.................with apologies to Alistair Cook

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Poor Italy! ALL Italian taxpayer details posted on web!

Italian tax details posted on web: "Italians are outraged after the government publishes every citizen's declared taxable income."

(Via BBC News.)

Slashdot "slash dotted"?

Slashdot website down: "

Suffering from the self-Slashdot effect?

Updated: Linux lovers' favourite website Slashdot.org has been unavailable all morning.…


(Via The Register.)

Hack Attack: A guide for switching to a Mac

Hack Attack: A guide for switching to a Mac: "

by Adam Pash

If Amazon's hot holiday seller list is any indication, a lot of you got new Macs this holiday season. If you switched to a Mac from a PC, you've probably noticed that there are a lot of differences between the two.

When I bought my first Mac a few short months ago, it took a while to figure out how to do all the stuff I already knew how to do on my PC. While it's my job to spend time figuring that sort of thing out, there's no need for you to waste your precious time figuring out the minutia of a new operating system. To ease this transition for all of the new Mac owners out there, I've put together a quick guide for Mac newbies making the big switch.

What follows is a round-up of everything that stuck out to me when I made the move to my first Mac. I'm still a dual-OS fellow, but after I figured out the ins and outs of my Mac, it's by far the place I find easiest to get things done. If you're delving into Macs for the first time, the following should come in handy.

Mac OS X Keyboard symbols

You're a lifehacker and you know all the good keyboard shortcuts on your Windows PC. So the first thing you'll want to do is get familiar with keyboard shortcuts on your Mac. This seems easy enough - except for the fact that Macs use a strange and foreign set of hieroglyphics for their shortcut keys. Some of the most familiar shortcuts are:


The Apple/Command key is the main modifier on your Mac. Contrary to its Windows counterpart, the Windows key, the Command key does much of the work that the Control key does on a Windows PC. So don't go hitting the Apple key expecting a system menu to pop up out of nowhere, because it ain't gonna happen. Instead, plan on using this for your most common keyboard shortcuts.


Like I said above, the Control key on the Mac isn't used in the same way as the Control key on a Windows PC. I use it most often when I'm 'right-clicking' on my Mac - often referred to as Ctrl-Click. The Ctrl key also comes in handy in a lot of other ways, like the Ctrl-Tab tab switching in Firefox.


I use the Alt/Option key most often to skip words in a document (and highlight words when used in conjunction with the Shift key) - much like the Ctrl-Arrow functions work on a PC. Like the Mac Control Shortcut, the Option key finds its way into your shortcut workflow here and there (for example, it's also very handy for accenting letters), but not as often as the Command key.


Though Command, Control, and Option are the three main modifiers/symbols you'll see on your Mac, you'll certainly stumble onto several other cryptic communiqués when you're trying to figure out a new shortcut, like the wacky Escape symbol and the big upcase Shift arrow. For a more comprehensive list of the Mac's keyboard symbols, check out this handy reference table.

Keyboard shortcuts

Luckily, when it comes to the actual keyboard shortcuts, a lot of the shortcuts on your Mac are the same as they are on your Windows PC; generally you can just swap Command for Control for a lot of the standards. For example, the Ctrl-C/X/V for Copy/Cut/Paste become Cmd-C/X/V. Simple, right?

Instead of boring you with a long list of keyboard shortcuts like those, I'm just going to highlight some of the less obvious shortcuts.

  • Force Quit: When a program freezes up on your Windows PC and you want to force it closed, you hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete. On your Mac, you'll hit Cmd-Alt-Escape. This brings up the Force Quit dialog - a similar tool to the task manager for the purpose of closing unresponsive apps.

  • app switcher 1.png

  • Window switching: If you're any sort of keyboard junkie, you've used Alt-Tab on your Windows PC all the time to switch between open windows. Your Mac works in a similar manner, with a small variation. Command-Tab switching between running applications, while Cmd-`/Cmd-~ (the backtick/tilde key) will switch between open windows within one running applications (i.e., Cmd-Tab will switch to Firefox, but Cmd-` will switch between open Firefox windows).

  • Minimize/Hide: You can minimize a window to the dock from your keyboard by pressing Cmd-M. Alternatively, you can also Hide an application by pressing Cmd-H. The difference between a Minimize and a Hide is that hiding an application hides every window of that app, and it does not push anything to the Dock. Instead, all application windows disappear from your view until you switch back to the application. In my experience, the benefit of using Hide over Minimize is that you can Cmd-Tab back to a hidden application and it will be restored to your screen; if you Minimize a window and then Cmd-Tab to the app, the window will remain minimized to the Dock.

  • open-rename problem.png

    Opening the selected file: Chances are you've opened a file or program on your Windows desktop by selecting the file and then hitting the Enter key to launch it. If you're anything like me, you do this a lot. The problem is, when you try doing the same thing on your Mac, your Mac thinks you want to rename the file instead of open it (don't ask me why). If you want to open the file, you have to hit Cmd-O (for open).

  • Backspace vs. Delete: On Macs, the Backspace key as you know it is called Delete. And the Delete key deletes from right to left, just like the Backspace key. If you want to delete text from left to right (à la the Windows Delete key), you have to press Function-Delete (particularly if you're on a laptop).

    Finally, if you want to delete a file or folder from the comfort of your keyboard, select the file and press Cmd-Delete. It'll go straight to the Trash.

  • Closing windows and apps: In the Windows environment, whenever you close the last open window from a program, that program quits. Things work differently in the Mac world.

    too many apps 1.png

    Cmd-W will close the active window (incidentally, Ctrl-W will also close most - but not all - Windows apps), however - unlike the Windows world - once you've closed the last window of an application, the app continues to run. If you actually want to quit a Mac app, you hit Cmd-Q (for Quit). When you first start working on a Mac, you'll want to keep this in mind so you don't end up wasting your system memory on several apps you're not using.

