Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Fully Uninstall DivX 7 (Mac)

I actually just reinstalled my Mac OS X (feels a lot faster, by the way) but the thing is, I wanted to make sure all my software was up to date and in the process reinstalled divx. Previously I didn't really have a use for divx, I just installed it on a "just in case" basis, and it surely backfired on me this time.

The version that I installed was the very latest "divx 7" and it installed an addon in firefox that COULD NOT BE REMOVED. Just like those annoying java and microsoft addons, this one could not be removed. I was furious, and it took me a while of searching to find out where all the files were (it does not come with an uninstaller, and the company doesn't have one either). So first of all I use pacifist to find out where all the files were, here's a screenshot. The files are quite diverse, and crawl through your whole system.

All of these files were in the macintosh HD directory as well, which was annoying. But, guess what? I uninstalled most of the files, except for the script (I couldn't find it), but the addon was still there! I finally got a tip from a forum, and it turns out that if you go to Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Mozilla/Extensions there's a random string of numbers, and when you open it there the divx components are. I deleted it, and am now a happy camper. Good luck!

Edit: For me then I think it was just one folder of random numbers. And I'm pretty sure I have long deleted that file so I am unable to give the exact string. And as long as you delete the files mentioned in the screenshots. So for example go to macintosh HD/library/frameworks and delete the file named "DivX Toolkit.framework," and go through the whole list deleting the files in quicktime, preference panes, etc. Just for the last highlight folder I mentioned, "scripts," you can't delete and you have to go to the extension folder I mentioned.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Brother HL-2170W Review

Over time I hope to review just about every piece of hardware I own, and at this point I've made it to my Brother HL-2170W printer, which I got close to a year ago. The main reason I didn't do a review earlier is because I haven't played with the wireless/wired features until now (I've been using a USB to connect it to my computer). But now that I've actually tried those features I can give a more comprehensive review of the printer. Also note that I'm going to be presenting this review from a mac oriented perspective, since it's my primary computer.

I'm just going to paste them from the original brother website.
Technology Mono laser
Print Speed Black-Max (ppm) 23
Print Speed Colour-Max (ppm) N/A
Memory (MB; Std / Max) 32 / 32
Max Print Resolution 2400 x 600 dpi (HQ1200)
Paper Capacity (Std / Max) 250 / 250 pages
Max. Paper Size Legal (8.5" x 14")
Print Languages PCL6
Windows® Drivers WINDOWS VISTA, XP, 2000, WINDOWS SERVER 2003
Mac® Drivers OS 10.2.4 +
Duplexing Manual
Interfaces USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wireless 802.11 b/g
Dimensions (cm; W x D x H) 36.8 X 36.1 X 17
Weight (Kg) 6.8
Warranty 1 Year limited exchange express warranty
Network Ready Yes
Wireless Network Ready Yes
First page out Less than 10 sec
Warm up time Less than 18 sec

A bit more detailed specifications list
Resolution Windows HQ 1200, 600 dpi, 300 dpi (same for mac)
Processor 181 mHz
Wireless network security WEP, WPA-PSK (TKIP, AES), LEAP
Power consumption
Printing Average 460W
Standby Average 80W
Sleep Average 5W

For the main touted feature of the printer, wireless printing, I have never gotten the wireless to work (I was using Mac OS 10.6.5). The network I have uses WPA 2 (WPA-PSK), and at first I didn't know whether it was AES or TKIP, I tried both. Still hasn't worked. My goal then was to see whether it actually worked. Right now I have it working via the ethernet cable where I have it connected to the router via ethernet. My laptop is connected to the router via ethernet as well.

It went flawlessly. All I did was connect it, and when I saw that the green light was on I went to printer and fax, in the system preferences. Went to "add printer," then under default I saw the brother printer's name, and said it was connected via Bonjour. Just note that after you connect up the printer you should go to software update, as there should be more drivers for brother printers. In fact, I recommend that you connect the printer via ethernet. Then all the computers in your network can use it, don't have to set up printer sharing, which is annoying especially between macs and PCs. Also, you wouldn't have to use overpriced USB cables (I really shouldn't have bought mine), but when I compare using USB or ethernet it gives the same experience, same speed, etc.

One thing I realized that was important was to update the firmware. When I first got the printer every time I would open up the print dialog the printer would go into standby, which I was not happy about at all. However, with the firmware update it no longer went into standby when I opened the printer dialog, only when I told it to start printing.

I find the printing speed to be average, it's not lightning fast but it suits my needs. One thing I had to do with the printer was covering up the holes on the drum, so that it wouldn't keep saying I was out of toner. In fact, from the time that I bought the printer to now I've printed more than 1800 pages, and I've never replaced the toner. However, if I don't cover up the holes on the sides it immediately says I don't have enough toner and doesn't let me print.

One thing that I realized I really needed was duplexing, and as it says in the specifications there's "manual" duplexing, which is pretty DIY (do it yourself). If you first print out the odd pages, put it back into the paper tray in a specific orientation and then print even pages (or vice versa), you'll have duplexing.

When I was trying to get the wireless to work I learned a couple of things from the manual. First of all, if you press the blue "go" button three times, it'll print out the printer settings page (which takes up three pages). I find it to be a very impressive overview. It gives you information about the resolution, sleep time, drum life, toner, total pages printer, when jams happened (at the specific page number as well). I'm just going to give a quick summary of my printer's history (just to reiterate I've had this printer for close to a year now). I've had 11 paper jams in total, 3 rear jams, 7 jams inside, 1 in the jam tray. I've printed out close to 1800 pages in the lifetime, and drum life is close to 85%. Toner it shows as 0% (but it still works). As well, if you want to enable or disable the wireless for the printer you hold the "go" button for 10 seconds. Then it'll print you a network configuration page and at the top it'll say whether the wireless is active or inactive.

Also, about the drum, initially when I got the printer the salesperson told me that the drum was separate from the toner to reduce costs, giving an example where for HP printers where the drum was included with the toner it would cost a lot more than this brother printer's toner since it lacks the drum. However, when it's time for the drum to be replaced it can be quite costly, ranging from $100 upwards (CAD). Though, even after printing for a year I still have roughly 85% drum life, so I don't view the drum lifespan as a detriment for this printer.

There is a pretty big power draw when the printer first starts up, and I usually can see the lights dim a little. I don't use a UPS, however, so can't give any viewpoints on that. Though, I think that the power draw is offset by the amount of time it takes to warm up. I know someone who has a samsung printer, and it takes forever to work up. For me, I don't mind about the power draw, as long as the warm up is quick.

So, in conclusion, I'm pretty satisfied with my purchase. I might try to play around with the wireless in the future, but I'm not overly optimistic. Having an ethernet port is still pretty useful though. I think if I was given the opportunity to choose a printer I would choose one that has auto duplexing, but given its price this printer is fairly good.

Edit: By the way, if it ever asks you for a password it's "access"

Edit 2: I just replaced my toner after 1984 pages printed. I was somewhat sad as when it forced me to replace it the pages were still very dark, and I personally didn't see a need to replace. However, I had no choice as even with the sensor blocked it wouldn't print any more pages. However, the blackness levels are far higher now that I have a replaced toner cartridge. I later realized that the problem was that the tape that I used to cover the sensor wasn't dark enough, I used some green tape and the toner light did not come back on. However, since I had opened a new toner cartridge I guess I'll have to replace it anyway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Now I find "gender debates" to be quite an interesting topic, and just now I was reading about a new Windows kernel flaw that allows the attacker to bypass UAC. Needless to say I was caught surprised by this sentence.

The flaw is a privilege escalation vulnerability. Anyone who can run code on a Windows system can elevate her privileges to the highest level, and accordingly install back doors, compromise sensitive data, and so on.

