We’ve had nearly two months of rain! I went out to look at my strawberry bed and while the plants are covered in delicious strawberries, there are little rivers running between the rows. I don’t think I have ever had to wear mud boots to pick strawberries before. It was raining so hard earlier this week that the Mad River left its banks at the bend in the river that I can see out of my office window. I watched as our neighbor’s hay field filled with water and noticed a fawn scurrying back and forth looking for a way out of the rapidly expanding river. We tried to figure out a way to save the fawn, but there was a rushing river in our way. The fawn finally found a strip of land that led to dry ground and took off into the woods.
Back to strawberries. Strawberries flown in from California or Florida during the winter are mere shadows of real strawberries. I bit into the first ripe strawberries off the vines this year and realized that I’d been eating faux strawberries, because the flavor and the texture were as different as Macs and PCs. Â It is the time of the year where local produce is becoming available, so get out to your local farm stand and support local agriculture. Your taste buds will thank you!
Strawberry time means Fourth of July. Once again my hometown Warren will be putting on a big parade and celebration. Hammerhead and I will be in the parade with the Mad River Rally folks and this year Grace is taking Fantail on her bike, too. Hammer was the hit of the parade last year even though my motorcycle ran out of battery in the middle of the parade. The bike is ready to go this year and Hammer will be in the sidecar for the celebration of our country’s independence.
Why dotMac Is Better than AOL By Don @ Smalldog.com
One of my oldest friends came to visit this week. He’s pretty hard on his computers, so he brought me three broken Macs. Two were TiBooks and one was an iMac. There were a number of physical issues on the TiBooks and a corrupted hard drive on the iMac. When I say he’s hard on his machines I mean both physically (it appeared that both of the TiBooks had been dropped) and mentally. You see, my friend Charley Littman is an AOL addict.
The TiBooks still functioned even though the cases were cracked and one of them had the prong from the AC adapter broken off in the port. But Charley’s biggest complaint was that AOL crashed on him constantly and AOL Instant Messenger did, too. I convinced him to replace both TiBooks with a black MacBook for himself and a MacBook Pro for his daughter. We also took a look at the old machines and discovered a few things.
Most importantly – and probably responsible for many of his frustrations – both TiBooks had small hard drives that were filled to the gills. He had zero available space. We recommend to our customers that they leave a minimum of 10% of the hard drive space free at all times. Many applications create temporary and invisible files and if there is no space on the hard drive to create these files, unpredictable results may occur.
Once we had Charley set up with his new MacBook, he discovered that he was still having problems with AOL. I’ve been telling him for years to get rid of AOL and find a real ISP, but, as I said, he’s an AOL addict. We solved his problems by deleting AOL, finding all the scattered and hidden AOL preferences (don’t forget the preferences in Shared Libraries), and then downloading and installing the latest version of AOL.
Before I go into my reasons to abandon AOL for dotMac, I should disclose that I have a fondness for AOL that goes to the very core of Small Dog Electronics’s existence. When I first started Small Dog Electronics, I bought Macs at public auctions and resold them in the AOL classifieds section. In fact, I was an “adrep” (“adrepdon”) and I traded classified section maintenance work for a free AOL account. When Hapy joined the company, he became “adrephapy” and we used AOL for our sales channel for several months. So in all likelihood Small Dog Electronics would not be here today but for America OnLine.
We quickly abandoned AOL when we built our first, bloglike website. While I do still maintain an AOL account (donmayer is my not-too- cryptic screen name), I seldom visit AOL except to troubleshoot customer’s Macs. AOL has a host of problems that makes it not a very good choice as an ISP or as a gateway to the internet for mail or browsing. I think that a local ISP and dotMac is a much better solution than AOL with today’s technology.
