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Automatic Update Script for Flash Player for Mac

Since version 10.3 of Flash Player for the Mac, there has been an automatic update feature for the plugin, as part of a System Preferences pane. Unfortunately, I have not had much luck with it actually doing updates automatically!

I have, then, found it necessary to either check for updates manually, or devise a custom script to do an automatic check for updates.

Based on this MacOSXHints post, here is the script I am using to keep Flash Player on Mac OS X up-to-date. Combined with an OS X LaunchAgent to check every two hours, this is an automatic update solution that actually is automatic!

Download Flash Player Automatic Update Script
Download Flash Checker Script

Installation

  • Copy the ‘Flash Checker’ folder into /Library/Application Support.
  • Make sure the execute permissions are set on /Library/Application Support/Flash Checker/flash_checker.
    (From Terminal, run: sudo chmod +x /Library/Application\ Support/Flash Checker/flash_checker.)
  • Copy the ‘uk.org.upfold.FlashChecker.plist’ file into ~/Library/LaunchAgents.
  • Optionally, edit the RunAtLoad directive in the plist to true to check for updates each time you log on, or edit the StartInterval to check more or less frequently than the default of two hours.

Disable without Uninstalling

  • Set the Disabled directive to true in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents/uk.org.upfold.FlashChecker.plist.

Uninstallation

  • Remove the ‘uk.org.upfold.FlashChecker.plist’ file from ~/Library/LaunchAgents.
  • Delete the folder /Library/Application Support/Flash Checker.

My Resolution to iOS 5 “Waiting for items to copy” Sync Issue

Sync Problem Icon

Ever since updating my iPhone to iOS 5, I was unable to complete a sync.

It backed up fine (thankfully), it did the majority of the syncing, it just got to the last ‘stage’ of the process and hung there perpetually. I saw messages such as “Waiting for items to copy”, “Waiting for changes to be applied” and so on.

It wasn’t a complete showstopper, since I could sync the majority of content, make sure I was backed up, and then just cancel the sync at the last stage, but it was something that needed a fix.

I had read various threads on Apple Support Communities — it seems that many people are having this issue.

I get the impression that this symptom is caused by various syncing issues and that some solutions have worked for some people, and not for others. Bear this in mind — this solution worked for me, but it might not work in every case. :(

I believe I have now solved this problem on my iPhone.


Delete All Copies of Voice Memos

I deleted all of the synced Voice Memos in my iTunes library, then also went into the Voice Memos app on the iPhone and deleted each and every one there. Upon the next sync, the locking up at “Waiting for items to copy” did not happen, and the sync completed successfully.

This suggests that one of the causes for this issue is Voice Memos. If you are experiencing this issue, try backing up and removing all the Voice Memos from iTunes, removing them all from the Voice Memos app on the iPhone itself, then syncing again.

(The iPhone does still sync Genius Data each time it syncs, but this does complete successfully. Perhaps this is normal — I am not really sure!)


Find this tutorial useful?





Un-hide the ‘http://’ in Firefox 7

The recent release of Firefox 7 has brought with it several changes. One of these, is that Firefox hides the ‘http://’ prefix in the URL bar by default.

For many people this is fine and probably a positive changes, but geeks like myself may wish to restore the prefix. (I found it especially annoying when I copied a URL from the bar and the text pasted did include the ‘http://’, when the text I copied did not! I don’t like that kind of inconsistency!)

To restore the prefix, browse to about:config. Accept the warning, then search for browser.urlbar.trimURLs. When you find the setting, double-click on it to toggle it to false. The changes should take effect immediately.

Screenshot showing about:config in Firefox, with the browser.urlbar.trimURLs key shown

That’s better!

Grand Opening of Apple Store, Festival Place, Basingstoke

The opening of a new Apple Store is always an interesting experience — and one that never fails to inspire enthusiasm unheard of anywhere else in retail! I actually went along three and a half years ago to the opening of the WestQuay store in Southampton, but today, there was the Grand Opening of the new store in Festival Place, Basingstoke.

It is a really convenient store for me — it is just a 20 minute train journey away, so it is now even easier to get to the Apple Store should anything need fixing, or anything new need purchasing. ;)

I have put together a short video of the Grand Opening event, which you should see embedded below.

Definitely nice to go along, share in the experience — and pick up that all-important Festival Place Apple t-shirt to add to the collection. :)

Not Another Mac Podcast!

Not Another Mac Podcast logo

I was delighted to be invited by Mark from Everyday Mac Support onto Not Another Mac Podcast — and the episode has now been published.

Mark, Glenn Künzler of MacTrast.com and myself discussed several post-WWDC topics, MacDefender and the Mac security landscape, iCloud and user control, the new iTunes Match and iTunes in the cloud features, the revamped ‘Apple Store 2.0’ experience, rumours about the Apple A5 chip in the MacBook Air and more.

You can take a listen to Episode 8 on the Your Mac Network site and also subscribe to the show in iTunes.

