August 30, 2006
It looks like I was not the only Mac Pro owner that was disappointed by the lack of Parallels support. TUAW has an article with a link to the Parallels blog. It also looks like a fix will be out “soon” according to Parallels own blog. Maybe I will finally be able to boot Windows XP Pro on my Mac Pro without a kernel panic. That would be excellent
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Software, Windows
August 29, 2006
I just received my new Griffin FireWave. I picked it up on Amazon for $60. It’s a pretty easy setup. After installing the included software from the CD, you simply plug in the firewire cable and then plug the surround speakers into the little shiny white peripheral. Voila…surround sound. All in all, the sound quality is pretty good. The included software has some very basic settings. There are three “modes” which include Music, Movie and Emulation (as shown). The speaker configuration is also pretty minimal. There’s stereo, surround and surround with sub. Not much else going on there. For an office or bedroom, this is an excellent (and cheap) surround sound option. For the home living-room I would go with the optical out (at least on the Mac Pro) to a high end component device. Fortunately, my Mac is in the study, so the FireWave will do great.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Hardware, Mac
August 28, 2006
I have used the Mac for quite some time. Long before Apple got behind the idea of a flat directory structure (just take a look at your “Applications” folder). Needless to say, my “Documents” folder has received its fair share of spring cleaning. This usually amounts to putting documents in sub folders whose name makes since at the time, but I quickly forget…and lose the document. One of the nice attributes of a system running Quicksilver, is that you don’t need to remember where you put those files. Just invoke QS and start typing some info about the file. QS locates it and lets you launch it.
After using Quicksilver for awhile, I began to notice that not ALL of my documents were acessible. For some reason, the default for cataloging the documents folder is set two levels deep (with no option for changing it). A fix for this is as follows:
1) Go to the “Catalog” section of the QS preferences
(See, the “User” section only has a limited set of your documents)
2) Select “Custom” on the left hand side
3) Choose add (the plus sign at the bottom left of the screen) “File & Folder Scanner”
4) Choose where ever you keep your documents
5) Now select the “Source Options” sidebar (click the round info button on the lower right corner first)
6) Adjust the slider to however many levels deep you want QS to catalog
After performing this, my cataloged documents went from 520 to 32,000. Big difference. Now if you don’t need instant access to all of those documents, then there is no need to apply this change.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Quicksilver, Software
August 27, 2006
I have had an HP Scanjet 4670 scanner since they first came out. It is one of those vertical see-through scanners. It works great. You can lay it on a book or use it vertically. It takes up minimal desk space. But the most impressive thing about it, is that it just works well with the Mac. HP provides some pretty useful software called “HP Image Zone.” It is composed of several smaller applications that handle fax, scan, photocopy, etc. They are all universal applications and integrate well with other software. For example, you can scan into a sort of clipboard that allows you to drag and drop a scan directly into iPhoto. How sweet is that. It can also be setup to maintain a library of your scans for you. I guess I’m going on about this stuff, because today I was catching up on scanning in all of my important documents and receipts. I was considering getting Readiris Pro, but the HP method is working so smoothly that I’m not sure if I want to mess with it.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Hardware, Mac, OSX, Software
August 27, 2006
My battery has steadily lost it’s will to power my 17″ Powerbook. Granted, it is 2.5 years old now. A month ago I decided to give Coconut Battery a try to see how much more I could squeeze out of it before I had to invest in a new one. It’s a pretty nice little app. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but it does what it needs to do (which, frankly, is a nice change for an application). It tells you how many mAh your battery is delivering relative to what it did when it was new. I was depressed. My battery is only holding 54% of its original charge.
(Here’s a tip for owners of old powerbooks with old batteries: Turn off keyboard backlighting and turn down the screen brightness. My battery life goes from 1.5 hours to 3+ hours when I make these two setting changes)
Back to the main topic: when I heard about the battery recall, I was kind of hoping that I would be in for a new battery. But, to my disappointment, no such luck. Only the 12″ & 15″ Powerbooks are getting new batteries. Oh well. I figure I have another 6 months or so to scrap by with my old one.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Hardware, Mac, Software
August 26, 2006
One of the biggest disappointments about the Mac Pro, is that it will not run Parallels. Oh you can install it and setup a VM, but if you try to RUN the VM then it just crashes. As most Mac users are aware, Apple Macs do have crashes. 90% of them are related to poor programing, not to Apple issues. This is one of them.
I’ve contacted Parallels manufacturer, um…Parallels. Each time I have been told that they are working on a patch. That still doesn’t solve the problem that I paid $85 for something that I was told by the Apple employees would work great on the Mac Pro and no where on the Parallels box or website does it even mention issues with the Mac Pro. I’ve also tried installing the Parallels Beta version in case I just need the bleeding edge of virtualization. Still no luck. I’m really kind of pissed. I don’t consider multi-booting with Bootcamp a desirable alternative. I don’t want it for gaming. I need some specific MS compatible programs. Besides, virtualization is just plain cool.
