Posts tagged with itunes - page 2

Mac software picks – Parallels, Gmail+Growl, Uno & TheftSensor

Another round-up of the best Mac OS X software I can find.

Parallels Workstation

Piping Microsoft and VMWare to the post relative unknowns Parallels are on beta 6 of their Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X/Intel.

As well as being able to guest OS/2, DOS, BSD, Solid, Linux and all flavors of Windows their product also features support for Intel’s VT virtualization technology built into the Intel Core chips giving it an edge in performance.

Parallels also offer Windows and Linux versions of their software as well as a virtual disk compressor that works with VMware and VirtualPC as well as their own Workstations products.

They are currently offering the OS X version for $10 off so you can grab a copy for $39.99.

Gmail+Growl

Growl allows other applications to pop-up messages in a very customizable way and is used by the likes of Adium messenger and Colloquy IRC.

This universal app however uses Growl to offer you a sneak preview of your latest Gmail’s as they hit your inbox. Yummy.

Uno

I’ve blogged in the past at just how annoying and inconsistent the Mac UI has become with Aqua, BrushedMetal, Platinum, ProTools, Dashboard and GarageBand UI’s all being totally different. There are even variations between those…

Uno lets you choose between Platinum or it’s darker iTunes variant for Aqua and/or BrushedMetal apps and be done with it. It’s free, fast and easy.

TheftSensor

One of the cool things about OS X is the way Apple build cool features into the OS for application developers to use. Some examples include dictionary/spell-checking, voice recognition, iSight and AppleRemote access, system-level address-books and calendaring…

The result is you find very innovative applications using these features in new and interesting ways. One such example is DeliciousLibrary, another is TheftSensor…

TheftSensor allows you to use your AppleRemote to “lock” you machine just like you would a car with a remote locking fob. Should somebody attempt to move your laptop then an alarm will continually sound until you deactivate it with the remote. This is made possible because of the movement sensor inside Mac laptops put there to protect hard disks in the event of being dropped :)

Remember to pair your remote with your Mac so that other people can’t unlock your laptop with theirs.

TheftSensor is free but the the company behind has another more advanced non-free application called Undercover. Install this and should your Mac be stolen notify them and the next time your Mac hits in the Internet it’ll realize it’s stolen and start sending iSight cam pics of the perpetrator using your PC as well as IP tracking information.

If that doesn’t do the trick it starts to simulate hardware failures and then should it find itself on an Apple certified service center IP allocation it’ll let the service tech know it’s been stolen.

[)amien

Shop smart from the Channel Islands

Shopping on-line from the Channel Islands isn’t always a pleasant experience. Many companies can’t be bothered with the making a VAT-exempt outside-EU sale and when they do they like to use expensive shipping options instead of the often reliable and cheap Special Delivery service.

Here’s a few tips and sites to make things a bit less painless.

Deals & codes

HotUKDeals keeps track of various discounts, vouchers, codes and deals that can be had on various popular UK sights. Not all the vendors here deal with the Channel Islands but many do so it’s worth checking.

QuidCo

Many companies offer referral schemes these days in an attempt to get more business in exchange for a few % or £ going to the referrer. When you join QuidCo always purchase by following their link to the vendors site (clear those cookies first to be sure) and when you order they’ll pick-up that referral fee… and give it back to you. Membership costs £10 a year which funds QuidCo itself but it doesn’t take many purchases to earn that back.

Current paybacks include… Sky new customer (£50), Dell (to 6.5%), Boots (to 4.5%), Play (2%), HMV (6%), BlahDVD (5%), Woolworths (5%), WHSmith (7%), I Want One Of Those (10%), Toys for Me (12%), BBC Shop (7.5%) and many more.

iTunes Music Store

Officially iTMS can’t be bothered with the Channel Islands just like the Apple Store itself however if you don’t mind paying the 17.5% VAT then enter your post code in lower case to bypass the check. This has been working for a year or so but I guess sooner or later somebody will patch this oversight.