For a deeper look at Mac keyboard shortcuts, check out our Mac OS X and keyboard shortcuts tags. Specifically, you might want to check out a few secret (and not so secret) Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts.

Login Items

login items.png

Any Windows user worth his/her salt knows about a handy tool called the System Configuration Utility, which, among other things, lets you control which applications you want to run on startup (generally these are system tray apps). Similarly, you can use the Login Items tab of the Accounts menu in the preference pane to define which apps/files/scripts will run every time you start up your computer.

Here's a little further reading on managing your Mac's startup.

Installing apps

firefox installer 1.png

This may seem like somewhat of a no brainer for Mac veterans, but when you switch to a Mac from a PC, you may find the installation process of new applications a bit confusing at first. That's because, in general, there's absolutely nothing to it. When you download an application (generally in the form of a compressed .dmg file, which will mount as a drive when you open it), you're pretty much done with the installation process. You can run an application (marked by the .app extension) from anywhere on your computer, and there's really no installation to it. Broadly speaking, the installation of a new Mac app generally consists of moving the new application to your Applications folder. Many apps make this very simple, like the mounted Firefox .dmg above.

Unless you have your own system for arranging apps on your Mac, copying new apps to the Applications folder is a good practice. What you don't want to do is forget to move the app from the .dmg folder to your hard disk.

Hard drive structure

macintosh hd.png

Another slight source of confusion you might encounter when switching to a Mac is the structure of your hard disk, namely what difference there is between the Macintosh HD and the Home folder (named with your login ID). Simply put, your Home folder (marked in Finder by the tilde [~]) is sort of like the C:\Documents and Settings\User section of your Windows PC. All of the user-specific data is kept in the Home folder, like your documents, pictures, music, and Desktop shortcuts. It's not a particularly difficult thing to understand, but it can seem a bit confusing if you're not used to it.

The Dock

dock 1.png

The last thing I'm going to touch on is the Dock - that cool little quicklaunch/taskbar rolled into one. You can launch, quit, minimize, and restore applications from the Dock. It's not strictly the same as the Windows taskbar, but in general it pulls a lot of the same duty. If you're a big keyboard shortcut user, chances are you won't use the Dock all that much, but it's a good idea to get a feel for what's going on there.

Further reading:

10 things every new Mac owner should know

Common new Mac user mistakes

If you haven't already seen the amazing things that await Intel Mac owners in the world of side-by-side OS bliss, you need to take a look at how to run Windows and Mac apps side-by-side with Parallels and a little side-by-side Windows and Mac OS with Parallels.

If productivity is your goal, you should also be sure to check out Quicksilver. Even if you don't delve into everything QS has to offer, you'll still have one hell of an application launcher.

Finally, I should point out that this is far from the last word on the topic. I did my best to remember what stuck out the most to me when I started working with my Mac, but I'm sure there's a lot more territory that can be covered. If you've got any questions on the subject - say there's some Windows function that you can't seem to find an analog for on your Mac - let's hear it in the comments. If you're a seasoned Mac user with a few tips of your own, we'd love to hear those, too.

Big thanks to Jason Chen for holding my hand through the switch when I made it in August - answering embarrassing questions like 'How do I install this stupid application?!'

Adam Pash is an associate editor for Lifehacker whose infatuation with operating systems knows no bounds. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.


(Via Lifehacker: Hack Attack.)

I want one! HP "memristors" promise memory revolution

HP "memristors" promise memory revolution: "HP's Quantum Systems Labs today said it has proved the existence of a technology that could permanently alter the design approach of computers. Called a memory resistor, or a 'memristor,' the technology discovered by R. Stanley Williams differs from traditional resistors and other circuits by inherently storing the history of the information it r...


(Via MacNN | The Macintosh News Network.)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Kill a person, save the idiots? Whitehats tackle The Great Botnet Dilemma

Whitehats tackle The Great Botnet Dilemma: "

Remove Kraken? Or leave it be?

After infiltrating one of the biggest and most abusive known botnets, security researchers are wrestling with a thorny ethical dilemma: should they exorcise tens of thousands of possessed machines or simply leave them be?…


(Via The Register.)

Xerox showcases erasable paper, smart documents

Xerox showcases erasable paper, smart documents: "Xerox’s research arm Monday showcased its latest innovations, including erasable paper and tools that make documents ‘smart’ by adding a deeper meaning to words and images.


(Via Macworld.)

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Whilst breakfasting, this article caught my eye...

Driving back to Gatwick for tomorrow's flight, I stopped off for a sandwich for breakfast, a triple espresso and to use the free wi-fi and this article about a lady who used her (stolen) Mac PowerBook to track, identify and (by the time you read this, probably...), have the thief arrested seemed a perfect use of technology:

California Woman Uses Remote Control Software To Track Stolen MacBook: "was documenting the entire process"

(Via Cult of Mac.)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The UK, the weather and Mum

None of these are good! UK still pinch faced people complaining bitterly about everything, the weather is pants and Mum is bad - no long OR short term memory. So, we go for long, healthy walks, talk about flowers and the English weather. And that's about it... :(

Thursday, 17 April 2008

In the UK...

Flight with Virgin was boring as always, I hate being cooped up on a plane. Some exciting bumps as we hit turbulence which elicited one or two indrawn breaths from the predominantly kid fellow passengers (all back from trotting around Disney) but managed to doze and arrived in Gatwick on time. Strange to see England after all this time, even stranger to find everybody driving on the wrong side of the road - and the cars have gear sticks :) Realised that I have NO English money, so a visit to my friendly bank manager is called for once I get to Deal.

Stopped for a large espresso at a Road Chef where there's free wi-fi - bonus. So, more later as and when I find a suitable internet facility in Deal - there's always The Deal Hoy of course.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Women love chocolate more than password security. Anybody recognise this? :)

Women love chocolate more than password security: "

Sweet temptation

Women are four times more likely than men to give out 'passwords' in exchange for chocolate bars.…


(Via The Register.)

