MyMac Podcast 186
Cool Mac Picks and WWDC Fever

On May 30, 2008, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download the show here in MP3 format
Tim Robertson, David Cohen, and Guy Serle look at Mac OS X 10.5.3, pontificate on the upcoming WWDC and iPhone revisions, and much more. Sam Levin then joins the show with an all-new Cool Mac Picks.

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iPod accessories reviewed

On May 29, 2008, in iPod, iPod Classic, Review, by John Nemerovski

i.Sound AudioDock for iPod Shuffle 2nd Generation
Company: i.Sound

http://www.isound.net
Price: $40

i.Sound does it again. Their dreamGEAR and i.Sound audio products continue to impress MyMac for innovation, value, and best-in-class sound quality. This tiny speaker system for Gen2 shuffle iPod has a surprisingly rich sound.

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NewerTech MAXPower Wireless USB 2.0 Stick Adapter and Extension Cradle
Newer Technology

Price: $52.99
www.newertech.com

I know what you’re thinking. Why would I need a wireless USB stick adapter when I have an airport extreme card built into my Mac? Let me list a few reasons why the Newertechnology MAXPower Wireless USB 2.0 Stick Adapter & Extension Cradle (MAX) might be worthwhile to you:

1) You have an earlier Mac that doesn’t have an Airport Extreme card (AEC).
2) Your current AEC only supports 802.11b or 802.11g protocols (MAX includes 802.11n support) and you want the speed 802.11n provides.
3) The network you want to connect with has a weak signal (You get up to 4x greater range with the “n” protocol).
4) The card in your current Mac is not working.

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Book Bytes Interview with author Barbara Brundage

On May 28, 2008, in Features, by John Nemerovski

 

Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac — The Missing Manual
O’Reilly / Pogue Press

http://www.missingmanuals.com
ISBN 978-0-596-51936-0, 536 pages
$44.99 US and CN (large discounts are available from Amazon.com and other online booksellers)

MYMAC: From your long list of “What’s New in Elements 6″ on pages 3, 4, and 5, which ones are your top personal favorites, and why, Barbara?

BARBARA: Ooh, let’s see, John. I really like the new features in Adobe Camera Raw, the black and white conversion, Lens Distortion correction, and Refine Edge.

MYMAC: Are there any new items that the average PE6 user probably won’t use, for whatever reason?

BARBARA: Sure. I don’t think anyone will use every feature; that’s pretty much a given. Which features you use will depend on what you’re doing. A scrapper will use pretty different features from someone correcting photos to send in to a photography contest, for instance. I think the Downloader is probably the least useful feature for most Mac users, since it’s just another piece of software to do a job the OS already handles well, except for certain very specific uses, such as when you want to apply metadata templates on import. See my comments below also.

MYMAC: Which of these new features make the best case for prior users of Elements to upgrade from version 2, 3, or 4, especially version 4?

BARBARA: Well, all of them, really. Of course, if you have an Intel Mac, the ability to run natively on your hardware is probably the best reason of all.

MYMAC: Is Guided Edit a gimmick, or does it really work?

BARBARA: Oh yes, it works, although it’s not necessarily always the most effective or efficient way to do some of the tasks there. But it can be a real help to nervous beginners. For those who are braver, I’d start with the Quick Fix instead, and just push buttons and shove sliders around till you understand what everything does.

MYMAC: How easy is it to learn to make use of the new Quick Selection tool?

BARBARA: Can you draw a line? That’s really all there is to it. If you can drag with a mouse, you can use it.

MYMAC: Looking through the many new features at this Adobe official URL can readers get a decent idea about what these items do, or is this sneak peek too cursory?

BARBARA: Well, it does give a list, but it’s pretty cursory. I think they’d get a better idea by looking for one of the “first look” videos posted on many online sites. The most complete one is probably from Terry White here. That’s the best Mac-specific one. It’s 45 minutes long and gives at least a mention to most of the new features.

MYMAC: Which version of PE6’s Picture Package do you find most useful or productive? The Windows or Mac edition, and why?

