Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

TapBBC iPlayer won’t play downloaded program

14 May 2013 09:31 by Rick

This fix relates specifically to the Mac desktop version of BBC iPlayer running on Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.8). It may work for other versions but I don’t know.

I will post the actual error message next time that it occurs but it relates to when iPlayer displays the station intro but then says something to the effect of “unable to play downloaded program”—usually one that has been waiting a week or two. It then immediately deletes the item from the repository.

The fix is as follows.

  1. Quit BBC iPlayer.
  2. Recover the program(s) you have just lost from backup—preferably Time Machine as that is more likely to be up to date. The location of the programs is ~/Movies/BBC iPlayer/repository and it is the items that start “b01” that you want.
  3. Go to ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AIR and move the directory “ELS” to trash. If you can’t see ~/Library then see this article.
  4. Now Restart BBC iPlayer and the program should work.

One oddity is that all the expiry dates will now be well into the future but don’t believe it: they will expire just as before so watch them soon.

TapVMware Fusion and Windows Safe Mode

2 Sep 2012 21:42 by Rick

To get Windows into Safe Mode for some housekeeping functions the (reasonably) well known method is to hit F8 during the boot sequence to obtain the start-up menu. When you are running Windows under VMware Fusion on a Mac then this is not as easy as it sounds. Different Macs do special things with the function keys across the top of the keyboard—it is something that is not standard across different models. Sometimes F8 does brightness and other things. On my Mac Pro with wired keyboard F8 is marked as Play/Pause and most times kicks iTunes onto life. It does this whether the keyboard control is assigned to VMware or not. The various help guilds you get by searching the internet say to un-tick the “Enable Mac OS Host Keyboard Shortcuts” in the preferences but that doesn’t seem to be enough. The only way I could get anything to work was to go to Key Mappings and assign an unused “F” key to be F8 (fortunately the keyboard has 19 of them to chose from—I used F16).

TapMagic Mouse Misbehaving?

25 Feb 2012 10:01 by Rick

Is your Apple Magic Mouse behaving strangely? Mine was juddery sideways and wouldn’t move vertically at all, though the scroll was ok. I tried switching it off, back on and reconnecting but that made no difference. The fix was rather surprising. Pick it up and gently but firmly thump in back down onto the desk. Considering that the only mechanical part is the click button this is a bit odd. We call it in the trade “The drop test” and is often works because it can reseat or jiggle connectors and socketed chips but I can’t see that that applies here. Anyway, try it and see.

TapEternal Flame

6 Oct 2011 16:03 by Rick

Eternal FlameThanks to XKCD.

TapArguments for and against installing MacOS Lion

22 Aug 2011 09:45 by Rick

I had trouble identifying any compelling reason to install the latest version of the Apple Mac OS version nicknamed “Lion” so resorted to reading all the reviews and listing the points. It may come down to going to a store and trying it out.


Stuff that is likely to work and I would actually use.

  • The usual security and currency stuff.
  • Creation of instant folders for selected content.
  • Filevault2 encryption.
  • Mission Control (Exposé + Spaces).
  • Accented character picker.
  • Resize windows from any corner.
  • Enhancements to Preview application.
  • Signatures to PDFs (if it works with third party cameras).
  • It is cheap.


Either things I am not interested in or don’t have the hardware to support.

  • Full-screen applications now integrated and standard. With large monitors full-screen is often a waste of space.
  • Icons are now monochrome. Probably harder to see but no big deal.
  • Launchpad—I put the Applications folder on the Dock.
  • Autosave and version control (some applications). I am not sure about this one, I don’t think I use any applications that support it.
  • Added 9 Sept: Autosave and version control only work to HFS+ formatted drives, not NAS.
  • Resume (some) applications where you left off.
  • Multi-touch gestures (I have no touch pad—should I get one?).
  • AirDrop (Mac Pro has no built in wi-fi so it won’t work).
  • Reversal of scrolling. I’ll get used to it.
  • Facetime (reported no support for third party cameras).
  • Some gestures not supported on magic mouse.
  • (Reported) side swipes are inconsistent.
  • Loss of Rosetta. I never used it.
  • Mail and Calendar enhancements (I don’t use them).
  • Added 9 Sept: Loss of Front Row (thanks Dozer).


Stuff that will hinder me.

  • Loss of grid arrangement of spaces (now desktops). I race around spaces at speed using Ctrl-Arrows.
  • Desktops don’t wrap around end to start as you cycle through them.
  • Desktops are not identifiable except by content.
  • Going full screen creates a new desktop in the list.
  • Inconsistencies with dual monitor support such as full screen.
  • (Reported) difficulty using copy/paste between desktops.
  • Auto-termination of applications which are not being used.
  • Wake on mouse “wiggle” disabled (not sure if this is just for system sleep or monitor sleep as well).
  • Added 9 Sept: Loss of connection to some NAS devices (thanks Dozer). I am informed by Netgear that my ReadyNAS duo should be ok. Not sure about my LinkSys NSLU2.

At the moment the big blocker is a critical application has not yet been ported but that should be ready in a few weeks finding the time. Then…is it worth it?

TapConfused by Apple ID

6 Jul 2011 13:25 by Rick

To operate Apple equipment effectively you need an Apple ID—but the whole process is very confusing. You can login to your account in at least three places:—

They all require the same id and password but each one gives you different information and there doesn’t seem to be any way to manage the account from one place or even to move from one to the other.

But I am also confused about the concept. Are we expected to have one ID (account) each or one per family? If the former then I can’t see how we can take advantage of the offer on the app store to purchase things once and install them on multiple devices. We were better off under the old family-pack idea. What happens if some of the machines (e.g. an iMac) have multiple users who also have personal devices?

