Firefox is sluggish and streaming video is choppy [solved]

I got a brand new 2010 8-core mac pro with 12 GB ram, and was horribly disappointed to find that streaming video on Hulu and Netflix still stuttered. Why is Apple’s second fastest machine worse than my iPhone at playing Netflix video? Flash is an infamous hog on mac, but Firefox in general was slow when hovering over links and clicking on things. Netflix uses silverlight too, so it’s bizarre that it would also stutter.
Running Netflix and Hulu in Safari worked fine, but I missed features in Firefox. So in Firefox I went into Tools > Add-ons, disabled everything and restarted. Everything was zippy again. Then I slowly enabled add-ons one at a time.
The culprit seems to be Firebug and the enormous cache it keeps. For now, I have disabled Firebug, and only enable it when developing.

SMSDaemon crash causes screen to wake up and hard drive to constantly access [Solved]

I have been having issues with my Mac screen waking up in the middle of the night for some years now. I think I may have finally solved it. Many sites have suggested that a faulty USB bus or oversensitive USB mouse could cause the wakeup, but I ruled that out when I migrated my OS to a new mac with new hardware. It had to be software related.
My solution is probably very uncommon, but perhaps the diagnostic steps I took would be useful to others.
I woke up at 5:57 AM to my mac screen turning on and my hard drive accessing constantly. I’ve written a script that can sleep my display from my phone, but instead of doing that I got up and started investigating.
I launched Console (Applications/Utilities) and took a look at the Console Messages log. At 5:52 AM there was a ReportCrash that said “Saved crash report for SMSDaemon” and a path to the crash file.
I googled “SMSDaemon OS X crash” and came across a macrumors thread that explained that it is an open source daemon installed by the Syphone utility, a piece of software that used to help get text messages off your iphone but is no longer supported. That thread didn’t have a lot of info on how to remove syphone though, so a google search of “uninstall syphone” lead me to this page, which has the following instructions:

1) Launch Syphone, open the Preferences, and UNcheck “Run helper app in the background” (leave it unchecked if it already is).

2) Close Syphone.

3) Go into ~/Library/Application Support/ and delete the folder named ‘Syphone’.

4) Go into ~/Library/Preferences/ and delete the file named ‘com.micromat.Syphone.plist’.

The Syphone application now just displays a link to techtool pro, but you can still access the preferences menu and turn off the Daemon. If you can’t run Syphone for some reason, the following commands will unload the daemon and delete it:

$ launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.micromat.SMSDaemon.plist
$ rm ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.micromat.SMSDaemon.plist

Apparently SMSDaemon may have had an enormous memory leak; I’ve come to my computer with 1.5 TB free and yet gotten the “there is no more disk space on the startup disk to write, please force quit some applications” errors before. Others have complained of memory leaks too; my machine seems to be running better now.

Override USB or Firewire Volume Level in OS X with Soundflowerbed [solved]

Update2: Lion has this functionality built-in. hurray!

Edit: While the sound controls work, I’ve been having major issues with soundflower, from audio disappearing to getting stuck and looping on a sample. Looks like soundflower still needs a bit of development. :(

This has been driving me nuts for years.

I have an external firewire audio interface, a MOTU 896, that has served me well for 7 years. It powers my studio monitors, has multi inputs and delivers superior sound compared to my internal computer speakers.

The only problem with it is that OS X’s volume controls don’t work with it. The volume keys don’t work on the keyboard, the apple remote volume doesn’t work, and you can’t control the volume with AirMouse on the iPhone. In system preferences, you get the message “The selected device has no output controls”, and you get an annoying disabled speaker when you try and use the volume controls.

Thanks to this post and the wonderful folks at Cycling 74, there is a free solution. You can install soundflower, which allows you to route all of your audio to a soundflower device. Once you’ve installed soundflower, you can run Soundflowerbed from your applications menu, which makes a finder menu appear that allows you to choose which device to route audio to. Choose your external device, and you’re done!

Finally, you can leave the volume knob on your external device in one setting, and control the volume from across the room with a remote! Glorious!

Soundflower is also a great app for interapplication multichannel audio routing, similar to rewire or jack.

Firefox 3.6 won’t open on primary monitor [solved]

Firefox 3.6 has been driving me nuts by always opening on my secondary monitor, no matter if I drag windows over, restart, delete user preferences, etc. Every time I hit command N, the new window opens on my secondary monitor.

This is a known bug with Firefox 3.6.

The work around for now on OS X anyway is to drag a firefox window to your primary monitor, hit the green plus button to maximize the window, and then hit the green plus button again to restore it. Now windows should remain on the primary monitor.

