How to Switch from Windows to Mac


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Long-time community member and contributor Lamarr has long been a die-hard Windows fan. However, as evidenced in this video, he is beginning a switch over to the other side. Whether Apple is the Dark Side or not remains to be seen. This is something Lamarr has researched and thought about for months. He is convinced that he is making the best decision for himself and his business.

That’s what it boils down to, folks – a personal decision. I cannot tell you what to buy, nor can I condemn you for your choices. Until I am paying for your devices, I’m pretty sure I have no say at all. It’s my job as a tech reviewer to give you honest feedback about the various devices and gadgets that I have bought or which have been sent to me to review. Those videos and blog posts are simply additions to the ways in which you can learn about each product for yourself. They’re not there as a means of my telling you what is the right thing for you to buy.

What’s right for me may well not be right for you. What’s right for Lamarr may not be what’s right for you. What’s right for you… well, you get the picture. This is the beautiful thing about the tech industry: we each have our own sets of desires and needs. There are millions of product out there aimed at fulfilling whatever hole it is you have in your life or business. Yes, it can be difficult at times to narrow down the choices. In the end, though, it’s your choice to make. Bashing someone for what they CHOOSE is pretty dang stupid if you ask me.

It’s a HUGE deal to have Lamarr switching over to Mac. For fifteen years, he’s built computers for himself and others – based around Windows. He didn’t hate Macs, but he admits he used to wish that they had never been created. The closed atmosphere bothered him greatly… and there were limited software choices years ago.

Lamarr’s vision of what “closed” means has drastically changed in recent years. Back in the day, it meant simply that you were limited by choices on software and portability. Today, closed (in relation to Apple) means simply that Apple controls their hardware and other features as closely as possible. Lamarr has begun to see the light – by having this control, Apple is able to deliver solid performance every single time. This also marshals protection for the users.

I commend Lamarr for making a change that he felt was necessary to move him forward. It doesn’t matter to me that he went from Windows to OS X. What matters is that he did his homework, weighed his options and decided what the best choice was for him. Hate on him all you want, Windows fanboys – but he had the guts to try something new and realize that it fit his needs better than what he had in the past.

Good on you, Lamarr!

How to Use .AVI Files on OS X


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Matt Ryan is one of the bloggers on LockerGnome. He is an expert at being a Frugal Geek – he also has great tips and tricks in many areas of technology. A community member recently emailed to ask him how to play .AVI files on QuickTime within OS X. Luckily, Matt had the answer – as usual!

There are many different applications which can be used to play back these particular files on your Mac. However, many of them are convoluted and confusing. While some of you may be uber geeks, not everyone is. What the masses need is something simple which allows them to play their files without fuss and muss.

Perian is the “Swiss Army Knife for QuickTime.” It’s an open-source (free!) project which adds support for several different file types to your installation of QuickTime:

  • File formats – AVI, DIVX, FLV, MKV, GVI, VP6, and VFW
  • Video types – MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivx, H.264, Sorenson H.263, FLV/Sorenson Spark, FSV1, VP6, H263i, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Snow, NuppelVideo, Techsmith Screen Capture, DosBox Capture
  • Audio types – Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), and MPEG Layer I & II Audio, True Audio, DTS Coherent Acoustics, Nellymoser ASAO
  • AVI support – for AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, VBR MP3 and more
  • Subtitle support – for SSA/ASS, SRT, SAMI

Once you arrive on the Perian site, click on the Download tab and download the file. A click on that saved file will mount it very quickly to begin the installation process. Click “Perian.prefpane” on the left and your system preferences page will be pulled up.

After choosing whether to allow access for only yourself or all users, you’ll be asked to enter your administrator password twice. The first entry allows the program to install and the second gives permission to make changes to the system. Once you’ve stepped through this process, Perian is now installed – you never have to deal with it again.

Your video files will now play seamlessly within OS X without having to grab extra codecs or software. Matt has proven once again that you don’t have to be rich to enjoy technology.

How to Capture Your Screen in Mac OS X


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A community member named Angie recently asked Lockergnome writer Matt Ryan if there is an easy way to do screen captures within OS X. In fact, there IS such a feature and it’s one that not everyone knows about.

