Battle of the Blogs!

OK, so you know how I have been kicking myself for not posting more often (although today I have been posing more than I have in the past few weeks)? Well, my friend Rodney Stein over at Inquisitive Sci-Fi Monkey has been doing the same. Therefore, we have come up with a great solution (actually, he came up with it but I agreed). We are going to have a “Battle of the Blogs”. Next week, starting on Monday and going for 7 days, the person who has the most good, insightful and relevant posts will win. The loser will have to buy the winner dinner…
Let the games begin!

Monday Mac Tweak #6

I swear to the gods that I am going to actually start posting on time again. Honest. I swear…
If you could not tell from the way I post updates here, I struggle with organization. It does not help that I have so much on my plate. The work I do at Carleton, my Consulting Business, being a full time single father. It all adds up to, well, not much as far as time is concerned. There are a number of tools that I use on a daily basis to (try to) keep myself organized. I thought it would be a good series of Mac tweaks to review each one here over the next few weeks. We start with…
AquaMinds NoteTaker
NoteTaker is a digital notebook that gives whole new meaning to the term “full featured”. On it’s face, it is a basic notebook, like a paper multi-subject notebook. It even has spiral rings and tabs on the side to divide your entries into sections. You can create and have as many separate notebooks as you wish. But that is where the similarities leave off and the true power begins.
NoteTaker has an parent child multiple entry style that makes it a powerful outlining tool. You can order and number your entries if you choose in Legal, Hard or other styles. Or leave the styles off and simply use it as a way of organizing and defining otherwise free form information. It also can store images, sound files, movie files and link to key documents. Say for instance you are at a meeting and discussing a memo that has been distributed to the group as a Microsoft Word Document. You can not only take notes of the meeting but also provide a link entry for the document in question. Double clicking the link will launch Word and open the document. Very handy!
Furthermore, it leverages the built in Services feature of Mac OS X to clip information from other sources (For instance, documents, e-mails and web pages) into new entries in your notebook. It will also include header information about the source where the information came from.
But the real surprise is when you enter a URL (web site address) into a notebook. It places a little “@” sign next to the entry. Double clicking on the text of the link will launch your web browser and bring you to that page. Double clicking on the “@” sign will load the page in a little mini browser, in line, right there in your notebooks page. How cool is that?!
I use NoteTaker to jot down ideas, thoughts, clip and save information from many sources. I use it for so many other things and it is truly part of the foundation of information on my Mac.

Monday Mac Tweak #5

OK, so I know it is not Monday and that this Mac Tweak is a little late but…
Have you ever wanted to rename a bunch of files in bulk? Like a bunch of music or photo files that you want to name and number in a certain order? Well, it would normally take hours of “click, hold, rename” futzing around that no one really has the time for. Especially if you have a whole bunch of them.
Next time download and use this cool little utility called Renamer.From the applications website:
Renamer4Mac makes it really easy to rename a big number of files according to a preset pattern. It lets you rename your files in many different ways:
• Search & replace
• Insert/overwrite of text
• Number the files
• Convert upper/lowercase
All can be done with an easy user interface and real-time preview, so you can see how the files will be named just while you’re configuring!

It is donationware so, if you find it useful (as I have recently) throw a bone or two their way.

On a steel horse I ride…

I have the most diverse musical tastes of anyone I know. I really don’t care what the genre is, as long as it is good music, I will listen. Punk, Heavy Metal, Rap, New and Old School R&B, Jazz, Classical and even a fair bit of country (I am a sucker for fiddles and good harmony). Many people who know me know that, amongst the many deep dark musical love secrets I hold, I love 80’s “Arena Rock”. Journey, Van Halen and, my karaoke favorite, Bon Jovi…
See, most of the people who know me must think I am crazy when I tell them that, not only do I like Johnny Goldenlocks and the Jersey Shore Boys, I also can sing a pretty good Bon Jovi. I have a very similar tone to my voice as he does. Don’t believe me? Let’s go out for karaoke sometime and I will pick “Dead or Alive” or “Living on a Prayer” and I will make you a believer… At least until the key change after the bridge in “Living on a Prayer” at which point I will strain my vocal cords and start spitting up blood. Which would make a good segue into “Heaven’s On Fire” by Kiss. But, I digress…
Those were the days. I will never forget them. I remember going back to school the day after a big concert, wearing your baseball style tour shirt, seeing all of the other kids with theirs and knowing, at least for that day that you were all one tribe. You shared the experience of the artistry and beauty of a Neal Schon guitar solo, the spectacle of David Lee Roth and seeing the masses of hot chicks dressed in next to nothing (though, I will note, more than today’s teenage girls wear to school itself) hoping to get a backstage pass at Def Leopard. You were a part of something that was as close to history in your mind as anything done by some old dead guys who scored a paragraph in a textbook. They played instruments dammit! They weren’t some Clear Channel manufactured pop creations that could not hold a note outside of a studio. They were artists…
So what has spurred all of this waxing nostalgic? Well, a link sent to me by my friend Lew. This guy knows what I am talking about. This guy gets it!

