Howtos, Rants, and Reviews
July 2011 - Posts
Move Finder Items with Copy and Paste - OS X Feature of the Day
Friday, July 29, 2011 2:06 PM
When you want to move files and folders to a new location you often have to open two windows and drag the files and folders to their new location. You could also copy the items with command + C and paste them, Command + V, but then you have two versions of the files and have to go back and delete the originals. A new feature in OS X Lion solves this problem by allowing you to move files with the standard copy and paste functions.
To move files in this way you simply navigate to the items and copy them in the usual fashion, Command + C. You can then navigate the their destination and instead of hitting Command + V, which would simply make a copy, you hit Command + Option + V and the items are moved to your current location. This is a really nice hidden feature of OS X Lion one that is sure to come in handy.
See other Awesome OS X Lion Features!
OS X Lion Feature of the Day
How to Automatically Mute Spotify Commercials
Friday, July 29, 2011 12:29 PM
Spotify is one of the coolest streaming service and since they offer full music access to free users it makes it even better. Full access to the music comes at a price for free users, they have to listen to commercials that disrupts your playlists. The ads tend to be louder than the music, most of the time, and in general are just annoying. Of course you could just pay $5 a month for the unlimited plan that rids you of these ads but if you're not down with that try an application that can automatically mute them for you.
Because Spotify has available in europe for so long before the US launch there are already a multitude of applications and web tools that provide supplemental service and features to Spotify. One of which is an application that can automatically mute Spotify during ads so you don't have to listen to them. It doesn't skip them entirely but at least you don't have to listen to the annoying ads anymore.
If you are using Windows then you should go with Blockify. It is by far the best way to mute songs in Spotify on Windows. Not only does it mute spottily when an ad starts playing but allows you to start playing a random song from your music library while the ad plays silently. That way you don't have to sit in silence waiting for the ad to finish. When the song is over the next song in your current playlist continues where you left off. Blockify also offers hotkey features that allow you to play/pause, skip tracks, shuffle, and others using your keyboard.
If you are on a Mac give Smutefy a try. It sits in your menu bar and identifies commercials and automatically mutes them for you. There is no setup required and if it ever misses a commercial you can manual add it to a blacklist so you never have to hear it again. You do need to install
in order for this application to work but that's not that big of a deal.
Use something else? Leave your suggestion in the comments.
The Government Will Soon Track Everything you do Online
Friday, July 29, 2011 11:31 AM
The House has already passes a bill and an expansion to that bill that will require commercial ISPs, internet service provides, and perhaps web companies to store and record everything their customers are doing on the internet along with customers names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses. From what I can tell a years worth of data is stored on each customer.
The information stored will be given to the Police for later review. The argument for the bill is that it will allow police to better prevent cyber crimes like child pornography. This makes the bill hard to vote against since it's named "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" and who wouldn't want that? In reality the information will probably never be used to catch Child Pornographers since they already know better than to use their own ISP connection. This is why they are hard to catch and often trade child pornography over open or public WIFi connections to prevent from being caught.
Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel, has this to say about the bill "This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes." I have to agree with him and say that this bill is a huge violation of our privacy and civil liberties. I don't understand, you need a warrant to tap someone's phone but your internet traffic and personal information is just logged and given away to the government? Perhaps the information will only be available to police if they have a warrant to view it, but still I think it's a major violation of everyone's privacy.
This is just another example of why the internet needs to be protected. We need some kind of Net Neutrality bill that will prevent the Government from controlling, regulating, and turning the internet into some kind-of spy network. This is where it starts next thing you know they will be blocking sites they don't like and shutting off the internet when things go wrong.
What are your thoughts? Am I just paranoid or is this a real concern? Leave your comments in the section below and make sire to read the
Login Screen Message - OS X Lion Feature of the Day
Thursday, July 28, 2011 2:00 PM
Continuing my exploration of some of the less talked about features of OS X Lion we come to one that could very well get you your laptop back if you were to ever leave it somewhere. The login screen is what most people would see if they were to find your laptop. This is assuming you use a password to protect your account which you should do if you aren't already. For the casual user this would present a problem when attempting to find a lost laptop's owner. Having a password prevents someone from finding contact information but you don't want to leave your account without a password.
