Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rawr

Finally updated the Mac Pro (my desktop machine) to Leopard, having done the other three computers in my household long ago (Velma’s, my laptop, and the Mac Mini entertainment center).

It was a little more complicated than normal, since my quad-core Intel Mac Pro shipped with a hard drive that had been formatted using the Apple Partition Table, and Leopard won’t install on such a drive, so you have to erase it and reformat it using GUID Partition Table.

I had to use Disk Utility to copy my main OS drive and all my settings (using the Restore function) to a separate HD I fortunately had enough space on, then reboot from the new copy to make sure it was bootable, then completely erase and repartition my prior OS drive (always scary), then reboot from the Leopard install disk, install Leopard using the function that will let you copy your account/network/personal settings from another Mac (or another drive), and finally reboot from the freshly updated Leopard OS that replaced the old Tiger OS.

It seems to have worked alright; since you’re reading this, that means I have Internet access and have not found any major problems yet that require me to go quietly, or more likely loudly, insane. But I haven’t checked all my apps yet, so there’s still time.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

How to run multiple copies of (the same version of) Firefox

For the longest time, while using Firefox 1.x I was able to run two or more copies of the application at the same time. This was useful for partitioning my work and protecting it from being lost if there was a FF crash (which there were a lot of in the later Firefox 1.x days). If one instance crashed, the other would still keep chugging along. This was especially necessary because we didn't have Session Restore in back then.

When Firefox 2 came out, this capability was lost. I tried to figure out how to do it again by following several methods I saw mentioned on the the web, but none of them worked, and alas, I'm not nerdy enough to figure out why not. I'd always get a damn error message complaining that I'm not allowed to run multiple instances of the same app.

It didn't work even if you copied the app to a different folder and launched the copy. It didn't even matter if one was Firefox 2.1 and the other was Firefox 2.3.4. No work.

While you can run an old copy of Firefox 1.x at the same time as Firefox 2.x or even a beta copy of 3.x, you can't run two copies of Firefox 2.x on the same machine at the same time, not even if one is version 2.0 and the other is version 2.5.

An. Noy. Ing.

But, lo! I finally found a method that works. As you can see from the screenshot, I'm presently running three instances of the same version of Firefox on Mac OS X.



Here's how to do it:

First, Quit Firefox if it's running already.

Start Terminal and type in the directory path to your Firefox application. It'll probably be similar to mine below. Note that "espd" is my username, so yours will be different. "Firefox_dwOct.app" is what I've named my app, but yours will probably just be "Firefox". It must be followed by the rest: "/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin" is standard for a normal Mac OS X install but it could be possibly be different for you (probably not, though).

espd$ /Applications/Firefox_dwOct.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin -P YourProfileName -no-remote &



If you can't figure out the right path to the app's binary file (the "firefox-bin" part), then here's how to find it: In the Finder, open your Applications folder, find the Firefox icon, and right-click (or Control-click) to get the Contextual menu (pictured below), and select "Show Package Contents." That's how you see the files inside an application bundle.



Now, inside the Finder window that will open, you'll see a folder named "Contents." Double click it, and you'll see a few more icons, including a folder titled "MacOS." Open that one and look for the file called "firefox-bin", with an icon like a Terminal session (pictured below).



Now arrange your Terminal window and the Finder window so you can see them both, and simply drag the "firefox-bin" icon directly into the Terminal session after your username-prompt (pictured below), and it'll instantly fill in the correct path. OS X is pretty neat that way.



So once you've got the path to your Firefox app in Terminal, you'll need to change the example text "YourProfileName" to your actual profile name.

espd$ /Applications/Firefox_dwOct.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin -P YourProfileName -no-remote &

If you don't know your profile name, here's how you find it: In the Finder, navigate from your Home folder (usually your username, like mine in the screenshot below) to the folders "Library > Application Support > Firefox".



Inside the Firefox folder is your "Profiles" folder. You probably only have one profile inside, and it probably has a weird name like "65d7ghtn.default", although it might instead be called something like "qtgfxqc3.YourName".

That "YourName" part will actually be a profile name, not "YourName". You chose a name when you first installed Firefox way back in the Dark Ages, and you've probably never seen it since. Whether it's "YourName" or "Fred" or just "default", you can put that in where I've got "YourProfileName" in the example below.

espd$ /Applications/Firefox_dwOct.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin -P YourProfileName -no-remote &

Now just type the "-no-remote &" part, then hit your Return key and Firefox will launch the Profile Manager (pictured below). This is a part of Firefox most people never see, but it's handy. It's off by default, but the Terminal command "-P" turns it on.



Now you want to un-check the "Don't ask at startup" checkbox, because if you're going to use multiple profiles you want Firefox to launch the Profile Manager each time you start Firefox, so you can choose which profile to use.

If you only have one profile listed, at this point create a new one. Follow the dialog boxes and it'll step you through the process, then it'll launch the browser as normal.

Now go back to Terminal and copy and past the command again, this time using the other profile name you haven't initiated yet. A new Profile manager will launch, you can select the profile you haven't launched a browser for yet, and click the "Start Firefox" button.

Voila! Two instances of Firefox running, using two different profiles.

PS> I should note that it's the magic "-no-remote" Terminal command that allows you run two or more instances of an app. You can do it with many other apps too, if you like (not all will work, your results may vary).

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Friday, February 23, 2007

How to update your Mac for the change in Daylight Savings Time

As you may already know, beginning in 2007 daylight savings time (DST) will be extended in the United States and Canada. DST will start on March 11, 2007, which is three weeks earlier than usual, and it will end on November 4, 2007, which is one week later than usual.

Mac users who have Software Update set to automatically check for updates on a regular basis should have already been prompted to download and install new software. If you haven't, or you want to double-check, here are the steps.

For you PC users, read this.

How to update your Mac...

Apple menu > About this Mac > check your version of Mac OS X

if 10.4.6 or above:

Save all open documents and quit all apps >
Apple menu > Software Update... > run all appropriate updates > restart computer

if 10.3.x or below:

Update your OS X installation to 10.4.6. You'll probably have to purchase it.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Apple Boot Camp desktops



In honor of Apple's announcement today that Leopard will allow users to dual-boot OS X and Windows, and the beta release of Boot Camp, I made a couple desktop backgrounds for anyone who'd like them.



Choose your poison [1280 x 1024]
My Mac goes both ways ; ) [1280 x 1024]



Update: Per a request, I've made new versions for 1680 x 1050 (widescreen), including a third variant with smaller icons.

Choose your poison [1680 x 1050]
My Mac goes both ways ; ) [1680 x 1050]
My Mac goes both ways ; ) (smaller) [1680 x 1050]

As an aside, these desktops come up first in Google if you do an image search for Apple Bootcamp :)

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