The Robservatory

Robservations on everything…

 

Using network locations in macOS Ventura

This weekend, I finally migrated my 2019 5K iMac from Mojave to Ventura. There were many reasons for remaining on Mojave, starting with the fact that I liked the OS and it worked very well for me. But I also had a couple 32-bit apps I relied on, as well as a number of 32-bit games I enjoyed playing now and then. As time went on, though, there were more and more current apps that I couldn't update to the latest versions, as they all required something newer than Mojave.

(I wasn't a complete macOS luddite—my 14" MacBook Pro runs Ventura, and that's what I use when supporting Many Tricks customers.)

After the update, I remembered one of the bugaboos about Ventura: Apple, in their infinite wisdom, removed the Locations feature from the Network System Settings panel.

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A full history of macOS (OS X) release dates and rates

Updated and republished for macOS 13.0.1; skip it unless you really really care about all the macOS releases. Originally published on November 14th, 2005.

Below the break is a table showing all major releases of macOS (previously Mac OS X) from the public beta through the latest public version, which is 13.0.1, as of November 9th, 2022—the 178th release in total.

Note: Click the ⓘ symbol to read Apple's release notes for a given update.

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Monkey Bread recipe—the non-dessert variety

Update: I have updated this recipe to show all measures in grams, as well as fixed some formatting and typos. Given the approaching holidays, I chose to republish with a new date, as it's been a few years since I posted this.

Growing up, around the holidays my mom would bake something we called Monkey Bread. If you search the net for Monkey Bread recipes, what you'll find is a number of dessert-like breads, covered in a sticky brown sugar (or other sweet) coating. Those are not the Monkey Bread my mother made—hers was more of a "regular" bread (containing just ¼ cup of sugar) that you can eat with your meal.

What makes the bread unique—and fun to eat—is that it's assembled from small pieces, which you then tear off and eat.

Although I bake Christmas cookies and occasional other stuff, I'd never tried her Monkey Bread recipe. But for this year's New Year's Eve party/potluck, I thought I'd give it a shot…and after a couple false starts, I managed to get one done…

As noted, that was not my first attempt. I left the egg out of my first batch (whoops), and missed a whole cup of flour (whoops again) on my second try. But in the end, it came out great, and was well liked at the party.

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An anywhere switch to control HomeKit devices

I recently assembled an IKEA cabinet and shelving in the corner of a room. It's a darker corner, so I added lighting to the cabinet and the shelves, all of which is then plugged into a HomeKit-compatible power plug. I can now easily turn the lights on and off with Siri, but I wanted to have a more-traditional wall switch, too.

As the wall outlet isn't switched, the "real" solution would have involved hiring an electrician to cut holes in the wall and run a new line to a new switch, followed up by a fair bit of drywall repair, texture, and painting. I didn't want to go that route.

Instead, I found Belkin's Wemo Stage Scene Controller1Apple sells this on their site, too, but at a much higher price., which promised an install-anywhere switch for any HomeKit connected devices.

(Note: I don't know if this thing works outside the USA or not; I found a note on their site indicating it may not work in the UK, but that's all I was able to find.)

I bought one to test, and after the first day, I was preparing to return it and write a very scathing review…
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Easily convert (some?) AVIs to QuickTime-compatible files

Here's another entry in my "remind myself without searching the entire internet" series of posts. I often want to convert a non-native video into a QuickTime-compatible format. In one oft-repeated use, I have a time lapse camera that outputs AVI files that QuickTime cannot read. Using Don Melton's Other Video Transcoding tools, converting between the two forms is pretty easy:

other-transcode --hevc --mp4 input_file.m4v

The output file will reside in the same directory, with the same name, but with the mp4 extension. I know there are tons of ways to do this, and many offer much more control over the final quality. For my time lapse camera videos, though, the quality is fine and this is really easy to use.

Merge multiple movies into one while minimizing file size

I had two short video clips I wanted to merge into one, each about 8MB in size. I first did this using QuickTime Player's Clips feature, but the end result was over 100MB in size. For my second try, I switched to ffmpeg, which can be installed via Homebrew, MacPorts, or some other method.

This isn't quite as simple as typing one command, as ffmpeg wants to process a list of files to merge—it can't, without some Unix wizardry, accept a list on the command line. So step one is to create a text file (list.txt in my example) in the same directory as your video files. The file contains a list of each movie to be merged, one entry per row, like this:

file '/full/path/to/movie1.mp4'
file '/full/path/to/movie2.mp4'
file '/full/path/to/movie3.mp4'
etc.

Save the text file, then use this command to merge the movies into one:

ffmpeg -f concat -safe 0 -i list.txt -codec copy merged_movie.mp4

When done, you'll have one new movie with all of the listed movies, in the order in which you listed them. And best of all, the size won't balloon when you do so—using the same movies as I used in QuickTime Player, the finished file was just 28MB in size. This isn't limited to mp4s; you can merge any type of video that ffmpeg can handle.

And yes, this is another entry in my series of "remind myself" posts; I originally found the answer on Stack Overflow.

Reverse a video using ffmpeg

This post is another in an ongoing series where the sole point of the post is to make it easier for me to find this information in the future—instead of searching sites and finding tons of wrong answers, I can just search my blog and find the right answer. If it's useful to anyone else, that's a bonus.

Sometimes, I want to reverse a video, usually for humorous effect—to turn a disassembly time lapse video into an assembly time lapse video, for example. If you have ffmpeg installed (via Homebrew or MacPorts or other method), then it's quite simple to do. Here's the command:

ffmpeg -i original_movie.mp4 -vf reverse -af areverse new_reverse_movie.mp4

It doesn't have to be an mp4, of course—any format that ffmpeg can deal with will work fine.

(I originally found this solution on StackExchange.)

Keep authenticated WordPress sites up to date

I have a couple of WordPress sites that live behind HTTP basic authentication—they're family-related blogs that I don't want publicly accessible.

Everything works fine behind the authentication except for automatic updates (and other WordPress cron tasks). This bugged me a bit, but never enough to do anything about it until today. To fix the problem, you can either modify some code (which I generally don't like to do) or use a plug-in (easy and quick). I chose the plug-in.

If you'd prefer the customization solution, though, just follow these instructions. I haven't tested them myself, though, so I can't say for sure that they still work (they are five years old).

For the plug-in solution, install WP Cron HTTP Auth. Go to its Settings panel, and enter your HTTP Authentication credentials, and that's that—WordPress cron tasks, including automatic updates, will now work again. Hooray!

Using NUT to monitor a CyberPower UPS in pfSense

This post is probably of interest only to me, and I'm posting it just because I'm getting tired of remembering where I stored this tidbit on my Mac.

Our home router is a Protectli box running pfSense firewall/router software; the Protectli box is connected to a CyberPower UPS. Within pfSense, you can install the Network UPS Tools package (called NUT in pfSense) to monitor and report on the UPS; here's how it looks in the overview screen:

After recently updating to a newer Protectli box, however, all I saw was a message that read "Cannot communicate with UPS" (or something close to that). I knew I had a fix for this issue somewhere, but I couldn't remember where. Today I found it, so also today, it goes on my blog so I'll always know where it is…

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