I suppose I should be patient for the patch, but with all of the press Parallels has received (especially from Apple) you would think that they would have been prepared/anxious for the fastest Apple Mac ever. Maybe I should give Q a try and see if I can get my money back for an opened software box.
WARNING: Parallels VM causes a grey-box-of-death crash. It immediately locks the entire system and forces a restart.
As a Mac user, this is rare and particularly unsettling. As a PC user, it’s just another day. Since I’m both, I just restart, sigh, and keep working.
Update: Paralles have released RC2 which now fully supports the Mac Pro. See this post. Most of the issues with kernel panics have been solved as of their recent beta release.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Hardware, Mac, OSX, Parallels, Software, Windows
August 25, 2006
I was browsing through my local Apple store carrying around a copy (the LAST copy) of Aperture and “Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture (Apple Pro Training Series)” like I was ready to make the purchase. Now I’m no professional photographer. In fact I take pretty average pictures which is why I want some software to make them look better. If I was a good photographer I wouldn’t need touch-ups. A eventually stumbled upon LightZone. Now this seems much more useful to some one like me than Aperture. While I have a couple thousand photos in iPhoto, I don’t usually need to compare rolls of photos from a photo-shoot. There is also an apparent user base out there too. The negative info I could find was a review on VersionTracker that claimed the software was too slow because it was written in Java. I don’t know about that, but it did win Best of Show at Macworld Expo 2006. I still have not decided, but LightZone is looking pretty good right now. If I finally decide on a new Camera that supports RAW format, it might push me over the edge to plunk even more money down on some better editing software.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Software
August 25, 2006
I think every long time Mac user is friends with Quicksilver. In fact I list it as one of my favorite Freeware apps. I find it difficult to use a Mac that doesn’t have it installed. The calculator plugin for Quicksilver is extremely useful. To install it, go to the preferences for QS and check the box next to “Calculator Module”
Once it is installed, invoke QS (mine is activated by ctrl-space) and hit the period on your keyboard. This brings up the text editing box. Type an equation in and tab over to the next window. No start typing “Calculator” until the Calculator actions is selected.
After you hit return, the result will be placed back in the text field. There are also calculator actions to place the result on the clipboard or just display it on the screen.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Software
August 25, 2006
I’m still working through “Programming in Objective-C” (Stephen Kochan). Since I commute on the train, I have plenty of time during the day to read. I’m about a third done. I hope to finish in a couple of weeks. So keep in mind this is all still really new to me. I’m not trying to create a tutorial, but rather share my experience learning the language.
This one is very closely related to the previous post. This is about methods that accept arguments. If you break down this line:
- (void) setNumber: (int) n
We already know that the beginning declares that the method will not be returning any values (i.e. void). But the colon says that this method will be accepting an argument. The next bracket indicates that the method setNumber will read in an integer. The integer is named “n.” Just as a side note, the minus sign in front of (void) indicates that this is an instance method. The other option is the plus sign to indicate a class method.
Here’s a more complex one:
- (void) bounceBack: (Height *) b;
This one is a method that accepts something that is of the type class Height which had been previously declared. The asterisk is what tells us that Height is already a class. The learning curve is getting steeper now.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Objective C, Programming
August 25, 2006
I tried to perform my regular backup to my Apple iDisk account. Unfortunately, Backup 3 informed me that I didn’t have sufficient space. I tried to delete some files but I found no love. It turns out that you can’t just delete the backup files on the iDisk by dragging them to the trash. This actually a pretty nice feature to make sure you don’t screw yourself accidently. So it turns out that if you just check the menu under “Backup” you’ll find another item called “Remove iDisk Backups.” You are then presented with two options. YOu can remove all archives or just the ones created with older versions of Backup. Now my user data is safe and secure once again.
August 24, 2006
I got this one while trying to delete some old archives from Apple’s “Backup” on my iDisk. Great, I only have to wait for -18 more files to be deleted. Wait…huh?
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Funny, Software
August 24, 2006
As I mentioned previously, I decided to implement Apple’s FileVault as a security measure (in contrast to Knox).The instructions were easy enough:
1) Turn on FileVault
3) enter password
The problem was when I tried to start FileVault, I received this bizzare error message:
Huh? Is that even possible? I thought the Mac Pro could only have 2TB of storage. I mean come on! I’ve only got 1250GB of total storage. How could it require 3X that to create a secure disk. Once I emptied the trash and deleted a the clone of my boot disk, Filevault worked just fine. It took about 4 hours to encrypt everything, but when I woke up the next morning, everything worked great. My guess is that FileVault recognizes the home directory of multiple boot disks and tries to encrypt all of them. It still doesn’t explain the un-godly amount of requested disk space.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, Security, Software
August 23, 2006
I’ve noticed a potential problem with the Mac Pro. Ocassionally the CD-ROM will spin up. There’s no disk in there, but I can hear that high pitch spinning. Usually after I open a directory following a short period of inactivity. I’ve replaced the stock 250GB drive with a 500GB Seagate drive. I don’t think that should cause the CD-ROM access though. Has anyone else experienced this issue?