BARBARA: The Mac version. I like the easy drag from one photo zone to another in the Windows version and wish the Mac version had that, but all printing from the Windows Organizer happens at 220 ppi whether you like it or not, and you can’t save your package for another time. The Mac versions of the Picture Package and Contact Sheet, while maybe a tad trickier to learn at first, are far more useful.

MYMAC: Do you think many Mac users will take full advantage of Adobe’s Downloader and new Bridge, or ignore them in favor of iPhoto’s downloader and its ability to organize images?

BARBARA: Some of both. If you do use iPhoto, probably the only time you’d want to go into Bridge would be to take advantage of some of the online features. You really need to choose between iPhoto and Bridge for organizing, or you’ll go crazy. I don’t see the downloader as being very useful to the average Mac Elements user. You don’t need more software to download photos, even if you don’t use iPhoto or Aperture or anything, but it can be worthwhile for those who want to apply a metadata template (such as copyright info or usage permissions) to their photos on import. I don’t know how many Elements folks fall into that category, though, although it is a nice addition for those more advanced or professional users who primarily use Lightroom or Aperture and just need Photoshop Elements for occasional regional editing.

MYMAC: How much do you personally use PE6’s Bridge for its keywords, metadata, labels, ratings, and organization?

BARBARA: Personally, all the time. I like living the disorganized life and I can’t stand software that takes over and forces you to do things its way. I love the fact that Bridge doesn’t care a bit about what I do with my photos outside the program. It just goes finds the current situation, and tells me where they are now. I don’t like having to launch a program every time I want to move a photo from one folder to another, and  prefer a standard like IPTC metadata <http://www.iptc.org/photometadata/> keywords to a proprietary tagging system.

MYMAC: In your opinion, are people with G5s having only 32MB of video memory not really able to take advantage of PE6, with its 64MB video memory suggested minimum?

BARBARA: Yes, alas, I do think those people would most likely be better off sticking with Elements 4. Elements 6 will run, but I’m hearing from people with under-specced Macs that some PE6 features, like Photomerge, are very cranky and slow, if they work at all. If your computer falls into this category, I’d definitely give the trial a test drive before purchasing PE6.

MYMAC: Why don’t you recommend readers to “click-hold-drag-release” from iPhoto to PE6 in Dock to open iPhotos into Elements?

BARBARA: Well, I do mention drag and drop, but not specifically from iPhoto. I just think that for most iPhoto folks, learning to use the external editor command makes for a workflow that is easier for a beginner to understand, since you know exactly how the two programs are inter-relating. There are always a lot of different ways to do anything, both on a Mac and in Elements.

MYMAC: At what point in their knowledge curve do you think most PE6 users really need to learn about DNG or RAW?

BARBARA: For some people, the sooner the better, especially if you’re a mediocre photographer like me, since Raw gives you so much more latitude for correcting lousy shots. There are a lot of folks who really won’t need to use Raw ever, though, although I do suggest that at some point everyone should try correcting an image, even a JPEG or a TIFF, in the Raw Converter, just to see what it does. I’m still not totally sold on DNG, myself. It’s a great concept, but so was JPEG 2000, and for now, I don’t see it happening yet that DNG is supported when the proprietary Raw format isn’t. It’s an interesting idea for the future, though.

MYMAC: Do you use your mouse for rotating images in PE6, or have you set up any custom key commands to do this? Is such a thing even possible?

BARBARA: Mouse. Unfortunately, Elements is not natively scriptable the way Photoshop professional version is, and you can’t use System Prefs to add shortcuts to PSElements. It may be possible to set this up with a third party program, but I mostly only need Free Rotate Layer, myself, and it’s not worth going to any trouble to set up a key command for things you don’t use. Only my older cameras’ photo orientation is not recognized, and those images were all rotated long ago. I can see that it might be worth looking into what’s out there for someone who has a current camera whose orientation is ignored by PSE, but given that you can command-click (ctrl-click for the Windows Organizer) those images to select all the images you need to rotate in Bridge (ctrl-click for the Windows Organizer), and rotate them all at the same time, it’s not a huge problem. Remember that if you turn off folder viewing in Bridge (click the little folder icon with the No symbol on it on the Filter Tab), you can even see all the images on your drive at once, if you need to.

