I know that a bunch of images are broken. It’s a WordPress problem and I have reported it several times. I’m sure they’re working on it, but I hope it gets fixed soon.
I really wanted to bring my DVD’s on a recent cross-country flight. I was familiar with backing them up using a PC, but I had never done it on the Mac. I played around with several options and decided that Handbrake is the best solution if you want a file for your iPod or in iTunes while Mac the ripper is the best if you want a dvd image file at full quality.
You can find a complete description of the process here and here while Macworld also has a nice write up here. This seems pretty satisfying, but I think I would still prefer to remaster the disk like I did on the PC. I was able to strip out the multiple languages, menus and extras to produce a much smaller DVD image that I could load up in any DVD playing software (including windows media center player in the living room ).
This sounded like a great idea. I’d love use my Mac Pro as a media machine but for some reason Apple chose not to include an IR remote with the Mac Pro. The hack seemed easy enough. Just modify the AppleHIDMouse extension to allow the mighty mouse to control Front Row. So I backed up my file and applied the hack. I then tried to install Front row from my installer CD but got the usual error. So I downloaded the updated installer from Apple. This time it claimed to install the package, but I couldn’t find the application anywhere on my machine. So, I gave up and pretended nothing happened.
Well, my Mac wasn’t going along with that decision. Within a few hours I was having kernel panics just about every hour. For no particular reason. Sometimes when I was using iTunes. Sometimes in Safari. No specific cause.
I tried to just replace the modified extension and delete the cache files. This, of course, required me to rebuild my privileges as well. No good. I was starting to think that I would have to do a new system install. I finally resorted to running Onyx, restarting, and then running Applejack. Everything seems fine now. No kernel panic for the past hour. I’ve been pushing it with Safari, Aperture, Devonthink, and now Ecto.
It seems that Disk Warrior is not going forward to support Intel macs. It’s pretty disappointing because I was a big fan of this software for the PPC macs. Unlike the Windows world, there are few system diagnostic tools for the mac. Maybe that’s because there are fewer issues with incompatible third party hardware. However, sh*t happens and sometimes you need more than Apple’s disk utility program to figure it out.
As I mentioned previously, I had some serious issues with kernel panics on my Mac Pro. Coincidentally I had installed a third set of 512MB ram cards just a few days earlier, bringing me to a grand total of 3GB (Aperture is finally feeling a little more peppy). I was concerned that the new chip was the origin of my problems.
Luckily, Apple includes a Hardware Test application on my system install CD. I only had to restart my machine with the “D” key held down. The Mac Pro booted right into a diagnostics program. Ran the extended diagnostics which took about 12 minutes. It tests the RAM, CPU and motherboard. It also provides some info about the machine.
Since it is not possible to do a screen capture from the hardware test, I’ve added a link to a larger camera shot.
This is a little gem from the last Digg videocast. I’ve totally ignored this option in Apple’s Mail application for the past couple of years. You can select a message that is spam and bounce it back to the sender as if your address no longer exists. This is a great way to get off of those spam email lists. If you do this enough times the spammers will conclude that your email address no longer exists.
Here’s a quick Automator script to pull all of the image links in the frontmost Safari window into iPhoto. I use this when I stumble across a web page with great photos I want to add to my gallery.
Notice that what this script does is download to the desktop and then import to iPhoto. After completion, it deletes the originals from the desktop. This way I am sure to get the full resolution images rather than the lower resolution web thumb nails
Who doesn’t love Youtube (this month)? In fact some of the stuff I like so much that I want to keep it permanently on my computer. While there are applications out there like TubeSock, I think the way I do it provides more options.
I start by grabbing the flash file from Youtube with the free application PodTube. This little utility grabs the flash movie from the frontmost Safari window and loads it onto the desktop. While PodTube has settings to convert the file to an iPod playable format, I have not had any luck getting it to work. However, I am a registered user of Hawkeye. This is a great utility that converts files between a variety of formats. It can convert DVD files to play on iPods!
After Podtube places the flash file on the desktop, just import into Hawkeye and convert to MP4 (or any number of other formats). Hawkeye will even add the file to iTunes for you.
My Mac Pro received another 1GB RAM upgrade tonight. That puts it at 3GB total. Apple’s Aperture just sucks up the RAM. Especially when dealing with the NEF (RAW) files from the Nikon D80.
The extra RAM has made a considerable difference. Aperture is snappier and I can listen to music while I play with my photos.
