How To: Fix Your Wireless Mighty Mouse’s Bluetooth Connection

An issue that’s been popping up around the blogosphere recently is losing the Bluetooth connection with an Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse on Mac OS X. Essentially, the Bluetooth connection will be working fine and then – without warning – it will stop, leaving the user with no mouse support whatsoever. Here’s a simple way to reactivate the connection.

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to permanently repairing the Mighty Mouse (talk to Apple for that), it will at least reconnect the Bluetooth device so it can be used.

Courtesy Apple Inc.
Courtesy Apple Inc.
  1. Once the mouse stops, CMD-Tab until Finder is your active application.
  2. Press FN-CTRL-F2 simultaneously to highlight the Apple logo on your menu bar. Release the three keys.
  3. Navigate down to ‘System Preferences’ with the keyboard’s arrow keys and hit Return.
  4. If the search box is not already highlighted, use your TAB key to select it.
  5. Type ‘Bluetooth’ and hit Return.

Oddly, once the Bluetooth menu is accessed, the Mighty Mouse should reconnect and work properly. I’ve had to use this process a few times recently, but I’m hoping Apple will be fixing the problem via Software Updates in the near future.

Are you having any trouble with your peripherals? Do you have other solutions? Let us know in the comments.

How To: Automatically View YouTube Videos in HD and Resized to 720p

youtubehq

Firefox Only:  Now that YouTube has a high quality / high definition option available for almost all videos, you may have found yourself wishing it would be enabled by default.  Realistically, YouTube has the higher quality mode disabled by default to save bandwidth on users who don’t mind lower quality videos, but this guide will show you how to automatically view all YouTube videos in the highest quality available (and also automatically resize certain videos to a higher resolution).

To accomplish this, you will need Firefox with the Greasemonkey add-on installed [New to Greasemonkey? Check out our guide].  Once you’re running Firefox with Greasemonkey, simply install the YouTube HQ + 720p Ultimate Greasemonkey script by clicking the Install button on the script’s information page.  Now when you view a YouTube video which is available in high quality, the high quality option will automatically be enabled.

YouTube videos have varying degrees of quality, so certain high quality videos will be automatically resized to a larger resolution, with many videos displaying at a full 720p.  720p-resized videos are too large for users with a display resolution of less than 1440×900, so if that is the case you can disable the resizing feature by following the instructions provided in the Options section of the script’s information page.

A YouTube video resized for 720p playback.
A YouTube video resized for 720p playback.

This script also contains several additional features which can be enabled or disabled:

  • Autoplay – YouTube videos begin playing automatically by default, but with this option the video will be paused and will buffer until you click the play button.
  • Jump To Player – This option automatically jumps your browser’s view to the video’s location.
  • Adjust Player Colors – Users can customize the foreground and background colors of the YouTube player.
  • Hide Annotations – YouTube allows video authors to add annotations to videos which can many times be spam or just plain annoying.  This option disables them from showing up over your video.
  • Loop – Just as you’d guess, it loops the video.

One important thing to note about Greasemonkey scripts is that if YouTube changes their code, layout, or player, the script could potentially stop working.  If this happens, be sure to check the script’s information page to see if an update is available, and if no updates are available you can contact the script author via that page.

Have a Greasemonkey script for YouTube you’d like to share?  Tell us about it in the comments!

How To Check Your HDD’s S.M.A.R.T. Status

As your hard drive begins to age, the chance for failure and resulting data loss increases.  Today’s hard drives feature a monitoring system called Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology or S.M.A.R.T. for short.  With S.M.A.R.T. and the appropriate software, it is possible to keep updated on the status of your hard drive and the important data that resides on it.

To check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard drive, there are many programs that are available.  The two programs that I have found to be most useful and user-friendly are:

Speedfan S.M.A.R.T
Image from almico.com
  • Speedfan
    • Although S.M.A.R.T status is a secondary feature of Speedfan, it offers the date in an easy to understand webpage format.  You can also view and control fan speeds and temperatures of your motherboard.  Attribute stats must be check manually.
  • HDD Health
    • HDD Health provides the same S.M.A.R.T. attribute information as Speedfan, but runs in the system tray and constantly monitors for problems.  If a problem does occur, HDD Health will warn you.

There are several attributes that makeup a S.M.A.R.T. status.  It is important to know what each one means for the health of your hard drive.  A good description of each status is available here.