Mail One of the advantages of AOL is that you can sign on from anywhere and retrieve your mail. That is a great feature, but it comes with some side effects. The most significant is that AOL does some non- standard things with its email. AOL does not handle multiple attachments per message in a very useful manner. Multiple attachments are combined using MIME encoding, which makes them unreadable by many recipients. Perhaps even more annoying is that AOL mail is the recipient of more spam than any other domain of which I am aware.
AOL also has email filtering rules that seem to delete many legitimate newsletters and messages as spam, and there have been reports of AOL email being deleted or never delivered based upon the CONTENT of the email, such as containing a link to a non-AOL website or one that AOL has on a banned list. I found over 60 million articles when I searched for AOL mail problems. Spam and AOL go hand in hand because there is no good way to hide your email address when you are an AOL member. If you participate in AOL “community” sections, it is easy for bots to gather your email address since it is the same as your username.
One of the most versatile features of a dotMac account is the powerful email system. You can receive your email from your dotMac account using just about any email client (trying doing that with AOL) dotMac mail is available from any computer connected to the internet. The dotMac mail interface is very familiar if you are using Mac OS X mail. If you sync your Mac to your dotMac account, you will also have access to your address book anywhere, anytime. Attach multiple files? No problem!
You can add your picture or a text signature with dotMac. Email aliases are another benefit of a dotMac account. The longer you have an email account, the greater your chances are of receiving junk mail. Fortunately, in dotMac Mail there are ways to minimize the amount of junk mail you receive. DotMac Mail allows you to create temporary email addresses, also known as aliases. You give your dotMac address to friends and family and create alias email addresses for those times you have to give your email address to strangers. This way, if you start getting junk mail, you can delete the aliases and eliminate the junk mail.
AOL is advertising on line. AOL users are drowned in a deluge of ads by AOL every time they sign on. AOL is an advertising juggernaut rolling over its subscribers from the initial “Welcome” to the awful “Goodbye” when they get disconnected. DotMac is doesn’t bother you with ads – no voices, no popups. Â It is your club and your service!
I could go on and on about the issues with AOL, however, they mostly boil down to buggy client software, poor mail service, and non- standard interfaces. But let’s talk for a bit about Â the advantages of dotMac.
Here’s what you get with a .Mac membership:
1) Easily publish your website, blog, or podcast. Using the new iWeb in iLife 06, you can easily create your own personal website and publish it to your .Mac account with one click. Â Sharing has never been easier!
– Create attractive web pages with dotMac’s templates. – Publish your websites with a single click – no configuration necessary. – Post blogs and podcasts without the confusion of creating RSS feeds. – Add online slideshows to your photo albums automatically. – Set a password to keep sites private.
2) Share full-resolution photos with new Photocasting. Share an album in iPhoto 6 and it magically appears in iPhoto on another person’s Mac just like any other album.
– Publish your photo albums using dotMac and invite anyone to subscribe. – Subscribers receive your full quality photos directly within iPhoto 6 or RSS reader on a Mac or PC. – Use a subscribed photocast like any iPhoto album in your library. – Subscribed photocasts automatically stay updated. – Exchange documents using iDisk
3) Store files on your personal iDisk online storage space that’s now accessible any time from any computer – Mac or PC.
– Use storage space on Apple’s secure servers. – View files and folders on your desktop. – Drag files to your Public folder. – Invite colleagues to download your documents. – Access iDisk from a Mac or a PC. – Protect your Public folder with a password. – Store up to 1GB; upgradeable to 4GB.
4) Protect your precious files and memories with Backup 3 software (worth the price of admission alone!). Create custom backup plans for all the important files on your drive.
– Automatically back up iLife files and others in a single step. – Back up files to your dotMac iDisk, external drives, or CDs and DVDs. – Quickly save only what changed since your last backup. – Easy file restoration puts files back right where you want them. – Communicate Apple style with dotMac Mail and iChat
5) Keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues with ad-free email.
– Mail is accessible from your mail application and from a web browser. – Virus protection is built into .Mac Mail for messages sent to your Mac.com address. – Use your Mac.com member name to chat and video conference with iChat AV (compatible hardware required). – Stay in sync with dotMac Sync.
