How to renew your MobileMe account

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in Hints, Mac

If you have a Mobileme account that is about to expire, you can often renew for far less by purchasing a boxed version on Amazon or elsewhere online. But how do you enter the activation code? I recently renewed my account, here’s what you need to do:

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Multi-touch vs. multi-touch: the new iPod nano

Posted on Sep 7, 2010 in iPhone, Opinions, UI Design

Apple recently introduced their 6th generation iPod nano, the first non-clickwheel nano. Instead, the new nano uses a multi-touch interface that’s similar to the interface found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

But just how similar is the nano’s multi-touch interface when compared with the real deal? Let’s look at some of the typical actions you might want to do:

As you can see, some of the most important actions use different multi-touch gestures on the iPod nano then they do on real iOS devices. If Apple sees the nano as the device that will introduce people to multi-touch, it seems like a curious decision to not unify the gestures across all multi-touch platforms.

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Managing your Online Reading

Posted on Aug 22, 2010 in Opinions, The web

Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, Mail – we all get more links to articles and webpages nowadays than ever before. I would often find myself coming across an interesting article, but would lose track of it in a mess of tabs, unless I read it right away.

Bookmaking is the most obvious option, but you risk cluttering your useful bookmarks with lots of items you’ll only look at once.  So how can you organise your reading? Here’s the system I use…

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How-to remove a PDF password

Posted on Jul 28, 2010 in Hints, Mac

Have you ever been given a PDF document, only to find you can’t read it on your device of choice because it’s password-protected? Most universities nowadays make course material available in PDF format. However, some insist on making their material password-protected, in order to prevent unauthorized users from reading it.

Unfortunately, the password protection can cause other issues:

  • Preview’s full-screen “Slideshow” view will display a blank screen (rdar: 7757682)
  • Not all iOS apps can open encrypted PDFs (although iBooks and GoodReader have both recently been updated to support this feature)
  • PDF Passwords aren’t saved – so you’ll need to look it up and enter it each time

But if you have the correct password and can open the PDF file, there’s a (slightly tricky) way to store a non-password protected copy for personal use. There are a few different ways you can do this, but after trying out several methods, I believe this is the easiest.

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Free OS X World Cup Vuvuzela Filter

Posted on Jun 14, 2010 in Hints, Mac

If you watch TV on your Mac and been annoyed by the constant buzzing of the Vuvuzela’s during the World Cup games, you might want to try this tip.

I use the equinux TubeStick to watch TV (full disclosure: I work for equinux) so this tutorial was written for The Tube, but it’ll work with other software or online streaming sites as well.

Update:

My colleague has put together a small application that eliminates the need to use Garageband. Check it out for even easier Vuvuzela filtering.

Step 1: Install & Configure Soundflower

Download the free Soundflower utility from Google Code. This utility allows you to pass audio from all applications back into your system, allowing us to filter it using Garageband.

Once installed:

  • Open System Preferences > Sound
  • Select Output: Soundflower (2ch)
  • Select Input: Soundflower (2ch)

Your audio will now be muted – don’t worry, this is normal.

Step 2: Install VuvuX

There are other ways to filter out the buzz of the Vuvuzela’s manually, but Prosoniq offer a free AU plugin that takes care of it for you. Download it, then drag it onto the ‘Components’ alias:

Step 3: Start filter with Garageband

Prosoniq suggest using their filter with Audio Hijack Pro, but if you’d like to save yourself $32, you can use Garageband which probably came free with your Mac.

Simply launch Garageband, create a new real instrument project and adjust these settings:

  • Go to Garageband > Preferences > Audio/Midi and select Audio Input: Soundflower (2ch)
  • Go to your real instrument track, select the Edit tab and click a blank slot to add a new effect
  • Choose VuvuX from the drop down list and make sure it is turned on
  • Switch back to the Browse tab, select Input Source: Soundflower (2ch) and turn on the Monitor

You should now hear audio again. Now fire up The Tube and you will notice that Vuvuzela’s are a fair bit quieter. Turn the filter on or off to really hear the difference. You can also click the filter in Garageband to manually adjust the level of noise reduction – be careful though, too much reduction will cause the commentary and other game sounds to sound distorted.

Any there you have it! Enjoy a vuvuzela-free World Cup!

Follow me on Twitter for further updates and tips!

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Search Chordie iTunes script

Posted on Jun 7, 2010 in Featured, Mac, Opinions

If you play guitar, you’ve probably tried the various tab and chord sites out there. I recently discovered Chordie.com and it has quickly become my favourite.

One thing I often do is look up chords for songs I’m listening to in iTunes. I do it so often that I decided to put together a little script to make it a bit easier to do.

Head on over to my Projects page to download Search Chordie and to find out how to use it.

Download Search Chordie

Search Chordie is based on Search Wikipedia by the fantastic Doug Adams – check out his other iTunes scripts at DougScripts.com.

Thanks also to Chordie.com – if you play the guitar, you’re going to love this fantastic resource.

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The Micro DSLR Phenomenon

Posted on Jun 2, 2010 in Opinions, Photography

Ever since I reviewed the Olympus E-P1 last summer, I’ve been fairly convinced that this is a market segment waiting to explode. So many people I have spoken to have expressed an interest and interestingly enough, this niche seems to attract multiple user groups:

  • Consumers that don’t own a DSLR see these new cameras as an attractive compromise offering DSLR quality with a consumer-friendly interface and lower cost
  • Prosumers that already own a DSLR see them as a great alternative to their bulky DSLRs that they can take out and about

Which models are on the market?

Until now, Olympus and Panasonic have been the only two companies offering cameras in this space, so they have generally been referred to as “Micro Four-Thirds” cameras – after the joint standard those two companies established together.

However, Sony have recently announced their “Alpha Nex” series, which uses a larger APS-C sized sensor, that should give the Micro four-thirds competitors a run for their money.

Is it a DSLR? Is it a Micro Four-Thirds? No, it’s…

With Sony entering the fray, a new term is needed to describe the cameras within this category. In the interest of keeping things simple, I’m just going to refer to them as “Micro DSLRs“.

Latest Developments

So what has happened since the release of the original Olympus E-P1 that kicked everything off?

If you’re in the market, it’s probably worth waiting until the new Sony models are released in July, but it’s definitely turning into an interesting year for Micro DSLR fans.

I should have a chance to take a look at a few of these new models in the upcoming months, so stay tuned.

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