Knowing the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard drive is not an alternative to backups.  Having up-to-date backups is the only way to fully protect against hard drive failure.

Do you check the S.M.A.R.T. attributes of your hard drive?  Which attributes do you watch the most?  Are there other programs that you use to check S.M.A.R.T. attributes?  Let us know by commenting below.

How To: Automatically Hide Labels in Gmail

Hide Gmail LabelsFirefox Only:  Although Gmail’s labels can be extremely useful for organizing and increasing your email productivity, they can become quite a nuisance if you have several labels applied to a message.  When this happens, the labels take over the space that usually displays the message preview, and makes your inbox start to look cluttered and disorganized.

You can automatically hide Gmail’s labels (until you move your mouse over the message) by adding installing the Hide Labels in Message Row script for Greasemonkey. [What’s Greasemonkey? Check out our guide.]

Have any Greasemonkey scripts for Gmail you enjoy?  Share them in the comments.

UPDATE 04/23/09: The Better Gmail 2 add-on for Firefox now has built-in support for the Hide Labels in Message Row script.

Spice Up Firefox’s Appearance with Personas

firefoxFirefox is a great browser, but despite all it’s usefulness it is pretty drab in the aesthetics department.  While the browser has always allowed you to install themes to modify its appearance, they have never been wildly popular nor particularily intuitive for the everyday user.

Personas for Firefox are lightweight, easy-to-install “skins” that can be changed quickly and easily.  New Personas are added every day to the Persona gallery, and users can easily create their own Personas.

Personas have a some great benefits:

  • They can be changed on-the-fly.  While browsing Personas, simply hover your mouse over a Persona to preview it in real time on your browser.  If you like it – simply click “wear this”!
  • Personas can be added, removed or updated by their designers at any time, without requiring a software update.
  • The software is open source!

Want to see what Personas can add to your browser?  Check out the Personas demo from Mozilla or go directly to the Personas page to install it and get started.  Once installed, you can check out the Personas gallery or be creative an make your own.

Personally, I’m really enjoying the Firefox B Persona.  Have a favorite Persona or have you created your own?  Share it in the comments!

Cleanup Your Computer With CCleaner

As a computer begins to age, many problems can arise such as slow startup, slow program execution and increased memory usage.  Many of these problems are caused by improper shutdowns, viruses, excess temporary files, and residual uninstall files.

CCleaner is a free program, available at http://www.ccleaner.com, which will give your computer the thorough cleaning that it deserves.

CCleaner is able to clean Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, History and Search results from all popular web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.  CCleaner also removes temporary files from Windows and other third-party applications.

Download and Install CCleaner

  1. Download CCleaner from http://www.ccleaner.com.
  2. Install CCleaner.
  3. Select Install Options as shown below
  4. CCleaner
    CCleaner Install Options
  5. Continue through the installation process.
  6. Run CCleaner.

Now that you have CCleaner installed and running, it is time to select what you would like to clean.  As there are many options, it is important to select the correct ones so that you do not lose important information.

Cleaner

CCleaner Cleaner

Once CCleaner is running, the Cleaner button should be selected on the left side of the window.  Once selected, you will see a list of check boxes of the many different cleaning options available to you.  Although all of the options are able to clean your computer, the most important options fall under the System and Advanced categories.

There is also the Applications tab near the top of the window.  Under this tab, you will find that CCleaner has the ability to remove any temporary files associated with the listed applications.  Many of these programs have the ability to remove the files, but CCleaner groups all of these features together.

Once you have selected the Windows features and Applications that you wish to clean, you can click the ‘Analyze’ button on the bottom of the window to preview the number of items that will be removed.  Once the analysis has finished, complete by clicking ‘Run Cleaner’ in the bottom-right corner.  Note: You can skip the analysis step and click ‘Run Cleaner’ first.

The time it takes to analyze and remove the files will depend on the speed of your computer and the number of files CCleaner must scan.

Registry

CCleaner Registry Button

Many computer problems can also be caused by obsolete or improperly removed registry entries.  A cluttered registry can be caused from the following action:

  • Improperly uninstall software.
  • Frequently installing or uninstalling software.
  • Viruses/Spyware
  • Driver problems.

CCleaner has a very powerful Windows Registry cleaner.  This registry cleaner can be used to scan your computer’s registry for problems such as:

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more…

From CCleaner.com

The Registry cleaner will often resolve many problems associated with the Windows Registry by scanning the Registry and removing any unnecessary entries.  CCleaner gives you the option to backup the removed entries, so that you may restore them if you have any problems.

