Must admit that I’m not overly keen on wallpapers that are based on someone else’s stock photo, but the results are often great and if the original photographer is cool about it, then who am I to complain. This particular wall caught my eye on DeviantArt and ended up on my desktop pretty quick. You can get this wallpaper here.
Bootcamp’s a useful way of booting into Windows for Mac users, but forcing that reboot isn’t the easiest process on Mac. At the moment you need to fire up the System Preferences app, select the Windows partition as the startup disk and then reboot. When you’re in Windows, you can boot back to OSX from a handy shortcut located in the system tray – which is far more convenient. Also, selecting your Bootcamp partition as the startup disk means that every time your Mac starts it will boot to that particular partition.
Bootchamp is a small free utility that emulates the Windows system tray shortcut in OSX. More than that, however, it emulates the Option key shortcut on Mac startup which leaves your OSX partition as the default and only boots to Window on that occasion. It’s fast and convenient and one of those features we feel should have been built into OSX.
Little Snitch has been a longtime favourite with anyone that wants to lock down their Mac and permit outbound network access to only the applications and processes they give the all clear to. As good as the Snitch is, however, it’s not the most user-friendly firewall and it’s certainly not something you’d recommend to the technically challenged.
Radio Silence does the same job as Little Snitch, but hides the tricky details in the background and concentrates on the absolute basics of policing your network traffic. Amongst the features of the app is a zero-pop-up policy, a tiny memory footprint and a breezy interface that even a Republican presidential hopeful could operate. Radio Silence is yours for $19.99 (Little Snitch is $29.99) and comes with a 30 day moneyback guarantee.
We all know that iTunes is a bloated behemoth of a media player, but (Mac users at least) are kind of stuck with it. It has changed over the years from an MP3 player to an electronic hub for music, film, TV, radio, podcasts, apps, syncing and shopping, which is great until all you want to do is play that album you just downloaded. You don’t want to import it, you don’t want to then hunt for it in your terabyte sized collection and you’d rather you didn’t give up a quarter of your system’s memory for the purpose.
Vox is a slimline music player and it’s the ideal foil for iTunes’ gargantuan proportions. It does one thing and one thing only – it plays music. It also happens to do so with an impossibly cool minimalistic interface and enough audio tuning goodies to make even the biggest high fidelity audio snob pay attention. Did I mention that it’s also free?
Created by Alessio Nonni, Vox has been around for a couple of years now and continues to improve. We took the latest 0.3 beta 1 release for a spin and were very pleased with the direction that the app’s heading in. The most immediate change over the previous release is that the already superb interface has been updated again and is now the very essence of simple, effective design. If you’re after neon colours and wacky fonts, this is not the music player for you.
While iTunes requires codec updates to play anything other than very mainstream audio formats, Vox will cheerfully serve up FLAC, MP3, AAC, Musepack, Monkey’s Audio, OGG Vorbis, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, IT, MOD, XM and more. The app includes its own built-in 10 band equaliser, but can also leverage Apple effects such as Hipass, Compressor and Peak Limiter. Moreover you can chain these events as you desire. It has a built-in BPM detector and a powerful time stretch facility that can speed up audio without changing the pitch.
What Vox won’t do is manage your library of music. It has a playlist into which you an drag and re-order tracks, but that’s the extent of its file management capabilities. This app is purely about playing back music and through such cool features as the menubar transport controls it quickly becomes an indispensable part of any music-listening Mac owners app library. You can download it here.
There are otherways to monitor the traffic on your website, but let’s be honest – Google Analytics is both incredibly detailed and free – few people go past Google Analytics. However having access to those analytics can turn you into a bit of an F5 statistics junky, forever checking your profile out to see how the day’s numbers are adding up. If this sounds like you, then you’ll probably love Gaget – a Google Analytics widget for your Dashboard.
Gaget serves up the basic nuts and bolts of your traffic within a cool looking interface that’s always only a sideways swipe away. It shows you the last two weeks traffic, visitors today (users and pageviews), bounce rate, new visitors and a graph of traffic over the last two weeks. If you have more than one site in your analytics account, you can switch between them easily in the widget’s preferences screen. Gaget is a simple and effective widget that deserves a home on every Mac using webmaster’s Dashboard.