OS X Lion now has a feature that solves this problem by allowing you to place a message of your choice on the login screen. You could leave a short message and your phone number or email address so anyone finding your laptop could get a hold of you without having to login to your account. There was a
that came a long a while ago for Snow Leopard that did this same thing, and I guess Apple liked it enough to make it a part of the OS.
See other Awesome OS X Lion Features!
OS X Lion Feature of the Day
Digger 3 - This Machine NOM NOMs on Landmines
Thursday, July 28, 2011 1:31 PM
The landmine is one of those weapons that is painfully simple but incredibly effective. They are cheap to produce stay in the ground and remain active for a long time and can dismantle a tank or vehicle in a single blow. The only problem is once you put them in the ground you can no long find them. Once the conflict is over you can't just go around and pick them up or at least armies don't go around picking them up. These mines are very dangerous and often kill and injure the surrounding people and have become a real problem in areas where wars have been fought over the last couple decades.
Enter the Digger 3 a 8.75-ton fully armored vehicle which is remote control and have 173Hp 4.5L 4-cylinder John Deer Engine, featuring a rotational flail which has 26 Tungsten hammers affixed to hardened steel chains which spins at 800RPM. It kind-of like a combination of a tractor, tank, and rotary tiller. The hammers go 10 inches into the ground effectively setting off any mine and destroying anything in it's path.
This thing is a monster. Watch the video below and watch the Digger 2 take out some mines in Sudan. I think the people who live in countries with a lot of land mines deserve to have them removed. They had to deal with war in their country and for years afterward with forgotten mines. It's about time someone comes up with a way to remove mines to prevent innocent people from dying.
Nintendo Slashes 3DS Price by $80 Now Only $169
Thursday, July 28, 2011 12:57 PM
According to a statement on Nintendo's website come August 12th Nintendo will be cutting the price for their 3DS portable gaming system. The price will be reduced by $80 bringing the 3DS from $249 to $169. The Nintendo 3DS has only been on the market for 6 months, so I price reduction so soon is very unusual. Nintendo is taking action to prevent current owners from getting upset about the price reduction by offering them 20 free downloadable games, which should do the trick in my opinion.
Most gaming systems don't see a price reduction until at least 1-2 years after release. The 3DS has only been on the market for 6 months so this is unusual to say the least. The price reduction is most certainly an attempt to drive sales for the device since Nintendo has just posted its first ever quarterly loss in the spring of about $475 million. It seems the 3D gimmick, which after launch was discovered causes headaches and nausea in some gamers, isn't going over very well. That combined with a short battery life has convinced people to stay away.
It seems Nintendo hasn't learned a lesson from Apple and their iPhone which delivers an awesome online distribution method and an environment for independent developers to develop cheap and addictive games. Because Nintendo hasn't learned this lesson Apple is kicking there butt in sales. Why spend $250 on a Nintendo 3DS when you can get a smartphone or iPod Touch that plays game just as well and can do other cool things like call people?
Let's just hope this new price point will help 3DS sales and that Nintendo's Wii U console, slated for next year, won't fall on it's face as well. I like Nintendo and it just wouldn't be right to not have them around.
Humble Indie Bundle 3 - 5 Indie Cross-Platform Games for a $1
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 4:02 PM
Everyone loves a good deal especially when it's on video games! Am I right? The Humble Indie Bundle is back with 5 awesome cross-platform indie games that should keep you busy for weeks. The bundle is setup to allow people to pay what they want for the games. You can pay as little as $1 for the bundle with the commercial value of the game coming in at about $50 if you were to buy them on Steam. The proceeds of this Humble Bundle are being split between the developers, EFF, and Childs Play. Childs Play is a charity that provides sick, hospitalized kids with video games and toys to play with. The EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a charity that fights to maintain the freedom of the internet through it's network of lawyers and activists.
