Tag Archives: mac-os-x

How to Make a Mac Dashboard Widget


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If you’re a Mac user, you may want to place a personal Dashboard Widget. In this screencast, Alex is going to show you how quick and easy it is to do this! Don’t forget that you can submit your screencast for possible promotion on our channels.

The first step in developing your personal Dashboard blog widget. You need to have the SDK downloaded and installed on your computer. It won’t cost you anything to register so that you can download what you need.

Once you’ve done this, open Dashcode, which was included in the iPhone SDK. You’ll be greeted with an untitled sheet, as well as a template chooser. On the left, select Dashboard Widget, and RSS on the right side, and then click “Choose”. Your basic widget template will now be ready.

In this case, my blog was used to create a widget. The first step was to set the attributes, and going into the RSS properties. My FeedBurner feed link was pasted here under “Feed URL and Properties”. Under “Show Articles”, five was selected. You can change this to display however many you wish to see.

Now, go back to the front and apply some styling. Rename your widget to whatever it is you want. Apply simple styling, such as your own personal color scheme. You can include an avatar, such as Alex did with my Twitter avatar.

You can also customize the back of the widget to your liking!

Thanks, Alex, for an excellent tutorial. It’s clear and concise, and very easy to follow along with!

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

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Windows vs Mac

Olivier Prud’homme decided to respond, at length, to my post on five ways Windows Vista is better than Mac OS X. The operating system wars will never subside, but if we could just stop talking in circles for one moment – maybe we could learn a thing or two about the OSes we choose not to use? Instead of basing opinions on assumptions or second-hand experiences, perhaps we’d be better served in trying different operating systems ourselves. No matter, the following message is completely unedited – so any mistakes made are that of the original author, Olivier. What are your thoughts?

I’ve been watching a few of your videos here and there on YouTube (ever since you talked about going BACK to XP from Vista, actually… a long time ago) and the one where you reply to the article of “Five Ways Vista is better than OS X” really got my attention.

I guess you could classify me as one of those Mac users that you despise. “Fanboys”, I suppose… heck, my email address is a @mac address for crying out loud. But please, hear me out. I’ve actually got a few points where I believe Vista is better than OS X (near the end).

I’ve been a Mac user for as long as I can remember and I’ve been using PCs for almost just as long. My blood boils every single time there’s a discussion about Windows. Considering that this is the information age, it happens quite often. Why am I angry? Why am I so agitated?

It’s mainly because throughout all my life, day after day, I have to deal with people that refuse to believe that a Macintosh might actually be a decent machine. I’m talking about since 5th grade, here. Being ridiculed merely because of the computer I was using at home. It may sound ridiculous, but think about it for a second. When you’re growing up as a kid, being accepted is a huge deal. Some people just have to brag about their stuff and they do it by making fun of other people. I remember asking one of the PC geeks in my school about why that is and I’ll never forget his answer: “Windows is great. I can fix almost any issues and that makes me feel smart.”

I’ve grown into the man that I am today, constantly fighting this STUPID operating system war that never seems to end.

I deal with this kind of stuff every day; even today. A friend of mine just got a new iMac a couple of months ago and he acts like it’s new and amazing… I’ve known him for almost 15 years and he was one of the many that ridiculed me all these years ago. He just wouldn’t accept the Mac as a serious computer… a lot of people don’t. I suppose they associate it with the fact that Macs are easy to use and therefore aren’t as complex as “real” computers should.

We’re in the year 2009 and people still tolerate computers breaking down.

As a computing experience, the Mac hasn’t changed ONE BIT. However, now the Mac is suddenly popular and “acceptable”. I’m tired of saying “I’ve told you so”.

Thinking back, I guess I’m not pompous… I’m just really, extremely bitter. I’m sure others feel the same way too.

I am a power user… and just like you’ve said in previous videos, power users need to open their minds and use all sorts of computing technology.

I’ve shown my interest in the Xbox 360. A gaming system that I have yet to own and most likely never will due to the un-fixable “red ring of death” issue plaguing the console. Typical of Microsoft, if you ask me but I digress.

When Windows Vista was announced, I was genuinely excited. People would talk about all that techno mumbo jumbo that was “new” (I say it in quotes because half the time, they’re features that I’ve seen two to even ten years ago on the mac – another thing that annoys me to no end) and I’ve only retained two key features: “Windows Live” and “the colour system”.

The colour system was something I found interesting as a consumer. I don’t know if the feature actually has a name or not, but it was something that Microsoft announced where Windows Vista would scan your computer and give you a colour based on your hardware. Whenever you would buy a software, instead of looking through a list of system requirements on the box, all you’d have to do is check the colour code and see if it’s supported on your machine. For me, it was a sign that Microsoft actually tried to make things easier for the average consumer… yet, I’ve never seen the colour code on any box.

The Windows Live was a huge disappointed as well. To me, it was a sign that Microsoft was taking care of PC gamers by intertwining XBox Live with Windows. How awesome would that be? I mean, for the general consumer that might not mean much but gaming has always been something mentioned during Mac vs Windows arguments. Having more software (or games) doesn’t make one operating system better than the other, but features like Windows Live and XBox Live would’ve been a nudge in the right direction to build a very strong and UNIQUE community.

