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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Posting problems on WordPress

December 11, 2006

Well, I’m having quite a bit of difficulty posting from Ecto to this blog. I am in the process of reviewing alternative blog sites. I like WordPress a lot, but it seems like I’ve had significant issues trying to make posts.


Parallels and Apple — Near perfect

December 4, 2006

There’s a whole lot of buzz around the latest Parallels beta release. They have added a new feature called “coherence” which allows OSX and Windows to co-mingle on your desktop. At first, this seems wrong and creepy. But once I appreciated what this will mean for the future, I found peace with Windows on my Mac.

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Here’s the gist, you can drag documents between the Windows and Mac desktops and folders. Sadly, they do not “move” but simply copy from one environment to the other. Hopefully this will be changed in the near future. That’s not all, with the coherence mode turned on you can also drag an OSX window into the MS Windows desktop environment and copy and paste between applications using the default Apple short cuts. This is nothing short of monumental in the evolution of virtualization on the Mac.

I’m imagining a future where you can right click on a document anywhere and choose to open it in either the windows  or the OSX environments. Or better yet, predefine that certain file types always open in the desired environment. The software will just work. No need to worry about the operating system. Web browsde in linux, rip DVD’s in Windows and take care of photo’s in iLife without ever concerning yourself with which environment is actually running.

I am blessed enough to be running dual monitors. This allows me to dedicate one to the Windows VM on Parallels and one to OSX. I couldn’t ask for a better setup for getting my work done. The coherence mode of Parallels allows me to drag OSX windows into the Microsoft environment with no problems (however, you can not drag Microsoft application windows into the OSX environment). The image below shows Microsoft Media Player 11 running overtop Vienna and iStat (both Mac applications).

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Images not showing up

November 19, 2006

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.


Bring your DVD’s on the plane

November 19, 2006

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 ).

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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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