Thanks again to Mark for inviting me on the show. Mark and Dennis are always looking for other contributors on their show, even if you are not a seasoned podcaster. Please do go over to the site or contact them via @YourMacNetwork on Twitter or by email if you think you might be interested.

Now Blogging ‘For Mac Eyes Only’

For Mac Eyes Only logo

I have actually been meaning to announce this here on my blog for quite some time, but just had never got around to it! Oops…

Anyway, I’m pleased to announce that I am now blogging for esteemed podcast For Mac Eyes Only‘s new Articles section. This is a great opportunity for me to get back into more regular blogging (I hope! ;) ), which is something I love doing — and it’s a great opportunity to share some of my Mac knowledge with others.

I’ve already posted my initial thoughts on the Mac App Store as well as begun a Mac security series — and there should be much more arriving in the coming weeks.

I’ll be writing in the Articles section alongside fellow Mac-head Eric Erickson.

If you’re interested, please do go ahead and take a look!

DfontSplitter 0.4.1 for Mac

DfontSplitter logo

I have just released a new version of DfontSplitter for Mac. It is a bugfix-only release, containing a single fix for an issue that affected some non-English versions of Mac OS X.

New Features and Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug where DfontSplitter would report valid files as not being in the correct format on some non-English versions of Mac OS X. File type detection is now done through uniform type identifiers, avoiding this issue.

Known Issues

  • Converting TTC files on Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) does sometimes run into problems, where the TTC splitting script can’t open the TTC file. The reason for this is currently unclear.
  • Moving TTF files that have been extracted from a .dfont over to Windows — please see this workaround.
  • Some Font Suitcase files may not contain TTF data that can be extracted.

Users of DfontSplitter for Mac should update their copy of the application by launching it, and choosing DfontSplitter > Check for Updates from the menu bar. Alternatively, you can always download a fresh copy from the DfontSplitter project page.

Re-enable Mail.app Plugins in 10.6.5, 10.6.7

'Brick' plugin icon

Since Snow Leopard, each new release of Mail.app (recently updated with 10.6.5 and now 10.6.7) and the Message.framework it depends on changes a ‘plugin compatibility’ UUID and suddenly breaks any plugins or extensions you have enabled in Mail.app. The developers of each extension have to update each and every one manually, and can’t do so before the new software from Apple is released.

If you can’t (be bothered to) wait for the updates from your plugin developers to arrive, however, and are confident that the plugin will work with the new version, you can hack said plugins and force them to be re-enabled inside Mail.app using the following method. Here I’ll be working with GrowlMail 1.1.2, but this should work for most Mail.app plugins.

A word of warning — not only does this involve editing the plugin’s files, which if you get it wrong could break that plugin and force you to download and install it again, it is possible that your plugin really isn’t compatible with the new version of Mail, in which case it could cause more serious problems. Back stuff up before trying this — you should be doing so anyway.

» Read the rest of this post…

API-rony?

iTunes 10 icon

  • All the iOS devices — iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, are built around Cocoa Touch.
  • Snow Leopard brought 64-bit support to the Mac mainstream for Cocoa applications. Carbon applications are clearly on the way out and have been since the release of Leopard in 2007.
  • The third major release of iTunes since Leopard came out is still Carbon and still only 32-bit. (Perhaps an even greater irony is that there is a 64-bit Windows version of iTunes.)

Is this a bit of a nitpick? Probably. Does it really matter what the framework underneath iTunes is if it is being improved? Possibly not. Is iTunes a huge, vital part of Apple’s iPod/iPhone/iTunes Store infrastructure that they are naturally unwilling to make huge changes to? Absolutely.

But I really, really wanted iTunes 10 to be ‘iTunes X’ — not just another major release with some new features, but a drastic rewrite of the application (for the Mac anyway) in Cocoa. The app’s performance has been improved with recent versions, but iTunes is still the one application that ships with Macs that feels out of place — the interface is jarring and not fluid, the app frequently hangs for several seconds for no reason and there is ancient UI debris hanging around. (Those first two might be better with this release, I don’t know, but the Mac OS 9-style context menu cursor lives on.)

Ah well, maybe iTunes 11? :(

Old, Meet New

iPhone 4 and first-generation iPod touch

The upgrade from a first-generation iPod touch to an iPhone 4 is a significant one, in many ways. :)

If you haven’t seen the iPhone Retina Display, it genuinely is as good as the marketing suggests. No matter how close I hold the device to my eyes, I can’t make out individual pixels; the rendering of text is the best I have seen on any pixel display.

Other than the excellent additional hardware features of the iPhone, like the camera, GPS capabilities and of course, having internet access wherever I am, the other biggest upgrade is the sheer speed of the device compared to the first-gen hardware. The responsiveness of the UI on the iPhone 4 is as good as, if not better than, that of the iPad. Everything about the interface is fluid, responding immediately and directly to what you do. All the apps feel so much faster and it makes using the device a lot more natural when you aren’t waiting, even for a quarter of a second, for the next screen to load.

I’m very pleased with this as an upgrade to my mobile computing. :D