Tab Key Trick in OS X and Linux

Posted by Aaron West at 10:56 AM in Hacks, Linux, Mac

I recently stumbled upon a little tab key trick in Mac OS X. I already knew you could press the tab key to autocomplete directory names, but I didn't know you could press the tab key additional times to resolve directory name ambiguity. How does it work? When you are typing directory names and paths, which you do with the change directory (cd) command, you can press the tab key to autocomplete the directory names. If two directories have similar names OS X and Linux will complete what you type up to the point one or more additional directory names match. If you continue to press the tab key a list of all possible directory names will display. This lets you determine what you are looking for and continue typing a directory name to resolve the ambiguity.

I'm stunned I didn't know about this neat feature of OS X and Linux, the two platforms I tested.

Check out the quick video demo below to see exactly what I'm talking about.

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I write many blog posts that instruct readers to press command+this and command+that and for the longest time that's exactly how I wrote them. But isn't it much better to say press ⌘+i or press ⌘+m?

To display the ⌘ symbol online simply use the HTML Entity ⌘. This works in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, the only browsers I tested. And frankly, the only browsers worth using really.


Safari 4 Beta Tab Hacks

Posted by Aaron West at 8:00 AM in Hacks, Mac

I've been running Safari 4 beta for a few weeks now and am quite happy with it. It's much faster than Firefox on Mac, has a smaller visual footprint, and includes a great set of developer tools. Some people aren't too happy with some of the new tab features though. Have no fear, Rob Griffiths over at Macworld put together a screencast that shows you how to move the new tab bar from the top of Safari window to its original position. Rob also shows how to hack the active tab color or the inactive tabs colors to make either stand out.

Check it out here.


Here's a really useful trick I just learned from the latest episode of TWiT. Load Google's search page in your browser (or if you're a keyboard jockey like me, use LaunchBar to conduct the search) and type "current time." You'll be presented with information similar to the following screenshot though targeted to where you are. In all of Google's limitless knowledge they're able to tell you the current time (localized) as well the time in major metropolitan areas near you. Awesomeness.


Unlocked For Half a Day

Posted by Aaron West at 10:16 PM in iPhone, Personal, Hacks

If you follow my Twitter messages you may have seen I unlocked my iPhone today using the jailbreakme.com site. Roughly 10 hours later I've restored my iPhone twice getting rid of the jailbreak software.

It all started when two co-workers were showing off their recently jailbroken phones and all the cool apps they were running. I was really intrigued by the geek factor of having my iPhone run 3rd party applications and games. I had considered jailbreaking my phone several times already but I always changed my mind when I thought about the possibility of bricking a device that will ultimately cost me over $2,000 (two year AT&T contract @ $63/month and $600 for the phone). What pushed me over the edge was how super simple the new jailbreak process seemed to be. You literally open Safari on your phone, visit jailbreakme.com, and press a button. Simple. Well, kind of.

The first 2 attempts of "pressing the button" on the site caused Safari to lock up completely. Fortunately, you can hold the Home button for 4-8 seconds to force quit any application. The third attempt worked and after rebooting my phone I had an "Installer" icon. The installer program, AppTapp, allows you to install a myriad of multimedia, games, productivity applications and more. I immediately began customizing my iPhone with Summerboard, a program that allows you to run themes on your phone. It worked extremely well. Then I tried installing other applications like Labyrinth, Customize, Widgets, Crossy, and two programs that turn the iPhone into a flashlight. Of all these programs, Labyrinth was the only one that worked. The other apps would just crash back to the home screen. After consulting a few friends and trying a slew of possible fixes, including reinstalling most of the applications I was beginning to give up.

After getting home tonight, I totally restored my iPhone to version 1.1.1 and reinstall the jailbreakme.com software. Even on a clean iPhone with clean jailbreak software the same scenario repeated itself. The only applications that would work were the theme application (Summerboard), Labyrinth, and the Installer application. Bemused and blased by the whole experience I restored my iPhone [again] to factory 1.1.1 settings.

Some good did come from the whole experience. First, Apple is to be commended on their syncing and restore functionality. It just works and you don't have to pay attention to how or why. You don't have to worry about settings (much) or compatibility or about losing data. Within 3-4 minutes (after both restores mind you) I had my iPhone up and running with my phone number and settings for e-mail, Wi-Fi, Safari, and more intact. I had to transfer all my tunes, photos, podcasts, videos, and calendars back to my phone, but that took one push of the sync button and about 20 minutes of waiting.

The second good that came from today is I now have custom ringtones installed. I accomplished this with the iToner software which doesn't require any software or hardware hacks. You download their software (there's a free trial), install it, and then drag MP3's or AAC's to a window that looks like an iPhone. Then you press sync and you're done. Incredible.

The new jailbreak software (jailbreakme.com) is a huge advancement from what was available just two months ago. But it seems like it still has a long way to go. I'll keep my eye on it and may give this whole process another go in the future. For now, I'm happy with my ringtones.


I'm really interested in fun product/software "hacks" that create more usable, more productive, or generally better stuff. I'm not talking about the blackhat kind of hacks, but more the kind of thing you would find here. One such example is illustrated on this site. The idea of having a writing instrument that performs as well as a $200+ Mont Blanc pen - at a fraction of the cost - is pretty cool. So I followed the instructions on the Web site to see if it really worked. Read on for more.

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