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May 11, 2012

Replacing My Macs

Michele + laptop

Michele + laptop (Photo credit: blacknight)

For more than a month I've been working without a decent laptop or desktop at home. I've been using a rather old and slow iMac (a late 2006 model) which will only take 3 GB of RAM and has a rather annoying habit of swapping like mad and freezing several times per day. The laptop I've been using is the MacBook Pro equivalent. Instead of simply freezing it will randomly lose all network connectivity and refuse to reconnect until I reboot it.

Fun times!

Fortunately the insurance companies are both paying out, so I finally ordered replacement machines today.

As a laptop I opted for a MacBook Air. I used to have both an Air and a MacBook Pro, but I'm hoping that a relatively beefy Air will work for me:

1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
256GB flash storage

Since it's a 13 inch I'll probably have to get a new sleeve for it, as the one it's replacing was the smaller 11 inch.

As a desktop for my home office I opted for a 27 inch iMac:

3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
1TB Serial ATA Drive + 256GB Solid State Drive
AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB GDDR5
Apple Magic Mouse
Apple Wireless Keyboard (British) & User's Guide (English)
Accessory Kit

The "plan" is to upgrade the RAM via Crucial, as they're significantly cheaper than getting RAM from Apple direct. I might be able to use the original RAM in one of my other machines.. even if I can't I'm hoping to beef up the RAM to the maximum that it'll take (16 GB)

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April 16, 2012

Home Network Storage Problem Solved (Hopefully!)


Over the weekend I discovered what was eating up most of my hard drive space and a few people made some suggestions via the comments here and also on Facebook.

I didn't realise that a lot of network storage devices supported iTunes (and similar), so I hadn't done much research into my options.

Based on what people were saying I went off and found that Iomega had several devices that could probably do what I wanted. Some people have had issues with Iomega hardware, but I've never had any. In fact I have very fond memories of Iomega's customer service years ago when I had issues with a Zip drive (remember them?).

Iomega have a very broad range of storage solutions, but they've got some devices that are aimed at the "home network" and among them is the "Iomega® Home Media Network Hard Drive, Cloud Edition". Bit of a mouthful, but the feature list is damn impressive, with support for pretty much everything I could imagine - and more. It comes in three different capacities 1, 2 and 3 TB, so I naturally went for the biggest one.

Checking the pricing online I originally thought that buying direct from Iomega was going to be the cheapest option, as their direct pricing is significantly cheaper than most of their resellers. However, for some odd reason, Amazon UK worked out quite a bit cheaper - even when I opted for express delivery. Hopefully I'll be taking delivery of my new "toy" in the next day or so! (Amazon expect to deliver it tomorrow)

What's it got?

Pretty much everything you could think of and then some.

You can get a full list of the features here, but basically it'll do all the storage for all the Mac computers in the house (desktops and laptops) while also supporting media streaming, remote backups and a lot more.  It's got a builtin media server and also supports automatic uploading of photos to various social media sites including Facebook and Flickr. The web interface to control the entire thing looks pretty slick and I'm looking forward to exploring its features, though I know I'll only use a small fraction of them.

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April 15, 2012

I Might Have Too Much Music!

My disk usage on my home desktop

I listen to music on my desktop machines pretty much all the time. While I have bought a few tracks via iTunes I'm still buying physical CDs. Recently I've been using Spotify quite a bit, but I still like being able to listen to the music that I have in my own collection.

My desktop machine in the office has a pretty large hard drive, so this isn't an issue. Unfortunately my machine at home isn't as well endowed!

Here's what DaisyDisk tells me about my own usage:

My disk usage on my home desktop

My disk usage on my home desktop

Unfortunately that's pretty much the entire hard drive!

overall hard drive usage

overall hard drive usage

So would playing music from an external hard drive work?

I've got an external iomega drive that's got plenty of capacity, though it also holds backups from my other machine (the one that was stolen) and I'd rather not lose those backups since I haven't got anywhere to put them ..

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March 3, 2012

Upgrading From An Ancient Nokia To Android Without A Data Cable


My mother finally got a smartphone today. Unfortunately we couldn't find the data cable for her old Nokia (Nokia 2330c-2) and as it's quite an old model it doesn't use micro-USB.
So how could we get the contact numbers off her Nokia and onto her new Samsung Galaxy mini?

