Enhance OS X Functionality

I read a good article on Lifehacker’s website called ‘Top 10 Downloads That Enhance Mac OS X’s Built-In Tools’. They give a list of 10 tools which help augment the OS’s built in functionality. I use three of the listed utilities (HyperDock, TotalFinder, ScreenSharingMenulet) and one that was not listed (Alfred). I find these utilities invaluable on a daily basis.

  1. HyperDock: This utility is somewhat similar to a utility called DockView which allows you to see previews of open applications in the dock. All you have to do is mouse over the open application and a bubble will appear displaying an image of each window open of that particular application. You can also view calendar events within the bubble and also control iTunes within the preview window as well.
  2. TotalFinder: This adds additional functionality to the Finder by allowing you to open new finder windows as tabs rather than separate windows. It also allows you to view the tabs side by side which is great for looking for duplicates or moving files between folders. There are a slew of other features you can download a demo from their site and try it for 14 days to see if it fits your needs.
  3. ScreenSharingMenulet: I often connect other workstations at my home using screen sharing. This little utility adds a drop-down menu which will show you all the workstations that you can share the screen of. This cuts down the steps needed to find the workstation and start a screen sharing session.
  4. Alfred: I have been using a utility called LaunchBar for quite some time now. LaunchBar lets you do various tasks via the keyboard, such as running applications or searching for files along with a slew of other tasks. Alfred is very similar to LaunchBar but much more polished in my opinion. It is free for the base product which can be downloaded via their website or via the Apple App Store. The real gem to this product is the optional PowerPack you can purchase which even adds more functionality as well as extensions that can be downloaded and added to Alfred.

I would like to mention a site run by Don McAllister called ScreenCastsOnline. This is a site that has a slew of tutorials on Mac & iOS applications. Don does a great job of giving you an overview of selected applications as well as in-depth use of them. His site is a good way to find out about new applications you normally would never have heard of. This is a membership site, but Don does also offer some free videos as well. If you are a Mac user do yourself a favor and check it out. If you opt to become a member, it will be money well spent.

Mac OS X Bug Causing All Apps to Crash in 10.7.3; Here's the Somewhat Complicated Fix

Mac OS X Bug Causing All Apps to Crash in 10.7.3; Here’s the Somewhat Complicated Fix:

Apple updated OS X to version 10.7.3 today, which fixed a number of minor issues—but caused many big ones with some users. If you’re finding that apps are crashing as soon as you launch them, here’s how to fix it.
This bug isn’t affecting everyone, but it has affected a large number of users. Essentially, if you updated via Software Update—as most of us do—you might have found that every app you launch crashes, prompting a very weird dialog box with buttons reading “CUI CUI CUI”. Apple has yet to make a comment on the issue, but if you’ve been afflicted, Macworld offers this somewhat difficult solution:

(Via lifehacker.com)

Speed Testing Verizon's LTE Devices

Pantech UML290 LTE USB Modem

I happen to have three of Verizon’s LTE devices. The first was the Pantech UML290which I am using on my MacBook Air.
The second device is the HTC Thunderbolt. Lastly is the Samsung SCH-LC11 mobile hot spot, which arrived today. I decided to take them all for a spin and see how they stack up against each other. By far the Pantech is the speed demon of the bunch when it comes to laptop connectivity. I was careful on how I worded that because according to Speedtest.net the Thunderbolt is the beast of them all, however those numbers fall quickly when using it’s hot spot ability. I also think that there is something off with Speedtest.net’s android app. The numbers are off especially the upload side of things. Continue reading “Speed Testing Verizon's LTE Devices”

Verizon 4G LTE Pantech UML290

I recently ordered a Pantech UML290 from Verizon to test out their LTE service. I was skeptical to say the least about speeds being reported from other users. I live just north of New York City and I achieved downloads speeds up to 25Mbps and upload speeds up to 8Mbps via Speedtest.net. I have had data service with AT&T for several years. With the speeds I am getting with Verizon’s LTE service, I canceled my data service with AT&T. I am still holding out for a LTE Hotspot device, I will replace my Pantech device once that arrives. For now enjoy the screencast of my initial speed tests.

Twitter & WordPress Integration

With the new updates to Twitter, I had to update Twitter Tools. It requires registration of your app on Twitter’s website. Once you do this a set of tokens are created which you paste into the Twitter Tools plug-in.


