Archive for the 'OSX' Category

Note: I've reorganized this site to use tags; the category archive remains to support old links. Only posts prior to April, 2006 are categorized. Tag Archive »

Howto use a Microsoft Intellimouse with OS X

While I’m not a fan of their operating systems, I definately like Microsoft’s mice. I’m very partial to the Intellimouse Optical, the beige and silver optical which is omni-handed. I’m not a lefty, I just find every “contoured” mouse I try to be wickedly uncomfortable. I use an Intellimouse on my home and work PCs. In particular, I’m extremeley dependant on the scroll wheel, scroll wheel button (to open a new tab in Firefox), and the thumb button (aka “Button 4”), which acts as a back button in Firefox (and in IE).

Tonight, I plugged my Intellimouse into my Mac, and was surprised to find that it did not work as expected. The left and right buttons worked fine, as did the scroll wheel. However, middle-clicking worked in Safari but not in Firefox. The thumb button did not work at all. Also, the scroll wheel seemed to accelerate as I used it, which I found to be very disorienting. I could find no answer to these problems in System Preferences, or Firefox’s preference panel.

After Googling a bit, it turns out that Microsoft provides Intellipoint software for OS X. I didn’t really think about needing additional software since I already knew that the Mac would handle right-clicking and scroll wheels. As loathe as I am to install Microsoft software on a Mac, I decided to give it a spin; I’ve had largely good experiences with Intellipoint on Windows, and I really needed to get a mouse set up that works like I expect.

Success. I downloaded and installed Intellipoint 5.1 for OS X*, which of course required a reboot (insert Windows joke here). The installation added a new item to System Preferences, which launches the Intellipoint software. Having this installed seems to fix the Back (thumb) and Forward (5th) button automagically. Also, the scrolling settings have an “Enable Accelerated Scrolling” option which was off by default; I no longer see the accelerated scrolling.

Fixing my middle click in Firefox was one extra step. Using the Intellimouse software, I had to change the meaning of middle click from the default “Next Application” to “Click”. Once “Click” is chosen, checkboxes allow you to select modifiers. I set up middle click to equal Cmd+Click, and all is well with the world.

Kudos to Ste Grainer, whose comment on Jeremey Zawodney’s blog outlined the middle click fix, and made me realized I must need some extra software.

P.S. – I’m behind on my blogging, but hey… it’s the holidays. I promise to try and catch up a little; I do have a few good things I need to blog.

*Note: I make no promises about the link above, Microsoft isn’t known for having Cool URIs. If the link doesn’t pan out, just poke around the Microsoft site like I did. One suggestion… I found the drivers on the product page, not in the Support section.

Update: As much as I hate closing comments on a post, this one is just a spam magnet. If you have anything to contribute, drop me a line.

Open Office, Mac-Style

Another short entry tonight, I’ll try to do something more substantial tommorow. For now, good news for OS X users who don’t want to shell out the big $$ for MS Office. Patch 3 for the 1.1 Alpha 2 version of NeoOffice/J, an OS X port of OpenOffice which does not use X11, has taken another step by moving the menus out of the individual windows and into the System Menu bar where they belong. (Via Tim Bray and TaoOfMac). Tim’s post includes a screenshot.

A note on the particulars: Currently, the main site doesn’t mention the patch except on the downloads pags, and that patch is the wrong version if you want integrated menus. So, first download NeoOffice/J 1.1 Alpha 2] from the NeoOffice/J download page, and then get the Aqua-menus version of patch three from this post.


The Software Update icon has been waiting patiently on my Dock for a while now. This morning I decided to oblige. There are three updates waiting to be installed:

Software Update Screenshot

Wow, that Sept 16 Security Update has been waiting a while, huh? I have Security Update enabled to run automatically once a week, so why am I so late? Triangles. Those little triangle icons next to each update indicate that a restart will be required. So?

Uptime Screenschot

Almost 23 days of uptime since my last reboot, which was, of course, for a OS X software update. Again, you may wonder, why the big deal? For me it’s about the interuption. For example, when I decided to go ahead and install these this morning, I had about 2 dozen websites open in tabs spread across two Firefox windows, several pages open in Mozilla (I’m using it to learn XUL, the book is pre-Firefox), a half dozen terminal sessions, about 10 sticky notes, a dozen documents in SubEthaEdit, and a few other assorted bits. I tend to keep things open and available. Rebooting means closing everything. What a pain. Zero reboots is my #1 most wanted feature in an OS X.

Here’s the kind of uptime I really want.

Starting Over

As detailed in my prior post, I can’t install iLife ’04, and I think my non-standard disk partioning is to blame. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and format the HD back to a single partition and re-install everything. I’ve copied my /Users directory tree onto my Firewire HD, so I should be ready to go. The notes I made during my upgrade to Panther should be helpful.

This is like Deja-vu all over again. See you on the other side.

Update: I’m back. Hard drive is re-partioned to a single 32gig OS X partition and spare, unformatted 5 gig partition for future use. Panther is installed and software update has been run (twice). XCode tools were installed and software update run again. I’ve transfered my documents, pictures, and music; I’ve moved my mail, keychain, and preferences. Firebird is installed and setup the way I like. I’ll be documenting the process soon, including some tips on how to restore iApps,, etc. Haven’t tried installing iLife ’04 yet, but that’s next.

I did have one good scare… after formatting, installing, updating, etc., I was finally ready to attach the Firewire drive and start restoring my backed up data. When the volume mounted, I only saw the ‘Video’ folder, and not the ‘Users’ folder which contained all of my backup data. I think I might have hyperventalated :) I hadn’t yet installed iTerm, and Terminal wasn’t on my dock, so I had to scramble to find Terminal and check it from there. When I finally was able to ls /Volumes/Teapot there was my Users folder right where I left it. I had copied it using the unix command ditto, which apparently marked it as a BSD subsystem folder. And since Panther hides such folders (like /bin, etc.) in Finder by default, that is what had happened. Quite a little moment of panic, tho.

Partitioners Beware

I just installed iLife ’04, and it didn’t work. I think the problem is my partitioned hard drive. I’m going to consider my options for a bit, and keep and eye on the GarageBand fan sites and other blogs for a while, see if anyone else is having a problem.

The thing is, I expected a bit of a problem, since my Application partition only had about 5 gig free. And iLife+JamPack have a total disk space requirement of over 7 gigs. The GarageBand readme explains that the loops and software instruments are stored in /Library/Application Support/GarageBand. This is even worse, since that’s on my boot partition which is even smaller. I tried creating a GarageBand folder on my Users partition (plenty of space) and symlinking to it from /Library/Application Support, but the installer saw right through that, removed the symlink, and installed the stuff right where it wanted. Unfortunately, it didn’t install the App (or any of the iApps), just the libraries.

And on top of it all, the only reason I’m home to play with any of this is a touch of the stomach flu. Insult, meet Injury. You two should really hit it off together.