Best places to buy Mac stuff online (IMHO)

I am always being asked where to find good deals on Macintosh stuff. There are many places I look and shop. Often times the reasons are not just in the prices but also in the company. Some of these sites I visit on a daily basis whether I am looking to by stuff or not; figuring that if I do see a really good deal I may be able to match it up with a friend’s need. So, with that in mind, here are some places I go to find good deals on Macintosh stuff on the internet.
Apple Store “Special Deals” Section – This is where Apple sells their refurbished products often times for hundreds of dollar less than brand new. Why buy refurbished instead of new? Well, Apple does very rigorous testing on the refurbished models to make sure that they don’t come back again. Furthermore, all Apple refurbs carry the same warranty that a brand new Apple product does. Therefore, if you do have a problem, it is covered.
Small Dog Electronics – I really like these guys and have bought two Macs from them. They are a small, family run business located in the heart of small town Vermont. They are big on charitable and social causes and, as the name might suggest, are HUGE dog lovers! They are also one of the oldest online Macintosh retailers around. Their front page features daily deals and ongoing specials.
DealMac – DealMac does the work of searching Mac deals for you. Every day they scour the web for deals and specials on Macs and Mac accessories. This is one of those sites I visit a couple of times a day. Why twice? Well, some deals are so good that if you do not catch them early in the morning (when the first deals start being posted) they will be sold out by afternoon. They also have a sister site called DealRAM which helps you find the best prices on RAM
PowerMax – PowerMax is a great place to look for refurbished and used Macs. If the Apple Store does not have the Mac you are looking for in their refurbished offerings, this is a good second place to check. They also buy used Macs as well and accept certain trade ins for credit towards new equipment.

More Moleskine

Yesterday, I waxed all poetic on the desire to dump my PDA for a number of tasks and “upgrade” to the Moleskine Pocket Journal I recently purchased while in San Francisco for Macworld. I have now become obsessed with that idea and just may try it for the whole of next week. I have already dug my Moleskine out of a paper bag it had gotten dumped into in one of the mad cleaning frenzies that I frequently perform around the house (or, as I like to think of them, a redistribution of clutter).
I also have been doing some googling (yes, Annie, it is a verb) on the “Cult of Moleskine”. I found a great blog called 43 Folders with a number of posts of ways to use it:
More Moleskine Hacks
H2G2 on the Moleskine
Jeremy Wagstaff’s Moleskine Remainders
And for the whole shebang of thier articles that talk about the Moleskine (yes, they are a little obsessed):
43 Folders: Moleskine Notebooks

No PDA for the PDA

Apartment Therapy has a article on replacing your PDA with a paper planner… Now here is a novel idea. One that I have considered for a long time but have been to scared to do. Actually replace my buggy, digitizer orientation challenged Palm Tungsten T2 and go back to using a nice, portable paper planner. When I think about the things that I honestly use my Palm for, many of them would be just as easy on a piece of paper in a well bound and pocket sized journal. To Do’s and other list type items for instance, which I more often write in the “note pad” of the Palm just like a paper entry anyway.
I am especially fond of the Moleskine Ruled Pocket Journal which I recently purchased. Problem is, I still have not really used it because I have not “made” a use for it. Perhaps, if I were to rid myself of the broken crutch that is my Palm I would.

Monday Mac Tweak #4

Post Subtitle: “The Moral of The Story or Back That Thang Up”
One thing was made abundantly clear to me after the hard drive adventure I experienced this weekend. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for someone like me, who uses and supports technology for a living, to not have a recent backup. Especially since there are so many cheap and/or free backup utilities. Here are the ones I like (none of them begin with “R” or end with “etrospect”)
RsyncX– rsync is actually a synchronization utility that already exists, for free, and is built into the Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X. The problem is that it is a Unix utility and does not play well with Mac resource forks. That being said, there is a way to use this tool.RsyncX, developed by Kevin Boyd, is a free version of this utility for Mac OS X that does play nice with the Mac. It also provides a graphical front end to the utility for those who are “Terminally Impaired”. Matthew Phillips has written and excellent resource called “Backup Your Mac With rsync” that is worth checking out if you wish to do this.
The Caveat: You can’t use this utility to back up to CD-R or DVD-R media. It works great with external drives including Firewire, USB
Deja Vu – For making scheduled backups to all manner of media, including CD-R and DVD, you can’t go wrong with Deja Vu. It is not only effective but, at $24.95, it is not that expensive either. Deja Vu lives as a preference pane in your System Preferences so it unobtrusive. It can be set to do manual backups as well.
Backup – If you have a .Mac account then you already have a “free” backup program available to you called, curiously enough, Backup. Backup allows you to back up to external hard drives, CD-R, DVD or even your .Mac iDisk. It is actually a very well designed piece of software. It allows for scheduled backups or manual ones, has a Quick Picks feature that will automatically back up things like “All Microsoft Word files in my home folder”, and much, much more.

Hard Drive Blues

Sorry for the delay in this week’s Mac Tweak. After 3 years of faithful service, the hard drive of my Powerbook G4 12 inch (867) decided to take a “hard dive”. Bethany and I came home from a wonderful breakfast at the Neighborhood Café to find my beloved laptop making a noise similar to a blender. Needless to say, I was in a panic. First off, I couldn’t afford to buy a Mac mini let alone a Powerbook. To make matters worse, The last backup I had was 2 months old. Two months! That is a century in the life of someone like me who uses his computer all day, everyday, for almost everything. It was a disaster.
To make a long story short, thanks to the beauty and generosity of Bethany I now have a new Powerbook G4 12 inch. A machine that will once again serve me for years to come.