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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Switching to Mac Day 5

Jsut getting used to my Macbook. I like the fact that it boots up pretty quick. Its temperature can be quite hot, expecially when connected to the AC adaptor. Using iStat nano widget, sometimes it shows the CPU temp as high as 70-80 degrees celcius! Did a google, apparently this is not something unusual, with the Macbook Pro reaching 90 degrees celcius! Hopefully this kind of temepratures won’t give any ill effects for my Macbook in the future.

Media card reader. You know, those 5 to 50 plus in 1 USB card reader. Apparently not all of them are compatible with Macs. The one I have is not even detected by my Macbook. Bought another cheap $18 one, and it is detected fine. Just a note: when buying something, make sure to read the system requirements, and try to buy things that explicitly say Mac support.

Another one for the wish list. Most PC notebooks can automatically set the brightness of the screen to a lower setting when using battery power (set in the BIOS). I don’t seem to find anything like this on my Macbook. Sure, I can just reduce the brightness manually, but it’s easier if the system can automatically do it based on the power source.

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Posted by on June 27, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 4: IM chat

Just a quickie. None of my friends use AIM/Google chat/iChat, so iChat is useless to me. All my friends are using MSN messenger. I find Adium to be quite decent. Nice GUI, and very Apple-like. Alas, no webcam functionality yet.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 3: iPhoto + Office2004 test drive

Just a couple tidbits to add.
1. In iPhoto, I find that I can just drag each roll to the sidebar, and iPhoto will create an album for it. So I did this for all my “rolls,” to duplicate the folder structure of Picasa.
2. When editting a photo in iPhoto, you can adjust the color semi-automatically. It’s the same idea as finding a neutral color in Picasa, but manually. In Picasa, I can just click 1 button. In iPhoto, you press the Apple key, find a neutral gray color area, and click on the area while still pressing the Apple key. iPhoto will adjust the photo’s color accordingly.

Now, in regards to Office 2004 test drive. I know I don’t and won’t use or need it, so might as well uninstall it. Sounds simple right? I went to the Office 2004 test drive folder, and there’s an “Remove Office” icon. Double click that, and went through a couple of screens, but on the screen where the uninstaller ask for what program to uninstall, it listed nothing. WTF?

Searching google, there is not much info about this. I was thinking, maybe the program is not “installed” yet. It’s in the hard-drive, but in a pre-installed state. This is very common place when you buy a PC which have tons of pre-installed trial/bloatwares, where the files are in the hard-drive, but final/finishing installation only happens when you start using the programs. So, I decided to run MS powerpoint, went through the license agreement, and quit. Then I re-ran the uninstaller, now it managed to find the office 2004 test drive program. Weird part is it also found Office X (an even older office version for the Mac). Finally, Office 2004 uninstalled, and trash is emptied.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 3: Picasa > iPhoto

I like Picasa much better than iPhoto. Why?
1. I tried to import a bunch of videos taken with my digicam to iPhoto. 1 of them is 1GB in size. Regardless of what I did, iPhoto choked on this 1 file. Everytime I connect my camera, it said “ready to import,” and when I pressed import, it started importing, but in the end it didn’t transfer the file at all. So I had to go back to my windows PC, imported the file, and copy the file manually to my Macbook.
2. Picasa has these nice effects such as glow and soft focus that you can customize. The effects in iPhoto are more limited and no customizations.
3. Picasa has a tray where I can “hold” my photos while I’m browsing, very useful for a large library. No such thing in iPhoto. I guess I can create an album, and drag-n-drop the photos, but the tray and hold feature in Picasa is much easier to use.
4. The Picasa Web album plug-in for iPhoto doesn’t support uploading videos. 😦

I just hope that Google and Apple will colaborate together to make either iPhoto better, or Picasa for Mac.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 2 Part 2: iPhoto

After transferring my iTunes library, now is the turn for my pictures. On Windows, I use and love Google’s Picasa. Its integration with the Picasa web album is superb. On the Mac, there’s iPhoto. Alas, Google doesn’t make Picasa for Mac, but they do provide a Picasa web album plug-in for iPhoto, so I can simply export pictures to my Picasa web album.

Backing up pictures from Picasa is very easy. Although by default it is set to backup to optical media, you can reconfigure the backup tool to do a backup to any folder (networked drive, external drive, etc). Simply select the albums you want to backup.

Importing to iPhoto is as easy as importing Picasa’s backup folder. Unfortunately, all my editing and enhancements from Picasa are lost, so I would have to review my photo library one of these days and re-do any enhancements using iPhoto. 😦

Apparently iPhoto can handle videos too. I have some videos taken by my digicam in my Picasa library, and iPhoto transferred them just fine. Unlike Picasa, playback of videos in iPhoto is handled by Quicktime.

