August 2007 Archives
Sat, 25 Aug 2007 10:34:58
Journler 2.5.3 is a Mac OS X donationware (free for personal use) journal (daily notebook) application. This latest version only works with Tiger (10.4.x). However, older versions of Journler (1.17) is available for Mac OS X 10.3.x or older.
Journler integrates with Apple’s iLife suite and lets you add audio, photos, and video in your entries.
Panoramio: Submit Place Photos to Google Earth
Wed, 22 Aug 2007 22:27:37
OK, this is more of a request than my usual nano-commentary.
…was acquired by Google last month (July 2007). If you download and install the latest version of Google Earth, you’ll find that one its features displaying user submitted photos of places all over the world. This is great stuff (and a tremendous time waster :-). So, here’s my request…
Lightning: Mozilla Thunderbird Calendar Add-in
Wed, 22 Aug 2007 06:11:15
This has probably been around for a while. However, I only learned about the Mozilla Lightning add-on calendar project for the Mozilla Thunderbird email client (another on my must have list) a couple of days ago. It is listed along with the better known (to me anyway) Mozilla Sunbird standalone calendar client as a calendar project. I hope this add-on doesn’t fade away along with Thunderbird after it is split off from the main Mozilla group.
Buzzword: Web Word Processor
Sun, 19 Aug 2007 21:22:26
I use Google Docs a lot and I’m always looking for the next web-based untethering app like it. So, I hopped over to…
Got Open Data???
Here’s a nifty little trick. Install my iPhone utilities package. Then cd into /System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app. Then issue the following command:
restart; ./SpringBoard. This lets you run SpringBoard from the command line and peek at all its NSLog messages as they are issued.
Be aware that this is not safe, your stuff won’t work right, and you’ll surely have to reboot after. But it’s still kind of fun in a power-tool way.
A couple of days ago, as I was updating SendSong (latest version here), I discovered a really nice trick. Until now, I’d been storing ringtones in /Library/Ringtones, the same folder used by the built-in ringtones. Then
“DarkTen”“Ste” tipped me off to the fact that you could store them in the root folder, in /var/root/Library/Ringtones and they’d still be recognized. (”LG” discovered this and Nate True confirmed it, adding that there’s a third way to put Ringtones into your iTunes folder–but it’s complicated.) SendSong now takes advantage of this and limits your access (both adding and removing ringtones) to that folder.
What this means, though, is that if you can track down a copy of iPhone Interface for either Windows or Mac, you can install ringtones without having to jailbreak your phone. Create the /var/root/Library/Ringtones folder (on a non-jailbroken phone, that’s the Library that appears as your home folder) and stick whatever ringtones you want into that folder. There’s no need to access system files. You can do it all from the public directories.
Photographer James Duncan Davidson did a neat experiment with a recent blog, transforming a series of images into a tutorial movie that shows the evolution of a photograph step by step. This format lets the viewer compare images more easily because they’re superimposed.
Readers liked it a lot, but wished for more informative captions. (Duncan had pasted the captions right onto the images as bitmap text, so there wasn’t much room.) I also thought it would also be nice to step through the slides without groping around with the QuickTime transport slider.
Then I wondered about using a QuickTime text track instead. It turned out to be surprisingly easy.
- First I created a five-picture slideshow in QuickTime Pro with the Open Image Sequence command.
- Then I typed out five captions in a text editor, with a return between each line, and saved the file as plain text.
- Finally, I opened the text file with QuickTime Pro (making it into a text-only movie), copied the text movie, and added it to the slideshow with the Add Scaled command. Opening the QuickTime Properties window, I then offset the caption downward.
Here’s the result:
But what about the interactivity? I considered investigating sprite tracks, chapter tracks, Flash, or more complex approaches, but then I noticed that the little left/right arrows at the right side of the QuickTime controller bar stepped between images. Interactivity is built in!
I did do a bit of behind-the-scenes prep on the slideshow above: I layered a black GIF in the background to create a frame around the movie. I also set the slide transition time to two seconds, because that’s the default duration of the captions QuickTime generates. But if you want to get fancy, you can format the fonts and colors as well.