None of the features that I thought were important in making the system unique or remotely appealing ever got to fruition.

Anyways, I want to go back to your video discussing about the “five ways Vista is better than OS X” and I actually have an answer for you… coming from an avid Mac user.

This applies to Windows XP as well as Vista: DirectX. I absolutely HATE DirectX but I know performance when I see it. I’ve seen 3D software where a Windows and Mac version would be built simultaneously and even in those circumstances (rare as they might be), the Windows version runs faster even on the same hardware (bootcamp). Yes, it is just a matter of getting the programmers to write more optimized code for the mac so you can’t really blame the OS for that but between OpenGL and DirectX, DirectX seems easier to code and, therefore, is a much more appealing feature that is Windows exclusive.

As a 3D artist and gamer, this is a big deal.

I’d write more, but it’s 5am here and I doubt that I would be any coherent (assuming that I am to begin with). If you want to share any thoughts, ideas or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a shout.

MacHeist: Mac Software Discounts, FTW!

When someone offers you hundreds of dollars worth of software for a fraction of the cost (legally), you’re insane to ignore the offer. This is what MacHeist is all about: a bunch of crazy people running around the Web, completing puzzles, and getting tons of digital bits in return. This time around, I scored dozens of apps (valued at $500 in total) without dropping a dime.

In a short period of time, I have collected over 900 awesome applications for Mac OS X – and I keep most of ’em inside a Tools folder. Few of ’em needed installers, and most of ’em were either free or part of these Mac community software bundles. I’ve effectively disproved the wildly-outdated “no software for the Mac” theory. In all my years of using Windows, I never saved that many EXEs (for posterity or otherwise).

I met the MacHeist Directorate at Macworld this year, not realizing that I met one of ’em (Scott) when I was still at TechTV. They asked if I wanted to participate in one of the missions – and I was all for it. Pretty soon, sirhc.ollirip.com was set up and revealed to the masses. They’re transferring the domain to me soon, although I’d love to turn it into one of those simple sites where you can do wacky things with text (turn it upside-down, backwards, cHaNgE cAsE, etc.). That’ll be fun. 🙂

They invited me down to SF to film the live bundle reveal show with Veronica and Lisa. I was more than happy to take them up on their offer, given my appreciation for their efforts and the general Mac community. We broadcast the session to 4,000+ people over the course of a couple of hours. I’d do it again in a heartbeat:

As of this moment, there are 11 more days for you to take advantage of MacHeist 3 – so you’d better get in while you can. As mentioned in the video, the unlocks will be available to you even if you buy into the bundle before they’re attainable.

Give Good Food To Your Mac

Spicy Distribution announced the 2008 edition of ‘Give Good Food to Your Mac.’ In this special offer, the more products you buy, the greater the discount gets. Remember when I talked about it last year? It starts at 20% when you choose 3 apps and increases to 50% with 5 apps or more. You have only until the 30th of November 2008 to get the best of the offer.

What’s available this year? Here’s what’s on the menu:

– AlienConverter from AlienCrypt
– Amigos Number Puzzles from Amigos Software
– Amigos Spanish from Amigos Software
– BannerZest from Aquafadas
– BannerZest Pro from Aquafadas
– Bee Docs’ Timeline 3D édition 2.2 from BeeDocs
– BeFit – Get Fit, Stay Fit, BeFit ! from Jon Brown Designs
– Blue Crab from Limit Point Software
– Cheetah 3D from MW 3D-Solutions
– Comic Boom from Toon Boom Animation Inc.
– DejalNarrator 2.0.3 from Dejal
– DEVONagent from DEVONtechnologies, LLC
– DEVONthink Personal from DEVONtechnologies, LLC
– DiscLabel from SmileOnMyMac
– djay 2.1.3 from algoriddim GmbH
– Dossier from Vortimac
– Dragoman from Dare to be Creative Ltd.
– FastCut 3.0.6 from TimesForFun
– Flip Boom Classic from Toon Boom Animations Inc.
– Fluffy’s Log 2.0 from Shallot Patch
– French Verb Game from Amigos Software
– FunBooth 0.9.3 from SourceBits
– Geoaze Pro from SilvergLint Creative-Software
– Geoaze Standard from SilvergLint Creative-Software
– GhostReader English Version from ConvenienceWare
– GhostReader French Version from ConvenienceWare
– HoudahGeo from Houdah
– HoudahSpot from Houdah
– Hydra 1.6 + Aperture plug-in from Creaceed
– iArchiver from Dare to be Creative Ltd.
– iDive from Aquafadas
– iKanji 1.0 from ThinkMac Software
– JABMenu 2.0.1 from JNSoftware
– Kameleon From Option-6 Products
– Librarian Pro from Koingo Software
– MacCleanse from Koingo Software
– MacPilot 3 from Koingo Software
– Mail Attachments Iconizer from Lokiware
– Mental Case from MacCoreMac Software
– Money 3 from Jumsoft
– Nutritionist from Dr. Frank Kowalewski
– PearNote 1.0 from UsefulFruit Software
– PulpMotion from Aquafadas
– Pulpmotion Advanced from Aquafadas
– RapidWeaver 4 from Realmac Software
– Relationship from Jumsoft
– Renamer4Mac from Dare to be Creative Ltd.
– ResizeMe 1.2.0 from Dare to be Creative Ltd.
– RubiTrack from Toolsfactory software inc.
– Scorecard 1.4.1 from CynicalPeak Software
– ScreenAudit 1.3 from ArtenScience
– Scribbles from Atebits
– Secret of the Lost Cavern From Coladia
– Share Tool from Yazsoft
– ShoveBox from Wonder Warp Software SP
– Speed Download 5 from Yazsoft
– SplitFuse 1.3 from LikelySoft
– SWF&FLV Player from Eltima Software
– Syncmate from Eltima Software
– Tangerine! from Potion Factory
– Today 1. 3 from Second Gear LLC
– Together from Reinvented Software
– Toon Boom Studio From Toon Boom Animation Inc.
– VideoPier HD from Aquafadas
– Voice Candy from Potion Factory
– VoltaicHD from Systemic pty Ltd. Trading as Shedworx
– You Control: Desktops 1.3 from You Software
– Yummy Soup from HungrySeacow Software

