Archive for the ‘mac’ Category

Putting the Power Back in PowerBook

December 20, 2009

My PowerBook G4 (17″, 1GHz) was having more and more problems charging its battery. More often than not, when I plugged it into AC while turned on, it would flip back and forth every couple of seconds between showing it was plugged in and showing it was running off battery, with the screen brightening and dimming each time, and making a loud whining noise. It got to where I usually had to put it in sleep mode or turned off in order to charge the battery. The battery wasn’t the problem; it was a new replacement battery that worked fine in an identical PowerBook.

Some searching turned up a web page claiming to describe a fix for this problem.

The author of the article describes symptoms like I was seeing and attributes the problem to Apple’s power connector design, which gradually wears out. He describes how to replace the PowerBook’s power jack and the power supply’s plug with generic power connectors from Radio Shack. I decided it was my only option for trying to get my laptop working reliably again, so I tried it.

The article’s author has a 15″ model, which is disassembled differently than my 17″, so I had to adapt the instructions. I used the following guide from Installing PowerBook G4 Aluminum 17″ 1-1.67 GHz RJ-11 Board. I used a size N DC power plug and jack, Radio Shack part numbers 274-1583 and 274-1573, and they fit well, with no extra washers needed.

It works! My PowerBook now charges while turned on and doesn’t emit a loud whine when plugged in.

I never thought I’d be hacking laptop hardware, but having someone blaze the trail gave me the courage.

PowerBook G4 replacement power jack, inside view

PowerBook G4 with replacement power jack


Pasting Plain Text

September 18, 2009

When I copy text on a computer, most often I want to paste it without the accompanying formatting. On both MacOS X and Windows, there is no built-in way to do this that works in all applications. After trying several approaches, I found freeware solutions that provide a hotkey for that missing function.

Mac (tested on 10.6 Snow Leopard):

  1. Download Spark and the Plain Clip Plug for Spark (I couldn’t get the regular Plain Clip application to do the paste part, so I had to use the special Spark plugin version).
  2. Open the Spark disk image and drag Spark to your Applications folder.
  3. Create the folder ~/Library/Application Support/Spark/PlugIns
  4. Open the Plain Clip Plug disk image and drag Plain Clip Plug.spact to the ~/Library/Application Support/Spark/PlugIns folder.
  5. Double-click Applications/Spark to run it.
  6. The first time Spark runs, it shows a screen including two checkboxes, to activate Spark at login and immediately. Leave them checked.
  7. File>New HotKey>Plain Clip
  8. Type a name for the hotkey (such as “Paste Plain Text”), check the Send Command-V keystroke box, and click on the Shortcut box and press Command-Option-v (or whatever key you want to be the shortcut).
  9. Click Create
  10. Now Command-Option-v pastes the clipboard as plain text.

Mac (tested on 10.13 High Sierra):

  1. Plain Clip doesn’t work on High Sierra.
  2. Use the free “Get Plain Text” app from the App Store.

Windows (tested on Windows XP and 7 RC):

  1. Download PureText
  2. Unzip PureText by right-clicking on the Zip file and selecting Extract All
  3. Create the folder C:\Program Files\PureText
  4. Copy PureText.exe to C:\Program Files\PureText
  5. Double-click C:\Program Files\PureText\PureText.exe to run it. It opens as an icon in the system tray.
  6. Right-click the PT icon in the system tray and select Options.
  7. Check the box Automatically run PureText each time I log on to Windows, uncheck Play a sound, and click OK.
  8. Now Windows-v pastes the clipboard as plain text.

iDVD Tips

August 11, 2009

For authoring a DVD of home movies, my preferred program is currently iDVD 7, which is part of iLife 08 and 09. It’s a pretty easy way to get attractive menus and excellent looking rendered video, but it does have some annoying limitations and bugs. Here are some tips for using it.

  • If possible, select Professional Quality (2-pass VBR) in the Project Info. If you have time to wait, you might as well get the highest quality encoding. For details on the iDVD encoding options, see What iDVD ’08 Compression Options Really Mean and Review: iDVD ’08 and iDVD 7.
  • Turn off the Apple watermark in Preferences.
  • Use a menu without fancy animation. The default menu in iDVD 7 can take longer to encode than the movies do.
  • To save encoding time and space on the DVD, you can open the Inspector (command-I) on each menu and uncheck the boxes for the various animated effects and bring the loop time down to zero. Or, less drastically, in themes with animated thumbnails, you can select the Inspector boxes to use a still image instead. After changing a menu background (even to a still image), make sure the loop time is still zero; iDVD seems to reset it.
  • I usually turn off the menu sound for each menu, by dragging the sound out of the Inspector box. Menu sound is annoying.
  • If you update or re-render a movie you have added to iDVD, iDVD will detect the change and offer to update the project. If the movie has chapter markers, iDVD won’t update the project correctly; you need to remove that movie from the project, probably quit iDVD and relaunch it, and re-add the movie.
  • iDVD does not support anamorphic widescreen DV files, interpreting them as 4:3 instead of 16:9. The workaround is to change the display size of the DV file using QuickTime Player 7. You can avoid modifying the DV file by saving a QuickTime reference file with the 853×480 display size. Pre-Snow Leopard, you might need to buy a QuickTime Pro license. In Snow Leopard, QuickTime Player 7 isn’t installed by default, so you might need to install it from the Snow Leopard DVD (it will end up in the /Applications/Utilities folder). In Lion, you need to download it from Apple.
  • Preview the DVD to make sure it looks the way you want.
  • If you mix 4:3 and 16:9 videos on one DVD, iDVD will probably mix up some of the aspect ratios. To fix the aspect ratios:
    1. Save as a VIDEO_TS folder in iDVD.
    2. Use myDVDEdit to check and fix the aspect ratio in each VTS (either 4:3 or 16:9 auto Pan&Scan and Letterbox).
    3. Burn the VIDEO_TS folder with Burn or LiquidCD.
  • To include videos that are already encoded as DVD-compliant MPEG2 in an iDVD project (assuming they don’t need chapters):
    1. If you have an MPG file or a VOB with no IFO, demux and remux as needed to make a VOB and IFO, using a program such as ffmpegX.
    2. Include a short dummy video in the iDVD project as a placeholder.
    3. Save as a VIDEO_TS folder in iDVD.
    4. Duplicate the VIDEO_TS folder in Finder.
    5. Open myDVDEdit on the VIDEO_TS folder to figure out which VTS number each placeholder video is.
    6. Replace each placeholder VOB and its IFO and BAK files with the real ones in the duplicate VIDEO_TS folder using the Finder (renumber their file names as necessary).
    7. Open both the unmodified and modified VIDEO_TS folders in myDVDEdit. myDVDEdit will probably report and fix some errors in the modified folder; that’s normal and good.
    8. Make new empty PGCs in the menus as needed to make the same number as in the iDVD-authored IFO.
    9. Use Select All with copy and paste to copy the iDVD menu navigation pre and post commands from the iDVD-authored placeholder menu PGCs to the replacement video.
    10. Play the VIDEO_TS folder with both VLC and Apple DVD Player. While playing the video you replaced, make sure the sound, seek bar, and Menu button work.
    11. Burn the VIDEO_TS folder with LiquidCD.