Friday, August 5, 2011

Tech Tip: One Way To Check If Your Remote Control's Battery Is Dead

This is an old favorite of mine.

So, let's say that you've got a remote control - and I'm talking specifically about remote controls that utilize infrared (IR) technology, not raido frequencies (RF) - and you need to see if the batteries are working or not. Normally, you'd just point the remote at whatever it is that it controls, and test it out, right? If it works, the batteries are good, if not, they need to be replaced.

But what if you don't have access to the thing that it controls? You've only got the remote. And you need to make sure it works. Sure, you could just put fresh batteries in just to be sure, but where's the fun in that?

Here's what I do when I'm in that situation:

If I'm at my computer, I fire up PhotoBooth or iChat, or any other app that will turn on the built-in video camera and bring the picture onscreen. If I'm out and about, I'll just use my iPhone's camera app.

Next, I simply aim the remote control right at the camera and press a button or two.

If it's working, I'll see a white-ish/purple-ish light blinking from behind the IR cover on the remote. If it's not, I won't see anything.

Pretty neat, eh?

This has come in quite handy a number of times, especially when troublshooting.

You can also use this trick to see other IR lights, like the ones used on small closed-circuit security cameras.


Have fun!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ejecting disks from the Finder

As some of you may know, I've been a pretty hard core keyboard command guy for a pretty long time.

I just discovered a pretty handy trick that I thought I'd share.

I have a few external hard drives that have multiple partitions on them. It's not unusual for me to only want one or two of those partitions mounted at any given time, and the fastest way to unmount a partition is to selcet it in the Finder and hit command-E (for "Eject").

In the past, doing this would bring up a dialog asking you if you a) wanted to eject just that partition, b) wanted to eject all of the partitions, or c) wanted to cancel. You'd have to click one of the buttons, and off it would go.

Today, I was monkeying around in Lion, and found that if you select a partition on a multi-partitioned disk in the Finder and hit command-option-E, it would eject all of the partitions without the pesky dialog.

Additionally, I found that control-command-E would eject just the partition you had selected (again, no dialog).

I confirmed my suspicions, and found that these options actually do appear in the Finder's File menu when you pop the menu open and then hold down either the option and/or control keys (this is a handy way to discover other neat hiding keyboard commands).

Then as a lark, I decided to check out the Finder on my machine running Mac OS X 10.6.8. And how bout that - it's in there, too! I'm not sure if that's been in there since 10.6.0, but I'm pretty darn sure it wasn't there in 10.5, when that dialog was originally introduced (I don't have a 10.5 machine handy to confirm).


Share and enjoy.

Happy ejecting!