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Where are the Free Developer ID Certificates, Apple?

Barbed Wire Twilight, by Orin Zebest

Before the release of Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion, when the Gatekeeper feature was first announced, Apple proudly proclaimed on the relevant page that developers distributing their apps outside of the Mac App Store would be able to get a “free Developer ID certificate”.

Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to screenshot the page that said this, because now, even a month after the release of Mountain Lion, their generosity appears to have evaporated.

Only Mac Developer Program members are eligible to request Developer ID certificates and sign applications or installer packages using them.

The aforementioned Developer Program(me) is the standard, $99/£69 per year subscription that entitles you to full Mac App Store distribution rights. Unless I am missing something obvious, and I really wish that I am, there are no free Developer ID certificates.

This disappoints me — I cannot justify enrolment in the paid program for DfontSplitter for Mac, which doesn’t generate me significant donation revenue at all. This means I cannot sign DfontSplitter for use with Gatekeeper, which degrades the experience for Mountain Lion users of the software, and maybe even puts them off entirely.

I am definitely in favour of security measures that put the control in the hands of the user. I cannot, however, get behind a system which appears to discriminate against all developers who are not in a position to join Apple’s certification programme. I am left disappointed, and my app is left unsigned.

Photo is Barbed Wire Twilight, by Orin Zebest. Licensed under CC-BY 2.0 GB.

Disable ‘New Tab’ Page in Firefox 13

Today’s release of Firefox 13 brings with it more imposed functionality changes to the only version of the browser that we can use, because it is is the only one kept current with security updates*.

This time, it is a brand new, Google Chrome-style ’New Tab’ page. I’m sure it is great for lots of people, but personally, I prefer a blank home page and a blank page when I open a new tab.

To restore the old behaviour, and have a blank new tab, browse to about:config. Accept the warning, then search for newtab. Do not change newtabpage.enabled.

Instead, double-click browser.newtab.url and set it to about:blank.

Disable 'New Tab' Page in Firefox 13

There, that’s how I prefer it again!

* UPDATE: A slight correction — there is a version of Firefox 10.x called Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) that is kept up-to-date, so that is also an option!

Moving to Mountain Lion and Beyond

Mountain Lion pre-release logo

In my most recent article for For Mac Eyes Only, I ponder the implications of the remarkably speedy scheduled release of Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion on the longer term viability of older Mac hardware. Mountain Lion is due to arrive just a year after the release of Lion.

We now await OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. Scheduled to be released a mere year after Lion, we are promised even more features ‘inspired by iPad’.

Wait a second. What was that? It is due to arrive this summer. Just one year after Lion was released.

A new release of OS X hasn’t come so quickly since the operating system was very young and was still being established and stabilised.

This strikes me as quite a shift, and it brings me to an important issue — how does this affect the lifespans of the Apple products we buy?

You can read the full article over on the For Mac Eyes Only site.

How to Completely Disable Java on Mac OS X Lion

The security landscape for Mac OS X is changing. It has been for some time, but every now and then, an event comes along that highlights it.

I am thoroughly disappointed with how tardy Apple can be with releasing security updates. Java has been one of the components most visibly neglected in terms of timely patches. The recent ‘Flashback’ trojan for OS X exploited old, well-known vulnerabilities in Java that Apple had failed to promptly patch.

Java on Lion is deprecated, and is no longer installed by default. However, some upgrades from Snow Leopard bring Java along with them, and some users have manually installed Java for compatibility with certain applications.

If you do not know that you need Java installed on your system, do not install it. That is the best way to mitigate any security threat that would try to leverage a Java vulnerability to get into your system.

On Lion, however, once Java is installed, it does not seem to be possible to completely remove it.

What you can do is change the permissions on the relevant files so that it is ‘neutered’ and cannot run at all.

How to Completely Disable Java for Lion

I don᾿t recommend you disable Java on Snow Leopard. It is part of the operating system there, not an optional add-on component. I have not tried this process on Snow Leopard. Proceed to disable Java like this at your own risk (even on Lion)!

While logged in as an administrator user, open Terminal from Applications > Utilities.

Type the following commands in, pressing Enter after each one. You might be asked for your password.

sudo chmod 000 /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/
sudo chmod 000 /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines

What these commands do is change the permissions mode to 000 on these Java files, meaning that no users have any permissions to even enter these folders, let alone read any files in them. This stops Java from running.

You can test that it is working, or, rather, not working, by now attempting to load Java Preferences in Applications > Utilities. You should be told that Java is not installed, and invited to install it. Click Not Now.

OS X offering to install a Java runtime

Re-enabling Java

If you suddenly find that actually you do need Java again, simply run the same commands in Terminal, but with the permissions mode 755 (the folder’s owner can read, write, and enter the directory, and everyone else can just read and enter the directory).

sudo chmod 755 System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/
sudo chmod 755 /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines

It should spring back into life!


If you were unfortunate enough to be infected by Flashback (even if you did not type the Administrator password when it prompted), F-Secure has some instructions on its detection and removal. (Hat tip to @bldngnerd.)

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


  • 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 ‘’ 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/


  • Remove the ‘’ 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.

Please support this work!

There used to be advertising here, but I no longer feel sure that advertising delivers the best experience and truly reflects the values of this site.

Keeping things running, however, is not without financial cost. If you would like to support the time and effort I have put into my tutorials and writing, please
consider making a donation.

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!)

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 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!