6) Synchronize your personal data to dotMac and have the same contacts, bookmarks, calendars, and more on all your Mac computers.
– Sync your contacts, calendars, and bookmarks between your Mac computers ~ Mac OS X Tiger users can also sync Mail accounts, rules, and smart mailboxes. – Access your contacts or bookmarks through a web browser. – Set schedules for automatic syncing, or sync manually. – Organize group activities with dotMac Groups
7) Communicate, coordinate, and stay connected with your club, team, or organization.
– A private, ad-free web site serves as the control center, complete with message board, photo slideshow, and easy file sharing. – Publish calendars from iCal for group members to view on the group page or subscribe to in their own iCal. – Invite members directly from your dotMac Address Book. – With iWeb, publish web pages and blogs directly to dotMac Groups.
8) Hone your skills in the Learning Center. Realize the full power of your Mac with step-by-step tutorials on the applications you use most. Especially useful for new Mac users.
– Receive expert instruction on Mac OS X Tiger, iLife, and more. – Follow along with QuickTime movies and text instructions. – Try out your new skills on sample files.
This week we are offering Kibbles & Bytes readers a special value on a new or renewal (same product) dotMac subscription. You can buy either the dotMac single or dotMac family pack and get $14 off this week using coupon code “dotmacrules”. That makes your actual cost $85 for the single and $165 for the family pack. Save another $30 if you buy dotMac on the same invoice as a new Mac!
Taking Better Photos By Holly @ smalldog.com
It never fails. Someone gives you a picture of yourself from a recent get-together but the top of your head is cut off (or in the case of my grandmother, most of my body is cut off!). Too often when taking a picture people just point and shoot and think they’ll make the photo better in a photo-editing program. Sure, you can change a lot of things in a program like Photoshop, but why not take advantage of the digital camera’s LCD and create a great shot when you take it?
Here are some pointers from a class I taught a a few years back:
Learning to See
Decide how you can best capture the shot by choosing a suitable viewpoint and controlling what appears in the final picture. A photograph is merely a two-dimensional image of what we saw/see. Our eyes work in completely different ways; each eye offers a slightly different view. The two views together gives a strong impression of depth and spatial relationship.
Example: Focus on something in the room, close your left eye, and look at the object. Repeat with the right eye. Note the different perspective you get from each eye.
Successful composition is dependent on your ability to look at a scene and decide exactly what to point the camera at so the images recorded can capture the drama and grandeur of the broader view. The human eye is drawn to specific things. Here are the items that will capture the attention of your viewer, listed in order of importance:
Movement: Our eyes naturally go to even the slightest movement in a still frame. If there are several moving objects, our eyes jump among them. A good rule is to have just one new thing happening at a time to lead the viewer’s eye around the frame.
Color Differences: One small patch of bright color against a dark background draws the eye into it. In general, warm colors attract the eye more than cool ones.
Weight of Objects in Frame: Objects with more size get more attention, but this can be manipulated. Big objects in the distance have less weight than smaller objects in the foreground that take up more screen space.
Where you position the focal point in the frame is important because that will determine if the picture appears visually balanced. Use the rule of thirds: divide your camera~s viewfinder using two imaginary horizontal and vertical lines so a grid is formed. The focal point may be positioned at one of the four intersection points created by the grid. The rule of thirds can be applied to any subject: portrait, still life, wildlife photography, architecture, and landscape.
A slight tilt of the camera will shift the balance. Move downward to emphasize the landscape and foreground; move upward to make a feature of an interesting sky. The horizon is generally best positioned either a third up from the base of the image or a third down from the top to give a more balanced image. Never try to force a picture to comply with the rule of thirds, but more often than not you will find that it can be applied in some way.
Leading the Eye
Look for and find lines. Lines can be used to divide, to add a strong graphic element, or even as the main focus of composition.