Last week, I got a call from a friend in dire straits: his MacBook would no longer boot and he hadn’t yet made a backup of an important documentary project he was working on as a freelance photographer. When I had a first look at the MacBook, it did start booting, the “progress rotor” did show up, but instead of presenting the OS X welcome screen, an icon appeared after a too-long wait, indicating the disk could not be found. Ouch.
So I inserted the OS X installation disk, re-started the machine courtesy of the Power button, and held down the Option key to be able to select the DVD as the boot volume. Interestingly, the Mac’s internal drive was among the boot volume options, but when launching the Disk Utility application from the OS X installation disk, the software could not find the internal HD. As the next step in the quest to revive this Mac, I booted it from a TechTool Pro 4 DVD and launched TechTool Pro, but, alas, the internal drive again failed to appear.
The NeoOffice developers have released version 2.2.1 of their office suite, bringing some new features that should be quite welcome for their users:
- Support for the native Mac OS X spellchecker
- Support for the native Mac OS X address book
- Support for high resolution printing
- Opening, editing, and saving of most Microsoft Office 2007 Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents
- The latest features from OpenOffice.org 2.2.1
They have also announced the release of the new RetroOffice 2.2.1:
RetroOffice is an X11 application based on OpenOffice.org that has integrated many of the native Mac OS X features from NeoOffice. While very few users will find RetroOffice useful, the following groups of users may find it useful:
- NeoOffice testers and support volunteers that use it for troubleshooting purposes
- Mac OS X users that prefer using an X11 application instead of a native Mac OS X application
Sat, 18 Aug 2007 09:15:38
An O’Reilly Radar blog item let me to read…
…which led me to…
last100 list: 10 sites for free legal music
Sat, 18 Aug 2007 09:01:06
Website last100 lists…
Go and get ‘em!
Google Spreadsheet New(-ish) Column Sort Tool
Thu, 16 Aug 2007 21:49:16
Google announced a couple of new features for Google Docs a few weeks back. But, I only remembered about the new sort feature this evening :-). We’ve always been able to sort columns in Google Spreadsheet using the button tool. However, if you hover over the bar beneath a column label (frozen row 1), you will see a tool tip like the one shown above. This lets you choose ascending or descending sort and then perform the actual sort.
Sun, 12 Aug 2007 22:02:48
It has been a while since I mentioned an actual Mac OS X freeware or FOSS app (vs. multiplatform or web app that happens to work on a Mac).
…is a freeware Mac OS X app that lets you set OS X preferences that are not set-able (is that a word?) from the Preferences screen. It categorizes its tweak sets into Finder/Window Options, Dock Options, and Unix Tweaks.
Behold iLight, my latest creation. It turns your $500 or $600 iPhone into a flashlight.
Via style.com’s gadget blog comes this spiffy new device by Timex: iControl, which is a wristwatch and iPod remote.
The iControl website has full details, including this compatibility list:
- iPod 5th gen (video), 30GB
- iPod 5th gen (video), 60GB, 80GB
- iPod nano 2nd gen (aluminum), 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
- iPod nano 1st gen, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB
Style.com says it also works with the iPhone, but I wasn’t able to find a confirmation of that on Timex’s site.
The second iPhone update was released earlier this week, officially released for undescribed “bug fixes”. There have been reports that the 1.0.2 update improves scrolling in Safari and that it may even boost the phone’s WiFi reception. The update reportedly uses a validation process to wipe out hacked versions which forces hacked phones to get a fresh install. I don’t expect that will be slowing our iPhone hacker friends down much, though.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve upgraded and seen any change in your WiFi reception, or other interesting side effects from performing the upgrade.
If you signed up for contract-free iPhone service, you might have noticed some “Your last transaction cost $0.00″ messages. It’s hard not to. Sometimes twenty or thirty of them pile up at a time. As of today, it looks like AT&T has finally switched these useless messages off. It’s still to early to tell if all the last transaction messages are gone or only the free ones–I’m guessing the latter rather than the former. In any case, it’s a nice relief to be done of them. Good riddance.
We are all, I think, used to Paul Thurrott rolling out some ludicrous mac-bashing post any time he finds he can’t retain readership. This week he picks on the iPhone’s calculator. Yup. That’s right. The calculator.