If, on the other hand, we are expected to have one per family then what happens when the kids move out (or more extreme cases like divorce)—how can they take their music and apps with them?

What if you buy/inherit second hand equipment; can you transfer the registration? And what happens if you inherit music/apps—after all they would be regarded as an asset on the estate? Or if you marry? I am reading that Apple will not merge accounts.

Does any of this really matter?

Update: 10 August. Some notice is being taken of this problem. A new development is that an Apple ID can only be associated with 10 devices (including computers) at any one time and there must be a 90 day moratorium between switching of Apple IDs on any device.

Update: 8 Sept. Another well though through commentary.

TapNeoOffice is no longer free

20 Apr 2011 10:45 by Rick

NeoOffice is a fork of the well known office suite customised for Mac OS X. When it was created there was no Mac version of OpenOffice and even when I started three years ago, the Mac support for OpenOffice was very poor. There have always been licence anomalies between the two versions—OpenOffice is LGPL and requires a copyright assignment for contributions to the main code. NeoOffice were not prepared to do this so their code is licensed under full GPL and is not retrofitted.

Up until now, it has always been free at source with a recommendation/plea for donations to support the work, which I have done at least once. Now, since Version 3.2, the “donation” is mandatory—you can’t download the code unless you have donated at least $10US within the last year.

Times have changed—it now requires Mac OS X 10.5+ and Intel hardware which must kill off a sizeable proportion of their customer base. Also OpenOffice and now LibreOffice are much more capable. Finally, if you must pay for it, the iWorks components are much more affordable and also offer cross format capabilities.

TapMac App Store

10 Jan 2011 12:45 by Rick

At a rough count I have 32 third party applications installed on my Mac (not including stuff that came with my accessories like camera, GPS and printer). Two of those are paid-for applications, a few are donation-ware. Just one is now supported by the new Mac App Store, TextWrangler, but it doesn’t say so on the product web site.

The only benefit that I have seen from the store is that I may buy Pages now that is is available as a separate download (but curiously it doesn’t say that on the product web site either!)

SuperDuper, Springy, Crossover, CyberDuck, Sbooth Max, Firefox, SourceSource, SoundFlower, SoundApp Reborn, LineIn, LAME, Growl, KeePassX, Perian, Flip4Mac, XNJB, TextWrangler, NeoOffice, Gimp, PaintBrush, Adium, PopFile, Skype, Sonos, Thunderbird, uTorrent, VMware Fusion, Adobe Air, BBC iPlayer, Adobe Flash, Audacity, SilverLight

TapiTunes account

9 Jul 2010 12:16 by Rick

You may (or may not) have heard that some iTunes accounts have been hacked recently. One incident was a developer who managed to elevate all his products into the top 50 which made them look really popular. Other more isolated incidents have been to use the hacked accounts to purchase downloads, though no one is quite sure how the perpetrator managed to gain anything worthwhile.

Anyway, the recommendation is that you change you iTunes password, as always, but also to remove any automatic credit card from the account. This is a good recommendation in any case because these card details held by vendors just in case you should happen to pass by again are at risk if anything subverts their systems.

The snag is, if you don’t happen to have your iTunes registered system with you, either iP* device or computer, then how do you change your account. There is no obvious web site you can login to except by starting up the iTunes software which you don’t have. What is not widely known is that the “Apple-id” that you use to purchase from the Apple web store is actually the same account so you can reset it there. Go to, change to your correct country (at the bottom of the screen), move to the Store and then, at the top right is an “Account” button. Login there and change you details as required.


30 Jan 2010 12:40 by Rick

…with a nod to Marc Bolan for the name.

When looking at problems I was having with the tagging of MP3 files recently, I had the need for something that would unambiguously tell me exactly what tags were in a file and to verify that they were changed when I thought they should be. Although there are a lot of music library programs out there I needed something that would tell it as it was and never attempt to change anything.

So I wrote this program; and very big it turned out to be. Meta data in music files is much more complex than I expected.

Like all my stuff it is a command line program, so no fancy graphical interface and, at the moment, it is compiled for Intel Macs and (since v1.4) Windows. I know that it does work on Sun Sparc Solaris. It is probably good for other platforms too and the source code is supplied for you to port if you want to try. The output is quite voluminous, particularly if verbose mode is specified so be prepared to wade through a lot of information.

Since I first wrote it, it has extended in scope and now reports…

  • mp3—
    • ID3v1 & v1.1 TAG structure.
    • TAG+ extensions (not tested).
    • ID3v2.2 frames [added v1.3].
    • ID3v2.3 and 2.4 frames.
    • APE keys [from v1.1].
    • LYRICS3 blocks v1 & v2 (not tested).
    • embedded JPEG images.
  • wma—
    • ASF v1 objects.
    • some ASF v2 objects when discovered.
  • FLAC native files (not ogg containers yet) [v1.2]
    • embedded JPEG images.
  • jpg—
    • JFIF markers.
    • Exif markers.
    • SOF0 markers.
  • tar [added in v1.3].

I would like to go to other formats if I can get the information, particularly Apple & OGG sound files and GIF & PNG graphics files. I will be adding basic disk file meta data such as permissions and creation & modification dates pretty soon, though I have a feeling that this will be less portable.

I have created a static support page for the program which includes download links and full instructions on how to run it. In a later posting I will be reporting on some of the things I discovered by using it.

Updated: 23 Feb 2010 to v1.2
Updated: 8 Jan 2012 to v1.4

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