Sunday, February 28, 2010

AppleCare History (Up to today)

Well what do you know, at about 1:56 pm today my magsafe power adapter just gave out. I heard some sort of a "pop" sound which bewildered me. After a couple of minutes I noticed that the battery wasn't charging, and I saw that there was no light on the magsafe adapter. I called applecare and I got a reservation at the store for 2:45 pm. The representative there just tried it on his macbook pro, didn't work either, and replaced it for me. I checked the price of a magsafe adapter on the canadian online apple store and it said it was $99. It's good that I'm on warranty. I'm just going to list out now all the times something broke down with my computer.

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

I bought this computer in may 2008 by the way.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Managing Firefox Profiles and Running Multiple Instances of Firefox

Today lifehacker talked about this mac specific application that allows you to run multiple instances of firefox at a whim. By the way their website is at I've been running multiple instances of firefox for a while because I have two profiles with different addons, which I use for different things. I have a main firefox profile, a profile that I use most often, and I have an "online gaming" firefox profile which doesn't have as many addons so it's slimmer, and it has some game-specific addons.

For a while I've been looking for a way to run these two profiles separately easily. Initially I copied the code for opening the profile manager (which you just paste in terminal) but what I didn't like about that was the fact that you couldn't choose a "default" profile (I wanted my main profile to be default). Later on I found a website that talked about running an applescript to open a specific firefox profile. That allowed me to set a default profile for firefox but I realized that it took longer than usual to open with the applescript in place so I had to look for another solution. In the end I found multifox (sorry, mac users only but I have a cross-platform alternative that I will talk about later in this post). It's just a standalone application that lets you select the profile you want to run, and what I like about it is that it won't bog your firefox down with an additional addon, as it is an application that runs outside of firefox. This way I can also set a default profile for firefox. I'm going to try using this addon for a while and see how it goes.

And for windows users (or linux for that matter) lifehacker also had another post where they talked about an addon called "profile switcher" where in the file menu it puts a list of the profiles that you have and you can control the behavior when you switch. For example it can close the current profile and launch another one, or you can launch both profiles at once. The lifehacker article is found here. The good thing is that it's pretty simple, and it works with the latest version of firefox. Though what I personally don't like about it is that it makes you install another addon, and in my opinion I have enough addons already.

In the end, here are just a couple of options you can use to manage your firefox profiles or run two or more profiles simultaneously.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Keka Mac App


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

iStumbler Release 99

Ah, finally, the next revision of iStumbler. When I was able to use it in leopard I was pretty happy with it, but I think it broke in Snow Leopard. It's a pretty useful tool in my opinion first of all for finding networks but what I like using it for is making sure that my router's channel is not the same as neighboring wireless signals, so that there's going to be less interference. I did for a couple of days try kismac but I preferred the ease of use that came with iStumbler, it's a lot more intuitive and the interface is great. I'm very happy to see that it has been revised and updated for snow leopard.

Edit: And by the way if you look at my screenshots you might notice that they don't have shadows around the windows, as they normally have. I changed the behavior of command shift 4 (space) with Onyx because I think that the lack of a shadow makes the window look cleaner though I do admit that it the window might look a bit weird.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Logitech VX Revolution Review Hardware

Finished typing up the hardware aspect of the review. I'm going to give my final thoughts in the next post.

The mouse is very ergonomic, and is my first real ergonomic mouse as my previous Logitech mouse was symmetrical, which was not as ergonomic though it allowed both right and left handed people to use the mouse. The shape of the mouse is contoured to the shape of your hand. For me I guess my hands aren’t the largest so it covered the mouse well. Though I have never seen a left handed version of this mouse, which is the problem due to ergonomics as left handed people can’t use the mouse. For me the mouse just feels right and the build feels solid. The plastic grips are very nice. On my v470 they used glossy plastic, which made it quite easy to get fingerprints and grease all over the mouse. For a matte finish, which this mouse has, a lot less dirt is visible. There is also a special grip for the thumb, which is quite nice.

The mouse comes with a small RF dongle that fits inside the mouse. There’s a small door where you can store the dongle. There’s an eject button which ejects the dongle and automatically turns the mouse on, a nice feature. Though it would be nice if the mouse came with a small pouch to store it in as this is the “VX” brand which is designed for laptops meaning that the user will be mobile. At least for my previous Logitech V470 I had a rudimentary pouch to store the mouse in.

