After extensive testing coordinated with TidBITS Talk participants in California and confirmed today, we've discovered the rolling blackouts currently plaguing San Francisco-area residents can cause Apple's just-released Mac OS X to kernel panic under specific circumstances. Reader reports from MacInTouch and MacFixIt corroborate our findings that having your iDisk mounted in Mac OS X (just choose iDisk from the Finder's Go menu) when there's a brief network flicker due to power switching from the area power grid to Apple's data center generators can cause Mac OS X to kernel panic. Examination with a packet sniffer showed timing to be important - the crash happens only when Mac OS X tries to start reading data from a mounted iDisk when it's unavailable, only to have it appear immediately thereafter. Luckily, the workaround is simple - only mount your iDisk when you're planning to use it, and dismount it afterwards by dragging it to the Trash (which morphs into an Eject icon when disks are dragged to it) when you're done. This unfortunate behavior jives with our experience of causing Mac OS X to kernel panic within 10 minutes after installation by trying to download iTunes from an iDisk, accidentally mounting the iTunes self-mounting image thanks to double-clicking more than necessary due to poor performance, and then force quitting Disk Copy and relaunching the Finder several times.
Open Files with Finder's App Switcher
Say you're in the Finder looking at a file and you want to open it with an application that's already running but which doesn't own that particular document. How? Switch to that app and choose File > Open? Too many steps. Choose Open With from the file's contextual menu? Takes too long, and the app might not be listed. Drag the file to the Dock and drop it onto the app's icon? The icon might be hard to find; worse, you might miss.
In Leopard there's a new solution: use the Command-Tab switcher. Yes, the Command-Tab switcher accepts drag-and-drop! The gesture required is a bit tricky. Start dragging the file in the Finder: move the file, but don't let up on the mouse button. With your other hand, press Command-Tab to summon the switcher, and don't let up on the Command key. Drag the file onto the application's icon in the switcher and let go of the mouse. (Now you can let go of the Command key too.) Extra tip: If you switch to the app beforehand, its icon in the Command-Tab switcher will be easy to find; it will be first (or second).
- April Fools Day Apologies (02 Apr 01)