Posts filed under 'Mac'
I got an iPad a while ago, and I’ve found it to be an awesome tool.
The only thing I’ve really wished for that it lacks is the ability to play videos directly from iTunes on my Mac over the network. You can do this between PCs, and my AppleTV can stream videos from iTunes, so why not the iPad? I’ve never understood why this functionality wasn’t there right from the start.
There are some apps you can buy, like Air Video, that allow you to stream video, but I wasn’t impressed when I tried them. In particular, most of them can’t play DRM-protected videos.
Then I stumbled across a simple way to set up your Mac to allow your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone to play music and video from it without needing to install any additional software or purchase anything. It’s awesome!
Mac Observer has the best set of instructions I’ve found on how to set up the video streaming.
In a nutshell, all you need to do is enable Web Sharing on your Mac, and then make some links from the web share folder on your Mac to the folders where you keep your music and videos. You can also use this same technique to share PDF eBooks and other files.
You then access the files using Safari on the iPod/iPhone/iPad. The video will start in the Safari window, but you can make it full screen and you have full control of volume, playback position, pause, etc – it’s just like watching any other video on your mobile device.
You can even connect your iPad to your TV, and play the videos there (doesn’t work with DRM-protected videos, though).
January 6th, 2011
Check out the current MacUpdate Promo!
For 50 bucks, you get:
- ForkLift – a nice-looking FTP client
- RapidWeaver – web site publishing software
- SwiftPublisher – for writing newsletters and creating gift cards (perfect for Xmas!)
- Marine Aquarium – really cool fish tank screen saver
- Xslimmer – reclaim disk space by removing the parts of applications not needed for your Mac’s architecture
- MemoryMiner – a very interesting and novel way to organise family photos
- Yep – scan and archive receipts and other papers
- XMIND 2008 Pro – mind mapping/brainstorming tool
- iStabilize – removes the shake from hand-held video
And if enough people buy the bundle, this one will be added to the mix:
- PulpMotion – create animations from your photos, video and music with awesome-looking templates.
This is a great bundle of apps. They’re all useful and interesting, however buying them individually would set you back over $600. Combined, for one more day only, they’re just $50. That’s a good deal even if you only want a couple of them.
I’m buying, and I’m really, really hoping they get enough sales to unlock PulpMotion.
There’s only a little over a day to go, so act now if you’re interested!
Update: Enough people bought the promo package to unlock the final application, PulpMotion. Yay! So if you were on the fence before, head on over and buy it now before time runs out.
December 11th, 2007
Here’s an interesting development. A company called DisplayLink has come up with a technique to send video over a USB link, rather than the conventional VGA or DVI. It doesn’t require an extra graphics card – it’s all done in the device driver.
Samsung’s SyncMaster 940UX 19″ LCD is the first monitor to use the technology, although competitors are sure to be hot on their heels. A couple of good reviews of the 940UX can be found here and here.
The video quality over USB is not quite as good as DVI, but it’s apparently a lot better than you might expect. It’d be fine for office apps, web browsing, etc, while you could still run full-screen video on your conventional DVI monitor.
A lot of people around the net are shrugging their shoulders and saying “so what?”. Just add another graphics card to your PC and you don’t need the fancy/expensive monitor, plus you’d get better performance.
I think they’re missing the point. This isn’t for the knowledgeable desktop user. It’s a simple way to add a second monitor to an office PC without needing to open it up. It’s an easy option to add a second external display to a laptop. It’s a way to add a second monitor to small-footprint PCs that don’t have room for another graphics card.
The DisplayLink site has more information that promises some very interesting future products. Using the same techniques as the USB interface, they can send video over ethernet, WiFi, and wireless USB. FireWire wouldn’t be hard, if they found a need. A really interesting product idea is their USB-to-DVI dongle – you wouldn’t need a monitor that supports DisplayLink, as the dongle would convert the USB signal to standard DVI for display on the monitor.
A wireless version of this would be fantastic for conference room projectors. You’d just plunk your laptop on the desk and display stuff on the projector without any messing about with cables.
I’d love a dongle that could convert from wireless USB or WiFi (or even ethernet) to a standard TV signal. Then I could output video from my laptop on the lounge to the TV across the room without having to drag a cable across the floor. Nirvana!
The DisplayLink USB interface currently supports Windows XP and Vista – no word yet on an OS X driver, so Apple users will have to wait to see what develops. This does now look like the most likely way I’ll get to run a second external monitor from my MacBook, though.
August 29th, 2007
I listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books on my iPod – while driving to work, jogging, doing repetitive jobs, etc. But I’m a bit of a packrat, and the audio has been piling up faster than I can listen to it all.
Here’s a way to get through more audio: play it back faster!
I didn’t know it until recently, but the iPod supports speedup of audiobooks. Unfortunately, you can’t speed up playback of other audio file types. So you have to trick it into thinking your file is an audiobook:
Step 1: Convert the track to AAC if it’s not already. In iTunes, simply right-click on it and choose Convert To AAC.
Step 2: Turn the new AAC track into an audiobook. For this, you’ll need the Make Bookmarkable script from Doug’s Scripts. Install it as per his directions, then highlight your AAC track in iTunes, and select Make Bookmarkable from the Scripts menu.
Sync the files to your iPod, and you’re good to go.
