A History Lesson for Mac Users

Today the Apple product line holds universal appeal, but perhaps its most significant captive audience is young people. With the ability to shape consumption preferences like no other group, today’s youngsters are feverish consumers of technology and also the future of the industry. But many of today’s dedicated Macintosh users were still in the push-chair, or perhaps even years from birth when the company first set out. It’s about time to take a history lesson I think!

apple incIn 1976 the ‘two Steves’, Jobs and Wozniak, created a union that would go on to revolutionize the face of personal computing. First from Jobs’ bedroom, and later his parent’s garage, the two set out to conquer the fast emerging computing scene. And in time the potential of Wozniak’s technical skill and Jobs’ sheer enthusiasm and know-how would go on to be proven on the largest scale. Early Apple models, including the Apple I, were hand-built by Wozniak and shown off at a number of Silicon Valley enthusiast meetings. At this stage, however, computers were the reserve of true ‘nerds’ – not the groundbreaking and widely adopted piece of kit we know today.

And it was the Macintosh (or Mac) that changed all this. As you view this article you’ll be interacting with a GUI (or Graphical User Interface). You almost certainly take this for granted, because hey, every computer has graphics capabilities and an intuitive interface for you to navigate, right? Not always so. And it was this creation that took computers from an early tech dream to an essential for most everyone in the western world. The Mac was launched in 1984 and became a sales success almost immediately, but it faced stiff competition some years later from a famous rival. Microsoft launched its Windows operating system shortly after and with a lower shelf price it began to quickly eat up market share. This was a question of price and not quality – many shared the belief that Apple was the true innovator and also the superior product. However, Windows proved to have staying power and a broad range of useful software titles.

The performance figures of the original Macintosh began to sour and Jobs himself was forced out of the company he founded in 1986 after corporate disagreements. The years that followed almost saw the company swallowed up entirely, due in large part to its struggle to compete with Microsoft and its ailing product line, Then one day, and with a full circle strike of fate, Apple’s destiny changed dramatically. The company Steve Jobs left to form was acquired by Apple CEO Gil Amelio and in turn Jobs was brought back into the loop first as an adviser, and within just one year, CEO.

In 1998 the best selling Mac ever launched at that point, the iMac, shifted over three quarters of a million units in just 4 and a half months on the market. Reinvigorated by this success the Macintosh team set out to rival the Windows platform by rapidly acquiring proprietary software titles bundled into its iLife suite. This was another wise move for the Mac, a computer whose beauty and performance were really in doubt but sometimes overshadowed by a lack of complementary programs. In the years to follow the MacBook Air/Pro and Mac Pro work station computers followed, each changing the face of its respective marketplace. To this day the Mac still possesses a relatively small market share – but nevertheless an extremely powerful one. More than two thirds of high end personal computers sold in the United States are emblazoned with that iconic part-bitten Apple. And today more than ever it seems the legacy of Mac is set to grow.

Read more on the History of the Mac if you share the fascination for its invention and growth!

10 Cool AppleScripts You Should Try

The scripting language built in to the Mac’s OS is referred to as AppleScript. It uses an English-based language to automate tasks on the Mac. AppleScripts are located in your Library/Scripts folder and the Script Editor can be launched by double-clicking a script where it describes what the script does and you can run it by clicking Run.

Here is a list of 10 cool AppleScripts that you should try.

1. Add to Folder Names

With Add To Folder Names you can add something at the beginning or end of all folder names on the front-most Finder window. Items on the desktop will be used by the script, if no Finder windows are open. This saves a lot of time as you don’t have to go through a large group of folders one by one just to add something to the folder name.

2. Add to File Names

Similarly, Add To File Names changes files in the front Finder window, instead of folders.

3. Trim Folder Names

The next two scripts are the opposite of the two mentioned above. Trim Folder Names lets one trim the text from the beginning or the end of a folder. This helps in altering the folder names that you want to change or shorten.

