VLC is a very popular program for playing pretty much any type of media under the sun. However, it has a lot of advanced functionality that many people may not know about. One of these is that VLC can send audio as a stream.
My particular case is that I have a wireless headphone set plugged in to my desktop computer in my living room. However, sometimes I would like to play some audio from my Mac laptop (which could be anywhere in my apartment).
I was already familiar with Icecast, a free audio streaming server, so I gave that a try first, but it was not a great experience with a delay of a few to several seconds. Instead, I found that VLC could get me down to just under 1 second of latency, which still isn’t great but is workable; at least the server setup wouldn’t be required simplifying things a bit.
I bought a new mid-2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro late last year, immediately prior to the line being discontinued (I still think the second-generation MacBook Pros were the best series). After about a week, I found an annoying thing with it: When I turned on the computer after coming back from work, it seemed like it almost always required a cold startup after sleeping, where the optical drive initialized and did its buzz, and took a lengthy 10-15 seconds to wake up from sleep. Also, the computer would wake up (and the optical drive buzzed) even if the MagSafe charger was disconnected.
I contemplated bringing it into the Apple store, as this behaviour was not exhibited in my mid-2009 model and the optical drive buzzing was plain annoying; I thought there was something wrong with my Mac specifically.
However, from a bit of searching it turned out that this was a “feature” of the Mac since OS X Mountain Lion for 2012 Macs and newer: Continue Reading
The option button can be used to reveal hidden options and information in various places around Mac OS. One example of this is if you option-click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar, you will be presented with additional information about the network you are currently connected to, including the type of the Wi-Fi you’re using, the base station’s MAC address, the frequency channel you’re on, and the strength of the connection, among other details. In addition, there is an additional option to open Wireless Diagnostics which might be able to help you with Wi-Fi issues (however, in my experience it doesn’t really give useful information).
An additional tool to help debug network connections is a neat little utility called “Network Utility” that comes bundled with Mac OS X. You can find it in the Utilities subfolder in the Applications folder, or just use Spotlight to find it.
This utility provides a friendly interface for many tools that are commonly used on the command line for network debugging, such as ping, nslookup, traceroute, whois, and finger. An interesting tool though is the last tab: Port Scan. Yes, Mac OS comes with a port scanner bundled with it. Obviously one would hope that the port scanner be used for diagnostic purposes and not malicious purposes.
If you have a MacBook with an infrared receiver, did you know your Mac could be open to other people controlling your computer? By default, Mac OS will recognize the signal of any Apple Remote. Although the effect is relatively harmless (they will probably be able to randomly play some tracks on iTunes), it can range from being annoying if you were studying in the library and your friend happened to prank you, to embarrassing if you happened to be doing a presentation.
Most people do not need to allow any Apple Remote to control their computer. Why would you want other people’s Apple Remotes to control your computer? Here is a tutorial for securing your infrared port so that only your own Apple Remote can control your computer.
If you have an Apple Remote…
You can pair your remote with your computer by pressing and holding the Menu and Next (right) buttons for several seconds, while pointing the remote to the infrared receiver (on the MacBook Pro unibody models, the port is beside the power/sleep light on the front edge of the computer). The pairing logo will show up in the middle of your screen when the pairing is complete.
If you don’t have an Apple Remote…
You can disable the infrared port so that nobody with a random Remote can control your computer.
Open System Preferences → Security & Privacy.
If the preferences are locked, you will need to click on the lock at the bottom left and enter your password.
Click the Advanced… button at the bottom right.
Check “Disable remote control infrared receiver.”
Hopefully this tutorial will help you avoid annoying or embarrassing situations when people try to prank you with their own Apple Remote.