How to lock Mac OS X

One thing I do miss on Mac OS X is the ability to quickly lock a machine. In Windows you just press Windows Key and L and it’s job done. On OS X no such option exists by default, however there is a relatively simple way to set it up.

Fire up System Preferences and select Expose & Spaces:


In there change one of the Active Screen Corners to Start Screen Saver. I’ve selected Bottom Left.


Next go back to System Preferences and select Security.


In Security, make sure the General tab is selected and then tick the top option of Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.


That’s it! So when you want to lock your Mac, just move your mouse to the Active Screen Corner you picked and the screen saver should fire off and effectively lock your Mac.

Edit: Damnit looks like OS X Daily has the same info as my post. And there’s me thinking I was a smart arse…

iPhoto 08 Fixed

I did a quick update on Saturday morning to my previous post on iPhoto 08. The long and the short of it is that it looks like the random lockup / crash I was experiencing when rotating images has been fixed with the 7.1.1 update.

I can say that pretty much for definite since I’ve just been going through the wadge of photos from our weekend in Whitby and rotatorised a good few with no issues at all. So yay and stuff!

iPhoto 08 was a tad flaky

Edit 2007–11–17: Looks like the rotate crash bug has been fixed in 7.1.1 (some details on the Apple site and Ars Technica). Go run Software Update to fix it!


IPhoto_IconI’ve been tinkering with iPhoto 08, getting the hang of how it works, and publishing some photos up to my .Mac space (work in progress!), which, on the whole, works amazingly well. The syncing of local photos to the web automagically is ace.

Anyhoo, iPhoto does seem to fall over with frightening frequency when I want to rotate lots of photos. What I’ve been doing is going through my various events and fixing those photos that have been taken with the camera held vertically instead of horizontal. And it does seem that iPhoto gets bored with such a mundane task and decides to spice things up by locking up.

At first I thought it was because I was rapidly firing through them, so I tried it at normal speed, then at a slow canter and finally a grandma slipper shuffle and it still got it’s knickers in a twist.

The end result is, if I’m lucky, the last two images I was working on haven’t been changed. If I’m unlucky, well the last one has, and it’s usually that the thumbnail is updated to it’s new rotation, but the actual image isn’t. Feck and biscuits. On a couple of occasions I’ve been able to select the photo in question and do a Revert to Original (you have to be careful with that though), but I’ve had a few where that doesn’t work.

However, there is a way to fix it, which involves starting up iPhoto and pressing the Option and Command keys together whilst it loads (more details on the Apple site). It then prompts with the following:


I tried Rebuild the photos’ small thumbnails. No joy. So I tried Rebuild all of the photos’ thumbnails (this may take a while) and that did work, however, like it says, it ain’t quick and in my case took half an hour to run (my iPhoto library is 11GB which I wouldn’t exactly say is huge).

So, doh, not all is fantastic in the land of Macs (but it’s a rare snag!). I can kind of tell when it’s going to crash and I find having to steer a piece of software kind of quaint.

Automator is aces

This isn’t anything new to Mac OS X users, but for me as a newly baked one, Automator sure is a handy little tool. It’s basically an app for automating tasks. You create a workflow made up of various actions, which come from your installed apps. It seems pretty much anything will have actions set up that you can use in Automator. 

Here’s one I knocked up for doing my last post:

Automator - Convert tf2 piccys

Team Fortress 2 dumps its screen shots out as TGA files but for my blog I wanted them in JPEG format. Its dead simple with Automator.

In Finder (Macs version of Explorer), I selected the files I was after, right clicked, then selected More > Automator > Create Workflow… That gave me a new workflow with the top section automatically added. I then searched through the list of the Actions on the left for Change Type of Images, which when added gave me a prompt to add in the Copy Finder Items. I made the copy put the files in a subfolder off where they originally were and then changed the image type to JPEG.

And that was it, I hit Run and it did the job. There is nothing built into Windows that does anything like that! (As far as I’m aware?) Previously I’d have to had some kind of image program installed in order to do that. Yay for Macs!

Free upgrade to Leopard?

When the official release date for Leopard was announced (26th October) I thought “Great! I should be able to get a free upgrade to it since I bought my iMac recently.”


Oh how silly of me, in Microsoft land I’d come to expect automagic, free upgrades, but not so in an Apple world. I should have been more suspicious at the time of buying my iMac when the chap in the Apple store sheepishly said “Erm, well for Tiger there was like a three week upgrade period…”.