In the modern era of operating systems, no programmer creates every facet of their application – frameworks and programming environments are utilised and libraries (usually created by the developer of the OS) are deployed. While this means that a programmer doesn’t have to be fluent in binary to create software, it does mean that many applications carry a lot of unnecessary bloat. This bloat means that they take up more space on your hard drive and, more importantly, take longer to load.
So the whole point of XSlimmer is to strip out the unnecessary code from Mac applications and save them out in a slimline version with the end result being speedier loading times. The code that XSlimmer targets are the bits that aren’t relevant to your Mac and therefore never get executed – these are located inside the Universal Binaries. In addition the software will expunge all those redundant foreign languages that just unnecessarily hog hard drive space.
To compress an application you just drag it into the main window and XSlimmer will then analyse the app in question. Before any compression takes place, the software checks its software blacklist to make sure compression won’t break the app, then it determines if there are any space savings to be made. Once it’s happy it will determine how much space you’ll save and you can decide to proceed with the sudden weight loss diet or not. For safety reasons, XSlimmer will back up your applications before compressing them so that if anything goes wrong you can just revert the app back.
By way of a test we compressed the latest version of iMovie which weighed in at 407Mb. We did a test load of the software and it took 25.4 seconds to start up on a 2009 MacBook Pro with 8Gb of memory. Then we put iMovie through the XSlimmer wringer and it emerged the other side at a svelte 332Mb. Not the most massive massive space saving, but we were pleasantly surprised by the load time – it now took just 16 seconds to load on the same system. We had no issues using the application either – the slimming procedure didn’t appear to have harmed iMovie.
The principle downside to this application is that most of the apps we were most interested in compressing in order to speed up loading times, were on the blacklist. Most of the Adobe CS5.5 suite was ruled out (including Dreamweaver, Flash, InDesign and Photoshop) and so was the whole of the Microsoft Office 2011 suite. iTunes was also blacklisted, but Pages and Numbers were given the green light as was (surprisingly) XSlimmer itself. So where it can be deployed there are useful load time and hard drive space reductions to be made, but don’t expect to be able to trim those traditionally sluggish apps from Adobe and Microsoft, they don’t want to be the biggest losers.
Something whistful for you all this week. Deep Blue Sea is a beautifully designed wallpaper that reminds us that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface in the ocean. If you fancy making something similar yourself, you can find a list of 18 montage tutorials for Photoshop here.. You can get the wallpaper here.
Just lately there have been some absolutely stunning looking applications landing in the Mac App Store. Sparrow, Reeder, Producteev, Twitter, Wunderlist and Pixelmator all look so great and work so well that they positively invite you to use them. And to that list of beautifully designed and functionally useful apps you can now add Day One, which does for journalling software, what Reeder did for news readers.
In the current era, personal diary applications make much more sense than blogs. Unless you’re somebody famous the only people that tend to read your online blog will be family and friends and the very fact that you’re publishing online means that you censor yourself. So instead of blogging online and giving out far more personal information than you perhaps ought to, why not keep a journal yourself.
Day One sports a beautiful Lion styled interface broken down by date in a calendar view reminiscent of Calvetica. You can quickly jot down thoughts via a menubar quick-note facility or add them straight into the app itself. Add your diary to your Dropbox and it can sync quite happily with the accompanying iPhone app. And to stop prying eyes viewing your darkest secets, password protect everything.
An unsung app it might be, but the Dictionary that comes with Lion is still a bloody useful tool. There have been a number of small changes to the application in Apple’s latest OSX release and many users may not realise is that it’s also configurable according to individual requirements.
The first big change in the application is that when you search for a word you now see a list of alternative words in the pane on the left. This enables you to drill down your search much faster than the old search > define > redefine method. You can also tweak font size of definitions directly from the toolbar.
In the preferences for the app you’ll find a number of alternative dictionaries available for search. By default the Oxford American Dictionary is installed, but if you prefer British-English spellings then simply click the ‘On’ button next tot he Oxford Dictionary of English and Oxford Thesaurus of English and deselect the American versions. You can also drag dictionaries within this window to set your preference for initial search.
It might be under assault from services like Twitter and Facebook, but the humble RSS feed remains one of the most compellingly useful ways of extracting useful content from sites and displaying it in a readable format. The majority of websites have RSS capabilities, thanks to default integration in services like WordPress and Blogger and most web publishers understand that it’s a useful way of getting your content out there.