I do not know why but reading that sentence just distracted me a moment, it made me wonder who was the hacker, since she is apparently female. On a hilarious note, many comments were used to discuss that very sentence in the comments section. Happy readings.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Acer Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-7618 Short Review

So someone I know got this specific laptop and I had the opportunity to take it for a "test drive" today, though in the process I was installing office, chrome, etc. I'm just going to include the specs from Acer's website

-Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
-Intel® Core™ i5-470UM processor (3MB L3 cache, 1.33GHz GHz with Turbo Boost up to 1.86GHz, DDR3 800MHz, 18 W)
-4GB (2/2) DDR3 SDRAM
-640GB hard drive
-11.6" (1366 x 768 WXGA Acer CineCrystal™ LED-backlit TFT LCD
-Intel® HD Graphics with 128 MB of dedicated system memory
-802.11b/g/n WLAN, 10/100/1000 LAN
-3 USB 2.0 ports
-HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) with HDCP
-Headphone jack
-Microphone-in jack
-Ethernet port

What astounded me was that for roughly $700 (CAD) you could get all of that. In a way you could compare it to the macbook air (which I assume will still be faster because of the SSD), but when you look at the price, at least to me it seems quite competitive. It also sports a 8 hour battery life. How many of these ports does the macbook air have? Just note that I'm not trying to downplay the macbook air.

Now it's time to list some of things I had minor issues with. One was the keyboard, for some reason, the french keyboard is the "in" thing, and the thing I don't like about the french keyboard (other than the fact that it has random other symbols next to the letters) is that the left shift key is far shorter than the US/American keyboard. I have to move my pinky all the way to the left to press down on the shift key, which I think is cumbersome. Though the keyboard itself was pretty much full size, and it was alright to type on. As for the trackpad since the laptop is so small it was somewhat tiny. It was hard, at least for me, to move the cursor around the screen and click. The right and left click buttons were pretty much flush to the end of the laptop, which made them slightly harder to press, however. For long term usage I would prefer using some sort of external pointing device.

It also does not have bluetooth. This might be a deal-break for some but for me I don't find it to be as important. When I first got my macbook pro I was curious as to why manufacturers actually offer RF mice. After all, if a laptop has bluetooth built in, why would you want to plug in a receiver? After I got my first bluetooth mouse I found out why. For me it was just not as accurate or precise as a regular USB mouse, which I found to be quite disappointing. Though just to note part of the reason was due to horrible logitech software. Another much touted feature of bluetooth is the file transfer abilities. I tried it once just for fun, and during that time when I was figuring out how to get through the security protocols (such as passphrases etc.) I could have transferred it through a small USB drive. Plus, for some reason on windows it seems especially hard to do any file sharing through bluetooth. Especially since this laptop has three USB ports I wouldn't mind using one for either a USB or a receiver for a wireless mouse.

On the performance of the laptop, it runs very smoothly. The display is fairly good, for one of that size. For the battery life I haven't fully tried it out but as usual depends on usage. From what I see if it's light (no flash) browsing, or just editing a word document I would imagine that it can live up to the 8 hour standard, but when I had many tabs running on chrome, while installing different programs, when I was done it said I had 1:33 hours left (I did not check the percentage of the battery left). Note that this computer, like just about all ultraportables, doesn't come with a DVD drive.

I did try out the webcam, and it's of decent quality. Personally I think that the isight camera on macbooks/macbook pros is still better, but this webcam is still fairly good. One thing I liked about this laptop when I tried it was that even though it came with useless applications such as "acer games" only essential applications ran at startup, such as the trackpad application. I am not the kind of person who reinstalls windows 7 for a new computer just to get rid of that kind of software, so it comes as a pleasant surprise.

In conclusion, I think that the acer aspire laptop is surprisingly good given its form factor and price. It's very light (especially since it doesn't have a DVD drive), though it just a few quirks such as the french keyboard and unfortunately the trackpad as well. But with the addition of (if needed) an external DVD drive and an external mouse this laptop can be quite superb for a road warrior or for just anyone who likes to carry light but still have adequate computing power.

Edit: what's a review without a picture?

Friday, November 5, 2010


I was helping someone fix their (yes I'm using "their" here) computer running windows xp (I installed MSE on it, it had AVG installed). Today I found a relevant post regarding MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) that I thought was pretty funny. Note that when the person ran MSE it immediately found a virus on the computer, where AVG was installed the whole time and did nothing about it.

Here's the included screenshot regarding the post that I saw. Some background information, it was from an article in Ars Technica about Trend Micro calling "foul play" on Microsoft for MSE, citing antitrust issues. If you're interested you can find the article here.

Edit: Sorry for the relatively small picture size, haven't found a way to enlarge the picture from the initial upload.


Apple recently said that they wouldn't implement USB 3 for the time being, and right after I see lots of comments talking about light peak and how it's going to be the de-facto standard. For me, I don't really see that as a likely scenario. Even with the implementation of USB 3, the process has been very slow. In fact, it was very slow for USB 2 as well, and took a while before it gained traction in the market place to the point where it is ubiquitous today. One example I give is the displayport/minidisplayport. Apple took an open standard and made their own version. How many monitors out there actually have a minidisplayport? Dell probably has a couple of displayport monitors, but the number is relatively low compared to VGA/DVI adapters. Say light peak comes early next year and apple implements it right away. Will other devices have it? What will happen to firewire? USB 2 will ultimately be necessary. How does it fit in? Will anything in the market even have a light peak adapater? It is highly experimental technology, and how about cost? USB enclosures are fairly cheap compared to firewire. With a light peak enclosure will they be far more expensive compared to firewire enclosures? An advantage of USB 3 is also backwards compatibility with USB 2. This can not be said for light peak.

I am not saying that light peak will not gain traction, I just don't see how it fits in the apple model. Will we have a firewire, USB, lightpeak ports? It also takes a while to develop further functionality, for example target disk mode and firewire. But in the meantime I will wait and see.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Skype 5 Beta for Mac

I read this morning that a new beta of skype was out for mac, that would include features already included in the windows version (which is out of beta at the moment) like video conferencing with multiple people. So I was curious and installed the skype beta (you have to sign in to download the .dmg file for some reason, odd). I was surprised to see a window layout not unlike that of windows skype, and I immediately detested it. Granted, it's easier to access some functions (I won't double click accidentally and call someone), since there are buttons for chatting, calling, etc. but everything was just expanded and took a horrific amount of space (ok ok I'm exaggerating here) but compared to the stable version of skype it really is a huge change.

I remember in the windows version, even with these new changes they gave you the option of changing the panels back to the old layout, which is not present in the skype beta. I immediately gave some feedback, and I hope that such options will be given to us just like on windows. The loading time is quite fast, though I haven't tested out the video and calling functionality of the new skype beta. The chats also followed the expanded theme, and every line just had a lot of space in between, which in my opinion is a waste of space. I don't own a 27" or a 30" monitor, and can't afford to enlarge my windows that extent. There's also a set minimum window size, so I couldn't change the window size to how it was like in the previous version (somewhat hard to describe it here).

These are just a number of initial impressions, I will give more input after I have tried it out for an extended amount of time.

Edit: I would include a screen shot, but I couldn't hide my contacts effectively and I didn't want to bother photoshopping all the names out. There is no way (from what I see) of hiding offline contacts, a step back from the previous version. Again, I hope that as the skype beta matures we will gain more options.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reinstall Mac OS X?

This is a pretty tentative plan, but I'm hoping to reinstall my mac os x in the christmas holidays when I have a bit more time. There's going to be a lot of preparation work, however, since I want to keep some (but not all) of my application preferences. So even if I had time machine back up all my system files I don't want to put everything back (since that would pretty much negate me reinstalling mac os x). This time I'm going to get a hold of a 10.6 disk (since my computer came with 10.5) so I won't have to do the upgrade to 10.6 manually. Now you might ask, why do you want to reinstall mac os x?