The mouse only accepts one AA battery, which I at first was surprised about. For my V470 it accepted two AA batteries. This is obviously detrimental to the battery life, though I would assume that the extra space is being taken up by the RF dongle that fits inside the mouse. One way to remedy this issue would be by using rechargeable batteries, which is what I have done. Though the first time I put a AA battery in I realized that the battery was quite short for the mouse. After a bit more than month it told me to replace the mouse, which was surprising. Though I think that when I first charged up the battery it wasn’t full, so next time I’m going to put in a fully charged AA battery and note the battery life of the mouse. Also, dust collects pretty easily on the mouse, and grime does stick onto the plastic pads on the bottom of the mouse. I don’t clean it regularly but when I see that there’s too much grime on the mouse I just clean it with a cloth.

The mouse also has a built in battery status indicator. The steermouse software did not have a battery status feature, unlike setpoint, though I didn’t mind the omission since the mouse itself has a battery status indicator. All you do to activate it is press the power button, and then it would show the battery indicator. Full battery means three bars, and as of now it says I have two bars. To turn off the mouse you just hold the battery indicator for a couple of seconds until the LED light on the bottom of the mouse turns off. I don’t regularly turn off the mouse but rather I just leave it to sleep.

Another interesting point about this mouse is the plethora of buttons. I have never had that many buttons on a mouse. On my v470 it was just the right and left click, scroll wheel (had vertical and horizontal scroll) with middle click and that was it. On this mouse there’s the usual right and left click, a scroll wheel with a middle button, and two buttons for the thumb, a zoom slider, and a find button right below the scroll wheel.

After several months of use I conclude that while some buttons are in a good placement, others aren’t. The two buttons near the thumb were easy to press. For me I set them to dashboard and expose. However, for the “zoom” slider and the “search” button they were generally hard to press. For the zoom slider it was not easy to slide, and for the search button it was in an awkward position thus it was hard to press. I would have to arch my middle finger back to press it, which was quite difficult. Now that I think about it, my most used buttons were just the thumb buttons and I don’t use those very often either.

Now for the scroll wheel. In my opinion the scroll wheel is excellent, it also offers vertical and horizontal scrolling. For vertical scrolling they have two options, and you move a slider on the bottom of the mouse to choose. For one position the movement of the scroll wheel is unhindered and feels frictionless. Logitech calls it “hyper scrolling.” The other position gives the default scrolling behavior found on most mice, which has the usually clack sound and it doesn’t allow for a lot of movement. Hyper scrolling is even more usable due to the precision of the scroll wheel. As for hyper scrolling one small move might mean a huge jump on the web page, etc., having a precise scroll wheel means a lot, and I must say that the scroll wheel on the Logitech mouse is pretty precise. Granted, it did take a couple of days to get used to in the end I would say it was worth it.

Regarding middle clicking I think that it wasn’t very easy to middle click, probably due to the design of the scroll wheel’s hyper scrolling feature. It is vastly easier to middle click on my v470, so I don’t middle click often (on firefox I tend to right click and press new tab or press the tab while holding the command key). On Amazon I read a review that claimed that the scroll wheel is fragile and breaks easily, though for me I haven’t experienced any issues like that thus far though I will report such issues if they occur. At least for me I don’t press the scroll wheel button very often, and not very hard either, I doubt that the scroll wheel will break in the near future.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Microsoft Office:Mac 2011 Thoughts

Finally, some news about office:mac 2011. I have waiting for news about the next version of office 2011 and I would like to point out some features that I find interesting. I also hope that office 2011 will load faster and will be a lot less buggy than 2008, which would be a huge step forward for office:mac. Unlike 2008 where they took a step back in my respects (like the subtraction of VBA and the buggy and not-thought-out implementation of the elements gallery)

Granted, the ribbon has been a huge source of user complaints and especially from mac users, when they learned that 2008 might have a ribbon it forced microsoft to go back to the traditional 2004 design with the icons. At that point I wasn't very interested in the ribbon, it didn't seem that efficient and I found it harder to navigate. However, I played with office 2010 and I found the ribbon to be actually usable. If I do get 2011 will I use the ribbon? Probably. But even better is that they kept the floating toolbar palette, so if you minimize the ribbon you have the option of using the palette, which in my opinion will be good for those who are hesitant of using the ribbon. What I find interesting is that there is the choice of using the ribbon, and they didn't force it down and took out the palette feature. Note that they didn't get rid of the menubar (which I am very relieved about) unlike office 2007 where they did.

