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.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Firefox Remember my History for at least x Days Tweak

As I've said before one thing I can't stand about firefox is that its history option is to remember history for "at least x" days. This is completely counter intuitive as it would be a lot more logical to remember history "for at most x" days so that the history doesn't get too big. After searching on mozilla forums I found an answer, and it's documented here.

Basically, type in about:config in the URL bar and then type in "browser.history" and you should see an entry that says browser.history_expire_days and modify that to say the amount that you want. This is the "keep history for at most x days" option. Just in case I set my "keep my history for at least" option which is the browser.history_expire_days_min as one because I wasn't sure what would happen if the min option was larger than the "max" option where it would for example keep the history for at least 5 days but at the same time for at most 2 days which is illogical. So in the end for me I set my max as 7 and when I went over to my history it had auto deleted itself to my relief.

This is what I mean