Posts in category apple - page 8

Write your own Skype license agreement

Skype EULA being editedWhilst installing the latest version of Skype on my Mac a few days ago I noticed something very unusual.

The text of the end user license agreement was editable.

Being that software companies claim these are legally binding agreements between them and the user perhaps I now own the rights to Skype after my little creative writing ;-)

Which would make me a rich man indeed, the cakes are on me!

[)amien

New iMac available only with glossy display

Showing the glossy MacBook screen</a> When I use a computer I want to view my email, pages and work and not watch a light-show of what’s going on behind me. Glossy displays are therefore rather unappealing and Apple’s latest iMac update has me suitably worried.

First it was the cheap-end MacBooks available only with a glossy display, then it was an option on the MacBook Pro and now the iMac is blemished with its mirror-like display (and downgraded video card from Nvidia 7300 GT to ATI HD2400 XT).

John Siracusa published a great article on Ars Technica last year called And we all shine on that covered the subject in some detail including his take on the reasons why they are popular.

John believes it comes down to shopping being an emotional experience and not a logical one with shoppers easily distracted by shiny things, loud things and bright things all of which they irrationally consider ‘better’ without a thought. This translates to purchases of reflective laptops, deafening speakers and glaring TV screens being purchased over devices that deliver solid, accurate and balanced results.

It is a sad state of affairs if we consumers are nothing more than magpies with wallets.

Do the purchasers of these devices not find their eyes and ears fatigued by the strain of dealing with displays that glare and require the brightness whacked up or speakers that sound so muddy you can’t make out detail?

The only hope is the mention of “glass cover” and “SiO2” on the iMac page. Perhaps Apple has worked out how to increase contrast without introducing copious amounts of glare by using glass rather than plastics but I doubt it.

Still iWork 08 and iLife 08 look great and the keyboard will be worth trying although I doubt it feels as good as the DAS 2.

Shame Apple are still locking out Channel Islanders from their on-line store, even when it is just to purchase a serial number. Guess I’ll have to wait a couple of days for iQ Guernsey to get some in.

[)amien

Great free system tools for Mac OS X

Deeper

Deeper takes you further that System Preferences and provides access to a number of extra options such as Finders graphical effects, layout, spacing and menus, as well as some extra options for Dashboard, Dock, Expose, Login and more.

As an extra cool treat you can also select a screen-saver to be your desktop background just to show off how smooth, slick and system-deep the transparency, scaling and hardware acceleration go in OS X.

AppTrap

I’ve commented before on how I like the Mac’s simple installation mechanism that involves just dragging a folder out of the disk image to where you want it, or in some cases running a package but uninstalling should be just as simple. Thanks to AppTrap it is.

AppTrap watches your Trash and if it detects an application being disposed of asks you if you would like to remove the support files. Great.

0xED Cocoa hex editor

Every hardcore user needs a hex editor from time to time and 0xED is free and very capable.

Features include unlimited file size, interpreting bytes as strings in a variety of encodings, or as integers, floats, doubles and support both big and little endian bytes.

0xED also supports a plug-in mechanism so you can write your own custom data types. The plug-in page includes one for interpreting four bytes as an IP address (v4).

TrimTheFat

Until I can get my hands on a Hitachi’s 200GB/7200 replacement internal drive for my MacBook Pro I’m stuck having to prune my photo, music and applications in order to make space.

Most Mac applications now ship in Universal format which means they contain binaries for both PowerPC and Intel architectures. Drag one of these applications to TrimTheFat and it will remove the part your current machine doesn’t need.

SafariStand

SafariStand is a plug-in that lets you tweak tweak Safari’s behavior such as applying alternative style-sheets, disabling JavaScript, Java or images, modifying encoding and minimum font sizes on a site-by-site basis as well as enhancing the bookmarks with colors and categories, disabling animated GIFs and FavIcons.

If you need a reason to install this try Hicksdesign’s Google Reader Theme to make Google Reader look much more like a Mac application.

The Unarchiver

The Mac’s built-in BOMArchiveHelper is a useful de-compressor for archives but for when it can’t handle a format turn to The Unarchiver.

Thanks to the libxad library it uses formats include: Zip .zip, RAR .rar, 7-Zip .7z, LhA .lha .lzh, StuffIt .sit, BinHex .hqx, MacBinary .bin, .macbin, Gzip .gz, .gzip .tgz, .tar-gz, BZip2 .bz2, .bz, .bzip2 .tbz .tbz2, Tar .tar .gnutar, Unix compress .z .taz .tar-z, ACE .ace, Microsoft CAB .cab, Comic Book .cbz .cbr, Linux RPM .rpm, DiskDoubler .dd, Self-Extracting .sea .exe, CPIO .cpio .cpgz, Pax .pax, HA .ha, Amiga disk image .adf, .adz .dms .dcs .pkd .xms .zom, Amiga archive .f .lzx

[)amien

Seven ideas for topping up your iPod

It’s been almost two years since I last blogged on what content I was feeding my iPod so here’s an update on what’s keeping mine fresh.

Music you don’t know the name of

If you get a song in your head you’d like but don’t know what it is then Midomi might be what you are looking for.

The site takes 10 seconds or more of your attempts at singing or humming the track and then tries to match it against the songs it knows about. The catalog isn’t particularly comprehensive right now but it has a reasonable selection of tracks. You can also help it improve results by singing a fragment of a song that it will use for matching providing you don’t mind anyone being able to listen to it.

Educational tracks for free

This May Apple launched iTunes U – a section of the iTunes Store featuring free educational content from various US colleges and universities.

The tracks are mostly unedited and lack polish but some of the content covers everything from philosophy to economics and technology so there should be something to interest you.

Audio books for free

  • Simply Audio-books have a small selection their library available for free as well as a rental club and purchasing options that ship physical media. The download club option is not compatible with the iPod. (Microsoft’s PlaysForSure is worst name ever – it doesn’t play on the iPod or Microsoft’s own Zune)
  • LibriVox use volunteers to record chapters of books available in the public domain and put the completed audio books up in mp3 and ogg formats. The quality of speaker can be variable and the content spans classical literature.

Podcasts for free

The podcast scene just keeps growing but finding what suits you can be tricky. My favorites currently include:

Improve audio quality with iTunes Plus

Apple’s plan to remove digital rights management (DRM) whilst increasing audio quality on iTunes gains momentum with music publishers each day – no doubt enticed on by the increased margin and ability to get an extra few pence or cents from existing owners.

Besides the crisper sound and larger file sizes the other noticeable difference is that iTunes music sharing works with these tracks (Sharing protected AAC involves an authorization landmine).

Head to the Tunes Plus link in the Quick Links box at the top right of the main store page. You should see an option to upgrade your library if any tracks can be upgraded but bear in mind it’s an all-tracks-or-nothing deal that costs £0.20 per track.

Watch your DVDs

Why not take a DVD you like, or better yet one you haven’t yet seen, with you on your iPod Video.

There are a number of tools to help you with the job of copying from DVD into an iPod friendly format but Handbrake is free, cross-platform and easy to use. As a bonus it also includes presets for other portable video devices such as the PlayStation Portable.

Watch YouTube

Why should iPhone owners have all the phone when the iPod Video is perfectly capable of watching YouTube content providing you upload it to your iPod before you set out.

There are many tools to do the download & conversion job but DVDVideoSoft’s one for Windows works quite well. For the Mac the latest 1.9 version of Squared 5 would appear to do the job but I haven’t yet tried it.

[)amien