4. Trim File Names

Trim File Names is similar to Trim Folder Names, except that instead of folder names, this can cut the start or end of file names.

5. Finder Windows- Hide All

All the Finder windows that are open can be minimized into the dock by using the Finder Windows – Hide All script.

6. Finder Windows-Show All

Finder Windows – Show All will do the exact opposite, and bring all Finder windows that are in the Dock back out onto the Desktop.

7. Crazy Message Text

On running Crazy Message Text, a dialog asks the user to type the text to create the “crazy” mail message with. After entering text and on hitting OK, a Mail message is created, on which the text is pasted with each letter in a different size, font and colour.

8. Create New Message

The Create New Message Script is useful to browse the Web or RSS feeds. It lets you make a Mail message from whatever application you’re in at the moment. A small dialog asks the receiver’s name, address, the subject, content, signature, and the “from” address. After clicking OK, Mail opens and the message that you entered can be sent.

9. iTunes Remote Control

The iTunes Remote Control is the perfect substitute for an iTunes controller. On running the script, a dialog pops up and you can make iTunes “pause”, “play,” or “stop” among other commands.

10. Clipboard Viewer

The Clipboard Viewer script shows a dialog with whatever is on the clipboard. If you have a file copied, the filename will be displayed.

The Scripts folder contains tons of other cool Applescripts. And what’s more, You can even customize or even write your own AppleScripts!

For more Macintosh articles, resources, tools and downloads visit Macintosh Tools

How to Use FileVault

Found on Mac OSX 10.3 and later, FileVault is a great tool to make sure all your data is completely safe at all times. FileVault encrypts the files, as in it stores them as a Sparse Disc Image, which is essentially one large file and uses a key derived from the user’s password.

It is always safe to take some extra precautions for your Mac and FileVault will help you do just that by allowing you to encrypt your drive.

Encrypt the entire home folder into one file

The entire home folder can be encrypted into one big file. If iTunes, iPhotos and movies are all moved out of this, the file size can be kept small and this helps improve the reliability. By going to Preferences in iTunes, you can go to Advanced and allocate where your iTunes library need to be kept. Then by going to Consolidate Library in Advanced, your files will be moved by iTunes. The same can be done for iPhoto by just moving the iPhoto library.

Create a maintenance user account

By clicking on Accounts in System Preferences and adding the user there, a maintenance user account can be created. It should be ensured that it is an Administrator account to allow unhindered access to system privileges. This account is critical, as without it the FileVault gets corrupted.

Create a complete backup of the Mac

By logging into the maintenance account, a complete backup of the Mac’s contents can be made into an external drive. This saves everything on your Mac and a restore will return your system to its exact current condition.

Create a backup of all your files

After logging out of the maintenance user account and logging in the normal user account, a backup of all the files on the Mac can be made using the Retrospect solution.

Create a whole-drive backup solution

Creating a backup solution of the entire drive is optional, but it is advisable to do so. The SuperDuper software and an external drive can be used for this. It is always safe to have a bootable backup of all the files as you never really know when your system decides to take a walk on the wild side.

Set a master password

A master password can be set by going to Security in the System Preferences option. It is recommended to write down the master password in a secure place in case you forget it.

Request password to wake computer

The settings on the bottom can be changed to request a password to wake the computer, whenever it is on sleep mode. Automatic login can be disabled as it leaves the system open to anyone and everyone while you are away or busy….not a very good idea if you have confidential material on your Mac.

Find more great Mac articles in our articles section.

For more great Mac articles, resources, tools and downloads, visit: Macintosh Tools. You can also visit our blog for the latest industry news and tips.

iSquint – Freeware For Mac Users to Convert Video

As for Mac users, iSquint is a good iPod video converter for Mac. You can play iSquint to convert almost all video formats, including DivX and XviD AVIs, all forms of MPEG video, and many other formats QuickTime and so forth. Also you can put those converted video onto iPod, iPhone and Apple TV.

iSquint is known as its fast conversion speed, easy-to-use interface and totally free. It supports batch processing for multiple files. You can convert video files in batch with iSquint. Moreover, iSquint provides with quality setting, and you can get the quality you want by moving quality bar. Easy enough, right?

