What are some cool OS X hacks?
November 28, 2004 1:19 AM   Subscribe

I recently got an ibook, and I'm having a lot of fun with fink. But I'm wondering, what's the coolest or most interesting thing/hack you've done with OS X?
posted by angry modem to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I hacked together a couple perl scripts I found online to create a script that watches my iTunes Library XML file and pings my blog with the 10 most recent songs when said file changes (better than other solutions out there because it will update with recent songs played on my iPod). I wouldn't have known how to begin on my PC.

Other fun stuff includes using mplayer from the command line to capture audio and video streams and having a chance to learn regular expressions (and actually use them, er, regularly). The list of things I plan to do gets longer daily (the most recent are: set up ssh tunneling to mount my remote secure server, figure out a way to automatically format text in TextEdit according to Textile syntax, and hack together a smart bookmark organizer that can synch with my server). The thing that I love about OS X is that I actually feel like I _can_ do these things, despite my relative noob status re: serious programming.
posted by drewbeck at 2:08 AM on November 28, 2004

I was a dick with it and then I punched someone in the face with it.
posted by dobbs at 2:54 AM on November 28, 2004

I wrote a script to automatically mount all the hard drives on my PC on my apple desktop.
posted by ascullion at 5:18 AM on November 28, 2004

try placing it in a bucket of water. i think that will be funny.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:38 AM on November 28, 2004

I assigned special keys to Itunes, so that even when I am in a different app I can rate a song as good or bad, and then move to the next tune.

I put a folder on my desktop that prints anything put in it, so I can ftp stuff there from my ibook and print on the attached printer (due to rendesvouz limitations)
posted by mecran01 at 7:13 AM on November 28, 2004

so basically osx is good for listening to music? and then telling other people what music you're listening to?
posted by glenwood at 7:40 AM on November 28, 2004

I've been attempting to make music on mine.

I've got a B&W system with a G4/400 upgrade, set to dual-boot between 10.1.3 (Puma) and 10.3.6 (Panther). The Puma config is a legacy setup, set aside for Final Cut Pro 1.2.5, while the Panther drive has Garageband and Propellerhead Reason. A third drive is formatted to run Windows 2000 (SP4) via VirtualPC 6.1.1. I use that for network diagnostics and (NTFS-related) file recovery.

Overall, the system is terriffic for learning *NIX, and has a variety of share/freeware apps for research, security, and programming; a number of OS X-related A/V tools for lighting control are used by professionals during live performances.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:31 AM on November 28, 2004

I blew up my system using fink. Be careful.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:36 AM on November 28, 2004

I use Target Disk Mode to run the apps installed on one machine while it's mounted as a hard drive on another. From Help:

You can use FireWire to connect your computer to another Mac and have one of the computers appear as an external hard disk on the other computer. This is sometimes called Target Disk Mode.

1. Shut down the first computer and leave the second computer on.

2. Connect the two computers using a 6-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable. (If both computers have higher-speed FireWire 800 ports in addition to the standard FireWire 400 ports, you can use a 9-pin to 9-pin cable with the FireWire 800 ports to transfer data at higher speeds.)

3. Start up the first computer while holding down the T key.

A disk icon for the first computer appears on the desktop on the second computer.

4. When you finish, eject the first computer's disk by dragging its icon to the Trash.

5. Push the power button on the first computer to shut it down and disconnect the FireWire cable.
posted by glyphlet at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2004

This is basically just an interesting Unix thing, but I used fink to install cdrecord, then I installed flac and shnwrap and VNCThing, and I set up Azureus and a vnc server on my linux box (Azureus can be run on OS X too, but it slows up my 600MHz); so, now, using Samba, I can transfer torrents of concerts to my linux box, use VNCThing to remotely open them in Azureus, then, when they're done downloading, I use Samba to transfer them to my desktop. Once there, I use the shell script I cooked up to automate the process of decoding the flacs/shns and burning them to a CD. Then, I see if iTunes can get their info off the CDDB server, entering the info myself if it can't; then I rip them into Apple Lossless, keeping them organized in iTunes so that I have a digital and a hard copy of live shows.

I'm sure that the same thing could be done in Windows, but i don't think I would've ever bothered wondering about it if OS X didn't have the Unix base. Expanding on what drewbeck said, whereas with Windows I tend to get frustrated, OS X makes computing comfortable.
posted by bitpart at 9:31 AM on November 28, 2004

My apologies for the post above. It was late. I was drunk. Sorry, all.
posted by dobbs at 9:48 AM on November 28, 2004

I ported xplanet, which wasn't all that tricky - just some tweaking of the makefile - and then wrote a script to fetch real-time cloudcover data and output a new picture of the spinning Earth every 5 minutes.

I had it put that image alone in a folder, and then set the Desktop preference pane to look in that folder every 5 minutes for desktop backgrounds. So my desktop was a real-time weather map of the Earth.

Obnoxious, eh?
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:52 AM on November 28, 2004

ikkyu2: did you put that port+script somewhere that unsavvy mefites can download it?
posted by bonaldi at 4:31 PM on November 28, 2004

LabJack + sensors and electronics (e.g. solid state relays, photodiodes) = arbitrary measurement and control of your lab home environment. Look, libraries to use with xCode. Eat that, silly glowing orb.
posted by fatllama at 4:53 PM on November 28, 2004

The coolest thing I did with OS X was almost 4 years ago: I set up a full-fledged portable web development studio. For graphics: Macromedia tools. For coding: the faithful VIM and BBEdit. For a server: Apache, Perl, PHP, and MySQL. Then I figured out how to use netinfo to create a bunch of fake virtual hosts corresponding to each of my clients sites, locally. I'd use rsync to move things between them all without having to think about each file I changed.

This may seem fairly ho-hum now, since all of this can be done almost out of the box and there are easy-install packages. Four years ago, I was doing this with the beta preview release, doing all the compiling myself, changing values I barely (or didn't) understand in source files when necessary. And you know what? It's still a pretty damn fine portable web dev solution.
posted by weston at 6:57 PM on November 28, 2004

posted by Prince Nez at 6:17 AM on November 29, 2004

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