HOW many songs on your iPod?

Boffins develop '500TB iPod' storage tech: "

But you'll have to wait 20 years for it

In the future, your iPod Touch may be able to hold millions of tracks, thanks to a breakthrough in storage technology made by the University of Glasgow.…


(Via The Register.)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Like road-kill or an accident? Prosecutor on Reiser Defense: 'You've Got to Be Kidding Me'

He's scary. Guilty or innocent!

Prosecutor on Reiser Defense: 'You've Got to Be Kidding Me': "The murder defendant sits stonefaced while prosecutor Paul Hora draws uncontrolled laughter from the jury with his closing statement: 'Holes in the floor. What? Come on!'


(Via Wired News.)

Text on the web?

God (or whatever deity rocks your particular boat), how the Mac especially but the whole GUI thing seduces one. In the old days i.e. more than say 5 years ago, text was all we had. And the RISKS Digest reminds me how well that works when all you want still is a fire-hose of good old fashioned information rather than gloss:

Risks Digest 25.10: "Posted by RISKS List Owner on Mar 31"

(Via The RISKS Forum (risks) Mailing List.)

Google's Great American Wireless Auction 'game' annoys US lawmakers

And I for one, couldn't GAF. I can see no down-side to what Google undertook here, unless those higher up on the food-chain can enlighten me:

Google's Great American Wireless Auction 'game' annoys US lawmakers: "

'Duping the FCC'

Several US lawmakers are annoyed that Google was allowed to 'game' the recent 700-MHz wireless auction.…


(Via The Register.)

A confession...

...whilst packing for the impending UK trip to visit Mum in Aileen' nursing home, I came across an old Muse T-shirt that I'd tea-leafed from my son, Ben, some years back! Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Free Municipal Wi-Fi Hits the Streets

Free Municipal Wi-Fi Hits the Streets: "Big muni Wi-Fi projects in San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta have tanked. But dozens of smaller cities and counties launch government-sponsored networks.

For a rather lovely map: Download the pdf (224k)

(Via Wired News.)

Watch out! Google crawls The Invisible Web

Google crawls The Invisible Web: "

Bots infiltrate forms

As part of an ongoing effort to index the so-called Invisible Web, Google's automated crawlers are now toying with HTML forms. But only on certain 'high-quality sites.'…


(Via The Register.)

Death of a "titan" - Scientist who named the black hole dies aged 96

Scientist who named the black hole dies aged 96: "

Famous boffin was 'last of the physics superheroes'

Legendary American physicist John Wheeler, who coined the term 'black hole', helped build the first generations of US atomic bombs, and worked with some of the most fabled names in 20th century physics, has died. The famous professor passed away from pnuemonia at his home in New Jersey, aged 96.…


(Via The Register.)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

"It's the end of the world as we know it..."

A posting by a good friend, Henrik Kiertzner


on CIX, deserves a wider reading, so with grateful acknowledgment to him, here goes:

"Strategically speaking, it doesn't become harm to the human race until
around 10% or more of the total human biomass undergoes an involuntary and
sudden state change to fertiliser. I suspect if we're patient we'll see
this occur before 2020. Look for a return to a good old-fashioned
competition between nation states over resources as soon as the current
fad for war among the people (aka asymmetric warfare) passes*.

Add that to creeping deserts and a sudden application of robust
exclusionary measures on to large populations looking to relocate from
arid hellholes to Europe, an unstable China unable to sustain autarky, an
autarkic Russia with a population heading for the toilet and a properly
imperial America and we can look forward to a particularly exciting and
fragrant 21st Century.

Either that or we'll all learn to live together in peace and harmony.

Note that I make no value judgements here of any description and should
not be taken to endorse any of the above as either good or bad.

*This will occur at the point where the West either gives up expeditionary
warfare altogether or concludes that moderation in war is imbecility.
Given that the need for the former will continue (see resources,
competition for, above), the latter seems to me the more likely outcome."

Dynamic DNS...

or how to access your home machine(s) whilst away from home you should checkout this article from the Wired How-To Wiki:

Set Up Dynamic DNS

If you have a home broadband connection, odds are you have a dynamic IP address -- one that changes every so often. This is fine until you feel the need to connect to your home computer from somewhere outside your house. Without a constant, static, never-changing IP address, you don't have a reliable way to find your home computer on the internet.

Why would you want to do such a thing? There are many possibilities. Maybe you want to make a Remote Desktop connection to your grandma's computer to help her find a document she lost. Or maybe you want to stream music from your home media server to your office across town. Using Dynamic DNS, you can do anything that would normally require a static IP address without paying the extra monthly fees your broadband provider would usually charge for such a service.

A Little Explanation

In order to communicate with a server on the Internet, you can either memorize its IP address or use a convenient domain name, like Wired.com. The Domain Name System (DNS) maintains a constantly updated database of which names correspond to which numeric addresses. Any query to Wired.com checks first with a DNS server to find out Wired.com's IP address.

That works well for servers that keep the same IP address forever, but it's a problem for servers hosted on a home broadband connection, which typically get new "dynamic" IP addresses frequently -- some as often as once per hour, but most get a new address at least once per day. That makes your home server a moving target and messes up the normal one-to-one mapping between domain names and IP addresses. If Wired.com's IP address changed like that, the site would disappear from the web after every change, since the central DNS database would not be informed about the new IP address.

The solution to that is dynamic DNS, a setup whereby your server itself keeps an eye on what its current IP address is, and notifies the DNS provider when it changes.

Dynamic DNS

Dynamic DNS is a service offered by a variety of third-party providers. The provider keeps track of its clients' frequently-changing IP addresses, and updates their central DNS records for them whenever necessary. A small piece of software on the user's computer checks at regular intervals whether the computer's dynamic IP address has changed, and if it has, gives the new address to the dynamic DNS provider, which updates its status.