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher
  • Universal Binary for PowerPC and Intel Macs.

Features of iSquint

  • Supports most of video formats DivX/XviD AVIs, all forms of MPEG video, and many other formats QuickTime chokes on are supported.WMV 7/8 files supported. With the Flip4Mac plugin, all WMV files are supported – including WMV9.
  • Batch conversion Batch Processing of multiple files. Save in-place, or to a different folder.
  • Really easy to use Just drag your files in and click “Convert”, you can begin the converting. You can choose the size of the TV and iPod, set the conversion quality.
  • Powerful compatible function On a 1GHz G4 PC, iSquint can convent most videos to the file fits for the iPod screen. It does not need the QuickTime Pro and DivX codec.
  • Fast conversion speed Fast convert the most main stream video files to MPEG-4 and H.264 or 3GP, XviD files. It supports batch conversion.

In a word, iSquint is a good choice for Mac users to convert video formats and transfer to iPod.

If you want get more information, you can click here:
http://www.downloadatoz.net/download/isquint/

Ten Great Mac Apps For College Students

For many people this time of year means saying goodbye to summer, finding the old sweaters and hoodies from last year, and preparing for that familiar back-to-school ritual.  With Apple once again offering their back-to-school deal of giving an iPod Touch away with the purchase of a Mac, there will be plenty of college students looking for apps to go along with their new computer that will help them during the hectic school year. With an ever-growing number of applications available on the Mac platform it could become quite a task finding the right thing, so a few apps that stand out in their category that aid students will be spotlighted.

Studying and Management

Cram – One of the newest to the bunch is Cram, which offers students the ability to study and prepare for tests in either flash card or multiple choice testing mode. Cram also grades and keeps track of testing attempts and tweets out test results to Twitter. The application also features a user-generated test library to download existing tests.

Timeline 3D – An application that will help students add pizzaz to timeline presentations is Timeline 3D. This app allows users to present full screen interactive timelines with a 3D perspective. If you have to display any chronological events Timeline 3D is perfect for adding a unique splash to your presentation featuring the ability to add images, video, use your Apple Remote and more.

Schoolhouse – Trying to keep up with your assignments and notes for each class can be a pain. Schoolhouse offers a remedy to that problem by providing the ability to manage and keep track of assignments, notes, and tasks. Schoolhouse’s clean and easy to use interface also features the ability to manage your grades over a term, add an attachment, and email an instructor about an assignment among other features.

1Password – So you’re trying to remember all the new passwords this semester without using the same easy to hack password for every site but finding it hard to manage. Well remember no more with 1Password. 1Password is an application that manages all of your usernames and passwords and quickly restores them when it’s time to log in. Use a single password to access and manage all of your accounts. 1Password also integrates perfectly into Safari, Firefox, and other browsers for seamless one-click account log in.

Lifestyle

SousChef – You can only eat pizza and soda so many nights in a row. That’s where SousChef comes in. SousChef is a digital cooking assistant that among other features allows you to store and organize your recipes. The application also provides access to over 110,000 recipes to download when you’re in the mood to try something new. Sharing recipes with friends and family is also a simple task in SousChef.

Tweetie – Everyone has a Twitter account so why not have a slick way of using it? Introducing Tweetie, a beautiful Twitter client for Mac. Tweetie adds a layer of simplicity and style while at the same time including all of the same functions you’re used to on Twitter. Manage multiple accounts, easily view conversions, chose your favorite URL and image service and more.

