Mac OS X is quickly becoming the operating system of choice for astronomers since it almost seamlessly integrates a beautiful user interface with the level of control and flexibility many of us are accustomed to from the Unix/Linux platform. There are a number of good sites that will help you to get your new MacBook Air set up to do pretty much everything you need from AIPS to XSPEC.
This blog assumes you’ve already got things running pretty well, but that you will come across the cases that require the “almost” qualification above. Occasionally the “it will just work” method breaks down and you’re confronted with an inscrutable error message like:
pstoimg: Error: "/sw/bin/ppmquant -floyd 256 < /tmp/l2h18344/p18464.pnm | /sw/bin/pnmtopng -interlace -trans 'gray85' > img49.png" failed: Invalid argument
I usually solve these problems by asking if Prof. Google has any idea what these errors mean. He (or she) usually does, so this blog is designed to explain how to solve these sorts of problems that a astronomer (or scientist in general) might encounter. If nothing else, the post here might pop up in a similar Google search itself and provide just the sort of specific answer you’re looking for.
Disclaimer!: I’m not a hard core mac/unix expert, just a pretty good googler, and I usually stop fiddling when my frequently jury-rigged fix solves the problem in question on my particular machine. The “fixes” listed here are intended to be helpful suggestions, and before trying any of them, you should make multiple backups of your work, which hopefully you’re already doing anyway.