Saturday, February 26, 2005

Switch: uControl

If your using a Windows keyboard on the Mac the Alt/Option and Apple/Command keys map the opposite of a normal Mac keyboard. uControl lets you change the key mappings and reverse them to their normal Mac order.

Friday, February 25, 2005


ANT stands for ANT's Not Television and it sure isn't. While a little ruff it's "good enough". This is a great way to download a ton of vlogs. My favorite is RocketBoom.

The community needs to do more of this rather than just recirculating what the media industry gives us.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

HowTo: Shrink Videos

I have a fast 5Mb cable modem but a lot of my friends around the globe are still on slow analog lines. So when I want to send them a video clip I need to shrink it as much as possible.

Thankfully a underused feature of QuickTime does this in two easy steps.

1. Open video in Quicktime click File>Export

2. Select new filename, codec, and quality settings. For this example I'm using

Export: Movie to MPEG-4
Use: Modem (Quality)

Click Save.

Your done. Here's an example where I shrunk a 1.6MB clip to an amazing 184KB!

Humor: G5 mini

Now in colors.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Deal: Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse $33

I have the black version and love it. This white one looks like it will match the mini perfectly. The best part is it has Mac as well as Windows keys and the driver works great.

Cordless Navigator Duo Keyboard and Mouse $32.79 shipped

If you buy one let me know what you think.

News: HD Lottery

Seems that some mini owners got lucky and instead of a 4200RPM drive got a 5400RPM one. I was one of the lucky ones. How about you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

AV: mini HTDV Pics

Originally uploaded by jsares.
My mini hooked up to my roommate's RCA HDTV via DVI. Sorry for the low quality of the pics. I'll try and get some better ones soon.

Link: Woz and I Agree

Over at drunkenblog Woz says Apple needs to drop the suit and he gave the kid a grand for his defense.

Monday, February 21, 2005


My roommate has an RCA Scenium rear projection HDTV with a DVI port. I bought a DVI cable from BestBuy for $50 (which I think is way too much since you can get them for $15 online) and hooked up the mini. The picture is fantastic. I couldn't believe the quality of the playback of downloaded TV shows. I had a ton of different resolutions available including 720p and 1080i. I found 720p was the best overall. The only downside is the overscan area is quite large so it's hard to use OS X.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Opinion: What's In My Dock

Safari, NewsFire, Mail, Adium X, Azureus, Stickies, Sofa, iTunes, iPhoto, Alias Folder (Common Apps and Servers)

Link: IOGEAR Line of mini Accessories

IOGEAR is marketing a line of accessories for the mini, including KVMs, hubs, and external drives. Now if they had an affordable DVI KVM they'd have a sale right now.

AV: iDVD 5

Since my brother still has my miniDV camcorder I decided to use clips from the internet for this review. I got four funny parodies from Sequential Pictures and started up iDVD 5.

I played with the new themes but went with Drive in One a 4.0 Theme. I dropped the first video on the drop zone and previewed the effect. Very nice. Then I imported each of the clips. One thing I wish I could do is rename the titles of the clips after importing them. The only way I can find to do it is rename the file before importing.

I switched to status and saw the background encoding was already 25% through the first clip. Overall it took about 40 minutes to encode all the videos. Burning took about 10. Not bad at all.

Everyone I showed it to was really impressed with the quality especially considering the source video. Which if you haven't done so check out the Star Wars 3 parody. It had people on the floor.

When encoding anything over an hour you need to use Best Quality which takes forever.

I'm going to try encoding a few long XvID TV Shows overnight and I'll let you know the results.

Overall the mini is fast enough for most people's DVD creation needs and with the bundled iDVD 5 it can't be beat.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Link: Tom Hearts mini

Seems like all the big hardware sites love the mini. Tom's Hardware gives the mini a glowing review. They where really impressed with the 20W power draw which should save on your energy bill and the enviorment.

Friday, February 18, 2005

News: About Time

I should have taken my own advice but I was a little shy on cash and wanted to find out more about the mini before ordering one. By the time I was ready Apple had a two week delay so I ordered one from InCompetentUSA but they screwed up the order.

