General

Super-fast Mail Act-On

If you use Mail Act-On to apply filters to your mail within Apple’s Mail.app, and you use one of your rules much more than any other, here’s a quick tip: assign the trigger key to the same key you use to invoke Mail Act-On. A quick double-tap of your chosen key can file mail 1.8 times faster than conventional Mail Act-On methods!

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iTunes 7 and Shared Libraries

Users with multiple computers should be aware that Library Sharing between iTunes 7 and previous versions is not enabled. I have three primary computers in my home; two running OS X Tiger and one running Windows XP. My main music library is on a USB hard drive connected to my desktop computer, and on my laptop and Windows computer I normally listen to music via shared libraries, streamed over my wireless connection.

I upgraded to iTunes 7 on my primary desktop, and have discovered that computers [both Windows and Mac] running iTunes 6 [and I assume lower] can no longer connect to the iTunes 7 computer’s shared library, with a “Shared Music Library Name is not compatible with this version of iTunes.” error message.

However, iTunes 7 is still able to connect to shared libraries on both Windows and Mac iTunes 6 clients — so if you’re an early-adopter and listen to friend’s or co-worker’s music, you don’t have much to worry about … but if they like to listen to your music, you should consider staying with iTunes 6 or encouraging them to upgrade to iTunes 7.

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Work Around that Annoying iChat Pause

Recent versions of iChat automatically pause your voice [and video] chat sessions if you start a file transfer, for the duration of the entire transfer. This is OK if it’s just a small file, but if it’s anything larger than a few MB, you probably don’t want to be stuck on mute while waiting for the transfer to finish.

There’s a dirty workaround, though: stop the voice chat, start the file transfer, and restart the voice chat. The voice chat ignores already existing file transfers!

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MacZOT.com and SubEthaEdit

BLOGZOT 2.0 on MacZOT.com is some wacky promotion where, if enough people blog about SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys. MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys will award $105,000 in Mac software to bloggers.

I’ve not used SubEthaEdit, but from what I know about it, it has some really great collaboration features, but is also a fine text editor if you don’t need those features.

This is an interesting promotion that seems pretty simple on the surface: A percentage of people that get the application for free — if the goals are met — will go on to be future customers and evangelists, while a certain percentage will use it but not ever bother to upgrade to a new version. Another group will dislike it, but only a very small portion will dislike it and complain about the quality: it was free, after all.

And, of course, the nature of the promotion means it will be frequently talked about in the Mac “blogosphere” until the next shiny thing comes along.

Crash Dieting OS X Mail Attachments

Mail.app’s data takes up too much space on my hard drive. I know why — I’m an email packrat. I have mail dating back to 1997 on my other computer, and a lot of that mail includes attachments, because I’m constantly sending them: drafts for articles, layout drafts, art sketches, random pictures of last night’s snowfall … all sorts of attachments. And Mail.app saves those for you right within its own data files, so you don’t lose the attachment if, in the future, you delete the original file.

That means if you send a 1MB PDF to a co-worker, that 1MB PDF is now taking up 2MB+ on your hard drive; once in the original place, and once somewhere in the bowels of ~/Library/Mail/.

Side Tip: As soon as you hit the Choose File button, Mail saves the file you’re attacahing. So if you’re working on a graphic, attach it to your email, and then notice you made a typo, you must delete it from your email before you edit and re-save the document. Even if you edit and re-save overtop of the original file you attached, the first one will be sent!

Aside from taking up hard drive space, this is a potential security/privacy issue, as you may think you’ve deleted confidential files from your hard drive, but still have a copy saved with Mail’s data.

Thankfully, it’s relatively simple to get rid of all of those attachments, or at least re-save them all into a form where they’re more usable. That’s a potential reason to want to save attachments with your mail data — if you accidentally lose the original file somewhere down the road, you have them saved in your mail data and you can retrieve them. But really, that’s a last ditch resort that should be unnecessary given a backup plan, and we all have one of those, right?

Alright, let’s go through the steps to archive and delete these files.

1. Create a temporary directory on your hard drive, and inside that directory create directories for each mail account you have. You can get away with just one directory even if you have multiple accounts, but since my accounts often send files related to a single company, I can save sorting time by making these directories in advance and saving the files there.

2. Open your Sent folder, and select the first folder inside it. Turn off Threading so you can see every single email in it, and Select All, then File -> Save Attachments. Select the relevant directory to save your attachments in, and they’ll be saved in there. This step may take a little while and jack up CPU load.

3. With all your messages still selected, select Message -> Remove Attachments.

4. Select Mailbox -> Rebuild.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 with the next mailbox until you have none left.

6. If you just want to get that junk off your hard drive, burn all those attachments to CD and date it, then toss it in the pile of backup CDs full of random junk that aren’t useful and you’ll never use again. Or you can sort out the attachments, delete the ones you’ll no longer need, and safely archive the stuff that might be useful in the future.

