HOWTO: Kill the Dock in Mac OS X

Today I ran into a situation on my computer where the dock would not show after a restart. If this ever happens – you can easily fix it by opening up the Terminal application (Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and then type in the following code then hit the return button. Within a few minutes – your dock will then appear as expected.

killall Dock

How To Create a Grayscale PDF on Mac OS X

This morning I had to send over a PDF file to the printer and they wanted my color version in greyscale. To create a greyscale version of a PDF there are a few steps you need to follow:

  1. Go to the File menu and click “Print”. Once you are there – click on the PDF button (see screenshot) and select “Open PDF in Preview”
  2. Within Preview (the application) go to the File menu and select “Save…”. When the dialog box opens, you will see an option called “Quartz Filter”. In that drop down menu, choose “Gray Tone”.
  3. Save the PDF and then you can open it and see your new gray scale PDF

You also have the option in the “Quartz Filter” to save it as a black and white PDF, adjust lightness, etc.

HOWTO: Report Spam for iCloud Users

Recently I started getting some Russian (lovely) spam that just kept on coming. I got so tired of it – I decided to take a minute to see how I could properly report this as spam without getting a ton of other similar messages. Turns out – if you are an iCloud user – you just need to do the following:

In OS X Mail

  1. When viewing the message, choose Forward as Attachment from the Message menu.
  2. Send the message to [email protected].
  3. Also send the message to the [email protected] address, replacing “domain address” with the domain the spam was sent from. For example, if the message came from, you would send the message to [email protected]

Hopefully this will help someone else with the same issue.

I found this information:

Have a Humidifier? Make Sure You Clean It!

Holy cow. Last night we decided to put the humidifier on for the boys since it is getting to be that time of year when the air is dry and the colds/sinus problems begin. A few years back I purchased a really cute Winnie the Pooh humidifier for Evan and we ran it most winter nights. When I went to turn it on last night – we noticed there was not any visible cool air coming out. I decided I would take it into the kitchen and take a look. I was horrified to see the grossness in the base. Calcium, junk, and general grossness. I cleaned it out as best as I could with some toothpicks and hot water, then let it soak with some Vinegar in it.

While Evan did not enjoy the vinegar smell – 30 minutes later that humidifier was pumping out the cool air and was actually clean.

Vinegar might just be my new best friend!

Show Disk Space Usage (Sorted)

Every once and awhile I find myself needed to what is the space hog on my computer/server. While the command du – h in the command line works for a general overview – I really want to see the results in descending order (by space used). This command will list out everything in descending order so you can quickly see where the most space is used:

du -k -s * | sort -k1 -g -r

Making the Most of Your Backups

Having a backup of your data is crucial. Being able to successfully restore your data is even more crucial.

For the last three weeks, I have been spending two hours a week on organizing/reorganizing all my data. One of my goals for 2012 is to be 100% sure I am backing up what I need and ONLY what I need. I have two backup drives here in my office that I use with Apple’s Time Machine. I also then backup remotely once a week to Amazon S3 using JungleDisk. I also have data on a remote server for all my web sites (including this one) that gets backed up on/off site. A few weeks ago I decided to centralize all my remote data on Amazon S3. All media/uploads/theme files/etc get served up from Amazon S3 which not only helps with my centralization of data – but it also speeds things up a bit too.

Now that I have everything flowing into one place – I realized I am backing up a lot of stuff. Stuff that does not need to be backed up and will only cause frustration and increased storage cost. So – when thinking (or re-thinking) about backups, make sure you also consider what you are backing up. I found I was backing up backup archives, photos I would never use/look at, etc that were completely a waste of space. By going through all of my content I was able to save significantly in space/cost in my backup solution.

So – if you have a backup plan – make sure you know how to restore from it (and actually test it). If you do not have a backup plan – take a few minutes to look into doing something ASAP. You will lose data at some time – that is a guarantee. You can either take a few minutes now and get something in place or you can spend hours/potentially thousands to restore “that data you really need”. Your choice. This has been your annual reminder.

The Delicate Balance of Parenting

I love my kids more than I ever thought possible. Once and awhile everything fits together nicely and you feel like you everything is in balance. Most days however there is a constant multi-dimensional game of tug of war going on with both parents over how to do x, y, and z with the kids.

For an example – let’s talk about a problem for most parents…listening. If the child is not listening, what do you do? Do you talk to them about the importance of listening, ask them to politely listen, give them multiple chances to listen (repeating their name over and over until they listen), give them positive reinforcement? Or do you raise your voice and/or give them a consequence if they do not listen?

While one parent generally believe in one way to accomplish getting the child to listen – they are usually not on the same page as the other parent. Not only do you have a strike a balance of consequences (bad/good) you also have to strike a balance between you and the other parent (assuming there is another parent). This is not only very delicate but also very exhausting. Finding this balance seems to be something that goes on just about everyday in my household – especially with three kids under the age of five and two adults who are both stubborn and non-pushovers.

We struggle to find a good balance on how to deal with certain situations (like listening) but at the end of the day – we try and find a common voice so we do not confuse the kids. I might not necessarily agree with the options put forth or the method of trying to correct the child’s behavior but I can always live with that. It is also understood if those options or methods do not work – we can try it another way at a later date. Overall – it is important to show the child you are in control and agree with the other parent at least on some level.

Real life example: this past weekend my oldest son was not behaving as we expected. We had been trying to give him positive feedback, had a sticker chart for him, and had clearly defined good behaviors which would result in a reward once the sticker chart was full. No voice raising, time outs, etc. Everything appeared to be going well until Saturday when Evan mis-behaved at soccer. I ended up taking a harder approach to curbing bad behavior by raising my voice (not in public), not giving him multiple chances, etc. While we – the parents – were not in total agreement on this, both of us realized the positive feedback was not the end all approach and was clearly not working and it was time to shift gears. We – as the parents – discussed ways of handling this and at the end of the weekend – although I was being more vocal and less patience of Evan – he stuck to me like glue and wanted to be with me, play with me, and wanted my input on more than usual. This was not expected and I think we feared it would be the opposite but it goes to show you kids respond differently to different parenting styles. Finding that balance is key.

How to Transfer Purchases in iTunes

Ever need to transfer your purchases from your iPad or iPhone from one computer to another? After getting the alert multiple times I figured it was time to learn. To transfer your purchases – you need to control click on your device (after connecting it to the computer you want to transfer the items to) in the iTunes “Device” list and then select “Transfer Purchases…”

More information:

iTunes Screensaver in Mac OS X

I generally use the Cosmos screensaver but I recently decided to check out some of the other options. I really thought the iTunes screensaver looked cool – as it shows all your cover art. I then accidentally hovered over one of the album covers and noticed I could actually click on it and switch the current iTunes song. Super cool and a nice touch Apple. I just wish I would have stumbled onto this earlier.

PS – how did I take a screenshot of a screensaver? I opened my System Preferences, clicked on “Desktop and Screensaver”, held down command and shift, clicked in “Test” under screensaver and hit the number 3 to take a full screenshot.

Clear Safari 5.1 Cache

When working on projects – I generally need to refresh pages multiple times (to see CSS changes, etc). I generally work with my browser’s cache disabled (Develop Menu > Disable Caches in Safari) but I noticed that simply pressing the return button on a page/site in Safari 5.1 did not work. It was driving me absolutely crazy. I then decided to click on the reload button in the address bar (far rich side) (looks like a circular arrow). This actually reloaded the page properly. I am not really sure why simply pressing return (to reload the page) did not work – especially with the cache “disabled” – but by clicking on the reload icon works to display the page without any cache issues. I hope this helps someone else!