Last night one of my twitter friends (Ben Casablancas) asked me an interesting question, he wanted to grab his OS X login screen ‘avatar’ for use on twitter. Now, on first appearances the image file seemed to be well hidden away in the deep dark depths of the OS X file system.

However using this little snippet of code in a terminal window made it much easier to find:

dscl . -read /Users/`id -un` JPEGPhoto | tail -1 | xxd -r -p > ~/Desktop/MyAccountPic.jpg

Now if you check your desktop, you should see a JPG labelled MyAccountPic.jpg. That’s right… That’s the picture seen in the login window. But wait… I hear you cry, what about the ‘halo’ ring! Well don’t you worry, we’ve got that covered too!

Back in terminal, paste in this line:

cp /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Versions/A/Resources/avatarWhiteRing.png ~/Desktop/MyRing.png

You should now find another image on your desktop – this one labelled MyRing.png. This is the ‘halo’ circle from around your avatar. Now last but not least, you’ll be wanting the mask to go with that:

Back in terminal, paste in this line:

cp /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Versions/A/Resources/avatarMask.png ~/Desktop/MyMask.png

You’ve guessed it! You will now also have an image on your desktop labelled MyMask.png.

So although it’s hidden away, using the extremely powerful terminal it can easily be retrieved.

For reference, all the code above does is create copies of the graphics, and is in no way dangerous. If your stuck looking for something in OS X drop me a line and maybe I can help you too.

As an avid blogger since the July 2006 I have rapidly worked my way up through the hosting packages, and as the blog gets more and more popular (thanks readers) the costs of hosting grows too. Although I am not generally a massive fan of advertisements on blogssites, I think the offering from ValueClick media really is something else.

As you may have noticed I have recently enabled ValueClick’s media advertisements on my site. However, sticking to my own beliefs I have disabled all auto-starting video and audio ad’s as I know not many people appreciate them. (Including me) So the only thing you should see are simple and subtle ad’s. I have not done this in order to take early retirement, I have done this to help pay for the hosting my passion for blogging costs me.

So I thought I would share my experience, and enable my fellow blog writers to benefit from the scheme too. There are many advertising companies out there (as you can imagine) some better than others, all offering high gains. However, I think it’s fair to say (in my opinion) ValueClick media have the best interface of them all. The simple point and click design allows you to truly take control of who and what adverts are displayed on your site. Combine that with the in-depth reporting tools and you really do have a powerful tool.

Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way an “Earn £1200 a week” blog post, it will not make you rich (Unless you have a VERY busy site) and I am not trying to sell some sort of pyramid scheme. Just take a few minutes to follow the link to Click and start earning! and all being well, you too will be earning a small investment towards your hosting. Or maybe your Starbucks addiction.. Who knows :) One things for sure, it’s simple to set up, and even easier to maintain. So you really have no excuse not to!

If you have an advertising agency preference, or have a comment on advertisements on blogs please comment below.

Recently my Address Book app decided it no longer wanted to sync with my online contacts, and what’s worse, the preferences pane was completely blank too. So I couldn’t even re-enable or re-configure the sync.

After an hour of so of frantic googling blog posts kept pointing me in the same direction, and that was Pacifist. Pacifist is a donate ware application which is capable of extracting the pkg files directly out of the setup media’s image. Thus giving the ability to reinstall stock OS X applications without having to reinstall the OS.

Pacifist is a shareware application that opens Mac OS X .pkg package files, .dmg disk images, and .zip, .tar, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, and .xar archives and allows you to extract individual files and folders out of them. This is useful, for instance, if an application which is installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling all of Mac OS X, or if you want to inspect a downloaded package to see what it will install before installing it. Pacifist is also able to verify existing installations and find missing or altered files*, and Pacifist can also examine the kernel extensions installed in your system to let you see what installer installed them, and whether the installer was made by Apple or a third-party.

The application has a simple, straightforward interface. An once pointed in the direction of the media it does the rest of the work for you!

As you can see, Pacifist is a powerful little application. However the section that saved my bacon was the ‘Open Apple Installers’. This is where the magic happens. Once you hit this button you’ll be prompted to point the app at your OS X Lion media or DMG file. The app will the pick apart the main installation application and present you with all the PKG files contained within it.

Now all you have to do, is right click on the PKG file your after and click install. That’s it! Within minutes I had reinstalled my OS X Address Book, and resolved my syncing issue! Pacifist will now take pride of place in my utilities folder, and will be my first point of call should I have any further stock app issues!

If you know of another way of resolving Apple application issues without reinstalling OS X, drop me a note below.

You can download Pacifist from

As a keen Mac user for many years, I’ve often been bugged by the same age-old issue. An that’s the fact that you can’t keep important windows ‘top-most’. This can often be a bind, especially when you spend time in both terminal and GUI applications. Last week this pushed me over the edge, as I was getting tired of flicking between the two. So I finally found what I think is the perfect solution to my problem.

The clever people over at Infitite Labs have produced a handy little utility named Aflot. It’s completely free of charge and offers some pretty impressive features.

Afloat features include:

  • Keep any window ‘afloat’ (aka top-most)
  • Pin windows to the desktop
  • Move windows from anywhere
  • Turn a window into an overlay (transparent<->semi transparent)
  • Show a windows file in Finder
  • Resize windows from anywhere.

Afloat requires OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or above, and is available to download from here

Once downloaded and installed, the OS X ‘Window’ menu in the menu bar of your favourite apps will include extra options:

This has saved me lots of pain when using terminal. If you know of other methods to ‘pin’ windows let me know.

OS X Lion comes with some pretty handy features, and the System Preferences window can soon become full of things you don’t really need to refer to all the time. Luckily the developers over at Apple have this covered. Somewhat of a hidden feature allows you to hide/show preference panes, with just a few clicks of your mouse/track pad.

To do this launch your System Preference Window, which can you find under Finder > Applications.

Once launched click on the ‘View’ menu in the menu bar at the top of your screen, and select the customise option.

Each preference pane will then get a ‘tick box’ just to the right of it’s icon. Clearing the tick in this box will hide it from view in the preference pane window.

If you change your mind at any point, all you need to do is repeat the process and tick the ones you removed.

It really is as simple as that.

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