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Springy Dock Tricks

If you drag a file and hover over Dock icons, various useful things happen which are similar to Finder springing. If it's a window, the window un-minimizes from the Dock. If it's a stack, the corresponding folder in the Finder opens. If it's the Finder, it brings the Finder to the foreground and opens a window if one doesn't exist already. But the coolest (and most hidden) springing trick is if you hover over an application and press the Space bar, the application comes to the foreground. This is great for things like grabbing a file from somewhere to drop into a Mail composition window that's otherwise hidden. Grab the file you want, hover over the Mail icon, press the Space bar, and Mail comes to the front for you to drop the file into the compose window. Be sure that Spring-Loaded Folders and Windows is enabled in the Finder Preferences window.

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Adding a USB-to-Ethernet Adapter to a Mac

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What would you do if you wanted to add a second Ethernet card to a Mac mini, iBook, or iMac to turn it into a router, a firewall, or a packet shaper? Or, how would you work around a burnt-out internal Ethernet chip in such a Mac? With a Power Mac, you can buy an inexpensive PCI Ethernet card and be up-and-running with a minimum of fuss (as I did for my Power Mac G4 after a lightning strike; see "Adding Ethernet to a Power Mac" in TidBITS-737). But it's a trickier problem for Apple's consumer Macs, though they have plenty of power and other attributes (such as minimal noise generation) that make them attractive as utility machines. In some cases, you might be able to use the Mac's AirPort card as your second Ethernet interface, but AirPort isn't as fast as Ethernet and AirPort networks aren't quite as stable for a machine that's acting as a server.


A better solution is a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, since they're inexpensive (about $25 to $40) and readily available from companies like Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and others. However, Mac OS X doesn't include drivers for these adapters, and the companies in question aren't the most Mac-friendly firms out there. Thanks to Peter Sichel of the Macintosh networking developer Sustainable Softworks, you can get USB-to-Ethernet adapters from these firms working with your Mac.


A while back, Peter found himself wanting to add a second Ethernet card to an iBook, but when he researched the situation, he found that the only driver that worked the way he wanted was an open source driver written by Daniel Sumorok for Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. Unfortunately, Daniel's driver worked only with USB 1.1 devices, which are limited to a maximum speed of 12 Mbps. While 12 Mbps is roughly similar to the 10 Mbps of 10Base-T Ethernet, if there are low-speed devices such as a mouse or keyboard on the same USB bus, they bring USB 1.1's speed down to 1.5 Mbps. That level of performance might be acceptable for Internet access over a standard broadband connection but wouldn't be for local network usage. Luckily, there are also USB-to-Ethernet adapters that use USB 2.0 (which has a maximum speed of 480 Mbps) and that can keep up with 100Base-T Ethernet, but Daniel's driver didn't support these devices.

Peter contacted Daniel about helping to make Daniel's original driver work with USB 2.0 devices. Daniel was interested in the project, but said that he lacked the hardware and software to test, so Peter provided him with the necessary resources, helped out with testing and, once it became clear changes would be necessary for Tiger, porting. The upshot is that after a few months of work, Peter and Daniel now have a pair of drivers, one for USB 1.1 Ethernet adapters and the other for USB 2.0 Ethernet adapters, and both are Panther- and Tiger-compatible. They're also free and open source, released under the GPL license, so you can download them along with their source code. You can read more about the drivers and download them at the page linked below.

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