I was starting to lose hope but the guys at the local Apple store came through for me and now more than a month since it was introduced I have my mini!

I got it home and within 15 minutes had the OS updated, drivers for my Logitech keyboard and mouse, iSynced, iPhoto 5, and Casio Exilim EX-S3 hooked up with only one restart. That's what I call a great out of the box experience.

I love the new straighten feature in iPhoto but I'm annoyed they got rid of the export where you could specify the dimensions it's still there just in a different spot.

This is the first pic I've taken in the mini's temporary home on a TV tray.

Now that I've got it are there any things you would like me to test right away?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

AV: Great Backgrounds

Mando Gomez has the best desktop backgrounds I've seen on the web. Best of all they are free and he has rss feeds. If you love the images as much as I do please consider donating.

Update: Apple Holds Subpoenas

In my earlier post I wanted Apple to back down. Hopefully this is a first step in the right direction.

Link: Safari and Firefox Cracked

Some websites seem to have cracked Safari and Firefox's popup blocking.

I've tried it on the Mac and Windows with the same results. It seems to only happen on the first visit.

Any other sites you've run across?

Link: People Keep Their Old Macs

I've said before that one of the reasons Apple has low market share is there are a lot of old Macs still in use.

The Low End Mac has this musing about their web site stats showing the number one system is the Beige G3 made in 1997.

I don't think as many Pentium 233 systems are still being used by the public.

Link: Firefox 25 Million Downloads

Firefox has hit the 25 mill mark.

The OS X version is ok but I've found some enhancements that really make it sweet.

I don't care for the default theme. Seems like it's trying to rip off Safari a bit too much. Qute looks great and has a nice balance.

I love having my bookmarks synced between systems. Bookmarks Synchronizer takes care of that. studio2f shows you how to configure it with your iDisk.

SpellBound takes care of the typos and DictionarySearch helps look things up.

Congrats to the Firefox and Mozilla teams!

Link: DF Names Top Apps 2004

John of Daring Fireball has put up a list of the best apps of 2004. It got me to thinking about my own list and wondering, what are your favorite apps?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

HowTo: Make a Readable eBook Redux

Cory asked me to use one of his Creative Commons licensed stories and I'm glad he did.

I forgot to mention that some text files you download have end of line characters that will screw with the formating.

To clean them up get SmartWrap. It works like magic. Once installed in your Services menu just highlight the text and click SmartWrap from almost any app.

One of the things that sets SmartWrap apart from the rest is it doesn't limit the amount of text it will correct until you register it. Please support the authors for their work. I will be registering ASAP.

As promised here is the link to the new PDF for Craphound and a bonus link to the Pages file in case you want to mess around with it.

Thanks again to Cory for his stories and all of his other work. He's my favorite blogger/author/EFF activist even if the Disney thing creeps me out a bit.

HowTo: Make a Readable eBook

I try to read long docs on the web but I can never read more than a few pages in a web browser. Now I think I've perfected the way to turn plain text into a nice readable eBook free of any annoying DRM.

First you'll need some text. Let me recommend Cory Doctorow's newest story I, Robot.

Copy the text into a word processor. Almost any should do but for this example I'm using Pages.

Delete any text that isn't part of the story. Then click Edit > Select All. Open the Font Panel and set it to Times New Roman Size 16. Also highlight the title and set it to Size 48 Bold and the author to Size 24 Bold. Then set the alignment by selecting Format >Text > Justify. Next I like to add page numbers by clicking View > Show Layout and clicking in the footer then select Insert > Page Number. Select the page number and make it Times New Roman Size 18 Bold Italic and Right Justified.

We're almost there. Open the Inspector and set the margins to .5 all around. Next hit File > Print and click Copies and Pages and select the Layout menu. Set it to Pages per Sheet: 2 and Border: Single hairline. As the final step Save As PDF.

Now your ready to open it with Adobe Reader 7. BTW I recommend keeping Preview as your default PDF viewer since Reader 7 is much slower. Then select View > Full Screen and use the mouse or arrow keys to advance the page.