Now I’ve used the calculator on my iPhone. I punched in numbers. I punched in operators. I hit the “equals” button. Not only did the calculator respond with a sum, it responded with the correct sum, so I’m not really sure what fault one could find with it.
But I’m not Paul Thurrott. He says, “The iPhone calculator should look like an iPhone application at the very least and ideally offer a number of skins. Obviously.”
Obviously. Geeze. Thurrott’s gotten so formulaic, it’s getting hard to distinguish him from Fake Paul. But in this case I think Real Paul has a point. Well, not really. But I think that looking at the ways in which he is wrong will illuminate some interesting principles of design.
Fri, 10 Aug 2007 06:29:52
Microsoft Live Folders was renamed Live SkyDrive earlier this week. It is still limited to 500MB of online storage. However, Microsoft added a drag and drop save feature. Unfortunately, this feature requires and ActiveX component. So, it only works when using Windows and Internet Explorer. And, you cannot drag and drop in the opposite direction (from Live SkyDrive to your PC).
Microsoft really needs to use WebDav to give it the kind of user transparency Apple’s .Mac network drive has.
blogr: Multimedia Blog Host
Wed, 08 Aug 2007 22:56:24
I wanted to post a short audio clip (a prelude to a podcast) to my MobileViews blog yesterday. But, I didn’t want to just attach the file to the blog post and ask people to download it. Then, I recalled reading about a new multimedia blog hosting site called…
Does VMWare Converter Work?
Tue, 07 Aug 2007 12:52:44
Mashable’s List of 40+ Free Blog Hosts
Mon, 06 Aug 2007 21:30:31
Mashable.com has a list of…
Although there are the usual suspects everyone knows (Blogger, LifeJournal, WordPress, etc.), there are also a bunch I’ve never heard of that I want to take a look at even though I already have a couple of blogs. The one that I’m probably going to take a look at later this week is: blogr.
Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 0.1.1 (Beta)
Sun, 05 Aug 2007 22:53:21
If you use Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac on your Mac and need to work with people using Word 2007 for Windows in its new native DOCX foramt, take a look at…
With the Office Open XML Converter, you can convert Office Open XML files to a format that is compatible with Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Office v. X for Mac. You can choose to convert and open one file, or convert a large number of files.
Pummeled by palettes, I’ve been thinking of connecting the extra DVI output* on my G5 tower to a second monitor. That daydream got a boost when my terrific eye doctor raved about his multi-monitor home setup recently.
Multiple monitor photo collage by c2k2e.
So…what advice do you have for setting up and using multiple monitors? Do you like them side by side? Over/under? Same size/brand? How do you arrange programs, windows, palettes, and the Dock?
One of my fellow Cocoa Bootcamp friends, Jonathan Saggau has put his Cocoa skills to get use and wrote an “Unsanctioned”
Pong Application for the iPhone.
Here are two pics from his blog:
Pong in Action
Great job at being subversive Jonathan!
Ben Long has posted an excellent The iPhone Hacking Kit, step by step article on iPhone Central. Want to pop the hood and have some fun? Here you go…
I really like the iPhone but hate the shape of the earbuds that are bundled with it. What keeps me from tossing them is they have some cool functionality. The microphone not only works well as a hands-free device when on the phone in the car, but is also a handy control for the iPod function of the iPhone. Click it once and you can pause the music, twice and it jumps to the next song. So I didn’t want to trash the earbuds even though they don’t fit well.
My solution… a $12 investment (at CompUSA) in Griffin EarJams. They convert Apple’s earbuds into more comfortable inner earphones. This combination is not the ultimate in sound quality, but it sure is an improvement over the stock earbuds.
Next, I keep my iPhone protected by passcode. This is a nice feature, but have you noticed that the welcome screen has no personal information on it? Just the time and date. What happens if you misplace your iPhone?
I’m using the Incase Molded Rubber Case to protect the edges of the iPhone. As an added measure of protection, I’ve slipped a business card between the case and the phone that has my contact information on it. That way, if I misplace my device, I have half a chance or recovering it. (Just don’t use your iPhone number for the contact info… doh!)
Finally, I’m keeping the phone charged in the car with the XtremeMac InCharge Auto. It’s a great looking device with an intelligent self-resetting fuse. For $19.95, it’s done a great job of keeping me juiced up on the go.