10 More Awesome Free Mac OS X Apps

Did you have any of these already?

  • Image Tricks – “Uses Mac OS X Core Image filters that transform pictures to unimaginable extent and apply advanced visual effects. The program can create unique artwork you may use as business card background, for web design, print materials and more.”
  • ArchDetect – “ArchDetect will perform a quick Spotlight-powered search for applications on your computer, then will detect the architectures for each of them. It’ll give you the results in a nice table, which you can search, sort & filter any way you like. Find something not yet Universal? You can easily select an application, and press “Update” to pull up search results from MacUpdate – or any download site of your choice.”
  • Esperance DV – “Module for System Preferences making a RamDisk. You can place temporary files for speed saving video, speed recording a lot of pictures, building your application with xCode,… RamDisk is the use of a part of read-write memory (RAM) as a hard disk.”
  • PhotoBook – “A Facebook photo browser for Mac. It makes it easy and fun to manage, share, and view your friends’ Facebook photos in one intuitive interface.”
  • Startrail – “Everyone likes to personalize his own Mac in various ways: wallpapers, icons, colors and even themes. But what about mouse pointer? Cannot it live its own life? Now it can. With Startrail you can add special effects to your mouse pointer!” [I found out about this one last week, and v2.0 has become shareware – I’m still using 1.5. If you can put up with this for longer than 5 minutes, I’d be surprised – but it’s fun!]
  • MenuEclipse – “Save your constant menu pixels from getting burned into your screen! Gain better focus on your work & play, and away from the menu bar!”
  • Bellhop – “Bellhop uses a single-window interface that allows you to organize, edit and configure your services in one place. Publishing a new service is simply a matter of writing the script for your service and configuring some settings.”
  • JES Video Cleaner – “Features: General noise reduction (adaptive); Remove logo; Average two movies; Remove cross-luma; Remove periodic brightness variation”
  • iCal Dupe Deleter – “Straight-forward application to aid the removal of duplicates in iCal under OSX Tiger and Leopard. It is a replacement for an Applescript that had a similar function. iCal Dupe Deleter is faster, it gives the user more control over its operation and allows for a better user interface.” [I also recommend iCal Reply Checker – which is equally as wonderful.]
  • Web 2.0 Icon Generator – There’s really no description for this AIR app, other than it’s an easy way to create simple “Web 2.0” styled logos. There’s a tab for creating Adobe-ish icons, too. Silly, but potentially a timesaver if you’ve ever needed to do something like it.

What other freeware am I missing out on? I’ve seen all the popular lists, but I’m looking for interesting / awesome (but largely unknown) apps. I have a feeling I’m going to need to start compiling lists of good iPhone apps, too.

Mac Webcams

I’m lucky; I still have a working iSight in my home office. I don’t really use it anymore, because newer webcams sport far better resolution, image quality, frame rates, etc. No, it’s not up for sale – it’s a collector’s item.

However, I wanted to let you know that just because a webcam doesn’t say that it’s compatible with Mac OS X… doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Many boxed products on the market today sport Windows-compatible labels, but that never stops me from plugging any USB 2.0 device into a Mac and being pleasantly surprised when it works without hassle.

I remember trying to get the Xbox 360 Vision cam working in Windows Vista – and it was a near impossible feat (you have to uninstall the driver it tries to automatically install, turning around and telling Windows to recognize it as some kind of generic video device before it’ll work properly). To get the Xbox webcam to work on Mac OS X, you merely need to plug it in – that’s it. It’s one of the best webcams out there because of the fantastic image quality, focus ring, and insanely low price.

Same holds true for the new HP webcam I just reviewed last week. Why don’t these device manufacturers put a “compatible” label on the box? I’m not sure how such certification works – if it’s that Microsoft paid them, or Apple didn’t? No matter, if you purchased the device – there should be nothing holding you back from using it on whatever OS will support it.