Technorati Tags: Hardware, Mac, Apple
August 23, 2006
Recently I began to teach myself Objective C. My final goal is to program in Cocoa for the Mac. The process is slow going, but really interesting. I’m adding a regular section to highlight some of my thoughts about learning a programming language. The first post is about “Return Values”
This expression declares a new method that is not expected to return anything (i.e. void)
declares a method that should be returning a double precision number
should return an integer.
All this is very cool. It makes it pretty easy to see what kind of result should come back when the method is put into action. While it’s not as direct as Ruby, I’m getting it. I’m even more green with Ruby, but I’ve heard such great things about it, that I had to check it out. I highly recommend this quirky but entertaining guide.
Technorati Tags: Mac, Programming, Objective C, Cocoa
August 23, 2006
File security is usually associated with corporate data. However, if you’re like me you have quite a bit of valuable personal data on your Mac. I have accumulated all my old tax returns, bank records, receipts and PIN numbers on my computer. I have been using Knox to maintain a set of secure folders for my files. It works great and is pretty easy to use. It was so useful that I purchased a license. However, now that I have plenty of disk space in the Mac Pro (vs. my G4 Powerbook; 160GB) I was thinking about switching to Apple FileVault. I haven’t found much negative feedback and it does not involve a separate action to mount the secure volume. This guy seems to think it is the shiznit.
Technorati Tags: Mac, Software
August 22, 2006
The new Mac Pro RAM chips from apple arrived today. It was a piece of cake to install. Open the side panel. Pull out the lower card ( instructions are even printed on the inside of the side panel). Pop in two 512MB chips. No muss, no fuss.
Technorati Tags: Hardware, Mac
August 22, 2006
I’m a big fan of Lifehacker. Today they had a link to a great video tutorial for setting up your own WordPress server. It looks so easy I might even give it a try. Now if only I could find the right hosting company.
Technorati Tags: Programming
August 20, 2006
A few days ago, I mentioned that I reinstalled all of my favorite mac applications. Here is a list of most of them. I’ve included links to the developer sites, whether the program is a Universal Binary (UB) or Power PC (PPC) and how much it costs as of today. I hope people find it useful.
AppZapper (UB; $12.95)– The best uninstaller for the Mac
Bookit (PPC; $12)– Isn’t it annoying having more than one browser? Bookit will sync all of your bookmarks between your browsers.
Booxter (UB; $19.99)– A great way to inventory all of your books. It has some nice features and is pretty cheap.
Carbon Copy Cloner (PPC only; Free/Donation)– Does one thing really well. It makes copies of hard-drives
ChronoSync (UB; $30)– The easiest way to backup on the Mac. A least until Time Machine comes out.
Coverflow (UB; Free/Donation) — A much more appealing interface than iTunes
Curio (UB; $39-$129)– Cool scrapbook like program. If you have a tablet then it is even better. You can paste a clip anywhere on the page and scribble notes everywhere. It’s a little expensive though.
DEVONagent (UB; $49.95)– A seriously powerful internet search tool
DEVONthink Pro (UB; $79.95)– I live in this program. It’s a notebook. It’s a web browser. It’s a smart database with a great AI. I keep all of my notes, code snippets, PDF’s and web archives in DTP. It’s one of those programs, that the more you use it, the more you can’t work without it. As a side note, you can get both DevonAgent and Devonthink together for a reduced price of $99.95.
DVD Imager (UB; Free)– Converts a ripped VIDEO_TS (see MacTheRipper) folder to a disk image. An excellent way to make your own DVD’s. What’s even cooler is that the author Laine Lee includes the sources code. It looks like it is mostly Applescript driven.
Ecto (UB; $17.95)– Blog editing software. I’m using right now. I’ve only used it for a few days, but I’m liking it. It might even be worth the $17.95 price tag. An easy to use interface with integration with iPhoto, iTunes and Amazon.
Google Earth (UB; Free)– The only way to waste time and not feel too guilty. It’s educational right?
Growl (UB?; Free)– A superb notification system for the Mac. It’s customizable and is supported by many applications.
