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Open Thread Weekend: We answer tech questions, too

The open thread closes at midnight PDT (UTC -0700). Be sure to get your questions in before then!

Although we at The Apple Blog like to hand down our knowledge and opinions on all things AAPL (sometimes a little too self-righteously, sure, but aren’t bloggers supposed to be snarky and provocative?), the real reason we’re here is to serve cool readers like you. Yep, you! Whether through the articles we write, or by answering the questions you post in open threads, our purpose as TAB bloggers is to offer you assistance and insight into the Apple world and the Cult of Mac.

Is there some technical topic about OS X that has been bugging you for a while? Prof. MacLovin is here to help! Whether it’s configuring launchd(8) services or getting that issue resolved with your blinking AirPort Extreme status light, run it by me. Having problems getting your favorite GNU software to compile? I’ve been there and done that: I feel your pain, and I will ease it. If you accidentally break down your software RAID-1 device in Disk Utility, though, you’re out of luck. I’ve been there and felt that pain, too, and there’s nothing that can be done.

So have it: What’s on your mind? Anything that you’ve been trying to accomplish with your Mac that you can’t quite figure out? We’ll work through it together. Answers to your questions are just a comment away.

46 Responses to “Open Thread Weekend: We answer tech questions, too”

  1. @ Kevin — I’ve dug into it, and I can’t find anything that will help you unfortunately. I don’t use Safari for my browsing so I don’t know all the ins and outs, but there’s nothing either in the preferences or that I can tell available in an add-on utility that would accomplish what your wanting to do.

    In Firefox, I do exactly what you’re trying with Tab Mix Plus using the “lock all tabs” feature, but from what I could determine from sifting through the tab-oriented Safari utilities at MacUpdate, such a feature doesn’t exist… yet.

  2. @ Kristen — I’ve experienced the same issues you have with the AirPort card not automatically connecting even though it knows your network is there. Whenever I’ve encountered it in the past, I’ve fixed the issue by (1) deleting the stored passwords in the Keychain; and (2) removing all the entries from my preferred networks list. In other words, zapping my settings.

    I’ve noticed that sometimes there are multiple entries in the Keychain for the same network, maybe one in your Login keychain and one in the System keychain (where it belongs), or some other inconsistency which causes the problem. Usually this fixes things right up. Click Apply or OK on everything and close all your preferences and Keychain Access (be sure to keep a copy of your network passwords) and then add your networks back from the “clean slate”.

    For your second issue, there are several things that could be going on, not least of which could be that it’s related to the first issue. Other ideas off the top of my head:

    • Parallels is using host-only networking instead of shared or bridge mode;
    • The process that handles Parallels networking for Parallels, pvsnatd, is not being started or is dying or is otherwise under the weather;
    • The network settings in your Parallels network preferences are messed up. Make sure that both checkboxes are checked and that the numbers appear sane. If you need assistance, let me know.

    I’ve had one minor issue with networking XP through Parallels, so here’s something you might try based on my experience: With the virtual machine turned off, select Edit > Virtual Machine from the menu bar. Add a new network interface in Shared mode. Start your XP virtual machine where you’ll now find in the Control Panel network connections a new network connection. Disable the first one, and make sure the new one looks good (getting the right IP address, etc.). Try connecting to The Apple Blog from the Parallels/XP side, and see what happens.

    Your Parallels issue could be very simple or more complex; if these ideas don’t help, then I’d suggest heading over to the Parallels online support site.

  3. Billy – I have a MacBook Pro and run Parallels on it (to access a work server). I have two questions related to improving my ability to access the internet.

    First, I have airports at home and at work. My Mac signs on to the one at work automatically. At home, however, I have to select the airport from the drop down list each time, despite the fact that the password is stored and that airport is first on the list for it to join automatically … in other words, something is preventing it from actually choosing that airport automatically but, once I choose it, it has the password to join. I’ve checked the settings in the obvious places – perhaps you have a suggestion about what I can change to access this airport automatically?