If you have an older webcam, or a webcam that doesn’t want to plug-and-play, download macam for uber-compatibility on OS X:

macam is a driver for USB webcams on Mac OS X. It allows hundreds of USB webcams to be used by many Mac OS X video-aware applications. The aim is to support as many webcams as possible. In addition, macam also supports downloading of images from some dual-mode cameras. macam especially tries to support those cameras not supported by Apple or by their manufacturers.

With that, I was able to eke a few frames out of my ol’ Intel Pro and 3Com HomeConnect webcams from yesteryear. Oh yes, I’m a webcam addict – I admit it. I decided to post about Mac webcams tonight after watching rizzn’s post on Logitech’s allegedly-new Mac webcam (which isn’t necessarily new). I don’t have the Logitech webcam in question, but just about every newer Logitech webcam I’ve plugged into a Mac has worked without any additional software. Here are Mark’s thoughts:

Too bad Photo Booth keeps crashing on me. 🙂

50 Reasons to Switch from Microsoft Windows to Apple's Mac OS X

ProTip: Get Parallels to Make the Switch Easier

I love my Xbox 360s; I think Popfly rocks (Silverlight will bring much needed competition to Flash). Plus, I can’t live without Exchange and its server-side rules. I love my Microsoft mouse more than any other mouse in the world. Surface looks totally awesome, too.

Microsoft does some amazing things – very amazing things. My choice, however, for a primary desktop operating system is no longer Windows – it’s Mac OS X. Duh. It’s rather difficult to admit that officially, if only because… well, I think Microsoft does amazing things. They’ve also been quite supportive of my own efforts over the years, if only because they understand the value of one user.

I’m still openly willing to give feedback to Microsoft’s product teams – Windows included.

If you’re also looking to Switch, let me tell you that VMware Fusion signed on as a Video Show sponsor – and would be more than happy to help you with the transition. Realizing that many of you are hooked on Parallels, I’m guessing that VMware would do just about anything to win your attention. I also have great sponsors like Plasq.com (who make Skitch.com and ComicLife.com) and Shinywhitebox.com, who makes iShowU, Stomp, and Chatter. These are independent Mac OS X software developers with widely-accepted products.

While I don’t need to justify my actions to anybody, I feel I have 50 strong reasons to finally make the move. This is after posting a list of my favorite Mac apps a few months ago, and inspiring Brian to create Appster (so that you could blog your favorite Mac apps with ease, too).

Anybody in my chat room who watches the live video feed with any regularity knows that I’m a platform neutral geek. Keep that in mind as you read the following list:

  1. Seems that the future of Windows development is happening largely for corporate environments and customers. I don’t take issue with this other than being someone who doesn’t live or work inside a corporate environment at home.
  2. Excellent power management in OS X. When I close the lid to my MacBook Pro, it falls asleep. When I open the lid to my MacBook Pro, it wakes up. Imagine that! Seems to be the case 99% of the time, and it happens quickly.
  3. I’m ready to experience different frustrations. OS X isn’t perfect, certainly – but I already see its noticeably more stable than Windows Vista has been. Kernel Panics at least look prettier than BSODs. 🙂 Seriously, I just find OS X’s update schedule to be more to my liking – instead of waiting for gigantic service packs, I get minor point releases along the way to major revisions to the OS. Bugs are going to happen, but knowing that showstopping / security bugs are likely to be squished quicker gives me amazing peace of mind.
  4. There’s more interesting, useful, beautiful, and affordable software being developed for OS X. If you still believe that there’s no software for “the Mac,” you’re simply a fool who hasn’t done his or her research.
  5. VMware Fusion makes it possible to have every operating system at my fingertips (as well as every app that runs on ’em, FTW). Performance and stability is a reality, not a dream. More importantly, with USB 2.0 support in VMware Fusion, I have near complete compatibility with any external hardware. Parallels is also there, which should keep competition lively.
  6. I believe that the future of Windows (or any OS software layer) will be experienced in a virtual machine of some sort. People have been dual booting for years – now I can triple-task cross-platform in seconds flat.
  7. Not to say that Microsoft or Linux haven’t made great strides in recent years, but… at least Leopard feels like only one team was developing the UI. It’s not quite perfect, but closer to what perfect should be. I’m not a huge fan of iTunes or every other Apple utility – but at least with Leopard, they’re trying to make them look and work the same way.
  8. I love the fact that most programs and their associated libraries are self-contained (apps). There’s no stress in installing / uninstalling most programs, and for true cleanup jobs there’s always AppZapper.
  9. I’m not a huge fan of the Dock for task management, but Quicksilver has virtually no Windows equivalent (in terms of elegance and scriptability, although it’s still completely overwhelming to me right now). The dock isn’t a shining example of where OS X is “better,” but I do appreciate the context menu options for each of the Dock’s icons for “Open at Login” management.
  10. Spotlight is to Windows Desktop Search as a BMW Z4 is to a Ford Pinto (in terms of performance, usability, and UI). No contest. I’m sure some would argue the opposite, but… they’re also probably the extreme developer “but it works if you just learn how to use it right” types. Feh.
  11. The Apple community has been infiltrated by enough people who aren’t smug. You’re not better than me just because you run another OS or support another vendor, nor are you any less of a geek. Not every Windows user is a neanderthal, although some of their dated arguments would make them out to be. I think that most consumers are caught up in the idea that you NEED Windows for everything at home. You don’t.
  12. My iPhone is not going away anytime soon. Would I switch for better compatibility with a communications device? Not necessarily, but if the future of OS X is in the present of the iPhone… they’re going to gain consumer market share at blinding speed. Remember, I wanted to hate this device – after years of being a dyed-in-the-wool Windows Mobile advocate.
  13. The spyware / malware / virus threat is diminished by an extreme degree. Not to say that one should avoid running protective layers of software or hardware, but… I’m just not as nervous when I try a new app on OS X.
  14. Many of my friends are considering making the switch as well. This dovetails nicely with my first point. I can tell you that just by showing off the fun features of CamTwist and Colloquy with my live stream, a few of those community members have already purchased MacBooks – or are strongly considering doing so in the not-too-distant future. Interestingly enough, those are two FREE apps that work amazingly better than most overpriced Windows shareware titles.
  15. Microsoft Windows completely abandoned its power users, period. Where are the Windows Vista “Ultimate” add-ons? Where are the new Power Toys? Why doesn’t Windows Media Player have podcast support yet (despite me telling them to integrate RSS back when WMP9 was in beta, years before podcasting was a buzzword)? I’m not saying that Windows is dead – not by any stretch of the imagination.
  16. Boot Camp, if all else fails.
  17. A single SKU of Leopard is both 32-bit and 64-bit compatible. This, alone, is a fantastic reason to embrace the platform. It’s seamless. Why should a consumer have to come to a decision on which code to run – or understand the differences between them in the first place? Remember, I’m to be considered a “home” user.
  18. Time Machine. Wow. Can it really be this simple? “Simply select your AirPort Disk as the backup disk for each computer and the whole family can enjoy the benefits of Time Machine.” Do you understand what that means? And no, Windows Volume Shadow Copy is not the SAME thing.
  19. Leopard’s Finder will allegedly search networked computers seamlessly, as well as allow you to access those results remotely (through a paid .Mac account, which would totally be worth purchasing at that point).
  20. Java app performance is decent on OS X, and the same code looks infinitely better when it’s not running on Windows. In fact, most third-party apps are very well designed so as to integrate seamlessly with the entire OS. That’s beyond refreshing.
  21. You never need to defrag a Mac’s hard disk.
  22. Adium is there – an Instant Messaging client that allows you to use AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and other accounts through a single client. It’d be my replacement for Miranda IM. Skype also works on the Mac. I expect to see even more universal IM apps reveal themselves over the coming months.
  23. Bonjour is proving to be quite useful on my home network. Computers with Bonjour-enabled services are automatically discovered with virtually no fuss – even my networked Windows machines have been playing along.
  24. Joining wireless networks in OS X is easier and more refined, easily accessible. The tools for networking don’t seem overly complex, either.
  25. Setting up services such as Windows File Sharing, FTP, and even Web sharing can be done on OS X with just a few clicks. If you’re telling me that I could set up FTP just as easily in Windows, then… it obviously can’t be done as easily.
  26. Almost all of the audio and video formats out there can be played on the Mac with Video LAN Player (VLC). One less barrier to entry.
  27. Great Web browsers that work in Windows also work on the Mac (Firefox, Opera, SeaMonkey, Flock). The only exception here is Internet Explorer, or any third-party overlay to IE (such as Maxthon, which has been taking a slight turn for the worse with 2.0). Of course, there’s always the “invisible” virtual machine possibility (read: VMware Fusion’s Unity mode). Moreover, Safari / WebKit is gaining speed on all platforms.
  28. Erasing deleted files placed in your trash (also known as a Recycle Bin in Windows) can be securely erased in OS X. No need to mess with third-party software.
  29. You can still right-click in OS X – and the way Apple decided to implement it is far more convenient than you’d think. In fact, I find double-tapping the mouse pad far more intuitive than using a second mouse button. Didn’t take long to get used to it at all.
  30. Wanna set up a VNC server on your Mac? No problem, its already apart of the operating system! Moreover, the feature isn’t buried three levels deep. It’s sitting right there in the Finder. Moreover, unlike Windows Remote Desktop, a Screen Sharing session doesn’t lock the remote user out of his / her session – one reason I’ve always loathed RDC.
  31. Microsoft doesn’t have an iLife. Not even close. It has a set of multimedia applications, but they don’t seem to be cohesive in the slightest. Maybe things will get better as Live continues to evolve?
  32. You really don’t get to play the blame game with Apple. They make the hardware AND the operating system, so… they really know what’s going on, and they really know if the problem is widespread.
  33. A Mac costs about the same as a comparable Windows PC – for hardware and (for argument’s sake for those who don’t believe me) bundled software. And for those who still claim that Macs are still more expensive, they obviously have never seen or priced a gaming rig. Price / cost is relative. If you want a cheap machine, that’s your prerogative. The resell value on Macs has always been higher than that of an equivalent “Windows” machine.
  34. You can record audio and video conversations from iChat 4.0 (natively). That’s pretty amazing, as it takes the idea of “video chat” and puts it into a time-shifted space. This isn’t just useful for those of us who conduct guest interviews regularly, but for home users who want to save calls for posterity.
  35. Dashcode appears to take the geekery out of widget-building. Moreover, the new “Web Clippings” widget appears to work better than anything I’ve seen come from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, et al. This is putting the user first…
  36. With a .Mac subscription, you can save common local settings as global ones. You only have to configure your Dock or System Preferences on one machine to have those same changes appear on all machines connected to your .Mac account. Unbelievable.
  37. Unlike Windows font management, you can activate fonts as you need them within Leopard. This translates to less wasted overhead by fonts that remain largely unused in memory. I can only imagine this results in far less resource-intensive sessions. Genius.
  38. Automator now supports UI Recording and Playback, which means you can create “macros” without understanding a lick of logic. The last time I saw a native macro recorder in Windows was… v3.0? You don’t have to be a geek to gain access to geeky-cool features.
  39. Can’t tell you how much I love Spring Loaded folders. Love ’em.
  40. Wikipedia information, while not always accurate, certainly stands to be updated a lot more frequently than documentation that ships with (or from) the operating system designer. That Apple has taken the step to integrate access directly from within the Dictionary tool…? It’s just kinda nice to have there. They’re placing trust in the idea of community rather than trying to hide it from us.
  41. Mail comes with “Data Detectors” which will highlight phone numbers, addresses, etc. You can then choose to do something with that information, like map it or store it as an appointment, contact, etc. This is a feature I had not seen outside of a pricey plugin for Microsoft Outlook. I may not use Mail.app, but at least they’re continuing to improve its functionality – ugly capsule toolbar icons notwithstanding.
  42. The Preview tool ain’t no joke – with annotations, basic image editing, Core Animation zooming and scrolling, GPS Metadata support, batch operations, etc. It’s all at your fingertips.
  43. Expose works. ‘Nuff said. The only thing that surpasses OS X’s open window management is Compiz Fusion. None of this Flip3D nonsense.
  44. Help. No, seriously – Help is the way Help should have always been all along. I related my “Help” experience a few weeks ago, with the system not just finding what I was looking for help on, but taking me directly to the spot where I needed to be. I’m pretty sure the Help system isn’t 100% accurate, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet.
  45. Guest accounts are purged after every session in Leopard. Wow. Guest privileges, on the other hand, seem to be lacking somewhat on the security front (but most of my Guests are computer clueless).
  46. I love the Universal Access zoom feature – and have used it so many times for countless reasons. Really comes in handy when you’re trying to show something to someone from across the room. Never found anything close to its simplicity anywhere else.
  47. Call me crazy, but I love the fact that in OS X, the keyboard shortcut for opening Preferences is always the same (Command + Comma). Convenient. Dependable. Quick.
  48. Device compatibility doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it used to be with the Mac. While I couldn’t get my brand new HP LaserJet to work inside of Vista, it works flawlessly inside of OS X 10.4 (despite having to use HP’s scanning software). Still, with any USB hardware hiccups in Leopard, compatibility issues are erased with VMware Fusion until newer software is unleashed.
  49. Thanks to another one of our sponsors, GoToMeeting, I’ve had the opportunity to see quite a few of my friends’ desktops. Quite a few have gone to great lengths to make their installation of Windows look and feel like Mac OS X. At that point, what’s the point of sticking with Windows? Just about the only thing Mac users might want from Windows is the Explorer (FTFF) – and even then, there’s ‘Path Finder.’
  50. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Windows users need Apple’s software more than Mac users need Microsoft’s. That’s just a cold, hard fact. And given my severe disappointment with just about everything in Mac Office 2008, I’m even further driven away from Microsoft’s desktop software.