Well it seems history is repeating itself, because I went to take a gander at the Mac OS X Leopard Up-To-Date programme and noticed this gem in the Terms and Conditions:

This programme entitles the purchaser of a qualifying Macintosh computer purchased between October 1st, 2007, and December 29th, 2007, to upgrade to Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard.

When did I buy my iMac? Erm… September the 8th. Oh cock. After much swearing and profanity at my shiny iMac, I apologised to it since that’s not the sort of behaviour it expects and pre-ordered Leopard direct from Apple for £85. I’m giddy with excitement!

First Impressions – iMac

IMac-24inSo I decided to go over to the dark side… or should that be light side? Anyhoo, for a variety of reasons, which I’ll blog about later, I decided to replace my aging Athlon XP 3200+ with a shiny new iMac:

  • 24–inch screen
  • Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4Ghz
  • 1GB ram (2GB more on order from Crucial)
  • 320GB hard drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB

Ok, so from a PC perspective the video card isn’t brilliant and the hard drive space isn’t massive but they’re more than good enough. It’s certainly a heavy beast since I had to lug it from the Apple shop back through the Trafford Centre and out through the car park.

The out of the box experience is great. The keyboard, mouse, drivers, manuals and other gubbins are all packed together in a really neatly laid out long, thin white cardboard box. The iMac itself is very well protected and packaged as well.

Connecting it up is dead easy. You have all of three cables to fiddle with. The power cable into the back through a hole in it’s stand. The USB keyboard again into the back of the iMac and then the mouse into the keyboard (which has two USB ports, one either side). Actually, one of the many things that really sold me on the iMac, was this image:


That just says it all to me about the comparison of Mac’s versus PC’s!

Anyhoo, It took less than 10 minutes to have it booted up and on the interweb. I hit a slight snag with the wireless connection initially since it didn’t seem to want to connect and it gave no options to tweak. So to start with I hard wired it into my router via it’s ethernet port. I fixed it later and it turned out to be a simple matter of picking the correct encryption method.

First impressions of Mac OS X? Pretty cool, I like how stable it is and how it does a damn sight better with 1GB memory than Vista does. The screen is fantastic, the picture is really bright and rich in colour. You’d think that at that size it’d be too big to work with, but it’s not the case.

The new thin aluminium keyboard is excellent. The keys have a good, responsive feel to them and I like the inclusion of the media controls along the top (play, pause, volume, etc). In that respect, it’s just like my trusty old Microsoft keyboard.

The Mighty Mouse is pretty good too. It’s weird not having any mouse buttons on it and one of the first things I did in Mac OS was enable right click. It’s equivalent of the mouse wheel is strange too, in terms of size and feel (it’s dinky), but it works well.

I have given some Mac alternative apps a try, like for example:

But unfortunately neither of the Mac alternatives in this case quite live up to standards of their Windows counterparts (I’ll explain why in another post), which is where VMWare Fusion comes in!


There’s nothing new with VMWare and virtual machines but the really cool thing with this Mac OS version is a mode called Unity, whereby you start up your VM and then you can open Windows apps and they just appear as if they’re running on Mac OS. So, amusingly, this post is being written in Mac OS X, but with good old BlogJet!

Of course there is one other important thing I have to mention, otherwise Vondur will hunt me down, which is how well World of Warcraft runs… which is not bad ;). It runs natively (I was surprised that the discs I had for it had both Windows and Mac versions) at 1920×1200 at 50+ fps with pretty much everything on high.

There seems to be some issues with the shader affects and apparently this is a known issue with the ATI graphics drivers. But anyway, a picture says a thousand words (ok, so it’s not the most interesting of places, but there are Orcs!!!):


First impressions of me iMac, it’s not a bad piece of kit at all :) Why the hell didn’t I buy one earlier!

World of Warcraft playable on an Intel GMA 950?

Now this all depends on your definition of playable. For me, it’s a constant frame rate of 30 or above, with no drops below that… which in this case means WoW isn’t. Sure it runs, but it’s on lowest settings, with pretty much everything turned off, at 800×600 res, and the frame rate varied between 15 to 40.

I found that if I avoided any of the towns, or any area with more than 5 polygons, I’d be ok since it was seemed to run at 25+ fps… but how likely is that?

Still if I’m reaaaaalllllyyyy desperate for a game, it’s doable.