcafebabe
nfat_arch 2
architecture ppc
    cputype CPU_TYPE_POWERPC
    offset 4096
    size 23388
    align 2^12 (4096)
architecture i386
    cputype CPU_TYPE_I386
    cpusubtype CPU_SUBTYPE_I386_ALL
    offset 28672
    size 26976
    align 2^12 (4096)

If you see CPU_SUBTYPE_POWERPC_ALL, application is compiled for all PowerPC platforms, from G3 to G5.

What you do not want to see on a G3 or G4 system is:

bash$ lipo -detailed_info Example_App
Fat header in: Example_App
fat_magic 0xcafebabe
nfat_arch 1
architecture ppc64
    cputype CPU_TYPE_POWERPC64
    offset 28672
    size 8488
    align 2^12 (4096)

Then you need a 64 bit platform, which amounts to G5 of various speeds.

It is possible that the application is in Mach-o format, but not in fat format.
otool -h -v will decode the mach header, and tell you what cpu is required:

Step 2b) If application is PEF (Preferred Executable Format) or CFM (Code Fragment Manager) things might be harder.  I've not yet encountered a CFM or PEF app that would not run on PPC platform in one way or another, so this section needs further expantion. 

In case of a runtime check, most commonly it is the platform architecture that is checked. 

Some Apple professional software has something like this in

Getting rid of


tends to get the app to run under G3.

Lastly, if application says something similar to “Platform POWERBOOK4,1 Unsupported”, maybe running strings on SampleApplication/Contents/MacOS/SampleApplication combined with grep -i powerbook can reveal something.

bash$ strings SampleApplication | grep POWER

So if you want to run this application on 500Mhz iBook G3 for some reason (hi, dAVE), it might make sense to fire up a hexeditor, and change one of the “allowed” arches to match yours.

For example to this:

bash$ strings SampleApplication | grep POWER

But don’t mind me. I am just rambling.

Personal Information and Apple

If you did a clean install of MacOS X 10.4, part of out of box experience is filling out a bunch of things about what your name and address is, where you work, what your e-mail is, etc.

CMD-Q bypasses that screen, and continues as normal without asking for irrelevant information.

Thanks to Jon Rentzsch for the hint.

Video: DVD Studio Pro – I love you!

Spent a good chunk of today fighting with DVD creation. My previous attempt was using iMovie HD 6 and iDVD 6. Now, I have some issues with iDVD:

Suppose your projects are saved on an external drive, both iMovie and iDVD. You’d think that when you are rendeering the final DVD, it would still keep all the bits and pieces on the external drive, where the data is saved. Oh, no. iDVD is different. iDVD is smarter then the user, and will try to save the intermediate audio track (before the muxing) in /tmp If you have PCM audio track (and all of my previous projects did, because I didn’t know any better. Me Ogg. Ogg stoopid, remember?). Now, imagine that you are running out of disk space on your internal drive as it is, and then out of nowhere another 1.5 – 2 gigs of stuff show up in /tmp. Of course iDVD would die at this point.

iDVD 6 is also temperamental about DVD mastering, and was refusing to even think about creating a dual layer DVD (ie something longer then 4.7 gigs in size) if I didn’t have a dual layer burner plugged into the iBook. Fiar enough, I gave it the drive.

Then after running all night, it would die with a numerical error code (I’ve googled for it, noone saw it before). I tried three times, as originally I thought that I might have exceeded the “TV safe” area on the menu (another famous was of getting iDVD to die) with DVD title, or somesuch. But no, it just wouldn’t work.

So I got access to a machine with Final Cut Studio installed on it.

Oh, what a joy.

Software actuallly uses the location you tell it to use, without arbitrarily using what it should not. Software tells you what it thinks you should do, but lets you overrule it if you think you know better. Sane software.

I’ve plugged in my external hard drive, and imported into DVD Studio Pro DV streams which I used in iMovie and iDVD without much success before. It happily dealt with them.

Quickly I created a timeline. I’ve had everything pretty much pre-rendered, so it was as simple as setting a bunch of chapter breaks, creating a menu and linking the buttons to actions (ie Play chapter 1).

System I was using is an elderly G4 1.5 Ghz which was kind of skipping frames when dealing with large streams, and thus creating chapters was a bit of an excercise in patience. I’ve opened the iMovie project, and looked at places where I’ve placed chapter breaks before. In DVD studio I’ve created a bunch of chapter breaks arbitrarily, and then adjusted the times, so they would match more or less what I had in iMovie.

Worked as it was supposed to. Beautiful.

DVD Studio was telling me that my project would compress down to 5.1 gigs. At this point I thought that I should just do it, and then run it through DVD2OneX or somesuch, and shrink it down to 4.7 gigs, and told it to go ahead and just do it. It happily rendered to hard drive (it also asked me where I want to set layer breaks in dual layer disk, which was really nice too).

Eventually I realized that there is such a thing as Compressor, that can take a component of a multiplexed stream, and convert it to a different format.

After taking two 12 gig DV streams, and running them through Compressor, I’ve converted the audio tracks on both streams from PCM audio to Dolby 2.0 AC3.

Once I’ve imported the AC3 streams into DVD Studio Pro project, deleted the PCM audio from the timeline, and added in ac3 audio, projected project size dropped from 5.1 gigs to 4.1 gigs, and actual project size (once assets were rendered) dropped from 4.9 gigs to 3.6 gigs (I’ve used crappy video as DV source, from video tapes that were sitting in storage for god knows how long, so they compressed a fair bit).

So overall, I am really really happy with DVD Studio, although I’ve not used even 1/10’s of it’s capabilities. It can create HD DVDs. It can embed web links in mpeg files. It can edit existing menus. Now I need to save up my shekels to buy it (899 CAD for student license for Final Cut Studio).

How to get pictures off a Vivicam 55 under OS X

Grandpa got his grandson a $10 digital camera while they were on vacation, and I got annoyed at having to boot up the Thinkpad to get photos off of it.

Since Vivitar does not make drives for the Vivicam 55, and only made the 55B OS X compatible… I had to go do some digging to get it to work.

From Google groups I ended up in and grabbed 905C Inside are a PKG file, and a Quicktime component,

Copy the Quicktime component to /Library/QuickTime/, then install the PKG. Reboot. grumble.

Open Image capture or iPhoto.. and it works!

Anyone want 20 snapshots of the frame around our living room window?


“Clipboard Contents: A New Sensory perception”

It seems that Dan has hit upon a new form of sensory perception, particular to the computer age! He coined the term ‘Cliposeption’ for “the sense that there’s something on the clipboard.”

Maybe we can add on ‘Clipophobia’ to that? The fear that you just overwrote something important in the clipboard?

There is a related fear, which I get when I use Linux/UNIX, that of selecting something (usually the URL in the browser’s address bar) to delete it and paste in where I want to go, only to realize that I just over wrote my clipboard. ‘Selectoparanoia’?

I can add a phobia on to that as well: several of my clients refuse to remove Apple’s default items from their Dock. One person had been using their machine for almost 2 years, and when I showed them that those programs they never used could be removed (and replaced easily) so they could have a dozen fewer items in their Dock they got visibly upset.