I have actually played a couple of these games before including "Cogs" and "And Yet It Moves" which I would gladly pay $10 each for so the bundle is well worth it. After purchasing my Humble Indie Bundle I started playing "Crayon" which is a very cool physics based game where you have to draw lines and objects to help you complete each level. One of the things I like about Crayon is the many different ways you can solve each puzzle. It allows you to find a cool and clever way of beating the level without forcing you to think a certain way.
Checkout the bundle it's well worth it and runs one Windows, Mac, and Linux machines so pretty much anyone can jump in and have fun with these games.
The Humble Indie Bundle 3
Quick Event Feature in iCal - OS X Lion Feature of the Day
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 2:08 PM
Even though Apple has given iCal a horrible new look that pretty much everyone hates, they have also added a quick new way of adding iCal events. The plus button in the top left of the iCal window now presents you with a window that allows you to add events by typing out a phrase, like "Movie Night at Jon's House tomorrow at 7:30 PM." A new event will then be added to tomorrow's agenda with the title "Movie Night at Jon's House."
This is much better than the old way of adding events where it feels like you're filling out a job application. You can of course add events the old way by double clicking the day and entering the information about the event. In addition to this feature Apple has also added a heat map feature to the year view. The warmer the color the more you have going on that day.
See other Awesome OS X Lion Features!
OS X Lion Feature of the Day
SecureHome - Turn Your Mac into a Home Security System
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:17 PM
What does a home security system really do for you? It makes a lot of noise and calls the police, who show up 30 minutes later because they get security system calls all the time. SecureHome can make a lot of noise and contact you, who can then call the police, and it only cost $1.
SecureHome is an application for your Mac that uses the built in microphone to set a noise threshold. When a sound breaches that threshold it sets off an alarm and send you an email. Sure it's not as good as a sophisticated security system but it's a cool way to set something up on the cheap. Since it can send you an email alert you could enter you SMS email from your cell carrier, firstname.lastname@example.org for AT&T, and have it send you the email as a SMS. This would give you a more instant notification of an alarm. The SMS email differs depending on your carrier so you will have to look yours up if you don't have AT&T.
The biggest downside to this software is that it's not much use to you if you have pets or live in a noisy urban environment. I can imagine dogs barking and cats knocking things over would result in a noisy alarm and an alarming email making you think someone is in your house. Other things that could set it off are sirens from emergency vehicles and storms with lightning and thunder. So this setup isn't ideal and you are sure to get a lot of false positives but I still think it's better than nothing. Combined with a way to access your webcam remotely, like Skype, you could check in on your house after getting your email alert which should put your mind to ease should it be a false positive.
So what do you think? Kind-of cool or dumb? Let me know what you think in the comments.
SecureHome - Stephen Arrowsmith
Agenda - Minimal iOS Calendar
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 1:00 PM
The calendar on your iOS device is indispensable. It keeps you organized and reminds you with handy event alarms which I use on daily basis. If you feel iCal's interface isn't simple enough or are just in the mood for a change then check out Agenda. It's a $1.99 calendar app for the iPhone that has the look and feel of a mid-century modern desk calendar.
Agenda is simple to read and navigate with one hand allowing you to swipe between views. The app also features unlimited scrolling while viewing future and past events. The app requires no setup because it pulls from iCal. Any calendar you have synced with your iPhone like Google Calendar, Exchange and MobileMe will automatically be added to Agenda.
Agenda is the perfect solution if you are looking for a simpler way to view your calendar, and it's a steal at just $1.99, so check it out.
Agenda Calendar - App Savvy
PowerUp - The Worlds First Powered Paper Airplane
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 11:23 AM
This has got to be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It's a tiny electric motor and propeller attached to an equally small battery that powers it. You attach it to a regular old paper airplane transforming it into powered super paper airplane.
When I was a kid I would have killed to have something like this. I think every kid has day dreamed of their simple paper airplane taking flight like a real airplane and this gadget gets you one step closer to that.
The PowerUp can power your paper airplane for 1.5 minutes on a 20 second charge from the 3 AAA battery pack. You just fold your plane, install the motor, and place the nose into the charging unit. The propeller will start to spin and will take a charge for 20 seconds. You can then immediately throw your plane, and as you can see in the video the device works very well, flying the paper airplane in a nice big circle before coming in for a landing.