Horizontal lines echo the horizon and the force of gravity. Vertical lines are more active than horizontal. They produce dynamic compositions with a stronger sense of direction.
Tip: To maximize the effect, shoot in the upright format so the eye has further to travel from the bottom of the frame to the top.
Diagonal lines have great directional value and add depth by suggesting distance and perspective. They can also contrast strongly with the previous types of lines to create dynamic compositions that catch and hold the eye.
Converging lines are the most powerful. When included in a photo, they add a very strong sense of depth.
Example: Railroad tracks. If you stand in the middle and look down in the distance, the parallel lines appear to move closer together until they eventually seem to vanish.
Filling the Foreground
By exploiting the area of a scene closest to the camera (the foreground), you can create a strong composition. Anything can be used as foreground interest: roads, fences, rivers, streams, paths, rocks on the shore, a flower bed. Natural features tend to make the composition most interesting. Shadows can be used as foreground interest
Composing for Impact
Take a few steps closer. Get in the habit of asking yourself if moving closer to the subject would improve the composition. Photos of people will be more intimate. Action shots will be full of drama. Landscapes will lack empty space. Explore your subject from all angles – don’t assume your photos have to be taken at eye level. Take photos at an elevated position. Bend down/stretch out on your stomach. Compose with color, which lends strong aesthetic power
Example: Bold, contrasting colors such as blue and yellow, or red and green, will produce a photo that’s exciting to look at.
Use your camera on its side. By using the camera in a vertical position, you can include much more foreground or sky. This makes the eye travel further from the top to bottom, leading to an active composition.
Web Site Resources
BetterPhoto.com features online photography courses, digital camera ratings and reviews, great tips for improving photographic technique, camera comparisons, photo contests, Q&A, free email newsletters, and expert help with all aspects of beginning photography.
Shortcourses.com is a complete guide to digital cameras, digital photography, and digital video.
Travel and learn with world-renowned digital photographers Vincent Versace and Moose Peterson and photograph the great landscapes of North America.
TextEdit Unveiled By Ed @ smalldog.com
The following article about TextEdit started as blog post on Small Dog’s blog, Barkings. You can read Barkings here:
If you’ve recently purchased a new Mac, you might be surprised that Appleworks is no longer included with the bundled software. The only dedicated word processor is TextEdit, which, if you’re used to Word, Pages, or BBEdit, seems a little cheap and limited.
However, TextEdit is a fairly robust program. It’s also fast, stable, and easy to use. I use TextEdit for the majority of my writing, and have discovered that it contain some advanced features that are not necessarily obvious to the casual user.
I always recommend poking around in the menu bar of any application, particularly in the Preference pane. This can help you set up TextEdit to your liking. For example, when TextEdit launches, I always choose Format >Wrap to Page and Format >Rich Text. This makes TextEdit feel like a “real” word processor and gives me a preview of how my printed document will look. These options can be set as the default settings for TextEdit under File > Preferences.
The text formating menu in TextEdit is worth exploring. Access this by holding down the command key (the one with the Apple on it) and the T key at the same time. A menu will pop up that allows you to choose fonts, font sizes, and font colors. You can also use this menu to adjust space between lines, underline or strike out words, give words drop shadows, set kerning (the space between letters), and more. At the bottom left of the Formating Menu is a little icon that looks like a gear, which Apple calls the action menu. When you click on this, one of the options is “Show Preview.” If you select this, you will get a a preview of exactly how the font style will look when it is applied to your document.
You can also use the action menu to designate a favorite font. For example, I keep a list of favorite fonts in TextEdit for web design and another list of favorite fonts for formal letter writing.
You can use TextEdit to open and edit Rich Text documents (.RTF), Simple Text documents, Word documents, and even HTML pages. You can open and edit HTML pages in a “what you see is what you get” format, or as raw HTML code. By default TextEdit opens HTML documents in the “what you see is what you get” rich format. Go to TextEdit’s Preferences, and select “Ignore rich commands in HTML files.” Now TextEdit will open HTML files as plain text files, allowing you to edit the raw code – perfect for basic HTML markup.