The Hit List – Keeping up with college life is hard enough. Adding family, friends, work, and other outside obligations make it nearly impossible. In comes The Hit List, a simple yet sophisticated application to manage the daily chaos of your modern life. One of the strong points of the application is its ‘Today List’ which shows all of the tasks for that day in one view. The Hit List is a feature-full application with seamless integration with system applications such as iCal to access tasks with other applications and devices.

Times – Who says newspapers are dead? Well, technically they are, but an app called Times puts a classic newspaper look to your favorite blogs. Unlike most RSS readers, Times presents headlines, categories, and images in once place letting you more easily discover the news you want to read. The detail put into the presentation and animated transitions in Times is top notch.

Entertainment

World of Goo – Two words that explain this game can only be “fun” and “addictive”.  World of Goo is a physics based puzzle/construction game that features little globs of goo that can be connected together to achieve the goal at hand. Play this game and you probably won’t get any studying done, but you’ll have fun time doing so.

Hulu Desktop – With all the studying and late night projects you might have this semester, chances are some of your favorite shows will be missed. Hulu Desktop puts many of your favorite TV shows on your Mac so you can watch them on your time. Browse by channel, category, movies, and more.

Patrick Chukwura is the developer and co-founder at http://www.simpleleap.com SimpleLeap Software develops Mac and iPhone software.

The Mac Aqua GUI

The Macintosh, commonly known as the Mac, is a range of personal computers developed by Apple Inc. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) of the Mac’s Operating System version 10.4 is referred to as Aqua. It is the successor of Platinum which was used in Mac version 8 and 9. As is suggested by the names, Aqua GUI is based on the theme of water. It makes use of droplet-like-elements and also avails of reflective and translucent effects. In the words of Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., “One of the design goals (of Aqua GUI) was when you saw it, you wanted to lick it”.

The water themed user interface first made its introduction at the January 2000 Macworld Conference and Expo, San Francisco. The debut appearance of the Aqua GUI in a commercial product was during the July 2000 release of the iMovie 2. In that the scroll bar and the buttons had the Mac Operating Systems’ all-new Aqua look. Its second appearance was in the Mac OS X Public Beta in September of the same year. This was followed by a feature in iTunes in January the following year. Aqua was made Mac’s official graphical user interface after the release of the Mac OS X. The two basic colours which highlight Aqua’s style are blue and white.

Two of the main features of the Aqua GUI are:

  1. The gel-like buttons that control wind, which come in red, yellow and green colours.
  2. The dock which helps to launch and navigate between applications. David Pogue, a technology columnist for the New York Times, described the scrollbars as “lickable globs of Crest Berrylicious Toothpaste Gel”.

The brushed metal windows and the standard pinstriped are the two basic types of windows that come with Aqua. Both these styles seem to have the navigational button embedded into the window but in versions of Mac before 10.2, the buttons appear on top of the pinstriped windows.

As newer versions are released, the Aqua GUI has been made increasingly subtle. For instance the pinstripes have been made fainter. Also the menus as well as the system dialogs have been made more translucent. Even the appearances of the buttons and the widgets have been made softer.

Quartz Compositor which handles the underlying graphics management of the user interface powers Aqua.

To find out more about the Mac, as well as tips, downloads and reviews, visit: Macintosh Tools.

The Mac Terminal – A Short Introduction

Introduction

No doubt, Apple’s Mac OSX has the most streamlined and user-friendly user interface of the commonly used operating systems on the market. Sometimes, however, using your mouse to complete a task can be cumbersome. This is where the Terminal can come in handy.

The Terminal is a command line tool which lets you send commands to your Mac by typing text instead of using your mouse with the user interface.

To start the Terminal application navigate into your Application folder, and from there into the Utilities folder. Alternatively you can press CMD+Space and type ‘Terminal’.

The ls command

When you start Terminal you will be presented with the so-called prompt. This prompt tells you when you last logged on and what folder in your file structure the terminal is currently pointed at (if this is the first time you use Terminal this will be your account’s home folder)

To see what files are in this currently active folder type the ‘ls’ (without the quotation marks) command (a small L, not an I) and hit enter. ‘ls’ is short for list, not surprisingly terminal will list all the files and folders in your home directory. One of those folders should be ‘Desktop’. This is the folder where everything you see on your Desktop is located.

