Using a MacBook for a weather station – managing power

I set up a weather station for a friend for his cabin near Yellowstone using a MacBook Air as the server. A challenge was that the station needs to run unattended through the winter, so has to be able to handle power outages. For desktop macs, there is a system preference to reboot on power failure, but that option is not present for laptops. Here’s the solution:

Use the ‘pmset’ terminal command to turn on the “acwake” switch. This way if the power is out long enough for the computer to hibernate, it will wake as soon as the AC is restored.

sudo pmset acwake 1

You can use ‘pmset -g’ command to check that acwake is now set to ‘1’.

Permalink for Skype 2.8 for Mac

The new Skype 5 sucks. Here’s the link for the 2.8 version (last prior to 5): Skype 2.8 for Mac

Fix Juniper Networks “Network Connect” client for mac

sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/juniper/nc/version number/
sudo mkdir ‘/Applications/Network’

More at:

Diamond XX website

This is just a test post to see if the automated feed I have set up for the Diamond XX website is getting updated.

Better dock menus

OS X has an alternate, and I think better, menu format for dock folders. With the alternate menus you have bigger icons, a cleaner look, better scrolling for long lists, and you can click into nested folders right in the menu.

To enable the alternate view, open Terminal and type:
defaults write use-new-list-stack -boolean YES; killall Dock

If you find you don’t like these changes, type the command again, replacing YES with NO.


Maker vs. Manager schedule

This essay captures something I struggle with all the time: how to get momentum on a project when your day is dominated by calls & meetings. Short answer, you can’t. You need to do project work in relatively long uninterrupted chunks of time.

“For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.”

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, and also by the same guy (Paul Graham), Good and Bad Procrastination.

Teaching a “middle aged” brain new tricks

Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma,” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”

Good article in the NYT on the importance of dissonance in priming the brain for learning.

Testing Windows Live Writer

Just got Windows 7 running in Parallels on my iMac. This post is being written using the Windows Live Essentials download of goodies from Microsoft.

Windows 7 seems pretty good if Aero is running, but for some reason it is getting disabled at every boot. Annoying.

Seems to work fine. Kudos Microsoft!

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Exporting subtitles from DVD Studio Pro

For a recent DVD project I needed to create multiple language subtitles. Basically this involves getting a transcript of the audio track in English, laying it in as subtitles, then exporting the English subtitle track out to a timecode formatted text file to the translation company can translate phrase by phrase. You would think exporting a subtitle track would be built into a professional DVD authoring program, but it’s missing from Apples DVD Studio Pro. Not only is it missing, but finding a utility to help with this was frustratingly difficult.

If you’re faced with a similar challenge, the program you want is Subtitle Xtractor. It’s a great program that does the job perfectly, and is donationware to boot.

NOTE: Reader Axel commented that Subtitle Xtractor no longer works on Intel macs. He points us to as a replacement. Please share your experiences with this tool.

Flowers lake is full!

Wasn’t sure it was going to happen this year.