Please don’t take this post as an all-out lovefest for Apple (and it’s definitely not a hatefest for Microsoft, either). The two can co-exist peacefully if you let them, and if your routine supports it. I wasn’t ready to switch before now for a lot of reasons. This has been a long time coming.

I think it’s lousy that Apple charges for QuickTime Pro and Remote Desktop, I believe iTunes and iPhoto are inelegant management tools (Picasa for OS X would rule). At least Aperture 2.0 looks promising for me. And, for whatever it’s worth, I’ve yet to hear from anybody at Apple in respect to marketing, sponsorship, endorsement, support – or otherwise. I’d imagine they’d be interested in knowing my background, and why this leap is relatively monumental for me – and a sign of things to come for the greater part of our community.

So, let’s say that the next version of Windows is amazing – for argument’s sake. Would I switch back to the “PC” for my primary computing needs? Doubtful, because I’m guessing that virtual machine support will continue to improve in leaps and bounds (with greater hardware support to boot).

Microsoft Windows isn’t in trouble, necessarily – but I do believe that it’s better (read: somewhat safer, more affordable) to run Windows in a virtual machine with USB 2.0 hardware support than it is to run it directly on the desktop.

If you’re a gamer, all bets are off – you’re a different kind of user. Gamers are likely the reason Windows is still alive and well at home today. If the gaming industry shifted gears and started to develop OpenGL-based entertainment titles for Linux, you’d see Ubuntu adoption skyrocket. I’m a console player – still in love with my 360, as noted before. I’m a casual gamer, and I can casual game anywhere.