You can, of course, do this on any other folder that you have mail in, including a Smart Mailbox — so yes, you can make a Smart Mailbox that only includes emails that have attachments, both incoming and outgoing, and simply save and delete the attachments from there. I tried this for all my incoming attachments, and it took roughly forever, but then again, I did have over three years of attachments built up, and I do find recent attachments to be useful when they’re in-line with the message, so you may want to set it up a smart folder that shows all messages with attachments that are older than, say, 90 days, and then archive and delete those, keeping attachments newer than 90 days in with your messages.

BTW, Mail helpfully adds a notice like “[The attachment file.pdf has been manually removed]” to each message you remove an attachment from, so if you need it to hunt it down at a later date, you at least know what you’re looking for.

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Midway City is Out

Midway City from Spectrum Games & Z-Man Games is one of the projects I worked on this summer, and after an odd delay where it seemed to sit at the printers while they did rain dances or something else that was time consuming but had nothing to do with getting the book printed, it’s been printed and shipped and it should be arriving in game stores late this week or early next week.

Midway city Cover

In the far future, rich eccentric Clayton Douglas creates a distant planetary colony using elements of technology and architecture from 1920s through 1940s America. Decades of increasingly corrupt and ineffectual Mayors follow Douglas’ death, eventually culminating in the administration of the tyrannical Mayor Hoodler. Hoodler creates an oppressive police state designed to ruthlessly control society, forcing total conformity to Douglas’ original vision. The characters exist in this dystopia amidst cybernetic detectives, mutant mobsters, alien-touched drug lords, vat-bred blue-collar workers, and human hybrids that can see into an alternate dimension known only as the Jade.

The Golden Years are over. Welcome to Midway City, Jack.

Since it’s been finished for awhile, the PDF has been sent around and a few reviews are already available, all on RPG.net so they use the Style/Substance scale:

The website also hosts some preview and source material, most importantly the Quickstart Adventure, which includes basic rules to play a 4 player + GM adventure. There’s also a World Preview and a System Preview. Plus character sheets in the fancy and plain variety.

iChat and Quicktime and iTunes and iSights and iCan’tSeeMeOrYou

[Alternate Title: Fixing iChat when Video Breaks]

The Setup: My Dual 2GHZ G5, Master, running OSX 10.4.2. Upon installing the latest point revisions of Quicktime and iTunes, iChat 3.1 is no longer able to use my iSight for video, even though the microphone on it works just fine. I can’t initiate video chats and nobody can initiate a video chat with me. This applies to both 1 or 2 way chats. An upgrade to 10.4.3 didn’t fix this problem, and it didn’t bring me a pony, either.

The Fix: Insert my Tiger CD and reinstall iChat 3.0 overtop iChat 3.1. Instructions Here. Delete all my iChat preference files. Install or re-install the 10.4.3 Combo Update. The Combo Update is a fat-bottomed gal — over 100MB — so you should probably have coffee ready. Reboot. Re-configure iChat with your preferences. Find that hot userpic you use that looks nothing like you really do and put it back into your profile.

The End Result: You should be fixed. Err, you should have working video in iChat again. Maybe you should be fixed, too, but that’s not my call to make.

A side note: I have no conclusive proof that it was the installs of Quicktime or iTunes that broke iChat video for me, but it’s the only logical conclusion I could come to.

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Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy Released

BTS cover small

The Print on Demand version of Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy is now out. It’s $19.99, and all proceeds [beyond expenses that have to go to LuLu for using their service] go to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. A PDF version is also available for $10.

Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy is a collection of short stories, essays, art and role-playing game materials inspired by the culture, landscape, and city of New Orleans. With contributions from three continents and from across the spectrum of role-playing, all the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to support Katrina Disaster Relief. Join the authors and artists as they explore the Big Easy as it could have been and how it might be…

Beyond the Storm features contributors from a bunch of industry all-stars and some that will be, including some short stories, material suitable for dropping into superhero and horror games [including HERO and M&M stats], a complete adventure for Shadowrun, Fourth Edition, and several complete RPGs – some experimental, some more conventional. All wrapped around the theme of New Orleans.

Complete contributor list: Aaron Acevedo, Aaron Axelsen, Scott Bennie, Jason L Blair, Leanne Buckley, Heather “Squish” Cornelius, William Edmonds, Crazy Elf, Matt Forbeck, Caz Granberg, Seth Johnson, Adam Jury, Mischa Damon Krilov, Lindsay Labanca, Mur Lafferty, Jason Mical, Veronica Pare, Jeff Preston, Mikko Rautalahti, Sean Riley, S. John Ross, Janice M. Sellers, Angi Shearstone, Geoff Skellams, Adam Tinworth, Ursula Vernon, David ‘Doc Blue’ Wendt, Stacy S. (Niedecker) Wendt, Michael Wendt, and Brook Willeford.

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