HandBrake (UB; Free)– A nice app to convert DVD’s to other formats like those used on computers and portable video devices.
iBank (UB; $39.99)– Superb personal finance software. It’s pretty streamlined and easy to use. It’s not as feature packed as
iClip (UB; $19.95)– A nifty little clipboard manager. It has a nice interface and holds visual representations of the various clippings.
kip (UB; Free now by $49 later)– A fantastic way to keep your PDF files. The program stores PDF files and automatically uses the embedded text to create common tags for the documents. I print all of my internet related receipts to PDF files directly to kip (it is now called Yep for legal reasons). While it is free now, the developers warn that it will be $49 starting in September. Kind of a high price point. I’m not sure if I will be moving to the pay version or sticking with the free one.
Knox (UB; $29.95)– I used to store all of my bank statements, receipts, Tax returns and such right in my documents folder on my Powerbook. Then I read a story about a stolen iMac that scared the crap out of me. What if my laptop was stolen? Sure, I could replace the hardware and software, but someone would have ALL of my personal info. Then I found Knox. It creates an encrypted disk image that can grow and shrink as necessary. Just type your password and it opens right up. It also has Spotlight support for searching the disks when not mounted. I feel much better now.
MacTheRipper (PPC; Free)– Rip those DVD’s! Creates VIDEO_TS folders with the appropriate VOB files. It’s not a great substitute for PC applications but it works.
OmniWeb (UB; $29.95)– An alternative browser to Safari. Somehow, the Omni group has managed to make a browser that is faster than Safari, but using the Webkit. It also has visual tabs with thumbnails and some really sweet ad and site filtering
OnyX (UB; Free)– Efficient system maintenance tool. This one does about everything. It cleans the caches and temp files. It does the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance scripts. I especially used this a lot with my Powerbook since. If you’re not aware, your computer must be on 24/7 for the maintenance scripts to be run by the system. Onyx lets you run them when you feel like it.
Path Finder (UB; $34.95)– A finder replacement that has some cool features. You can move files, Zip and un-Zip archives and view PDF and images directly. I bought a copy with Knox and saved some money.
Quicksilver (UB; Free)– This is one of those applications that I can not believe is not part of the OS (the next incarnation of Spotlight will have some of Quicksilver’s launching features). It is far more than a launcher. It has a huge number of plugins that allows it to integrate with services such as Mail, iTunes, De.licio.us, etc. You can also specify your own triggers kind of like quick keys. Not to mention, it has a terrific unobtrusive interface. It really has to be seen to be believed. There are several good resources to get a new user up and running with QS. Andrew’s Mac Tips, and 43 Folders have excellent tutorials.
RadioLover (UB; $15)– A little app for those that listen to internet radio a lot and hate the iTunes interface. Consider it an organizer for internet radio.
Service Scrubber (UB; Free/Donate)– Removes some of the less useful items in the services menu. I found if you trim down the services menu, it actually becomes valuable.
SuperDuper (UB; $27.95)– A nice way to make bootable copies of your hard disk.
Vienna (UB; Free)– The RSS reader I mentioned in a previous post. Straight forward and minimalistic. Also has Growl support to let you know when new articles arrive. Great development cycles for a free application.
VLC (Intel or PPC; Free)– The swiss army knife of video players. Can also play videos from a server.
Technorati Tags: Apple, Mac, OSX, Quicksilver, Security, Software
August 20, 2006
I just called the Northshore Apple store here in MA. I asked if they carried any of the new ram for the Mac Pro. I was disappointed and excited by the response. I was told not to expect any of the extra bling to be available in-store for another month. However, they will be carrying all Mac Pro peripherals as well. We’re talking video cards, Superdrives, SATA internal disks and RAM. They will offer any configuration on-site or you can purchase al-carte. This might all be B.S., but the guy seemed pretty confident about it. I did not get the impression that he was just guessing. This is really going to hurt my bank account.
August 20, 2006
As I have previously mentioned, the Mac Pro is up and running. You can’t hear it, but trust me it’s there. About 2 years ago, I built a gaming rig that I decked out with AMD, Nvidia and Raptor drives. It was top o’ the line when I was done. It’s still pretty speedy. But check out the photo of the machine. Can you tell I really would have rather had a Mac gaming machine?
The case is from Lian-Li (by the way, check out this desk. Do you need a Faraday cage around that thing?) and boy did they just rip off the apple design. Keep in mind, those two ugly black squares in the middle of mine are hot-swappable SATA drives I installed for backing up. Before that, they were smooth flush aluminum panels. It was a beautiful enclosure with tons of space. However, beauty is only skin deep. As you can see, the apple design team really worked overtime on the inside of the Mac Pro. Granted, I’m not the best with cable management (as you can tell by the underside of the desk), but that’s not much of an issue with the Mac. No cables as far as I can tell. That’s probably the key to the efficient cooling. My Windows machine sounds like it is cooled by a bank of hair dryers. Now if only I could find a satisfactory Mac based Media center for the living room. I could replace the Windows MCE machine with a nice Mac Mini.
Technorati Tags: Hardware, Mac, Windows