The idea is brilliant and is the perfect gift for a child and the child at heart alike. The PowerUp sells for $20 on Amazon which isn't bad considering it has thought up and produced by an independent toy company.
- The Worlds First Powered Paper Airplane
How Voicemail Hacking Works and How to Protect Yourself!
Monday, July 25, 2011 3:10 PM
The whole voicemail hacking thing with "News of the World" has been all over the news in recent. It's hilarious to hear news anchors talking about this because they have no idea how it works and think it's some kind of magic voodoo or something. In reality it's a simple concept which the phone companies could fix but were too stupid to take the appropriate steps to protect their customers. A 2-year-old could hack someone's voicemail it's that simple. Here is how the voicemail hacking works and how to protect yourself, no voodoo required.
How it Works
Voicemail hacking is a simple case of phone number spoofing, which is where you artificially make your number look like it's the victims number. You then simply call the victims number while you're spoofing the same number and you get sent directly to their voicemail. It's works the same way as calling yourself from your phone, except you can do it from any phone. This method would be no good if every cell carrier required you to put in a password to access your voicemail, but they don't. I'm pretty sure all cell carriers have the function but they probably have it turned off by default to prevent customers from forgetting their passwords and getting locked out of their voicemail.
I assume they think a call from the customer's phone is security enough for most so they don't turn it on by default. This is obviously not true since websites like
are around and can even let you
try it for free
. All you have to do is put your number in the first box and the victims number in the second and third box and hit the "Try Telespoof" button. It will first call you and then the victim which should send you directly to their voicemail. If they don't have a password then you're in. So you see it's more of trick than a hack since there's not a lot between you and their voicemail. You didn't really break into a house if the backdoor was open if you know what I mean!
Doing this is illegal, of course, and is probably considered to be wiretapping or something similar which I believe is a felony. So by all means don't try this especially with malicious intent, because it can be traced if you're not carful.
How to Protect Yourself
Protecting yourself is easy, all you have to do is put a password on your voicemail. To do this, or check to see if you have a password, just call yourself from your phone that is assigned to that number. If it doesn't ask you for a password then you are at risk. To assign a password listen to the automated menu options. AT&T's password settings are under Personal Option >> Administrative Options>> Passwords. Once there hitting 2 lets you turn the password on and off. Once you have done that and have navigated back to the passwords menu hitting one will let change the password.
The shortcut from the main menu is 4212 to turn passwords on and 4211 to change the password. Verizon has a password prompt on all their accounts so if you are a Verizon customer you are safe. I had to turn on my password on for my AT&T phone, so if you are a AT&T user you might want to check yours.
This whole scandal is really the cell carries fault making it easy for people to break into your voicemail account. If I were someone effected by these voicemail hacking scandals I would be suing them first.
P.S. I realize that some people like to put a hyphen in Voicemail but just like email it's so 1995 to call it voice-mail. Just saying!
Use Price Alerts for Purchases that can Wait!
Monday, July 25, 2011 1:16 PM
I always have a rolling list of things that I would like to purchase from the web. Items that I come across that I think are cool but I'm just not ready to pull the trigger on just yet. They find themselves saved to my Amazon wishlist since Amazon sells just about anything and for a great price. Since Amazon is good about matching competitors prices you will find them lowering their price just to keep from being under sold by other websites. Sometimes the low price sticks for several days and sometimes it's less than a day. So how can you keep up with your saved products to buy them at their lowest price? Use price alerts from Camel Camel Camel that can send you a tweet or email when a product hits a certain price point.
Camel Camel Camel
is a website that requires no account or login that allows you to view the price history of Amazon products and place price alerts at a given price point. When your item reaches the price point, designated by you, it will send you a tweet or email letting you know the product has reached your desired price.
The website allows you to see a products different prices going back as far as a year, if the product has been around for that long. It also provides you with the lowest and highest prices offered by Amazon and 3rd party new and used venders. All this information gives you the ability to place a reasonable figure for your price alert.