I just recently purchased the Padster for my iPad, it is replacing a bag I just bought from Booq. The Padster is bag specifically designed for an iPad. Let me start by saying I utterly love my Booq bags, I own three of them for my 17″ Macbook Pro. The problem I had with my Booq Taipan Shadow XS is that it is way too small in every aspect. The compartment that holds the iPad is too restrictive, you can only really use it with a naked iPad (no case). We all know how slippery a naked iPad is, your just asking to drop it. With the iPad in, there is little space for anything else. It is a really tight bag with a shoulder strap that is way to short. It is so short you can only put the strap on your shoulder, you can forget about slinging it over your neck. I already have my RMA and it is going back to Booq.
Continue reading “Padster”

MacBook Pro With Two Hard Drives

I decided to add a second hard drive to my 17” Unibody MacBook Pro. To do this I purchased an OptiBay adapter from MCE Technologies. This adapter replaces the built DVD drive in the MacBook Pro. I rarely use it so it is no big loss to remove it. In doing so I gain another 500GB of storage bringing my total storage to 1TB. MCE Technologies also sells an enclosure which allows the DVD drive you removed to be used as external USB drive. I happened to purchase the OptiBay while they were giving away this enclosure for free with purchase.
Continue reading “MacBook Pro With Two Hard Drives”

ALIX Monowall Firewall – Part 2

This tutorial covers the post installation basic configuration of Monowall (M0n0wall). This segment covers changing the default password, setting the time zone of the firewall. It also covers setting static IP address mappings via DHCP as well as configuring port forwarding. This is the second part in a series of tutorials which will range from basic configuration of the firewall to more advanced topics such as IPSEC tunnels and VPN clients.

Log into the firewall

Open a web browser and log in to the firewall. The default address is The username is: admin and the default password is: mono

Change password & time zone

1.) Click on ‘General Setup’ under ‘System’
2.) Type in a new password in both boxes. As a general rule of thumb you should you upper and lowercase characters as well as symbols.
3.) Select the time zone you are in.
4.) Click the ‘Save’ button.
After you click save the firewall will prompt you to log back in with the new password.

Open the DHCP server configuration page

If you are going to access any devices on your local network via the Internet you need assign them static IP addresses. This is important if you’re going to log into your workstation remotely via a service like ‘Back To My Mac’, connect to a SlingBox remotely or play video games via a PC, Xbox360 or a PS3. This will become clear when we start configuring Port ‘Forwarding’. So let’s get started on assigning IP addresses to these devices. For this example we are going to assign a static IP to the workstation connected to the firewall. We will need to know the MAC address of the device, this is the physical address of the network interface. On some devices you will see a sticker which states the MAC address of the device, on others you will have to go into a configuration or information screen to gather that information. The MAC address will be in the following format ##:##:##:##:##:##, it will be a combination of numerals and characters. On a Mac you would click on the Apple logo on the menu-bar, go to ‘About This Mac’, ‘More Info..” and click on ‘Network’. You will see the different available network interfaces, click on the network interface in question and you will see the MAC address of the interface. So now that you have the needed information, lets proceed.
Also the static IPs have to be outside the range of IPs given out by the DHCP server. The default range is 100 – 199, keep that in mind.
1.) Click ‘DHCP server’ under the ‘Services’ section
2.) Click the ‘+’ symbol under the ‘Reservations’ section

Add static IP address mapping

1.) Enter the MAC address of the device you are adding
2.) Enter the IP address you would like to assign to the device. (i.e.. Make sure the IP address falls within the range of your local network.
3.) Enter a description for the device you are adding a static mapping to and click save.
Repeat these steps for every device you need to add. Once you are done continue to the next section.

Apply changes, beware of the bugs though

1.) You will notice your new reservations listed below.
2.) Click the ‘Apply changes’ button.
3.) If you are installing 1.3 version you will see the above error. This is a bug in that version, it will be fixed in the next revision.
**If you do get this error after clicking ‘Apply changes’, you need to reboot the firewall. To do that click ‘Reboot system’ under the ‘Diagnostics’ section. Once you do that the changes will take affect.

Port forwarding

1.) Click on ‘NAT’ under Firewall
2.) Make sure ‘Inbound’ is selected
3.) Click the ‘+’ symbol

Adding port forwarding rule

I am going to create a port forwarding rule as if I had a SlingBox on my local network. SlingBox uses TCP port 5001 to communicate with the Internet. So I am going to configure a rule that states and traffic coming in on the WAN port (Internet interface) on TCP port 5001 be forwarded to an IP address on my local network. These are the steps to achieve that:
1.) Interface: should point to WAN
2.) External address: should point to ‘interface address’
3.) Protocol: select the appropriate protocol from the drop down (i.e.. TCP)
4.) External port range: enter the port number in both boxes (i.e.. 5001)
5.) NAT IP: this would be the IP address of the device on your local network (i.e..
6.) Local port: this would be the same port number used in step 4 (i.e.. 5001)
7.) Description: enter a thorough description of the device and port number you are forwarding for future reference
8.) Click the checkbox: This will automatically create the firewall rule you will need at the same time.
9.) Click the ‘Save’ button
Repeat these steps if you have multiple ports you have to open for a device. Also repeat these steps if you have multiple devices to add.