On Picasa, I’m used to have my library setup by folders. With iPhoto, each folder becomes a roll. Problem is, the rolls are not listed in the library sidebar. Definitely something that I have to adjust to. Another point for Picasa, looks like iPhoto doesn’t have a built-in backup feature. Ability to do full-screen editing is nice, but I already miss Picasa’s features. Picasa’s “I’m feeling Lucky” button seems to do a better job than iPhoto’s “Enhance” feature. Also I can quickly pick and set a neutral color and do auto brightness/contrast/lightning on Picasa, while everything is manual in iPhoto. Picasa is just so superb (when I first use Picasa, I though it was made by Apple as iPhoto for windows) that it is definitely going to be missed. Again, with Google and Apple being buddies, I hope the best of both will come in the next version of iPhoto, or maybe Picasa for Mac.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 2: iTunes

Now that email, contacts, and calendar are taken care of, it’s time for my music. I have 3 iPods (shuffle, nano, and 60GB 5G), and I already have an extensive library in iTunes on Windows. I want to transfer them to my Macbook without loosing any meta data like ratings and playcounts. There are various options in doing this. I don’t want to be hassled by editing iTunes library database files manually, so I opted for the backup method. iTunes now has the ability to backup your library, albeit only to optical media. I haven’t backed up my library ever anyway, so I prepared a couple DVD blanks and started the process. iTunes automatically divided my library and spanned them to whatever media I put in (mix of dual-layer and single layer DVD blanks). Pretty straight forward, although I wish iTunes can just backup my library into an external hard-drive, which will be much faster than waiting for the DVDs to burn. If you choose to backup everything, iTunes will back EVERYTHING, including all videos and podcasts, so make sure you have plenty of DVD blanks.

I was planning to have the iTunes library sitting on my networked storage, but later found out that syncing the library to multiple computers will be a great hassle. Local hard drive it is then. Restoring them is pretty straight forward too. I insert one of the restore DVD to my Macbook with iTunes opened, and iTunes automatically asked if I want to restore the music. After it finished with 1 disc, it will eject the disc and ask for another. At this point, you can cancel if you want to continue later, which I find to be great. iTunes seems to see any backup disc as an individual backup, so restoring your library partly is not a problem. Basically you can insert any of the backup disc in any order anytime you want, and iTunes will just restore that disc. However, when after I restore my last disc, iTunes still asked for the next disc, which I think can confuse some people (just cancel it and you’ll be fine).

After restoration, I find couple things missing, namely the “last played” meta tag and my playlists. Those are missing. Bummer. I have setup playlists to rotate my songs based on the “last played” tag. For the playlists, I went back to my Windows PC, and start exporting my playlists 1 by 1 (oh I wish Apply can just include playlists in the backup). A slight hassle having to import them 1 by 1 to my Macbook. Also, I find playlists that are dependent on other playlists, will screw up. On my Macbook, those playlist seem to not be able to find the other playlists that they are dependent to, even though they are there. So I have to re-linked them 1 by 1. Another thing missed is even though all my podcasts are backed up, iTunes lost track on which podcasts I have listened to, so all podcasts came up as new. Subscription is also lost, so I have to re-subscribe all my podcasts.

OK, library is set. Now syncing my iPods. I know that Macs can read and write on PC-formatted iPods (not the other way around though). However, on my iPod setting screen in iTunes, I saw a warning saying that only Mac formatted iPods can be updated (firmware) via iTunes on a Mac! Another bummer! Since this is a switching plan, I took the dive and restore my iPods and have them formatted for the Mac (restoring iPods on Macs will automatically make them Mac-formatted).

I find iTunes on my Macbook is super smooth, especially when viewing cover flow. Viewing cover flow on Windows is very laggy, while it is silky smooth on my Macbook. I guess all that hassle gotta worth something. 🙂

So, not a smooth and hassle-free experience. Couple points in regards to iTunes:
1. If you set iTunes to backup your whole library, it will backup everything. For those that have massive library, this means tons of DVD dual-layer blanks, and slow burning process.
2. Backup doesn’t backup playlists, “Last played” meta tag, podcast status and subscription.
3. You can only update the firmware of a Mac-formatted iPod on a Mac. Exception is the shuffle, which doesn’t get that note on the setting screen.
4. You can restore any backup disc anytime without having to sit there restoring all discs in order at once.

Wish list for Apple:
1. Make the backup program to backup playlists and complete metatags.
2. Allow backup to use external hard-drives.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Switching to Mac Day 1: Mail, iCal, iSync

Next step I want to do is to transfer my contacts, set up my email and calendar, and sync my cellphone. Since windows doesn’t have any good apps for those, I’ve been sing 3rd party freewares. I use Thunderbird with Lightning for my email and desktop calendar. I use an extension called Provider that syncs Google Calendar with Lightning’s calendar. I use MyPhoneExplorer to sync my Thunderbird’s contacts and Lightning calendar with my cellphone, thus indirectly syncing my google calendar with my cellphone. Of course, I want to duplicate the experience on the Mac. Alas, things have to be sacrificed to obtain the integration on the Mac.

First of all, mail. Setting up is quite easy, but apparently mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. My email server uses SSL, and its certificate uses a wildcard (*). First, mail keeps bothering me to check the certificate being authentic. The Mac help did suggest adding the certificate to the keychain, so I did, yet mail still bothers me. So after countless of searching, I found out the mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. I tried installing Thunderbird, but then Thunderbird doesn’t sync with the OS’ built in address book, and hinders me from syncing it with my cellphone. So I decided to stick with mail app, even though I have to click 1 more button every time I want to check my email.

Next, calendar. My plan is to sync Google Calendar with iCal and my cellphone. Well, gcal and iCal cannot do a 2-way sync without 3rd party app, and they cost money! IMO this is something that google can/should do themselves. I can subscribe a gcal calendar with iCal, but no syncing. I finally decided to export my calendar gcal, forget about it, and start using iCal exclusively. With Google being more involved with Apple on the iPhone, I do hope one day we will have a perfect sync between gcal and iCal, hopefully without a force upgrade to Leopard.

Syncing with my cellphone using iSync via bluetooth is very smooth. This is why I like Macs. I turned on BT on my cellphone, register it on my Macbook, couple clicks here and there and it syncs my address book and iCal perfectly. The ease of iSync is one reason I decided to accept mail’s annoyance and give up gcal.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2007 in Uncategorized