If you want to see what files and folders are in this Desktop folder type the command ‘ls Desktop’ (again, without the quotation marks, and hit enter).

The cd command

The ‘cd’ command (short for change directory) will let you navigate to a specific folder. Assuming that you are still inside your account’s home folder type ‘cd Desktop’. The Terminal is now ‘pointing’ at your Desktop folder. If you use the ‘ls’ command now, you will we presented with a list of files and folders in your Desktop folder.

To navigate back to your home folder type ‘cd ~’. Alternatively you also use ‘cd $Home’.

To navigate to the current folder’s parent folder type ‘cd ..’

The help command

Probably the most helpful command for a Terminal beginner is the ‘help’ command. Type ‘help’ (without quotation marks) and hit enter. Terminal will present you with a list of all available commands.

If you need help with a specific command, simply follow the ‘help’ command with the name of the command you need help with. For instance, ‘help cd’ will offer you help with the change directory command.
Brian Leanza

How Can I Play Windows Media Files (Wma and Wmv) On a Mac?

Introduction

Apple’s Quicktime movie format (recognizable by its *.mov extension) has become and almost standard for video files. It beats most other video formats in terms of compression and both video and audio quality. The quicktime format, however, is by no means the only format for videos out there. In a world where over 90% of all personal computers run Microsoft Windows it is no surprise that you are bound to stumble over videos in the Microsoft Media File format (.wma and .wmv). How can you play these kind of videos on a Mac?

While there are about a handful of options, two of them are more reasonable than the others for a bunch of reasons: the Flip4Mac Quicktime plugin and VLC Media Player.

Flip4Mac

Flip4Mac is a plugin for Apple’s Quicktime movie player. Being a plugin it will enable Quicktime to play Windows Media Files. This has the advantage of there not being an additional application being installed on your Mac. Also, you will be able to watch (and listen to) Windows Media files in the software you are used to that has the type of user interface you expect when working on a Mac.

Flip4Mac is produced by a company named Telestream which offers five different versions of the plugin (Player, Player Pro, Studio, Studio Pro, Studio Pro HD). While it is reasonable to buy one of the commercial editions (buying software to support developers is always a wise idea) you can do very well with the free edition.

Installation of Flip4Mac is very easy. After downloading the plugin from either the Telestream site or Microsoft (for links see the resource box) open the downloaded .mpkg file and the plugin will be installed.

After installation you will be able to play following additional file formats with Quicktime:

  • Windows Media Audio (.wma)
  • Windows Media Video (.wmv)
  • ISO Mpeg Layer 3 (MP3)
  • ISO Mpeg-4
  • Microsoft Motion JPEG
  • And a few other, less used formats

VLC Media Player

The free VLC Media Player is your second reasonable option. This piece of software is open source, continually worked on by its open source developer community and is probably the most versatile media player in terms of supported formats out there.

Installation is as easy as downloading the dmg file (for a download link see resource box) and then drag and drop the dmg file into your Application folder.

VLC Media Player is a very reliable and versatile media player. There is one downside however: like so many other pieces of software written for all major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS) its user interface does not follow Apple’s guidelines. VLC simply doesn’t look or feel like a Mac application.

Summary

Both, VLC Media Player and Flip4Mac, are very good options if you need to play Windows Media files on your Mac. There is no problem having both of them installed on the same machine. If, however, you prefer to have as little software installed on your Mac as possible, you should opt for Flip4Mac.

Flip4Mac: http://www.telestream.net/flip4mac-wmv/overview.htm
VLC Media Player: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

Brian Leanza

How Do I Make Safari Open Pages in a New Tab?

