Matthias Schoettle

PhD Student & Software Developer

iOS: How to fix/change Voicemail number

Recently, a friends voice mail “button” did not work anymore. Upon calling the voice mail, an audio error message appeared saying that the voice mail is not available or cannot be reached (something like that).

Unfortunately, Apple does not want you to just change the associated voice mail phone number that is called when tapping on “Voicemail”.

Fortunately, there is a shortcut:

  1. Go to the phone’s keypad
  2. Dial *#5005*86# and “call it”
  3. A phone number will appear, which is the one currently associated with the voice mail.  Write this down just in case.
  4. Now, call *5005*86*<insertPhoneNumber># and replace the placeholder with your phone number, starting with the country code (1 in this case for North America). For example, 14381234567.
  5. The voice mail button should now work.

This approach worked on the TELUS network (using Koodo). If it doesn’t work for you, revert the phone number to the one written down in step 3 and contact your provider.

Source: planken.org

Firefox close tab button on hover

There are probably extensions that allow to do that, however, this is not necessary as I will show in this post. Maybe you’ve seen the functionality in Safari or just wondered why the close button for tabs in Firefox can’t just always be there. In Safari, the close button appears when hovering over the tab itself.

The following modification adds this functionality to Firefox. You need to create a file called userChrome.css with the following content:

.tabbrowser-tab:not([selected]) .tab-close-button {
        visibility: hidden !important;
        margin-left: -16px !important;
}

.tabbrowser-tab:not([selected]):hover .tab-close-button {
        visibility: visible !important; 
        margin-left: 0px !important;
        display: -moz-box !important;
}

Place this file into the chrome folder inside your profile’s directory. Follow the directions from Mozilla to find out where to find the profile’s directory location.

Update 1: It just tried this again myself due to a fresh installation and you also need to change the browser.tabs.tabClipWidth preference from it’s default value (140) to 99.

Update 2 (August 2017): As pointed out by Veto in the comments below, this functionality is broken since version 55.0.3. The above CSS has been updated to stay compatible with the new Firefox UI.

Then just restart Firefox and you are done.

Source: Post on Neowin Forums

Thunderbird Extension: Hide Badge Icon

About two years ago (a few months after switching to Mac OSX) I noticed that the badge on the Thunderbird app icon, which notifies about new and how many emails were received, is quite distracting for me when I work. As soon as it pops up I would notice it and felt an urge to immediately check what the new email is about. Then of course, the current focus and concentration is lost.

I wanted to turn the badge of, as this is generally supported on OSX, but found out that this is not the case with Thunderbird. I didn’t give up easily and went to search the Internet. Unfortunately, no one had attempted this, complained about it or filed a bug report. Also, I could not find any documentation about this on the Thunderbird pages.

I wanted to know more and started digging into the source code of Thunderbird. An advantage of open source software. Because this is a Mac OSX specific thing, searching for files related to OSX seemed logical. Eventually, I found a file nsMessengerOSXIntegration.cpp (it is now nsMessengerOSXIntegration.mm) where the logic for this functionality is implemented. While I did find an interesting piece of code, the revisions also were helpful, which led me to bug report #274688. In this bug report, a hook was introduced, which allows to observe a property called before-unread-count-display. Upon notification, the desired badge label can be modified/adjusted (e.g., making 100+ for all counts greater than 100) before it is displayed. If an empty string is returned, however, the badge will be hidden.

And that was it. I digged into it and found an (unfortunately) undocumented extension feature. This allowed to write an extension with the purpose of hiding the badge in all situations. I have actually used it for more than two years. My intention was always to release it and share it with others, but kind of put it off. Since I was updating my other extension anyway, I finally did it.

To my surprise, it was fully reviewed without any complaints right away. So if you want to work without distractions, you can now use Hide Badge Icon to hide the badge of the Thunderbird app icon.

 

Thunderbird Extension: Toggle Headers Updated

My Thunderbird extension Toggle Headers was running smoothly for a long time. It only needed to be kept aligned with the Thunderbird version updates (for the maximum supported version of the extension). Everything was fine until the third-party extension CompactHeader, which is supported by Toggle Headers, released a new version with internal changes. These changes involved some refactoring, which meant the function to toggle between the compact and expanded header pane had a different name (or namespace).

The way I noticed this, since I don’t use CompactHeader myself, was by receiving a 1-star review. Of course, no proud developer likes this. Generally, I prefer to be contacted directly with bug reports and be able to respond before receiving a review. If a developer doesn’t respond, a bad review is then necessary. However, in this case bad reviews could be turned into very good ones, so no complaints in the end :).

Long story short, a new version of Toggle Headers was released. Basically, Toggle Headers v1.0 restores support for CompactHeader 2.1.0 and higher, but at the same time, it still works with older versions. Unfortunately, the new version of CompactHeader contains a bug that prevents toggling between the header modes (Normal/All) to work properly. I reported the bug in the referenced support forums, but haven’t received a response to date.

This required a workaround to be integrated into the new version. When switching from collapsed header pane and Normal to All headers and then back to Normal, the header pane would stay expanded. The Compact option however is checked in the menu. The workaround simply disables and enables the compact header again to make it work until a fixed version gets released.

The same kind of story happened with another one, where an extension I never heard of named Phoenity Buttons made my extension not work anymore. This was due to the usage of the same key shortcut (H). Somehow Thunderbird gave precedence for the key binding to that extension. Fortunately, the developer of this extension was very helpful and even willing to change his key binding to another one.

All in all, a great experience with the Thunderbird extension and user community.

MT4j with Processing 2

In our TouchCORE project at the Software Engineering Lab at McGill University, we use MT4j (Multitouch for Java) for the multitouch-enabled user interface.

For a long time, we had the problem that we couldn’t run it on OSX using Java 7 and newer, because it is based on an older version of Processing (1.x), which in turn uses an old version of JOGL (Java Binding for the OpenGL API). That version is only compatible with the Java supplied by Apple. As we know, they stopped support with Java 6.

We grudgingly lived with this state for a long time, which meant that OSX users needed to download and use an old version of Java. Now, with the new release of Eclipse Mars, support for Java 6 was dropped, i.e., Java 7 or greater is required. We wanted to update to Mars, and since we use some Eclipse plugins, such as the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF), we needed to use at least Java 7.

This finally pushed us to update MT4j ourselves. With the help of the UltraCom project who did the same but added a ton of other stuff. Based on their commits we managed to update it on our copy (which already had some minor improvements) of MT4j’s last official release v0.98.

We put it up on GitHub so hopefully other people can benefit from it: https://github.com/mschoettle/mt4j

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