For an example download my PDF of I, Robot removed at Cory's request. I'll have another guide up ASAP. I don't think Cory will mind me posting this.

Let me know how this works for you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

HowTo: Convert AVI to DVD

I download TV shows off BitTorrent and sometimes I want to share them with friends.

First you need to convert them to quicktime. So you'll need a quicktime codec like 3ivx.

Then use Divx Doctor to convert it to a .mov. This takes a minute or so. When your done preview it in Quicktime.

Next open Toast and select Video and drag and drop the files. If you are putting multiple files select Create DVD Menu in the Advanced Options. It takes a few hours but when done you've got a great quality DVD.

The only downside is it's limited to about an hour of video so if you have a large file you might have to split it with Split me.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Opinion: Death of Small Mac Shops?

Apple has slowing been killing off it's independent stores by opening it's own. Now with the mini costing less than the cost to fix older Macs how can small Mac shops survive?

My friend Adam works at MacExchange and their in shop business has dropped off the map as of late. They still get work from large clients such as schools but if things don't pick up I can't see how they'll be able to keep the public store open.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Opinion: Ripping Off Apple Twice

Sonos is the first company I've seen to rip off two Apple products at once. Their digital music system looks like an iPod and mini tied together. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple decides to sue.

Link: Feng Shui

While I don't believe in Feng Shui I do agree with CE Lifestyle's suggestions. Such as getting rid of all these ugly black electronics and using smaller components. And of course the mini fits all the above.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

AV: Mini Projector for Your mini

This is an awesome little projector. The Mitsubishi 8482 fits in the palm of your hand! I've got two DLP projectors right now a BenQ PB2120 and a Sharp PG-M10S. These are some of the smallest projectors out and they are double the size of the Mitsu. And what's really awesome is the LEDs last four times as long as the lamps in my projectors which will really cut down on the operating costs.

Humor: Switch Gamer

Thanks to the guys at Red vs Blue for this bit.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Opinion: Windows Only Good for Games

Recently my roommate and I have been comparing tasks between Windows and the Mac. Things like instant messaging, file sharing, web browsing, etc. The Mac wins in most areas hands down. The only category where it's weak is games. Not that there aren't any. Just not as many and they take a while to come out.

This isn't a problem for me because I don't play games any longer but if you're a hard core gamer your going to want to keep your x86 system around. But when you start to think of the costs of keeping a modern gaming system up to spec when a video card can cost as much as a whole system, you really have to ask yourself if it's worth it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Switch: p2p

Legal issues aside p2p is the reason most people have broadband. The Mac used to be a bit weak in this area but now there are many great apps available for all the major networks.

I primarily use two. Azureus for large files and Poisoned for smaller ones.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Opinion: Widescreen

Where are all the widescreen LCDs? I've been looking for one to go with my mini and haven't been able to find many. The only one I can find under $300 is the ProView 15.4" and this is from an off brand and doesn't have DVI.

Widescreen is so much better than the standard 4x3 format. I don't mind scrolling up and down but I hate to scroll sideways for some reason. I know a lot of notebooks are coming out in widescreen so why the hold up with desktop displays?

Apple has been using widescreen LCDs for a while now. When is the rest of the world going to catch up?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

News: CNET Names mini #1 Gadget

CNET has a list of 10 must have gadgets. They named the mini number one. What's most interesting to me is that the mini is the only computer to make this 'gadget' list. It seems Apple's work to redefine the market for the mini is working. Also showing up at number five is the iPod.

Link: Mac minis In the Wild 2

The Center
Originally uploaded by Emerald2098.
It struck me that this guy has treated his mini like another of his game consoles. He even has a game controller for it.

Link: Mac minis In the Wild

Mac mini for my living room
Originally uploaded by digitalbear.
People are already putting them in their living rooms and already getting complaints from the wife.

Link: HK Hearts Apple

Why is it that Hong Kong techs mags have hot girls on the cover? And when are we going to get that here?

Deal: Official Putty Knife $6

This is the official mastic putty knife recommended by Apple for opening the mini:

Stanley Proto 680-28-241 1-1/2 Flex Blade Professional Putty Knife Stanley #28-241

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Link: Mac mini Developer in Forum

Bilbrey is one of the developer's that worked on the mini. He talks about his experience in this Tivo forum. I personally would like to thank him and the rest of the team.

