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#713: Permissions are Powerful, Tip of the Week: Searching in Safari, From the Archives: Tips from 1998


Happy Tuesday,

Last week sure did bring crazy weather to our corner of the world. First we saw significant snowfall (Don had over a foot up on Prickly Mountain!), and the weekend brought temperatures in the seventies and eighties with high humidity.

It was a first real taste of Spring, and I took full advantage by prepping my gardens, attending a health care rally at the State House in Montpelier, riding a few hundred miles on my motorcycle, and enjoying excellent barbecue with excellent friends.

I’m headed down to Washington, D.C. with Don, Ed and Kali for the Apple Specialist Marketing Coop (ASMC) annual conference. This conference includes valuable seminars and provides lots of time for networking, all in the name of better serving you—our customers. Sharing best practices with other Apple Specialists is perhaps the most productive way to spend the little free time we’ll have.

Our community is open and eager to collaborate. I’d love to hear of your experiences with other Apple Specialists. Do you prefer an Apple Store for your repair services, or do you have a favorite independently-owned repair shop?

I look forward to hearing from you, and sharing your stories in next week’s Tech Tails.

Enjoy this issue, and, as always, keep in touch.


  Permissions are Powerful  

I arrived in the office this morning around 8:30, and Rob must have seen me drive in. My phone was ringing as soon as I went in the door—all of his preferences had reverted to defaults, so his Mail folders and rules were gone, his iChat accounts had to be re-entered, his keychains were toast, and some of his programs needed to be re-registered.

Rob is a very organized guy, and has his own methods of keeping information easily accessible. Needless to say, this was a blow to his productivity. After fiddling around for a while and manually re-entering mail servers and iChat configurations, it dawned on me that his Preferences folder at ~/Library/Preferences might have some permissions issues.

I’d normally recommend just going back a day or two in Time Machine to restore this folder to a known-good state, but Rob hasn’t backed up his machine in months. I examined the permissions on this folder, and found they were awry.

You can check the permissions of any file or folder on your Mac by clicking once on the item in question and selecting Get Info from the File menu; you can also right-click on the item and select Get Info from the contextual menu that appears. Sure enough, somehow he had no access to this folder, so Applications could not call on the individual preference files to display options correctly.

This wasn’t too surprising, especially since none of the changes we were making actually stuck after re-launching applications. By changing the topmost item in the Sharing and Permissions part of the Get Info window to Read & Write, applications were once again able to access their preferences.

Rob is updating his backup as we speak. You should, too.

  Tip of the Week: Searching in Safari  

If you haven’t assumed it already, I’m a bit of a nutcase when it comes to searching for stuff on my Mac. I use Spotlight every few minutes, Google like a pro, and also have little patience for locating relevant sections of websites I visit while doing research.

Some websites are designed in a way that makes skimming text difficult, and some pages are just so long that I don’t want to skim the whole thing. To find a word or chunk of text in a web page, simply press command-F and type what you’re looking for. All instances of that text will be highlighted, making for easy at-a-glance skimming. To move to the next instance of searched-for text, press command-G (Find Again), and to move to the previous instance, press command-shift-G.

This tip works in Firefox, too. I haven’t tested it in Google Chrome, Opera, or other web browsers, but it’s a good bet these browsers offer similar or identical features.

The shift key functions in this same fashion when combined with other keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can simulate the function of a Page Down key by pressing the space bar in Safari, Preview, Adobe Reader, and many other applications. Pressing shift-space is like pressing Page Up. Command-` will rotate through open windows in an application, and shift-command-` will rotate through them backwards. Same with the Application Switcher.

I love keyboard shortcuts!

  From the Archives: Tips from 1998  

I would like to talk about the importance of keeping the computers you own clean. You may think that I mean the exteriors of your hardware (as in the keyboard and mouse, or even the screen), but I am referring to the insides of your computers and peripherals.

A good preventative maintenance procedure is to make sure that multiple layers of dust do not accumulate on the components. Power supplies, processors and floppy drives (for those that still have them) are all susceptible to heating up, gumming up, and failing prematurely from the dirt and grime that seep in through the various openings in your hardware’s cases.

You can buy canned air (read directions carefully) or blow hard enough on your own to get the unwanted dust bunnies out of the picture, but please note that you should never blow directly into a floppy drive as the dust will scratch the magnetic heads. Try to blow out or away from the floppy’s read/write heads to remove any dust from those particular mechanisms.

*Editor’s Note: I still have an iMac G4 kicking around at home, and while I love the iconic form factor (and thusly, will never sell it), the top-facing vents are dust (/pet hair/etc.) magnets, so I make an effort to remove it from time to time to keep it running cool. -KH

Another Mac quick tip while we’re on the subject of cleaning…

Periodically, you may have to throw something off of your hard drive into the Trash can on your desktop. Did you know that you can turn off the warning that pops up about emptying the trash?

By holding down the option key before clicking Special in the menu bar and selecting Empty Trash, you will not have to verify with the computer that you want
your trash emptied. You can also select the Trash can with a single click; go to File in the menu bar and pull down to Get Info and permanently turn off the warning there.

Be warned, there will be no other warnings!

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