MYMAC: Thanks, Barbara. We’re glad to have you as a resource as we dig deeper in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac — The Missing Manual. Book Bytes at MyMac Magazine highly recommends this outstanding title.

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The C.E.O: Premiere for iPhone
Review

On May 27, 2008, in Cases, iPhone, Review, by Gil Poulsen

C.E.O: Premiere for iPhone
Company: Marware

Price: $29.99
http://www.marware.com

I have to admit it right up front-I’m quite partial to the “folio” style iPhone cases; those that clip to your belt and hold the iPhone in a horizontal (sideways) fashion. Sure, it’s a tad harder to extract a ringing phone from the case, but most of them provide a cutaway at the bottom so you can push the phone out quickly if necessary. Obviously if you’re using a wired or Bluetooth headset, it’s not much of a consideration.

The primary reason I prefer the folio style is because in my line of work (Mac support) I am constantly crawling under desks and behind workstations to access cables and connections or move equipment around. With the iPhone constantly clipped to my belt, a case with a vertical orientation would, each time I bent over, create a permanent dent in my lower ribcage, and/or cause the iPhone to pop off my belt and crash to the floor. Clearly, not acceptable. Further, these cases cover the front of the device completely with a thick hunk of leather, so even if I inadvertently scrape it against a metal table leg or mash it into the wall trying to extricate myself from behind an equipment rack, the iPhone emerges unscathed.

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Pastor
Review

On May 27, 2008, in Macintosh, Review, by Nate Eaton

Pastor 1.8
Author: Markus Mehlau

http://www.mehlau.net/pastor/
Price: Donationware

I’ve never before used a password program to securely store personal passwords – I have had my usernames and passwords all listed in a single TextEdit file (or back in Mac OS 9, SimpleText). It seemed to have worked well enough, but it may have wasted much of my time.

A few of password security programs are available today. These include 1Password ($30) and Steel ($9), both of which are shareware and have been rated 5 out of 5 by users at VersionTracker.

Pastor 1.8, which is “Donationware,” apparently lacks many of the features of these other two password security programs, but its elegant interface and simplicity make it a viable alternative. Simply put, it’s a small database program for passwords.

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TripleHead2Go
Review

On May 23, 2008, in Review, by Robert Hazelrigg

TripleHead2Go
Company: Matrox

Price: $299
www.matrox.com

The TripleHead2Go by Matrox is a small (1.25″ x 3″ x 6″) box, that splits one video signal into 2 or 3. So if you are looking to add more monitors, is it the right tool for you?

Well, if you have 3 of the same digital monitors just laying around this devise does work, but I must say I wasn’t very impressed with the results I got.

The TripleHead2Go originally retailed for $399, but in recent weeks the price has dropped about $100. Nice, right? Maybe not.

As a Mac user I’m used to being able to just plug things in and have them work. The TripleHead2Go wasn’t that easy. In fact it took me multiple calls to Matrox tech support to figure out why I was getting such wacky results.

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AppMenuBoy
Review

On May 23, 2008, in Review, by Nate Eaton

AppMenuBoy
Company: Google

Price: Free
http://code.google.com/p/appmenuboy/

AppMenuBoy 1.0 is a handy little application that takes away some clicks (and valuable time) to get an application opened. It also put your apps in a quick invaluable hierarchical list, so one can get to all apps in no time flat.

As the included AppMenuBoy “Read Me” This is a small Cocoa application that creates a hierarchical menu, in the dock, and when it is the frontmost app, in the menu bar, of your apps. It only shows apps. If a folder has a single app, it hoists the app up, so no subfolders of exactly one app.

And it works great. I’m running Mac OS 10.4.11, the last version of Tiger, and I feel like I’ve been given it’s a free download something that should have been included with Mac OS X, although the fact that AppMenyBoy exists gives me more faith in third-party developers. The author, David Phillip Oster, created the program for Max OS X 15.0 and he says, “I admit, that AppMenuBoy made more sense when I first wrote it back in the 10.5.0 days. But, there are enough differences between it and Apple’s 10.5.2 implementation that I thought it was worth posting the AppMenuBoy source code.”