Also interesting to note is the other projects he worked on before the mini "I worked on DMX (Digital Music Express, the music delivery system used by AT&T and Comcast Cable), I did a video board (Video Explorer, that was used for film and television production), and a few other things..."

Link: The Japanese Know the mini is Sexy

Check out this Flickr post. Looks like the Japanese think the mini and shuffle are two sexy beasts. And they make a comparison to an uSFF PC system. Wish I could get a translation of that.

Opinion: Slot Load

The design that makes the mini great isn't easily understood by Windows users. They look at the specs and say it's two year old 'PC' technology. I'd like them to tell me where I can get slot load 3.5" optical drives for my x86 system? The only slot load devices I can find are slim notebook sized drives. Even the x86 notebooks I've seen still have tray load drives.

Tray load sucks. The tray takes time to open and close and they always fell junkie. Apple has been using slot load forever and hasn't had a tray load system notebook for years. So if you ask me it's the x86 world that has yet to catch up to four year old Mac hardware.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Opinion: When There's a Problem It's a Big Deal

On the Mac when I have a problem it really bothers me. With Windows most people just dismiss it and hope it doesn't come back. Some people even learn to live with their systems running like crap. But if I get any error even a small glitch it really bothers me and I try to find the source.

And the problems are very small. I measure my uptime in weeks not days. The only time I restart is when I've done a software update that requires it. My friends on Windows restart at least once a week just to avoid any problems and 'speed' up there systems. They also worry about disk fragmentation, scan disk, etc. OS X works so well most users have never even heard about this.

Same with anti-virus and spyware. I was asked what spyware removal software I use on the Mac but I couldn't answer because there is none. It's been claimed that it's because there are so few Macs. But even if there where an equal number of Macs and Windows systems Macs would still have fewer infections because the system isn't as vulnerable. And when there was a problem Mac users wouldn't stand for it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

AV: Jewel Case

Optical Alchemy has a great iTunes plugin called Jewel Case. I'm using it now instead of Sofa. One thing on my wish list is for it to download the cover art just like Sofa does. Thanks to Mighty Dave for the heads up.

Switch: IM

iChat is a great app. But unless all your friends are willing to switch to AIM your going to need some other clients. Yahoo Messenger for the Mac is crap. I suggest a multi network client. There are 4 or 5 floating around but Adium X is the coolest. First thing switch the alert sounds. Those duck quacks drove me nuts.

News: Overclock Your mini

For all of you crazy overclockers here is the way to mod you mini. I wonder how long it will be to people hack the rest of the hardware.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Link: 13 Things To Do With Your mini

MIT's Tech Review has a list of uses for the mini. I'm going to use mine for 1, 5 and 13. Got any ideas that didn't make the list?

Humor: Compatable With Orbiting Brain Lasers

Thanks to the guys at uberGeek for pointing out that I forgot that Linux is compatable with orbiting brain lasers.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Opinion: Less Scary Than Linux

People want something other than Windows and Linux is a great technology but it's far from a friendly product.

I've tried Ubuntu for PPC and while it's improved quite a bit over other Linux distros it's still nowhere near as polished as OS X.

Not to mention the Linux community is not always as welcoming as they should be of newbies.

Switching platforms is a scary proposition even for experienced users. Imagine what it must be like for your average person. If your in a large organization there should be help available but if your a small business or home user who do you go to for help? I know you can find self help on the net but this requires knowing the right questions to ask.

Apple on the other hand provides support both on the phone and more importantly in person at the Apple Stores. Until a Linux product comes along that can offer something like this I will keep recommending average people don't install Linux.

One exception is a LiveCD but these offer such a poor experience due to the speed of the optical drive it's not going to convince many too switch.

Link: Plastic Goodness for mini

Heralding the platform the mini will be Plasticsmith has introduced a number of mini accessories. Including the 'mini skirt' (rolls eyes). All of them try to make your mini more like the cube.