    My second question has to do with accessing the internet through Parallels. Parallels often balks a little at recognizing the internet connection active on the Mac. However, I’ve always been able to get online through Parallels after rebooting Parallels. This week, for the first time, Parallels refuses to recognize any internet connection at all – whether hardwired, through my airport at work or through my airport at home. The error message says ‘a network cable is unplugged’. Rebooting Parallels no longer restores the connection, and reinstalling Parallels and Parallels Tools didn’t do the trick either. What happened and what should I try next?

    Thanks for your help –

  4. @ Billy – I’ve contacted Shawn myself, and I’ve since installed the latest sec upd. My freezes ‘may’ have been happening while using Safari…I’m not sure, but I’m still monitoring the situation. If it happens again I’ll post back here and if you can help, that’ll be great.


  5. @ Poo — The easiest thing I can think of to do is to use Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client, which will do exactly what you want. Like the RDC software for PC that is bundled with XP and Vista, it will let you choose whether to bring the audio to your Mac or to leave it on the remote Windows system. I’ve been using the Mac RDC client for two years.

    There are other options like VNC (which you mentioned) and other RDS clients like CoRD. I don’t know about others, but I know that CoRD, at least, will let you play audio remotely but not bring it to your Mac.

    Enjoy your new MBP!

  6. Man I hope you can answer this… no one else seems to be able to, but that may be because the answer is no…

    I will get my grubby paws on a shiny new Macbook Pro in two days, having been a PC user my whole life.

    One of the things I would love to be able to do with my Macbook is use it as an overthetop remote control for music from a PC server. I do not want the music to be output from the Macbook itself, but rather from the PC soundcard in the server machine. The only way I can think to do this is to run something like VNC (link: It isn’t a perfect solution, but does the job.

    I would love to be able to do this by using iTunes (or some other audio application) on the Macbook, hitting play, and having the audio output from the PC.

    So… how do I do it???

  7. @ Lee Webb — For Shawn, the problem appears to be with the JavaScriptCore framework that Safari is using. It’s maybe corrupted or something, so I suggested that he reinstall the latest update that contained that framework (Security Update 2007-007) and/or install the Safari 3 beta 2.

    If your issue is not specific to Safari, then it’s likely not the JavaScriptCore framework, and like Shawn’s case, I’d have to take it offline and see your logfiles to get an accurate picture of what’s going on.

  8. @ Lisa — With your virtual machine turned off (not suspended), go to the Edit menu and select Virtual Machine. Then, in the list, select USB Controller, and on the right, you can change how Parallels handles your USB connections: Whether to always connect new devices to OS X, always connect to Windows (the guest OS), or whether to ask you each time you connect a new device. Parallels doesn’t support the option of dedicating a specific USB port to a virtual machine, although that would indeed be a very handy feature.

  9. @ abelara — The MacBook should be capable of automatically switching your audio input device, even if you’re not using a USB mic. The MacBook and MacBook Pro have had several issues with audio, though, including popping sounds and inconsistent output volume from one Tiger update to another.

    Just to make sure that the problem isn’t something that Apple hasn’t fixed, I’d suggest making sure that you have installed all the updates available in Software Update. Also, make certain that Audio Update 2007-001 is installed; some users have noted that it doesn’t show up for them in Software Update. (You can see which updates have already been installed by selecting the Software Update preference pane in System Preferences, then the Installed Updates tab inside that.)

    GarageBand should, yes, detect that your audio source has switched, but only if you have it running when you plug or unplug your line-in jack. I’m not sure what to suggest about the buzzing, other than Audio Update 2007-001, mentioned above. To remove it from GarageBand, in postprocessing, though, should be easy enough. If it’s a consistent pitch, then you simply have to find the frequency of that buzz and apply the Graphic Equalizer in that range to bring the volume down. I’d suggest the filter called “AUGraphicEQ” because it gives you a 31-band equalizer: much greater refinement over a 10-band option, so you can squelch the cough without muffling the rest of the audio too much.

    I hope this helps you! :)

  10. @ Stuart –

    I am running a MacBook Pro 1.83 with 1.5GB RAM. I have windows XP SP2 running (via Bootcamp) and play numerous games. The hardware holds up pretty well (the machine does tend to run a tad hot) when playing games natively in Windows. Battlefield 2, GTA, AOE, etc etc. Not maxed out on detail but perfectly playable. Effectively when using Windows XP (installed via Bootcamp) on a Mac your just using a windows machine!