How in the world can spotlight take 500 MB virtual memory just by itself? That too has perplexed me. But the main reason I want to reinstalled was that I realized today that my computer could be a lot faster. I was trying out the new macbook pros 13'' (with the same processor as my current computer, might I add) and it was so much faster. Now you might say that the new mbps come with 4 GB RAM while mine only has 2 GB, but still. I don't think RAM should affect loading applications (unless you don't have enough free ram I suppose). So hopefully I can get everything together to have Mac OS X installed but we'll see. I haven't tried out a lot of apps recently (Though I did try out omnidisksweeper today and I found out it wasn't that particularly useful for me), I am quite interested in ilife '11 and when I get my hands on a copy of it I might make a short review. Though note that my main focus is on iPhoto since I don't use iMovie a lot anymore, nor do I use garageband/idvd/iweb.

Edit: I also realized looking at the screen shot that the finder was using more memory than firefox and word for some reason. Very strange indeed (by the way I still want an improved finder in 10.7).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Repairing Disk Permissions

I was verifying my startup volume today and the app that I used (Maintenance) notified me that there was an error and I had to pop in my installation CD and open up disk utility. So I used the "repair disk" option and it took a while. When I went back into OS X I figured I might as well run repair disk permissions since the startup volume had errors beforehand. This is what I saw.

This computer surely has issues :S Makes me wonder whether I should do a clean install next summer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Error Message Word '08 Mac

Just a couple days ago I was using office: mac '08 word and I got this random error message saying that my drive was full even though I had 32 GB left (according to the finder). Image is attached below, I am very excited about office '11 and I just can't wait to try it out! I really want to see how outlook compares to thunderbird on the mac. Trying to use entourage, at least for me, was a nightmare.

It was also quite an important assignment and I tried saving the file on an external USB drive (didn't work), but what did work was I saved as the file in .docx and not .doc (which is what I usually use) and for some reason the message went away. I then went ahead and quit word, I also went to the database utility to rebuild the database and so far so good.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Macbook Pro Battery (Early 2008)

Since school has started I've been using my macbook pro battery more. However, when I went to system profiler to see what the model was I was surprised to see that I no longer had a sony battery. I've had sony batteries (I've had two so far) until now, and the manufacture was actually SMB. I've done a short coconut battery (by the way recently coconut battery was updated to a rewritten version) log of the battery charge and here it is below. I just calibrated my battery and these are the current statistics (to reiterate apple's stance was to have 80% charge for 300 cycles. It appears to be decreasing steadily. I'm going to try to keep the cycle count below 100 and then once the capacity goes below 80% I'm going to get it replaced yet again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Skim App

I was a fan of skim when I first used it, but for me I found out it was missing a feature that would complete my work flow, the addition of a freehand highlighter, which is already present in onenote. In fact, in one note there are two highlighting options.

On skim currently you can only highlight areas that have discernible text, and say that the pdf was a scan of a document you would be unable to highlight. But with the addition of a freehand highlighter it would be possible. It is all I ask, but I was just about to hopefully add that in the feature requests when I found out that it had already been suggested and shot down. I'm quite disappointed about that, I even tried circus ponies notebook to see whether they have advanced when it came to pdf annotation but they have not. Hopefully in the next reiteration of office for mac there can be a one note app, because I really don't want to run it via crossover.

And regarding the frequency of posts, the interval between posts is just going to increase as the school year has started. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HP Mini 110 Review

Again a long pause, I've been busy the past weeks. But just this week we got our first netbook, the HP Mininote (I personally prefer calling it the HP mininote). First for a quick spec overview. It has a 10.1 inch screen, a 1.66gHz intel atom processor (N455), 1 GB ram, a 250 GB hard drive, and the usual intel integrated graphics (GMA 3150). It comes with windows 7 starter (32-bit). It also has an integrated webcam and microphone. The netbook comes with ample ports, as it has a SD card reader, 3 USB ports, a VGA port, an ethernet port, and a security slot. The netbook comes with a 6 cell li-ion battery. The audio speakers are at the front and the sound is directed towards you and there is one audio jack capable of both audio in/out (though I prefer a separate audio in jack).

I've always wanted to try out netbooks but I never really had the chance, but now I do. First thing I did when I got it was I uninstalled a lot of the non-essential software (it had adobe AIR installed, for some reason) and I got ccleaner and disabled a lot of startup items and cleaned the computer in general. Remembering a post from lifehacker I got batterybar, which makes it easier to view the battery levels since it's right on the taskbar. I stuck with IE8 on the machine but I installed chrome just in case. Recently I've been trying out the latest windows live essentials pack (version 4 beta) specifically the sync feature, as I'm currently trying to sync the netbook with the original laptop. So far I'm not sure whether it's going to go well but it's still syncing at the moment.

The wireless reception seems pretty good on the netbook, maybe because it's all plastic. THe screen is of decent quality, the 480p videos on youtube are pretty viewable and puts the CPU at about 60-70% in general. Any youtube HD video, however, lags on the computer as expected. After getting it I also turned off some of the visual effects but not the windows 7 theme in general. And for some odd reason windows 7 starter won't let you change the destkop background which is kind of annoying.

One thing I've always liked about the hp mininote series is the large keyboard (at least when compared to other netbooks), typing on the keyboard (at least in my opinion) isn't a pain at all. When typing I find the keyboard to be quite accurate and the trackpad is of decent size. I also found it interesting that Hp moved the right and left click buttons from the sides of the trackpad back to the bottom. Another feature I like is that the function keys are actually functional, so there are toggles for brightness, sound, and even play/pause audio settings, as well as a key for toggling wireless on/off. The normal functions of the function keys are used when you hold the fn key, like on a mac. I actually prefer this to the other option where you have to hold the function key to get the brightness adjusted, etc. as it's a lot more efficient.

The order of the lowest row of keys are control, function, windows, alt. I personally prefer this order to function, control, windows, alt. Though I'm not sure why some manufacturers have the function key first and others have the control key.

The battery life of the netbook is pretty good, as I got roughly 6-7 hours of battery life. And I was doing more CPU-intensive things such as watching youtube videos. I've only partially drained the battery once so I'll continue to see how long the battery life of the netbook is.

The netbook doesn't seem to run that hot though then again the outer casing is plastic, which doesn't dissipate heat as well as a metal casing. The outer shell, however, is a fingerprint magnet like a lot of other hp laptops. The power button is actually a slider on the side of the netbook. For some reason it feels flimsy when I slide it to turn on the computer, but it still works decently. The power adapter is comparatively smaller to that of a normal laptop.

Instant on
One interesting feature that accompanies a lot of netbooks is the usage of a quick start setting based on a unix or linux counterpart. I once saw a video on youtube of lenovo's ideapad netbook having this feature and I was pleasantly surprised that the hp mini had it as well. It is based on splashtop and on the hp system is known as "instant on." Basically when you first start up the computer it first shows a very simple interface with basic applications for web browsing, skype, chat, picture, movies, which is useful if you just want to, for example, check your gmail quickly and don't want to start up windows 7. However, when I asked whether it would update if there was a new version of skype available they said no, which was somewhat disappointing.

In the end I find this to be quite a nifty netbook, and I would definitely recommend it. Though up to now I've only owned one netbook thus far but just from looking at this hp mininote it's a fairly capable computer, given the size. Word processing, non-HD youtube watching, PDF viewing, web browsing, are things this netbook does competently, and as for hardware the keyboard feels comfortable, and the screen is of decent size, plus it has an integrated webcam. I've been eyeing the Hp Mininote for a while, and now I know it walks the talk.

Picture Time

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm back!

Sorry for the very, very long break. I was away on vacation for a week or so, so I haven't been able to add any new entries. When I came back I saw the apple news about the new trackpad and the refreshes and so on, but the thing that surprised me the most was the annoying youtube black bar that mysteriously appeared when I logged into youtube after I came back.

Once again, greasemonkey comes to the rescue with this script. Hooray!

I hope to make more posts in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Firefox Beta 4

Now many sites have been talking about the new Mozilla release of firefox 4.0 beta. , whether it's macrumors or apple insider. I'm just going to paste in some main changes to firefox 4.