TextEdit can make tables; simply browse to Format > Text > Table to insert a table.
Until recently, the only reason I used Microsoft Word was to get an accurate word count for our radio scripts. However, I haven’t used Word since I discovered a nifty little program called NanoCount, which counts words as you type in TextEdit. Read about NanoCount here:
And yes, I did write this using TextEdit. Now, if TextEdit would only write for me.
I.R.I.S. IRISCard mini Business card Scanner – $119 Quickly and easily scan your business cards with the IRISCard Mini and capture all the information they contain. A one-touch export button allows you to send your contacts to your favorite electronic address book! IRISCard Mini is robust and affordable business card scanning solution for less demanding contact management needs. It is recommended for most users.
I.R.I.S. IRISCard Pro Business card Scanner – $185 Quickly and easily scan your business cards with the IRISCard Pro and capture all the information they contain. A one-touch export button allows you to send your contacts to your favorite electronic address book!
I.R.I.S. IRISPen Executive Pen Scanner – $185 The IRISPen is an outstanding and professional text recognition pen scanner. It instantaneously retypes any printed information in your word processor, email software, online databases, etc. and in ANY Windows or Mac applications
I.R.I.S. IRISPen Express Pen Scanner – $119 The IRISPen Express is a powerful text recognition pen scanner. It instantaneously retypes any printed information in your word processor, email software, online databases, etc. and in ANY Windows or Mac applications.
MarketCircle DayLite 3 Customer Relationship Management CRM – $125 Designed for the unique needs of Mac-based businesses of 1 to 50 people, Daylite 3 is a new generation of productivity management software that includes such time-saving features as shared calendars, seamless integration with Apple Mail, project and activity delegation and much more. It’s all about helping you stay organized and focused so you can be more productive in your work. So whether you need to schedule meetings, delegate, share calendars, plan tasks, stay on top of multiple projects or even just keep track of contacts and dates – Daylite’s productivity power is working for you.
iPlayMusic Beginner Guitar Lessons MAC – $43 PlayMusic Beginner guitar lessons for the Mac is the first guitar learning software product optimized for the Macintosh and iLife suite of applications. iPlayMusic teaches users how to play guitar, play popular songs and then record and share their own performances. iPlayMusic lessons can be exported to iTunes and played on a Video iPod- so users can learn and play anytime, anywhere. iPlayMusic makes it easy and fun to learn.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through July 7 or while on- hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
EZQuest Monsoon 300gb FireWire 400/USB 2.0 Drive – $152
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16782/mymac
Miglia TVMicro USB TV Tuner and DVR with remote – $84
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16781/mymac
Apple iPod 40gb Clickwheel with Dock, Griffin iTrip LCD, Kensington Case – $224!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16778/mymac
PowerBook 15-inch G4/1.67GHz 512/80/Super/AP/BT (r), MS Office 2004 – $1479 PLUS $50 Rebate!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16779/mymac
MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.0GHz 2GB RAM/100/SuperDrive (r) – $2029!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16777/mymac
$50 Rebate: Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition
PowerBook 15-inch G4/1.67GHz 512/80/Super/AP/BT – $1345
Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture – $29!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16783/mymac
We hope you will have a happy and safe Independence Day. Our retail store will be open on Saturday and Monday. The offices will be open on Monday, too. We will be closed on Tuesday, July 4. Of course, our websites will be up and running 24/7 for your shopping pleasure.
I’ll be in the Warren Fourth of July parade, but my favorite time on July 4th is the nap I take between the parade and the early afternoon, when friends and family generally show up for croquet and strawberry daiquiris.
Thank you for reading Kibbles & Bytes!
Your Kibbles Team,
Don, Ed, and Holly