Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Need to sync files across multiple computers? Here’s your solution

dropbox-logo.gifI just came across Dropbox, which is an online service that automatically syncs your files across multiple computers (Windows & Mac). This is EXACTLY what I and several other people that I know need! The thing that really peaks my interest is that there will be a sync client for Mac OS X and Windows that will auto-synchronize all files in the targeted folders. In addition, you can access the files via their website. To top it off, Dropbox also keeps version history so you can rollback to a previous version.

Anyways, Dropbox hasn’t launched, yet, but they do have a nice screen cast on their site so you can see it in action.

I’m pretty excited to see how well their service works because I’ve tried to synchronize files across two Macs with .Mac and it’s flaky, at best. I also wonder how much the service will cost – if anything.

Update: GigaOM has a great write-up on Dropbox…and it looks like the beta started today.


Filed under: Software, Storage, Technology

Another PC user switches to the Mac

macbook.jpgWow, this week was an incredible week…my girlfriend (a PC user all her life) just decided to replace her Dell Latitude D620 (Core 2 Duo – 2.16Ghz) machine with the black MacBook (Core 2 Duo – 2.2Ghz). I think her experience speaks volumes about Mac OS X as well as the dedicated Mac applications…because it was a combination of the two that convinced her to switch.

Here’s the net of it, she needed to build a simple yoga website – Om Circle Yoga – (she’s a certified yoga instructor). I told her that I got this great web design software (RapidWeaver) from a MacUpdate promotional bundle back in December and that it would suite her needs perfectly. So, she gave it a shot and within a couple of hours, she learned how to use RapidWeaver, built her website, and launched it. Here’s the best part: after she launched her site, she commented on:

  1. How easy it was to learn and use RapidWeaver
  2. How easy and fun it was using Mac OS X (I’m running Tiger)

The interesting thing is that my girlfriend has used my Powerbook in the past for browsing the web and her impression was that it’s just another computer and does the same thing as a PC. The minute she did something on the Mac that was more than surfing the web or checking email she realized how much more productive she was on the Mac and began to appreciate what us Mac-heads/geeks have been raving about all these years.

So, big props goes to the folks at Realmac Software for making RapidWeaver such a great app and to the RapidWeaver community for building various add-ons…and, of course, to Apple, for making Mac OS X such a great operating system.

Filed under: Apple, Computers, Laptop, MacBook, MacOSX, Mobile Computing, Notebook, Software, Windows

Last day for the Macheist bundle

As of the time of this post, there is 23 hours left to buy the Macheist software bundle. You get 12 apps for $49. Two notable apps in the bundle are Snapz Pro X and Pixelmator. Hit it up at http://www.macheist.com.

(sorry for the short post but it was done on my iPhone via the mobile WordPress site)

Filed under: Apple, Bargains, MacOSX, Software

Get $600 worth of Mac software for $50

macupdate.jpgMacUpdate has another software bundle for sale and there are some really awesome applications in the bundle. In short, you get 10 applications for $50…but it’s offered for a limited time and expires in 7 days. I bought the bundle and would highly recommend them. So far, my favorites are Yep and RapidWeaver.

Here’s the skinny on the applications included in the bundle:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Apple, Deals, MacOSX, Software

Mac OS 10.5 Leopard Feature: Remote Desktop

leopard-2.pngOkay, this new feature has convinced me to upgrade to Leopard: Screen Sharing via iChat. In a nutshell, it’s a built-in remote desktop feature that doesn’t require any fiddling with your router or NAT settings. Why am I so excited about this feature? Because it will make my life SOOO much easier in troubleshooting and fixing issues on my Dad’s iMac. Yes, you can use VNC (which is what I’m currently using as my ‘family tech support’ tool) but it’s still a pain in the ass due to router config settings, telling my Mom or Dad to start the VNC server, etc.

Here’s the description from Apple’s site:

Instant Screen Sharing from the Finder

Start an interactive screen sharing session with other Macs on your network. Just select the Mac from your sidebar and (if authorized) you can see and control the Mac as if you were right in front of it. Change a system preference, publish an iPhoto library, or add a new playlist to iTunes.

Truth be told, I haven’t tried Screen Sharing but it seems to ‘just work’ like almost everything else in the Mac ecosystem. GWhiz posted a video that shows how easy it is to use this new feature.  You can also see a high quality video of Screen Sharing via the Leopard Guided Tour video on the Apple site.

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Software

StumbleUpon being acquired by eBay

stumbleupon.pngWord on the street is that StumbleUpon has signed a term sheet with eBay – indicating that they will be acquired by eBay. The price is rumored to be in the $40 – $45 million range. Not bad for a start-up that raised $1.5m in only one round of venture funding, eh?