Introduction
You most probably have ran into this situation: there is a web link in a page you are viewing in Safari and when you click it, Safari will open the page in a new window. This behavior kind of defies the point of having a browser able to open pages in tabs. So what can you do? One thing you can do is right-click the link and select ‘Open in a New Tab’ (if you do not have a two-button mouse simply hold down the ctrl key while clicking the link). Alternatively you can hold down the Cmd-Key while clicking the link. This does works perfectly well for single links. How, however, can you make Safari open every link in a new tab without having to right-click or cmd-clicking?

What You Need
This works with Apple’s Safari Browser 4.x and on a Mac only. If you use Safari on Windows this will not help you.

Change Safari’s Beahaviour
To force Safari to open every link in a new tab you need to use an utility you already have installed on your Mac: the Terminal. To open the Terminal open the Finder, navigate to Applications, from there into the folder Utilites. In this folder you will find the Terminal application. Start it and type in the following text (best copy and paste from here):

defaults write com.apple.Safari TargetedClickCreateTabs -bool true

NOTE: you will have to restart Safari for the change to have effect.

Undo the Change
To undo the change simply open the Terminal again and type in the following (it’s the same command as before with the parameter changed from ‘true’ to ‘false’)

defaults write com.apple.Safari TargetedClicksCreateTabs -bool false

NOTE: you will have to restart Safari for the change to have effect.

Summary
Having Safari open links in new Tabs by default can save you quite a bit of time and will reduce desktop clutter tremendously. And, it was not hard to do, was it?
Brian Leanza

5 Mac Security Tips You Can’t Live Without

So, you’ve bought a new Macintosh, and now you may be wondering how to make it safer. There are several things that you can do which will protect your Mac from viruses and hackers. Macs are already very difficult to hack, but don’t let that fact allow you to become lenient with your security.

1. Download all of the software updates available. This seems like a no-brainer, but some Mac users forget to download the newest updates. You can even set your computer to automatically download new updates. However, some dial-up users encounter trouble when trying to downloaded updates. If you are a dial-up user, the best suggestion is to leave your Mac on overnight and let it download. Apple releases many programs that fix bugs in iLife applications, and in Mac OS X. Probably the most important of these updates are the security updates. Apple periodically offers security updates for its operating systems (Panther and Tiger).

2. Be careful what you download. Some people use P2P downloads for Macintosh (I.E. Poisoned). Be careful when downloading using a P2P because you do not know where the music or file is coming from. Some P2P users specifically make corrupted files to send via music downloading programs. Generally, it is a good idea to stick to iTunes, because those files are ACC Protected and offered through Apple so they certainly won’t have viruses.

3. Choose the best and safest Internet Browser. Safari comes standard on all new Macs as part of iLife. However, some people do not enjoy Safari as much as others. Some say that Safari is not as safe from hackers as other browsers. Safari can also be a problem if you are going to a web page that requires a version of Internet Explorer or Netscape to view it. You can download Internet Explorer and Netscape for Mac, but again, some believe that these browsers are not as safe from hackers. Many people believe that Mozilla Firefox (my personal favorite) is the safest browser to use because of its customizable features. Firefox is available for downloading on the Macintosh.

4. Don’t be afraid to buy anti-virus software. If you have to download files from the internet as part of a job or hobby, then it is probably a good idea to have some sort of anti-virus software on your Macintosh. Apple provides a wide-variety of anti-virus software that is constantly updated.

5. Finally, keep an eye on those e-mail attachments and instant messages. Some hackers have programmed viruses to IM you from one of your friends’ screen names. Don’t click on any link without knowing what it is first. Most e-mail providers use virus scans automatically, but you should always be extra careful when downloading an attachment. If it is from someone you do not know, don’t trust it.

Apple computers are very safe from hackers, but they can always be improved. Keeping a computer safe, and running well requires a great amount of time and energy. Just remember that if your computer is safe, your Apple experience will be much more rewarding.

Paulo Fretowski enjoys writing about computers because he uses them for his job with BizNicheMedia.