The lower-case post-code trick stopped working some time during 2010 but the credit card processing seems happy with any UK post-code even if it doesn’t match your billing address. I used BBC TV’s NW1 8TQ (I think that’s from “Why Don’t You”)

Sony Station

Sony Station is the portal and package for many of Sony’s popular on-line games including EverQuest, Star Wars: Galaxies, Matrix Online and PlanetSide. Once again they fail to list Guernsey, Jersey or Channel Islands but a customer service rep has told us to set our country to Zimbabwe to ensure we don’t pay somebody else’s sales tax.

Do not bother trying

  • Cheap airfare sites for trips to/from the islands – the local airlines don’t discount beyond what’s already on their sites.
  • Discounted mobile phone sites – the only two local operators are Cable & Wireless Guernsey and Wave Telecom. Both offer phones through their town stores and via a number of local agents only.
  • ISP comparison/deal web sites – we only have the choices of Cable & Wireless Guernsey and Guernsey.Net/NewTel.

[)amien

Apple to the Channel Islands – Get lost

Last week I was at the Apple Store UK ordering a universal dock connector for my iPod. Unexpectedly the the shipping address was not accepted – it claimed they were unable to accept orders from my post-code.

This was a strange turn of events – I’ve ordered a PowerBook G4, iLife, Apple Pro Keyboard, 20GB iPod and various other accessories in the past. I’ve not changed address or post-code for over a year so what’s the problem?

One telephone call and 6 Apple staff later I’m finally told they are no longer delivering to the Channel Islands. Apparently this is a new policy introduced in the last few weeks, perhaps I missed the big announcement or maybe they kept it quiet. They couldn’t tell me the reasoning why or just where I should now take my business.

Luckily for us here in Guernsey we have a local Apple authorized dealer called Guernsey Computers and their prices are quite reasonable. About an extra 5% on top of the non-VAT Apple Store prices. Our friends in Jersey aren’t so lucky and 20%+ is quite common – in fact the “Technology Store” here in Guernsey tends to put this sort of mark-up on their Apple goods too.

This does of course mean no more engraved iPods, no more education store or refurbished store pricing.

I guess the success of Apple’s iPod means they can just tell customers in minority regions to get lost.

Never mind the fact some were helping keep them afloat before they hit the iPod goldmine.

[)amien

What next for Mac OS X?

Well obviously the hot item for the next major release of Mac OS X will be Intel compatibility but I’m hoping they’ll get a chance to squeeze some new features in too. Here what I’d like to see next:

FrontRow

Apple’s new iMac-only media centre interface seems to gave garnered quite a bit of a attention. So much so that enterprising individuals have hacked it onto their Mac. Apple should make it available to non-iMac users, possibly as part of 10.5, the next iLife or maybe even bundled with the optional remote control.

User interface unification

Every new app Apple release seems to have a new user interface now. While the look is merely cosmetic the behavior is often affected leading people to expect one result and get another.

Here’s hoping the iTunes 6 UI trickles across through the whole system, perhaps even with a switch in control panel that lets people choose between that and Aqua. In the mean time check out Uno which sorts out as much as it can visually, behavior needs to be done by Apple.

If you feel like stealing what little Longhorn still had, check out the Ruler Aero theme instead.

Uninstaller

Back when OS X was still called OpenStep it featured a rather nice install system called Package Manager. OS X still has the installer part of this and indeed records the receipts for use by an uninstaller… That has never existed. Come on Apple, sometimes we need to uninstall apps and we’d rather not trudge around the /Library/ to clean up after them.

Microsoft Windows in a window

Apple have already claimed they will be encouraging dual-booting with Windows on their new Intel boxes even if not actively supporting it.

A better approach would be something similar to their Blue Box virtual machine running Mac OS 9 apps under OS X. As 10.4 will use their new Rosetta technology to run PowerPC apps on Intel this should be simple by comparison. The problem here is that they may need to get Microsoft to license them portions of VirtualPC.

iTunes DVD audio-track ripping

If Apple want to shift more of their higher end iPods whilst keeping the record labels in check, why not introduce a function to rip the audio soundtrack from DVD video’s to iPod’s. I for one have a bunch of comedy shows and stand-up material I’d like to have on the go and I’m sure not paying for them again.

[)amien