StumbleUpon is the internet equivalent of channel surfing on your TV. StumbleUpon is installed as a web browser toolbar that allows users to ‘stumble’ upon websites that match their profile and interestes by clicking a “Stumble!” button. Users can also rate websites (via thumbs up or thumbs down) – the more positive ratings a website has the more that site will be served/displayed to other ‘stumblers.’ If a site is rated positively and has not been rated by another ‘stumber’, then the site is added to their database as a website that should be served/displayed to other ‘stumblers.’

Frankly, I’m not sure why eBay wants to acquire StumbleUpon…GigaOM has a couple of reasons (one involves integrating it with Skype) but that doesn’t seem too compelling to me. What do you think?

[via TechCrunch]

Filed under: Business, Social Web, Software, Technology, Web 2.0

Thunderbird 2.0 has been released

thunderbird.pngMozilla has just released Thunderbird 2.0 – sweet!

If you’re not familiar with Thunderbird, it’s the best open source email application out there. In fact, I would say it is the best email application out there.

Don’t worry about your OS, Thunderbird is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

Some of the new features:

  • Advanced folder views
  • Message tagging
  • Saved searches
  • Built-in support for retrieving email from Gmail and .Mac (all you have to do is enter your username/password)
  • Updated junk mail/spam filter
  • Updated theme and user interface
  • Better Windows Vista support

FYI, a lot of people must be downloading Thunderbird 2.0 as I write this post because the download speed is very slow – like 5kb/sec slow. 😦

Filed under: Email, Software, Technology

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) delayed until October

Ugh…Apple has officially announced that Leopard will be delayed from June to October. The reason: so they could launch the iPhone on time.

However, iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price — we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team, and as a result we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. While Leopard’s features will be complete by then, we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us. We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones.

I’d rather have Apple release quality software than release a buggy version of Leopard in June. Also, there’s gonna be hella comparisons between Leopard <–> Vista so it’s better for Apple to make sure it’s of high quality.

I’m really bummed since I’ve been waiting for Leopard to buy a MacBook Pro.  Well, now I have to decide if I should just pull the trigger and buy it now because my PowerBook G4 won’t last until October.

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Software

18 ways to use Google Calendar

Anne Zelenka, of Web Worker Daily, has a great post titled, “Rock your Google Calendar in 18 ways.” You probably know some of them if you’re using Google Calendar but I’ll bet you don’t know all of them.

Here are some of the more interesting ones:

  • Add events to Google Calendar without being in GCal (thanks to a GCal Quick Add Firefox extension)
  • Receive event reminders via SMS
  • Get a daily agenda emailed or text messaged to you
  • Add a pop-up notifier of upcoming events to the Firefox status bar (via a Firefox extension)

I would add one to her list: GooSync. Being able to do a 2-way sync from a mobile phone or smartphone with Google Calendar is a HUGE bonus for some people. You can read more about this tool in my GooSync review.

Filed under: Calendar, Firefox Add-On, Google, How-To, Software

Upgrading to NewsBreak 2.0? Backup your RSS channels

I just upgraded to NewsBreak 2.0 and everything went smoothly. However, backup your list of RSS channels before upgrading. Even though Ilium Software calls it an “upgrade,” it’s more like a reinstall because none of my settings were preserved and, at first, all of my RSS channels were gone. Here’s how I got them back:

  1. After the “upgrade,” I went to Menu –> Options –> Data Storage
  2. I checked the “store data & podcasts on card” checkbox
  3. Upon doing so, NewsBreak displayed a message stating there is already a list of channels on the storage card and asked if I wanted to overwrite those channels – I chose “no.”
  4. Then, all of my channels were back

Apparently, NewsBreak just needed to be pointed to the location of my RSS channels. Thankfully, it didn’t automatically overwrite the data on my storage card during the installation. Now, I’m not sure if NewsBreak would overwrite your channels if you had them stored on your device so backup your channels *before* you upgrade to v2.0. I received confirmation from Ilium Software that the reinstall will not overwrite your channels that are stored on the devic. But, I would still recommend backing up your channel list – just in case if the upgrade/reinstall fails.

So, when upgrading to NewsBreak 2.0, you need to do two things: backup your channel list and, after upgrading, reconfigure all of your settings under Menu –> Options.

The page where you download the 2.0 installation file contains instructions on how to install the upgrade but it doesn’t tell you how to get your RSS channels back. I’ve emailed this feedback to Ilium Software so, hopefully, they’ll add some verbiage to this page.

Update (3/19/2007) Post has been updated since Marc, from Ilium Software, has confirmed that the reinstall will not overwrite any RSS channels that are stored on your device. Thanks, Marc!