Steve Jobs’s obsession with style is proverbial, and outstanding design has been an Apple hallmark for years, both on- and off-screen. (OK, there are a few exceptions…). During the early eighties, Hartmut Esslinger’s frog design studio had the biggest impact on Apple’s hardware designs.
Now, his son Marc has published an article on a German website, reminiscing about what it was like when Steve Jobs discussed design and product strategy with Hartmut Esslinger late into the night, playing the Beatles’s “Revolution”
album from the “White Album” at full blast, while 11-year-old Marc was trying to find some sleep under his Apple-themed bed sheets.
Two interesting quotes from the article:
Apple thinks “thirst” not “glass of water;” an electronic device as a cultural and human statement not just a piece of plastic and technology.
[nowadays] every marketing director [of other frog design customers] would eventually step into the room with an iPod in hand and say: “Build me an iPod, we want to become the Apple of our industry.”
To complement his article, Marc has thrown in some design study photos, some of them previously unpublished. It is stunning how many of these designs still feel “fresh” today despite their age of some twenty years. Even if you don’t understand German, it is well worth visiting the article page for the photo gallery alone. Scroll to the gallery at the bottom of the article and click on any of the images for a larger version.
I have Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac on my MacBook. It doesn’t read or write Microsoft Office 2007’s native OOXML files. Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac won’t be out until January 2008. It won’t support Office macros. I don’t use Entourage. So, that means all I really use is Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Apple iWork ‘08 is available now and can read/write Office 2007 files. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app. It costs $79. I don’t think Office for Mac 2008 for Mac will be $79 (will it come in a bazillion versions like Office for Windows?). I’ve never used iWork but will guess it doesn’t support macros (big deal since Office won’t either).
Seems like a good time for me to switch to iWorks. What about other current Office 2004 users? Will you wait until January to upgrade to 2008 or switch to iWorks ‘08 now?
I imagine I’m not the only one holding on to an old, balky iPod while waiting to see how Apple refreshes the iPod line ahead of the holiday season.
Sat, 04 Aug 2007 23:30:22
I’ve never been a huge social-networking type. But, I figured I’d finally take a look at Facebook since 99+% of the world apparently is already on it. So, if you have a Facebook account, consider heading over to the Facebook OgasaWalrus Group and say hello. Maybe you can explain to me why this thing is so popular. So far, i don’t get it :-)
MindMeister: Web-based Mind Mapping
Sat, 04 Aug 2007 22:24:39
One of the most all-time most read posts on this blog (see the list on the left) is one about the Open Source FreeMind application. So, this web-based mind mapping service might interest some of you.
OpenWiFiSpots.com: You Can’t Have Too Many Google Mashup WiFi Finders
Wed, 01 Aug 2007 22:45:31
One of my beliefs is: You can’t have too many Google Maps mashup free WiFi finders. So, here’s another one…
Seems like a good one too.
Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2.0 (Beta)
Tue, 31 Jul 2007 21:55:25
Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2.0 (Beta) was released on July 31 (expires March 31, 2008) and provides, well, what its name says. It let you connect to a system running Microsoft Windows from a Mac (OS X 10.4 Tiger only, sorry Panther users). It is especially handy for managing a Windows Server box remotely.
Microsoft Popfly: Web Mashup Service
Mon, 30 Jul 2007 20:02:50
Microsoft Popfly is in a late beta release. It is a free web service that somewhat resembles Yahoo! Pipes in that both can be used to create web mashups without needing to write code. Popfly requires installing Microsoft’s Silverlight platform (their answer to Adobe Flash). Silverlight is in Release Candidate 1 stage and is available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. I installed it on both platforms to try it out.
After hearing and reading so many good things about VMware Fusion, I was really eager to try it out. So I pre-ordered it last week to get the discounted price and then installed the production version (Build 51348) this evening.
I also decided to try out the VMware Converter and was a little annoyed to discover it only runs under Windows. So, I installed it on a PC running Windows Vista Business Edition and tried to convert Microsoft Virtual PC CentOS 4.4 Linux VHD file. No luck. It claimed the file is corrupted (it is not). Then, I tried to convert a Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition VHD file. This time it said it could not identify the OS. I moved over to a PC running Windows XP SP2. Same problem with the CentOS 4.4 Linux VHD file. But, it recognized the Windows Server VHD file this time.
