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Wed, Jun 13, 2018 11:21 pm

Screen goes black with only mouse pointer visible on MacBook Pro laptop

I've been experiencing an intermittent issue on my MacBook Pro laptop, which is running OS X El Capitan, where I find a black screen with only the mouse pointer visible after I return to it from being away from it for some time. I can move the pointer by moving my finger about on the touchpad, but I get no visible response to hitting any keys. I've tried hitting lots of different key combinations to try to get the desktop to reappear or at least get a login prompt, but none have worked. If I had music playing through the headphones from iTunes , I can hear it still playing if I put the headphones back on, but when I hit any key or keys I simply hear a "bonk" sound and see no response from the system. Initially, when I encountered the problem the only way I could gain access to the system again was to reboot, which might lead to a loss of unsaved work. I have found, though, that if I simply close the lid of the laptop as I might if I wanted to put it to sleep, wait about a minute, then reopen the lid and hit a key that most of the times I've tried that, instead of rebooting, when the problem has occurred, that I could get a login prompt allowing me to log back into the system with everything apparently running as it was before I encountered the problem.

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Thu, May 24, 2018 11:10 pm

Using sox to record audio on OS X

I wanted to record a talk this week so I took my MacBook Pro laptop with me to the auditorium where the talk was being held. I normally use the QuickTime Player to record audio in such cases. But this time when I attempted to use the QuickTime Player, it wouldn't actually start recording. The presenters had started talking when I attempted to begin recording their presentation, so I opted to install Sound eXchange (SoX), which provides a command-line interface (CLI) for recording and editing audio on a variety of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Linux, and OS X. Since I had previously installed Homebrew on OS X on the system, I opened a Terminal window and used it to install SoX.

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Thu, May 17, 2018 11:15 pm

Identifying Apple systems on the network

If you need to determine whether a system on the network is an Apple system, there are a number of means you can use to help identify whether the system is, or is at least likely to be, manufactured by Apple. E.g., if the system is on the same local area network (LAN) as a system from which you can ping it, you can check the media access control (MAC) address associated with the IP address you just pinged using the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), since the first 6 hexadecimal digits of the MAC address can be used to identify the manufacturer of the network interface controller (NIC) in the device pinged. This technique won't work if there is an intervening router between the device from which the ping is sent and the receiving device, though, since the arp address you will see when there are intervening network hops is the one of the first hop device. You can see the number of hops between the source and destination hosts using the traceroute command (tracert is the equivalent command on Microsoft Windows systems). E.g., in the example below, I issued a ping command from a Terminal window on my MacBook Pro laptop running OS X El Capitan (10.11.6). When I then peformed a reverse DNS lookup on the IP address using nslookup, the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) identified the device as an iPad. The FQDN usually won't identify the type of device so clearly, but a check of the MAC address may indicate the device was manufacturered by Apple. You can get the MAC address using the arp command.

$ ping -c 1
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=45.140 ms

--- ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 45.140/45.140/45.140/0.000 ms
$ nslookup
Address:	name =

$ arp ( at 78:7b:8a:55:bb:35 on en0 ifscope [ethernet]

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Tue, Feb 27, 2018 11:10 pm

Error message "You don't have permission to access / on this server."

I had been running an Apache webserver under OS X El Capitan on my MacBook Pro laptop. After an upgrade on the laptop, now running OS X El Capitan (10.11.6), when I tried accessing the site via http://localhost, I saw a page with the title "403 Forbidden" and the following text displayed on the page:


You don't have permission to access / on this server.

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Thu, Feb 22, 2018 11:01 pm

Installing GIMP on OS X

To install the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) on OS X systems, take the following steps:
  1. Download the GIMP installation file from GIMP - Downloads. The file is an Apple Disk Image .dmg file.
  2. Double-click on the downloaded file to start the installation process.
  3. When the GIMP installation window opens, you will see "" in the window that opens. Click on "" and drag it over into a Finder window with the Applications folder displayed to complete the installation of the GIMP application into that folder.

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Wed, Jan 17, 2018 11:01 pm

Renewing a DHCP lease under OS X

If you wish to renew a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease on a Mac OS X system, you can do so by clicking on the Apple icon in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen, selecting System Preferences, and then Network , and then the relevant network interface, e.g., Wi-Fi. Then click on the Advanced button and then the TCP/IP tab. You can then click on the Renew DHCP Lease button to have the system attempt to renew its DHCP lease.

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Wed, Oct 25, 2017 10:36 pm

Viewing the fonts used in a PDF document on a Mac OS X system

To view the list of documents contained in a PDF document with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC on a Mac OS X system, with the file open in Acrobat Reader DC, click on File then select Properties and then click on the Fonts tab.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC fonts list

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Sun, Oct 08, 2017 10:57 pm

Calculating file checksums on an OS X system

If you need to calculate a checksum, aka cryptographic hash value or digital fingerprint, on a Mac OS X system, you can use the md5 command to calculate a MD5 checksum, which is equivalent to the md5sum utility on Linux systems, and the shasum command to calculate Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA). The default value for shasum, if no algorithm is specified, is Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1), but you can specify other algorithms, such as Secure Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-2), e.g. SHA-256, using the -a option. E.g. -a 256 for SHA-256.

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Fri, Oct 06, 2017 11:15 pm

Viewing DHCP information on an OS X system

If you want to determine the IP address of the DHCP server from which a Mac OS X system received its IP address, subnet mask, etc., you can obtain that information from a command-line interface (CLI), i.e., a Terminal window by using the command ipconfig getpacket interface where interface is the relevant network interface, which will usually be en0 or en1. You can issue the command ifconfig -a in a Terminal window to see the network interfaces on the system and which have IP addresses assigned to them.

getpacket interface-name
Prints to standard output the DHCP/BOOTP packet that the client accepted from the DHCP/BOOTP server. This command is useful to check what the server provided, and whether the values are sensible. This command outputs nothing if DHCP/BOOTP is not active on the interface, or the attempt to acquire an IP address was unsuccessful.

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Wed, Jul 19, 2017 9:55 pm

OS X - Get File Info

On an OS X/macOS system, you may be able to determine a file's origin, i.e., where it was downloaded from, by right-clicking on the file, or clicking on it to highlight it and then hitting command-I (the command and "I" keys), in the Finder and choosing Get Info. If a "where from" field is displayed, you can see the URL from which the file was obtained if it was downloaded from a website. You can also view that information from a command-line interface (CLI), e.g., a Terminal window, using the mdls command.

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