Filed under: How-To, NewsReader, RSS, Smartphone, Software, Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile 6 demo in Flash

Microsoft has released a 38 MB Flash-based demo of Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition for download. Interestingly, the demo shows a T-Mobile Dash/HTC Excalibur. It’s worth a quick look if you want to see WM6 in action instead of screenshots.

Some cool things the demo shows are:

  • Ability to send a Contact card via text message
  • Calendar ribbon
  • Viewing call history in Contact cards
  • Support for HTML e-mails
  • Search your device by simply typing the search terms
  • Viewing/editing Word & Excel files.

FYI, this demo is targeted to business users so it also shows a good amount of corporate-related features such as: out of office status, searching Exchange Server mailbox, ability to remotely erase data on the SD card, etc.

Filed under: Microsoft, Mobile Phone, Smartphone, Software, Windows Mobile, Wireless

A NetNewsWire 3.0 (pre-beta) video walk-through

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) has a nice 3 – 5 minute video walk-through of the new features in the next version of NetNewsWire. After watching this video, I’m pretty fired up for version 3.0.

I’ve been using version 2.x since 2005 and it is the best RSS reader out there. Frankly, I can’t recommend it enough…if you’re a Mac user. Unfortunately, NetNewsWire is not available for Windows. NewsGator – the company that bought NetNewsWire last year – sells a Windows RSS reader named FeedDemon but it doesn’t even come close to NetNewsWire (the last time I used FeedDemon was back in July 2006 so it may have gotten better).

Anyways, here are some of the new features: (see Brent Simmons’ blog for the full list and descriptions)

  • Spotlight searching
  • Full Screen Mode
  • Tabs with thumbnails and animation
  • Feed ‘Cover Art’
  • Ability to choose a folder when subscribing to a feed

Btw, Brent Simmons is the creator of NetNewsWire. His company, Ranchero Software, was acquired by NewsGator in 2005.


Filed under: MacOSX, NewsReader, RSS, Software

iTunes 7.1 can sync up to 5 Apple TVs

itunes-cover-flow.jpgiTunes 7.1 was released yesterday and iLounge has found that you can sync up to a maximum of 5 Apple TVs. In addition, iTunes 7.1 now supports full-screen Cover Flow and there are also categorization options for TV shows and movies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K. – hinting that residents in these countries will be able to buy TV shows and movies.

Click through to iLounge if you want all of the deets on what iTunes 7.1 brings to the table (they have a bunch of nice screenshots, to boot).

Btw, Vista still isn’t officially supported.

Update (3/6/2007) Btw, it appears there is a possibility that you may be able to play some of those iPod games on the Apple TV. In the same iLounge article, they found some text strings stating “All existing games on the Apple TV (name) will be replaced with games from this iTunes library.” If the Apple TV will support games – great – but I have zero desire to play Tetris, Pac-Man, etc. in my living room.

Update #2 (3/6/2007) According to Gizmodo, iTunes 7.1 is compatible with Vista but Apple doesn’t list it as a supported OS. Apple’s site specifically says, “Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 or later or Windows XP.”

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, iPod, Software

More Rumors for a March Release of Mac OS X Leopard 10.5

There are some more rumors that OS X 10.5 (Leopard) will be released at the end of March. I’ve come across a few sources reporting this same rumor.

With the release of Windows Vista, there’s going to be a lot more focus on what Leopard brings to the table and how it stacks up against Vista. Yes, we all agree that Vista “leveraged” a lot of features from Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) but I think Leopard will need to bring some more innovative features (other than the ones already revealed) to keep feeding the ‘pro-Apple’ momentum. Let’s hope those ‘top-secret’ features, that Steve Jobs mentioned, are killer-features.

Update (2/28/2007) I must say, my gut is telling me that Leopard will NOT be released in March but more likely in June.  There really isn’t a benefit for Apple to release Leopard earlier and, I believe, Apple will want to coincide the release of Leopard with some updated hardware (like those rumored MacBook Pros) to garner some more hardware sales.

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Rumors, Software

Daylight Savings Time for Windows, Windows Mobile 5, and Mac OS X

In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. Government changed when we change our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (DST). Here are the deets of the change: (I copied it from Sun Microsystem’s Sun Developer Network)

“The United States has planned a change to its DST observance beginning in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DST will start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. In 2007, the start and stop dates will be March 11 and November 4, respectively. These dates are different from previous DST start and stop dates. In 2006, the dates were the first Sunday in April (April 2, 2006) and the last Sunday in October (October 29, 2006).”