The loss of VBA from office 2008 meant that I couldn't do a lot of things on excel, such as doing statistical analysis (which you could easily do in 2004). Even though they added the statplus application it was hard to use and in the end I was not happy at all with excel. As for PST I am sure it will be a huge help for those users who use outlook/entourage. For me I tried entourage to try and compare it to thunderbird and mail, but it just took a long time to do anything, and the "my day" application wasn't that uesful in my opinion. Hopefully with the addition of outlook the e-mail experience in office 2011 will be substantially better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Logitech VX Revolution Review Software

I’ve been quite busy so I haven’t had the chance to get a good take of my Logitech VX Revolution review. I tried one take but I wasn’t very satisfied with it. Hopefully soon I can be able to make a video review of this mouse. Since there’s no video review as of the moment I decided to post my points here regarding the Logitech VX Revolution mouse. I’m going to include the software and hardware aspects of this mouse for consideration. In this post I’m going to focus on the software of the mouse, Logitech Setpoint.

First of all I’ve tried the included Logitech setpoint software both on windows and mac. I am also using the latest version of setpoint on both operating systems. While on windows I used the mouse with setpoint to play games and in my opinion it worked fine and felt like a USB mouse regarding the position (or maybe it’s just because my USB mouse is quite old). Though note that I’m not a very heavy gamer, so if you like really tactile feedback from the mouse this may not be for you. Initially I had some scrolling problems on windows but it seems to come and go, though I usually don’t have any problems with the mouse.

I must say that on the mac I’m not satisfied with the setpoint software at all. However, one thing that I did like about the setpoint software was the battery indicator, which told you how many days of charge you had left and how much charge was remaining on the mouse. It didn’t have that for my other Logitech Bluetooth mouse and I found the feature to be quite useful. When it came to the settings I was not happy with the software. At times the mouse just didn’t feel precise at all, and when compared on the windows side the mouse would feel very laggy and it was just hard to use. At that point sometimes I would restart the computer and then it would work well again on the mac. I had similar problems with my Bluetooth mouse and when I would restart into windows the mouse would be flawless, though not so on the mac.

Also, when I first started using the Logitech setpoint software whenever I unplugged the RF dongle while the mouse was in use it would completely freeze my computer, and the trackpad wouldn’t work, same for the mouse. I would have to restart the computer using the keyboard which was very frustrating. It was not a very good experience at all.

Having all these problems regarding the software led me to uninstall the setpoint software completely and I downloaded an application called steermouse. It worked flawlessly, which led me to conclude that the problems were with the Logitech setpoint software. Steermouse is not a free application, but it gives a lot more options than the Logitech setpoint software and has a lot more features as well. An interesting feature of steermouse is that you can reconnect with the mouse, so if I thought that the mouse was a bit laggy I would just launch the software and reconnect the mouse from the software end. All in all, the mouse is a lot more precise using steermouse and I have never looked back.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

PDF Annotation Software

As a student, I am naturally interested in note taking products. I've looked at and in a sense reviewed a wide variety of products ranging from the built-in word "notebook" view in mac office '08 to skim to circus ponies notebook for mac to skim and just recently I got a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional and I must say I have been blown away by the kinds of things you can do with it, in terms of notetaking.

Now, don't get me wrong I am not particularly an adobe fan, *cough* flash *cough*, but I must say that I tried out adobe acrobat pro and I can see how it can be incredibly useful for students. I shall first describe my journey in the notetaking world.

So first off when I got microsoft office: mac '08 I was pretty excited about the notebook view. "Wow, I can record all my lectures on here" or "Hey it seems really easy to document your notes with their tabs" and the list goes on. But when I actually tried the notebook view it was too late. Note that when office '08 first came out they didn't have a trial so I was unable to test out the software prior to buying it. First of all I tried the audio recorder. Bad quality, every little click on the keyboard could be heard and there was a lot of background noise. In the end if I wanted to record a lecture I would just use garageband, though in my opinion recording lectures from the computer is in itself a horrible idea since as you type it makes sounds on the keyboard, and since the mic is right next to the keyboard (I'm on the early 2008 macbook pro) when I listen to it again I can hear everything going on. Granted, if you're not using your computer when you're recording the lecture then fine (which was what I did last year when recording my microbiology lecture, which I have never listened to after I recorded it).

So back to word notebook view. I found that the features in the notebook view were limited, to say the least, and I couldn't even change the font I wanted in the notebook view, which I was somewhat disappointed about. The page was pretty much set in stone as to what you could and could not do. I went down the path of circus ponies notebook, which did have a lot more features but when I got into university what I realized was that I didn't need an application to take notes, rather I needed an application that could annotate pdf, since all the professors sent out their powerpoint slides in pdf. So I went searching. Yes, I have recently tried the trial of circus ponies notebook again and yes it does have a pdf annotation feature similar to onenote, a software which I am just yearning to have on mac os x without running darwine. I searched through forums and found a software called skim that could annotate pdfs but I've always had a number of issues with it.

