Posts in category apple - page 5
Spaces is new in Leopard bringing virtual desktops to the masses. Leopard gives you a number of ways to switch between spaces including a menu-item drop down and configurable keyboard shortcuts.
To move a window to another space you drag it to the edge of the screen and wait a moment but curiously you can’t use this great technique without a window to switch!
MouseWarp adds that missing feature and provides configurable delay, an optional keyboard modifier to activate it and the choice of whether the mouse stays where it was or flips to the opposing edge on the new space.
I’ve tried and recommended a number of Bit Torrent programs in previous Mac software posts but BitRocket sports a great modern Mac look. The user interface tends to get a bit confused wen switching around a bit but being open source this could be fixed quite promptly.
Update: I can’t recommend this program whilst it crashes so often, check out the alternatives Jane suggests in the comments.
Tools to replace the Mac’s choice of system icons are surely only going to get more popular with Leopard’s annoying almost-identical watermarked folders. Whilst LiteIcon isn’t quite as slick as the commercial app CandyBar it is $29 cheaper and still lets you use the multitude of pre-made iContainer packs from the likes of IconFactory.
Are you one of those people that get distracted by other apps on the screen? Me too, which is why I now use Spaces but Think is an alternative darkens the other running applications to your taste.
Carbon Copy Cloner
If you are a Boot Camp user like myself you might want to be able to backup that Windows partition to disk somewhere and Carbon Copy Cloner comes to the rescue. This is fine for the occasional backup but I’m finding myself wanting something like Time Machine for Windows – suggestions anyone?
MacHeist is an odd concept to explain but starts with a couple of free apps and alternate reality game. If you can solve the missions then your name is probably Jonathan Creek but the rest of us can take tips, or combinations wholesale, from the official forums where those with more brains, resources or time have collaborated on solving it.
As you enter more combinations you unlock additional free (but non-up-gradable) applications and the odd discount for a forthcoming bundle in January which you are under no obligation to buy. You can also get an extra free app for Christmas by referring a friend. Just remember to backup the downloadable installers and serial numbers as once they’re gone that’s it!
So far the apps are (and I’ll update this tomorrow when I can unwrap the other three:
WireTap Pro lets you record any sound your Mac can make – thereby effectively allowing you to rip anything you can play if you don’t mind the the degradation in quality of lossy re-compression. It also lets you record snippets from DVDs you are watching or games you are playing for perhaps review purposes.
Encryption has lots of uses, not all nefarious, and BitClamp offers simple drag-and-drop encryption of your files into 256-bit AES or Serpent encryption or super-secure 448 bit Blowfish. It also offers gzip compression and the ability to bundle a Mac-only decryption program into the file.
Screen-casts are getting slicker by the download and now includes web-cam-in-picture and a variety of keyboard and mouse trigger effects so you can see what they are doing. Mouseposé won’t help you with the webcam bit but it can darken the rest of the screen and highlight the mouse, visually show clicks on the screen and display your keystrokes.
A free game that I haven’t yet played, sorry. The only gaming I’ve been doing of late is Guitar Hero II/III although I’m hoping to get a couple of DS games tomorrow as well as a nice backpack to store my shiny new laptop in :)
An address-book style application for storing items such as credit card numbers and serial numbers/registration details secured with 448-bit Blowfish encryption.
Let’s you store an index of all your media on your computer for ease of scanning. These sorts of programs made sense in the days of floppy disks and small hard drives but seem pointless to me now…
Weird puzzle game that bears a little resemblance to the pipe-mania style games (that also made an appearance in BioShock under the guise of ‘hacking’).
Assembles XML files to describe Pod-casts with support for adding images and links. Useful because it’s free but I can’t see how anyone would have previously paid $29.95 for an interface to editing specific XML files.
Allows you to pause applications when you need the CPU back. Err, okay…
Here’s a cool fun little app reminiscent of 80’s TV show Whiz Kids and later messing around on my Amiga. It basically lets you talk into your computer whereby it will adjust the wave-forms so you sound different. Like a chipmunk, Darth Vader, a robot, on the telephone, on an old radio, like a bad sci-fi movie, a sore throat or a mouse. You can also record the audio for later mixing up in GarageBand. Good fun and if the next version includes configurable effects I might have to actually buy a copy.
Note taking and organizing application.
What appears to be a minimalist browser on top of the WebKit/Safari engine.
Space cowboy shoot-em-up game.
What appears to be monkeys fighting for their life on an American Football pitch. Not really my thing.
Extends the use of your Apple Remote to applications besides iTunes and FrontRow :)
Another tool to prune applications of the languages and architecture segments you do not require albeit with a much better interface than Monolingual.
Hope you have a great Christmas (or a great Tuesday if you don’t celebrate that ;-)
It has been one week since I picked up my new MacBook Pro 17″ to replace my aging first-generation 15″ model.
My initial concern was that the size and weight would be unwieldy after 4 years of lugging around a 15″ MacBook Pro and a prior to that a Titanium PowerBook G4. The actual problem was that my trusty Samsonite Trunk & Co. backpack could not accommodate it and that I’d have to hope Santa would deliver something a little bigger. Being properly kitted up might reveal if the dimensions and weight are uncomfortable so expect an update once I’ve travelled with the beast.
The screen is fantastic, a little brighter, and provides me with a desktop-like experience in terms of real estate thanks to the combination of the increased size and the high-definition 1920×1200 option. I had examined the glossy finish in-store and found having my face and the rest of the store glaring back at me far too distracting for real work (it might be nice for watching DVD’s in the dark I guess) and so went with the matte finish. Surprisingly it is a little more reflective than the older MBP but not overly so and it does make removing unwelcome fingerprints easier.