I’ll still have traditional PC hardware around the house – especially since Ponzi may or may not be making this switch with me. We’re still living inside of Outlook, with no other usable PIM in reach (on any platform). I’ve been showing her a few cool things that you can only do with “the Mac,” and she’s certainly seen me try Outlook 2007 in VMware Fusion. I’m also looking forward to tinkering with new systems as they’re released from a variety of OEMs. I couldn’t abandon my beloved HP All-in-One LaserJet!

Point is: I’m not going ‘all’ Apple.

In time, this will all become easier to manage – but there’s no time like the present to shelve the last ten years of Windows enthusiasm and… switch. I’m fine with being a Microsoft enthusiast in other areas, mind you – very much so. They’re doing too many good things for me to ignore, and their community involvement puts Apple to shame. My choice for an operating system is just that – my choice for an OS.

And before anybody jumps in and claims that you can achieve the same level of “happiness” after installing 50+ third-party add-ons, plugins, extensions, and utilities to Windows… you simply don’t get it, and you probably never will. 

I can’t be alone, and I’m predicting that by the end of next year, even more people will choose (and use) Mac OS X over Windows Vista. I can’t open up the phone lines anymore without being inundated with calls that suggest such a tipping point. Everybody is curious…

…and curiosity is what keeps me going.

As a power user, Mac OS X has far more to offer me in terms of tweak-ability and modularity. I learned that by trying it, not by guessing that it wasn’t possible.

I heart MacOSXHints.com. I heart TUAW.com. I heart DaringFireball.net. I heart TidBits.com. I heart so many Mac software developers (like Steve Green and Wil Shipley and Randy Green and Brian Skrab and others). I heart watching for news of some new application, though I’m not quite on any review lists yet – it seems like a simpler nut to crack than it was in the world of Windows shareware.

It’s fun again.

To end this with a bit of humor, my live stream chatters (largely Windows and PC enthusiasts) gave me other title suggestions for this post:

  • C:DIE.EXE
  • 50 Reasons Why I Left Bill for Steve
  • Losing My OS Religion
  • Windows Broke My Heart
  • Obama Says It’s Time to Change to the Mac
  • /Volume/chris/switched
  • How to Switch to a Mac
  • The Wow Stops Now
  • Got Mac?
  • Once You Go Mac, You Never Go Back?

And now, I’d like to challenge any Windows enthusiast to publish 50 Reasons to switch from Mac OS X to Microsoft Windows. 😉

Do Microsoft Employees Use (and Love) Mac OS X?

My friend Brandon works for Microsoft, and he also owns a Mac. He uses Windows on his Mac, but… let’s just assume that he’s not the only Microsoft employee who carries around Apple hardware (and software, given that Brandon’s running Boot Camp on it).

What about MacBU?

I can’t say that I’ve been all that impressed with Mac Office 2008. Excel doesn’t seem to be half as user friendly (and fun!?) as Numbers, PowerPoint doesn’t hold a candle to Keynote, and Word is no longer a killer app. Entourage needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up, but by the time that happens… a true Exchange-like replacement (Web and desktop accessible) may have shipped. At least the Mac Office team has relatively prolific bloggers:

As far as the rest of Microsoft’s Mac offerings are concerned, there’s Remote Desktop Connection, but… I hate using it on Windows, so why on Earth would I want to use it on OS X? Messenger doesn’t make any more sense, either – since I use Miranda on Windows, and Adium on OS X. Microsoft has already abandoned Windows Media Player for OS X, but VLC plays WMV and WMA well enough for me. Virtual PC was waiting to be lapped by the likes of VMware Fusion and Parallels

I just don’t need Microsoft’s desktop software like I once did.

iTunes is a must-have app on Windows for those folks who carry around iPods or iPhones without a Mac lying around. I’m not saying that I like it (I don’t, on either Windows or OS X) – just that users have a clear reason to have iTunes installed and running on either OS. The day Apple decides to bundle Safari with iTunes downloads is the day their browser starts to make a serious dent in the browser agent pie chart. Safari on Windows isn’t all that bad, either.

Windows users need Apple’s software more than Mac users need Microsoft’s.

How to Move the Home Folder in OS X – and Why

Someone, who can be identified as Darwin9 in the chat room, sent me a “How to Move the Home Folder in OS X Leopard.” I hadn’t done it yet, but it’s something that I was hoping to do for my next installation.

