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#738: RotW: MacBook Air, Screen Sharing, TotW: Stop Bouncing Icons


Happy Tuesday,

It’s becoming a Small Dog tradition to hold a free eWaste Recycling Event each year, and we did just that over the weekend—the 4th annual in VT and the inaugural roundup in NH. Thousands of cars queued up to responsibly recycle their old electronic junk in Vermont and New Hampshire; the crowds were easily visible from the highway in Manchester. While this year’s event brought our biggest haul yet, it also went more smoothly than any of our events in past years. Kudos to Kali for putting these events together!

I took advantage of my time in Vermont late last week to get my snow tires mounted. It’s not too surprising that we’ve seen a few squalls already this fall. Jon sent me photos of Route 4 near Killington, where the road was well covered in snow and slush. It’s never fun to be caught in a storm without snow tires, so, despite the noisy ride, I’m glad to be prepared for winter. I can’t wait to get my snowmobile ready for the season.

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.


  Repair of the Week: MacBook Air  

A longtime customer came in with her MacBook Air, which she uses daily both in the office and in her very frequent travels. She uses the QuickerTek Charger/Backup Battery Pack for MacBook Air and is thrilled that it allows her to fly across the country or the Atlantic and work the whole time. Recently, though, she began to notice that the computer was getting much warmer than usual, even with light use. She reported the fan had been overactive and that battery life isn’t what it used to be, even with the QuickerTek.

There are two real clues in these symptoms. More heat is created the harder a computer is working, and the harder a computer is working, the less time it’ll function off of battery power. Immediately, I knew this was a software issue, not a hardware issue.

I also noticed that I couldn’t pull down the Date and Time menu in the Menu Bar; any time I’d place the mouse pointer over that item, the pointer would change into the spinning beach ball. I knew that a background process called systemuiserver is responsible for this Menu Bar item, so I went into Activity Monitor to see if that process was taking up more processing power than necessary.

Sure enough, systemuiserver was consuming almost all the processing resources the Air had to offer. I used Activity Monitor to quit the process, and set the computer on a table. In a few minutes it was noticeably cooler and the estimated battery life jumped from 45 minutes to over two hours—and I could pull down the Date and Time menu.

I knew from the beginning the cause of this problem, but for those of you without quite so much troubleshooting experience, the Activity Monitor application is a great first stop in all overheating and battery life issues. Just look for something consuming a lot of CPU resources.

  Screen Sharing  

Many of us who have Leopard and Snow Leopard have already played around with the great screen sharing capabilities. In both Leopard and Snow Leopard, Apple offers screen sharing using a lightweight VNC client aptly named ‘Screen Sharing.’ It has a similar look and feel to Apple’s more robust remote management software, Remote Desktop, but without the bells and whistles.

There are two well-advertised ways to use Screen Sharing in Leopard and Snow Leopard. The first is through the Shared sidebar in the Finder. The Shared sidebar displays other machines that are on the same local network. For example, when I’m home and working on my MacBook Pro, my Shared sidebar in Finder shows my Mac mini attached to my entertainment center. I can select the Mac mini in my sidebar and hit the ‘Share Screen…’ button which launches the Screen Sharing application and allows me to remotely view and control my Mac mini.

The second most popular way to screen share is through iChat. iChat allows you to screen share with anyone else on a Mac running Leopard or Snow Leopard. Simply select the buddy you’d like to share with and up on the menu bar select Buddies > Share My Screen… or Ask to Share Remote Screen, whichever you’d prefer to do. Alternatively, you can just right-click on your buddy in the buddy list and select ‘Share My Screen’ or ‘Ask to Share…’. This is great way to share screens, which is especially helpful when helping your friends or family members with computer questions.

There is one lesser-known way to use Screen Sharing as a traditional VNC viewer. Simply open Screen Sharing directly by going to System > Library > CoreServices > and double-click on Screen Sharing. You will be asked for an IP address. Simply enter the IP address of the machine you’d like to connect to, then enter the username and password when prompted and, voila, you’re in! While this might not be useful for the average user, for those of us who regularly use VNC clients, it’s nice to know that there’s a solid easy-to-use client built right into the OS X platform. This is extremely helpful when connected to computers with a static (or known) IP address that are neither on your local network nor connected to iChat. Enjoy!

  Tip of the Week: Stop Bouncing Icons  

Mac OS X is full of eye candy some of us love, and some of us hate. In some cases, such as with older hardware running modern software, the eye candy can actually consume resources that could be put to better use. Bouncing dock icons are certainly not necessary, but are a nice touch. Those of us with multiple login items will appreciate this week’s hint.

To stop icons from bouncing in the dock, open up Terminal from the Utilities folder and type the following exactly, pressing the return key at each line break. Note that spaces and capitalization matter, and you really should have a current backup.

defaults write no-bouncing -bool TRUE
sudo killall Dock

You’ll then be prompted for your administrator password. Enter it, and press return. Voila!

To reverse this, open up Terminal again and type the following

defaults write no-bouncing -book FALSE

  TT SPECIALS | 10/26/10 - 11/2/10  
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