To avail yourself of this, you'll need to register with a free provider of dynamic DNS, such as DynDNS. There are many other dynamic DNS providers, and a list is maintained at http://www.technopagan.org/dynamic/.

How To Set It Up

1. Create an account with a provider. Go to DynDNS.com, create a username and password, wait for the authentication email, and log in.

2. From DynDNS's Account Services page, select Add Host Services, then Add Dynamic DNS Host.

3. DynDNS gives you a choice from several dozen domain names, like homedns.org and is-a-geek.net. Pick one of these, and then come up with your own subdomain, so you have a unique hostname like bobby.is-a-geek.net or nowive.gotdns.com. This will be the hostname that the world will know you by. You can leave the IP address field blank, since it'll be filled in automatically later.

Tip: If you select Wildcard, then any arbitrary prefix -- i.dont.agree.that.bobby.is-a-geek.net, for instance -- will point to your server as well.

4. A tool running on your server will keep DynDNS apprised of its IP address. Download and install one that's appropriate to your server's operating system from https://www.dyndns.com/support/clients. You'll have to configure it with the name of your server and a method of checking for changes to the IP address. Keep it running in the background, and you'll always have access to your computer's services.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Power-Traveler's Checklist, Part Two: Travel Day

Followed by this one:

The Power-Traveler's Checklist, Part Two: Travel Day: "

You've already found your cheap tickets and followed every other step of our Power Traveler's Pre-Flight Checklist, and now the day is here. You should already have yourself set up for a relatively stress-free trip if you followed part one of our checklist, but now that travel day is upon you, here's our suggested rundown of to-dos to make sure your travel day goes smoothly, you catch your flight on time and you get there in comfort and style.

Before You Leave the House

Before you even head out of your home or office, be sure you've done a few things:

  • Check In Online and Print Boarding Passes: You can and will save tons of time if you check in and print your boarding passes before you leave for the airport. Not only is this a good opportunity to see if any of your flight's details have changed, but it's also going to shave significant minutes off your wait time at the airport, especially if you aren't checking luggage.

  • Know How Long It Will Take: First things first: When you're heading to the airport over the holidays, expect unexpected delays and plan for them. If you're organized before you leave for the airport, you'll be through the gates before you can say Santa Claus. Nobody wants to wait at the terminal for two hours before the plane boards, but get there too late and you're in for a world of stress. To plan your arrival at the airport appropriately, check the TSA's Wait Time Calculator, which provides a per-airport, per-hour historical average of security checkpoint wait times. You shouldn't consider these times gospel, but they should give you a better estimation of the extra time you'll need.

  • flight-stats-alert.pngBe Aware of and Plan for Delays and Status Changes: You can track delays for your flight via email or SMS with previously mentioned web site FlightStats, which is the flight status tracking web site, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sign up for SMS or email alerts of delays or departure and gate changes to ensure you're on top of every piece of information pertinent to your flight and your ability to catch it. If you've got a data plan on your phone, you should also bookmark their mobile site. Since you also followed the Pre-Flight Checklist, you've already got your airline's phone number ready in your cell phone should any unexpected delays or cancellations pop up so you can be the first to contact your airline and avoid being bumped around.

  • Pack Snacks: Liquids are out, but airport food is expensive and generally unhealthy, meaning you can still save yourself a lot of money and guilt by packing a few snacks for the trip ahead.

Dress Comfortably and Plan for the Security Check

Although what you wear is sometimes determined by where you're going, you can still be smart about what you wear on your trip. On the day of a trip, you want to dress smart so that you're comfortable on your flight and you get through security with minimal hassle. These are pretty simple tips, but worth keeping in mind, nonetheless:

  • Wear Layers: I've never been on a flight with anything close to consistency in the temperature, which is why you should always dress in layers you can peel when it gets hot and throw back on when it cools down.

  • metal-belt.pngLose the Belt: Getting through the security checkpoint can be a pain, especially if you've got to give your fellow passengers a striptease to get through—and if you're wearing a belt with a metal clasp or big, stylish spikes, get ready to undress.

  • Wear Comfortable, Easy-to-Remove Shoes: Like the belt, you're going to have to remove your shoes to go through security, so the easier your shoes are to slip on and off, the easier your life will be.

  • Streamline Your Pockets: Rather than emptying the contents of your pockets into the gray basket while you're juggling your carry-on, removing your laptop, and standing there shoeless, you'll find it much more convenient to streamline the contents of your pockets to only your non-metal essentials: Namely your boarding pass and identification. Empty the rest of your pocket contents into a go bag or—dare I say it—fanny pack—before you get to the security checkpoint (ideally before you leave the house).

  • Be Aware of Your Metal: Got any other metal you consistently carry but don't normally think about it? Make sure you've taken care of it, and if you realize you've got a big chunk of metal in your pocket at the last minute, just toss it in your go bag or fanny pack.

Make Good Use of Your Wait Time

Now that you've smoothly moved through your check-in, you should be at your gate with a bit of time on your hands. (Hey, no matter how well you've planned, you should never plan on getting to your gate with much less than an hour before take-off. If you are, you're cutting things too close. A little time on your hands means you've planned responsibly.) Put that time to good use and:

  • seats.pngGet an Upgrade to First Class: If you're the type that likes haggling, you can try getting an upgrade to first class. Some methods are safer than others, while some—like getting there as late as possible—aren't exactly the territory of the responsible traveler that you are.

  • Surf Some Free Wi-Fi: If you've brought a laptop or other Wi-Fi-enabled device, here's a list of airports with free Wi-Fi. Just be sure to keep an eye out for rogue Wi-Fi networks. If your airport doesn't offer free Wi-Fi and you've got a good data plan on your cell phone, you might also try using your cell phone as a wireless modem.

