How To: Create and Import vcf VCards

How To: Create and Import vcf VCards

VCards are simply virtual business cards used to exchange contact information. They are easily recognizable with the .vcf file extension. Vcards have rapidly become a universally excepted way of transferring contact information between devices. They can be sent to most phones such as Blackberries and iPhones, or to all the popular Email programs and multiple contact collection programs.

The first step in creating a VCard is actually the hardest. Below is an example of my own VCard:

FN:Rick Hamell

As can be seen it shows all the important contact info that would be found in any contact program. In addition to Email addresses it includes my phone number and URL to my website.

Many programs such as Apple’s Address Book, or Microsoft Outlook will allow exporting a contact to a VCard file. They can also be edited with a text file as long as the conventions in structure are observed. The easiest method is to use an online generator. I prefer but the one at is more streamlined and compatible. Keep in mind that while MOST programs should read all the fields in a VCARD, some will drop fields such as second and third email addresses.

After creating a card the next step is to import it in to the preferred Contact Program.

Microsoft Outlook:

  • Click on File menu, then choose Import And Export.
  • Click to select the Import a vCard file (*.vcf) check box, and then click Next.
  • Select the vCard file, and then click Open.

Microsoft Entourage:

  • Open Entourage
  • Click on Address Button
  • Drag .VCF file to upper right hand window of Entourage

Apple Address Book:

  • Simply Double Click on the .VCF Card

Mozilla Thunderbird:

  • Attach VCard in Email to self
  • Click on VCard
  • Click OK in “New Card for” Dialog Box

Keep in mind that VCards only really work well with one contact at a time. This is not the way to export or import a fully populated address book. Also, it’s best to be careful where the file goes as it could be used for malicious purposes. Only send the file out to people known to you.

How To: Synchronize Blackberry and Zimbra on OS X

How To: Synchronize Blackberry and Zimbra on OS X

At first looks there is no obvious way to synchronize RIM’s Blackberry devices with the Zimbra mail client. Blackberry already has a huge following in the business world while Zimbra is starting to become extremely popular as an Exchange replacement.

But, out of the box neither will talk to each other directly on OS X.

This can be resolved, but it’s actually a two step process so it will take a little bit of extra work to be sure that data does not get out of date.

Zimbra provides Apple iSync Connector which is currently bundled in the Network Edition Professional Server download, available in the trial version (signup required) or from the Admin Console in an already existing Zimbra install.

Install the iSync Connector with the directions here.

Once the connector is installed it’s a good idea to go ahead and do the initial synchronization. This will sync Calendar, Contacts, Notes, and the Address Book to the corresponding OS X Application. Email will of course not sync since the Blackberry can be setup as an email client and can receive the emails directly.

After the initial synchronization between Zimbra and the desktop, it’s now possible to sync the desktop with the Blackberry.

This is done with the PocketMac Application which is a free download for those who already have a Blackberry. It is not free for any other phone or PDA, although it does work with a wide variety of other systems.

Install PocketMac, plug in the Blackberry, hit the sync button on the dock and watch it all happen like magic.

Using this scenario it’s possible to get out of sync very easily though. I highly suggest getting in the habit of only making changes to one device ever, or doing this two step sync process immediately after adding or making changes.

How To: Disable Dashboard in OS X

How To: Disable Dashboard in OS X

Dashboard in Leopard is a love it or hate it application. There are several useful applications that can make life easier. On the other hand, it’s easy to hit the activation buttons on Mighty Mouse by accident. Other people may begrudge Dashboard’s use of memory. It’s not much, but on low end machines every bit counts.

This is how to disable Dashboard:

Open Terminal (as an admin user)

type: defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

Hit Enter

type: killall Finder

When Finder restarts, Dashboard should be gone. To turn it back on follow the same instructions, but replace YES with NO.

The first command is the powerful one. There are a lot of default behaviors that can be changed in OS X if the write command is known.

The second command, killall Finder simply does the same as force quitting Finder from the GUI. It forces the Finder to quit, relaunch and reload everything, including the Dock. In this case it does not relaunch Dashboard though.

Please let me know if you find this helpful. Also suggestions for other terminal commands would be appreciated.

How To: Extract .tgz files with Tar

How To: Extract .tgz files with Tar

.tgz files have been used in Unix for years. Originally created to handle backups to tape, it’s now commonly used to archive groups of files together such as installers for software. This is where most people run across the confusing .tgz, tar.gz, or tar.bz2 file extensions.

These instructions should be universal for most Unix systems, Linux, BSD, OS X, and even Solaris. Please feel free to leave a comment if they’re not.

To get to tar’s help files, simply type: man tar

The output will look something like this:

TAR(1) tar TAR(1)

tar – The GNU version of the tar archiving utility

tar [options]

[-]A –catenate –concatenate
[-]c –create
[-]d –diff –compare
[-]r –append
[-]t –list
[-]u –update
[-]x –extract –get

Common Options:
-C, –directory DIR
-f, –file F
-j, –bzip2
-p, –preserve-permissions
-v, –verbose
-z, –gzip

So for extracting tar files, we will use the x and f options. Thus:

tar xf filename.tar

Will work fine. Note that the same command should usually work for any file that has the tgz, tar.gz, or tar.bz2 extensions too. The tar command should automatically detect the file type and call gzip or b2zip. If it doesn’t there are two more commands.

For .tgz or tar.gz files, add a z to the command: tar xzf filename.tgz

For .bz2 files, add a j : tar xjf filename.tar.bz2

At this point the file should unzip and untar into the same directory as the archive file. Sometimes an auto installer will come up, but that is still pretty rare.

How To: Check OS X Disk Usage

How To: Check OS X Disk Usage

In OS X there are two ways to do everything. Via the GUI, or Via the command line. Frequently the GUI method does fine for most uses. But sometimes a bit more information is needed.

In the GUI, getting Disc Usage is simple. Open Finder, click on the drive and look at the bottom of the finder window. The number of files selected and the space available is displayed. But, this only shows the current directory and includes ALL sub folders under it.

But with a little use of the command line we can get a lot more information. Opening terminal defaults to the active user’s home directory.

At this point type du -sh * We’re adding the s for “Display an entry for each specified file,” and h for “Human-readable” output.

This will give a readout like this:
28G Desktop
41G Documents
13G Downloads
3.9G Library
0B Movies
5.1G Music
42G Pictures
121M Public
374M Sites

As can be seen this then gives a readout of each directory in the current one and provides the total space it takes up. In cases of low hard drive space this gives a good way to quickly find folders that may be too big. It could also be run in the /Users folder on multi-user machines to find out who it using all the hard drive space.