- New Add-Ons Manager: gives you more space to manage your Add-Ons, Themes and Plugins. Customizing your browser has never been easier!
- HD Video: Watch hardware-accelerated, super-smooth, HD-quality HTML5 video on YouTube using the new WebM format.
- Privacy improvements: Mozilla always puts privacy first, and this latest beta fixes flaws in some Web standards that could expose your browser history.
- Crash Protection: Experience uninterrupted browsing (now available on all platforms) - when a plugin crashes or freezes, you can resume browsing by simply refreshing the page.
- Performance: We know that performance is important. In this version, we focused on improving responsiveness at start-up and during page loads. This is just the beginning for performance improvements in Firefox 4.

However, for some cosmetic changes tabs are (so far) going to be on top of the window, copying chrome, and the bookmarks bar is going to be discarded for a button with dropdown. Now I am really against this move, however, note that this is the beta and just like apple's safari beta (with the tabs on top) there probably will be changes. I bring my viewpoint from the viewpoint of efficiency.

Also, regarding the pixels and the argument that tabs on top take up less space, even looking from chrome for mac that space is minimal, and I for one prefer tabs on bottom. I hope that there will be an option for this. As for the lack of a bookmarks bar, I am very disappointed. A bookmarks bar (in my opinion) is far more useful than a dropdown. And plus, for a bookmarks bar you can hide it (I'm not sure whether you can get back the bookmarks bar as I haven't tried out the beta) so if you want to save space you can do that. Having to click the button then click the site is even slower than making keywords for the site (Ex: a for apple.com) and pressing enter. It is far less efficient in regards to mouse clicks when you look at the bookmarks bar, where one click gets you to the site that you want to go.

I'm just going to include a quick screenshot (also shown in appleinsider/macrumors) however for some reason the tabs are not on top.

However, I am for crash protection (plus I want to see tab isolation in future builds of firefox). I am also for increased performance as well as memory usage. Yesterday, I had an instance of firefox open and I closed 71 tabs, and the memory usage did not drop at all (It stayed at 738 MB). Now that is a more extreme example, but I hope that in firefox 4 memory usage can go down if I leave firefox open for prolonged periods of time.

Well just a short rant on firefox 4. I might try out the beta in the near future just to see how it goes, though looking from the forums perhaps I should wait as there are still numerous bugs (it is a first beta, after all).

Here's a screenshot to prove my firefox usage :P This is another instance, but somehow firefox got up to almost 1 GB of memory...

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Flavors.me Site

In a previous post I mentioned my "main feed" site www.picotweet.mp but over time I've noticed that it doesn't update as regularly as I thought it would, so I'm trying out a new provider, flavors.me and the site can be found at http://flavors.me/picotweet. It seems more refined than chi.mp and we'll see how it goes.

If you have any comments about the site feel free to post them.

In the meantime I just uploaded a new youtube video yesterday, an unboxing of the apple magic mouse. This mouse is not mine, in a way I just wanted to try out my camera's HD recording capabilities (canon powershot sx 200 is). Hope you enjoy the video.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mac Taskmate App

I posted this video a couple days ago so this post is somewhat late. Though the main feed (www.picotweet.mp) is still not showing my youtube videos (I might have to find another feed service in the future at this rate) so again I'm going to post this taskmate app video. Just today I did an unboxing of an apple magic mouse. Nothing that spectacular, I just wanted to record an unboxing video since I haven't done that for a while. I will post that up probably tomorrow.

Short description, I mainly did this video since checkoff is no longer free and I wanted to provide a free software solution for GTD.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mac Cloudapp Overview

My conglomerate feed at www.picotweet.mp isn't working very well with blogspot (it stopped updating for a while) so for now I'm going to add everything into this blog, specifically youtube. So just now I uploaded a youtube video talking about cloudapp, a similar application that is similar to dropbox in the way that they both upload files into the cloud and give you a link to download the file. However, cloudapp is a very simple app, and streamlines that process while dropbox does other functions as well (mainly synching).

The app can be found at http://www.getcloudapp.com/ and best of all it's free.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tweetie 1.2.7

A new version of tweetie is upon us! According to version tracker they updated it just yesterday and when I opened tweetie it told me to download the update which I did. I was curious to see what the changelog was so I went to the developer's website to see, however I didn't find it. However, I did find it in version tracker and I'm just going to paste it here

Twitter will make API changes on August 16th that break old versions of Tweetie for Mac. This update keeps the tweets flowing. Other updates:

* Increased security around your account.
* Disable posting to image hosts using the deprecated authentication method.
* Registration no longer needed. Section removed.
* In accordance with the Twitter Terms of Service, on July 1st Fusion Ads will no longer be displayed.
* Tweets no longer say they're from "Twitter for iPhone," but instead "Tweetie for Mac."
* An option in "advanced" to update your iChat status when you tweet.
* Improved Magic Mouse support.

So in short, tweetie for mac has followed the trend on the iPhone and is now free since it's supported by twitter. Some minor fixes such as updating the API and security, but I'm pretty happy that it's free now. Note that I've never paid for the registered version. Tweetie is now ad free. Though I'm still looking for a tweetie 2.0, and apparently the developer is working on it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

All About iPhoto

Now I'm not really knowledgeable about iPhoto, but over the years I have learned some tips and tricks that can can speed up iPhoto or just make it work to your liking.

Vaccuming the database
I was pretty skeptical about this trick, which is detailed here but after vacuuming the database iPhoto started up a lot faster for some reason. Here's a short quote of what you have to do.

To vacuum your iPhoto library, start by making sure iPhoto isn't open, and then open up Terminal (located in Applications/Utilities). Firstly, you have to point the Terminal to where your iPhoto Library is using the cd (change directory) command. By default, this should be:

cd "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library"

Paste the above line into the Terminal, then hit return. If your iPhoto Library isn’t in your Pictures folder you will have to adjust the command to your specific needs. Next, to perform the vacuum, use the following command:

for dbase in *.db; do sqlite3 $dbase "vacuum;"; done

iPhoto Effects

Another way to speed up iPhoto is to turn off the main effects in iPhoto such as shadows and outlines. Another important option to turn off is the item counts, for smart album. If item count is turned on iPhoto checks the item counts in the smart albums frequently, slowing iPhoto down.

Checking for photo duplicates

A while ago I was looking for free software that was capable of checking for duplicates within iPhoto, and doing that for free. While there are far more elegant paid solutions, I prefered image comparitor found here. Again, it is not the most elegant solution to finding duplicates within iPhoto but it gets the job done.

For a quick walkthrough on how to use it all you do is open the app, and then in a new finder window navigate to your iPhoto library, and right click and click show package contents. Then what I did was go to "Originals" and in image comparitor press choose folder and I would drag a year in (Ex: 2010) and press choose and it'll be running and checking for duplicates. Do not use it to delete your photos, as you should always delete them in iPhoto yourself (deleteing them via the library could corrupt the overall structure). For me I searched the two names of the photos that are supposedly duplicates (Ex: IMG_xxx) and if they were I deleted them. Now you might ask why I couldn't just navigate to the iPhoto library myself in the application, and my answer is that the app can not open the iPhoto package, so you have to open the package in finder and drag it into the app.

Rebuild iPhoto Library
When iPhoto is not open hold command option and open up iPhoto (in the dock or in the applications folder) and you should see this following window

If you are having problems with iPhoto you can try to use it to rebuild your library, and it gives a variety of options as well. Now note that I personally haven't had a corrupted iPhoto library (plus I keep time machine backups) but this is one option that you could try if your iPhoto library is acting up.

Another application that you could try is fat cat's iPhoto Library manager, which preforms various useful functions such as splitting up your iPhoto library, merging multiple libraries, and rebuilding/extracting photos from corrupted libraries. Best of all it's free pretty much, though for more advanced features (which I'm not sure of) it's a $20 purchase. I just keep the link around in case I have to use it, but again I haven't really experienced problems with my iPhoto library.