Apply changes

Once you are finished adding all of you port forwards, you can click on the ‘Apply changes’ button and you are done

Ports for forwarding common devices

Xbox360 Live: UDP/TCP 3074
PS3: TCP 5223, UDP 3478. UDP 3479, UDP 3658 **Certain games may require additional port forward mappings, check with game vendor
SlingBox: TCP 5001
If you need information on ports for device not listed here, check with the manufacturers support web page. If you cannot find it there try Googling: firewall port forwarding for (then add your device and then hit the ‘Search’ button)


We are done with this segment of the tutorial. In the next installment we will discuss Dynamic DNS services and VPN Tunnels (IPsec Mobile, PPTP).

ALIX Monowall Firewall – Part 1

This tutorial covers the installation of Monowall (M0n0wall) onto a compact flash card utilizing a Mac and assembling the firewall. The firewall is being built utilizing an ALIX embedded system. This is the first part in a series of tutorials which will range from basic configuration of the firewall to more advanced topics such as IPSEC tunnels and VPN clients.
Download the Monowall embedded image file
Visit Monowall’s website and download the embedded image file for ALIX. Below is a link to the appropriate page.
Monowall Download Page: http://m0n0.ch/wall/beta.php
Place the file you just downloaded onto your desktop.

Run Disk Utility

Insert a compact flash card into a card reader attached to your computer, a 256MB card will do just fine. Open up ‘Disk Utility’ which is located in the ‘Utilities’ folder under ‘Applications’ on your boot drive. Select the Compact Flash card you inserted on the right side. Make sure that you select the right drive, double check to make sure the size matches the card. Be very careful, if you select the wrong drive you could wipe all the information from a hard drive. Right-Click on the drive and select information.

Compact Flash Disk ID

Jot down the the ‘Disk Identifier’ information associated with the drive. This number will vary on your own system so do not use the information listed above. Writing the wrong information down could result in one of your hard drives being wiped so pay very close attention. You will need this information for the next step.

Partition Mounted?

If there is a partition on the Compact Flash Card it needs to be unmounted. Right-Click on the partition listed underneath Compact Flash Card and select ‘Unmount’.

Run Terminal

When you open Terminal it will default to your home directory. Issue the following commands to change to the desktop directory and write out the image file to the Compact Flash Card:
cd desktop
gzcat embedded-1.3b16.img | dd of=/dev/disk# bs=16k (Insert the Disk ID number that you jotted down from the previous step) Last warning if you enter the wrong information you could wipe a hard drive or other removable drive connected to your system)
You should receive a message as displayed above. If you receive a message that states the resource is busy, it means that you did not unmount a partition on the Compact Flash Card. Please go back to the previous step and unmount the partition.

Assemble the firewall

Remove the the Compact Flash Card from the card reader and insert it into the card slot on the ALIX board. Do this before you install it into the case as it will block the slot. This would also be good time to install any add in cards you might have into the mini-pci slots (wifi, vpn accelerator) Remove the hex bolts on both sides of the serial port, otherwise you cannot slip it into the case. Slide the board with the network ports going in first so they slide into the cutouts. With that inserted screw in the board to case, followed by reattaching the the hex bolts on the both sides of the serial port. Put the cover on the case and screw it in place. Thats all there is to it, pretty simple wouldn’t you say?

Log into the firewall

Plug your firewall into the network utilizing the LAN port and power up the unit. You can either plug the firewall into a switch or directly into your network port on your computer. The DHCP server on the firewall will supply your workstation with the appropriate IP address information. Give it a couple of minutes to finish booting up. Open up your favorite browser and type: into the address bar. This is the default address of the firewall. You will be prompted to login into the firewall, the following are the default credentials:
Username: admin
Password: mono
This information is case sensitive, make sure you enter everything in lower case.
That is it for the first part of the tutorial. The next tutorial will walk you through the basic configuration if the firewall. Subsequent tutorials will discuss more advanced features, such as creating tunnels between two remote firewalls.

m0n0wall & pfSense Tutorials

I am in the process of creating an updated video tutorial on installing Monowall (m0n0wall) firewall on an ALIX embedded system. While I am at it, I will also doing the same for the pfSense firewall installed on the same platform. There will also be written guides to go along with these video tutorials. These forthcoming guides will come in segments ranging from copying the firewall to a CF card that will be inserted into the system board to more advanced topics such as configuring IPSEC tunnels. You should see the first of these tutorials released on July 15th.
Enjoy the tutorials and should you have any recommendations or things you would like to see included in these tutorials just leave a comment.
UPDATE: I ran into a personal matter which had delayed the production of the first segment. I should have it completed and posted within the next couple of days. Sorry about the unexpected delay.