The RSS feed received a welcome revitalisation when Google created their own web based Reader and enabled users to add predefined feeds from a large selection of user-created content or to just add feeds from your favourite websites on an ad-hoc basis. Google Reader quickly became a de facto standard and is the preferred method by which many news feed readers manage their subscriptions.
There has of course been a long history of good application-based news readers for the Mac, though most people will only have encountered RSS feeds in Mail, with Apple’s own obligatory news updates. In recent years terrific applications have evolved and you have plenty of choice when it comes to getting your news fix. We’ve taken a look at five of the best applications – free and commercial.
Tilt-shift photography can produce some amazing effects. If you fancy trying it yourself, you can either invest in an expensive tilt-shift lens for your camera or ‘cheat’ with a Photoshop action or even just use a tilt-shift iPhone app. This week’s featured wallpaper utilises ideal source material for that true tilt-shift look – the city at night. You can get it, right here.
Back once again with ten tasteful and minimalist images for your desktop. This month we’ve picked through the archives of DeviantArt picking out the best looking walls – this is no mean feat as by any standards the word minimalism (according to most DeviantArt users) seems to involve rainbows, cats and hardcore porn – though not necessarily all three at the same time. Anyway – on with the show.
Here’s a rare and wonderful thing – a truly useful bit of software that’s completely free, no strings attached. Garage Buy (just updated to version 2.1) is a front-end for the otherwise rotten eBay auction website. It enables you to do all things you do on the eBay site, within the cosy confines of a well coded Mac application.
Once you’ve authorised the application to access your eBay account you can begin searching for products. The display window can be configured to show just images (ideal for clothes browsing), a list form text only view (perfect for price scanning) and a combination view that shows a summary of an item and an image. Image size can be scaled on-the-fly so you can zoom in for a closer look if you wish.
Once an item has caught your eye, you can add it to your watch list, track it in iCal or get an alert when it goes over a certain price threshold. You can quickly configure what sort of sale you wish to view by toggling the Auction, Fixed Price, Buy it Now and Classified Ads buttons. Similarly you can select any combination of New, Used, New with Defects etc as per eBay’s unique way of classifying items. You can also flick between the different national auction sites if you don’t find what you’re looking for in your country.
When you find an item you’re interested in, you can place a bid and then track its progress entirely within the app. Once an auction gets close to its finishing time, Garage Buy will automatically update the price and current highest bidder every few seconds, which saves you having to mash the refresh button.
Garage Buy is a useable and comprehensive application that takes a lot of the pain out of using the eBay sites worldwide. The iCal integration and Growl notifications are extremely useful tools for reminding you about an item you were interested in. Above all, it works well – and you can’t argue with the price. A+++++++++++ would use again.
One of our favourite new features in Apple’s latest Mac operating system Lion, is the neat Mission Control. This replacement for Expose and Spaces enables you to switch tasks and virtual desktops with ease. But did you know that you’re not stuck with that rather boring linen background in Mission Control? Swapping it out is actually a very simple process and to demonstrate just how easy, we’ve put together a little tutorial video.
Edit: Apple has plugged this hole, as per this support article.
Well here’s a scary story that might burst a few Mac bubbles. Developed by Passware, their Passware Kit 11 can ‘recover login passwords for Mac OS users in a matter of minutes’. It does this by exploiting a weakness in the OSX sleep-state mode, whereby all passwords are stored in a portion of memory that can be accessed via Firewire because it has direct memory connections.
The software can apparently perform this feat on all recent versions of Mac OSX, including 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and the just released 10.7 (Lion). It can access the all-important OSX Keychain database giving access to saved passwords (for websites, network shares, wireless networks), private keys, certificates, etc. If it’s any consolation to Apple owners, the same software will accomplish the exact same feat on Windows (all versions) and Linux too and the OSX exploit can be avoided by turning off Automatic Login and shutting down rather than using sleep mode.
HydraCoach; calculates your need for hydration (don't know if I need this but it's a nifty gadget).
This is a hybrid bike with not only exceptional performance but stunning aesthetics as well. The motor power and battery capacity is well over the industry standard and a truly futuristic look will sure attract some eyeballs around you. The Terminus is the ultimate trail-machine for the ones who appreciate the best availa
Camalien LED concept watch changes its colors depending on your surroundings - Designers Peter and Sam have come up with a concept watch they’ve dubbed the Camalien. It’s an LED watch with a sleek design that also comes with a camera built into it that will record your surroundings and will change the watch’s color accordingly. | #Design #Watches |