Once you place your alert it's just a waiting game. I can't tell you how many times I've sniped an awesome deal on Amazon just by waiting for the price to come down using Camel Camel Camel. It's an awesome way get something you want at the price you want without having to check the price daily. It also helps you decide if the current price is a good one by showing the product's price over the it's life on the site.
If you have a twitter account setup to send Direct Messages to your mobile device then when Camel Camel Camel sends you the DM tweet you'll get a instant alert on your phone which is really handy. The service is free and they even have a Firefox plugin that shows you the price grid right on the Amazon product page. So go and check that out and never pay full price again.
Fabio and Isaiah Mustafa Battle it Out for the Title of "Old Spice Guy"
Monday, July 25, 2011 12:14 PM
Isaiah Mustafa is better known as the "
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
" or the Old Spice Guy. His Old Spice commercials were so popular that more people have probably voluntarily watched them on YouTube than their paid TV ads. Old Spice has started a new campaign called "
New Old Spice Guy Fabio
" featuring, you guessed it, Fabio. This new campaign is centered around an internet duel set between the new and old Old Spice guys which Fabio has set before Isaiah.
Isaiah is set to respond to the challenge sometime today, according to a P&G representative. There is no telling whether or not Fabio is truly going to replace Isaiah or not, but from how crappy and unrefined the Fabio videos were I can't imagine they will have Fabio come out on top. I just wouldn't make sense to replace Isaiah with Fabio since men in general and fans of Isaiah don't like Fabio.
So fans of the old Old Spice guy fear not! I don't believe the the new Old Spice guy is going to actually replace Isaiah but it does seem like they are winding down his presences. They haven't posted a new video to the Old Spice YouTube channel since March and the Old Spice Guy Internet Responses has stopped with a farewell video being the last one in a series of 185 videos.
So which side are you on? Team Fabio or Team Isaiah? Me I prefer the original old Old Spice guy. Let me know in the comments.
Things You Should Know Before Upgrading to Lion
Friday, July 22, 2011 3:37 PM
Before you upgrade to OS X Lion there are a couple things you should know. Some of them are obvious while others seemed to come out during the launch.
You Need Snow Leopard to get Lion
This is sort if a given but not something that crossed my mind. In order to download Lion you need the Mac App Store, and in order to have the Mac app store you need Snow Leopard. So inso facto you need Snow Leopard to install Lion. All other major releases you could upgrade from any OS version. I know I have skipped a OS before and it upgrades just fine.
There are some sneaky ways around this problem even though the user agreement says you need a Snow Leopard license to install Lion. The software, however, doesn't really require it since you can install Lion on a blank hard drive. Macword has a big writeup on
how to install Lion on Leopard
so go there and read up if you wish to do so.
AirDrop is a limited Feature
I don't think this is a deal breaker for a lot of people, but since Airdrop requires specific hardware it's only compatible newer models. The list of compatible hardware is below. The Airdrop feature allows Lion users to send files to each other over WiFi without the need for a wireless network. Its a ad-hoc type connection which is only supported by specific hardware.
MacBook Pro (late 2008 or newer)
MacBook Air (late 2010 or newer)
MacBook (late 2008 or newer)
iMac (early 2009 or newer)
Mac mini (mid 2010 or newer)
Mac Pro (early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card and mid 2010 or newer).
Boot Camp Users Might Have Problems
Some people have been saying that there are problems installing Lion when you have a Windows partition. I don't know if this is because the Lion install creates a partition when it installs but not everyone has reported this problem. There are several
on this issue to help you get through it if you have any problems.
Rosetta is Dead
Rosetta is a lightweight dynamic translator that allows users to run Power PC application on your Intel processor. So if you have a piece of software that is rather old, uses Rosetta, and that you can't live without then you might want to consider not upgrading. I don't know of anything off the top of my head that fits that description, but I'm sure someone somewhere has some old program that they love that runs Rosetta. If you upgrade you can't use it. You've been warned and it's time to try something new.
If you are running Quicken's accounting software that's earlier than Quicken Essentials then you need to export your quicken data before you upgrade. If you upgrade first you will not be able to access your data. The old Quicken probably ran on Rosetta which is my guess as to why this is the case. EXPORT FIRST!
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