So, in the end, just some applications and tips from me to you about iPhoto. I usually look for tips about speeding up iPhoto, but once in a while I come across one that talks about recovering corrupt libraries. Enjoy!

Applecare History 3

Well, I just got back from the apple store. Aside from looking at the iPad and the like (it was my second time using the iPad, by the way) I had a genius bar appointment. Again I was having a problem with the battery. For some reason, after 43 charge cycles the battery only held 81.6% of the full charge, quite near the 80% that apple claims should be the charge after 300 charge cycles. The person at the genius bar was pretty nice and ran the battery tests.

The battery test was quite interesting, and it offered a graph with three quadrants. Taking up the top half of the screen was the status "ok" and was green and taking bottom right 1/4 of the screen was "consumed" which was yellow, and lastly on the bottom left 1/4 of the screen was "need to be replaced" which was red. The test offered a point on the graph that showed the state of the battery, and mine was still in the green zone. However, it was nearing the "need to be replaced" quadrant, and the genius asked me whether I wanted it replaced and I said "yes." I agree that the service trip was a pleasant one, though these Sony batteries are just horrid. I only had them replaced just last june, so all in all they only lasted one year.

The genius also said that for my model of the macbook pro (early 2008) the theoretical max charge of the battery is 5500 mAh, when I previously thought that it would hold 5600 mAh. I also tracked my battery capacity for the past year using coconut battery, and I'm going to include the screenshot below.

Also, interestingly enough when the genius gave me back the receipt stating the date of repair as well as other various information, it gave the price of repair which was atypical as it usually shows 0.00 since it was covered under applecare. However, if I didn't have applecare I would have to pay $133.34 CAD for the battery replacement.

Dec 29 2008 Both fans replaced for clicking noises
Jun 09 2009 Battery replaced (couldn't charge up properly)
Oct 07 2009 Right fan looked at (made clicking noises again)
Feb 28 2010 Power adapter 85W replaced
Apr 11 2010 Logic Board Replaced
Jun 21 2010 Battery replaced (81.6% charge left)

Friday, June 4, 2010


Just now I read an interesting lifehacker post that talks about IOGraph, an application that tracks your mouse movements (not in a bad way) and displays a picture of where you frequently click your mouse. It doesn't show what websites/documents you clicked your mouse in, just the position of the mouse click. Here's a demonstration of the application. It spent 32 minutes tracking my mouse movements. My dock is on the bottom, and I find it interesting that I don't use it that often (autohide is on).

The application is free and the lifehacker post can be found here. The black circles mean that your mouse stopped there.

Here's another one after roughly 2 hours of usage

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photo Mosaic

I was trying to clean out my bookmarks in firefox (another long topic entirely) and I stumbled onto this site. The download is windows only (so sadly I haven't had the chance to test it out). But what the app supposedly does is takes multiple photos and it takes all those photos and makes a mosaic of a bigger photo. Kind of like the feature in one of the main mac os x screensavers where it takes photos from iphoto and makes a mosaic of a larger picture.

Unlike that screensaver you can actually save the image and again it's windows only. The app is free (which was partially why posted this). If you try this app feel free to leave a comment! When I have time perhaps I'll try it out too.

It works in windows xp, vista, and 7.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Opening m2ts Files

Today I encountered my first m2ts file, the file format typically found on blu-ray disks. The original format was an iso file so I mounted it and copied out the movie file, named "00074.m2ts." I was perplexed as to how to open it. I searched for ways to either convert it out of the format or for a mac application that could view the file. Some solutions talked about using mpeg streamclip to convert the file (didn't work), others talked about using dvd player on mac os x (didn't work since the initial file was an iso file). Another talked about using vlc (surprisingly, it didn't work either. I would get audio but there would be no video). I also tried their newer project, lunettes, tried quicktime x, quicktime 7 (with perian addon). They all didn't work.

As a last ditch effort I tried movist, a free, open source video viewer that I downloaded a while ago. And it worked! Application can be downloaded , the latest version is 0.6.8. For some reason it could open a file that no other app that I tried could open. Just some background information about movist it's an application based off of ffmpeg as well as quicktime so it supports a variety of different movie formats. The interface is pretty nice especially when compared to vlc, though in my opinion the full screen options are somewhat cluttered and for some reason when in full screen once I pressed escape twice and it quit the app. So if you have a m2ts file you need to view movist should do the trick.

Edit: Mplayer could also open the file and its user interface is pretty nice I must admit. Mplayer can be found here. Though for some reason in mplayer I couldn't move around in the movie while I could in movist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

uTorrent Mac

Sorry, I didn't bother making the real "mu" in "uTorrent" in the title. But about uTorrent I've been using it since the alpha came out, and I've seen a lot of changes, whether it's the icons or the user interface. I personally like the new revamp of the interface when I saw it. The interface looks a lot more refined in my opinion when compared to the old one. Though, since the software is still relatively new I still see some bugs and there's a couple of features that I hope will be included in future builds of the app.

When I first went to mac I was wondering which bittorrent software to use, as I was using utorrent on windows, which had a very light footprint. I first tried out transmission, which was ok. With its default settings, for some reason I found the speed (download) in transmission to be slower than the speed in uTorrent on my windows computer. At that time I searched a couple of articles which said that the bittorrent application shouldn't affect downloading speeds, but for some reason transmission would always be slower. Though transmission seems pretty feature complete, and to my knowledge supports magnet links, as compared to where the last time I tried magnet links in uTorrent it did not work very well.

When comparing the two applications I would say that they're both good, and I see transmission updates quite often, about the same frequency as utorrent updates. Though since I was a uTorrent user on windows I prefer uTorrent on mac. Its footprint on the system is still relatively light, and it's speedy as well when it comes to download speeds. It was also relatively easy to configure settings for port forwarding (then again port forwarding is more in the system preferences than the bittorrent application itself).

More Mini displayport News

Updated Macbook Supports both audio and video output via mini-displayport

I'm glad that the A/V capabilities of the mini displayport are expanding in apple's mac lineup... Hopefully we'll see it in the mac mini and imac soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mac Screensavers Extended Youtube

I spent quite a bit of time on this video. It was actually my fifth try as for the previous tries I tried to explain the screensavers. But today I had an epiphany, where I realized that I didn't need to say anything at all. I took screenshots of all the options for my screensaver and recorded the video all at once. Afterwards I edited it out and put in transitions. Sadly I forgot to delete the "subtitle" in flux. Oh well, guess it's close enough to perfect for me.

I strongly recommend that you watch in 720p. Please, enjoy. I'm wondering whether I should start embedding my youtube videos on the blog but I'm still thinking about it.

Firefox Addons/Greasemonkey Scripts

Since I have a bit of time I'm just going to talk about some of my firefox addons. I personally like to keep the list short (firefox is slow enough as is), especially since I have a lot of bookmarks (which I should tend to over the summer break).

Adblock plus- block ads
Gmail manager- access multiple gmail accounts
Greasemonkey- changes site layouts, pretty useful especially for sites like youtube/facebook
Noscript- block scripts
Tab mix plus- better tab management on firefox
Targeted advertising cookie opt-out (TACO)- apparently it prevents ads from tracking you to make an advertising profile. I don't think there really is a way to check whether it works or not so I just keep it around. Perhaps one day when I'm bored I'll just uninstall it.

So in the end, my firefox addon collection isn't really unique or different, just the usual set that a lot of people use, but when it comes to greasemonkey scripts I guess they're a bit more "specialized" to suit my purposes when viewing sites.