First of all, the spell check was always off unless I turned it on. I could not default it as on which I saw as a nuisance (I like making sure that my spelling is correct. Another issue isn't really skim's fault, it's apple's but on some pdfs skim would crash repeatedly. Every time I would open it and a couple of minutes later it would crash, and the error message would come up. I went as far as to talk to the developers of skim about it, and part of the thread can be found here but they notified me in the end that it was not skim's problems and it was apple's. I encountered that problem in 10,6,3 and I am hoping that it will be fixed in 10.6.3. To say the least skim was a stable app, except for that issue. Unfortunately all the problematic pdfs were from one class and I couldn't use skim. When skim was unusable I had to switch to preview, which in my opinion is severely lacking in features when it came to pdf annotation. I tried it out a couple of times and it was pretty hard to use whether I compare it to skim or adobe acrobat pro. I do see it as a "new" feature as apple just included in 10.6 and I hope to see changes down the road for a better user experience.

Also, drawing in skim was limited, as if I tried to draw with my mouse it was not a pleasant experience, even though the feature was included. And there was the problem of interoperability. Skim saved the annotated information in a hidden file in the same directory as the pdf itself, so if the pdf was moved to another drive from what I understand the information would be still on the original drive. I tried to remedy this issue by saving all my pdfs as pdf bundles, so the information would always be there wherever I move it. However, pdf or pdf bundle, the only software that could read the file was skim.

And now the alternative to skim (I think I'm going to default my pdf annotating), adobe acrobat pro. It is by no means perfect but it just includes many features that I found lacking in skim, such as spelling checking options, as well as line spacing options, better drawing features. Also, it saves the changes directly on the pdf itself so other pdf viewers such as preview on mac os x can read it perfectly. And I find that many of skim's features were retained such as the comment list, full screen viewing, comment fonts, sticky notes, and on and on. One thing I think that adobe can do better is the preferences pane. Just as microsoft improved their preferences pane in office '08 to be easier to understand I think that adobe should follow, because at the moment it's hard to browse through all the options in the preferences. At least initially I find adobe acrobat pro to be satisfying from a pdf annotating perspective. Though in terms of pdf editing, I can do the main features just from preview such as combining pdfs, splitting pdfs, deleting pages. Many of those features can be found within preview. Well, I guess all in all what I'm trying to say in this post is that my initial viewpoint of adobe acrobat pro is a superb one. Though as I start using adobe acrobat pro, I will try to point out more pros and cons of the software.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Granted this is going to be my first post on this blog that isn't really about technology I just wanted to post it anyway.

[2/2/10 8:12:17 PM] sam t l: oh so NOW you're online
[2/2/10 8:12:18 PM] sam t l: :P
[2/2/10 8:12:21 PM] sam t l: we should battlefield sometime
[2/2/10 8:12:25 PM] ice_hot91: haha
[2/2/10 8:12:36 PM] sam t l: seeing that you missed 2+ games
[2/2/10 8:12:40 PM] ice_hot91: haha
[2/2/10 8:12:51 PM] Azuroth: right after i get done with my gw
[2/2/10 8:12:53 PM] Azuroth: hw*\
[2/2/10 8:12:56 PM] Azuroth: um
[2/2/10 8:13:05 PM] Azuroth: unless you know how to solve physics problems
[2/2/10 8:15:06 PM] sam t l: so
[2/2/10 8:15:18 PM] Azuroth: HELP!
[2/2/10 8:15:19 PM] Azuroth: :P
[2/2/10 8:15:26 PM] sam t l: I need somebody
[2/2/10 8:15:27 PM] sam t l: helo
[2/2/10 8:15:28 PM] sam t l: help
[2/2/10 8:15:30 PM] sam t l: and then what?
[2/2/10 8:15:33 PM] sam t l: I don't know the lyrics
[2/2/10 8:15:38 PM] Azuroth: ?
[2/2/10 8:15:45 PM] sam t l: isn't it from beatles
[2/2/10 8:15:50 PM] sam t l: or did I remember it wrong
[2/2/10 8:15:54 PM] Azuroth: i don't know
[2/2/10 8:15:58 PM] Azuroth: lol
[2/2/10 8:16:13 PM] sam t l:

Edit: And happy second palindrome day by the way