Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Mac Stuff, again

I think this will be the last post of this series for at least a few days now, since I’ve pretty much explored the OS now.

  • Managed to get 10.4.2 to install. It turns out I needed the ‘Combo’ update and not the standard one, which is presumably only for US English users or something. It would have been nice for the non-Combo installer to tell me this though.
  • I also managed to finally sort out the keyboard mapping problems using this UK keyboard map. It’s a shame I had to resort to third-party software to fix the problem – Apple should really have addressed this in the operating system, especially as one of the selling points of the Mac Mini is that you can bring your own keyboard and mouse.
  • Now my next keyboard problem: getting the Home and End keys to do as they do in Windows. In OS X, they do nothing. Any ideas?
  • One of the flaws I heard about the Mac Mini was its headphone socket and poor quality output. This is something I’ve noticed as well; there’s not nearly the same depth of sound as on my laptop. It sounds very muffled when hooked up to my stereo, for example. Sure, it’s only supposed to be a headphone socket but it is the only built-in audio output, and when you consider it comes with software like GarageBand and iMovie you would expect something a bit better. I may have to consider the Griffin iMic (£30 or $40), especially as the Mini has no way of inputting sound (no microphone or line in).
  • The network tools applet in Utilities is awesome! Whois, DNS lookups and allsorts, all in a nice interface. Nice one, Apple.
  • I gave in and downloaded StuffIt Expander for the Mac. Even though the StuffIt web site uses browser sniffing and will only let Windows users download the Windows version. Thankfully I have Chris Pederick’s User Agent Switcher installed so I pretended I was actually a Mac user and it was okay.
  • The main reason for this is so that I could install Windows Media Player 9 for OS X since I imagine I’ll need it to view some movies. Alas VLC doesn’t yet support many of Microsoft’s proprietary media formats (or at least not on its non-Windows builds) so I’d better get it just in case. And you need StuffIt to be able to open WMP since it doesn’t use a disk image like, um, just about every other piece of Mac software I’ve downloaded recently.
  • I also have a feeling that I’ll need to get a copy of RealPlayer for OS X. Unless, of course, anyone can suggest another program that plays RealMedia files?


  1. I think Apple must support it, I’ve used an OSX (not Mini) before on eMacs, iMacs and a Powerbook without this problem or software running.

  2. The standard update is for upgrading from 10.4.1, whereas you were going from 10.4, so you needed the combo update, which had both 10.4.1 and 10.4.2 in. Simple, really!
    Home and End should jump to the start and end of a document, which if I recall is different to windows. If you want to jump to the start/end of a line use ctrl + left/right arrow key in most (good) apps.
    Oh and real player isn’t quite as sucky on the mac, so there’s no harm in installing it.

  3. The “home” and “end” keys on my Mac scroll to the the respective beginning and end of a document window. What do they do on a Windows machine?
    I can highly recommend iMic, which is a brilliant product that both inputs and outputs great quality sound… I ended up buying one for my G4 Cube for the same reason.

  4. On my ibook home is fn+arrow_left and end is fn+arrow_right. I don’t know about desktop-keyboards, though.
    A good alternative to VLC is mplayer, I think they offer some codecs on their website as well.

  5. Also, look at TextWrangler for text editing.

  6. I know you have probably been traumatized by REAL in the past (I know I have), but the latest RealPlayer is actually a nice little app. Not that I ever use it… but I was surprised by it.
    (I get a template error on Preview)