Doing a self-install of the RAM was a snap. Here’s the instructions:
1) Power down the Mac Pro
2) Open the side panel
3) Pull out the top RAM riser
4) install two 512K RAM chips (from Apple)
5) Put the memory riser back, close the side panel and power-up
I love the system utility Onyx. I’ve tried most of the others, including MacJanitor and Cocktail, but Onyx has always done a good job and has a great feel to it. Now I’m aware that most of them are simply running a series of unix maintenance commands to repair permissions, clear cache files and update catalogs. But I still find them easier to use than the Unix commands.
I am now an Applejack user. What is Applejack? Well, it’s the uber disk repair script. While it does require a restart into Single user mode, it repairs way more than just the permissions. Too much to list here, but check out the link I provided. One of the big features is repairing bad bits on a drive. If you feel like your mac has been crashing more often than it should, the disk could be corrupted. Applejack will take care of that. It also cleans up virtual memory catalog structures.
Be careful though, Single user mode is quite powerful. I would recommend reading up on it before you try it.
Now that I am all about digital photography (at least this week) I’ve noticed some limitation of having only 2GB of RAM. If anything will tax your system, be it PC or Mac, it is digital media. Aperture really puts some serious load on my Mac Pro. I wanted to see exactly how much.
Introducing iStat. It’s a great little application (donation ware) that comes in either Widget or application flavors. It shows about everything you would want to know (except individual cpu load on the dual intel machines). You get CPU load, Memory usage, Disk usage, Network ID and transmit receive stats as well as up time. I highly recommend it.
Here’s the load on my Mac Pro with Diggnation playing in a full screen window on a second monitor while using Safari and Mail
And here is the same machine running Aperture ONLY
I was a little surprised that Aperture didn’t use more resources. Granted, I wasn’t editing photos, I was just viewing them in the Aperture browser. Still, I’m asking Santa for another 1GB of Ram for my system.
Note: I realize that the images are not showing up right now. I’m investigating the sources right now and hope to have everything fixed soon.
The new D80 has kept me pretty busy. This is my first “Pro-sumer” camera. I’ve never even focused a camera my self let alone adjust the f-stop and shutter speed. It’s all quite interesting. I rely heavily on Wikipedia and the Nikon user groups for help.
But when it comes to the processing side, I’ve taken full advantage of the 30 day trial of Aperture. After playing around with it for a week or so, I can say that it is far superior to iPhoto, but you will pay the learning curve tax. You not only need to be committed to the $300 price tag, but also to the time commitment to really take advantage of the features. Aperture adds many more options for controlling metadata. In fact, there is more metadata than the casual photography could really use. After all, it’s really meant for photographers that want to know what f-stop and ISO the photo was taken with.
The photo editing tools are not a replacement for Adobe photoshop but they are quite advanced. Once again, Apple has integrated elegance into the user experience. The Loupe is a magnifier that allows you to fluidly move across photos to check for imperfections. The red-eye reduction is easy to use and very effective as well.
Even though Aperture is aimed at the advanced user Apple has included a plugin architecture that allows third party tricks for amateurish tricks such as a Flickr plugin for Aperture (there is also one for iPhoto). Apple finally got it right. Third party plugins!!!! Why not let someone else finish the product for you? The Flickr plugin is still beta and managed to crash Aperture a couple of times. But for the most part it worked as I had hoped. I selected a photo and chose Export to Flickr. The plugin provided a screen to input a title, description, tags and even let me choose the image size. Everything I could need.
My final analysis is that Aperture is good but I’m still not ready to part with $300 for Aperture when iPhoto can now handle RAW photos for the D80.
It’s no secret that OS X is way ahead of Microsoft Vista. One example is the Core image built into OS X. One of the advantages of having image support built into the OS is that you can handle large image files with less strain on the cpu and memory. It also ensures that the user experience is consistent across multiple applications. I’m no expert, but there is a reason many graphics professionals choose the Apple platform.
An example of this is the way OS X deals with RAW photo files. All of the work is handled at the OS level rather than each application interpreting the data separately. This can be a really great experience unless you have a brand spanking new DSLR. When Nikon introduced the new D80 and Canon let loose with the xti digital rebel I was ecstatic. However, I soon started reading reports that the RAW files were not compatible with the my shiny new Mac Pro. In fact no application on the Mac could open the new file formats since this is an OS level activity. What a disappointment. I certainly didn’t want to wait for the next OS iteration to include new RAW support. Then I found this release from Apple.
Apple quietly to the rescue again. They released an update just to handle the new camera formats. But why is this not just available in the software updates? It’s hard to complain, considering that Microsoft doesn’t even provide vulnerability patches this quickly. I guess I just expect more from Apple.
This update allows iPhoto and all other Mac applications to handle RAW file formats from the latest Canon, Nikon and Pentax DSLR’s. Couple this with a 30 day free trial of Aperture, and I’m in SLR heaven.
Note: Apple keeps moving the installers. Here are both versions