  • Tackle Offline Computer Tasks: Just because you're not wired to the nets doesn't mean there's nothing worthwhile you can do on your computer—for example, you could try out one of these five things to do on your PC when you can't connect to the internet.

  • Use the Can: This is a matter of preference, but I prefer to use the restroom before I get on the plane. No straddling people you've just met to get to the aisle, shorter lines, and no fear of being sucked into the noisy vortex of waste removal. For some people this choice is a little like choosing between being punched in the face or getting kicked in the groin (i.e., neither option is all that appealing), but I'll take the terminal toilets any day.

Enjoy Your Flight

armrest.pngOkay, the hard part's over—you're in your seat and ready for your pretzels and Coke. Here are a few tips to make your in-flight experience a good one:

  • Catch Some Zzzzs: Nothing makes a trip go faster than a good nap, and we've covered how to get good sleep on a flight not once, but twice.

  • Entertain Yourself: Everyone knows a flight is the ideal time to catch a flick on your laptop, get nose deep in a book, listen to some music, or do a little portable gaming. Pick what you like and go for it.

  • Power Your Gadgets: If you weren't able to secure a seat near a power outlet despite our tips in part one of the Power Traveler's Checklist, you can still power your gadgets from the plane's headphone jack.

  • Capture the Armrest: Nothing's worse than being overcrowded in your seat, so if you're in the middle seat and your fellow passengers are closing in on all sides, here's how to capture the armrest.

Other Travel Day Suggestions

This checklist mostly addresses traveling alone or with other adults, but traveling with kids is another story altogether. If you're a parent, check out these tips for how to survive an airport trip with the kids.

Likewise, everyone's needs vary and I'm sure you've got methods of your own that work for you, so share your travel day checklist in the comments.

Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who enjoys a good holiday flight. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.


(Via Lifehacker: Hack Attack.)

The Power Traveler's Checklist, Part One: Pre-Flight

As I'm off to the UK mid next week, have been looking at these tips, some of which are new to me and you may also find useful:

The Power Traveler's Checklist, Part One: Pre-Flight: "

The holiday travel season is just around the bend, meaning if you're planning to fly the friendly skies this Thanksgiving or Chrismukkah, you've either already bought your tickets or you're about to. But instead of following the time-honored holiday tradition of spending an arm and a leg on pricey tickets or frantically running through the airline terminal to catch your flight this year, follow these simple steps to ensure your trip is as inexpensive and relaxing as it is streamlined.

UPDATE: When you finish the pre-flight checklist, be sure to check out the travel day checklist to ensure you get where you're going on time.

Find the Best and/or Cheapest Tickets

Cheap tickets are the holy grail of travel, and there are millions of methods for finding them. If you've yet to buy your tickets, we've got a few pointers for making that purchase.

When it comes to shopping for a ticket, you've got tons of choices. Everyone and their reindeer want to help you find tickets (hell, even Google wants to get you to some cheap tickets), but your best and easiest bets are to either go directly to your airline of choice's web site or start looking for deals online using one of many travel search aggregators. Our favorite search aggregators are:

  • Kayak: Searches across other travel aggregators as well as directly from airlines for the best deal available. We've been big fans of Kayak's results for quite a while.

  • Farecast: Predicts the rise and fall of ticket prices with the intention of letting you know whether or not now is the right time to buy.

farecast.png If you have a specific airline you want to fly—say, for example, you generally travel in and out of a hub—you can also find great deals going directly to the source. Head to your airline of choice's homepage and do a search there, or sign up to receive promotions and fare watches from the airline. This method won't always give you the best results—and it's not terribly efficient if you don't know what airline you want to travel—but it can be a great way to find deals. Of course everyone has their favorite methods, so check out how your fellow readers score cheap tickets for more.

Before you buy, here are a few other money-saving considerations to keep in mind:

  • Everyone wants to be with their families during the holidays, but if your family is flexible and you can travel on the actual holiday day (e.g., Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, or New Year's day), you can get incredible deals.

  • MileMaven: This web site lists frequent flyer promotions that could secure you a few bonus miles this trip.

  • You can sometimes find especially good deals between midnight and 1 a.m. (There's a bit of controversy over the veracity of this method, so your mileage may vary.)

Get the Best Seat on Your Flight

If you've started your search early enough, you can keep your comfort and other 'luxury' factors in mind. For example:


  • You can find the best seats on the plane by factoring in your view of the in-flight movie screen, proximity to restrooms, and availability of power outlets with web site SeatGuru.

  • It's not as likely to work over the busy holiday travel season, but with a little booking ingenuity and luck you may be able to secure an empty seat next to you.

  • Look for tickets at a smaller nearby airport if possible—especially if you're traveling with kids —to make your flight more relaxing and pleasant. While this doesn't exactly apply to your seat on the plane, it can lower your stress level at the airport, making your seat seem that much better once you're in it.

Prepare Before Travel Day

You've booked your flight and your travel day is quickly approaching. From making sure you're correctly following packing guidelines to reserving a good parking spot, you've still got a few things to check off your list before the big day is here.

Packing smart and packing early ensures you'll have everything you need during your trip and you won't have to waste any time or money buying a new toothbrush when you land.


Now that you're all packed, you've just got a few more loose ends to take care of before travel day:

  • Unless you're getting dropped off at the airport (either by a friend or shuttle), make reservations with an airport parking lot. If you don't have a favorite, try out web site AirportParkingReservations for a customer-rated list of lots near your airport.

  • If you are planning to get dropped off at the airport, be sure you've made the necessary arrangements—either talk to (and continually remind) the friend who's dropping you off or make reservations with the shuttle service.

  • Put your airline on speed dial or add it as a new contact so you're first to rebook if your flight gets canceled. On a tight travel day, this preparation can mean the difference between rebooking a new flight 45 minutes later versus tomorrow.

  • Also, if you're planning to take Spot or Tabby along on your trip, be sure you know how to fly safely with a pet.