Mac OS X has a set of key combinations that you can use to take screenshots in a variety of ways. The methods discussed in this video and writeup work on Mac 10.4 and above.

If you want to capture your entire desktop, you would hit Command + Shift + 3. By default, this will save a .PNG file of the entire screen to the desktop.

Let’s say that you only want to capture a portion of what you’re looking at. To do this, hit Command + Shift + 4. You’ll now see a small selection box which you can move and resize in order to highlight the area you want to screenshot. Once you let go of the mouse cursor, a .PNG of only that area will appear on your desktop.

Sometimes, you may want to take a screenshot of a single window and not have to re-define the area every time you need to do this. Use Command + Shift + 4 + Space. Hitting the space bar at the end of that key combination brings up a little camera icon on your screen. Using the camera, click on any window and save only that image to your desktop.

There are a few other little tricks you may want to know about:

  • Adding the Ctrl key to the end of any of the above combinations will save your image to the Clipboard instead of saving as an actual file on the desktop.
  • Change the default save-as file type by using a free utility such as Screenshot Settings.
  • If you aren’t a fan of using key combinations, the Grab tool included with Mac OS X will work in a pinch. This is located in the Utilities folder under Applications.

If you have any OS X questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and Matt will be happy to try and give you a hand.

10 Reasons I Don’t Like the Mac App Store

I realize the Mac App Store workflow is designed for the “average” Mac user, but I happen to download Mac apps from across the Web. Does that make me an edge case?

I’ve just found the Mac App Store to be a bit… disappointing. Yes, I like that Apple is making it a bit easier to discover vetted software, but there are some places where the Mac App Store just falls short in my book.

You can’t expect something to get better if you do nothing but praise it.

  1. What’s up with that interface? Seriously? If this is what we can expect in 10.7, fine – but give it to us then, not now. Is this where iTunes is headed after a much-needed overhaul?
  2. You’re not surfacing my apps directory / subdirectory for updates on apps you know are already listed in the App Store. Why? I would have to “re-download” the app from the App Store in order for you to recognize that there’s an update available. You have a “Purchases” sheet, so why not a general “Installed” sheet, too? Bridge the gap, man.
  3. You don’t give me a choice as to where I might install the app. Most people would choose the Applications folder, but I’ve reinstalled and moved computers one too many times to keep things in there. I created a “Tools” subdirectory, and you can (obviously) see that.
  4. You always place an icon for an installed app in the dock. Do you not see that I keep killing them as quickly as you create ’em? Finding an app quickly is what Spotlight is there for.
  5. Sometimes you tell me that I’ve made no purchases, even though I have – and I’m still logged in. Baffling.
  6. Why do I have to launch the App Store app to find out if any apps have been updated? Maybe Sparkle has spoiled me, maybe the App Store app needs to be more proactive?
  7. You show me that I have apps installed, but… why not go a step further (for the every-man, in particular): make it easy to uninstall an App’s traces from your system, including cleaning up preferences that AppZapper usually has to get?
  8. In the “Purchases” sheet, my inclination to get more information about an app is to click its name. But that doesn’t do anything, here. Sure, the clickable icon is right there – but what’s keeping you from hyperlinking the title, too? Seems more than a bit unintuitive.
  9. It’d be nice to be able to browse changelogs, or see a zeitgeist of how often an app has updated (and when). Unfortunately, most developers are horrendous at marketing or revealing information, so if you’re really trying to boost the ecosystem, at least put yourself in the user’s shoes.
  10. Still no clear software refunds policy. I’ve been burned a few times (not through the App Store, but if the App Store doesn’t provide me a blanket of security – what’s the point of using it over a developer’s own Web site).

Dunno. It has promise. But, as far as scanning my system for software updates is concerned, I’m just as inclined to use AppFresh (while imperfect) over anything else.

Lock Your Screen in OS X


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Matt Ryan of The Frugal Geek blog on Lockergnome shows you how to lock your Mac OS X Screen using a password protected screen saver.

From the Desktop & Screen Saver settings in Mac OS X, be sure you have turned on a screen saver. You then configure a hot spot on your screen to activate the screen saver when you move the cursor to that location. Configure the password for your Mac OS X user account. From the Security System Preferences page, check the box to require your password be entered when screen saver is activated.