Greasemonkey scripts
Google calender header and navigation switcher
Google calendar colorize sat/sun

-For the two google calender scripts google might have added calendar options, but I got these scripts a while ago so I keep them around. Last time I checked I don't think they had extra options that performed the actions that these two scripts performed. For navigation switcher it allows me to collapse the header and navigation bars, so it's pretty much a full screen calendar. I personally don't like the navigation or headers because I don't really use them much. If I need to I can switch them back. And for the second script it's just to colorize the weekends, make the calendar easier to see overall.
Facebook ad remover
-Better facebook might be able to remove ads but I wasn't sure. Script basically that remove facebook ads (I don't like all those evony ads popping up on my facebook)
Better facebook
-Adds a lot of functionality to facebook especially on the home page. Allows you to tweak numerous settings. It has a lot of features that you can check out here. It also comes as a firefox/chrome addon but I prefer the script, since I don't need as many addons to keep track of (plus I turned updating off to speed up the browser and this addon has a lot of updates)
Youtube enhancer- I didn't feel a need for this until the new youtube interface revamp, it makes youtube a lot more usable in my opinion, adds autoplay on/off, extra controls (such as repeat a video), can download videos, makes the comments section neater and by default shows the day of the comment (Ex: 5 days ago) where in the current view you would have to hover your mouse over the comment to see when the comment was posted.

Chi.mp Website

Lifehacker recently had a list of personal landing pages so I tried out chi.mp, and here it is at http://picotweet.mp/ feel free to check it out. I just made it so I hope to tweak it a bit over the next few days.

A personal landing page is used to conglomerate all of the information from different websites, and in the process I have mixed in my youtube, blogger, twitter, and flickr websites into one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Internet Explorer 9 Preview

Other than the news that IE9 wouldn't work on windows XP (vista and windows 7 only) I came across this article today at arstechnica talking about rendering speeds of IE9 as well as other features. It seems like microsoft is really pushing it with html5, along with other browsers like chrome, safari, etc. but this graph really caught my attention.

From the looks of it IE9 fares more favorably than Firefox 3.6.3 as well as Firefox 3.7. Firefox really should speed things up. I heard they don't even have jump list integration in windows 7 still. And on Mac OS X, it still doesn't have the "new window" option when you right click the icon on the dock (which safari and chrome both have). Hope firefox 3.7 comes out soon with faster rendering speeds, better system footprint and memory use, as well as smaller features like the ones I've mentioned.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Messenger:Mac Beta

As stated previously, while in my external firewire 10.5.8 build I wanted to use MSN, and instead of using adium (which is what I usually use) I used Messenger:mac as I didn't want to configure all the features of adium (I took a while then, but I went through every tab and configured it to my liking). Plus, I like the default sounds of MSN. A very touted feature of the next version of messenger was the audio/video capabilities, so I wanted to try that first. But before that, I'm just going to give an overview on the feel of the beta. Instead of me describing everything I'm just going to give a couple of screenshots.

The interface was roughly similar to the previous stable version, with the conversation toolbar having a few more options. The beta does not offer tabs, and I didn't see a very big change other than the audio video features.

Here's a screenshot of some of the toolbar options. The draw option was still there for display pictures and there was also a feature to show display pictures within the conversation, which I think is a new feature (it's been in adium for a while)

I did try the video call feature with someone using the windows live messaging client, but it didn't work. I called but on the other end there was no indication. I was called as well but nothing happened on my end. Same for audio calls, I was somewhat disappointed but I wasn't sure whether A/V for the beta was supposed to work or not.

I also compared the memory use. Here's a screenshot with the memory use of messenger and adium compared. Though adium is in a 10.6.3 environment while messenger is in a 10.5.8 environment.

Process name, user, CPU, Real memory, virtual memory, kind


Process name, user, CPU, Real memory, kind, virtual memory


Messenger takes up far more memory than adium. I'm sorry to say this but messenger is still very far behind at least on the mac (on the windows they are finally going to release their next "live wave" with tabbed conversations), with no indication for change. Instead of messenger, I still recommend adium though I wish it would have drawing support built in.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Defragging 10.6

Hello, it's finally summer so I hope I can spend more time on this blog. A couple days ago I decided since I had the time to see what happens when you defrag mac os x. I've seen numerous posts on forums talking about why you should or should not defragment, but in the end it came down to this. Mac os x is good at running maintenance tasks (which do not include defrag) but it does do some defragging but not on larger files such as videos, movies etc. For me personally I saw a need to defrag my hard drive because I've repartitioned boot camp time and time again, and I only allocated roughly 80 GB for my 10.6 partition, which means fragmentation is a bigger problem. If I had a larger hard drive I wouldn't worry about fragmentation as much. This problem is further perpetuated by the fact that I upgraded my system all the way from 10.5.3 all the way to 10.6.3 now, which have included multiple system upgrades.

So now for the tools, which software should I use for analyzing and defragmentation? I looked at numerous reviews and I decided to go with iDefrag. It offered the most customization and the reviews were favorable. So I got to work, I first analyzed the hard drive (which showed a huge amount of blocks scattered everywhere) and then I chose the full defrag method, and pressed go. Though, since this was my first time using defrag on mac os x I had no idea it would go for. I assumed it wouldn't go too long though my defrag experience only went back to vista (which I thought was horrible since it offered no indication of how long it would take) and windows xp, but in the end it took 2-3 hours. Now this is not a quick process, some argue that in that time you could have done a full system install. However, I personally am not a huge fan of reinstalls of the OS because of the hassle in the reinstallation process, plus I had all my preference files here and didn't want to retweak the OS. Plus I only had my 10.5 disk as I got the 10.6 disk from someone else. Though one con I found with iDefrag was that it didn't show me the estimated time, and only showed the indicator bar (which seemed to barely move at times).

So, now that the defrag is done what did I notice? First off I timed the boot time before and after the defrag and it was roughly similar (I personally think that my boot time is slow, it's approximately a minute may be a bit less) so the defrag didn't affect boot times. But what it did affect was load times. In a previous post I mentioned how my firewire 10.5.8 partition loaded apps faster than my 10.6.3 which was annoying. Before the defrag system preferences took forever to load, and its load time was about 3/4 of firefox's (cold start). After the defrag it would have one bounce and would be loaded. Powerpoint now takes one bounce to load, Excel two bounces, and Word six bounces (the worst of the three). These were also cold boots. At least for me, this was a huge increase in the "snappy-ness" factor. Firefox now takes 6 bounces to load (which is still a "meh" load time). Safari takes one bounce, and chrome takes about 2-4 to load.

So all in all, defrag does not change boot times but rather changes load times. I do not recommend constant defragging (I think that is kind of like running disk permission in the disk utility constantly). But rather I recommend it if you have a smaller hard drive for mac os x and haven't run it for a while or just ran a OS update (For example from 10.5 to 10.6). It's also good to analyze the disk first, because there might not be a need to defragment the disk. Though after this experience if I do run defrag I'm going to run it overnight. Also, I forgot to mention that for iDefrag you can not run full defrag from the system disk. I ran defrag from my firewire partition, and in those two hours downloaded skype, tried out microsoft messenger:mac beta (I'll discuss this in a future post), turned the dock into a 2D dock, among other things to tweak 10.5 to my liking.

One last thing (from Steve Jobs), I was running iDefrag 1.7.3 and iDefrag can be found here (not to do advertising for them but just to show you where it is). They are currently at iDefrag 2.0 and it is a paid upgrade.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More Mac Office 2011 News

More screenshots have appeared of office 2011 for mac and from the looks of it development seems to be progressing quite well. The gallery of screenshots for the next version of office for mac is found here

However, of all the screenshots the one that caught my attention was this one

It seems like MacBU has given us a choice of using the ribbon or the toolbar palette found in earlier versions (or you can use both if you wish to). I also hope that I can customize the toolbar on the top so if I don't like the ribbon or the palette I can go back to the toolbar. Personally, I don't think that the ribbon is a bad idea. It is far more useful than the current use of space that is the "elements gallery" (which is not useful at all especially in word). Ribbon offers a lot more functionality taking up that same amount of space. Plus, the ribbon can be minimized so if you don't like it you don't have to use it. Another thing I didn't like with the elements gallery was that in full screen mode in word for some odd reason the gallery is still there. Of all the things they chose to include in full screen mode it had to be the elements gallery which has no use there. I hope in office 2011 they can make the screen void with no editing tools present.