Finally, if your flight is leaving early the next day, go to your airline's web site to check in and print your boarding passes. Having already checked in and holding your boarding pass before you even get to the airport saves tons of time, especially if you're not checking any luggage.

Tune in next week for the Power Traveler's Checklist, Part Two: Travel Time. UPDATE: Tackle your travel day to-dos here. I'm sure you've got tons of pre-flight items on your checklist, so please share them in the comments.

Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who never travels unprepared. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.


(Via Lifehacker: Hack Attack.)

Google previews new App Engine developer APIs

I know most of you know about this but I'm more interested in how and why corporates would want to utilise this. Is this out-sourcing one step too far?

Google previews new App Engine developer APIs: "

Google has launched a preview release of Google App Engine, a way for developers to run their web applications on Google's infrastructure. In the same way that Blogger made it easy to create a blog, Google App Engine is designed from the ground up to make it easy to create and run web applications.

read more


(Via MacMegasite.)

Bill Gates's Wish Is Homeland Security's Command

So, I wonder how I can get an H1-B visa:

Bill Gates's Wish Is Homeland Security's Command: "theodp writes 'PC World reports that DHS has extended the time foreign graduates of US colleges can stay in the country and work to almost two-and-a-half years, an 'emergency' change that drew kudos from Microsoft and other H-1B visa stakeholders. Looks like when Bill Gates says 'Jump,' the government asks 'How high?' Bill Gates's Congressional Testimony, March 12, 2008: 'Extending OPT from 12 to 29 months would help to alleviate the crisis employers are facing due to the current H-1B visa shortage. This only requires action by the Executive Branch, and Congress and this Committee should strongly urge the Department of Homeland Security to take such action immediately.' DHS Press Release, April 4, 2008: 'The US Department of Homeland Security released today an interim final rule extending the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students.''

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


(Via Slashdot.)

Rising sea levels.

Fascinating Google Map site here that shows which bits of land would be under water for a certain rise in sea levels. Whether or not you subscribe to global warming theories and possible polar ice cap loss and subsequent water level movements, it's possibly worth looking at before you next move house...

MarsEdit and Blogs

Of course, despite what Matt would argue, the Mac IS of course, the superior platform - for ease of use anyway :) An example is MarsEdit, a great piece of blogging software that allows you to edit and work off-line, test and preview and then post with a few key-strokes. Nothing TOO exceptional about that (although it's a lovely looking piece of code as well) but the integration with, for example Newsnetwire, allowing you quickly to post other interesting RSS feeds directly to your site means that THIS blog will suddenly burst into life again - it's just SO easy and quick. Time poor, resource rich? Get a Mac :)

Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800

Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800: "

If the high price tag for Apple hardware has kept you from buying a Mac but you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get adventurous, you can build your own 'Hackintosh'—a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard. What?!, you say. Apple's move to Intel processors in 2006 meant that running OS X on non-Apple hardware is possible, and a community hacking project called OSx86 launched with that goal in mind. Since then, OSx86 has covered major ground, making it possible for civilians—like you and me!—to put together their own Hackintosh running Mac OS 10.5. Today, I'll show you how to build your own high end computer running Leopard from start to finish for under $800. UPDATE: Building your Hackintosh just got a lot easier. After you build your system using the hardware I've listed in this article, here's how to install OS X on your Hackintosh PC, No Hacking Required.

Right now the cheapest Mac on sale at the Apple store is a $600 Mac Mini sporting a 1.83GHz proc, 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. For $200 more, your Hackintosh can boast a 2.2GHz proc with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB drive, and a completely upgradeable case for expanding your setup in the future.

Building a DIY Mac requires some work on your part, so be ready to dedicate time to this project. To make things as easy as possible, I'm going to lay out how I built my Hackintosh from start to finish, from the hardware I used to the final patches I applied to the Leopard install. If you can build a Lego set and transcribe text, you've got all the basic skills required.

The Hardware

There's no definitive best bet for a Hackintosh hardware configuration, so you may be able to experiment and come up with a better selection of parts than I did. However, I can guarantee that Leopard will (or at least has) run successfully on this hardware setup.

build-parts.JPGTo make things easy, I've put together my entire hardware setup as a wish list on Newegg. (You may notice that the total price is listed at around $850, but I knocked $110 off the price tag due to a couple of mail-in rebates—so 'Under $800' it remains, however fudgingly.)

The build consists of a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a total of 4GB of RAM (four sticks at 1GB each), an ASUS P5W DH Deluxe motherboard, a GeForce 7300GT (the same basic video card that comes installed in the default Mac Pro configuration), a 500GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and an Antec Sonata case (which I've always liked for its looks and quiet fans). The motherboard is the most important element, since the patches we'll apply later are tailored specifically for this motherboard. You could probably tweak a lot of the other hardware without many complications, but if you stick with this motherboard and follow the installation instructions, you shouldn't see any major complications.

The Build

Now that you've got all the parts, it's time to start putting your Mac together. We've detailed every step of the computer building process at one point or another in the past here on Lifehacker, so rather than cover that ground again, I'll outline the process with links to our previous instructions. As always, be sure to read your hardware manuals before you begin—particularly from the motherboard—to get to know your hardware before you start the installation. Also, always remember to be careful of static electricity and always keep yourself grounded and your board unpowered until you're finished.

  1. Install the motherboard and CPU: You can follow these instructions almost without variation, but the heatsink and fan installation, in particular, is a touch different. Rather than hooking the heatsink to your motherboard, the included Intel heatsink pops into place. For a more detailed description of how this works, consult your motherboard's manual and the manual included with your processor.

  2. Install your RAM: The only thing you need to keep in mind when you're installing the RAM is that you should install the matched pairs—that is, the pairs that come in the same package—in like colored slots. This isn't strictly necessary, but it's a good practice and generally means better performance.