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MyMac Podcast 185
The Icon Factory

On May 22, 2008, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download the show (mp3) here
Gedeon Maheux from The Icon Factory joins Tim and David for a lively interview at the start of the show. Taking care of some business, we announce the winner of the Essential Jacket from SCOTTEVEST, and call the winner on the phone! Later, Lee Givens joins in to answer a listener question on which Mac to buy on his budget, while David talks about getting later versions of Mac OS X on unsupported Apple hardware using Other World Computing’s XPostFacto. All that and MUCH more.

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Vudu
Review

On May 20, 2008, in Review, by Owen Rubin


VUDU
Company: Vudu

Price: $295 for box, plus rental fee per movie or TV show
http://www.vudu.com

There are many ways to see movies today. You could go to the theatre, but the $12 per person ticket price, the hassle of parking, the expensive soda and popcorn, the annoying advertisements before the film, and the people talking around you have ruined that experience in my view. With new big screen HDTV sets and surround sound audio systems, watching a movie at home has become a true ‘movie going experience’, so staying home, eating your own food, and being comfortable on your couch has a great many advantages. But how do you get the movie you want in your home when you want it?

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Running Windows on your Mac
Book Review

On May 20, 2008, in Book Review, by Beth Lock

Running Windows on your Mac
Dwight Silverman

Peachpit Press
www.adobepress.com
240 Pages
US $34.99 CAN $37.99 UK £24.99
ISBN-13 978-0-321-53506-1
ISBN-10 0-321-53506-5

I am the person who threatened my husband with divorce if he ever brought a PC into our home, which he reminds me every time I mention running Windows on my iMac. I have a good excuse though. I needed to run a banking program at work that would only run on Windows, so I convinced myself a new Intel Mac was the solution to my problem. Oh, yeah it sounds easy enough doesn’t it, but once the hardware arrives then there is the dilemma of which software to buy. And then comes the commitment to actually install and run it.

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File Launching Enhancements

On May 19, 2008, in How-To, by Tom Schmidt

A little over 7 years ago, Mac OS X made its debut. With it were a lot of changes from Mac OS 9, including a now unalterable Apple Menu. No more could you put anything in the Apple Menu Items folder. It didn’t exist anymore. The new place where Apple said we would be able to add frequently used items was a new feature called the Dock.

Adding items to the Dock can quickly cause overcrowding however, and a lot of people simply missed their Apple menus. Several 3rd party solutions came along, most of which were docklings (which are no longer supported). In late 2001, FruitMen made its debut. It made the Apple Menu even more customizable than in Mac OS 9. Once again you could add anything you wanted, plus you could also alter what Apple put in there.

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MyMac Podcast 184
Is iPod Killing Hi-Fi

On May 16, 2008, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download the MP3 here, or better yet SUBSCRIBE in iTunes
A large cast this tackles the question: is the iPod generation killing Hi-Fi? Does high fidelity have a place in todays world of small MP3 players and online music stores? Also, All Over the Mac chats with Anne Bowden, and Sam Levin hits us with a new Cool Mac Picks. If all that was not enough, we have a new contest! Listen for your chance to win a $120 Essential Jacket from SCOTTEVEST.

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MailSteward
Review

On May 15, 2008, in Review, by David Cohen

MailSteward
Company: Pubblog

http://www.mailsteward.com
Retail: $49.95

The blight of the digital age is the accumulation of massive amounts of data – as computers get faster and storage gets cheaper, we end up keeping everything, whether we need it or not. After all, it might come in useful one day, might it not? The flip side of this is that it becomes important to store that data in a way that allows it to not clog your system up, and can be easily searched when necessary – as there is no pointing in storing large blobs of data if you can’t anything amongst it.