There seem to be plenty of ways of doing it if you have the data cable, but if you don't your options are very limited.

However after much gnashing of teeth and pulling out what little hair I've got left I came across Syncmate, which is a really handy bit of software. It's also free, which is a plus (not that I mind paying for software, but I wasn't even sure if it was going to work)

It allows you to easily sync the phone book of most model phones to your Mac and vice-versa. Fortunately it also allows you to set which contact group you want the imported ones to go to, so you don't end up with a load of weird contacts on your Mac - and my mother doesn't end up with all my weird contacts on her new phone.

Copying the data from the old Nokia to the Mac was relatively easy, as it does it all over bluetooth pretty seamlessly. Getting it from the Mac back on to the new Samsung Galaxy mini took a little bit more work, though that was mainly due to me not having read the instructions properly. Simply download and install Syncmate via the Android marketplace and turn on bluetooth syncing and then off you go!

Full details on the software here.

I was looking for a solution for a specific problem, but after playing with this tool even for a few minutes I realised that it could be useful for my own day to day usage (I live in fear of losing my address book!) and it has a number of interesting options such as syncing to Dropbox, Google and a few other things.


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December 18, 2011

Apple Christmas Ad

Short and quite amusing:

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

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December 18, 2011

Quick Fix – Starting Firefox In Safe Mode on OSX

Mozilla Firefox Logo

Firefox is a wonderful piece of software, but sometimes it has issues.. Trying to debug the problem can be made a lot easier if you start the browser in "safe mode" ie. with addons and plugins disabled

On OSX you can do this by holding down the "option" key when starting Firefox (it's the key with "alt" on the top)

Mozilla Firefox Logo

Image via Wikipedia

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December 5, 2011

Apple’s 1984 Ridley Scott Advert

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Image by Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr

I'm currently reading the Steve Jobs biography. I wanted the "dead tree" version, so I had to wait for it to arrive, so I'm probably a bit behind compared to other people.

I don't remember the launch of the Macintosh, but I do remember the Apple stand at an exhibition in Cork around the same time. I have vague recollections of a video they were playing about IBM vs Apple, so it must have been roughly around the same period, though I could be completely wrong!

The imagery in the Ridley Scott directed advert from 1984 is very strong, though any version of the video I've found is pretty grainy.

Here it is:

The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.

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October 17, 2011

Audio Dedication To Jobs

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...
Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

This is doing the rounds on Youtube at the moment and it's pretty good - only Apple sounds and the voice of Steve Jobs were used in its creation:

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October 9, 2011

Boing Boing’s Retro Hommage to Jobs


The frontpage of Boing Boing the day that Steve Jobs died:

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August 13, 2011

Apple OSX Lion Keeps Re-Opening Documents!

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Apple CEO Steve J...

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 20: Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces the new OSX Lion operating system as he speaks during an Apple special event at the company's headquarters on October 20, 2010 in Cupertino, California. Jobs announced the new OSX Lion operating system for Mac computers and iLife 11. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

One of the new "features" in Apple OSX Lion is "resume". The idea behind it isn't bad, but the execution is really annoying.

Basically what happens is this.

Say you open a Word document and then another and another, so you've got several documents open. You might have had to review them.. who knows? It doesn't really matter.

In previous versions of OSX and in pretty much any other OS I've ever used, when you quit Word (or any other application for that matter) when you re-opened it either directly or by opening a file associated with it, it would either open without any documents or just the one you wanted to view.

The new behaviour is that it "remembers" all the documents you had open the last time you used the software. While this might be useful in some scenarios, like a power loss or if your machine froze or something, it's really really annoying the rest of the time. For example, I was reviewing ten Word documents about 3 weeks ago. Unless I actually close each one separately from within Word they will automatically be opened the next time I start Word!

However there are a couple of ways of getting around this. Thankfully.

If you hold down the option key when quitting it *should* forget the windows (files) you had open, so the next time you open it they shouldn't be there (via)

Of course you can also disable the behaviour completely, but that might be a bit extreme, as it's pretty much the "nuclear" option.

UPDATE: Jonathan Brazil suggest this preference panel add-on which allows you to customise the behaviour on a per application basis

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