  3. Install the video card: These instructions actually detail how to install a PCI card, which is just a more general way of looking at your video card. The card we're using is a PCI Express card and should be installed in the top (orange) PCI slot.

  4. Install the hard drive and DVD drive: Your hard drive is an SATA drive, which is not the type of drive installed in the instructions (though they do address SATA drives). Just connect one of the power supply's SATA power cables to the drive and then connect the drive to the red SATA connector on your motherboard (it's labeled on the board as SATA1). Follow the same basic instructions to install your DVD drive but plug the drive into one of the other SATA ports (I used the SATA4 port).

When you've finished putting everything together, your open case should look like the nearly completed image below. In that picture, I've yet to install the hard drive and DVD drive and I still need to connect the case power and other connectors to the motherboard. (You may install other features of the motherboard if you prefer, like the FireWire connector for the back of the case).

To make sure everything's working properly, close it up, plug it into a monitor and keyboard and power it up. If the computer boots into the BIOS (by pressing Delete when prompted), you're ready to move on. If the computer won't boot, you may have to open the case back up and double-check your installation. Among other things, be sure that your RAM is properly seated.

nearly-finished-build.JPGI should note that at this point of my installation, I ran into a bum power supply unit (PSU) in my case. Unfortunately that meant that I didn't know whether the PSU was bunk or my motherboard was fried, and since I don't own a voltage meter it took an extra trip to Fry's and some troubleshooting to get to the bottom of it. The point is that when you're building a PC yourself, you can and should be prepared to run into snags, so if you're not ready to troubleshoot if a problem arises, you may want to think twice before trying this. That said, I've built several PCs in the past and this was my only major snag in the course of a build, so it's also very likely that your build could go off without a hitch.

Either way, as soon as you're able to boot into the BIOS, you're ready to get started with the pre-installation.


There are two things you need to tackle to prepare your computer for installation. First, you'll need to tweak your BIOS settings to properly work with the Leopard install. Second, you need to patch the Leopard DVD to install on your newly built Hackintosh computer.

Tweak your BIOS: The first thing I did once my build was finished was update my BIOS, since the default BIOS wasn't properly recognizing my processor. Luckily doing so is pretty simple. Just head over to the ASUS download site, narrow down, and then download the latest BIOS for your motherboard. Once downloaded, just stick the file on a USB flash drive. Then boot up your build and enter the BIOS setup. Like I said above, power on your computer and hit Delete when prompted to boot into the BIOS.

Once you're there, arrow to the Tools tab of the BIOS, select EZ Flash2, and then hit Enter. Now choose your flash drive by tabbing to the appropriate drive, find the BIOS file you downloaded, and install it. When the BIOS has updated, your computer should automatically restart.

Now that you've updated your BIOS, you're ready to get into some nitty gritty preparation. If you plugged in your drives like I suggested during your build, you should see your hard drive and DVD drive listed in the BIOS as Third IDE Master and Fourth IDE Slave. (Don't worry about the fact that your hard drive isn't listed as the Primary IDE Master.) Arrow down to IDE Configuration and hit Enter.

ide-config.JPGIn the IDE config, you want to set 'Configure SATA As' to AHCI. Next hit Escape once to go back to the Main screen. Now hit the right arrow key to move to the Advanced tab. In the Advanced section go to 'Onboard Devices Configuration' and set 'JMicron SATA / PATA Controller' to Disabled.

Now you need to arrow over to the Boot tab to configure the boot priority (which tells your computer what order you want to boot off devices in your computer). Go to 'Boot Device Priority' and set your DVD drive as priority one and your hard drive as priority two.

Done? Then you're ready to move onto patching your Leopard DVD.

Patch Leopard for your Hackintosh: There are a couple of different ways one could go about creating a patched Leopard DVD. The easiest is probably to download an already patched version using BitTorrent (I can attest to having seen the patched version floating around before Demonoid went under, but it's probably available elsewhere as well). The second method requires patching a Leopard DVD yourself, which isn't really as hard as it sounds.

If you decide to go the first route and you find a pre-patched version off BitTorrent, you can skip to the next section. Otherwise, let's get down to work. To patch the Leopard install disc, you'll need a Mac and a pre-patched image of the Leopard installer on your desktop. You can get this in two ways: Either by downloading the image—again with BitTorrent—or by buying and then ripping a Leopard DVD to your hard drive. Either way you choose, when you're finished you should place the ripped installer on your desktop and make sure that it's named osx-leopard105.dmg.

Now it's time to get patching. To do so, you need to grab the patch files (created by the resourceful OSx86 forum member BrazilMac, who bundled the patch files and whose instructions I followed for the installation), which you can download from one of many sources here under the 'FILES FOR THIS GUIDE' section at the top of the page. After you've downloaded the zipped patch files, unzip the archive and drag all of the contents of the archive to your desktop (it should contain two files and three folders in total).

UPDATE: We've removed direct links to the forum post containing the patch files on the OSx86 Scene Forum.

Now open the 9a581-patch.sh shell script in your favorite text editor. At the top of the file, replace XXX with your username on your Mac (so that it reflects the path to your current desktop). For example, mine would look like:



While we're at it, let's edit the 9a581PostPatch.sh file as well. This time, edit the fourth and fifth lines at the top of the file to look like this:

PATCH='/Volumes/LeopardPatch/leopatch/' # path to the patched extensions

LEO='/Volumes/Leopard' # path to Leopard installation

Save and close both files.

Finally, it's time to patch the DVD. Open up Terminal, type sudo -s, then enter your administrative password (your login password). Then type cd Desktop and hit Enter. Now you're ready to apply the patch. Keep in mind that you'll need plenty of space on your hard drive to perform the patch. I had around 20GB of free space when I did it, though I'm sure you could get away with less. To execute the patch, type:


and hit Enter. The patch will now execute, which means you've got some time on your hands. You've been working your ass off up until this point, though, so kick back and relax for a bit. I didn't have a clock on it, but I'm pretty sure the patch took at least an hour on my MacBook Pro.