Final Steps

Once you have ran both of the above cleaners, it is important that you restart your computer.  Once the computer has restarted, it may be necessary to run CCleaner another time to removed any residual entries.

What has your experience been with CCleaner?  What is the most number of Registry items CCleaner has removed from a system?  How many MB or GB of files were removed?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

Fix: Featured Content Gallery WordPress Plugin Displays Incorrectly in Internet Explorer 6

For many websites, the Featured Content Gallery for WordPress provides the centerpiece and main focal point of the front page (Techerator included).  This plugin has the ability to display posts in a specific category as well as a graphic and accompanying text for a great preview of articles on the site.

The Problem

When doing some cross-browser compatibility checking, I noticed that the Featured Content Gallery plugin (version 3.2.0) was rendering incorrectly in Internet Explorer 6.  Instead of displaying the article’s preview text as an overlay on the bottom of the article image, it was displaying directly in the middle and looking very out of place.  The picture below shows the rendering error.

Featured Content Gallery Rendering Problem

The Fix

The solution to this problem was a very simple CSS fix.  Find and open the jd.gallery.css file for the Featured Content Gallery plugin (usually located at yoursite.com/wp-content/plugins/featured-content-gallery/css/jd.gallery.css).

Locate the following code (approximately line 41):

* html .jdGallery .slideInfoZone
{
bottom: 100px;
}

And replace with:

* html .jdGallery .slideInfoZone
{
bottom: 0px;
}

Voilà!  The Featured Content Gallery plugin now renders properly in Internet Explorer 6.

Featured Content Gallery Rendering Correctly

How To: Remove the Smiley from the WordPress.com Stats Plugin

One of the first plugins I installed when building the Techerator website was WordPress.com Stats, a plugin which offered useful and practical statistics (instead of the overwhelming metrics that Google Analytics and others provide) with the added benefit that since the statistics monitoring is hosted by WordPress, it would have no adverse impact on the site’s performance.  The only requirement to activate WordPress.com Stats was an API key, which is provided to anyone with a WordPress.com account.

WordPress.com statistics have been very useful and a welcome addition to my WordPress dashboard.  However, I noticed that when logged out of WordPress, a small smiley face icon was appearing at the bottom of the website and breaking the template!  Check out the picture below to see what was happening…

Smiley
Oh Snap!

As you can imagine, I was pretty unhappy to find my template being destroyed by such an innocent emoticon.  At first, I wasn’t even sure where the smiley was coming from so I had to examine the site’s source code to determine its diabolical origin.  It turns out the smiley graphic is added by the WordPress.com statistics script, and isn’t even a part of the plugin (trust me, I looked).

The smiley face can be removed with a very simple addition to your style.css file.  By adding the line:

img#wpstats{display:none;}

to your style.css file (located in your theme directory, usually www.yoursite.com/wp-content/themes/theme_name/style.css), the smiley face will be automatically hidden and no longer wreak havoc on your beautiful template.  The reason the smiley face only is displayed when logged out is so administrators of the site do not inflate the site’s statistics.

Hooray!
Hooray!

Incidentally, this little tip was included in the WordPress.com Stats plugin readme, but who really reads that stuff anyway? 🙂

The Evolution of the Category Page

One of the bigger items on my “to do” list was to get the category page layout looking similar to the front page layout (with the thumbnails and short article text).  Although specifying the “read more” tag in each post worked well enough to make the category pages easier to read, I still felt it would look the best if it was displayed the same as the front page.  I was finally able to accomplish this thanks to Charles K. Clarkson who helped me with the WordPress code required to do this – I couldn’t have done it without him!  You can see a before/after picture below.

This is the original layout for displaying categories.
Old and busted.
New and Improved Categories
New hotness.

The layout will still be undergoing a few changes as I keep adding/fixing things, so please post in the comments if you see anything displaying incorrectly or have any suggestions for the site.

Opening Apple QuickTake .QTK Images

Technology is always changing.  With these constant changes come some problems, such as old and unsupported file extensions.  One file extension that was once widely used, .QTK, is no longer supported by many of today’s digital image manipulation software.  Many individuals may still have pictures saved that were taken with the Apple QuickTake that they can no longer open. Continue reading “Opening Apple QuickTake .QTK Images”