I'm pretty excited about the next version of office 2011 though I do wonder what version of docx/xlsx/pptx it includes, since in office 2010 for windows it does not use the iso approved formats, but rather sticks to the older format found in office 2007. Also outlook is finally here for mac, though since I don't use entourage/outlook on mac or windows I can't say much about it (I use mail and thunderbird). And macros is back too, I have high hopes for this new version of office. Though I feel bad seeing that in a way they "ripped us off" on office 2008.

On another note, I found this tip in the macrumors forum talking about speeding up boot times for word 08 and it seems to work. The thread is found here. Basically you go to word preferences and turn off or uncheck "WYSIWYG font and style menus" as well as "Show Project Gallery At Startup" and quit/relaunch word. For me only took three bounces to load up word, I will compare it again after a restart next time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Free Paragon Software Giveaway!


As you can see Macworld reports that paragon is giving away their software HFS for windows 7.5 today, for free. And who doesn't like free? Only giving away 50,000 licenses get it while it's available. If you don't want to go to Macworld the link to their page is here, available in 32 and 64 bit flavors!

According to their website "HFS for Windows enables the use of Mac-formatted partitions in Windows operating systems. Utilizing Paragon’s own unique technology – the Universal File System Driver (UFSD), Paragon’s HFS for Windows is able to extend the boundaries of Microsoft Windows’ scalability and interoperability." If only I could get their NTFS software for mac (I don't want to use macfuse).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Macbooks Minidisplay port carry audio

Wow, lots of mac news recently. Whether it's the available purchase of the iPad, the new iPhone OS 4.0, or the new macbook pro update there's a lot to talk about. But recently I saw an article on Ars Technica that said in addition to the spec bump on the new macbook pros the minidisplay port finally carries audio!

I for one was very happy to see this, as I was initially disappointed that the initial generation of minidisplayport from apple did not support audio and only carried video across. Well, news has it that apple is soon going to release a dp to hdmi cable, with audio support! This is also good news for mac mini users because they can hook up their mac to a HDTV! On a less related note I wish apple still bundled the VGA adapter (and apple remote) with every mac. It's pretty essential especially for mac users who need to present some sort of powerpoint or keynote on a projector.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tell a Friend about this website!

I was browsing on the internet the other day and I stumbled onto this popup that told me to tell other people about the website. For reasons still unknown they listed live and hotmail, both of them, which intrigued me. I guess microsoft really does need some brand name managing...

Oh yeah, and lifehacker had this post about a website not unlike wordle (apparently even better) that could general "stunning custom word clouds" so being myself I wanted to test it out. And what's better site to test it than this site here? Also the save to png didn't work very well on the site, had to save as jpeg. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The (Happy) Ending

Why hello there, I am not typing on a computer in a computer lab but rather I'm back on my old macbook pro. I just came back from the apple store with a brand new logic board. Since I was on warranty the repair didn't cost anything at all. Though I looked into logic board repairs and they can be quite costly actually. In the end, however, such failures are rare I would assume (I would think that hard drives fail the most often) but it's all good thanks to applecare. I'm just going to spend a few minutes detailing the ending of my applecare experience regarding the logic board.

So today I received a call from the apple store saying that my computer was fixed and could be picked up. From a previous call they said that the turnaround time is 3-5 days, so seeing that it's the third day (a sunday too!) says a lot about the repair. I learned that the store opening hours are only noon to 6 pm, so I was really hoping that I would get it back before tomorrow (since my first exam is tomorrow).

So I go into the store and they take the computer out. Since it's a logic board repair the startup time was a bit longer than usual, and a few settings were changed but no big deal. However, the latch was a bit stuck at that time and the employee actually had to see a genius to see what was wrong with the latch. She came back and said that the screw might have been too tight on the back, causing the issue but they were undermanned today so she told me to book an appointment. Even though there was this minor albeit annoying setback I agreed to book another appointment at the genius bar to get if fixed later. Just talking a bit more about the latch, normally I would be able to push in the latch very easily and the lid would pop out but when I try it now it's in a stuck position and you have to push it in harder to get the lid popped out. I guess it's one of the reasons why they went with a latchless design with the new macbook pros.

It was a nervewracking three days as I called about the status of the computer and worried that I wouldn't have a computer to use in the exam period. Luckily it all worked out in the end. Though to be honest I was hoping for a GPU problem, especially since my model is known for its gpu problems (the nvidia 8600 gt), but alas it was a logic board issue. A GPU issue would have been even more easy to deal with, I would be given a new laptop! I hope that I can finally get the GPU to fail in the next year and then I can get a new (probably refurbished) computer to unbox! In the meantime I'm very happy to get my computer back, and I guess it's time to start studying again.

Oh right, a small issue to this was that for some reason my time machine backup thought this computer was another computer so it offered to "reuse" this backup, it worked out in the end. It just compared its backup to my computer's files and did a normal backup. It didn't redo the whole back (thankfully). Another thing I noted was that they actually cleaned the exterior of the computer. So the keyboard palmrest, the keyboard itself, and the display were all cleaned. Not only do they fix the internals, they clean the externals too.

Oh, just a small subplot to this story. On friday I was at the computer lab and I realized that they didn't have flash on the computers and I also realized how annoying IE 8 was. It took me a bit of time but I finally have Google chrome loaded onto my USB stick, and I even got flash working on it as well. However they seemed to have blocked youtube, I guess I'll still have flash games to play with.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Applecare History 2

My previous applecare history (the original) post is here. I would just like to take the opportunity to revise it today, as my early 2008 macbook pro suddenly experienced another issue recently.

It was two days ago at about midnight (So technically April 8). All I did was put the lid down to sleep the computer. The computer was functioning fine just then. The computer wasn't charging as there was a green light on the magsafe. When I came back I noticed that the sleep light wasn't blinking, which intruiged me. So I went in and I opened the lid, but nothing happened. Usually when the computer goes out of sleep it would run the DVD drive which would make sounds. Unfortunately, this time it did not. I tried to force shut down the computer but when I tried to restart the boot screen did not come out but rather the screen was completely black. I wanted to try to reset PRAM but I unfortunately forgot (I just remembered you had to hold P, R, and something else when you pressed the power button).

The next day I called applecare and booked an appointment for 2 pm at the apple store. They said they had to replace the logic board and that they didn't have the part available so they would have the part in at most five days. I that point I realized that I would be computerless for the first part of my exam period. I think I'm slowly starting to doubt the efficacy of the phrase "it just works" as well as their PR campaign saying that their computers are more reliable etc. etc. because for me I've been having problems with this computer, whether it's the batter, power adapter, or fans. Though I guess this is my first "big problem" with the computer as I saw in the sheet that this was a "level 2 hardware repair" when my previous repairs had been "level 1." As for the 5 day turnaround time I admit it is still far better than other manufacturers but when I approached them and asked for a loaner laptop they said they didn't have any available. Sighs, guess I'll have to be computerless for another four days (they say I will get the computer back on thursday on a worst case basis).

So to add to the list
April 11 2010 Logic Board Replaced

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Uninstalling Norton Antivirus Mac


Reading this article made me laugh just now. Uninstall Norton Antivirus on mac... Double whammy. Interestingly enough though a lot of universities seem to provide antivirus software for mac, even though the version might be a bit more dated than the windows version. NO thanks Norton.

Though actually I would say that norton is ok that it comes with an uninstaller. Something that's particularly hard to uninstall in my opinion is silverlight. I downloaded the latest beta once, to check out their facebook application but I realized I didn't like it so I wanted to roll back. To my dismay when I searched the website I realized that I have to manually delete the files from specific folders or else when I try rolling back, the install dialog would say that I have a never version available. Would be much nicer if microsoft had an uninstaller for silverlight, kind of like what flash has.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mac OS 10.6.3

Well, seeing that 10.6.3 is out, are you going to upgrade? Looking from comments nothing too bad so far, and I'm sick of 10.6.2. The hilarious thing is, while searching for the combo update (which I recommend over the software update) I saw this on my menubar.