If you have trouble with the patch and you've got less free space, try freeing up some hard drive space and trying again. When the patch has successfully completed, you should see a new file on your desktop: Leo_Patched_DVD.iso weighing in somewhere around 4,698,669,056 bytes. Now we've got to burn this image to a DVD.

burn-install-disc.pngLuckily the patch removes lots of unnecessary files so we've shrunk the almost 7GB install DVD to 4.38GB, just enough to fit on a single-layer DVD. To burn the image, insert a blank DVD, open up Disk Utility, select the Leopard_Patched_DVD.iso file in the sidebar, and then click the Burn button. Once it's finished, you're finally ready to proceed to the installation.

But just one more thing before you do. Copy the patch files that we just unzipped from your desktop to a USB thumb drive and name the drive LeopardPatch. We'll need these files for the post-installation patch that we'll apply later.


If you've followed all of the steps up to this point, you should now be ready to fire up the patched Leopard install DVD. So power on your Hackintosh, insert the DVD, and let the boot process begin (you did remember to set the DVD drive as the first boot device, right?). You'll be prompted to press any key to start the installation or hit F8 for options. Hit F8.

You'll now see the boot: prompt. Enter -v -x and press Enter. (Don't ask me why, but this is the only way the install DVD would boot for me. Not using these options caused the boot to hang indefinitely every time.) You should now see lots of text scrolling over your monitor. You may even see some daunting errors. Don't be alarmed; just let it continue. After several minutes, the graphical Leopard installer should be staring you in the face.

start-disk-utility.pngFormat the install drive: I know that you're raring to install now that you're finally here, but there's one thing we need to do first: Format our hard drive so that it's prepared to receive the Leopard installation. So go to Utilities in the menu bar and select Disk Utility (if you don't have a working mouse yet, you can still access the menu bar from the keyboard). Once Disk Utility fires up, it's time to format the drive. Here's how:


  1. Select your hard drive in the left sidebar.

  2. Click on the tab labeled Partition.

  3. Select a 1 partition Volume Scheme, name the volume Leopard, and choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format.

  4. Last, click the Options button and choose Master Boot Record as the partition scheme.

Now that your drive is ready, so are you.

Install Leopard: This really is the easiest part—just follow the on-screen instructions and choose your newly created Leopard partition as the install destination. Then, before you make that final click on the Install button, click Customize and de-select Additional Fonts, Language Translations, and X11. These components were removed so we could fit everything on the patched DVD, so we won't be installing them now.

Now you're ready. Click install and grab a quick drink. In around 10 minutes, Leopard should have installed, leaving you with just one more step before you're running with the Leopard.


install-success1.pngAfter the installation completes, your computer will automatically restart. Unfortunately you're not ready to boot into Leopard just yet—you've got one thing left to do. So insert the thumb drive you copied the patches to and, just like last time, hit F8 when prompted by the DVD. Again, enter -v -x at the boot prompt and hit Enter. When the install disc finally loads, go to Utilities in the menu bar and select Terminal. It's time to apply the post-install patch.

post-patch.JPGWhen terminal loads, type cd /Volumes/LeopardPatch at the prompt and hit Enter to navigate to the patch directory. Now, just like when you patched the install disc, type:


...and hit Enter. The script will move and copy files about (answer yes when prompted), and when it's finished, you'll be prompted to restart your computer. When your computer reboots this time, you're ready. It's time to boot into Leopard.

OSx86 on Your Hackintosh

Let your computer reboot, but be sure to leave the install DVD in the drive. When the DVD prompts this time, just let the countdown time out. When it does, your installation of Leopard will automatically boot up. You've done it!

about-my-mac.pngFrom this point forward, you're running Leopard on your PC just as though you were running Leopard on a regular Mac. You'll be jubilantly welcomed in a handful of languages as if Steve Jobs himself is shaking your hand for a job well done. All of your hardware should work exactly as you'd expect. Your sound, networking, and video will all work off the bat. (I haven't tested the motherboard's built-in wireless yet, but it reportedly works.) Your iPods will sync flawlessly, and CDs and DVDs read and burn just as you'd expect.

On the software front, Mail, Address Book, iTunes, and everything else I've tried so far work flawlessly. Firefox is browsing, Quicksilver is doing its thing, Spaces are rocking, Stacks are stacking, Cover Flow is flowing, and Quick Look is previewing. I haven't tried Time Machine yet, but the patch we used reportedly works with Time Machine as well.

UPDATE: After you complete your install the first go round, here's how to upgrade to OS X 10.5.1 (the first update to Leopard) in just a few simple steps.

But Really, How Does It Work?

http://lifehacker.com/assets/resources/2007/11/hackintosh-with-lifehacker%201-thumb.pngI'm still stretching my legs in this new build, and I'm planning on bringing some benchmarks to the table soon so you have a better idea how this machine matches up to its Mac counterparts, but so far it's running like a champ. UPDATE: I benchmarked my Hackintosh against a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro and it stood up very well. Check out the benchmarks here. The only problem with the install at the moment is that it won't boot without the Leopard DVD in the DVD drive at boot—meaning that every time you reboot you'll need to make sure that the Leopard DVD is sitting in the DVD drive. It's not a dealbreaker for me by any means, but it's an annoyance. I've found one post suggesting a workaround at the OSx86 forums (near the bottom of the first post in the thread), but I haven't tried it yet. If and when I do, I'll be sure to post an update.

And that's that. It's a chore to set up, to be sure, but it's also the most powerful Mac per dollar I've ever used. If you've got any experience building a Hackintosh of your own or you've got any questions, let's hear them in the comments.

Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who loves a good hack and cherishes his Macintosh, so building a Hackintosh was a perfect fit. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.


(Via Lifehacker: Hack Attack.)