  1. Click on ‘Macintosh HD’ in the Finder and open the ‘Users’ folder. In here you will find a folder named after your shortname. This is your home folder. As it is currently your active home folder it will have a ‘house’ icon assigned to it. Copy this folder to the 2nd hardrive by simply dragging it (moving files / folders to a 2nd volume in OS X only copies the content, it doesn’t remove it from its original location). Note: The copied folder will not have the ‘house’ icon as it is not yet recognized as you active home folder. We will change this in the following steps.
  2. Open the ‘System Preferences’ application from either the Dock, the Applications folder or from the Apple menu.
  3. Click on the ‘Accounts’ icon in the ‘System’ section.
  4. After entering your password to unlock the padlock, CTL-Click (or right click if you have this enabled for your mouse) on the active admin account (from the list of user accounts in the left pane) to reveal an ‘Advanced Options’ contextual menu. Select this item.
  5. You will be presented with a pane full of advanced settings (and also a warning about how you should only change these settings if you know what you are doing!). Ignore all of these settings except for the ‘Home Directory’ option. This is the path that OS X uses to locate your home folder when you login. It should say: /Users/shortname
  6. Click on the ‘Choose’ button, and browse to the home folder in the new location (this will be the folder you moved in Step 1 which will be named after your shortname). After you select the new location, the ‘Home directory’ path should change to something like: /Volumes/shortname.
  7. OS X will continue to use the original home folder until you restart. So restart the computer and login as normal. To confirm that the new home folder is now active, browse to the folder you copied to the 2nd hardrive and check it has the ‘house’ icon assigned to it. Now that your home folder is successfully located on your 2nd drive, you can delete the original home folder in the Users folder. It should now have a generic folder icon as it is no longer the active home folder.

Why would you bother to move your ‘Home’ folder at all? For the same reason why I recommend you keep your ‘My Documents’ folder on a completely separate hard drive. It’s just easier to manage should something happen to your OS or primary drive. Scott added, in a follow-up email:

Everything will work just the same as normal, it’s all transparent to the user. The only difference will be that all of the stuff inside your home folder (Desktop, Documents, Downloads Pictures, Music, Movies, etc.) will actually be kept on the 2nd drive instead of on the 1st (boot drive).

This is great if you ever have to reinstall OS X, you can erase the 1st boot drive, reinstall OS X, and perform steps 2 – 7 again and you’ll be back up and running with all of your stuff in the home folder untouched! You don’t need to perform step 1 because the home folder is already on the 2nd drive at this point. You will have to install Applications and set Global and System Preferences again though as i will explain below.

All you have to understand is that OS X uses 4 distinct folders: Applications, Library, System and Users. The first 3 all have to remain on the 1st boot drive – Applications and its contents all have their permissions set to allow the System to read and write to them, so this is where you should keep ALL applications.

The Library is where all Admin level files are kept. These are files that effect every user globally like system preferences, and there permissions are set to only allow Admin users access to change things in here.

And the System folder is just that… it’s for the System only and you should very rarely have to change anything in this folder. Even if you try to mess with this folder as an Admin account holder, you will most likely be denied or asked to authenticate, because the System owns most of the files in here.

The 4th folder Users, includes a dedicated folder for each user (named after the shortname) that has been setup in OS X (This is the folder we located to the 2nd drive). All of your user files and folders and kept in here. Everything in this folder has the permissions set to allow only that individual user access to it. So the (User) Library folder in here is very similar to the (Admin) Library mentioned above, except that its contents are specific to only the user in question.

This means preferences that are specific to your personal stuff are kept in here. So things like custom application preferences, email accounts, user installed screen-savers, fonts, plug-ins and codecs, and your Desktop picture, Finder and Dock settings etc.

You could get away with changing the location of your home folder whenever you want probably, not just after the initial install. I warn against it because if something goes wrong it is effortless to start again in the beginning.

But OS X will handle moving your home folder just fine if you follow the steps I gave each time. If your wondering why it doesn’t break links between applications and preferences etc, its because OS X uses Directory Services to keep a central database of all users and the locations of their home folders etc in one place. When applications and preferences try to perform user specific actions, it all flows through Directory Services – So if you keep the database up to date by following the steps I provided, OS X will always know where everything is! 😉

Most Users Simply Can't Switch to a Mac

I’m not surprised that Vista barfed on Philip Greenspun (RE: The $1000 HP desktop tower running Windows Vista), but I am surprised at his inline follow-up comment:

I returned the system to Best Buy (a painful process that would have taken hours on a busy weekend day) and she reverted to her ancient Dell. When she receives documents from people using Macintoshes, she cannot open them. If she had a Macintosh, she would be sending documents to her professional colleagues (all Windows users) and they would not be able to open them.

I two separate (and free solutions) for anybody with this problem. Understand, too, that I’m in Brad’s camp in respect to believing that Microsoft really missed the mark with Office 2008 for the Mac (it’s not a recommended purchase).

Most people don’t use the features inside of Microsoft Word (beyond inline spell check). Assuming she’s not dealing with macro-laden documents, “Office” compatibility should not be THE thing holding her back from getting a Mac.

There’s NeoOffice or Google Docs – both of which should be cross-compatible with what most people use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for. If you want to spend money, iWork ’08 is completely worth every penny.

Philip continues his comment, suggesting that there are also Windows software compatibility issues at play. This is a much more difficult issue to deal with, as neither Parallels nor VMware Fusion have progressed to the point of being beyond brain-dead simple for the average user. The day that either one, or OS X itself, runs Windows apps natively… is the day yet one more argument for Windows on the user’s desktop disappears.

Ultimately, the solution lies in migrating to tools that (a) work via the Web / Internet, (b) don’t require platform-specific software, (c) adhere to open or largely accepted standards. Not every angle can be covered today, but I’m pretty damn sure we’re closer to desktop independence than we were last year.

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