Get Growl Notifications on VNC connections, SSH attempts, and HTTP logs [solved]

Use this script to monitor VNC connections with Vine Server:
nice -n 100 tail -n 0 -f /Users/jordan/Library/Logs/VineServer.log | php -r 'while ($m = fgets(STDIN)) shell_exec("growlnotify -p 0 Vine Server -m ". escapeshellarg($m));'

Change “jordan” to your username (home directory), or the whole path of the log if you’re monitoring something else. “Vine Server” is the alert title, which could be anything (“Hello World”).

Save this as a file such as Run
chmod 755
and then you can run the command by typing ./

Duplicate this file and name it vinenotify.command.
Finally, in System Preferences > Accounts > Start up items, add vinenotify.command, and make it hidden, and it will run when you log in.

Things I’m still working on: preventing a string of notifications when you launch VNC; hiding the terminal window when you log in; and grepping for only connect/disconnect/login failures.
Thanks to for the growl tail code.

Check for open logs running on OS X, unix or linux [solved]

Use this command to find the log you’re looking for:
lsof | grep -i log

On OS X, typical directories I look in are /var/log/, $HOME/Library/Logs/, and /private/var/log/.

Move Some Common OS X Apps Out of the Dock [solved]

There are some really nifty apps out there that I have set to run all the time, and they’ve been starting to crowd up my dock.

Jungledisk is better than Mozy and is my preferred online backup utility. It’s secure, it uses Amazon S3, it supports versioning, and allows online access. Anyway I noticed their latest version of the app allows you to show the app in the status bar instead of the dock. Update Jungle Disk and then go to Configure > Application Settings > Show application in: Status Bar.

QuickSilver is another great keyboard launcher app I use all the time. It also supports hiding the app from the dock. Go to Preferences > Application and uncheck Show icon in dock. It automatically shows in the status bar when you do this.

Growl is one of my favorite apps, as is HardwareGrowler. However HardwareGrowler has no user interface but still hangs out in the dock. You can fix this by following the instructions on this page. It took me a couple tries (I put the <key>LSUIElement</key><true/> in the wrong place the first time and had to start over…Also you touch the whole package in the finder), but now it’s hidden from the dock.

Now if only I could get VineServer working with Growl. VineServer does allow you to install a system server, but unlike the app, it does not notify when someone connects, which I prefer to know about. So for now, VineServer sits in my dock as a hidden application.

Back up iPhone SMS messages into an excel database without jailbreaking [solved]

So here’s a somewhat complicated but entirely graphical way of backing up your SMS messages from your iPhone into an excel spreadsheet. I couldn’t get Syphone to work so here is my solution.

The first thing you’ll need is iPhone Backup Extractor. It’s a mac program, but there are other cross platform backup decoders out there such as mobilesync-inspect. You’re looking for the SQLite SMS database (iPhone Backup Extractor calls it SMS.db). iPhone Backup Extractor is not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0 yet but it does work with 2.2.1. Hopefully 3.0 will work soon.

Run iPhone Backup Extractor and select your most recent backup. Scroll down to the bottom of the applications and choose iPhone OS. Choose a folder to save it in.

iPhone Extractor

Then, use an SQLite browser such as SQLite Manager (don’t know why this is a firefox addon, but it rocks) to view the database.


All of the SMSes are stored in the messages table – you can right click on it and export it as a CSV. Alternatively you could export the whole database as an SQL or XML file. But open up the CSV in excel and you’re done! Sweet!

SMSes in excel

Sync notes with iPhone 3.0 beta

I’m trying the new iPhone 3.0 OS because I’m a registered developer. So far it’s sweet! My only issues so far are that wifi had trouble connecting at first, and my notes apparently didn’t sync.
Turns out my notes were in mail. They didn’t show up in my left hand navigation bar at first, but I tried doing “new note” and just writing “test”, and then the rest of them all showed up from my iPhone. (no clue where windows would put them.)

‘No access’ greyed out for user Everyone in Leopard File Sharing [unsolved]

This is a follow up to my previous post about locking the system out of itself by trying to set “Everyone”‘s priveledges to “no access” via get info and locking Leopard out of its own system.
I recently discovered that my file sharing is not behaving like it is supposed to. “Everyone” having “read only” access indeed SHARES ALL OF MY FILES with read only access and no password required. If you try and set “Everyone” to “no access” via get info like I previously described, when you reboot Leopard fails to launch and the Leopard install disk cannot repair the permissions. (See my previous post for my fix).
But when I try and change the read only access for Everyone, “no access” is greyed out:
Leopard does not let you choose no access for Everyone
This is a huge bug apple!! Leopard has downgraded the ability to share files with a password.

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