I took the Windows Server vmx/vmdk files over to the MacBook running Fusion and started it up. It seemed to be running very sluggishly. So, I installed VMware Tools thinking its graphics and other enhancements would fix this. Unfortunately, Windows Server lost its mouse cursor after installing VMware Tools and rebooting.
I’ve got a bunch of projects due by the end of August. So, I won’t get to test Fusion again until September. But, if anyone can point out what I may have done wrong (e.g., don’t use VMs built by VMware Converter), let me know. I’ll build some Guests OSes from scratch in September to see if that route provide better results.
We’ve done a lot of grousing about Apple’s .Mac service here over the past couple of years, so I was happy to hear yesterday that it’s getting a long-deserved update. The new .Mac service now includes a fairly slick web photo gallery, which integrates nicely with the iTunes and the iPhone, an increase in the storage limit to 10 GB, and finally offers server-side spam filtering on .Mac email accounts. And the price didn’t change, it’s still $99.95/year.
It sounds much improved and the Web Gallery stuff does look cool, but I still find myself not rushing back to .Mac. I’m curious, what do others think about the .Mac update? Has it got you signing up for the service or feeling better about your ongoing investment? Or were you hoping for more? (I know this wasn’t what Chris was hoping for, sorry buddy!)
I spent some time this morning analyzing the Adjust palette in iPhoto ‘08, and Apple has done some nice work here.
At the top of my happy list are real Levels controls complete with a gamma slider — very similar to what you see in Photoshop, and now residing at the top of the Adjust palette. We also have Shadow and Highlight recovery, which is so important when you’re editing images captured in contrasty light. There’s also noise reduction, and the ability to copy and paste corrections to other images.
These improvements will make iPhoto more valuable to serious amateur photographers who can now stay within the application for the bulk of their corrections. I’ve already plunked down my $79 for iLife ‘08.
If you’re curious about Leopard, and haven’t had a chance to pop over to see Apple’s OS Foundations overview, I recommend you try to find a few minutes to browse through it. It’s part 6 of Apple’s Leopard Tech developer series and it’s freely available to all comers–you don’t have to be a developer to access it.
Although there’s already a “hello world’ floating out there for the iPhone, it involves a number of complicated classes. I decided to simplify and create a new “Hello World” from scratch based only on UIWindow, UIView and UITextView.
The code follows after the jump.
Sat, 28 Jul 2007 15:29:39
I mentioned Microsoft’s new Open Source web site in the previous blog. So, it only seemed fair to note that Apple has had a site focused on Open Source for years. You can find it at…
The list the Open Source projects supported or used by Apple’s client and server software. If you’ve never poked around your Mac, you may be surprised how many Open Source apps are pre-installed and ready to be used in Mac OS X.
Microsoft’s Open Source Web Site
Thu, 26 Jul 2007 23:18:01
Microsoft’s main website (Microsoft.com) opened up a web area with the unlikely URL of…
aideRSS: Analyze and Rank Blog Feeds
Wed, 25 Jul 2007 23:05:15
Eachday: Upload and Organize Your Memories
Tue, 24 Jul 2007 22:58:46
I’ve been playing with a couple of point-and-shoot cameras and cameraphones lately. So, I got the idea that it might be interesting to take and store at least one photo a day for some period (say a year). The Eachday.com site is one that I am considering.
Here are two Mac virtualization announcements that might interest those of you who need/want to run Linux, Windows, or some other OS in addition to Mac OS X on your Mac.
The Parallels blog reports that its Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac Feature Update Beta is available. This beta adds (or returns) Coherence working with Expose (nice), the return of the Image Tool features, virtual hard drive Explorer that works when the virtual machine is off, and iPhone support with Windows XP and Vista (sync to Outlook).
The VMware blog notes that the 50% discount promotion for the VMware Fusion product ends on Sunday Aug. 5. It is available for $39.95 until then. I’m debating whether or not to buy Fusion just to look at it or just be content with Parallels Desktop for Mac.
2007.08.04 Update: I bit the $39.95 bullet and pre-ordered VMware Fusion. Will report back here and/or my personal blog if I note anything interesting.