Due to this change, everyone with a computer, smartphone, PDA, etc. will have to install a software patch to account for the change. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass and Microsoft doesn’t make it easy for you to determine if you need to patch your system (Apple auto-includes it in the Software Update). So, I thought I’d make it easy for you all and just tell you what you need to do:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Daylight Savings Time, How-To, MacOSX, Mobile Software, Software, Vista, Windows, Windows Mobile

Tagging Photos in Windows Vista Destroys Metadata

If you’re using Windows Vista do NOT use Vista to tag your photos. Apparently, Vista destroys a photo’s metadata if you tag the photo. Microsoft hasn’t said if or when they will fix this but I’m sure they will.

“A bit of bad news about Vista if you’re a photographer. Apparently if you tag a photo’s metadata in Vista, it destroys other important metadata used by image editing apps such as Photoshop. Microsoft’s gotten reports of RAW files generated by Nikon cameras being unreadable after being tagged with Vista or Microsoft’s Photo Info tool.”

Good thing I’ve only used Windows Photo Gallery to view photos.

Filed under: Digital Photos, Microsoft, Software, Vista, Windows

Windows Vista Sidebar Wish List

Vista Sidebar Screenshot

I’ve been using Windows Vista Ultimate for about a month now and have had a chance to use Sidebar a little bit. Overall, Sidebar is nice but there are a couple of things that can be improved upon:

  • Sidebar is limited to a fixed width column on your desktop – it would be nice if I could widen this column since I have a 20″ widescreen LCD monitor (Dell 2007WFP).
  • It would also be nice if I could change the size of the gadgets so, for example, I can read more of the headlines in my RSS gadgets.
  • Sidebar allows for multiple ‘pages’ (or columns, if you will) of gadgets but the only way you can view the second, third, etc. ‘pages’ is by clicking on the left or right arrows at the top of the Sidebar column – it would be nice if I could customize Sidebar to cycle through my ‘pages’ every x seconds/minutes. I will rarely cycle through these ‘pages’ on my own.

I can’t offer a true comparison between Sidebar and Mac OS X’s Dashboard because Dashboard is only available on Tiger (OS X 10.4) and I’m running 10.3.9 (Panther). However, I have used Dashboard on other Macs and Sidebar has a leg-up on it: Sidebar gadgets/widgets are displayed on your desktop – with Dashboard you have to hit a button to view the widgets. Since Sidebar gadgets are displayed right on the desktop, they will be viewed more often…after all, isn’t that the point of these things? Anyway, I’m (wishfully) hoping Microsoft will include these improvements in Q4 2007 with Windows Vista Service Pack 1.

Filed under: MacOSX, Microsoft, Sidebar, Sidebar Gadgets, Software, Vista, Windows

Some Recommended Firefox Extensions

Looking for some good Firefox extensions/add-ons? Here’s a list of the ones I’ve found most useful:

  • Foxmarks: Automatically synchronizes your Firefox bookmarks with Firefox installations on other computers. For example, I have this installed on my Mac and PC to keep my bookmarks in-sync between the two computers.
  • Tab Catalog: Have you ever had, say, 8 different tabs open in Firefox and wanted to quickly see thumbnail images of each tab? Then, this extension/add-on is for you. It mimics Mac OS X’s Expose feature by displaying thumbnail images of all open tabs in one window and includes multiple ways to activate it – my favorite method is to click both the left & right mouse buttons at the same time but you can also click the F8 or Ctrl(Command)+Tab keys.
  • Delicious: This add-on adds two Delicious buttons to your toolbar – one to view your Delicious bookmarks and another to tag the current web page to your Delicious bookmarks. So, the next time you’re viewing a web page, just click the “Tag” button to add it to your Delicious bookmarks. Very handy. By the way, there are several Delicious add-ons for Firefox but this is the best one, IMO. I would stay away from the add-on that was created by Yahoo! because it merges all of your Delicious bookmarks with your Firefox bookmarks.
  • Forecastfox: Addicted to the weather? Addiction solved.
  • Fotofox: A great add-on for uploading multiple photos to Flickr, Kodak Easy Share Gallery, SmugMug, and a few others. I use it with Flickr and it allows you to also add tags, title, and choose a photo set for each pic you upload. The only thing Fotofox doesn’t let you do with Flickr is add a description for each photo.
  • AllPeers: This is a cool file sharing add-on that allows you to share files and videos with those on your AllPeers friends list. I’ve installed it but haven’t used it, yet…I gotta get some friends to install it!

Would you recommend other Firefox add-ons? If so, feel free to post a commment so I can check ’em out. 🙂

Update: (2/14/2007) Added two more extensions – Fotofox and AllPeers.

Filed under: Firefox, Firefox Add-On, Software, Technology, Web Browser