See you at the other side!

Edit: These downloads are approaching the 1 GB range, since Apple has so much money in reserve, they should hand out free USB sticks with 10.6.3, seriously. -__-

Edit 2: The finder issues I previously documented my previous post have not been fixed, sighs. (referring to the issue with the spacing between folders, even though the spacing is exactly the same for one folder I could get 6 items in a row while for the other folder only 5, with a lot of white space next to the last item). On the bright side, my iTunes videos are working fine now. No lagginess in video, no performance issues, feels smooth.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do NOT use keychain secure notes in 10.6!

For the third time now I've had to recover my keychain file from time machine after my one of my sticky notes just became blank. The first two times I thought it was due to my own error and I pressed the save dialog before I quit keychain which caused it to be blank but after searching the apple support forums a lot of other people have been experiencing the same issue.

I am sick of the keychain now and I will start to use encrypted dmg files with word documents or text files to store notes. Very disappointed in apple. If I didn't have a time machine backup of the file the note would have been lost, no way to restore. I really hope 10.6.3 fixes this. On a side note hurry up 10.6.3!

IE8, Safari 4, Firefox 3, iPhone fall on day 1 of Pwn2Own


I've always been quite interested in these pwn2own contests, and I'm very surprised that no one even tried to hack chrome on the first day (on windows). As for safari on mac os x looking from previous news I'm pretty sure safari would fall (Charlie Miller seemed pretty confident he would hack it). Regarding safari on iPhone, pretty sure there would be a day where it would be hacked. For IE8 and Firefox 3 I keep hearing of enhanced security features in windows 7, I guess there was a way around it. I hope that all these exploits will be fixed in the near future. Onwards to day 2! We shall see whether chrome falls... And note that for the first day all these exploits were remote, meaning that all the user did was access a malicious site and their computer would be compromised.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Microsoft Messenger for Mac 8 beta adds A/V chats


Well, apparently the beta of messenger:mac finally has AV support. Though I must say, in terms of features the product is very disappointing. Adium is far ahead, but I experience some server errors once in a while (Adium claims it's because of microsoft's servers). Last time I tried messenger: mac I realized that it didn't even have any offline messaging. I also think that the "drawer" concept for the display picture wasn't implemented well. No tabs for chats, and when I moved it between spaces it was buggy. A very feature limited product especially when you compare it to Adium.

Looking at this in a more positive light, Adium doesn't have very good A/V implementation, I hope that this kicks starts A/V conferencing on Adium, even though I mainly use skype for my A/V conferencing needs. Another thing I wish Adium had was drawing support.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Calibre eBook Reader

Just yesterday a thought dawned on me. I wasn't reading books. The last book I read according to my memory was Tuesdays with Morrie last summer. However, it wasn't a new read. I was just rereading a book I've read before. I realized that I need to read new books, and since for a while I haven't been sure of what genre I liked I wanted to restart at the classics, and see how it would go. Now project gutenberg offers a whole collection of digitalized books, including many classics but to my dismay when I downloaded a file it was in the .txt format, and I really don't like reading books through textedit. I need an application that could convert and read ebook formats on my mac. I first read the news and saw that kindle reader for mac was out, but when I downloaded it I realized to my dismay that it only syncs your kindle ebook library with your kindle, which was not what I wanted.

So I searched and found an application called calibre. It's a free application for mac, windows, and linux, that allows you to read ebooks on your computer. With an added bonus, you can even send the formats to your ebook readers such as kindles, etc. The interface isn't the best especially since it's cross platform, but it works. Instead of downloading the books in txt format I used the epub format. That way the reader can display the books and I can read, for example Frankenstein for free. I'm going to include some screen shots as well to show you how the interface and reading experience is. I haven't fully tried out the software, but I can assure you that it works. And as I said before, even better, it's cross platform and free. Happy reading!

This is how the interface looks like when you want to see your library of books.

The ebook reader experience (as you can see I'm going to start Frankenstein first).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Plants vs Zombies for Mac

Seeing that the iPhone client was out for the game I decided to give this game a try. Warning, this game is very captivating (Read: addicting) and if encountered should be left alone until you have ample time to play it. Warning!

Well here's a screenshot of one of my battles. I was playing around with the corn cannon, very fun. Highly recommend this game, I think they have an online version of this too but it's a limited version.

The online version of this game is at popcap but I'm pretty sure you've heard about this game already.

Some more screenshots of the game for your viewing pleasure

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mac App Squeeze Review

Recently Lifehacker had an article that said that the mac application "squeeze" could be downloaded and registered free for one day (By the way the article can be found here). Since it was free (and looked pretty interesting) I decided to download it and try it out.

But before I really installed it I went to their website to find out what it did here. According to the lifehacker post squeeze saves hard drive space by compressing files (the folders you yourself can specify). And according to the developer it's a compression feature of snow leopard so it's actually a system feature (and sorry, the software is 10.6 only, no 10.5) so even though the application might be uninstalled the files can still be decompressed. Their site promotes squeeze as "a background file compressor, which uses the new HFS-compression technology in Snow Leopard to transparently compress the folders you configure it to process. Mac OS will read those files normally, they will just take less disk space.

I had more questions so I'm just going to post the answers to some of them I had from the faq here. It answered most if not all of my concerns.

I have uninstalled Squeeze. Will compressed files still work?

Absolutely! Squeeze simply converts files to the compressed format understood by the Snow Leopard implementation of HFS - from that point on, it is the Operating System itself that deals with the file, uncompressing it for you on the fly whenever you need it.

What kind of folders should I select to squeeze?

We recommend you select folders where usage is heavier on reading but lighter on writing. In addition, folders with music, movies and pictures are not good candidates to compress, as they are already compressed in most cases. Excellent candidates are your Applications and Documents folder.
Will compressed files work on machines not running Snow Leopard?

Yes, unless you share them directly (via File Sharing, for example). All other means should work fine (email, dropbox, copy to a pen drive, copy to an external drive, etc.). This is because when you copy a compressed file to any location in the disk, the system will create an uncompressed copy.
How can I uncompress a file?

Simply copy it using the Finder. The copy will be an uncompressed version of the file. Make sure, however, to copy it into a folder that is not being watch by Squeeze, so it does not compress the copy, or pause Squeeze for a moment while copying the file. Alternatively, you can use the command line utility afscexpand to decompress files in place

Is Squeeze compatible with Time Machine?

Yes. Time Machine will have no problem in backing up compressed files. However, there is one inconvenient. After Squeezing files, Time Machines detects that the, now compressed, files have changed and makes a new backup for them. So, your newly compressed folders will be completely backed up again. We are looking for a way to improve this in a future release.

So for that day I tried it out and I put my documents folder and applications folders to be compressed. Squeeze is version 1.0.4 now and attached are some screenshots of the application. Actually I guess it should be called a preference pane because it actually resides in system preferences.

So this is the general screen where you can turn squeeze on and off. One downside is that squeeze comes with a menubar icon where you can pause squeeze, but you can't pause it directly from the preference pane itself. I also wish that it would automatically pause itself if the computer was on battery. It also includes a helper aspect that I had to take out of the login items. I took out my email address and name but note that the free license lasts until 1.9.9

Here is the second screen of the squeeze application where you can choose folders to compress. As you can see I've only included the documents and application folders. I noticed the most savings came from the applications folder, and after the compression the folder took a lot quicker to start up.

Now you might say, wow this application's the greatest. It just compresses folders and you get more hard drive space out of this! But one of the big questions is that of compatibility, and I personally have an external hard drive that can boot 10.5.8 to repair my 10.6 boot partition. In the end I decided to stop the compression because of this, though I must say that I haven't experienced any problems with this application. If you're asking whether you should get it or not (by the way it costs $10 now, not free anymore) I would say that if you're really running out of hard drive space and you don't have any concerns with compatibility issues sure get it. But if you do have some concerns about compatibility you should wait a bit so that it'll be ironed out more. But so far the reviews of the application have been pretty good.