One problem I had with m 15″ was that heavy use of Visual Studio within Parallels wasn’t always cutting it on performance. Compilation was faster than the cheap HP/Compaq desktop I’d been using but still wasn’t snappy enough to keep my attention tightly focused ;-)
I went with top options – a 2.6GHz processor coupled with 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM 200GB drive – to ensure maximum performance. Mac OS X and native Vista did not disappoint and felt like a speedy desktop despite Vista being 32-bit and limited to 3GB of RAM until Apple ship a 64-bit ready Boot Camp drivers and tools.
My .NET development typically takes place inside a virtual machine – previously Parallels but now evaluating VMware Fusion with its enticing dual-core and 64-bit guest OS support. Both Parallels and Fusion had similar almost-native performance in the disk and processor department on my 15″ according to Vista’s performance index and I’ve yet to rerun those (stay tuned). Whichever gets Aero/DirectX 9Ex shader support first will be my home for a while.
Battery life was a big surprise offering over 3 hours and I certainly feel less conscious of where the next power feed is coming from although that is partly due to the poor battery on my old machine being rather tired and worn.
One big disappointment is the keyboard. Firstly it is the same size as the 15″ model which leaves the extra space to the speaker grille. Whilst the speakers do sound far superior – good enough to actually listen to music on – I couldn’t help but feel a wider enter key, a second ctrl and a little f-key spacing could have gone a long way. What is more concerning is that many keys do not register if hit off-centre even by a slight amount :(
There are still some things to try:
- Games under native Vista taking advantage of the Nvidia 8600M GT chip
- Time Machining my MyBook Pro external drive over FireWire 800 (800 Mb/s) instead of USB2 (400 Mb/s)
- Burning DVD performance
- Removing DVD drive (UJ-85J FBZ8) region protection (RPC) to play my DVD collection
Alarm Clock 2
Wake up every morning to your iTunes playlist without the danger of an app launching it and having a problem/update pending that prevents you getting to work on time.
Alarm Clock 2 also includes Timers (great for a quick 20 minute power nap) and Stopwatches alongside the normal one-off or regular scheduled alarm that will bring both you and your machine out of sleep ready for that early-morning email check.
If you need to keep an eye on what your WiFi connection is doing AP Grapher can help a little by showing you noise and signal levels over time.
Quick tip: Hold down Alt when going to the normal Apple WiFi menu to see some stats on your current connection.
Keeping your apps up to date can often be a pain and until Apple extend Software Update out to third parties we’ll have to use alternative solutions.
AppFresh is much more reliable than the previous Software Update widget which I was previously using. It still has the odd problem recognizing unusual version numbering such as build numbers and beta’s but otherwise does a pretty good job.
I’ve been using FireFTP for a while under OS X but as I find myself spending more and more time in Safari and less in Firefox I wanted a standalone FTP client that’s a little better than using the command line or Connect To Server disk-mounting option.
Thankfully Cyberduck comes in to play and apart from not supporting my favorite column-mode and no option to make default connections passive it does the job quite well.
There are a number of legal and legitimate reasons for grabbing songs back off your iPod (hard drive crash, removing music from your laptop to make space, overenthusiastic parents and siblings cleaning up your machine…)
Senuti helps save the day by letting you get your tracks back off your iPod and onto your Mac.
I must confess I haven’t had time to try this yet but if you want to syncronize your Windows Mobile phone with your Mac and don’t want to pay up for MissingSync (or pay extra just to get Leopard compatibility, grrr) then SyncMate is your only option although how long it stays free beyond beta remains to be seen.
I just got the opportunity to try out the latest version of VMware and thought I’d do a quick Windows Experience Index on Boot Camp, Parallels and VMware to see what the performance is like before my new MacBook Pro 17″ arrives (hopefully on Friday!)
When I installed Leopard on my machine I took the opportunity to carve out a dedicated 20GB partition again to put a fresh install of Vista on. As well as being able to boot natively this also now means I can run my single Windows partition switching between native, Parallels or VMware at will which admittedly drives Windows Activation crazy.
|Hardware||MacBook Pro 2GHz “MacBookPro1,1”|
|Memory||2048MB DDR2 667MHz|
|Processor||2.0GHz Core Duo|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon X1600 256MB|
|Operating system||Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.1|
|Memory||848MB (Virtual machines only)|
|Disk||20GB Boot Camp partition|
|Operating system||Microsoft Vista Ultimate Edition 32-bit|
- No other applications running in OS X or Vista
- Full-screen mode
- Vendors guest OS tools & drivers installed
3.0 5570 beta
|Primary hard disk||5.9||5.9||5.9|
- Processor: A little surprising given that VMware supports multiple cores but that Parallels doesn’t.
- Memory: To be expected given that the VM was only running with less RAM.
- Graphics: Disappointing and likely caused by the VM vendors graphics drivers not being WDM which based.
- Gaming graphics: Very disappointing and caused by lack of DirectX 9 graphics support.
- Hard disk: Like processor this is a pleasant surprise.
After my new 17″ MacBook Pro arrives (hopefully this Friday) I will produce another set of scores which should show how much faster the 2.6GHz is with all the options and let me compare like-for-like on the memory front.
I also want to run some Visual Studio 2008 build time comparisons (probably of SubSonic) because compilations are what really counts ;-) If you have any further suggestions for benchmarks, leave a comment!