The easiest way to download Google and Youtube video

December 24, 2006

A little while ago, I wrote about using Podtube to download flash videos from Youtube. As Youtube pulls more and more videos off, due to complaints from studios like NBC, I enjoy keeping local copies for future viewing. Well, I’m happy to report the easiest way yet to capture these video. VideoDL is web service that simply fetches the flash file and provides you with a simple download link. Just put in the URL from a video that you want to keep. VideoDL produces a link. Click the link and your browser starts the download. From what I can tell it works great with both Google video and Youtube, but not Metacafe (they don’t claim it should).

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The easiest way to print a calendar on a Mac

December 16, 2006

Today I had the need to print out a calendar for my wife. She needed a blank printout to write a schedule to hang on her wall. My first thought was “I think there is a template in Apple’s iWork Pages that could do this.” Well, that was a poor assumption. No such luck. I went to the iWork community site to find a template but nothing was really useful.

Then it hit me! I have iCal. Right there under the file menu I chose print, fully expecting to just get a bland printout of my current view. That’s not the Apple way though. You get a nice print preview and preference panel that allows some great print options. You can select the number of months to print, along with which calendar events to include. Black and white or color? No problem. Even mini-months are included. This is a wonderful surprise built right into iCal.

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Flickr photo streams in iPhoto

December 14, 2006

I love to look at other people’s photo’s on Flickr. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me or maybe I just wonder if other people’s lives are more interesting than mine. With iPhoto, you can keep up with all of your favorite photo groups and pools without having to click through to the web page. Just go into iPhoto and under the “File” menu choose “Subscribe to Photocast.”

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Get the RSS feed address from the bottom of a Flickr photo set and paste it into the address box in iPhoto. Click “ok” and iPhoto will download the latest photos for you to view right on your desktop. You can even view the comments and titles for each photo.

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Sync two macs at home

December 11, 2006

Thanks to Apple’s aggressive release cycle, many Mac owners have a couple of different machines sitting at home. My particular setup is a Mac Pro in the study and an older 17″ Powerbook in the living room. You would think that this would be ideal. I have a powerful workstation for Aperture and a nice portable for couch surfing. But, eventually you realize that there is a fly in the ointment. Many items only exist on one machine or the other. Apple’s “Sync” utility does work great with a dot mac account. But their Backup application just doesn’t work very well. Sure, all of my bookmarks, contacts, and keychains are all in sync between the two machines, but it just doesn’t handle large data backups very well. Today I was just thinking, “wouldn’t it be great if I could do the same with all of my other documents?” Then I suddenly realized I own the must have application Chronosync by Econ technologies. This application is one of those little gems that just works well.

What it does

It can synchronize two directions, archive deleted files, and even email a log file to you when it’s all done. I’ve been using it for about a year now for nightly backups to an external drive and it works great. As the name implies, Chronosync has a built in scheduler that will run any script at a predetermined time. It only syncs files that have been modified, so it saves time and drive space.

How to do it

Here’s a brief breakdown of how to setup Chronosync to keep two machines up to date. There are some particular caveats that I will emphasize to keep from screwing up either machine.

Mount the remote machine (in this case it is my laptop). The first time you run the script, choose “Left to Right” sync. I am starting with the idea that my desktop has all of the master documents and I want to do an initial sync to replicate everything to my laptop. After the intial sync, you’ll want to setup two way syncing to keep both machines identical. The instructions that follow will outline bidirectional syncing since it is slightly more complicated.

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I find it easier to use a series of Chronosync scripts to sync specific items rather than just doing a sync of the two home folders. While my Mac Pro has 750GB of drive space, my poor Powerbook only has 120GB (upgraded myself). I don’t want to run out of space on my portable. Also, the iPhoto and iTunes libraries are handled very sepcifically. I only sync those one way (from the desktop to the laptop). Make sure to read the Macworld article about using multiple libraries.

I create a new Chronosync script and set the left source as my “documents” folder on  my desktop and the right source as the documents folder on my laptop. Now choose “options” so that Chronosync can auto-mount the remote machine when it is time for the scheduled backup to occur.

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Choose bidirectional sync and check the “Synchronize Deletions” box. I save deletions to an archive which I will go through and remove periodically. This is a nice safe guard to prevent accidental deletions on both machines.

We’re going to be pretty general with the sync triggers. If any of these attributes are different between two files, Chronosync will copy the new version. See the image below for the specific settings I use

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Chronosync has many individual settings for each sync. I will just briefly outline my settings in the images below. In Error handling, I set “Ignore extended attributes and access control errors.”

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Setup the email notification so that any errors are identified.

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I don’t bother with the rule based sync because I want to capture all changed files.

That’s it

Just go try Chronosync. It’s a great application that gets the job done. It has just enough complexity to solve most archival needs but not so much that it is impossible to get anything done.

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Don’t do it!

November 19, 2006

I tried out a trick making the rounds on many of the Mac news sites. Supposedly, it is possible to enable Apple’s Front Row on the MacPro.

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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.

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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.

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The wonders of Apple Hardware Test and Console

November 19, 2006

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.

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Bouncing

November 18, 2006

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.

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