While listening to one of these tracks, click the iPod’s center button 3 times to bring up the playback speed options, then scroll to the right to set it to Faster. The iPod keeps the pitch the same while speeding up the audio playback, so it’s still very understandable.
The main drawback with this method is that you don’t get much control over the playback speed – it’s just Slower, Normal or Faster. I’d love it if I could speed it up in increments – 1.1x, 1.2x, 1.3x, etc. Some talkers are naturally very slow, and some are fairly fast, so they need different playback speeds.
If you know of a better way to speed up audio playback on an iPod, please post it in the comments!
August 8th, 2007
Have you ever seen a video on YouTube.com and wished you could keep a copy to watch again later? Or perhaps you’ve wished you could transfer it to your phone or iPod to show others?
TubeTV by Chimoosoft is what you need!
TubeTV is an app for Mac OS X that downloads the Flash .flv movies used by many video sharing sites and converts them into H.264 .m4v video that can be viewed on other devices.
August 7th, 2007
I have a damaged DVD that skips badly and is unwatchable when played on a normal DVD player. I ripped it on the Mac (using Mac The Ripper – great program!), and the resulting VIDEO_TS folder seems to play back fine using DVD Player in OS X.
However, I wanted to be able to play it on a normal DVD player again.
One option would be to convert it to an MPG or AVI using something like Handbrake, and then use iDVD to burn a DVD from that. It takes some time to convert and render a DVD, though, and you’d lose some quality.
Then I found this method to turn a VIDEO_TS folder into an ISO image. At the command line, type:
hdiutil makehybrid -udf -udf-volume-name DVDNAME -o DVDNAME.iso /VIDEO_TS/parent/folder
Make sure that final path is the path to the folder where VIDEOTS can be found, not the path to the actual VIDEOTS folder itself.
It takes a little time, but you get an ISO image out. You can then burn this using Disk Utility, and you’ll get a ‘real’ DVD!
July 17th, 2007
Some work-from-home solutions involve setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that sends all your internet traffic via your connection to the corporate network. And since big companies like to lock things down, this means you can’t access your private email server, Flickr account, instant messaging app, etc while you’re connected to work.
A better way to do this is for them to use “split tunnelling”, where traffic to youremployer.com goes via the VPN and all other traffic goes via your normal ISP. Not all companies get this, though. These companies are often also the ones that only allow Windows PCs to connect remotely, not Macs or Linux boxes.
Using a Mac running Windows via Parallels is, in a twist of irony, often a better solution than a Windows PC in this kind of situation.
When you connect your Windows virtual machine to the corporate VPN, it is only locking down your Windows environment. Your Mac apps can still reach blocked sites, access your private mail server, access IM, etc.
Using a Mac provides you with the best of both worlds!
Another nice thing about running Windows in a virtualised environment is that you can easily backup the image by simply copying it to an external USB drive or burning it to a DVD-R. If you screw something up in that environment, you can be back up and running in minutes by simply restoring the image.
Also, you can have one Windows image for working remotely, and a separate one for your normal Windows needs. If your employer wants you to install crazy VPN software, antivirus software, patches/updates, etc, or somehow restricts the versions of software (e.g. they need you to have an old version of Microsoft Office installed), you can do so in just that Windows image. You can install all your other software, games, tweaks, hacks etc in your other image without fear of breaking something work-related.
July 16th, 2007
Fog Creek Software has just released Copilot version 2.0.
Copilot lets you remote-control another PC, much like VNC or RDC, with the advantage that it requires zero configuration, works through firewalls, and leaves nothing installed when you’re finished. Great for family tech support!
And get this – it now supports OS X. So you can control PC to PC, PC to Mac, Mac to PC, or Mac to Mac.
From a Mac point of view, it seems to be getting decent reviews:
I know, you could do this with VNC. But if you haven’t set that up in advance or it’s not currently working, Copilot will get you out of trouble for just $5 for a 24-hour license. Not bad.
January 28th, 2007
Apple has just updated their MacBook Pros to the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It’s probably a little earlier than many had predicted, but it’ll certainly be a well-received upgrade.
The new MBPs are slightly faster (clock-speed-wise) than the previous model, have Core 2 Duo, HDD options of 100GB (7200 rpm)/160GB (5400 rpm)/200GB (4200 rpm), RAM up to 3GB (1x2GB + 1x1GB), FW800 and dual-layer SuperDrives.
I’ve been trying to decide between getting a 17″ MacBook Pro or a 13″ MacBook with a Dell 24″ LCD (I can salary package a new laptop each year). The two setups would work out to almost exactly the same price.
The MBP obviously has a larger built-in screen, is faster, has better graphics, and a few more ports and things. However, the MB + 24″ LCD offers better portability and a huge screen for when I’m working at my desk. I’m leaning towards the MB + LCD at this stage, but I’m hoping for an MB upgrade early next year (I need to make the purchase before April).
Which way would you go?
October 25th, 2006
You wouldn’t think it’d be hard, but I couldn’t find any free OS X software to convert WMA files to MP3 or AAC files so I could listen to them on my iPod. After about half an hour of searching, I went back to a $10 application I found early on in the process and bought it – EasyWMA.
It works great. Just choose between mp3 or aac, set the options how you want them, and drag your WMA files onto it. EasyWMA converts them, and spits out the new files into the same directory as the originals.
Why is it that we’d spend hours searching the net for a free piece of software, just to save a measly $10? I have no answer for that.
July 26th, 2006