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EyeTV 250Plus
Review

On May 13, 2008, in Review, by Donny Yankellow


EyeTV 250plus
Company: Elgato

Price: $199.95
www.elgato.com

System Requirements from the Elgato.com website:
• Macintosh computer with a Power PC G4,G5 or Intel Core processor
• 512 MB of physical RAM
• a built-in USB 2.0 port
• Mac OS X v10.4 or later
• Internet connection required to download Program Guide data

Note: 720p or 1080i HD features require a Dual PowerPC G5 or an Intel Core Duo processor.

Recently, I reviewed the new EyeTV 3 software by Elgato and loved it. EyeTV software is nothing without hardware, and there are several options on the market. One piece of hardware is Elgato’s EyeTV 250plus.

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iPhoto ’08: The Missing Manual
David Pogue and Derrick Story

424 pages
US $34.99
http://www.oreilly.com
ISBN 10: 0-596-51618-5

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Razer Destructor Professional Gaming Mat
Review

On May 12, 2008, in Review, by Tim Robertson

Destructor
Razer USA Ltd.

Price: $39.99
www.razerzone.com

When is a mouse pad not a mouse pad? When it has a case of its own and is more expensive than most Mice. The Destructor from Razer USA is such a mouse pad, but to call it a mouse pad is a little disingenuous.

The Destructor is a pro-gamer control surface. It’s designed to allow much more precise mouse control than a conventional mouse pad. In the month I’ve been using it, I can honestly say it does that very well.

There is a surface on the Destructor that uses a propriety coating that allows for very precise and even mouse movement. I used both a standard Apple Mighty mouse and another Blue Tooth mouse, both optical, and found the results, when compared to a standard foam backed mouse pad, to be far superior.

Large in size, it is about the size of a 15″ wide screen monitor. This allows for maximum movement, although on my desk half of the pad is tucked under my keyboard.

The bottom of the Destructor has a rubber coating that makes it stick to most surfaces very well. The pad did not slip at all, even without part of my keyboard sitting on it, even during some hard-core Spacecraft action.

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Two Kensington products for Road Warriors

On May 12, 2008, in Macintosh, Review, by Rich Lefko



Portable Power Pack for Mobile Devices
Kensington

Price: $59.99
www.kensington.com

There is nothing worse then being stuck in an airport or on a long plane flight and having your iPod battery run out of power.
Having a rechargeable power pack for times like those is an absolute must, unless you enjoy staring across the aisle at some other guy enjoying his iPod.
The Kensington Portable Power Pack for Mobil Devices (KPP) is a small, lightweight (3.5 oz) device that measures 4” x 2.2” and contains a Lithium-Ion Polymer battery.

The good folks at Kensington toss out these stats.
The KPP will give you:
55 hours of extra iPod music play time (which I did not verify–who has 55 hours to kill?)
Up to 14 hours of iPod video play time (I’ll take their word on this)
Up to 5 hours of mobile or smart phone talk time

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MyMac Podcast 183
BeeJay – PowerTune Contest

On May 9, 2008, in Podcast, by The MyMac Podcast


Download the show here, or subscribe via iTunes

BeeJay Bhatt joins Tim, David, and Guy this week to chat about ten years of the iMac, PC Software on a Mac, Macworld Expo joke, Safari instability, and much more. All Over the Mac with John Nemo looks at two different microphones, and Sam Levin helps us kick off the show with a new Cool Mac Picks. Plus, we are giving away a PowerTune from MacAlly! Listen to find out how you can win! (US Residents Only)

This Episode sponsored by Other World Computing

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Welcome, MyMac readers, to Fenestration – back after a hiatus from the podcast, and now in a written form to reflect our rebrand back to MyMac Magazine. This column is my guide to using your Mac in a world filled with Windows machines. I will cover issues of information exchange with Windows users, using Windows infrastructure with your Mac, and how to run Windows or Windows-compatible software on your Mac.

While traveling back from the US to the UK recently, I was sat waiting in an airport lounge, and I flipped open my MacBook Pro in search of the local WiFi service. What I found was a single service entitled “Free Public Wi-Fi”. Unfortunately, this was not the cut-price gateway to Internet connectivity you might think – and it is all Microsoft’s fault.

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